Friday, January 07, 2005

Elaine Donnelly: The Army's Gender War
January 07, 2005, 7:50 a.m.

The Army’s Gender War

A new policy is unfair to both men and women soldiers.

By Elaine Donnelly

I recently heard from a female soldier who feels betrayed by the Army. Calm but justifiably angry, the soldier said she is being assigned to a forward-support company that will "collocate" with the Army's new, modular infantry/armor land combat battalions. This is a serious change in policy, unfair to men and women soldiers alike.

Under current regulations, women cannot be forced to serve in smaller direct ground-combat units such as infantry or armor battalions, or in companies that collocate with them. If the Defense Department wants to change these rules, law requires that the secretary must notify Congress no less than 30 legislative days in advance, when both houses are in session. Despite the "collocation rule" and the congressional notification law, the Army is unilaterally assigning women to previously all-male forward-support companies in its new "unit of action" land combat teams, which are key to the Army's "transformation" to a lighter, faster force.

In letters signed by underlings, the Army claims compliance because the units in question will belong to gender-mixed brigade-support units operating elsewhere. This is only an administrative sleight of hand, which a May 10 Army briefing admitted could be seen as "subterfuge." Pentagon planners rearranged blocks on organizational charts, but in practice the forward-support companies in question will still be collocated with and organic to the Army's new combined infantry/armor maneuver battalions 100 percent of the time.

What's worse, Army officials have tried to mislead Congress about their intent. During a November 3, 2004, briefing for congressional staffers, Pentagon officials denied any violation or change in rules exempting female soldiers from assignments in land-combat-collocated units. A different briefing conducted inside the Pentagon on November 29 stated that the preferred "way ahead" is to "rewrite/eliminate the Army collocation policy."

When the Washington Times reported the duplicity on December 13, Army Staff Director Lt. Gen. James Campbell immediately issued a widely distributed memo warning about "Information Security" and the loss of "positive control of pre-decisional briefing materials, decision memorandums, and otherwise generally sensitive information." President Bush and the Congress should ask, Why is this matter so sensitive?

Some military decisions must remain confidential, but this is not one of them. The 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., has been quietly training women for the new land-combat forward-support companies, while arrogantly claiming that the notification law does not apply. "Lessons learned" from the division's impending redeployment to Iraq will be declared a "success," but if (when) anything goes wrong, officials will blame the collocation rule that they intend to eliminate. Either scenario will betray the trust of soldiers and undermine the Army's own best interests.

Some officials have made the unsupported claim that female soldiers will have to make up for shortages in male combat soldiers for the Army's new land-combat teams. To the extent the problem exists, gender-based recruiting quotas are to blame.

Instead of dropping the gender quotas, the same officials are pursuing an illicit course of action that will erode the effectiveness of all land-combat troops, and eventually apply to special-operations forces and the Marine Corps. The Army has also defied logic in retaining co-ed basic training, acknowledged in 2002 to be "not efficient" in transforming civilians into disciplined soldiers. Revised "warrior training" programs sound impressive, but gender-normed standards emasculate the concept by assuring "success" for average female trainees. Soldiers know that there is no gender-norming on the battlefield.

The nation is proud of our women in uniform, but that is no excuse for forcing unprepared female soldiers, many of whom are mothers, to face the physical demands of violent close combat and a higher risk of capture than exists today. In the Army's own surveys over a decade, 85 to 90 percent of enlisted women said they strongly oppose such policies. Their opinions matter no more than those of male soldiers, who will have to bear new "female force protection" burdens that could complicate dangerous missions.

Combat commanders will have to cope with significant personnel losses, distractions, and social turmoil that will be more intense in the heat of war. Predictable problems include far higher rates of medical leave and evacuations, primarily due to pregnancy, which Army officials refuse to reveal or discuss. Making the mix even more volatile will be sexual attractions, personal misconduct, and accusations of same.

Forget feminist legends about Amazon warriors and push-button wars. The modern land-combat soldier carries weapons and high-tech equipment weighing 50 to 100 pounds, with body armor alone weighing 25 pounds. Such burdens would be disproportionately heavy for average female soldiers, who are certainly brave but shorter and lighter, with smaller hearts and bones, 25 to30 percent less aerobic capacity for endurance, and 40 to 50 percent less upper-body strength.

Politically correct group-thinkers and Clinton-promoted generals in the Pentagon apparently have forgotten certain realities affirmed by overwhelming evidence: In direct ground combat, women do not have an "equal opportunity" to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive. No one's injured son should have to die on the streets of a future Fallujah because the only soldier near enough to carry him to safety was a five-foot-two 110-pound woman.

The concerned soldier who contacted me recognized that the Army is about to conduct an unannounced, extremely dangerous live-fire social experiment under wartime conditions. With deployments imminent, what can be done?

President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must intervene to enforce the notification law and encourage the recruitment of young men. In long-overdue congressional hearings, members should require Pentagon officials to document alleged shortages of males, and explain why female soldiers should have to pay the price for the Army's bureaucratic errors. Congressmen worried about the sexual abuse of military women should be consistent in expressing concern about the elevated risk of combat violence at the hands of the enemy.

Today's changing battlefield makes it even more important to retain personnel policies that recognize combat realities that have not changed. The collocation rule should be strengthened, not weakened, and applied consistently in all units that collocate with direct ground-combat forces. At times we have no choice but to send young men into land combat, but we do have a choice when it comes to sending our women there.

— Elaine Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that specializes in military personnel issues.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Book Review: Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South

Southern Cross

Freaks and other Christians in Flannery O'Connor's stories.

by Maria Andraca Carano
The Weekly Standard
01/03/2005, Volume 010, Issue 16

Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South
by Ralph C. Wood
Wm. B. Eerdmans, 208 pp., $22

The waspish grandfather of Hazel Motes, an old evangelical preacher "with Jesus hidden in his head like a stinger," broadcasts to listeners willing and unwilling the startling news that to redeem a single "stone soul," Jesus was willing to die "ten million deaths."

That preacher's creator was Flannery O'Connor, the author from Milledgeville, Georgia, who died in 1964 at age thirty-nine--an incalculable loss to American literature. Who in the forty years since has been willing to aim fiction at the deepest metaphysical foundations of human existence? Who, for that matter, still believes fiction can aim at metaphysical foundations? O'Connor disdained to write about anything less crucial, less important than such subjects as the presence of Christ revealed in history and present in the sacraments--all through the life and death, love and hate, grandeur and pettiness of American southerners in all their peculiarity.

Perhaps that's why O'Connor has not faded away but remains a perpetual puzzle for contemporary readers of literature. The highbrow world since the early 1960s has overwhelmingly rejected the possibility of literature driven by the religious faith they believe entirely repressive and destructive. And yet, there stands Flannery O'Connor in their way: a stumbling block, an unavoidable contradiction.

Last year, in The Life You Save May Be Your Own, Paul Elie outlined Flannery O'Connor's life and works in the context of her pilgrimage of faith among such influential Catholic contemporaries as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy.

This year, in Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South, Baylor University professor Ralph C. Wood examines O'Connor's writings both to reveal that her southern background illuminated her unique vision and to expose to present-day Christians her cautionary admonitions against a flaccid practical atheism.

Not a traditional biography, Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South is a collection of essays aligning Flannery O'Connor's work with the fundamentalist Protestant Christians of the South and explaining the cultural, social, and political dynamic that formed the catapult for her writing.

O'Connor's fiction is filled with rustics, freaks, and prophets, the likes of which--Wood insists--really did populate the deep South she knew. What O'Connor saw is that these strange characters were seeking the truth behind eternity, reckless of the personal cost. As she once declared, "It seems to me . . . that all good stories are about conversion, about a character's changing."

Wood focuses on two major themes to connect O'Connor's literature to southern fundamentalist Protestantism. First, he examines the decline of traditional religious belief in and fear of an omnipotent Lord in favor of what he calls today's "civil religion," which dominates American culture save for that pocket of traditionalist believers who come from the South. Second, he scrutinizes O'Connor's application of southern speech and manners to create a world in which the themes she found worthy, indeed compelling, could be developed.

Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South examines the death of true atheism and the concomitant rise of practical atheism, typified by the character of Mrs. May in the story "Greenleaf," who had "a large respect for religion, though she did not, of course, believe any of it was true." O'Connor respected atheists such as H.L. Mencken, because they addressed the issue of God seriously enough to argue against His existence. She would affirm that she was "a Catholic not like someone else would be a Baptist or a Methodist but like someone else would be an atheist." She despised a culture espousing a "civil religion" whose commandments mandate that all religious beliefs have equal weight and that spiritual values derive from democratic principles. Or, as her character Hazel Motes sums up the American gospel: "Nobody with a good car needs to be justified by Jesus."

As befits a professor at one of the nation's premier Baptist universities, Ralph Wood looks in Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South to align the Catholic O'Connor with the evangelical impulse--in other words, to use her southernness to claim her for the English department of Baylor rather than the English department of Notre Dame.

Is this possible? Well, maybe. As O'Connor wrote, "It is an embarrassment to our fundamentalist neighbors to realize that they are doctrinally nearer to their traditional enemy, the Church of Rome, than they are to modern Protestantism." Indeed, she added, "the Catholic novelist in the South will see many distorted images of Christ, but he will certainly feel that a distorted image of Christ is better than no image at all. I think he will feel a good deal more kinship with backwoods prophets and shouting fundamentalists than he will with those politer elements for whom the supernatural is an embarrassment and for whom religion has become a department of sociology or culture or personality development."

O'Connor believed that the American South constituted a region "haunted" by Christ--and thus, in however distorted a way, was able to avoid the nihilism of the modern age. If the disintegration of morals and religious beliefs into the chaos of nihilism constituted "the very air that we breathe," still, devotion to a system of manners might yield something beyond mere social convention or psychological delusions. Southern manners formed an important buttress for religious values, and so Flannery O'Connor praised the elaborate sense of manners prevalent in southern culture as being "the next best thing to Christian charity."

And yet, she knew the limits of manners as well. The narrow-minded cynics in her stories typically imagine they are exempt from southern manners, because they fail to live Christian beliefs. Meanwhile, her prophets and freaks fail to be mannerly because the religious quest at stake must be revealed in violent action.

This much is true of Wood's goal in Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South:

O'Connor's characters could not be other than Southern fundamentalists. They speak with a simplicity of language and boldness of imagery retained only in the rural areas of the South. This vivid simplicity shines in the language of O'Connor's preachers. In "The River," Bevel Summers exhorts his listeners to baptism: "Listen to what I got to say, you people! There ain't but one River and that's the River of Life, made out of Jesus' blood." In The Violent Bear It Away, Lucette Carmody intones, "Divine love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter"--and shouts "The Word of God is a burning Word to burn you clean, burns man and child, man and child the same, you people!"

The southerner, O'Connor once quipped, greatly feared that he might have been formed in the image and likeness of God. She wanted her work to sound "like the Old Testament would sound if it were being written today." Laconically noting that "subject matter has more to do with region than religion, at least in fiction," she thought that universalism--a vision of the metaphysical roots of reality--was possible only by taking advantage of a narrow parochialism:

Her characters had to travel their salvation journey within the Deep South. Her prophets, like the reluctant Francis Marion Tarwater, may run from "the stink of the Cross," but the Cross will not let them go.

Wood rightly notes the link between Flannery O'Connor's literary freaks and the freakishness of southern fundamentalism. Protestant theologians and atheists alike have found it difficult to "grant cultural standing to fundamentalism," belittling Southern fundamentalists as "primitive agriculturalists . . . inclined to magic." O'Connor found this intense adherence to traditional beliefs a sincere calling and a just ordering of priorities.

AND YET, while it is undeniable that O'Connor empathized with southern fundamentalists in her stories, she nonetheless saw them as potential or unconscious Catholics--and not herself as a secret fundamentalist. Southern Protestantism is a religious place, she wrote, whose "outward forms are farthest from the Catholic and most revealing of a need that only the [Catholic] Church can fill." Her very need to write derived from her Catholicism. Wood mentions O'Connor's observance of traditional Catholic religious practices, including daily Mass and prayers. He also characterizes part of her message as "holding hard to the sacraments that evangelical Protestants are prone to neglect."

But contrast the passage where Paul Elie in The Life You Save May Be Your Own stresses O'Connor's treatment of the Eucharist ("the doctrine of the Body of Christ explained the pain in her bones") with Wood's focus instead on her dramatic depictions of the sacrament of baptism. Baptism represents a political proclamation of allegiance with Christ. It also constitutes a crucial sacrament for Protestants. For Catholics, however, baptism is a sacrament of initiation that is fulfilled in the Eucharist.

Indeed, O'Connor wrote, "the Eucharist is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable." Her admiration for fundamentalism was based in part on her pleasure "with the amount of Catholicism that fundamentalist Protestants have been able to retain."

One place that the religious reading in Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South is especially helpful, however, is in explicating the violence of O'Connor's stories. ("While a lot of folks get killed in [my] work," she once explained, "nobody gets hurt.") Wood argues that the characters' earthly physical sufferings, which include deaths by drowning, gunshot, and goring, lead to spiritual happy endings, because the characters experience the revelation of Divine love.

As she noted to her cloistered correspondents, the monks and nuns with whom she kept in
contact, a Catholic joins the convent and is "heard from no more," whereas a Protestant believer enjoys no such haven and thus "must go about in the world, getting into all sorts of trouble and drawing the wrath of people who don't believe anything much at all down on [his] head." The fierce truths voiced by O'Connor's fundamentalists could hardly be spoken by a typical Catholic mystic.

For O'Connor, the violence acted out in her stories had a redemptive purpose; violence was required to make the religious point: "For the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures." Who, in the forty years since her death, has used fiction to shout as loudly as she dared?

Maria Andraca Carano lives in Houston with her husband and three daughters.

© Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

AP- Big Ben Named NFL's Top Rookie on Offense

Associated Press Posted: 1 day ago

Ben Roethlisberger did what John Unitas, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Brett Favre and every other NFL quarterback never managed by winning The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

The first quarterback to win the honor since its inception in 1957, Roethlisberger did so unanimously, the second straight rookie to get all the votes. The Pittsburgh Steelers' young star received all 48 votes Wednesday from a nationwide panel of writers and broadcasters who cover pro football.

Ben Roethlisberger took over as the Steelers' starting QB on Sept 19 and took every snap before injuring rib cartilage on Dec. 26.

Last year, Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin also swept the panel.

But Boldin didn't go unbeaten in 13 starts, as Roethlisberger did in leading the Steelers to a franchise-best 15-1 record, which led the NFL this season. Neither, of course, has any other rookie QB.

"I think it is just a comfort level every week, learning and practicing, getting on the same page as these guys," Roethlisberger said. "I think that has really helped by being out there in practice and working with these guys, the receivers, the linemen, the running backs, and just getting familiar with each other has really helped our success and our progress."

Roethlisberger's progress was aided by having a superb running game featuring Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, operating behind perhaps the league's best offensive line. Pittsburgh ranked second in rushing.

And the Steelers' defense was the league's best, allowing the fewest points and yards.
That meant Roethlisberger didn't need to win many games with his arm.

Yet when he did, he brought back the AFC North champions with late drives to beat Jacksonville and the New York Giants. His composure, competitiveness and intelligent handling of the offense were keys to those wins — and several others in which he didn't require such heroics.

"I did not really know what to expect," said Roethlisberger, the 11th choice in the first round of the draft — and the third overall quarterback taken behind Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers, neither of whom had much of an impact.

"I thought coming in, knowing about Tommy (Maddox) as the starter, that I was going to come in and just try to learn this offense and try to learn to be a backup, whatever coach was going to ask of me," Roethlisberger said. "Obviously, things changed."

They changed when Maddox injured his right elbow in Game 2 at Baltimore, the Steelers' only loss. There were loud doubts about Pittsburgh's chances of prospering with a rookie quarterback, including some from Roethlisberger's teammates.

He silenced those doubters very quickly.

"We've got mostly the same guys, it's Ben that has made a big difference," linebacker Joey Porter said. "Everybody else has been here. Duce and Ben are the biggest two additions we had. Nobody knew he could play at this level this early."

