Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Carnival of Brass

[UPDATE: See the update to this FAQ that explains how to further customize the feed, including showing fewer items]

Yesterday I alluded to creating a "real-time" carnival, which you can already see in action on my right sidebar. This Carnival of Brass differs from traditional carnivals (like the Carnival of Islam in the West or Nomad Fatwas, both excellent in their own right) in two important ways. First, to submit a link, you don't send an email with the URL, but rather you simply "tag" it. Second, to read the links, you don't visit the host website, but you actually have a sidebar on your own blog. This means that the Carnival is actually a "news feed" that is continually updated and always fresh and current. You can subscribe to it not just in a sidebar, but also from an RSS reader like the ones built-into your email client or on the web (Bloglines being one example).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the Carnival of Brass:

1. What is the feed address for the Carnival?

There are two feeds, and you can choose either or both as you see fit. The first one is titled @brass_crescent, and its address is:

This feed is for blog posts by muslim bloggers and other blogs in the Brass Crescent (aka the Islamsphere). In defining the Islamsphere, we are not relying solely on adherence to the faith, but an affinity for parts of the diverse cultural fabric that Islam embraces and is embraced by worldwide.

The second feed address is here:

This feed is for articles and news items from the mass media, of particular interest to the Islamsphere. Blog posts that comment on these articles belong in the other feed, this is more "news" whereas the other feed is more "opinion".

2. How do I read the Carnival?

The feeds are RSS v2.0 and so should work with any feed-reader software, Bloglines, or your email program if it supports RSS feeds.

3. How do I embed the Carnival on my blog?

The easiest way is to put either or both of the following javascript blocks in your sidebar:

<script type="text/javascript" src=";title=The%20Carnival%20of%20Brass;icon=rss">
</script><noscript><a href="">The Carnival of Brass</a></noscript>

(for the @brass_crescent feed)

<script type="text/javascript" src=";title=The%20BrassFeed;icon=rss"></script>
<noscript><a href="">The BrassFeed</a></noscript>

(for the @COB feed)

Remember that @brass_crescent is the analysis and opinion, ie mostly blog posts. @COB is the news and articles, mostly from mass media.

Also keep in mind that the HTML for the above feeds can be custom styled using CSS to match your blog layout and design. Here is a reference for what styles are used.

Your blog host may not allow javascript in your template. If that is the case, then you should try to add the feed directly. For example, blogs allow RSS widgets, so you can add the feed addresses directly. I am sure that Typepad has a similar feature.

BTW, hosted services like Typepad and may have some lag time, so your sidebar may not update immediately after a new link is approved. Be patient, it will get there.

4. What if I don't use a feedreader, know nothing about RSS, and I don't have a blog?

You can visit any blog (like City of Brass or Eteraz) that has the sidebar for the Carnival and read the links from there. We also will have a dedicated website for the Carnival as well - stay tuned.

5. How do I submit a URL to the Carnival?

First, you must register for an account on and add the host of the Carnival, Aziz Poonawalla, to your "network". The steps to do this are:

  1. Go to and register for a new account if you have not yet done so already.
  2. Install the extensions for Firefox or for Internet Explorer, depending on which browser you use to surf the web.
  3. Add user azizhp to your network by clicking here.

The above steps only need to be done once, and I encourage everyone to do so.

To actually submit a link, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the URL of the item you wish to submit.
  2. click the "TAG" button on your browser toolbar (which was installed by the browser extension).
  3. Fill out the pop-up form using the following conventions:
    the actual URL of the post or item. This may already be prefilled out for you.
    The headline or title of the post.
    A brief description or comment on the item. To identify yourself as the submitter, append your initials as follows: -ap
    Use either the @brass_crescent tag (if the link is a blog posting) or the @COB tag (if the link is an article from the mass media). Do not forget the @ sign. Do NOT use both tags, only one or the other.

If these steps are followed, then your submission will be made visible to the host automatically. The host will choose the best links as they come in.

6. How many links can I submit?

Please limit yourself to one link a day.

7. I submitted a link, why didn't it show up?

Please note that not all links submitted can necessarily be approved, especially if many people submit links. The process by which a link is approved is admittedly subjective; I am asking for your trust that I will try and keep the content fresh and diverse.

