Also in Media: Excerpt: “Mikhail Khodorkovsky Lantos Rule of Law Speech”, October 10, 2017


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It is a great honour for me to give the first Tom Lantos Rule of Law Lecture. I would like to thank Annette Lantos, Katrina Lantos, and their whole large family for all their support over these 10 long years.

Today, the outside world is seeing Russia more and more as an aggressive country with an outmoded economy…

Against the background of the latest scandals about interference in elections, military adventurism in Syria and the Donbass, and the seizure of territories in Crimea, my country is more and more often being mentioned in the same breath as places like Iran and North Korea.

Of course, I don’t agree with this, but I cannot help but notice that we are regularly starting out from the position of an aggressor. Of a country that disrupts the world order, an exporter of tension and corruption. And the fact that we are not the only country like this gives me no comfort whatsoever.

I can’t help but notice that my country’s ambition to be a world leader is not supported by the viability of its economic system and the results it produces.These are becoming ever more dismal as the country has stalled its way into stagnation.

Source: Mikhail Khodorkovsky Lantos Rule of Law Speech


Animus Kurdish and Turkish


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The Kurds have also been persecuted by the Turkish government for decades. Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, the co-mayors of Diyarbakır, for example, were arrested on October 30, 2016 for “being members of a terrorist organization,” and Turkish authorities then appointed a custodian to run the city. In addition, there are currently 13 Kurdish MPs — including the leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — in Turkish jails.

Bulut, Uzay.  “Turkey’s Mass Persecution of Christians and Kurds in Diyarbakir.” Middle East Forum, September 4, 2017.



START UMD.  “Search Results: 42 Incidents” – “TAK, Turkey”.  Global Terrorism Database, October 9, 2017.

While the Kurdish community garners western sympathy in its effort to survive both Arab and Turkish efforts to diminish and eventually destroy its existence, the fight between the two appears often to take place in the shadows and with fathomless ambiguity.

The “TAK” AKA “Kurdistan Freedom Hawks”, appear to operate autonomously from any Kurdish command structure, including the PKK’s, a U.S. Department of State listed terrorist organization.

Of course, one may suppose that for a secret war an intensely secretive military organization — there would seem no other option! — would fit with state adversary whose own aggression and transgressions were apparently masked off from general public view.  Then too, Turkey appears to have chosen to interpret rebel reactions to its own assaults in the most gross terms: in the state’s mind, all of the Kurdish community is PKK (just as all opposition to Assad must be ISIS or “The Terrorists”), and the community needs be sustained  bare for eventual cultural erasure beneath the Turkish banner of Islam.

Related in Wikipedia:

Certain academics[who?] have claimed that successive Turkish governments adopted a sustained genocide program against Kurds, aimed at their assimilation.[35] The genocide hypothesis remains, however, a minority view among historians, and is not endorsed by any nation or major organisation. Desmond Fernandes, a Senior Lecturer at De Montfort University, breaks the policy of the Turkish authorities into the following categories:[36]

  1. Forced assimilation program, which involved, among other things, a ban of the Kurdish language, and the forced relocation of Kurds to non-Kurdish areas of Turkey.

  2. The banning of any organizations opposed to category one.

  3. The violent repression of any Kurdish resistance.

Wikipedia.  “Human rights of Kurdish people in Turkey”.

As if the confusion accompanying a secretive lowest-intensity war between Kurdish rebels and a new autocratic and potentially fanatic Turkish state were not enough for the devil’s amusement, the rebel’s hero Abdullah Öcalan draws from the defunct Soviet perspective for his presentation of democracy as prelude to the popular soft “democratic communalism” that would preserve the Kurdish community and make way for a hypothetical cultural Eden:

That the solution to all national and social problems is linked to the nation-state represents the most tyrannical aspect of modernity. To expect a solution from the tool which is itself the source of problems can only lead to the growth of problems and societal chaos. Capitalism itself is the most crisis-ridden stage of civilisation. The nation-state, as the tool deployed in this crisis-ridden stage, is the most developed organisation of violence in social history.

 Öcalan, Abdullah.  Democratic Nation.  Cologne, Germany: International Initiative, 2016.

