Saturday, September 18, 2004

P.J. O'Rourke: Excert From "Peace Kills"


Mr. O'Rourke's new book "Peace Kills" is out now in the United States...this excerpt is from the Daily Telegraph, a British news paper.

Why Americans hate foreign policy
By P. J. O'Rourke (Filed: 18/09/2004)

Frankly, nothing concerning foreign policy ever occurred to me until the middle of the last decade. I'd been writing about foreign countries and foreign affairs and foreigners for years. But you can own dogs all your life and not have "dog policy".

You have rules, yes - Get off the couch! - and training, sure. We want the dumb creatures to be well behaved and friendly. So we feed foreigners, take care of them, give them treats, and, when absolutely necessary, whack them with a rolled-up newspaper.
That was as far as my foreign policy thinking went until the middle 1990s, when I realised America's foreign policy thinking hadn't gone that far.

In the fall of 1996, I travelled to Bosnia to visit a friend whom I'll call Major Tom. Major Tom was in Banja Luka serving with the Nato-led international peacekeeping force, Ifor. From 1992 to 1995, Bosnian Serbs had fought Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims in an attempt to split Bosnia into two hostile territories.

In 1995, the US-brokered Dayton Agreement ended the war by splitting Bosnia into two hostile territories. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was run by Croats and Muslims. The Republika Srpska was run by Serbs.

IFOR's job was to "implement and monitor the Dayton Agreement." Major Tom's job was to sit in an office where Croat and Muslim residents of Republika Srpska went to report Dayton Agreement violations.

"They come to me," said Major Tom, "and they say, 'The Serbs stole my car.' And I say, 'I'm writing that in my report.' They say, 'The Serbs burnt my house.' And I say, 'I'm writing that in my report.' They say, 'The Serbs raped my daughter.' And I say, 'I'm writing that in my report."'
"Then what happens?" I said.

"I put my report in a filing cabinet."

Major Tom had fought in the Gulf war. He'd been deployed to Haiti during the American reinstatement of President Aristide (which preceded the recent American un-reinstatement). He was on his second tour of duty in Bosnia and would go on to fight in the Iraq war.

That night, we got drunk.

"Please, no nation-building," said Major Tom. "We're the Army. We kill people and break things. They didn't teach nation-building in infantry school."

Or in journalism school, either. The night before I left to cover the Iraq war, I got drunk with another friend, who works in TV news. We were talking about how - as an approach to national security - invading Iraq was... different.

I'd moved my family from Washington to New Hampshire. My friend was considering getting his family out of New York. "Don't you hope," my friend said, "that all this has been thought through by someone who is smarter than we are?"
It is, however, a universal tenet of democracy that no one is.

Americans hate foreign policy. Americans hate foreign policy because Americans hate foreigners. Americans hate foreigners because Americans are foreigners. We all come from foreign lands, even if we came 10,000 years ago on a land bridge across the Bering Strait.

America is not "globally conscious" or "multi-cultural." Americans didn't come to America to be Limey Poofters, Frog-Eaters, Bucket Heads, Micks, Spicks, Sheenies or Wogs. If we'd wanted foreign entanglements, we would have stayed home. Or - in the case of those of us who were shipped to America against our will - as slaves, exiles, or transported prisoners - we would have gone back.

Being foreigners ourselves, we Americans know what foreigners are up to with their foreign policy - their venomous convents, lying alliances, greedy agreements and trick-or-treaties. America is not a wily, sneaky nation. We don't think that way.

We don't think much at all, thank God. Start thinking and pretty soon you get ideas, and then you get idealism, and the next thing you know you've got ideology, with millions dead in concentration camps and gulags. A fundamental American question is: "What's the big idea?"

Americans would like to ignore foreign policy. Our previous attempts at isolationism were successful. Unfortunately, they were successful for Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan. Evil is an outreach programme. A solitary bad person sitting alone, harbouring genocidal thoughts, and wishing he ruled the world is not a problem unless he lives next to us in the trailer park.

In the big geopolitical trailer park that is the world today, he does. America has to act. But, when America acts, other nations accuse us of being "hegemonistic," of engaging in "unilateralism," of behaving as if we're the only nation on earth that counts.

We are. Russia used to be a superpower but resigned "to spend more time with the family." China is supposed to be mighty, but the Chinese leadership quakes when a couple of hundred Falun Gong members do tai chi for Jesus.

The European Union looks impressive on paper, with a greater population and a larger economy than America's. But the military spending of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy combined does not equal one third of the US defence budget.
When other countries demand a role in the exercise of global power, America can ask another fundamental American question: "You and what army?"

Americans find foreign policy confusing. We are perplexed by the subtle tactics and complex strategies of the Great Game. America's great game is pulling the levers on the slot machines in Las Vegas. We can't figure out what the goal of American foreign policy is supposed to be.

The goal of American tax policy is avoiding taxes. The goal of American environmental policy is to clean up the environment, clearing away scruffy caribou and seals so that America's drillers for Arctic oil don't get trampled or slapped with a flipper.

But the goal of American foreign policy is to foster international co-operation, protect Americans at home and abroad, promote world peace, eliminate human rights abuses, improve US business and trade opportunities, and stop global warming.

We were going to stop global warming by signing the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. Then we realized the Kyoto protocol was ridiculous and unenforceable and that no one who signed it was even trying to meet the emissions requirements except for some countries from the former Soviet Union. They accidentally quit emitting greenhouse gases because their economies collapsed.

However, if we withdraw from diplomatic agreements because they're ridiculous, we'll have to withdraw from every diplomatic agreement because they're all ridiculous. This will not foster international co-operation. But if we do foster international co-operation, we won't be able to protect Americans at home and abroad, because there has been a lot of international co-operation in killing Americans.

Attacking internationals won't promote world peace, which we can't have anyway if we're going to eliminate human rights abuses, because there's no peaceful way to get rid of the governments that abuse the rights of people - people who are chained to American gym-shoe-making machinery, dying of gym-shoe lung, and getting paid in shoe-laces, thereby improving US business and trade opportunities, which result in economic expansion that causes global warming to get worse.

One problem with changing America's foreign policy is that we keep doing it. President Bill Clinton dreamed of letting the lion lie down with the lamb chop. Clinton kept International Monetary Fund cash flowing into the ever-criminalising Russian economy. He ignored Kremlin misbehaviour - from Boris Yeltsin's shelling of elected representatives in the Duma to Vladimir Putin's airlifting of uninvited Russian troops into Kosovo.

Clinton compared the Chechnya fighting to the American Civil War (murdered Chechens being on the South Carolina statehouse, Confederate-flag-flying side). Clinton called China America's "strategic partner" and paid a nine-day visit to that country, not bothering himself with courtesy calls on America's actual strategic partners, Japan and South Korea. Clinton announced, "We don't support independence for Taiwan," and said of Jiang Zemin, instigator of the assault on democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square: "He has vision."

Anything for peace, that was Clinton's policy. Clinton had special peace-mongering envoys in Cyprus, Congo, the Middle East, the Balkans, and flying off to attend secret talks with Marxist guerrillas in Colombia.

On his last day in office, Clinton was still phoning Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. "Love your work, Gerry. Do you ever actually kill people? Or do you just do the spin?"

Clinton was everybody's best friend. Except when he wasn't. He conducted undeclared air wars against Serbia and Iraq and launched missiles at Sudan and Afghanistan. Clinton used the military more often than any previous peacetime American president. He sent armed forces into areas of conflict on an average of once every nine weeks.

President George W Bush's foreign policy was characterised, in early 2001, as "disciplined and consistent" (Condoleezza Rice): "blunt" (The Washington Post), and "in-your-face" (the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). Bush began his term with the expulsion of one fourth of the Russian diplomatic corps on grounds of espionage. He snubbed Vladimir Putin by delaying a first summit meeting until June 2001, and then holding it in fashionable Slovenia.

On April 1, 2001, a Chinese fighter jet, harassing a US reconnaissance plane in international air space, collided with the American aircraft, which was forced to land in Chinese territory. Bush did not regard this as an April Fools' prank. By the end of the month, he had gone on Good Morning America and said that, if China attacked Taiwan, the United States had an obligation to defend it with "whatever it took".

The President also brandished American missile defences at Russia and China. The Russians and Chinese were wroth. The missile shield might or might not stop missiles but, even unbuilt, it was an effective tool for gathering intelligence on Russian and Chinese foreign policy intentions. We knew how things stood when the town drunk and the town bully strongly suggested that we shouldn't get a new home security system.

