Thursday, June 26, 2008

Surviving global war with mental retardation

My blog generally isn't intended for mentally retarded people. In fact, if I have such readers, they are likely to find some my posts very offensive. But today I'll make an exception.
We are living in a global war and people who should be 100% civilians get involved. Lynndie England had been oxygen-deprived at birth and apparently had borderline mental retardation. Nevertheless, she was allowed to join the US army, sent to Iraq and after taking part in Abu Ghraib prison abuse, was sentenced to jail. But at least she wasn't taken advantage of and sent to a suicide mission, as the enemy did with Nicky Reilly.
I learned Reilly's story not from the news but from a disability forum. In fact, it was reported by some major media, but not on their front pages. They really care not to make Islam look bad, so they stress on Islamist terror only when it is lethally successful. Thank Heaven, in this case it wasn't.
On May 22, Nicky Reilly (22) tried to set off a suicide bomb in a crowded restaurant in Exeter, England. The bomb misfired and Mr. Reilly was the only one injured. He was autistic, had the mental capacity of a typical 10-year-old and was coming from a troubled family. The consensus opinion of his neighbours was that he had been brainwashed by Islamists. After converting to Islam several years ago, Nicky Reilly changed his name to Mohammed Rasheed, started to hate his family and to call them infidels. Significantly, he "had a screensaver of the Twin Towers in flames from the 9/11 attacks on his home computer and would often watch a video of the atrocity" (source: Inside bizarre world of the Big Friendly Giant, by Jamie Doward on The Observer). Before detonating his device, Reilly "had been sent a text message of encouragement".
Reilly's story would be troubling enough if it was isolated, but it isn't. Doward quotes Haras Rafiq, executive director of the (British) Sufi Muslim Council: ''Many converts to Islam have a sound spiritual reason, but there are also some who get brainwashed by extremists because they don't have the mental foundations to counter their arguments." Rafiq also "said the grooming of vulnerable people for suicide missions was well documented in the Middle East and claimed that there had been cases of terrorist organisations hacking patient health records to identify the vulnerable." In the Newsweek article Al Qaeda's New Recruits, authors Isikoff and Hosenball write: "U.S. officials acknowledged that the Reilly case points up a general concern they have about efforts by extremists to prey on the mentally handicapped... Earlier this year, two markets in Baghdad were attacked by women suicide bombers who allegedly had been targeted for recruitment by Al Qaeda because they were mentally handicapped... A British counterterrorism expert, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive matters, said that the Palestinian militant group Hamas also had a history of recruiting mentally handicapped or emotionally vulnerable people to carry out suicide missions."

So let me offer some tips that could help people like Reilly survive the current war.
1. If you have mental retardation, don't become a combatant of either side. Don't repeat the mistakes of Lynndie England and Nicky Reilly. If there must be war, let other people fight it.
2. Do not change your religion. This will only isolate you from your family and community. Even if some religions are truly better than others, God is unlikely to be so touchy about the exact way people worship Him. Specifically, do not convert to Islam. This may make some unscrupulous people try to use you as a tool for their goals.
3. If you are born in Islam or have already converted to it, practise your religion modestly and piecefully. Remember Tip No. 1 and do not ever consider to join jihad. Disabled Muslims are exempted from jihad (see the Koran, Sura 4, Verse 95) and you are disabled.
4. Do not listen to people who persuade you to convert to Islam or, if you are already a Muslim, to join jihad. Do not participate in arguments with them. They will use their faster, sharper minds to take advantage of you. If such people try to argue with you, just repeat, "These things are too complex for me, I cannot understand, I have mental retardation." Pretend that you do not understand anything at all. This isn't the moment to prove that you also can reason. Leave the other person as soon as you can. Inform about the incident your parents or other trusted people.
5. Do not let anybody convince you that your life is insignificant and you must make some self-sacrifice to add value to it. Your life is valuable as it is. Enjoy it.
6. Do not let anybody convince you that someone else deserves death. How would you feel if the same is said about you? The Nazis did say that mentally retarded people do not deserve to live, and killed thousands. Now, some people say that "infidels" do not deserve to live. I wonder how they can be so pompous to judge who is to live and who is to die. Do not listen to them. Live your life and let other people live theirs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No disabled people in our part of the bus

