Les supremacistes blancs a Washington


Mes chers amis francophones: A la grande manifestation des “nationalistes blancs ” du 11 Aout, a Washington DC, il y avait trente manifestants, peut-etre meme quarante, et beaucoup plus de policiers, et dix fois plus, ou vingt fois plus de contre-manifestants. Ceux_ci etaient decus, bien sur. Mettez_vous a leur place. Ils avaient apporte leurs casques, leurs masques, leurs matraques, tout le barda, plus leurs ecriteaux anti_fascistes. (Oui, c’est bien des contre_manifestants que je parle, sans exageration.)

Je me donne la peine de vous informer parceque la tele francophone internationale, TV5, a nettement donne l’impression qu’il y a avait de milliers de manifestants “supremacistes blancs”. (Une appellation inventee; cette engeance n’existe pas.)

En general, ceux qui couvrent l’Amerique en Francais ne vous disent presque rien que des conneries. Ils connaissent rarement bien l’Anglais; ils ne lisent que le New York Times, un quotidien en grand declin, les deux pieds bien plantes a gauche; ils sortent rarement ou jamais soit de Manhattan, soit de Washington; ils font presque tous de l’anti-Americanisme a l’ancienne mode, bete et mechant. Je me dis en les ecoutant que ce n’est pas possible, que ces gens_la ont ete choisis parce qu’ils etaient le cousin, ou la nièce de quelqu’un d’important.

Enfin, on ne se refait pas!

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Back Soon!

I have been extra busy working on a big essay on legal immigration into the US. It’s finished so I will be back soon. Furthermore, it’s beach season and the Pacific is fairly warm (thanks to global warming, thanks again). I owe it to the heterosexual women of Santa Cruz to spend time there. I never stopped posting pithy, witty comments on my Facebook page. Go there, please.

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How to Lose an Election with a Strong Governing Record.

Nothing they threw at Pres. Trump seemed to stick and then, they found pictures of crying toddlers. It did not take long before liberal liars affixed the pictures of children to pictures of Auschwitz. The reactions in the liberal media and through the liberal media have been vile and violent. The underlying idea seems to be that as long as you are defending children, you are allowed any ignominy. That would include wishing for the rape of a twelve-year old, as did the old actor Peter Fonda.


In any other country, I would say that the language I have been hearing is of the kind that fuels civil war. It’s amazing that the liberals did not think of it earlier, come to think of it! That one stuck: Separating children from their parents. This from people, many of whom (many, not all) agree that crushing a baby’s skull is OK as long as it’s done inside a woman’s body. This from people who have never given any thought to the fact that children get torn from their mothers every day when the mother is taken to jail. The inconsistencies, the filthy emotionalism don’t matter. I think those pictures are going to lose Republicans the November elections in spite of the tremendous successes of the Trump administration thus far.


It does not help us that the relevant regulatory situation is inherently complicated. Even the Wall Street Journal’s longish explanatory narrative made a big mistake yesterday (6/20/18). It stated that migrants with no proper papers who cross the border all get prosecuted. This is not true. Let me give a try to a simple but not simplistic summary.


Any alien who crosses the border outside of normal crossing points is committing a misdemeanor if it’s the first time he gets caught. The president has decided that all such misdemeanors would be prosecuted. That’s new. That’s a new policy in vigor since April. Before that, only aliens caught a second time (thus committing a felony) were deemed worthy of prosecution. The Trump administration appeared to have begun implementing the new policy without proper planning as to physical facilities and as to personnel such as immigration judges.


Prosecutions take time. But, current law forbids keeping children detained for more than so many days. If prosecution takes more time that the period allowed, the children are placed in centers run by the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS), not by ICE, not by the Border Patrol. This means that they are not technically incarcerated as their parents are. The fact is that they are separated from the latter. It appears (from sources I trust) that there is also a practice of children travelling with adults who not their parents. In case of doubt, it makes sense to separate them so as to avoid child abuse and child trafficking.


