Friday, November 05, 2004

First Things: The Gift of Salvation

Copyright (c) 1998 First Things 79 (January 1998): 20-23.

In the spring of 1994, a distinguished group of Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants issued a much-discussed statement, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium" (FT, May 1994). That statement, commonly referred to as "ECT," noted a growing "convergence and cooperation" between Evangelicals and Catholics in many public tasks, and affirmed agreement in basic articles of Christian faith while also underscoring the continuing existence of important differences. The signers promised to engage those differences in continuing conversations, and this has been done in meetings of noted theologians convened by Mr. Charles Colson and Father Richard John Neuhaus. At a meeting in the fall of 1996, it was determined that further progress depended upon firm agreement on the meaning of salvation, and especially the doctrine of justification. After much discussion, study, and prayer over the course of a year, the following statement was agreed to at a meeting in New York City, October 6-7, 1997. The convenors and participants express their gratitude to Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, for his very active support throughout this process. In future conversations they intend to address the outstanding questions noted at the end of this statement.— The Editors

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.— John 3:16-17

We give thanks to God that in recent years many Evangelicals and Catholics, ourselves among them, have been able to express a common faith in Christ and so to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We confess together one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; we confess Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son of God; we affirm the binding authority of Holy Scripture, God’s inspired Word; and we acknowledge the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds as faithful witnesses to that Word.

The effectiveness of our witness for Christ depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit, who calls and empowers us to confess together the meaning of the salvation promised and accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Through prayer and study of Holy Scripture, and aided by the Church’s reflection on the sacred text from earliest times, we have found that, notwithstanding some persistent and serious differences, we can together bear witness to the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. To this saving gift we now testify, speaking not for, but from and to, our several communities.

God created us to manifest his glory and to give us eternal life in fellowship with himself, but our disobedience intervened and brought us under condemnation. As members of the fallen human race, we come into the world estranged from God and in a state of rebellion. This original sin is compounded by our personal acts of sinfulness. The catastrophic consequences of sin are such that we are powerless to restore the ruptured bonds of union with God. Only in the light of what God has done to restore our fellowship with him do we see the full enormity of our loss. The gravity of our plight and the greatness of God’s love are brought home to us by the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

God the Creator is also God the Redeemer, offering salvation to the world. "God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). The restoration of communion with God is absolutely dependent upon Jesus Christ, true God and true man, for he is "the one mediator between God and men" (1 Timothy 2:5), and "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6). He is the holy and righteous one who was put to death for our sins, "the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

The New Testament speaks of salvation in various ways. Salvation is ultimate or eschatological rescue from sin and its consequences, the final state of safety and glory to which we are brought in both body and soul. "Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." "Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed" (Romans 5:9, 13:11). Salvation is also a present reality. We are told that "he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy" (Titus 3:5). The present reality of salvation is an anticipation and foretaste of salvation in its promised fullness.

Always it is clear that the work of redemption has been accomplished by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13). Scripture describes the consequences of Christ’s redemptive work in several ways, among which are: justification, reconciliation, restoration of friendship with God, and rebirth from above by which we are adopted as children of God and made heirs of the Kingdom. "When the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).

Justification is central to the scriptural account of salvation, and its meaning has been much debated between Protestants and Catholics. We agree that justification is not earned by any good works or merits of our own; it is entirely God’s gift, conferred through the Father’s sheer graciousness, out of the love that he bears us in his Son, who suffered on our behalf and rose from the dead for our justification. Jesus was "put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25). In justification, God, on the basis of Christ’s righteousness alone, declares us to be no longer his rebellious enemies but his forgiven friends, and by virtue of his declaration it is so.

The New Testament makes it clear that the gift of justification is received through faith. "By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). By faith, which is also the gift of God, we repent of our sins and freely adhere to the Gospel, the good news of God’s saving work for us in Christ. By our response of faith to Christ, we enter into the blessings promised by the Gospel. Faith is not merely intellectual assent but an act of the whole person, involving the mind, the will, and the affections, issuing in a changed life. We understand that what we here affirm is in agreement with what the Reformation traditions have meant by justification by faith alone (sola fide).

In justification we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom the love of God is poured forth into our hearts (Romans 5:5). The grace of Christ and the gift of the Spirit received through faith (Galatians 3:14) are experienced and expressed in diverse ways by different Christians and in different Christian traditions, but God’s gift is never dependent upon our human experience or our ways of expressing that experience.

