Monday, March 27, 2006

Private Robert Costall - A man and a Patricia

Today the family friends and comrades of Private Robert Costall, 7 Platoon Charlie Company of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, are coming to terms with his death in combat during a fierce firefight with the Taliban near Kandahar. His funeral is to be held in Edmonton this week.

His one-year old son Colin will not have the opportunity to know his dad, as my sons know me. For him, his father will live on only as an aching void of lost possibilities; as a dad who never got to watch him play T-ball, or soccer, or tighten his skate laces in the dressing room before the big hockey game on a Saturday morning, or as a scout leader in his troop, or go canoeing with him on a perfect lake on a perfect summer's afternoon, or do a million other things we dads do with our sons.

Chrissy, his twenty year old wife did know him (they were childhood sweethearts) and is no doubt experiencing great pain and grief as I write this. My mother lives in Trenton where his body arrived on the weekend and told me that Chrissy looked like her heart was breaking. It likely is. My mom spent many a year as an air force wife, by the way, as my father served in the RCAF. Military families are particularly sensitive to these things. My prayers go with his family.
His regiment, the Patricias will suck it up and carry on with the mission, for that is what good regiments do and the Patricias are a very good regiment indeed.

God bless Private Costall. He died doing the good and there are worse deaths than that. May perpetual light shine upon him.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The plot against Abdul Rahman thickens

It appears that the Afghani Islamic zealots in charge of prosecuting (persecuting) Abdul Rahman for apostasy are casting about for an exit strategy that does not involve executing Mr. Rahman or admitting the moral degeneracy of Sharia law where it calls for the death penalty for those who convert to Christianity.

The Globe & Mail is quoting prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari as asserting Mr. Rahman is unfit to stand trial.
We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person," prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari told the Associated Press.
By Afghanistan's Muslim standards this may well be true. Since he accepted Christianity a decade and a half ago, Mr. Rahman, no doubt, does not accept the moral legitimacy of polygamy, suicide bombers and the abysmal Islamic treatment of women. He certainly does not accept the Muslim view that Jesus was only a prophet who did not die on the cross, or that the Judaic-Christian scriptures were deliberately corrupted by Jewish and Christian clerics in order to spread error among the people. He would be against the view that Sharia Law ought to prevail everywhere and that non-Muslims ought to be treated as inferior persons to be maintained in a state of Dhimmitude.

From their perspective, by rejecting Islam and many of its primary tenants, he must be mad. Personally, I find a certain degree of madness to be an endearing quality, but fundamentalist Muslims have demonstrated that they lack a sense of humour on such matters. Wait, scratch that. I just read a story (hat tip to Lifesite News) that has this quote.I
If he recants, he will be "forgiven," said trial judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah. "We will invite him again because the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. [emphasis is mine] We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him," the trial judge told the BBC on Monday.
I guess they do have a sense of humour, after all. Nor are they completely crazy themselves. As the Globe reports:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper telephoned Mr. Karzai on Wednesday to discuss the case, The Globe and Mail has learned. Canadian government officials were also in direct contact with their Afghan counterparts yesterday afternoon to express concern about the case, sources familiar with the situation said.

The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement late in the day, after Mr. Harper's phone call.

"I called President Karzai today to express my deep concerns regarding the Raham case and the issue of freedom of religion in Afghanistan. President Karzai listened to my concerns and we had a productive and informative exchange of views," Mr. Harper said in the statement.

He added: "Upon the conclusion of the call, he assured me that respect for human and religious rights will be fully upheld in this case."
In the end, I suppose labelling Abdul Rahman a crazy man may help the prosecutors avoid proceeding with a case that would be sure to enrage the public of Afghanistan's most loyal allies. Perhaps not all the public, for there is in Western nations a growing faction of left listing secularists, feminists, and gay rights activists that delights in opposing any and all manifestation of Christianity in the public square.

The insanity dodge does not, however, address the underlying salient political issue, let alone respect Mr. Raham's rights to life, dignity, respect, religious freedom and protection against slander by state officials. But let us for the moment leave aside the personal human rights of the victim, vastly important those may be, to consider the salient strategic issue.

The new Afghani constitution accepts the primacy of Islamic law. If, however, Islamic law requires converts such as Mr. Rahman to be put to death, then the question arises if Islam is compatible with liberal democracy. The growing body of empirical evidence would suggest that it is not. If that is so, we have a grave problem on our hands, as the entire Afghanistani/Iraqi intervention of the West is now based on the premise that it is. If it is not, what are we to do?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A perfect constitution

According to news reports, Canadian Forces personnel in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan are gearing up for a possible intensification of terrorist attacks during the Persian New Year celebrations. These traditional celebrations were suppressed under the Taliban on the grounds that they were un-Islamic.