In the Middle East, Bush made an attempt to let the Israelis and the Palestinians go at it until David ran out of pebbles and Goliath had been hit on the head so many times that he was voting for Likud. In Northern Ireland, Bush also tried minding his own business. And he quit negotiating with North Korea about its atomic weapons for the same reason that you'd quit jawing with a crazy person about the gun he was waving and call 999.

We saw the results of Clinton's emotional, ad hoc, higgledy-piggledy foreign policy. It led to strained relations with Russia and China, increased violence in the Middle East, continued fighting in Africa and Asia, and Serbs killing Albanians. Then we saw the results of Bush's tough, calculated, focused foreign policy: strained relations with Russia and China, increased violence in the Middle East, continued fighting in Africa and Asia, and Albanians killing Serbs.

Further changes could be made to US foreign policy. For a sample of alternative ideas, we can turn to a group of randomly (even haphazardly) chosen, average (not to say dull-normal) Americans: the 2004 Democratic presidential hopefuls. By the time this is read, most of them will be forgotten. With luck, all of them will be.

None the less, it's instructive to recall what 10 people who offered themselves as potential leaders of the world deemed to be America's foreign policy options.

Incessant activist Al Sharpton pleaded for "a policy of befriending and creating allies around the world". The way Sharpton intended to make friends was by fixing the world's toilets and sinks. "There are 1.7 billion people that need clean water," he said, "almost three billion that need sanitation systems... I would train engineers... would export people that would help with these things."

Ex-child mayor of Cleveland Dennis Kucinich promised to establish "a cabinet-level Department of Peace". The secretary of peace would do for international understanding what the postmaster general does for mail.

Former one-term senator and erstwhile ambassador to New Zealand Carol Moseley Braun said, "I believe women have a contribution to make... we are clever enough to defeat terror without destroying our own liberty... we can provide for long-term security by making peace everybody's business". Elect me because women are clever busybodies. This is the "Lucy and Ethel Get an Idea" foreign policy.

Massachusetts's thinner, more sober senator, John Kerry, said that he voted for threatening to use force on Saddam Hussein, but that actually using force was wrong. This is what's known, in the language of diplomacy, as bullshit.

Previous almost-vice president Joe Lieberman indignantly demanded that Bush do somewhat more of what Bush already was doing. "Commit more US troops," create "an Iraqi interim authority," and "work with the Iraqi people and the United Nations." Perhaps Lieberman was suffering from a delusion that he was part of the current presidential administration.

But imagine having a Democrat as commander-in-chief during the War Against Terrorism, with Oprah Winfrey as secretary of defence. Big hug for Mr Taliban. Republicans are squares, but it's the squares who know how to fly the bombers, launch the missiles and fire the M-16s. Democrats would still be fumbling with the federally mandated trigger locks.

One-time governor of insignificant Vermont Howard Dean wanted a cold war on terrorism. Dean said that we'd won the Cold War without firing a shot (a statement that doubtless surprised veterans of Korea and Vietnam). Dean said that the reason we'd won the Cold War without firing a shot was because we were able to show the communists "a better ideal."

But what is the "better ideal" that we can show the Islamic fundamentalists? Maybe we can tell them: "Our President is a born-again. You're religious lunatics - we're religious lunatics. America was founded by religious lunatics! How about those Salem witch trials? Come to America and you could be Osama bin Ashcroft. You could get your own state, like Utah, run by religious lunatics. You could have an Islamic Fundamentalist Winter Olympics - the Chador Schuss."

Since the gist of Howard Dean's campaign platform was "It Worked in Vermont," he really may have thought that the terrorists should take up snowboarding. On the other hand, the gist of General (very retired) Wesley Clark's campaign platform was "It Worked in Kosovo". Kosovo certainly taught the world a lesson. Wherever there's suffering, injustice, and oppression, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it's happening.

The winner of South Carolina's JFK look-alike contest, John Edwards, and the winner of Florida's Bob Gramm look-alike contest, Bob Gramm, said that America had won the war in Iraq but was losing the peace because Iraq was so unstable. When Iraq was stable, it attacked Israel in 1967 and 1973. It attacked Iran. It attacked Kuwait. It gassed the Kurds. It butchered the Shiites. It fostered terrorism in the Middle East. Who wanted a stable Iraq?

And perennial representative of the House of Representatives Dick Gephardt wouldn't talk much about foreign policy. He was concentrating on economic issues, claiming that he'd make the American Dream come true for everyone.

Gephardt may have been on to something there. Once people get rich, they don't go in much for war-making. The shoes are ugly and the uniforms itch. Some day, Osama bin Laden will call a member of one of his "sleeper cells" - a person who was planted in the United States years before and told to live like a normal American, and...

"Dad, some guy named Ozzy's on the phone."

"Oh, uh, good to hear from you. Of course, of course... Rockefeller Center?... Next Wednesday?... I'd love to, but the kid's got her ballet recital. You miss something like that, they never forget it... Thursday's no good. I have to see my mom off on her cruise to Bermuda in the morning. It's Fatima's yoga day. And I've got courtside seats for the Nets... Friday, we're going to the Hamptons for the weekend..."

But how, exactly, did Gephardt plan to make everyone on earth as materialistic, self-indulgent, and over-scheduled as Americans? Would Gephardt give foreigners options on hot dot-com stocks? That might have worked during the Clinton years.

As of early 2004, America didn't seem to have the answers for postwar Iraq. Then again, what were the questions?

Was there a bad man? And his bad kids? Were they running a bad country? That did bad things? Did they have a lot of oil money to do bad things with? Were they going to do more bad things?

If those were the questions, was the answer "UN-supervised national reconciliation" or "rapid return to self-rule"? No. The answer was blow the place to bits.

A mess was left behind. But it's a mess without a military to fight aggressive wars; a mess without the facilities to develop dangerous weapons; a mess that cannot systematically kill, torture, and oppress millions of its citizens. It's a mess with a message - don't mess with us.

As frightening as terrorism is, it's the weapon of losers. When someone detonates a suicide bomb, that person does not have career prospects.

And no matter how horrific the terrorist attack, it's conducted by losers. Winners don't need to hijack airplanes. Winners have an air force.

This is an edited extract from Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism by P J O'Rourke (Atlantic), to be published on September 23. To order for £14.99 + £2.25 p&p, please call Telegraph Books Direct on 0870 155 7222

Next story: We have the right to disobey those who won't let us be free



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Friday, September 17, 2004

Charles Krauthammer: Nowhere Left to Flop

Friday, September 17, 2004; Page A27
The Washington Post

If the election were held today, John Kerry would lose by between 88 and 120 electoral votes. The reason is simple: The central vulnerability of this president -- the central issue of this campaign -- is the Iraq war. And Kerry has nothing left to say.

Why? Because, until now, he has said everything conceivable regarding Iraq. Having taken every possible position on the war, there is nothing he can say now that is even remotely credible.

If he had simply admitted that he had made a mistake in supporting the war, he might have become an antiwar candidate. But having taken a dozen positions, he has nowhere to go.

He now calls Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." But, of course, he voted to authorize the war. And shortly after the fall of Baghdad he emphatically repeated his approval of the war: "It was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him."

When Don Imus asked him this week, "Do you think there are any circumstances we should have gone to war in Iraq, any?" Kerry responded: "Not under the current circumstances, no. There are none that I see. I voted based on weapons of mass destruction. The president distorted that." But just last month he said that even if he had known then what he knows now, he would have voted for the war resolution.

Is Iraq part of the war on terrorism or a cynical distraction from it? "And everything [Bush] did in Iraq, he's going to try to persuade people it has to do with terror, even though everybody here knows that it has nothing whatsoever to do with al Qaeda and everything to do with an agenda that they had preset, determined."

That was April 2004. Of course, shortly after Sept. 11, Kerry was saying the opposite. "I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally," he said in December 2001. "This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. . . . Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue [with], for instance, Saddam Hussein."

So then Hussein was part of the war on terrorism -- a "for instance" in fighting "terrorism globally." Kerry temporarily returned to that position last week when he marked the 1,000th American death in Iraq by saying the troops have "given their lives on behalf of their country, on behalf of freedom, in the war on terror."

How did Kerry get to this point of total meltdown? He started out his political career voting his conscience on national security issues. During the 1980s he was a consistent, dovish liberal Democrat: pro-nuclear freeze, anti-Star Wars, against the Reagan defense buildup, against the war in Nicaragua. And then he joined the overwhelming majority of his party in voting against the Persian Gulf War.

That turned out to be a mistake. And Kerry suffered for it. The very next year he had to watch as Al Gore, who got the Gulf War right, was chosen for the 1992 Democratic ticket, a spot for which Kerry had been on the short list.

