A Beautiful And Historic Day
And the hope that abides within
Where do we go from here? Who will fill the political vacuum yesterday's events have left? Hariri's sister, MP Bahia Hariri, who spoke both eloquently and movingly in the stormy parliamentary session that preceded the government's resignation, is being talked about as a possible candidate for the premiership.
If Lebanon is ready for a female prime minister she must surely be the first choice.
Whoever it is will have the trust of the people in a way that few politicians can ever enjoy. Let us hope this optimism, this trust and this moment is not betrayed. To paraphrase Karami's last words as prime minister, May God preserve what the people of Lebanon have achieved.
The Astonishing Momentum Of
Democracy In The Middle East
A stellar piece from Ed Morrisey at Captain's Quarters
In the past two months, we have seen an explosion of momentum in Southwest Asia for political reform and democratization. Despite European warnings that democracy cannot be imposed at gunpoint, two longtime tyrannies (Afghanistan and Iraq) successfully held popular multiparty elections for the first time in their histories, freeing almost 50 million people from two of the most oppressive governments in modern history... and now we see popular demonstrations for liberty where we would least have expected it -- on the streets of Beirut and Cairo. The pro-Syrian puppet Lebanese government has fallen today as a result, while Hosni Mubarak has managed to stay one step ahead by promising multiparty elections later this year for the executive.
After watching nothing but stagnation for decades and an Arab populace that appeared resigned to oppression all along, one has to ask: what changed? Why now? The answer, history will show, will be two men: George Bush and Tony Blair, with John Howard of Australia playing the unsung hero.
For twelve years, the international community sat on its hands while Saddam Hussein, the Assads in Syria, and other tinpot dictators openly oppressed their people and defied international calls for reform. All of that changed for the US after 9/11, when the product of all that simmering rage at political repression took out 3,000 of our citizens who committed the sin of going to work on Tuesday morning. Bush, Blair, and Howard correctly calculated that continuing with so-called realpolitik and cutting deals with the oppressors only created more risk and more opportunity for terrorist groups.
So the Anglosphere changed directions and demanded accountability from the dictators of the worst area for political oppression -- Southwest Asia. After giving the Taliban one chance to cough up the masterminds of 9/11, Bush decapitated them despite opposition predictions of 19th-century quagmires and anarchical results. Within two years, the Afghans had held their own elections and started governing themselves, a story that the Western media has largely ignored despite its historic significance.
Once the Taliban had been driven off, the Anglosphere turned its sights onto Saddam Hussein. Many on the left have argued that Saddam had been effectively "contained" (some used the phrase "in his box") by UN sanctions, but ultimately Saddam had continued to defy UNSC resolutions -- 16 of them -- to disarm, stop committing genocide on his own people, and provide proof of the destruction of his WMD programs. Saddam refused to do any of this. His intransigence demonstrated the UN's inability to act in its own interest, and as we later found out, the UNSC states themselves helped Saddam undermine the containment they argued to continue. Saddam's continued grip on power showed the UN to be helpless to do anything to enforce its own resolutions.
That provides part of the oft-asked question of Why Saddam and why not Iran/North Korea/Syria et al? This map provides the other part.
Geographically and militarily, Iraq holds the key to Southwest Asia, and the Anglosphere leaders proved they can read maps even if their political opponents cannot. Iraq still had the region's most potent military, and after the necessary first strike against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, all further operations in the Gulf region required neutralizing both Saddam and his army. His defiance provided all of the justification necessary for such a step, and the Anglosphere took it. They destroyed the region's best and most battle-tested military in less than three weeks.
... the Iraqis ... proved less than two years later that they wanted to choose their own leaders by braving bombs and bullets to vote in surprisingly large numbers.
On the heels of that surprising success, Bush specifically called Syria out as his next focus during his annual State of the Union speech. I don't think even Bush could have predicted Bashar Assad's stupidity in assassinating a tremendously popular figure in Lebanon as Rafik Hariri, but Bush demanded a complete Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon during that speech. Combined with his inaugural speech ealier and the success of Iraq's election, his words have had a powerful effect on Lebanese developments. The purple fingers of Iraq have led to the red-and-white banners demanding freedom today in the streets of Beirut and the capitulation of Egypt's president-for-life, Hosni Mubarak, to multiparty elections.
Nor have we seen the wave of democratization crest yet. Looking back at the map ..., that wave threatens to crash across Syria from two directions now, especially with its Kurdish minority paying close attention to their Iraqi cousins. Syria, long an undeniable exporter of terrorism, either has to ride that wave to a peaceful transition to true representative government or drown in an attempt to stand fast. The collapse of Syria and a transformation of Egyptian politics would severly undercut the terrorist impulses of populations who have been fed radical anti-Westernism by their oppressors for decades as a means to rechannel their rage towards anyone else but the dictators themselves.
More horizons beckon, notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan, but these will follow in time. One question that arises still is, why now? Was this really the work of the Anglosphere? The answer lies in the 150,000 troops currently stationed in Iraq and the will to act that put them there. Does anyone think that Syria would have stood still for a spontaneous demonstration against their puppet government if Saddam Hussein was still defying the UN in Baghdad? Would Hosni Mubarak have suddenly transformed into a democrat without watching the Anglosphere demonstrate a will to act rather than just continue talking tough?
Would the people of the region had the undeniable personal courage to stand up to their oppressors as they have in Cairo and Beirut if they had not seen the Iraqis and their purple fingers, freely voting for their own government, with their own eyes?
Make no mistake. This transformation didn't just happen to coincide with the terms of Bush, Blair, and Howard. Expect the mainstream media to sell that meme in the next few weeks -- how George Bush, especially, got lucky to just happen to be President when all of this happened. Don't buy it for a second. He saw how to change the world and eliminate terrorism over the long haul and more importantly had the political courage to act in that regard.
I have written repeatedly over the past few weeks that, while all of these developments are great (and really by this point, have moved beyond the possible, into the realm of the astonishing), the success of the whole enterprise depends on whether we allow Iran to aquire nuclear weapons.
I see it going one of the following ways:
1) Europe pulls off an amazing feat of diplomacy and actually talks Iran out of wanting to aquire nuclear weapons. (Don't laugh, they're really, really good at diplomacy.)
2) America, or Israel, attacks Iran's nuclear facilities and renders them useless.
3) America, or Israel, attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, and "misses them by that much", in which case a very interesting war will ensue.
4) Nothing is done about Iran, in which case an even more interesting war will ensue, involving the use of nuclear weapons by Iran and Israel, against each other.
5) Everything works out rosy for some unexpected reason.
Considering the fact that Bush has said, on more than one occasion, that he does not intend to allow Iran to aquire nuclear weapons, you can expect numbers 2 or 3 to be the most likely scenarios. I'm putting my money on number 3.
Actually, there is one more scenario that could occur. Say the people of Lebanon succeed in throwing Syria out of their country, and in establishing a Democratic state within their own borders. If that happens, it is possible that the regime change in Iran, which so many Iranian citizens have been pushing for, could come with little or no bloodshed.
Let's all pray that that is the way it plays out.
