Sunday, December 28, 2008

Karma - It's Not Just For Buddhists Anymore

Apparently karma works for silly converts to Islam, too.

So this Canadian woman watched a bunch of Muslims fly planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. You may have heard about that; it was one of the last times that the mainstream media actually acknowledged Muslim terrorism. She decided that the "pilots" and their friends were the good guys.

She decided that Osama Bin Laden was being blamed unjustly, although he bragged about his participation in some of his videos, and that Muslims were getting a bad rap. I could actually still sympathize with her at this point, to some degree. Bin Laden deserves a trial before his sentence is carried out, no matter how many public confessions he makes, and some people took their frustrations out on innocent Muslims in the wake of September 11th.

However, she went off the rails when she decided to show her solidarity by signing up. She converted to Islam, changed her name from Beverly Giesbrecht to Khadija Abdul Qahaar, put on a hijab, and started a website devoted to justifying terrorism in the name of Allah. If you have the stomach for it, she posted a horribly long and rambling explanation of her conversion. And if I can recognize it as long and rambling, imagine how bad it must be. My, Mr. Kettle, you're looking particularly black today.

By this point she had gone completely off the rails. I can understand her wanting to defend non-terrorist Muslims. However, a thinking person does not show solidarity with a group by changing their religion. A change of religion should only ever be made on the basis of having carefully considered the teachings of a faith and deciding that it contains more truth than your current belief system. I've done this myself, switching from agnostic secular humanism to Christianity several years ago.

A change of religion should never be based on silly external factors. This woman's "change in faith" is probably nothing more than wanting to get attention by aligning herself with a visible subculture. If it were the seventies, she would have gotten a mohawk and shoved a safety pin through her cheek.

You don't need to convert to someone else's religion to show solidarity. As an easy example, I support the Jewish people. So do most of the Christians I know. You don't have to look very hard to find "I Stand With Israel" banners on the websites of conservative Christian writers. I don't have one, but that's only because it's one of the many, many things I haven't gotten around to doing yet with this site. Somewhere down the road, this site will probably be covered in so many banners and sidebars that there'll be no room for content, which will at least remove the pressure to update.

In every case I've seen so far, whenever a conflict boiled down to the Jewish people against another group, I've been on the side of the Jewish people. I'll "see both sides" of the Palestinian issue when I start seeing lots of stories about Jews strapping dynamite around their waists and blowing themselves up in the middle of crowded Palestinian shopping malls.

Sidebar: I wish more mainstream journalists would understand this. As I write this, CNN has a front page story up about Israel firing rockets into Hamas-land. Surprisingly, they don't have any pictures of wounded children up (yet) and don't even mention puppy casualties. You have to read the story pretty carefully to see that this is a response to multiple attacks from Hamas against Israel over the past several weeks.

Funny, I don't remember seeing those attacks reported on CNN's front page. Although they might have been, and I didn't notice it - "Muslims perpetrate violence" is a pretty easy headline to skim over without taking note, on the level of "Sun expected to rise tomorrow".

I also notice that CNN is happy to report that Hamas accuses Israel of violating their ceasefire agreement - which expired on December 19 - with this attack. In similar news, the landlord of an apartment I moved out of in 1996 has accused me of violating our one-year lease by not continuing to pay rent for the twelve years since the lease ran out.

CNN's reporting of this accusation is being done only because, as they know full well, when people read or hear something on the news, they remember only a few bullet points afterward. Any denial of an accusation is usually forgotten, but the accusation itself lingers in the minds of the audience. Before long, when they hear the accusation again, all they remember is that they heard something about it before. Hmm, there must be something to that. After all, it keeps coming up.

It's a dirty pseudojournalistic trick intended to sow seeds in the minds of the audience, and it works. It's been so effectively used in American politics that large swaths of the electorate believe that there must be at least some substance to plenty of unfounded rumours, most of which, no doubt by sheer happenstance, favour the Democrats. Odd, that.