Aliens who cross the border at a normal reception point to request asylum do not (NOT) thereby violate American law. They are not charged with anything but their asylum request may take time to process in which case they may also end up separated from children. Of course, aliens requesting asylum are free at any time to change their mind and to turn back, with their children. Many who request asylum are denied. The old practice used to be to allow them in the country against a promise to come back for a hearing. (Few actually showed up, of course.) I don’t know what the current practice is.


As I write, about 2,200 children have been separated from their parents and from their alleged parents and are housed in HHS facilities. Many more are housed in such facilities who arrive in the US unaccompanied. Those are children who were sent alone by their parents. Keep in mind that some or many of those “children” are teenagers.


What’s really new (April/ May2018) is the tough-sounding “zero tolerance policy.” It consists only in prosecuting thousands accused of a mere misdemeanor. Few of those found guilty would be subjected to a severe penalty by any American court anyway. Somebody in the Trump administration should have thought through the practical consequences of such a policy and of the federal government’s lack of preparedness with respect to those consequences. Somebody in Trump’s entourage should have had the brains to foresee the tremendous public relations victory the new policy was going to offer the liberal side. Someone or some ones need to be fired and, the sooner, the better.


Today (4/21/18), Pres. Trump signed an executive order forbidding the separation of children from their parents. Even if the legalities can be fixed – which is not obvious – this is not going to solve the underlying problem of insufficient facilities and insufficient personnel. I think he will easily obtain an injunction from a judge. But then, getting Congress to agree that children can be incarcerated (with their parents ) is not going to go smoothly. Some will sense, rightly in my opinion that this will give the left another public relations victory: “Trump administration puts thousands of children in jail!”


President Trump really has only three options: He can continue the present policy, assuming that the political damage is done of small children ( possibly staged, why not?) behind bars; he can give up and end the zero tolerance policy, which means stopping prosecuting the misdemeanor of crossing the border illegally and getting caught one time; or, thirdly, he can close the border altogether. The last is far fetched but, worth trying, I think. Allow only those with an American passport or a diplomatic passport to come through, plus those with a green card (permanent legal residents of the US). This will create economic havoc and soften the opposition and get the Mexican government interested in helping.

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Israelis Kill Unarmed Palestinians in Gaza

The Israeli Defense Force is killing unarmed demonstrators in Gaza. The Defense Force is on one side of the fence, the demonstrators on the other. What happened is that the ruling political party in Gaza, Hamas, sent the demonstrators to try and breach the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The declared purpose was to have Gaza Palestinians exercise their “right of return.” Hamas means the “right” of Palestinians to return where their forebears used to live, or maybe not, or nearby, etc, right inside present-day Israel. Of course, if Israel allowed this, Israelis might just as well start packing. It would be the end of the Jewish state that already has about 1.85 million Muslim and Christian Arab citizens. Both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs reproduce faster than Israeli Jews, by the way. (It’s the Jews’ fault, of course; they should get busy.) Hamas generously would allow Jews of Middle Eastern origin to remain as second-class, tribute -paying dhimmis. All the others, the majority, would have to leave quickly. Ethnic cleansing it the best scenario if Hamas wins, according to Hamas. The worst? Hamas does not say.

The mid-May 2018 demonstration was presented as a way to commemorate what Palestinians call “the disaster “– meaning the creation of Israel and the wholesale defeat the Arabs suffered in the war they had started against the new state. Initially, it had nothing to do with the inauguration of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem. It was mostly the Amerileft media that created a link with such devices as showing the inauguration in Jerusalem on a split screen with the rioting in Gaza. Many Americans, some of whom can’t place the US on a world map, would have believed that Palestinians were dying while the Americans and Israelis were gaily drinking champagne right next door.

The Israelis had warned early on that they would shoot demonstrators who tried to breach the fence separating Israel from Gaza. They did, killing about 70 Palestinians. That’s harsh but no one can call it unfair: They said it clearly: If you touch our fence, we will kill you. Don’t touch the fence, I would say. Little detour: the magazine Commentary pointed out that the Gaza authorities claim that 1600 Gazans were wounded by real bullets. What’s wrong here is the ratio of wounded to killed, 1600/70. It should be something like 1600/500 . It does not add up or else, the Israelis snipers are real bad at their job. Go figure!

