Part I: Sorry Rodney…

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Lines of Departure - Quran

But, no, we probably can’t all just get along.

In light of recent events in Paris, and Paris times many thousands all over the Middle East, and considering the increasing migration of Moslems to currently non-Islamic parts of the world, and the trouble that nearly universally flows from that, I think it’s probably about time that I formally explained why Islam is different.

Before I do though, consider a couple of Amendments to the Bill of Rights, the First and Second, and how they applied once upon a time compared to how they apply today.

There was a time when the Second Amendment basically permitted – rather, denied the government the power to infringe – everything, armaments-wise, to the private citizen that any government might have. “Ah,” says the gun control advocate, “but surely not guns that would fire more than X shots from a single load.” No? How about cannon that would fire hundreds of shots from a single load, instantly? These were perfectly permissible.1 Or how about the Girondoni Air Rifle2, which was not unknown here,3 and was capable of firing twenty aimed shots in a minute from its easily and rapidly reloadable twenty-round magazine?

But then we get to modern times and nukes, bugs and gas? Shall they not be forbidden to private citizens? I should hope not and I’d gladly join forces with any gun grabber out there to prevent it. Why? Because in this particular case times have changed, the weapons do not serve the (revolutionary) purpose of the Second Amendment, they are different in kind from anything remotely within the contemplation of the Founding Fathers4, and their possession in private hands, frankly, would imperil the entire Constitution, as well as the Second Amendment thereto.

Conversely, though, the First Amendment protects free speech and the freedom of the press. Does that mean it doesn’t protect radio and television? Telephones? The internet? Of course it does. Even if those things were not in contemplation or foreseen when the Constitution was drafted, they do not endanger it more than simple free speech and free press do, and freedom of expression in them serves essentially the same purpose as freedom of speech and of the press.

On the other hand, and sticking with the First Amendment, what about freedom of religion? I have, in this regard, two observations. One is that freedom of religion is not absolute. One hates to seem judgmental, of course,5 but even so we are most unlikely to tolerate Neo-Aztecs cutting out still-beating hearts atop pyramids. No, not even if they make a credible claim that it’s a core part of their faith and, moreover, if they don’t do this in massive numbers every fifty-two years the world will end. “Sorry, Moctezuma the Latest, but that’s a little more freedom, and a lot more murder, than we’re prepared to tolerate.” My other observation is that it’s not especially well-crafted for dealing with religions that are a lot more than religions, which is to say complete guides, on law and life, crime and contract, marriage and massacre, delivered from the very mouth of God, Almighty, to his Messenger on Earth.

In a way, that may seem strange since they knew what theocracy was and since Massachusetts, at least, had been effectively something of a theocracy from the beginning – Yes, yes, I know there was a theoretical split between the clergy and the government, but the spirit of the thing was theocratic, as were the practices.6

The difference, though, was in the founding documents, Bible or Quran, and what they meant, in practice, here on Earth. I’m not going to talk much about the Bible; most here will be at least slightly familiar with it. I am going to talk about the Quran, however, not least because it is so poorly understood by us as a general rule.

First, though, a brief aside: Have you never noticed that the same people who can find doubleplusungood “cultural appropriation” in eating a taco7 seem to have no qualms or hesitations whatsoever in applying their values and outlooks to foreign cultures, in filtering foreign cultures through their (highly limited) understanding, and imposing upon those foreign cultures values completely alien to them? Disgusting, is it not, the way these people try to inflict their own parochial Western views of good and evil on cultures where, in goodly part, the views are close to the opposite of ours in many particulars?

Now that we’ve dispensed with that arrogant, Western, liberal, cultural neo-imperialism, we can proceed to what’s actually in the Quran and what makes that different.

In the first place, Mohammad is not, for the most part, the speaker in the Quran. Rather, the Speaker is, overwhelmingly (perhaps entirely but there are some questions about that) God, Almighty, Himself. You can, conversely, find places in the Old Testament where the speaker is God, but for the most part He is silent. The rules laid down by God, himself, are highly limited.

Secondly, but no less importantly, the Quran lays down rather precise rules of conduct, to include dress,8 criminal and civil law, to include punishments, ceremony, hygiene and diet…suffice to say, it is complete enough. The New Testament, though replete with the words of Jesus Christ, is not remotely so prescriptive.

