Friday, September 22, 2006

Robert Spencer: What CAIR-Saudi Connection?

Robert Spencer
September 22, 2006

A few days ago Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations was on Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show to discuss Pope Rage, and Carlson did a fairly good job pressing him on some points -- although Hooper was so combative that Carlson twice had to calm him down and reassure him that he agreed with him.

At the end of the segment, however, after he got Hooper to tell the Saudi government that execution for apostasy was wrong, Carlson challenged Hooper on CAIR's receiving money from the Saudi government. Hooper declared: "To my knowledge we don't take money from the government of Saudi Arabia."

Well, I know that Ibrahim Hooper words his statements as carefully as the Pope does, as in the memorable incident when Hooper told Rachel Neuwirth about allegations that CAIR supported Hamas and Hizballah: "CAIR does not support these groups publicly." So I'm not quite sure how to take this new statement. Does he mean that they don't take money from the Saudi government, but from individual Saudis? Or that CAIR may take money from the Saudi government, but if it does, no one is telling Ibrahim?

Your guess is as good as mine, but here is some information about the connections between CAIR and Saudi Wahhabis.

According to Frank Gaffney:

The Saudis have been key financiers of CAIR activities and projects for years. For example, the Weekly Standard reported in June 2003 that the construction of the Council’s Washington, D.C. headquarters was subsidized by a $250,000 grant from the Islamic Development Bank, an international financing organization based in Jeddah and run by a Saudi national, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali.

American Libraries gratefully reported in February 2003 that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $500,000 to a CAIR project that aims to put Wahhabi Islamic reading materials in public libraries across the United States. Given the January 2005 Freedom House report that documented the placement by Saudi Arabia in American mosques of officially published and disseminated materials that are rabidly anti-semitic, anti-Christian and pro-jihadist, we would be foolish to view the CAIR/Saudi library initiative as a gift-horse.

Finally, no less a source than the Saudi Gazette declared in November 2002 that the World Association for Muslim Youth (WAMY) – a government-funded organization responsible for radical, Wahhabi proselytizing and recruitment – gave financial support for a 2002 CAIR weekly advertising campaign in American publications. This gift to CAIR alone was valued at $1.04 million.

And from Daniel Pipes:

A couple of items from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington concerning its support for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are worth noting and pondering. The first dates from August 15, 1999, and is listed under "IDB Approves New Projects Worldwide":
President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Dr. Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ali announced today that the bank has approved a number of new grants for Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries worldwide. These include U.S. $395,000 to build a school in Tanzania, $250,000 as a contribution to the purchase of land in Washington DC to be the headquarters for an education and research center under the aegis of the Council for American Islamic Relations, and $30 million for Islamic associations in India.

For those not familiar with the Islamic Development Bank, it appears to be an international institution but is in fact an arm of Saudi foreign policy.

Pipes has more info at the link.

Remember, as Warith Deen Muhammad put it: "In Saudi Arabia it's the Wahabi school of thought...and they say, 'We're gonna give you our money, then we want you to...prefer our school of thought.' That's in there whether they say it or not. So there is a problem receiving gifts that seem to have no attachment, no strings attached."

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book, The Truth About Muhammad, is coming October 9 from Regnery Publishing

Thursday, September 21, 2006

George Will: Speaking Back to Islamists

September 21, 2006
The Washington Post
George Will

WASHINGTON -- While her security contingent waits outside the Georgetown restaurant, Ayaan Hirsi Ali orders what the menu calls "raw steak tartare.'' Amused by the redundancy, she speculates that it is intended to immunize the restaurant against lawyers, should a customer be discommoded by that entree. She has been in America only two weeks. She is a quick study.

And an exile and an immigrant. Born 36 years ago in Somalia, Hirsi Ali has lived in Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, where she settled in 1992 after she deplaned in Frankfurt, supposedly en route to Canada for a marriage, arranged by her father, to a cousin. She makes her own arrangements.

She quickly became a Dutch citizen, a member of parliament, and an astringent critic, from personal experience, of the condition of women under Islam. She wrote the script, and filmmaker Theo van Gogh directed, "Submission,'' an 11-minute movie featuring pertinent passages from the Koran (such as when it is a husband's duty to beat his wife) projected on the bodies of naked women.

It was shown twice before Nov. 2, 2004, when van Gogh, bicycling through central Amsterdam in the morning, was shot by an Islamic extremist who then slit his throat with a machete. Next, the murderer (in whose room was found a disk containing videos of "enemies of Allah'' being murdered, including a man having his head slowly sawed off) used another knife to pin a long letter to van Gogh's chest. The letter was to Hirsi Ali, calling her a "soldier of evil'' who would "smash herself to pieces on Islam.''

The remainder of her life in Holland was lived under guard. Neighbors in her apartment building complained that they felt endangered with her there and got a court to order her evicted. She decided to come to America.

Holland evidently tolerates everything except skepticism about the sacramental nature of multiculturalism. One million of the country's 16 million residents are Islamic, and the political left has appropriated the European right's traditional celebration of identity grounded in racial and ethnic traditions and culture. But the recoil of many Dutch people from Hirsi Ali suggests that the tolerance about which Holland preens is a compound of intellectual sloth and moral timidity. She was more trouble than the Dutch evidently think free speech is worth.

Her story is told in a riveting new book, "Murder in Amsterdam,'' by Ian Buruma, who is not alone in finding her -- this "Enlightenment fundamentalist'' -- somewhat unnerving and off-putting. Having experienced life circumscribed by tribal and religious communities (as a girl she suffered the genital mutilation called female circumcision), she is a fierce partisan of individualism against collectivism.

She reminds Buruma of Margaret Thatcher's sometimes abrasive intelligence, and fascination with America. He is dismissive of the idea that she is a Voltaire against Islam: Voltaire, he says, offended the powerful Catholic Church, whereas she offends "only a minority that was already feeling vulnerable in the heart of Europe.''

She, however, replies that this is hardly a normal minority. It is connected to Islam's worldwide adherents. Living sullenly in European "dish cities'' -- enclaves connected by satellite television and the Internet to the tribal societies they have not really left behind -- many members of this minority are uninterested in assimilation into open societies.

She calls herself "a dissident of Islam'' because, given what Allah supposedly enjoins and what she knows is right, "the cognitive dissonance is, for me, too much.'' She says she is not "a militant atheist,'' but the emphasis is on the adjective.

Slender, elegant, stylish and articulate (in English, Dutch and Swahili), she has found an intellectual home here at the American Enterprise Institute, where she is writing a book that imagines Muhammad meeting, in the New York Public Library, three thinkers -- John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, each a hero of the unending struggle between (to take the title of Popper's 1945 masterpiece) "The Open Society and Its Enemies.'' Islamic extremists -- the sort who were unhinged by some Danish cartoons -- will be enraged. She is unperturbed.

Neither is she pessimistic about the West. It has, she says, "the drive to innovate.'' But Europe, she thinks, is invertebrate. After two generations without war, Europeans "have no idea what an enemy is.'' And they think, she says, that leadership is an antiquated notion because they believe that caring governments can socialize everyone to behave well, thereby erasing personal accountability and responsibility. "I can't even tell it without laughing,'' she says, laughing softly. Clearly she is where she belongs, at last.

(c) 2006, Washington Post Writers Group

Robert Spencer: The Guardian of Islamic Extremism

Robert Spencer
September 21, 2006

As the global Muslim reaction to Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks on Islam threaten to eclipse last winter’s Cartoon Rage in irrationality and violence, there has been the usual and by now predictable undercurrent of sympathy on the Left for those breathing threats and murder against the Pope and the West. Notable among the spokesmen for appeasement and accommodation of violent Islamic intimidation was Karen Armstrong, author of the popular books Islam: A Short History and Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet.

Armstrong on Monday published a piece in The Guardian entitled “We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam: The Pope’s remarks were dangerous, and will convince many more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic.” It is exquisitely ironic that she would term the Pope’s remarks, rather than the Muslim reaction to them, “dangerous” – particularly after a nun in Somalia and a lay Christian in Iraq were murdered in apparent expressions of anger against the Pope. The Pope’s words didn’t kill these people, violent Muslims did; but that fact, and the inappropriate violence of their reaction, forms no part of Armstrong’s calculus. As far as she is concerned, violent Islamic rage against the West, including the rage against the Pope, is all the fault of the West.

And it is long-standing. “Our Islamophobia,” intones Armstrong, “dates back to the time of the Crusades, and is entwined with our chronic anti-semitism.” Armstrong, like Bill Clinton, who in a similar vein explained 9/11 as part of the debt “we are still paying” to the Islamic world for the Crusades,[1] never mentions that centuries of jihad aggression and imperialism that preceded and provoked the Crusades. After the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 632, Muslim armies swept out of Arabia and, under the banner of jihad, conquered the lands that now form the heart of the Islamic world. In the Holy Land, the conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood at the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression; Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution.

