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The Shariah twins and other ads

[ by Charles Cameron — attempting the unbiased exploration of nuance in often low-nuance discourses ]

As usual, billboards, pamplets and ads on the sides of buses are worth watching. Let’s start with the Shariah twins:

The similarities are pretty obvious — what are the differences?

Well, the upper one was put up first, while the lower one was a response to it — that’s one difference, and it accounts for the similarities. Another difference has to do with the URLs each of them provides for further inquiry:


Again, the second is a response to the first and mimics its URL, although it switches automagically to http://freedomdefense.typepad.com/leave-islam/ when you click through. And “defending religious freedom” is clearly a double-sided coin…

The actual situation is neither that “Islam is a religion of Peace” nor that “Islam is a religion of War” — I would suggest it is that Islam is a religion that believes in opposing injustice in the name of peace, for the sake of eventual peace. In this regard, Islam is not unique.

Islam also has adherents who would like to see the entire world under Islam’s banner. In this again, Islam is not unique. Islam has given the world great poetry, history, architecture, philosophy, music, mathematics, science. Again, Islam is not unique in this. In one of my own fields of special interest, social entrepreneurship, Islam has given use Muhammad Yunnus and the Grameen Bank… The Islamic world also includes many religious leaders who espouse virulent anti-Semitism. In short…

Islam as expressed for better or worse in a vast diversity of human lives and situations neither renders each and every adherent an angel nor a beast. God may be perfect, but Muslims are only human. In this again, Muslims are not unique.


Let’s turn from religion to patriotism:

According to the lower image, the Tea Party is not the enemy. That’s fine by me — I have friends who are Tea Party stalwarts. According to the upper image, which was put up by a local Tea Party related organization using the Tea Party name, the sitting President of the US is the equivalent of Hitler and Stalin. And if they weren’t seen as enemies by the US, I don’t know what the Second World War and Cold War were all about…

So let’s just say that when Obama‘s death camps pass the five million mark in Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, poets, Christians or whoever killed, I will no longer think the comparison a trifle overheated. To put it mildly.

But hey, I have a question for the Oath Keepers among our readership.

If you are supposed to fire on the enemy, and the illustration in your ad specifically features British red-coats, but you’re not allowed to fire on American citizens, and Col. Kevin Benson, who wrote the disputed article in Small Wars Journal, is an American citizen whom you consider a “red-coat” — are you supposed to shoot him? Please note, I also have friends who are SWJ stalwarts.

What about droning Anwar al-Awlaki? I suppose these paradoxes of double identity all belong in the same category as Bertrand Russell‘s celebrated paradox of the Spanish barber:

There was once a barber. Some say that he lived in Seville. Wherever he lived, all of the men in this town either shaved themselves or were shaved by the barber. And the barber only shaved the men who did not shave themselves.

All of which is fine, until you begin to wonder, as Russell did, whether the barber shaves himself?


Back to religion (jihad) — or are we still on politics (Israel)? — for a quick look at the San Francisco Muni advertising discourse, which has now reached the point where I need to amend my usual two panel format:

Pamela Geller paid for the first ad, which encourages US support for Israel, okay, but also seems to call some group or other “savages” — we’re not quite sure who that group consists of since she doesn’t specify it — but she could plausibly be meaning all Palestinian suicide bombers, all Palestinians, all Arabs, all Muslims, even perhaps all those who support Israel… we just don’t know.

Given the amount of hatred floating around on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I’d suggest the ad is indeed inflammatory, and that the Muni — who didn’t think they could refuse it under applicable US law — was acting appropriately if somewhat surprisingly in posting its own ad in response, seen here in the middle panel.

Now Geller has announced her intention to respond to the Muni’s ad with one of her own, seen here in the third panel — and all eyes will be on Muni if and when she does — to see if they will continue the back and forth.


The world is the cinema. There actually are people setting fires in several parts of the cinema, and others whose words could be the sparks that ignite yet more fires. Some of the fire-setters have names like Ajmal Kasab and Osama bin Laden, some like Timothy McVeigh or Anders Breivik, some like Vellupillai Prabhakaran. The theater is crowded, and some people are yelling “fire”…

Furthermore, there’s a difference between panic and precaution.

3 Responses to “The Shariah twins and other ads”

  1. Mr. X Says:

    I don’t have a comment on the Tea Party billboard comparing Obama to Hitler or Stalin, but on the Oath Keepers billboard I think what it’s about is calling out a technique that I increasingly see where someone in the government floats an authoritarian trial balloon (like NC Democratic Governor Purdue’s infamous suggestion to cancel the elections) or takes an action that is fundamentally provocative and about suppressing political dissent rather than any real threats online, then pretend that this is not what they were doing and the ‘right wing bitter clingers’ are simply overreacting.
    Regardless of Charles having friends on ‘both sides’ as it were, I still think the Oath Keepers billboard gets its point across succintly for all the world to see, and the SWJ authors can stick with insisting they were merely discussing a hypothetical. It reminds me of @ReginaldQuill tweeting to DHS or the FBI’s public twitter feed asking them to monitor anyone who’s ever appeared on a certain Russian government funded news channel…then pretend that isn’t what he said. He also called for the Syrian rebels to attack Russian ships in international waters, but eluded a Twitter ban or investigation for invoking violence on the high seas/piracy when I reported the clown for ACTUAL as opposed to imaginary incitement to violence.
    The Oath Keepers billboard says: don’t…even…think…about…it guys. Or you will very quickly find members of your own unit ready to toss you into a cell at Fort Leavenworth (or worse, what happened to hated officers in Vietnam) for even suggesting that Americans need to be disarmed. I know some point to the Katrina case as an example of where the 2nd amendment was violated in high and dry areas with impunity but even a man-made crisis cannot conjure up sufficient justification in the mind of most soldiers (I hope) to even attempt the same thing nationwide.
    Funny I don’t recall so many such hypotheticals years before this present economic collapse started nor so much ammo purchasing by the federal government which insists on training agents with hollow points rather than training rounds. Do you? There was only one article I seem to recall back in the late 1990s about the gap between mil and civilian, something about the Coup of 2017 or somesuch.

  2. Mr. X Says:

    …”and the ‘right wing bitter clingers’ are simply overreacting.” in other words, heads I win, tails you lose, you are always the extremist, not I for proposing to violate the Constitution, but you bitter clinger are the extremist for pulling a Barry Goldwater. Certainly arming Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who on record have called for retaking the Golan Heights and destroying Israel is not extreme, but opposing such aligns you with Putin. Etc etc etc.

  3. Charles Cameron Says:

    I gave my take on the SWJ piece in this comment.  I don’t think it was a trial balloon, I think it was a scenario, clumsily designed for its purpose — the purpose being to throw an additional spin into the question of how US troops would and should respond in difficult circumstances on home turf.  I don’t think mentioning the Tea Party was intelligent, let alone wise, but I also doubt it was intended to stir up hatred toward them, or prepare for a wave of military home invasions, concentration camps, etc. 
    In short, I don’t see the Hitler likeness in Obama, any more than I saw the Christ or Antichrist that others saw.

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