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Add to Technorati Favorites A Time, Times, and a Half a Time: September 2010

September 19, 2010

Fanning the Flames

These past weeks have proven productive for those who seek gain from a good crisis. Seemingly unrelated events appear more interconnected as I trace their origins and those who will ultimately benefit from the crisis. Amidst the Cordoba Mosque controversy, a new crisis has added fuel to the fire. The accelerant: the global media attention which focused on a church in Gainesville Florida and its 30-50 member congregation who planned to burn Korans on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

While the press remains perplexed how it
lost control of the Koran burning story, inquiry should guide them to the conclusion that they were manipulated. United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon blames Pastor Terry Jones as the one who “hijacked” the media. But it was not Jones who kept feeding the media frenzy; it was those sympathetic to the Alliance of Civilizations continually added fuel to the flames. How could an event having next to nothing for financial resources­­—one which promoted itself on YouTube—have gained worldwide attention? Hmm, “I wonder when there will be a Koran burning event” is hardly something I would ever have imagined people tying into their YouTube search engines. It is worth taking a closer look at those fanning the flames of this crisis.

None of us would have known anything about the Dove World Outreach Center’s plans until the September 6 online edition of the Wall Street Journal quoted General Petraeus as saying that the Koran burnings would endanger U.S. troops. Incidentally, Petraeus is now defending himself against Pentagon officials who charge he crossed the civilian-military line. The very next day following the Journal’s report, the International Crisis Group posted a media alert on the Alliance of Civilizations’ Global Expert Finder web site. The International Crisis Group functions as a crisis management tool within the AoC network. The purpose of the Global Expert Finder is to provide journalists with information on how to report on issues surrounding cross-cultural and inter-religious tensions.

Petraeus’ statements have consequently generated debate on whether free speech needs to be balanced against safety concerns for U.S. military personnel. I could not help but remember the Alliance of Civilizations’ High Representative’s speech that our rights need to be balanced to achieve global social cohesion.

"…to build inclusive and cohesive societies we need to find the right balance between the rights of cultural communities and the need to maintain social cohesion respecting the principles of human rights that bind together all countries worldwide.
And if Petraeus hadn’t already drawn international attention to Terry Jones, the attention directed towards them by Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Obama was certain to destine this as an international crisis. Considering that the Obama Administration has incorporated the Alliance of Civilizations into the United States’ political landscape, the spontaneity of this controversy started to resemble the cartoon crisis. This prompted me to take a closer look at you know who and, not surprisingly, their signature is there.

Could it be merely a coincidence that Akbar Ahmed who serves as an advisor to Petraeus published a piece in CNN International which directed the world’s attention to “Burn Koran Dayor that Ahmed is active with the Dialogue Among Civilizations which is the framework the Alliance of Civilizations used for its launch? Akbar Ahmed and the Ground Zero Mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf are both involved with the Daniel Pearl Foundation’s interfaith dialogue. Ahmed is also a Bookings Institute Senior Fellow for the global governance think tank.

I believe the Pearl family is sincere in their dialogue efforts to combat the extremist ideology which led to the murder of their son. And while I do not wish to cause the Pearl family any additional pain, I’ve noticed that they have become integrated with Alliance of Civilizations’ personalities. Whether they understand and share the Alliance’s ideology I cannot say for sure, but I strongly urge them to closely examine the interfaith objectives and how the Alliance’s definition of extremism slates countless innocent people as terrorists.

Imam Rauf claims himself as a moderate as he can profess to be Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. One of the best critical assessments I’ve read on this statement and interfaith dialogue is written by an atheist. Rauf is able to make this claim because his belief system teaches that Jews and Christians are, in fact, Muslims who have not yet realized who they are. But when these faiths reject this belief system, according to the Koran and the Alliance of Civilizations, they become “exclusivist” extremists against whom they intend to conduct a war.

The Alliance of Civilizations and the Organization for Islamic Conference are politically partnered organizations who jointly call for restrictions on free speech. This past April, the OIC-Alliance action plan for combating Islamophobia cited Terry Jones’ as an example of one whose speech incites violence and discrimination against Muslims. The OIC envisions legislation such to Ireland’s anti-defamation law as a model for combating Islamophobia. Per the report:

“On July 10, 2009, Ireland passed the Defamation Bill. One of the aspects of this bill would make it illegal to criticize religion, any religion under penalty of fines up to 25,000 Euros. It was a most important development in conformity with OIC’s call for effective normative and legal frameworks to deal with the grave threat posed by Islamophobia. The following are some excerpts from the Blasphemy Clause:

(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000[Amended to €25,000]

(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

The Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue issued a statement on Terry Jones which reiterates this position on free speech: “We believe that all laws protect freedom of expression unless it constitutes to an act of insult, and abuse of others.”

