Walid Shoebat vs Sean Osborne

The Tedland Daily – a blog run by Walid Shoebat’s son Theodore – recently featured, and then removed, a letter written by Walid to a certain Sean Osborne. Osborne is a rival apocalyptic Christian Zionist and anti-Islam pundit, and he had offered up some criticisms of Shoebat’s theories about a  coming Muslim anti-Christ (other fundamentalist criticisms can be seen here and here – it’s a depressing farrago of nonsense on all sides). Shoebat’s letter is wonderfully coarse, ad hominem, and abusive, lending credence to Debbie Schlussel’s allegation that he once swore at her. The Shoebats must have had second thoughts about the wisdom of making the letter public, but Osborne’s Eschatology Today blog has reproduced the text with glee. Highlights:

Dear Mr. Sean Osborn,

This is to inform you that I am sending in a request to my friend Bill O’Reily on Fox News for you to appear on his show as Pin-Head of the year.

Here is why I find you most qualified:

1) Only a Pin-Head would state “At no time in history did the Roman Empire ever have dominion over Arabia, the birthplace of Islam.”

Sir, ever heard of Arabia Felix? Or Emperor Trajan’s annexation of part of the kingdom of Nabatea (Arabia) as a Roman province reaching Saudi Arabia?

Ever heard of Philip the Arab who was the Emperor of the Roman Empire?

Your not a Pin-Head for being ignorant on history since neither one of us is a historian, but you are for stating that “My purpose was only to provide historical fact”.

…2)Only a Pin-Head would state “The Church, the Bride of Jesus Christ, has always been western based”. Such racist remarks might grant you entry into the Skin-Heads. You are shaven in order to qualify, are you not? Congratulations, now your head is as smooth as your bottom and now I know where the source of your knowledge gushes from.

…What sparked this letter is that someone referred to me some of your outlandish allegations attaching my name, and after reading and instead of taking you seriously, I decided to jot you this note as to express what a great Pin-Head you really are.

If you feel my comments deserve an apology, please have your quotes signed off by any professor of Roman history, or any reputable Prophecy teacher such as Lahaye, Fruchtenbaum, Lindsey, Jeffrey… And I will be glad to publicly extend an apology. I assure you, they too will think your a Pin-Head as well.

Yours truly,

Walid Shoebat

The whole thing shows up Shoebat as lacking in any historical understanding, and Osborne easily dispatches his arguments. He also responds with mutual loathing, suggesting that Shoebat may be a secret Muslim! He concludes that the letter is

quite worthless pap from someone who thinks of himself as being God’s gift to Christiandom; a man who hides behind an alias because he’s afraid of the big, bad muzzies who are allegedly after his neck.

It’s funny how these characters on both sides can devote years to poring obsessively over Biblical prophecies without engaging with any serious scholarship on the subject, yet seem happy to ignore the most basic instructions from Jesus and Paul about how Christians are supposed to relate to one another.

As well as his Eschatology Today blog, Osborne (a military contractor) runs a site called The NEIN Blog, where he lauds Bill Salus’s preposterous Israelestine book (which I blogged here) and revels vicariously in recent Israeli military actions. The blog  is “a supplemental effort to the Northeast Intelligence Network”; this “network” is yet another self-proclaimed anti-terrorist organisation which churns out alarmist anti-Muslim screeds; interestingly, its founder, Doug Hagmann, has – like Walid Shoebat – been accused of plagiarism by Debbie Schlussel [UPDATE: I see that Lee Kaplan, who helps to promote Shoebat, is a “senior intelligence analyst” of the Network].

Osborne’s post also attacks Ray Gano, who is strong supporter of Shoebat (and fan of Jack Chick), and who forwarded Shoebat’s letter to him:

I now know precisely what Pastor John Hagee, Dr. David Reagan and Bill Salus, among many other Christian brothers have experienced. Truth be told, because these men tell the truth, I am honored to have been as demeaned as they have been by Ray Gano and his ilk.

 Maybe this explains why Shoebat was dropped from the July 2008 CUFI “Israel Summit”?

