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Elkus interviews Charles Cameron at Abu Muqawama

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

[ by Mark Safranski a.k.a “zen“]

Longtime friend of ZP,  Adam Elkus interviews our own Charles Cameron at the highly regarded Abu Muqawama blog:

Interview Charles Cameron 

[….]  AE: How has the study of apocalyptic tropes and culture changed (if it has at all) since 9/11 focused attention on radical Islamist movements?

CC: USC’s Stephen O’Leary was the first to study apocalyptic as rhetoric in his 1994 Arguing the Apocalypse, and joined BU’s Richard Landes in forming the (late, lamented) Center for Millennial Studies, which gave millennial scholars a platform to engage with one another. David Cook opened my eyes to Islamist messianism at CMS around 1998, and the publication of his two books (Studies in Muslim ApocalypticContemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature), Tim Furnish’s Holiest Wars and J-P Filiu’s Apocalypse in Islam brought it to wider scholarly attention — while Landes’ own encyclopedic Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience gives a wide-angle view of the field in extraordinary detail.

I’d say we’ve gone from brushing off apocalyptic as a superstitious irrelevance to an awareness that apocalyptic features strongly in Islamist narratives, both Shia and Sunni, over the past decade, but still tend to underestimate its significance within contemporary movements within American Christianity. When Harold Camping proclaimed the end of the world in 2011, he spent circa $100 million worldwide on warning ads, and reports suggest that hundreds of Hmong tribespeople in Vietnam lost their lives in clashes with the police after moving en masse to a mountain to await the rapture. Apocalyptic movements can have significant impact — cf. the Taiping Rebellion in China, which left 20 million or so dead in its wake.

Read the rest here.

Mostly it’s religion, now and then it’s sports

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — beheadings and the questions they raise ]
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Tim Furnish, friend of this blog, had a piece titled Beheading in the Name of Islam in the Middle East Quarterly back in 2005, in which he wrote:

The February 2002 decapitation of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, true to its intention, horrified the Western audience. Chechen rebels, egged on by Islamist benefactors, had adopted the practice four years earlier, but the absence of widely broadcast videos limited the psychological impact of hostage decapitation. The Pearl murder and video catalyzed the resurgence of this historical Islamic practice. In Iraq, terrorists filmed the beheadings of Americans Nicholas Berg, Jack Hensley, and Eugene Armstrong. Other victims include Turks, an Egyptian, a Korean, Bulgarians, a British businessman, and a Nepalese. Scores of Iraqis, both Kurds and Arabs, have also fallen victim to Islamist terrorists’ knives. The new fad in terrorist brutality has extended to Saudi Arabia where Islamist terrorists murdered American businessman Paul Johnson, whose head was later discovered in a freezer in an Al-Qaeda hideout.

For myself, convinced as I am that perceived, preached or proclaimed divine endorsement for such killings plays a major role in facilitating them, the existence of what are overtly at least non-religious examples of the same brutal behavior are valuable, albeit humanly distressing, for the questions they raise:

  • is the brutal behavior in question a bestial aspect of human nature in general, and religion merely a thin veneer with which it sometimes conveniently clothes itself?
  • or are sports in some way alternative modalities of group transcendence — and thus effectively religious in their essence?
  • **

    Bryan Alexander, another friend, comments today on a related story at his gothic-themed blog, Infocult, under the heading When sports fans attack, Russian remix.

    DoubleQuote Sources:

  • Seventeen Afghan partygoers beheaded
  • Brazilian referee beheaded
  • Dateline, June 5th 2012

    Monday, June 10th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — screengrabs from a very recently posted video, mostly Taliban with just a smidgeon of NSA ]

    [edited to add: please see warning in comment below]
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    Scary, hunh? Yeah?

    **

    No, this is not from a NSA / Prism video — I’ll have just a little more on that topic later.

    Nor is it from your local mafiosi

    In fact, it’s from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

    i.e the Afghan Taliban.

    And it’s addressed to Saakashvili and the people of Georgia (FSU), telling them:

    and:

    **

    What interests me here is this: I tend to think of the Islamic Emirate as mainly Afghanistan-centric, so viewing this video I wondered whether they’ve announced similar intent to raid or attack other nations. Alex Strick van Linschoten responded to my query as to whether he’d seen this sort of message before:

    He also pointed me to his book, An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, where (p. 277 in my uncorrected proof) we read:

    It was around this time that Dadullah started to make increasingly strident statements of support for a global jihad, one in which attacks in Europe and the United States were not to be ruled out.101 Dadullah was, in contrast to most other Talibs of his generation, a ‘true believer’ in this rhetoric. Some commentators have suggested this is pathological, but a possible explanation can be found in the time he spent with foreign jihadis both on the northern fronts during the 1990s as well as post-2001, when he was in South Waziristan. He was frequently used as a go-between for the Taliban in Pakistan and retained ties to the foreign al-Qaeda affiliates as well.

