Mtg Follow-Up: Sharia Law, OBL Death

I think we broke the 20 person barrier last night, thanks in part to newcomers who saw the Reader article, like Sid and Shirley.  Nice to see Margaret, Aaron, Moss, Deuel, and others becoming regulars.  We even had a brief Anne and Lace sighting.

Does anyone have any thoughts they’d like to add they didn’t think of last night?  C’mon.  I know this group.  I had like twenty on the way home. 

We didn’t get a chance to talk about Osama’s death much.  Here’s an interesting commentary I found today.  Key grafs:

As Americans celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden, there is a risk we will exaggerate his importance in death as we did in life.  While bin Laden presided over al-Qaeda’s rise in the 1990s and early 2000s, just as important, he presided over its growing irrelevance. In recent years, al-Qaeda, while retaining its ability to wreak havoc, has become an increasingly marginal actor on the Arab stage.

The Arab Spring, particularly the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, discredited the notion that real change could come only through violence. In 18 days of demonstrations, Egypt’s protesters were able to do something few had thought possible — peacefully overthrow a repressive, hated regime

In elevating al-Qaeda to a threat to a Western civilization — something it never was — the Bush administration fell into a trap, allowing Middle East extremists to define its policy agenda. The Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay and the U.S. use of torture were all, to varying degrees, justified as necessary to win the war on terror. These distortions in American policy led to distortions in the Arab response. In a time when many Arabs sympathized with bin Laden’s aims if not his methods, al-Qaeda managed to gain mainstream credibility and popularity…

Though al-Qaeda could destroy, however, it could not build. In its unwillingness and inability to offer anything resembling a constructive vision for change, al-Qaeda gradually descended back into irrelevance…

Relatedly, a good book for the follow-up meeting on fundamentalism in two weeks is, The Battle For God, by Karen Armstrong.  She’s a historian of world religions and a believer herself I’m almost certain.  The bookj is one-third about Islamists, one-third about American Christian fundamentalists, and one-third about the rise of Isreal’s settler movement and its most religious adherents.

Finally, it appears that Jewish and Islamic groups are starting to unite against these “anti-Sharia” laws that are passing in red states, because the laws might ban the Jewish Beit Din courts.

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