The problem of closed-system ideologies

I have taken time off from the musical policy of my blog to describe my fears that the threat to world order posed by Islam is not being fully recognized. The matter is particularly important to those of us living in Britain because we live side-by-side with a problem that is being allowed to worsen because of the very tolerance for which Britain is famous throughout the world.

Prolonged and determined attempts to force the issue of a new mosque onto a reluctant majority in my home town of Dudley, United Kingdom, have caused me to ponder the wider implications of a steady, relentless, growth in Islamic influences.

Ideally, one would avoid unhelpful generalizations but, as I have described elsewhere, this cannot work.

Many people were shocked when Subway, a national chain of sandwich and snack shops, agreed to bow to pressure from Muslims to stop selling pork products and were prompted to wonder just how far such appeasement will go. Where will it stop? To further my intentions in writing this blog I would like to analyse the statement described below as a test-case. I have always regarded this statement and the incident to which it refers as being particularly worrying.

The following statement is by Leicester Federation of Muslim Organisations spokesman Yaqub Khan. He was referring to a collection of ceramic pigs displayed in a front window, perhaps rather mischievously, by a resident. Muslims have learned how easy it is to further their cause because of the prevailing tendency to emphasize tolerance and integration, a tendency that has encouraged positive discrimination to reach unacceptable levels. Their statements are frequently cleverly worded and require analysis in order to produce a counter-argument. Our decision-makers rarely have sufficient time to do this. They also feel constrained by the fear of possible recriminations and by accusations of racism or bigotry.

These matters have nothing to do with race. The problems presently discussed are of a cultural, not racial kind, and particularly relate to those aspects of culture that stem from religious dogma.

The statement

Mr Kahn said that more than 1,000 worshippers attending weekly Friday prayers at the nearby mosque passed the collection of pigs. He claimed that Mrs Bennett was aware of the potential for offence to be caused (it shouldn’t really matter) and explained that the pig is mentioned as being “unclean” in the Koran, and is regarded as an offensive animal by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating it.

“There are rules which, as good citizens, we have to observe. We are a multi-faith society and we, as Muslims, respect other faiths practised in this country, so I think, in return, they should respect ours. Something like this is taken very seriously by Muslims and it is a very sensitive area.”

A quote from the Koran “Let there be no coercion in religion” that was displayed alongside the pigs was also seen as provocative. Mr Khan said “The Koran is a sacred book. If that is placed in a window where pigs have been placed then that is even more offensive. It may be a trivial matter for some sections of the community but it has to be dealt with.”

Where do we go from here?

I decided to start as closely to the origin of this matter as I was able to venture and I decided that the existence or otherwise of a deity had to be the starting point. When ideas and principles are based on religious beliefs the existence of a deity has to be established in order for such ideas and principles to have meaning. Without such proof, beliefs become superstitions. Learned books have been written on this subject so I decided that, because both Deism and Atheism still exist, none of the previous attempts to find a solution could have been successful. I therefore decided that my own ideas would be based upon the following claim:

Because there is proof neither for nor against the existence of a deity the only satisfactory stance to assume is that of the Agnostic.

Of course, it could be argued that, since God created the Universe, he was able to create it any way He wished and therefore who are we to question His wisdom? Unfortunately, we go round and jump on again by following that line of thought so we have to try to find an objective approach if we are to avoid the potentially catastrophic results of belief systems.

Personally, I like the idea of God and the Afterlife and I would give anything to share in the instant panacea that such beliefs offer but, so far at least, I’ve been unlucky (but still open-minded). In the meantime I have to rely on my own inner strength and intelligence.

Having decided all this, I also decided, some time ago, that beliefs must be kept out of public life where they have no place. History provides so many examples of the failure of attempts to marshal our affairs by means of principles that are based on unsubstantiated beliefs. Beliefs divide people.

Mr Kahn’s claims

“…the pig is mentioned as being “unclean” in the Koran, and is regarded as an offensive animal by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating it.”

Eating pork that has not been properly prepared, especially in a warm climate where few people owned a fridge, would have been dangerous and I wouldn’t like to live in a pig sty, either. But does this represent Muslim views in their entirety? Of course it doesn’t. Billions of intelligent, ‘decent’ people eat pork every day so there can be no validity in the claim that pigs can be offensive for any reason other than the common sense reasons given above. My own claim is that, having created a religion which, in this case, has these ideas about pigs, surely followers of the religion choose to be offended. They cannot move on from this to inflict their ideas on others or to claim that respect for their views should automatically follow.

