Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Looming Tower and Other Worthy Books

I cast my vote this morning in California, using one of the new electronic voting machines. It was my second time to use one, and once again it was easy, easier than those old paper ballots that had to be manipulated into machinery so they could be punched. I have no idea why everyone else in the country is so confused about electronic ballots. My experience was entirely positive.

I cast my vote, now let the chads fall where they may. I did my duty. Did you?

It will be good to stop worrying about the vote, whatever the outcome. I plan to practice my upright string bass (I love the twangy resonance and my command of the instrument grows daily), visit with my oldest son Stogie Jr. who is coming to visit from Washington State. Finally, I plan to continue reading my latest book purchase, "The Looming Tower."

In the past month I read David Limbaugh's "Bankrupt," a book title but also his (accurate) description of the moral state of the Democratic Party, as well as "The Truth About Mohammed" by David Spencer. The latter contained little new information for me, and if anything, Spencer was kinder to Mohammed than other writers, like Craig Winn, the author of "Prophet of Doom" who covers the same material in his book.

Now I'm reading "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright and it is very well written! It reads like a novel and describes the history of Al Qaeda and the events leading up to 9/11.

Lawrence Wright, I understand, is a liberal but his political affiliation does not seem to overly influence his opinions or attitudes. He seems like a scholar who is sincerely seeking the objective truth. Nevertheless, he does make a few mistakes in his text. He describes the Islamic hatred of Jews as being born of Nazi propaganda in the years before World War II, which he says infected Muslims with this "ancient Western prejudice." That's probably the dumbest thing I've read in the book so far. Muslims have hated Jews since the 7th century and have persecuted, enslaved and massacred them in great numbers since that time. See Walid Shoebat's book for many examples. Prejudice towards Jews is ancient all right, but it is an ancient Middle Eastern prejudice more than it is a Western one.

Another mistake he makes is to quote the Qur'an surah which states that murder is evil, and that to murder one person is the same (morally) as murdering all humankind. Wright naively believes this admonition was meant to include the murder of infidels, which it does not, of course. Infidels are always open season for Jihadis. I wonder if Wright has read about the millions of Infidels killed by Muslims over the centuries? If so, why would he make such a patently stupid remark?

His third mistake (so far) is that he gives credence to the apocryphal story of Mohammed talking about the "inner struggle for righteousness" as the "Greater Jihad," whereas fighting in battle is only the "Lesser Jihad." My readings indicate this tale comes from less reliable sources (it does not appear in the Quran or the most trusted Hadiths) and that it is rejected as true by many (or maybe most) Muslims. But it sounds great for gullible Westerners.

I don't want to over emphasize Wright's mistakes, however, as the book strikes me as excellent. Wright does not sugar coat or rationalize the extremist, murderous views of Bin Laden or his followers, or the Muslim Brotherhood or other bloodthirsty groups that preceded them. He could, however, have put them into a more accurate context within Muslim history and doctrines.

Nevertheless, the book gives details of the life of Osama Bin Laden, his father and other prominent Jihadis and describes the culture and experiences that shaped their radical vision.

I highly recommend it.

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