The short excerpt from the book may be considered an injustice given the lengthier reflections of the author; however, as well demonstrated in Syria by Moscow-Tehran (with baby Damascus between) if not elsewhere in the post-Soviet sphere of influence, deriding liberalism and the solutions produced by the west to ecological, economic, and humanist interests needs must come first: the conflation of unbridled capitalism with the nation-state is treated as unassailable and the very idea of nation-states (and their boundaries) needs must go.

With that in mind, have a look at where “Assad v The Terrorists” began in 2011 and how the state looks today.

Given the usefulness of what might be a binding ideological cause — and who would not be for Earth and her People? — there would seem in Ocalan’s latest book the persistence of dreadfully romantic ideas already long failed and left behind.


For the record, BackChannels may suggest that all successful polities pay mind to cultural, ecological, and social issues within their purview to construct in law and physical fact the distribution of capabilities and responsibilities that may then create healthy and productive regions — ask any urban or rural developer or planner you may know about who builds “infrastructure” and how that gets done, economically, politically, and physically.

Also worth noting of the post-Soviet sphere: the littering of the globe with kleptocratic dictatorships that appear to offer convincing and sweet-sounding programs to their people while in fact exploiting the same in the development of powerful systems of patronage .  

With the Soviet Union dissolved 26 years ago (Dec. 25, 1991), the true hearts of communism have perhaps turned — say as the Communist Party has done with Jacob Zuma in South Africa — to calling out the crooks among their own.


Still, must everyone wind up alienated and enslaved by by remote power?

Must all minority cultures — anywhere — assimilate themselves into disappearance becomes of some asshole’s fascist jones for one language, religion, or national purity, or political solidarity within or beyond his own area of influence and zone of control?

We should all hope not!

It would seem most natural for communities and person to seek for themselves good accommodations without reversion to criminal force where opportunity and respect may be considered as given.


BackChannels does not know how central the PKK, much less mysterious autonomous spin-offs like the TAK, are to Kurdish cultural integrity, but it appreciates for the communities representing the earth’s fewer than 7,000 living languages the idea of ethnolinguistic cultural survival and co-evolution.  From that perspective, the Turkish speakers would be noble to leave the Kurdish speakers with freedom and security on the land across which their language developed — and the Kurds would seem right to push back against the forces of their own cultural annihilation.


Bulut, Uzay.  “Turkey’s Mass Persecution of Christians and Kurds in Diyarbakir.” Middle East Forum, September 4, 2017.

Since 2015, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been attacking Kurdish-majority areas in the country. … The clashes have taken their toll on Turkey’s Christian population, which is caught in the crossfire. According to a November 2016 report in The Armenian Weekly,

Entire neighborhoods have disappeared, reduced to rubble. The Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakır has escaped the fighting relatively intact structurally… But the Turkish security forces have used it as an army base, desecrating the church, burning some of the pews as firewood, with garbage and smell of urine everywhere.

Collart, Rebecca.  “Why Turkey Sees the Kurdish People as a Bigger Threat than ISIS.”  Time, July 28, 2015.

Last week, the Turkish government announced it was joining the war against ISIS. Since then it has arrested more than 1,000 people in Turkey and carried out waves of air raids in neighboring Syria and Iraq. But most of those arrests and air strikes, say Kurdish leaders, have hit Kurdish and left wing groups, not ISIS.

Dominique, Callimanopulos.  “Kurdish Repression in Turkey.”  Cultural Survival, 1982.

During Turkey’s war for independence, Turkish leaders, promised Kurds a Turkish-Kurdish federated state in return for their assistance in the war. After independence was achieved, however, they ignored the bargain they had made.

Months after the declaration of a Turkish republic, Ankara, under the pretext of creating an “indivisible nation,” adopted an ideology aimed at eliminating, both physically and culturally, non-Turkish elements within the Republic. These “elements” were primarily Kurdish and Armenian.

A 1924 mandate forbade Kurdish schools, organizations and publications. Even the words “Kurd” and “Kurdistan” were outlawed, making any written or spoken acknowledgement of their existence illegal.

