Saturday, September 30, 2006

 

Rounding out the week

The Noble fire is pretty much out. The cold front brought in some clean air which we're all making the best of down here.

.....

My kid's soccer game was not cancelled and he scored a goal in today's 4-2 loss to the Alligators. The other team has a well developed nearly 6-year-old girl who's a bruiser - scoring all 4 of their goals. A great sport too. She inadvertantly knocked my son down at one point, and helped him up. She's their coach's daughter and Mom's teaching her well.

.....

The Buju Banton aftermath will be the topic of next Thursday night's talk with Estelle Fennel. 7:00 p.m. It's possible that yours truly will be the guest if she can't get representatives of the Mateel Center to discuss the issues.

.....

Heraldo's on the topic of the latest GOP scandal, which is touching more than just the resigning congressmember. Meanwhile, Jim Webb has pulled even with Senator Allen. The revelations of alleged racism has taken its toll, and Webb is finally raising money. However, the Democrats are suffering from a scandal within its own ranks that will hinder if not kill their ability to retake the Senate.

.....

The latest Gallegos flap has reached the letters and opinion pages of the ER, and presumably the TS although I haven't yet caught up with the latter. There is an an op ed piece from Illene Callahan in the ER about the Bear River Band donation which raises some reasonable points before culminating in an odd suggestion that maybe Ms. Muller had an affair with Gallegos. Another letter claims that Gallegos' refusal to answer Ms. Muller's questions directly leaves a bad taste in non-Indian mouths. Another letter suggests that we should save it all for the next election. It's fascinating that Gallegos is making the most news during an election campaign season in which he is not involved.

.....

The wilderness bill is headed to the president.

.....

Levi Garza, the ringleader in the Whitethorn kidnapping case, got 8 years.

.....

More tomorrow. I'm falling asleep.

Friday, September 29, 2006

 

Is Reggae a message of peace?

Not if it's based on Rastafarianism. And Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Sorry.

Well, I did it. I was alone for awhile, with a candle - a weird feeling to protest alone. It makes you feel awkward and..., well, oddly vulnerable. Talked to some kids and had some good conversations. One guy kept running by and blowing out my candle. Eventually I was joined by a couple of people. Someone else was up at the gate trying to hand out purple armbands. Pretty lame turnout compared to the ruckus on Thank Jah this morning, but it was short notice.

I was right last night. This is a generational thing.

Esteban, who protests each Friday at noon in Garberville, wanted to be there. He was going to try to talk Carol into getting us an audience with Banton. I don't know that it would have accomplished much, but anyway Esteban was unable to make it due to familial obligations. Quite frankly, I don't think I have a whole lot to say to the Banton anyways other than "stop being a dick."

I wish I'd had time to get on the phone and coax more people out, but I had to cook tonight, and the kids needed some attention. I've never really been cut out for the activist role anyway.

Quite frankly I found the spokeswoman for Banton Estelle attempted to interview to be evasive, manipulative, and annoying. I really don't want to hear about how "spiritual" Buju Banton is - Pat Robertson and Bin Laden are also spiritual. Nor do I care how great his music is. And I don't think encouraging people to pour acid over homosexuals' heads or burn them alive is in any way mitigated by the fact that he was motivated by some child molestation in the news. That he was 15 is mitigation, negated by the fact that he continues to sing it. Nor to I believe that his recent performances of the song are about telling us "where he came from." Nowhere in her statement was there any indication that he feels badly about the song, nor its impact, nor any desire to reconcile with the people he's hurt. And I've found nothing in any independent source to support her vague explanation of repudiation of the the song in 1992. I didn't even hear any recognition from her that the lyrics are patently evil, mitigated by youth or not. And Amnesty International is not about to change their minds about the evidence against him in the bashing incident by coming to a concert and listening to his music.

Oh, and as I was listening to the full interview, Estelle took a call from Heather, Carol Bruno's daughter. She claimed that Banton would not be making any apologies because he would face reprisals at home if he did so. Estelle saw fit not to report that, probably because it's patently stupid. He's not going to apologize because he hates homosexuals - plain and simple.

I'll give Carol Bruno the benefit of the doubt that she was ignorant of all this when she booked him, and probably she heard from his attorneys after canceling the show. However, since yesterday I'm hearing that there have been incidents at Reggae on the River in recent years - such that organizers in one instance felt compelled to come onto the stage and apologize to gay and lesbian members of the audience. One person to whom I spoke said "it's getting out of control."

It's a culture clash. I understand that some of these artists were raised with these bigotries. But we wouldn't tolerate it from anybody else, and it certainly undermines the notion of "one love."

Consider me seriously disillusioned.

Here are the lyric by the way.

Buju Banton - Boom Bye Bye
Boom bye bye

Boom [as in gun sound] goodbye, goodbye [as in we won’t be seeing you again, you’re dead]

Inna batty bwoy head
In a queer’s head

Rude bwoy no promote no nasty man
Rude boys don’t promote no queer men

Dem haffi dead
They have to die

Send fi di matic an
Send for the automatic [gun] and
Di Uzi instead
The Uzi instead

Shoot dem no come if we shot dem
Shoot them, don’t come if we shoot them [as in don’t come to help them]

Guy come near we
If a man comes near me
Then his skin must peel
Then his skin must peel [as in pour acid over him]

Burn him up bad like an old tire wheel
Burn him up badly, like you would burn an old tire wheel


 

Buju concert is back on!

I'm hearing through the grapevine that they were trying to get him to repudiate the song and make a public apology, but that's apparently not going to happen.

I went to the People Productions site last night and the concert was clearly marked "cancelled." Just went there and the cancelled sign is gone. My wife says that KHUM announced that Carol Bruno had received 500 calls from people who want the concert back on. They had their Friday night planned apparently, and that's all that matters.

Meanwhile, Estelle let me hear her recorded interview with Buju's campaign manager. Not one straight answer in about 20 minutes of conversation. I don't want to scoop Estelle, so you can listen to the highlights tonight.

Next month at the Mateel, we'll be booking David Duke and the Grand Wizards who'll be playing a reggae version of Mammy's Little Baby after reciting poetry based on the text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Maybe we can get Kinky Friedman to open.

Is anybody going to picket the concert tonight?

Update: I'll be there at just before 9 tonight. If anybody wants to join me, I'd appreciate the company. Bring candles. It'll probably be too dark for signs.

 

ER back on the Bowman/Gallegos/Cardoza story

Ms. Muller's follow-up article is up. The highlights:

1. Cardoza had not seen the memo from Gallegos to Keats about recusing themselves and Mr. Dikeman from the case until after the plea because it was was written 5 days later. Cardoza admitted the error stating that he had not reviewed the file in its entirely before commenting earlier this week. However, Mr. Cardoza vehemently insists that Gallegos had made no contact with him about the case prior to the plea, and that Gallegos did not realize that the plea had already been entered when he wrote the memo (which makes sense, or he wouldn't have bothered, or if he wanted to be dishonest, he would have predated it).

2. Wes Keat admitted that "the other paper" got the information wrong in that he called the AG Office in San Francisco rather than Sacramento. He was trying to reach a particular woman, but spoke to a male associate instead. He believed that the call was made in mid-July, probably the 19th - the day the plea was entered. He did not know whether it happened before or after. He emphasized that Cardoza was acting independently throughout.

3. Cardoza complained about the "sloppiness" of the original story and said that he should have been contacted for it. As I've said, I certainly agree that it would have cleared up some facts about the plea itself, though he would not have been able to address the issue of the donation itself and the appearance of an impact on the plea agreement.

4. I don't know what to make of this:

In an e-mail exchange with The Eureka Reporter, Cardoza explained that he had a busy court calendar, and added, “As far as my responsibility to the media is concerned, I invite your attention to the California Public Records Act, the California Rules of Professional Conduct, the American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility and the National Prosecution Standards. I will continue to fulfill my responsibilities as set forth therein to all media outlets, including yours. If you feel I am in violation of any or all of those directives, I suggest you file a formal complaint with the California State Bar.”
He followed up with some colorfully testy comments.

5. At least one of the charges to which Bowman pled involved a serious incident of violence against his mother-in-law with the assistance of his wife/her daughter. The allegations would seem to indicate that this guy has a history of violence against women.

6. The article references a "sidebar" containing some comments made by Gallegos, but they don't appear to have made it into the on-line version of the article.

.....

KMUD picked up on the story last night via Daniel Mintz. Estelle Fennel promised a follow-up tonight with an interview with Paul Gallegos on the controversy. The Graham trial jury is deliberating, or was at last report, so it's conceivable that something could break there that eclipses the Bowman issue, but I'll be listening at 6:00.

 

Buju Banton concert off - and a question of core values

I only caught the tail end of the story on KMUD news tonight - the gist of which was that Carol Bruno of People Productions had pulled the plug on tomorrow night's Bujo Banton concert set at the Mateel due to some homophobic remarks he'd made 15 years ago - or that's how I heard it having missed the beginning. My first reaction was that people were overreacting. Everybody says stupid things, right? And we're not all raised under the banner of political correctness.

Turns out it was a song, not random remarks. And the song is apparently quite disturbing. From Wikipedia:

Banton has incited a considerable amount of international controversy because of his 1992 song "Boom Bye Bye" which calls for violence against homosexuals - including shooting them in the head, pouring acid over them and setting them on fire. As a result, Banton was forced by his label to issue a statement; nevertheless he refused to apologize, citing his Rastafari religion, citing the Bible (Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13) as the basis for his beliefs. Banton still performs the song, notably at the Smirnoff Festival in Negril, Jamaica 8 August 2004. As a consequence, Banton's concerts are often met with protesting crowds and calls for cancellation. His most recent scheduled performance in Seattle in the diverse neighborhood of Capitol Hill was canceled due to local outrage from the LGBT community.
I'm still uneasy about the censorship portion of the equation, but I do admire Carol for putting principle before her financial interests - and she will take quite a hit over this. Ironically, the tour has been dubbed "the Too Bad Tour."

Estelle reported that she and Carol spent a couple of hours trying to get him or someone representing the band to make some kind of public apology, or indicate in some way that could be conveyed to the young people who listen to him that he's had a change of heart. All the rep would say, off the record, was that they didn't endorse violence.

According to the Wikipedia entry he was also implicated in a more recent incident of violence against homosexuals, but he was acquitted of those charges after posting bail. Give him the benefit of the doubt on his denial I guess - not much is said about the case. Amnesty International isn't so sure of his innocence.

I haven't thought it completely through yet, but I lean towards supporting the decision to shut down the concert. However, I would never attend a Bujo Banton concert sans a complete turnaround with overtures made to the gay and lesbian community. Actually, modern Reggae really isn't my thing anyway. But I was troubled to hear Estelle's interviews from younger members of the community who intended to attend the concert anyway. I certainly hope those opinions aren't representative of the younger generation. Carol mentioned that the e-mails and telephone calls she's received were divided roughly in half. I wonder if we have a generation gap in play here.

In any case, perhaps the topic of my last two radio shows is passe. Maybe we need to ask ourselves if Rastafarianism is a message of peace.

Update: There's a heated discussion on Thank Jah (KMUD) as I'm typing.

Second Update: Estelle Fennel is working feverishly to get a statement from the artist himself for tonight's news. She's made it up to his manager, but they're still being very slippery about it all.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

 

"Gutless Wonder" Democrats who voted for torture and the elimination of habeus corpus

The list is up at Daily Kos.