Hamas thinks it’s winning because of the large number of unarmed demonstrators, its youths, wounded and killed. It’s been acting like this forever. Just a week ago, Gazans (who may have been Hamas agents or not) deliberately destroyed the valve to the main pipeline supplying Gaza with diesel fuel. The more misery ordinary residents of Gaza suffer, the happier the Hamas government is because Israeli atrocities gives it standing among the ill-informed and mindless everywhere. I am tempted to feel sorry for Gazans myself because of the terrible government they live under. I can’t quite do this; below is why.

Hamas was elected in proper well observed elections. Although the Hamas government is well overdue for a new election, I would argue that the initial election makes Hamas one of the most legitimate governments in the Middle East. Hamas is explicitly an Islamist party. It does not think well of freedom of religion. It wants to impose sharia but does not feel strong enough yet. Hamas is in favor of polygamy. Young Gaza Palestinians are dying because of actions encouraged by their government, the Hamas government. Their parents properly elected that government. There has been no rebellion against it. The mass of the population seems loyal.

Hamas is insuring an aggravation of a situation in Gaza that is pretty much intolerable already. Israel left Gaza unilaterally 15 years ago but it maintains a partial blockade of the territory. It provides fuel and electricity and most of the water available, on its terms. It allows certain merchandise in but not others. Cement is limited, for example, I read in a source I can’t quote now but that I found credible at the time that Israeli Customs allow in milk and sugar but not instant coffee – which makes life more enjoyable. There is almost no work in Gaza, except working for the Hamas government. Nevertheless, no one there is starving because the territory is largely on welfare. Gaza has one of the highest educational achievement scores in the world although there is malnutrition there.

Gaza is a welfare non-state. It has no industry and very little else by way of earning its living. (That’s in part because of Israeli control over its borders, of course.) It’s an economic ward of the UN and secondarily of the European Union and of the USA. American Jews are thus among those supporting through their taxes riots where the main demand is “Death to the Jews!” The Leftmedia does not seem to be willing to mention, or it actually does not know, that the Israeli blockade of Gaza would be ineffective, almost useless, if Egypt did not join in. Yes, Egypt is also impeding the movement of goods, funds, and especially of people between itself and Gaza. And the PLO, which rules the West Bank, the other part of Palestine, has its own punitive measures against Gaza. Hamas is everyone’s favorite!

Update: The Egyptian government declared today (5/19/19) that it was opening a crossing between Gaza and Egypt for a month in honor of the sacred month of Ramadan. Or maybe, it’s emphasizing its benevolence in contrast with Israeli harshness, I don’t know. I don’t.

If you too feel revolted by the Israeli killings of Gaza demonstrators, and if you don’t think that righteous indignation is its own reward, I invite you to take two minutes to answer the following simple and sensible question:

Suppose you have a chance to advise the Israeli Prime Minister; suppose further that you have reason to believe that he will pay attention to you; what’s your advice to him regarding the present situation in Gaza (mid-May 2018)?

You can be sure that I have answered the question myself.

PS I am not Jewish, never have been, never will be. I am not a fundamentalist Christian either.

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A Confession: I Voted for Trump

A younger friend of mine, an immigrant like me, keeps having trouble understanding why I voted for Pres. Trump, toward whom she drips with hatred. She produces so much hatred of the president you might think she knows him personally. He might even be an ex-husband of hers. This is a little hard for me to understand. Here is my honest reconstruction of how I came to vote for Donald Trump in 2016. May it be useful to her and, if not, to others.

During the 2016 campaign, I was mostly sad and resigned. It looked like the Dems had the wind in their sails. The Rep contest between 16 viable candidates had ended in the victory of the least viable of them, Donald Trump. For the record, my candidate was Marco Rubio, who dropped off early.