A few examples: early in the eighth century sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time the Muslim governor of Caesaria seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies — except for a small number who converted to Islam. Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay. Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the special poll tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay (Muslims were exempt) as ordained by Qur’an 9:29, and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction of their own children and fellow-believers.

Brutal subordination and violence became the rule of the day for Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped on their hands with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of St. Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled for Constantinople and other Christian cities. Fresh persecutions in 923 saw more churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a rampage in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.[2]

After a period of Byzantine resurgence, in 1004, the sixth Fatimid Caliph, Abu ‘Ali al-Mansur al-Hakim (985-1021) turned violently against the faith of his Christian mother and uncles (two of whom were Patriarchs) and ordered the destruction of churches, the burning of crosses, and the seizure of church property. He moved against the Jews with similar ferocity. Over the next ten years thirty thousand churches were destroyed, and untold numbers of Christians converted to Islam simply to save their lives. In 1009, al-Hakim gave his most spectacular anti-Christian order: he commanded that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem be destroyed, along with several other churches (including the Church of the Resurrection). The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, rebuilt by the Byzantines in the seventh century after the Persians burned an earlier version, marks the traditional site of Christ’s burial. Bizarrely, the church had served as the model for the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Caliph al-Hakim commanded that the tomb inside be cut down to the bedrock. He ordered Christians to wear heavy crosses around their necks (and Jews heavy blocks of wood in the shape of a calf). He piled on other humiliating decrees, culminating in the order that they accept Islam or leave his dominions.[3]

The erratic caliph ultimately relaxed his persecution and even returned much of the property he had seized from the Church.[4] Some of al-Hakim’s changed attitude probably came from his increasingly tenuous connection to Islamic orthodoxy. In 1021, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances; some of his followers proclaimed him divine and founded a sect based on this mystery and other esoteric teachings of a Muslim cleric, Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Darazi (after whom the Druze sect is named).[5] Thanks to al-Hakim’s change of policy, which continued after his death, in 1027 the Byzantines were allowed to rebuild the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.[6]

Nevertheless, Christians were in a precarious position and pilgrims remained under threat. In 1056, the Muslims expelled three hundred Christians from Jerusalem and forbade European Christians from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.[7] When the fierce and fanatical Seljuk Turks swept down from Central Asia, they enforced a new Islamic rigor making life increasingly difficult for both native Christians and pilgrims (whose pilgrimages they blocked). After they crushed the Byzantines at Manzikert in 1071 and took the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes prisoner, all of Asia Minor was open to them — and their advance was virtually unstoppable. In 1076, they conquered Syria; in 1077, Jerusalem. The Seljuk Emir Atsiz bin Uwaq promised not to harm the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but once his men had entered the city, they murdered 3,000 people.[8] The same year the Seljuks established the sultanate of Rum (Rome, referring to the New Rome, Constantinople) in Nicaea, perilously close to Constantinople itself; from here they continued to threaten the Byzantines and harass the Christians all over their new domains.

The Christian Empire of Byzantium, which before Islam’s wars of conquest had ruled over a vast expanse including southern Italy, North Africa, the Middle East, and Arabia, was reduced to little more than Greece. It looked as if its death at the hands of the Seljuks was imminent. The Church of Constantinople considered the pope a schismatic and had squabbled with him for centuries, but the new Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), swallowed his pride and appealed for help. And that is how the First Crusade came about: it was a response to the Byzantine Emperor’s call for help. The Crusaders were responding to the emperor dialing 911.

The Crusaders and the Crusades were not perfect, but this brief survey should establish that they were in no sense a gratuitous proto-colonial attack by the Christian West against a hitherto peaceful and benign Islamic world. On the contrary, they were a response to centuries of violence by Muslims against Christians – violence that made it perfectly understandable that the 12th century Abbot Peter the Venerable would reproach Muslims for “bestial cruelty.” Yet in Armstrong’s world Peter’s words were an early manifestation among Christians of an “entrenched loathing of Islam,” a loathing that evidently had no cause or justification beyond xenophobia and sheer prejudice. And, says Armstrong portentously, “this medieval cast of mind is still alive and well….Hatred of Islam is so ubiquitous and so deeply rooted in western culture that it brings together people who are usually at daggers drawn.” But this hatred, as far as Armstong is concerned, sprang only from the West’s own actions. Again like Clinton, she invokes the Crusaders’ sack of Jerusalem in 1099, explaining that “it is always difficult to forgive people we know we have wronged. Thenceforth Jews and Muslims became the shadow-self of Christendom, the mirror image of everything that we hoped we were not -- or feared that we were.”

This silly psychologizing ignores the fact that the sack of Jerusalem, while brutal and heinous, was nothing singular. One atrocity does not excuse another. But it does illustrate that the Crusaders’ behavior in Jerusalem was consistent with that of other armies of the period — since all states subscribed to the same notions of siege and resistance. In 1148, Muslim commander Nur ed-Din did not hesitated to order the killing of every Christian in Aleppo. In 1268, when the jihad forces of the Mamluk Sultan Baybars took Antioch from the Crusaders Baybars was annoyed to find that the Crusader ruler, Count Bohemond VI, had already left the city. So he wrote to Bohemond to make sure he knew what his men had done in Antioch: “You would have seen your knights prostrate beneath the horses’ hooves, your houses stormed by pillagers and ransacked by looters, your wealth weighed by the quintal, your women sold four at a time and bought for a dinar of your own money! You would have seen the crosses in your churches smashed, the pages of the false Testaments scattered, the Patriarchs’ tombs overturned.”[9]

Most notorious of all may be the jihadists’ entry into Constantinople on May 29, 1453, when they — like the Crusaders in Jerusalem in 1099 — finally broke through a prolonged resistance to their siege. Like the Crusaders, who violated the sanctuary of both synagogue and mosque, the jihadists raided monasteries and convents, emptying them of their inhabitants, and plundered private houses. They entered the Hagia Sophia, which for nearly a thousand years had been the grandest church in Christendom, killed the elderly and weak and led the rest off into slavery. The magnificent old church was turned into a mosque; hundreds of other churches in Constantinople and elsewhere suffered the same fate. Millions of Christians joined the wretched ranks of the dhimmis; others were enslaved, and many martyred.[10]

Yet to Armstrong, acts of Islamic aggression were nothing more than “fearful fantasies created by Europeans.” Among these “fearful fantasies” she also mentions the anti-Semitic blood libel that circulated among Christians during the time of the Crusades – the charge that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood to make Passover matzo. But she of course makes no mention of the fact that the blood libel is alive and well today, not in the Christian or post-Christian world, but in the House of Islam. Syria in 2003 and Jordan in 2005 aired during Ramadan a viciously anti-Semitic TV series dramatizing the murder of a Christian child by wicked Jews, who then used the child’s blood in baking Passover matzo. The blood libel has also been spread recently on official Iranian TV. Why have Muslims taken up this ancient Christian slander? Armstrong doesn’t say.

Armstrong’s other charges are similarly wrongly focused and lacking in substance. She points out that “the Muslims who have objected so vociferously to the Pope’s denigration of Islam have accused him of ‘hypocrisy’, pointing out that the Catholic church is ill-placed to condemn violent jihad when it has itself been guilty of unholy violence in crusades, persecutions and inquisitions and, under Pope Pius XII, tacitly condoned the Nazi Holocaust.” Leaving aside Armstrong’s repetition of the by-now common slander of Pope Pius XII, which has been thoroughly refuted by Rabbi David Dalin in his book The Myth of Hitler’s Pope, no one is actually claiming that Muslims have or have ever had a monopoly on religious violence. What Armstrong does not acknowledge is that Islam is unique among the religions of the world in having a doctrine of religious imperialism. Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, tells his followers to call people to Islam, and if they refuse, to offer them second-class dhimmi status or war: “Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war…When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action….Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them….If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [the tax on non-Muslims specified in Qur’an 9:29]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them (Sahih Muslim 4294).”

Conversion, subjugation, or war: there is not and never has been a theological imperative of this kind in Christianity. Yet Armstrong alleges that “until the 20th century, Islam was a far more tolerant and peaceful faith than Christianity. The Qur’an strictly forbids any coercion in religion and regards all rightly guided religion as coming from God; and despite the western belief to the contrary, Muslims did not impose their faith by the sword.” It is true that forced conversion is forbidden by Islamic law, although the choice of conversion, subjugation or war contains a level of coercion that Westerners may find incompatible with the notion of free choice. Muslims did not impose conversion to Islam by the sword, but they made life so difficult for non-Muslims in their domains that conversion became their only path to a better life. Armstrong’s observation that “until the middle of the eighth century, Jews and Christians in the Muslim empire were actively discouraged from conversion to Islam, as, according to Qur’anic teaching, they had received authentic revelations of their own” is largely true, but for a reason she does not mention: converts no longer paid the tax, jizya, that was collected from the non-Muslim dhimmis. Too many converts would destroy the tax base.

