Posted: 11 Jun 2013 07:09 PM PDT
I have long struggled to understand how smart, well-educated liberals can fail to perceive the unique dangers of Islam. In The End of Faith, I argued that such people don't know what it's like to really believe in God or Paradise—and hence imagine that no one else actually does. The symptoms of this blindness can be quite shocking. For instance, I once ran into the anthropologist Scott Atran after he had delivered one of his preening and delusional lectures on the origins of jihadist terrorism. According to Atran, people who decapitate journalists, filmmakers, and aid workers to cries of "Alahu akbar!" or blow themselves up in crowds of innocents are led to misbehave this way not because of their deeply held beliefs about jihad and martyrdom but because of their experience of male bonding in soccer clubs and barbershops. (Really.) So I asked Atran directly:
"Are you saying that no Muslim suicide bomber has ever blown himself up with the expectation of getting into Paradise?"
"Yes," he said, "that's what I'm saying. No one believes in Paradise."
At a moment like this, it is impossible to know whether one is in the presence of mental illness or a terminal case of intellectual dishonesty. Atran's belief—apparently shared by many people—is so at odds with what can be reasonably understood from the statements and actions of jihadists that it admits of no response. The notion that no one believes in Paradise is far crazier than a belief in Paradise.
But there are deeper ironies to be found here. Whenever I criticize Islam, I am attacked for my purported failure to empathize with Muslims throughout the world—both the peaceful billion, who are blameless, and the radicals, whose legitimate political grievances and social ties cause them to act out in regrettable ways. Consider this standard calumny from Glenn Greenwald:
How anyone can read any of these passages and object to claims that Harris' worldview is grounded in deep anti-Muslim animus is staggering. He is at least as tribal, jingoistic, and provincial as those he condemns for those human failings, as he constantly hails the nobility of his side while demeaning those Others.
The irony is that it is the secular liberals like Greenwald who are lacking in empathy. As I have pointed out many times before, they fail to empathize with the primary victims of Islam—the millions of Muslim women, freethinkers, homosexuals, and apostates who suffer most under the taboos and delusions of this faith. But secular liberals also fail to understand and empathize with the devout.
Let us see where the path of empathy actually leads…
First, by way of putting my own empathy on my sleeve, let me say a few things that will most likely surprise many of my readers. Despite my antipathy for the doctrine of Islam, I think the Muslim call to prayer is one of the most beautiful sounds on earth. Take a moment to listen:
Posted: 11 Jun 2013 03:15 PM PDT
I refer to Malaysia-Today's article (picked up from Star Online) Conspiracy still in the air. The journalist for the article is Philip Golingai.
Golingai quoted from a P.J. Granville-Edge's book, The Sabahan: The Life and Death of Tun Fuad Stephens, about what happened as the aircraft was crashing.
According to Golingai, P.J. Granville-Edge, Tun Fuad's niece, wrote:
"Fuad probably only suspected something was wrong when his plane began to vibrate. Perhaps, he suddenly felt a sharp jolt of fear."
"The Nomad's nose dropped. The plane began a one-and-a-half turn spiral plummet. It did not pull out of that twisting nose-dive and crashed into shallow water."
Please note that P.J. Granville-Edge employed the qualifier 'probably' in her projection of Fuad's last minute feelings, but it's noteworthy that she mentioned these following words:
"... something was wrong when his plane began to vibrate" and "The Nomad's nose dropped. The plane began a one-and-a-half turn spiral plummet. It did not pull out of that twisting nose-dive and crashed into shallow water."
I am not sure whether she had gleaned those words from, but I bet it would be someone who knew/knows something technical about the accident, because those were descriptions of an aerodynamic feature known as the 'stall'.
An aeroplane or a helicopter or a kite flies by virtue of the aerodynamic feature known as 'Lift', which itself is a product of the Reaction of the aeroplane or helicopter or kite ensuing from the Action against the air (or wind) - in other words, a manifestation of Newton's 3rd Law of Motion where Action (aeroplane moving through air by its engine[s] or boy running through air pulling his kite) is equal to and opposed by Reaction. The useful Lift is the vertical component of Reaction whilst nasty Drag is its horizontal component.
Next time when you drive around or to be more safe for you, when you're a passenger, open your car window and put your open palm out in the airflow, and then tilt your open palm at various angles to the airflow, and assess which angle gives you the maximum and minimum reactions of lift (upwards) and drag (backwards). Of course both will happen at the same as that would be the Reaction to the Action of your palm bring pushed forward by the car.
Safe flight is possible only when Lift is managed effectively by the pilot to the required amount, and likewise with Drag. That's as far as I dare proceed with the fangle technical stuff (of aerodynamics), which would be best left to pilots or aerodynamists.
But suffice to say, the control and management of both Lift and Drag becomes crucial during the take-off and the landing phase of a flight. If a pilot mismanages them, say during take-off or/and landing, a Stall may occur, with the symptoms and consequences occurring as per P.J. Granville-Edge's description of "... something was wrong when his plane began to vibrate" and "The Nomad's nose dropped. The plane began a one-and-a-half turn spiral plummet. It did not pull out of that twisting nose-dive and crashed into shallow water."
A more crude but impactful, though technically incorrect, description of a plane suffering an unrecoverable stall would be 'dropping from the air like a stone (or a ton of bricks)'.
What is meant by 'unrecoverable stall'?
A stall by itself is generally recoverable even if the pilot takes no action provided there is enough height (or altitude); left to itself the aeroplane will eventually recover into what it has been trimmed (or set up) for.
When there isn't enough safe altitude, say when the aeroplane is near the ground like around 500 feet or less, the pilot must take swift and correct actions to recover from the stall. It's doable and practised regularly at lengths by every working pilot.
Thus an 'unrecoverable stall' is one where the pilot doesn't have enough altitude to take his recovering actions or has taken incorrect actions (unlikely for a skilled pilot), or there is aggravating circumstances like an imbalanced loading which hinders the pilot from executing the required recovery actions.
The conspiracy theory achieved some traction from a Ku Li (Tengku Razaleigh) story, in which he recalled that Harris Salleh, then the Sabah deputy chief minister, persuaded him not to take that fatal flight but instead go to Pulau Banggi to see a cattle ranch. Thus Ku LI left the ill-fated plane together with Rahman Ya'kub (then CM of Sarawak) and Tengku Bendahara of Pahang.
The conspiracy insinuation has been that Harris Salleh knew the plane would crash and save Ku Li from doom by persuading him to disembark.
But we need to ask those conspiracy theorists how Harris Sallah had somehow managed to arrange for the crash to occur during the landing phase and in what was likely from a stall.
A far more drastic and deadlier sabotage (since this is a discussion on a conspiracy theory) would have been for the plane to crash during take-off (perhaps by fixing one engine to fail, though a qualified pilot can easily handle an asymmetric engine situation - okay then, both engines to fail) or during a later stage of flight by an explosive device, say, set to trigger by a barometric capsule when it passed a certain altitude. The latter scenario would have been more desirable so that most evidence would be lost in the sea.
Quite frankly, I wonder which pilot believes that one could or would fix an aeroplane to crash at its landing stage without an explosive device, bearing in mind this was in the mid-70's? Generally, a crash after take-off is far more deadly for the occupants than during a landing phase.
Thus I'm not predisposed towards any suggestion of planned assassination of Fuad through sabotage of the aeroplane, unless Harris Salleh or one of his bomohs has fantastic mind control where he could cause the pilot to mishandle the aeroplane and also black out during the landing.
I'm more inclined to believe it was an unfortunate accident.
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