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Archive for February, 2016

Rome, Rome, or Rome?

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — on Graeme Wood’s latest, the goals of IS, and geographic slippage ]
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Graeme Wood, who wrote the Atlantic piece that broke the apocalyptic side of the Islamic State’s ideology wide open in March of last year, has a related piece out this month: Donald Trump and the Apocalypse, with the subtitle, Is Rome really ISIS’s “ultimate trophy”? It’s a fun read, discussing the confusion that is possible over the use of the word Rome in Muslim prophetic literature — a topic I’ve discussed before.

Just for the record, then, here’s a screengrab from the Islami State’s magazine Dabiq, issue 4 page 37:

Dabiq 4.37 We will conquer your Rome

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As a Newsweek item from September 2012 notes, there have in fact been three claimants to the title of Rome:

When Ivan the Terrible was crowned the first Tsar of All Russia in 1547, the church announced Moscow to be the “Third and Final Rome,” the inheritor of St. Peter’s Rome and Byzantium, and the last bastion of Orthodox Christianity standing up to a Europe mired in heresy.

Russian commentator Yuliya Latynina quoted..

Filofey of Pskov’s 1510 claim that “Two Romes have fallen; the third stands; and there will not be a fourth”

This was in Novaya gazeta, February 2015, and she suggested that Russia..

many of whose residents view it as the third Rome, may suffer the fate not of the first Rome but of the second, a fate that cannot be reassuring to many of them because in the end the residents of the second Rome in Constantinople “considered that Islam was better than the West.”

Wood mentions in his piece that the Australian jihadist ideologue Cerantonio argues:

The Rum of the end-times hadith is not the Rome of Pope Francis but the Rome of the Republic of Turkey.

Putin might take offense if he knew..

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And then there’s the matter of Quranic translation and the Quranic verse 30.2, as Wood also notes:

Rome Rum translations

Arberry, always interesting to read, translates that verse:

The Greeks have been vanquished.

The historical commentary in The Study Quran, p 984-85, clarifies that this verse refers to Sassanid (Magian) successes against the (Christian) Byzantine empire — which the following verse says will be reversed — and terming it “the only reference in the Quran to political events conetemporary with Muhammad and his followers beyond the Arabian Peninsula”.

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All things considered, oy veh: it seems that history does strange things to geography, time to space.

A misappropriated image?

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — minor correction to a USG CVE tweet ]
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I don’t think there’s any room for doubt about the Islamic State enslaving captured women and selling them. The IS magazine Dabiq, issue 4, under the heading The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour, recounts:

After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shar?’ah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided as khums.

This large-scale enslavement of mushrik families is probably the first since the abandonment of this Shar?’ah law. The only other known case – albeit much smaller – is that of the enslavement of Christian women and children in the Philippines and Nigeria by the mujahidin there. The enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers as the mushrik?n were sold by the Companions (radiyallahu ‘anhum) before them. Many well-known rulings are observed, including the prohibition of separating a mother from her young children.

There’s even a theological justification offered – the avoidance of sin. Discussing the long period in which slavery was no longer practiced in Islam, the writer says:

Finally, a number of contemporary scholars have mentioned that the desertion of slavery had led to an increase in fahishah (adultery, fornication, etc.), because the shar’i alternative to marriage is not available, so a man who cannot afford marriage to a free woman finds himself surrounded by temptation towards sin.

Furthermore, Dabiq issue 9 contains an article titled Slave Girls or Prostitutes by one Umm Sumayyah al-Muhajirah in which the writer, poresumably a woman, writes:

I and those with me at home prostrated to Allah in gratitude on the day the first slave-girl entered our home. Yes, we thanked our Lord for having let us live to the day we saw kufr humiliated and its banner destroyed. Here we are today, and after centuries, reviving a prophetic Sunnah, which both the Arab and non-Arab enemies of Allah had buried. By Allah, we brought it back by the edge of the sword, and we did not do so through pacifism, negotiations, democracy, or elections. We established it according to the prophetic way, with blood-red swords, not with fingers for voting or tweeting.

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However, the image used by USG in the tweet above appears to be a photo taken for Reuters by photographer Ali Hashisho, with the legend:

Shiite Muslim women chained to one another march During a reenactment of the Battle of Karbala During a mourning process, two days before the day of Ashura, in Saksakieh village, southern Lebanon. December 4, 2011

As I say, this doesn’t in any way disprove the Islamic State’s use of slavery as a religiously sanctioned practice.

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I’m not the first to notice this misattribution — but I do think it’s worth getting these things right, and this is not the first time an Ashura photograph has been misattributed in this way. For an earlier mistaken use of an image from an Ashura procession to illustrate IS treatment of captured women, see this piece.