    So this kind of thing is not entirely unknown, and indeed “revenge” strikes outside Afghan territory would fit the model Dadullah himself proposed for strikes within Afghanistan (pp. 273-73):

    Our tactics now are hit and run; we attack certain locations, kill the enemies of Allah there, and retreat to safe bases in the mountains to preserve our mujahidin. This tactic disrupts and weakens the enemies of Allah and in the same time allows us to be on the offensive. We decide the time and place of our attacks; in this way the enemy is always guessing.

    Mullah Dadullah died in 2007, but it seems his thinking still exerts some influence…

    ** ** **

    And NSA — or Nonesuch as I was taught to call it, back in the day?

    I stand by the idea I tweeted to JM Berger yesterday:

    I’d only add that three days doesn’t seem long enough in this case, and that when the dust settles we may still find ourselves holding just a few loose ends of a multiply-tangled web…

    I am not Kafka. But..

    Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

    [by Charles Cameron — a very preliminary salute to James Bennett and Michael Lotus’ new book, with blues harp to match ]
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    Okay, I’m a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, a jackdaw, not the most consistent of readers — but I did stumble upon something…

    I’ll admit, I cannot even see how “the actual time and materials cost of the hammer might be $60 a hammer” when its “functional equivalent might cost $20 in a hardware store” — but let’s overlook that 200% markup for a moment, and chew on the rest of this dazzling paragraph from James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century — Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come, pp. 266-67:

    The Department of Defense requires that the labor time and materials used in building defense items on a “time and materials” basis, which is the great majority of all such items, be documented in excruciating detail. The costs of doing this are themselves allowed as expenses, so that the government ultimately pays for the costs of this proof. Therefore, when lurid accounts of $600 hammers procured by the Pentagon surface in the press, what is actually happening is a hammer whose functional equivalent might cost $20 in a hardware store is purchased in the Pentagon system, the actual time and materials cost of the hammer might be $60, with an additional $540 in documentation costs to ensure that the government is not being over¬charged for the item.

    I admit, I am not Kafka.

    But if that isn’t a snake biting its own tail arrangement, I don’t know what is.

    **

    What can I say?

    **

    Interesting, btw — I’ll bet there’s a story behind the decision to switch book covers from the one proposed earlier (at the top of the post, left) to the one the book now carries (right)!

    Update on America 3.0 Book Events – Bennett and Lotus

    Friday, May 31st, 2013

    America 3.0 

    From Chicago Boyz:

    America 3.0: Mike Lotus on The Bob Dutko Show

    Mike Lotus will be on the Bob Dutko radio show tomorrow, May 31, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. EST. Bob hosts Detroit’s #1 Christian Talk Radio Show on WMUZS 103.5 FM.

    Please listen in if you can!

    Many thanks to the Bob Dutko Show for having me on.

    This weekend we will post an updated list of upcoming appearances by Jim Bennett, Mike Lotus, and occasionally both of us together, talking about America 3.0.

    Thanks to The Takeaway, the The Armstrong & Getty Show, and The Janet Mefferd show for interviewing Jim Bennett — all yesterday. It was a Bennett Threefer! 

    And Author Appearances:

    Upcoming appearances for Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus discussing America 3.0

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013
    Lou Dobbs Tonight (James and Michael)
    We will be on about 7:45 p.m. EST.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013
    Armstrong & Getty (James)
    11:15 am EST

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013 
    Janet Mefferd Show (James)
    3:30 pm EST

    Friday, May 31, 2013 
    Bob Dutko Show (Michael)
    1:40 pm EST

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013
    Talk to Adam Smith Society, Booth School of Business (Michael)
    Noon

    Thursday, June 6, 2013
    Mornings with Nick Reed (Michael)

    Saturday, June 7, 2013
    Marc Bernier Show (James & Michael)
    4:25 pm EST

    Monday, June 17, 2013
    Western Conservative Summit, “Envisioning America 3.0” (James)

    And their maiden TV appearance with Lou Dobbs:


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