Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Ben Johnson: America, the Great Santa

By Ben Johnson
December 28, 2004

As famine swept through Russia in 1921, claiming five million innocent peasants’ lives, President Herbert Hoover sent $24 million of food and medical aid to the recently formed Bolshevik government. When asked why he was helping the Russian Communists, Hoover replied, “Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!”
Sunday’s devastating tsunami has given the United States another opportunity to showcase its immense compassion and limitless humanitarian instincts. And, as with every such act of national charity, our altruistic efforts have been rewarded with a fit of ingratitude from the Hate America Left.

As of this writing the tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the fourth largest this century, has killed more than 25,000 people in a circle of death spanning 10 countries from Malaysia to Somalia. Yet authorities say this total understates the casualties, and they forecast deaths in Indonesia alone could exceed 25,000. Children account for an estimated one-third of those swept away by the 500 mile-per-hour waves.

Upon hearing the news, America characteristically rushed to help. Yesterday, outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell promised a $15 million aid package and stated this is only a downpayment on America’s goodwill. “We also have to see this not just as a one-time thing,” he said. “Some 20-plus thousand lives have been lost in a few moments, but the lingering effects will be there for years.” He then affirmed America is in the reconstruction effort “for the long haul.”

In addition to this aid package, President Bush has dispatched military planes to the area, sent a 21-person USAID contingent of disaster relief specialists, and offered to send troops stations in Okinawa, Japan, to help Thai victims.

By way of contrast, the 25-member European Union, the world largest trader whose combined economy is larger than that of the United States, will deliver $4 million.

Nonetheless, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland labeled these efforts “stingy.”

Aside from betraying abhorrent manners, the UN bureaucrat’s comments sounded a common theme of the Left: No matter how much time, money, or resources America commits to a humanitarian effort – and no matter how demonstrably unselfish our motives – greedy capitalist America never lifts a finger to help the downtrodden. Indeed, by our disproportionate consumption of the world’s resources and contributions to environmental degradation, we are the cause of the world’s suffering.

The left-wing blog TalkLeft anticipated Egeland. After accusing America of not doing enough to warn the victims, a blog entry from last night accused President Bush of responding to the tragedy at his Crawford ranch by “‘clearing brush’ and playing cowboy.” Upon hearing of the evidently unexpected financial aid heading to the disaster site, it added pathetically, “Update: The U.S. has pledged $15 million to the relief effort.” Ho-hum.

DailyKos and other leftist blogs have noted America’s efforts to help tsunami victims, without praising said undertakings. All miss the obvious point: America chooses to succor the world’s afflicted with millions of dollars of its own treasure because America is a generous, philanthropic, and altrustic nation.

How could leftists express such a fundamental truth? According to them, this country has waged a needless pre-meditated war on innocent Iraqi freedom fighters and – according to at least one Democratic Congressman – is deliberately targeting civilians. Their view was best expressed by U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-WA, when she told a high school class Osama bin Laden had done more for suffering Arabs than America had:

[Osama has] been out in these countries for decades building roads, building schools, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. It made their lives better. [Americans] have not done that…How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that, rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?

Naturally, Osama bin Laden has never built “day care facilities” (presumably for Afghanistan’s liberated working women); he offers meager subsistence and a cavernous abode to those willing to become human fodder for his totalitarian designs.

The broader point is that America has always been more than the nation that liberates enslaved Arabs; it is the nation that bailed Europe out of two world wars, then reconstructed those nations with the Marshall Plan; that aided our sworn enemies to keep them from starving their populations to death in the Soviet Union, Ethiopia, and North Korea; that shows up with troops, supplies, and endless grants (often in the form of “loans,” never repaid) every time there is a mud slide, earthquake, or hurricane anywhere in the world including Iran. When a leftist acquaintance claimed America “bombs babies in Iraq and Afghanistan,” I corrected him: We regularly bomb Iraqi and Afghan children – with food and supplies donated by American children at the behest of President Bush. This America bears no resemblance to the diseased caricature painted by the Left.

After deriding Western philanthropy (an odd way to solicit donations), Egeland urged the West to exacerbate worldwide income redistribution. Western governments, he vouchsafed, mistakenly “believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more.” He added, “Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become.” His words echoed comments Jesse Jackson made to MSNBC’s Campbell Brown on domestic welfare spending last Thursday:

In the last [Bush] budget, we cut housing again, and that was Jesus’ dilemma. In Bethlehem, his family ended up homeless…We're the richest nation on earth. Our percentage of income to the poor is rock bottom…The great fault of Rome was a wealthy country left Jesus and Mary Joseph, in a sense, homeless, and He was born an at-risk baby. You measure character by how you invest in the poor and today we are celebrating the wealthy and the war, not the poor and peace.

Jesse’s Christmas message: Republicans – and the nation they govern – hate baby Jesus. Leave it to Jesse to turn the nativity of the Son of God into a crass political weapon.

For the record, Jesus’ family became homeless when the Roman government herded together every soul ever born in the “little town of Bethlehem” in order to extract maximum taxation from its populace: precisely Jackson's and Egeland's prescription.

Egeland is right that the American people always “want to give more” to the suffering and downtrodden. White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy responded to Egeland’s rant by stating Americans are “the largest contributor to international relief and aid efforts, not only through the government, but through charitable organizations. The American people are very giving.” The facts bear out Duffy’s case. Americans make a minimum of $34 billion in private donations to assist the less fortunate overseas, the overwhelming majority from religious foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). America has dedicated more resources to fighting AIDS than any other nation, including those most severely impacted. George W. Bush pledged $15 billion more to fight this killer epidemic, which has ravished sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. gives $10 billion in foreign aid annually. America is now spending millions of dollars to feed, clothe, and reconstruct Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Times like this show the world America’s true moral fiber. Helping the less fortunate is reward enough for us. However, such events should also provide a healthy guidepost to measure how delusional the leftists’ view of their own country has become.

You can help USAID assist victims of Sunday’s tsunami by clicking here.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Iain Murray: Crichton's Novel Approach to Environmental Alarmism

Science Fiction: Michael Crichton Takes a Novel Approach to Global Warming Alarmism
Murray Book Review in National Review Online by Iain Murray December 21, 2004

Michael Crichton's new blockbuster novel, State of Fear, begins with sex, violence, and oceanography. It's that sort of book all the way through, mixing the usual adventure novel clichés of beautiful young heroes, indestructible secret agents, and a plot to kill millions alongside hard science, including graphs, footnotes, and words like "aminostratigraphy." As such, the book is half a rip-roaring roller coaster of a read (as Edmund Blackadder would put it) and half didactic tract. It is a testament to Crichton's skill as a novelist that he pulls it off. This is definitely one for the Christmas list.

The adventure centers on a conspiracy to accentuate natural disasters in order to keep the developed world in the state of fear of the title. One particular environmental charity stands to benefit most from this state, and the main plot device is the dawning realization by an idealistic young lawyer named Peter Evans that the cause he believed in for so long is rotten to the core. His Virgil as he wanders through hell to achieve salvation is an almost superhuman character, John Kenner, who is a strange blend of academic physicist, Jack Ryan, James Bond, and, erm, John Graham, real-life director of the Office of Management and Budget (I said it was strange — in a former job, Graham was director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, and Kenner directs a similar organization at MIT).

Together, and with the help of the usual beautiful-but-tough woman and a tech-savvy Gurkha, they are placed in danger in the wilds of Antarctica, a state park in Arizona, and in a cannibal-infested jungle in the Solomon Islands. They face blizzards, bullets, lightning, poisonous octopuses and insufferable Hollywood celebrities. There is no peril so great that Evans and his friends do not face it. Their adventures unfold at a breakneck pace that keeps you turning the page, and it is in the brief downtimes between these escapades that Crichton expounds his scientific case.

This didacticism is directed primarily at global-warming alarmism, which Crichton thinks is overblown (he goes over the case in an appendix). Yet Crichton does not, as some have alleged, criticize the science underlying global-warming alarmism. In fact, he argues from it; as well he should — science is what it is. Instead, it is the use to which the science is put that Crichton argues against most forcefully. The science, by itself, does not argue that the world must take certain actions now. Science can never be prescriptive. All it can do is raise issues for the world's attention. It is politics and economics that then decide what to do about them. People who argue that the science says we must do something are being disingenuous about their true motives. If those people are also scientists, then they are abusing science. This is a tremendously important point.

If there is one scientific exercise Crichton does criticize, it is the use of global-climate models. These models are the basis of the alarming estimates of future temperature rise, yet at their very base they are only partly scientific. Models are a hybrid of science and economics. If science says that a rise in atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations will have certain effects on climate, then it can tell us nothing about the future until economic projections of energy use are fed into it. A scientific model without good economic input is useless, and we have been aware for quite some time that the economic scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are seriously deficient. It is a shame that Crichton makes one of his few factual slips when he says that NASA's James Hansen overestimated future emissions when he brought the global-warming issue to the world's attention before Congress in 1988. In fact, Hansen had a range of scenarios, and actual emissions have followed the lower trajectory quite well (and Hansen has updated his projections, now estimating a very small temperature rise by 2050 of around 0.5°C.) Crichton would have done better to take aim at the IPCC here.