Suicide Bomber Kills JewsBBC Reports On The Grieving FamilyOf The Suicide Bomber
The BBC has pulled off some amazing anti-Semitic bias the past few weeks. Really, these ought to go down in the history books. From Melanie Phillips
Blistering article by Tom Gross in National Review on the BBC's relentless and venomous bias in its Israel coverage. Gross draws attention to its coverage of Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais, from Saudi Arabia, who opened London's biggest mosque last Friday. Gross tells us:
'He is the preacher at the Grand Al-Haraam mosque — the most important mosque in Mecca, the very heart of Islam. "Read history," implored al-Sudais to his massed ranks of followers in another of his sermons, on February 1, 2004, "and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels ... calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers...the scum of the human race whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs.... These are the Jews, a continuous lineage of meanness, cunning, obstinacy, tyranny, licentiousness, evil, and corruption...."
Al-Sudais has repeated these words, or close variations of them, at several other sermons in recent years. It is because of these and other calls for violence against Christians, Hindus, and Americans, that the Canadian government last month denied al-Sudais a visa to enter Canada. But none of this seems to have penetrated the BBC bubble. In its reports last weekend on TV, radio, and online, on Sheikh al-Sudais's visit to Britain, in which he lead 15,000 worshippers at prayer at the opening of the enormous new six-story Islamic center in east London, the BBC mentioned none of this. BBC Online for example, last Saturday, gave the impression that al-Sudais was nothing but a benign, kindly cleric promoting (to quote the BBC) "community cohesion" between Muslims and their neighbors.'
Now scroll on to the BBC's TV coverage on sunday of the Tel Aviv bombing, in which five people died and 49 were injured. Using a clip entitled 'A family in mourning', the family it showed was not one of the Israeli dead but of the human bomb terrorist instead.
BBC panjandrums are embarrassed enough to put their hands up to this one. In what it coyly calls a 'correction', the Beeb has posted up the following comment by Roger Mosey, head of TV news:
'The programme editors and I agree it was inappropriate to begin the report with footage of the suicide bomber's family in mourning. It was also inappropriate to include this footage without coverage of the suffering of the victims' families. Using this picture sequence in this way was a mistake. However, the report's coverage of the political ramifications of the bombing and this week's London conference was balanced and fair - and we did, of course, report fully the events in Tel Aviv in our bulletins on Friday night and Saturday.'
No, Mr Mosey, it was not 'inappropriate'. It was grotesque, outrageous and despicable. And a 'correction' just won't do. It does not begin to address the moral deformity of BBC journalists who, when Israelis are murdered, automatically direct their compassion instead at the family of the bomber. For BBC journalists, Jewish victims, Jewish dead and Jewish grief just don't seem to exist.
Yep, and my relatives in England tell me the "Jewish Lobby" controls American Foreign Policy.
Islamic Jihad Celebrates The Peace Process With Children, Knives, and Korans.Oh Yeah, And With A Car Packed With Explosives
From News 24
, via Roger Simon
:Jerusalem - Israeli troops in the northern West Bank on Monday discovered a car packed with explosives. It is believed to have been prepared by militants from the radical Islamic Jihad movement, who claimed Friday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, a military source said. The car, which was discovered outside Arrabeh village near the town of Jenin, was packed "with tens of kilos of explosives", the source said. "We believe it is something to do with Islamic Jihad who carried out Friday's bomb attack," she added. The blast, which took place outside a Tel Aviv nightclub and killed five Israelis, put a major dent in efforts on both sides to observe an informal truce.
I thought we were in the middle of a "Peace Process". What did Israel do wrong this time? They freed, what was it, 800 prinsoner. They held back from retaliating for Friday night's suicide bombing.
Hat tip to LGF for the pics.
Democracy Shakes The Middle EastCNN Attempts To Ignore It
In the post below, about the Lebanese government resigning, I noted that talk radio news seemed to have ignored the story in favor of the Michael Jackson trial. Now, Roger Simon notes
that CNN is listing the Lebanon story third behind Michael Jackson and the suicide bombing in Iraq
I wondered what the media would do if events started to really prove that Bush has been right all along. I remember that during the period of 1987-89, they credited themselves, for championing Gorbachev over Reagan, and by attempting to turn men like Lech Walesa, and even to some extent the Pope, into heroes of the Left.
But, they really have no way to spin this one in their direction. So, I guess they're going to try to ignore it.
Wow. What a strategy.
It won't work. If Syria really pulls out of Lebanon, and if the Lebanese people are successful in establishing a Democratic government, the media will not be able to ignore the story. It remains to be seen if they will be able to find a way to credit someone other than George Bush.
Tear Down The WallLebanese Government Resigns
I was out of town on business this morning with only talk radio to bring me news of the outside world. All they seemed to be talking about on their news segments was the Michael Jackson trial. So, then I come home and find the government of Lebanon has resigned
Huge celebrations have erupted in Beirut after the Lebanese government announced its resignation following two weeks of popular protests.
Tens of thousands of people waved Lebanese flags and demanded that Syria remove its troops from the country.
Prime Minister Omar Karami announced the resignation two weeks after the murder of his predecessor Rafik Hariri.
The US hailed it as an "opportunity" for Lebanon, calling for fair elections free of Syrian influence.
Mr Karami said in his announcement: "I am keen the government will not be a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country.
"I declare the resignation of the government that I had the honour to head. May God preserve Lebanon."
His announcement came as an opposition-sponsored motion of no-confidence in the government was being debated in parliament.
The statement prompted delight from at least 25,000 protesters estimated to have gathered in Beirut's Martyrs Square despite a ban on demonstrations.
"Karami has fallen, your turn will come, Lahoud, and yours, Bashar," the demonstrators chanted, referring to Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.
Mr Lahoud accepted the resignation of the government and asked it to continue in a caretaker capacity, a statement said.
The immediate reaction from Syria, which backs the Lebanese government, was non-committal, saying only that it was "an internal affair" for Lebanon.
However, a BBC correspondent in Damascus says the Syrian authorities must be worried the situation in Lebanon is spiralling out of their control and might result in a new government demanding the immediate withdrawal of Syria's estimated 15,000 troops in the country.
Both Mr Karami's government and the Syrian government have been accused of involvement in the 14 February assassination of Mr Hariri - charges they deny.
Earlier, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, on a visit to Lebanon, called on Syria to withdraw its troops in compliance with UN resolution 1559, passed in September.
Syria says not even the Lebanese want a full Syrian withdrawal, but last week it said it would draw troops back from western Lebanon to areas nearer the Syrian border.
Sometimes You Just Gotta Love Those Men
In followup to the post below, which gives the male perspective on the Anorexia Parade at the Oscars, here's a little bit more male perspective. Vox Day discusses Maureen Dowd, via No Pasaran
Vox Day: Late to the obvious, again Maureen Dowd discovers the concept of slumming:
MoDo: Even some men I know felt awful for the unwitting slump busters who would now read "Juiced" and realize that the best night of their lives was actually the worst. That really cute baseball player they thought liked them just the way they are, as Bridget Jones likes to say, was really holding his nose to break a curse. Way harsh.At the dawn of feminism, there was an assumption that women would not be as severely judged on their looks in ensuing years. Phooey. It's just the opposite. Looks matter more than ever, with more and more women spending fortunes turning themselves into generic, plastic versions of what they think men want, reaching for eerily similar plumped-up faces and body shapes.