While I believe book burnings is disgusting, I do believe it to be consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that flag burning is a constitutionally protected form of speech. If a burning were to take place outside a place of worship or its intent one of intimidation, I would view that differently. It is clear, though, that to make Islamic culture socially cohesive with the West, the Alliance seeks to adjust our freedoms to accommodate Sharia law. At this year’s Cordoba conference on religious freedom, the Alliance indicated it is watching to see which will win out: the Protestantisation of religion or Islamisation of Christianity? For they conclude that Protestantization of religion will let secularization prevail while Islamization of Christianity will create a totally new agenda.

As with the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, the Koran burning crisis is being used to instigate a “clash of civilizations” which ultimately serves the Alliance of Civilizations’ political agenda. And as a tool they are using the First Amendment as a double-edged sword.

Terry Jones, agent provocateur or unwitting dupe? I suspect the latter. Either way, Jones’ actions has served the interests of the Alliance of Civilizations in labeling Christians as extremists and emboldened others to identify Christianity with terrorism. Once again, as in the cartoon crisis, the benefactor of this controversy is the Alliance of Civilizations.

September 2, 2010

An Alliance Temple

Recent mosque controversy polling data shows around 61% oppose while 27% favor the Cordoba Mosque construction. Media reaction has been mixed. The majority have portrayed Americans as intolerant despite polling data which shows the majority of mosque opponents say the Cordoba Initiative has the constitutional right to proceed with construction. I also agree with this position. And while I would not attempt to infringe upon the Cordoba Initiative’s First Amendment rights, I do believe the public is entitled to an unobstructed view of its political platform. The builders can construct the store [mosque] but we don’t have to shop there. So, caveat emptor.

I had my eye on the Cordoba Initiative for nearly as long as I’ve been observing the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations initiative. It was in 2006 that the Alliance appeared on the world stage to calm Mideast tensions which resulted from the Danish cartoon crisis. For one to understand the Cordoba Initiative one must gain insight into the Alliance of Civilizations. The two are mutually-reinforcing, partnered initiatives. Cordoba’s web site, which has changed extensively over the past few weeks, still displays the Alliance of Civilizations as a partner organization. Noticeable omissions include organizations such as the United Religions Initiative, Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and others. I suspect Cordoba scoured affiliations from its web site not only to lessen the severity of its own scrutinization but also prevent shifting it to others. For scrutinization of CAIR would lead one to find the FBI severed ties with the organization due to its affiliations with terror group Hamas. Alliance of Civilizations’ High Level Group member Karen Armstrong no longer is listed as the Cordoba Board’s most significant contributor. She is now only a board member.

As a bridge builder having the mission to facilitate intercultural and interfaith dialogue, tolerance and understanding, the Cordoba Initiative surely must have known that placement of the mosque so close to the Ground Zero Twin Towers would be received as insensitive and as anything but understanding. Moderate Moslem critics say this defies logic and call the mosque confrontational and in bad faith. They are questioning what is going on here?

I have found Cordoba’s partner, the Alliance of Civilizations, to be confrontational from its very inception. While they use nice words such as social inclusion, social cohesion, human family, ad nauseum, they speak with forked tongues. For this initiative has mobilized to facilitate a cultural divide—to build a new civilization. This crisis reminds me of a passage from new age writer Peter Lemesurier’s Armageddon Script, Prophecy in Action where he describes a time when the old religions would be manipulated and set against one another: “the wisdoms of all ages and cultures will be called upon to surrender their most precious secrets…The masses of the Old Age, however, will be unable to check their headlong onrush. In large measure they will go on to destroy each other in a massive, mutual venting of long pent-up aggression”.

This Cordoba mosque crisis is somewhat reminiscent of the 2006 “spontaneous” Danish cartoon crisis which firmly rooted the newly formed Alliance in a global political role. The cartoon crisis was the result of a Danish newspaper’s publication of caricatures which depicted the prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. Violence erupted four months later when these images were published in newspapers throughout the Mideast. The three most inflammatory caricatures seen in the Mideast’s had never been part of the Danish newspaper’s collection. The Alliance was soon to become the United Nations’ response to Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” theory which subsequently accused the West of insensitivity and placed blame for the clash squarely upon the West. The High Level GroupFinal Report attributes no positive values to the West. So why would the Islamic world seek to join an Alliance with the West?

This Cordoba crisis further exhibits the Alliance’s anti-western bias. Rather than accepting responsibility for their own insensitivity, High Level Group (HLG) members are actively guiding Moslems to feel victimized by an intolerant, Islamophobic West.
John Esposito is using this controversy to bolster the Alliance’s position that Christianity and the political right are anti-democratic. It is ironic the Alliance would even argue this with a straight face.