According to Association France-Kurdistan, between 1925 and 1939, 1.5 million Kurds, a third of the population, were deported and massacred.

Human Rights Watch.  “Ocalan Trial Monitor”. n.d. 

There are State Security Courts in eight cities in Turkey, dealing with thousands of cases brought under the Anti-Terror Law. The definition of “terror” contained in this law is so broadly drawn that alongside cases of political arson and murder, a State Security Court may try respected politicians, journalists, human rights campaigners, and schoolchildren. Defendants branded as terrorists by conviction in State Security Courts include Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mayor of Istanbul, currently serving a ten-month sentence for quoting a poem that had been approved by the Ministry of Education but was deemed as provocation to religious hatred by the court, and Yasar Kemal, Turkey’s most prominent novelist, arraigned for writing about the Kurdish minority in a German magazine.

Öcalan, Abdullah.  Democratic Nation.  Cologne, Germany: International Initiative, 2016.

The Kurds, as individuals and as a society, must conceive, internalise and implement the construction of a democratic nation as the synthesis of all expressions of truth and resistance throughout their history, including the most ancient goddess beliefs, Zoroastrianism and Islam. The truths that all the past mythological, religious and philosophical teachings as well as contemporary social sciences have tried to teach and that all resistance wars and rebellions have individually and collectively tried to voice are represented in the mind and body of constructing a democratic nation. It was this reality and its expression as truth that was my point of departure, not only when I re-created myself at times but especially arriving at the present as I tried to re-create myself almost at every instant. In this way, I freely socialised myself, and concretised this as a democratic nation (in a Kurdish context), and presented it as democratic modernity to all humanity, to the oppressed peoples and individuals of the Middle East.


The fine voice from the Left would seem laced with the last century’s intellectual poison.

From a different source:

The religion of ancient Persia as founded by Zoroaster; one of the world’s great faiths that bears the closest resemblance to Judaism and Christianity.

Kohler, Kaufmann and A. V. W. Jackson.  “Zoroastrianism”.  Jewish Encyclopedia. n.d.

The tiny world wide communities of Zoroastrians are no doubt pleased to get any mention in Cif belief – even if it is only to provide alphabetical balance to a list starting with the Bahá’ís. Even those who take a close interest in the more exotic or esoteric of religions tend to have a vague grasp on what the followers of the ancient Persian (or maybe Bactrian) prophet, Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek) – born around 800 BC – actually believed. This is a great pity since even a non-believer must be impressed with the evidence of how the religious ideas first expressed by Zoroaster were fundamental in shaping what emerged as Judaism after the 5th century BC and thus deeply influenced the other Abrahamic religions – Christianity and Islam.

Palmer, John.  “Zoroaster — forgotten prophet of the one God.”  The Guardian, July 13, 2010.

As conceived or delivered by Muhammad in the 7th Century, Islam may not be said to have been an ancient — much less practiced ancient — belief or belief system. To say or suggest so is to pander to the very egoism of the listener or reader for whom the Qur’an appears to have intended humility before God.

At stake — and so often mentioned in this blog — seems ever a contest between feudal absolute power plus medieval worldviews and modern checked and distributed  power accompanied by extraordinary pluralism and tolerance.

In the end, all of God’s children — our 7,000 living language cultures — are all on one Earth and together visible, all to all and to the All.

Wikipedia.  “Human rights of Kurdish people in Turkey”.

The use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under martial law until 1946.[7] In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991.[8][9][10] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[11] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[12] Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[13] Since lifting of the ban in 1991, the Kurdish population of Turkey has long sought to have Kurdish included as a language of instruction in public schools as well as a subject. Currently, it’s illegal to use the Kurdish language as an instruction language in private and public schools.




FTAC: The Empty “Paddock”


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The prompt: ” . . . in Las Vegas something happened that possibly characterizes the psychological state of society.”

The psychological state of the society has been pretty damn good, and that by way of observing the local response to the atrocity at the time. From “first responders” to concert goers who were themselves in danger throughout — and could not have known themselves not in danger — our society pitched together against blood and chaos.

What to say of the asshole?