Discrimination is sometimes described as "sending people to the back part of the bus", as was done in the US South to black people in the bad old days. However, the essence of discrimination isn't sending the victims to the back part (considered worse than the front part). It is merely isolating them, sending them to the part where we aren't now.
Our public transportation vehicles contain several seats in the front part designated for disabled people, sick people and mothers with young children. Unfortunately, this is occasionally used by other passengers to allocate these people only to their reserved seats, while the traditional etiquette orders you to offer them your seat, no matter where you are sitting.
Actually, mothers often prefer to go to the middle or back part, because they fear that the child will disturb the driver and he will call them names or even order them out of the vehicle. This is especially true for mothers of ill-behaved children and children with some disabilities. "Ill-behaved" actually means "behaving like a child rather than like an adult in miniature" and the disabilities I mean are mental retardation and other disorders that make it impossible for a child to behave like an adult in miniature, no matter how much you beat him.
A week ago, I was returning my elder son from kindergarten. We were sitting in the middle part of a trolley bus slowly making its way through the evening traffic. An old lady with a big sac and a 5-year-old girl entered the nearest door. The girl was clearly different or, if we put political correctness aside, there was something wrong with her. She hadn't the focused intelligent eyesight and precisely coordinated movements of a normal 5-year-old, her upper jaw was too large and she occasionally uttered frightened, unarticulate sounds.
Nobody else offered his seat to the grandmother and the girl, so I did, saying, "Please come here with the child". The old lady, plus some other passenger, said, "But you are also with a child!". I replied, "My hero will be OK standing." And then somebody else said, "There are special seats in the front part for such disabled people."
Nobody commented anything. A sitting woman invited my son to sit in her lap. This was very kind and came just in time, because my ill-behaved child hates to travel standing. However, I couldn't help thinking that she wouldn't invite the other child to her lap.
Let me end the post with a quote from Svetla's Feb. 26 post. It commented a charity pop concert urging the TV viewer to donate a small sum for the children in the Mogilino care home via an SMS message. Svetla wrote, "Instead of shedding tears, listening to pop music and sending SMS messages for the poor "mentally retarded" children and at the same time avoiding them like leprosy-infected in the street, we'd better realize that they deserve respect and paying regard to their human dignity no less than any of us."

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Westerner's demands to Muslims

On May 15, another Bulgarian blogger wrote that religious denominations are unimportant for her, so the attempts of us her commenters to "convert her to anti-Islam" were to no avail. On the same day, I replied with a post on my Bulgarian blog where I asked what more had Muslims to do in the name of Islam in order to "convert her to anti-Islam", and wrote what Muslims, on the other hand, had to do in order to make me renounce my Islamophobia.
Now, I am translating those demands to English and publishing them here. This is blog action against Islamism as a reaction to the June 2 suicide attack against the Danish embassy in Pakistan which killed 8 people.

To renounce my Islamophobia, I demand from Muslims to recognize the right of existence of:
- Israel;
- former Muslims;
- critics of Islam;
- Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and all other people not belonging to any Abrahamian faith;
- homosexuals;
- clitores.

They must also recognize the equal rights of:
- non-Muslims;
- women.

I'd wish to add something about separation of religion from state, de-criminalizing food, alcohol and sex... but let's not be maximalistic.
The above listed demands are absolute, non-negotiable, and I think that no Westerner should ever consider any compromise regarding them. I reserve the right to make additions to the list if something appropriate comes to mind.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blog action against Islamism

There is a site that periodically announces "blog action day", i.e. appeals to bloggers to write posts devoted to a particular subject on a particular day. However, I think we don't really need special days and a special site or another authority to call us to blog action. Any ordinary blogger can do the job as well. So I use the opportunity to appeal for blog action against Islamism. My idea is to react to every major action of Islamists by numerous anti-Islamist texts, images, videos, music and whatever else comes to mind.
While some of the anti-Islamist and anti-Islamic propaganda could, in isolated cases, change the views of our opponents, this is not what I am pursuing and certainly not what I am hoping for. The core of my idea is to try behaviour modification on Islamists. Behaviour modification means influencing another person's actions by rewarding him for wanted behaviour and/or punishing him for unwanted behaviour. It is widely used in animal training, upbringing and education of children, and virtually all aspects of adult life. Islamists use it on us all the time, while we most of the time unduly abstain from using it on them. Let's change things. They don't want anti-Islamist and anti-Islamic stuff in public space? Let's guarantee that when they resort to coercion or terror, they'll get more of what they don't want. As said Christopher Hitchens in his must-read essay God-fearing people: Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?, "It is often said that resistance to jihadism only increases the recruitment to it. For all I know, this commonplace observation could be true. But, if so, it must cut both ways... And the advocates and apologists of bigotry and censorship and suicide-assassination cannot be permitted to take shelter any longer under the umbrella of a pluralism that they openly seek to destroy."

Proposed rules for Blog Action against Islamism:
1) Write explicitly that your post is participation in blog action and specify to which event you are reacting. That is, make it clear that without the particular undue Islamist action your anti-Islamist or anti-Islamic post would never appear on your blog. This is especially important for blogs that are Islamophobic all the time.
2) Try not to write things you may regret later when you calm down. We claim to stand not only for our interests but also for universal principles. So we regard all people as humans with rights, no matter how malicious their views may be. Besides, it's good to remember that were we born in a Muslim community, we would most likely be quite like the people whose behaviour we condemn now.
3) It isn't necessary for the published material to be new and created by you. However, if you are using another person's work, cite properly the original author, unless he prefers to stay anonymous. While it isn't practical to ask specific permission from the author, you should consider whether he would mind his work republished on your blog and proceed only if you think he wouldn't. This rule has an exception - Islamists wouldn't want their words to be cited in such context, but still I think it is OK to do so.

Of course traditional media can also participate in such action, which they actually are already doing. In 2006, after Denmark became target of Islamists because of the famous cartoons, a number of European newspapers republished them. Earlier this year, a group of Danish newspaper republished the cartoons again as a reaction to an Islamist plot to assassinate one of the cartoonists. However, most people cannot publish in media other than blogs, therefore I am writing specifically about blog action.