8. Why not show all the links from everyone who submits?

Since there is a limited number of links we can display at a given time, if we attempt to show all submissions, then nothing will remain visible for very long. By being more selective and lower frequency, we can take our time to savor the content that flows past.

9. Isn't all this harder than the traditional method?

After setting up your account, you will see that submitting links is in fact incredibly easy to do. Plus, it requires significantly less effort on the part of the host to maintain. The advantages are there - try it out and you'll see!

10. This FAQ didn't answer my question. Now what?

Please leave a comment to this post or to apoonawa dash bohra at yahoo dot com.

That's it! Please try it out and let's see whether this experiment can succeed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

a real-time carnival

I'd liketo direct your attention to the sidebar on the right. There are two feeds there, both powered by The topmost one is tagged @brass_crescent (the Carnival of Brass) and the lower one @COB (the Brassfeed).

The purpose of these feeds is to allow the muslim blog community to collaboratively promote content, both from within our own circle (the Carnival) and the wider blogsphere/mass media (Brassfeed).

I'd like to encourage you all to get accounts at and tag items you feel should be on the feed. In other words, posts or items that you think we should all be looking at. Don't add more than a link every day or two to each at most - otherwise content will scroll off the page too fast for us all to properly reflect on and write about.

The two feeds function in a sense as a real-time carnival. Instead of submitting your links, you just tag them. And they will automagically appear. Of course you can also host the feed yourself on your own blog the same as it appears here. For details on how to do that, email me and I'll walk you through it. You will need a account to participate.

When tagging a link, please use the following convention:

url: (the actual URL of the post or item)

description: credit the site first, then follow with the headline.

notes: add your own commentary here, be sure to sign with your initials so we know who submitted the link.

tags: use the @brass_crescent or the @COB tag depending on which feed is appropriate. Please do not use both. You can add other tags too as you see fit, though - just not thesetwo simultaneously.

UPDATE: you also need to add me (user azizhp) to your network for it to work. I have posted an updated FAQ for the mechanics of this carnival that is the main reference.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

yes, we are

the WaPo has an essay claiming that American muslims are not as assimilated as one might think. However, the problem here is the definition of "assimilated". In the lead graf, the author concedes,

I found few signs of London-style radicalism among Muslims in the United States. At the same time, the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in this country choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.

Emphasis mine, which I think rather undercuts the headline. We ARE as assimilated as you might think; we are not a radical community. The real complaint here seems to be the issue of Islamic "identity". I see no evidence in the article that muslim americans are "choosing" their Islamic identity "over" the American one; in fact if anything there is an ongoing synthesis of the two, which is really the entire point of America. The truth is that yes American muslims are religious, but so are Christians here by and large, more so than in Europe. Few would argue that Christian Americans are choosing Christian identity over their American identity, after all. Muslims in America do not have to be Irshad Manji-style "refuseniks" to be moderate; if anything the history of America teaches us that here (and almost exclusively here!) can the persecuted peoples of the world find sanctuary to practice their faith as they see fit. American muslims do not and should not have to be secular in order to be moderate.

The truth is that muslim americans are a different demographic and have a different history than their European counterparts. I discussed this issue at length in an earlier post titled "muslim citizens, not citizen muslims" and provided quite a few links therein that address this point. Also see publius' comments on the WaPo article above, in which he makes much of the same economic and class-based arguments.

However, the sense of alienation that Muslims feel is a very real thing. What do you expect when we have talk of muslim-only airport lines? For the most part American muslims have borne the increased scrutiny without complaint. We do as a community understand why we are being singled out - but that doesn't take the sting out of "flying while muslim" in any way. But is alienation and resentment equivalent to anti-assimilation? No, though they certainly could be the seeds for it in the long run. However I have great faith in America and I do not think this will come to pass.

The whole issue of identity is really not as critical as that of modernity. Its reconciling tradition with modernity that is tricky. We all have multiple identities and we rarely "choose" one over another, but the conflict between modernity and tradition is sometimes trickier to navigate. The way in which my own community (the Dawoodi Bohras) achieves this feat was nicely described by Jonah Blank in his book, Mullahs on the Mainframe, of which you can read an excerpt here and which I myself reviewed here.