Vox Day: Tune in next week, when Maureen enlightens us to the hot new phenomenon of "beer goggles", which involves intoxicated fraternity boys hooking up with girls they wouldn't pay any attention to when sober. As usual, Dowd is not only decades out of it, but she has no genuine point; her apparent conclusion implies that it would be better if men, like women, were willing have sex with ugly members of the opposite sex because they are wealthy.
As with your enemies, you just gotta love men when they tell you the truth.
Vox Day comments that Maureen Dowd is "late to the obvious". There's a reason she might want to arrive even later to the party, but I won't even mention it. (Hint: It has to do with the "beer goggles")
Water, Water, EverywhereAnd Not A Drop To Drink
The Anchoress talks
about about the all the beautiful women and gowns at the Oscars. Now, I know that Anchoress is mostly just focusing on the gowns. But, you know, me being me, I've just got to give the male perspective. And that is, well, a question:
Was that the Academy Awards Show or a setup to a commercial for Viagra? Because I definately felt like I needed some after looking at the pictures of all those anorexic freaks
Thank God I've got got my wife to get me hot.
Well, actually, Selma Hayek looks pretty good as well
How Will the "Peace Process" Play Out?
In the wake of the suicide boming in Israel, Ariel Sharon has suspended planned releases of Palestinian prisoners. Ed Morrisey at Captain's Quarters has some predictions of what to expect
Hamas and Islamic Jihad had already criticized the planned releases as too modest for their tastes, demanding the immediate release of all 8,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails before considering a formal cease-fire. Now that Sharon has frozen even the preliminary releases, the militants have all the excuse they need to declare open season on Israeli citizens again, and Abbas can blame the intransigence of the Israelis for the collapse of the cease fire. Abbas may make some preliminary noise about taking action against the militants, but in a short period of time he will lay the blame against Sharon for undermining Fatah's credibility among the militants.
Some of you think I'm being far too skeptical. I hope to be proven wrong. So far, however, events have played out exactly as expected, and exactly as they have in the past. Only when the Palestinians start electing peacemakers rather than bombthrowers will peace truly come to the West Bank and Gaza.
I also hope you are wrong Mr. Morrisey. However, I agree that your predictions will probably come true. There are three things one needs to know in order to understand why the Peace Process will likely not work towards peace:
1) The Palestinian people overwhelmingly support the terror organizations
2) Mahmoud Abbas, the supposedly moderate leader of the Palestinian Authority wrote his doctoral thesis on the subject of how Jews plotted the Holocaust with Hitler
in order to build world sympathy, so that they could "steal" the land of Palestine from the Palestinians.
3) The Palestinian Authority official United Nations website still to this day proudly displays the Palestinian Liberation Organization Charter, as the charter of the Palestinian Authority. This charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
An Outbreak of Honor Killings In Germany
From The Telegraph
of London, via Little Green Footballs
Shortly before nine o'clock one Monday evening earlier this month, Hatin Sürücü left her five-year-old son asleep in their small apartment in the Tempelhof district of Berlin and made her way to a bus stop in the main Oberlandgarten Strasse.
Minutes later, a volley of pistol shots rang out but no one came to help Mrs Sürücü, 23, who was of Turkish origin. A bus driver discovered her body, with multiple wounds to the head and chest, about 40 minutes later and called the police.
Last week, Mrs Sürücü's three brothers, aged 18 to 25, who were arrested six days after the attack, were formally charged with the murder. They have pleaded not guilty and were remanded in custody.
Police are investigating whether Mrs Sürücü was the victim of a so-called "honour killing" after she made the decision to leave the cousin with whom she had been forced into an arranged marriage eight years earlier.
The police said that Mrs Sürücü had frequently complained of being threatened by her brothers.
If they are found guilty, Mrs Sürücü's murder will be the sixth "honour killing" within Berlin's 200,000-strong Muslim community in four months. Shocking as that is, the reactions of some Turkish immigrant children at a school whose main gates are yards from the scene of the shooting has caused even graver concern.
Asked by teachers what they thought of the murder, several 13-year-old pupils are said to have implied that they thought Mrs Sürücü had "earned" her death. "Well, she lived like a German, didn't she?" remarked one. Mrs Sürücü got married in Turkey at the age of 15 but returned with her son to her birthplace, Berlin, more than five years ago.
She broke with her family, refused to wear the Muslim headscarf and lived with her child in a hostel.
She had recently completed training as an electrical engineer and friends said that she simply "wanted to live her own life".
The murder has shocked politicians, police and community leaders, and prompted criticism that successive German governments have ignored ritual injustices within immigrant communities for decades. "How many more women have to die before this society wakes up?" asked Necla Kelek, the author of a controversial book on arranged marriages.
In an open letter last week, the headmaster of the school publicly denounced the attitude of his pupils. Other head teachers in Berlin, however, said that they were not surprised by the children's reaction.
"This type of thinking is latent in their minds," said the head of another predominantly Turkish immigrant school in the district, who asked not to be identified. Their remarks, he said, reminded him of the spontaneous "victory dances" which immigrant pupils at his school had staged after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
The five Muslim women killed in recent months were murdered by their husbands or partners because they had "insulted" the family honour by wanting to end the relationship.
One woman was strangled; another drowned in a bath. In another case, a 21-year-old Turkish woman who was forcibly married to her cousin was stabbed to death on the street by her husband in front of their three-year-old daughter. Police records show that 45 "honour killings" have been committed within Germany's two million-plus Muslim community in the past eight years. Now that at least five have occurred in just four months in Berlin alone, the German authorities and local Turkish leaders are desperately trying to find out why.
Karl Mollenhauer, a Berlin police psychologist, blamed Islamic religious leaders for failing to address the problem. Last week, he also suggested that the German authorities were at fault for failing to intervene in case they were branded racist.
"We have silently allowed a parallel society to develop because of fears that we would sow hatred by talking openly about its injustices. The women have paid the price for this," he said. Serap Cileli, a German-born Turkish woman who finds homes for women threatened by "honour murders", said: "If I criticise the Islamic community over these problems, I find that the Germans criticise me for being anti-foreigner. At the same time, many Turks say I am fouling my own nest.
"I am sad to say that we have a Turkish problem in Germany. Official claims that the majority of Turks are well integrated here are pure eyewash."
Notice that the official numbers on "honor killings" are only those convicted. There have probably been many more that have either been attributed simply to domestic violence, or for which there were not convictions at all.
Sad to say, Germany seems wedged in by their history here. After WWII and the Holocaust, the Germans bravely fought to deNazify their country, and to eliminate the traditions of racism within their culture. Because Hitler had spoken out strongly against immigration, it an unacceptable form of speech. Now, that a real problem exitsts, German society does not have a mechanism to deal with the problem. They are, literally, tongue-tied by their newly-bred culture of Political Correctness.