But Armstrong has never had an overly strong attachment to accuracy. Daniel Pipes has noted about her book Islam: A Short History that “Armstrong goes out of her way to soften every hard edge, explain away every unpleasantness, and hide what she cannot otherwise account for.” An egregious example of this comes in her biography of Muhammad: according to Islamic traditions (hadith) reported by Bukhari, the hadith collection considered most reliable by Muslims, the Prophet of Islam married his favorite wife, Aisha, “when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old.” He was at this time in his early fifties. Embarrassed by this, many Islamic apologists claim – in the teeth of this evidence – that Aisha was actually older. Armstrong obligingly asserts that “Tabari says that she was so young that she stayed in her parents’ home and the marriage was consummated there later when she had reached puberty.”[11] Unfortunately, her readers are unlikely to have volumes of Tabari on hand to check her assertion; contrary to Armstrong’s account, the Muslim historian quotes Aisha thusly: “The Messenger of God married me when I was seven; my marriage was consummated when I was nine.”[12] Did Aisha go through puberty at nine, or was Armstrong covering up one of the more embarrassing aspects of Muhammad’s career?

The time for such disingenuousness is over, as is the time, if there ever were time, for the unseemly self-recrimination to which Armstrong is calling the West. The Muslim rage against the Pope’s call to eschew religious violence reveals an Islamic world in deep denial, as irrational as it is unable to take responsibility for its own actions. And in this it has Karen Armstrong and other Leftist haters of Western civilization and culture as willing accomplices.


[1] Bill Clinton, “Remarks as delivered by President William Jefferson Clinton, Georgetown University, November 7, 2001.” Georgetown University Office of Protocol and Events,
[2] Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine 634-1099, Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 473-476. To his credit, Caliph al-Muqtadir did respond to the 923 persecutions by ordering the church rebuilt.
[3] Gil, A History of Palestine 634-1099, p. 376.
[4] Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, Volume I, (Cambridge University Press, 1951), pp. 35-6; Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, (Routledge, 2000), pp. 16-17; Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History (Yale University Press, 1987), p. 44.
[5] Bernard Lewis, The Assassins, (Basic Books, 1967), p. 33.
[6] Runciman, A History of the Crusades, Volume I, p. 36.
[7] Runciman, A History of the Crusades, Volume I, p. 49.
[8] Gil, A History of Palestine 634-1099, p. 412.
[9] Thomas F. Madden, The New Concise History of the Crusades by (Rowan & Littlefield, 2005), pp. 181-182.
[10] Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, pp. 145ff.
[11] Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, Harper San Francisco, 1992, p. 157.
[12] Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, Volume VII, The Foundation of the Community, M. V. McDonald, translator, State University of New York Press, 1987, p. 7.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book, The Truth About Muhammad, is coming October 9 from Regnery Publishing

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jonah Goldberg: Jihad Enablers

September 20, 2006
Jonah Goldberg

Before you can discuss the manifest seriousness of the latest controversy involving the pope, you have to acknowledge its hilarity. Pope Benedict XVI, in an austere philosophical address, invoked Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, the 14th century ruler who offered a harsh assessment of Islam. While the Koran says, "There is no compulsion in religion," Manuel couldn't help but notice that Muslims were setting up more franchises in his neighborhood than Starbucks - and they weren't doing so by selling the best darn Mocha Frappuccinos on his side of the Bosphorus Straits.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new," Manuel complained sometime around the siege of Byzantium, "and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Why Pope Benedict quoted Manuel is hotly debated. But one explicit reason was to enunciate the Church's opposition to using faith to justify violence or intolerance.

And this is where the hilarity comes in. A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman responded: "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence."

During Friday prayers in Iran, a senior cleric changed his usual script to denounce the pope, but the crowd of worshippers hadn't seen the memo, so they chanted back the usual refrain: "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

In Turkey, protestors demanded that the Justice Ministry arrest the pope when he visits there this fall and prosecute him for insulting Islam.

And just this week, clerics in Gaza reportedly suggested that the pope convert to Islam to save his own life.

But let us not dare suggest that even a whiff of intolerance can be detected in the Islamic world. If you say otherwise, I will cut off your head.

It may be amusing to note how so many Muslims are eager to confirm a stereotype in the process of denouncing that very stereotype, but it's not so funny when they put their jihad where the mouth is. Churches were attacked in the West Bank and a nun in Somalia was murdered, allegedly in reaction to the pope's comments. Al-Qaida's franchise in Iraq announced "We shall break the cross and spill the wine. ... God will (help) Muslims to conquer Rome. ... (May) God enable us to slit their throats."

But this isn't primarily about al-Qaida or even the war on terror. Note that the parliaments and governments of Islamic nations - our allies in the war on terror - have been at the forefront of the anti-pope backlash.

The many learned disquisitions on the pope's speech notwithstanding, this isn't about theology either. After all, no serious person can take lectures on religious tolerance from the Muslim world very seriously. Spare me tales of Jewish accommodation in the 15th century. Today, throughout the Muslim world, Jew-hatred and Christian-bashing are commonplace, state-sanctioned and fashionable.

No, this is about us. The best book for illuminating what's going on in the Muslim "street" isn't some weighty treatise on Islam; it's a short little tract called "White Guilt" by Shelby Steele. The book isn't even about Islam. Steele focuses on white liberals and the black radicals who've been gaming them ever since the 1960s. Whites, he argues, have internalized their own demonization. Deep down they fear that maybe they are imperialistic, racist bastards, and they are desperate to prove otherwise. In America, black radicals figured this out a while ago and have been dunning liberal whites ever since.

The West is caught in a similarly dysfunctional cycle of extortion and intimidation with Islam, but on a grander and far more violent scale. Whether it's the pope's comments or some Danish cartoons, self-appointed spokesmen for the Islamic street say, "You have offended a billion Muslims," which really means, "There are so many of us, you should watch out." And if you didn't get the message, just look around for the burning embassies and murdered infidels.
They're not hard to find.

In response, the West apologizes and apologizes. Radical Muslims, who are not stupid, take note and become emboldened by these displays of weakness and capitulation. And the next time, they demand two pounds of flesh. Meanwhile, the entire global conversation starts from the assumption that the West is doing something wrong by tolerating freedom of speech, among other things.

This week, French President Jacques Chirac explained that everyone in the West must avoid everything that sparks tensions. In other words, we must forever be held hostage by the tactical outrage of a global mob. There's nothing funny about that.

©2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Daniel Pipes: Pope Benedict Criticizes Islam

Daniel Pipes
September 20, 2006

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

These words, expressed six centuries ago by a Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, in dialogue with an Iranian scholar, spur three reflections.

Pope Benedict XVI offered the above quote, neither endorsing nor condemning it, in his academic speech, "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections," delivered in German last week in Germany. It served to introduce his erudite critique of the Western concept of reason since the Enlightenment.

But did he have other purposes? The head of the Benedictine order, Abbot Notker Wolf, understood the pope's quote as "a blatant allusion to [Iran's President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad." Vatican insiders told the London Sunday Times that Benedict "was trying to pre-empt an aggressive letter aimed at the papacy by the president of Iran, which was why he cited the debate involving a Persian."

First reflection: Benedict has offered elusive comments, brief statements, and now this delphic quotation, but he has not provided a much-needed major statement on this vital topic of Islam.
One hopes it is in the offing.

Whatever the pope's purpose, he prompted the near-predictable furor in the Muslim world. Religious and political authorities widely condemned the speech, with some calling for violence.

· In Britain, while leading a rally outside Westminster Cathedral, Anjem Choudary of Al-Ghurabaa called for the pope "to be subject to capital punishment."

· In Iraq, the Mujahideen's Army threatened to "smash the crosses in the house of the dog from Rome" and other groups made blood-curdling threats.

· In Kuwait, an important website called for violent retribution against Catholics.

· In Somalia, the religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin urged Muslims to "hunt down" the pope and kill him "on the spot."

· In India, a leading imam, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, called on Muslims to "respond in a manner which forces the pope to apologise."

· A top Al-Qaeda figure announced that "the infidelity and tyranny of the pope will only be stopped by a major attack."

The Vatican responded by establishing an extraordinary and unprecedented security cordon around the pope. Further away, the incitement spurred some violence, with more likely on the way. Seven churches were attacked in the West Bank and Gaza, one in Basra, Iraq (prompting this ironic headline at the "RedState" blog: "Pope implies Islam a violent religion ... Muslims bomb churches"). The murder of an Italian nun in Somalia and two Assyrians in Iraq also appear connected.