I won't go into examples, because this sidebar has gone on for too long already, but ask yourself: what's the first thing that comes to mind if I mention Sarah Palin's infant child? If it's that maybe Sarah's daughter is his actual mother, then congratulations: you're a mainstream media consumer.

End sidebar.

That said, I have no interest whatsoever in converting to Judaism. I do not agree with Jewish theology, but I respect them, consider them allies, and generally consider then the good guys in pretty much every conflict situation I've heard about. It would, however, be insulting to both my faith and theirs to show up at a synagogue and announce that I was switching over strictly as a protest against anti-Semitism.

Her reasons, though, are irrelevant. She signed up for a religion that says (or at least whose practitioners fervently believe) that she's worth less than a man, that her husband may beat her, that he may divorce her at will (although Canadian law already had that covered), that she should be punished for unchastity if raped, and that she shouldn't have been allowed any education. A woman voluntarily converting to Islam seems akin to a black American urging the return of slavery. I believe in freedom of religion, though, so that's all ultimately her business.

Then she decided that wasn't enough. She had to go over to Pakistan where she could get her hands dirty in the war against the infidels (that's me, and probably you, folks). Surely she would be welcomed, the Great White Goddess deigning to lead them to victory.


A B.C. woman...was kidnapped Tuesday along with her three local guides.

A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman confirmed a report in The Daily Times in Lahore that negotiations are continuing to free Khadija Abdul Qahaar, 52, formerly of West Vancouver.

She was seized at gunpoint on Tuesday while travelling to record video footage for a British journalist.
This, of course, is an awful situation that deserves to be taken seriously. And I will, in a moment. But first....


There. Just had to get that out of my system.

I love imagining the dialogue when she was captured:

"Wait! I'm here to help! I'm one of you!"

"Into the truck, western harlot!"

For her next trick she'll paint herself grey and strap a fin to her back, then swim with some sharks to see what happens.


On a more serious note, if this story is legitimate, I hope and pray - yes, literally - that this woman gets back home safely. And if she does, I hope that the first thing she does once she's back on Canadian soil is rip off the hijab, throw it to the ground, and tell everyone that she's back to being Beverly from now on. I hope this takes place in front of the reporters who will no doubt be waiting. They'll all bury the story, of course, but at least it might get leaked to blogs and Youtube.

You may have noticed the hedging in that last paragraph - "if this is legitimate". There's reason to believe it isn't.

First up, Giesbrecht (I prefer not to call her by her silly imaginary name) was shilling for cash on her website a few days before the alleged kidnapping. She wrote about how the situation in Pakistan was dire (gee, it's almost like going there was a stupid idea), and she needed buckets of cash to get out. Paypal cheerfully accepted. I'd have headed for the nearest embassy, personally, but soliciting difficult-to-trace donations with no accountability is always a good plan B.

Second, the whole thing may be a scam. Giesbrecht may be staging the whole thing in collusion with her jihadist pals, presumably in hopes of using her as a bargaining chip to negotiate a ransom of cash, the release of captured terrorists, or perhaps buckets of pungent filth for the jihadists to rub all over themselves in case their current layers start to wear thin. The fact that she was working for Al-Jazeera, who Al-Qeada apparently keep on speed dial to promote their latest video releases, doesn't exactly help her credibility.

If that's the case, I hope she realizes the mistake she's made before it's too late, and manages to actually escape her buddies. Terrorists, pretty much by definition, have no honour. Once they get what they want "in exchange for her", they're as likely to kill her as to carry out the fake release. Her only chance is if they figure she can help their propaganda campaign by coming home to gush about how well she was treated by her captors, praise be to Allah, and she doesn't blame them for being forced to use desperate tactics. The mainstream media will be thrilled to put that message on front pages everywhere.

In any case, this woman has made some extremely bad decisions with her life (I'm hoping for a last-minute Understatement of the Year award). Giving her the benefit of the doubt - it's a strange old world when the best-case scenario is that she was really kidnapped and is now a hostage in fear for her life - I hope she gets a chance to rectify some of them.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of alligators. Or maybe crocodiles. Perhaps even some sort of unholy genetic splice of the two - crocogators, and/or allodiles.

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