Thirdly, because of those two, the completeness of the rules and the identity of the legislator, mere mortal man has no authority whatsoever to override the Divinely given rules. Got that? No, you can’t legitimately change the rules God laid down. You wish to make women equal, as in Western civilization? Forget it, God has already said, in effect, that she is not, cannot be, never will be equal. He has already laid upon woman various debilities by the highest authority there is, His own, even as He has elevated men above women. Morally important? Absolutely. Equal? Never. You wish to permit Gay rights? Get that right out of your mind; homosexuality is considered the worst possible sin.9 Forbid slavery? Are you already out of your infidel mind? A better Islamic scholar, by far, than I has said:  “Slavery is a part of Islam … Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.”10

The fourth factor you will have to either take my word for or see for yourself. The Quran cannot be grasped in a single reading. (I’d never even try it in Arabic at the shoddy best I was ever able to speak or read any of it. There are some English translations that are fairly well thought of.11) The writing is odd to our eyes. We miss the soaring imagery and the sheer magnificent poetry of the thing on a single reading because of that strangeness. Read it once, to get over that. Then read it again and feel it, as they feel it. Feel the power. Experience, too, the sardonic sense of humor of a God who speaks to me.12 And if you feel nothing? Then disqualify yourself from comment upon it.

Fifthly, the sheer magnificence of the Quran will call back to the path Muslims who, under the temptation of the West, have strayed. If it doesn’t get them, it will get their children or grandchildren. A secular humanist of a lefty Westerner may not understand that, but if he rejects the truth of it the intellectual weakness is in him (or her). Said Westerner can try to attribute that to X discrimination or Y dirty banlieu, but that’s still his ignorance showing.

Next week: How that plays out with Muslims within Western society and why Osama bin Laden was not a bad Muslim.


1 How do you imagine private persons issued Letters of Marque or Reprisal, pursuant to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution were supposed to take their prizes and make their reprisals? Ramming? Voodoo? H/T Tam Keel


3 At least shortly after, in any case:

4 Just FYI, I thoroughly loathe the politically correct, gender neutral, hence fraudulent term, “Framers.”

5You know I’m not serious about that, right?



8 Which, by the way, does not go nearly as far as has become culturally customary since then.

9 Surah 7: 80-81.

10 Shaykh Saleh al-Fawzan. The Quran itself does not forbid slavery. Of the four major schools of Islamic law, none, as far as I can tell, actually forbid slavery.

11 Nose around here:

12 My personal favorite example of this is in Surah 81: 8-9: “When the infant girl, buried alive, is asked for what crime she was slain,” which means, “Oh, is the man who murdered the blameless baby girl going to suffer. Forever.” One would think this line would give certain Islamic terrorists pause. I think they rationalize it with something like, “Infidel girls don’t count.” Buried alive? It was a pre-Islamic form of female infanticide, quite popular on the Arabian Peninsula.

Photo by Retrovizor/Getty Images

Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through

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  • Allston

    Ah, Filters. Yes, almost every American suburbanite I’ve met seems to believe that these characters are simply foreign versions of themselves. That is “Category Error” of the first water.

    • Tom Kratman

      Not to mention neo-colonialist, culturally imperialistic, racist, and doubleplusungood.

    • Shawn Smith

      The only way multi-culturalists can say many of the silly things they do is if they genuinely believe these other people share essentially the same culture as us. In a way, conservatives are the real multi-culturalists because we recognize that other cultures exist and meaningfully differ from ours.

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  • Andrew Foss

    Sir, I must respectfully disagree with the idea that the second amendment wouldn’t apply to WMDs for one reason: There can be no exceptions or you end up with incremental erosion of that right.

    If it’s good enough for Uncle Sam to have, it’s good enough for John Q. Public. The public’s ability to revolt is the ultimate check and balance on the power of the government. If anything, that attitude of “not forseen” is what imperils the Constitution. (By extension, the same argument is used against modern self-loading rifles “30 caliber clips that fire 30 calibers per second with the shoulder thing that goes up” and can be/has been/is being used against same, modern communication methods such as encryption, computers, phones, theoretical quantum communicators… It is my opinion that the Founding Fathers did not anticipate a generation of the deliberately obtuse, willing to “trade essential liberty for temporary safety.”

    Such is repugnant I see no compelling reason for that concept when our government has a monopoly on nukes and the government forces would outnumber the nuke owners thousands to one.

    • Tom Kratman

      Without that exception we’d up up with amendment of the amendment and loss of the right. And, if you noted, I already gave why any kind of small arms or even crew served weapons are clearly within the right. But nukes are different.

    • Rick Randall

      I think Heinlein had one of his characters put it best (paraphrasing from memory)

      “I don’t consider an atomic bomb an arm, because you can’t point it at someone’s head.”

    • Andrew Foss


      Minor Scale or Misty Picture. 4kt non-nuclear explosions. Government.
      Texas City disaster 3kt ANFO explosion (Accidental and non-governmental)
      W54: former nuclear weapon. 22 ton yield. Not mega~, not even kilo~. Double digit tons.

