Posts Tagged ‘Ann Arbor News’


2003 Cartoon: Healthcare

November 17, 2009


A ‘jihad of self-examination’ is long overdue for Islamists

January 27, 2009

Other Voices: A ‘jihad of self-examination’ is long overdue for Islamists

Posted by Steve Pastner January 22, 2009 12:43PM

By Steve Pastner

Other Voices

Steve Pastner
The writer is a retired anthropology professor and sculptor who specialized in the tribal regions of the Islamic world, conducting fieldwork in southwest Pakistan and the Horn of Africa, among other places.

Sigmund Freud jokingly noted that the Irish are the only group impervious to psychoanalysis. If by that he meant “resistant to constructive self analysis and criticism,” it’s obvious Freud never met Islamists or their supporters, both within and beyond the Muslim community. This is indicated by the spate of demonstrations locally and globally in support of Hamas extremists and associated calls for the abolition of the state of Israel – not just cessation of its Gaza operation.

If pro-Hamas Muslims truly possessed honor, you’d think that to protest the dishonorable horrors perpetrated in the name of Islam by the terrorist likes of Hamas, they’d practice either mass apostasy or a major internal “jihad al aql”- an Arabic term I coined for a thus-far-hypothetical “struggle for rational self-improvement” along the lines of the western “age of reason.”

After all, Jihadi misdeeds not only target “infidels” (in Israel, Mumbai, Beslan, London, Madrid, the Twin Towers, etc.) but also co-religionists in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and indeed Palestinian areas, among others, where they constitute a good chunk of the undeniable misery of many Muslims.

Yet rather than self-criticize, even when they are victims, the most vocal/visible Muslim spokesmen continue to disproportionately blame others for largely self-generated problems.

Numerous factors internal to the Islamic world are behind such problems. Start with endless violent and shifting intra-Muslim ethnic, sectarian and other conflicts down to the level of clans and even families, all as acute in Palestinian areas as anywhere. These make reliable treaties difficult, if not impossible, to achieve and maintain.

Add to this patterns of graft and corruption in many Muslim settings that would shame even the Illinois governor and you’re incubating a homegrown petri dish of problems, quite apart from “zionist” and “western imperialist” whipping boys. The latter scapegoating is particularly hypocritical given Islam’s own history of imperialism that is far older than the West’s, while Israel has no such history at all, beyond U.N.-legitimated ancient claims to a Vermont-sized scrap of real estate. Sadly for all concerned this scrap includes strategic border areas reluctantly occupied in wars Israel won (but didn’t start), about which there is enormous agonizing and debate within the Israeli and wider Jewish communities and which its genocidal, uncompromising enemies won’t even let it return without a fight.

Then throw in an unhealthy dash of religiously sanctioned “taqiyyah” or “say anything if it’ll forward the cause of Islam” on the propaganda and diplomatic fronts. Toss in a generous pinch of children weaponized into homicidal and suicidal “martyrs” via toxic madrassah indoctrination and you’ve got messes that spill into others’ backyards, from the World Trade Center, to Hamas rockets into Israel and a possible war between India and Pakistan over the latter’s stonewalling about its links to the Mumbai massacre.

To contribute essays to Other Voices, contact Bob Needham, opinion editor, at 734-994-6825 or

When that happens it’s not surprising that Muslims, many innocent, suffer. While this is tragic, it’s not a morally equivalent “cycle of violence” at all but instead often has a genesis – and also, importantly, remedies – within the “umma” (Muslim community of believers) itself.

The ineffectiveness of moderate Muslims in reining in extremists should also be a source of embarrassed self-criticism. But this much cliched “vast majority” may, in fact, be numerically overstated, as witnessed by large violent turnouts that can be mobilized for nonsensical cartoon protests and to demonize Jews while few show up to decry, say, the recent Mumbai carnage, or the indiscriminate suicide and rocket attacks on civilians in Israel which are at the root of the current Gaza crisis. In any case, a constructive internal Islamic critique has not materialized in any significant public (a key word!) measure, thereby minimizing opportunities for real peace.

