Friday, January 05, 2007

Bradley Nassif: Will the 21st Be the Orthodox Century?

Fascination with the Great Tradition may signal deep changes for both evangelicals and the Orthodox.

Christianity Today
posted 1/04/2007 08:50AM

Jaroslav Pelikan, the late professor of history at Yale University, wrote of the Christian tradition on a scale that no one else attempted in the 20th century. Then after nearly a lifetime of studying the history of doctrine, Pelikan, a lifelong Lutheran, was received into the Orthodox Church, just a few years before he died last May at age 82.

Related articles and links

Pelikan is just one of a growing number of people who are joining the Eastern Orthodox Church. It makes me wonder if the 21st century will be the century of the Orthodox. Will there be a rebirth of the church's theological vision, if not its numerical growth? I'm not a prophet, nor do I want to evangelize evangelicals or reinvent Orthodox identity. But I would like to (a) offer a theological explanation for why I believe more and more Christians, especially evangelicals, may well be attracted to Orthodoxy in the 21st century, and (b) explain why more and more Orthodox need to become more evangelical.

I haven't merely thought about Orthodox and evangelical compatibility; for most of my life, I have lived it. I'm a Lebanese American who grew up in the Orthodox Church of Antioch and was transformed by Christ during my high school days in Wichita, Kansas, through the leading of evangelical friends. I did my doctoral studies under the late Orthodox theologian Fr. John Meyendorff. A portion of my scholarship over the past two decades has been devoted to introducing the Orthodox tradition to evangelical students and faculty in North America. I've also pioneered dialogues between Orthodox believers and evangelicals, and I have spoken on the subject at World Council of Churches meetings in Egypt and Germany.

Thus, I bring an intellectual and experiential knowledge of both communities, which is probably why I have a love/hate relationship with them. I'm not fully at peace with either one. Although I'm absolutely committed to the theological truth of the Orthodox church, I'm equally persuaded that we have not made that truth meaningful or accessible to our own parishioners or to those who peer inside our windows. And because of my Orthodoxy, I'm also committed to the evangelical faith.

The Rebirth of Orthodoxy

Scholars define the Great Tradition as the theological consensus of the first 500 to 1,000 years of Christian history (there is some disagreement on exact dates). This consensus encompasses the church's universally agreed upon creeds, councils, fathers, worship, and spirituality. Some key teachings and figures include the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian Definition, the works of Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa), the spiritual writings of monks like Anthony of Egypt, and certain biblical commentaries and pastoral works.

During the past two decades, mainline and evangelical scholars have rediscovered the creative relevance of the Christian East, with its insistence on the authority of the first 500 years of Christian teaching and practice. One recent sign of evangelical interest is Thomas Oden's The Rebirth of Orthodoxy: Signs of New Life in Christianity (HarperSanFrancisco, 2002), in which Oden uses the lowercase o in order to embrace all Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians who adhere to the first 500 years of the Great Tradition. Oden sets forth six layers of evidence to show that there is, indeed, a widespread rekindling of "the orthodox spirit" at the dawn of the 21st century. These layers include:

(1) Personal transformation stories. The lives of ordinary Christians and leading academics who have been dramatically changed by the testimony of the classic tradition, including Jaroslav Pelikan and Richard Swinburne, who became Eastern Orthodox, and Robert Wilken and Richard John Neuhaus, who joined the Catholic church.

(2) Faithful scriptural interpretation. Patristic methods of exegesis are receiving more attention now than at any time during the previous century. They are fast becoming a core concern of biblical studies, as evidenced by the growing number of ancient translations and commentaries being made widely available by publishing companies such as InterVarsity, Baker, and Eerdmans.

(3) The multicultural nature of orthodoxy. No modern multiculturalism is as deep or fertile as the ecumenical multiculturalism of antiquity. The cross-cultural richness of the early church is becoming increasingly evident today.

(4) Well-established doctrinal boundaries. After decades of uncritical permissiveness in the church, we are now witnessing a renewed energy for drawing boundaries around questions of religious truth. Thousands of the faithful are together relearning how to say no to heresy on behalf of a greater yes for the truth of classical orthodoxy.

(5) Ecumenical roots reclaimed. Confessing and renewing movements in Protestantism are changing local congregations and even entire denominations.

(6) Rise of a new ecumenism. Actually, what we're seeing is a revival of the ancient ecumenical method of theological decision-making set forth by Vincent Lerins: "We hold to that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all." Laypeople can easily grasp this, and they are doing so.

Organically Connected

The problem with the usual Protestant approach to the Great Tradition, however, is the gaps and inconsistencies in retrieval efforts. To many, the Great Tradition is like a library, a place you go to pick out the books you find most helpful. You can discard the ones that no longer seem relevant, while choosing the ones that have proven to be of lasting value.

So what makes me think that this renewed interest in the Great Tradition may lead to more Christians joining Eastern Orthodoxy, or at least embracing its theological vision? Simply put, I think more and more people will recognize the vital relationship between the major movements and themes of Christian antiquity and the organic life of the Eastern Orthodox Church from whence these themes came.

In two areas, especially, the Orthodox church has maintained its unbroken succession with Christian antiquity, and these areas are particularly attractive to an increasing number of Christians.

Scripture. We all agree that the Spirit's witness through the Bible is the main criterion of the church's faith. Tradition simply witnesses to, safeguards, and corrects itself by the integrity of the biblical message. But it was the churches of the early centuries (both East and West) that decided, piecemeal, which texts constituted the canon of Scripture, by virtue of their apostolic origin and wide acceptance within the worshiping community. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Spirit embraced the believing community through the choosing of the canon, rather than that the church chose the canon. Still, the canon was composed within the context of the believing community by members of the church. Scripture was never "external" to the believing community. This does not mean that Scripture owes its authority to the church, but that the Spirit was inseparably united to the church and its sacred texts. The church functioned as the mediating authority that bore witness to the work of God within it.

So whether they are aware of it or not, every time evangelicals pick up their Bibles, they are relying on the historic church's judgment on the colossal issue of canonicity! Without acknowledging it, evangelicals validate the authority of the Spirit-led tradition in determining canonicity. That same Spirit-led tradition has governed the Orthodox church over the centuries.
I believe an increasing number of people fascinated with the early church will see that the Spirit, the Bible, tradition, and real, historical, identifiable churches are inseparably united, then as now.

Historical continuity. I imagine that the deeper evangelicals delve into church history, the less they will confine the meaning of "orthodoxy" to the first 500 or 1,000 years. They will come to embrace the "whole story" of the faithful, not just the parts they personally like. They will discover that the fullness of Christian orthodoxy does not end with a date in the history books, but lives on in what Georges Florovsky called "the mind of the church" and what John Meyendorff described as the church's "living tradition." Evangelicals will see that the theological and institutional history of the Great Tradition is directly tied to the Great Church—namely, the contemporary Orthodox churches of the Middle East, Greece, Russia, Eastern Europe, and their children in the West. They will recognize that today's "rebirth of orthodoxy" cannot do justice to classical Christian faith without keeping it connected to the church that most fully produced and inherited its achievements. Few will dispute the historical continuity between the modern Patriarchate of Antioch, for example, and the Book of Acts.

Of course, faithfulness to the truth of the Great Tradition, not organizational continuity, is what counts most. My point is simply that those who value classical faith will increasingly engage with Orthodox churches, which incarnate the Great Tradition day by day as a living tradition. I'm not arguing that the Great Tradition is the exclusive property of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is not. Early church fathers, mothers, ascetics, councils, creeds, art, music, and spirituality are the rightful heritage of all orthodox Christians—Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox alike. There is no room here for Orthodox triumphalism or romanticism. All orthodox believers share a common ecumenical heritage. But few historians would dispute the conclusion that in comparison to the 20,000 Protestant denominations in existence today, the Orthodox community can most justifiably claim to be the fullest heir apparent of the Great Tradition.

Evangelical Orthodoxy

At the same time, my evangelical passions prompt me to suggest that this renewed fascination with the Great Tradition may indirectly revive Orthodoxy. And if it doesn't, it should. Little by little, our parishioners are being touched by evangelicals who are rediscovering the creative relevance of the Christian East and repackaging it far more attractively than we have been doing for ourselves.