World of Chivalry

One of the stranger sub-cultures within Christianity is the world of “chivalric orders”. Groups such as the Roman Catholic “Knights of Columbus” are well-known, but there are also a number of other “orders” out there which appeal both to Catholics and to other Christians. Members are tranformed from mere “Mr” or “Ms” to “Chevalier” or “Dame”, and they may go on to be awarded other titles.

Those who join any of these orders pledge themselves to emulating the Christian ideals of medieval knights. Happily, this doesn’t mean belligerence against Muslims or a desire to conquer the Middle East, but rather the cultivation of inner qualities and the resolution to apply them for the social good. The Prior of the Sphinx Priory of the “Order of Most Honourable Christian Knights of the Rose” explains that:

In C.S. Lewis’s essay The Necessity of Chivalry, Lewis wrote “that the disparate strands of manhood–fierceness and gentleness–can find healthy synthesis in the person of the knight and in the code of chivalry.  Here these competing impulses–normally found in different individuals–find their union.”

Knights of the medieval era were asked to “Protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all.”  These few guidelines were the main duties of a medieval knight, but they were very hard to accomplish.  Rarely were even the best of  knights able to fully meet these tenets. The lifestyle pledged, the oath taken, was a higher calling.  As time passed, the ideals live on and victory is found in the struggle itself.

…The Knights Codex puts forth those virtues which strengthen nations, build communities and develops individuals. The Codex was a document that described the desirable characteristics that the Knight strove for in his daily pursuit of chivalry.  Today, we still actively pursue the virtues of:  Loyalty,  Respect,  Courage,  Justice,  Largesse (being generous),  Prowess (being skilled),  Integrity,  Nobility,  Faith,  Humility, and Franchise (complimenting others).

Some orders are happy to explain that they were founded only recently; others see themselves the revival of more ancient organisations. In some cases, the validity of an order’s claims is hotly debated on discussion forums.

Joining such a group can bring one into contact with some unusual people. For instance, the “Order of St Stanislas” is run by an elderly Polish gentleman who lives in Colchester, UK, named Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki. You may not have have heard of him, but apparently he is the rightful president of Poland, under which authority he dispenses various honours. The order has attracted anti-communists; the most famous member has perhaps been Gen William Westmoreland, who commanded US forces in Vietnam in the 1960s. There is also a Count Michael Subritzky-Kusza, former member of the Rhodesian Light Infantry who is now “New Zealand Ambassador to the Imperial House of Hohenstaufen”. Some groups, while quite respectable, have to contend with unfortunate pasts: the British branch of the “Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem”, for example, was set up with help from Robert Gayre, a notorious supporter of apartheid and promoter of “scientific” racism. Despite this unhappy historical connection, its activities are quite benevolent and it enjoys the support of some distinguished persons.

In some respects, the orders have similarities with certain forms of Freemasonry – although “standard” Freemasonry promotes a general Deism, there are various sub-branches specifically for Christians. A 2001 article in Freemasonry Today explains:

The degrees beyond the Craft are many and varied. Whilst there are ways of classifying and grouping them together, there are those referred to as Christian Orders, in that they restrict their membership to those avowing the Christian faith. These include the Knights Templar, the Red Cross of Constantine, Knight Templar Priests and the Royal Order of Scotland. Perhaps the most well known is the Ancient and Accepted Rite of 33 Degrees working under the Supreme Council 33º, based at 10 Duke Street St James, London. It is the 18º, ‘Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Sovereign Prince Rose Croix’, or simply Rose Croix, which is the most spoken of and while masons outside the Order may know little else of it, they appreciate that it is highly prized.

I must, however, caution masons from rushing into the 18º or claiming to be a Trinitarian Christian if they do not fully understand that doctrine. Being an occasional churchgoer will simply not give that comprehension. The Rose Croix is not a badge to be collected, nor indeed are any such Orders; Rose Croix Chapters choose their candidates with great care. The ceremony demands real thought and Christian understanding before undertaking it; thus for good reason, membership of the A & A Rite should ideally be by invitation. However, rank in the Craft or other degrees should also have no bearing; a mason’s self-awareness and Christian faith is not measured by the size or ornamentation of his apron.

