Being honest about Islam

The typical leftist has the idea that everyone should be respected, and every idea as well. That we shall all live in an inclusive world where every faith is tolerated, and all cultures are valued equally. It sounds lovely, an utopia we all should thrive for.

One of the latest examples is Khizr Khan’s speech at the US Democratic convention; the father of a muslim American soldier. Of course the media celebrated this event as an example of their culture inclusiveness. One more step toward the multiculturalism utopia. How progressive of us to accept cannon fodder of all faiths.

There is one caveat with this inclusiveness notion, and I’m going to show it with a single word, but first, it shouldn’t be hard to see that there’s a problem with inclusiveness; our body can’t ingest any substance. There are such things as toxic substances, things that just don’t belong inside our body–that are actively harmful. Similarly, there are certain ideas that are harmful, and can’t be included in a modern society that thrives to progress. If you have trouble thinking of one, here is an example: Nazism.

Now, the word Nazism is often overused, to the point that it has become a joke, but in this case it’s a good analogy; it’s an ideology that is toxic to modern values, and even the most inclusive societies must reject such ideology, we all agree on that. However, Islam is not Nazism, it’s a religion, it can’t be toxic, after all, we often hear it’s a religion of peace, right?

But is it a religion of peace? Let’s convert some of the common Muslim memes to Nazism to perhaps remove the veil: Nazism is an ideology of peace, not all Nazis are extremists, you are a Naziphobic.

So, if you follow the previous statements you might start to see a couple of issues. First of all, saying “Islam is a religion of peace” is worthless, you have to actually prove that it is (which I will try to explore in this post, it’s as worthless as saying “Nazism is an ideology of peace”). Second, when an ideology is toxic, it doesn’t matter if you are moderate or extreme; you are still toxic. And third, using a trump word like Islamophobic against all critics is not fair; the word implies an irrational fear against that ideology, but is it irrational? Plenty of Islam critics have been murdered, so would it be irrational for say, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to fear for her life when her life has actually been threatened plenty of times?

A religion of peace

We often hear that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the terrorist attacks are an aberration of the faith. Sounds very reasonable, but is it true?

Christians often assume that Muhammad was like Jesus; peaceful, benevolent, surely Muhammad said something similar to turn to them the other cheek when you are hit. But that couldn’t be further from the truth: Muhammad was warlord, he spread the religion through the sword, many people had to die for his religion to be established.

Let’s see some verses from the Qur’an, to see how peaceful this religion is:

Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out…”

Quran (8:39)“And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion is all for Allah alone.”

Quran (9:123)“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.”

And there’s many more.

Very peaceful indeed! You might be tempted to justify this on Christian terms and say; “the Bible also has violent verses, but that’s the Old Testament”, or something along those lines. However, even the Old Testament wasn’t so violent as to encourage killing all unbelievers, and also, a key difference between the Bible and the Qur’an is that the later has the principle of abrogation: when verses conflict, the earlier is discarded. So, you might see a benevolent verse in the Qur’an about how to treat unbelievers, but that’s superseded by a later verse. The earlier parts of the Qur’an are more benevolent, and the later more violent. So there is significantly less room for interpretation.

So, when an ISIS fighter kills an unbeliever, is he really distorting the faith? The Qur’an is pretty much telling him to do so, without room for interpretation.

Islam is a violent religion. In fact, when people say “Muslim extremists” are the violent ones, that is pretty much conceding the point; they take their violent religion too seriously. Contrast that with Jane extremists, which are extremely peaceful, since Jainism is a truly peaceful religion.

Moderate Muslims

So maybe the religion itself is violent, but fortunately not all Muslims take the religion too seriously, and we shouldn’t worry about the vast majority of Muslims.

islam

Let’s start with a number from a Pew poll: 36% of Muslims (around 580 million) want the death penalty for leaving Islam. So if you have ten Muslim friends, and one of them leaves the religion, four of them would want him to be executed. And they are the moderates.

68% of Muslims think Sharia law should rule. Another reason why Islam is different than other religions, like Christianity, is that it is more than just a religion; it also comes with a legal framework, and other ways to run the society. In modern inclusive societies we follow the principle of secularism, so that all faiths are accepted, or at least, the ones compatible with modern values. Unfortunately, Islam is not one of such; it wants  to subvert the society’s legal framework, and impose its own; it’s incompatible.