Second reflection: this new round of Muslim outrage, violence, and murder has a by-now routine quality. Earlier versions occurred in 1989 (in response to Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses), 1997 (when the U.S. Supreme Court did not take down a representation of Muhammad), 2002 (when Jerry Falwell called Muhammad a terrorist), 2005 (the fraudulent Koran-flushing episode), and February 2006 (the Danish cartoon incident).

Vatican leaders tried to defuse the pope's quote, as well as his condemnation of jihad (holy war). The papal spokesman, Federico Lombardi, S.J., said Benedict did not intend to give "an interpretation of Islam as violent. … inside Islam there are many different positions and there are many positions that are not violent." Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state, indicated that the pope "sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful."

Then, in what may be an unprecedented step by a pope, Benedict himself proffered the sort of semi-apology often favored by those feeling the heat. "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address," reads the official Vatican translation into English, "which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought." In the Italian original, however, Benedict says only sono rammaricato, which translates as "I am disappointed" or "I regret."

Third reflection: the Muslim uproar has a goal: to prohibit criticism of Islam by Christians and thereby to impose Shar‘i norms on the West. Should Westerners accept this central tenet of Islamic law, others will surely follow. Retaining free speech about Islam, therefore, represents a critical defense against the imposition of an Islamic order.

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Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thomas Sowell: Suicidal Hand-Wringing

September 19, 2006
Thomas Sowell

When you enter a boxing ring, you agree to abide by the rules of boxing. But when you are attacked from behind in a dark alley, you would be a fool to abide by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. If you do, you can end up being a dead fool.

Even with a nuclear Iran looming on the horizon and the prospect that its nuclear weapons will end up in the hands of international terrorists that it has been sponsoring for years, many in the media and in the government that is supposed to protect us have been preoccupied with whether we are being nice enough to the terrorists in our custody.

The issue has been brought to a head by the efforts of Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham to get us to apply the rules of the Geneva convention to cutthroats who respect no Geneva convention and are not covered by the Geneva convention.

If this was just a case of a handful of headstrong senators, who want us to play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules while we are being kicked in the groin and slashed with knives, that would be bad enough. But the issue of applying the Geneva convention to people who were never covered by the Geneva convention originated in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Article III, Section II of the Constitution gives Congress the power to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts, and Congress has specifically taken away the jurisdiction of the courts in cases involving the detention of illegal combatants, such as terrorists, who are not -- repeat, not -- prisoners of war covered by the Geneva convention.

The Supreme Court ignored that law. Apparently everyone must obey the law except judges. Congress has the power to impeach judges, including Supreme Court justices, but apparently not the guts. Runaway judges are not going to stop until they get stopped.

In short, the clash between Senator McCain, et al., and the President of the United States is more than just another political clash. It is part of a far more general, and ultimately suicidal, confusion and hand-wringing in the face of mortal dangers.

The argument is made that we must respect the Geneva convention because, otherwise, our own soldiers will be at risk of mistreatment when they become prisoners of war.

Does any sane adult believe that the cutthroats we are dealing with will respect the Geneva convention? Or that our extension of Geneva convention rights to them will be seen as anything other than another sign of weakness and confusion that will encourage them in their terrorism?

No one has suggested that we disregard the Geneva convention for people covered by the Geneva convention. The question is whether a lawless court shall seize the power to commit this nation to rules never agreed to by those whom the Constitution entrusted with the power to make international treaties.

The much larger question -- the question of survival -- is whether we have the clarity and the courage to go all-out in self-defense against those who are going all-out to destroy us, even at the cost of their own lives.

There are too many signs that we do not and those signs are visible not only in our political and judicial institutions but throughout American society and western civilization.

Sheltered for years from terrorist dangers that we so much feared after the September 11th attacks, many have come to act as if those dangers do not exist and that we now have the luxury of dismantling the means by which they have been held at bay this long.

In a country where all sorts of individuals and organizations tap into our personal computers and our computerized medical, financial and other records, some have gone ballistic over the fact that the federal government tries to keep track of who is being phoned by international terrorist organizations.

No amount of security precautions can protect us from all the thousands of ways in which terrorists can strike at times and places of their own choosing -- and eventually strike with nuclear weapons. Our only hope is to get advance information from those we capture as to where other terrorists are and how they operate.

Squeamishness about how this is done is not a sign of higher morality but of irresponsibility in the face of mortal dangers.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate

Alan W. Dowd: Muslims Prove Papal Infallibility

Alan W. Dowd
September 19, 2006

It still sounds like some sort of sick, unfunny joke, but we began this year with mobs of angry Muslims rampaging through Europe, the Middle East and Asia in deadly protests over a cartoon—yes, a cartoon. Now, many in the Islamic world are lashing out over an academic lecture ironically about the compatibility of faith and reason—a lecture presented by a pope eager to promote dialogue between Islam and Christianity. Indeed, in apologizing on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI noted that “the true meaning of my address…was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.”

But predictably, the pope’s apology is not enough for many in the Islamic world. The episode says more about Islam’s leaders than it does about Christendom’s.

The offending phrase used by the pope is actually a quote from a 14th-century discussion between a Christian Byzantine emperor and a Muslim scholar in which the former impugns efforts to grow and spread Islam by the sword. “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new,” the emperor declared, “and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

By citing the quote, the pope certainly invited listeners to consider the problem of spreading faith through violence—a timely issue. Even so, the pope did not endorse the quote, a fact underscored by his reference to the “startling brusqueness” of the emperor’s comment. Neither was he seeking to offend or condescend to Islam. To the contrary, his speech credits Islam for its faithfulness to the omnipotence of God. “For Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent,” the pope explains. “His will is not bound up with any of our categories.”

Neither was the quote central to the pope’s lecture. The pope was talking about the age-old struggle between reason and faith—a struggle Christianity and Judaism know well. “The inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry,” he concludes, “was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history—it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe.”

Those are the facts about his speech. But the facts do not matter, at least not within the Islamic world, which, according to the Washington Post, “feels besieged in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” Really? Who knew Manhattan, Shanksville, Washington, Netanya, Haifa, Bali, Beslan, London, and Madrid were part of the “Islamic world”?

In any event, the world’s top Shiite cleric demanded a personal apology from the pope “for this false reading” of Islam. One wonders if he even read the pope’s speech, which actually calls on people of all faiths to recognize the “breadth of reason” and to become “partners in the dialogue of cultures.”

According to the Post, the Pakistani parliament condemned the pope for “derogatory comments” and also demanded an apology. A leading Turkish official accused the pope of wanting to revive the Crusades. In Egypt, protesters predictably chanted, “Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the pope!”

Primed by Hamas leader (and Palestinian prime minister) Ismail Haniyeh, Palestinians held large-scale demonstrations. In Iraq, even as bombs exploded outside an Assyrian Catholic Church, a terrorist group warned that it would begin killing Iraqi Christians unless the pope apologized. And in Somalia, the killing of a nun is being linked to the pope’s speech.

Today, as with cartoon jihad that marred January and February, Islam’s outrage is an outrage.

These violent, pitiful overreactions within the Islamic world beg a thousand questions: Do Muslims outside the West ever turn the critical eye on themselves? Where are the condemnations for those who use a holy book as a weapon of mass-murder? Why doesn’t Pakistan’s parliament condemn what is being done in the name of Islam inside its own borders and what its madrassa teachers are spawning beyond its borders?

Do Egyptian protesters ever take to the streets to show their indignation over beheadings conducted while the Koran is being read? Do Turkish officials condemn how the minarets are used in Iraq and Afghanistan to signal and coordinate terror and slaughter? Do Iraq’s religious leaders notice or care that Iraq’s agony is caused by Muslims? Was there ever a terrorist act committed anywhere that Hamas has condemned?

And perhaps the best question of all: Did the “Islamic world” hear what the pope really said—that faith and reason are not enemies, that violence is not the way to spread faith, that we must listen to “the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity”?

If only Islam’s leaders—and followers—cared as much about what is spoken and done in the name of their religion as they do about other religions.

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Alan W. Dowd is a senior fellow at Sagamore Institute for Policy Research.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pete Rose's Signs of His Sorry Times

[Well, I'm flabbergasted...Mr. Rose has always appeared to be a paragon of moral clarity and graciousness. He always possessed an impeccable sense of style and an air of dignity...dare I say even an air of royalty....OK, I can't keep a straight face on this one any longer...I think Mr. Rose is an arrogant, tasteless, crass, self-absorbed boob...that being said, he was a very fine baseball player. Just when you think the lying rat can't sink any lower... - jtf]

Pete's signs of his sorry times
18 September 2006

Boy, is Pete Rose sorry.

