Imagine if they happened to be Arab…

Not that I want Armenians or any other group to be stereotyped, but let’s see how much attention this gets from the bigots warning of Muslims’ alleged unassimilability into Western civilization. Had these crooks been born a few hundred miles west, in mostly-Muslim Azerbaijan, the Blogosphere would be ablaze anew with Muslim-baiting vitriol.

But criminals with foreign ties who are Christian are just crooks with funny names. Muslim criminals are stealth jihadis opening a new front in their war against the “infidels” (by means of taqiyya, of course). A cigar is just a cigar, unless it’s being smoked by a Muslim.

Wonder if any of these ill-gotten gains went to Nagorno-Karabakh, whose separatists Armenia armed, and which has had de facto independence from Azerbaijan since 1991.

Dozens charged with largest Medicare scam ever – Yahoo! News

NEW YORK – A vast network of Armenian gangsters and their associates used phantom health care clinics and other means to try to cheat Medicare out of $163 million, the largest fraud by one criminal enterprise in the program’s history, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.

  • UmmSqueakster

    Hmm, I note that a certain islamophobic blogger with the initials DS who likes to label islam the religion of fraud, makes no mention of this.

  • TM Lutas

    As someone who has the misfortune to be born in a country with quite… inventive… criminals, I can assure you that the christianity of romanian/moldovan cybercriminals hasn’t stopped me from being personally embarrassed by their antics. I had the opportunity once to confront one of these bozos and was very happy to let him know in no uncertain terms how shameful his behavior was and how now that he was in the US, he was going to have to deal with a certain level of mistrust because of the antics of his colleagues back in the old country. The look on his face was really precious.

  • svend

    Sure, I can imagine, but at least there’s widespread popular awareness here of the deforming effect of modern Communism on civic life. Reasonably intelligent people in the West are far more likely, I suspect, to ascribe any perceived “backwardness” to that baleful legacy than Orthodox Christianity (politely bracketing the whole Monophysite vs. Orthodox debate concerning the Armenian Church).
    I suspect the scoundrels back home are no more aware of/concerned about their faith/culture’s international image than are Muslim miscreants around the globe. An exception might soon be Serbia, as it’s really been getting black eyes internationally lately thanks to all sorts of high profile hooliganism and criminality.
    I’ll grant that popular mistrust or anxiety towards a controversy-surrounded Other (whether Muslims, Russian Mafia, …) are quite inevitable. Sure–we’re all formed by what we experience in day to day life and what perceive/consume in the media.
    Not that you’re implying such a thing–though I do sense a friendly riposte :)–but one hopes/insists that such gut reactions, psychologically understandable though they may be in our world, don’t get enshrined in law or government policy. That not only creates de facto second class citizenship, but perversely makes society less safe by diverting already limited law enforcement resources away from real police work to unscientific hunches.

  • TM Lutas

    I think I’m going to have to surprise you and say that I do believe that there is some legal system development that needs to occur in the US to properly deal with Islam. The problem is in how the US perceives private courts v state courts.
    Islamic courts in countries where they are not granted a state characteristic are considered private entities by the US and private courts generally are limited to nonviolent solutions and are not permitted issue punishments to parties without due process. US law also doesn’t deal well with universal jurisdiction claims.
    US law isn’t really set up to handle a non-state court that claims universal jurisdiction and the right to reach out and touch someone in a physical way in another country. Every time it happens, we’re caught in a situation where every tool we have seems ill fitted to respond.
    Sending in the marines for nation-building seems overkill as a response to a Mohammad drawing death fatwa but just telling people to make themselves a harder target for the incoming sharia court hit squads strikes most people as wrong as well. And those two seem to be the only choices in the menu most of the time.
    You could argue that the US does something similar. We do have extraordinary rendition but that’s not as extreme as the Islamic variant which doesn’t snatch for a due process trial but actually has the trial routinely in absentia and then merely executes sentence in another nation.
    This sort of legal development I would like to see happens to hit muslims disproportionately but it is aimed at certain kinds of private courts that anybody could set up. It’s just that these days, muslims are most of the people who do set them up.
    You could argue reasonably that Israel did the same sort of thing after the Olympics killings in Germany. You would be right and the legal development that I would like to see would have applied to the state of Israel too.