Gutless Democrats saying Aye:
Tom Carper (Del.)
Tim Johnson (S.D.)
Mary Landrieu (La.)
Frank Lautenberg (N.J.)
Bob Menendez (N.J)
Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Ben Nelson (Neb.)
Pryor (Ark.)
Jay Rockefeller (W. Va.)
Ken Salazar (Co.)
Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)

Gutless Connecticut for Liebermans saying Aye:
Joe Lieberman (Conn.)

The only real surprises to me in the list are Lautenberg and Stabenow.

It's unclear according to this DK poster as to whether the bill even prohibits rape and sodomy as an interrogation tactic. Certainly there's nothing prohibitting the sustained chaining of prisoners naked with panties over their heads, but that's not really sexual violence, is it?

The bill also clears up most of the prior violations.

Thing is, I don't think this will even rate as a campaign issue. We've managed to hehumanize the enemy, and nobody thinks it could happen to anyone "innocent." If it happens to a prisoner he or she must be guilty of something, right?


 

Noble fire update

It's reportedly at 1000 plus acres now, and finally at a point where the fire crews can do something about it. The area lacked roads so it was a matter of dumping water from the air and waiting. Earlier today the smoke was extremely heavy around here, though it seems to be thinning due to a southbound wind which means it's Laytonville's turn to breath the stuff for awhile. Probably means we'll get more smoke from the Willow Creek fire.

Apparently one firefighter has already been treated in the SoHum Hospital emergency room.

Rumor has it the fire was started by hunters, but I haven't heard about any arrests. It's too far out to blame this one on the homeless - the official explanation for two earlier local fires.

Soccer games scheduled for Redway this weekend may be postponed. You should contact your coach before making any long drives.

And my secretary was happy to read some TS coverage this morning.

 

Gallegos supporters taking sides in the paper wars

They're demanding a retraction of Monday's story about Gallegos and the Bear River Band donation. The article also contains a sharp denial from BRBR of any wrongdoing.
The decision to donate $10,000 to the Friends of Paul Gallegos was approved by a 5 to 0 vote of the tribal council,” McGinnis said. “Similar requests for contributions have recently been made by other candidates for elected office, and the tribe will not be intimidated into remaining silent about its support for selected candidates by irresponsible journalism.
Absent from the response was any kind of discussion about why they supported Gallegos so strongly. Richard Marks is asking that very question - again, like Muller he is asking, not asserting.

Heraldo's posting about it, pointing out that Gallegos has no obligation to respond to any paper. True enough, but then Glenn Simmons was correct to note in yesterday's editorial that it's pointless then to complain about an article published without all the facts. The article is being slammed for what it seems to imply rather than anything actually stated. But as I've said twice now, the whole point was to highlight the appearance of impropriety created by the facts at Ms. Muller's diposal. That Gallegos haters would seize on the implications to score political points isn't an issue of responsibility for the writer. Simmons is right. Refusing to talk to a newspaper you feel is hostile does nothing to clarify the issue for the public. Note that President Clinton was willing to face down Fox News reporter Chris Wallace - literally. Comment - then if you're misquoted or quoted out of context, scream about it later.

Believe me, I'm no fan of some of Gallegos' critics - particularly some of the anonymous posters of local blogsville. I've been critical of the Eureka Reporter, and even Heather Muller on at least one previous occasion. However, in this case she was forced to publish without all the facts because Gallegos wouldn't respond to her. Yes, he's been trying a complex murder case, which is probably very consuming. But in two minutes he could have stated that he cleared the questioned procedure with the Attorney General and that he was pressed for time but could get back to her about the details once he'd had time to review the file. Or he could have referred her to Cardoza who negotiated the plea agreement (which was incidently approved by one of the more conservative-yet-streetwise local judges), so that she could know that she wasn't putting the deputy on the spot for potentially violating Gallegos' prior order about comments to the media - although I don't believe that the order applies to cases being handled by the deputies.

I will admit that the article had a profound effect on me such that I was wonderinaterna, , ,
amlingspartiet återstår att se, men ambitionen att nå väljarna mellan valen är det inget fel på. Insikten är förstås att valkampanjen inför 2010 börjar nu.

Pingat på intressant.se. Andra bloggar om: , , , , ,

Update: Okay, I don't know what happened at the end there. Don't have time to fix it now. But no, I did not start typing in tongues.

Second Update: Okay, as Heraldo noted in the comments, the portion of my post that got cut off - looks almost like my post crashed into somebody elses on the information superhighway - dealt with the fact that upon reading the article on Monday and the report of Gallegos' lack of response I was wondering if he'd actually slipped up, or worse. My gut level response, based on the fact that I know the man (a statement that garnered a bit of resentment from at least one anonymous poster), was that he was innocent of the wrongdoing. That crime would have outweighed all the previous allegations of incompetence, favoritism, and plagiarism combined at their worst. I simply didn't believe he was capable of taking a bribe to let a rapist, even a mere statutory rapist, walk. But with the facts presented in the article, I had to accept the possibility on the intellectual level, although the facts as we now know were far from adequate to draw any conclusions. And in this instance Ms. Muller did the same. She presented the facts, as incomplete as they were, and hoped for the opportunity to follow up with a more complete picture. Instead, Gallegos gave the story to the TS.

I'm certain that's more than I said.

I also made note of attorney Michael Acosta's letter to the ER today (and I'm pretty sure I misspelled the name earlier). In it he explains that his donation was made before any of the issues would have come into play, and that it was based on his belief that Paul was the best candidate, even though he'd had some serious disagreements with the D.A. over cases including Kat Zimmerman. I suggested that there might have been some hypocricy from certain Gallegos haters who criticized him for other cases, but not that one. They're sort of like the conservatives at the national level who slam the NY Times for the young gossip columnist they fired, but fall dead silent over the NY Times' refusal to give the boot to veteran reporter Judith Miller for her deceptions in favor of the president's Iraq war policy.

Coincidentally, Mr. Acosta got a mention on Ed's blog yesterday.

 

KMUD program reminder - Islam as a Message of Peace

Dr. Abdul Aziz will talk about Islam as a message of peace tonight on KMUD at 7:00 p.m. As usual we'll be taking calls. Andy Stunich argued on last week's show that the Koran taken literally can not reasonably be interpreted as promoting peace and in fact leads the more devout believers to commit profound acts of violence as an expression of faith. Dr. Aziz will offer rebuttal and will present his own understanding of both the Quran and the religion as a whole.

The debate was waged initially on the pages of the Eureka Reporter and the exchange continues there and on this blog - the latest entries can be found here.

Dr. Aziz is a professor of business administration at HSU.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 

Action for action's sake

You probably know Tom's voice if you've listened to my radio show. He and I represented about half of the southern Humboldt folk who opposed Measure T last year, and more often than not we've found ways to piss off pretty much everyone across the political spectrum at one time or another. Among the eggregious topics was activistism - we read from the essay on a couple of shows. The feeling is that the majority of direct action and demonstrations taking place are at best a waste of time and on some occasions actually counter-productive. I intend to write something up in more detail about the over-use of the demonstration, and the lack of real thought on the part of the usual participants, but I wanted to touch on the topic while it's fresh.

So for activistism:
This brave new ideology combines the political illiteracy of hypermediated American culture with all the moral zeal of a 19th-century temperance crusade. In this worldview, all roads lead to more activism and more activists. And the one who acts is righteous. The activistists seem to borrow their philosophy from the factory boss in a Heinrich Böll short story who greets his employees each morning with the exhortation "Let's have some action." To which the workers obediently reply: "Action will be taken!"

Activists unconsciously echoing factory bosses? The parallel isn't as far-fetched as it might seem, as another German, Theodor Adorno, suggests. Adorno—who admittedly doesn't have the last word on activism, since he called the cops on University of Frankfurt demonstrators in 1968—nonetheless had a good point when he criticized the student and antiwar movement of the 1960s for what he called "actionism." In his eyes this was an unreflective "collective compulsion for positivity that allows its immediate translation into practice." Though embraced by people who imagine themselves to be radical agitators, that thoughtless compulsion mirrors the pragmatic empiricism of the dominant culture—"not the least way in which actionism fits so smoothly into society's prevailing trend." Actionism, he concluded, "is regressive.... It refuses to reflect on its own impotence."

On the other hand, the left also has a bad habit of brutalizing the English language by taking any noun, verb, or adjective and putting an ism on the tail end to create a catch-all word to describe some opposition to your own world view. But this time it's okay because anything is acceptable if taken as irony. That's my personal rule - ironyism.

So it's with ironyism in mind that I make note of Tom's letter to the Redwood Times in response to this article about a weekly peace vigil held at noon right here in Garberville. Unlike Tom, I do take comfort in the fact that they're there even though my work schedule doesn't allow me to participate. There is some importance to visibility. Tom is not impressed with the "honk for peace" sign that encourages a disturbing of the peace in the name of peace. However, it was another sign that really chafes his craw (do I have that metaphor right?). He writes to the RT:
But my glee must question itself, for in the middle ground of the photograph we read on another sign that, "The Terrorists are U.S." Since I am a citizen of this country, I am apparently a terrorist. In spite of all my honking, I (like most readers of this paper) am guilty of horrendous crimes. Who would believe the honking of a terrorist? How do we distinguish between a terrorist honk and a peace-loving honk?
Tom is of course addressing the original sin approach to progressive politics, which applies to racism, sexism, imperialism, and every other ism worth fighting. We is it. And the only redemption is.... action. Action will be taken.

The demonstrators are all good people, and I consider some of them personal friends. But if Tom, a progressive whose politics border on socialist, is getting this message and responding as he does, imagine the impact on the vast majority of ordinary folk who are on the lunch clock as they're driving by this very exclusive demo. As with every demonstration, the strategy should be considered. Whom are we reaching? How are we reaching them? How will we measure the success of the demonstration?

From the essay:
How does activist anti-intellectualism manifest on the ground? One instance is the reduction of strategy to mere tactics, to horrible effect. Take for example the largely failed San Francisco protest against the National Association of Broadcasters, an action that ended up costing tens of thousands of dollars, gained almost no attention, had no impact on the NAB and nearly ruined one of the sponsoring organizations. During a postmortem discussion of this debacle one of the organizers reminded her audience that: "We had 3,000 people marching through [the shopping district] Union Square protesting the media. That's amazing. It had never happened before." Never mind the utter non-impact of this aimless march. The point was clear: We marched for ourselves. We were our own targets. Activism made us good.
And maybe the good Paul Encimer have thought these questions through, and have their answers, or at least some of them. Let's just remember that a demonstration is not necessarily successful simply because it happens.

Oh, and I forgot to mention - the RT's edit of Tom's letter to change the spelling from minuscule to miniscule is technically erroneous. minuscule is the proper spelling.

 

Did everybody make their phone calls yesterday?

Here's the TS article. I'll have more to say later. Feel free to comment in the meantime.

And once again, rent The Oxbow Incident. Or borrow it from the library.

By the way, Courtroom 7 is Judge Cissna. And here is a letter from Max Cardoza, the deputy D.A. who handled handled the matter.

Update: Okay, some closing thoughts. There are two basic lessons to be learned here - two points to remember which will make your lives much easier.