This is a very sad situation.
Confessions Of A 9/11 Conservative
From a column by Cinnamon Stillwell
, via the Anchoress
As one of a handful of Bay Area conservative columnists, I'm no stranger to pushing buttons. Indeed, I welcome feedback from readers, whether positive or negative. I find the interplay stimulating, but I am often bemused by the stereotypical assumptions made by my critics on the left. It's not enough to simply disagree with my views; I have to be twisted into a conservative caricature that apparently makes opponents feel superior. They seem not to have considered that it's possible to put forward different approaches to various societal problems and not be the devil incarnate.
But in some ways I understand where this perspective comes from, because I once shared it. I was raised in liberal Marin County, and my first name (which garners more comments than anything else) is a direct product of the hippie generation. Growing up, I bought into the prevailing liberal wisdom of my surroundings because I didn't know anything else. I wrote off all Republicans as ignorant, intolerant yahoos. It didn't matter that I knew none personally; it was simply de rigueur to look down on such people. The fact that I was being a bigot never occurred to me, because I was certain that I inhabited the moral high ground.
Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world. Its democratic form of government and capitalist economic system was nothing more than a machine in which citizens were forced to be cogs. I put aside the nagging question of why so many people all over the world risk their lives to come to the United States. Freedom of speech, religious freedom, women's rights, gay rights (yes, even without same-sex marriage), social and economic mobility, relative racial harmony and democracy itself were all taken for granted in my narrow, insulated world view.
So, what happened to change all that? In a nutshell, 9/11. The terrorist attacks on this country were not only an act of war but also a crime against humanity. It seemed glaringly obvious to me at the time, and it still does today. But the reaction of my former comrades on the left bespoke a different perspective. The day after the attacks, I dragged myself into work, still in a state of shock, and the first thing I heard was one of my co-workers bellowing triumphantly, "Bush got his war!" There was little sympathy for the victims of this horrific attack, only an irrational hatred for their own country.
As I spent months grieving the losses, others around me wrapped themselves in the comfortable shell of cynicism and acted as if nothing had changed. I soon began to recognize in them an inability to view America or its people as victims, born of years of indoctrination in which we were always presented as the bad guys.
Never mind that every country in the world acts in its own self-interest, forms alliances with unsavory countries -- some of which change later -- and are forced to act militarily at times. America was singled out as the sole guilty party on the globe. I, on the other hand, for the first time in my life, had come to truly appreciate my country and all that it encompassed, as well as the bravery and sacrifices of those who fight to protect it.
Thoroughly disgusted by the behavior of those on the left, I began to look elsewhere for support. To my astonishment, I found that the only voices that seemed to me to be intellectually and morally honest were on the right. Suddenly, I was listening to conservative talk-show hosts on the radio and reading conservative columnists, and they were making sense. When I actually met conservatives, I discovered that they did not at all embody the stereotypes with which I'd been inculcated as a liberal.
Although my initial agreement with voices on the right centered on the war on terrorism, I began to find myself in concurrence with other aspects of conservative political philosophy as well. Smaller government, traditional societal structures, respect and reverence for life, the importance of family, personal responsibility, national unity over identity politics and the benefits of living in a meritocracy all became important to me. In truth, it turns out I was already conservative on many of these subjects but had never been willing to admit as much.
In my search for like-minded individuals, I also gravitated toward the religiously observant. This was somewhat revolutionary, considering my former liberal discomfort with religious folk, but I found myself in agreement on a number of issues. When it came to support for Israel, Orthodox Jews and Christian Zionists were natural allies. As the left rained down vicious attacks on Israel, commentators on the right (with the exception of Pat Buchanan and his ilk) became staunch supporters of the nation. The fact that I'm not a particularly religious person myself had little bearing on this political relationship, for it's entirely possible to be secular and not be antireligious. Unlike the secular fundamentalists who make it their mission in life to destroy all vestiges of America's Judeo-Christian heritage, I have come to value this legacy.
So I became what's now commonly known as a "9/11 Republican." Living in a time of war, disenchanted with the left and disappointed with the obstructionism and lack of vision of the Democratic Party, I threw in my hat with the only party that seemed to be offering solutions, rather than simply tearing away at our country. I went from voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 to proudly casting my ballot for George W. Bush in 2004. This doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with Bush on every issue, but there is enough common ground to support his party overall. In the wake of this political transformation, I discovered that I was not alone. It turned out that there are other 9/11 Republicans out there, both in the Bay Area and beyond, and they have been coming out of the woodwork.
Like many a political convert, I took it on myself to openly oppose the politics of those with which I once shared world views. Beyond writing, I put myself on the front lines of this ideological battle by taking part in counterprotests at the antiwar rallies leading up to the war in Iraq. This turned out to be a further wake-up call, because it was there that I encountered more intolerance than ever before in my life. Holding pro-Iraq-liberation signs and American flags, I was spat on, called names, intimidated, threatened, attacked, cursed and, on a good day, simply argued with. It was clear that any deviation from the prevailing leftist groupthink of the Bay Area was considered a threat to be eliminated as quickly as possible.
It was at such protests that I also had my first real brushes with anti-Semitism. The anti-Israel sentiment on the left -- inexorably linked to anti-Americanism -- ran high at these events and boiled over into Jew hatred on more than one occasion. The pro-Palestinian sympathies of the left had led to a bizarre commingling of pacifism, Communism and Arab nationalism. So it was not uncommon to see kaffiyeh-clad college students chanting Hamas slogans, graying hippies wearing "Intifada" T-shirts, Che Guevera backpacks, and signs equating Zionism with Nazism, all against a backdrop of peace, patchouli and tie-dye.
Being unapologetically pro-Israel, I was called every name in the book, from "Zionist pig" to "Zionist scum," and was once told that those with European origins such as myself couldn't really be Jewish.
In the end, the blatant anti-Semitism on the left, even among Jews, only strengthened my political transformation.
I was, in effect, radicalized by the radicals.
But more than anything, it was the left's hypocrisy when it came to the war on terrorism that made me turn rightward after 9/11. I remember, back in my liberal days, being fiercely opposed to the Taliban and its brutal treatment of women. Even then, I felt that Afghanistan should immediately be liberated, as Malcolm X once said in another context, by any means necessary. But when it came time, it turned out that the left was mostly opposed to such liberation, whether of the Afghan people or of the Iraqis (especially if America and a Republican president were at the helm).
Indeed, liberals had become strangely conservative in their fierce attachment to the status quo. In contrast, the much-maligned neoconservatives (among whose ranks I count myself) and Bush had become the "radicals," bringing freedom and democracy to the despotic Middle East. Is it any wonder that in such a topsy-turvy world, I found myself in agreement with those I'd formerly denounced?
The war on terrorism is nothing more than the great struggle of our time, and, like the earlier ones against fascism and totalitarianism, we ignore it at our peril. Whether or not one accepts that we are engaged in a war, our enemies have declared it so. It took the horrors of 9/11 to awaken me to this reality, but for others, such lessons remain unlearned. For me, it was self-evident that in Islamic terrorism, America had found a nihilistic threat that sought to wipe out not only Western civilization but also civilization itself.