Kerry learned his political lesson. Or thought he did. So when the Iraq war came around, he did not want to be caught on the wrong side of another success. He voted yes.
But then things went wrong both for the war and for him. What did he do? With Howard Dean rocketing toward the Democratic nomination, Kerry played to his deeply antiwar party by voting against the $87 billion to fund the occupation.

Two months later, with Saddam Hussein caught and the war looking better, Kerry maneuvered again, slamming Dean with: "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president."

Kerry is now back to the "wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," a line lifted from Dean himself. So we are not better off with Hussein deposed after all.

These dizzying contradictions -- so glaring, so public, so frequent -- have gone beyond undermining anything Kerry can now say on Iraq. They have been transmuted into a character issue. When Kerry went off windsurfing during the Republican convention, Jay Leno noted that even Kerry's hobbies depend on wind direction. Kerry on the war has become an object not only of derision but of irreconcilable suspicion. What kind of man, aspiring to the presidency, does not know his own mind about the most serious issue of our time?

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mort Kondrake: Darfur Genocide Shows U.N. Isn't Reliable in Crisis

September 16, 2004

Democrat John Kerry is far ahead of President Bush on the urgent issue of genocide in the Sudan. But the world's failure to stop the slaughter also illustrates the fundamental weakness in Kerry's whole approach to foreign policy.

The Bush administration, led by Secretary of State Colin Powell, is doing just what Kerry always advises in a foreign crisis: Go to the United Nations, get it to inspect the situation, sponsor a resolution, work for an international consensus and hope that action ensues.

The result is that nothing is happening to stop the Sudanese government and the savage Janjaweed militias it sponsors from systematically butchering and dispossessing the black Muslim people of the Darfur region.

In a report to Congress after a trip to the region in June, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) wrote, "Ruthless, brutal killers, the Janjaweed have instigated a reign of terror on Darfur, a region the size of Texas, for more than a year.

"They kill men. They rape women. They torch villages. They dump human corpses and animal carcasses in wells to contaminate the water. Their mandate is essentially doing whatever necessary to force the black African Muslims from their land to never return."

Newspapers and human rights groups have exhaustively verified the facts and the complicity of the Arab Sudanese government. At least 30,000 people have been killed so far and 1 million displaced. The death toll could reach 1 million by next year.

It's the world's most urgent humanitarian crisis, but the United Nations is doing, at best, a slow walk toward a U.S.-sponsored resolution using the word "genocide." China might even veto if it's too tough.

France has troops and fighter planes standing by in neighboring Chad. In a heartbeat, it could impose a no-fly zone over Darfur and stop the Sudanese from using old Soviet-made planes and helicopter gunships to bomb and strafe Muslim villages to soften them up for Janjaweed pillage.

But France won't act unless there is a U.N. mandate to do so, if then. France declines to accept that "genocide" is in progress. And even its humanitarian aid to Darfur has been piddling - $20 million vs. the United States' $230 million. Kerry has been talking about the Darfur crisis at least since April. He has used the word "genocide" for months and has repeatedly called for "immediate action" to stop it.

Most recently, at the National Baptist Convention last Thursday, he said, "If I were president, I would act now. As I've said for months, I would not stand idly by. We simply cannot accept another Rwanda," referring to the killing of 1 million mainly Tutsi tribesmen in 1994 that no one did anything to stop.

Kerry added that "the United States should ensure immediate deployment of an effective international force to disarm militia, protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Darfur. The Sudanese government has thus far rejected such force. The United States should lead the United Nations to impose tough sanctions now and make it plain, we will not accept Khartoum continuing to block its deployment."

Kerry's campaign Web site contains 15 statements he's made on Darfur. The White House Web site contains not one reference to the crisis.

Bush's campaign Web site links to two Bush statements in July and August calling upon the Sudanese government to "stop the violence of the Janjaweed militias," which that government is assisting.

If Bush has not spoken out much, Powell has acted - in a systematic, multilateral fashion, which is just what Kerry always calls for to solve the crises of the world. Powell visited the region himself and demanded that Sudan stop the violence - to no effect. He then sent an inspection team to make an exhaustive documentation of atrocities.

Last week, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Powell formally accused the Sudanese government of violating the U.N. Genocide Convention. But as The Washington Post put it in an editorial, "Having spoken the truth about Sudan's barbarity, Powell offered little hope of ending it. 'No new action is dictated by this determination,' he told the Senate hearing. The administration will continue to press other countries to press the United Nations to press Sudan's government."

But, the Post continued, "the uncertainty of this strategy was immediately apparent ... Brushing aside the evidence, France and Germany declined to call the killings genocide. Pakistan ... warned of the danger in terminating engagement with Sudan. China, the leading foreign investor in Sudan's burgeoning oil fields, said it might veto a tough security council resolution."

It's worth noting that, despite all the evidence of Khartoum's involvement in the Darfur atrocities - and other atrocities against Christians and animists in other regions of the country - the United Nations has not even seen fit to expel Sudan from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Would Kerry unilaterally send troops or planes to stop the Darfur genocide if the United Nations doesn't act? It could; the United States has equipment not far off in Djibouti on the Red Sea. If Kerry thinks that Darfur is a Rwanda in the making, he should be willing to threaten such action. So should Bush.

The larger lesson of Darfur is that the United Nations and France can't be relied upon to do the right thing in this world. Bush understands that. Kerry doesn't.

Mort Kondracke is the Executive Editor of Roll Call.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Lee Kaplan: Duke University's Platform For Terror

Lee Kaplan FrontPageMagazine.com September 15, 2004

On October 15-17th, Duke University is scheduled to host the Fourth Annual Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement. This year’s event was originally slated for the West Coast (last year’s was at Ohio State), but the organizers had to look elsewhere because of reports in Frontpage Magazine and elsewhere that chants of “Kill the Jews” were heard during the proceedings of the first conference at UC-Berkeley. The same chants were repeated at the University of Michigan conference the following year, where the guest of honor was Sami al-Arian, the U.S. head of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian won’t be appearing at the Duke event because he is currently in federal lock-up. His group is responsible for the murder of more than 100 people inside Israel including some American citizens. The campaign Frontpage Magazine waged against the conference at Ohio State, the third conference site, undoubtedly contributed to making university administrators in California skittish about holding such an event again.

Duke was chosen because it is a private university and less beholden to the public than taxpayer-supported institutions. Duke also has a history of inviting terrorists to proselytize its students. Two years ago Duke invited Sami al-Arian to keynote an academic conference on “National Security and Civil Liberties.” Al-Arian was invited as a civil liberties expert. Last year, Duke’s African and African-American Studies Department invited Weatherman terrorist Laura Whitehorn who had set off a bomb in the Pentagon and served 14 years in federal penitentiary for her act. The Duke faculty presented Whitehorn to Duke students as a “revolutionary anti-imperialist who spent over fourteen years in federal prison as a political prisoner.”

Duke defends its decision to host the Solidarity Conference on the dubious grounds that this will be an open forum on the dispute in the Middle East whose discussions will take place in an academic atmosphere. Aware that this is in fact a conference which among other agendas is designed to mobilize support for divestment from Israel, Duke’s new president, Richard Brodhead, has distanced the university from such conclusions, saying that the conference will provide an example of Duke’s openness to all points of view. If previous conferences are any indication, this is the equivalent of whistling Dixie.

The Ohio State Solidarity conference presented one face to the outside world and another to those who attended its closed workshop sessions. The press conference before the event was a propaganda show as the organizers claimed to be hosting an academic meeting to discuss ways to bring a non-violent settlement to the Middle East. Once the press was gone, the interior workshops addressed to ways to conduct war against Israel and its supporters by promoting divestment, getting control of campus newspapers, joining a campaign to ruin the business of the Caterpillar Corporation (because the Israeli army uses these bulldozers to unearth terrorist tunnels), and other like concerns. Ways to counter negative press reporting of suicide bombings were also discussed – but never whether one should condemn them.

Historical lectures were indeed given, but from a hopelessly propagandistic point of view. Whenever an attendee challenged the propaganda, he was surrounded by hostile voices and shouted down. There were calls from organizers to support the Islamic terrorists (referred to as “freedom fighters”) in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq, and speeches by leaders of various “revolutionary” groups who attended to show their solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada. Rather than open forums for discussion, the workshops were strategy sessions focused on attacking Israel and hoodwinking the American public.

The Ohio Solidarity Conference used airport-style metal detectors to confiscate tape recorders and cameras, while the press was barred. The Duke Solidarity Conference will follow the same procedures.