1. Don't rush to judgment.

2. Eric V. Kirk is always right.

On a serious note, I still view the Heather Muller article as appropriate for the information she had - and she drew none of the wild conclusions that were being tossed around on blogsville, or if she did she was professional enough to keep them to herself pending more investigation. Maybe she should have contacted Cardoza, but she contacted the person at the top and she does live by deadlines. Paul G. could have avoided the story altogether by giving her two minutes of his time. Which brings me to another speculative conspiracy theory. Was the whole thing a set-up? The ER puts a story out that makes some implications. The TS then gets the story right. The grown-ups clean up the mess, and TS wins the round in the paper wars which is fine by Gallegos.

That's just for fun people. I'm sure if you asked Paul, he'd say something like "really, I'm just not that clever."

Anyway, I noticed over at Fred's blog that some of the die-hards are trying to salvage their attacks on Gallegos. Feel free to carry on here as well. The drama's much better than anything you'd find on Sex in the City or The Sopranos.

Further update: The ER has weighed in with an editorial pointing out the futility of complaining about an incomplete story when you refuse to answer the reporter's questions that might fill in the gaps.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

 

Noble Fire still going

Though they are reporting that it's relatively contained for now. Not much chance of it reaching Red Hill thankfully. The Piercy residences and people appear to be safe unless a big wind kicks up out of nowhere.

It was pretty serious last night. Residents of Nielsen Ranch reported seeing the flames from their road. That's quite a distance.

Nobody's reporting on how it started. Cigarette from a vehicle on 101 maybe?

Update with correction: The fire is on Red Mountain. It's Reed Mountain that isn't yet threatened.

And my secretary is complaining that neither of the daily papers is covering the fire. I haven't noticed. But she wanted me to post that complaint.

Five crews and a watertruck just entered the onramp outside my window, and the smoke is heavy.

Update Thursday morning: Still going.

 

Daveau Witherspoon's memorial blog

Just found the blog linked on the KMUD site. I never really got to know him well. He engineered my show a couple of times. Obviously he touched quite a few people around the SoHum community.

Hasn't been updated in a while, but I'll still add it to my links list.

This by the way is the only other SoHum based blog I have. I've heard rumors of another, but so far it's eluded me. If anybody knows of any others, I'll be happy to post a link.

 

Gallegos is back in the news

And it's not about the Graham trial. Heather Muller is asking whether there is any causal relationship between what appears to be lenient treatment of an individual (Derek Bowman, 25) facing serious charges and a ten thousand dollar campaign donation from the defendant's father. Actually, the donation itself came from the Bear River Band Rancheria, of which Leonard Bowman chairs, although Mr. Bowman reportedly sweetened the alleged deal with $100.00 out of his own pocket. The BRBR attorney threw in $1000.00 of his own which Ms. Muller links to the scenario. The assumption is that Mr. Bowman had a hand in the decision to make the donation, but the article is unclear on that point. Ms. Muller describes the court resolution as follows:
But on July 19, less than six weeks after Gallegos was re-elected, the DA’s Office gathered nine felonies and a handful of misdemeanors pending against Derek, and dismissed or suspended sentence on all of them in a single day.

According to publicly available court documents, recent charges against Derek included felony statutory rape, five counts of felony check fraud against local businesses, felony burglary, felony threats, felony battery, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Restitution orders for the check fraud cases were part of the July 19 deals, but the documents show that no jail time for any of the alleged offenses was requested by the DA’s Office.

For violation of probation on a previous charge, Derek was sentenced in July to 180 days, less time served, in the Humboldt County jail.
Presumably the statutory rape charge involved his wife of 17 years (of age - everyone happy?), although it's unclear from the article as to when that offense was alleged to have taken place. Apparently she told an officer that Derek had been bragging about how his father would get him off, and suggested without saying so explicitly that the donation was a factor. The 17-year-old girl then allegedly hung up the phone.

Ms. Muller then makes it clear that she's not making any allegations of impropriety, but suggests in her narrative that Gallegos might have taken steps to avoid the appearance thereof, while acknowledging that he is under no legal obligation to do so. She also notes that Gallegos was not personally involved in the case. Muller deserves credit for researching that issue thoroughly with an interesting analysis of the law. I'm curious as to the CDAA guidelines on the issue.

The case was handled by six attorneys (probably most of them simply making appearances at pretrial conferences) but doesn't say which attorney resolved the matter. I notice that the final attorney listed is/was an outspoken Dikeman supporter in this last election. If she was pressured in any way by Gallegos to ease up on Derek Bowman, I'm sure she would be forthcoming.

The article references a letter to the probation department from the Bear River attorney, but makes no mention of the probation department recommendations. Bowman was in fact sentenced to 6 months in jail. In fact, the article fails to discuss the evidence or merits of the case at all. Perhaps it's unavailable, but wouldn't it seem reasonable to get a comment from the deputy who resolved the case? As I've said before in response to similar criticism of the Rat Twins' case, plea bargains are often based on the strength of the case as much as the severity of the allegations. If you're risking acquital with trial, you may decide to offer more so that you obtain at least some semblance of justice. And six months in jail is nothing to sneeze at.

At the end of the article, Muller pulls Worth Dikeman into the fray:
Dikeman has acknowledged that one possible factor in his most recent defeat by Gallegos was the extended protest in front of the Courthouse staged by Ellie Bowman, who is Derek’s mother and Leonard’s wife.

“It certainly isn’t helping,” Dikeman said in June.
Ms. Muller is showing her modesty. It was her story regarding Dikeman's misprepresentations about the appellate court decisions that probably did in his candidacy.

Addendum: Noticed two letters in today's ER. One calling for Gallegos' resignation, disbarment, and imprisonment. Gallegos is a dishonest tyrant, the departed Dikeman represents Mom, applle pie, and all that is heavensent.

Meanwhile Jamie Flower asks whether Dikeman would have kept Gallegos on had he prevailed. If I recall correctly, during one of the debates Dikeman responded in the negative. I'll have to look back at the articles later tonight.

 

Yeah, okay, fine on Proposition 87

As set up, it's not a regressive tax. It establishes a "severance tax" on oil, more commonly referred to as drilling fees. Currently we're the only state without them. We Californians consume more oil than everybody else. Our air quality is the second worst in the nation, and it's almost entirely due to carbon combustion engines.

Furthermore, the Board of Equalization would be empowered to generate regulations to ensure that the tax is not transferred to consumers and then enforce them - admittedly a formidable task turning the BOE into something like the SEC at the federal level watching closely for unusual movements in pricing. Seems like all that you'd have to do is monitor for collusion, which is already prohibited by law. Absent collusion, the markets would probably take care of themselves. Nevertheless, the proposal doesn't provide many guidelines for the BOE officials who will probably be stocking up on aspirin should the measure be passed.

The measure also attempts to reinstate some of the goals in reduction of gasoline and diesel use that have been abandoned by lack of will at the state level. The money would go to alternative energy research, fuel consumption reduction programs, and some school money thrown in for good measure to sweeten the pot. Personally, I have nothing against imposing fees comparable to other states and I'd be fine if the revenues were just dropped into the general fund. We don't need more earmarked money with strings attached that require bureaucratic oversite. But I do think the oil companies are catching an easy ride in California, and all of the proposed uses of the revenue look fine. I don't like the fact that this tax could actually reduce existing general fund bound revenues - if the legislative analyst is correct.

The opponents are composed of the usual assortments that make up the tax posse, who oppose pretty much every new tax or bond issue proposed unless it's to build more prisons where they fall strangely silent. Of course, they're afraid of new bureaucracy, and they see the prices of gas rising even with the anti-transfer provisions - which seems contradictory. If the new bureaucracy isn't going to have any teeth, then what's to fear? Moreover, California's gas prices are already among the highest in the nation, and yet we're the only state that doesn't impose drilling fees. There's a variable missing somewhere. And they cite the fact that the new revenues would be exempt from Prop 98 (earmarking a percentage of the budget for schools), which seems a little hypocritical coming from people who opposed that measure as well.

It's not how I'd like the measure to be written, but I can live with it.

A side issue - I'm also noticing an increasing trend in the ballot book arguments where the "rebuttals" are just rehashings of their initial arguments. They don't address the arguments made by the other side. It'd be great if the Secretary of State had some balls and struck rebuttals that don't address the issues in the primary arguments made by the other side. Courts strike non-responsive rebuttal arguments made by attorneys, so why not? The Secretary should provide an initial deadline with time to send them back for a rewrite requiring that all rebuttals are linked directly to the opposing arguments. Does the Secretary have that kind of discretion? Presumably he's choosing who gets to write the thing, so why not some quality control?

Here's a pro-87 link. I'm pretty sure it's the official campaign site.

Monday, September 25, 2006

 

Santorum's Green Party strategy a bust - senate race round-up

Green candidate Carl Romanelli is off the ballot, unless he can prevail on the issue of whether the signature requirements are Constitutional. He's attempting to reduce the threshold from 67 thousand signatures to 16 thousand.

Not that it matters a whole lot. Casey's been consistantly ahead in the polls, and I just don't think Santorum can shake the Abramoff curse. His comments about WMD's in Iraq won't help either especially as he isn't retracting nor pushing the issue. Santorum's own aids have been jumping ship.

Update: It's official. Santorum is back against the ropes.

So then why did he spend two hours debating "some guy in a tie" (quoting Chris Bowers) on local cable TV?

.....

Meanwhile, I'm getting close to calling the Virginia senate election for challenger Jim Webb. Sen. Allen is going down in flames. If we weren't talking about the south, I'd call it already.

.....

However, one bright spot has arisen for the Republicans, in New Jersey. Two polls in a row give the Republican the edge, with the most recent gap fairly sizable although Rasmussen is going to release a poll that shows it much closer. Still, NJ is one of those states that affords Republicans leads that tend to melt away in the final days. A Republican win there would all but kill the Democrats' chances of taking the senate over Dick Cheney's tiebreaker.

.....

The big surprise is Tennessee where a black Democrat named Harold Ford is making quite a stir. However, I'll only believe a black Democrat can take the state of Tennessee when I see it.

 

Parenting and political ideology - a sort-of poll

In the spirit of George Lakoff's theme in Don't Think of an Elephant and some developments that I'll discuss later when I have some time, I'm presenting the following poll of sorts. Obviously the selection here won't be scientific, but I'm curious about something that doesn't require a random sampling. The question comes from a poll that has been conducted over the past couple of decades, and while I don't dispute the results I do believe the data is misleading for reasons I'll go into later.

Please identify the political ideology that most closely represents your own and then tell me which of each of the following pairs of attributes you value more in children and feel free to elaborate. The more I know about the philosophy behind your choices the more clarity I can provide later.

1. Independence vs respect for elders

2. Self-reliance vs. obedience

3. Curiosity vs. good manners

4. Being considerate vs. being well behaved

Update: Well, I didn't get much of a response, but here's the article. As I said in the comments, I have some problems with the implied argument, namely that the authoritarian view of child rearing necessarily correlates with broader authoritarian ideologies, and conversely that libertarian oriented child-rearing necessarily correlates with broader libertarian ideologies. It think there is some correlation, but there are plenty of parents who take a strong disciplinary approach to parenting at least envision that their method would remove the necessity for authoritarianism at later ages. Moreover, there are plenty of parents who embrace liberal politics, let their kids run wild, and would advocate that a radio station express only views comfortable to their narrow ideological framework. For example.