But revival will not happen automatically. Dialogue at the local church level will help, even if evangelicals learn more from the Orthodox than the Orthodox are willing to learn from evangelicals. The time has come for us Orthodox to rediscover the evangelical character of our faith on its own terms, not defined by using some form of the model of evangelicalism. Because of our maximalist vision of theology, our evangelical identity will look and act very differently than yours. I wouldn't exhort my Orthodox brethren to regain their evangelical focus as passionately as I do in lectures and articles if I didn't think they would respond, and thankfully they are doing so in increasing numbers.

So I suggest that the Great Tradition of our Great Church cuts both ways, and we ourselves are judged by it! Even if the gospel is formally a part of the life of the Orthodox church, as we believe, that does not mean our people have understood and appropriated its message. "Catholicity" (i.e., "the whole and adequate" expression of the faith) must be discerned and applied if the church is to be spiritually viable in today's world.

More and more Orthodox, as they study the Great Tradition, are admitting that our leaders and laity don't have a mature grasp of their own faith. They recognize that the church isn't free from ethnocentrism or religious bigotry, that it hasn't contextualized its faith and liturgy in the modern world, and that it hasn't figured out how to relate to unchurched people in North America (its converts consist mostly of disillusioned believers from other Christian traditions).
More and more Orthodox, as they explore the early church afresh, see that there are parts of its ancient liturgies that seem to have no biblical justification and that we cannot simply regard the Reformation and the last millennium in the West as nothing more than a sideshow.

To be sure, there are countless cases of people whose spiritual lives are flourishing in vibrant Orthodox communities. Still, the most urgent need in world Orthodoxy is the need to engage in an aggressive "internal mission" of spiritual renewal and rededication of our priests and people to Jesus Christ. I know from experience that it's possible to be "religious, but lost." That's why all of us Orthodox—bishops, priests, and people—need to make the gospel crystal clear and absolutely central in our lives and in our parishes. We must constantly recover the personal and relational aspects of God in every life-giving action of the church. Naturally, if this happens, it will lead to a revival within Orthodoxy, which will cause the church to blossom in unprecedented ways.

Yes, these predictions and exhortations are speculative; they may never come to fruition as I hope and imagine. And I admit that my commitment to an evangelical Orthodoxy predisposes me to hope like this. That being said, I still see signs that suggest that these two great expressions of the Christian faith, the evangelical and the Orthodox, are gradually coming together in vision, if not in worship, and that the 21st century may be known as the Orthodox century.

Bradley Nassif is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University and is currently writing the Westminster Handbook to Eastern Orthodox Theology (Westminster John Knox, 2009). He is a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

Related Elsewhere:
The Rebirth of Orthodoxy: Signs of New Life in Christianity is available from and other retailers.
Christian History & Biography's issues Eastern Orthodoxy, How We Got Our History, and How We Got Our Bible are available at Christianity Today Library.

Christianity Today articles on Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism and the Great Tradition include:
Why I'm Not Orthodox An evangelical explores the ancient and alien world of the Eastern church. (January 6, 1997)

A Modest Proposal Nine tasks egalitarians and complementarians can pursue. (November 2005)

Orthodox Unity Autonomous Orthodoxy isn't an oxymoron. It's the fulfillment of a different kind of American dream. (July 1, 2004)

Don't Read the Bible 'Alone' Christopher Hall talks about how evangelicals should approach the church fathers. (November 1, 2003)

The Tradition Temptation Why we should still give Scripture pride of place (November 1, 2003)

The Young and the Restless The next generation rediscovers orthodoxy (Books & Culture, May 1, 2003)

Debate: Where is the Evangelicals' Authority? (Re:generation Quarterly, April 1, 1997)

What is Eastern Orthodoxy Anyway? The Eastern Orthodox faith is at the center of many of the millennial celebrations, but to many of our readers—specially the Western Protestants—it may be a mysterious, unknown quantity. (Christian History & Biography, April 1, 1988)

It Takes a Man: Rocky, an American Cultural Treasure

January 5, 2007 7:00 AM
By Kathryn Jean Lopez

Before we close the book completely on 2006, we’d be remiss not naming Rocky Balboa “man of the year” (although, I suppose, Time already did, in naming everyone . . .). Thirty years after the original, Sylvester Stallone is doing another generation of men a favor by getting Rocky Balboa on the silver screen one last time. In doing so, he lays a knockout blow to a Three 6 Mafia world.

That’s not to say that there are not any real-life men to give the award to — there certainly are: Perhaps you are such a stud or are lucky enough to have one in your life. But in portraying a larger-than-life man who embraces his masculinity as the blessing it is, Rocky is doing his part to buck up the real real men. And, we can hope, inspiring a few kids who don’t have one in their lives.

Rocky, the 1976 original, begins with an image of Christ that the hero never strays all that far from. Rocky is by no means a perfect guy — he may occasionally threaten to break a thumb, and he does punch dudes out for a living — but there’s little doubt that the Italian Stallion is one of the good guys. Perhaps the character’s greatest virtue is his love for the vulnerable — most notably his beloved shy, scared Adrian whose trust he asked for and earned, and who was his dream come true.

But Balboa always has time — from Rocky I to VI — for the vulnerable, whether it be his turtle, his unconfident son, or an otherwise doomed teenager with no father figure. That’s notable because, as Dr. Meg Meeker writes in her recent book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, pop culture isn’t exactly overflowing with messages encouraging men to be manly and to take pride in knowing they have something their families need. In what is a bit of a motivational seminar, Meeker writes to dads: “You were made a man for a reason, and your daughter is looking to you for guidance that she cannot get from her mother.” Meeker, focusing on girls, goes on to contend that girls with a dad in their lives have higher self-esteem, are less likely to get pregnant as a teen (are less likely to lose their virginity before they turn 16), and find themselves with fewer learning and behavioral problems.

And the list goes on. The National Fatherhood Initiative has its own long scary-stat list. Kids without dads are more likely to be poor, to wind up in jail. Absent fathers can affect weight, dropout rates, smoking, and drug and alcohol abuse. at Sweden, where big government (Hillary’s village) steps in to take over where a dad isn’t providing, a 2006 Institute for American Values study finds that “boys reared in single-parent homes were more than 50 percent more likely to die from a range of cause — such as suicide, accidents, or addiction — than were boys reared in two-parent homes.” How’s that for a dire dadless picture? In the new movie, Rocky tells his whiny twenty-something son:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!

In a culture of TV shows and movies in which a man with any sense of responsibility to his family is frequently portrayed as a doofus married to a perfect, albeit nagging wife (just about any family-centered sitcom), or a hero who can only be a hero to the world outside his family (Jack Bauer on 24), the Rocky movies present an all-around winner. He pushes himself and the ones he loves to be the best they can be. Some in Hollywood get the power they possess in the cultural ring.

At a recent National Fatherhood Initiative event, Kevin Kay, general manager of Spike TV, noted: “When we ask guys who their role model is for being a dad, they say their mother. That’s a wake-up call. And it’s something you have to think about a lot when you’re portraying fathers on TV.”Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield defines “manliness” as “confidence and command in a situation of risk.” Whether it’s taking on some punk fighter named Mason Dixon or getting married and being a dad, that’s something society can’t — and shouldn’t want to — do without.

Charles Krauthammer- The Hanging: Beyond Travesty

Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 5, 2007; Page A17

Of the 6 billion people on this Earth, not one killed more people than Saddam Hussein. And not just killed but tortured and mutilated -- doing so often with his own hands and for pleasure. It is quite a distinction to be the preeminent monster on the planet. If the death penalty was ever deserved, no one was more richly deserving than Saddam Hussein.

For the Iraqi government to have botched both his trial and execution, therefore, and turned monster into victim, is not just a tragedy but a crime -- against the new Iraq that Americans are dying for and against justice itself.

In late 2005, I wrote about the incompetence of the Hussein trial and how it was an opportunity missed. Instead of exposing, elucidating and irrefutably making the case for the crimes of the accused -- as was done at Nuremberg and the Eichmann trial -- the Iraqi government lost control and inadvertently turned it into a stage for Hussein. The trial managed to repair the image of the man the world had last seen as a bedraggled nobody pulled cowering from a filthy hole. Now coiffed and cleaned, he acted the imperious president of Iraq, drowning out the testimony of his victims in coverage seen around the world.

That was bad enough. Then came the execution, a rushed, botched, unholy mess that exposed the hopelessly sectarian nature of the Maliki government.