Yet, more widely, the novel raises stinging criticisms of the way the environmental movement conducts itself. Its mutual infatuation with Hollywood, its preoccupation with litigation, and, above all, its preoccupation with obtaining more money so as to continue its privileged existence are all writ large in the text. One of the chief villains, a lawyer turned green-group director, regularly rages about the difficulties he has fundraising. His main problem, he rants, is that global warming is not the immediate threat that pollution was in the 70s. It is therefore harder to get people to give money to combat it, something that can be solved if people come to believe that the climate is changing now. These are, of course, tactics the real-life environmental movement has embraced, arguing, for instance, that the recent hurricane season was exacerbated by global warming rather than being sheer bad luck. During one of his rants, that character also, delightfully, called my organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, "Neanderthals." This was tremendously gratifying.

In the conclusion of the novel (which seems as if it is ready for a sequel — there are a surprising number of loose ends not tied up), Crichton has a former alarmist conclude that there are serious things wrong with the environmental movement:

Face the facts, all these environmental organizations are thirty, forty, fifty years old. They have big buildings, big obligations, big staffs. They may trade on their youthful dreams, but the truth is, they're now part of the establishment. And the establishment works to preserve the status quo. It just does.

(Interestingly, these comments echo those made by some committed alarmists recently in an essay entitled, The Death of Environmentalism.) If Jefferson was right about continual revolution being a good thing, then the environmental movement would do well to take heed.

He also has some very interesting suggestions for getting politics out of science by making the researchers more distant from their funders, to the point of blinding them to the source. As Crichton implies, this would strengthen the science against accusations that it is done to benefit the funders, whether they be industry, government, or activist group. This is something that requires serious attention from science itself.

Doubtless much of this scholarly discussion will be removed when the inevitable movie is made, but the exhilarating plot should still make it a success (and it will be streets ahead of the scientifically bereft turkey The Day After Tomorrow).

Me, I'm waiting for the video game.

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John Clayton: Steelers Run Over Ravens in Second Half

Sunday, December 26, 2004

By John Clayton

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger may be the headliner of the Steelers, but he's not the total story in Pittsburgh.

That became clear when pain in Roethlisberger's ribs and maybe even his sternum caused him to grimace and eventually leave the game. Roethlisberger flicked a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jerame Tuman with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter to all but seal what was an easy 20-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Linebacker Terrell Suggs landed on Roethlisberger after the play and drew a flag for the late hit. Roethlisberger was hurt. Visions of a Super Bowl season flashed before the eyes of those Steelers fans trying to celebrate the clinching of home-field advantage during the playoffs.

Terrell Suggs and the Ravens got to Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday.Pain has been a constant for the Steelers all year. In a victory over Dallas, they lost Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton.

They've played without Plaxico Burress, Kendrell Bell, Chad Scott, Clark Haggans and countless other starters but won 14 of 15 games. Even Roethlisberger, drafted to sit and study during his rookie season, got to play when Tommy Maddox injured his elbow in Week 2 against Baltimore.

Big Ben returned to the field the next offensive series despite his ribs bothering him so much that he had to be taken to the hospital after the game. The first play was a handoff to Jerome Bettis. The second was a pass to Burress for 26 yards. The pain got worse, and coach Bill Cowher knew it was time to rest his tough 241-pound rookie.

"It really bothered him," Cowher said of Roethlisberger's ribs. "I saw him throw the ball well, but he grimaced every time he threw."

That was it for Roethlisberger's day but not for the Steelers. They buried the Ravens with running plays. In the second half alone, the Steelers ran the ball 30 of 35 plays, gaining 108 yards and making the Ravens' physical defense look quite pedestrian.

"It was a matter of pounding on them," Bettis said. "We've been doing it all year long, so it made no sense for us to stop now. We got a boost with Plaxico Burress in there making some plays. It boils down to us running the football. That is how we are going to win football games. There comes a point in every game where you have to test their will and see if they can stop you. We ran it, we ran it and we ran it. I really think that turned the game in our favor."

Sure, Roethlisberger adds a different dimension to the Steelers offense. His strong arm and uncharacteristic savvy for a rookie enables him to make big plays off play-action fakes. But the heart of the Steelers is the running attack and the ability to stop the run. The Steelers rushed 183 yards on 42 carries, including another amazing 117-yard effort by Bettis. The Ravens, who have less options on offense than the Steelers, had 71 yards on 21 carries.

As for Roethlisberger's health, his status is uncertain though the injuries don't appear to be serious. All Cowher, whose team also suffered the loss of cornerback Deshea Townsend with a broken hand, would say was that Roethlisberger hurt his ribs. He wouldn't speculate if it was cartilage damage or cracks. Those things will be sorted out over the week.

Roethlisberger's 13-game winning streak as the starter has allowed the Steelers the luxury of healing. They clinched home-field advantage, are 14-1, and don't have a significant game scheduled until they play in the AFC Divisional round.

"I have no concerns about Ben," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "He's still a rookie. Some people seem to lose that thought. We are winning games. You really don't expect a rookie to do what he's done. He's a good rookie. He's going to make some mistakes, but the guy has played flawless. He plays hurt. He's the reason we are what we are."

The reason the Steelers are what they are is that they've copied the Patriots' model. They are a team. Bettis accepted a backup role to Duce Staley, but when Staley pulled a hamstring, Bettis came off the bench to run like a 25-year-old. Haggans was the Steelers' best pass-rushing outside linebacker, but he was out with a hamstring injury. James Harrison has taken his place and constantly pressured Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller. Willie Williams fills in for Scott. The story goes on and on.

"We're winning a lot of games with a lot of guys hurt," linebacker Joey Porter said. "That sets up for a good situation. Now, we are getting all those guys back for the playoffs. We'll be coming into the playoffs with a healthy Jerome Bettis and a healthy Duce Staley. That's is priceless. We'll have a healthy Plaxico Burress, a healthy Hines Ward, a healthy Antwaan Randle El, a healthy Clark Haggans. Anybody who has any nicks and bruises has a chance to get healthy."

And pity those teams who come to Pittsburgh. Those coming have to prepare for the cold and the physical play. In fact, the Steelers' defense has a little bit of an attitude. The unit's members are angry that defensive end Aaron Smith was snubbed for the Pro Bowl after having one of the better pass-rushing seasons for a 3-4 defensive end. Porter was particularly mad about thoughts the Ravens had a better, more physical defense than the Steelers.

"We don't have the media hype," Porter said. "You talk how physical the Baltimore Ravens defense is, and they aren't even the No. 1 defense. We are. That's how it's been going against us all year. We accepted it. It's like we had to prove it to everybody. All year, we had the No. 1 defense, but you still continue to talk about how great Baltimore defense is. We have a lot of guys who believe in the system."

It was a matter of pounding on them. We've been doing it all year long, so it made no sense for us to stop now. We got a boost with Plaxico Burress in there making some plays. It boils down to us running the football. That is how we are going to win football games. ”

The Steelers defense held the Ravens to 248 yards, lowering its season total to 257.8, best in the league. But the Steelers' offense made a statement, too. Burress' return helped -- believe it or not -- the running game. On their first offensive possession, Roethlisberger hit Burress with a 36-yard touchdown pass after the Ravens stacked the middle of the field to stop the run. Later in the first half, Burress caught a 35-yard pass. Pretty soon, the Ravens removed a safety from the tackle box and played Cover 2 zone.

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt then started the second half with 12 running plays in a 14-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that gave Pittsburgh a 17-7 lead. The drive consumed 8:34 and took some of the feistiness out of the Ravens.

"We always talk about the third quarter, whether it is the first possession on offense, the first possession on defense, the kickoff or the kickoff return," Cowher said. "That to me is as important as there is because you are re-establishing what momentum there was and what you're trying to establish in the second half. To come out, take the ball down the field using up the clock and converting a fourth down was important."

The story about the Steelers is their physical play on offense and defense. They are Steel Town tough even though the steel mills are mostly gone in Western Pennsylvania. Roethlisberger aches, but he'll be back in three weeks. The Steelers will have Bettis and Staley and even Harrison, a backup, who looked like a Pro Bowl linebacker.

"You've got to wait until the end of the movie," Porter said. "Superman always wins in the end."
The ribs might be Roethlisberger's Kryptonite, but the Steelers won in the end. It's a pretty good movie.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Deroy Murdock: Drug Companies Closer to Santa Than Scrooge

December 23, 2004, 8:32 a.m.

Secret Santa
Drug industry gives to third-world’s poor.