      So what’s the difference between someone with 22 tons of TNT (in, say, forty-four Mk.84 two-thousand pound low-drag dumb bombs (You did say you had no problems with”crew-served”: I want a B-52D and Mk. 84s. For militia purposes. They only have one half-ton of TNT equivalent each.) and a W54 SADM?

      Sir, there *is no* justifiable restriction. Just as there is no difference between the results of a SADM and a bombing run against a target. Well, except for one thing: The instant lethality radiation effect and the delayed radiation lethality effects on personnel near the target are shorter (150m and 400m respectively) than the 400m/1200m lethal/injurious fragmentation radius of one Mk. 84.

    • Tom Kratman

      If 4kt why not 40MT? If your principle is everything then _everything_. If your principle is not everything than NOT everything.

      Yes, there is one; in the real world, the world outside the brain pan, the world where politics is of effect and where loons and criminals dwell. A nuke in private possession based on the 2nd Amendment will be used (you did notice we have some loony enemies, I am sure, to include citizens) and the 2nd amendment will be strangled, politically. That’s reality. The other reality is that nukes in private hands is not a pro-RKBA argument, it’s a gun grabber argument.

      Oh, and ease of movement is a big practical difference.

    • Andrew Foss

      40MT? I’ll settle for nothing less than 55, tanks, aircraft, laser guided bombs, explosives, intercontinental ballistic missiles, SSBNs, torpedoes, drones, countermeasures, jamming devices, battleships, full auto, cannons, suppressors and missiles for now. I want 250MT and the preceding. See what I’m doing here? Though my opinion on the matter is “extreme”, without extremes you have no middle ground. And I’m tired of the gun grabbers chipping away at things and moving the goalposts: It’s high time their own playbook be used against them to get what the pro-RKBA side wants.

      Use: Sure, it could be used. Thus removing the user’s ability to deter (MAD is how this sort of thing is done.) and resulting in their being strung up as a traitor by any surviving government official or tortured to death by enraged citizenry.

      Ease of movement: Glad you brought that up; naval cannon weren’t easy to move, they were acceptable.

      As I implied above: Demand the extreme, when it comes time to negotiate, settle for what you really want.

    • Tom Kratman

      No, because in the real and political world in which we live, demanding nukes means turning allies for machine guns into your enemy.

    • James

      Plus from what I am beginning to think Nukes means your policial elite think the rest of the armed forces can be as weak as they like as long as they threaten a nuking.

    • Harry_the_Horrible

      IMHO, based on the wording to 2nd Amendment, (Militia) the private citizen should be able equip himself with anything a Light Infantryman would normally carry, up to, and including light AT weapons, mortars, LMGs, etc. Irregular light infantry is pretty much the definition of Militia.
      I can see needing a license for tanks, jet fighters, artillery, etc.

    • Andrew Foss

      Except you only needed a boat, not necessarily sailing master’s papers in revolutionary war times. The entire point of the Second Amendment is to keep the federal government eye, thumb and forearm off of people should they ever be prepared to get a hair in their ass to stand on their hind legs, raise the black flag, flip the bird and revolt.

    • Harry_the_Horrible

      Well, I would start issuing letters of marque to wannabe privateers and allowed merchant ships to be armed…

    • Tom Kratman

      In theory we can still do that, since we didn’t sign the pertinent treaty. However, in practice there’s been an effective ban long enough that even _I_ would agree it’s become customary law.

    • Tom Kratman

      It’s to shoot secret and not so secret police, to assassinate politicians, to drive up the costs of using the armed forces against them, and to make securing lines of supply highly problematic.

  • Duffy

    “First, though, a brief aside: Have you never noticed that the same
    people who can find doubleplusungood “cultural appropriation” in eating a
    taco7 seem to have no qualms or hesitations whatsoever in
    applying their values and outlooks to foreign cultures, in filtering
    foreign cultures through their (highly limited) understanding, and
    imposing upon those foreign cultures values completely alien to them?”

    And they will never comprehend that point. The sheer arrogance of anyone saying “You have to understand, they are just like us. With the same shared values.”

    No, no they are not, and it is arrogance to think so, and hypocrisy to claim to embrace diversity and not recognize that their is diversity within the numerous values systems that exist across humanity.

  • Ori Pomerantz

    I can see Tomius Kratius, a veteran officer of the legions, writing this in Latin a few decades prior to the rebellion in 66. Modern Orthodox Jews read the written Torah through the lens of an oral tradition. Muslims can learn to do the same, but it would take Allah siding with the infidels repeatedly to get there.