“There are rules which, as good citizens, we have to observe…”

I’m not quite sure what Mr Khan’s idea of a good citizen is but it is likely that the concept would have to be framed within constraints laid down by is Islam, a religion that does not have a particularly good record in this respect.

“We are a multi-faith society and we, as Muslims, respect other faiths practised in this country, so I think, in return, they should respect ours.”

A multi-faith society? Does he refer to the situation that prevails, where different faiths grudgingly co-exist or is he pointing to an ideal where different religious leaders might come together and join the best bits of all faiths into one? This is an unlikely prospect. In any other context it often works but not in a religious one. Do Muslims respect the views of others and, in any case, what do we mean by the word ‘view’, especially in this context? Should I be required to respect the views of others? Not necessarily. It depends on the particular views expressed.

Everything a Muslim does and thinks is governed by the presumed will of their God. To suggest that compromise is needed, in order that integration can take place, is to suggest that the will of God is less than perfect, otherwise, why would it require modification in order to fit with the requirements of others? It’s easy to see why Muslims adopted the path of claiming that their God is, quite simply, infallible and that, therefore, we should all abide by His rules, regardless of what non-believers may think. This notion is, of course, the root cause of the troubles we are dealing with currently.

‘Think’ is a significant word. Whether we are able to adopt religious views or not it is, to me, self-evident that the only way to achieve a level playing field for all, regardless of race, colour or creed, is by striving for solutions based upon objective reasoning, or as objective as we fallible beings are able to achieve. Other methods have failed. Badly.

“The Koran is a sacred book…

I always have trouble accepting the idea that physical objects, including the ‘graven images’ in some Christian churches, are anything more than that. A physical object, especially a building or a book, cannot be sacred. No matter how closely we analyse them it is likely that they will still reveal themselves to be lacking in any other determinable attributes and unless we can demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is otherwise, we cannot impose our ideas on others and, by so doing, claim a lack of respect has been shown. Beliefs and religious notions dwell in the ‘hearts and minds’ of people, not in symbols, images or objects.

“… It may be a trivial matter for some sections of the community but it has to be dealt with.”

It is a trivial matter. The question of eating pork or not eating pork or, equally, of possessing ceramic pigs, or not, is intrinsically inconsequential and importance can only be ascribed to the acts on the basis of beliefs. If I enter a room and see someone poised, dagger in hand, ready to attack my friend it will be important to stop them. There is a difference.

I particularly dislike Mr Khan’s claim that the above problem “has to be dealt with”. No, it doesn’t. He must modify his views into a form that is more likely to allow the integration we all hear about so often. That’s the ‘truth’ of the matter. The suggestion that even a quote from the Koran is holy is quite unacceptable. The idea that there should be no coercion in religion is an idea that cannot be patented by Muslims. It is a principle we should all abide by. I believe it is fair to say that Muslims practise the ideal less the Christians do.

Returning to the unfulfilled requirement for proof of the existence of a deity I would like to make the following comments:

There was a fascinating link on Facebook recently which claimed that extermination in the Universe is the norm not the exception. Our fragile planet faces threats from near-Earth objects and from gamma ray bursts that would fry all of us, except the creatures in the deepest parts of the ocean. A massive volcanic eruption would plunge us into another Ice Age. The point is, the article claimed, that what is true for us is also true for every civilization in the Universe. Statistically, according to physicist Enrico Fermi, there must be many hundreds in our Galaxy alone. Now why would God go to all this trouble and then fix things in such a way that it all comes tumbling down?

And the idea of Heaven has always fascinated me. If all the creatures in the Universe, in all their unimaginable varieties, who have ever lived and all those who have yet to be born are promised a seat, if they behave, of course, then it must be a strange place.

‘Ah’ you say. ‘Off you go again, applying your puny human mind to the problem. God works in ways you can’t even imagine’. I wish I could believe that such opinions could possibly be helpful.

Our prospects

A former president of Pakistan has said militants from Islamic State are already operating in his country and warned the threat they pose is a global one.

They are well-armed and expertly led and show great prowess in the tactics and strategy of conflicts. They are also well funded. As I myself warned many years ago, captured American weapons, including tanks, are being used against us as they de-stabilize the region. The border town of Kobane is particularly significant because IS is hoping to de-stabilize Turkey, also. Turkey could easily become a fundamentalist Islamic state and, not only that, but IS is cleverly exploiting divisions between the Turks and the Kurds.

Islamist terrorists are also well-established in the African countries of Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. They also have ambitions in Iraq, Lebanon and parts of Palestine and Jordan. There are more than 25.000,000 Muslims in Indonesia in the Far East, a proportionate number of whom will inevitably become enemies of Christianity.