In this season of giving, it is a sleigh-sized irony that the global pharmaceutical industry behaves like Santa, yet often is denounced as a multinational Scrooge.

The drug industry "needs to moderate its prices and make them more Transparent and equitable," Harvard Medical School lecturer Marcia Angell, M.D. wrote in the Financial Times last July. "In short, it needs to curb its greed."

Liberal columnist Molly Ivins has decried Big Pharma's "greedy, bloodsucking, murderous behavior all over the globe."

Having failed to defeat President Bush, radical documentarian Michael Moore has shaved his beard and aimed his lens at the drug industry. His new title? Sicko.

AIDS is wiping out Africans due to "the genocidal action of the drug cartels who refuse to make the drugs affordable," according to Father Angelo D'Agostino, a Jesuit priest and founder of the Children of God Relief Institute in Nairobi, Kenya.

These caricatures completely ignore the fact that major drug companies donate enormous amounts of life-saving products to poor third worlders.

A recent Hudson Institute study illustrates this prescription philanthropy. In "A Review of Pharmaceutical Company Contributions: HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases," Carol Adelman and Jeremiah Norris document the value of drugs that this industry handed out to some of Earth's most desperate people.

Last year alone, nine major drug companies donated $2.135 billion worth of products and services to combat HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and other tropical ailments. This sum, Adelman and Norris write, "remains a conservative figure since it does not include cause-related marketing or philanthropic contributions by overseas affiliates."

Abbott, Becton-Dickinson, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, and Wyeth donated $1.4 billion in drugs and medical devices; $210 million in in-country logistics, storage, administration, and time volunteered by medical professionals; $210 million in taxes, tariffs, and customs duties; $175 million in additional projects outside an industry consortium called the Partnership for Quality Medicines Donations (PQMD); and $140 million for transportation, insurance, and handling.

Despite the alleged avarice of the "mean, nasty" drug companies, this $2.135 billion in medical charity far outpaced the financial commitment of "caring, loving" government agencies that reputedly "put people, before profits." Compare Big Pharma's foreign aid with that of public-sector donors in 2003:

The U.S. Agency for International Development's Global Health Budget stood at $1.374 billion.
The World Health Organization's budget was $1.37 billion.

European Commission spending on HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria totaled $451 million.

In 1958, the World Council of Churches asked each developed nation to give poor countries 0.7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product annually. While Adelman and Norris report that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development "has since abandoned this percentage," as have most wealthy nations, the PQMD companies' $2.135 billion in pharmaceutical gifts equaled 0.95 percent of their $224.3 billion incombined 2003 revenues.

Huge numbers aside, consider just three projects these corporations financed:

Pfizer donated $48 million to overseas HIV/AIDS programs, including $39 million in medication. Last October, it opened a $15 million testing and training facility in Kampala, Uganda. It will treat 10,000 AIDS patients annually.

Pfizer also linked University of Utah medical specialists with 250 of their African counterparts at Uganda's Makere University. Each African is expected to instruct 10 others. (Full disclosure: Pfizer has paid me to address several corporate events.)

Glaxo last year distributed, at discounted rates, 27,000 anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS treatments to patients in 56 nations.

Merck shielded 40 million Africans from river blindness in 2003. While ingesting Mectazin tablets has transformed the tse tse fly from an opthalmological nightmare into a dermatological nuisance, 62.5 million acres of once-abandoned, fly-laden riversides have been repopulated. As river blindness fades to black, that property, Norris says, now produces enough food to nourish 17 million people.

Merck presumably is among the "genocidal" drug cartels whose "unaffordable" costs propagate AIDS. Nevertheless, even the aforementioned Father D'Agostino's group in Kenya reportedly purchases Merck's anti-HIV drugs at what the company calls "no profit" prices.

So, what are the pharmaceutical sector's motives? Drug executives simply could have huge hearts and, literally, boatloads of compassion. Perhaps this largesse is a coldly calculated business technique designed to appease angry activists and assuage regulatory busybodies. Maybe it is a mixture of both. That hardly matters to vulnerable third worlders. America's supposedly villainous drug companies stand shoulder to shoulder with these human beings as they battle disease.

If the pharmaceutical sector can be faulted for anything, it is for being so bafflingly bashful about publicizing their great works around the world. The simple fact is that without the drug companies' ten-figure philanthropy, millions of destitute Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans would spend this Christmas Day face-down in the dirt.
* * *

Post-Gazette: At Distant Bars, Steeler Nation Comes Together

The same lusty crew will be back today, drinking Iron City ordered especially for them, to watch the Steelers host the Ravens.

Sunday, December 26, 2004
By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The license plates throughout the parking lot of Sammy's Tap & Grill depict the Wright Brothers' original plane in this "First in Flight" state, but the most important transportation for the people inside is "The Bus."

The college coeds serving drinks ask what "y'all" would like, but the customers ordering I.C. Lights wonder whether "yinz" think it's a Super Bowl year.

Heinz Field is 500 miles to the northwest and the Pittsburgh Steelers another 150 miles beyond that in Cleveland on this Sunday. Yet from the cluster of black and gold in this wide-decked former Shoney's restaurant, you'd think Jerome Bettis himself was on hand to autograph Terrible Towels.

It's another typical autumn Sunday in the boundless Steeler Nation, and 100 or so transplants to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle are in Sammy's to watch the Steelers and Browns on satellite TV. During a tumbling run across the goal line by No. 36, two hundred arms reach high like referees, in sync with their roar.

"Yeah, baby, in your face! ... We will not be denied!" yells Bob Smolensky, 55, among the dozens who are watching one of nine televisions outdoors on a crisp afternoon -- with wife, daughter and grandson -- because there's no space indoors. He used to work in Downtown's Gulf Building, but now is employed at North Carolina State University, located just a couple of long Roethlisberger throws up Avent Ferry Road from Sammy's.

Twelve hours earlier, the place had been full of recent and soon-to-be college graduates flirting in soft drawls, playing bar games like Golden Tee and listening to music. Now it's even more crowded, only it's with families who are sharing the Pittsburgh idea of quality time. The women who make up one-third of the crowd understand a stop-and-go is meant for scoring, not shopping. For the men, nothing is more comely than Bill Cowher's jaw.

Grouped in a row inside the front door, beneath a "Steel Triangle Fan Club" banner that outlines the Golden Triangle's skyline for a double entendre, are people happy to shout out the following hometowns: Penn Hills, Rochester, New Castle, New Wilmington, Bellevue, Martins Ferry, Ohio.


Close enough, as long as you're rooting for the right team.

"Everybody here is proud to be from Pittsburgh and wants to make everyone aware of it," explained Dominic Viola, 33, a former Keystone Oaks High School baseball player who is now a North Carolina scout for the Baltimore Orioles. "Everybody is here because this is how they keep their connection to the city."

While all Steelers games are telecast in Pittsburgh, people wanting that option in other television markets must purchase a special NFL satellite package for about $150 a season. Most instead find a place like Sammy's, which dedicates 16 televisions to Steelers action every week.

"It's always more fun when you're with a bunch of people rooting for your team," said Ray Hornack, head of the Steel Triangle Fan Club, which has 100 members paying annual dues of $25.

The money is used to buy Steelers memorabilia, which is raffled off in the bar at halftime, and to support a local charity in Raleigh.

He said the club got kicked out of another establishment near Raleigh's Lake Boone a few years ago. A supermarket next door complained that the fans were too rowdy and taking up too many parking spaces. There must be some phrase, after all, that goes: "You can take the Steeler fan out of the 'Burgh, but you can't ..."

The same lusty crew will be back today, drinking Iron City ordered especially for them, to watch the Steelers host the Ravens.

Steeler fans also will gather in hundreds of other public watering holes today. They'll be among retirees at Spectators Sports Bar in Fort Myers, Fla.; with a heavily Hispanic crowd at the Kings-X watering hole in El Paso, Texas; joining software engineers at Zachery's in Millbrae, Calif.

The Steelers' fan support around the country is legendary. Television commentators point out the unusual visibility and decibel level of support for the Steelers in other teams' stadiums, only some of which is produced by current Pittsburghers traveling to follow their team.

The unusual volume of Steelers fans at away games can be explained by so many ex-Pittsburghers outsourcing themselves around the country due to economics; so many of them retaining intense Pittsburgh loyalties because of deep Steel City roots; and so many whose emotions have hinged on the Steelers' success ever since the Super Bowl years. The team also has more than its share of dedicated followers who've never even been to Pittsburgh, thanks to its championship image from the '70s.

Eleven years ago, Ray Clark, 38, formerly of New Castle, wandered into Sansone's West Oaks Bar in Houston, noticed a few other people in Steelers garb, and they welcomed him. If he's black and they're white, no big deal. And if some of the 50 or more who gather there every week now are white-collar college graduates and others are blue-collar laborers, so what?

"We're all family," said the restaurant manager, wearing a gold steel-bar helmet. "We're all from the 'Burgh, and we all come together."