He’s been a little bit mysterious. There’s one image of him hanging out with an ANTIFA crowd . . . but there appear no signs of affiliation characteristic of that crowd, which existence responds primarily to white supremacist bullying beneath the radar of local police. So that image (of Paddock associating with an ANTIFA event — once) is there but doesn’t mean much.

Perhaps the girlfriend’s testimony has changed in some way or other evidence has been uncovered, but the last I heard, “Paddock” — what a name: so close to horses; so close to herding — maintained no political affiliations and “scant” social media presence.

The only thing “Vegas” characterized was Paddock’s own lost soul.

It seems everyone around him, by comparison, had theirs fully intact and good to go.

Latest Fast Reference – 10/6/2017. – 10/6/2017. – 10/6/2017.


FTAC: Responding to an Attempt to Conflate the Kurdish Struggle with the Palestinian Effort



Prompt: “Kurdish statehood aspiration is mirror image of Palestinian statehood aspiration. Both will bring regional security and stability.” (Mohammed Dajani Daoudi, leader of the Islamic moderate Wasatia Movement).

Riding somebody’s coattails?

The Kurdish community of about 35 million souls possessed of a unique language and culture has been fighting for decades their division across five states that have been able to militarily dominate them and forestall their developing a seaport (that’s a long way off).

Back in the 1970s, the Kurdish liberation story appeared posed similarly by the same Moscow masters in the form of a PKK, which became also a terrorist organization that remains so to this day.  However, Kurdish leadership has been both able to distance itself from the PKK identity (even though it’s still there) by moving its behavior and politics strongly westward in geopolitical courtship while diminishing Moscow’s old role in the formulation of its own independent political culture and its values (reference the Rojava Revolution that it appears to have in it something of communal and liberal value for everyone).

Now, if the Palestinians should wish to dance with the Israelis and the west . . . well that would seem a revolution indeed!

For background:

  • 9/6/2017 – 9/19/2017 – 9/27/2017

The feel of the Kurdish struggle: not-ready-for-prime-time democratic coherence — but here they are whether the surrounding powers like it or not.

That’s a good stance for independence but one of questionable character: authoritarian?  Soviet / post-Soviet?  Kleptocracy?  Rojava Revolution Utopia?

Many things have been and remain possible.

However, there comes a place where dreaming must stop and the functional administration of a state of some form must ensue.

Among things certain, however, one should not miss the murderous persecution of the Kurdish People by Turkish forces, nominally bound to NATO but in the realpolitik much influenced by President Putin’s autocratic effects on President Erdogan — and for grease: Turkish Stream.


Since composing the response at the top of this post, the Kurdish People have expressed in referendum their desire for a state apart from their generally demeaning hosts who with force keep them from freedom.  One state, however, has supported the Kurdish Liberation struggle:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement ahead of the referendum saying Israel “supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”

At a conference on counter-terrorism last month, Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked added her support, saying, “A free Kurdistan should be established, at least in Iraq. It is in the United States’ and Israel’s interest for this to happen. It is time for the US to support the process.” – 10/2/2017

Related: – 10/1/2017



Also in Media: Mark Galeotti on “How Russia Manages Its Political War in Europe”


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Source and Recommended Reading

“Listen: we engage in foreign policy the way we engage in war, with every means, every weapon, every drop of blood. But like in war, we depend on both the strategy of the general in the High Command, and the bravery and initiative of the soldier in the trench.”

Russian former diplomat, 2017

Russia sees ‘active measures’ (aktivnye meropriyatiya) – from supporting populist parties through disinformation and espionage campaigns, all the way to incidents such as the attempted coup in Montenegro – as an essential part of its efforts to influence Europe.  Along with the usual instruments of foreign influence, such as diplomacy and economic levers, Russia is especially active in using covert and non-traditional means, from intelligence operations to military pressure and even organised crime, all of which have been the foci of recent policy briefs for ECFR.3 This final publication in an informal series seeks instead to consider the extent to which these campaigns are carefully planned and coordinated – and, if so, by whom.

Approximate date of publication: September 2017.