Consider the timing. It was carried out on a religious holiday. We would not ordinarily care about this, except for the fact that it was in contravention of Iraqi law. It was done on the first day of Eid al-Adha as celebrated by Sunnis. The Shiite Eid began the next day, which tells you in whose name the execution was performed.

It was also carried out extra-constitutionally. The constitution requires a death sentence to have the signature of the president and two vice presidents, each representing one of the three major ethnic groups in the country (Sunni, Shiite and Kurd). That provision is meant to prevent sectarian killings. The president did not sign. Nouri al-Maliki contrived some work-around.

True, Hussein's hanging was just and, in principle, nonsectarian. But the next hanging might not be. Breaking precedent completely undermines the death penalty provision, opening the way to future revenge and otherwise lawless hangings.

Moreover, Maliki's rush to execute short-circuited the judicial process that was at the time considering Hussein's crimes against the Kurds. He was hanged for the killing of 148 men and boys in the Shiite village of Dujail. This was a perfectly good starting point -- a specific incident as a prelude to an inquiry into the larger canvas of his crimes. The trial for his genocidal campaign against the Kurds was just beginning.

That larger canvas will never be painted. The starting point became the endpoint. The only charge for which Hussein was executed was that 1982 killing of Shiites -- interestingly, his response to a failed assassination attempt by Maliki's Dawa Party.

Maliki ultimately got his revenge, completing Dawa's mission a quarter-century later. However, Saddam Hussein will now never be tried for the Kurdish genocide, the decimation of the Marsh Arabs, the multiple war crimes and all the rest.

Finally, there was the motley crew -- handpicked by the government -- that constituted the hanging party. They turned what was an act of national justice into a scene of sectarian vengeance. The world has now seen the smuggled video of the shouting and taunting that turned Saddam Hussein into the most dignified figure in the room -- another remarkable achievement in burnishing the image of the most evil man of his time.

Worse was the content of the taunts: "Moqtada, Moqtada," the name of the radical and murderous Shiite extremist whose goons were obviously in the chamber. The world saw Hussein falling through the trapdoor, executed not in the name of a new and democratic Iraq but in the name of Moqtada al-Sadr, whose death squads have learned much from Hussein.
The whole sorry affair illustrates not just incompetence but also the ingrained intolerance and sectarianism of the Maliki government. It stands for Shiite unity and Shiite dominance above all else.

We should not be surging American troops in defense of such a government. This governing coalition -- Maliki's Dawa, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Sadr's Mahdi Army -- seems intent on crushing the Sunnis at all costs. Maliki should be made to know that if he insists on having this sectarian war, he can well have it without us.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ann Coulter- The Democratic Party: A Vast Sleeper Cell
January 3, 2007

Fortunately for liberals, the Iraqis executed Saddam Hussein the exact same week that former President Ford died, so it didn't seem strange that Nancy Pelosi's flag was at half-staff. Also, Saddam's death made it less of a snub when Harry Reid skipped Ford's funeral.

The passing of Gerald Ford should remind Americans that Democrats are always lying in wait, ready to force a humiliating defeat on America. More troops, fewer troops, different troops, "redeployment" — all the Democrats' peculiar little talking points are just a way of sounding busy.

Who are they kidding?

Democrats want to cut and run as fast as possible from Iraq, betraying the Iraqis who supported us and rewarding our enemies — exactly as they did to the South Vietnamese under Ford. Liberals spent the Vietnam War rooting for the enemy and clamoring for America's defeat, a tradition they have brought back for the Iraq war.

They insisted on calling the Soviet-backed Vietcong "the National Liberation Front of Vietnam," just as they call Islamic fascists killing Americans in Iraq "insurgents." Ho Chi Minh was hailed as a "Jeffersonian Democrat," just as Michael Moore compares the Islamic fascists in Iraq to the Minute Men. During the Vietnam War, New York Times scion Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger told his father that if an American soldier ran into a North Vietnamese soldier, he would prefer for the American to get shot. "It's the other guy's country," he explained. Now, as publisher of the Times, Pinch does all he can to help the enemy currently shooting at American soldiers.

After a half-dozen years of Democrat presidents creating a looming disaster in Vietnam — with Kennedy ordering the assassination of our own ally in the middle of the war and Johnson ham-handedly choosing bombing targets from the Oval Office — in 1969, Nixon became president and the world was safe again.

Nixon began a phased withdrawal of American ground troops, while protecting the South Vietnamese by increasing the bombings of the North, mining North Vietnamese harbors and attacking North Vietnamese military supplies in Cambodia — all actions hysterically denounced by American liberals, eager for the communists to defeat America. Despite the massive anti-war protests staged by the Worst Generation, their takeovers of university buildings and their bombings of federal property to protest the bombing of North Vietnamese property, Nixon's Vietnam policy was apparently popular with normal Americans. In 1972, he won re-election against "peace" candidate George McGovern in a 49-state landslide. In January 1973, the United States signed the Paris Peace accords, which would have ended the war with honor.

In order to achieve a ceasefire, Nixon jammed lousy terms down South Vietnam's throat, such as allowing Vietcong troops to remain in the South. But in return, we promised South Vietnam that we would resume bombing missions and provide military aid if the North attacked. It would have worked, but the Democrats were desperate for America to lose. They invented "Watergate," the corpus delicti of which wouldn't have merited three column-inches during the Clinton years, and hounded Nixon out of office. (How's Sandy Berger weathering that tough wrist-slap?) Three months after Nixon was gone, we got the Watergate Congress and with it, the new Democratic Party. In lieu of the old Democratic Party, which lost wars out of incompetence and naivete, the new Democratic Party would lose wars on purpose. Just one month after the Watergate Congress was elected, North Vietnam attacked the South.

Even milquetoast, pro-abortion, detente-loving Gerald R. Ford knew America had to defend South Vietnam or America's word would be worth nothing. As Ford said, "American unwillingness to provide adequate assistance to allies fighting for their lives could seriously affect our credibility throughout the world as an ally." He pleaded repeatedly with the Democratic Congress simply to authorize aid to South Vietnam — no troops, just money. But the Democrats turned their backs on South Vietnam, betrayed an ally and trashed America's word. Within a month of Ford's last appeal to Congress to help South Vietnam, Saigon fell. The entire world watched as American personnel desperately scrambled into helicopters from embassy rooftops in Saigon while beating back our own allies, to whom we could offer no means of escape. It was the most demeaning image of America ever witnessed, until Britney Spears came along.

Southeast Asia was promptly consumed in a maelstrom of violence that seems to occur whenever these "Jeffersonian Democrats" come to power. Communist totalitarians swept through Laos, Cambodia and all of Vietnam. They staged gruesome massacres so vast that none other than Sen. George McGovern called for military intervention to stop a "clear case of genocide" in Cambodia.

Five years after that, Islamic lunatics in Iran felt no compunction about storming the embassy of what was once the greatest superpower on Earth and taking American citizens hostage for 14 months. To this day, al-Qaida boosts the flagging morale of its jihadists by reminding them of America's humiliating retreat from Vietnam.

In addition to being wrong about Ford's pardon of Nixon, liberals were wrong about a few other things from that era. Democrats haven't admitted error in rejecting Ford's pleas on behalf of South Vietnam because there are still dangerous foreigners trying to kill Americans. Nixon is safely interred in the ground, but the enemies of America continue to need the Democrats' help.

Joe Kaufman: Keith Ellison's Friends, Our Enemies

Joe Kaufman
January 4, 2007

Today, Keith Ellison will be sworn in as United States Congressman from Minnesota’s 5th District, a prestigious title indeed. But prior to him getting to this position, he has carried much radical Islamist baggage – the kind of baggage that could make him (or anyone else) unworthy of such a title. Considering his actions with America’s live-in enemies, whilst running for office and even after being elected, we can most probably expect these dangerous associations of Ellison to continue well into his term.

During Ellison’s campaign for U.S. Congress, the issue of his relationship with the Nation of Islam (NOI) was brought up repeatedly. NOI, under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan, for decades, has been the perpetrator of countless verbal and written attacks against the Jewish community.

On May 26, 2006, Ellison sent a letter to the Executive Director of the local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) acknowledging his participation in the hate group. [Full documentation of his involvement with NOI can be found at the blog Power Line.] In the letter, Ellison wrote, “I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam due to its propagation of bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements, as well as other issues…Like most people, I look back at my mistakes with regret. That said, my mistakes have not been futile because I have learned from them.”