The Steeler Nation may be strong, but it's hardly cohesive. The Steelers organization makes no effort to organize or connect with the various groups out there. The extent to which things become formal depends on whatever group of guys -- and women, since there are plenty of those wearing Ward and Webster jerseys too -- starts gathering at some bar where the staff is willing to turn on the Steelers game.

Al Kleber, an Atlanta businessman also known as "Pittsburgh Al," believes he was the first one to make such an arrangement after settling in Georgia in 1981. Kleber convinced the owner of a place called Dirty Al's -- no relation -- that if the tavern dedicated its satellite telecast to the Steelers, he'd spread the word to a sufficient number of other expatriates to make it worthwhile.
Kleber succeeded -- to excess.

"It'd be so packed, fire marshals would come and stop people," Kleber recalled. "Then there was a riot at Dirty Al's one time from a bunch of Cleveland fans showing up for a Cleveland-Steelers game. We got barred from Dirty Al's."

Now he knows "at least seven bars" in and around Atlanta for Steelers fans.

People find such places by viewing a list on www.post-gazette.com; by checking www.blackandgoldbrigade.com, which belongs to a fan club with chapters around the country; or by e-mailing nick.nery@lycos.com, run by a Scott salesman who says he has collected information on about 50 clubs around the country, most of them independent of each other.

One of the strongest organizations is the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Baltimore, started 13 years ago and claiming nearly 2,800 members who pay a one-time fee of $25 to join. It has a big summer picnic and mailings and a Web site so everyone can keep sharp in the off-season. The club is affiliated with five different bars, the most notable being the Purple Goose Saloon.

The saloon is full of Steelers plaques, portraits and neon signs. The waitresses wear Steelers shirts. The kitchen produces a version of a Primanti Brothers sandwich. It's been like that for a dozen years, back to a time when Baltimore had no football team and the then-manager of the Purple Goose was from Pittsburgh.

All this occurs within five minutes of Downtown Baltimore, in the city's Morrell Park section, where owner Charlotte Hairsine said she doesn't need or want anyone else's business on Sundays.

"This is a closed bar for the Steelers on Sunday," she said. "You cannot come in here with Ravens or Browns colors."

Just across the street, however, sits a Ravens bar. That place will be crowded today as well, no doubt.

And if a Dirty Al's-style showdown should break out afterward in the street, perhaps no one will be surprised. Hey, it's a 'Burgh thing.

Back to main story:Scattered Abroad / Many of the thousands of Pittsburgers who left year to return

Friday, December 24, 2004

Margaret Carlson: "Hotel Rwanda" Should Open Our Eyes to Sudanese Genocide

December 23, 2004
The Los Angeles Times

Margaret Carlson:

'Hotel Rwanda' Should Open Our Eyes to the Genocide in Sudan
A film about compassion in a time of slaughter asks how we can stand silent.

I don't go to the movies to feel guilty. If I stumble into one that leaves me feeling that way, I generally don't recommend it to friends. I like my movies soft, entertaining and message-free.

I wanted to wring James Brooks' neck for "Spanglish." The director of "Terms of Endearment," which my daughter and I have watched a hundred times, has no business serving up "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" without a warning label stamping it as unsuitable for romantics.

So I had to be dragged last week to see "Hotel Rwanda." For a time, I fitfully resisted but was quickly drawn in. It is a story about love in a time of slaughter. Without preaching to its audience, it shows how a man can be transformed from ordinary to heroic.

Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, is the solicitous manager of an elegant, luxury hotel in Kigali. It's a going concern despite outbreaks of violence. He caters to European businessmen and corrupt local officials, whom he courts with Cuban cigars and single-malt Scotch. His intelligent eyes say he knows he's just the help. But like many an underling, he is confused by his proximity to power. When his brother-in-law, a Tutsi like Paul's wife, asks for protection, Paul shoos him away. He doesn't believe all hell is about to break loose, or that if it does it will penetrate his bubble of privilege.

Gradually, he awakens to the violence raging beyond his gates. He reluctantly takes in a handful of orphans and then more, until he's hiding more than 1,000 of his countrymen. But he has nothing more than his wits and whiskey to protect them with. Paul believes if he can keep his refugees safe one day at a time, the world will awaken and send in the troops. That illusion is utterly dashed when the U.N. mission chief takes Paul aside to tell him there will be no rescue: "The West, all the superpowers, everything you believe in, Paul, they think you're dirt … you're worthless. You're African."

Where does heroism come from and how many of us have it? The uplifting message of "Hotel Rwanda" is that if Paul is capable of such bravery, maybe we are too.

After 9/11, I remember reading of the $10-an-hour security guard last seen alive racing back from another building to guide his fellow workers to safety, and of the insurance agent "just doing his job" who denied that guard's widow benefits because her husband wasn't officially "on duty" when he died. Would I be the security guard or the agent?

At the outset, Paul believed the system he served would protect his country. When it didn't, he took it upon himself to save as many people as he could, whatever the peril to himself. Will "Hotel Rwanda" open Americans' eyes to the almost identical genocide in nearby Sudan?

After Rwanda, presidents Clinton and Bush said that never again would the West turn its back on such suffering. Yet the slaughter in Darfur by the janjaweed and Arab militias has killed tens of thousands and displaced about 2 million more.

In September, Secretary of State Colin Powell called the killings genocide, a word the U.S. pointedly didn't use about Rwanda because to do so would have acknowledged a duty to intervene.

War is God's way of teaching Americans geography. Few of us even know where Rwanda or Mogadishu or Sudan are unless, by chance, some American gets caught in the crossfire there. Who can sort out the Tutsis from the Hutus or make an educated guess as to what beyond blood lust, revenge and despair they are fighting over? The Middle East we care about. Africa, we don't.

Bush's appointment in June of former Sudan envoy John Danforth to be U.N. ambassador offered the country a ray of hope, at least until he quit just six months later. A day after announcing his resignation, he publicly denounced the failure of a motion that (mildly) criticized human rights violations in Sudan. "One wonders about the utility of the General Assembly on days like this. One wonders if there can't be a clear and direct statement on matters of basic principle. Why have this building? What is it all about?"

As Christmas neared, Save the Children, one of the last relief organizations left in Sudan, announced that renewed fighting made it impossible to stay. The White House tossed the ball back into the United Nations' court, telling Secretary-General Kofi Annan that it was up to him to go there and reopen peace talks.

Let no one be dragged in years to come to "Hotel Sudan." That's a sequel no one should have to see.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.

Jonah Goldberg: Lighten Up, It's Christmas

[I never in my sweet short life thought that I would see press headlines like "The Battle Over Christmas" or "Americans Clash Over Christmas Celebrations"...I mean, what the hell is going on around here? I simply cannot wrap my head around this...I don't want to know someone who can't handle having a well-wisher extend a heartfelt "Merry Christmas". This is what we've been reduced to?...fighting over "Merry Christmas"?...you can't be serious! - jtf]

Lighten up, it's Christmas

Jonah Goldberg (archive)
December 22, 2004 Print Send

Maybe it’s my upbringing. When my parents got married, my father insisted the kids be raised Jewish. For the record, Mom’s Episcopalian. And, also for the record, you can spare the e-mails about how that means I’m not Jewish because Jewishness is matrilineal (from the mom’s side).

This didn’t stop me from getting Bar Mitzvah presents (ah, the early ’80s, so many electronic calculators!). And it doesn’t stop me from getting piles of anti-Semitic e-mail, either. Anyway, Momma G said, Fine, we can raise the kids Jewish, but we have to celebrate Christmas.

And so we did. In fact, my parents clipped a headline from a newspaper and taped it to a cardboard Christmas tree ornament they still use every year. It says: “Santa Knows We’re Jewish.”

Don’t laugh too hard. Is it such a stretch to imagine that one fat man and a bunch of vertically challenged workmen, who are capable of delivering a billion tons of toys to every corner of the globe in a single night with a single sled — pulled by flying reindeer — might add a few nice Jewish kids to his list, assuming they’ve been nice and not naughty, of course?

I attended a Reform Jewish day school, and almost everyone I knew had a Christmas tree at home. I don’t remember anyone calling them “Holiday Trees,” but quite a few called them “Hanukkah bushes,” which always struck me as lameness on stilts — like calling a menorah a “Christmas candelabra.”

And keep in mind, this school, Rodeph Sholem, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was virtually a madrassa of knee-jerk Jewish liberalism. Why, a couple years ago they — I kid you not — cancelled Mother’s Day because it was mean to kids with, uh, two daddies. Note, they never canceled Mother’s Day out of consideration for kids whose mothers were, you know, dead. But that’s a battle for another day.

Anyway, I guess it’s because of this background — plus my supposedly troglodytic rightwingness — that I just cannot get worked-up about the supposed non-inclusiveness of Christmastime. I don’t know a single Jew, Muslim or atheist who’d be even remotely likely to switch teams simply by seeing a Christmas tree. Santa Claus is not going around like the priests in “The Exorcist,” waving his bell like holy water, shouting, “The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!”