On the other hand, it's hard to shake the implications of the data.
In 1992, authoritarianism barely had an effect on partisanship. Other things being equal, authoritarians tended to score about 7 percentage points toward the Republican end of the seven-point partisanship scale. By 2004, however, that 7 percentage point difference between authoritarians and non-authoritarians had ballooned to more than 20 percentage points.

....Authoritarianism's effect in 2004 was also strong relative to other variables. Its effect was substantially smaller than that of income in 1992. By 2004, its effect was twice that of income. In 1992, its effect was less than one-fifth as strong as the effect of government spending preferences. By 2004, the effects were much closer. It is not that the traditional left-right dimension in American politics is unimportant. What has changed is how relevant authoritarianism has become.

And one could rationally argue that those who choose selections "a" over "b" are advocating more than just tough love parenting - that they're expressing deeper authoritarian values. But the variables could be reduced if at least part of the polling questions moved out of the realm of child rearing.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

 

I hope other Democratic pols around the country were taking notes...

...because at the Montana Senate debate last night, Democratic challenger Jon Tester showed us how you win an election.

From Daily Kos:

Tester, who showed a fuller range of emotion in the course of the evening, probably found a sound bite moment in response to a Burns charge that he is "soft on terrorism." Tester, Burns said, "doesn't understand this enemy" and would weaken the Patriot Act. "Let me be clear," Tester shot back sharply. "I don't want to weaken the Patriot Act. I want to repeal it."

And yes I do believe that decided Montana's election. It was a "there you go again" kind of moment.

Kudos to Tester also for his framing of the national debt as a "birth tax," even if he wasn't the first to use it.

Photo source - Tester for Senate

 

See? I kept my promise.

I didn't blog about it.

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury loses it's stronghold in Redway

After 56 years of service to local followers of the church established to allow King Henry VIII to divorce and behead his wife, St. Andrews Episcopal Church of Redway deconsecrated the building yesterday (okay, there are some other accounts as well). The building, located at Briceland Road and Whitmore across from the feed store, will be up for sale once they've cleared out.

We got a lounge chair out of the deal.

I'm wondering if this is part of a resources rationing plan in anticipation of the pending schism over doctrine as it applies to homosexuality as the result of a conflict that reached a crescendo with the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson. I don't think it's about a loss of local interest as there always seemed to be plenty of cars parked around the church every Sunday they held service.

Interesting note about the schism. I remember one Robinson protestor commenting something along the lines that the United States was oppressing the third world Anglican churches by "imposing" its liberalism upon them. Of course pretty much every African church is violently opposed to the inclusionism, with the exception of South Africa no doubt due to the influence of Bishop Desmond Tutu and the cultural connections made during the divestment movement of the 1980s.

I'm probably being grandiose here. The Redway church building needs major work, and I imagine the interest is significantly lower than 30 years ago.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

 

The "litigation explosion" and other myths

I haven't really discussed "tort reform" either here nor on my radio show. Because part of my practice is personal injury law - a much larger portion of my practice than criminal defense - I've avoided the topic as it seems self-serving. I'm going to make an exception at least this once as the issue will probably be coming to a head soon however, as the "tort reform" agenda includes federal laws that will pre-empt state laws based on hundreds of years of common law - all premised on the myth of the "litigation explosion." A blogger at MYDD has posted a very concise account of the myth of the frivolous lawsuit, pointing out that there are a number of safeguards in place. It doesn't really discuss the primary safeguard however, which is the jury. Contrary to popular opinion, juries are soured on personal injury suits due to a saturization of misinformation from the insurance industry and popular misconceptions about certain cases such as the famed "McDonalds coffee case," of which some of the misconceptions can be cleared up here.

This may come as a surprise to some, however, personal injury litigation is actually on the decline, and has been since the 1980s. The vast majority of civil filings are business litigation, as cited by the president of the Washington Trial Lawyers Association in a letter to an editor of a few years back.

A Harvard study of medical malpractice found that only two percent of people injured by negligent medical care filed suit. [Paul C. Weiler et al., A Measure of Malpractice, 73 (1993).] The conclusion is further substantiated in a recent study by the National Center for State Courts, a nonpartisan organization that compiles court statistical data. The study found that tort filings have decreased since 1996. [Brian Ostrom & Neal Kauder, National Center for State Courts, Examining the Work of State Courts, 1998, 8 (1999).] In contrast, a recent citizen-action study found that businesses file 10 times as many lawsuits as injured consumers. (Source: Willful and Wanton Hypocrisy: Tort Reformers Flood Courts with Lawsuits, 1995.) I wonder why we never hear the defense bar proposing tort reform to curb the filings by corporate America?
And yet while personal injury litigation has declined, insurance rates continue to climb. Go figure. Bear also the following in mind also from the above source.
A recent study conducted by the New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy found states proposing severe tort-reform legislation experienced just as high an increase in insurance rates as states that enacted little or no change in their tort laws. In fact, arguably, the states in the middle tier of tort restrictions enacted, which because of the 1986 act includes Washington, incurred the highest level of insurance cost increases. In fact, Washington product liability insurance costs were the second highest in the nation. (J. Robert Hunter and Joanne Doroshow, Center for Justice and Democracy, Premium Deceit: The Failure of Tort Reform to Cut Insurance Prices, July 13, 1999.)
Obviously ATLA isn't an unbiased source, but they do have the data to back up their arguments - and their talking points can be found here. A few of the points:
Tort "“reformersÂ" claim that too many lawsuits lead to increased costs and delays in the civil justice system. President Bush twice denounced "frivolous lawsuits"” in his State of the Union address in January. But researchers have been unable to confirm the existence of a "litigation explosion."

Tort filings in state courts have declined by 5% since 1993, according to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Contract filings, meanwhile, which are more likely to involve businesses than tort cases, rose by 21% over the same period.

Civil litigation is decreasing in the federal courts as well. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts found federal civil filings dropped from 280,000 in 1998 to 265,000 in 2003, and the percentage of personal injury cases in that time fell from 21.2 percent to 18.3 percent of all civil cases filed. Less than 20 percent of all federal civil cases are tort cases, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

The truth is, only 2 percent of Americans file lawsuits, according to the Rand Institute for Civil Justice. In state courts, only 5 percent of the tort cases filed go to trial; in federal court, only 3.1 percent do, according to the BJS.

It is defendants who raise costs and drag out suits by stalling discovery: Courts around the country have sanctioned corporate defendants for withholding or destroying evidence, routinely filing numerous objections, failing to produce documents and witnesses, and hiding records or denying that they were ever kept.

The McDonald's coffee case and others that have drawn media attention have distorted the public perception of the legal system, giving people the impression that huge sums are commonly awarded for questionable wrongs. In fact, the media report only large verdicts or unusual cases that they deem newsworthy.

And here are some more - apologizing for the repetition.

he number of civil trials dropped by 47% between 1992 and 2001. The number of tort (personal injury) cases decreased by 31.8% during the same period. The decrease was reflected across specific case types. The numbers of automobile cases dropped 15%, premises liability 52.1%, medical malpractice 14.2% and product liability by 76%. ["Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001," Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2004]

The trend in damage size was also down. The median inflation-adjusted payout in all tort (personal injury) cases dropped 56.3% between 1992 and 2001 to $28,000. ["Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001," Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2004]

Tort (personal injury) filings by individuals are steadily decreasing while contract cases are greatly increasing. Tort filings have declined 5% since 1993. Contract filings, which are more likely to involve businesses than tort cases, rose by 21% over the same period. ["Examining the Work of State Courts, 2003," National Center for State Courts, 2004]

Business cases account for 47% of all punitive damage awards (to punish for near criminal behavior). In contrast, only 4.4% and 2% of punitive damage awards are due to product liability and medical malpractice cases respectively. [Rand Institute for Civil Justice, 1996]

"As contract cases often involved business disputes, businesses comprised a substantial percentage (44%) of all contract plaintiffs." ["Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001," Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2004]

Overall civil filings decreased 5.4% from 1998 to 2003 in federal courts alone. The percentage of cases that were personal injury cases decreased 2.9% during the same time period and made up only 18.3% of all federal cases in 2003. ["Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics, 2003," Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, 2004]

This is consistant locally as well. Ask any civil attorney. There are cases my own firm would have taken 10 years ago, and we were actually the last firm in the county to take the smaller non-debilitating injury cases. The insurance companies however will spend 15 thousand dollars to defend a five thousand dollar case if they determine the value to be three thousand. We were taking these cases to trial hoping the climate would change, but even when you win, you lose financially because of the costs.

I understand why the climate has turned. There has been a great deal of abuse of the system, with attorneys advertising late at night promising medical experts who will "believe you" even when your own doctor doesn't. And businesses have been hurt by lawsuits - jobs lost. Certain types of recreation have become insurance cost prohibitive. It's hard to find a seesaw on a playground anymore. But some of this is as much a product of perception as reality, and the "ambulance chaser" image dates well before the past few decades.

Like I said however, I'm not unbiased. I have a material interest in the issue which makes it awkward for me to discuss it. Maybe I'm missing part of the picture, and maybe I'm favoring sources of information that benefit my arguments. I will gladly post links to any sites with information to support counterarguments. Just take this information, and factor it into any votes you may cast in the near future.


Friday, September 22, 2006

 

Dr. Aziz' responses to a few points on last night's show

I'll be putting together some thoughts on the show over the weekend. As those who listened heard, there were a few callers upset that Andy S. was even allowed to speak on KMUD - as if the station should have some litmus test of moral and political purity before being allowed to express opinions over its airwaves. Even the American left has its authoritarian streaks I'm afraid.

But Dr. Aziz wishes to make a few points, as follows:


1. I wish Mr. Stunich will give me the addresses of the various anti-Muslim web sites to which he wants me to respond. Downloading a whole lot of material and then uploading it muddies the discussion. The readers get lost and I am overwhelmed. Since he is attacking Islam for its doctrines and they are based upon the Quran (Hadith was collected more than a hundred years after Prophet's death, thus if a Hadith contradicts the Quran then it is a false Hadith) I request him to refer to one or two verses of the Quran which in his opinion are the reason for his claim. I shall provide him with my response. A short description of question answer sessions would be appreciated by the readers as well.

2. The reason I asked Mr. Stunich to let me know his belief system is that it will make him visible. I shall know the standard to which he can be held to. If he is a Christian I could hold him to the OT and the NT as standards of violence-related doctrines. If a Jew the standard could be the OT only and if a Hindu then Gita. Without having any standard one becomes the judge, the jury and the executioner. An invisible person wants to have an advantage- attack, attack and attack. He knows that he does not have to defend any thing. This is not considered an ethical strategy in any discussion. Still I respect his decision.

3. There is only one version of the Quran. It is unlike KJV, NRV, RV, and Catholic versions of Bible. Translations of the Quran are at least linguistically considered equivalent. The differences do occur in interpretations by various translators or sects. Therefore whether one follows the translation by Yusuf Ali or Khawja Farid it makes no difference. Interpretations do differ. It is just the same with the Jews and Christians. Protestants have discarded six books of OT found in the Catholic version because according to their interpretations they are not spiritually strong enough.

4. There is nothing wrong with mixing Meccan and Medinite chapters. They are words of God and hence must stand the truth of applicability given a certain situation. In Meccan chapters the emphasis is on the identification and worship of one God. Instructions regarding war are found mostly in Medinite chapters. There were armed encounters when the Prophet migrated to Medina but none in Mecca.