In case you missed it, as I did: Trump!

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a game with renewed relevance today — though no doubt in need of updated hotel and casino prices ]
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That was 1989 — and hey, the game was popular enough to merit a second edition in 2000:

Trump The Game

Here, for your edification, are some prices from that second edition:

Trump Game Cards

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Oscar Wilde defined a cynic in his play Lady Windermere’s Fan as “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

I certainly know nothing of the prices of hotels and casinos these or any other days..

Justice Scalia, St Hubert, and the Stag

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — filling a gap the WaPo left behind — with Christ, crucified, between the horns of a stag ]
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Butler‘s Lives of the Saints tells us of St Hubert:

He is also said to have been passionately addicted to the diversion of hunting, and was entirely taken up in worldly pursuits, when, moved by divine grace, he resolved at once to renounce the school of vanity, and enter himself in that of Christ, in which his name had been enrolled in baptism.

That telling neatly elides the alleged mechanism by which divine grace moved him. As the image that accompanies it in the online version of the tale shows, Hubert is reported to have been out hunting one Good friday while others were at church, when a stag appeared before him carrying a crucifix betwen its horns:

St.Hubert_Ottawa_St.Patrick_RC_Basilica
St. Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, Canada

No wonder, then, that Hubert, moved by such grace, became the patron saint of hunters, nor that Justice Antonin Scalia is reported to have been attending a gathering associated with the knightly Order of St Hubertus at the time of his death.

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From today’s Washington Post, an article which tells us something of Justice Scalia, a fair amount about the Order of St Hubertus, and nothing about St Hubert himself alas:

When Justice Antonin Scalia died 11 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s.

For more on Justice Scalia’s death at the ranch, read the rest of the WaPo piece; for more on the Order, visit its web pages. I trust this post of mine will somewhat remedy the lack of information about St Hubert himself and his remarkable conversion in both places.

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This story is told of St Placidus:

The Holy Great Martyr Eustathius was named Placidas before his Baptism. He was a military commander under the emperors Titus (79-81) and Trajan (98-117). Even before he came to know Christ, Placidas performed acts of charity, helping the poor and destitute. Therefore, the Lord did not leave the virtuous pagan remain in the darkness of idolatry.

Once while hunting in a forest, he saw a stag which would stop now and then to look him right in the eye. Placidas pursued it on horseback, but could not catch up. The stag leaped over a chasm and stood on the other side facing him. Placidas suddenly saw a radiant Cross between its antlers. In surprise the military commander heard a voice coming from the Cross saying, “Why do you pursue Me, Placidas?”

“Who are You, Master?” asked Placidas.The Voice replied, “I am Jesus Christ, Whom you do not know, yet you honor Me by your good deeds. I have appeared here on this creature for your sake, to capture you in the net of My love for mankind. It is not fitting that one as righteous as you should worship idols and not know the truth. It was to save mankind that I came into the world.”

Placidas cried out, “Lord, I believe that You are the God of Heaven and earth, the Creator of all things. Master, teach me what I should do.” Again the Lord replied, “Go to the bishop of your country and receive Baptism from him, and he will instruct you.”

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Let the Jägermeister herbal liquor label bring us to our conclusion — and to the third saint associated with a vision of stag and crucifix:

The label on Jägermeister bottles features a glowing Christian cross seen between the antlers of a stag.

JAGERMEISTER label

This image is a reference to the two Christian patron saints of hunters, Saint Hubertus and Saint Eustace, both of whom converted to Christianity after experiencing a vision in which they saw a Christian cross between the antlers of a stag.

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St Eustace, then, is the third saint to whom the same vision is attributed. — and the one whose vision has been most gloriously celebrated in art.

Albert Durer‘s engraving of St Eustace in the Metropolitan Museum, New York:

Durer's St Eustace in the Met

Pisanello‘s St Eustace in the National Gallery, London:

Pisanello's St Eustace in the National Gallery

The old is new again, this time with bots

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — John Robb updates Sun Tzu ]
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SPEC DQ Sun Tzu Robb

Two paras from John‘s post:

Autonomous robots and software bots (collectively “bots”) deeply penetrate the opponent’s territory both physically (territory) and logically (their computer systems). Most would be hidden and remain dormant until activation. Some would actively or passively map opponent networks, analyze them for vulnerabilities, and take advantage of opportunities for stealthy exploitation.

When activated, these forward bots conduct a coordinated attack from inside the opponent’s territory and systems. Damaging, degrading, or taking control of computer systems and physical infrastructure. Advanced robots would emerge from stealth to kinetically engage with opponent forces or physically seize points (airports, ports, etc.) to enable the rapid entry of conventional forces.

Oh, and for additional points, it’s “a very zen concept”!!


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