It is easy for us to believe that IS, the most dangerous of them all, poses no direct threat to European countries, apart from isolated terrorist incidents. After all, they wouldn’t stand a chance in a straight fight but this is terrorism, the ‘great leveller’, that we are dealing with.

We have already witnessed the temporary lock-down of the government in Canada as a result of an incursion by one man. In a similar way, attacks by small groups against key installations could create sufficient panic to affect share prices and even cause unemployment. Benefit systems might collapse leading to an increase in crime as people attempt to survive. The resulting chaos would be easy to exploit.

The current film about the life of brilliant mathematician Alan Turing is causing incredulity. Imagine predicting, at that time, that homosexuality, which was then a crime, would one day be commonplace, with politicians and public figures openly ‘coming out’. Similarly, my prediction that Britain is in danger of becoming an Islamic state might seem equally ludicrous. But it could happen and, as I see it, there is little to stand in the way of further erosion.

You won’t believe this in the USA…

There’s a firm belief amongst musicians that we should keep religion and politics out of the band room. In this context the ‘band room’ comprises the Internet and, especially, Facebook. So am I guilty? I’ve damaged a few friendships and even my business aspirations with my warnings about the growing menace of religious fundamentalism. The problem, as I see it, is so desperately important that we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand as we Brits, especially, are prone to doing.

I was surprised to find a fellow blogger giving me support over my last blog concerning the hugely unpopular plan to build a mosque in my home town. To say that he doesn’t automatically agree with me is an understatement; he has been a fierce critic on many occasions.

He points out that, as the Muslim population increases, their demands will also grow. In my opinion, because of the well-established pattern of allowing their requests in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’, there will be no constraints governing the number and nature of these complaints until they eventually bury the wishes of the indigenous population.

Readers in the USA, particularly, will find the following evidence difficult to believe. I wish it were not true, but it is:

No more bacon butties

Nationwide sandwich chain Subway removed ham and bacon from nearly 200 stores and offers halal meat only after strong demand from Muslims. 185 branches across UK and Ireland now sell halal meat only.

The ceramic pigs saga

A woman arrived at her home in Leicestershire to find police about to break into her house. They had a warrant because they had received complaints about ceramic pigs in her window from Muslim neighbours. They considered it was a public order matter and took about 17 of them. She was told not to replace them.

She had been targeted by youths since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, when she decorated her house with red, white and blue flags.

A Muslim spokesman said that more than 1,000 worshippers attended Friday prayers at the nearby mosque and Mrs Bennett was aware of the potential for offence to be caused. (The pig is regarded as an offensive animal by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating it.) He also stated that there are rules which, as good citizens, we all have to observe. He pointed out that we are a multi-faith society and that since Muslims respect other faiths practised in Britain their views, too, should be respected.

I was in this area of the City Leicester a while ago, visiting friends who live on a typical English suburban estate. People were mowing their lawns and cleaning their cars. The difference was that the call to pray was being broadcast at very high volume over the area.

Leicester was the first city in the UK where the ethnic population exceeded the indigenous population in numbers. This links to my claim above, endorsed by my fellow blogger, that a rise in demands will follow a rise in numbers. This is why we cannot allow a nation within a nation to develop. Beliefs have to be kept out of public life. Achieving this aim is the only way to create a level playing field for all, regardless of race, colour or creed.

A critic on Facebook sneered ‘They’re coming to get you’. I pointed out at the time that it won’t work like that. There isn’t a conspiracy to take over the Country. These people are far too busy. It is abject appeasement that will leave the doors wide open.

Your Child’s education

Even more unbelievable is the fact that, when school inspectors visited a school in Birmingham, UK, they discovered that Muslim staff had enforced gender-separation on the pupils. This was against instructions given to them but, to be fair, the prospect of defying Muslim requests must be very intimidating.

PLEASE spare me a moment!!

Although my friends and associates worldwide read about Islamic fundamentalism every day, we in Britain live side-by-side with it because of the appeasement that has taken place over many years, leading to a situation where stronger resistance will be required to halt further advances. A planning application has been submitted to build a new Mosque in the centre of my town which I am opposed to and I’m currently attempting to draw support for my opposition. I risk losing friends and damaging my commercial interests on here but the problem is too important to allow self-interest to colour (color) my judgement. For this reason I hope everyone will bear with me as I reproduce my letter in opposition so that I can direct people to a document containing my actual views since I have been accused of racism and bigotry, despite my many ethnic friends.

John Millar, Director of the Urban Environment
Planning Services
4 Ednam Road
Dudley
DY1 1HL

Copy to: Prime Minister David Cameron.

