Civis Americanus Sum.

April 23, 2009

Rookie’s post, combined with a recent influx of news concerning terrorism (sorry, “man-caused disaster”) both to American civilians and Saudi children, got me thinking. These “cultural differences” between America and Muslim terrorists have been going on for some time. It’s a tradition that is linked to one of the most honorable and deadly factions of the American military, the Marines. In fact, it’s the story of why Marines are called Leathernecks.

Come with me if you will on a journey through time and space. The year is 1803. The place is… well, it’s America. Thomas Jefferson is the president, and is plagued by an ocean full of Libyan pirates. These pirates are capturing American trade ships and are ransoming their crews for huge amounts of money. Jefferson, in his wisdom, issued an edict that said that he would put mountains of money into defense, but would not pay one cent of tribute to pirates.

Let me make this perfectly clear: I said Libyan pirates. By “Libyan,” I mean “Muslim.” And by “pirates” I mean “terrorists.” So by “Libyan pirates,” I mean “Muslim terrorists.” Still with me? Good.

True to his word, Jefferson did not pay tribute to the terrorists who held his men. Instead, he deployed an elite branch of the military, the Marines, to Libya to lay waste to the pirates (terrorists) and those who harbored them. By way of defense, the Marines wore thick leather collars that ran roughly from the chin to the collarbone. These collars were meant to prevent the Libyan (Muslim) soldiers from decapitating the Marines. Not that it was much of a problem: the Marines made short work of many Libyan pirates (Muslim terrorists) and suffered few setbacks. This is where the term “Leathernecks” comes from. (It’s also the origin of the line in the Marine anthem, “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…”)

Why did Jefferson take the hard way out and wage the First Barbary War when he could have just payed off the pirates? It goes back to the golden age of Rome. At one point, the Roman empire was a thing to be respected by its citizens and feared by those who lived outside of its reach. So powerful was Rome that its citizens did not need to fear when traveling abroad. If captured, a citizen merely had to utter the words “civis Romanus sum,” or “I am a Roman citizen,” and the words would strike such fear into the hearts of the captors that they would release their captive for fear of retribution from the Roman Empire.

So did Jefferson lay waste to Libyan pirates (yes, Muslim terrorists) so that American citizens could walk safely among foreigners without fear of harm or capture. And it worked. In 1804, America established itself as a potent military threat to enemies both foreign and domestic. We had begun shaping what would later be called our Big Stick.

Today, so dilute is our military might that Somali pirates (say it with me now, Muslim terrorists) held the captain of an American vessel captive, demanding ransom and reasonably expecting to receive it. It took three days — three whole days — for President Obama to deploy the same Marines that leveled Libya to take out three of these terrorists and capture a fourth. While three days is far too long to make a decisive military move, at least he made the right one.

At least, he made one of the right moves. I’m still waiting for the next one, the one where he takes the Big Stick out of the closet and, as Rookie said, “turns the desert [Somalia] into glass.”

I’ll close with this statement, a paraphrase of a comment made by Jay Severin: A week or two ago, President Obama completed a tour of the G20 nations during which, by all accounts, he was perfectly diplomatic, polite, respectful, and understated. I have a hard time reconciling that attitude with the one he expressed in his inauguration speech when, standing mere feet away from George W. Bush, he said, “We are ready to lead once more.” To my mind, the only way a meeting with a group of foreign nations could be considered a success is if President Obama were to walk into the room and say, “As the President of the United States of America, I am compelled to look out for the best interests of my people. These interests include, among many things, security against foreign assailants. To the extent that your interests parallel ours, welcome aboard. If they do not, the United States has no business with you.”

Barack, if you’re listening, it’s time to take out the boom sticks. It is time to make use of the very Leathernecks who served Jefferson so well. It is time to once again instill fear in our enemies, both foreign and domestic, with the utteration of three simple words: civis Americanus sum.

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13 Responses to “Civis Americanus Sum.”

  1. Palm Tree said

    “As the President of the United States of America, I am compelled to look out for the best interests of my people. These interests include, among many things, security against foreign assailants. To the extent that your interests parallel ours, welcome aboard. If they do not, the United States has no business with you.”

    “if you not with us then your against us” … i’m pretty sure the last President tried that with disastrous results. I believe that President Obama’s attitude of words before war is a much better policy and one that will make us much safer than George Bush’s indiscriminate saber rattling.