Duke’s VP for Governmental Affairs, John Burness, has stated in e-mails that al-Arian’s appearances at previous conferences and the connections to terrorism are not sufficient reason to allow the press to attend the Duke event or to allow cameras and tape recorders inside. Duke is certainly embarrassed, but not to the degree that it feels the need to do anything about it.

Duke University’s website attempts to whitewash the reports of anti-Semitic outbursts at previous Solidarity conferences by claiming that there is no evidence that such outbursts occurred (of course, if cameras and recorders had been allowed this would not be a problem). Yet a simple Google search turned up a signed legal affidavit as well as an eyewitness who testified that such chants were heard at the Michigan conference in both Arabic and English. Such activities in the past were even reported in the Ohio State campus newspaper, the Lantern and confirmed genuine by the New York Post and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. When proof was shown to Burness’s office, the university website was changed to the effect that “some” people “claim” to have heard such epithets in Arabic.

The Palestine Solidarity Movement is, in fact, a fraternal organization of the PLO, and its fraternal terrorist organizations the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas. By its own admission the Solidarity movement operates under Palestinian control. It was set up on U.S. campuses by the PLO under various front names to reduce liability and to allow the different groups that compose it to pose as a “peace” movement. In practice, it recruits naive young people and die-hard radicals to go to the West Bank and Gaza and assist the PLO in interfering with the anti-terrorism operations of the Israeli army.

The organization insulates itself from scrutiny by using several different names such as Palsolidarity, Al-Awda, and SUSTAIN. At the Ohio State Palestine Solidarity Conference, its U.S. leader, Adam Shapiro, admitted before a crowded auditorium that all of these groups comprise the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the United States and that they call themselves the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) when they are abroad. The ISM website openly lists different named groups around the U.S. as “chapters” of the ISM. The same source states that the movement is “Palestinian-led.” Terrorists who murdered Israelis have met in ISM offices and one was even captured hiding in an ISM office with a weapons cache.

Duke’s President Richard Brodhead has taken the position that the problem presented by this conference is simply one of free speech. “We believe the best antidote to speech that others find disagreeable, is more speech, not less. In the final analysis, affirming that principle is the role of the university, and I stand squarely behind it.” How is free speech advanced by closed sessions, and the kind of intimidation of dissenting views that took place at the previous Solidarity conferences? When I asked Burness for a definitive answer as to whether the organizers would be allowed to confiscate cameras and recorders, he said it was up to the organizers.

While Burness continues to bury his head the sand, refusing to acknowledge the terrorist ties of the organizers, the fact is that Fadi Kiblawi, a convener of the Solidarity Conference in Michigan and of the forthcoming Duke Conference as well, has openly praised suicide bombers and expressed his desire to become one.

Registrants at Ohio State were also forced to sign a document in which they agreed unconditionally to the "Right of Return" as condition of entrance. What kind of free speech is this? The current online registration form does not require this for the Duke event. However, neither did the Ohio State registration—until the event. The University of Toronto canceled a similar event when it was learned the organizers required attendees to sign an identical statement. What is the problem with Duke?

Duke’s website claims the event does not violate U.S. laws restricting specific activities contrary to U.S. foreign policy on behalf of a foreign entity. Duke’s website claims, “The Palestine Solidarity Movement is not a foreign government, and there does not appear to be the type of connection between it and any foreign government such that its activities in the upcoming conference would be prohibited under U.S. law.”

However, the Palestine Solidarity website itself acknowledges that it is “Palestinian-led” organization (or did until last week, after the website had been exposed in FrontPage Magazine.) At the Ohio State conference last year, Adam Shapiro, the public face of ISM, said to a crowded auditorium that Palestinian “handlers” supervise all ISM “volunteers” in the West Bank and Gaza. Some of those “volunteers” are the people organizing the conference.

The guiding principles of the conference call for the “de-colonization of all Palestinian land,” meaning all of Israel’s territory. That is a call to war, not peace. The sixth principle states that the conference seeks to promote “civil disobedience,” which is a noble sounding euphemism for illegal action, “direct action,” that is violent destruction of property.

But it is the fifth principle that gives the charade away and exposes the hypocrisy that underlies Duke’s appeasement of these most unacademic conference holders: “As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.” This is the language of Leninist vanguards and the totalitarian creed. The Party line is the supreme law, and no one breaks it. Thus does Duke make part of its campus a platform for totalitarians, affording a group of radical ideologues the opportunity to recruit unsuspecting Duke students to their destructive agendas.

Lee Kaplan is a contributing editor to Frontpagemag.com.

Prof. A.J. Conyers: As Bad As We Get

A. J. Conyers on Homosexuality as a Sign of Ultimate Corruption

Apologists for the “gay community” who attempt to harmonize their sexual agenda with Christianity take comfort in the rarity of explicit prohibitions of homosexual acts and declare them unrepresentative of the biblical teaching. (But then, one would be hard-pressed to find such prohibitions of fraud, prostitution, child abuse, slave trading, sexual harassment, price fixing, lynching, racial discrimination, and any number of acts for which no one needs to find express prohibition in the Bible to be convinced that Scripture is against them.)

In this debate, one side maintains that homosexual behavior is not compatible with biblical teaching, while the other side holds that it is in harmony with—indeed approval is demanded by—the theme of love and inclusiveness in the New Testament. The latter sometimes claim to side with Jesus against Paul, since Jesus at least does not mention homosexuality while Paul does. But there they have a problem, for Paul makes the case for inclusiveness most explicitly, and Jesus spoke explicitly about what would happen to those who taught against the law. They want to embrace Paul’s teachings on inclusiveness while rejecting his other teachings, and take heart from what the Gospels neglect to mention while ignoring what they do.

The Biblical Pattern

Given these arguments, what is more needed than finding a consistent teaching in Scripture and then applying it to what has become a crucial modern moral issue—and one, furthermore, that strikes at the core of modern human self-understanding? Or are we left with the answer of the Episcopal theologian recently interviewed on MSNBC, who flatly refused to be questioned about Scripture’s teaching, so “subtle and complicated,” she claimed, were the issues?

The answer, I think, can be found not only in what Scripture says about homosexuality but also in the way it uses homosexuality. The biblical condemnation of homosexual acts is not a violation of its real teaching of love and inclusiveness, but in part a sign of what sin is and does, and how it so disorders and corrupts human desire that we do not want the created nature through which God will bring us true love and true inclusivity.

I will illustrate this from the Pentateuch (Genesis 18 and 19), the Deuteronomic history (Judges 17ff.), and the Pauline epistles (Romans 1). In the Old Testament especially, but also in the New, homosexuality is treated like most moral issues, within the story of humanity, a nation, and a regenerate community, all of which have an essentially moral vocation: a vocation to be holy, righteous, and reconciled with God, nature, and each other.

The problem depicted in each of the three passages is not only that men are so depraved that they have left behind the natural desire for women, but also that the social situation is now irredeemable without drastic intervention and judgment. Homosexuality is a sign that the social situation has gotten that bad. To this end, the writers typically use it as a means of illustrating the anti-naturalism of sin: the vaporous sexual imagination that rejects the natural relation to the other (the other sex) and instead seeks union with the same (as a nearer reflection of the self).

The result is even at first glance obvious: an unfruitful relation that begets nothing and denies the power of sex in relation to one truly other than the self, and thus destroys the community itself. Scripture never sees created nature as antagonistic to God’s purposes, but as the context in which those purposes—including human happiness—are to be pursued. Scripture opposes the actions that deny nature, and thus deny true human happiness: when the human imagination refuses to accept the limits (and the benefits) of nature, but seeks to overcome nature to satisfy its fallen fantasies.

We can see this in each of the passages I have listed. Each: (1) uses homosexuality to illustrate the degree to which a community, or mankind itself, has declined in evil and disorder; (2) describes homosexuality as not only the object of judgment but also the very form of the judgment; (3) sees it as a rejection of nature; and (4) understands it as a violation against community.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18 and 19) draws the reader into a consideration of the possibility that human evil might become so intractable that it overreaches even the mercy of God. The story is not about homosexuality by itself, but about the fact of human evil and its perilous end, as shown in the picture of a disorder deeply woven into the community’s life. Abraham’s bargaining with the divine messengers makes clear that if there are fifty, or forty-five, or forty, or thirty, or twenty, or ten who are righteous, the Lord will not destroy the city—the length of the passage serving to underline the willingness of God to bring judgment only in the most extreme case of the community’s depravity.

