Ask Google a question — one of the hundreds of millions it receives every day from all over the world — and it scans about 30 billion Web pages and a couple of billion images, and produced scores of possible answers, within 2.8 seconds.
Pity the cub reporter who has yet to develop what Ernest Hemingway called an essential tool of the trade: a bullfeathers detector.
Google CEO Eric E. Schmidt sees a Web where Chinese is the dominant language and connections are so lightning fast that distinctions between audio, video, and text will blur, all within five years. English-language users won't be hampered by Chinese users (already 300 million today, or 100 million more than in the United States), as they will have their own slice of Google's globe. More worrisome is how the World Wide Web has spun a global electronic battlefield for jihadi extremists that is capturing the imagination of countless thousands in Western countries.
Ignoring appeals from their own government against provoking Islamist radicalism, a majority of Swiss citizens (57 percent) voted to ban the construction of new minarets in the country. About 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland can build new mosques — but without minarets. The four already built will be left standing. The referendum was authorized after the right-wing Swiss People's Party collected the required 100,000 signatures.
"We do not forbid Islam," said party leader Ulrich Schluer. "We forbid the political symbol of Islamization, and this is the minaret. . . (which) is a symbol of political victory."
A little like telling Christians they must remove crosses from their churches. In the Swiss case, the referendum's results amended the constitution to state, "The construction of minarets is prohibited." In Saudi Arabia, Christian churches are prohibited.
Speaking in New York, Geert Wilders, chairman of the Netherlands' right-wing Party for Freedom, said, "I come to America with a mission. All is not well in the old world. There is a tremendous danger looming, and it's very difficult to be optimistic. We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of Europe. This is not only a clear and present danger to the future of Europe itself; it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the West. The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization will be facing an Islamic Europe. The Europe you know is changing."
After painting a grim picture of entire Muslim neighborhoods in European cities "where very few indigenous people reside or are even seen," and with thousands of mosques "with larger congregations than there are in churches," Wilders said that, in France, "school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to Muslims, including Voltaire and Diderot. The same increasingly true of Darwin." And "the history of the Holocaust can no longer be taught because of Muslim sensitivity."
Wilders then moves to the right of Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu when he says, "Thanks to Israeli parents who send their children to the army and lay awake at night, parents in Europe and America can sleep well and dream, unaware of looming dangers. . . The end of Israel would not mean the end of our problems with Islam, but only the beginning . . . of the start of the final battle for world domination."
A Bible Baptist church in Terre Haute, Ind., displayed a roadside board that said, "Jesus Died and Rose and Lives for You — What Did Allah Do?" Allah means God in Arabic, not Prophet Muhammad. Protests forced a change for the following Sunday.
Christian televangelist Pat Robertson tells his millions of viewers on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Islam is "not a religion" but "a violent political system" and that Muslims should be treated like members of a communist or fascist party. Couple that with the militant anti-Christian rhetoric from thousands of jihadi Web sites, and it does not take an overwhelming effort of imagination to see how a devout, politically naive Muslim such as Maj. Nidal M. Hasan went berserk and killed 13 innocent people at Fort Hood.
The war on terror is a war on Islam, as Hasan saw it, as his Yemeni religious guru Anwar al-Awlaki told him repeatedly online, and he read about it constantly.
President Obama's June 4 message to the Muslim world hasn't changed too many minds.
A majority of uneducated — and an alarming number of educated — Muslims believe that Sept. 11, 2001, was a conspiracy of Mossad and the CIA designed to provide a pretext to invade Afghanistan and then use it as a base to invade Pakistan and seize its "Islamic" nuclear arsenal.
Pakistan is in denial of what its 12,500 madrassas (Quranic schools) produce year in and year out with no end in sight: hundreds of thousands of teenagers who have learned Arabic to study the Quran by heart, to the exclusion of other disciplines, interspersed with messages of hate against the United States, Israel and India. Pakistan's government can't afford a modern public school system as it spends more than 50 percent of its revenue on the military. Hardly surprising that seven out of 10 Pakistanis consider themselves anti-American.
Killing a few hundred Taliban insurgents, as the Pakistan army is doing in its tribal areas along the Afghan border, won't cure the malady in the body politic. Almost all the terrorist trails under MI5 surveillance in Britain track back to Pakistan.
The next move in this global contest is the war in Afghanistan, where Muslim extremists — and the NATO allies — are waiting to see whether Obama's new strategy has a chance of success. This can only mean a defeat for the extremists.
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