Christmas is a joyous holiday, and joyous people tend not to behave like Torquemada. By my rough calculation, 99.87 percent of Christians who say “Merry Christmas” to people who aren’t Christian do so because they’re trying to be nice. And, by my equally rough calculation, 97.93 percent of people who take real offense when they’re on the receiving end of such Yuletide wishes are trying to be a pain in the — uh, well, they’re trying to be a pain. Let’s put it this way. If you were in Morocco (and a non-Muslim) and someone said to you, “Have a nice Ramadan,” you’d probably say thanks respectfully and leave it at that. But some people are aghast that, here at home, someone might say “Merry Christmas” to them without first making sure they’re Christians.

You might ague this misses the point. The debate isn’t about the private sphere, but the public one. Separation of church and state, the First Amendment, blah, blah. Yeah, I know that argument. Who doesn’t at this point? But I just don’t have a lot of patience for it. This country had established state churches for generations after the First Amendment was ratified. So spare me the argument that its unconstitutional for the local rec center to sport a nativity scene out front and maybe a menorah in the window.

Closer to home, my wife works at the Department of Justice, where not even America’s most feared Christian, John Ashcroft, could successfully keep the Department of Justice from celebrating Gay Pride Month just downstairs from his office. But I’m supposed to buy that it would be outrageous for the DOJ to have a Christmas — not holiday, but Christmas — party one night after work?

Tolerance must be a two-way street. If minorities want the majority to be tolerant of them, minorities in turn need to tolerate at least some of the norms of the majority. Simply because there are more Christians than Jews or Muslims or atheists, doesn’t mean that Christians should always get the shaft. That said, Christians — or at least the politically organized ones — don’t do themselves any favors when they start talking like just another identity politics group. Christians seem to be complaining more this year than usual about the war on Christmas, even as they are finding more success. Arnold Schwarzenegger renamed the governor’s “holiday tree” a Christmas tree. George Bush is the first president ever to include a quote from scripture on his Christmas card. Besides, once “Merry Christmas” becomes a political statement, everyone loses.

So, everybody lighten up, it’s Christmas!

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, a Townhall.com member group.
©2004 Tribune Media Services
Contact Jonah Goldberg Read Goldberg's biography

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ed Bouchette: Six Steelers Selected to Pro Bowl

[We care about who gets picked to play but we don't give a crap about watching the game. - jtf]

Lei it on the line

Six Steelers receive spots on the Pro Bowl team -- best in the AFC -- and a trip to Hawaii

Thursday, December 23, 2004
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The importance of the offensive line to the Steelers' success this season was reflected in the Pro Bowl team announced yesterday.

For only the third time in 22 seasons, two offensive linemen are among six Steelers on the American Football Conference Pro Bowl team.

The line that was such a mess last season, cleaned up in 2004 and guard Alan Faneca and center Jeff Hartings earned a trip to Hawaii for it. Even left tackle Marvel Smith was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl and could make it a third lineman in Honolulu for the Feb. 13 Pro Bowl if another tackle backs out.

No Steelers team had more than two offensive linemen in the Pro Bowl, which began play in 1951.

Pro Bowl linebackers are nothing new for the Steelers, but when James Farrior and Joey Porter made it yesterday, they became the first linebackers in two years to do so. Wide receiver Hines Ward and strong safety Troy Polamalu also are on the team.

The six Steelers in the Pro Bowl are more than any other AFC team and second in the NFL only to Philadelphia, which placed nine.

Hartings, Farrior and Polamalu made it for the first time. Faneca and Ward were selected for the fourth consecutive year. Porter earned a second trip.

Last season, the Steelers slipped to 6-10 and injuries, other health problems and some poor play in the line contributed to constant jumbling that forced Faneca to play left tackle for half the season. But after right guard Kendall Simmons was lost for the season with a knee injury in the summer, the line has been the rock of a rock-and-roll season.

The starting line of Smith, Faneca, Hartings, guard Keydrick Vincent and right tackle Oliver Ross not only started all 14 games but they've each played every snap in every game except for the two snaps Ross missed in two different games when he lost a shoe.

"Knock on wood, these guys have stayed pretty much together," coach Bill Cowher said. "We lost Kendall, but from the first game on, these guys have played together and been so consistent week in and week out."

Faneca was pleased with his selection but joined other teammates upset that defensive end Aaron Smith was not selected. Smith is a first alternate.

"I don't know how Aaron Smith didn't make it," Faneca said. "He definitely should have been in there; that's a travesty."

Said Porter, "I would trade mine in to let Aaron go because I feel he played better than I did. Aaron really had a good year. He's always getting the short end of the stick."

Rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who received the 10th-most votes of any NFL player in the fan balloting, did not make the team, but he is the first alternate. If any of the three AFC Pro Bowl quarterbacks -- Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning -- back out, Roethlisberger would be next in line.

Roethlisberger said the Pro Bowl team meant nothing to him.

"A Super Bowl would mean something to me."

Making the Pro Bowl did mean something to Faneca and Ward. They are the first Steelers to make at least four Pro Bowls since Dermontti Dawson earned his seventh after the 1998 season. Jerome Bettis earned his fifth in 2001 but his first two were with the Rams.

"Why would it get old to be recognized as one of the better players at your position?" asked Faneca, who has made more Pro Bowls than any previous Steelers guard.

Ward's fourth consecutive Pro Bowl gives him more than any Steelers wide receiver and one more than Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.

"It's a great accomplishment, making it to four straight Pro Bowls on a predominantly running team," Ward said. "We're always known to be a power run team and a great defense, making it to a fourth Pro Bowl is a huge accomplish for me and an honor."

Porter followed his first Pro Bowl selection after the 2002 season by being shot as an innocent bystander while leaving a restaurant in downtown Denver one week before the 2003 season opened. He missed the first two games, but the muscle damage to his thigh weakened his quickness last season.

Porter has seven sacks, three forced fumbles and leads the team with 25 hits or pressures on the quarterback.

"You look at what this guy's done week in and week out," Cowher said, "it's been well recognized by people around this league what type of impact player he is. He's had a very solid season.
"I'm happy for him. A year ago he goes through the incident of the gunshot wound and to come back to where he is now, it's really a reflection of the hard work he put into it."

Porter and Farrior said they will pay for the rest of the linebackers, defensive linemen and their coaches to make the trip to Honolulu with them. He said Polamalu can take care of the secondary.

"We're taking everybody, whoever wants to go," Farrior said. "I'm happy for Joey, that he made it and we have two linebackers on this defense that made it. We have a couple more guys I think should have been over there."

(Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3878.)

Michelle Malkin: Christians in the Crossfire

Michelle Malkin Archive

Christians In The Crossfire
By Michelle Malkin

Yes, it’s maddening when politically correct bureaucrats ban nativity scenes and Christmas carols in the name of "diversity" and "tolerance." We are under attack by Secularist Grinches Gone Wild.

But the war on Christmas in America is a mere skirmish.

Around the world, a bloody, repressive war on Christians rages on.

In Iraq, Islamist rebel troops have declared open season on Christian churches, priests, and missionaries. In February, four American pastors were traveling in a taxi near the capital when terrorists ambushed them. Rev. John Kelly, pastor of Curtis Corner Baptist Church in rural Rhode Island and a former Marine, was killed in the attack. The missionaries were starting up a new church south of Baghdad.

A friend of Rev. Kelly’s noted upon word of his murder that "he wanted to be a witness for Christ in a part of the world where there aren't a lot of witnesses for Christ."

On March 15, Southern Baptist missionaries Larry and Jean Elliott of Cary, North Carolina, Karen Denise Watson of Bakersfield, Calif., and David McDonnall of Rowlett, Texas, were killed in a drive-by shooting in northern Iraq. McDonnall’s wife, Carrie, survived the attack. The group, one of several Christian aid groups helping with reconstruction efforts, was scouting out locations for a water purification project.

The McDonnalls were young students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Watson served on the Baptist International Mission Board, as did the Elliotts. At the Elliotts’ funeral, their oldest son, Scott, touched his chest and looked upward in tribute to his parents: "Thank you for living for the Lord. I am a life that was changed." Stephen Rummage, interim senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., said the couple "loved the gospel and the souls of lost men and women more than themselves."

In Saudi Arabia, an Indian Christian man was abducted and held captive by the kingdom’s religious police (the "Muttawa") for seven months earlier this year. Brian Savio O’Connor was singled out by the Wahhabist thug cops for "possession of Bibles and preaching Christianity." In addition, the Muttawa falsely charged that O’Connor had illegally sold alcohol. While in custody, O’Connor was allegedly beaten and "pressed to convert to Islam," according to the AsiaNews website. The Saudi government succumbed to international pressure and freed O’Connor last month.