The Islamists have been clear all along about their plans to form an Islamic caliphate and inhabit the entire world with burqas, stonings, amputations, honor killings and a lack of religious and political freedom. Whether or not to oppose such a movement should have been a no-brainer, especially for self-proclaimed "progressives." Instead, they have extended their misguided sympathies to tyrants and terrorists.
In the end, history will be the judge, and each of us will have to think about what legacy we wish to leave to future generations. If there's one thing I've learned since 9/11, it's that it's never too late to alter one's place in the great scheme of things.
It's as if she took the words right out of my mouth.
An Islamic Europe?Dutch Emigration Rises To Four Times Normal LevelsIn The Weeks After Theo Van Gogh's Murder
From the New York Times
, via Little Green Footballs
This small nation is a magnet for immigrants, but statistics suggest there is a quickening flight of the white middle class. Dutch people pulling up roots said they felt a general pessimism about their small and crowded country and about the social tensions that had grown along with the waves of newcomers, most of them Muslims.“The Dutch are living in a kind of pressure cooker atmosphere,” Mr. Hiltemann said.
There is more than the concern about the rising complications of absorbing newcomers, now one-tenth of the population, many of them from largely Muslim countries. Many Dutch also seem bewildered that their country, run for decades on a cozy, political consensus, now seems so tense and prickly and bent on confrontation. Those leaving have been mostly lured by large English-speaking nations like Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where they say they hope to feel less constricted.
In interviews, emigrants rarely cited a fear of militant Islam as their main reason for packing their bags. But the killing of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, a fierce critic of fundamentalist Muslims, seems to have been a catalyst.
“Our Web site got 13,000 hits in the weeks after the van Gogh killing,” said Frans Buysse, who runs an agency that handles paperwork for departing Dutch. “That’s four times the normal rate.”
I guess one could expect that there would be a certain percentage of any population who, when faced with a threat, would just flee, rather than stay and try to fix the problem. Surely, many Dutch people have despaired of their government ever actually getting serious enough to even admit there is a problem.
But, what will happen if this becomes the typical reaction of Europeans as the tide of radical Islam festers in the ghettos of France and Germany?
Mark Steyn comments on George Bush's "charm offensive" and has some thoughts on Europe's future:
The ''violence in the Netherlands'' is a reference to Theo van Gogh, murdered by a Dutch Islamist for making a film critical of the Muslim treatment of women. Van Gogh's professional colleagues reacted to this assault on freedom of speech by canceling his movie from the Rotterdam Film Festival and scheduling some Islamist propaganda instead.
The president, in other words, understands that for Europe, unlike America, the war on terror is an internal affair, a matter of defusing large unassimilated radicalized Muslim immigrant populations before they provoke the inevitable resurgence of opportunist political movements feeding off old hatreds. Difficult trick to pull off, especially on a continent where the ruling elite feels it's in the people's best interest not to pay any attention to them.
The new EU ''constitution,'' for example, would be unrecognizable as such to any American. I had the opportunity to talk with former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing on a couple of occasions during his long labors as the self-declared and strictly single Founding Father.
President Giscard professed to be looking in the right direction. When I met him, he had an amiable riff on how he'd been in Washington and bought one of those compact copies of the U.S. Constitution on sale for a buck or two. Many Americans wander round with the constitution in their pocket so they can whip it out and chastise over-reaching congressmen and senators at a moment's notice. Try going round with the European Constitution in your pocket and you'll be walking with a limp after two hours: It's 511 pages, which is 500 longer than the U.S. version. It's full of stuff about European space policy, Slovakian nuclear plants, water resources, free expression for children, the right to housing assistance, preventive action on the environment, etc.
Most of the so-called constitution isn't in the least bit constitutional. That's to say, it's not content, as the U.S. Constitution is, to define the distribution and limitation of powers. Instead, it reads like a U.S. defense spending bill that's got porked up with a ton of miscellaneous expenditures for the ''mohair subsidy'' and other notorious Congressional boondoggles. President Ronald Reagan liked to say, ''We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around.'' If you want to know what it looks like the other way round, read Monsieur Giscard's constitution.
But the fact is it's going to be ratified, and Washington is hardly in a position to prevent it. Plus there's something to be said for the theory that, as the EU constitution is a disaster waiting to happen, you might as well cut down the waiting and let it happen. CIA analysts predict the collapse of the EU within 15 years. I'd say, as predictions of doom go, that's a little on the cautious side.
Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature.
Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.
Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying ... The 21st century is being built elsewhere.
I acutally think Europe is going to pull itself together. Europeans have proven themselves to be merciless, once roused. Depending upon whether they wake up sooner, or later, the mercilessness will be either legislative, or violent. Europe, please wake up soon.
The Arab World Is "BubblingWith Expectations for Political Reform"
An excellent analysis of current events from Powerline
The beneficent effects of the administration's Iraq policy continue to be felt. Municipal elections have taken place in Saudi Arabia; Lebanese citizens march for self-rule; Egypt announces a plan for competitive elections, which, the International Herald Tribune says, responds to "stepped-up pressure from the United States," but also to the fact that the Arab world is "bubbling with expectations for political reform."
These steps are, of course, halting and imperfect, but one can only be impressed by the speed with which progress toward democracy in Iraq has sent pressure for reform through other Muslim countries. Somewhat remarkably, I think, the Bush administration is not resting on its laurels, but is continuing to press for more. Thus, Mubarak's announcement of constitutional reform in Egypt followed on the heels of Secretary of State Rice's decision to forgo a visit to Egypt to show concern over the Mubarak government's failure to allow greater political freedom.
And today, Syria demonstrated that it, too, is feeling the heat, by arresting and handing over to the Iraqi government Saddam Hussein's half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, along with twenty-nine other members of Iraq's Baath party who had been operating in Syria. An Iraqi official described the handover of the thirty Baathists as "a goodwill gesture by the Syrians to show that they are cooperating."
There has never been any doubt about the fact that die-hards from Saddam's regime were participating in and directing the Iraqi insurgency from what was thought to be a safe haven in Syria. The fact that the Syrian haven is no longer safe seems enormously significant, for two reasons. First, Assad is obviously worried about his own survival if his regime continues to try to undermine the new Iraqi government. Second, Syria has apparently concluded that the insurgency is being defeated and is going to fail. Why else would it turn on the Iraqi Baathists whom, until now, it has sheltered and encouraged?
... it seems fair to say that all current indications suggest that Bush's Iraq policy may be more successful, and sooner, than even its most optimistic backers had dared to hope.
The most important point in this article is that George Bush refuses to sit on his laurels, but instead, continues to press all the more for the Democratization of the Arab world. I am surprised along with Powerline at the speed with which successes seem to be raking up. But, the wild card in the deck is nuclear weapons. Pakistan has them, and Iran is soon to have them.
