Beyond Unofficial Conviviality

An ancient Qur'anic manuscript, one of any currently being analyzed by scholars seeking to understand how the Qur'an really came to be, and what it represents in historical terms.
An ancient Qur’anic manuscript, one of any currently being analyzed by scholars seeking to understand how the Qur’an really came to be, and what it represents in historical terms.

In his treatment of Islam, and of traditional religious faiths in general, Bill Maher seems to be oblivious to this simple fact of life: people are mostly hypocritical in nature, not puritans. They want the best out of both: the here-and-now as well as the hereafter. This makes it difficult to judge people on the basis of the holy books in which they believe, because, while they might refuse to challenge the authority of these texts, in part or as a whole, their actions and inactions come as a much better measure of what they really want.

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Here I Stand

President Barack Obama speaks about the breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear deal in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Thursday, April 2, 2015. World leaders, he said, had come to a “historic understanding” on a possible deal to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
President Barack Obama speaks about the breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear deal in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Thursday, April 2, 2015. World leaders, he said, had come to a “historic understanding” on a possible deal to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

A rare point of agreement between the critics and advocates of a deal with Iran starkly captures the nature of my own disaffection with it and with the current state of affairs in our world. The point simply put is this: the deal is being inked with Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni blood.

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An End to Our War

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The bulk of the slaughter and devastation in Syria is being wrought by the Assad regime, not ISIS or the rebels. Yet, there are still those who would prescribe cooperation with the Assad regime as the lesser of all evils. But rewarding killers does not end the suffering, rather, such move a move buys a mere reprieve as all sides prepare for another more bloody and devastating round.

I don’t know how many would-be or wannabe Einsteins and Mozarts died in Syria as a result of the war Assad unleashed, but I do know that there were surely many carpenters, grocers, farmers, bakers, tailors, soldiers, doctors and engineers, and that each and every one of them, by virtue of their humanity alone, was entitled to live in dignity. That knowledge suffices for me to want an end to this war, an end that brings with it the possibility of a dignified existence, not reward the killers.