Baseball's disgraced all-time hit king may have hit an all-time low by signing balls with this shocking inscription: "I'm sorry I bet on baseball - Pete Rose."

Thanks to a New Jersey auction house, you, too, can share in Rose's sorrow. Robert Edward Auctions plans to sell 30 of the baseballs for an expected $1,000 a pop.

"This is where the baseball collectibles field has impact on the history of the game," said Rob Lifson, president of the Watchung-based Robert Edward Auctions. "The collectibles field is not just shadowing the game - it's affecting its history."

It also could dash any hope Rose, who was banned from the sport he loved in 1989 for betting on baseball, has of getting into the Hall of Fame.

The bizarre ball signing marked the latest chapter in the sad saga of a man who was once one of baseball's most revered - and successful - figures.

Rose formally applied for reinstatement in 1997.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig extended an olive branch by meeting with him in 2002 to discuss his possible return - a meeting based on Rose's denials that he never bet on the game.

But then Rose became embroiled in a series of incidents in which he was seen gambling at casinos and sports books, and was hit with a lien from the IRS claiming he owed almost $1 million in back taxes.

In 2004, after almost 15 years of denials, Rose did an about-face and admitted in his autobiography "My Prison without Bars" that he bet on the game as a player and manager for the Cincinnati Reds. He repeated his admissions in an interview on ABC's "Primetime."

And now there are these damning baseballs.

Rose's agent Warren Greene and attorney Roger Makley did not return calls from the Daily News. Greene, however, acknowledged to Sports Collectors Digest, a hobby publication, that Rose did sign the balls.

"Pete told me he signed a couple of dozen as a favor to the guys in Cooperstown," Greene is quoted as saying in a story set to appear in Sports Collectors Digest this week.

He was referring to Tom Catal and Andrew Vilacky, two upstate memorabilia dealers who are friendly with Rose and are affiliated with Pete Rose Collectibles and the Pete Rose Museum, a shrine on the third floor of Catal's collectibles store, in Cooperstown. Robert Edward Auctions obtained 30 of the inscribed balls from the estate of Barry Halper, the New Jersey businessman and limited partner in the Yankees who died last year at 66.

Halper is best known for assembling the most extensive sports memorabilia collection in history. Most of his collection was sold in 1999 for $25 million at Sotheby's.

But this year, Halper's family contacted Lifson, who supervised the 1999 sale, about consigning pieces the legendary collector picked up after the historic auction.

"I went out to do an inventory," Lifson said, "and there they [the Pete Rose balls] were in a box."

According to Lifson, Rose approached Halper around the time his book was released in 2004 asking the collector to help him find a way to make money off his memorabilia.

The two then cooked up a plan for the autographed apology balls, Lifson said.

The Halper family believed Rose had signed 300 of the balls, although they are in possession of only 30. The ones Lifson will auction fall between No. 215 and No. 296, and feature the Pete Rose Collectibles insignia above the numbering.

According to Lifson and Sports Collectors Digest reporter T.S. O'Connell, autograph authenticator James Spence has come across several additional balls on the open market. O'Connell said there are "40 to 50" known to exist.

Rose remains a favorite with many fans. But there are a lot autographed Rose items on the market, and supply clearly outstrips demand.

Baseballs with Rose's signature sell for $25 to $50, Lifson said, but he expects the "Confession Balls," as he will label them in the auction, to fetch upward of $1,000 each.

And Lifson will also offer another bit of Rose's history in his auction - his Hall of Fame pass, inscribed with its own plea to Halper: "Barry, I shouldn't need this pass to get into the Hall of Fame, Pete Rose."

"Barry was very good friends with Pete Rose," Lifson said. "His Hall of Fame pass was the kind of thing Barry would keep at his desk and surround himself with and pull out and show people."

With Bill Madden

Hit king's ups & downs

Here are some key dates in the amazing career and downfall of Pete Rose:

April 8, 1963: Makes debut in major league career built on grit. Earns the nickname "Charlie Hustle" for his no-holds-barred style.

Sept. 11, 1985: Passes Ty Cobb to become baseball's all-time leader in hits.

Aug. 17, 1986: Retires with an amazing 4,256 hits, mostly with Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies.

Aug. 24, 1989: Banned from baseball by Commissioner Bart Giamatti for betting on baseball.

April 20, 1990: Pleads guilty to federal tax-evasion charges and is sentenced to five months in prison.

Feb. 4, 1991: Removed from Hall of Fame ballot.

Sept. 26, 1997: Pleads for reinstatement in letter to Commissioner Bud Selig. No action is taken.

Oct. 24, 1999: Wins rousing ovation from fans during introduction of All-Century Team at World Series game. Spars with announcer Jim Gray, who grills him about betting charges.

Nov. 25, 2002: Joined by Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, meets secretly with Selig to discuss reinstatement.

Jan. 5, 2004: Ending years of lies, admits to betting on baseball in book, "My Prison without Bars."

Today: Daily News reveals sale of autographed baseballs with Rose's autograph and handwritten message, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball."

The Unholy Alliance Rolls Over the Pope

By Andrew Walden
September 18, 2006

In what has suddenly been made into a highly controversial speech, the day after September 11, at Bavaria’s University of Regensberg, Pope Benedict describes Christian belief in a God whose words and acts are bound by reason, truth and the law of non-contradiction. Benedict contrasts this with Islamic belief in a God not bound by anything—including his own words. Benedict further contrasts Christian belief with that of secular humanists who see reason as being completely unbound of God.

In response, both Islamists and secularists have demanded the Pope apologize. Benedict’s speech is a work of enlightened genius. He has clearly laid out the differences between Christian culture and Islamic culture and the basis of the clash of civilizations we now experience as the War on Terror. His analysis also explains the underlying cause of the alliance between the western Left and the Islamofascist Right.

Islamist reaction focuses on one sentence in the speech. Reaching back to 1391, Benedict quotes Byzantine Emperor Manuel II: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Four days later, according to AP: “Pakistan's legislature unanimously condemned Pope Benedict XVI. Lebanon's top Shiite cleric demanded an apology. And in Turkey, the ruling party likened the pontiff to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades.
“Across the Islamic world Friday, Benedict's remarks on Islam and jihad in a speech in Germany unleashed a torrent of rage that many fear could burst into violent protests like those that followed publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Reuters quoted other sources expressing fears for the Pope’s safety and even fear of an attack on Vatican City.

The Islamist reaction proves Manuel II’s 600-year-old point. The reaction is not one of anger but a calculated attempt to force the Pope to parrot the PC line on Islam. Since Islam need not be internally consistent and it is not bound by reason, it’s only objective can be to assert the power of a God who is so transcendent that He is not bound by anything. If man is created in God’s image then by extension Islamic man is not bound by anything. (This explains the predilection on the part of some Muslims to lie.) Islamists are not responding to any ‘offense’ to their non-existent morality. They are asserting the only ‘morality’ they have—the will to power.

“Will to Power” is a key element of Nietzsche ’s philosophy—hence the root of the term, Islamofascist. Moreover the Western “Left’ is today guided far more by Nietzsche existentialist thought than by Marxist thought—hence the alliance between the Western “Left” and the Islamofascist ‘Right.’

Reuters quotes an Indian Muslim leader doing precisely what Manuel II said they would: “Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the chief cleric of New Delhi's historic Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, extolled Muslims to ‘respond in a manner which forces the Pope to apologize.’” Note they intend to use “force” not reason.

Reuters quotes an unnamed diplomat pointing out the Pope was, “calling a spade a spade”.
The secularist mouthpiece, New York Times, editorializes, “Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims….” This is false. The Pope’s description of the Islamic God as being unbound by reason is not an insult, it is an Islamic article of faith. What Muslims and secularists fear is the Pope’s decision to choose to enter dialogue asserting his belief in Christianity. How dare he not “apologize” for being a Christian? That is the so-called “insult.”

One might “reasonably” ask when will Muslims “apologize” for being Muslim? But they are not bound by reason to the point is lost on them.

Amazingly the Times continues: “Muslim leaders the world over have demanded apologies… For many Muslims, holy war — jihad — is a spiritual struggle, and not a call to violence.” In saying this, the Times implicitly recognizes the Islamists are waging a propaganda jihad against the Pope and by extension against Christianity—and they explicitly endorse and join this jihad. The Times is saying to Islamists, ‘we can join your ‘spiritual’ jihad, but not your violent jihad.

The Times editors are living in a fool’s paradise. The “spiritual” non-violent jihad of propaganda is merely the flip side of the violent jihad. Nowhere is that more clear than in the Islamist reaction to the Pope.