The two angels who proceed to Sodom are offered hospitality by Lot. “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both the young and the old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.’” Lot, highlighting the indelible character of their perversity, says to them: “I beg you, my brethren, do not act so wickedly. Behold I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

The ancient Near-Eastern obligation of a host to his guest, of course, plays a part in this. And though we are naturally shocked by the offer of Lot’s virgin daughters to the crowd of men, this device is a common one when the biblical writer is giving an account of the depth of wickedness to which a community might descend. The point is that these men are so depraved that they do not want the women.

No King in Israel

We find a similar episode in the Deuteronomic account (Judges 17ff.), which depicts Israel’s downwardly spiraling society. The story is punctuated with the words: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” It tells of a deeply disordered society, one that had reached such depths that the people of Israel are represented as asking “Tell us, how was this wickedness [which included the brutal murder of a concubine by a sexually wanton crowd of men] brought to pass?”

At the climax of the story, a Levite arrives with his concubine and his male servant at a place near Jerusalem, which was at this time still occupied by the Jebusites. They decline to lodge with the Jebusites, who were foreigners, but travel farther so as to stay with their own countrymen in Gibeah. This point is significant, because the story goes on to show that the Israelites had become worse than the foreign Jebusites. An old man takes in the trio. Then, “As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.’”

This passage mirrors the story of Sodom, suggesting a literary convention that depicts the depth of evil in a society by the stubborn presence of homosexual desire. Its stubbornness is underlined in a slightly different fashion in the balance of this passage, but it is clearly devised so that it stresses the pathology of corporate sin that is so entrenched that it becomes inescapable. These lines follow:

And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing.”

In this story, the city is not destroyed as is the case for Sodom, but the concubine is thrown out of the house, abused and murdered by the crowd of men. So once again, deep disorder, the rebellion of sin, is disclosed by the presence of homosexual practice, and comes to fruition in violence. In both passages there is no extensive discussion of the depravity of a society. In each case, one is informed of the depth of depravity by reference to the presence of homosexual aggressiveness.

Paul does little more than draw upon this Old Testament imagery when he unfolds the nature of sin in Romans 1. He is using homosexual practice, which in his mind is self-evidently corrupt, in order to explain and condemn the sin that corrupts all of humanity. As in the passages from Genesis and Judges, homosexuality serves to illustrate the human predicament and the deadliness of the unredeemed human imagination. It is the stock biblical illustration of social corruption en extremis.

Thus, he explains that sin is rooted in self-deception, and becomes its own judgment as “God gives them up” to their self-destructive practices. That sin and judgment are one and the same is proven, according to Paul, by the extremes to which the human imagination leads to “dishonorable passions”: “Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

Thus, not only is sin forgetful of the fact that it is God who is the author of nature, but the logic of sin is that it first draws a person to worship nature, and then to turn against it in violence and vanity.

The Misuse of Judgment

Reflecting our modern flight from moral judgment, the exegete is likely to fall into one of two errors in assessing the place of homosexuality in Scripture: to avoid judgment or to apply it only to others. A common error for modern society is the assumption that making moral distinctions between right and wrong is itself reprehensible. It is true that it is dangerous, and gives rise to the opposite exegetical error: the view that when Paul speaks of homosexual practice, he is speaking of someone else.

Yet New Testament teachings against judgment are not a warning against judgment as such, but against judgment that does not begin with the self. “First take the log out of your own eye,” Jesus teaches, “and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Paul is not trying to show that homosexuality, acted out, is an especially heinous sin, but that all sin is like homosexuality. Thus, we are called not to examine the sins of others so much as to examine our own.

That being the case, it is well to remind ourselves that while all of us sin, each of us is more inclined to sin in one way rather than another. One person is more tempted by greed and theft, another by lust and adultery, and yet another by anger and murder. It should be no surprise, nor should it make any difference, if it is ever proven that genetics burdens some of us with an inclination toward homosexuality, since we are all similarly burdened (whatever the source) with our individual inclinations to lust, anger, greed, envy, sloth, and the whole list—any one of which is capable of bringing us to Hell.

For that reason alone, the Christian response to those burdened with the temptation of homosexuality is always one of compassion for the sinner and repentance for our own sins: compassion because we are equally burdened (if in a different way), and repentance because the rise of homosexuality among us is a sign that sin has corrupted the whole of society and each of us with it.

A. J. Conyers is Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

“As Bad As We Get” first appeared in the June, 2004 issue of Touchstone.

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Eric Fettman: Rather's Other Imploding "Scoop:

The New York Post
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September 15, 2004 --

The growing Memogate furor over the authenticity of documents said to cast doubts on George W. Bush's National Guard record isn't the only controversy dogging Dan Rather and CBS News these days.

The network is coming under fire in some quarters for a "CBS Evening News" broadcast about what it billed as a sensational national-security scandal that may have impacted critical U.S. policy decisions in the Middle East.

Less than a month later, however, the "sensation" has fallen far short of its original explosive billing. But that hype has provided potent ammunition for enemies of both Israel and the Bush administration's Mideast policies — ammunition that those forces are gleefully using.

By all accounts, what started off as a story about espionage at the highest levels of the Pentagon has turned into, at worst, a case of the possible misuse of classified documents — specifically, a single draft memo on U.S. policy on Iran that a Defense Department analyst may have shown to someone at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who may then have passed the information on to Israeli officials.

That's not a light matter, of course. Classified material is marked secret for a reason. But it hardly rises to the level of CBS' original claims, which led the evening news broadcast of Aug. 27:

"We start tonight with breaking news," Rather intoned breathlessly, "a CBS News exclusive, what could be a serious security breach inside the United States Defense Department. Federal agents now believe there is a mole working at the highest levels of the Pentagon, a spy for a major world power who may have been in a position to influence Bush administration policy — policy on Iran and Iraq."

Lesley Stahl went on to report: "The FBI believes it has solid evidence that the suspected mole" — later identified as Larry Franklin, a mid-level analyst with no policymaking input — "supplied Israel with classified material that includes secret White House policy deliberations on Iran."

This, declared Stahl, "put the Israelis . . . inside the decision-making loop, so they could try to influence the outcome." And, she added, there's another concern: "Did Israel also use the analyst to try to influence U.S. policy on the war in Iraq?"

The story, in short, rang all the right bells to gladden a conspiracy theorist's heart: Israel, AIPAC (the leading pro-Israel lobby) and neo-conservative war hawks — in particular, Franklin's boss, Assistant Defense Secretary Douglas Feith, long a chief target of the Bush-bashers. And while Stahl never mentioned Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. Navy analyst caught spying for Israel two decades ago, the comparisons seemed unavoidable.

But: CBS said arrests were imminent — yet none have materialized. And no one is talking anymore about moles or sinister forces secretly shaping U.S. policy — or even about espionage, for that matter. (Both AIPAC and the Israelis deny having done anything illegal or improper.)

A grand jury is hearing evidence, but if any charges are leveled, it's unlikely to be anything more serious than "mishandling classified material."

Still, as Saul Singer wrote in The Jerusalem Post last Friday, "the anti-[Israel] cabal doesn't care if there are any arrests, because they have already succeeded in portraying Jewish power as something sinister, perhaps even treasonous."

Pat Buchanan did precisely that on "Meet the Press" last Sunday, when he demanded that officials "investigate whether there is a nest of Pollardites in the Pentagon who have been transmitting American secrets through AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, over to . . . the Israeli embassy, to be transferred to [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon." (This came right after Buchanan declared that U.S. support of Israel was the direct cause of 9/11 and all other forms of Islamic terrorism.)

In fact, nothing about CBS' original allegations makes sense. For one thing, Israel has learned its lesson from the fallout over the Pollard fiasco. And solidifying the U.S.-Israeli relationship has been the cornerstone of Sharon's policy. It's unthinkable that he would jeopardize it with something like this — particularly over information that Washington and Jerusalem already share at the highest levels.

Clearly, much more is at work here, in terms of why the story was leaked now and who provided the information. By all accounts, it wasn't to pressure any of the supposed targets — both AIPAC and Franklin have been cooperating with investigators.

Suffice it to say, though, that this has less to do with national security than with partisan politics. As Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a friend of Franklin's, told The New York Sun: "When the FBI has a case against someone . . . they indict him and arrest him and put him away. They don't go to Lesley Stahl."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Don Feder: Anti-Christian Fundamentalists

Don Feder FrontPageMagazine.com September 14, 2004

The Democratic Party isn’t inciting church arson – just yet. But, despite its occasional pious pretenses, the Democrats see Christian America as enemy terrain. Here, at least, the party of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich is willing to overcome its ingrained pacifism and engage in the rhetorical equivalent of total war.
The latest issue of The New Yorker contains a 12,000-word profile piece on Al Gore, in which the former vice president disgorges his views on a variety of subjects.
Only a hopelessly partisan media would consider the reflections of a man who once defined e pluribus unum as “out of one, many” worthy of a dog’s obituary, let alone 12,000 words.

