Telling Tales

Duly Noted

1. Revealing: A reputable Swiss weekly presented Koran verses that incite to violence against unbelievers –which means you, the world and me. The intent: show that violence in the name of God is not an error of confused followers. 

The response of Islam experts: to read the Book, you need to be an expert. That confers power because you must believe what they say and not what you see. 

The expert excuse for the inexcusable: The Prophet advocated and practiced what has been normal in his time in backward places. Also, Mohammed was under the pressure of enemies, which influenced his pronouncements. Does this mean that not God –who was hardly pressured- but a man, is the Book’s source? Considering the factors of limited time and plenty of enemies, one wonders how violent Christ’s should have been by that standard.

2. Muslim intolerance might not be of concern without its expanding communities in prosperous countries. The growth comes from the influx of persons who ask for refugee status. The self-imposed rules of the game mean that nearly everyone that demands refuge gets it. Those refused receive a “temporary” permit. 

Some of these economic migrants command attention. While they demand tolerance, they show little of it for the false religion and sinful ways of their hosts. The high rate of criminality reflects this contempt. Another problem arises where communities are responsible for their finances and for welfare. Some refugees assigned to such places undermine the local budget. A report before the writer (10th December) tells the case of a small town in trouble. 70% of the settled refugees live off welfare –and 95% or the Eritreans depend on public support. 

Are these people lazy? No, as a problem is that, being unwilling to adapt to their freely chosen milieu, they flaunt their “difference” demonstratively. Also, the newcomers lack skills. Post-industrial societies have limited needs for the unskilled. 


3. One day Moscow will announce that new “color revolutions” in its “sphere of interest” will be considered as threats. Therefore, restorative intervention will be deemed legitimate. This is a significant impairment of sovereignty. Any success in the pursuit of that ambition will not satiate but create new appetites.


4. Statistics like to present the defense spending of countries expressed in dollars or as the percentage of GDPs. In these, thanks to its external guarantor of security, Europe is ranked low. The USA owes the top and entities such as Russia and China follow far behind. Doubting qualifications are needed. Budgets –the source of the data- can be manipulated by attributing military expenditures to other ministries. Mainly, however, the personnel costs of conscript armies are low. (When the People’s Army drafted the writer, the sold was about a dollar on the black market.) Soldiers are, as in the case of America, expensive. That inflates the budget while the cheap draftees of other armies deflate the seeming costs of their armed forces.


5. “No school or kindergarten, no welfare money” is the policy of Hungary’s PM, Victor Orbán. That reassures some that the man is a racist dictator. Indeed, there is a correlation between the measure and “race”. 10% of the country’s population is Gypsies and, frequently, that community resists the schooling of its children. The result is a collective lack of skills and unemployment. That condition has one major advantage. A minority’s joblessness can serve as proof of “racism”. This charge is a problem, but not a decisive one. Yet, unemployment siphons money out of the economy, which, if invested, could create additional “business” and prosperity.

There was a time when the privileged classes used their power to keep the disadvantaged from acquiring the skills needed for their rise. Today, some at the bottom need to be forced to qualify themselves for mobility. Who has an interest in a caste-like underclass? It is their pro leaders that can mobilize the dependent. 


6. Observed: The poorer a society, the more it will hate the successful that it sees as undeservedly rich. Or is it possible that the equation should be reversed? The more achievement is met with suspicion –as in “property is theft”- the more likely that historical poverty will be projected into modern times.


7. Another misconception pertains to the nexus between poverty and the belief that success comes from hurting others. Nations that believe them to have been unjustly treated can proceed from there to a dangerous conclusion. It is that their victimhood mutated into moral superiority. Absolution “in reserve” can, in turn, justify any action taken to the detriment of others. The movements that gave us mass murder operated on this basis. Nazism exploited the abuse of a weak Germany by foreign powers and taught that “wage and interest slavery” came from a Jewish conspiracy. An ideological postulate of Communism is the exploitation of the working class that results in a struggle in which the victor exterminates the defeated. Once you accept such tales, the GULAG and “Auschwitz” appear as morally justified. 

Thus: once victims acquire power, they will not necessarily be benign rulers.


8. Venezuela’s Maduro has produced a quotable. He called sanctions “stupid” and told that they will not undo his government. Actually, if sanctions are stupid, then Caracas should welcome them. The wasted effort will weaken the Yankee imperialists and accelerate capitalism’s collapse and the triumph of Socialism. The suspicion that logic is not Maduro’s forte is supported by the fact that, regardless of the pretended irrelevance of sanctions, they are resented. The “no harm to us” claim weakens when the dysfunction of the economy is blamed on American sanctions. 


9. Attorneys needed. The mass of Islamist fighters returning to Western states grows. So will their attempt to violently undermine their hosts. Thus, two concepts clash.

One is that rights include the right to citizenship and residence. Guilt is when laws are violated and sanctions may only follow deeds. This protects returning terrorists who claim to have studied the culture of the Near East. If the evidence contradicts that, one is recast as an inquisitive youth exploited by propagandists.

The other concept is that society’s survival overrides individual interest. Obligatory military service restricts those that hate to get up in the morning. However, the need to defend the public justifies it. The prevention of terrorism by returnees demands that residency rights and especially irrevocable acquired citizenship be reconsidered. Furthermore, the concepts of guilt, criminality, and responsibility for membership in criminal organizations, must be re-thought. 

Community rights and the government’s duty to protect its people rates higher than shielding hostiles from the inconvenience of jail or deportation.


10. We heard that 140+ lives were lost when the Taliban attacked a school. A commentator asked, “Why have they done that?” The answer is simple: “Because they like to kill”.