Roethlisberger finished fifth in passer rating at 98.1. He completed 196 of 295 passes — yes, only 99 incompletions — for 2,621 yards, with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His best work came in the middle of the schedule and he wasn't quite as dynamic in December. But he kept winning, even as he was given more responsibility in the offense.

"I think we will surely evolve and add more plays and do more things as an offense," he said, "and I can kind of become more diversified as we continue on this quest this year and in coming years."

Roethlisberger, whose sensational rookie season could earn him $2.6 million in bonuses, is the fourth Steelers player to win the award, joining receivers Louis Lipps (1984) and Jimmy Orr (1958) and running back Franco Harris (1972).

Thomas Sowell: A Wave of Criticism

Thomas Sowell (archive)
January 6, 2005

The catastrophic tsunami wave that has devastated so much of southern Asia has even killed more than a hundred people on the east coast of Africa, more than 4,000 miles away. Two questions: First, what country has done the most to help the victims of this natural disaster?

Second, what country has been criticized most for not doing enough?

The answer to both questions is the United States of America.

Even the $350 million officially announced as American aid to help the tsunami victims does not count the cost of sending American military planes and naval ships, including an aircraft carrier with a crew of thousands, to aid in the rescues and provide medical treatment.

As with many other natural disasters, aid pouring into the stricken areas tends to pile up at transit points -- ports or airfields, for example -- while the victims suffer and die elsewhere.

American aid has been particularly important in this regard because it includes not only the supplies of food, water, and medicine which are arriving in the region from various countries around the world, but the logistical support to get those supplies to the people needing them, as fast as possible under the chaotic conditions in the aftermath of widespread destruction.

It is American planes and helicopters that are doing much of the heavy lifting, rushing food and medical supplies to people and rushing stricken people to medical treatment centers.

What, then is the criticism?

The first blast came from the United Nations, where one of their high officials implied that the United States is stingy in the aid it is providing. No matter what we do, it is always possible to do more. But "more" is not the standard to which any other country is held.

Ironically, the charge of stinginess comes at a time when a study cited in Philanthropy magazine shows that Americans donate not only more money to philanthropic causes than any other people, they devote a higher percentage of their income and contribute far more of their time as volunteers to a whole spectrum of humanitarian causes.

But, no matter what we do, "more" is the demand -- and the criticism -- that can always be made. We are not compared to other people. We are compared to an ideal that human beings have never met.

No consistent principle is involved in these criticisms, just attitudes. These include not only the attitudes of those foreigners envious or resentful of American success and power, but also the attitudes of those among the American intelligentsia who automatically echo foreign criticisms of the United States.

Decades ago, Eric Hoffer wrote: "Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America." Reasons may be cited but the flimsiness of many of those reasons betrays the fact that what is really involved are attitudes.

A recent example is a denunciation of the United States as a "land of penny pinchers" by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. Why? Because, aside from highly publicized tragedies like the tsunami, "we're tightwads who turn away as people die in greater numbers" around the world from things like malaria and AIDS.

Foreign governments are more generous with their taxpayers' money than the American government is, both domestically and internationally. But real generosity is shown by those who voluntarily give their own hard cash -- and Americans do that more than anybody else.

Incidentally, in all of Mr. Kristof's waxing indignant about the ravages of malaria, there is not one word about the banning of DDT, which has led immediately to a resurgence of malaria that has taken lives by the millions, as a result of propaganda campaigns against DDT by environmental busybodies.

Apparently it is not the principle of saving lives lost to malaria that is crucial, but the opportunity to score points against the United States. Green extremists get a pass. So do bungling and corrupt foreigners, including the United Nations.

©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Contact Thomas Sowell Read Sowell's biography

Daniel Pipes: Hollywood Discovers Radical Islam

By Daniel Pipes
January 6, 2005

The war on terror has not been the subject of a single American feature film nor, so far as I know, is there one in the works. But television is proving a bit braver and things should get interesting on Sunday, Jan. 9, when Fox begins a new season of its action show, called 24.

Why the absence of movies on the current war? Jack Valenti, then-head of the Motion Picture Association of America, once replied with questions of his own:

Who would you have as the enemy if you made a picture about terrorism? You’d probably have Muslims, would you not? If you did, I think there would be backlash from the decent, hard-working, law-abiding Muslim community in this country.

That’s what some call a pre-emptive cringe. Others call it dhimmitude.

In any case, the most recent big-budget movie to deal with terrorism was 2002’s Sum of All Fears (“27,000 Nuclear Weapons. One Is Missing”), based on a Tom Clancy novel of the same name. The novel had Arab terrorists setting off a nuclear device at football’s Super Bowl but the movie, under pressure from Islamist organizations, features neo-Nazi terrorists. (“I hope you will be reassured,” Director Phil Alden Robinson wrote in early 2001 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “that I have no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims or Arabs, and I wish you the best in your continuing efforts to combat discrimination.”)

In an review of recent movies, Jonathan V. Last finds that, “If anything, the PC pressure has been upped since the war on terror began.” The first break in the silence came in mid-2004, when The Grid, a TNT mini-series, took on radical Islam. Last termed it “the bravest, most-daring piece of entertainment in years,” precisely because Tracey Alexander and Brian Eastman, its executive producers, did not whitewash all forms of Islam.

An excerpt from The Grid’s second episode, concerning a Lebanese national named Fuqara, arrested as he tries to flee the United States after trying to murder an FBI agent, gives its flavor. Fuqara is interrogated by Agent Canary while his attorney tries to stop the proceedings:

Agent Canary: Mr. Fuqara, who ordered you to commit the assassination?
Fuqara: (Mutters in Arabic.)

Fuqara’s Attorney (to Agent Canary): Can we have a moment outside? (The two exit the room.) Don’t you dare threaten him with a rend writ.

Agent Canary: He has information about planned attacks here that could threaten thousands of American lives.

Fuqara’s Attorney: And that gives you the right to summarily dismiss Mr. Fuqara’s rights? Hey, why stop there? Deport all the Muslims in America to win your war!

Agent Canary: I might suggest some rights stop at mass murder.

Fuqara’s Attorney: They don’t. And until there is an amendment to the constitution to that effect, I will protect Mr. Fuqara’s rights.

A second break will come in a few days, when the Fox Channel’s 24 shows four episodes depicting an Muslim family as coming to the United States solely to implement attacks against Americans. To do so, they masquerade as just folk. Here is how Jim Finkle of Broadcasting & Cable describes them: “One of the villains is a Walkman-toting, bubble-gum-chewing teenager who fights with his conservative Dad about dating an American girl and talking on the phone.”

But this is a disguise.

The young man also helps his parents mastermind a plot to kill large numbers of Americans that begins with an attack on a train. Over the breakfast table, the father tells his son: “What we will accomplish today will change the world. We are fortunate that that our family has been chosen to do this.” “Yes, father,” his son replies.

The terrorists manage to take the secretary of defense as a hostage; and the movie climaxes with the secretary shown on a gruesome Internet video like those coming out of Iraq, then tried for “war crimes against humanity.”

Predictably, 24 has the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s lead Islamist outfit, in a tizzy. CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed complains that “They are taking everyday American Muslim families and making them suspects. They’re making it seem like families are co-conspirators in this terrorist plot.”

Melanie McFarland, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s television critic, has no patience for such whining: “this is 24, OK? Anyone who watches it knows the show borrows aspects of real nightmares to drive its plots, paying little attention to political correctness.”

But there is another reason to stick with the plot as it is. Nearly every terrorist suspect in the West is said to be a regular guy or a wonderful gal, as I have previously shown. The adjectives applied to Sajid Mohammed Badat, a Briton, are typical: “a walking angel,” “the bright star of our mosque,” “a friendly, warm, fun-loving character,” “a friendly, sociable, normal young lad, who had lots of friends and did not hold extreme views in any way.” Despite those raves, he has been indicted for helping shoe-bomber Richard C Reid to blow up an airliner and will face trial on conspiracy charges (he was found with parts for more shoe bombs like those Reid used).