The “Active Measures” Links Page


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Vocabulary Lesson

Active Measures


Fake News

Hybrid Warfare

KGB Theater

Information Warfare



Perceptual Control

Reflexive Control

Troll Farm

Now there’s New Speak indeed!

And much better than “Newspeak” (revisit Orwell): how dumb I / you / and we may be may be entirely up to ourselves!

We may wish to become aware, however, of our own “dumbing down” through allocation and curriculum priorities in general education and perhaps through our own penchant for entertainment without much critical demand on our own part except to be . . . well, entertained far more than informed or otherwise intellectually engage.

That’s okay, of course

Allowing ourselves to be entertained is part of how we retreat from other engagements and find rest and restoration for the mind.

Still, perhaps all good citizens would do well to apprise themselves of the following concepts in greater depth as we globally ride out squawking of the discreditable, dishonest, disingenuous, despicable, and entirely disreputable (scorecard: D) among the world’s politicians and their hacks.

Active Measures: from Russia with the high-handed contempt associated with imperious narcissistic state leadership personality, think of “active measures” as the full suite of assaults on the cultural and intellectual framework of the liberal democracies of the world (and nix the “illiberal democracies”, even if members of NATO, for there ain’t no such thing as an “illiberal democracy”).

So there.


Active Measures Primer:

Disinformation: what comes of defaming, framing, lying, misguiding, spinning.


KGB defector providing best insight into the dark art of creating and sustaining mass illusions: Ion Mihai Pacepa.  On BackChannels:

Fake News: banner term relating well to the American homily that he who points the finger . . . .

Related Online

State Controlled Press History

Hybrid Warfare: every form of sub-nuclear and sub-conventional warfare that might be (is) launched against a target (like Ukraine) so as not to resemble “direct engagement”.  From the fielding and infiltrating of agent provocateur to mixing armed men without insignia (“Little Green Men”) in with partisan recruits to denying aggression at all . . . it’s all perfectly surreal bullying and combative bullshit that must draw a firm response from the land and people (and state) so viciously assaulted.

KGB Theater: political events, especially warfare, treated as a show one may produce and control for the delectation of military and political elites.

Reference on BackChannels:

Information Warfare: if you’re here, you’re in it.

Kompromat: see online “Felix Sater“.  Applicable American homily: “Sleep with dogs — wake up with fleas.”  If in office, wake up under investigation.


Orwellian: what happens when powerful political elites rule the world so as to forestall change, manage war as if it were a fireplace, dispense with the very idea of human dignity, and wreck forever even the hope of freedom, free will, and the possession of dignity and integrity.


Nifty Ted-ed —

Perceptual Control: political rhetoric and stagecraft produced so effectively and pervasively as to channel public perception where the politician — or, perhaps tomorrow, the “political technician” or “political technologist” — may with fair predictive capability produce effects as desired.

Fair example:

Recommended supplemental reading:

Reflexive Control: sneak up on someone working quietly in their own little world and say . . . “Boo!”

Fair example by way of BackChannel’s observation:

There is as yet no primer for “Reflexive Control” as the same has been a term of military art involving getting one’s enemy / target to behave in a desired fashion.

As now often noted on BackChannels (or on Facebook), the technique has been used to amplify or reinstall the feudal mentality and related political processes in the EU / NATO states in order to produce the kind of world in which autocratic systems — flat out or my measures — may thrive.  In the KGB method as perceived by BackChannels makes short work of manipulating Islamic Terrorism to produce in targeted states a “New Nationalism” (strong reflexive patriotism) suited to the political absolutism of the medieval world.

Troll Farm: Moscow-sponsored factories for financially enslaved writers.

Related: “Ministries of Truth”. – 4/2/2105




FTAC: Political Islam and the Persistent Past


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The prompt: in relation to anti-Semitism, a statement suggesting Muslims, in general, know little about Islam, and anti-Semitic sentiment in Islam relates directly to the conflict in the middle east.

Religious identification serves as a powerful discriminator and tool for the purposes of leadership in the medieval world, and for some portion of the “Ummah”, small or large, the bond of Muslim identification against the Jew serves to sustain anti-Semitic thought wherever that may be promoted to serve the interests of leaders or spoilers for power.