It might be rather easy to pursue a policy of deterrance against one nation (that being Pakistan). I'm sure the Bush administration put Musharaff on notice that, were any Islamic militants to ever get their hands on a nuclear weapons, the result would be the obliteration of his country. But, with every Iran, or North Korea, which is added to the list of nuclear nations, the policy of deterrence becomes less likely to work. The question is, would the U.S. be willing to blow up three or four nations if one of our cities got hit?
The Iraq War Was Right
From the International Herald Tribune, via No Pasaran
... a midmorning conversation with Iraq's human rights minister, Bakhtiar Amin, a Kurd in whom all the injury inflicted by Saddam on the Kurdish people seems concentrated. "Iraq," he says, "is a museum of crimes."
The layout of the museum is a work in progress. Amin is assembling a data base that will list all the dictator's murders; a delegation is being sent to Bosnia and to Kosovo to learn how to organize the data. "We are working with bones, with teeth," he says. "It's hard work to identify victims."
How many are there? Amin does not know. He says his ministry was sifting through 150,000 files and 60 kilograms, or 130 pounds, of material recently delivered by the Red Cross. Perhaps half a million Kurds were killed, he suggested, and hundreds of thousands of Shiites. "For the total numbers, we need time" he says.
Amin knew one of the dead well. His father-in-law, Sheik Taleb al-Suhail, a prominent opponent of the former regime, was murdered by three agents of Saddam in Beirut in 1994. Nobody has been punished for the crime.
"We owe our freedom to Americans," the minister says.
"The real occupation is not theirs, but the one we suffered for 35 years by the group of thugs who brutalized my nation."It is hard to argue with Amin. He wields the weapon of truth with directness.
How many such stories are there? Too many for the Germans and the French to be so comfortable in their conviction that the war was wrong. This war was falsely portrayed, poorly planned, and hurt by hubris. But it was the right war.
Some people in Europe should have the courage to tell that to George W. Bush this week.
The French Reconnection
From Christianity Today
Catching a breather at a sidewalk café, Cyril Gordon, a Paris-born American evangelist, told me he was astounded at how well the gospel was being received in France. "I've done evangelism in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris," he says, "and of all these, I've been by far best received in Paris. I'm used to getting some broadsides ripped up and thrown in my face or people cussing at me. I haven't had one instance of this in the two weeks I've been here. We are constantly talking to French people who walk up to us wanting to know about Christ." As a result of the four-week campaign, 730 people turned in the tear-off forms, asking that someone follow up with them. Among those who converted was a Muslim studying philosophy of religion at the Sorbonne.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the postmodern French have deconstructed deconstructionism, seen through the utopia of socialism, and realized that wine and other sensual delights only go so far in filling what French philosopher Blaise Pascal described as the "God-shaped void." According to France Mission, an opinion poll conducted in March 2003 showed that 32 percent of those who call themselves Christians have recently returned to the faith. In 1994, only 13 percent said so.
You see this trend in the writings of French intellectuals and philosophers who are products of the 1960s sexual revolution when "it was forbidden to forbid," says Mark Farmer, former pastor of a Baptist church across from the Louvre. The most articulate plea for France to re-examine its Judeo-Christian roots came recently in Jean-Claude Guillebaud's critically acclaimed Re-founding the World: The Western Testament.
"What's this? A French intellectual starting his book with a quote from Psalm 1?" Farmer recalls his reaction to first paging through the volume. "And he's got a chapter on the apostle Paul? He starts the book by saying that the 20th century has been a century of disillusion. Marxism, evolution, socialism, hedonism, wars have all failed us. He says it's easy to be pessimistic, but there are some things that we appreciate about our civilization. For example, the notion of right and wrong that transcends any culture—where does that come from? He stops short of saying that he himself has become a Christian, but he's led the horses to the water."
The sales of another book—the Bible—are at a historic high, according to the French Bible Society. In 2003—which Christians promoted as the Year of the Bible—FBS's publishing house sold an unprecedented 100,000 Bibles and 50,000 New Testaments, says Christian Bonnet, the group's secretary general. At the time of our conversation, the Bible with life application notes for seekers, La Bible Expliquée, had just sold a record 80,000 copies in one month. In the last 15 years, Bonnet says, secular bookstores, "which never wanted to sell Bibles before," and major supermarket chains began selling Bibles.
The search for God in the most secular country of Europe is so universally felt that even a business journal—the equivalent of Forbes or Fortune—was compelled to publish a special issue in July and August of 2003 whose cover exclaimed, "God, the Stocks Are Rising!" Its 72 pages describe the surge of interest in religion and its effect on the business world, says Paris-based International Teams missionary Steve Thrall. The contents page announces that "after a materialistic 20th century, religions are coming back in force. In France, this rise in spirituality is pushing out secularism in both schools and business."
I think this is probably a residual effect of 9/11, and the rise in awareness of Islamofascist terrorism since that date. Before 9/11, I was only vaguely aware of terrorism and Islamofascism. I had seen, on the news, large groups of Iranians, and Iraqi's, in the streets chanting "Death to America", but I believed that it was exaggerated by the media.
As was the case with many Americans, when seeing the towers fall, the first question I asked myself was, "Why do they hate us so much?" In the dark hours afterward, expert after expert came on the news, and explained who Osama bin Laden was and who Al Qaeda was. I had never heard the names.
As I started to understand why those who attacked did so, the second question I asked myself was, "Would the world be better off without America?" Truly, that is the question to ask, especially in light of the fact that Bin Laden has declared his intention to acquire nuclear weapons.
Now, you know that my answer to the second question is yes. I think the French people are probably asking themselves the same question. Islamic militants in France have been caught with chemical weapons. Apparently, they intended to use them on the subway in Paris, if I recall correctly. There have been numerous other arrests, and cases of Intelligence data, suggesting that, even though they did not join in the Iraqi War effort, the Islamofascists intend to hurt France badly as well.
France may be hateful, and a bad ally, but the French people are not stupid. When they ask themselves questions, the answers they come up with are usually more convoluted, but as Samuel Johnson said, "The gallows doth powerfully concentrate the mind." I'm guessing many of them have answered the question of whether the world would be better off without France, and Western Civilization, with a simplistic and resounding, "No."
They might not be confident enough to admit their thoughts as unashamedly as Americans, but they've got to be thinking these things through.
And that brings me finally to my point. The third question that I began asking myself, in the months following 9/11, was "What is it that makes Western Civilization so powerful and productive." The answer is our intellectual framework; the ideas upon which we were founded. Those ideas began with the Judeo-Christian tradtion. In the beginning, Catholicism and Protestantism gave birth to this magnificent culture. There have been many other ideas added along the way, some good and some not so good, but it all began with the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Protestantism, in particular, with it's emphasis on each individual having a direct line to God, organically grows Democracy. For, why would a person who has God's ear take orders from a King or Dictator?
If this article from Christianity Today is true, then it would seem that, at least inwardly, the French are coming to the same conclusions as we Americans.
I am happy for them, spiritually, and I am happy for us, polically.
The Genocide In DarfurWhat We Can Do About It
Roger Simon has a good idea
. Maybe we should pass this around:
Few people want to be reminded of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, just as they didn't want to hear about Rwanda. It's too frightening and depressing. So Nicholas Kristof deserves support for his strong oped in the NYT this morning - The Secret Genocide Archive. The photographs alone are stomach-turning.