Just last week, the Seattle Times reported on a Saudi now being deported from the United States:

To his co-workers at the University of Washington School of Nursing, Majid al-Massari was a happy guy who bounced down the halls and seemed like a "big teddy bear." What his friends didn't know about the burly, bearded 34-year-old computer-security specialist was that he had helped set up a Web site for a group linked to al-Qaida, quoted Osama bin Laden in his own Internet postings, lashed out against American policies on his father's London-based radio show and had landed in the sights of U.S. terrorism investigators.

This sort of surprise happens with such consistency that I am tempted to generalize: On arrest, every single Islamist in the West is initially hailed as a delightful person, and never as a hate-filled brooding loner.

So, hooray for Fox for portraying reality; and may it not cave to the Islamists.

Daniel Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Billings Gazette: People and Grizzly Bears Find Ways to Coexist

A journey far from over: People and bears must find ways to coexist
The Billings Gazette Staff

Theresa Lineberger can still remember the young male grizzly that crawled onto her family's deck, perched itself on the railing and munched on all of the crab apples he could swipe from a nearby tree.

"I nailed him with a full can of (pepper) spray," said Lineberger, an emergency room nurse who lives on a ranch near Wapiti, Wyo., with her husband, Ron. "I don't dislike (bears), but when I'm home, where I'm supposed to feel safe, I don't want to have encounters."

Bears, black and grizzly, are common at the Linebergers' place. One summer and fall, 11 had to be trapped and relocated.

Like many who live in the heart of grizzly country, the Linebergers are tolerant of bears and, increasingly, are making efforts to live peaceably with them. At their ranch 20 miles west of Cody, they have put up an electric fence, take down bird feeders during the summer and try to keep apples and other bear attractants out of reach.

A yearly field trip has even been organized to have the students from the Wapiti school pick apples off the ground at their property and take them to the school to make applesauce.
The efforts help keep the family safe and reduce the risk that grizzlies have to be trapped.
"What we're trying to do is keep bears from getting into trouble and give them an opportunity to keep living," said Lineberger, who also co-wrote a grant that paid for a bear-proof fence at the school playground.

Grizzlies have become a way of life for residents along the North Fork of the Shoshone River. The improvements by people like the Linebergers will help reduce the risk of conflicts between people and bears - but won't eliminate them.

"You can still be doing everything right and something bad could happen," Lineberger said. "It's not anybody's fault. They're just not tame animals."

As the grizzly population around Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere continues to expand, more bears and people are going to be bumping into each other.

The trick is finding ways to coexist. In some cases, that means replacing regular garbage cans with bear-proof Dumpsters, placing electric fencing around beehives or knowing more about how to behave in the backcountry. In other cases, that could mean allowing some of the most troublesome bears to be trapped or killed and, in certain situations, retiring federal grazing allotments where grizzlies are common.

"Wherever there's people and grizzly bears, there will always be some level of conflict," said Kim Barber, a bear biologist with the Shoshone National Forest. "But bears are here to stay and people are here to stay. There's got to be some common ground."


Finding that "common ground" may sound simple, but it also has required a psychological shift in how people view grizzlies. As settlers moved into the West, the intimidating grizzly was largely seen as a blood-thirsty beast capable of ruining livestock operations and worse. Surviving meant keeping the bear at bay.

"The old attitude was, if it got in the way, we got rid of it," Barber said.

These days, some people still fear the grizzly - it is, after all, the biggest meat-eating predator in North America - but are also more tolerant.

That's what's needed as grizzlies expand out of recovery areas like the one near Yellowstone National Park and look to gain a foothold in other areas in Montana, Idaho and Washington state, according to bear experts.

"Any of these small populations, such as the Cascades or the Cabinet-Yaak, until they're the size of the Yellowstone (population) they're in serious jeopardy," said University of Calgary professor emeritus Stephen Herrero, author of the classic book "Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance." "So they are totally dependent on working things out with humans."

For years, federal agencies have pushed an aggressive public education program, using brochures, classes and roadside signs to talk not only about the potential danger of bears but, more importantly, how best to live with them.

Most of the time, that means leaving bears alone, especially those living in remote areas away from people. But in cases where bears are using the same land as people, a scenario that's becoming more common as the population grows, something extra is needed.


Mike Madel was hired by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in 1986 to help ranchers cope with an increasing number of grizzlies on the Rocky Mountain Front that were wandering out of the wilderness and onto private land.

"It was probably the most controversial area relative to grizzlies because they were down low where people didn't expect them," Madel said.

In places like Choteau and Dupuyer, Madel found ranchers frustrated that bears were coming onto their property and killing sheep and cows.

In particular, bears congregated at the "bone yards" that popped up each spring after cows died during calving season. The cow carcasses had become a consistent source of protein for hungry bears emerging from hibernation.

Ranchers, Madel and others began redistributing the carcasses to more remote spots that still allowed bears to get the meat but reduced the number of conflicts with people.
That step alone has reduced problems with grizzlies by about 80 percent in May and June, Madel estimated.

Government agents have also worked with ranchers to cordon off livestock pastures and bee operations - often using solar-powered fencing. Noisemakers, dogs, traps, garbage-proof bins and other measures have also helped, Madel said.

Nothing, though, has been more effective than educating the public and trying to find solutions that work for each landowner, he said. Madel regularly works with about 150 ranchers and spends nearly half his time talking with them one on one.

"It's fair to say attitudes toward the grizzly bears have come a long way," Madel said. "Most ranchers are willing to coexist with grizzlies. It's their land, and they see more grizzlies than most people ever do."


In Wyoming, Mark Bruscino has seen a change in attitude, too.

"There are people that aren't particularly fond of grizzly bears but they're doing what they can to get along with them," said Bruscino, a Cody-based bear management officer for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Bruscino deals with about 20 "nuisance bears" each year, many of them along the north fork of the Shoshone River. In most cases, the bears are trapped and relocated to a wilderness area. Bears that return and cause chronic problems are usually killed.

As more and more people move into bear habitat, and as the number of bears increases, there are more frequent conflicts at ranches, subdivisions and campgrounds.

"If you think back 20 years ago, bears were relegated to the park and surrounding wilderness areas. The conflicts were mostly in backcountry settings," he said. "Now … there's a whole different set of conflicts."

There are still occasional reports of people feeding bears or accidentally leaving food out, but Bruscino said local residents have taken to heart years of education efforts about dealing with grizzlies.

"I tell you, in Cody if you talk to a local or go to a school and ask 'what do you do when you encounter a bear,' they know what to do," Bruscino said.

As grizzlies expand south and east, more problems can be expected and people will have to adapt. Not everyone, though, is happy about it. Several county commissions have voiced their displeasure about the possibility of grizzlies showing up, and some have opposed food storage orders by Shoshone National Forest.

Removing the Yellowstone grizzly from the endangered species list may give state officials more latitude in dealing with the bears, but it won't alleviate the need to diligently find ways for grizzlies and people to live together.

"There are still a few good areas where bears can make a living and not run into problems," said Barber, the Shoshone forest bear biologist.

But elsewhere, expanding populations will bring bears and people face to face and keep people like Bruscino very busy, Barber said.

"They're doing a good job, but their job is only going to be more difficult," he said.

[See the rest of last year's series "Grizzlies in the West" from the Billings (MT) Gazette below:]


Lodge owners have several bear stories
Prevention is key in bear management
Humans employing containers that are bear-proof
A journey far from over: People and bears must find ways to coexist
The skills to survive: Grizzlies has shown it can adapt to almost any environmental condition
New highway crossings target wildlife safety
Bitterroots may be crucial to grizzly recovery
Back from the brink: Federal government to propose the removal of Yellowstone grizzlies from endangered species protections

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

Michelle Malkin: A Salute to the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln

January 04, 2005
By Michelle Malkin

Greetings, America-haters. Do you think you could stop raving against our “war criminals” and “killing machines”—and you, Teddy Kennedy, could you stop panting over those Abu Ghraib photos—for a moment and join me in praise for our military’s compassion and innovation?

At the drop of a hat, the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group sped from Hong Kong to help survivors of tsunami disaster in southern Asia.

How is the unmatched speed, range, and overall mobility of the American super carrier possible?

Twin nuclear reactors.

Believe it or not, the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln has been banned from docking at certain politically correct ports because of its reactors. For the moment, global environuts have stopped attacking the aircraft carrier over the nuke issue. But you can count on the eco-Luddites returning to their hysterical protests as soon as all the aid has been delivered.