While faith is inherently personal, it is not a purely private possession but involves participation in the body of Christ. By baptism we are visibly incorporated into the community of faith and committed to a life of discipleship. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

By their faith and baptism, Christians are bound to live according to the law of love in obedience to Jesus Christ the Lord. Scripture calls this the life of holiness, or sanctification. "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). Sanctification is not fully accomplished at the beginning of our life in Christ, but is progressively furthered as we struggle, with God’s grace and help, against adversity and temptation. In this struggle we are assured that Christ’s grace will be sufficient for us, enabling us to persevere to the end. When we fail, we can still turn to God in humble repentance and confidently ask for, and receive, his forgiveness.

We may therefore have assured hope for the eternal life promised to us in Christ. As we have shared in his sufferings, we will share in his final glory. "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). While we dare not presume upon the grace of God, the promise of God in Christ is utterly reliable, and faith in that promise overcomes anxiety about our eternal future. We are bound by faith itself to have firm hope, to encourage one another in that hope, and in such hope we rejoice. For believers "through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5).

Thus it is that as justified sinners we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. All this is the gift of God. Faith issues in a confident hope for a new heaven and a new earth in which God’s creating and redeeming purposes are gloriously fulfilled. "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).

As believers we are sent into the world and commissioned to be bearers of the good news, to serve one another in love, to do good to all, and to evangelize everyone everywhere. It is our responsibility and firm resolve to bring to the whole world the tidings of God’s love and of the salvation accomplished in our crucified, risen, and returning Lord. Many are in grave peril of being eternally lost because they do not know the way to salvation.

In obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord, we commit ourselves to evangelizing everyone. We must share the fullness of God’s saving truth with all, including members of our several communities. Evangelicals must speak the Gospel to Catholics and Catholics to Evangelicals, always speaking the truth in love, so that "working hard to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:3, 12-13).
Moreover, we defend religious freedom for all. Such freedom is grounded in the dignity of the human person created in the image of God, and must be protected also in civil law.

We must not allow our witness as Christians to be compromised by halfhearted discipleship or needlessly divisive disputes. While we rejoice in the unity we have discovered and are confident of the fundamental truths about the gift of salvation we have affirmed, we recognize that there are necessarily interrelated questions that require further and urgent exploration. Among such questions are these: the meaning of baptismal regeneration, the Eucharist, and sacramental grace; the historic uses of the language of justification as it relates to imputed and transformative righteousness; the normative status of justification in relation to all Christian doctrine; the assertion that while justification is by faith alone, the faith that receives salvation is never alone; diverse understandings of merit, reward, purgatory, and indulgences; Marian devotion and the assistance of the saints in the life of salvation; and the possibility of salvation for those who have not been evangelized.

On these and other questions, we recognize that there are also some differences within both the Evangelical and Catholic communities. We are committed to examining these questions further in our continuing conversations. All who truly believe in Jesus Christ are brothers and sisters in the Lord and must not allow their differences, however important, to undermine this great truth, or to deflect them from bearing witness together to God’s gift of salvation in Christ. "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought" (1 Corinthians 1:10).

As Evangelicals who thank God for the heritage of the Reformation and affirm with conviction its classic confessions, as Catholics who are conscientiously faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church, and as disciples together of the Lord Jesus Christ who recognize our debt to our Christian forebears and our obligations to our contemporaries and those who will come after us, we affirm our unity in the Gospel that we have here professed. In our continuing discussions, we seek no unity other than unity in the truth. Only unity in the truth can be pleasing to the Lord and Savior whom we together serve, for he is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).


Dr. Gerald L. Bray, Beeson Divinity School
Dr. Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ
Dr. Harold O. J. Brown, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Mr. Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship
Bishop William C. Frey, Episcopal Church
Dr. Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School
Dr. Os Guinness, Trinity Forum
Dr. Kent R. Hill, Eastern Nazarene College
Rev. Max Lucado, Oak Hills Church of Christ San Antonio, TX
Dr. T. M. Moore, Chesapeake Theological Seminary
Dr. Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary
Dr. Mark A. Noll, Wheaton College
Mr. Brian F. O’Connell, Interdev
Dr. Thomas Oden, Drew University
Dr. James J. I. Packer, Regent College, British Columbia
Dr. Timothy R. Phillips, Wheaton College
Dr. John Rodgers, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry
Dr. Robert A. Seiple, World Vision U.S.
Dr. John Woodbridge, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