So why has the world largely ingored this? Kristof offers this solution:
What will really stop this genocide is indignation. Senator Paul Simon, who died in 2003, said after the Rwandan genocide, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."
Yes, of course. We should all do what we can. But this shouldn't be an exclusively American problem. It is a world problem. The United Nations, which was formed in the wake of genocide and was supposed to make the repetition (Pastorius note: uh, I think he means prevention. Must have been a Freudian slip) of such horrors its number one priority, has not nearly done its job here, just as it did not in Rwanda. Why? Maybe there just isn't any money it.
I'm going to fire off an email to my Congressman and Senators right now.
The above photograph shows Terri Schiavo with her mother. Terri's husband, and some cabal of doctors, lawyers, expert witnesses, and judges, say that Terri is in a Persistant Vegetative State. In other words, they contend that she in Brain-Dead.
When one looks at that photo with the knowledge that a rather large group of experts are in agreement that Terri is essentially dead, one must begin to wonder who else around us would be considered "dead" if these people had their way.
I've always been kind of neutral on the issue of assisted suicide. The fact that Terri Schiavo is considered "dead" has changed me fundamentally. Advocates of her starvation have won me over to side of the staunch pro-life crowd.
That's what happens when the face of evil shows itself in the open. Many people like me, who couldn't pick up on the subtle hints, will recoil in horror at the perverted grotesquerie of the pro-death view of the world.
If our courts do end up allowing Michael to remove Terri's feeding tube, then Terri will have died because we took a nasty fall down the slippery slope.
Was It All For Nought?"We Want Her To Be Educated Enough That She Will Not Force Him To Beat Her"
From Mystery Achievement
Do women who grow up in a culture of domination, submission, and violence see this as some sick form of "caring" on the part of their men? If that sounds to you like I'm stumping for cultural relativism run amok, then let me assure you that I'm not buying in. It simply means that I am totally at a loss to explain why Iraqi women eye Islamic law:
BAGHDAD - Covered in layers of flowing black fabric that extend to the tips of her gloved hands, Jenan al-Ubaedy knows her first priority as one of some 90 women who will sit in the national assembly: implementing Islamic law.
She is quick to tick off what sharia will mean for married women. "[The husband] can beat his wife but not in a forceful way, leaving no mark. If he should leave a mark, he will pay," she says of a system she supports. "He can beat her when she is not obeying him in his rights. We want her to be educated enough that she will not force him to beat her, and if he beats her with no right, we want her to be strong enough to go to the police."
Broadening support for sharia may not have been the anticipated outcome of the US mandate that women make up one third of the national assembly. But Dr. Ubaedy's vision is shared by many members of the United Iraqi Alliance, a list of religious Shiite candidates that won a majority of seats. She says the women on the UIA list are meeting now to coordinate their agendas and reach out to women from other parties.
If the Iraqi women in the National Assembly think like this and vote, along with their male couterparts, for Sharia law to be implemented in Iraq, then we, in the United States, are the beaten women. After all we have done, this would be the ultimate "kick in the head".
EuroworldEurope As Amusement Park
I found this in my archives and thought it needed to be resurrected. The orignal link does not exist anymore. Sorry.
Weekly World News is an important journal breaking stories crucial to the development of Western Civilization. For instance, one earthshaking scoop was their April 2003 revelation (complete with photos) that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were sharing a "Gay Love Nest."Anyway, now they have this "scoop." I'll just call it a "suggestion":
Member nations of the European Union have announced plans to discontinue their status as individual countries in order to merge into one giant theme park!
The new park will be called EuroWorld and will cover the entire continent of what is now known as Europe. The decision was made by the EU countries in response to their collective realization that no one in Europe has had an innovative idea in well over a century.
With nothing new to offer visitors, the European countries decided to stop pretending they were still relevant, and to start celebrating their colorful pasts.
"Our stagnant continent has been a virtual museum for decades," explains an unnamed EU representative. "Many could argue that we already were nothing more than an amusement park. The decision to legally become a large theme park is really only a formality."
Each country will now be an exhibit within the park. For example, what was once known as Germany will now be the Germanland exhibit. Only traditional German foods such as bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer will be permitted in Germanland.
The citizens of each European country will now be considered "Euro hosts." The Euro hosts will be required to dress in traditional ethnic outfits from their respective homelands to better entertain visitors.
Thus, Germans must wear lederhosen at all times, Scots must wear kilts, and so forth.
"It's better this way. I remember vacationing a few years ago in Holland and nobody was wearing wooden shoes. And very few of them lived in windmills. I was outraged and demanded my money back from my travel agent," comments sociologist Alan Kennedy, a consultant to the EU for the theme park initiative.
Admission tickets to EuroWorld will actually be one-week passes that allow visitors access to each exhibit.
Much of the entertainment for visitors to EuroWorld will come from creative new activities that incorporate established European traditions.
For example, there will be bungee jumping from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, waffle juggling in Brussels and prostitute races in Amsterdam.
Because of the relatively large size of EuroWorld, it is expected to become a significant competitor to the Disney theme parks in Florida.
Amusement park consultant Dee Hamel explains, "Disney has an advantage because it is an established name and has been in business for more than 20 years. It is also in close proximity to a number of decent hotels.
"EuroWorld needs to establish its own identity and not be simply another cliched theme park with ferris wheels and people dressed like animals. And they cannot possibly allow mimes and expect anyone to want to go there."
Hamel also believes that EuroWorld will need new accommodations. "The park will need to upgrade the antiquated hostels and bed-and- breakfasts found in European cities.
"Nobody wants to go to an amusement park all day and then stay in a crowded hostel with other malodorous tourists. Especially French travelers, as we all know of their aversion to bathing.
"Many experts agree that the reason Europe has become an intellectual wasteland is that all of the industrious and motivated European citizens had the good sense to emigrate to the United States over the past 100 to 150 years.
"The cupboard was left bare, so to speak," notes respected historian Dr. Peter Sanvorth. "While the best and brightest of the Old Country found their way to America's shores, left behind were buffoons like Jacques Chirac and madmen like Adolf Hitler.
"It saddens me that the continent that once developed the printing press, experienced the Renaissance, and built beautiful cathedrals and cities has reached this point of intellectual bankruptcy," says Dr. Sanvorth."
With no new European ideas, inventions or architecture, all that's left is their history. So why not celebrate it with a giant theme park? I think it's a great idea."
Real Or Imaginary?It Doesn't Matter When You Want To Get The Jews
From Melanie Phillips
The row over the Thought for the Day broadcast by the Scottish cleric Rev Dr John Bell has taken an even more surreal and sinister turn. As I noted in a previous post, BBC Radio Four allowed Bell to broadcast a totally unsubstantiated smear that the Israel Defence Force ordered its soldiers to shoot unarmed Palestinian children. He was reporting a conversation he had had with a waiter in a Vancouver restaurant, who claimed to be an Israeli Arab who had resisted such an order. Embarrassed by the fact that Bell had made no effort to discover whether any of this was true, the BBC posted a qualified apology for factual ‘inaccuracies’, although it did not apologise for the libel about the IDF.