Too much of the world, and too many here at home, take the amazing capabilities of ships like the Abraham Lincoln for granted. The carrier’s 1,092-foot flight deck outperforms some of the best commercial airports, launching and recovering up to 90 aircraft on hundreds of flights every day, according to the Navy. Eight steam turbine generators produce enough electrical power to serve a small city. The ship carries approximately 3 million gallons of fuel, and can stock food and supplies for 90 days.

Oh, and those much-maligned nuclear reactors help turn seawater into more than 400,000 gallons of fresh water daily—clean, safe water desperately needed by survivors. Sailors aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln have reportedly even stopped taking showers to make every last drop of fresh water available to tsunami survivors for drinking.

One of the most touching series of photos available at the Navy’s website features Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Savoy and Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Davy Nugent preparing loaves of bread in the aircraft carrier’s bakery for tsunami victims. The bakery produces between 600-800 loaves a day.

Here are two fine, young American sailors—representative of thousands of Americans in uniform like them—lending their skills to help the suffering.

Where are the politicians who will wave Spc. Joshua Savoy and Spc. Davy Nugent’s pictures before the TV cameras? Who will make them household names?

Aboard the carrier, every last crew member—from medical personnel to engineers to bakers—is pitching in to help with the relief effort. The crew of about 6,000 has deployed at least 10 of its 17 helicopters to deliver them to tsunami victims on the coast. Surgical teams from the carrier have set up triage sites on Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base in Banda Aceh, and are working with teams from Carrier Air Wing Two and the International Organization for Migration.

I would be remiss in not mentioning the rest of the strike group and their leaders: the San Diego-based cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), commanded by Capt. Joe Harrissm and the destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65), commanded by Cmdr. Don Hornbeck; the Everett, Wash.-based destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86), led by Cmdr. Alexander T. Casimes; the Pearl Harbor-based attack submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724), under the command of Cmdr. David Kirk; the Bremerton, Wa.-based fast combat support ship USS Rainier (AOE 7); Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2; Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151; Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137; and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 82.

You should also know that the members of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group are no strangers to humanitarian missions. In October 1993, Abraham Lincoln took off from the Arabian Gulf (where it was supporting the United Nations-sanctioned enforcement of the no-fly zone over southern Iraq) for Somalia. The carrier flew patrols over Mogadishu and surrounding areas for four months, backing U.N. ground troops during Operation Continue Hope.

How’s that for “stingy?”

I wish I had room to print the name of every sailor, pilot, rescue swimmer, technician, and engineer who serves in this strike group—and on every other American ship, plane, and helicopter on its way to help the tsunami victims.

You deserve to be seen and known and thanked and remembered. You make America proud.
At the U.N., saluting our troops is called jingoism. Where I’m from, it’s called gratitude.

Michelle Malkin [email her] is author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review.

Click here for Michelle Malkin's website.

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Robert Spencer: Northeastern's Professor of Jihad

By Robert Spencer
January 5, 2005

Northeastern University professor Shahid Alam has aroused controversy this week by likening the 9/11 killers to the Founding Fathers. After recounting some details of the establishment of “a sovereign but slave-holding republic, the United States of America,” Alam declared: “On September 11, 2001, nineteen Arab hijackers too demonstrated their willingness to die – and to kill – for their dream. They died so that their people might live, free and in dignity.”
Alam’s words were published widely on the Internet. When challenged by an email, Alam replied with an anti-Semitic sneer: “Why is it that the only hateful mail I have received is signed by Levitt, Hoch or Freedman?”

Then Alam published a follow-up piece in Counterpunch, “The Waves of Hate: Testing Free Speech in America.” In it, he portrayed himself as a heroically misunderstood figure, testing the limits of free speech in Amerikkka while “hate websites” (he named my jihad news and commentary site,, and the popular Little Green Footballs, among others) pestered him with “orchestrated attacks--many of them death threats...”

As for “orchestrated attacks,” Professor Alam would have a hard time finding a conductor, much less an orchestra, with any connection to Jihad Watch. Nor is he the first Muslim to accuse someone who quoted him of “hate” simply for the act of reporting what he actually said.

Of course, in his second piece Alam pointed out that he had drawn distinctions between the colonists and the jihadists: “the parallels are not exact. The colonists did not deliberately target civilians; the nineteen hijackers did.” But of course then came the qualifiers: “In their war of independence, the Americans may not have targeted civilians, but they did commit atrocities, and they did inflict collateral damage on civilians.” And of course there was that little matter of the American Indians.

Alam seemed surprised that people would take exception to his analogy: “I have since been wondering why my suggestion that al-Qaeda--like the American colonists before them--was leading an Islamic insurgency has provoked such a storm of vicious attacks.”

After retailing some of the differences, he complains: “But this cannot obscure the fact that both were insurgencies, even though al-Qaeda for now uses different methods. I might add, more abhorrent methods. But this is not the first time that insurgents have used such methods. The Zionists did so against the British and more massively against the Palestinians; several of them went on to lead Israel. So did the Irish, the Algerians and South Africans. Nelson Mandela, once jailed as a terrorist, is now the greatest world statesman.”

But of course, none of that, despite Alam’s showy bewilderment, made his comparison contemptible. What did, in case anyone missed it, was his utter lack of a moral compass. Of course, Alam, being a good Saidist, would probably dismiss as “Orientalist” any suggestion that the jihadist imperative is morally flawed, or, if he imbibes the fashionable relativism of the academy, would deny that it can be judged at all.

But in the real world we know how to distinguish Jesus from Hitler, and the Sharia from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Alam’s assumption that an Al-Qaeda victory would bring freedom and unity to the Islamic world assumes a society that consigns women and non-Muslims to all manner of misery, and puts a straitjacket on free inquiry, freedom of conscience, and the human soul.

Al-Qaeda and the rest see the implementation of Sharia as the goal of their striving, which in itself places them on the other side of the moral divide from the men who fought and died to secure “liberty and justice for all,” however imperfectly these principles were applied after their victory. Yes, Professor, Al-Qaeda is fighting for freedom as they see it. So were the Nazis, striving to free Germany from the so-called “Jewish threat” and the encirclement of hostile powers. But someone who wrote in 1938 about the Nazis’ returning dignity to the German people would have deserved the condemnation of free men, just as Shahid Alam deserves that condemnation now.

Should he be hounded and threatened? Of course not. I would like to see a return of moral sensibility to the academy, so that his case would be examined just as Nazi sympathizers were scrutinized in the 1930s. But in the meantime, let him talk. The more he does, the more I hope he will help awaken Americans to what we have allowed to happen to American universities, and what we are up against in general.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery Publishing), and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books).

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

John Herreid: Distorted Reality- Communism and the Movies

Kids walk to and from the university near my workplace every day. Usually they dress casually, with t-shirts and jeans. Shirts express everything from devotion to a particular brand of beer to religious affiliation, but the face that is seen most often is that of Communist revolutionary Che Guevara. Fascism is reviled worldwide, but the equally evil system of Communism isn’t seen as a threat, even after a century of violence, death, and religious persecution.

Why is this?

The answer, at least in the United States, is partly because of Hollywood. Stars and directors have flocked to have their pictures taken with dictator Fidel Castro (Oscar-winners Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Steven Spielberg among them.)

A recent example: Robert Redford, the popular actor who starred in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is the producer of the new movie, The Motorcycle Diaries, which purports to be a factual tale of a young Che and a friend trekking across South America in the 1950’s. Inspired by the suffering he sees, the saintly Che becomes a revolutionary. The massacres and murders that he ordered as a military leader are never mentioned, or the religious persecution that followed in his wake.

But it wasn’t always this way. During that supposedly dark age known as the 1950’s, Communists within the movie business were exposed and blacklisted. Zealous patriots like Ronald Reagan testified of the perceived threat of Communist infiltration of Hollywood.

Times change though, and by the time the 1960’s rolled around, the once blacklisted writers and directors were back in the saddle. One of the most powerful and acclaimed movies of that era was Spartacus. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and written for the screen by Dalton Trumbo (a formerly blacklisted screenwriter) it showed used an underlying message of class struggle that came straight from the ideas of Marx and Lenin.