  • TM Lutas

    Just to toss in an example of the sort of legal development that I’m talking about, religious courts meet US antidiscrimination law and both jewish courts and islamic courts apparently have issues.
    I’m sure that these guys are eventually going to analyze other aspects of the problem. I look forward to seeing it even as what really worries me are more the gross conflicts like the religious judgment against Salman Rushdie. Whether you have to get a male conservative jew to witness a conservative jewish divorce is very far down my list but apparently not these guys’ list.

  • TM Lutas
  • svend

    Thanks for the thought-provoking comment, TM.
    I don’t agree that we lack the “tools” to handle these dilemmas and competing worldviews. While our political culture may well be grossly dysfunctional in all sorts of depressing ways, I don’t think the American legal system needs to embrace any radical new paradigm to meet these challenges.
    I don’t accept the premise (however understandable it may be in a lot of ways) that these cases represent Shariah in any fundamental sense (and I was then and remain utterly opposed to the Rusdhie madness, which is something like Western Islam’s Dreyfus Affair, except with far too many leaders choosing the wrong side, if not for the sinister reasons that critics often assume). It’s not a simple discussion, but I think they’re aberrations that a quite at odds with its underlying principles and the way it would *have* to work were it a serious attempt made to implement it in the modern world. I see some parallels to the various undeniably unconstitutional law enforcement excesses (e.g., an FBI office categorizing pro-environment rallies and Quaker-style anti-war rallies as “terrorist” activity and engaging in illegal wiretapping and infiltration) that we’ve seen since 9/11.
    However, I neither believe that Shariah necessarily entails Universal Jurisdiction–which is, ironically, a hallmark of modern secular political thought, for all the complaints about relativism–nor that contemporary legal Islamic legal institutions are ready to be given reins of power in Islamic societies for a host of reasons. There are still too many anachronistic and/or dubious things on the books, and too many underwhelming jurists out there, frankly. For complex reasons, the Islamic legal establishment simply isn’t ready for prime time today. That sad fact results from a host of factors–not all of which are scholars’, or Muslims’, fault–but I think it’s a sociological reality that must be faced. We can’t put them in charge now anymore than one could vast numbers of surgeons who haven’t practiced medicine in decades to suddenly pick up the scalpel.
    In the context of pluralistic societies, I tend to agree with Abdullahi An-Naim’s contention that Shariah’s place in a modern pluralistic society should be as a source of personal (or collective communal) ethical guidance. Not out of a kneejerk-secularist fear of religion in the public square but due to an awareness of how radically different (post)modern pluralistic civilization is cognitively from anything that preceded in human history. Shariah HAS to operate differently today, and to ignore that fact is to ensure its ultimate marginalization in Muslims’ lives as they negotiate the modern world.
    That doesn’t mean that it can’t or shouldn’t have an impact on the political process, but it must be indirect and any implementation arising out of those values must be the result of the democratic process as opposed to coercive appeals to theological authority (which far too often are dead-wrong, especially in these polarized times). If Islamic values ever were to inform Western law it would have to be in the same way Christian values enter into the legal system today, through an open political process and because there a consensus has emerged that these “Islamic” values happen to serve the public good. Like Christians, Muslims should have every right to advocate policies based on their religious values, but they can’t ever expect them to imposed on others (a basic civic insight that has yet to dawn on many on the Religious Right when it comes to the Holy Land–as a Muslim, I couldn’t care less what Christians think God promised the Jews in the Bible; that case must be made in secular terms for it to carry any weight in a democracy).
    Once again, you’ve induced me to write a book-length comment. I’m going to have to ban you for the sake of my weekends! ;-)