With the Pope scheduled to visit Turkey in November the Islamists are rejecting any apology from Vatican spokespersons and demand to hear from the Pope himself. This would place raging mobs of semi-literate Islamist thugs in the position of forcing the leader of Christendom to bow before them.

In this demand for submission they are joined by the secularist mouthpiece. In its September 16 edition the Times editorializes: “He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology…” The secularists too seek the Pope’s submission. Like the Islamists, the secularists are driven only by their will to power. While the Islamists represent their demented version of God--unrestrained by reason, the secularists represent their demented version of reason--unrestrained by God. They are united by their self-worshipping world view.

It should be noted that the carefully staged “anger’ from the Islamic world does not condemn Benedict’s characterization of Islam as a religion where God’s “will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality...(The Islamic) God is not bound even by his own word….” This is not seen as an insult. Islam embraces this description. In offering this description of Islam, Benedict refers to the views of leading modern French Islamist R. Arnaldez as discussed in the writings of Professor Theodore Khoury of Munster.

Likewise the secularists express no dismay at the pope’s characterization of a secularist as: “(A) subject (who) then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective ‘conscience’ becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical.”

Benedict asserts that without reason, or without God, there can be no modern system of morality. He explains, “In this way…ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become (instead) a completely personal matter.”

Both Islamist and secularist seek to break God and reason apart. Each claims superiority over the Christian West. They believe absolute moral license makes them powerful. As globalization carries the Western tradition of reason throughout the world, both are in decline.

Where the force of reason is defeated, Islamist and secularist will meet in combat, just as Hitler’s fascists broke their pact with the Soviet Union, invading in June, 1941 after the collapse of the allied forces on the western front.

What the Islamists and the New York Times both fear is having to reply to the Pope’s key point, borrowed from the Byzantine Emperor: “‘Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos (word or reason) is contrary to the nature of God,’.… It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.”

Their fear of reason can only lead the world to disaster.

Daniel Pipes: Appreciating Oriana Fallaci

Daniel Pipes
September 18, 2006

Oriana Fallaci died Friday, September 15, in Florence, Italy.

In her memory, I offer an introduction to Ms Fallaci that I delivered, at her request, on November 28, 2005, at a Center for the Study of Popular Culture event honoring her, chaired by David Horowitz. Her talk that evening, at the 3 West Club in New York City, was latterly incorporated in her book, The Force of Reason. I believe this was her final public appearance.

It is my great pleasure to introduce Oriana Fallaci to you.

Born in 1930 in Florence, Italy, she was brought up in an anti-fascist family and her father was a leader in the fight against Mussolini. At age 14, Ms Fallaci took part in the Resistance. For her work during the war, she received an award from the Chief of the Allied Forces in Italy. She then attended the University of Florence.

She had the writer's urge from early on. She was writing what she calls "naïve short stories" at the age of 9 and at 16 (after lying about her age) began covering police and hospital topics. Here is how she has described the writing experience:

I sat at the typewriter for the first time and fell in love with the words that emerged like drops, one by one, and remained on the white sheet of paper ... every drop became something that if spoken would have flown away, but on the sheets as words, became solidified, whether they were good or bad.

In a less poetic vein, she has also acknowledged that "What really pushes me to write is my obsession with death."

Ms Fallaci subsequently wrote for many Italian, European, and American publications, including Corriere della Sera, Le Nouvel Observateur, Der Stern, Life, Look, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, and The New Republic.

As a war correspondent, she covered the major conflicts of our time.

She covered the insurrection in Hungary, getting arrested in the process.

She spent seven years in the field in Vietnam, both North and South, and ended up being thrown out of the South.

She reported about the revolutions in Latin America: Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, as well as the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico City, where she was one of just two survivors. (She got caught up in a rally to oppose the Mexican government's decision to spend enormous amount of money on the 1968 Olympics and Fallaci was shot at by police, taking bullet fragments in her shoulder, back, and knee.)

She covered the Lebanon civil war and the Kuwait War.

Ms Fallaci conducted her trademark confrontational interviews with powerful figures, or to use her more colorful terminology, "those bastards who decide our lives," including Willy Brandt, Lech Walesa, Muammar Qaddafi, Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon, Haile Selassie, the Shah of Iran, Indira Gandhi, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Deng Xiaoping, and H. Rap Brown. Also, she interviewed leading non-political figures such as Federico Fellini, Sean Connery, Sammy Davis, Jr., Arthur Miller, Orson Welles and even Hugh Hefner.

She is the only person to have interviewed the Ayatollah Khomeini, with whom she spent six hours. At one point, she memorably ripped off her chador in indignation and heaved it at his eminence.

Known for her challenging interviewing tactics, Fallaci goaded her subjects into making unintended revelations. "Let's talk about war," she challenged Henry Kissinger in their 1972 interview, perhaps the one Americans remember best. Prior to this interview, Kissinger had revealed little to the press about his life and personality. Fallaci kept after the secretary of state during their conversation to explain why a mere diplomat enjoyed such fame. He dodged the question, but eventually gave in. "Sometimes," he said, "I see myself as a cowboy leading the caravan alone astride his horse, a wild west tale if you like." Kissinger thus revealed how he saw himself - as a heroic, imposing leader who controlled the direction of U.S. politics – and, consequently, was massively criticized. Even years later, Kissinger referred to his interview with Ms Fallaci as "the most disastrous conversation I ever had with any member of the press."

Her interviews also included unusual details. For example, she wrote of Yasir Arafat about
his "thick, Arab mustache and his short height which, combined with small hands and feet, fat legs, a massive trunk, huge hips, and a swollen belly, made him appear rather odd." She described his head and face in great detail, noting that "he has almost no cheeks or forehead, everything is summed up in a large mouth with red and fleshy lips, an aggressive nose, and two eyes that hypnotize you."

One biographer, Jill M. Duquaine, calls Fallaci the "greatest political interviewer of modern times"

She is the author of 13 books, all but two of them translated into English. In all, they have been translated into 26 languages and published in 31 countries.

The first one, The Seven Sins of Hollywood, came out in Italian in 1958, featuring a preface by Orson Welles.

The Useless Sex: Voyage around the Woman, 1964. (reportage on a whirlwind trip around the world for a weekly newspaper, L'Europeo)

Penelope at War, 1966. (a novel about a career-minded young female journalist who refuses her boyfriend's pleas to stay home and have a family)

If the Sun Dies, 1966. (collected articles about the U.S. space program)
The Egotists: Sixteen Surprising Interviews, 1968.

Nothing, and So Be It, 1972 (on the war in Vietnam, sympathetic to the Vietcong) – she shares Second Thoughts with our host tonight, David Horowitz

An Interview with History, 1976, collected some of her outstanding interviews; it has been described as "one of the classics of modern journalism."

Letter to a Child Never Born, 1976 (a novel, called "one of the finest feminist writings about pregnancy, abortion, and emotional torture").

A Man, 1980 (a novel based on her personal experience with the Greek poet and resistance leader Alekos Panagoulis)

Inshallah, 1992 (another novel, about the civil war in Lebanon).

After a silence of ten years, she published The Rage and the Pride in 2001, a response to the challenge of radical Islam. It sold 1 million copies in Italy and 500,000 in the rest of Europe.
In 2004, she wrote The Force of Reason, out this month in English from Rizzoli. It also sold 1 million copies in Italy. In it, she argues that the fall of the West has commenced due to radical Islam. Western-style democracy, with its liberty, human rights, freedom of thought and religion, cannot coexist with radical Islam. One of them has to perish. She puts her money on the West failing.

* The third book of her Islamic trilogy, Fallaci Interviews Herself and The Apocalypse, also came out in 2004, in Italian (and not yet in English). Here is what Bat Ye'or had to say of it, writing at, another activity of this evening's sponsor, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture: "In this brief masterpiece Oriana Fallaci moves us to tears, shakes us with laughter, enlightens us and transmits her love and despair for a Europe she served with such great devotion and now watches in despair as it goes adrift."

In an interview in 2002, she was asked about George W. Bush. "We will see; it's too soon," she replied. "I have the impression that Bush has a certain vigor and also a dignity which had been forgotten in the United States for eight years." But she has her differences with him, especially when the president calls Islam a "religion of peace." "Do you know what I do each time he says it on TV? I'm there alone, and I watch it and say, ‘Shut up! Shut up, Bush!' But he doesn't listen to me."

In earlier years, her reportage put in her many times in harm's way; nowadays, it is her direct and unflinching writings on Islam that create dangers for her: "My life," Ms Fallaci wrote recently, "is seriously in danger."