One group allied to “Mark” Masonry is the “Grand College of Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests”;  members apparently see themselves as bishops, and wear copes and mitres. The “Healing, Teaching and Chivalric Order of St. Raphael” was established by a certain Keith Ansell, who had long-standing links to Masonry, and the order’s “Ceremonies of Investiture” are held in a Masonic building. Other orders, however, are keen to maintain some distance; the website of the “Christian Knights of the Rose” disavows any links to Masonry. The “Knightly Order of St. George” enjoys as is its “spiritual protector” Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who is personally hostile to Freemasonry.

Some orders are particularly proud of having received recognition from bishops of various kinds; as well as Nazir-Ali’s links to the “Order of St. George”, the “Christian Knights of the Rose” has a charter from Bishop Peter Compton-Caputo, founder of the Anglican Independent Communion (Compton-Caputo was of the view that the Anglican Church went to the bad in 1928). A Colorado-based group called “The Religious and Military Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem” notes with pride a connection with Pope Shenouda, head of the Coptic Church.

To an outsider, the rituals and titles look somewhat eccentric – in some cases, even risible. It seems to me that there is also a danger that members of such groups may be cultivating self-importance rather than self-reflection (I expressed a similar reservation about Freemasonry here). However, it all looks like good clean fun and if they are undertaking charitable activities one can’t complain too much. Either way, there is a fascinating strangeness to the whole “scene”.

“Lionheart” Defends Glen Jenvey

Well, it looks as though anti-Muslim blogger “Lionheart” was kidding us when he promised to “lay down” his “pen”. Instead, there’s now a new post in which he defends his friend Glen Jenvey against the claim Jenvey made postings to a Muslim forum posing as an extremist and then used those same postings to “expose” in the Sun a Muslim plot against British Jews:

The Guardian newspaper have reported on this complaint by Sajid, the Al Qaeda supporter and corroborated their article based on some obscure blog that is full of lies, hate and denials, and backed it up with the fact there is a PCC complaint pending.

So in peoples eyes Glen Jenvey, the Sun newspaper and the reporter who broke the story must be guilty because there is a PCC complaint by an Al Qaeda supporter, which the Guardian newspaper have printed that is based on an obscure blog?

Propaganda!

Sajid, who the Guardian newspaper have based their article on, stating that the news article was a fallacy, made up by Glen Jenvey, is himself, a Moslem extremist who supports suicide bombings against government and military targets. So this is the type of person the Guardian newspaper are basing their article on, condemning professional intelligence led, internet information gathering, exposing what Moslems in Britain are saying and doing towards the wider British community.

“Lionheart” then blusters at length about how this is all the work of al-Qaeda, and how Muslims are like Nazis.

Unfortunately, because the Muslim forum has updated one of its posts, the Guardian (as I noted yesterday) slightly botched the narrative. Sajid linked the extremist posts by “abuislam” to another poster named “Richard Tims”. The connection from “Richard Tims” to Jenvey was not noticed by anyone at Ummah.com – instead, the link was made by Bloggerheads, which has no connection with the forum whatsoever but which casts a sceptical eye over the Murdoch press. That’s an important point, since it means that the link to Jenvey cannot be dismissed as a ploy by Islamists.

After nearly a month now, there has been no word from Jenvey about any of this. When he dropped out from a US radio interview, it was claimed that he was in hiding following death threats – but the only evidence “Lionheart” gives us for that is an Ummah.com posting in which someone opines that Jenvey’s “head would have been removed in the Islamic State”. Not very pleasant, but hardly enough to prevent someone from undertaking any form of communication with the outside world for weeks afterwards – especially given that Jenvey has boasted of his “anti-terror” work for a long time and must have received worse than that before now. The Bloggerheads piece was aptly entitled “Glen Jenvey has some explaining to do” – but rather than defend himself, Jenvey has allowed various newspapers to pull the stories which were based on his supposed research. What does that suggest?