Donald Trump was loud and ignorant, and loudly ignorant. His statements about international trade were those of a lazy undergraduate who has barely skimmed the relevant chapter, and got it all wrong. His project for a southern wall struck me as the wrong solution to the wrong problem at the wrong time. Illegal immigration through the Mexican border has been dropping for years. A good wall might even end up trapping more illegal Mexicans wanting to go home than keep illegals out. Besides, no wall would stop visitors from entering legally and then overstaying their visa. Finally, I don’t even think illegal immigration is a pressing problem although it must be stopped for reasons of sovereignty. Mr Trump wanted less immigration of all kinds; I think this country needs more immigration but better regulated.

There is no doubt, (there was none then) that Mr Trump has impossibly bad manners (although that makes part of me smile). I think he has a personality disorder (as I have) which causes him to speak out of turn, to think only after he opens his mouth, and to open his mouth even when his brain tells him he shouldn’t. He gives the cultural elite heartburn. I am not sure how I feel about this though because I know the cultural elite well since I spent thirty years in academia. They are mostly a bunch of half-literate pretenders who  richly deserve the occasional heartburn.

At any rate, it wasn’t obvious I would vote for Mr Trump; I kept looking over the fence. I did this in spite of the fact that the Dems keep enlarging government against civil society, the reverse of what I want to see. I did it in spite of the Democratic Party’s promotion of identity politics which are bad for America, I believe, and bad even for the Democratic Party. (As I write, even African Americans are deserting the party.)

There, on the Dem side, for a while, it looked like Sen. Sanders had a fighting chance. I don’t like socialism – whatever that means – but here was an honest man with a clear record. Sanders is my age. I feel as if we had gone to college together. He has not changed since 1968. Everything about him feels familiar, even his college president wife with the short hair. I thought that if elected, he would only attempt modest reforms that would easily be frozen out by a Republican Congress. The result would be a kind of federal immobility, not the worst scenario, in my book. If Mr Sanders had become the Dem candidate, I would at least have had a serious talk with myself about voting for him. That’s at least.

Mr Sanders was eliminated from the Dem race in a way that revived all my aversion for the Democratic Party as an organization. The thoroughly dishonest manner of his removal would have been enough to ensure that I would not vote for the actual Dem candidate, pretty much whoever that candidate was. The fact that Sanders protested but feebly the gross cheating against him makes cold sweat run down my back because of what it implies about the Dem culture.

The actual candidate was not just anyone (“whoever”). Mrs Clinton was a caricature of the bad candidate. She was a feminist previously elected on her husband’s coattails, and a career politician with no political achievements of her own. Her main contribution as Secretary of State was to get the US militarily involved in the events in Libya. (I was in favor of such involvement myself at the beginning, I must confess.) She ran for president with no economic program – which normally implies the continuation of the predecessor’s program. But Mr Obama’s economics were very bad; what was not bad could be credited to the independent Fed. I did not want more of this. Then, there was the personal issue. It’s a little difficult to explain but I developed the idea in my mind that even her supporters did not like her. So, how could I?

Mrs Clinton’s campaign was naturally an embodiment of the Dem Party’s silly identity politics which I think are bad for American democracy in ways I wont develop here: Vote for me – she said- because I am a woman. So, what? So are 52% of the adult American population; many of those are brilliant. Mrs Clinton is not brilliant, not even close. By contrast, take Prof. Condoleeza Rice, the former Secretary of State, for example. (Plus, she is black; you get a two for one; plus, she is probably a closeted lesbian too, that‘s a three for one!)

Donald Trump throughout his campaign was attacked for being a racist. I saw and heard many imprudent statements, some rude statements, and many goofy declarations but I did not notice racist statements. That’s if “racist” means attributing to a whole class of people negative moral qualities or objectionable behaviors based solely on their race (whatever race is, another story). My common sense also says you can’t live as a prominent New Yorker in various guises for a whole adult lifetime and not be called out for racism if you act like a racist. It’s jut a little late to do it when the man is seventy. It’s ridiculous, in fact. Or, perhaps, I have just stop paying attention to charges of racism coming from the left. Leftists intemperate verbal habits may have trivialized racism the way they trivialized so many serious social problems, including sexual violence.