In the course of inflicting his wisdom on readers, Gore had this to say about the faith of George W. Bush: “It’s a particular kind of religiosity. It’s the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines religiosity as “affected or excessive devotion to religion.”

In other words, the man who he defeated in 2000 is saying that the president is either a big phony who feigns piety, or a wild-eyed fanatic -- like the Saudis who keep their women swathed in black from eyes to toes and make suspected adulterers shorter by a head.

When he speaks of a “fundamentalist impulse” in Christianity, Gore is also degrading and demonizing evangelical Christians. The term fundamentalist implies fanaticism, which suggests mental instability, which in turn insinuates a tendency to violence.

When the left says fundamentalist it means – “takes religion seriously, believes in the Bible literally, thinks The Ten Commandments are more than suggestions, disagrees with the ACLU on abortion and same-sex marriage”: in other words, miscreants, mutants, degenerates and the criminally insane – the sort of folks who would never get a grant from The Heinz Family Foundation.

Liberals in the news media sneer at “fundamentalists” (the left’s code word for evangelicals) as ignorant bigots. Liberals in Hollywood caricature them (by portraying born-again Christians as trailer-park trash with room-temperature IQs, or Savonarola wannabes). Liberals in politics smear Bible-believing Christians by comparing them to the religion of holy war and suicide bombers.

As Gore does here, by speaking of Christians like the president in the same breath as Saudi Arabia and the Kashmir – where Moslems on steroids shoot, bomb, and behead infidels.

The clear implication is that fundamentalists/evangelicals are the American equivalent of suicide bombers. The late Ayn Rand, herself an atheist, used to call such a rhetorical device the “broad-brush smear.”

The absurdity of the comparison may be seen in this way: If you disagree with an evangelical on religious doctrine, he’ll pray for you. If you disagree with a Wahhabi Muslim on a matter of faith, he’ll try to kill you. No small difference, if you’re on the receiving end of a car bomb.

Still, Gore insists on lumping Americans who cling to their faith with Moslems who kill for theirs. Well, they both have strong feelings, don’t they?

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (another Clintonista) was more explicit in a December 1, 2003 article in The American Prospect. The “evangelical right” detests religious liberty and tolerance, Reich warned, and “seeks nothing short of a state-sponsored religion.” Like you-know-who, in Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.

If school prayer, the public display of religious symbols and legislating traditional values constitute a “state-sponsored religion,” then clearly -- prior to the Supreme Court’s rulings of the ‘60s and ‘70s -- America was a theocracy. Was it Ayatollah Ike or Pope John I?

When it suits them, Democrats will go through the motions of trying to appeal to religious voters, as if to say: “Look, we really don’t hate you. Why, heck, we can even say nice things about that mythical being in the sky you superstitious ignoramuses cling to so irrationally.”

At their national convention – when they weren’t celebrating alternative lifestyles -- Democrats indulged in God-talk. Barak Obama, Democratic Senate candidate in Illinois, told delegates that blue-state Americans “worship an awesome God.” The party’s platform declares that the “common purpose” of Americans is to “build one nation under God.”

It would have been more impressive if, a few weeks earlier, the Democratic National Committee hadn’t appointed an adviser for religious outreach who wanted to take one nation under God out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson was one of three dozen mainline clergy (Church of the Good Social Activist) who signed on to an Amicus brief in support of the atheist father who argued the allusion to God in the Pledge violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

The Supreme Court dismissed the suit on technical grounds. The DNC dismissed its religion-outreach advisor when her position was exposed.

Who exactly did the Democrats expect Bartella-Peterson (a card-carrying member of the religious left) to reach out to – the National Council of Churches, Daniel Berrigan, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin or the ghost of Madalyn Murray O’Hair? They might as well have appointed Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations as advisor for Jewish outreach.

The Democrats have an entrenched anti-religious worldview. I speak here not of rank-and-file Democratic voters (who often are blue-collar Catholics and black evangelicals), but the party’s radicalized leadership.

Like the good liberals they are, Democrats see traditional religion as an impediment to human happiness and progress. Religious voters they view as an impediment to their quest for power.

Religious voters (defined as those who attend services weekly) tend to be patriotic, pro-defense, and in favor of limited government and judicial restraint – not exactly residents of blue country. Thus the most reliable Republican base is the Bible-belt. For Democrats, it’s the secularized coasts, where church attendance is lowest.

The party of Gore and Reich doesn’t go quite as far as an incendiary website, www.churcharson.com, but the same contempt for “religiosity” animates all three.

Apparently based in McLean, Virginia, www.churcharson.com advocates burning down houses of worship as “one way people get involved with activism to end the abusive practices of Judeo-Christian religions (and nations such as Israel).”

It calls Judaism and Christianity “forms of mind control,” and predicts that as “the fa├žade of control in the hands of organized religion is breaking… we will be closer to our goal of burning down the last temple and shattering the last church. The next thousand years are ours.”

It reminds me of another gang that thought its rule would last 1,000 years. As they helped destroy synagogues on Kristallnacht, Adolf’s Adolescent Auxiliary sang: “We are joyous Hitler Youth. We have no need of Christian virtue. Our leader is our savior. The pope and rabbi shall be gone. We shall be pagans again.”
Or, at the very least, Democrats.

Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website, DonFeder.com.

Victor Hanson: The Other Olympics

September 13, 2004
The Other Olympics: Why so little anti-Americanism?
by Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers
http://victorhanson.com/

Well apart from the obvious lessons of the recent Olympic games that the amazing Greeks really did pull it off at the eleventh hour without major terrorist incidents, there was another story that remained largely ignored.

Much of the truth of today's global politics was as easily discernible in Athens as it was left unsaid. Americans, of course, are proud of the ability of the United States to outpace other nations in the medal count. It suggests that after the end of the Cold War—when there are no longer state-sponsored cheating, subsidized steroid use, and coercion behind the old Iron Curtain—America's emphasis on individualism and meritocracy results in unrivaled athletic success.

Nowhere was that more evident than during the finals of the 200-meter race. The Greek fans, furious over the disqualification of their national hero, the sprinter Konstantinos Kenteris, directed their hoots toward the three American runners, Shawn Crawford, Justin Gatlin, and Bernard Williams—on the crazy premise that American conspiracies, not performance enhancing drugs, were somehow responsible for their own dashed hopes. After nerve-wracking boos, delays, and false starts, the Americans answered the crowd’s hostility by winning 1-2-3, in the first clean sweep of the 200 since 1984.

Otherwise there was little visible anti-Americanism in a country notorious for easy criticism of the United States—other than the Greek Communist Party’s infantile rage at a proposed visit from Colin Powell. Why was Athens not Seoul or Sydney when Americans were often booed? Pundits might allege that sensitivity training repressed natural American exuberance and high-fiving that in the past was seen as gloating and showboating. Perhaps.

But maybe a more circumspect world also realizes there is a weariness in the United States with knee-jerk anti-Americanism. The recent announcement of troop withdrawals from Europe and South Korea conveys the sober message to the world that the United States is ending the surreal past, when American soldiers subsidized allies’ defense, earning not gratitude, but more often envy and resentment from the classically dependent.

In the case of the Greeks, should they have habitually jeered to a global audience—as happened after September 11 in a soccer stadium in Athens—millions of Americans would have concluded that with nominal allies such as these who needs enemies? As it was thousands of Americans simply passed on the games as they now skip Greece itself. The mature hosts are starting to sense that all the old rules are over with and their own future in their rough neighborhood—a volatile Middle East, a rising Islamic tide in Turkey, and nearby terrorists—soon might well be in their own hands, without the partnership of the much maligned Sixth Fleet.

The subtle politics of the Middle East were also noticeable, though left unmentioned. Crowds cheered the Iraqi and the Afghan athletes, both in the opening and closing ceremonies, and during their occasional appearance in the games. Why? Because they were now for the first time in their history free? If so, why? Is it because the United States and its coalition risked blood and treasure to make it so?

The Iranian judo champ refused his match with an Israeli athlete—to the cheers and cash bounties of the mullocracy in Teheran. If the world doubts the need for collective scrutiny over Iran’s nuclear ambitions—one of the world’s largest petroleum producers that apparently requires alternate energy—we saw that it is still a crazy place that embraces institutionalized ethnic and religious hatred. Iranian theocrats alone seem to think Athens 2004 is Berlin 1936.