Motion pictures shape how people see issues—even intelligent viewers can be swayed by a deftly portrayed plot, which is why dictators like Adolf Hitler sought the help of talented filmmakers to get his message across.

In the current climate of Hollywood, it would be just as hard to make an anti-Communist film that would be accepted by critics as it would have been to make a mainstream pro-Communist film in 1954. For example, the 1980’s John Milius’ film Red Dawn, showing a fictional invasion of America by Russian and South American Communists, was denounced by critics as “fascist.”

It is ironic that an industry that is celebrated for creativity and freedom of thought is caught up in such a lock-step when it comes to political statement. After Steven Spielberg visited Cuba recently, the only Hollywood criticism he got came from actor Robert Duvall. Duvall acknowledged that he would probably be blacklisted from Spielberg’s Dreamworks Studios for speaking out on the issue, but felt that someone had to say something: "Spielberg went down there recently and said, 'The best seven hours I ever spent was actually with Fidel Castro.' Now, what I want to ask him [is] 'Would you consider building a little annex on the Holocaust museum, or at least across the street, to honor the dead Cubans that Castro killed?”

For the most part, it’s only outside the Hollywood system that criticism is allowed. The most thoughtful assessment of Communism in movies of the past year was The Barbarian Invasions, a French-Canadian film about a dying professor who rethinks his radical view on religion, politics and family. At one point he recalls congratulating a Chinese woman on Mao’s “Cultural Revolution”, not realizing that the woman had lost her family and nearly died herself during the violence and terror that accompanied the phenomenon. The independent film presents an honesty that is too frank for most in Hollywood today.

From a Christian point of view, Communism has always been a failure. It has always gone hand-in-hand with suppression and persecution of religious belief, and has produced some of the most violent anti-Catholic propaganda the world has seen.

The renowned Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn discussed the essence of socialist Communism in an interview with biographer Joseph Pearce.

"In different places over the years I have had to prove that socialism, which to many western thinkers is a sort of kingdom of justice, was in fact full of coercion, of bureaucratic greed and corruption and avarice, and consistent within itself that socialism cannot be implemented without the aid of coercion. Communist propaganda would sometimes include statements such as "we include almost all the commandments of the Gospel in our ideology". The difference is that the Gospel asks all this to be achieved through love, through self-limitation, but socialism only uses coercion. This is one point.

Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive."

So, just as we must be careful that we do not allow ourselves to be enraptured by the idealization of violence and sexual immorality that is shown on movie screens, we also have to be cautious of how we allow our political outlook to be influenced by the message of films. What may seem innocuous to many because of a lack of obvious immoral content may be poisonous in its ideology.

And that is the sort of influence that leads idealistic young people to glorify persecution and murder through a t-shirt they wear, not seeing that the message is a seductive poison.

Dennis Prager: Better Answers- The Case for Judeo-Christian Values, Part I

By Dennis Prager
January 4, 2005

With this first column of 2005, I inaugurate a periodic series of columns devoted to explaining and making the case for what are called Judeo-Christian values.

There is an epic battle taking place in the world over what value system humanity will embrace. There are essentially three competitors: European secularism, American Judeo-Christianity and Islam. I have described this battle in previous columns.

Now, it is time to make the case for Judeo-Christian, specifically biblical, values. I believe they are the finest set of values to guide the lives of both individuals and societies. Unfortunately, they are rarely rationally explained -- even among Jewish and Christian believers, let alone to nonbelievers and members of other faiths.

So this is the beginning of an admittedly ambitious project. Vast numbers of people are profoundly disoriented as to what is good and what is bad. Just to give one example: Take the moral confusion over the comparative worth of human and animal life.

The majority of American students I have asked since 1970 whether they would save their dog or a stranger have voted against the stranger.

A Tucson, Ariz., woman in late 2004 sent firefighters into her burning home telling them that her three babies were inside. The babies for whom the firemen risked their lives were the woman's three cats.

The best-known animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), funded by the best educated in our society, has launched an international campaign titled "Holocaust on your plate," which equates the barbecuing of millions of chickens with the cremating of millions of Jews in the Holocaust. To PETA and its supporters, there is no difference between chicken life and human life.

Only a very morally confused age could produce so many people who do not recognize the immeasurable distance between human and animal worth. We live in that age.

We do in large measure because values based on God and the Bible have been replaced by secular values. The result was predicted by the British thinker G.K. Chesterton at the turn of the 20th century: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything."

Yes, the moral record of Christian Europe is a mixed one -- especially vis-à-vis its one continuous religious minority -- Jews. And one has to be quite naive to believe that belief in God and the Bible guarantees moral clarity, let alone moral behavior.

But Chesterton was right. The collapse of Christianity in Europe led to the horrors of Nazism and Communism. And to the moral confusions of the present -- such as the moral equation of the free United States with the totalitarian Soviet Union, or of life-loving Israel with its death-loving enemies.

The oft-cited charge that religion has led to more wars and evil than anything else is a widely believed lie. Secular successors to Christianity have slaughtered and enslaved more people than all religions in history (though significant elements within a non-Judeo-Christian religion, Islam, slaughter and enslave today, and if not stopped in Sudan and elsewhere could match Nazism or Communism).

In fact, it was a secular Jew, the great German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, who understood that despite its anti-Semitism and other moral failings, Christianity in Europe prevented the wholesale slaughter of human beings that became routine with Christianity's demise. In 1834, 99 years before Hitler and the Nazis rose to power, Heine warned:

"A drama will be enacted in Germany compared to which the French Revolution will seem harmless and carefree. Christianity restrained the martial ardor for a time but it did not destroy it; once the restraining talisman [the cross] is shattered, savagery will rise again. . . . "

What is needed today is a rationally and morally persuasive case for embracing the values that come from the Bible. This case must be more compelling than the one made for anti-biblical values that is presented throughout the Western world's secular educational institutions and media (news media, film and television).

That is what I intend to do. Events in the news will compel columns on those events, but I do not believe that anything I can do with my life can match the importance of making the case for guiding one's life and one's society by the values of the Bible. As a Jew, by "biblical" I am referring to the Old Testament, but this should pose no problem to Christian readers, since this is the first part of their Bible as well. Indeed, as the greatest Jewish thinker, Maimonides, pointed out over 800 years ago, it is primarily Christians who have spread knowledge of the Jews' Bible to the human race.

I not only welcome responses, I value them -- equally from those who agree and those who disagree. I may be contacted through my Web site

Stay tuned.

Dennis Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show based in Los Angeles. He is the author of four books, most recently "Happiness is a Serious Problem" (HarperCollins). His Web site is To find out more about Dennis Prager, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, columnist and author of four books, including Think a Second Time (HarperCollins), containing 44 of his essays.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Orthodoxy Today- Masculinity and the Priesthood

Here's a link to an article on Maculinity and the Priesthood from's a very fine piece but a bit too lengthy to put the entire text here...have at it.

John Leo: Revealing Wesleyan

John Leo (archive)
January 3, 2005

In the fall of 2000, I promised my daughter the freshman that I wouldn’t write about Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.) until she graduated. As a result, you readers learned nothing from me about the naked dorm, the transgender dorm, the queer prom, the pornography-for-credit course, the obscene sidewalk chalking, the campus club named crudely for a woman’s private part, or the appearance on campus of a traveling anti-Semitic roadshow, loosely described as a pro-Palestinian conference.

Instead of hot news items like these, you usually just hear that Wesleyan is very “diverse.” Newsweek once hailed the school as the “hottest” diversity campus in America, apparently using the word diversity in its normal campus meaning of “no diversity at all.” A one-liner about the campus is that “Wesleyan is so diverse that you can meet people here from almost every neighborhood in Manhattan.” And the students tend to have opinions from every known corner of

After the 2000 election, my daughter told me that 80 percent of the students had voted for Al Gore. “Bush got only 20 percent of the vote?” I asked. “No, Dad,” she explained, “the 20 percent was for Nader.” Visiting speakers who challenge any aspect of campus orthodoxy are as rare as woolly mammoths. However, columnist Nat Hentoff, whose son had gone to Wesleyan, showed up in 2002 and criticized the lack of intellectual diversity and free speech.