    • thebeerphilosopher said

      But that’s not what I’m saying. It’s not a with-us-or-against-us black-and-white fallacy. It’s a statement of purpose. America does not NEED the support of its allies, does not NEED the support of the international community, in order to hunt the men and women in the world who attempt to destroy us. If they would like to help, fine. If they would not, they are neither enemies nor allies, but insignificant to the purpose of keeping America safe.

      “I believe that President Obama’s attitude of words before war is a much better policy and one that will make us much safer than George Bush’s indiscriminate saber rattling.”

      What words, exactly, did Barack Obama say about the hostage situation or the Somali pirates (Muslim terrorists) before having them killed? I know he held a press conference about housing, and then when he was asked about the pirate situation, he said, “I’m here to talk about housing.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/09/obama-on-pirates-declines_n_185111.html ) And, in point of fact, fifteen minutes of searching the internet has not turned up so much as a paraphrase of Obama saying anything about the attacks. I’ll keep looking, though.

  2. Palm Tree said

    Firstly i was not responded to the first portion of your post about the Somali Pirates. I was responding to your second about America’s stance in the world, and what he should do at a G20 meeting. … that being said i will ignore your comments about what he said to the pirates as that was not what i was addressing at all, that was a difficult situation and Obama made the tough decision.

    What i would like to address is your mistaken idea that America can go it alone in the world and the rest of the countires will just have to line up or get out of the way. America may be a powerful nation in the world, some say the most powerful, however, even given our power it would be foolish to adopt such a strategy. You say we must adopt this strategy “to keep America safe” which is propaganda fallacy number 2. Taking over countries and “going it alone in the world” to “keep America safe” has only meant that the United States will do whatever it wants regardless of the lives and interests of any other person or country. This is not a wise move even from a purely amoral military standpoint. A strong country that does not attempt to understand the needs of the others will in short work cause a coalition of “weaker” countries to gather at its feet and tear it from its vaunted place of power. Just as Rome so to with America if we take such a stance. We can be torn apart from without and within and by adopting your strategy that is exactly what we will be inviting.

    Going beyond the purely a-moral look at the strategy it is also not smart from a standpoint of humanity, morality, and community. We are in an era where humanity will either tear itself apart with the same prejudices that have caused our wars for ages, or will find a new ethic a new belief that Understanding and diplomacy should come before emotional outbursts and “ME, ME, MINE!!!” style geopolitical back and forth. If we as a people want to truley lead in the world than we should take a stance of balance a stance that puts forth diplomacy and understanding first, and violence and war, as a last resort. We should put forth a stance that sets aside the old and disproven methods of the past and looks inside each person for a strength of character to be more than animals tearing each other apart.

    • thebeerphilosopher said

      I disagree with you on so many levels here that I’ll have to take it in bits. But first:

      “Firstly i was not responded to the first portion of your post about the Somali Pirates. I was responding to your second about America’s stance in the world, and what he should do at a G20 meeting.”

      Right, so was I. But because the Somali pirates were the biggest (dare I say only) threat to American security since Obama took office, they serve as a useful example. How did the words before war concept work in this particular instance? Yeah, we still ended up having to kill the terrorists.

      “that was a difficult situation and Obama made the tough decision. ”

      It was neither. Three teenage pirates were holding 20 Americans hostage. That’s not a difficult situation for a President to handle, nor is it a tough to decide that these boys need to be dead or in custody immediately. That’s a no-brainer.

      “You say we must adopt this strategy “to keep America safe” which is propaganda fallacy number 2.”

      I’m sorry, but could you provide a link to the official list of propaganda fallacies and their proper numbers? And then could you provide me with the logic that says that saying something should be done for the safety of Americans means it is obviously untrue?

      “Taking over countries and “going it alone in the world” to “keep America safe” has only meant that the United States will do whatever it wants regardless of the lives and interests of any other person or country.”

      I will agree with that statement, with the following qualifier: “…has only meant that the US will do whatever it wants *with respect to preserving the safety of its people*, regardless of the lives and interests of any other person or country.”

      Look, I hated George W. Bush. He was an idiot. He lacked the balls to react with the kind of might and fury that would help to ensure safety from would-be terrorists. I hope Obama doesn’t make that same mistake.