But persecution by the Saudi government against Christian Saudis continues. A Saudi Christian convert, Emad Alaabadi, was taken into custody by the Muttawa last November. The father of four became a Christian two years ago. Family and friends at the human rights group, International Christian Concern, fear he has been tortured for his beliefs.

On Dec. 1, Christian pastor Zhang Rongliang disappeared from his village apartment in Zhengzhou, China. According to The Voice of the Martyrs, a non-profit charity that tracks religious persecution, state police confiscated all of Pastor Zhang’s Christian DVDs, materials, and photos. Three other Christian churches were reportedly raided after Pastor Zhang’s arrest—part of a nationwide crackdown on the Chinese "house church" movement. More than 100 other Christian pastors were arrested in Kaifeng city in September. Many have been beaten, sentenced to "re-education through labor," and accused of being "leaders of an evil cult."

In Vietnam and North Korea, followers of Christ have been arrested, beaten, tortured, and forced to renounce their faith. In Nigeria, an Islamist terrorist group named after the Taliban conducted religious pogroms in the northern part of the country this fall—kidnapping, raping, and killing Christian villagers as part of a radicalization program that government officials suspect is being funded by Saudi Wahhabists. In Sudan, Muslim radicals have perpetrated mass slaughter and enslavement of Christian men, women, and children, some of whom have been literally crucified.

If America’s mainstream media would give the global War on Christianity just a fraction of the attention it pays to the War on Christmas, lives might be saved. And light would be shed on the true heroes of the original religion of peace.

Doing so, however, would require the nation’s secularized pundits and pontificators to take religious persecution seriously. In that, alas, I have no faith.

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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Don Feder: The Kinky Report

By Don Feder
December 21, 2004

Alfred C. Kinsey is the Left’s secular saint – a revered figure who, they are convinced, came into a benighted world and (armed with reams of scientific research) heroically banished ignorance and sexual repression, and ushered in a new age of liberation, enlightenment, and pleasure.

In reality, the zoologist turned sex researcher was a sick pervert – more at home in a trench coat than a lab smock – who doctored evidence, abetted child molestation, and helped to launch a revolution that has resulted in untold human suffering.

But try telling that to one who worships at the altar of good sex. It’s less hazardous to disparage the pope to an Opus Dei Catholic, or burn the flag at an American Legion convention, than to question the nobility of Kinsey with a doctrinaire liberal.

In his December 12th column ("The Plot Against Sex in America"), Frank Rich – commissar of culture at The New York Times -- practically drooled through the page.

Over 50 years ago, Saint Alfred drove the snakes of Victorian sexual morality out of America’s bedrooms. But now, thanks to the Religious Right, they’re slithering back, Rich frantically warns us. "As politicians and the media alike pander to that supposed 22 percent of ‘moral values’ voters, we’re back where we came in."

Among other forms of repression just too awful for words, the Times columnist cites the advance of abstinence education, commercial TV stations in Los Angeles refusing to air "a public service spot created by Los Angeles county’s own public health agency to counteract the rising tide of syphilis," and "right-wing groups that have targeted" the cinematic celebration of Rich’s idol – "Kinsey."

Neo-puritans have mounted a full-scale assault on the movie "Kinsey" (including "false accusations" that the good doctor was a pedophile) as part of their "larger goal of pushing sex of all non-biblical kinds back into the closet and undermining any scientific findings, whether circa 1948 or 2004, that might challenge fundamentalist sexual orthodoxy as successfully as Darwin challenged Genesis," Rich sputters.

By the way, that PSA whose rejection Rich finds so ominous featured a red cartoon character, called "Phil the Sore." Phil follows two men home and, after their exchange of bodily fluids, calls in his kin, carrying boxes labeled "brain damage," "rash" and "blindness," with the implication that these can result from what the prophylactic-brigade calls "unprotected sex." Even for TV stations in LA, this was just too dumb. Only public health officials – and Rich – believe a cartoon character will keep certain citizens from have high-risk sex.

"Kinsey" stars Liam Neeson, an actor who himself is venerated for his roles in films like "Schindler’s List." While it hints at Kinsey’s eccentricities (seducing his male assistants, urging his wife to have sex with his colleagues), the movie barely scratches the surface of the degeneracy of the father of the sexual revolution.

According to Kinsey biographer James H. Jones, whose book Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998, the celebrated sexologist was an exhibitionist and a masochist who enjoyed torturing himself by placing various objects in his urethra, among other deviant behavior.

He also filmed his wife masturbating and having sex with other men and himself having intercourse with various subordinates, some of whom were coerced into the relationships.

As for Kinsey’s much-vaunted research, to call it junk science would be generous. Kinsey presented his tomes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (published in 1948 and weighing in at 804 pages) and Sexual Behavior In the Human Female (1953) as models of scientific method and based on rigorous research. They were anything but.

Among other findings, Kinsey concluded that 85 percent of American men had intercourse before marriage, 30-45 percent had extramarital relations, 70 percent had sex with prostitutes, as many as 37 percent had engaged in homosexual acts, and 10 percent were exclusively homosexual. From the latter comes the myth, endlessly repeated by the gay lobby, that one in 10 Americans is a homosexual. (The figure is actually closer to 1 to 2 percent.)
Incredibly, this was not a portrait of a mid-town Manhattan singles bar today, but of Middle America circa 1948!

Kinsey’s method was to science what rape is to romance. The University of Indiana academician set out to validate certain conclusions, and rigged the evidence to prove his case.

For instance, when he couldn’t get enough married women to talk about their sex lives, he redefined "married woman" as living with a man for more than a year. Prostitutes were also included in his study of female sexuality – a fact Kinsey failed to disclose in his book.

Similarly, Kinsey’s study of American males included disproportionate numbers of prisoners – especially sex offenders. Again, according to Jones, convicts constituted as much as 25 percent of Kinsey’s subjects.

Jones writes: "In fact, he had devoted much of his time to interviewing members of the underclass, including drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, pimps, gamblers and the like." The sexual revolution was launched with research based on data drawn from the dregs of society.
Charges of pedophilia arise for Kinsey’s research into the sex lives of children. There were as many as 2,000 "subjects," some as young as six months old.

The doctor was convinced that children were "sexual beings," who could experience orgasms almost from birth by stimulating their sexual organs. "It is difficult to understand why a child, except for cultural conditioning, should be disturbed at having its genitalia touched [otherwise known as being molested-DF], or disturbed at seeing the genitalia of other persons, or disturbed at even more specific sexual contacts," Kinsey wrote in The Sexual Behavior of the Human Female.

Still, in his book on the human male, Kinsey noted that child subjects of these experiments would often "scream" and "will fight away from the [adult] partner and may make violent attempts to avoid climax, although they derive definite pleasure from the situation."

Much of Kinsey’s research here came from pedophiles. The scientist carried on voluminous correspondence with these dedicated researchers, and encouraged them to keep meticulous notes on their "experiments" with children.

Not to worry, Kinsey was sure the victims enjoyed it. Again, Jones discloses, "From Kinsey’s perspective, child molestation, like other sexual taboos, violated morals, but the actual harm it inflicted was all in people’s minds. If society did not make a big deal of it, the children would not be harmed." The North American Man Boy Love Association owes an enormous debt to Alfred C. Kinsey.

Jones notes that Kinsey was a man with a mission. "The man I came to know bore no resemblance to the canonical Kinsey. Anything but disinterested, he approached his work with a missionary fervor. Kinsey loathed Victorian morality…He was determined to use [or abuse - DF] science to strip human sexuality of guilt and repression. He wanted to undermine traditional morality, to soften the rules of restraint… Kinsey was a crypto-reformer who spent his every waking hour attempting to change the sexual mores and sex offender laws of the United States."

In other words, Dr. Kinsey wanted an America that resembled Dr. Kinsey. We’ve come a long way in that direction (thanks in part to his work – which provided the pseudo-scientific justification for the sexual revolution). In America, thanks to Kinsey's research:

Some 65 million have contracted one or more sexually transmitted diseases, most incurable.
More than half a million people have died from AIDS and an additional million have the HIV virus.

When Kinsey published his first opus, there were two venereal diseases documented in the United States: syphilis and gonorrhea. Today, the Centers for Disease Control tracks more than 30.

There are an estimated 4.2 million pornographic websites. They constitute 12 percent of all Internet sites. Every day, there are 68 million internet searches for pornography.

It is conservatively estimated at each year 20,000 to 50,000 women are brought into the United States (mostly from Latin America, Asia, and the former USSR) to serve as indentured servants in the sex trade.

Between 1960 and 1999, out-of-wedlock births to teenage mothers increased more than 430 percent. In some inner-cities, almost 80 percent of all births are to unmarried women.

The age-old institution of marriage is crumbling before our eyes, with the high court of Massachusetts mandating homosexual marriage. In the face of this attempt to radically remake society’s fundamental institution, a majority of members of the United States Senate voted against bringing to the floor a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage.