At a Manhattan holiday party last week, hosted by a friend with Wesleyan ties, I overheard my daughter explaining that no real debate takes place on campus. This was a major frustration, since she is feisty and brilliant and loves to argue ideas. She is politically liberal but wonders how Democrats of her generation will be able to speak convincingly to the middle of the political spectrum when so many of them shun the complexity of arguments and simply spout the party line.

Two years ago the Argus, the student newspaper, ran a survey and found that 32 percent of the students feel “uncomfortable speaking their opinion.” Orthodoxy plays a role, of course, but so does an exaggerated fear of giving offense. Identity politics is so strong that criticizing other students’ ideas can seem like a faux pas, if not a challenge to their core identity. Better to keep your head down and stick to standard opinions.

The naked dorm and the porn course were both examples of Wesleyan’s determination to accommodate as much sexual confusion as possible. The porn course, which had some students filming S&M scenarios, ended when the teacher died. The popularity of the naked dorm, which featured nude wine and cheese parties, seems to have faded. “I just sometimes feel the need to be nude,” a Wesleyan male told the New York Times in 2000. “If I feel the need to take off my pants, I take my pants off.” The obscene chalkings, which included colorful references to the sexual practices of professors, are now forbidden, possibly because they were upsetting donors and enraging some faculty.

But the Wesleyan campaign to stamp out diversity continues, this time in a move against fraternities. The university is pressuring its frats to accept women as members or pay a stiff financial price. The antifraternity campaign is standard on the politically correct campus these days, usually with an announced aim of reining in a boozy, sexist, right-wing culture. But this is Wesleyan, which has no right-wing culture and no sexist, out-of-control frats. The Argus has quoted gays and women saying mild and kind things about the Wesleyan frats, some of which are receptive to gays and set rooms aside for female residents. Much of the opposition to the frats seems to depend on the gross national image of fraternities, not the essentially harmless frats at Wesleyan. The administration and radical feminists oppose the frats for violating the campus nondiscrimination rule by not allowing women as members. However, they don’t bother to apply the same objection to Womanist House (a residence for females) or Malcolm X House, which caters to blacks.

I should add that I think my daughter got a decent education at Wesleyan. You can do this if you are strong-minded, independent, and willing to pick your courses very carefully. But admission to the university should come with a warning label: If you are fainthearted, go somewhere else.

©2004 Universal Press Syndicate
Contact John Leo Read Leo's biography

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Matthew Continetti: Cynthia McKinney (D-Conspiracy)

From the January 3 / January 10, 2005 issue:

She's back.

by Matthew Continetti 01/03/2005, Volume 010, Issue 16

THE INCOMING REPRESENTATIVE FROM GEORGIA'S 4th congressional district is the outspoken Cynthia McKinney. She is a Democrat, she is 49 years old, and she has held the job before. She held it for a decade, in fact, from 1992, when she became the first black woman elected to Congress from Georgia, to 2002--when, she says, the "hostile corporate media," allied with Republicans, "repeated falsehoods" about her, "distorted" her positions, and drove her from "my seat."

That is McKinney's explanation for her 2002 primary defeat, and she is sticking to it. But there are other explanations. Her father, Georgia state legislator Billy McKinney, shared his version with an Atlanta television reporter on August 19, 2002, the night before she lost. The reporter had asked Billy McKinney about his daughter's use of a years-old, moth-balled endorsement from former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young. Such endorsements were worthless, the elder McKinney replied, because "Jews have bought everybody. Jews." In case the reporter didn't understand, he spelled the word: "J-E-W-S." (A few weeks later, in a runoff against a political neophyte, Billy McKinney became a former Georgia state legislator.)

The actual reason why Cynthia McKinney left Congress in 2002 was that, for once, she couldn't outrun her mouth. She had walked along the cutting edge of progressive politics for years--appearing with Louis Farrakhan, calling globalization a "cruel hoax," advocating for Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe--but then, in a March 25, 2002, interview on KPFA Pacifica radio, she suddenly fell off.

"We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11," McKinney said that day. "What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? What do they have to hide?" McKinney thought she knew the answer. "What is undeniable," she explained, "is that corporations close to the administration have directly benefited from the increased defense spending arising from the aftermath of September 11th."

It was all downhill from there. On April 12, 2002, a synopsis of the interview appeared in the Washington Post. Democrats began distancing themselves from McKinney. She released a statement admitting she was "not aware of any evidence" proving "President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9/11," but "a complete investigation might reveal that to be the case." Then again, it might not. For that matter, McKinney might have had no idea what she was talking about.

Appearing in print just months after the September 11 attacks, McKinney's charges couldn't be excused. Nor could her list of campaign donors, which included both terrorist sympathizers like Abdurahman Alamoudi, the former executive director of the American Muslim Council, and apparent actual terrorists like former college professor Sami Al-Arian. Nor could her October 12, 2001, letter to Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in which she rebuked New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for returning the prince's post-9/11 "gift" of $10 million and urged bin Talal to donate the funds to "charities outside the mayor's control," especially those that dealt with "poor blacks who sleep on the street in the shadows of our nation's Capitol." Giuliani had returned the Saudi's money because it came with the implicit condition that America "address some of the issues that led to such a criminal [9/11] attack," among them "its policies in the Middle East," where "our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek." To Giuliani, such a statement made excuses for terrorism. This wasn't a problem for McKinney.

And why should it have been? Her bent for conspiracy theories and racebaiting had never cost her politically. When she said in 1996 that "we need to get the government out of the drug business," she was not talking about a possible prescription drug benefit. Whether it was the time she told USA Today that "My impression of modern-day black Republicans is they have to pass a litmus test in which all black blood is extracted," or the time she accused Al Gore of having a low "Negro tolerance level," she emerged unscathed from the ensuing kerfuffles. Facing a tough race in 1996, McKinney said Georgia Republicans like her opponent John Mitnick were "neo-Confederates" remaindered from "Civil War days." Amazingly, McKinney ignored the fact that Mitnick was Jewish.

Her father did not. Over and over again, Billy McKinney called Mitnick a "racist Jew." As Slate's Chris Suellentrop noticed, when the New York Times asked Billy McKinney to elaborate on his comments, he simply repeated that Mitnick "is a racist Jew, that's what he is, isn't he?" The controversy over Billy McKinney's comments lasted weeks. Disgraced, he resigned from his daughter's campaign. That year, Cynthia McKinney won 58 percent of the vote.

In 2002, though, thanks to McKinney's interview with Pacifica radio, the tiny streams of anti-McKinney criticism that had been collecting in pools for years turned into a flood. The September 11 attacks were vibrant and terrifying memories when McKinney accused the president of profiting from them. Remember, too, that when McKinney accused the president of being a calculating war profiteer, his approval rating was over 75 percent.

But times change. Two years later, McKinney is still her old self, while the world has become a lot more accommodating to loony theories about President Bush. Apparently her own district is no exception. The 4th District this year was an open seat; Denise Majette, who defeated McKinney in 2002, decided to run for the Senate instead, but McKinney still faced five opponents in last summer's Democratic primary and dispatched them all without a runoff. And while she avoided making any controversial statements, and politely deflected criticism of things she had said in the past, her conspiracism and racialism were still there beneath the surface.

Occasionally they would bubble up. McKinney is defensive about the Pacifica interview, and there are links on her campaign website to two articles by the left-wing BBC journalist Greg Palast that attempt to absolve her of conspiracy-mongering. One of these articles is entitled "The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney." The other is entitled "Re-lynching Cynthia McKinney." Palast writes that McKinney has never actually said President Bush had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks. Which is true. She hasn't. She's just implied it repeatedly.

What's striking about McKinney's website is that, even as it attempts to "debunk" a variety of "misinformation" about her, it also takes great pains to claim vindication for that same misinformation. There is a link, for example, to "Exposed: The Carlyle Group," a 48-minute documentary that purports to reveal "the depth of corruption and deceit within the highest ranks of our government." There is a link to an article in the South DeKalb County CrossRoads News entitled "Where is Cynthia McKinney During 9/11 Hearings?" in which the author describes being "enraged" that McKinney was not included in the public hearings of the 9/11 Commission, since she "was the only elected official who had the guts" to "bring President Bush's war profiting scheme to the light."