  • svend

    A quick related comment: You mentioned having to send in the Marines to protect our perceived interests. I think the warnings of Chalmers Johnston about the dire cultural, political, and economic consequences of US de facto imperial military involvement *everywhere* are very relevant here.
    The unique, paradigm-shattering challenges we facing aren’t Islamism, but rather
    1) the shrinking of the world due to communication and transportation technology;
    2) the relentless dumbing down of political and intellectual life thanks to profit-driven media conglomerates (if there is a New World Order worthy of Elders of Zion-style conspiracy theorizing, it’s the corporate media, not the United Nations) and modern multi-media’s inherent and ever-increasing privileging of images and sound-bytes over facts and analysis; and
    3) America’s unprecedented (and incredibly expensive) imperial military involvement in nearly every society on the planet, which–however good intentions may be–has hugely harmful and multiform affects on America, its economy, political process and place in the world. Aside from General Electric shareholders and military contractors, almost nobody benefits from this imperial overreach (certainly not American taxpayers or the citizens of these societies in most cases). The fears of Eisenhower–who famously warned of the influence of the Military-Industrial Complex half a century ago–have turned into a bona fide nightmare, and it’s only getting worse. Terrorists are dangerous and scary, but are they the ones who are bleeding America dry, robbing it of the ability to make sober, strategic choices (e.g., the educational spending required to be competitive today, reducing global warming, disastrously expensive wars, health care reform, ad infinitum)?
    The perceived need to intervene at every turn (and the concomitant devaluing of international law, due process, civil rights, …) results far more from our entanglements, needlessly adversarial posture around the world, the dumbing down of our political culture, and the institutionalized bribery by special interests upon which our political system depends than some uniquely dangerous and game-changing worldview among Islamist extremists (however much I lament and reject their shallow, ideology-driven and very modern worldview).
    It’s an old argument, but I don’t think undermining America’s greatest achievements–democracy, tolerance and equality before the law–is a solution to these problems. Islamic extremists pose very serious threats and can be difficult to deal with using existing constructs, but crime–like business and technology–evolve all the time, and disciplines must evolve with developments on the ground. The idea that they are (or will be) the only (alleged) exceptions warranting extraordinary measures strikes me as naive and short-sighted. The conditions and power relations of the international community society are rapidly changing, and thanks to geopolitical demographics the guys in black, as it were, today often happen to be Muslim. Creating one-off solutions for one specific threat–not to mention ones that weaken the foundations of the West’s greatest bulwarks against barbarism–doesn’t strike me as a very strategic approach. There will be other barbarians at the gates eventually, and when they arrive Muslim-only dispensations won’t be of much use.
    Ugh. So much for keeping it short.

  • TM Lutas

    I think it would be utterly counterproductive to make any further development “muslim only”. As the link that I already posted shows, the Orthodox jewish courts are in the same boat as sharia courts, for instance. And there might be instances where other religions share features and problems with islamic courts.
    But the difference here is that Orthodox jewish lunatics who stone your car if you drive through their town on a Saturday are a really limited problem. Islamic lunatics who want to kill people like me are a much larger problem, though also a small minority of the larger faith tradition they spring from. Sane prioritization should apply and any development should apply to as many bands of lunatics as possible.
    The US has no serious policy to deal with non-westphalianism. Our country is the only serious power on the planet whose political traditions post-date the beginning of the Westphalian era.
    It would be really nice if muslims had a clear group that didn’t believe in universal jurisdiction to sharia courts. They might (I don’t claim expert status) but I am not aware of it. Then we could have a handy program to separate the foreign islamic courts who are not going to be a problem (since they do not claim jurisdiction over America) and those who will and thus need watching.
    On the marine intervention option, I hope it came through that I was speaking against this option as a routine solution. We seem to agree.