In his “Murder in Amsterdam,” author Ian Buruma addresses the killing by a Dutch Muslim of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was rightly concerned about the dramatic increase in Islamic radicalism in Europe. This book raises the unhappy need to explore “limits to tolerance” when dealing with such extremism in western countries, where liberal values have become a shield protecting grossly illiberal acts and aspirations. Much of the anti-Semitic postering and vocalizing in recent Dearborn and Ann Arbor anti-Israel protests, and elsewhere in the U.S. and Europe, raises just such a troubling specter, as does recent Gaza-related vandalism against Jewish schools in Chicago.

In contrast to well-documented neo-Nazi links to radical Islamists (see George Michaels’ “The Enemy of My Enemy”), many non-Muslim groupies of Hamas and other jihadis, such as Ann Arbor’s longtime synagogue harassers, describe themselves as of the “left.” Frequently they are part of the “International Solidarity,” Green Party (once respectable before its environmentalism was trumped by boosterism for Islamic extremists) and “boycott Israel” movements (a version of which was, happily, trounced at the local food co-op last year). They too, a la Freud’s observation, could profit from cognitive readjustment therapy. This might reconcile the huge “disconnect” between their sanctimonious self-proclaimed status as “peace-loving progressives” and “human rights activists” and their strident, unambiguous support for some of the most repressive, aggressive and bigoted ideologies since Hitler.

News readers should check out the blog site “” affiliated with the local synagogue picketers and boycott advocates. It is a disgrace that local Muslims have not forcefully repudiated these views.

As a former, once-sympathetic professional student of the Muslim world, I hope an internal reformation of Islam, based on more Muslims publicly engaging in constructive self-criticism (a la the brave Somali activist Hirsi Ali, currently under death threats for her criticisms of her own religion, and my friend Akbar Ahmed, the Pakistani scholar-diplomat in exile) makes possible my renewed respect and affection for a rich but currently deeply flawed religious culture (the essence of any religion being what it motivates believers to do in its name).

Until that happens, the growing domination of extremists, both extra-governmental and elected, as in Iran and Gaza , supported by western apologists (whose motives range along a spectrum from well-meaning gullibility through opportunism to anti-Semitic malice) makes Islam hazardous not just to others but to itself.


Hate Speech: Obsession?

November 19, 2008



Obsession the Movie

Obsession the Movie


Muslims in America today


Also please note the Ann Arbor News version that I was asked to send for publication (250 words).

Muslims are looking for a case of hate speech. Americans are the victim of hate speech from Islam.

Please read the very careful way I wrote this letter response to the Ann Arbor News letter to the editor – of this writer. (naive)

We are all very aware of the ‘hate speech’ threat – but Americans do not use this tactic against Islamists.


14 November 2008

Re: In Response to an Ann Arbor News Letter to the Editor: (original letter to the right)

“Obsession’ DVD is hate speech against Muslims”

Whether or not Amir A. Kamoune is an American citizen, he should know better than to make the claim of “hate speech directed against me” when he is talking about a mass mailing of anything. He tells us “I got a copy of the DVD ‘Obsession’ in the mail.” (From what I read – many millions of others did as well.) Some time ago, I watched the same film on Fox News and learned that the only hate speech shown in the film is from voices of radical Islam, targeted against him and me and the entire free world. But his letter places him on the side of being a Muslim, clearly separating himself from the rest of us. Why?

Kamoune wrote: “Non-Muslims may defend the filmmakers”, I’d guess implying that Muslims wouldn’t – or couldn’t? Many Muslims that I know, as friends, would strongly disagree with Kamoune’s viewpoint. Aren’t we always told that we shouldn’t assume that all Muslims support the terrorists, the radical Islamists? So why does Amir Kamoune take his unusual stand?

Kamoune is telling us, quite clearly, that Muslims consider this film to be against them. His words clearly tell his reader that he has placed himself on the side of these radical leaders and Imams who hate America and have plans to ‘take’ America for Islam.

He places himself on the same side as those Muslims who are spouting hate speech against America from their pulpits.

Any hate speech claim belongs to me and my fellow Americans.

The hate speech is targeted against us! and Kamoune tells us he isn’t one of us.

He emphasizes this point by specifically, in his words, identifying the “hate speech directed against me.”

“I have no doubt the film is a form of hate speech directed against me.” Well, he is mistaken. The only hate speech in the film was and is directed against America. It is directed against me – and I am offended by this hate speech against my country.