      “A strong country that does not attempt to understand the needs of the others will in short work cause a coalition of “weaker” countries to gather at its feet and tear it from its vaunted place of power. Just as Rome so to with America if we take such a stance. We can be torn apart from without and within and by adopting your strategy that is exactly what we will be inviting.”

      Rome fell because its resources were stretched too thin. America is many things, but it is not imperialist. We do not seek to conquer new lands or expand our sphere of influence, as Rome did. We seek merely to protect the land that we currently own from those who wish to harm us on it. Contrary to your insinuation, countries who FAIL to protect themselves from foreign attack or domestic enemies, the ones who FAIL to act in their own self-interests, the ones who FAIL to detach themselves from international relations when their citizens are being threatened and killed abroad, these are the the nations that crumble.

      “If we as a people want to truley [sic] lead in the world than [sic] we should take a stance of balance [sic] a stance that puts forth diplomacy and understanding first, and violence and war, [sic] as a last resort.”

      This is all well and good, but incredibly naive. When we’re talking about the safety of America, we’re not talking about waging war against a country, because there’s no country in the world stupid enough to pick a fight with us. We’re fighting terrorists, and the hallmark of terrorists is that they don’t do diplomacy. Because our enemy doesn’t “put diplomacy and understanding first,” neither can we afford to.

      “We should put forth a stance that sets aside the old and disproven [sic] methods of the past and looks inside each person for a strength of character to be more than animals tearing each other apart.”

      What “old and disproven [sic]” methods are you talking about? And furthermore, please tell me what you might see if you looked inside each Muslim terrorist. You let me know where their strength of character lies. Then tell me that it is possible to act civilly when that big Muslim animal is tearing us apart. It’s not enough to be bigger than the animals; we must be bigger animals.

      • Notelrac said

        Ah, a point by point rebuttal. Haven’t seen one of those since my old skool Usenet net.* flamewar daze…

      • Palm Tree said

        “I’m sorry, but could you provide a link to the official list of propaganda fallacies and their proper numbers? And then could you provide me with the logic that says that saying something should be done for the safety of Americans means it is obviously untrue?”

        Firstly, the number was a figure of speech used to make a point. Secondly, the logic that you are asking for can be found in examples from both the recent past and the long past.

        Example 1: George Bush and his War on Terrorism

        This war on terrorism changed wording, definition, and mission as many times as was necessary to fit his needs. You may say that you do not like him, however, if you are sponsoring policies in your text that are much the same as his, it is a moot point. With that being said, Bush’s war on terrorism created in Iraq one of the greatest havens for terrorists that exists in the world today. This did not make America safer but it did suit Bush’s wants and the needs of the businesses that backed his presidency. Bush’s big stick policy that greatly under-utilized diplomacy made enemies of many countries in all areas of the world from Europe to Africa to Asia. This cowboy attitude which seems much like the one you are asking for, did not make America safer it created more enemies for us to face. It has taken hard work on the part of President Obama to even scratch the surface of healing some of the relationships of America abroad.

        Example 2: The Red Scare and Joseph McCarthy

        This is a famous example of doing something to make America safer, in this case from the infamous communist threat. This did the exact opposite of make America safe, stamping out the differing opinions that make America what it is. Additionally, McCarthy’s tactics only caused rampant fear and division to spread creating danger within the country in addition to aggravating those from without.

        “I will agree with that statement, with the following qualifier: “…has only meant that the US will do whatever it wants *with respect to preserving the safety of its people*, regardless of the lives and interests of any other person or country.”

        Look, I hated George W. Bush. He was an idiot. He lacked the balls to react with the kind of might and fury that would help to ensure safety from would-be terrorists. I hope Obama doesn’t make that same mistake. “

        The United States cannot act like the lives and interests of all other people and countries in the world do not matter, in any situation. If the lives of every American citizen were at stake this would still not relieve us of our obligation to consider the the world community at large of which we are a part. The United States is not the be all and end all of human civilization, we are not more important than, or better than all the other countries in the world. To act in such a way will only breed well deserved malice and resentment from other countries in the world. Arrogance, Stupidity, and a “Kill First” attitude are not what the country or the world needs right now. Presidents must act fast and decisively when it comes to issues happening in the world, especially where lives are at stake. However, this does not mean that violence or threats of violence will always be the most expedient or long lasting way of solving a problem … often it is not, it is an easy way of solving a problem but one that will create many more problems in the future.