Obviously, Kinsey – who died in 1956 – did not achieve all of this on his own. The work he started was carried on by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Sex Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS), the ACLU, the federal judiciary (especially activist members of the Supreme Court), Mary Calderone, Hugh Hefner, Howard Stern, Dr. Alex ("The Joy of Sex") Comfort, Larry Flynt, Jerry Springer, Dr. Ruth, Joycelyn Elders, Bill (its-only-sex) Clinton, and a cast of thousands.

But Kinsey was the catalyst, which is why the left gets hysterical whenever its icon is exposed.
Like their mentor, liberals want to frame the debate as the sexually repressed versus the sexually healthy, or puritanical versus open-and-honest.

In reality, on one side of the great divide stand those who believe that sex has a moral content. On the other, are those whose goal is to completely separate sex from morality – activists whose ideal is sex at its most primitive and animalistic. Kinsey’s admirers would reduce the most profound and value-laden of human activities to an irresistible urge. In the deepest sense, they are sexual determinists whose motto should be: I am, therefore I rut.

Speaking of the man he portrays in "Kinsey," Liam Neeson insists, "These [Kinsey and his team] are people who stand for something, something that is good to remind audiences of." The Nazis who conducted medical experiments in the death camps also stood for something.

The Liam-brained actor continues, "They had a code of ethics that you perhaps don’t find anymore." Except, of course, in a sex-offenders registry.

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

Joe Kaufman: CAIR's Dreams of American Sharia

Joe Kaufman
December 22, 2004

“Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

This was the sentiment of Omar M. Ahmad, the Chairman of the Board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR, as told at an Islamic conference held in Freemont, California, in July of 1998.

If a recent event taking place in Irving, Texas, is any indication, CAIR also hopes for an American jihad.

The event took place on Saturday, December 11, 2004. The theme was “The Unity of Muslim Ummah around the globe.” [Ummah = universal knowledge of Islam.] The affair was titled “A TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT ISLAMIC VISIONARY.” That “visionary” was none other than Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

On the flier for the event were the words “Neither east nor west,” alluding to Khomeini’s feeling of how the Soviet Union (“Lesser Satan”) in his mind was ultimately just as evil as the United States. It states, “‘Neither east nor west’ is the principal [sic.] slogan of an Islamic revolution....”

The venue was the Metroplex of Organizations of Muslims in North-Texas (MOMIN), certainly a far distance from where someone would think something like this would normally take place.

However, this actually does turn out to be the perfect location for this event, as the website of MOMIN contains: 1. photos depicting Khomeini; 2. a poem that states, “[Hollywood] films are Satanic”; 3. a link to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), which describes (on its website) the Iranian Revolution and overthrow of the Shah as a “triumph”; and 4. a link to a website featuring an entire page dedicated to Khomeini and deifying him, saying he masterminded a “divine uprising.”

In addition, the spiritual leader of MOMIN, Maulana Shamshad Haider Murtazawi, in May of 2004, had the following published in islamicdigest.net, a website that contains anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, and anti-American images and advertisements and propaganda for the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization.

Murtazawi wrote, “There are elements within the Shia community who have a certain dislike for the Islamic revolution, Imam Khomeini or Islamic government in Iran. Such people are usually supported by the western governments to win the hearts of the liberals within the Shia Muslim community in the West. If such elements are not flushed out, they will become a menace for our community that will mislead many more. Allah (swt) is the Guardian of the believers.”

The declarations of Omar Ahmad and Murtazawi are not unlike those made in the late 70’s, when an upsurge of anti-American, anti-Western sentiment was beginning to take hold within Iran. Led by an exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the uprising, or “revolution,” was largely a violent fundamentalist response to the secular monarchy of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (a.k.a. The Shah).

As chaos broke out in the streets of Tehran, Khomeini shouted from afar “Death to America” and referred to the U.S. as the “Great Satan.” Soon the Shah, said to be an American collaborator, would be overthrown, in favor of an Islamic Republic with Khomeini as its leader.

As it turns out, people did attend this dreadful event. And one of the featured speakers was a representative from CAIR, Iyas Maleh, the President of CAIR’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter. Maleh said of the June handover of sovereignty to Iraq: “Two years from now we’ll be saying, ‘What have we done? We’ve installed a government that the Islamic people do not see as a legitimate government.’”

…confirming that Omar M. Ahmad’s dream is still alive and well, at least within the confines of CAIR.

Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate, an Investigative Researcher at The Klayman Law Firm, and the host of the Politics of Terrorism radio show.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

G.K. Chesterton: The Wise Men

Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all the labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And serve the made gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly ... it has hailed and snowed...
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun
(... We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone...)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

It is What it is...A Christmas Tree

[Things just keep getting weirder and weirder...who would have thought that the mere mention of the word "Christmas" in public would be cause for alarm?...I suddenly feel like one of the Chicago 7 everytime I wish someone a "Merry Christmas"...Viva La Revolution!...However, this revolution WILL be televised... ]

From the Wall Street Journal's best of the web:

...in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has ignited controversy by presiding over the lighting of what he has renamed the state's Christmas tree. Under previous governors, it was called the "holiday tree." At the ceremony, Mr. Schwarzenegger talked about how he celebrated Christmas growing up in his native Austria, adding, "We were taught to think about the spirit, the joy of Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Christ."

The governor was promptly attacked for injecting religion into a state ceremony and possibly offending people of other faiths or no faith. But his press secretary had a quick rejoinder: "He called it a Christmas tree because that is what it is."The article also noted that the use of a Scripture verse from the Psalms (95:2) on the White House Christmas Card is avoiding ACLU scrutiny because the mailing is being funded by the Republican National Committee and not taxpayers.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Gerard Valentino: The Falso Hope of Gun-Free Zones

By Gerard Valentino
CNSNews.com Commentary
December 16, 2004

Few people remember the school shooting in Pearl, Mississippi that took place in October 1997. Fewer people remember how it ended.This episode came to a close when Pearl High School Assistant Principal Joel Myrick sprinted a quarter mile to retrieve a personal handgun from his car and confronted the shooter who was unwilling to continue the attack against an armed victim. Myrick parked so far away from the school to keep from violating federal gun free zone statutes. By the time the shooting spree ended, two students lay dead and seven others were wounded. Myrick's heroic defense of the children at his school was sparsely reported, going mostly unnoticed by the establishment media who were unwilling to report that he used a gun to end the mayhem and murder.

They were also unwilling to ask the hard question - how many children died while Myrick sprinted to his car?Compare the carnage at Pearl High School with that of the Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, where a gunman murdered 22 people and wounded 18 others before turning the gun on himself. Among those at Luby's on October 16, 1991 was a woman who was proficient with handguns, but obeyed the law by leaving her legal handgun in her vehicle because. At times she was within feet of the killer and instinctively reached for her gun which wasn't there. By the time it was over, her mother and father were among the dead.

Once again, the media never asked how many people were killed because the license holder was disarmed.Past instances of mass shootings, and common sense, teach us that when a victim resists with a firearm the violence ends quickly. Arguments claiming armed intervention by citizens leads to higher death tolls do not stand up to scrutiny. Death tolls are demonstrably higher when victims are unable to fight back as compared to cases where an armed victim resists. It's time to ask how many more people must needlessly die before gun control activists and legislators realize that disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them easy prey to criminals.

The recent massacre at a Columbus, Ohio nightclub proves yet again that so-called gun free zones only benefit criminals. The Ohio legislature and Ohio Governor Bob Taft left everyone in that nightclub without a chance to fight for their lives because under Ohio's concealed carry law, license holders are banned from carrying in any establishment that serves alcohol - even if the licensee does not drink.

At first it sounds like good public policy to ban firearms in establishments that serve liquor. Further scrutiny however reveals that any gun free zone, including schools, restaurants, bars and government buildings offer criminals the freedom to kill with impunity. The Columbus nightclub shooter was stopped by a city police officer who happened to be in the area and responded quickly to calls for help. However, we also know that a concealed handgun license holder was in the crowd that night, but was un-armed in accordance with the law. At times, he was less than five feet from the gunman but could do nothing.

A similar scenario unfolds in nearly every massacre committed with a firearm across the United States. Most take place in what gun-rights activists call victims-zones; areas deemed too dangerous, either by government or a private business, to allow legal firearms. What gun-control advocates fail to grasp is criminals, by definition, do not follow the law and therefore any attempt to keep them from carrying a gun into a given establishment will fail, often with tragic results.

The goal of legislators nationwide shouldn't be to keep armed law-abiding citizens from bearing arms in restaurants, bars, schools and so forth. It should be to keep criminals with guns from entering such locations. Posting signs designating an area as "gun free" does not keep criminals from entering with a gun; they invite criminals who know nobody can stop them.