Of course, under the Taliban, even singing was considered un-Islamic and was likely to lead to a most unfortunate rendezvous with a zealous Mullah in a Sharia court. It seems the nasty boys want to disrupt the people's festivities by bringing more mayhem and murder to the long-suffering Afghani people. If they can also take out some foreign troops and reconstruction workers their joy will be even greater. Evil rejoices over the most grotesque things.

Meanwhile today's Globe & Mail reports that an Afghani man who converted to Christianity some 14 years ago while working in Pakistan for a Christian aid agency is to be tried and maybe executed. It seems that Sharia law prescribes the death penalty for those who reject the religion of peace and adopt another faith community. Accordingly, cafeteria Muslims are few and far between in traditional Muslim societies. It's a question of incentives.

The judge deciding whether an Afghan man should be executed for converting to Christianity does not understand what all the fuss is about.
"In this country, we have [a] perfect constitution. It is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished," Judge Alhaj Ansarullah Mawawy Zada said in an interview yesterday. "In your country, two women can marry. I think that is very strange." ....

"It is a crime to convert to Christianity from Islam. He is teasing and insulting his family by converting," Judge Zada said. "The Attorney-General is emphasizing he should be hung."
Judge Zada's position is understandable. Why should we here in the West object to the application of Sharia law in Afghanistan? It's integral to the new Afghani constitution which, as he says, is perfect because it is Islamic.

And he's correct. Here in Canada, wymyn do marry wymyn. You might think I would be with Judge Zada on thinking this strange, but I'm not. I don't find it so strange that one can be attracted to women. Personally, I was so smitten by one that I married her. So the concept is understandable to me.

But hanging a man because he converts to Christianity is, I think, a bit excessive. I know, my liberal, latte drinking, moral relativist friends would say it's all a matter of perspective and that tolerance of the other is required if we are to live in peace. It's not that I don't try to be politically correct in my outlook. It's just that hangings and beheadings and such make me queasy. It is the way I am.

You may well feel the same about these things. If so, it's best to admit it. There is no shame in admitting to faults of this kind, even if Judge Zada might think you a girly man because of it. Based on his remarks, the good, fundamentalist Muslim jurist probably already thinks of you as a religiously deceived, culturally perverted Dhimmi, completely unworthy of basic respect. What's being a girly man compared to that! If watching the Afghanis hang a man from the neck until dead just because he converted to Christianity makes you all squirmy, be proud of who you are. You go, girly man!

Prosecutor Abdul Wasi said the charge would be dropped if Mr. Rahman converted back to Islam, which he has so far refused to do. Prison officials refused requests to interview Mr. Rahman, but one of his cellmates said he was resolute.

"He is standing by his words," said Sayad Miakel, 30. "He will not become a Muslim again."Another cellmate said Mr. Rahman seemed depressed. "He keeps looking up to the sky, to God," said Khalylullah Safi, 31.
See! As an erstwhile Canadian prime minister once declaimed, "Da Proof is da proof is da proof." Islam is a religion of tolerance after all. If Mr. Rahman just renounces this silly obsession he has about Jesus being the Son of God and Saviour of the World, and re-adopts the religion of Mohammed, Islam will forgive him. It's not like he'd have to garb himself in a chador or some other wymyn thing. And he would be allowed to marry one.

Unfortunately, Rahmin the Apostate appears to have a stubborn streak. "He keeps looking up to the sky to God." If I were Mr. Rahman, I'd be doing just that. I'd also glance from time to time in the direction of the US and Canadian embassies.

According to Afghani law, Mr. Rahman cannot be put to death without the consent of the president of Afghanistan. The American and Canadian ambassadors may want to chat with President Hamid Karzai about why we are expending so much blood and treasure defending a government that maintains a law making it a capital crime to convert to Christianity. Those soldiers of ours who are Christians might also want to know why, if this is the case, they are risking their lives in President Karzai's cause.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Contradictions of the Righteous

(Private Jon Drew of the Canadian Army in Afghanistan , courtesy CTV News)

During my two weeks as a blogger slacker I noted the rise in domestic opposition to the Canadian Forces deployment in Kandahar region of Afghanistan. I am only surprised that it took this long for the dreary left wing of the political spectrum in Canada to raise public objections to what we are doing there.

It certainly seems that Prime Minister Harper's (excellent) decision to make his first foreign tour a visit to the troops and reconstruction teams in Operation Archer (the military code name for the deployment) has raised a clamour from the left.