Now, an official in the Church of Scotland has weighed into the controversy -- by comparing Bell to Jesus! In a letter to the Herald, Sandy Gemmill, a deputy treasurer in the church, has written:
‘Two thousand years ago there was a man in Israel who used such uncorroborated tales of Samaritans, servants, agricultural workers, sheep, weddings and the like to illustrate various controversial points. Clearly the passage of time has not dampened the enthusiasm of the Israeli authorities to speak out against such tales and take action to suppress apparent lies …Unfortunately, any criticism of the Israeli government is now taken as being anti-Semitic…The term should not be used to deflect unfavourable comments about the way that governments abuse their powers. The Israeli government is no different from those in authority in, for example, Great Britain and the United States. Governments are like monoliths in exercising power on behalf of the people and from time to time must be reminded of the need to see beyond their own self-centred interests to those of the human race. If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army,
real or imaginary,
can aid that process then that should be applauded.’
I'm going to run that by you a couple more times:
If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army,
real or imaginary,
can aid that process then that should be applauded.’
If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army,
real or imaginary,
can aid that process then that should be applauded.’
Boy, we sure are seeing a lot of statements like that out of the left lately. CBS has documents that are "fake but accurate". Congressman Hinchey makes up a story about Karl Rove planting documents, and when questioned says he doesn't have evidence, but it doesn't matter because it's important just to entertain the notion.
Now, here we see that it is ok to libel Israel with "imaginary" stories because it will "aid" the process of criticizing the Israeli government.
Melanie Phillips says:
So faced with a libel perpetrated against the Jews, Gemmill concludes that the Jews who are protesting are trying to suppress the truth and crucify the perpetrator, just like he thinks they did to Jesus! One is aghast at this calumny piled upon calumny, at the anti-Jewish prejudice that is here revealed and at the brazen revelation of the ancient theological underpinning of this prejudice. Gemmill assumes that what Bell said was true, even though there is not a shred of evidence for it and even though his account contained two demonstrable errors of fact which should surely give any rational person grounds for suspecting that the whole thing was a farrago of nonsense. Gemmill nevertheless assumes it to be true because he knows, beyond any shadow of doubt and beyond the small question of demonstrable evidence to support such a claim, that Israel abuses its powers. Indeed, he would like to see even more such uncorroborated claims expressed – even about ‘imaginary’ Israeli soldiers — simply in order to throw mud at Israel. So even lies will do. What pathological spite is this? What terrifying beast has been unleashed here?
Gemmill also claims that claims of anti-Semitism are being used by Jews to ‘deflect unfavourable comments’ about Israel -- in other words, to promote ideological censorship. But this is itself a grossly defamatory and wickedly unfair accusation. Jews like myself do not cry anti-Semitism at any ‘unfavourable comments’ about Israel.
What we are up against is a systematic campaign of falsehoods, ignorance, misapprehensions and grotesque prejudices designed to delegitimise Israel by falsifying current and historic realities and further delegitimising the moral probity of the Jewish people. Israel does not generally abuse its powers. Rather, it is abused by people spreading lies and libels about it, which are believed by the likes of Gemmill because -- as he has so graphically revealed -- they correspond to a vicious theological Christian prejudice against the Jews.
Bell, who has apologised for unintentionally giving offence, has expressed his bewilderment that what he thought was an unexceptional account should have been taken to be an expression of anti-Jewish prejudice. But now we can see that, whatever Bell may have thought he was thinking, there is a strain of thinking in the church which is indeed virulently anti-Jewish -- and can express such prejudice without any shame.
These are indeed the most dangerous and worrying of times for the Jews of Britain. And that's bad news for everyone else.
The Democratic Evangelist
A week or two ago National Review published an article by Victor David Hanson titles "Why Democracy?" in which he listed ten reasons we need to support Democracy in Iraq. My friend Jack, over at Jack of Clubs
, had a "minor quibble with number five:
... point number 5. Here is the full context:
5. In the case of the Muslim world, there is nothing inherently incompatible between Islam and democracy. Witness millions in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey who vote. Such liberal venting may well explain why those who blow up Americans are rarely Indian or Turkish Muslims, but more likely Saudis or Egyptians. The trick is now to show that Arab Muslims can establish democracy, and thus the Palestine and Iraq experiments are critical to the entire region.
I disagree with both the theoretical assertion and the practical examples that Hanson produces. There is a conflict between Islam and democracy. Because Islam is a religion without grace, there can be no fundamental trust among fellow men. Every sinner will be forced to hide the fact of his imperfection and, therefore, to be all the more critical of the imperfections of others. Furthermore, since only an inhuman standard of achievement is worthy of heaven, the cult of the hero is inevitable. This has two distinct but reinforcing anti-democratic effects.
First, it tempts people to overlook the flaws in their leaders as long as they are capable of command, because to suspect that a particular man may be imperfect opens up the possibility that perfection is impossible.
Second, it tends to make such leaders brutally suppressive of dissent, for obvious reasons. This is why secularization is usually on the lips of those who advocate the advance of democracy in Islamic cultures.
But I suggest that secular government is ultimately without authority. The worst atrocities of history were committed in the 20th century by secular governments: the Nazi concentration camps, the killing fields of Cambodia and Stalin's programs of mass starvation in the Ukraine. Without a moral basis, government becomes hateful to its constituents. Fallen men cannot be trusted with the power of life and death, unless they are subject to a transcendent authority (and not even always then).
This leads me to the "successful" Muslim democracies that Hanson cites: India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey. I have already mentioned the occupation of Cyprus in other posts, but would include oppression of both Kurds and Christians as among Turkey's anti-democratic tendencies. In fact, all of theses countries have problems with religious persecution, although it is admittedly less than in more despotic governments. But the fact remains that Islam has not proven itself capable of tolerance toward non-Islamic religions in any of these places, even in India, where Islam is in the minority. It may well do so, but until then this matter must remain in doubt.
There is, of course, a sense in which all cultures, even those informed by Christianity, are subject to the perfectionist influences that I noted above. This is because even Christians do not fully trust the grace that we profess, and are constantly tempted to justify ourselves. This was visibly the case with the mediaeval Catholic monarchies, but is even evident in the most thoroughly protestant countries after the Reformation. Nevertheless, I think that only under Christianity can democracy prosper.
My support for democracy in Islamic countries is thus diametrically opposite to that expressed by Mr. Hanson. If democracy is only possible under Christianity, it is also true that Christianity has the best chance of thriving, and therefore dominating, within a democracy. Like many real-world processes, the two have a mutually reinforcing feed-back relationship that amounts, absent outside obstacles, to a virtuous circle. It is therefore in order to promote Christianity that I support democracy.
I am well aware that this thesis has yet to bear fruit in history. But that is what makes these times so interesting, hmm?
All's I can say is I hope Jack never has a "major quibble" with me.
But seriously folks, doesn't that post on geopolitical affairs follow nicely from the post below where Someguy talked about the personal affairs of Terri Schiavo and Hunter S. Thompson?