But by his own words, Kamoune clearly tells us that he isn’t on the side of America. Is he telling his readers that he is one of those who has targeted America?

We Americans would agree that the film shows us numerous examples of hate speech – all of which is directed against America and Western Civilization. That hate is against me. Yet Kamoune tries to tell us that he considers the “hate speech directed against me” “as a Muslim”. Well, he is mistaken.

Are we beginning to see where Kamoune comes from?

In his second paragraph we read an interesting sentence:
“Non-Muslims may defend the filmmakers…” So, is Kamoune telling us that Muslims wouldn’t defend the filmmakers? Muslims that I know would disagree with him.

I personally know many Muslims who would and do, in fact, defend the filmmakers – who at the same time realize the awkward position in which they find themselves.

But Kamoune clearly writes that he and his fellow Muslims certainly wouldn’t defend the filmmakers.

Why not? It seems, I’d have to assume, apparent to Kamoune that he believes all Muslims don’t like this film. Again, I know many Muslims who would disagree emphatically with Kamoune. Many Muslims in America do not agree with the hate speech directed at America and Western Civilization – but Kamoune puts himself on the side of the hate speakers shown in this film – “Obsession”. He implies quite clearly that he defends the hate speech makers – those hateful speakers shown in the film.

Then he continues his explanation: “They (non-Muslims, Americans) may claim ‘Islam has been hijacked’ by radicals and this kind of film is necessary to increase awareness of this issue.” Well, yes, that is what many good hearted Americans claim in order to defend Muslims living here in America who appear to be hard-working, friendly neighbors.

But Kamoune treats them with little respect by his next words: “However, they don’t get to define hate speech directed against me”. He makes it quite clear that this hate must be targeted at him – why?

Then, to reinforce the ‘Me’ and ‘they’ (He obviously intended to make the distinction quite clear that he isn’t one of us) he adds this interesting statement: “However, they don’t get to define hate speech directed against me.” Again, the hate speech shown in this film “Obsession” was directly at Americans and the free world and not to the viewer.

“They” and “me” – We would have to be pretty stupid not to get his distinction. He isn’t with us on this issue of a threat to America and the entire Western World – the threat of radical Islam. He clearly identifies his position – with his strongly implied hatred for the West.

“They (the film makers of the movie “Obsession”) don’t get to define hate speech” – He does!

Then quickly he turns himself into a victim. “They don’t get to define hate speech directed against me.” He is sent by mail – a DVD on a subject that quite obviously he is sensitive about – a film that has already been seen by hundreds of millions of people. (I’m pretty certain about that figure because we are told that – two years after Fox News showed this movie on television, according to Fox News, viewed by 25 million, another 28 million copies were sent to recipients all over the country.)

“Me”! and “they” – Kamoune here may have told us a lot more than he intended to tell us – with his distinctive differentiation. “Me” “As a Muslim I have no doubt that the film is a form of hate speech directed against me.” Why would he do that? Why would Kamoune put himself on the opposite side of America? Me and they? Why would he tell us, quite blatantly, that since he considers this hate speech against him and since he alone gets to define hate speech the way he wants to define it – and he wants to tell us that he believes it was directed at him – in the very next sentence he makes another unusual claim. He’s now the victim of this speech! And since now he has identified himself as the victim – he claims the right to define it! “The perpetrators do not get to practice their right of free speech”! Go back and look at his letter. Does the reader understand what this writer has said?! ‘They’ – I guess meaning us – in this writer’s opinion – ‘us’ being Americans. Let’s read that again!

His letter: “The perpetrators do not get to practice their right of free speech and then trample on my human right to be offended by it” So “his right”? – Mr. Kamoune’s “right”? “His right to be offended by it” If he is offended by it (the film I guess) then he is telling us that somehow he endorses what the recorded speakers have said – and he just wants to tell us that since we are highly offended by the hate speech recorded – he wants us to know that the hate speech targeted at Americans is OK with him – but at the same time – apparently he agrees with the ranting Imams who were preaching hate targeted at his hosts in America. But he is offended because Americans and the filmmakers are exposing radical, hate-filled speakers displaying their hate toward America.