At first I was a bit confused by the reasons proffered for their opposition. I mean, the Afghanistan deployment has the full blessing of the holy and sacred United Nations and is being carried out through the multilateral action of NATO. One would have thought the imprimatur of the UN Security Council would be sufficient for the UN true believers who constantly prattle on about the fact that the font of all evil, George Bush, did not have the Security Council's permission to depose Saddam Hussein.

The same people who sanctimoniously criticised the United Stated for "abandoning" Afghanistan after the Soviet army fled the scene in 1988 are now hacking away at those governments (like ours) who are standing by her this time in the aftermath of the defeat of the Taliban Islamic regime of terror.

The same folks who claim that there is no justification for the Americans and British, et al, being in Iraq because there was no nexus between Saddam and Osama (an assertion growing more shaky by the day) are silent on the clear, proven, connection between the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar and the leader of Al Qaida, Weird Beard the Cave Dweller.

Those NDP, BLOC Quebecios and Liberal parliamentarians who were silent until now about previous Canadian deployments to Afghanistan under Liberal Prime Ministers Chretien and Martin and about Mr. Martin's decision to increase our current role and numbers in the Kandahar deployment, are clanging bells and beating drums over the absolute need, lest democracy perish, of holding a House of Commons debate on the matter, now that Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in power.

Our starry-eyed socialist latte sippers who are so appalled that Canadian soldiers are being sent to the field as honest-to-goodness combat troops instead of peacekeepers, uttered nary a peep when our military was shooting bad guys in Bosnia (which was not a UN operation). Peacekeeping, of course, is not a rational option when there is no truce, the adversary is our sworn enemy, and when he/she is a terrorist determined to enslave, convert or murder whomever stands in the way of their fanatical, hegemonic, theocratic, religious nightmare.

One could continue, but it is very wearing and the evening grows late. Besides, in the end, their opposition to our presence in Kandahar is really just about the great hatred they hold for George W. Bush and all things American. All their huffing and puffing really emerges from that singularly wretched fact.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Sad Anniversary

Terri Schiavo
In Memorium
Killed March 19, 2005
May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her, O Lord

Baseboards and the Barbary Pirates

I thought I'd better post something before my readers (are there any still out there?) surmise that I've been captured by Barbary pirates. If you don?t know what a Barbary pirate is you probably drink lattes, vote socialist and believe that the institution of slavery was a vice perpetrated exclusively those of European Christian stock. It was not and you should dispel your ignorance at once by finishing your latte and reading a book on them.

I can report that I have not been kidnapped and transported to the slave markets of Morocco or Tripoli to clean toilets for some superannuated Sultan in his North African villa. Rather, I've been on vacation at home, somewhere in Durham region near Toronto. Shortly before the vacation began Lady Mad convened the Supreme Council of Renovators (she and I constitute the grand assembly) at Castle Mad and we agreed that the guest bedroom was badly in need of rehabilitation.

This came as no great surprise to this half of the Supreme Council. That guest room has been so for eight years past, ever since we purchased the castle. It reduced the length of stay of freedloaders, I tell you. It can be said no longer. Now it is a thing of great beauty surpassed, perhaps, only by the Sistine Chapel in Rome, or a mug of Guinness imbibed in an Irish pub on the Feast of Saint Patrick. I expect visitors at any moment.

My goodness, did I mention Guinness? How did that slip in here? I have heard reports that it was held last Friday and that the usual gathering of devout revellers was seen at McVeigh's New Windsor Tavern in Toronto. If you haven't been to McVeigh's on Saint Patrick's Day, I recommend you do so before you are captured by the Barbary pirates. For once those pirates get you, your opportunities to quaff Guinness while singing Danny Boy will be significantly limited.

So lie low until next March, and then make your way to McVeigh's shortly before lunch. Arrive later than about 11:30 a.m. and you'll be stuck going to some dreary Protestant beer hall to drink Bud Light. You don't want that. I hear it's almost as bad as being snatched by a Barbary pirate.

All of this is a surpassingly long way to complain that I never made it to McVeigh's this year. Lady Mad and my sons and heirs were struck with what Evelyn Waugh called Bechuana tummy and I was left playing the nurse and painting my baseboards. Did I mention how white and glistening my baseboards are now? That they are. My tongue may be as dust and my annual visit to the shrine of Mr. McVeigh was derailed, but the choir of angels is gaping in silent awe at my glistening white baseboards.

It's a fine guest room now. Truly. And Clan Mad? They are convalescing.

Éireann go Brách!