However apologetic Ellison appeared to be, his words ring false, as he proceeded to cavort with those that not only exhibit the same kind of hatred as the NOI, but that have longstanding ties to terrorist groups as well. And he continues to do so.

Much of the money that was funneled into the coffers of Ellison’s campaign can be traced to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that has ties to Hamas. In June of 1994, three leaders of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a group that was the brainchild of Hamas deputy Mousa Abu Marzook (Marzouk), incorporated CAIR. One of the leaders was CAIR’s Executive Director and, himself, a Hamas supporter, Nihad Awad.

Awad – who stated at a September 2000 rally, “[The Jews] have been saying ‘Next year in Jerusalem’; we say ‘Next year to all Palestine’” – personally gave thousands of dollars to Ellison’s campaign. The other head of CAIR, the group’s National Chairman, Parvez Ahmed, also gave large sums to Ellison. In addition, CAIR sponsored numerous fundraisers for Ellison – including secret fundraisers held outside the candidate’s state – where the group raised tens of thousands of dollars for him.

In October of 2000, then-candidate for U.S. Senate Hillary Clinton announced that she was returning $50,000 in campaign donations raised by the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), due to the group’s support for terrorism against the state of Israel. Not only did Ellison not give back CAIR’s money, but following his election, he spoke at the group’s November banquet (via video).

At the same time the CAIR banquet was taking place, Ellison found himself speaking at another organization’s event in Minnesota. That organization was the North American Imams Federation (NAIF). This was discovered shortly after six imams coming from the conference were removed from a U.S. Airways flight headed to Arizona. One of the imams, Omar Shahin, was formerly a representative for KindHearts, a “charity” that was shut down in February for raising millions of dollars for Hamas.

On the program for the conference, Ellison’s picture is found alongside two other individuals. One is Siraj Wahhaj, who is currently the imam of the At-Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, New York. Wahhaj's name was placed on the U.S. Attorney's list of potential co-conspirators to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Wahhaj, soon after, served as a witness for Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the spiritual leader of the attack, during the bombing trial.

The other individual in question is Mazen Mokhtar, currently the Youth Director for the New Jersey chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS-New Jersey). Mokhtar, prior to 9/11, created a mirror website for one of the main sites raising funds and recruiting fighters for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban – “Jihad in Chechnya.” The site was also a portal to the official website of Hamas. In addition, Mokhtar has posted numerous statements on the web in support of Hamas and suicide bombings.

On Sunday, December 24, 2006, Ellison was the keynote speaker at yet another Islamist venue, the national convention of MAS and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), held in Dearborn, Michigan. Both MAS and ICNA have their roots in the violent Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and Pakistan, respectively. Mokhtar was also featured at this event, along with a former official from the IAP, Raeed Tayeh. Tayeh, in November of 2001, was fired from his job as a speechwriter for then-United States Representative Cynthia McKinney for referring to the United States Congress as “Israeli-occupied territory.”

One cannot help but question Keith Ellison’s motives for participating in events such as these. In front of crowds, he speaks of tolerance and justice. On his website, he discusses bringing peace to the masses. Yet his actions say something entirely different.

Keith Ellison spent 10 years of his life associating with the Nation of Islam. Since running for office, it seems, he has traded his loyalties to that group for organizations and individuals that are at least equally dangerous. When Congressman Ellison places his hand, today, on the Quran, to which people is he swearing an oath to protect? Is it the American public – many of which went blindly into the voting booths to choose him – or is it his friends, our enemies?

Click Here to support

Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of
Americans Against Hate, the founder of CAIR Watch, and the spokesman for Terror-Free Oil Initiative.

John Feinstein: Good Knight, Bad Knight

The Washington Post
Friday, December 29, 2006; E01

It is always the same whenever Bob Knight is in the news. It doesn't matter if he is making news by setting the all-time record for victories as a men's college coach (or failing to do so as he did last night) or snapping a player's chin or having a fight with a college chancellor at a salad bar.

The defenders line up on one side and recite chapter and verse on The Good Knight: brilliant coach; turns boys into men; graduates most of his players; has never come close to breaking an NCAA rule; a principled man in a business frequently lacking in principles.

Everything they say is accurate.

Then the detractors line up on the other side with their arguments about The Bad Knight: he's a bully; he emotionally abuses everyone around him, most notably his players; he's not nearly as loyal to friends as he claims to be; he's never admitted to being wrong about anything.
Everything they say is also accurate.

Which is why Knight has been such a galvanizing figure for most of 40 years. People want heroes to be heroes and villains to be villains. It is rarely that simple and it isn't even close to being true with Knight. He is, without question, in the first paragraph of any discussion of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time. John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and Knight. That's the top five and you can put them in any order you want. He will retire having won more games than any of them with only Krzyzewski (115 behind as of today) having a chance to surpass him. Neither Knight nor anyone else will touch Wooden's record of 10 NCAA championships, but it doesn't really matter. Regardless of how you frame the conversation, Knight is right there.

Knight has insisted for years that breaking Smith's record means nothing to him. He has also insisted he doesn't care what people think of him while raging constantly at any and all criticism that is directed at him. In recent days though, he has seemed almost at peace with the notion that people see this milestone as important. He has credited others, while constantly playing down his own achievement. He's been gracious and almost thoughtful, reflecting on all the people who have helped him reach this milestone. He has, at least for the moment, been The Good Knight.

Most of his ex-players swear by him, say he was a huge positive force in their lives. There has never been a coach who has played more by the rules of the NCAA than Knight. Twenty years ago when Knight heard that a gas station owner in Bloomington, Ind., was giving his players free gas he drove to the station and told the man in no uncertain terms that if he ever heard that his players had been given anything for free again he would personally run him out of town.

Here though, as Shakespeare would say (and Knight has read Shakespeare), is the rub: Knight believes, as do his defenders, that life works this way: If you commit five good deeds on Monday, you are excused from any bad deed you might commit on Tuesday. Knight believes that because he plays by the rules, because most of his players graduate and because he's gone out of his way to help friends in need, it was okay to grab Neil Reed by the neck and okay to stuff an LSU fan into a garbage can and it wasn't wrong to toss a potted plant over the head of an elderly secretary and it wasn't such a big deal to send that chair spinning across the court -- not to mention all of the other misdeeds and missteps through the years.

Knight's philosophy of life basically comes down to this: If I help a little old lady across the street for 10 straight days, but then yell a profanity at her for walking too slowly on the 11th day when I'm running late, I should be excused because I was nice to her the first 10 days.

Real life doesn't work that way. Knight life does.

Years ago, Knight went to see a high school junior play and was un-impressed by him. He told his assistant coaches that recruiting him was a waste of time that he wasn't good enough to play for Indiana. They tried to convince him the kid had simply had a bad game but Knight didn't want to hear it. That summer, disappointed that Indiana wasn't recruiting him, the kid committed to another school, one coached at the time by a close friend of Knight's.

Soon after that, Knight was at a summer camp and noticed the kid dominate a game. "Why in the world," he asked his assistants, "aren't we recruiting that kid?" (This happens frequently with Knight. His vaunted memory is very selective, especially when it comes to his mistakes).
"Coach, you told us to back off him and he's verbally committed now."

Of course the kid was still interested in Indiana, and he eventually reneged on his commitment to the smaller school and signed with Indiana, where he became a very good player. When the coach who had lost the player confronted Knight, Knight responded by citing all the ways he had helped the coach's career.

That may very well have been true. It also didn't make Knight's actions less wrong. In fact, it can be argued that Knight would have publicly ripped another coach for not respecting a verbal commitment made to an opposing school. In this case, the wronged coach still doesn't talk publicly about what happened, not because he's afraid of Knight's wrath but because he knows Knight will never understand why he was wrong.

Like so many other hugely successful people, Knight is surrounded by people who tell him he's done nothing wrong; who listen while he explains why it was Krzyzewski's fault that the two men didn't talk for most of 10 years; Steve Alford's fault that they were estranged for just as long; Myles Brand's fault that he was fired at Indiana; all of Puerto Rico's fault that he had the confrontation with the cop in San Juan; and Jeremy Schaap's fault that he blew up during his Indiana exit interview six years ago.

The world is littered with people who have done misdeeds to Knight.