A few links more, and you wind up at McKinney's speech "Democracy Is Under Attack--Let's take it Back." The speech is a sort of lodestone for McKinniacs. It is a rambling series of remarks delivered at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem in July 2003. It is an angry speech. "I can't be calm when I drive through sections of Atlanta that look more like Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, than America," McKinney explains. Yet the speech is notable mainly for the way in which it references McKinney's conspiracy theorist guru, a man named Michael Ruppert.

Michael Ruppert is a former LAPD detective who is best known for his theories on CIA drug trafficking. Those theories--namely, that the CIA was behind the crack cocaine epidemic in America's inner cities--briefly made headlines in mainstream newspapers in 1996, and Ruppert is hoping for a sequel. Since 9/11, he has toured the country discussing how the Bush administration, Enron, Israeli intelligence, the Pakistani ISI, the Saudis, and Osama bin Laden were behind the terrorist attacks. Ruppert's theories are lucrative. Chip Berlet, who studies conspiracism as a senior analyst at Public Research Associates, a progressive group, told me that Ruppert speaks regularly to sold-out crowds.

"As you may know, I'm involved with Mike Ruppert of From the Wilderness," McKinney says in her "Democracy Is Under Attack" speech. From the Wilderness is the title of Ruppert's newsletter and website. McKinney probably got the idea that the USS Abraham Lincoln was "really in San Diego harbor" when Bush landed on it in May 2003 from Ruppert. So, too, her idea that Bush and his friends stood to profit from the 9/11 attacks, which she expands upon in another manifesto, the March 2002 "Thoughts on Our War Against Terrorism":

Former President Bush sits on the board of the Carlyle Group. The Los Angeles Times reports that on a single day last month, Carlyle earned $237 million selling shares in United Defense Industries, the Army's fifth-largest contractor. The stock offering was well timed: Carlyle officials say they decided to take the company public only after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Such ideas figure prominently in The Truth and Lies of 9/11, a videotaped lecture that Ruppert delivered at Portland State University on November 28, 2001. The lecture is 135 minutes long. It feels much longer. In it, Ruppert talks about the CIA, the Bush administration, the Carlyle Group, UNOCAL oil pipelines in Afghanistan, the Mossad, and--go figure--orange juice. The bottom line is that the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance and allowed them to happen for profit. Also, the "world financial system" is on the brink of "collapse."

In its apocalyptic overtones, in its internationalist plot, in its view that apparent enemies are secretly collaborating, Ruppert's The Truth and Lies of 9/11 is a textbook conspiracy theory. It is also a vehicle for Cynthia McKinney. She utters the penultimate line, and it's a doozy. "The American people," she says, "might have a criminal syndicate running their government."

"It's a sinkhole," said Chip Berlet, when I first asked him about these conspiracy theories. He sounded a note of regret about McKinney. "A lot of McKinney's complaints about the government are standard progressive fare."

But which ones? Her conspiracy theories, or her hard-left politics? In truth, the line between the two is increasingly difficult to discern. I bought my copy of The Truth and Lies of 9/11 last June, at the "Take Back America" conference for progressive and Democratic activists in Washington, D.C. In a ballroom nearby, in earshot of the bookstand where Ruppert's video was being sold, Hillary Clinton and George Soros delivered keynote speeches. A few weeks after the conference, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which glibly hints at possible government foreknowledge of the terrorist attacks, was screened for the Senate Democratic caucus at the Uptown Theater in Washington. The film received a standing ovation.

Maybe all of this helps explain why Cynthia McKinney got her seat back. Maybe when McKinney shared her disturbing theories about President Bush in 2002, she was not so much falling off the edge of progressive politics as anticipating it. And she shows no signs of slowing down. "I will probably get in trouble for what I've said to you tonight," McKinney told her audience at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in 2003. "But it won't be the first time I get in trouble for telling the truth. And I'll continue to tell the truth. As I have said before, I won't sit down and I won't shut up." Too bad.

Matthew Continetti is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.

© Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

George Will: Judging Roe

George Will (archive)
January 2, 2005

WASHINGTON -- A Supreme Court vacancy may soon ignite a controversy involving two entangled issues -- abortion, and the role of courts in this constitutional democracy. Herewith a statement the president might usefully make sometime, somewhere, to disentangle the issues:

"Because I think it is improper to ask how a prospective judicial nominee would vote on a specific question, I shall not know how my nominees would rule in the event -- an unlikely event -- that the court revisits the constitutional foundation of abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade in 1973. However, I will seek judicial nominees disinclined to concoct spurious constitutional mandates for their policy preferences, as I believe the justices did in Roe. On the other hand, the orderly development of constitutional law requires that justices be generally disposed to respect precedents, even dubious ones, if they have been repeatedly reaffirmed for decades.

"I believe abortion is wrong, but also that states should have, as they did until Roe, the power to set abortion policy. If states come to conclusions different than mine, so be it. But remember: Were Roe overturned, that would not make abortion illegal; it would merely re-empower states to regulate the practice. And restoring the legal conditions of 1973 would not restore the social context of 1973. Given public opinion today, when abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures, it is unlikely that any state would seriously impede first trimester abortions, which are 89 percent of all abortions.

"Even many persons who strongly favor abortion rights believe those rights should have been established by legislation rather than litigation. They believe, as I do, that Roe, which discovered a right to abortion in the emanations of penumbras -- or was it penumbras of emanations? -- of other rights, was judicial overreaching, indistinguishable from legislating.

"Notice the language of 'trimesters.' How is that demarcation grounded in the text, structure or previous construings of the Constitution? Ask yourself: What would constitutional law pertaining to abortion be if the number of months in the gestation of an infant were a prime number -- say, seven or eleven? That the court spun different degrees of abortion rights from the fact that nine is divisible by three reveals that whatever the court was doing was not constitutional reasoning.

"Some legislators, such as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, are pro-choice but have voting records judged almost perfect by the National Right to Life Committee. This is because regarding the only policy choices possible in the context of Roe -- about, for example, late-term abortions, parental notification, public funding -- people can be pro-choice with nuances. That is one reason why in 2004 one-third of pro-choice voters supported me.

"I rarely recommend reading The American Prospect, a liberal monthly that considers me one of nature's blunders, but do read Deputy Editor Sarah Blustain's essay in the December issue. She, like increasing numbers of thoughtful supporters of abortion rights, finds the way some pro-choice people talk about abortion -- entirely in a defiant and even celebratory language of rights -- to be insufficiently nuanced. 'After all,' she says, 'abortion is a right that ends in sorrow, not celebration. It's not like women's suffrage or the equal access to public accommodations, rights whose outcome is emotionally unambiguous.'

"Blustain believes that to her generation -- she is in her 30s -- making the choice of a legal abortion `is no longer something to celebrate. It is a decision made in crisis, and it is never one made happily.' Who is not thankful that the number of abortions in America declined by 300,000 in the 1990s? But who can be complacent about the continuing termination of lives in those numbers?

"That a life begins at conception is a biological fact, not a theological tenet. The agonizing question for thoughtful people concerns when, if ever, abortion is a victimless act. The increasing sophistication of prenatal medicine, and modern sonograms revealing the formation of eyes and a beating heart six weeks into the pregnancy, have a powerfully felt pertinence to the sorrow that Blustain rightly says attends abortion.

"But when, with Roe, the court overturned all state abortion laws -- 50 communities' judgments about this -- the court truncated democratic deliberations that, in the five years prior to Roe, had liberalized abortion laws in 16 states with 41 percent of the population. If the case for abortion rights is as strong as its proponents think, they should welcome the 50 debates. That -- the vitality and integrity of American democracy and federalism, not abortion -- should be the subject of our deliberations about judicial nominees.''

©2004 Washington Post Writers Group
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With a Happy Eye, But: America and the World, 1997-2002
In the latest collection of his writings, Will describes contemporary Americans as "naive optimists." He opines on the inevitability of war, the necessity of the death penalty, the need for the military to remedy moral values, the fundamental flaws of a liberal intelligensia "too short on certitude," and his impatience with a society "too squeamish to call evil by its right name."