She also has legal headaches. She was on trial twice in France in 2002 and was brought up on charges in Italy in May 2005. She was indicted under a provision of the Italian penal code that criminalizes the "vilification of any religion admitted by the state." Specifically, it states that The Force of Reason "defames Islam." One might therefore say that, wanted for a speech crime in her native country, Europe's most celebrated journalist now lives in exile in Manhattan.

The plaintiff is an extremist Muslim of Scottish origin named Adel Smith. He is thought to be the author of a pamphlet titled "Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci," that calls upon Muslims to "eliminate" her and to "go and die with Fallaci." Bye the bye, Smith has also called for the destruction of the medieval fresco, "The Last Judgment" by Giovanni da Modena, in Bologna Cathedral, because it depicts the Prophet Muhammad as languishing in hell.

Ms Fallaci's writings have also, of course, won her many opportunities. I'd like to mention one:
that she was among the first persons invited by Pope Benedict XVI for a chat, an encounter all the more significant for her being publicly declared an atheist. Before their meeting, this is what Ms Fallaci had to say about the new pope:

I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true. It's that simple! There must be some human truth here that is beyond religion.

It is a particular honor to have Ms Fallaci with us here tonight, for she is not exactly known as a socialite. Here is her description of her work habits:

I start working early in the morning (eight or eight-thirty a.m.) and go on until six p.m. or seven p.m. without interruption. That is, without eating and without resting. I smoke more than usual, which means, around fifty cigarettes a day. I sleep badly in the night. I don't see anybody. I don't answer the telephone. I don't go anywhere. I ignore the Sundays, the holidays, the Christmases, the New Year's Eves. I get hysterical, in other words, and unhappy and unsatisfied and guilty if I don't produce much. By the way, I am a very slow writer. And I rewrite obsessively.

To conclude, here is Oriana Fallaci, speaking of her legacy:

She hopes, through her books,to die a little less when I die. To leave the children I did not have...To make people think a little more, outside the dogmas that this society has nourished us with through centuries. To give stories and ideas that help people to see better, to think better, to know a little more.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Oriana Fallaci who will speak on "The European Apocalypse: Islam and the West."

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Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mark Steyn: Coverage of 9/11 Anniversary Was Too Wimpy

September 17, 2006

A lot of the 9/11 anniversary coverage struck me as distastefully tasteful. On the morning of Sept. 12, I was pumping gas just off I-91 in Vermont and picked up the Valley News. Its lead headline covered the annual roll call of the dead -- or, as the alliterative editor put it, "Litany of the Lost." That would be a grand entry for Litany of the Lame, an anthology of all-time worst headlines. Sept. 11 wasn't a shipwreck: The dead weren't "lost," they were murdered.

So I skipped that story. Underneath was something headlined "Half a Decade Gone By, A Reporter Still Cannot Comprehend Why." Well, in that case maybe you shouldn't be in the reporting business. After half a decade, it's not that hard to "comprehend": Osama bin Laden issued a declaration of war and then his agents carried out a big attack. He talked the talk, his boys walked the walk. If you need to flesh it out a bit, you could go to the library and look up a book.

But, of course, that's not what the headline means: Instead, it's "incomprehensible" in the sense that, to persons of a certain mushily "progressive" disposition, all such acts are "incomprehensible," all violence is "senseless." Unfortunately, it made perfect sense to the fellows who perpetrated it. Which is what that headline writer finds hard to "comprehend" -- or, rather, doesn't wish to comprehend. The piece itself was categorized as "Reflection" -- dread word. No self-respecting newspaper should be running "reflections" anywhere upfront of Section G Page 27, and certainly not on the front page. But it has exactly the kind of self-regarding pseudo-sophistication the American media love. The proper tone for 9/11 commemorations is to be sad about all the dead -- "the lost" -- but in a very generalized soft-focus way. Not a lot of specifics about the lost, and certainly not too many quotes from those final phone calls from the passengers to their families, like Peter Hanson's last words before Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center: "Don't worry, Dad. If it happens, it will be very fast." That might risk getting readers worked up, especially if they see the flight manifest:

"Peter Hanson, Massachusetts

"Susan Hanson, Massachusetts

"Christine Hanson, 2, Massachusetts"

No, best to stick to a limpidly fey, tastefully mopey, enervatedly passive prose style that suggests nothing very much can be done about the incomprehensible lost. This tasteful passivity is the default mode of the age: Five years ago it was striking, even in the immediate aftermath, how many radio and TV trailers for blood drives and other relief efforts could only bring themselves over the soupy music track to refer vaguely to "the tragic events," as if any formulation more robust might prove controversial.

Passivity is far slyer and more lethal than rabid Bush hatred. Say what you like about the left-wing kooks but they can still get a good hate on. Sure, they hate Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Halliburton and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh rather than Saddam and the jihadists, but at least they can still muster primal emotions. Every morning I wake up to a gazillion e-mails from fellows wishing me ill, usually beginning by calling me a "chicken hawk" followed by a generous smattering of words I can only print here peppered with asterisks, and usually ending with pledges to come round and shove various items in a particular part of my anatomy. There's so much shipping scheduled to go up there I ought to get Dubai Ports World in to run it.

The foaming leftie routine seems to be a tough sell to a general audience. I see that, a mere three weeks after I guest-hosted for Rush, the widely acclaimed and even more widely unlistened-to Air America is going belly up. Coincidence? You be the judge. But I doubt the "liberal" radio network would be kaput if anti-Bush fever were about to sweep the Democrats to power this November. I think I said a few months back that the Dems would be waking up to their usual biennial Wednesday morning after the Tuesday night before, and I'll stick with that.
But there's more to the national discourse than party politics. And, whoever wins or loses, the cult of feebly tasteful passivity rolls on regardless. As part of National Review's fifth anniversary observances, James Lileks wrote the following:

"If 9/11 had really changed us, there'd be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there's a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don't. And we don't seem interested in asking why."

Ray Nagin, New Orleans' Mayor Culpa, is a buffoon but he nevertheless had a point when he scoffed at the ongoing hole in the ground in Lower Manhattan. And whatever fills it is never going to include those "stern stone eagles." The best we can hope for is that the Saudi-funded Islamic Outreach Center will only take up a third of the site. But in our hearts we know whatever memorial eventually stands on the spot will be rubbish -- tasteful rubbish, but rubbish all the same. Last year, I criticized the Flight 93 memorial, the "Crescent of Embrace," whose very title is a parodic masterpiece of note-perfect generically effete huggy-weepy blather. And in return I received a ton of protests pointing out that the families of the Flight 93 heroes had "approved" the design. All that demonstrates, I think, is how thoroughly constrained our society is within its own crescent of embrace: The cult of passivity has insinuated itself deep into our bones. Behind those "IMAGINE PEACE" stickers lies a terrible failure to imagine.

At what point does a society become simply too genteel to wage war? We're like those apocryphal Victorian matrons who covered up the legs of their pianos. Acts of war against America have to be draped in bathetic music and uncomprehending reflections and crescents of embrace. We fight tastefully, too. Last week one of America's unmanned drones could have killed 200 Taliban big shots but they were attending a funeral and we apparently have a policy of not killing anybody near cemeteries out of sensitivity. So even our unmanned drones are obliged to behave with sensitivity. But then, these days the very soundtrack to our society is, so to speak, an unmanned drone.

© Mark Steyn 2006

Mike Lupica: Lance's Cycle of Deceit

The Daily News
September 17, 2006

Just because Lance Armstrong inspired cancer survivors around the world, doesn't mean he didn't cheat to win the Tour de France.

You wonder sometimes how much we'd believe Barry Bonds if he had Lance Armstrong's back story. You wonder how we would look at everything if Bonds were the cancer survivor, if he was the one who had raised all this money with the yellow bracelets.

We are supposed to believe Lance Armstrong wasn't on performance-enhancing drugs because they never got him with a positive test. There has been no positive test on Barry Bonds, either. There probably never will be, even though Major League Baseball wasn't testing in all the years we now want them to have tested Bonds. Baseball sure wasn't testing the year he hit 73 home runs.

Armstrong says the French were out to get him, and that Dick Pound of the World Anti-Doping Agency is out to get him, and any member of the media who doubts him is out to get him. We're supposed to take it on faith that at a time when using dope was this prevalent in cycling - the way it was in baseball - that the top guy in history wasn't doing anything.

Even though he was dominating his sport even more than Bonds was dominating his.

Armstrong's old buddy Floyd Landis tested positive this year after winning the Tour de France. You know the drill. Now it comes out that two of Armstrong's former teammates have confessed to using EPO. Armstrong says this has nothing to do with him. So add the New York Times to the list of all those out to get Lance Armstrong.

Is Armstrong an American sports hero for all times? Or does he ride off into history with the same cloud of suspicion that stays over Bonds and will stay over him as long as he hits home runs and for the rest of his life?