Egyptian textbooks

With respect to my previous post, some argue that selected passages in children's textbooks in Egypt support Donald Sensing's contention that "any muslim" is bound to consider the forced conversions of the FOX journalists valid. I respect the work done by the CMIP to try and translate textbooks but I think that their work lends itself to others' polemical agendas rather readily.

I think that it's self-evident why a court ruling that forced conversions are not valid carries more weight than a textbook for grade schoolers. But the issue is worth addressing because the chidlren's textbooks used in Egypt are actually a sign of increasing tolerance, not less.

In my elementary school in suburban Chicago, I was taught Manifest Destiny of the United States and that the Native Americans were savage but noble people who are now protected citizens and have embraced modernity. I think that there are few people in my generation who still subscribe to this view, despite having been "indoctrinated" as impressionable youth. And certainly my grade school textbooks have no relevance to many court rulings in favor of the Indian Nations that say that the treaties they signed with the US were continually and habitually broken.

But let's look a little more closely at the textbooks in question. The translation seems pretty poor to me, but here's the whole paragraph:

If a Protected Person [Dhimmi] is forced to convert to Islam, his conversion is valid. If a Harbi [non-Muslim alien] is fought against and converts to Islam - it is valid... If the [same] Dhimmi returns [to his former religion], he is not killed [like an ordinary apostate], but imprisoned until he converts to Islam [again], because there is doubt regarding his belief [when he was forced to convert]. There is a possibility that it [i.e., his forced conversion] was sincere, so he is to be killed as an apostate. It is [also] possible that he did not believe [in Islam while having been forced to convert] and then he [should] be a Dhimmi and shall not be killed...

The reason I say the translation is poor is because the first sentence is an absolute one, that is directly contradicted by later ones. In actuality the assertions were probably more nuanced - Arabic is not a language that lends itself to machine or brute force translation.

Also it is worth noting that textbooks are often a vehicle for social activists to push their social agendas. Their value in this is beyond dispute; look at the turf war over textbooks being fought in the Evolution/Intelligent Design debate. The specific textbook in question is one issued by Al Azhar university, which is not a monolithic entity but actually has numerous factions ranging from liberal modern to islamist medieval. The CMIP notes that textbooks issued by the Ministry of Education are much more reasonable, and that in general the textbooks used by school children are much more tolerant than they were in the past. If you read the entire report you get a much more nuanced picture. Also keep in mind that the passage above is from 2002.

Are children's textbooks in Egypt still intolerant by our standards? Well, if by "our standards" you mean the United States circa 2006, then yes, absolutely. If you mean 1956, then no. Given that the trends are pointing in the right direction I think that it's pretty disingenious to try and use these textbooks as evidence of how the precepts of Islam dictate that "any muslim" (Sensing's words, not mine) would consider a forced conversion valid.

The bottom line is that a textbook is just a textbook. It's not the Qur'an, which I quoted in my earlier post. And the fact that there are jurist rulings on how forced conversions are not valid pretty much overrules any textbook-derived analysis.

Monday, August 28, 2006

no compulsion

If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe! Qur'an 10:99 (Yusufali)

Donald Sensing, analyzing the gunpoint conversions of the FOX News journalists who were kidnapped in Gaza and then subsequently released, comes to the conclusion that Muslims necessarily accept a forced conversion as valid:

So according to the precepts of Islam, Centanni's and Wiig's confessions were completely valid. Any Muslim, not just their captors, considers it so. That they were uttered "at gunpoint" is unobjectionable. The guns simply enabled the two newsmen to understand that submission to Allah was required of them. Regardless of what Centanni or Wiig may think or believe, Muslims now consider them to be of their religion.

Unfortunately, this interpretation of Islam is driven as much by Sensing's own Christian polemical agenda as it is by any real attempt at understanding the issue of conversions. It is rooted in a false understanding of what the "submission" that is Islam's name means - a deliberate misunderstanding to be sure. It is just as false as a muslim claiming that Christians are polytheists because of the Trinity doctrine.

The truth is that the acceptance of Islam is a purely individual decision. The Shahada (There is no God but God and Mohammed Is His Prophet) is an oath. Sensing portrays this as a submission of slave to master, but in reality it is no different from the oath of citizenship that immigrants take when becoming US citizens.