And that is exactly what they want.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Tom Piatak: An Orwellian Christmas

War Against Christmas 2004 Competition [IX]:
An Orwellian Christmas
By Tom Piatak

[Also by Tom Piatak: Take Back Christmas! and Happy Holidays? Bah! Humbug!]

Traditionally, the writer most associated with Christmas was Charles Dickens. But today, Christmas in America is far more likely to be Orwellian than Dickensian.
Long before the advent of political correctness, Orwell wrote, “Freedom is the freedom to say 2 + 2 = 4. If that is granted, all else follows.”

I was reminded of Orwell’s great insight by a recent skirmish in the War against Christmas at a private school east of my hometown, Cleveland.
A seventh grader there made the mistake of saying that two plus two equals four. He called the decorated tree in his homeroom a “Christmas tree.”

When I was in seventh grade, such a statement would have been as controversial as saying the sky is blue. After all, Christmas is the holiday that causes tens of millions of Americans to celebrate by putting up decorated trees.
But, at this school, students are required to say that two plus two equals five: the decorated tree must be referred to as a “holiday tree.”

Because of his insistence on speaking the truth, this seventh grader was labeled an “anti-Semite” and a “Nazi” by classmates.

Far from reprimanding the students who absurdly equated Christmas with Nazism, his teacher threatened to discipline the seventh grader if he persisted in calling the decorated tree by its actual name. He was also warned that he must not wish anyone a “Merry Christmas.”
Needless to say, this bit of nastiness was justified on the Orwellian grounds of “diversity” and “tolerance.”

Interestingly, even though Jewish students are a minority, the school also displays menorahs and dreidels (but no nativity scenes) and puts up lights in blue and white, the Hanukkah colors. No one is threatened with discipline for mentioning that holiday.

I was also reminded of Orwell when I was preparing for a recent talk to the Cleveland chapter of the Federalist Society on the legal aspects of the War Against Christmas. At least some federal courts harbor a thinly-disguised hostility toward Christianity, justified in Orwellian terms.

Of course, as VDARE.COM has pointed out, the First Amendment is not the reason for the War against Christmas. The school where no student may say “Christmas” is a private school, not a public one. And the War Against Christmas rages in lands with no First Amendment. Last week, the New York Times reported that there was widespread outrage in Italy because a school near Como had decided to substitute the word “virtue” for “Jesus” in an Italian carol the students were performing—in the interests of “diversity,” of course.

But the First Amendment (and the “wall of separation” between church and state it supposedly embodies) has certainly proven a valuable weapon for those intent on obliterating any public mention of Christmas.

Needless to say, that is not what the First Amendment was intended to do. As Justice Joseph Story, the leading commentator on the Constitution in the first half of the nineteenth century, explained,
“The real object of the amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”

Indeed, several New England states had established churches well into the nineteenth century.
Often, however, current jurisprudence stands Story’s words on their head. In Skoros v. City of New York, a federal district judge upheld the New York City schools’ policy of displaying Islamic crescents and menorahs, but banning nativity scenes. In upholding this policy, the court lauded the schools’ “diversity policy,” writing that
“Without a diversity policy, a winter holiday display in New York City’s public schools would be dominated by images representative of Christmas.”

Citing Supreme Court precedent, the court concluded that
“an explicit Christian religious symbol such as a crèche need not be included in a Christmas time display to counterbalance the display of a menorah before the message is reasonably perceived as one of inclusion.”

This is the point: in today’s America, what “diversity” and “inclusion” actually mean is that symbols of America’s Christian heritage must be excluded—and expelled.
In Orwellian terms: “inclusion” is exclusion. “Diversity” is conformity.
And, of course, freedom is slavery.

In amazing contrast is the California district court decision in Eklund v. Byron Union School District, which upheld an eight-week long “study module” for seventh graders that required students to recite Islamic prayers and participate in activities intended to approximate the Five Pillars of Islam, and also encouraged students to create Islamic banners, take Arab names, and wear Arab garb.

The court ruled that “Role playing activities which are not in actuality the practice of a religion do not violate the Establishment Clause”—citing Ninth Circuit precedent upholding reading assignments that discussed witches and instructed students to pretend to cast magic spells.
One is tempted to resort to Orwell’s newspeak to explain these decisions: Islam and witches, good; nativity scenes, “ungood.”

Fortunately, other federal court decisions suggest a strategy for a successful counterattack: emphasizing the unmatched cultural significance of Christmas.

The Eighth Circuit has recognized, in Florey v. Sioux Falls School District, that “carols have a cultural significance that justifies their being sung in the public schools.”

And the Fifth Circuit has recognized, in Doe v. Duncanville Independent School District, that
“a position of neutrality towards religion must allow choir directors to recognize the fact that most choral music is religious. Limiting the number of times a religious piece of music can be sung is tantamount to censorship and does not send students a message of neutrality.”
At my talk to the Federalist Society, I illustrated this point by playing a recording of “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen” (we know it as “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming”) from my favorite Christmas CD.

Aside from its amazing beauty, there were several notable aspects about this recording.
It was sung by children, showing that age is not an insuperable obstacle in introducing students to cultural excellence.

This particular version was recorded in East Germany, showing that even an atheist state, officially hostile to religion, was able to recognize value in Christmas.

The carol was sung in German, showing that teaching students about Christmas is an ideal vehicle for teaching them about true multiculturalism. Indeed, my own collection of Christmas music features carols sung in German, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish, Polish, Catalan, Welsh, and Ukrainian, in addition to English. No other holiday matches the cultural breadth of Christmas.

Also significant was the fact that the music was composed by one great composer, Michael Praetorius, and that the singers came from the choir of St. Thomas in Leipzig, among whose former choirmasters was Johann Sebastian Bach. This CD features Christmas music by both Bach and Praetorius as well as two other towering geniuses, Palestrina and Handel. It’s also one of 40 Christmas CDs I have, each featuring something unique and not found in the others.
No other festival has inspired even a tiny fraction of such great music. It is absurd that those whose profession is to teach now discipline students who even mention the name of the holiday that inspired this outpouring of beauty.

Perhaps the schools should follow this test instead: equal emphasis on all winter holidays that have music written for them by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Even crèches, regularly expelled from schools and other public places, could serve a secular educational purpose. In addition to helping explain the origin of Christmas, they could be used to introduce students to the Western artistic tradition.

The first crèche was created by Francis of Assisi, whose life was recorded in paint by Giotto, one of the founders of Western painting. The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently spent a record $45,000,000 to acquire a painting of the Madonna and Child by a contemporary of Giotto’s, Duccio. Even though the painting is no larger than a sheet of typing paper, the Met felt the purchase price was justified by Duccio’s great importance in the Western artistic tradition—a tradition inextricably bound up with Christianity in general and Christmas in particular.

Indeed, Duccio, like Giotto, painted many scenes inspired by Christmas—including the painting purchase by the Met. According to a Met spokesman quoted in the December 10, 2004 New York Times, the museum is going to display its prized acquisition starting on December 21:
“There was a strong desire to have the Duccio on display before Christmas because there’s such an interest in its history as a devotional picture.” [“The Met Unveils a Masterpiece, Its Most Expensive Work of Art,” by Carol Vogel]

If our schools can spend eight weeks teaching students about Islam, surely they should be able to teach students about the holiday that has been at the heart of our own civilization for centuries.

One need not accept the divinity of Christ to recognize—and even be awed by—the beauty His birth inspired. I doubt the Met decided to purchase Duccio’s painting for reasons of Christian piety.

A friend tells me that her Jewish mother-in-law observes Christmas each year by going to a performance of “Messiah” and to Midnight Mass, because of her love for the music. Some of the best Christmas music I know was recorded by Joel Cohen and his Boston Camerata. Great Jewish conductors such as Eugene Ormandy and Leonard Bernstein recorded albums filled with wonderful Christmas music. Recently, America’s greatest conductor of choral music, including Christmas choral music, was Robert Shaw, a Unitarian, not an orthodox Christian.

A greater appreciation for the unparalleled cultural significance of Christmas should lead to greater tolerance of the public celebration of Christmas in all its facets. After all, the beauty that inspires even many non-believers was the result of a tradition that valued Christmas and what it means.

A society that treats “Christmas” as a dirty word and assiduously tries to prevent school children from learning anything about it—especially the parts of Christmas that are beautiful or sublime —is unlikely to add to that beauty, or even pass along the beauty it received from earlier generations untouched by the War against Christmas.

Despite the continued onslaught against Christmas and the Orwellian arguments served up to justify it, I remain optimistic. Each year more and more people come to recognize that a War against Christmas is being waged, and they start fighting back.

I was also encouraged by the Federalists’ reaction to my talk. And one audience member, an Orthodox Jewish lawyer, offered a valuable piece of advice.

He said that Christians need to grow backbones.

He was right. We need to be able to stand up and say “two plus two equals four” again.
If we can do that, as Orwell wrote, “all else follows.”

Tom Piatak writes from Cleveland, Ohio.

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