5. The idea that some of the verses of the Quran have been abrogated is a misinterpretation by many Muslim scholars. This idea according to some was the result of mass conversion of Christians to Islam in the early period.

Among Christians the concept of 'abrogation of some Biblical verses' existed. For example, first Jesus strictly prohibited his disciples from preaching his teachings to non-Jews but latter abrogated it and told the disciples to preach the Gospels to everybody including the non-Jews. (I do not believe this abrogation personally but it is not for me to interpret).

However, regarding the Quran I do not believe that any verse of the Quran was abrogated. All commandments that are context-constrained stand as applicable today as when revealed. What the verses 2:106 and 16:101 say is that God replaces the 'verses'. The word 'verses' refers to verses of the previous scriptures that were given to prior prophets. When the commands given in the earlier scriptures became inapplicable then God revealed new verses in the new scriptures. For example, the verse 'tooth for a tooth' in the OT was replaced by 'turn the other cheek' in the NT. Similar when turning the other cheek became inapplicable God revealed in the Quran that 'proportionate revenge was permissible' but 'better to forgive'.

6. Mrs Armstrong's saying that the word 'Jihad' means simply spiritual Jihad is literally correct. However, metaphorically the word has been applied to fighting a religious war. Since at this time there is no place on earth where Muslims are killed for simply practicing their religion, Jihad as a religious war is suspended at this time. If the situation changes and Muslims are attacked and killed simply for their religion then Jihad as a religious war becomes applicable again. For more information on Jihad please visit www.alislam.org.

7. The idea that the Meccan verses were mild and subdued as compared with the Medinite verses is not correct. Muhammad preached against the idolatry from day one of his ministry. This was the biggest affront to the Meccan idolaters. Anti-idolatry verses form the core of the earliest verses of the Quran. There are verses revealed during the last year of the Prophet's life that exhort Muslims to treat non-believer with justice, in spit of their enmity in the past.

8. I leave Mr. Stunich's claim that Chapters 8 and 9 of the Quran have nothing to do with war to the readers. They can read these chapters and decide.

9. Respect and good wishes, Mr. Stunich.


Some thoughts from Mr. Stunich about Dr. Aziz' comments and the radio show:

I wish to comment regarding some listeners’ responses to my presentation on Eric Kirk’s show. We should first realize that we all essentially agree on many key points. I believe we all agree that some Islamic fanatics are committing terrible atrocities in the name of Islam, but that most Muslims want peace and are not terrorists. The only point wherein I and some of my critics depart is that conventional wisdom teaches that the terrorists are twisting Islamic Doctrine to justify their conduct and I have determined that, while some of their conduct does twist Islamic doctrine (i.e., women jihadists, men under age of puberty participating in Jihad, babies on suicide flights, taking out Muslims in random attacks), that much of their conduct is well supported by core Islamic Doctrine as practiced by Muhammad and the early Muslim community. Given the multitude of undeniably violent passages from the Koran, violence advocated in sayings by Muhammad recorded in the hadiths, and early Islamic history wherein the early Muslim community undertook many conquests in the name of Allah, it seems inherently incredible to me that my views seem to be so far out on a limb to some people.

To be candid, the bigger mystery is how it is that so many can be so deceived by the obvious truth. The first successor to Muhammad, Abu Bakr, initiated unprovoked warfare to spread Islam by force. Do the Dr. Aziz’s of the world really contend that Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s closest friend with whom he hid in a cave during the Hijrah, did not understand Islam? I assure you that after hundreds of hours of study and analysis that he understood it perfectly well and that it is Dr. Aziz that preaches a new and improved version of Islam designed to better reach people with values that have changed since the seventh century.

In short, my position and the conventional wisdom of the listeners that reject my view are not that far apart and there is a plethora of objective support for my view all of which derives from early Islamic sources. Even further, given that I have repeatedly said that I am discussing core Islamic Doctrine and not Muslims as individuals, for some listeners to suggest that my views are immoral is nothing more than disguised attempts to stifle an opposing viewpoint.

It is also important to make sure that everyone knows what I am talking about when I say core Islamic Doctrine. The following primary sources contain all that is known about Muhammad and Islam. These sources constitute fundamental Islam: The Koran, which can only be understood by reading the following additional primary sources: Ibn Ishaq's biographical account of Muhammad, Tabari's history of Muhammad and his formation of Islam, the Hadith of Sahih al Bukhari and another hadith collector named Sahih Muslim. Anything else is an interpretation or a reformation of Islam.

I believe it is important to understand the true, deep-seated motivation of the Islamic terrorists as whether they are inspired by true Islamic Doctrine or simply false teachings has tremendous implications. False teachers have the impact of Jim Jones (People’s Temple) and, while horrific, his impact was limited. Conversely, Osama bin Laden has a devoted worldwide following and massive worldwide financial support that seems to defy even the overwhelming military power of the West. Conduct supported by the tenets of one of the world’s largest religion is more likely to defy resistence, endure, and spread - exactly what we are experiencing.

The stakes are also high. A Pakistani reporter alleges that Al Qaeda asserts it already has nuclear weapons within the U.S. borders. It may be a bluff and I hope it is with every ounce of my being. However, regardless of whether it is true, we know that is exactly what Al Qaeda wants. Every military leader from Napoleon to Sun Tsu has said that it is crucial to know one’s enemy.

I will now address Dr. Aziz’ comments.

Dr. Aziz states: “I wish Mr. Stunich will give me the addresses of the various anti-Muslim web sites to which he wants me to respond.”

I do not know what he is talking about here. I neither want nor expect him to address whatever web sites he is referring to. As I have said before, secondary opinions and sources will not help us narrow the debate. Islam is what it is based upon its core doctrines as revealed in primary sources and that is what we should debate.

Dr. Aziz states: “Downloading a whole lot of material and then uploading it muddies the discussion. The readers get lost and I am overwhelmed.”

I assume that Dr. Aziz is referring to the portions of history of Ibn Ishaq and William Muir that I injected into the debate. Since we were debating a historical event, the slaughter of the male Qurayza tribe, there is no better way to support one’s views than to quote the earliest and most trusted history of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq that has been accepted by Muslims and westerners alike for 1,400 years. Dr. Aziz has no rationalization for rejecting the history that Muslims have accepted for 1,400 years other than his realization that the history relates a great deal of material that will not appeal to prospective western converts to Islam and those following the debate.

With respect to my quote from William Muir, Dr. Aziz suggested him as an alternative to Ibn Ishaq, then when he realized that the history definitively disproved his position he tried to back away from his earlier support of William Muir’s work. Such embarrassing vacillations by Dr. Aziz help prove my case and discredit Dr. Aziz’ position. They reveal what should be obvious. He supports his position by faith based arguments. I support my position by actually educating people as to what constitutes core Islamic doctrine and how it came about. Dr. Aziz quotes a few of the lonely, peaceful sounding verses of the Koran and claims that they define Islam for all time, but offers no support from the Koran or hadiths to support his view. Conversely, I have carefully explained the seemingly contradictory nature of the Koran with facts that are beyond reasonable dispute.

Dr. Aziz next states: “Since he is attacking Islam for its doctrines and they are based upon the Quran (Hadith was collected more than a hundred years after Prophet's death, thus if a Hadith contradicts the Quran then it is a false Hadith) I request him to refer to one or two verses of the Quran which in his opinion are the reason for his claim.”

I am not attacking Islam. I am simply telling people what Islam is just as Muhammad did. True Muslims will neither fault me nor be ashamed because if they do not like or believe in true Islam, they should abandon it and not, in my view, attempt to reform an inherently flawed religion. As ironic and bizarre as it may seem, I am certain that Muhammad would reject Dr. Aziz’ version of Islam and order his followers to burn his church to the ground as heretical for altering Islam. I know this because of the hadiths authenticated by Bukhari.

Bukhari:V4B52N220 "Allah's Apostle said, `I have been made victorious with terror. The treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand.'"


Bukhari:V9B88N174 "I heard the Prophet saying, `Islam cannot change!'"

Bukhari:V4B52N260 "The Prophet said, `If a Muslim discards his religion, kill him.'"

Even the most horrific hadiths are well supported by the Koran. Compare Bukhari V8B82N795: “The Prophet cut off the hands and feet of the men belonging to the tribe of 'Uraina and did not cauterise (their bleeding limbs) till they died,” to Koran 5:33: "The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter."

If this is a religion of peace to you, then you simply have different values than I do.

In Muhammad’s view, Dr. Aziz has abandoned Islam by preaching a heretical interpretation of Islam and accepting new revelations and new messiahs when Muhammad said his revelation was the final revelation. Muhammad viewed such conduct as setting up rivals to Allah and here is what he said about such acts: Bukhari V8B82N802: “I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Which is the biggest sin?" He said, "To set up rivals to Allah by worshipping others though He alone has created you." Muhammad also said: Bukhari:V9B88N174 "I heard the Prophet saying, `Islam cannot change!'" In Ibn Ishaq’s history of Muhammad, he records what Muhammad told his followers to do to a mosque that deviated from true Islam. He said burn it down and his followers did just that with the heretical Muslims inside. That is why fundamentalist Muslims have viciously persecuted Amhadis such as Dr. Aziz.

None of the hadiths that have been accepted by Islamic scholars contradict the Koran. One of the standards in accepting or rejecting hadiths was whether they support or contradict the Koran. The hadiths I cite do just that. They contradict Dr. Aziz’ version of Islam because he preaches a new and improved Islam, not real Islam. The top terrorists are very, very well educated and they know what real Islam is and those terrorists would laugh at Dr. Aziz’ version of Islam and, if they understood American culture well enough, they would call it Disneyland Islam for naive Americans.

The University of California’s Islamic website explains: “The Muslims are agreed that the Sunnah (hadiths record the Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the second of the two revealed fundamental sources of Islam, after the Glorious Qur'an. The authentic Sunnah is contained within the vast body of Hadith literature.” Since core Islamic Doctrine is not limited to a few verses from the Koran, Dr. Aziz’ request that “I request him (Andy) to refer to one or two verses of the Quran which in his opinion are the reason for his claim” is impossible for me to do. The basis for my opinion is core Islamic Doctrine which is not limited to a few verses. That Dr. Aziz errantly believes such a thing is possible explains why he errors.

In addition, Dr. Aziz once again wants to know my religion and once again I repeat that this is not about me. My religion is irrelevant as to what constitutes real Islam.

Dr. Aziz states that there is only one version of the Quran . . . whether one follows the translation by Yusuf Ali or Khawja Farid it makes no difference.”

I beg to differ. A translation sets forth the message originally written in Classical Arabic or it does not. To the extent that Khawja Farid alleges a different Koranic message from Yusuf Ali, whose interpretation is accepted and endorsed by CAIR, it is yet another new version of Islam and not the Islam Muhammad preached and practiced.

Dr. Aziz says: “There is nothing wrong with mixing Meccan and Medinite chapters. They are words of God and hence must stand the truth of applicability given a certain situation. In Meccan chapters the emphasis is on the identification and worship of one God. Instructions regarding war are found mostly in Medinite chapters. There were armed encounters when the Prophet migrated to Medina but none in Mecca.”