Friday, March 03, 2006

German Mardi Gras humour

From Lifesite News:

COLOGNE, March 2, 2006 ( - Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Tuesday are among the many names for the custom of keeping a festival on the last day before the beginning of the Christian penitential season of Lent. In most countries that have European roots, Mardi Gras has always included elements mocking Catholic ceremonies and customs.

But the tone has changed since the growth of what Christians are recognizing as a new militant secularism that specifically fosters hatred of Christianity. One skit planned for Cologne features the Pope and the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne as homosexual pop stars who end up in bed together. Last year, a float in the Dusseldorf parade showed Cardinal Meisner striking a match to a pregnant woman tied to the stake, the words "I had an abortion" written on her. The float's caption read, "Fostering Tradition."

My my. How very transgressive. Hit the above link to read whole article. As the rest of it indicates, the ridicule of Church leaders has nothing to do with the organizers having any real courage.
Bernd Jost, spokesman for the Dusseldorf carnival committee said that the religion the committee wants to exempt is Islam. "In view of the current debate, we will be keeping very clear of things related to Muslims," Jost said. "We don't want to fuel hatred," Jost said. But he admitted that the real motive is the need to keep parade spectators safe.

Last year's parade floats reflected a more egalitarian secularism and included one in which a Muslim Imam was crawling out of a hamburger.

"In view of the current debate?" At first that comment had me a tad confused. Then I realised they were speaking of the bold interaction now taking place wherein some Danish cartoonists draw some political cartoons with religious connotations and their religious interlocutors respond by:

- rioting in the millions;
- denouncing the entire culture of the West as perverted and Satanic;
- burning down a dozen or so churches;
- killing a score of their own people;
- murdering at least two Catholic priests and a score of Christians;
- calling for draconian laws to stifle free speech;
- trying to lay hate crime charges against magazine publishers; and
- threatening the cartoonists who began the interesting dialogue with beheading.

It's that debate.

Hmm. One can see why the organizers of the Düsseldorf carnival committee decommissioned that particular float. As recent explosions have revealed, Imams have an unfortunate propensity to turn those who ridicule their religion into ground meat. If you are an effete poseur, it's preferable to be ballsy with someone who won't cut them off when you unleash your biting sense of humour on them.

No, it's best to attack the Pope. It's been a long time since a pope launched a retaliatory crusade. The war plan parchments are no doubt still in the Vatican archives, but few potential crusaders can read Latin anymore and Google's translation program is notoriously uncertain. There is danger in that. The Pope's crusaders could end up sacking Munich instead of Düsseldorf and then what would the Germans do for Octoberfest?

Let the last word rest with Jacques Tilly.

Jacques Tilly, an organizer of Dusseldorf's parade said he thought the restriction was a compromise. Reflecting a more even-handed antipathy for religion, Tilly said, "Religion is in my eyes a delusion and hence should be mocked. The humour depicted on the floats simply needs to have some bite otherwise there is little point."
Ah hell, it's my blog and I'll have the last word if I want - and I want. If you are interested in reality, Mr. Tilly, then mock the followers of the "religion of peace." I assure you, you'll get a reality check from them.

The pointed end of the stick

photo of LAV III is from CTV News

In the past couple of days one Canadian soldier, has been killed and several soldiers wounded in separate incidents near Kandahar, Afghanistan. The soldier who was killed was Corporal James Davis of Bridgwater Nova Scotia, serving with the Princess Patricia?s Canadian Light Infantry. May perpetual light shine upon him.

Today, CTV News (hat tip to Neale News) reports that five Canadian soldiers were wounded (one seriously) in a suicide attack.

One soldier is in critical but stable condition, and underwent surgery for wounds to his arm. He is expected to be airlifted to the U.S. medical facility at Landstuhl in Germany. The other four soldiers were slightly hurt in the blast, the military said. They are expected to return to duty shortly.

Friday's suicide attack -- the first against a LAV III vehicle -- left a large crater in the road, and the blast was loud enough that it could be heard by soldiers several kilometres away.

A man driving a white Corolla in the opposite direction turned his vehicle into the convoy that was carrying the Canadian patrol and detonated his explosives, said CTV's Steve Chao, reporting from Kandahar.

Names of the injured have not yet been released, pending notification of kin.

The death of Corporal Davis raises the number of Canadians killed in Afghanistan to ten (one was a diplomat). This number is expected to rise now that we have deployed 2,200 troops to the volatile Kandahar region. Canada commands the NATO forces in the region engaged against Taliban and Islamist forces.

The troops are reporting that they have been well equipped for the deployment and the fact that the troops survived this suicide attack is attributed to the robustness of the new LAV III.