        “Rome fell because its resources were stretched too thin. America is many things, but it is not imperialist. We do not seek to conquer new lands or expand our sphere of influence, as Rome did. We seek merely to protect the land that we currently own from those who wish to harm us on it. Contrary to your insinuation, countries who FAIL to protect themselves from foreign attack or domestic enemies, the ones who FAIL to act in their own self-interests, the ones who FAIL to detach themselves from international relations when their citizens are being threatened and killed abroad, these are the the nations that crumble.”

        As a history scholar that claim that America is not an imperialist nation is something that I find not only laughable but indefensible in the face of historical facts. Imperialism does that take the form in the 21st century that it did in Roman times with conquering armies. Oftentimes in our day and age Imperialism takes other forms, especially economic and political. America often uses its power in the world to strip other countries of their resources, to use foreign workers in sweatshop conditions and to force other countries to take our view even against the interests of their own countries. America has stood up tyrannical dictators in other countries to rather than support a democratically elected leadership that the didn’t like.

        “This is all well and good, but incredibly naive. When we’re talking about the safety of America, we’re not talking about waging war against a country, because there’s no country in the world stupid enough to pick a fight with us. We’re fighting terrorists, and the hallmark of terrorists is that they don’t do diplomacy. Because our enemy doesn’t “put diplomacy and understanding first,” neither can we afford to.”

        “We should put forth a stance that sets aside the old and disproven [sic] methods of the past and looks inside each person for a strength of character to be more than animals tearing each other apart.”

        What “old and disproven [sic]” methods are you talking about? And furthermore, please tell me what you might see if you looked inside each Muslim terrorist. You let me know where their strength of character lies. Then tell me that it is possible to act civilly when that big Muslim animal is tearing us apart. It’s not enough to be bigger than the animals; we must be bigger animals.”

        This is an argument that I have heard time and time again … the realist explaining the cold hard truth about “how the world works.” to the naïve principled idealist. There are many ways to work against terrorism abroad that do not uphold violence as the be all and end all solution but as the temporary evil. Terrorism is upheld especially in our day and age by perversions of otherwise good ideologies. Islam for example is not an inherently violence faith as any true follower of Islam will tell you. I invite you to speak with a Muslim in your community or to read articles on line by Muslims that are truly following Islam and not the radical jihadists that are perverting it. These purveyors of radical Islam only have the chance of their ideologies taking root because of the other factors in these countries that support terrorism. These factors include lack of economic opportunity, lack of say in government, and the imperialistic actions of countries like our own. I want to remind all those who read this that we trained, armed, and then summarily dumped Osama bin Laden and his group when he no longer served our needs. I want to remind everyone, that it was not the Muslims themselves who set up the Middle East the way it has been set up but the West, first England and then ourselves. Western Imperialism is at the root of much of today’s terrorism which is an uncomfortable fact that many do not wish to face. Economic opportunity is another important factor. Apart from the ideological higher-ups, most of the participants in todays radical terrorism do so because they have no other way of supporting their families. Many of the bombers and suicide bombers you see doing damage here and abroad are doing so because they have been promised that for once in their lives they will be able to feel like they have done the right thing for their families. Ask yourself how easy it would be to turn down such an offer yourself when the enemy you are fighting has imperialism your grandfathers and fathers and your family can barely afford its very meager lifestyle.

        Therefore it is in our best interest to pay attention to the whys and hows of the things that are happening around us. I am not saying that we must be total pacifists and not defend ourselves from attack. What I am saying is that war and violence are not a long lasting solution, but something that ALWAYS creates as many problems as it solves. If we want to truly work toward peace in the world … if we want to truly work toward economic security in the world … if we truly want America to be successful than we are going to need to think about other countries, we are going to need to think about how things got to be the way the are. America can only be successful AND safe if we find a way to do it without doing damage to others. We are not better than anyone else, and we DO NOT have the right to act in the world as if we are the only people that matter.

        Arrogance and superior firepower is not what makes us Americans. What makes us Americans is doing not whats easy, but whats hard when nobody else will. If we want freedom, peace, and success than we need to deserve it and we need to work for it.

      • thebeerphilosopher said

        As for your assertion that I support Bush’s policies, this is patently false. If Bush and I shared the same views, Somali pirates would have been scared to capture the crew of an American ship for fear of reciprocity.