UPDATE: As Tim notes in the comments, “Lionheart’s” post received seven comments between 00:35 and 03:22 last night, including from people living in the UK. Curiously, all share the same rhetorical style and difficulties with grammar and punctuation. The first, from “anonymous”, tells us that

Glen jenvey has agreeded for his hard drive on his computer to be read by a expert from the PCC and any other Newspaper.which will show he made no postings on ummah.com.

But will ummah.com al-qaeda members offer the same?

But what have the computers of “ummah.com” members got to do with anything? And of course a person can have more than one computer in their home, so offering up a hard drive is neither here nor there. We’re more interested Jenvey’s IP details etc, and why one of his websites was being spammed on Ummah.com by an apparently non-existent person named “Richard Tims”. Another commentator (a supposed “rev john morgan, USA”) adds the claim that past death threats were responsible for causing Jenvey to have a heart attack. And yet another tells us that:

 Blame the Labour government who supports all these terrorist groups being based in the UK.to say they are going to behead Mr Jenvy show’s the police and mi5 have deal’s with al-qaeda groups in the UK.tHE pcc being linked to a person who supports suicide bombings show’s they take the side on muslims before good people.SHAME ON THE PCC a unfair organisation who side with thugs.

Interestingly, someone who has had some past email exchange with Jenvey writes that “I would guess he is dyslexic from his spelling”.

Palin Church Fire: “Hired Assassin” Claim

WorldNetDaily returns to the subject of the suspicious fire the occured at Sarah Palin’s church in December. There have been bitter complaints that the fire has not been the subject of greater media attention or official investigation, but now WND highlights some new allegations:

[Blogger Kevin] Collins said he discussed the situation with a church elder, Tom Ryan, who confirmed the case isn’t a simple arson, but an attempted murder situation.

“There were five adult women and a 17-year-old girl in the church during the arson,” Collins wrote.

He also reported the telephone wires and those controlling the fire alarm and water sprinkler were cut before the fire was set from within the building, because footprints were found inside the control room.

“Clearly the arson[ist] knew the victims were present,” he wrote.

“The facts speak clearly. This attempted murder was perpetrated by someone from outside of the Wasilla area, a hired assassin who went there to kill people because of what they believe,” Collins reported.

The cutting of the wires is surely newsworthy, but why is this coming to light only now? It’s not even mentioned on the church’s website. Collins blames “slovenly old media”, and claims the media is fearful the perpetrators will turn out to be left-wing. However, I’m sure Ryan or Pastor Larry Kroon could have got a hearing from many media sources with this information, both secular and Christian.

Instead, and curiously, Ryan has chosen to go to a Freeper-style right-wing blogger who chest-thumps at length on the usual subjects – a typical screed is entitled “Face it: Obama declared war on us. It’s time to choose up sides and fight back to Save America”; Collins also has a book to sell (co-authored with Paul Vallely of “Stand Up America”). From a summary:

Operation Sucker Punch (Blood for our Future) is a thriller where the stakes portrayed could not be higher. President Harlan Andrews of the U.S. prepares to launch a joint preemptive first strike with Israel against the world’s radical Islamic terror states. The strike must be pre-emptive and carried out with overwhelming lethal force. A top secret intelligence report proves that there are just months remaining before Mohammed Waleed, the Iranian Islamic leader, completes the building of deliverable atomic weapons. The tension builds as time runs out. The plan is to trick and set a ruse for the radical Islamist to attack Israel. Then, they will fight a war based on America and Israel’s timetable. Only this pre-emptive offensive can save the free world from the global caliphate. If the plan works, Waleed and his allies will be annihilated in this winner-take-all war. If the plan fails, America’s President and Israel’s Prime Minister will be tried as war criminals.

Is this really the only person that Ryan could get the word out to?

