Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Nobody Else Will Tell You About the Ghailani Trial

Apparently Ghailani - the murderer of 285 people in the bombing of our Embassy in Kenya, was convicted of only a single count of conspiracy because a lone juror refused to accept a verdict that established any higher degree of guilt. 

This in spite of the fact that the prosecution established without question the fact that he was instrumental in buying parts for the bomb, filling those parts with explosives, and buying the truck that would convey the device to where it would explode. 

Everyone is asking how this could have happened, but to my knowledge, nobody has offered the single explanation that makes any sense.  There was a Muslim on the jury.

Now before you accuse me of racism, Islamaphobia, or any other unacceptable behavior, let me explain why I say that.

First of all, you have to recognize that Islam is every bit as much a legal system as it is a religion.  Islam provides a rule for every single conceivable facet of human existence.  While there is a small amount of variance in interpretation of some of those rules, which amount more to questions of style than substance, the vast majority of Muslims adhere to a universal set of rules.  That set of rules is what we inaccurately translate into English as "religion." A more accurate translation of the Arabic word for religion would be "legal obligation."

(For an English manual of those rules that is certified as accurate and authoritative, I recommend to you "Reliance of the Traveller, a Manual of Sacred Islamic Law." )

Among those rules are several that can be summed up as conveying the requirement that no legal system other than Islam can be applied to Muslims, and that no non-believers can be allowed authority over any Muslim.

Taking this into account, if we consider that a Muslim was on the jury, the verdict makes sense.  Far from being amazed that Ghailani was convicted of only one count, we should actually be relieved that he was convicted of any.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Painting of the MacArthur Memorial

Yeah, I put the title up on the headline of the post, just in case you couldn't tell what it's supposed to be.

I painted this as a gift for my class to present to the guy who gave us a tour of the memorial.  He started working there as an archivist when he was in college.  That was twenty years ago.  He's probably handled every artifact and read every document that ever belonged to or was written by, to, or about MacArthur. 

He doesn't usually give tours, but he was kind enough to take my class through the memorial, and he was awesome.  He looks a lot more like a guy you'd expect to see sitting astride a surfboard than one who would work in a safe doing research and cataloging documents.  He has long, wavy blond hair and wore white shirt and pants with a black vest and tie.  He looked kind of like Andy Gibb from a distance.

When he spoke, he sounded a lot more like a surfer than an archivist or a Gibb brother.  He used a lot of very unarchivist sort of words like "Whoa" and "Dude" as in, "So Doug MacArthur goes to Truman 'Like, Whoa!' and, you know, Truman goes, like, 'Dude!''

I know that sounds irreverent, but it was anything but.  You really had to be there. His knowledge was encyclopedic,  but more importantly, that knowledge was informed by a very deep empathy, and an abiding respect for the General and his wife. 

His skill was such that, by the end of the tour, we all shared his respect, and we were grateful to him for passing it along to us.  Hence, this painting as a thank-you gift.