        For every example you can give for something bad being done in the interest of the safety of Americans, I can name something good that was done in the name of safety. So we’re at a deadlock here. I’ll drop the point. Instead, I’ll argue this point, which seems to be central to your argument (and correct me if I’m wrong about this):

        “The United States cannot act like the lives and interests of all other people and countries in the world do not matter, in any situation. If the lives of every American citizen were at stake this would still not relieve us of our obligation to consider the the world community at large of which we are a part.”

        This is utter leftist nonsense. Are you suggesting that if China decided to declare war against the United States that we would have to sit on our hands as they invaded our shores because fighting them abroad would cripple the world economy? It is the job of the Commander in Chief to defend his citizens. Period. It is not the job of the Commander in Chief to take into consideration anything beyond the strategic impact of military operations. Will bombing Beijing stop the Chinese from killing Americans? If so, do it. If not, don’t do it.

        I’m not suggesting, as you say, that America is a “more important” country than any other country in the world. That may or may not be true (I certainly think history will see America as more significant to the shaping of the world than, say, Swaziland), but it’s not the point. If we were in England, I would say that the primary objective of the Prime Minister is to protect his citizens from enemies both foreign and domestic, no matter the cost. If we were Italian or Portuguese or Czech, I would say that we must act swiftly and decisively with the full force of our military against those who would try to kill us.

        And no, America is not currently an Imperialist nation, even if it was (and I agree that it was) in the past. Maybe we do exert political influence, but so is political influence exerted upon us. That is the way of international politics. The American government does not employ people in foreign sweatshops; American corporations do, and American corporations are, as are all corporations, Imperialistic by their very definition. Chalk it up to progress or Capitalism or just plain greed — that is the way of business, but should not be the way of government.

        “I invite you to speak with a Muslim in your community or to read articles on line by Muslims that are truly following Islam and not the radical jihadists that are perverting it.”

        Read the Koran cover-to-cover. Twice. Good book. I am many things, but I am not the type to speak ignorantly. Thanks for playing.

        And please don’t blame America for Osama bin Laden being a terrorist. This is what I despise about this argument. On the one hand you remind us that bin Laden was once funded by the American government, and then blame the American government for not giving money to an economically strapped nation whose financial conditions breed terrorism. The reason we don’t give more money to nations that harbor terrorists is because THERE ARE TERRORISTS THERE. (I say that having heard today that Pakistan is getting several billion dollars over the next few years as part of America’s new war on terror.)

        Finally, you are misquoting me or misunderstanding me. I am not saying that America should blow up everyone in its way, dominate the international landscape, and scare every nation in the world into submission and subservience. I am saying that those who want to kill Americans, and those who harbor people who want to kill Americans, should pay dearly for their attempts to kill us. America can be a peaceful nation, a diplomatic nation, even the feel-good nation of the year. But what it can not be is a nation that does not pro-actively seek retribution for transgressions against it. How do you stop a burglar from killing your family? Do you try to talk him out of it? Do you call your neighbors for help? Do you consider the impact that your actions would have on that burglar’s family? No. To stop a burglar from killing your family, you shoot him in the face.

        And I cannot make it any clearer than that.

  3. Palm Tree said

    Also yes i know i missed a couple of typos in this last post. I invite all those who have so much time on thier hands as to correct my grammar to find something more worthwhile to do with thier lives.

  4. Palm Tree said

    We must be bigger animals. America first. Kill or be Killed. Eye for an Eye.

    I am very sorry that these seem to be your view of America’s place in the world. These ideas have been around for longer than America has, and have never worked toward bringing anything but more conflict.

    Also, just because an opponent has given up morality and is acting in a A-Moral and animalistic fashion, does it really make sense for America to drop down to thier level.

    Also i invite you to moderate all of my posts before you make your own my friend.

    • thebeerphilosopher said

      “I am very sorry that these seem to be your view of America’s place in the world.”

      Yes, in regards to dealing with the terrorists who — let me make this clear — WANT TO KILL US, we must be bigger animals to prevent being killed.

      “Also, just because an opponent has given up morality and is acting in a A-Moral and animalistic fashion, does it really make sense for America to drop down to thier level.”

      It does when they’re trying to kill us. Say what you want about being animalistic, but it’s a great way to defend yourself from being killed.

