An Olympic event: So the

An Olympic event
: So the Olympics relented and will let us bring our tattered flag from the World Trade Center into the opening ceremonies. How frigging big of them.

Here’s how I want it to play out:

As soon as the flag enters the stadium, the entire audience should rise and sing God Bless America — spontaneously, unanimously, reverently, defiantly.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to hide like some PC mouse just because other countries don’t like us. This is our country. We have been attacked. We are prevailing through it all. We will be united and proud and strong together. We will show it.

We will bring our flag into our stadium.

We should rise as one voice to sing in praise and hope.

Can we spread this meme in two days? Bill O’Reilley could do it.

: The LA Times says the IOC is anti-American.

Absence makes the blog grow… slower
: I confess I’ve been remiss in blogging duties the last few days. The real world intrudes. Money. Life. What bothers.

Let’s roll… the videotape
: Sometime ago, I complained that video taken by French filmmakers inside the World Trade Center was not being released. Now it is. The scenes will be shown on CBS next month and the filmmakers talk to Vanity Fair (quoted in USA Today) now.

Bigger than… what?
: Norman Mailer tells the BBC that “nothing compares in magnitude to the attacks on New York and Washington. This includes the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which ended the Second World War.”

The facts
: The Council on Foreign Relations is building a good reference site on terrorism with new Q&As on Abu Sayyaf, Iraq, and Somalia. [via Die Zeit]

: In the London Review of Books [via Die Zeit, again] comes a fascinating history of Islam from the perspective of Tariq Ali, who was raised a nonbeliever.

There were many advantages in being an unbeliever. Threatened with divine sanctions by family retainers, cousins or elderly relatives – ‘If you do that Allah will be angry’ or ‘If you don’t do this Allah will punish you’ – I was unmoved. Let him do his worst, I used to tell myself, but he never did, and that reinforced my belief in his non-existence.

Even after thwarting every attempt to give him a religious education, Ali went on to learn the history of Islam from a political perspective and he begins his history:

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all began as versions of what we would today describe as political movements. They were credible belief-systems which aimed to make it easier to resist imperial oppression, to unite a disparate people, or both. If we look at early Islam in this light, it becomes apparent that its Prophet was a visionary political leader and its triumphs a vindication of his action programme. Bertrand Russell once compared early Islam to Bolshevism, arguing that both were ‘practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world’. By contrast, he saw Christianity as ‘personal’ and ‘contemplative’. Whether or not the comparison is apt, Russell had grasped that the first two decades of Islam had a distinctly Jacobin feel. Sections of the Koran have the vigour of a political manifesto, and at times the tone in which it addresses its Jewish and Christian rivals is as factional as that of any left-wing organisation. The speed with which it took off was phenomenal….