It was clear also just how out of touch the Arab Middle East has become. China, Indonesia, India, Africa, and Latin America sent hundreds of athletes of both sexes, whose dress and demeanor reflect an apparent global consensus that half the world’s population should enjoy real equality. Not so for most of the Islamic Middle East. Other than a handful of athletes from North Africa, Islamic women from the Arab world were virtually invisible (less than 10% of their delegations)—proof of this last outpost of gender apartheid.

Israel is a global pariah, mostly because of its small size, endemic anti-Semitism, petrol politics, and fears of terror. But Greece, no friend of Tel Aviv, sheepishly announced that Israeli companies, along with the American military, had played a critical role in supplying expertise and experience for its anti-terrorist defenses. So there is a vast gulf between truth and rhetoric. Nations pass resolutions damming the Jewish state; but when their own security and safety are endangered, then they really do turn to Israel and the United States for help.The world is in public denial, but privately knows the real score in this so-called war against terror, and beneath the Olympic hype we saw that all too well.

Robert Reich on Religion: "Terrorism...is not the greatest danger we face"

Monday, July 12, 2004

Reich on Religion- An entry from the Touchstone blog quoting a column by Robert Reich. (Wonder if his middle name is "Third?")A column on WorldNetDaily cites an article by Robert Reich, the former U.S. labor secretary under President Bill Clinton.
Reich apparently believes people who follow God pose a more significant threat to the modern world than terrorists do: "Terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face, " writes Reich in a column titled "Bush's God" published in the American Prospect. Reich begins his column criticizing the Bush administration as he pushes for a liberal understanding of America's separation of church and state. He uses the term "religious zealots" and says their problem is that "they confuse politics with private morality."
Reich concludes his column: "The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face."
Ah, science, reason, and logic—why didn’t I think of that? And versus . . . what? (Scripture =) Superstition & (dogma =) Ignorance! We should be glad, I suppose, when people like Reich come right and say what he and so many others are really thinking. But I do expect most of the persecution and violence to come from the modernists. Modernist ideologies have done a bang up job in the 20th century. The body count was impressive. Will it be worse in the 21st? God forbid. If modernism means thinking like Reich, then I am certainly an anti-modernist, just on that score alone. —James Kushiner

Monday, September 13, 2004

religionjournal.com: Professor Produces Video on Changing Sexual Orientation

This one should stir things up a bit....


Current Headlines
Professor's Video Proves Homosexuals Can ChangeInterviews with former homosexuals and lesbians contradict American Psychological Association.A handful of notable members of the mental health field are countering the American Psychological Association with an alternative media approach that will help those struggling with same-sex attractions, as well as their parents, pastors, and teachers.-->

Anglican Communion Will Be Reshaped, London Office May CloseQueen will not permit the break up of the Anglican Communion over the gay issue.Commission's report "will be disastrous for the Anglican Communion's pansexualists."-->

Commentary: How Will the Religious Vote?40 liberal religious leaders and 40,000 citizens sign a petition declaring that "God is not a Republican...or a Democrat."Liberals urge Americans to consider a wider range of moral issues and ask, "How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich and pro-war?" Conservatives were disappointed in the 2000 election by four million evangelicals who did not vote at all.-->

Baptist Leader Urges Church to Prepare for Terrorist AttackSBC President Bobby Welch tells Baptist leaders, "We can do better next time.""Baptists could have touched so many more lives and helped so many more people."-->

CULTURE NEWSCourt victories: teachers and other school employees may participate in after-school religious clubs; clergy confidentiality upheld.Washington state judge rules that homosexuals have a constitutional right to marriage, and they are a protected class; lesbian Senator in Calif. promotes "Pedophile Protection Act"; gay-rights groups are spending heavily to defeat a measure banning same-sex marriage in Oregon; abortion's lost generation: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warns that the country is facing a Social Security and Medicare funding crisis; TV watching makes teens more sexually active; Michigan and Louisiana citizens can vote on constitutional marriage amendments; study shows Christian divorce rate is identical to non-Christians.-->

DENOMINATION NEWSCanadian congregations deny bishop's request to vacate church property worth more than $1 million.Pope denounces Canadian efforts to legalize homosexual "marriages" and "same-sex unions"; Catholic and Anglican Archbishops join forces to stop euthanasia; Southern Baptists launch home-schooling organization.-->

EVANGELISM & MISSIONS NEWSCBN founder Pat Robertson will be the keynote speaker at the 'Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem'.Hundreds will gather Oct. 1 in Hollywood for inaugural National Media Prayer Breakfast; 500 Southern Baptists in the Bronx painted a 5-story middle school; American Baptist Churches USA must close a $1.5 million budget gap to avert the recall of missionaries.-->

HUMAN RIGHTS & RELIGIOUS PERSECUTIONAnother Christian in Pakistan dies, severely tortured in police custody.Taliban militants target converts to Christianity, kill five Afghan Christian men; Baptists in Belarus are set to have their personal property confiscated and their pay docked for visting a hospital to sing hymns and hand out Bibles; another Vietnamese house church leader is arrested and held for eight days of interrogation; Florida church wins right to continue holding worship services in a county community center; Catholic priest is stabbed in the back and killed while praying before Mass in India; masked gunmen storm a church in Columbia, killing three worshippers and injuring 13 more.-->

LIFE ISSUESCatholic bishop says abortion is "the greatest crime ever committed in history."Federal judge in Nebraska strikes down the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act; pro-abortion groups team up to push their agenda at international meetings; bishop condemns a Dutch proposal to extend euthanasia to children under the age of 12; U.S. in vitro fertilization clinics create more embryos than they will implant, and 80 percent say they are willing to destroy extra embryos; wife's forced abortion helps Chinese man win asylum in U.S.; Utah attempts to circumnavigate the law to fund abortion on demand and euthanasia.-->

Professor's Video Proves Homosexuals Can ChangeInterviews with former homosexuals and lesbians contradict American Psychological Association.
By ED VITAGLIANO
(Agape Press) While organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA) are throwing their considerable weight behind the homosexual movement, a handful of notable members of the mental health field are countering with the truth about sexual orientation.One of those professionals is Dr. Warren Throckmorton, director of college counseling and an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, a private Christian college in Pennsylvania. His research on the possibility of changing sexual orientation was published in the June 2002 issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, an official publication of the APA.The subject of changing sexual orientation is an issue Throckmorton emphasizes in his counseling and teaching. "I've seen people change, people I've interviewed and even my own clients," Throckmorton told AFA Journal. "I remember one of my clients, who is no longer gay, said to me, 'Tell them that I exist.'"
And that's exactly what Throckmorton has been doing. He recently released a new video, I Do Exist!, which tells the stories of five ex-homosexuals who now boldly proclaim that people can change.I Do Exist! opens with "man-on-the-street" interviews, as average Americans answer the question, "Can homosexuals change?" Former "gay" man Noe Gutierrez, Jr., then begins explaining how he began the process of change. Gutierrez is so sincere and transparent that he draws the viewer into his story.Also featured are the testimonies of former lesbians Sarah Lipp, Joann Highley, and Cheryl Quinlan, as well as former homosexual Greg Quinlan. All present a message of hope that will encourage those struggling with same-sex attractions.
Supplementing the ex-gay testimonies are interviews with Throckmorton himself, Dr. Mark Yarhouse of the Regent University Department of Psychology, and Dr. Robert Spitzer, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.In 1973, Spitzer was one of the men who was instrumental in getting the American Psychiatric Association to officially remove homosexuality from its catalog of mental illnesses. He has since come to the conclusion that some homosexuals can change their sexual orientation, and last year released the results of a study to that effect.Both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association -- along with almost every other major mental health organization -- have been forcefully promoting the homosexual agenda in recent decades.Throckmorton said it isn't science that is driving that promotion. "It's just old-fashioned politics. All of these professional [mental health] organizations have official gay and lesbian groups within them that have an agenda," he said. "They believe that homosexuality is simply another variant of human sexuality, and they have a vested interest in making sure the organization keeps promoting that view."A case in point, he said, was when the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution at its annual convention in July, advocating the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The resolution was steeped in scientific language.However, Throckmorton said, the members of the committee that put forth the resolution were all homosexuals. He said, "How objective could [the committee] be? There was almost no discussion [of opposing viewpoints]. The council representatives simply voted, and it was all done internally."He said the resolution was "a political consensus, not a scientific consensus."Such actions seem to make Throckmorton even more determined to publicize a message of hope. "I feel these [ex-gay] folks are marginalized," he said. "They are afraid to talk in the church because they don't want to be viewed as gay, and they don't want to talk to people in the mental health profession because they won't be believed.
"I Do Exist! is a powerful way to get out the message that homosexuals can change. It is compelling and informative, and helps to explain the process by which some people come to experience same-sex attractions, act on those attractions, and enter the homosexual lifestyle.The film also makes recommendations concerning the role of church and schools in providing help to those who are experiencing same-sex attractions but do not want to take on a "gay" identity.The video could be a great tool in helping religious leaders, counselors and church members understand the complexities surrounding this controversial issue. This is especially needful because, Throckmorton said, the homosexual lifestyle is prominently displayed in our culture."There is an incessant drumbeat of emphasis on sexuality in our culture. More and more people are defining themselves in terms of sexuality," he said. "And kids are labeling themselves as gay or lesbian earlier in life than ever before."