Of course, there also is an impressive list of people who have cared greatly about Knight: Pete Newell, Henry Iba, Joe Lapchick, Red Auerbach and Fred Taylor -- just to name five coaches who are in the Hall of Fame. All of them saw greatness in Knight. All of them worried about him because of his penchant for self-destruction.

The question that is asked most often about Knight is whether he will have an ending similar to Woody Hayes, another of his mentors.

The sad truth is this: He's already had it. Knight can talk all he wants about how happy he is in Lubbock cobbling together good teams at Texas Tech, a place where basketball will never be as important as spring football. He can talk about how much he likes the people there and how little he misses Indiana.

It simply isn't true. Knight belongs in Indiana. It is where he should have broken the record and finished his career. Imagine Wooden not finishing his career at UCLA; Smith not coaching at North Carolina; Rupp at Kentucky; Krzyzewski at Duke. How is it possible that a man who coached three national champions and an Olympic gold medal-winning team and did so without cheating while graduating his players and standing for all the right things about sports ends up fired?

It can't happen to an icon. Unless he slugs a player on national TV during a bowl game. Or refuses to believe that zero tolerance means zero tolerance for him. It can only happen to someone who simply refuses to understand that, even for icons, there are some rules. Knight never has understood that. Rules have always been for everyone else but not for him.

One day in practice 20 years ago, a frustrated Indiana player let loose with several profanities. Knight raced over to him, got in his face and said: "I don't want to hear that kind of [expletive] language in here. I here it again, you'll be running from now until [expletive] dawn."

He was completely serious. Profanity, for his players, was strictly off-limits.

Those were the rules. Knight's rules. He has always lived by them. They have served him well.

And not so well.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Yankees Crave Young Pitchers, but Have One Eye on Clemens

January 3, 2007
The New York Times

The Yankees hope to have at least one 44-year-old starting pitcher later this year. If they can trade Randy Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they will have more money available to sign Roger Clemens.

The Yankees and the Diamondbacks continued their trade talks yesterday, with Arizona hoping for a resolution so it can begin a 72-hour window for negotiating with Johnson, who must approve any deal. The Diamondbacks had not been granted that window as of last night.

Johnson, who turns 44 in September, probably needs two seasons to reach 300 victories. He has 280 and is coming off back surgery, and he most likely wants a contract that takes him through 2008.

Clemens, who has 348 victories in his career, is in no such hurry to get back on a mound. He waited until June 22 to return to the Houston Astros last year, and his agent, Randy Hendricks, favors a similar approach this season.

“I have suggested a partial season again,” Hendricks said in an e-mail message. “Roger has yet to decide whether he will play, so there is no point trying to pinpoint the timing. It is fair to say that if he does, it will be for Houston, Boston or New York.”

The Yankees signed Andy Pettitte last month, giving them another left-hander making $16 million, which is what they owe Johnson this season. Pettitte has been Clemens’s teammate for eight seasons, and he said last month that he expected Clemens to keep pitching.

Clemens went 7-6 with a 2.30 earned run average for Houston last season and has been better recently than Johnson, whose E.R.A. last season rose to a career-high 5.00 despite his 17 victories.

Clemens is tied with Cy Young as Boston’s career leader with 192 victories, and the idea of returning there could intrigue him. But Clemens has strong ties to Pettitte and other Yankees, and if the Yankees shed most of Johnson’s salary in a trade, there is no reason to think they will let another team outbid them for Clemens.

As they monitor Clemens, the Yankees want to stockpile young pitching, as they did when they traded outfielder Gary Sheffield to Detroit in November for three minor leaguers. Arizona has one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, with pitching prospects like Brandon Medders, Micah Owings, Dustin Nippert and Ross Ohlendorf.

Ohlendorf graduated from Princeton and has a hard sinker, the pitch that Chien-Ming Wang has used to great effect for the Yankees. Ohlendorf had 129 strikeouts and only 29 walks in 183 2/3 innings at two minor league levels last season.

“He’s a workhorse,” said Scott Bradley, Princeton’s baseball coach. “He was going to go to spring training with a real legitimate chance to make their staff. He’s been a starter his whole minor league career, but a lot of people think because he’s so durable that he could be a seventh- or eighth-inning guy. He gives up very few home runs because everything’s got that downward sink to it.”

Bradley was also Johnson’s catcher with the Seattle Mariners in the early 1990s, and they have remained friends. He has not spoken to Johnson since the Yankees began trade talks, but said it stood to reason that Johnson would favor a return to the Phoenix area, where Johnson lives.
“For him, I know it would make things a lot easier in terms of being closer to home,” Bradley said.

The trickier issue for Johnson and the Diamondbacks will be working out the financial details. Arizona has only $10 million remaining in its 2007 payroll budget, so the Yankees may have to pay part of his salary. The more the Yankees pay, the better the prospects they are likely to receive.

The Diamondbacks also owe Johnson $40 million in deferred payments from his previous tenure in Arizona, and the team may want to revise the payment schedule as a condition of the trade.
Johnson’s agents, Barry Meister and Alan Nero, did not return calls seeking comment.

Nittany Lions have high hopes for '07

Additional Stories
Relaxation in order before Paterno turns to '07
Penn State wins Outback Bowl
Tennessee's offense fizzles against PSU
PSU's Hunt shines at Outback Bowl

By Sam Ross Jr.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

TAMPA - Joe Paterno brings the wisdom of age to temper the enthusiasm of youth on the subject of Penn State possibly winning a national championship in 2007.

Even before the 20-10 win over Tennessee in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day, Nittany Lions players who will return next season spoke openly about their goal of winning it all next year.

"We'll come out with the fire of trying to get to the national championship," sophomore wide receiver Derrick Williams said. "With all the guys coming back, we can have a great team for next year."

Quarterback Anthony Morelli, who drew praise for his work against Tennessee, which included completing 14-of-25 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, also talked of great things next year.
"I think we have a lot of talent back, and we can be right there in the national championship picture," he said.

Early in Paterno's traditional post-mortem news conference Tuesday, the 80-year-old coach was asked about his players and their high expectations.

"I think they should be thinking (that)," Paterno said. "Hopefully, we're never going to be satisfied with just being another football team, if we can help it."

Paterno had believed his 2005 team was good enough to make a title run. The Nittany Lions finished 11-1 and ranked No. 3. This season, the team finished 9-4.

"I think we had a pretty good football team (this season). The people who licked us were good teams," Paterno said. "We should be thinking about being pretty good (next season), but when you start talking about being a national champ, you'd better make up your mind you have a lot of work ahead.

"It's one thing to be up there. It's another thing to be the best."

Paterno is well-versed on that. While he has coached two national championship teams at Penn State, he's also had unbeaten teams that got stopped short of No. 1.

Some have tried to make the comparison between this 2006 Penn State team and the 1993 group that closed a 10-2 season by beating Tennessee, 31-13, in the Citrus Bowl. The Nittany Lions went unbeaten the next season, won the Rose Bowl, but they didn't win the national championship.

"For me to start making comparisons, I don't know," Paterno said. "We had Ki-Jana (Carter) and all those kids back. It's a little different cast of characters."

Current feature running back and Outback Bowl MVP Tony Hunt, unlike Carter, doesn't return. The defense also loses its main man, linebacker Paul Posluszny.

But Paterno's excited that he has quarterback Morelli back for another year, just as he had Kerry Collins returning in 1994.

"I think he's ready to become a big-time quarterback," Paterno said of Morelli. "I think he's been good. It's just he's played against some tough teams.

"He might have been a little shell-shocked because of the criticism he got, but I think he worked his way through, kept his poise, and I'm glad to see him doing what he did."

Paterno also praised sophomore cornerback Justin King for the job he did playing opposite Tennessee All-American wide receiver Robert Meachem, who caught four balls for 33 yards.

"We put him on one of the best wideouts in the country, and nobody even mentioned it," Paterno said. "Where he went, King went, and King did a heck of a job on him."

Note: No Paterno news conference is complete without a history lesson. He recalled a friendship he had with former President Gerald Ford and a lunch they shared in State College when Ford was Vice President.

"He started to eat with his left hand, and I said, 'Mr. Vice President, I thought you were right handed,' " Paterno said. "I'd seen him on golf, when they had that fiasco when he almost killed a couple of guys, and I said 'I thought you swung right-handed.' He said, 'You said you saw me playing golf. You're very charitable.' He said, 'When I sit down, I'm left-handed. When I stand up, I'm right-handed ...'