(Name variation: Kevin “Coach” Collins)

Shoebat and Islam in the Bible

Once again, Walid Shoebat makes an unhappy foray into Biblical scholarship, as he attempts to find evidence that the Bible predicts the rise of Islam. The evidence is a few verses in Psalms 81 and 83, plus a bit of Isaiah and Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, thrown in for good measure:

Look at the verses of Psalm 83 carefully; they are SO ACCURATE and most people do not pay attention to each word:

“So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.” (v15)

There is only ONE element which caused Israel to win and it was definitely not their strength since the Arab armies were outnumbered 100 to 1 and 100 to 1 in weapons. The reason the Arabs lost the war was the fear factor.

Now in Psalm 81 there is an interesting verse:

“The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him, But their fate would endure forever ” (v15)

So it’s speaking of a people who hate God when they think in their mind that they submit to God. The word “Muslims” means “submitters to God”; Islam means “submission”.

In essence, when one read Psalm 83:2 “For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.” What this is saying is that the enemies in this Psalm (Ishmaelites, Hagarites, Assyrians, Lot, Edom, and the people of Tyre) who think in their minds they submit to God, in reality are full of pride and indeed are haters of God.

Notice also that this prophecy is future – that the punishment would be forever; it would be at the end of days. So, in reality Psalm 83 has NOT been fully fulfilled; there is another event that must happen in order for it to be fully be fulfilled.

Where can we begin?

First, what role did any strange “storm” play in modern Israel’s victory in the Six Day War? None. And if we’re supposed to read the “storm” as poetic for instilling the “fear factor”, why take the rest of the psalm literally?

Second, what word in Hebrew is used for “submission” in 81.15, and can it really be related to the Arabic “Islam”?  I’m not qualified to ponder the Hebrew, but there’s no sign Shoebat is either. The NIV gives a plainer interpretation:

“If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways,

 how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!

 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever…

The context is obviously of Yahweh overpowering (ancient) Israel’s enemies, who then try uselessly to mitigate their punishment by reluctant and insincere abasement. But there’s nothing here about the enemies of Israel creating a new religion revolving around another god (Shoebat sees Allah as a “moon god”) hundreds of years in the future, and Islam did not come into existence in the context of military defeat.

Third, there is nothing in Psalm 83 to suggest that the nations plotting against Israel “think in their minds they submit to God”. The author probably saw them as inspired by false pagan religions, but that’s not suggested in the psalm itself and that’s not the same thing as the unwilling “cringing” towards Yahweh in Psalm 81. In short, there is nothing here suggestive that the author or authors of these two psalms had any inkling of the rise of Islam centuries later, or that the distant future was of any interest.

Moving on to the New Testament:

Galatians 4 has some interesting verses:

“Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.”

“For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia”

Why Arabia? Why does bondage, slavery, submission, and false faith come out of Arabia? Isn’t submission [Islam] the same as bondage?

Here’s that passage in wider context:

Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.  These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother…Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit.

I suspect Shoebat is so obsessed with the idea of Isaac and Ishmael as a literal way to understand the relation between Jews and Arabs today that he has missed the point. Ironically, the passage from Galatians is actually a critique of Judaism and the role of the law, rather than a warning about Islam. Those who wish to be under the law are like the son of Hagar, in slavery, but followers of Jesus are instead, like Isaac, free. Paul then relates this to the persecution of the early church. There is no cryptic message here about a “false faith” emerging from Arabia hundreds of years in the future. “Arabia” for Paul is simply the usual Greco-Roman term for “Sinai”; the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint places Goshen in or next to “Arabia” (1). Of course, whether Paul is fair in his characterisation of the Jewish law is another question, but for Biblical literalists engaging critically with Paul is off limits. And as Christian Zionists are squeamish about criticising Judaism (in some cases there seems to be a de facto “dual covenant” position), this kind of bizarre reinterpretation is doubtless more congenial.

Apparently next week the Oxford Union will be treated to Shoebat’s anti-Muslim diatribes; I’m sure it’ll be a hoot.

(1)  James Karl Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai, p. 130.

PCC to Investigate Glen Jenvey

From The Guardian:

The Press Complaints Commission is investigating a front-page story in the Sun newspaper that claimed Islamic extremists were targeting The Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar.