So yeah, not all Muslims are extremists, not all Muslims want the death penalty for apostates, and not all Muslims want Sharia law, but dangerously high numbers of them do. So we have to be honest about their views and values; we know we don’t want extremists, but we don’t want Islamists either.

The only real difference between an extremist and an Islamist, is that the Islamist doesn’t kill people, they want to implement Sharia law through political means, so they disagree on the method, but they want the same goal.

Hear it from the mouth of one:

Now, take the example of Belgium; it accepted large number of Muslim immigrants (5%-7%), and now it is suffering the consequences, not just from terrorist attacks from the extreme minority (a minority of a large number of people is still an issue), but from the “moderate” Muslims who don’t agree with the attacks themselves, but they do agree the objective; the Belgium society must change to be more in accordance with the Qur’an, and they will not rest, through political movements or otherwise, until it does happen.

Islam is not compatible with modern secular societies, it is toxic, and there is a direct correlation between the amount of the Muslim population in a country, and the violence and terrorist attacks in such country.

Even moderate Muslims are a problem.

Denial

Let’s jump to the real issue with Islam; denial. As violent and dangerous as the ideology is, the real problem the denial of it. Just like the public health problem of tobacco smoking was exacerbated by the denial that happened in the sixties. Just like prominent doctors made quite a bit of money denying the link from tobacco smoking to lung cancer, so is people like Reza Aslan profiting by telling multiculturalist leftists what they want to hear; that there is no link between Islam and terrorist attacks. But the reality is very different.

To exemplify the extent of the denial I will use the case of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, in particular I want to use the speech that president Obama made.

While it’s true that U.S.A. has an issue with gun control, and mental public health, the motivation of the killer was clearly religious, however, due to political correctness, and fear of Islamophobia Obama didn’t even mention the word “Islam”. Sure, he probably wanted to use this incident as a political tool to promote his anti-gun agenda, but to avoid the word completely is astonishing.

The media, again, in the name of multiculturalism, denied the link between Islam and the hate of homosexuals. But is there really no link?

For starters we have an Imam in Orlando, just before the attack saying that death is the sentence for homosexuality.

Maybe that’s just one crazy leader, and the majority of Muslims don’t share his views. So let’s see what the polls about homosexuality in different countries say:

gsi2-chp3-6

There is essentially no acceptance for homosexuality in the Muslim world, in fact it’s punishable by death in many Muslim countries. And it’s not that different in western countries like the U.K. where not even 1% of Muslims agreed homosexuality was morally acceptable in a recent poll.

The Qur’an is also clear (this is just one example):

Quran (7:80-84)“…For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)”

So there is absolutely no reason to think that Muslims are O.K. with homosexuality, and yet when a Muslim person with links to terrorist Muslim groups, throws a terrorist attack in a gay nightclub the media denies any link between his ideology and the attack, and the president doesn’t even mention the word “Islam”.

How hard must reality hit us in the face before we accept it?

The victims and the heroes

Although the western world has seen the tip of the iceberg that is the horrific doctrine of Islam, the real victims are Muslims, in Muslim countries, since they suffer the bulk of the violence, predominantly for believing in the wrong flavor of Islam. And the heroes are Muslims, or ex-Muslims, who recognize the threat that nominal Islam is, and want to reform it, risking their own lives in doing so.

Many religions, including Christianity, had to change, to evolve, in order to be compatible with modern liberal values. Currently there is no religion that needs it more than Islam, and many Muslims recognize that reality. Unfortunately they are the minority.

Our job as defenders of liberal values should be to empower these reformist Muslims, like Maajid Nawaz (an ex-radical), who want to transform their religion into a version that is compatible with modern secular societies. Unfortunately we do the opposite; Maajid is constantly criticized by popular media, and denied a platform, in fact, he is called an Islamophobe (even though he is Muslim).

The current, nominal, version of Islam is incompatible, it is toxic, it is a cancer in modern society, and it is openly at war with us. Tolerating an intolerant ideology is a recipe for disaster. And the more time we deny the link between Islam and terrorism, the more people will suffer, both Muslims and non-Muslims. I wonder how many more Muslim terrorists attacks will have to happen before we as a society realize the truth; they will not stop until we do something about it.