"He (Ford) was really a genuinely good guy."

Sam Ross Jr. can be reached at or (724) 838-5144.

Michelle Malkin: All the abortion lies fit to print

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

It's official: The editors of The New York Times have no shame. Don't take my word for it. Listen to the Times' own ombudsman, Byron Calame (pictured at right).

On Sunday, Calame wrote a stunning column debunking an April 9 New York Times Magazine cover story on abortion in El Salvador. The sensational piece by freelance writer Jack Hitt alleged that women there had been thrown in prison for 30-year terms for having had abortions. Hitt described his visit to one of them, inmate Carmen Climaco. "She is now 26 years old, four years into her 30-year sentence" for aborting an 18-week-old fetus, Hitt reported.

The magazine featured heart-rending photos of Climaco's 11-year-old daughter, eyes filled with tears as she clutched a photo of her jailed mom. Cruel. Horrible. Outrageous. And utterly, demonstrably, false.

Climaco had actually been convicted of murder for strangling her newborn baby. This information was uncovered by pro-life groups. obtained the court documents in Climaco's case and published them on their website in late November. Calame followed up and also independently obtained the documents easily -- records which Hitt didn't bother to try and get for himself to verify the propaganda being fed to him. Reported Calame:

"The care taken in the reporting and editing of this example didn't meet the magazine's normal standards. Although Sarah H. Smith, the magazine's editorial manager, told me that relevant court documents are 'normally' reviewed, Mr. Hitt never checked the 7,600-word ruling in the Climaco case while preparing his story. And Mr. Hitt told me that no editor or fact checker ever asked him if he had checked the court document containing the panel's decision."

Obtaining the public document was as easy as requesting that a stringer for the Times in El Salvador walk into the court building without making any prior arrangements. Which is exactly what Calame did. It took the stringer mere minutes to get the court ruling.

The facts did not fit with Hitt's pro-abortion narrative. Authorities found Climaco's dead baby hidden in a box wrapped in bags under the bed of Mrs. Climaco. Moreover, Lifesite reported, forensic examination showed that it was a full-term normal delivery. The child was breathing at the time of birth. The official cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation.

Hitt's main sources of info came from a pro-abortion group called Ipas. The group would profit from legalized abortion in El Salvador since it peddles abortion vacuum aspirators. Hitt's translator consulted for Ipas, which launched a fund-raising campaign to free Carmen Climaco and bring her to America. Pro-abortion groups recycled Climaco's story, citing the Times' bogus propaganda to scare up opposition to any abortion restrictions here.

The Times' pro-abortion poster child is a woman convicted of infanticide. But the Times, questioned by its own public editor, refuses to acknowledge Jack Hitt's false reporting.
There is "no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts as reported," the editors imperiously told Calame. They refuse to issue a correction, publish an Editors' Note or inform their readers of the ready availability of the court decision that exposes Jack Hitt's deception about the Climaco case.

Calame concluded that "Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect." That's too polite. The Times slung bull and they refuse to clean it up. The Times' Climaco-gate, like the Associated Press' Jamil Hussein-gate and Reuters' fauxtography scandal and CBS's Rathergate, will go down in mainstream history as yet another case of textbook media malpractice.

The next time you hear a New York Times columnist defend the paper's commitment to accuracy, fairness and ethical standards, give them two words: Carmen Climaco. The next time journalism elites wonder why newspaper circulation is plunging, remember: Carmen Climaco.
The next time MSM apologists deny liberal bias, ask them rhetorically -- "Atlas Shrugged"-style -- "Who is Carmen Climaco?"

Michelle Malkin makes news and waves with a unique combination of investigative journalism and incisive commentary. She is the author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild .

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dick Vitale: Knight is King

Knight is king: Ranks among best ever
2 January 2007

History was made in Lubbock, Texas on New Year's Day, but Robert Montgomery Knight's stomach had to be churning in the second half against New Mexico. Yes, the General got to the magical 880 win total, passing Dean Smith, but it did not come easily.

Knight's Texas Tech team was impressive in building a big lead. Give New Mexico credit for hitting some 3s in the second half to rally and take the lead, however. In the end, Martin Zeno, Jarrius Jackson and company came through with some big shots to help the Red Raiders get to the winner's circle 70-68. Alan Voskuil made a couple of key baskets in the second half as well.

I don't think Knight wanted this game to be as dramatic as it was. You could feel the emotion during the game. Watching him on the sidelines, there was definite pressure. Trust me, he feels like a million bucks now that he has the record. He can stand tall as the winningest coach in college basketball. Knight is happy that the team can move forward and prepare for Big 12 play, starting with Oklahoma this weekend.

There is a side to the man that few people see. There are many good aspects about him that some people don't discuss, opting to point out some of the negatives. Yes, he has made mistakes and he has admitted there have been a few regrets, things he could have done better. He was able to show his emotions on Monday, and getting that number of wins is unique and special. I felt the special moments of the record affected him.

To me, Robert Montgomery Knight is the most compelling figure in the world of sports today.

The postgame ceremony was unbelievable, though it would have been even more special if someone from the University of Indiana was there to present a plaque or some kind of award. It still blows my mind that Knight is not in the school's athletic Hall of Fame even though he is eligible, but he is in Ohio State's. The Indiana administration should have been there in Lubbock given his 662 wins for the Bloomington-based school.

There are so many beautiful fans in Indiana who have a passion and love for their basketball. They appreciate what Knight achieved, winning three national titles and 11 Big Ten championships there. That's why I feel Indiana's administration should have presented something. Let bygones be bygones on both sides. I have often said that the building in Bloomington should be named after Knight for all of his accomplishments and the players he has graduated.

Indiana did send a message of congratulations, but it was not enough.

When you look at it all, Knight has to be mentioned with the greats in the coaching profession of all sports. When you mention Casey Stengel in baseball, Bear Bryant in college football, Vince Lombardi and Don Shula in the NFL, Red Auerbach in the NBA and Scotty Bowman in the NHL, Knight has to be in the same breath with John Wooden and Dean Smith among the greats in the business.

To me, Bob Knight is the Chairman of the Boards of the coaching fraternity. As Francis Albert Sinatra said, and Knight did as well, he did it "my way." That song epitomizes his career.

Knight Gets Win No. 880

Knight gets win No. 880, setting new Division I men's record
Apart of history audio slideshow

- publication data - Posted: Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 12:37 a.m.

Texas Tech held a New Year's Day party on Monday with Bob Knight serving as the guest of honor.

Knight surpassed former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for most career victories as the Red Raiders held on for a 70-68 victory over New Mexico, giving Knight win No. 880.

Knight had been adamantly avoiding talk about the Division I men's basketball record for most of the season, but he couldn't help but get emotional during the postgame ceremony and news conference.

"I would like to thank Dr. (John) Whitmore, Gerald (Myers) and David Schmidly for giving me the opportunity to coach at Texas Tech, a school that I have come to really respect and appreciate," Knight said in front of a capacity crowd of 15,098 that remained at United Spirit Arena after the game. "This is a community that Karen (Knight's wife) and I really enjoy."

Knight called out to his wife to come down to the court from her seat in the stands. The last time he did that, two years ago, was after Tech advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

The ceremony included a pair of trophies given to Knight, one from Tech, which was presented to him by athletic director Myers, and another from the Big 12 Conference, which was presented to Knight by Big 12 associate commissioner John Underwood.

Knight's ceremony was part reflective - on his 41-year career - part humorous, part congratulatory and part political.

When Tech chancellor Kent Hance offered his congratulations, Knight said, "I really appreciate the improvement that you are," referring to former chancellor David Smith, with whom Knight had a public altercation in February 2004.

Tech president Jon Whitmore was next to offer his congratulations. "As president, I really appreciate the academic work that you've done in graduating your players."

Knight followed by introducing leading scorer Jay Jackson, who Knight dismissed from the team a week before the season opener for academic reasons before reinstating him a week later.
"Dr. Whitmore, I'd like you to meet our prized student, Jay Jackson," Knight said.

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale has been trumpeting for Indiana University to name the basketball court at Assembly Hall after Knight and continued that quest during Monday's broadcast.
Knight also took a political stab at the Basketball Hall of Fame for failing to enshrine Vitale to this point.

"The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., is not complete, in any way, shape or form until Dick Vitale is in there," Knight said.