Whether or not a person is muslim depends solely on whether that person declares it to be so. Since Centanni or Wiig appear to have indicated that they only gave the shahada out of fear for their lives, it's essentially obvious that they are not truly muslim.

This issue also touches on the issues of takfir and of taqqiya. I will leave discussion of the latter to Ali Eteraz (link forthcoming).

UPDATE: a commentator to Sensing's post observes,

the original post did not cite legal opinions, which is what is relevant. It would be as if Rev Sensing tried to guess what Orthodox Jews could eat, by reading Leviticus and speculating, instead of actually consulting a source on Kashrut. Wed get halacha according the school of Sensing, not anything that told us anything about what ANY Jews actually do. Somehow we accept this kind of reasoning wrt Islam, cause of the manifold problems Islam has - and yes, Im quite aware of who and what our enemies are. I also think the threat from Salafist terrorism, and the related threats from Khomeinism and pan-arab nationalism, are serious enough to want to be precise in our investigations of the Islamic world.

Sensing did not cite legal opinions of Islamic jurists nor did he even bother to cite the Qur'an! (I prefaced this post with one verse, myself). I will also point to this court case from Cairo back in February 2006:

Cairo, Egypt - Two young Coptic Christian women whose father had converted to Islam when they were infants have won a court battle in Egypt to retain their official religious identity as Christians.

Now 18 and 19 years old, Iman and Olfat Malak Ayet will be issued national identity cards matching their Christian birth certificates tomorrow.

In the final verdict, presiding Judge Farouk Ali Abdel Kader of Cairo’s District No. 1 Administrative Court declared that the civil authorities had conducted a “non-justified intervention” by imposing upon the two plaintiffs a belief they had not chosen.
Nearly three years ago, the Ayet sisters were surprised to learn that, before his death, their father had changed their identities from Christian to Muslim on government records. The change also left them with new Muslim names.

This is just a single example, obtained from a casual google search, but it serves to rebut Sensing's assertion that the "precepts of Islam" compel muslims to accept forced conversions as valid.

Friday, August 25, 2006

coup in Pakistan

not in the literal sense. But just as potentially significant in terms of its consequences for Islamic society. For at last, Islam is no longer solely a weapon in the hands of those who have long used it to oppress. It is now a sword for the righteous. Ali Eteraz has the essential details - go read in full.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

flying while muslim

via Glenn, Bruce Schneier has a fantastic piece about the state of paranoia that has resulted from the inept liquid-explosives plot of some british muslim punks. He has a pretty comprehensive roundup of all the stupid incidents where passengers of crew overreacted to "wierd" behavior by muslim-appearing people. Fortunately, most victims of this paranoia are pretty good-natured about it (via thabet).

Schneier proposes two thought experiments:

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if they had blown up 10 planes. There would be canceled flights, chaos at airports, bans on carry-on luggage, world leaders talking tough new security measures, political posturing and all sorts of false alarms as jittery people panicked. To a lesser degree, that's basically what's happening right now.
The implausible plots and false alarms actually hurt us in two ways. Not only do they increase the level of fear, but they also waste time and resources that could be better spent fighting the real threats and increasing actual security. I'll bet the terrorists are laughing at us.

Another thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that the British government arrested the 23 suspects without fanfare. Imagine that the TSA and its European counterparts didn't engage in pointless airline-security measures like banning liquids. And imagine that the press didn't write about it endlessly, and that the politicians didn't use the event to remind us all how scared we should be. If we'd reacted that way, then the terrorists would have truly failed.

I bet that the jihadists are amused.

This all reminded me of this old piece of mine from two years ago, actually. I've tended to accept as a neccessity the increased scrutiny that I routinely experience while flying; but this really can be taken too far. As Bruce says, the surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized.

Or maybe it's best to just ship myself DHL.

UPDATE 082506: Remember the 12 passengers arrested on a jet bound for Mumbai from the Netherlands? They were released without charges. Turns out that they were from my religious community, the Dawoodi Bohras:

AMSTERDAM/MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: An edgy Dutch security apparatus, after creating the impression of a foiled terror plot when it arrested 12 Indian on Wednesday following the return of a Northwest Airlines flight to Amsterdam, late on Thursday night brought the curtains down on the high-voltage drama by releasing all of them.

