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The assembly of “Islamic Jihad” beneath or sharing the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah banners effectively goad Islam to wake and stand from the center of its humanity and for the rest of the world with Islam to bond across the center.

It’s not going well in or around the hot conflict zones.

The center has not held.

The persistence, strength, and viability of dictatorship on general terms (e.g., “Putin-Assad-Khamenei”) has not waned; the want of Arab Muslim exclusivity in a war of all against all (possibly 90 percent of the schoolgirls kidnapped were Christian and “fight them . . . jizya . . . humbled” alone would have sufficed for license) has been powered up by energy earnings the west wants to recover in trade; and no bonded army of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others has appeared in the field with the possible exceptions of U.S. / NATO intervention — post-Enlightenment secular states operating armies reflective of their national and international make-up — and an expansion of western buy-in creating or strengthening helpful alliance, e.g., Israel-India with moderation and modification in the Muslim-majority states, e.g., Pakistan and Turkey.

China’s not far outside of all of this either — it too has a vested interest in dictatorship while it’s issues with Islam on its flanks seems well managed enough for brushing aside. China’s role is “the money”, and it has been doing business with its eyes closed (e.g., as in Sudan) except where an absolute authoritarianism similar to its own has been challenged.

Perhaps as Uncle Sam has learned — and one way of the other, however’s he’s set up, whoever his handlers, if he has them, Obama knows — fighting Boko Haram isn’t about money alone: it’s about something in the concept of a “common humanity” that needs to surface, discover affinity and “common cause”, and then work to diminish the challenges and disruptions posed by so many “malignant narcissists” parading beneath so many banners — and with language fitted to the support of their too lofty contempt.


I had really set out this morning to take a glance at political psychology, narcissism, and the role played by contempt in states of affairs (because to the criminally elevated, contempt both defends the damaged and feels good besides).  However, in the way of life online with Facebook, the deflections and distractions are the first things met.

On sorting the political psychology, I got as far as “discovering” Macalester Bell, who last year published the book title for the age: Hard Feelings: The Moral Psychology of Contempt (Oxford UP, 2013).  The Oxford price appears half that of the Amazon hardcover quote, so maybe, but not right now . . . what’s really needed here (in western Maryland) is a brick-and-mortar conflict and peace studies library with a wing devoted to political psychology (anyone want to talk?).

Be that as it may, other intelligent work showed up quick on the radar: from Canada, Nora Gold’s Fields of Exile, a novel developed around the experience of anti-Semitism on campus.

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Talmud teaches the need for many voices. The Gemara takes us on a journey of debates through the centuries, deconstructing the smallest detail-pilpul. In the Talmud we are given the majority as well as the minority view to examine. Some of the comments may cause discomfort-but so be it, as we are a people judged by our actions, not our feelings.

Bederman, Diane Weber.  “The Second Catastrophe”.  The Times of Israel, May 11, 2014.

“The Awesome Conversation”, which name I’ve given the Facebook chatyping but may well extend that idea to Google+ and every other platform for cultural and political salon, hosts all voices, some perhaps more predominantly loathed than others, but it’s important that they are heard as censorship knows only the ends, ultimately, of the censorious, whom, if self-appointed, may be themselves The Problem.

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The “Ghost Army” — that’s the Russian Army that should have intervened in Syria to modify the Assad regime and bring Syria toward democracy without wildly altering its demographics.

Instead: “Putin-Assad-Khamenei” have risen to the defense of absolutism, well demonstrating that the dictator had an army and a mixed host of moderate revolutionary and Islamic extremist revolutionaries could raise armies but not sort their differences toward a robust common sense of cause.  A fair portion of the millions of Syrians stranded between hotheads have been made the casualties and refugees of general warfare, and while they may enjoy an army of NGOs and experienced refugee camp administrators, the same would seem still incoherent as to ends (including the want of destroying Israel, which anti-Semitic raving no longer suffices for social bonding) and unable to wrest back their lands from either the heartless dictator or the vacuous Islamist.

The ghost army in Nigeria has form — at least there is an army to deploy against Boko Haram — but it may not have yet the virtue of a passion for addressing so evil a devotion to brigandage as that displayed by Boko Loco’s criminal mentality as abetted by Qur’anic injunction: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled” (Surat 9:29).

In Loco’s upside-down world, the Loco are the righteous.

Elsewhere, from Afghanistan to Brandeis (I’m thinking about the still recent Ayaan Hirsi Ali brouhaha and the possible effects of Prince al-Waleed’s wealth) to Crimea / Ukraine, The Money would seem the morality, and armies, ghost or not, and their generals (and presidents) must be paid — or paid off — and left in power to rule as they may see fit.  That is their most personal contest (so Hitler asked famously, “Who says I am not under the special protection of God?”).   From Karzai to Yanukovych, the leaders are not all alike although the degree of their corruption may be a common issue: in real time, in “realpolitik”, what forms up in arms beneath their sway spells the future for constituents (x area-squared) affected by their ambitions, behavior, outlooks, and proclivities.

One day, perhaps, the Ghost Army will appear across the span of the Islamic Small Wars but what divisions and patrols there may be today would seem to be faltering before evil.

Reference Off to the Side

Miller, John J.  “Clash of Cultures: How donors can increase understanding of the Middle East.”  Philanthropy Roundtable, cover story republished from the July / August 2007 issue of Philanthropy Magazine.

Fox News: “New video appears to show kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls praying to Allah.”  May 12, 2014.

Spencer, Robert.  “90% of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls are Christians; jihadists released Muslim girls.”  Jihad Watch, May 11, 2014;

Fani-Kayode.  Vanguard. “Chibok Affairs: The Emerging and Uncomfortable Facts, By Fani-Kayode,” May 10, 2014:

The bitter truth is that regardless of wherever you come from, whatever your faith is and whichever side of the political divide you stand, we all have a duty to get to the bottom of this matter, join forces, close ranks, find out what is really going on and bring this nightmare to an end. We must join hands with all men and women of goodwill and, together, we must fight this insidious evil that seeks to envelop our land and overwhelm our people.

Toameh, Khaled Abu.  “Palestinian Authority: Combatants Against Peace.”  Gatestone Institute, May 12, 2014:

But the Palestinian Authority [PA] leadership and many Palestinians obviously don’t share this view. In fact, they see the participation of Palestinians in an event commemorating Israeli victims of violence as an act of treason.

The PA government in the West Bank — who do not miss any opportunity to tell Westerners that they remain committed to peace and coexistence with Israel — even went as far as disbanding the Palestinian branch of Combatants For Peace in June 2013.

Who has the real army?

National Post.  “‘They cut hands, cut heads, play with corpses’; Islamic extremists fighting brutal war against Kurds in Syria.”  May 11, 2013: “Residents of this new Islamist state are living in conditions of extraordinary brutality. Christians in Raqqa must pay a special tax — the jizya — in accordance with Shariah law. Anyone caught drinking alcohol is imprisoned and tortured.”

Halper, Daniel.  “#BringBackOurDignity.”  The Weekly Standard, May 12, 2014: “My editorial this week ended with a coda praising Ayaan Hirsi Ali and, in effect, daring Hillary Clinton to stand up for someone who, as the savagery of Boko Haram has reminded us, has been so right about Islamist terror.”

Hirsi Ali, Ayaan.  “Boko Haram and the Kidnapped Schoolgirls: the Nigerian terror groups reflects the general Islamist hatred of women’s rights.  When will the West wake up?”  The Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2014.

Johnson, Charles.  “Nigeria Accepts Israel’s Offer to Help Find Kidnapped Girls.”  Little Green Footballs, May 11, 2014.

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