24/09/2014

Dear Mr Millar,
Application Number: P14/1353 Erection of a Community Centre, Training and Enterprise Centre and Mosque, including two flats and associated parking, Hall Street, Dudley

Thank you for your notification of the above dated 17 September.

I am writing to you directly because it is unlikely my opinions will fall within the remit of a planning department. Nevertheless, I can only base my opinions on the situation as I see it, which I do now, after lengthy consideration. We must not use the claim that planning laws are inapplicable to the objections I am raising in this letter as an excuse for inaction. Bristol took this view at the last appeal. Central government will say that this is Dudley’s problem so who will act to prevent the relentless subjugation of all that we value and hold dear?

I am convinced that, within around 50 years, Britain will become an Islamic state because, quite simply, there will be nothing to prevent it from happening. Time and time again Muslims get their way and if this incessant, abject appeasement does not end the country my family fought and died for faces a bleak future, with women having the most to fear.

Britain will then descend into an abyss of petty rivalries between rival factions, each claiming to be the true version of this failed religion. As always with Islam, differences will be settled with violence, aimed not only at their opponents but also against innocent women and children. There is not a single Muslim country, anywhere on Earth, that enjoys peace and stability, let alone so-called ‘democracy’, a Western concept that has little meaning in Islamic law.

Whatever claims are made regarding Islam – for example, that it is a religion of peace and that Christianity and Islam have more in common than they have differences – in the real world that we see and touch every day it has become the most profound and widespread source of pure evil, not only that the world has ever seen, but also that the world could ever again witness.

Complaints regarding the buildings’ appearance or the possibility of traffic problems occurring are unlikely to succeed and if the kind of problems that, conventionally, lead to the denial of planning permission had any chance of success, we would not be where we are today. I am firmly of the opinion that the proposed mosque, or any similar building, either now or in the foreseeable future, should not be allowed to exist under any circumstances.

My reasons:

Firstly, the purpose of the proposed development involves more than merely the claimed need for extra space and facilities. Muslims desire to build a powerful icon to their faith on a prominent hill overlooking the very heart of Christian England. The intended message is that, at a time when Christian churches are suffering from reduced attendances and buildings are being turned into carpet warehouses and wine bars, Muslims are able and willing to commence an ambitious project such as that proposed. The implication will be that theirs is a superior faith, despite the fact that Christian society is, rightly, becoming increasingly secular.

Much is written about the need for integration but integration requires compromise. This cannot happen because, to Muslims, everything they think and do is governed by the will of their God and it is futile to expect that they will one day modify what they believe to be God’s laws in order to permit integration to take place. Instead, followers of this proselytizing faith work incessantly towards creating a society of which they approve. They are hard-working, determined and infinitely patient in their endeavours, partly because they believe what they believe more than we believe what we believe.

Almost half of the mosques in Britain are controlled by extremists and they all have schools attached to them which teach within the constraints of a view of learning and of life in general that falls in line with Islamic beliefs. This is not the purpose of learning, and denominational schools have no place in the 21st Century. Sectarian religious education belongs in history lessons.

The ‘call to prayer’ is a hideous intrusion into peoples’ lives.

Marriages are often conducted in secret by Muslim clerics involving girls who, under British law, are too young. In other words, they condone paedophilia.

Another error is involved in the frequently heard claim that it is only a minority of Muslims who pose a threat to non-Muslims. This belief represents a ‘red herring’ for the following reasons:

  1. History is not made by the moderate majority but by individuals who possess a clearly-defined personal agenda.
  2. The so-called ‘minority’ comprises an unknown number of people but will certainly be many millions strong.
  3. ALL Muslims are ‘on the other side’. (They can’t forgive us for not being Muslim.)

Finally, there is a serious lack of balance between followers of Christianity and Islam regarding tolerance. Apart from the fact that there is so much positive discrimination today in favour of ethnic groups in general, we are all being asked to live with another fact which is that, whereas Muslims are able to build mosques around Britain, Christians nowadays have little chance of being granted similar privileges in Muslim countries. Indeed, it is an offence to convert to Christianity, a crime that, in some countries, is still punishable by death.

At first sight it is praiseworthy that this country should continue to offer such tolerance in a world that is constantly under attack from the effects of Muslim dogma but this is a narrow and short-sighted point of view. In reality, such a hopeless imbalance will create a society that, ultimately, cannot work. Muslims in Britain, or their forebears, came here in the first place because, for whatever reason, they preferred it to their country of origin. How can it make any sense for them, having arrived here, to be allowed to make changes in order to create a society they feel more comfortable with?

Dudley Council must state quite clearly that it opposes the proposed mosque because it is a Muslim mosque citing the certainty of massive public hostility to the plan as being its reason,

yours sincerely,

John Morton.