The Alliance’s response to the cartoon crisis was a collaborative effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which, at that time and ever since, called for the West to
place restrictions on free speech. Defamation of Religions resolutions intended to restrict religious criticism and free speech were introduced to UN governing bodies. The resolutions are pillars of the Alliance’s framework. Hillary Clinton addressed this at the Roosevelt Institute last year stating that the United States would never agree to such resolutions. Within weeks President Obama and the OIC co-authored an anti-defamation resolution which contains the same language as what Clinton opposed. This proved a bit much for even the Huffington Post which cried foul.

The Alliance of Civilizations calls for the establishment of a review board and accreditation for journalists who wish to report on areas involving cross cultural and political-religious tensions.

High Level Group member
Karen Armstrong has long portrayed Christianity and the political right as anti-democratic. As a “religious historian” she has no regard for historical accuracy and is known to fabricate quotes. As most significant contributor to the Cordoba Board, I suspect she was aware opportunity would be found in this emotionally-charged crisis they have created. While people are re-living the traumatizing events of the 9-11 attacks, the Cordoba controversy is being used to aggressively attack them as anti-democratic and opposed to religious freedom.

The Alliance says that global governance will require nations to accept a redefinition of national sovereignty. They
define democracy as an evolutionary process where national parliaments no longer serve as the monopolist voice of the people. That voice is to be shifted to non-governmental organizations which are better positioned to represent the people. Terms often used to describe this new style are “safe”, “participatory”, and sometimes “anticipatory” democracy.

Religious freedom is also redefined. Both Cordoba and the Alliance interlock with Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion. The Charter’s intent is to provide global “guidelines” for the interpretation of religious texts. An indication of where this is headed can be found in Armstrong’s thesis on Genesis where she argues that the serpent was more truthful than God in the garden. Armstrong is an apologist for Islam. According to Armstrong:

“Christianity, which has as its main image, in the west at least, a man dying in a devastating, disgraceful, helpless death…Mohammed was not an apparent failure. He was a dazzling success, politically as well as spiritually, and Islam went from strength to strength to strength. But against the West, it’s been able to make no headway...whatever they do, they cannot seem to get Muslim history back on track, and this has led some, and only a minority, it must be said, to desperate conclusions.”
The United Nations spiritual foundation’s writings indicate that their political-spiritual leader will lead all “true Moslems” to spiritual victory. Iran has significantly shaped Alliance of Civilizations initiative.

The Alliance of Civilizations uses Cordoba as a model for the global governance of the culture. It portrays Cordoba as a utopian society and ignores the suffering of non-Moslems under the system of dhimmitude. The Alliance of Civilizations supports integration of Sharia law into Western democracies.

There is no Christian or orthodox Jewish representation on the Alliance of Civilizations.

Outwardly the Alliance and Cordoba Initiatives argue they favor bridge building and religious pluralism through interfaith dialogue. In practice they advance Universalism. The two are distinctly different. While pluralism requires tolerance, the Alliance’s Universalist value system rejects belief systems which make exclusive truth claims and refuse to adopt the mindset that we all worship the same God but follow different paths to the Almighty. Christian adaptation of Universalism constitutes apostasy. John Esposito has said that if one believes their religion to be right and another to be wrong, that person has adopted the “theology of hate” which is a root cause of terrorism. The HLG refers to this as religious fundamentalism. Georgetown University, an Alliance think tank which houses Esposito’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, defines fundamentalism as “those with an absolute conviction in the fundamental principles of their faith to the exclusion of other beliefs.”

Combating religious fundamentalism is the basis of the Alliance of Civilizations’ framework. The Alliance is the United Nation’s “mother tongue” and the core component of the UN global counter-terrorism strategy.

NATO’s Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World includes combating of religious fundamentalism as well. The Alliance of Civilizations is now part of the NATO framework. Secretary General Rasmussen represented NATO at the AoC Istanbul Conference.

The Albright Group (as in Madeline, former Secretary of State) is a supporter of the Cordoba Initiative. Albright participates on NATO’s Group of Experts which is implementing aNew Strategic Concept”.

The White House announced United States’ partnership with the Alliance of Civilizations on May 20, 2010.

Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian serves on the President’s Commission on
White House Fellowships. Vartan is active with the Alliance of Civilizations and a bridge between the White House and the Alliance.

During the initial planning process the Alliance of Civilizations envisioned placement of Alliance temples in every major city throughout the world. The Cordoba mosque may well be a starting point. This “clash of civilizations” appears deliberate having a political objective. Again, as Jean Monet chair for European Integration once said, the United Nations has proven itself to be actually dangerous. This time, it appears, they have provoked a national controversy within one of its member states.