There was no doubt in my mind though that Donald Trump would be dangerous as president because he is unpredictable, does not readily listen to advice, and does not understand well how our institutions work. So, I was never enthusiastic about voting for him. I even took a detour through the Libertarian campaign. It was based on the assumption that any Dem, including Clinton, would carry California, where I vote, and that I could therefore afford the luxury of a symbolic ballot. However, after a short time, I became convinced that the Libertarian candidate was not even libertarian. So, end of story here.

During the period preceding the campaign, when Clinton was Secretary of State, and during the campaign itself, I paid increasing attention to the goings-on around the Clinton Foundation, including the pattern of donations. I came out convinced that Mrs Clinton’s eagerness to sell the Republic and her disregard for the law (30,000-plus lost emails) made her a political gangster of the same ilk and magnitude as Vladimir Putin.

So, you might say that I voted for Donald Trump because I thought he was unpredictable. Clinton, by contrast, was horribly predictable. It’s fair to add that I did not think my vote would carry the day. Like just about everyone else, I thought my side had lost until about 7 pm, Pacific Time on election day.

One year and a half later, I feel no buyer’s remorse; instead, I am pleasantly surprised. Pres. Trump has not really done any of the things I feared – such as dismantle the modern world system of fairly free world trade; he has not built a wall. When he does, I think it will be a small elegant one with viewing balconies over Mexico. Mexican tourists will gladly pay for the privilege of going up its exterior elevator. There will be a lounge and bar with overpriced drinks on the last floor.

Pres. Trump has done a couple of the things I wanted him to do, beginning with the appointment of a conservative Supreme Court Justice. He also instigated and carried out a major tax reform which will fuel good economic growth for years to come. (I am dissatisfied with the current rate. I think anything under 3.5% is not good enough. But, it’s a start.) The tax cut may even make up  for the disastrous spending bill which he signed reluctantly but did sign.

Pres. Trump has also done the deliciously unexpected. I am not holding my breath (writing on 5/8/18 ) but I am amazed and delighted he has gone so far on the road to the denuclearization of North Korea. The fact that the thaw is largely a product of his bullying the North Korean bully makes this even sweeter.

After more than a year of unlimited investigation with limitless resources, the only Russian collusion in sight is that of the Clinton campaign buying from a shady international operative grotesque stories about Trump in Russia. The only shadow on this bright picture is that I am not completely sure that Mr Trump did not have sex with a porn queen several years before running for office. The horror!

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From Petty Crime to Terrorism

I grew up in France. I know the French language inside out. I follow the French media. In that country, France, people with a Muslim first name are 5% or maybe, 7% of the population. No one estimates that they are close to 10%. I use this name designation because French government agencies are forbidden to cooperate in the collection of religious (or ethic, or racial) data. Moreover, I don’t want to be in the theological business of deciding who is a “real Muslim.” Yet, common sense leads me to suspect that French people who are born Muslims are mostly religiously indifferent or lukewarm, like their nominally Christian neighbors. I am not so sure though about recent immigrants from rural areas bathed in a jihadist atmosphere, as occur in Algeria, and in Morocco, for example.

In spite of their small numbers, people with Muslim names commit 100% of massacres of strangers in France. (A country with strict gun laws, incidentally.) This does not prove anything but it certainly calls attention. I am trying to make sense of this while remaining fair.

People with Muslims names (henceforth, “Muslims”) are found in all corners and at all rungs of French society. They are in business, in government, in the hospitals, and in showbiz. Many serve in the armed forces. (The first French soldier who died in the NATO expedition in Bosnia was named, “El Hadji.”) Many are in the police, a traditional ladder of social mobility that my own father climbed seventy years ago. (The cop the terrorists murdered outside Charlie Hebdo had a Muslim name.)

A disproportionate number of Muslims who live in France are recent immigrants, or the children of recent immigrants. Most of those come from underdeveloped areas in north Africa and in sub-Saharan west Africa. Their recent immigration would place them near the bottom of the French economic pyramid. Their rural origins would pretty much guarantee that the quality of their French is poor, a serious impediment to gainful employment. They would be among the most disadvantaged in a society with a chronic 10% unemployment rate.

