Life or death gambles
Not everyone was dismayed by the North Korean missile test in July. In mid-June, the Dublin-based online betting exchange TradeSports had created a market on whether Korea would launch a missile test by the end of July. The winning punters’ joy, however, was short-lived, as it soon turned out that the specific criteria on which TradeSports had determined the market would be settled—an official confirmation of the launch by the US department of defence—had not been satisfied. The rise of online gambling has led to a number of markets on current events; one of the most lively has involved guessing the likely date of Fidel Castro’s demise. Another new market, on house prices, allows wary homeowners to hedge against house price falls by betting on them.
Danger of “Islamofascism” Has George W Bush been spending too much time with intellectuals? asks Peter Neumann. Following the thwarted London terror plot, Bush declared that the world was at war with “Islamic fascism.” Christopher Hitchens coined the phrase “fascism with an Islamic face” after 9/11. But it was Paul Berman who developed “Islamofascism” into a mature intellectual concept in his book Terror and Liberalism, in an attempt to make the “war on terror” more attractive to the left.
There are many reasons why Bush should drop the term, the most important being that many moderate Muslims will find it objectionable. Islam is not just an ideology like communism or Nazism; it is also a religion that millions of people consider a source of spiritual fulfilment. People in Poland didn’t mind when Reagan called communism an “evil ideology,” because very few identified with communism. But even the most fervent Polish anti-communist would have been upset had Reagan referred to “fascism with a Polish face.”
Bush is not referring to moderate Muslims, but many will get the impression that he is lumping together Islam and fascism and thinks they are the same. If the “war on terror” is a war of ideas, as we are told, then language matters. The concept of Islamofascism should be quietly dropped.
The Moonies are unhappy The Republican right may be losing its most devoted media ally. The Washington Times editor-in-chief Wes Pruden and managing editor Fran Coombs, who have yanked the Reverend Moon-owned paper to the far right, are in trouble. Word is out that the leftist Nation is preparing an exposé on racism…