The claims were made by self-proclaimed “anti-terrorist” expert Glen Jenvey, who explained that he had seen extremist postings on a Muslim forum called Ummah.com. These postings made by a new forum member, named “Abusislam”:

However, in another posting on Ummah.com, it was alleged that Abuislam was in fact Jenvey himself and claimed this had been confirmed from his IP and email addresses. The Bloggerheads website also claimed Jenvey had posted the comment himself.

The PCC has launched an investigation and will consider whether Abuislam is Jenvey. The regulator has contacted the Sun and is awaiting the paper’s response.

Not quite; Ummah.com linked Abuislam to a “Richard Tims”, whom Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads noted had left spamming messages on Ummah.com promoting a website owned by…Glen Jenvey. The Ummah.com post about Tims was then revised to include this information. Near enough, though.

Meanwhile, Jenvey’s close friend “Lionheart” has, for reasons of his own, decided to shunt a couple of recent stories off the front page of his blog. A blog entry about Jenvey and the Sun story has now been shifted back to November 2008, and an entry linking to his appearance on a US radio show on 14 January 2009 has been re-dated to 2001 – that was the radio show in which he explained to his American hosts how there was a “Paki Muslim” conspiracy to make people think the word “Paki” was in some way offensive, as I blogged here. His top post is now from December 2008, in which he expresses his intention to stop blogging. Let us hope he has the willpower to remain firm in his resolution.

(Hat tip to a commentator from Ummah.com)

Where’s Jenvey?

More than two weeks after Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads raised the possibility that self-proclaimed “anti-terror expert” Glen Jenvey may have made pseudonymous postings to a Muslim web forum which he then used as evidence of extremism, we’ve seen a number of newspaper stories that used Jenvey as their source pulled from websites . Tim’s discoveries have also been picked up by Private Eye.

Despite the huge question mark now hanging over his reputation, Jenvey has so far declined to say anything publicly since the story broke, and there has been no attempt to refute or explain the evidence uncovered by Tim. Jenvey’s close associate “Lionheart” has also been silent on his blog for nearly two weeks now.

Netherlands Hate Speech Context

As the Dutch MP Geert Wilders faces prosecution for his anti-Islam Fitna film, there has been much pontificating about “Dhimmitude”, but little attempt to place the appeal court’s decision in the context of a history banning things in the Netherlands that are considered to be hateful. An organisation called “Humanity in Action” carries an interesting article published in 2000 entitled “The Criminalization of Hate Speech in the Netherlands”, by Ruth Shoemaker and Hadewina Snijders. As they note:

Out of the Dutch ratification of the [1966 Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination]  in 1971 came an expansion of Dutch criminal law towards limiting the public expression of hate speech. Because of increasing hate speech in the late 1980s and early 1990s and new waves of anti-Semitism throughout Europe, the Dutch government committed itself to enforcing stricter limitations on racist speech and criminalized Holocaust denial. 1994, for example, marked the first time in Dutch history that political party leaders were personally convicted based on their official party platform when leaders of the Centrumdemocraten party were prosecuted for the espousal of their extreme-right ideology. Additionally, the political party itself was convicted the same year for its racist agenda. Also rooted in a more direct commitment on the part of the Dutch government to limiting and prosecuting hate speech is the difficulty extreme-right groups face when attempting to secure permits for public events and demonstrations…

Anti-Holocaust denial laws, for instance, mean it is illegal to argue against the authenticity of The Diary of Anne Frank.

However, one aspect of the Wilders prosecution case that is particularly troubling is that the charge of “insult” has been added to the allegation of inciting hatred. According to a report on the Appeal Court’s decision:

…most statements are insulting as well since these statements substantially harm the religious esteem of the Islamic worshippers. According to the Court of Appeal Wilders has indeed insulted the Islamic worshippers themselves by affecting the symbols of the Islamic belief as well.