So, it makes sense, it’s expected, that Muslims would be over-represented among criminals, especially among work-alone, unorganized, opportunistic petty criminals. There is easy money to be made in small-time drug trafficking in France as in any western country. If you are young and fairly enterprising and you can’t find a job, small-time drug selling is a natural vocation. I note in passing that it’s a sin in Islam to use drugs, but perhaps, not much of a sin; I am not sure.

The job almost requires ownership of a gun to fend off rivals and to defend against bold customers. But, one thing leads to another and, on a hard day, the gun may be put to work to rob a passerby, especially one who is an easy target. This seems to be a common pattern. There is a remarkable little book of memoirs by an Algerian who tried for years to live in France illegally and entirely by his wits. (Chetouane, Jaffar. 2011. Donkey Heart, Monkey Mind). He says that he avoided any area with many north African looking men because the petty crime niche there was probably already taken.

So, in this explanation, Muslims are not criminal because they are Muslims but the poor, in general, supply the ranks of petty criminals and many Muslims living in France are poor. This does not, of course, explain the jump to terrorism, the mass murder of civilians, of perfect strangers, that is, in France, the exclusive province of Muslims. This overlap in categories between poor and Muslim also does not explain the rage to commit suicide by cop. Almost all people with a Muslim names die in the act of massacre or shortly afterwards. (That’s true although the perpetrators of the Bataclan nightclub massacre famously escaped, at first.)

This strong pattern of bursting out of obscurity – so to speak – is surprising. Rational criminals live in the shadows; they don’t draw attention to themselves; they develop habits of discretion; and a life of committing petty crimes assigned low police priority approximates rationality. When petty criminals turn into active terrorists, it’s as if a switch had been turned on suddenly. I look for causes in the lives the terrorists lead before they turn to terrorism.

Being a small time drug dealer is very stressful. You have a to worry about customers stealing the merchandise, safe in the knowledge that you won’t go to the police. Rivals for your sales location will assault you routinely or turn you in, or both, to supplant you. Your own suppliers will turn on you brutally if you are even slightly late in your payments. Other petty criminals know that you must carry at least some cash, making you an attractive target. Ironically, the drug addicts among them, the desperate drug addicts present a special danger to your safety.

As with all high-stress occupation, you would expect small dealers frequently to blow a fuse -which looks a lot like turning on a switch but in reverse. Here, I expect bifurcations. People react to overwhelming stress in a variety of ways that are partly culturally predetermined. In general, we don’t know how, in what manner most dealers react to losing control, to blowing a fuse. Mostly, it’s probably in individual private acts, including retiring from the business, running away to places where one is not known, even allowing oneself to be caught and sentenced to jail for a rest. Most responses to the extreme stress of the occupation probably don’t conform to any particular pattern, they are enacted privately, they probably do not attract much attention; we know little about them.

Now, for a minority of drug dealers, a minority of a minority, it turns out that there exists a way out with multiple benefits. Islam is not very explicit about how to gain one’s seat in Paradise although, paradoxically, it describes wonderfully its irresistible attractions. The good Muslim, the observant Muslims knows well what his moral obligations are and the spirit in which they must be enacted. He is assured repeatedly that God is merciful. It seems to me – and I am attentive but not an expert- that it’s not clear how merciful the Merciful actually is. The genuinely good Muslim never knows thus how close he is to the head of the heavenly line. There is one, and only one licit shortcut though. To die a martyr is to see the Gates open wide to let you in. That much is unambiguous.

Mohamed, the law giver and the prophet was also a very successful war leader. Here is a painful story about him. You decide whether it’s relevant to my query.

Mohamed and his followers, the first Muslims, were chased from his native Mecca. They fled to the town of Medina which they gradually took over, by various means including expelling into the desert two of the resident tribes. The Muslims had to complete their domination of Medina while fighting off the Meccans. After a famous victory against the Meccans right outside Medina, the Battle of the Trench, the Prophet used the battle readiness of his army to attack the last powerful tribe of Medina. Once they had surrendered, he executed all the men by decapitation. The women and children just became war booty.

This story is told in one of the hadith (the Acts of the Prophet) narrated by Aicha, 4-52-208.