The 12 held were all Muslims, most of them Bohras from Mumbai. Their irrational exuberance during takeoff — when they reportedly talked on mobile phones and exchanged them around — seems to have aroused the suspicion of the air marshals.
It appears the alarm was triggerred also by the fact that some among the detained dozen sported beards, wore salwar-kameez and spoke in Urdu.
From their names, a number of the 12 detained seem to be Bohra Muslims of Mumbai.

Bohras are a peaceful and highly modern, entrepeneurial community. The spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, has always taught that we should be good citizens, respect the law, and be involved in our civic spheres. An ethnography of the Bohra sect, which is specifically of the Shi'a Ismaili Fatimid branch of Islam, was written by Jonah Blank entitled Mullahs on the Mainframe which I have reviewed in detail. No Bohra has ever been implicated in any terror plot or threat.

The bottom line from the article? "There is currently zero tolerance for any out-of-line behaviour in the air." The implied definition of "out-of-line" here is "draw attention to yourself in any way".

And that has implications for airline security as well. As a muslim myself, I am much more likely to notice genuinely suspicious behavior by a muslim terrorist on a plane than a non-muslim. However, next time I fly, am I going to be vigilant? Hell no. I'm going to be keeping my head down, trying to avoid attracting attention, and praying that I don't cause my flight to be escorted back to home by an F16.

UPDATE 2: Raed Jarrar is forced to cover up a shirt with Arabic lettering on it before being allowed on his flight (via thabet). Ironically, the shirt carried the phrase, "we will not be silenced". As a matter of fact, these events mean more and more muslims in the west will choose to be silent, out of isolation and fear. And that's a shame, because it is when muslims are NOT silent that everyone is more secure.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

pledge drive for Israel and Lebanon

Jonathan Edelstein has pledged to match up to US$1250 in donations to Lebanon and US$750 in donations to Israel to rebuild and provide support to the civilian populations of these two countries. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings is also matching up to $1000. The greater sum for Lebanon reflects the greater devastation, as well as the fact that there is Iranian and Saudi money ready to fill the void. We must not let Hizbollah become a state within a state again in Lebanon - and we are already behind. Money is flooding into Lebanon from Iran and the hearts of ordinary Shi'a - upon whom so much misery is always visited, who always fare the worst and who have borne the biggest burdens in these conflicts - will follow the money.

Listen to this report from NPR today: Hizbollah takes the lead in rebuilding Lebanon.

I am donating $21 each to Doctors without Borders (here) and to American Friends of Magen David Adom (here). I urge all of you to do the same. There are numerous other charities helping both sides that you can choose from.

UPDATE: I note with disappointment that Jonathan's impulse to give money to the Lebanese for reconstruction is being portrayed as "giving money to the enemy" by Israeli partisans. All too often, muslims have the same sort of attitude, which is why I made my donation to Magen David Adom the same amount as that to DWB. I don't see my giving money to the Israeli Red Star as "giving money to an enemy" and neither should anyone else.

Hizbollah is taking care of its constituents.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

muslims only

I have borne the increased scrutiny that I receive at airports willingly. Not without resentment, at times, but willingly all the same.

If this comes to pass, however:

A Fox News guest proposed having a "Muslims only" line for airport travelers, an idea that "Dayside" co-host Mike Jerrick called attention to it so that viewers did not overlook the proposal.

Conservative radio host Mike Gallagher suggested the idea during a segment Tuesday (August 15, 2006) with constitutional lawyer Michael Gross discussing racial profiling.

"Dayside" co-host Juliet Huddy set up the debate by noting that all terrorists have been Muslim extremists, and Jerrick claimed that some people oppose racial profiling as "politically incorrect."

"It’s not just a matter of political correctness, please," responded Gross. "It’s illegal, it’s unconstitutional, unethical, immoral, it shouldn’t be done. We do not in this country prejudge a person based upon their race, creed, color, country of national origin and it’s wrong to do so and it addition it’s not effective. It doesn’t work. It actually perpetuates the problem. That is, it separates us."