The idea that hurt feelings can be the basis for banning something is of course rather alarming, although the Court adds an important qualification:

As regards the insult of a group the Court of Appeal makes a distinction. In general the Court determines that the traditional Dutch culture of debating is based on tolerance of each others views to a large extent while Islamic immigrants may be expected to have consideration for the existing sentiments in the Netherlands as regards their belief, which is partly at odds with Dutch and European values and norms. As regards insulting statements the Court of Appeal prefers the political, public and other legal counter forces rather than the criminal law, as a result of which an active participation to the public debate, by moslims as well, is promoted. 

However, the Court of Appeal makes an exception as regards insulting statements in which a connection with Nazism is made (for instance by comparing the Koran with “Mein Kampf”). The Court of Appeal considers this insulting to such a degree for a community of Islamic worshippers that a general interest is deemed to be present in order to prosecute Wilders because of this.

In itself, then, the decision seems to be an extension of the limitations which have been placed around discussion of Nazism in the Netherlands; but should the case succeed how long will the “distinction” remain in place in the face of further claims of “harm to religious esteem” from all kinds of religious groups, for all kinds of reasons?

Wilders claims that his prosecution is “political”. It doubtless is, and no one is probably more pleased with it than Wilders himself. To return to that essay by Shoemaker and Snijders:

Interestingly, [far-right politician Joop] Glimmerveen reiterates [the] belief that criminalizing hate speech changes the nature of political parties, but he suggests not that the extreme-right becomes more moderate, but rather that other groups that subtly espouse rightest agendas mask these agendas behind facades of liberalism and, in doing so, gain more mass support than extreme-right groups that espouse similar philosophies in a more open manner. As support for this position, Glimmerveen claims that the Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD), a liberal party in the Netherlands, holds the same antiimmigrant ideas that the extreme-right Dutch People’s Union espouses, yet the VVD gains more support because in presenting their ideas more covertly, they avoid the stigmas associated with the extreme-right.

And if there’s anyone who’s actually interested in my view, I’ll repeat a point I’ve written before: I favour universal protections for free speech along the lines of the American First Amendment. However, the historic fact is that in most democracies free speech has been balanced against other factors deemed to be socially desirable. Thus some countries have laws against Holocaust denial, to prevent Nazi revivalism; some have laws against blasphemy, to prevent inter-religious strife and to keep the wrath of God at bay; some have laws against mocking the monarch, to avoid possible civil disturbance caused by undermining the established order. Unless you have a society where free speech is treasured as absolute virtue in itself, as we see in the USA, this is hardly a surprising state of affairs. Since intercommunal hatred and prejudice against ethnic and sexual minorities are clearly social evils, the easiest response is (or at least seems to be) to limit freedom to express views that might tend to provoke these things. Thus Mark Steyn faces investigation for anti-Muslim views in Canada, a Swedish pastor gets sentenced to jail for attacking homosexuality (so much for “Euarabia” there, by the way), and French journalists get fined for the “racial defamation” of Israeli Jews (ditto). And in the UK, we see the (failed) prosecution of the leaders of the BNP. Of course, those of us who have a more “American” view of free speech will see such laws as counter-productive and confused and tending towards other evils that must be opposed, but that’s the context in which they come into existence and are applied; conspiracy theories about Muslims and “cultural Marxists” miss the point.

Some Thoughts of Bishop Richard Williamson

As has been widely reported, the Pope has made peace with bishops of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) [UPDATE: although not quite with the SSPX as such, see comment below], and they have now been re-admitted to the Catholic Church after accepting Papal authority. However, there is much dismay over the fact that one of these Bishops, the British Richard Williamson, also has virulent anti-Jewish and Holocaust-denying views.

Williamson’s various “letters” between 1991 and 2003 can be perused at this website, in which he discourses on a range of subjects but keeps coming back to one or two themes.  Here’s a taster – take a deep breath:

The [1991] Gulf War and the state of the Catholic Church today – “until they re-discover their true Messianic vocation, [Jews] may be expected to continue fanatically agitating, in accordance with their false messianic vocation of Jewish world-dominion, to prepare the Anti-Christ’s throne in Jerusalem. So we may fear their continuing to play their major part in the agitation of the East and in the corruption of the West.”