Two questions present themselves. First, do ordinary Muslims recognize this story of cruelty as true? Second how likely is a rank-and-file Muslim of little formal education to be familiar with the story?

The answers to these questions matter. They have to do with the probability that some Muslims find in the history of their faith themes of violence absent, or less prominent, in other religious traditions. If the story is true and many Muslims know it, it would help explain why among petty criminals who blow a fuse, a small number of Muslims deal with it by turning spectacularly to terrorism. It’s permitted; it’s more than permitted since the Prophet did it; and it may be a shortcut to Heaven. (“May” be because waging war on women and children is supposed to be forbidden.)

Don’t misunderstand me. There is plenty of violence historically associated with Christianity, to be sure, included and not limited to the Wars of Religion, and the Crusades, of course. The First Crusade slaughtered the whole population of Jerusalem. In the Fourth Crusade, the western Christians murdered much of the population of Constantinople, their eastern Christian brethren and their allies. My point is that none of those violent episodes had religious sanction. None was ever cited approvingly afterwards. One French chronicler even notes that the Crusaders went to confession after the Jerusalem bloodbath to gain forgiveness for that sin, specifically.

The Old Testament, supposedly common to Jews and Christians, is fairly rife with massacres, especially within the context of ethnic cleansing. I may be naive but I doubt that this aspect of the Old Testament has much traction on Christians. I suspect that few Christians know anything of the Old Testament beyond Genesis and the Book of Moses. (I may just be here parading my Catholic parochialism. There may be breeds of Protestants who live by it.) I don’t know about the Old Testament’s continued influence on the Jews. As far as I can tell exemplary violence occurs neither in Buddhism, nor in Hinduism. Although the later depicts plenty of legendary battles, those are treated abstractly, in an almost choreographed manner that does not lend itself to be taken as exemplary

Let me recapitulate here. In France only members of the Muslim minority broadly defined engage in acts of terrorism. Many French terrorists have a background in petty crime. Individuals at the bottom rungs of society are more likely to become petty criminals than others. Muslims are over-represented at the lower rungs of French society. A life of petty crime is stressful. Breaking down under the stress leads to a variety of outcomes, most of them unknown. Some Muslim petty criminals, a minority of a minority, find in their religion an ethical justification of sorts as well as practical inspiration to transform themselves into terrorists.

Here is another story I think relevant. Please, don’t look too hard for consistency. I am just trying to piece together disparate elements, here.

About five years ago, I watched a longish interview on French television. It was of a man who had been a ISIS hostage for nine months. (He had no doubt been bought back by the French government although the latter denied it, of course.) He was a journalist and evidently a man of culture. Before being kidnapped by ISIS, he had lived in the Middle East for ten years, as a correspondent for major newspapers. He said he knew Arabic. I can’t tell you how or why but I thought he was not one of the many people who claim knowledge of a language because they can ask for directions to the restroom. Please, trust me on this, his Arabic was probably good I am guessing although I on’t know Arabic.

Anyway, the man was generally credible, I thought. Amid concrete descriptions of his sufferings as a guest of the violent jihadists, he made a startling statement. He declared that -contrary to the custom in all Muslim countries – you never heard invocations to God, formal or otherwise among caliphate soldiers. The fairly mechanical “Inch’Allah” pronounced several times a day by pious, and even by not so pious Muslims, in particular, were lacking, he asserted. He also described vividly the caliphate soldiers’ lively interested in spoils whenever spoils were to be had. That man, who had a professional interest in being a good observer, did not think the violent jihadists who had taken him were pious Muslims. He evidently thought of them as mostly hoodlums.

I don’t know where we go from there. I am sure though that we cannot either think that Muslims are terrorists or that there is no earthly connection between current terrorism and Islam. I mean Islam the real thing, the practice. We shouldn’t have to be theologians to learn to protect ourselves. (“Ourselves” includes Muslims, of course; world-wide, violent jihadists massacre mostly Muslims.)

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I am largely absent from this blog because I have been busy writing a big essay on immigration, legal immigration into the US. I will keep you informed. I will be back soon.

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