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Unique Mexican music; Son Jarocho, folklore and more

There’s a lot of interesting and unique music in Mexico, both modern and traditional, but there’s one kind that I find particularly unique and beautiful that I think it’s extremely underrated in Mexico, let alone in the world; Son Jarocho.

This first video is from Cafe Tacuba, IMO the best band from Mexico, although I’m not sure what kind of style it is, it’s certainly awesome 🙂 (I couldn’t find a better video quality)

The rest of the videos are of what I consider Son Jarocho in the right setting; small room, 3 guys; jarana jarocha (small guitar), requinto jarocho (even smaller guitar), and more importantly; arpa jarocha (a special harp). It’s a mixture of different styles from different continents, and the lyrics are often funny and sometimes improvised to make fun of something, or somebody. BTW, jarocho means from Veracruz, one of the 31 states of Mexico.

La Bamba is the most famous one, but I couldn’t find one video worthy of highlighting, so I just put the best one I could find. And before you ask, yes, the high pitch and loud voices in the chorus are intended, also, wait for the solos 😉

This is what you most likely would expericence; a group wandering around restaurants, improvising and making jokes.

This one seems professionally recorded. Just for measure.

For more more about Mexican music and culture, check this previous post.

Why United States of America is a stupid name

I’m not an European, I’m an American, more precisely; from Mexico, unfortunately U.S.A. has snatched the name for itself, which is very annoying to me, specially after living for some time on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I guess because some extra need to relate myself with Peruvians, Brazilians, Ecuadorians, Canadians, etc. Which I never met before in Mexico. There’s really not much to do about it, but nonetheless there’s plenty of interesting facts and conversation tidbits to explore.

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Get to know a little bit more about Mexican culture

Until a few years I have lived all my life in Mexico, then about one year in USA and now six months in Finland. After these experiences I have the felling that most people don’t really know much about it, some almost nothing.

Today is Mexico’s independence day, so I figured it would be a good idea to write about my country.

I guess the stereotype of Mexican people is that we like tequila, dance a salsa, we are lazy and our best beer is Corona.

Most people get surprised by this one: Corona is far from being the best beer, they just did good marketing. To my understanding it is one of the cheapest and it’s popular in “beach cities” or small towns, but otherwise it’s just another beer, and definitively not the best. My friends would buy Indio, Sol, Tecate Light, XX Lager, Heineken, Casta, anything but Corona.

For a complete list of international ratings you can check FEMSA list, Grupo Modelo list and there’s more

Now, Mexico is drastically different from one place to another. We have deserts, amazing beaches, forests and jungles. Huge cities, towns and indigenous communities. Filthy rich people (like Carlos Slim, the richest person in the world) and very poor. It’s really difficult to say that Mexico is some way, because it really depends a lot.

What is worst. We Mexicans don’t know each other so well. It’s not unusual to leave a Mexican wondering about some fact of the country. There are 31 states, and each state is totally different.

So if you think Mexican drink tequila you should think again. Some Mexicans call themselves “tequilero” (they like it), some are more beer people, and some like other liquors. In my city (Monterrey) we mostly drink beer and tequila just in special occasions or mixed with something else.

The same goes for dancing Salsa. A lot of people from “beach cities” dance it, but it’s not so popular anywhere else. Each zone has its own distinct type of dancing. There’s Cumbia Tejana, Cumbia Norteña, Quebradita, Pacito Duranguense, Banda, etc.

The one that I find most amusing is that we are lazy. In some way that’s true; we like to take shortcuts. We like to think about ourselves as “creative” people that often do things the “wrong” way. Some classic example is to quickly “fix” a car’s broken front light with some plastic and scotch tape, sometimes for the lack of money, but other times it’s for the lack of time. We don’t spend so much time finding the proper solution. That has advantages and drawbacks but that’s how we are.

We usually work more than 8 hours a day, a lot of people work on Saturdays and even Sundays, the concept of extra time is almost inexistent, we don’t get any vacation days on the first year of work, and after that is about 10 days per year.

On the contrary, we are very hard-working people, and specially the people on the north.

Something that most people fail to see is our sense of humour. We make fun about everything all the time, but usually in a way of puns which heavily rely on our own Mexican variant of Spanish.