      “Also i invite you to moderate all of my posts before you make your own my friend.”

      I have no idea what that means. I respond to posts as they are posted. If you’re referring to my insertion of the word “sic,” I only did so to ensure our readers that I wasn’t trying to make you look stupid or uneducated, but that the text I quoted was as you wrote it. I won’t spell-check for you, if that’s what you mean.

  5. Palm Tree said

    You are making it sound as if i said that we should not defend ourselves, when in fact i stated that we should in my reply, which i think you should re-read. What i was stating was that even from a purely strategic standpoint that shoot first ask questions later is an inherently flawed and horrible idea.

    Additionally, you make several unsubstantiated claims in your response:

    1) You do not support Bush’s policies … i hold that you have not proven anything of the sort, beyond a vague assertion about the fear of somali pirates. I need more evidence than that.

    2) That i should read the Koran cover to cover twice and that will somehow change my mind. I have studied the Koran don’t seem to be coming from the same conclusions. Does that Koran have tracts that “sound” violent? Yes? More than the Christian Bible? Not really? I’m not convinced.

    3) Don’t blame the United States for Osama bin Laden. Why? I think i just did you not only did not try to refute my history but attempted to turn it back with a patriotic appeal. Try Again.

    4) We can aruge the money issue but what i am saying is that a hard-line moral standpoint of we won’t economically help countries where terrorists have been will only breed more terrorism. Personally i don’t think its a smart idea, becuase poverty is a major factor in terrorism. Why do you think people become terrorists? Are they inherently “Evil” like some sort of demonic culture out to destory us awesome hard-working Christians Americans?

    5) That America is not an Imperialist nation. Who do you think supports the politicians on both sides these days? I’ll give you a hint its the corporations so its impossible to entirely divorce the two. However, even without the idea of corporate Greed America’s grab for land and power is still patently obvious starting with Iraq.

    6) Lastly your metaphorical familial protection situation is a logical fallacy designed to set up a situation from which there is no good answer, so i will refrain from answering and stick to the facts.

    • thebeerphilosopher said

      I never said “shoot first.” I don’t know where you got that idea. Reciprocation does not need to be a knee-jerk reaction, but it does need to be swift and terrible. There is a difference there.

      1) If you want to get into a political discussion about what Bush policies I disagree with, I’ll be happy to. But let’s figure out a way to do that by email; I won’t clog up the board more than I already have.

      2) I never said that you should read the Koran. I was responding to your insinuation that I need to educate myself on the beliefs of Muslims by talking to them and reading online articles by them. The insinuation is that I am ignorant of Muslim beliefs, when the simple fact of the matter is that I am not. I understand that most Muslims — the vast majority, in fact — are not extremists, or are extremists in the opposite direction from terrorist factions. What’s your point?

      3) I didn’t try to refute your assertion that America put bin Laden in power because it is true. But so what? Does that mean we shouldn’t find him and kill him for the things that he did with our money and education? If I give my son a baseball bat, does that mean I shouldn’t get mad when you play baseball in the house and breaks a window?

      4) I won’t discount the idea that people become suicide bombers for the financial benefit of it. But I doubt very highly that Osama bin Laden or any other high-ranking member of any terrorist organization is in it purely for the money. Somali pirates? Sure, I’ll buy it. But the fact that they’re doing it for money doesn’t make it any less tolerable, or any more just. If you haven’t yet, I suggest you read a book called “Terrorist” by John Updike for further insight into the bomb-for-money culture.

      5) As far as I know, Iraq is not an American territory, nor are there any plans to make it such. In fact, we just elected a guy who ran on a platform of getting the heck out of Iraq and letting Iraqis have it back. Iraqis are holding elections, and raising their own police and military forces (yes, who we trained, but who better in the world to learn from?). I don’t see our presence in Iraq as Imperialist. Maybe you could provide evidence to the contrary?

      6) Actually, my familial protection analogy is a rhetorical move in which I ask a question with a very obvious answer to get the audience to understand my way of thinking. Analogies are perfectly acceptable in an argument, though if you would like to drop the point, I will allow it.

  6. thebeerphilosopher said

    As for 2), I understand that there was some ambiguity in what I wrote. The sentence should have started, “I have read the Koran cover-to-cover.” It was not a suggestion that you should read it. My fault.

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