Applauding Brunei

Sultan of Brunei

Now that the government of Brunei has fully implemented sharia law in regard to gays and adulterers – meaning that those found guilty of these violations of Islam will henceforth be stoned to death – politicians, celebrities, and commentators around the world have been unhesitant in their expressions of outrage. People like Ellen Degeneres, George Clooney, and Elton John have called for boycotts of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Dorchester in London, the Plaza Athenee in Paris, and other the posh hostelries that the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, owns in the U.S. and Europe; Deutsche Bank has banned its employees from staying at the hotels, and the Financial Times and other firms have cancelled events scheduled to take place in them. Ads for holidays in Brunei have been pulled from London buses; Virgin Australia terminated a deal with Royal Brunei Airlines, the state-owned carrier, as has at least one major travel agency; Western universities that have awarded honorary degrees to the Sultan (who also serves as his nation’s prime minister, defense minister, finance minister, and foreign minister) have said that they are reviewing those honors.

Interior, Dorchester Hotel

Yet this fury over the Sultan’s action is not universal. Residents of Brunei interviewed by the Agence France-Presse gave it a thumbs-up. “I’m proud, because implementing the law feels like it solidifies the Islamic identity of Brunei,” said Muhammad Antoni, a 27-year-old worker. Haziah Zainal, a 36-year-old civil servant, said that famous people calling for boycotts should mind their own business. “These actions seem ignorant,” said Zainal, “as they have not even been here to experience what it’s like.” While everyone is focusing on Brunei, homosexuality is a capital offense in at least ten other Muslim countries, although in Yemen the punishment is applicable only to married men and in Qatar only to married Muslims. One of the countries in question is Saudi Arabia, but this has not prevented companies like Uber, Lyft, Twitter, and Snapchat from accepting Saudi investment or universities like MIT, funded by Saudi money. Polls have shown that close to half of Muslims in Britain would like to see sharia law introduced in that country, but when UKIP head Gerard Batten said on LBC the other day that many British Muslims do indeed hold anti-democratic views, his interviewer called this a grotesque exaggeration and branded Batten a far-right bigot for even suggesting such a thing.

Daniel Haqiqatjou

Among those celebrating Brunei’s tough new laws was Daniel Haqiqatjou, a Harvard-educated American Muslim who, in a March 30 article, praised the Sultan for “implementing hudud [punishments dictated by sharia law] to crack down on sodomites and fornicators!” Haqiqatjou explained his enthusiasm as follows: “Allah created human beings in a certain way. Our bodies and minds are created in a certain way and only certain types of relationships allow human beings to flourish in this world and the next, while other types of behaviors lead to destruction and widespread suffering.” Taking note of the organized effort to persuade people not to stay at Brunei-owned hotels, Haqiqatjou wrote: “I think Muslims need to counteract any boycott by making Brunei their next vacation destination spot. Maybe some of these expensive spiritual tourism tours…can make Brunei the next go-to site, maybe attend a caning or two so Western Muslims can experience first hand what implementing hudud actually means.” If Haqiqatjou were some rara avis, of course, his views wouldn’t be worth heeding. The alarming fact, however, is that his number is legion.

Deep thoughts with Will Smith

Yesterday we took a gander at movie star Will Smith, who aside from being a huge movie star is a legend in his own mind – a thinker of deep thoughts, a preacher and teacher who, along with his equally evolved wife Jada Pinkett Smith, seeks to help the rest of us to approach his own sky-high level of enlightenment. (As radio personality Robin Quivers put it: “They have this attitude that they know everything and nobody else knows anything.”)

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With Ellen Degeneres

This is a guy who has spent much of his career telling people like Ellen Degeneres and Charlie Rose about his philosophy of life. Some choice excerpts from these interviews can be viewed on a You Tube video entitled (what else?) “Will Smith’s Philosophy of Life.” Samples:

“Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, godlike feature that only the special among us will ever taste. It’s something that truly exists among all of us.”

“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.”

“Our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas are physical in the universe. If we dream something, if we picture something, if we commit ourselves to it, that is a physical thrust toward realization that we put into the universe.”

“There’s a flow of the universe that I’ve grown to know just how to go with it.”

As we noted yesterday, Will and Jada have passed their wisdom – and their prophetic calling – onto their children, Willow and Jaden. The result: both kids, still in their teens, are, like their father, eager to do their part to alter human consciousness. In 2013, Time magazine ran a tongue-in-cheek piece, “Is Jaden Smith the World’s Next Great Philosopher?”, in which reporter Ed Dodds analyzed recent Twitter musings by the then 15-year-old (“All The Rules In This World Were Made By Someone No Smarter Than You. So Make Your Own”; “If Newborn Babies Could Speak They Would Be The Most Intelligent Beings On Planet Earth”; “If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society”) in light of the writings of Kant, Locke, and other great thinkers. 

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Jaden and Willow

In 2014, Vice magazine had a similar stratagem, consulting a philosophy professor to help decipher Willow and Jaden’s pronouncements in a recent interview with the New York Times. (Some of their comments, to be sure, didn’t require much interpretation. Jaden: “We don’t think a lot of the music out there is that cool. So we make our own music.” Willow: “There’re no novels that I like to read so I write my own novels, and then I read them again, and it’s the best thing.”)

Last December, a friend of Jaden’s told Us Weekly that “Jaden sees himself as a modern-day prophet and is working on a collection of essays….They’re new takes on string theory and chaos theory, but more mystical….Jaden thinks he has spiritual ties to people in other dimensions and galaxies, and they are helping him write….He hopes to have a spiritual following when he releases these.” (Let us underscore that our intention here isn’t to mock these teenagers; it’s to note the nature of the impact that Will and Jada’s homemade metaphysics has had on their offspring.)

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Will Smith at his Dubai presser

Anyway, as we noted yesterday, Will recently went to the UAE to promote a new movie, Suicide Squad – and to spread his special brand of enlightenment to the people of Dubai. At a press conference, he was asked some questions about America. He proceeded to brutalize Donald Trump and his admirers, whose vocal support for the businessman’s presidential candidacy Smith welcomed as an opportunity to “get to know who people are” so that they can then be “cleanse[d]…out of our country.”

Yes, you read that right: Will Smith – this highly evolved being who presumably views as utterly immoral Trump’s intention to ban foreign Islamic extremists from the U.S. and to curb mass illegal immigration through Mexico – has no problem talking about “cleansing” America of natural-born citizens whose politics differ from his own.

But that was just the beginning of his press conference. More tomorrow.