Women’s trousers are an assault upon woman’s womanhood – “You wish to stop abortion? Do it by example. Never wear trousers or shorts.”

 The problem with The Sound of Music – “putting friendliness and fun in the place of authority and rules, it invites disorder between parents and children.” Plus the film features villainous Nazis.

Girls at university – “Since modem [sic] man does not want her to do what God meant her to do, namely to have children, she takes her revenge by invading all kinds of things that man is meant to do.”

World Trade Center – The Scourge of Sin – “Politically, behind the Arab terrorists are most likely the would-be architects of the New World Order, who have long been using the United States as an instrument to achieve their control of the world. Long ago they planned three World Wars to achieve their aim.”

State of the Nations: Three Layers of Lies – “By lies, Judeo-Masonry is preparing for the Third World War” (In this piece, Williamson also commends the late South African apartheid-supporting journalist Aida Parker).

More recently, Williamson has given his thoughts to the world at other sites. In his 2005 “Denial of Christ creates chaos” he rails against immigration:

The infidels are at the gate: Eurabia is inevitable. …the enemies of God, seeing as usual farther ahead than His friends, foresaw in the immigration of an alien population a great means of diluting the national identity of countries which by their long and proud history risked not easily being absorbed into the Antichrist’s New World Order…

St Paul frames the equality of different human races, classes and sexes within Christ. In other words the equality is before God, and will only be fulfilled in Heaven. St Paul would never have dreamt of denying or wiping out the inequality of human differences before men. As to the inequality in this life between Jew and Greek, see Romans and Galatians; between bond and free, see Philemon; between man and woman, see Ephesians and Colossians. The will of God for men on earth is that Catholic save Jew, that the man free look after the bondsman and that the man be head of the woman. So when the white men give up on saving Jews, looking after other races and leading their womenfolk, it is altogether normal for them to be punished respectively by the domination of Jewish finance, by the refusal to follow of the non-white races and by rampant feminism.

Catholic journalist Michael Anger has also noted links between the SSPX, Williamson, and a far-right activist named Derek Holland; Holland and Nick Griffin helped to create the far-right “International Third Position”.

Jerome Corsi: Full of Gas

Jerome Corsi – now apparently recovered from his terrifying ordeal in Kenya – gets overexcited in a report for WorldNetDaily:

NEW YORK – A huge deep-water natural gas find off the coast of Israel promises to be a boon to the Jewish state’s economy as well as a stimulus to other developers searching for offshore oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean.

…The find is significant for those who believe the Bible indicates Israel is sitting on a massive oil reserve that would reshape the geopolitical structure of the Middle East.

The find also lends support to the abiotic theory of the origin of oil that holds oil is created naturally within the mantle of the earth, not by biological origins.

How the find does either of these things is unexplained by Corsi; I’ll leave others to ponder the “abiotic” question, but the Biblical claim is obviously absurd. The Bible “indicates” nothing about “a massive oil reserve” in Israel; the only mention of flammable “muddy water” appears in 2 Maccabees, in a Zoroastrian-influenced legend about a flame being preserved from the First Temple into the Second Temple Period. All other references to oil are to olive oil, despite shameless attempts by (as I’ve blogged) Hal Lindsey, Rev Stephen Swisher and Rabbi Nasanya Zakon to twist the plain meaning of the Bible in order to promote the sale of shares in a so-far profitless company called Zion Oil & Gas. Of course, that doesn’t mean there is no crude oil under Israel somewhere (and some small deposits have been found), but the subject was of no interest to any of the Biblical authors.

Corsi continues:

…”We are witnessing an historic moment in Israel’s energy market,” Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer told Reuters. “If it turns out in a few weeks that the indicators received in recent days are true, then we are talking about the biggest find in Israel’s history.”

The biggest, but not the first, so the discovery is hardly a bolt from the blue. And it appears the deposit may have to be shared with Lebanon.