Scales/Chords…Chords/Scales

It sounds like an attempt to spam the search results but please read on…

One of the features that causes the music of modern ‘masters’ to sound so fresh and different is the use of scales and chords that get away from the beaten track. Not only do they make use of unorthodox scales and their harmonies but they sometimes convert one into the other. At the risk of repeating myself, there are many hundreds of scales possessing 3, 4, 5 and six notes on each ‘root’. There are also 36 seven-unit scales including the familiar major and minor scales and their modal derivatives.

[In my opinion there is no such thing as a ‘diatonic’ scale. Music written where melodies and chords chiefly* use the notes of the scale in use (whatever scale it is – major, minor, modal, pentatonic, etc. etc….) is referred to as being ‘diatonic’, not the scale itself.]

Here’s how it all works:

Notes of harmonic progressions can be converted into melody and notes of melody (continuity) can be converted into harmony (simultaneity). The idea is that the raw materials haven’t changed, merely their presentation. Personally, I buy into this quite happily.

Of course, as soon as melody becomes harmony the ‘rules’ change. Chords, which may involve any combination of notes sounded together, are subject to acoustic considerations in order to maintain clarity, with wider intervals lower down and closer, more dissonant effects reserved for the higher register. This is how the natural harmonic series works and, although our systems of harmony evolved quite separately, the sonorous quality of orchestration nevertheless follows these principles. (Colouristic or percussive effects are likely to break this pattern.)

Arpeggio forms are the most obvious example of the melodic exploitation of chords but the technique can be refined, using unessential notes that respect the prevailing tonality or tonal ‘cell’. Just to be clear on this, a whole passage of harmony, all of its ‘voices’, can be used as notes of melody but, in the real world, care will be needed to achieve a musical result. We have to write a good tune.

More adventurous forms can take the two elements out of synch so that, for example, a melody from harmony x can be used over harmony n (and vice versa) but don’t expect to find yourself at Number One the following week. A case that succeeds in more orthodox surroundings is the anticipated ‘lead-in’ to the next passage in a composition, where the approaching tonality, say, at an abrupt modulation, is foreshadowed, even if there is a temporary ‘clash’ before the resolution.

The ‘rules’ also change when harmony becomes melody. A melody has the characteristics of trajectorial motion so that inertial and other qualities become apparent. It has a two-dimensional presence with the rising and falling in pitch representing the vertical dimension and the passage of time the horizontal. Human expectations are based upon our physical conditioning in everyday life and reactions to music follow suit.

A chord, on the other hand, can just ‘be’.

A warning here about the use of too many scale identifications; they can be counter-productive (just too much to remember).

For example, I recently did a bit of research into the pentatonic scale (the usual one that occurs on the black notes –there are many others) and discovered a list of them, each with its own name. And then I noticed they were all the same but each time starting on a different note (i.e. they were modal displacements). To those involved in Gaelic and Celtic music these categories can be important, especially since such music is rarely written and, like so much folk music, is handed down by skilled practitioners. Here in Britain the Alba TV station from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, regularly broadcasts such styles. This is terrific stuff. Some of these bands really rock and the group cohesiveness is impressive. (Alba, as everyone knows, is the old name for Scotland.) An actual composition emerged from my research, which is the way things should work, of course. It’s called ‘Alba’, funnily enough, and can be found at:

https://soundcloud.com/john-morton-10/tracks

The playback quality is kind of ‘OK’. I can explain. The live recordings lower down in the list would have benefited from extra rehearsal, in case anyone is interested, but time ran out. The band did amazingly well. I pride myself on the versatility of these pieces. No one would guess they were all composed by one person. Me.

[Los Jardines De Espana is computer-generated, too. There’s a minor glitch in the playback that would have required too much work to justify removing it but it doesn’t hurt too much. The process of creating this piece was analysed in a previous Blog and some people would find this interesting]

You can find it at:

https://composerarranger.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/please-try-this-at-home/

Anyone researching chords and their related scales, with jazz improvisational improvement in mind, will have encountered the bewildering list of possibilities. It’s difficult to think on such a level. Added to this, ‘real music’ involves many surrounding features – harmonic, rhythmic, inflective–that can influence melodic characteristics in ways that can be difficult to quantify. In other words, as stated above, turning harmony into melody is a different ball-game. Knowledge of harmony, especially the sound of the harmony, together with a good ear, is arguably the most productive method of improvising over harmonies.

*I say ‘chiefly’ rather than ‘solely’ because the possibility of adding chromatic embellishment to most music without altering its essential form will generally exist.

http://www.arranging-composing.com