    • Tom Kratman

      One of the things Christians tend to miss, Ori, possibly because of the timing of things, is that islam is not reform Christianity. It’s reform Judaism.

    • Rick Randall

      Very much so…

    • Matthew

      Beat out the current Reform movement by a good millenium…

    • Ori Pomerantz

      Where “reform” is the stern, Calvinistic kind. Yes, the Romans worked hard to teach my ancestors to behave. It took a lot of lumber and a lot of nails. I hope Muslims can learn faster.

  • Jack Withrow

    It’s been my opinion since Afghanistan that Islam needs to die; the religion, not necessarily all its adherents. I freely admit there will be an extremely high body count wiping out Islam though. I have never seen a system of government more designed to keep people poor, ignorant, and under the thumb of Government. And the Mullahs are an arm of government no matter what is claimed by them.

    • Tom Kratman

      Well…ya know…Islam played a not especially small role in getting rid of the USSR, both in the form of mujahadeen in Afghanistan against the Red Army and Saudi manipulation of oil prices – and at their own cost, too – to bankrupt the reds. I hold Stalinism in one hand and Islam, even the very worst forms of Islam, in the other, and I side with the people whose doctrine is, at least, mostly human and not a complete fantasy, which is to say, Islam.

      And it’s not just the reds but their successors in interest, the econazis. If Soviets could deliberate gather the last speck of grain from farmers to ensure that ten million people in the Ukraine and Southern Russia starved to death, because they were “enemies of the people” or “class enemies,” what would the econazis balk at, mass murder-wise, to eliminate “enemies of Gaia”?

      Just because these guys are our enemies, Jack, doesn’t mean that there have not been, are not now, and will not be in the future still worse enemies.

    • Jack Withrow

      I have no doubt we will have worse enemies in the future. The Human Race continues to produce monsters and extremely vile and deadly totalitarian regimes with each new one being worse than the one before.

      The trouble with Islam is that it has no mechanism to live in peace with infidels. In over 1400 years Islam has never been truly at peace with anyone. There has been uneasy hiatuses in the war between Western Civilization and Islam, but no period of real peace.

      You frequently state you don’t want to see your grandchildren roasting on a split over a fire because of a civil war and the destruction it would bring. I see Islam in the same light. I do not want to see my descendents as slaves or worse under a world wide Caliphate. After Beirut in 83, I thought it was just extremists in Islam were responsible. But ever since 9/11, every major attack on Western Civilization has seen the entire Islamic world celebrating those attacks. You can’t convert fanatics to peaceful people, the only thing you can do is kill them in self defense.

      I don’t see any effort to reform Islam happening for the simple reason someone from their own religion will kill anyone who tries to reform the cult. As you said how can any adherent of Islam argue with the actual words of God. So it really comes down to a binary choice: either Western Civilization survives or Islam does. I side with Western Civilization. Therefore in my view Islam must die. I do not want to kill any more of its adherents than necessary. But they should be given the same choice their ancestors gave other people: convert or die.

    • Tom Kratman

      It’s not going to reform, generally, no, at least not that I can see, though locally it can. Indeed, the most tolerable of the mainstream schools of Islam, Ibadi, is actually quite easy to get along with. Think of them as Puritans who never developed a taste for nagging and scolding. And they’re the _old_ school, not the reform. But Ibadism was somewhat protected by geography, and is only dominant, or even significant, in Oman.

    • Jack Withrow

      Are they not considered as heretics by the rest of Islam? From what I remember the Wahabis hate the Ibadi as much as the Sunnis hate the Shia and vice versa.

    • Tom Kratman

      I don’t actually have that impression.

    • James

      Yea but the Wahabis this anyone who isn’t them is a heretic so..

    • Tom Kratman

      Thing is, the Ibadis are the oldest still existing strain of Islam. They’re more conservative than Wahhabis (actually Salafis) are; they’re just not assholes about it, so it’s hard for the radicals to criticize them.

    • James

      So more likely they are the actual old brand of islam. However, due to it not being insane and not advocating murdering everyone who disagree’s it holds no advantage to the rulers so its not ever popular.

      Would really have liked to see what Islam was like before the fall of Bagdad. Looking at the evidence we have now probably better than Christianity at the time.

  • Doc krin

    suggested by a Turkish National of our correspondence:

    • Tom Kratman

      As soon as I see the grapes argument I dial that out. Whatever Muhammad was or was not, he was a lover of women, not a gardener. He says virgins, he means (Allah means) virgins.

      I actually got to go to Mass in Aramaic in the town I ran in Kurdestan in 91. It was…interesting.

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