Mark responded with this:
Nope, just a suburban father, self-employed fellow who happened to go into a health food store back in 1990 after a jog, and met some Middle Eastern guys hanging around a so-called "Palestinian" health food store and we got into a conversation. There was something not right about them, and I chalked it up to my late night studying and sleepless paranoia, and thought "my world is too narrow...I maybe should get out and mingle more."
Three years later when the WTC was bombed in '93 they were some of the guys who were the terrorists of that horror. It was then that I began to study some of the horror that is Islam, the Oslo fraud et al, as I began to make my modest income, and bring children into the world. Nothing so glorious as you mentioned...but who knows, there's hope for me yet :^)
I responded: "So by the time of 9/11 you must have actually understood what was happening, unlike me who was at that time completely ignorant of Islam. Was there one book or article or incident that 'flipped the switch' for you? Where you realized the unthinkable? That at its heart Islam is an aggressive, militant, political, bigoted ideology. What was it?"
It was a combination of things. First, when I read Oriana Fallaci’s letter about the sickening hypocrisy of the Italians, Europeans, the left regarding the bigotry against Israel, the blowing up of innocents et al, in 2001 I think I was reminded of a conversation I had with an interesting guy I met in my youth regarding this issue. He was a Mongolian, a lama, a monk of the Tibetan Buddhist variety. He was a very interesting guy in many ways. We had a conversation once, back in '76 or so.
He asked me what I thought of the Arab-Jewish problem. I gave him what I thought he wanted to hear: a quasi-liberal we can show the Muslims how to attain peace as we have had to struggle for thousands of years blah blah blah.
He listened politely and when I was thru with what I thought would show what a peaceful, loving, strong man I was (or wanted to be) I asked him, "Sir, what do you think of the Arab-Jewish problem?"
He gave me a bit of a silent look that kind of went through me. I recognized it from other conversations about issues that I had seen him discuss, and it put me back on my heels a bit. It was like the feeling you get if your grandpa is laying in the intensive care unit of the hospital and you know it’s the last stop on the bus but it’s hard to face, and you impulsively ask the pleasant nurse who’s coming out of the room as you enter, "How’s Gramps doing??" and she smiles at you. That terribly forgiving smile. And she says, "The doctors are doing everything they can for him."
And that terribly forgiving smile and the delay from that old man who knew Islam way more than I ever imagined or thought anyone had to know said something to me. I never heard him debate religions or compare or any of that. But here he was quite succinct. He smiled that terribly forgiving smile at me…and I knew…uh oh...And he said..."Islam…is a devil’s religion." And he smiled that forgiving smile as I fought to deny the meaning of what he said.
But I had (and still have) enormous respect for that guy, and it took years of poking around and getting a whiff of Islam which until that incident in '90 didn't click at all but by '93 made me read the Oslo Accords and think "this…is madness."
But not the scholar like yourself, and struggling to make my modest living in my work, I just kind of poked at it, of course, until Fallaci’s brave retort and response. Then I went to Israel on a trip five years in a row, and saw for myself which way the sun rose and set and, of course, I was reading Robert Spencer by then, and that Christian guy whose site is no more — the prophetofdoom — and Fallaci’s Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason and so it began. I'm a bit amazed by people such as yourself, who knew zip in 2001, and have come so far with your blogging capabilities.
I said: "That was an interesting response from the Buddhist. Not at all what you'd expect to hear from a Tibetan monk! No wonder it left an impression."
Indeed. I got pretty steamed hearing the Dalai Lama back in 2006 or so mouthing on about how the Israelis should engage in negotiations with Hamas.
He was soon proven wrong and I think sort of said so, but the damage was already done. He also wrote a book which seems to have forgotten the history of Buddhism which is simply this: The Buddhists had the largest school in the world, called Nalanda back in 1036 or thereabouts in India. The Muslims came in and announced that everyone had to convert to Islam. The Buddhists said that the Muslims could take over everything and control it, and all the Buddhists wanted was to practice religion. The Muslims' reply was to cut their heads off and put them on poles. The Buddhists who survived ran off to Tibet and were cut off from India for centuries. The Muslims wound up killing some 60 million or more of Hindus in India over these 1000 years.