Gallagher responded that Gross's statements were "absolutely absurd" and claimed that the Traffic Safety Administration is aggressively targeting uniformed members of the military. "Let's have a Muslim-only line," Gallagher said, as Gross started to talk.

Jerrick asked Gallagher to repeat what he said.

"It’s time to have a Muslims check-point line in America’s airports and have Muslims be scrutinized. You better believe it, it’s time," Gallagher said, garnering tepid audience applause.

then the terrorists really have won. So, how shall we identify the muslims? I think history gives us some helpful tips.

Think this is a fringe view? You're wrong. (via eteraz).

xposted to diaries at DailyKos and RedState. The tack that the discussion takes at each site will be instructive.

Friday, August 11, 2006

bombing in Najaf

35 dead:

A suicide bomb attack at a market in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf has killed at least 35 people and injured more than 90 others.

Reports say the bomber detonated a belt of explosives at a police checkpoint.

The attack occurred near the Imam Ali shrine, one of the most sacred Shia Muslim sites. A Sunni insurgent group claimed it had carried out the bombing.

Michael Yon is right. We are losing in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Qana conspiracies

A Reuters photographer, Adnan Hajj, was found guilty of doctoring photos of Beirut. That's truly disgusting. Propaganda of the basest sort.

However, others now assume that because this photographer faked his photos, that the Qana massacre is somehow also suspect. This too is repugnant. Jefferson Morley has an important blog entry at the Washington Post that addresses the evolving blogsphere attempts to deny Qana.

It is important to note that most of the innocents killed at Qana were of two large families, the Hashim family and the Shalhoub family. The bulk of the arguments by the Qana-deniers have been definitively refuted by the doggged and diligent reporting in the mainstream press, especially Anthony Shadid of the WaPo and Nicholas Blanford of the Daily Star.

Morley directly contacted one of the Qana deniers to ask him about his claims:

As for EU Referendum's claim that a Lebanese rescue worker seen in many photos from Qana was a "Hezbollah official," I e-mailed co-author of the site, Richard North, to ask for his evidence.

"All I have to go on is gut instinct," North replied.

I appreciate his candor. It confirms that he has no evidence to support the central claim of his blog posts.

North says he is just trying to "raise questions," which is certainly a legitimate goal. My question is: What is it about the photos from Qana that made Israel's supporters prefer fantasy to fact?

emphasis mine, for the implications are subtle yet profound.

Those who deny Qana, and attempt to relegate it to a hoax, are as guilty of propaganda as Adnan Hajj. It is the right-wing equivalent of the 9-11 conspiracy theories, and deserves as much scorn for its moral emptiness.

UPDATE: Ace of Spades HQ has a handsome mea culpa and debunking post on Qana-denial up.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

pretentious poetry: a jafi's tale

Really, I'm less offended by this than I am disturbed at the reasoning behind it:

Ridicule is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of Western Civilization. The most crucial part of the struggle against the Great Islamic Jihad takes place in the media of the West itself. This is an information war, and the Jihad has a distinct advantage, since large sections of Western media are willing (even eager) dupes of the mujahideen. Hizbullah’s use of civilians as shields and camouflage, followed by the feeding of photos and video footage of the inevitable carnage to media outlets, is just the latest example of the ruthless and shrewd manipulation of the West’s information systems by the Islamists.

But we have a weapon unavailable to the jihadis: humor. Islam is humor-impaired, and necessarily so, since ridicule and satire are a threat to its very foundation. The Islamists are unable to respond in kind — have you ever noticed how relentlessly stupid their “Zionists and Crusaders” jokes are?

The Great Jihad has no defense against being made fun of.

emphasis mine. I'm sure that whatever jokes this jafi has heard about zionists and crusaders are lame indeed, but this guy actually thinks that humor is some kind of threat to the foundation of Islam? The bolded text above was clearly written for its own sake, bereft of any real meaning. I sometimes wonder if this kind of "argumentation" is really some kind of distributed Sokal Affair writ large. I should make a random Defending Western Civilization essay generator sometime; there is plenty of precedent.

Anyway, the Baron is free to write bad poetry as he pleases; he's not giving Vogons any run for their money. But to think that he is somehow striking a blow by doing so for the sake of civilization is not offensive; it's just sad.

Onward, man of the West!