An 81/2-minute video presentation was shown on the scoreboard with congratulations coming from Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Dean Smith, Texas head coach Rick Barnes - speaking on behalf of the Big 12 coaches - former Knight player and current Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski - speaking on behalf of all of Knight's former players and coaches - and Vitale.

"You made all of us better basketball players, but you also made us all better men," Krzyzewski said.

Barnes said he heard one of Knight's recent speeches in which Knight said Curt Gowdy will be known as the "best damn broadcaster there ever was."

"Your legacy will be that you made things better, you always get more out of people and you are the greatest basketball coach ever," Barnes said.

Red and black confetti was dropped from the arena ceiling on two occasions, and a banner was unfurled commemorating Knight's record victory.

Knight took the microphone several times during the ceremony, but he had to pause when the Frank Sinatra song, "My Way," was played in the background as he began his final address.
Knight's eyes watered as he walked back to the scorer's table and took in the moment.

When the team presented Knight with the game ball, junior guard Martin Zeno said, "We love you."

Knight's response: "For you guys to say you love me, after the things I've said to you and the things I've put you through, that's a hell of a compliment."

Thomas Sowell: Dangerous Obsession, Part V

Monday, January 1, 2007

Perhaps it is one of the fruits of the "self-esteem" emphasis in our schools that so many people feel confident to voice strong convictions about things they know little or nothing about -- or, worse yet, are misinformed about.

One of the hardest things for anyone to be informed about is the value of someone else's productivity. Yet there are cries from all directions that some people are being paid "too much" and others "too little."

Who can possibly be better informed about the value of what someone else produces than those who use the goods or services that the person provides and pay for it with their own money?
Things are worth it or not worth it to particular individuals. What these things might be worth to somebody else is irrelevant.

People who think that they, or the government, ought to be deciding how much income people make are in effect saying that they know the value of people's output better than those who use that output and pay for it with their own money.

How did Bill Gates get his fortune? Not by someone deciding how much Bill Gates was worth to "society," but by innumerable people around the world deciding whether what Microsoft offered them was worth what Microsoft charged.

What all those sales added up to -- Microsoft's income and Gates' fortune -- nobody decided. Nor is there any reason why they should have, even aside from the fact that nobody is qualified to make such a decision.

We can each decide for ourselves whether what Microsoft offers is worth it to us. That is all we are competent to decide -- and only for ourselves individually, when spending our own money.

The idea that we should pool our collective ignorance and then decide how much it is "fair" for Gates or anybody else to earn in total income is as ridiculous as it is dangerous, for it means arming politicians with the arbitrary power to decide everyone's economic fate.

Do we want our own family's living standards to be at the mercy of politicians? Are we so eaten up with envy that we will risk that, in order to keep Gates from having "too much" money, paid by people who voluntarily bought Microsoft's products?

A recent campaign in California to sock the oil companies with bigger taxes hyped the fact that oil company profits were $78 billion.

That sounds like a lot of money. For that matter, $78 million would sound like a lot of money. If the truth be known, there was a time when just $78 would have seemed like a lot of money to me.

But so what? What do we know about the economics of the oil industry? How many billions did they invest to get that $78 billion in profits? And how many billions did they lose in their bad years?

Utter ignorance of all these things has not been enough to discourage people from loudly demanding that the government "do something" about "Big Oil" and its profits.

The same reliance on ignorance applies at the other end of the economic scale. People who know nothing about retailing, nothing about labor markets and nothing about economics are loudly demanding that the local, state or federal government "do something" about the low pay of Wal-Mart's employees.

Those employees know what their alternative job opportunities are and other employers know what their productivity would be worth to them. If the workers themselves choose Wal-Mart as their best option, what qualifies us to say that either their choice or Wal-Mart's choice was wrong?

Most low-income people, whether at Wal-Mart or elsewhere, do not stay low-income forever -- or for more than a few years. Most Americans in the bottom 20 percent at a given time are later in the top half of the income distribution, after they have acquired some more job experience.
Are individual decisions made by people deciding what is best for themselves to be over-ruled by ignorant busybodies, obsessed by things they do not understand?

Is the whole economic system of supply and demand, on which the nation's prosperity is based, to be disrupted whenever moral exhibitionists have a need to feel puffed up about themselves?

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy.

Jeff Jacoby: Castro's true legacy is a trail of blood

Tuesday, January 2, 2007
The Boston Globe

It was on New Year's Day in 1959 that Fidel Castro's guerrillas toppled Fulgencio Batista, and a week later that Castro entered Havana and launched what has become the world's longest-lived dictatorship. This week thus marks the 48th anniversary of Castro's revolution -- and the last one he will celebrate, if the persistent rumors that he is dying prove to be true. Which makes this a good time to ask: What will be said about Castro after his death?

For decades, journalists and celebrities have showered Cuba's despot with praise, extolling his virtues so extravagantly at times that if sycophancy were an Olympic sport, they would have walked off with the gold. Norman Mailer, for example, proclaimed him "the first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second World War." Oliver Stone has called him "one of the earth's wisest people, one of the people we should consult."

The cheerleaders have been just as enthusiastic in describing Castro's record in Cuba. "A beacon of success for much of Latin America and the Third World," gushed Giselle Fernandez of CBS. "For Castro," Barbara Walters declared, "freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on earth." Covering Cuba's one-party election in 1998, CNN's Lucia Newman grandly described "a system President Castro boasts is the most democratic and cleanest in the world."

During a 1995 visit to New York, writes Humberto Fontova in Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant, a blistering 2005 exposĂ© of Castro and his regime, Cuba's maximum leader "plunged into Manhattan's social swirl, hobnobbing with dozens of glitterati, pundits, and power brokers." From the invitation to dine at the Rockefeller family's Westchester County estate to being literally kissed and hugged by Diane Sawyer, Castro was drenched with flattery and adoration at every turn.

When Castro dies, some of his obituarists will no doubt continue this pattern of fawning hero-worship. But others, more concerned with accuracy than with apologetics, will squarely face the facts of Castro's reign. Facts such as these:

* Castro came to power with American support.

The United States welcomed Castro's ouster of Batista and was one of the first nations to recognize the new government in 1959. Many Americans supported Castro, including former president Harry Truman. "He seems to want to do the right thing for the Cuban people," Truman said, "and we ought to extend our sympathy and help him to do what is right for them."
It was not until January 1961 that President Eisenhower -- reacting to what he called "a long series of harassments, baseless accusations, and vilification" -- broke diplomatic ties with Havana. By that point Castro had nationalized all US businesses in Cuba and confiscated American properties worth nearly $2 billion.

Well before he came to power, Castro regarded the United States as an enemy. In a 1957 letter -- displayed in Havana’s Museo de la Revolucion, Fontova observes -- the future ruler wrote to a friend: "War against the United States is my true destiny. When this war's over, I'll start that much bigger and wider war."

* Castro transformed Cuba into a totalitarian hellhole.

Freedom House gives Cuba its lowest possible rating for civil liberties and political rights, placing it with Burma, North Korea, and Sudan as one of the world's most repressive regimes. Hundreds of political prisoners are behind bars in Cuba today. Among them, writes Carlos Alberto Montaner in the current issue of Foreign Policy, are "48 young people [imprisoned] for collecting signatures for a referendum, 23 journalists for writing articles about the regime, and 18 librarians for loaning forbidden books." Political prisoners can be beaten, starved, denied medical care, locked in solitary confinement, and forced into slave labor. Castro long ago eliminated freedom of religion, due process of law, and the right to leave the country.

He also wiped out Cuba’s once-flourishing free press. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Cuba is one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, second only to China in the number of reporters behind bars.

* Castro stole Cuba's wealth.

While Cubans grew progressively poorer under communism, Castro exploited them to become one of the world's richest people. Foreign companies doing business in Cuba must pay a significant sum for each worker they hire -- but most of the money goes to Castro's regime, while the workers receive only a pittance. Castro also controls Cuba's state-owned companies, whose profits account for much of his wealth. Castro insists that his personal net worth is zero, but in 2006 Forbes magazine estimates the amount to be $900 million.

* Castro shed far more blood than the dictator he replaced.