Here again, Dr. Aziz contradicts what has been accepted, traditional Islam for 1,400 years and the commands of the Koran itself that state: "When We substitute one revelation for another, - and God knows best what He reveals (in stages), - they say, "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not." (Koran, chapter 16, verse 101) "None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God Hath power over all things?" (Koran, chapter 2, verse 106)

Dr. Aziz is only correct to the extent that he seems to acknowledge that what face Islam shows the world depends on the circumstances in which the Islamic community finds itself.

Dr Aziz states: “The idea that some of the verses of the Quran have been abrogated is a misinterpretation by many Muslim scholars. This idea according to some was the result of mass conversion of Christians to Islam in the early period.”

If Dr. Aziz means that the Meccan verses remain to reveal how Islam is to be presented when Islam is not in a position of power, he is correct. If he means that the Meccan verses counteract the Medinan verses to spread Islam by force, he is plainly wrong as evidenced by the language of the Koran ("When We substitute one revelation for another . . .[Koran, chapter 16, verse 101]), the hadiths, and the history of early Islam.

Dr Aziz states: “Since at this time there is no place on earth where Muslims are killed for simply practicing their religion, Jihad as a religious war is suspended at this time.”

The Koran and hadiths contradict this interpretation in innumerable places as I have cited throughout this debate. Conversely, Dr. Aziz cites no verses, no hadiths, and no early Islamic history to support his view.

What part of the following portions of Islam does Dr. Aziz find ambiguous:

“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But God knoweth, and ye know not.” (2:216)

Mohammed said, "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, None has the right to be worshiped but Allah, and whoever says, None has the right to be worshiped but Allah, his life and property will be saved by me." (Al Bukhari Vol. 4:196)

Mohammed's last words at his deathbed purportedly were: "Turn the pagans (non-Muslims as that was the practical application) out of the Arabian Peninsula." (Al Bukhari, Vol. 5:716)

Mohammed said, "The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostle, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to paradise (if he is killed). " (Al Bukhari, Vol. 1:35)

Mohammed once was asked: what was the best deed for the Muslim next to believing in Allah and His Apostle? His answer was: "To participate in Jihad in Allah's cause." (Al Bukhari Vol. 1: 25)

“But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans [Idolaters or polytheists] wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Koran chapter 9, verse 5)

“Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle [Muhammad], nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (Koran chapter 9, verse 29)

Followers of this debate should ask Dr. Aziz to cite the verses or hadiths that limit the foregoing commands to situations wherein Muslims are killed for their religion as he suggests.

Dr. Aziz states: “The idea that the Meccan verses were mild and subdued as compared with the Medinite verses is not correct. Muhammad preached against the idolatry from day one of his ministry. This was the biggest affront to the Meccan idolaters. Anti-idolatry verses form the core of the earliest verses of the Quran.”

I agree that Muhammad remained firm against idolatry, other than the Satanic verses incident, but that hardly explains the shift from “let there be no compulsion in religion” to “slay the pagans wherever you find them.”

Dr. Aziz states: “There are verses revealed during the last year of the Prophet's life that exhort Muslims to treat non-believer with justice, in spite of their enmity in the past.”

Dr. Aziz, please cite the verses for analysis. With no authority for your opinion, it hardly helps advance your case. It is undisputed that chapter nine was some of the last verses cited by Muhammad and it is very violent. Most important, Mohammed's last words at his deathbed purportedly were: "Turn the pagans (non-Muslims as that was the practical application) out of the Arabian Peninsula." (Al Bukhari, Vol. 5:716)

Is it justice to drive people out of their ancestral homeland because they chose to remain with their religion rather than accept Muhammad’s claim that he was God’s prophet? Most Americans reject that claim as well. Shall we be driven from our homes or forced to submit to Islam as Muhammad preached?

Dr. Aziz states: “I leave Mr. Stunich's claim that Chapters 8 and 9 of the Quran have nothing to do with war to the readers. They can read these chapters and decide.”

I say they have everything to do with war, but war was commanded to the Islamic faithful until the whole world submits to Islam. That is why the religion’s name means submission. Muslims believe that everyone must submit to Islam which they believe to be God’s will. There is no authority within real Islam to support Dr. Aziz’ opinion that the Sword Verses and supporting verses and hadith are limited to situations “where Muslims are killed for simply practicing their religion” as Dr. Aziz contends. The Koran and hadiths plainly show this opinion to be false.


Dr. Aziz responds:

1. Mr. Stunich, you are welcome to call in during my presentation.

2. Mr. Stunich, in one of his previous postings mentions specific verses of the Quran that are against human values (my interpretation). I shall answer three of those below and then continue later.

Stunich: There is no separation between church and state (2:193)

Response: Verse 2:193 explains that Muslims must continue to fight against aggressors until there is no persecution. Apparently the reference is incorrect. However, Islam does not say that the church and state must be amalgamated. Please tell me the correct reference and I shall respond.

Stunich: Fighting is prescribed for Muslims (2:216)

Response: In this verse Muslims are told that 'even though you do not like fighting but Allah prescribes it'. Now please go to the next verse 2:217 to find out as to who are those people against whom fighting is prescribed. Verse 2:217 lists them as: those who hinder men from reaching the Allah's mosque, who turn people out from there and also will not cease fighting until they turn back Muslims from their faith. (What would you do Andy?)

Stunich: Wives are fields to be used by their husbands as they desire (2:223).

Response: The complete verses is translated as follows: "Your wives are a (sort of) tilth for you; so approach your tilth when and as you like to send ahead (some good) for yourselves; and fear Allah and know that you shall meet Him; and bear good tidings to those who believe". (bracketed words added by the translator). This verse emphasizes that our women are blessed with the attribute of providing us progeny. A man ought to be a wise husbandman and select
the best seed (not be a druggy or an alcoholic), and choose the best time and manner for sowing it (have children at proper intervals).

It forces men to think of a caring treatment a woman needs during her pregnancy for the safety and well being of the mother and the fetus (metaphorically the land and the crop). Also the verse warns men to be mindful of their meeting with God where they would have to explain their treatment of their wives. (What could be a better way of describing the husband-wife relationship along with man's responsibilities?)

Dr. Aziz responds:

1. Mr. Stunich, you are welcome to call in during my presentation.

2. Mr. Stunich, in one of his previous postings mentions specific verses of the Quran that are against human values (my interpretation). I shall answer three of those below and then continue later.

Stunich: There is no separation between church and state (2:193)

Response: Verse 2:193 explains that Muslims must continue to fight against aggressors until there is no persecution. Apparently the reference is incorrect. However, Islam does not say that the church and state must be amalgamated. Please tell me the correct reference and I shall respond.

Stunich: Fighting is prescribed for Muslims (2:216)

Response: In this verse Muslims are told that 'even though you do not like fighting but Allah prescribes it'. Now please go to the next verse 2:217 to find out as to who are those people against whom fighting is prescribed. Verse 2:217 lists them as: those who hinder men from reaching the Allah's mosque, who turn people out from there and also will not cease fighting until they turn back Muslims from their faith. (What would you do Andy?)

Stunich: Wives are fields to be used by their husbands as they desire (2:223).

Response: The complete verses is translated as follows: "Your wives are a (sort of) tilth for you; so approach your tilth when and as you like to send ahead (some good) for yourselves; and fear Allah and know that you shall meet Him; and bear good tidings to those who believe". (bracketed words added by the translator). This verse emphasizes that our women are blessed with the attribute of providing us progeny. A man ought to be a wise husbandman and select
the best seed (not be a druggy or an alcoholic), and choose the best time and manner for sowing it (have children at proper intervals).

It forces men to think of a caring treatment a woman needs during her pregnancy for the safety and well being of the mother and the fetus (metaphorically the land and the crop). Also the verse warns men to be mindful of their meeting with God where they would have to explain their treatment of their wives. (What could be a better way of describing the husband-wife relationship along with man's responsibilities?)

Mr. Stunich comments - not necessarily in response to the immediate above. They crossed in the online ether.


Eric, this debate seems to be drawing to a close. I have one last submission for your readers. I wanted to explain how I view Muhammad and Islam. The two are inextricably intertwined in my view. I thought of spending hours writing and summarizing my view for the few followers who may have followed this debate to the end. However, I realized that both Dr. Aziz and I have said that we hold William Muir's work in high regard. Since the copyright on his work expired long ago, I offer his conclusion as my conclusion because, while I could modernize the language, I could never equal his objectivity and depth of understanding. It is not so long of a passage as to frighten away the interested and the passage is virtually Islam and Muhammad in a nutshell. I have deleted some of the less interesting portions, such as Muhammad's appearance, for brevity.
For those who continue to believe in Islam, I beg you, for the sake of all mankind, to emulate the Prophet of Mecca and not the Prince of Medina. In that distinction of Muhammad's character, we see most amply the pitfall of joining religious and political authority. Even Christianity, with Jesus' perfect example of unbridled peace toward others, fell into grievous error when political and religious power were combined.

THE BIOGRAPHY OF MAHOMET, AND RISE OF ISLAM.
CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVENTH.

The Person and Character of Mahomet. General review of Mahomet's character

IT may be expected that before bringing this work to a close, I should gather into one review the chief character traits in the character of Mahomet, which at different stages of his life, and from various points of view, have in the course of the history been presented to the reader, This I will now briefly attempt.

. . .

Simplicity of his life

A patriarchal simplicity pervaded his life. custom was to do every thing for himself. If he gave an alms he would place it with his own hand in that of the petitioner. He aided his wives in their household duties; he mended his own clothes; he tied up the goats; he even cobbled his sandals. His ordinary dress consisted of plain white cotton stuff; but on high and festive occasions, he wore garments of fine linen, striped or dyed in red. He never reclined at meals. He ate with his fingers; and when he had finished, he would lick them before he wiped his hands. The indulgences to which he was most addicted were "Women, scents, and food." In the first two of these, Ayesha tells us, he had his heart's desire; but when she adds that he was straitened in the third, we can only attribute the saying to the vivid contrast between the frugal habits prevalent at the rise of Islam, and the luxurious living which rapidly followed in the wake of conquest and prosperity. Mahomet, with his wives, lived in a row of low and homely cottages built of unbaked bricks; the apartments were separated by walls of palm branches rudely daubed with mud; curtains of leather, or of black hair-cloth, supplied the place of doors and windows. His abode was to all easy of access,- "even as the river's bank to him that draweth water therefrom." Yet we have seen that he maintained the state and dignity of real power. No approach was suffered to familiarity of action or of speech. The Prophet must be addressed in subdued accents and in a reverential style. His word was absolute. His bidding was law.

Urbanity and kindness of disposition

A remarkable feature was the urbanity and consideration with which Mahomet treated even the most insignificant of his followers. Modesty and kindness, patience, self-denial, and generosity, pervaded his conduct, and rivetted the affections of all around him. He disliked to say No; if unable to reply to a petitioner in the affirmative, he preferred to remain silent. "He was more bashful," says Ayesha, "than a veiled virgin; and if anything displeased him, it was rather from his face, than by his words, that we discovered it; he never smote any one but in the service of the Lord, not even a woman or a servant." He was not known ever to refuse an invitation to the house even of the meanest, nor to decline a proffered present however small. When seated by a friend, "he did not haughtily advance his knees towards him." He possessed the rare faculty of making each individual in a company think that he was the most favoured guest. When he met any one rejoicing. he would seize him eagerly and cordially by the hand. With the bereaved and afflicted he sympathized tenderly. Gentle and unbending towards little children, he would not disdain to accost a group of them at play with the salutation of peace. He shared his food, even in times of scarcity, with others; and was sedulously solicitous for the personal comfort of every one about him. A kindly and benevolent disposition pervades all these illustrations of his character.