Is Armstrong every wonderful thing we wanted to believe about him, and he desperately wants us to believe about him, or is he someone who was as fast staying ahead of the testers as he was on that bike of his?

If people all over the world liked him less - even loved him less - would they believe him less?
These are real good questions.

Armstrong's case, and it is a good one, is that they never got him on a positive test. The case against him goes something like this: If his teammates were doing it and a protégé like Landis was doing it, if this was an era in cycling when so many people were using so much dope that there is talk of shutting the sport down until they clean it up, how come we're supposed to take it on faith that Armstrong wasn't doing anything?

All we know this week, from the Times, is Frankie Andreu, the former captain of Armstrong's United States Postal Service Team, and another unidentified member of the team confessed to using the endurance-boosting drug, EPO, back in the day.

"It doesn't prove he did it," Dick Pound of WADA said. "But you look all around him and everyone else is doing it, so what should you think?"

Armstrong says Pound doesn't like him and he doesn't like Pound and this has been going on for years. Armstrong says Pound is a "blowhard" and Pound has clearly believed for years that Armstrong cheated along with a lot of other guys of that era. Pound usually loses this one, because he is going up against Lance Armstrong, American hero.

Even if Barry Bonds breaks the great Henry Aaron's all-time home run record, somebody like Alex Rodriguez could break Bonds' record someday. You can see that. Nobody will ever win the Tour de France seven straight times the way Lance Armstrong did. What he did will stand forever.

And the people who doubt him, who think he was as good at beating the testing as he was at beating the other riders, will always have those doubts. People will always believe Bonds cheated to have had the home run surge he had the second half of his career.

Maybe the French were out to get Armstrong, as he says. But I don't think Juliet Macur of the Times is. I think she just follows this story wherever it takes her. This week it took her to the former captain of Armstrong's team and another guy now. Just because Armstrong raised all this money, just because he inspired cancer survivors all over the world, doesn't mean he didn't do it.

* * *

Every time I think the White Sox are ready to make some kind of big move, they don't.
Anybody who thinks the Mets can win without Pedro at the top of his form did everything except watch the season.

Even the Big Red Machine never had a batting order like the one Joe Torre now has with the New York Yankees.

It is not just the most expensive batting order in the history of the known universe.
It is the most balanced.

And it is the best.

It makes you wonder who gets the blame if the Yankees can't win this time.

Pavano's kind of like our Paris Hilton, right?

Here's sort of an interesting question for Gene Upshaw:

If it will eventually take blood testing to convince fans that NFL players aren't using performance-enhancing drugs, why would he fight that?

If you're afraid of blood tests, it's not just because you're afraid of needles, believe me.

There is nothing sillier in sports than reading about the producers of football pre-game shows smart-mouthing each other about whose show is best.

What is kind of neat is that these guys think we care what they think.

Sometimes you think that for all of Carlos Beltran's numbers, for every great thing he did for the Mets this season, Carlos Delgado is the guy who did the most to change the whole batting order.
Bob Woodward made an awful lot of guys want to get into this business back in the '70s, and now he just looks like a caddie for George Bush.

Bush isn't just content with rewriting the history of his war in Iraq, by the way.
Now he wants to rewrite the terms of the Geneva Convention.

Barry Bonds is pretty much moving up on the kind of home run season he used to have before his head and body began to grow at the rate of gas prices, right?

If John Gotti Jr., is writing kids' books now, the next step for him - as he continues to grow as an artist - is probably poetry.

"There once was a rat from Rikers. . ."

You know.

Along those lines.

The Giants need to win a game in Philly this afternoon so they don't turn into a Yogi line two weeks into the season.

The line about how it sure gets late early around here.

I still think Cris Collinsworth is the one who should be sitting next to Al on Sunday nights, because next to Phil Simms he's the best analyst out there.

My favorite moment at the Open last weekend is when Maria Sharapova was telling her old man how much she loved him and the camera showed him ignoring her while he talked on his cell phone.

If the Twins win the Central and Justin Morneau drives in 130 runs or so, he'll probably wonder what he didn't do to win the MVP award in the American League this season.

By the end last Sunday, Dick Cheney didn't look like a guest on "Meet the Press," he looked like somebody who wouldn't answer Sam Waterston's questions on "Law and Order."
Russert against him wasn't even close to being a fair fight.

Condolences today to my friend Michael Kay on the passing this week of his mother, Rose, after such a long and terrible season of pain for the Kay family.

Happy birthday today to Christopher Charles Lupica, college man.

May you always be as happy in your life as you are right now.

Bill Madden: Lineup Torre's Big Test

The Daily News
September 17, 2006

If there has been one defining element about the Yankees in the 11 years of Joe Torre's stewardship, chemistry would have to be it. Adherence to the program. Fitting in. And those players who didn't, including Raul Mondesi, Kenny Lofton and Tony Womack, had abbreviated stays here.

Torre, master chemist, has held it all together through nine and soon-to-be 10 first-place finishes. Now, however, as he prepares to take the Yankees into the postseason for the 11th straight year, Torre is faced with a slightly different chemistry issue - how to seamlessly fit his returning sluggers, Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield, into a lineup that was functioning quite proficiently, due in no small part to the ability of their respective outfield replacements, Melky Cabrera and Bobby Abreu, to adhere to the Don Mattingly program of disciplined, patient hitting. There are those who will maintain that in recent years the Yankees had gotten away from this offensive approach that so characterized their championship seasons; the arrivals of Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez perhaps subconsciously made them more reliant on the long ball and less inclined to manufacture runs.

Yesterday, even Torre conceded the current lineup, without the return of Sheffield as of yet, is the most potent he's ever had here.

"It's the deepest lineup we've had whether we get (Sheffield) back or not," is how he put it. "Bobby (Abreu) gives us a lot of length, no question."

And that is the central point of Torre's pending dilemma. In the lefty-swinging Abreu, who sees more pitches than any hitter in baseball, the Yankees could not have gotten a more perfect No.3 hitter to sandwich between Derek Jeter and Rodriguez in the batting order. Lethal as Sheffield had been in the No.3 hole for the Yankees the last two seasons, he's an aggressive free swinger who does his own thing. In short, there wasn't the lineup chemistry that has been so prevalent since the arrival of Abreu.

"I think what it comes down to is, if you've got home run hitters, you tend to go for the home run," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I can understand what Joe's trying to figure out. I only wish I could relate to it, but I'm having trouble just finding enough hitters right now. I only know that when I first saw Cabrera, I said right away: 'This kid is a pretty good player.' As for Abreu, I know there was a lot of talk about us trying to get him, too, and I remember saying to (Red Sox GM) Theo (Epstein), that (if they did get him) over the last six weeks of the season he might be the best player in baseball. I wish I was wrong."

For now, Torre is closely monitoring every Matsui at-bat since his return Tuesday and has liked what he's seen, even though, as he said yesterday, "Matty's doing what he has to do right now, getting at-bats, gauging off-speed pitches to regain his timing."

Presumably, until Sheffield returns, which Torre said is likely to be sometime during the next road trip, Matsui will continue to DH, with Cabrera maintaining his place in left field. After that, things could get very complicated, with Torre working overtime in his chemistry lab to figure out the right solution. He refuses to rule out anything - even Sheffield playing first base, or tinkering with the middle of the batting order. He maintains that Sheffield has said he'll do anything to help the team and be part of the program, noting that the temperamental right fielder took it upon himself to get a first baseman's glove. But will Sheffield's ego allow him to hold his tongue if Torre tells him he's hitting sixth or lower or, even worse, coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter?

"I haven't even thought about the lineup," Torre insisted.

If that's true, it's probably because he hasn't wanted to think about it. After all, why would you want to concern yourself with trying to fix something that isn't broken? Even without Sheffield and Matsui (who combined to score 212 runs last year), and with all the midsummer failures and foibles of Rodriguez, the Yankees still lead the AL in runs and on-base percentage. That's the Gene Michael program that was instituted here when the Paul O'Neills began replacing the Danny Tartabulls. Many have said that Abreu is a carbon copy of O'Neill but even more disciplined.

In any case, Abreu is going to be here next year and Sheffield is not, and only until a couple of weeks ago, it was assumed Sheffield would not be back this season. He said himself he wasn't going to do anything to jeopardize his future by rushing back, and the easiest solution for chief chemist Torre would be to keep Matsui at DH and Cabrera's superior defense in left field. But as Torre knows full well, nothing that involves Sheffield is ever easy, and if it's determined he's fit to play and contribute, what do you do with him?

It is a question one visiting AL scout for a potential postseason opponent answered with a sigh yesterday.

"Only the Yankees," he said, "could actually weaken themselves by finding a place in their lineup for a hitter of Gary Sheffield's caliber."