Language and humor are intensely correlated. For example: a very common word is chingada (fuck/screw), which comes from La Malinche the mistress of Hernan Cortes which is considered a traitor who screwed us. Nowadays most Mexicans don’t know where “chingada” comes from, it probably started as a joke which eventually made into the common language, and now it’s still used as a word that can be used almost anywhere and makes the comment more funny.

There’s also albur. Which I don’t want to try to explain, but it’s some very specific kind of pun joke which is persistent in the whole country and even among different social classes.

We even make fun about the death. We have a special Day of the Dead in which we remember our lost beloved ones and think about them as if they came back this day to live with the living. The tradition says that we should put some altar with offerings; things they liked in life. In some towns they even make parties. Also some people write “calaveras” (skulls), which are mocking epitaphs for friends (living friends), as a story about how the death takes them away, with rhymes and puns, but most importantly something quintessential about the person.

Almost everything is allowed: death, corruption, racism, sexism, wifes, sisters, even Mexican people… but not mothers, that’s really touchy.

It’s not a big surprise that Mexican humor is not very well known: it’s too local, and maybe offensive. But lately there have been a few Mexican comedians that have been able to succeed in USA, and they are quite good: George Lopez, Pablo Francisco and Paul Rodriguez.

Funny enough the Mexican-American comedians almost unknown in Mexico.

The food? There’s no Mexican food outside of Mexico. What is supposed to be “Mexican cousine” is actually Tex-Mex at best. Nachos and Fajitas are purely Tex-Mex; Fajitas are almost unknown in Mexico.

Typical examples of Mexican cuisine include: pozole, tamales, carnitas and mole. If there isn’t any typical drink as horchata, jamaica or tamarindo then it’s probably not Mexican cuisine.

Tortillas must be warm, that’s why they are kept inside “tortilleros” (tortilla warmers), and food is usually served without tortillas so when you are ready to use one you take it out of the tortillero. Typical tortillas are about 15 cm.

Again, the typical food varies drastically from region to region. For a list of more Mexican food check here.

And finally there’s music. Again, a lot of different kinds:

Café Tacuba – Ojalá que llueva Café

El Gran Silencio – Cumbia Lunera (live from Japan)

Celso Piña – Cumbia sobre el Rio

Kinky – Coqueta (with cowbell!)

(I’m listing examples of the ones I like that I think are typical but there are many many more).

Our race and our culture is metiza; a mixture from European and indigenous which is very rich and diverse. Drastically different from one place to another is a living example that different cultures can live together peacefully. It’s far from being a paradise; there are huge problems as corruption, poverty and ignorance, but Mexican people are positive, and although slowly, there’s improvement.

TED: Ideas worth spreading

Sometimes I browse the Interweb in search for something that is interesting, quick and enlightening and it often seems an impossible task. It’s easy to find lolcatz and stupid kids in YouTube, but not something with more essence.

I’m still not sure how but I found my fountain of interesting videos in TED. I think I found them in Google Video.

These are the ones I like the most so far:

David Bolinsky: Fantastic voyage inside a cell.
An amazing CG work that shows the mini-world of a cell, and how complicated and beautiful it is.

Hans Rosling: No more boring data.
This is what people mean when information is power.

Malcolm Gladwell: What we can learn from spaghetti sauce.
Food leads to happyness and Malcom shows us the way to happiness on the future.

Emily Oster: What do we know about the spread of AIDS?.
A different point of view on the problems in Africa that makes complete sense.

Cameron Sinclair: Open-source architecture to house the world.
Another step for OpenSource to world domination.

Ken Robinson: Do schools today kill creativity?
A funny talk that shows us what we already know; schools are doing a poor job.

Eva Vertes: My dream about the future of medicine.
The future is in the next generation, and this girl proves that we really need to forget what we think we know.

Richard Dawkins: An atheist’s call to arms.
Let’s all stop being so damn respectfull.

Nick Bostrom: Humanity’s biggest problems aren’t what you think they are.
We are so near the wall that we don’t see what you real problems are as humanity.

Kevin Kelly: How does technology evolve? Like we did.
Is technology a new way of life?

Seth Godin: Sliced bread and other marketing delights.
We are in a new era of communications; marketing should adapt accordingly.

Links for 08.05.07: Slashdot stuff, Open Source releases

Phew, I have quite a lot of links to post this time.