According to the Cuba Archive, which is meticulously documenting the deaths of each person killed by Cuba's rulers since 1952, Batista was responsible for killing approximately 3,000 people. Castro's toll has been far higher. So far the archive has documented more than 8,000 specific victims of the Castro regime -- including 5,775 firing squad executions, 1,231 extrajudicial assassinations, and 984 deaths in prison. When fully documented, the body count is expected to reach 17,000 -- not counting the tens of thousands of Cubans who lost their lives at sea while fleeing Castro's Caribbean nightmare.

"Condemn me, it doesn't matter," Castro said long ago. "History will absolve me." But Castro's ultimate day of judgment draws near, and history is not likely to be so kind.

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for

Thomas Sowell: The Real Issue at Duke

January 02, 2007
Thomas Sowell

In the wake of recent bombshell revelations in the Duke University "rape" case, even some of District Attorney Michael Nifong's supporters have started backing away from him.

It was not just that the head of a DNA laboratory testified under oath in December that he and Nifong both knew back in April that there was no DNA from any of the Duke University lacrosse players found on the body of the stripper who accused them of rape -- or even that the DNA of other men were found in her underwear and in intimate areas of her body.

What was really damning was that he and Nifong had agreed to keep this fact secret, despite requirements that exculpatory evidence be turned over to the defense. Moreover, last May District Attorney Nifong filed a statement saying that the prosecution "is not aware of any additional material or information which may be exculpatory in nature."

But he already knew what the DNA evidence was before he signed that statement.

The leading newspaper in town, which had supported Nifong in its editorials before these new revelations, now called his actions "flawed" and "inexplicable."

Nifong's actions are inexplicable only if you assume that his purpose was to get at the truth about what actually happened at the party where the stripper claimed to have been raped.

That assumption has never been made in this column. From day one, I have never believed that this case was about rape, about the Duke lacrosse players or about the "exotic dancers" or strippers.

District Attorney Nifong's actions are perfectly consistent and logical from start to finish, once you see that this case is about Nifong's own career.

Let us go back to square one. Where was Nifong before this case came along?

He had worked in the District Attorney's office for years and was appointed interim District Attorney himself only after the previous District Attorney left to become a judge. Now Nifong faced a tough election against a woman he had once fired and who would undoubtedly fire him if she became District Attorney.

Where would that leave Nifong? Out on the street at an age when most people are not likely to be starting a new career. His pension as well as his job could be in jeopardy. Moreover, his opponent was favored to win the election.

Then along came the Duke University "rape" case, like a deliverance from heaven.

Politically, the case had everything: white jocks from affluent families at a rich and prestigious university versus a black woman who was a student at a far poorer and less distinguished black institution nearby.

Above all, there were black voters who could swing the election Nifong's way if he played the race card and conjured up all the racial injustices of the past, which he would now vow to fight against in the present.

Who cared whose DNA was where? This case could save Nifong's career. There was nothing "inexplicable" about what he did. Despicable yes, inexplicable no.

His inflammatory outbursts against the Duke students in the media are not inexplicable. Neither was his failure to follow standard procedures in presenting the accuser with a lineup that included only white Duke lacrosse players.

The standard procedure of including in a lineup people who are not suspects in the case is intended to test the accuser's credibility. But why would he risk having the accuser's credibility tested before his election?

It was not a question of winning the case. It was a question of winning the election. As for the case, that was not scheduled to come to trial until a year later.

If you cared about justice, you would want to go to trial much sooner, either to nail the Duke students if they were guilty or exonerate them if they were not. But nothing suggests that this was Nifong's agenda.

Now that so many of his misdeeds have been so widely publicized, Nifong's agenda has to include keeping his job and avoiding disbarment or even being prosecuted himself.

Robert Spencer: The Minneapolis Jihad

Robert Spencer
January 2, 2007

The Somali jihad is over for now, but it still has supporters worldwide – including within the United States.

The southern Somali city of Kismayo has fallen to a combined force of Ethiopian and Somali troops. The Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Council regime ruled Mogadishu for only a few months, instituting a particularly draconian version of Sharia. Now its leaders have fled, and the remnants of their forces are now trapped between the sea and Somalia’s border with Kenya. “Nobody expected the Islamists to show this little political resilience. They were the first movement to pacify southern Somalia for 16 years, yet they crumbled like a pack of cards,” said Matt Bryden of the International Crisis Group.

Despite reports in the Western press suggesting that Somalis were happy with the Sharia regime of the Islamic Courts, Mogadishu residents cheered the anti-jihad troops as they entered the city last Thursday. However, there were several indications that the Islamic Courts were indeed popular, especially with expatriate Somalis. In an Oslo cafĂ©, a Somali named Zakharia Ahmed vowed: “If the Ethiopians continue to occupy Somalia, we won’t sit here. We will go back to Somalia and fight as one!” His companions responded, “Yes, we will go back and fight.” Another Somali, Abdi Muhamed, added: “There is virtually no one in Somalia, or Somalians here in Norway, who do not support the Islamist regime.”

The Islamic Courts also had supporters in the United States. Last Saturday, 1,500 Somalis gathered in Minneapolis’ Peavey Park for a demonstration in favor of the Sharia regime and against American support for the Ethiopian and Somali forces that toppled it. Hassan Mohamud, imam of St. Paul’s Al-Taqwa Mosque, who teaches Islamic law at William Mitchell College of Law and is also president of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice, the group that organized the demonstration, won cheers from the crowd as he thundered: “We ask the president of the United States, Mr. Bush, and his administration to stop supporting the terrorists. Ethiopian troops are terrorists.” Mohamud has praised the Islamic Courts regime for bringing “peace and security to a large part of the country within 16 days where the international community could not help the Somalis for 16 years.” When asked if Somalis based in Minnesota were supporting the jihadists financially, Mohamud responded: “What I know is that they have overwhelming support inside of Somalia because of the peace and law and order. If you have the support of your people inside of Somalia you don’t need any support from outside.”

The peace and law and order that the Islamic Courts brought to Somalia was decidedly a matter of brute force and intimidation. In November 2005 Sharia supremacists in Mogadishu killed twelve people in the process of closing down movie theaters and video stores, both of which had been deemed un-Islamic. Last July they killed two people at a forbidden screening of a World Cup match. The regime staged public floggings and executions, banned television, music, and women swimming, and in one town a cleric aptly named Sheikh Rage announced that anyone who did not attend Muslim prayers five times a day would be beheaded. The regime repeatedly declared jihad on Ethiopia, making no secret of the expansionist aspirations that eventually led the Ethiopians to take action: Yusuf Mohamed Siad, an Islamic Courts defense official, declared Somalia open to mujahedin from around the world: “We’re saying our country is open to Muslims worldwide. Let them fight in Somalia and wage jihad, and God willing, attack Addis Ababa.”

Emblematic also of the nature of the Islamic Courts regime were statements by a Mogadishu cleric affiliated with the movement, Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin, after Pope Benedict XVI’s address in Regensburg, Germany that aroused Muslim ire worldwide: “We urge you Muslims wherever you are to hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements as you have pursued Salman Rushdie, the enemy of Allah who offended our religion. Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim. We call on all Islamic Communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the pope,” said Malin.

The Islamic Courts’ first vice chairperson, Sheikh Al-Rahman Mohomood Jinikow, stated in September that “we will only approve a constitution based on theology, because an Islamic constitution is the only one that serves all of us justly. Secular constitution, whether it is democratic or any other, is never fair and right, and Muslims have only one constitution which is entirely based on Allah’s Qur’an.”

That seemed to be fine with the demonstrators in Minneapolis. Some carried signs that read, “Islam is the solution.” Abdul Mohamed, a member of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice, denounced American policy toward Somalia as motivated by “Islamophobia.” Given the nature of the Islamic Courts regime, this raises questions that have less to do with Somalia than with Minneapolis and the United States. What are 1,500 supporters of Islamic jihad and Sharia law doing in Minneapolis? What are the implications of this for our own national security? Would these immigrants prefer to live under Sharia than under the United States Constitution? Why do immigration officials do absolutely no screening for Sharia supremacism, even though the U.S. is embroiled in a global war against Sharia supremacists? Why is no one with any power or influence even asking these questions?

The Somali Institute for Peace and Justice’s demonstration in Minneapolis was simultaneously a demonstration in favor of Sharia government in Somalia and, unwittingly, of the crying need for serious and searching immigration reform. One may only hope that at least some American officials understood it as such.

Click Here to support

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of
Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book is the New York Times Bestseller The Truth About Muhammad.