Friendship

Mahomet was also a faithful friend. He loved Abu Bakr with the romantic affection of a brother; Ali, with the fond partiality of a father. Zeid, the the Christian slave of Khadija, was so strongly attached by the kindness of Mahomet, who adopted him, that he preferred to remain at Mecca rather than return to his home with his own father: "I will not leave thee;' said he, clinging to his patron "for thou hast been a father and a mother to me." The friendship of Mahomet survived the death of Zeid, whose son, Osama, was treated by him with distinguished favour for his father's sake. Othman and Omar were also the objects of a special attachment; and the enthusiasm with which the Prophet, at Hodeibia, entered into "the Pledge or the Tree" and swore that he would defend his beleaguered son-in-law with his last breath, was a signal proof of faithful friendship. Numerous other instances of Mahomet's ardent and unwavering regard might be adduced. And his affections were in no instance misplaced; they were ever reciprocated by a warm and self sacrificing love.

Moderation and magnanimity

In the exercise at home of a power absolutely dictatorial, Mahomet was just and temperate. Nor was he wanting in moderation towards his enemies, when once they had cheerfully submitted to his claims. The long and obstinate struggle against his pretensions maintained by the inhabitants of his native city, might have induced a haughty tyrant to mark his indignation in indelible traces of fire and blood. But Mahomet, excepting a few criminals, granted an universal pardon ; and, nobly casting into oblivion the memory of the past, with all its mockings, its affronts, and persecutions, he treated even the foremost of his opponents with a gracious and even friendly consideration. Not less marked was the forbearance shewn to Abdallah and the disaffected party at Medina, who for so many years persistently thwarted his schemes and resisted his authority; nor the clemency with which he received the submissive advances of the most hostile tribes; even in the hour of victory.


Cruelty towards his enemies

But the darker shades of character, as well as the brighter, must be depicted by a faithful historian. Magnanimity or moderation are nowhere discernible as features in the conduct of Mahomet towards such of his enemies as failed to tender a timely allegiance. Over the bodies of the Coreish who fell at Badr, he exulted with savage satisfaction; and several prisoners,-accused of no crime but that of scepticism and political opposition,-were deliberately executed at his command. The Prince of Kheibar, after being subjected to inhuman torture for the purpose of discovering the treasures of his tribe, was, with his cousin, put to death on the pretext of having treacherously concealed them: and his wife was led away captive to the tent of the conqueror. Sentence of exile was enforced by Mahomet with rigorous severity on two whole Jewish tribes at Medina; and of a third, likewise his neighbours, the women and children were sold into distant captivity, while the men, amounting to several hundreds, were butchered in cold blood before his eyes.

Craftiness and perfidy

In his youth Mahomet earned amongst his fellows the honourable title of "the Faithful." But in later years however much sincerity and good faith may have guided his conduct in respect of his friends, craft and deception were certainly not wanting towards his foes. The perfidious attack at Nakhla, where the first blood in the internecine war with the Coreish was shed, although at first disavowed by Mahomet for its scandalous breach of the sacred usages of Arabia, was eventually justified by a pretended revelation. Abu Basir, the freebooter, was countenanced by the prophet in a manner scarcely consistent with the letter, and certainly opposed to the spirit, of the truce of Hodeibia. The surprise which secured the easy conquest of Mecca, was designed with craftiness if not with duplicity. The pretext on which the Bani Nadhir were besieged and expatiated (namely, that Gabriel had revealed their design against the Prophet's life,) was feeble aud unworthy of an honest cause. When Medina was beleagured by the confederate army, Mahomet sought the services of Nueim, a traitor, and employed him to sow distrust among the enemy by false and treacherous reports; "for," said he, "what else is War but a game at deception?" In his prophetical career, political and personal ends were frequently compassed by the flagrant pretence of Divine revelations, which a candid examination would have shewn him to be nothing more than the counterpart of his own wishes. The Jewish and Christian systems, at first adopted honestly as the basis of his own religion, had no sooner served the purpose of establishing a firm authority, than they were ignored if not disowned. And what is perhaps worst of all, the dastardly assassination of political and religious opponents, countenanced and frequently directed as they were in all their cruel and perfidious details by Mahomet himself leaves a dark and indelible blot upon his character.

Domestic life; polygamy

In domestic life the conduct of Mahomet, with one grave exception, was exemplary. As a husband his fondness and devotion were entire, bordering, however, at times, upon jealousy. As a father he was loving and tender. In his youth he is said to have lived a virtuous life. At the age of twenty five he married a widow forty years old: and for five-and-twenty years he was a faithful husband to her alone. Yet it is remarkable that during this period were composed most of those passages of the Coran in which the black-eyed Houris, reserved for believers in Paradise, are depicted in such glowing colours. Shortly after the death of Khadija, the Prophet married again; but it was not till the mature age of fifty-four that he made the dangerous trial of polygamy, by taking Ayesha, yet a child, as the rival of Sauda. Once the natural limits of restraint were overpassed, Mahomet fell an easy prey to his strong passion for the sex. In his fifty- sixth year he married Haphsa; and the following year, in two succeeding months, Zeinab bint Khozeima, and Omm Salma. But his desires were not to be satisfied by the range of a harem already greater than was permitted to any of his followers; rather, as age advanced, they were stimulated to seek for new and varied indulgence. A few months after his nuptials with Zeinab and Omm Salma, the charms of a second Zeinab were by accident discovered too fully before the Prophet's admiring gaze. She was the wife of Zeid, his adopted son and bosom friend; but he was unable to smother the flame she had kindled in his breast; and, by divine command she was taken to his bed. In the same year he married a seventh wife, and also a concubine. And at last, when he was full threescore years of age, no fewer than three new wives, besides Mary the Coptic slave, were within the space of seven months added to his already well filled harem. The bare recital of these facts may justify the saying of Ibn Abba,- "Verily the chiefest among the Moslems (meaning Mahomet) was the foremost of them in his passion for women;"a fatal example imitated too readily by his followers, who adopt the Prince of Medina, rather than the Prophet of Mecca, for their pattern.

Thus the social and domestic life of Mahomet, fairly and impartially viewed, is seen to be chequered by light and shade. While there is much to form the subject of nearly unqualified praise, there is likewise much which cannot be spoken of but in terms of severe reprobation.

Conviction of a special providence

Proceeding now to consider the religious and prophetical character of Mahomet, the first point which strikes the biographer, is his constant and vivid sense of an all pervading special providence. This conviction moulded his thoughts and designs, from the minutest actions in private and social life to the grand conception that he was destined to be the Reformer of his people and of the whole world. He never entered a company "but he sat down and rose up with the mention of the Lord." When the first fruits of the season were brought to him, he would kiss them, place them upon his eyes and say, - "Lord as thou hast shown us the first, show unto us likewise the last." In trouble and affliction, as well as in joy and prosperity, he ever saw and humbly acknowledged the hand of God. A fixed persuasion that every incident, small and great, was ordered by the divine will, led to the strong expressions of predestination which abound in the Coran. It was the Lord who turned the hearts of mankind: and alike faith in the believer, and unbelief belief in the infidel, were the result of the Divine fiat. The hour and place of every man's death, as all other events in his life, were established by the same decree; and the timid believer might in vain seek to avert the stroke by shunning the field of battle. But this persuasion was far removed from the belief in a blind and inexorable fate; for Mahomet held the progress of events in the divine hand to be amenable to the influence of prayer. He was not slow to attribute the conversion of a scoffer like Omar, or the removal of an impending misfortune, as when Medina "was delivered from the confederated hosts, to the effect of his own earnest petitions to the Lord. On the other hand Mahomet was not altogether devoid of superstition. He feared to sit down in a dark place until a lamp had been lighted; and his apprehensions were sometimes raised by the wind and clouds. He would fetch prognostications from the manner in which a sword was drawn from its scabbard.1 A special virtue was attributed to being cupped an even number of times, and on a certain day of the week and month. He was also guided by omens drawn from dreams: but these perhaps were regarded by him as intimations of the divine will.

Mahomet's conflict at Mecca: his unwavering stedfastness.

The growth in the mind of Mahomet of the conviction that he was appointed to be a Prophet and a Reformer, was intimately connected with his belief in a special providence, embracing as well as the spiritual the material world: and simultaneously with that conviction there arose an implicit confidence that the Almighty would crown his mission with success. The questionings and aspirations of his inner soul were regarded by him as proceeding directly from God; the light which gradually illuminated his mind with a knowledge of the divine unity and perfections, and of the duties and destiny of man,---- light amidst gross darkness,---- must have emanated from the same source; and he who in his own good pleasure had thus begun the work would surely carry it to an end. What was, Mahomet himself but a simple instrument in the hand of the great Worker? It was this belief which strengthened him, alone and unsupported, to brave for many weary years the taunts and persecutions of a whole people. In estimating the signal moral courage thus displayed by him, it must not be overlooked that for what is ordinarily termed physical courage Mahomet was not remarkable. It may be doubted whether he ever engaged personally in active conflict on the battle field: though he accompanied his forces, he never himself led them into action, or exposed his person to unavoidable danger. And there were occasions on which (as when challenged by Abdallah to spare the Bani Cainucaa, alarmed by the altercation at the wells of Moraisi, or pressed by the mob at Jierrana,) he showed symptoms of a faint heart.1 Yet even if this be admitted, it only brings out in higher relief the singular display of moral daring. Let us for a moment look back to the period when a ban was proclaimed at Mecca against all the citizens, whether professed converts or not, who espoused his cause; when they were shut up in the Sheb or quarter of Abu Talib, and there, for three years without prospect of relief, endured want and hardship. Those must have been stedfast and mighty motives which enabled him, amidst all this opposition and apparent hopelessness of success, to maintain his principles unshaken. No sooner was, he released from confinement, than, despairing of his native city, he went forth to Tayif and summoned its rulers and inhabitants to repentance; he was solitary and unaided, but he had a message, he said, from his Lord. On the third day he was driven out of the town with ignominy, blood trickling from the wounds inflicted on him by the populace. He retired to a little distance, and there poured forth his complaint to God: then he returned to Mecca, there to carry on the same outwardly hopeless cause, with the same high confidence in its ultimate success. We search in vain through the pages of profane history for a parallel to the struggle in which for thirteen years the Prophet of Arabia, in the face of discouragement and threats, rejection and persecution, retained his faith unwavering, preached repentance, and denounced God's wrath against his godless fellow citizens. Surrounded by a little band of faithful men and women, he met insults, menace, danger, with a high and patient trust in the future. And when at last the promise of safety came from a distant quarter, he calmly waited until his followers had all departed, and then disappeared from amongst his ungrateful and rebellious people.

And at Medina

Not less marked was the firm front and unchanging faith in eventual victory, which at Medina bore him through seven years of mortal conflict with his native city; and enabled him while his influence and authority were yet very limited and precarious even in the city of his adoption, to speak and to act in the constant and undoubted expectation of entire success.