He couldn’t have made it clearer.

Then Kamoune gets into the ‘offended’ issue by throwing out an unusual illustration:
“When a woman is raped, some jackass always says she encouraged it.” – We Americans might find this example of Mr. Kamoune kind of unusual. From what I read, when a women is raped in an Islamic country – she must have 4 witnesses to defend herself – almost an impossibility. Usually she is killed for ‘her’ crime of getting raped. It’s called “honor killing”. Often we read that her murder is preformed by her own father or a relative. She’s raped – the perpetrator goes free – and she’s killed.

Kamoune tells us he got a copy of the DVD “Obsession” in the mail – then “Because of it’s controversial nature, I forced myself to watch it from the beginning to end.” How did he already know about it’s controversial reputation before he had ever seen it?

Why would the word “Obsession” cause him to determine and use the words, “Because of it’s controversial nature”?

Then he tells us “I forced myself to watch it” adding “from beginning to end”.

He continues “As a Muslim (we already know that because he said so in his first paragraph) I have no doubt the film is a form of hate speech” adding for emphasis, I would assume, “directed against me”.

I know about this movie “Obsession” from seeing it 2 or 3 times on Fox News television a few years ago (2006). It was widely discussed by Fox News reporters and guests – so I’d have to assume that Mr. Kamoune knew all about “Obsession” at least for a couple of years. Fox News invited a great deal of discussion about this production. Millions of Americans have seen the movie. But now, after all this time, Kamoune is telling us that he has “no doubt the film is a form of hate speech directed against me.” No, the film included a great deal of hate speech – that is for sure – but all of the hate came from Imams speaking from Muslim mosques and other settings (such as the mall in Washington, D.C.) targeted at me – at all Americans – at our entire Western Civilization. The hate certainly was not directed at Kamoune. If we assume that he is an American citizen or a Muslim living here with a green card – he should be the first to know where the hate speech comes from – radical Islam. But he doesn’t say that. He tells us in the first paragraph of his letter to the editor – that “As a Muslim I have no doubt the film is a form of hate speech directed against me.”

Isn’t it interesting? Why would Kamoune write that “As a Muslim I have no doubt the film is a form of hate speech directed at me.” He clearly has identified that, because he is a Muslim – I guess – the “hate speech is directed at me”. How could he come to a conclusion like that? Any why? Unless, of course, he doesn’t consider himself part of us, or part of Western Civilization that is being targeted by radical Islam.

I’ve just watched this movie again and found absolutely nothing spoken by the narrator that could be considered hate speech targeted at Americans – or targeted at any viewer of the program. All the hate is targeted and directed at the viewer by the terrorist-supporting Imams and activists and from the children being indoctrinated in the Madrassahs.

Mr. Kamoune then writes, “The rise of hate crimes against Muslims is a verifiable fact.” Well, my research into that statement indicates, surprisingly, that hate crimes of this nature, on a national basis, are very low – almost non-existent. Americans aren’t into hate crimes or unfair treatment of anyone. The same regarding the next sentence. “Hate speech against Muslims has been prevalent since 9/11.” Again, the almost surprising things is that this behavior is almost non-existent. As it should be.

His closing, “This DVD is just the latest installment in the same old trend.” Here again, just because he writes that doesn’t make it a fact. The fact is that no American behaves in the manner that Mr. Kamoune claims. Americans have welcomed people from every nation on earth. We are the only country in the world where you can come here and call yourself an American. I couldn’t go to Saudi Arabia and plan on calling myself a ‘Saudi’.
The only problem is – we expect that everyone who comes here to live – will become an American citizen – a real American. Americans are learning to have serious concern about that when we hear these radical Imams preaching hate against America!

Americans should watch “Obsession” again and again to understand the very serious threat of radical Islam to America and to all of us who believe in liberty.

Should we come to the conclusion that Amir A. Kamoune might know all about the speakers illustrated in “Obsession”? I hope not and I pray that every American will pray for him.

A careful reading of Kamoune’s letter might have told us a lot more about his position on the subject than he intended.


Donald E. Van Curler


Two Great DVD’s Relating to HATE CRIME LAWS:

1. “Assault of Liberty: The impact of Hate Crime Laws” + 2. “Hate Crime Laws”