Throckmorton has also produced a CD entitled The Truth Comes Out, which contains testimonies from ex-homosexuals, information about sexual orientation from Throckmorton, and some selections of contemporary Christian music."There are already a lot of books on the market about these issues, and so we thought there was a need for an alternative media approach to help parents, pastors, and teachers who are dealing with young people who were questioning their sexual feelings," he said."And the CD and DVD were accessible to kids," he added, who might not read a book but who might listen to a CD or watch a DVD.

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Am Con Book Review: The Bush Betrayal by James Bovard

September 13, 2004 issue Copyright © 2004 The American Conservative

New Era of Big Government
The Bush Betrayal, James Bovard, Palgrave-Macmillan, 330 pages
By Bob Barr
If someone described for you a national incident involving unprecedented loss of life, poor government planning, the failure to hold any government official accountable for mistakes, and Congress responding to the crisis by throwing money at the problem, chances are you’d conclude they were speaking about the causes and aftermath of 9/11. Actually, they could just as well be describing the siege and invasion of the Branch Davidian Compound at Waco, Texas, in 1993, during President Bill Clinton’s first term.

Now, if that same person were to ask you which recent president’s term in office was characterized by support for the so-called assault weapon ban, a huge increase in deficit spending, bigger budgets for virtually every domestic program—including Americorps and the National Endowment for the Arts—and signing into law a massive increase in federal government regulation of political speech, whose administration would you suspect they were describing? That of Democrat Bill Clinton? Nope. They’d be talking about the first term of Republican President George W. Bush.

The fact is, the records of these two presidents, Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush, are much more alike than either man would likely feel comfortable admitting. With Bill Clinton, a record of Big Government and lack of accountability, which is precisely what we witnessed from 1993 to 2001, was pretty much what most of us expected; we got what we deserved when we elected him president. With George W. Bush, however, what we have gotten is not what we bargained for—that is if we hoped for a president committed, as Bush said he was during the 2000 campaign, to smaller and more accountable government. Has America been betrayed by President George W. Bush? In his most recent book, The Bush Betrayal, James Bovard poses and then answers this question with a resounding “yes.”

Coming out as it does in the immediate aftermath of the extensive, if still incomplete, post-mortem of the 9/11 disaster, and while American troops and civilians are still dying in the dust of Iraq, there may be a tendency to minimize Bovard’s book by considering it as simply an analysis of the Bush administration’s sleight-of-hand in getting us involved with a war in Iraq. To be sure, the author does take the current administration to task for the basis on which the war in Iraq was predicated and on which it continues to be prosecuted; Bovard labels this Bush’s “greatest abuse of power” (a characterization with which I disagree—not that it isn’t an abuse of power, but it isn’t the worst one).

The importance of Bovard’s book, which, incidentally, follows and builds upon his outstanding 2003 volume, Terrorism and Tyrrany, goes far beyond an analysis of the Iraqi War or even the response by this administration to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The importance of The Bush Betrayal lies in the author’s impeccably researched exposition of what may very well be the central theme underlying modern politics in America: despite promises, regardless of rhetoric, and irrespective of party label, once a politician is in power, what We the People get—and which we’ve got in the current administration—is, in Bovard’s words, “Washington business as usual.”

Bovard lays out a convincing case. With the thoroughly researched and footnoted style that has become his forte, and with the heavy doses of relevant anecdotes and dry humor that have become his trademarks, the author has compiled a virtual almanac of American political abuse. And while it’s not a pretty picture he paints, we ignore Jim Bovard’s work at the risk of being repeatedly seduced—“betrayed”—by the siren songs of presidential candidates of both parties.

Each administration, it seems, must have a central theme around which its policies and actions revolve, and which provides a constant excuse for or explanation of why it does what it does. Who can forget the constant invocations by the Clintons that whatever the former president or his administration did, it was “for the children”? For the current administration of George W. Bush, any program, policy, or power grab—domestic or foreign—is justified because it furthers the War on Terror. Both the current and the immediately past administrations have fallen back on this ploy whenever criticized or attacked for their actions. After all, rather than bother to defend their actions as consistent with a core philosophy, it is much easier simply to label critics as “extreme” by claiming that if they are opposed to something the president or his employees are doing or have done, then by definition those critics must be against children or don’t support fighting terrorism. Shibboleths make such handy shields.

It truly is amazing, when you stop to think about it—as Bovard in his latest book forces us to do—that virtually everything the Bush administration has done to expand government power or expenditures is justified as being essential to winning “the war against terrorism.” Propping up farmers through outdated and expensive subsidies? Helps fight terrorism. Subsidies to sugar producers in order to keep prices of American sugar uncompetitively high? Necessary to fight terrorism. Tobacco subsidies? Ditto. How about a plan to have the government pay the way for lower-income home buyers who haven’t been able to save the money or qualify for loans to make their own down payments? A ridiculous and economically disastrous program, to be sure, but it’s worth the price to the Bush administration because—you guessed it—it creates stronger communities, which in turn are essential to improving America’s ability to fight terrorism. Hallelujah, and pass the collection plate!

Foreign aid to corrupt regimes and bloated international bureaucracies is extolled because it helps fight terrorism abroad. Don’t mind the fact that some of the terrorists who succeeded on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two countries that have received more U.S. aid and business investments than all but a handful of other countries.

It is not only Americans as taxpayers who are being forced to accept a broad range of increases in federal spending as the price the Bush administration extracts for pursuing its policies. Americans as targets of federal law-enforcement power are being made to pay a heavy price as well. The powers of the federal government—and, indirectly, state and local government, which often emulate their federal big brother—to snoop, surveil, search, and secretly arrest people with no more “reasonable suspicion” than a vague notion of “preventing terrorism,” have reached not just unprecedented, but frightening levels. And James Bovard shines the light on them all. From Attorney General John Ashcroft’s notion of “ordered liberty,” to Solicitor General Ted Olson’s argument to the Supreme Court that virtually anything President Bush wants to do is justified on the basis of his self-defined and overarching “constitutional authority to protect the nation,” Bovard opens his readers’ eyes to the still ongoing expansion of federal power during this administration’s watch.

But to me, the most devastating act of the Bush administration—which constituted such a fundamental betrayal of the First Amendment’s guarantee of our freedom to speak, petition, and assemble that it takes your breath away—was the president’s signing of the so-called Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2003. James Bovard pulls no punches in laying out just how devastating to freedom this law—upheld in all its major parts by the Supreme Court, despite eloquent dissents by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia—truly is. Not only is the law deeply and fundamentally contrary to our constitutional liberties, but the president and Republican congressional leaders knew it was unconstitutional when they allowed it to be brought to the floor, voted on, and signed by a Republican president. Yet they did it anyway. In so doing, they betrayed us and the Constitution, and they did it in the full light of day.

To rub salt in the constitutional wounds the campaign law created, the Bush administration has cynically employed it in recent months in an effort to silence criticism of its policies.

Perhaps the clearest evidence of how detached this administration is from the constitutional underpinnings that used to hold presidents at arm’s length from near-absolute power is a quote unearthed by Bovard and included in the closing chapter of The Bush Betrayal. In April of this year, at a news conference, Bush described himself as “the ultimate decision-maker for this country.” As Bovard correctly notes, of course, Bush is at most the decision-maker for the executive branch of the government; the people are the ultimate decision-makers for America. Our Founding Fathers knew that. Generations of Americans understood that. Previous presidents recognized that. Sadly, that constitutionally based and historically sound perspective, which is the cornerstone of what America should stand for, appears not to be a component of the current administration’s thinking. And that is a betrayal.

_______________________________________________Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga., 1995-2003) is the author of The Meaning of Is: The Squandered Impeachment and Wasted Legacy of William Jefferson Clinton.

September 13, 2004 issue Copyright © 2004 The American Conservative