Denunciation of polytheism and idolatry

From the earliest period of his religious convictions, the idea of ONE great Being who guides with almighty power and wisdom the whole creation, while yet remaining infinitely above it, gained a thorough possession of his mind. Polytheism and idolatry, being utterly at variance with this first principle of his belief, were condemned with abhorrence as levelling the Creator with the creature. On one occasion alone did Mahomet ever swerve from this position,- when he admitted that the goddesses of Mecca might be adored as a medium of approach to God. But the inconsistency of the admission was soon perceived; and Mahomet at once retraced his steps. Never before nor afterwards did the Prophet deviate from the stein denunciation of idolatry.

Earnestness and honesty of Mahomet at Mecca

As he was himself the subject of convictions so deep and powerful, it will readily be conceived that the exhortations of Mahomet were distinguished by a corresponding strength and urgency. Being also a master in eloquence, his language was cast in the purest and most persuasive style of Arabian oratory. His fine poetical genius exhausted the imagery of nature in the illustration of spiritual truths; and a vivid imagination enabled him to bring before his auditory the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, the joys of believers in Paradise, and the agonies of lost spirits in hell, as close and impending realities. In ordinary address, his speech was slow, distinct, and emphatic; but when he preached, "his eye would redden, his voice rise high and loud, and his whole frame become agitated with passion, even as if he were warning the people of an enemy about to fall on them the next morning or that very night." In this thorough earnestness lay the secret of his success. And if these stirring appeals had been given forth as nothing more than what they really were,- the outgoings of a warm and active conviction, they would have afforded no ground for cavil; or, if you will, let him have represented his appeals as the teaching of a soul guided by natural inspiration, or even enlightened by divine influence, - such a course would still have been nothing more than that trodden by many a sincere, though it may be erring, philanthropist in other ages and in other lands. But in the development of his system, the claims of Mahomet to inspiration far transcended any one of these assumptions. His inspiration was essentially oracular. His mind and his lips were no more than a passive organ which received and transmitted the heavenly message. His revelations were not the fruit of a subjective process in which a soul, burning with divine life and truth, seeks to impress the stamp of its own convictions on all those around; the process, on the contrary, was one which Mahomet professed to be entirely external to himself, and independent of his own reasoning and will. The words of inspiration, whether purporting to be a portion of the Coran, or a message for general guidance, were produced as a real and objective intimation, conveyed in a distinct form by the Almighty, or through the angel Gabriel, his messenger. Such was the position assumed by Mahomet. How far it was fostered by epileptic and apparently supernatural paroxysms (which do not however come prominently to view at least in the later stages of his career) or by similar physiological phenomena, it is impossible to determine. We may readily admit, that at the first Mahomet did believe, or persuaded himself to believe, that his revelations were dictated by a divine agency. In the Meccan period of his life there certainly can be traced no personal ends or unworthy motives to belie this conclusion. The Prophet was there, what he professed to be, "a simple Preacher and a Warner;" ne was the despised and rejected teacher of a gainsaying people; and he had apparently no ulterior object but their reformation. Mahomet may have mistaken the right means for effecting this end, but there is no sufficient reason for doubting that he used those means in good faith and with an honest purpose.

At Medina worldly motives mingle with his spiritual objects

But the scene altogether changes at Medina. There the acquisition of temporal power, aggrandisement, and self-glorification, mingled with the grand object of the Prophet's previous life; and they were sought after and attained by precisely the same instrumentality. Messages from heaven were freely brought forward to justify his political conduct, equally with his religious precepts. Battles were fought, wholesale executions inflicted, and territories annexed, under pretext of the Almighty's sanction. Nay, even baser actions were not only excused, but encouraged, by the pretended divine approval or command. A special license was produced, allowing Mahomet a double number of wives; the discreditable affair with Mary the Coptic slave was justified in a separate Sura; and the passion for the wife of his own adopted son and bosom friend, was the subject of an inspired message in which the Prophet's scruples were rebuked by God, a divorce permitted, and marriage with the object of his unhallowed desires enjoined! If we say that such revelations" were believed by Mahomet sincerely to bear the divine sanction, it can be but in it very modified and peculiar sense. He was not only responsible for that belief, but, in arriving at any such conviction, he must have done violence to his judgment and to the better principles of his nature.

Rapid moral declension: the natural consequences

As the necessary result of this moral obliquity, we trace from the period of Mahomet's arrival at Medina a marked and rapid declension in the system he inculcated. Intolerance quickly took the place of freedom; force, of persuasion. The spiritual weapons designed at first for higher objects were no sooner prostituted to the purposes of temporal authority, than temporal authority was employed to impart a fictitious weight and power to those spiritual weapons. The name of the Almighty, impiously borrowed, imparted a terrible strength to the sword of the State; and the sword of the State, in its turn, yielded a willing requital by destroying "the enemies of God," and sacrificing them at the shrine of a false religion. "Slay the unbelievers wheresoever ye find them;" was now the watchword of Islam "Fight in the ways of God until opposition be crushed and the Religion becometh the Lord's alone!" The warm and earnest devotion breathed by the Prophet and his followers at Mecca, soon became at Medina dull and vapid; it degenerated into a fierce fanaticism, or evaporated in a lifeless round of cold and formal ceremonies. The Jewish faith, whose pure fountains were freely accessible to Mahomet, as well as the less familiar system of Christianity, in spite of former protestations of faith and allegiance, were both cast aside without hesitation and without inquiry; for the course on which he had entered was too profitable and too enticing to permit the exercise of any such nice research or close questioning as (perhaps he unconsciously felt) might have opened his eyes to the truth, and forced him either to retrace his steps, or to unveil himself before his own conscience in the fearful form of an impostor. To what other conclusion can we come than that he was delivered over to the judicial blindness of a sell deceived heart; that, having voluntarily shut his eyes against the light, he was left miserably to grope in the darkness of his own choosing.

Benefits of Mahometanism

And what have been the effects of the system which, established by such instrumentality, Mahomet has left behind him? We may freely concede that it banished for ever many of the darker elements of superstition which had for ages shrouded the Peninsula. Idolatry vanished before the battle-cry of Islam; the doctrine of the unity and infinite perfections of God, and of a special all-pervading Providence, became a living principle in the hearts and lives of the followers of Mahomet, even as it had in his own. An absolute surrender and submission to the divine will (the very name of Islam) was demanded as the first requirement of the religion. Nor are social virtues wanting. Brotherly love is inculcated within the circle of the faith; orphans are to be protected, and slaves treated with consideration; intoxicating drinks are prohibited, and Mahometanism may boast of a degree of temperance unknown to any other creed.


Yet these benefits have been purchased at a costly price. Setting aside considerations of minor import, three radical evils flow from the faith, in all ages and in every country, and must continue to flow so long as the Coran in the standard of belief. FIRST: Polygamy, Divorce, and Slavery, are maintained and perpetuated ;- striking as they do at the root of public morals, poisoning domestic life, and disorganizing society. SECOND: freedom of judgment in religion is crushed and annihilated. The sword is the inevitable penalty for the denial of Islam. Toleration is unknown. THIRD: a barrier has been interposed against the reception of Christianity. They labour under a miserable delusion who suppose that Mahometanism paves the way for a purer faith. No system could have been devised with more consummate skill for shutting out the nations over which it has sway, from the light of truth. Idolatrous Arabia (judging from the analogy of other nations) might have been aroused to spiritual life, and to the adoption of the faith of Jesus; Mahometan Arabia is, to the human eye, sealed against the benign influences of the Gospel. Many a flourishing land in Africa and in Asia which once rejoiced in the light and liberty of Christianity, is now overspread by gross darkness and a stubborn barbarism. It is as if their day of grace had come and gone, and there remained to them "no more sacrifice for sins." That a brighter day will yet dawn on these countries we may not doubt; but the history of the past and the condition of the present is not the less true and sad. The sword of Mahomet, and the Coran, are the most fatal enemies of Civilization, Liberty, and Truth, which the world has yet known.

Inconsistencies run through the character of Mahomet

In conclusion, I would warn the reader against seeking to portray in his mind a character in all of Mahomet, its parts consistent with itself as the character of Mahomet. The truth is that the strangest inconsistencies blended together according to the wont of human nature) throughout the life of the Prophet. The student of the history will trace for himself how the pure and lofty aspirations of Mahomet were first tinged, and then gradually debased by a half unconscious self-deception; and how in this process truth merged into falsehood, sincerity into guile, - these opposite principles often co-existing even as active agencies in his conduct. The reader will observe that simultaneously with the anxious desire to extinguish idolatry, and to promote religion and virtue in the world, there was nurtured by the Prophet in his own heart, a licentious self-indulgence; till in the end, assuming to be the favourite of Heaven, he justified himself by "revelations" from God in the most flagrant breaches of morality. He will remark that while Mahomet cherished a kind and tender disposition, "weeping with them that wept," and binding to his person the hearts of his followers by the ready and self-denying offices of love and friendship, he could yet take pleasure in cruel and perfidious assassination, could gloat over the massacre of an entire tribe, and savagely consign the innocent babe to the fires of hell. Inconsistencies such as these continually present themselves from the period of Mahomet's arrival at Medina; and it is by the study of these inconsistencies that his character must be rightly comprehended. The key to many difficulties of this description may be found, I believe, in the chapter "on the belief of Mahomet in his own inspiration." when once he had dared to forge the name of the Most High God as the seal and authority of his own words and actions, the germ was laid from which the errors of his after life freely and fatally developed themselves.

I might have extended these remarks (had they not already exceeded the limits intended for them) to an examination of the doctrines and teaching of Mahomet as exhibited in the Coran. That volume, as I have before observed, does not contain any abstract or systematic code. It grew out of the incidents and objects of the day; and the best mode of ascertaining its purport and its bearing, is not to draw into one uniform system its various lessons and dogmas, liable as they were (excepting in one or two fundamental points) from time to time to differ;


Conclusion.

but to trace the development of its successive precepts and doctrines in connection with the several stages of the Prophet's life, and the motives from which he may be supposed at the moment to have acted. This with reference to some of its main doctrines and institutions, I have sought in the course of the foregoing pages to do.

MAHOMET and the CORAN, the author of Islam and the instrument by which he achieved its success, are themes worthy the earnest attention of mankind. If I have to any degree succeeded in contributing fresh materials towards the formation of a correct judgment of either, many hours of study, snatched not without difficulty from other engrossing avocations, will have secured an ample recompense.

Note: Dr. Aziz notes to me by e-mail that his message was truncated. When I get home tonight to access the e-mail I will post the remainder of the message. (EVK)


Dr. Aziz' comment re husbands and wives (left out of last night's comment accidently)

Stunich: Wives are fields to be used by their husbands as they desire
(2:223).
Response: The complete verses is translated as follows: "Your wives
are a (sort of) tilth for you; so approach your tilth when and as
you like to send ahead (some good) for yourselves; and fear Allah
and know that you shall meet Him; and bear good tidings to those who
believe". (bracketed words added by the translator). This verse
emphasizes that our women are blessed with the attribute of
providing us progeny. A man ought to be a wise husbandman and select
the best seed (not be a druggy or an alcoholic), and choose the best
time and manner for sowing it (have children at proper intervals).
It forces men to think of a caring treatment a woman needs during
her pregnancy for the safety and well being of the mother and the
fetus (metaphorically the land and the crop). Also the verse warns
men to be mindful of their meeting with God where they would have to
explain their treatment of their wives. (What could be a better way
of describing the husband-wife relationship along with man's
responsibilities?)

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