While the notion that in some general way Muslims know nothing about Islam would seem to confront multiple cultural histories of written clerical thought largely expounding on Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah, much of which may indeed have been self-serving — or serving the subscriptions of noted institutions or scholars. In the medieval world, much of power would be suspended between the church (mosque, or temple), then seats of education, and political authority whose legitimacy rested on convincing clerical validation (predicated on beliefs installed).

The “Educated Modern” has a much widened field of view as regards phenomenology associated with psychology, religion, and spirituality. We’re aware of the world’s approximately 7,000 living languages and associated ethnolinguistic cultures; we’re aware of the histories of religions “across the campus”; perhaps most importantly, we’re aware of our own foibles. 🙂 The modern may face some puzzles as regards the perpetuation of the medieval suite of opposed and similar philosophies, but first on the agenda should be the question of how to bring forward those living in the medieval world.

One may practically skip church with that kind of Sunday morning sermonette.


However,the world’s educated and dedicated or leisured may support their “team”, the same have also access to a sophisticated awareness of their rivals plus awareness and knowledge sufficient to sink everyone’s ship: the good must ask wherever there is conflict what the fighting is about.

BackChannels simple answer to that question: power.

And there follows a question: medieval or modern?

“Medieval v Modern” has been chatted up quite on this blog, so I’ll spare ye another ramble.

Or not.


The prompt involved a legalistic reinterpretation about respect for Islam (should be equal to that given Christianity and Judaism) that I penned — the addition is italicized: “Jews, Christians, Muslims should accept the validity of each other’s legal interest in their chosen faith.”

I would accept the validity of the interest in religion, not the laws, policies, or practices promoted in the interest of its related fascism.

Even Pakistan has differentiated itself from Islam in its “realpolitik” law.

As regards reform — i.e., an end to Islamic supremacism, supersession, bigotry regarding others, barbaric advisement — YES!

However, note the paths and leaders, including this conversation’s original poster:

Intellectualized Islam — e.g., Qanta Ahmed and others who bring a modern sensibility to Qur’anic ambiguity and move away from the supremacist mark, much preferring “no compulsion”.

Heretical Islam — e.g., M. Zuhdi Jasser and others in the Islamic Reform Movement who prefer contemplation and worship to “political Islam” and related militancy.

Renewal Through Reinterpreting Translation (goodbye Pickthall) and narrowed focus on the Qur’an — the claimed “word of God” — so as to diminish the merely mortal factor in the receiving of the Qur’an.

If any should think up other Islamic Reform options, let me know.

There is a greater and more challenging anachronism in the persistence of medieval worldviews about God and about power in a modern day that requires for greater wealth and security and the wider distribution of both plus justice a greater cooperation and integrity in global social relationships.


FTAC: Middle East Conflict (MEC): On the Facing of Uncomfortable Truths . . . Together


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Affect –> Negative or Positive Emotion x Intensity

Attitude = Belief x Affect

Is a thing true or false, and if true, is it a good thing or a bad thing?


Belief +/- contributes to Attitude.

Beliefs have also two properties: early or late establishment (primacy) and importance – degree of relevance (to survival).

The really evil thing about a misguided belief (via disinformation or the manipulation of perception) is that if set in early (e.g., childhood indoctrination), all that follows may be made to set atop what have become basic principles.

George Orwell’s _Animal Farm_ uses “Two legs good, four legs bad” to make about the same point.

In social psychology, the term for look-up would be “Attitude-Behavior Correspondence”.

It has been a rich field for the narrowed.

Atheist Christopher Hitchens has in his decease on offer a marvelous volume about adherence to basic principles and related observation:

Kind words — actually: civil conversation — makes possible reconciliation by allowing discomfiting discoveries to be shared with one’s adversary, and later, former adversary, without fear of disaster or punishment. While its true that in much of the world, the “loyal lie” may account for one’s lifestyle and very life itself, the principle of facing an uncomfortable truth proves stronger than lies over time.

On many of these posts, the conversational partner has been Mohammed Dajani Daoudi who has been exploring a middle way in Islam beneath the banner of his Wasatia Movement.