Father James J. Buckley, Loyola College in Maryland
Father J. A. Di Noia, O.P., Dominican House of Studies
Father Avery Dulles, S.J., Fordham University
Mr. Keith Fournier, Catholic Alliance
Father Thomas Guarino, Seton Hall University
Dr. Peter Kreeft, Boston College
Father Matthew L. Lamb, Boston College
Father Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S., Emmanuel
Father Francis Martin, John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
Mr. Ralph Martin, Renewal Ministries
Father Richard John Neuhaus, Religion and Public Life
Mr. Michael Novak, American Enterprise Institute
Father Edward Oakes, S.J., Regis University
Father Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., Loyola Marymount University
Mr. George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Dr. Robert Louis Wilken, University of Virginia

Notes on Above Painting: Andrea Mantegna Le Calvaire Entre 1457 et 1460

MEMRI: Wife Beating- Stipulations & Methods

[More rib-tickling hijinks from huggable followers of the religion of reminds me of the Ann Coulter line: "If it weren't for the terror, liberals would hate terrorists." MEMRI is a site to visit on a regular basis...I mean, geez, you can't make up this stuff.]

Wife Beating: An Arab How-To
By MEMRIMEMRI November 5, 2004

On October 5, France expelled Algerian-born Imam Abdel Qader Bouziane for telling a French magazine that Muslim husbands may beat their wives. This follows the sentencing on January 14 of the Egyptian-born Sheik Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of the mosque of the Spanish city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, for publishing a book that explains that wife-beating is in accordance with Shariah law.

Sheik Yousuf Qaradhawi, one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam and head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and the International Council of Muslim Clerics, has also advocated wife-beating on multiple occasions in his 1984 book "The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam," and on his weekly Al Jazeera program, which is popular among the surging number of European Muslims who increasingly look to religious leaders from the Middle East for religious guidance. This is particularly true with the growth of viewers watching Arab TV stations, available on satellite TV in Europe, which frequently airs shows dedicated to teaching a husband how to beat his wife. The following examples on this subject can be viewed at

Egyptian Professor Sabri Abd Al-Rauf of Al-Azhar University appeared on Iqra TV on September 13, and explained that "beating [one's wife] doesn't mean beatings with a rod or beatings that draw blood...The beatings are intended to instill fear...and declaring that he isn't satisfied with this wife."

Speaking on Syrian TV on July 26, Sheik Abd Al-Hamid Al-Muhajir explained that the Koran stipulates when a husband can beat his wife: "The Koranic verse refers only to a disobedient wife...First you must admonish...Then comes the stage of sending her to a separate bed...If this does not help is said, 'and beat them'... What's better, that she gets slapped, or that she ruins her family, herself, and society?"

Sheik Muhammad Al-Mussayar, an Egyptian professor at Al-Azhar University, was interviewed about wife beating on Iqra TV on June 7. He described what kind of woman should be beaten: "She is a wife who rebelled against her husband's advice, and abandoning her in bed did not help."
As a member of the Egyptian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sheik Yousuf Al-Badri explained on Egypt's Dream2 TV on September 1,"I use beatings [on my children], but symbolically. The same goes for women: 'Admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them...' There are beatings in the Koran and in the Sunna...This means we're allowed to beat."

On August 26, Qatar TV aired a panel discussion that included Dr. Ibrahim Elias, and the Director of The Women's Development Society, Imam Bibars, who discussed a study she performed in the Arab world: "I'd like to say that I found something that took me by surprise. I call it 'a culture of the electricity cable.' The men in the study did not know one another, but they all used to beat their wives with electricity cables. These cables are large and they would beat their wives." In defense of beatings, Dr. Elias, a lawyer, explained, "If you beat your wife and it's only light beatings in order to set things straight - that's it...We tell him, 'They are not considered an assault, but discipline.' "

Responding to the question, "What do you mean by light beatings?" he gave an example of when a man should be beat his wife: "For example, a man comes home from work and finds his wife watching TV. She doesn't even get up to make him food. He tells her once, twice, and asks again. If only once he would raise his voice and beat her, she would get up to prepare food for him and by the next day she'd be obedient. This will last for a week and when she forgets, he will remind her."

The following day on the same channel, a religious leader detailed three types of women who deserve beatings: "The first type is a girl who was brought up this way...The second type is a woman who is condescending towards her husband...With her, too, only a rod will help. The third type is a twisted woman who will not obey her husband unless he oppresses her, beats her, uses force against her, and overpowers her."

Unfortunately, the examples mentioned in this article are the rule, not the exception. TV shows dedicated to husbands beating their wives can be viewed regularly on Arab TV.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

National Review Online: The Corner: "God Help America"

[This is from "The Corner" on to the complete London Daily Mirror article "God Help America"'s a doozy.]

This, um, commentary comes from the London Daily Mirror. Warning: It contains strong language and weak thought. Sit down before reading. Here's a (mildly bowdlerized) sample:

"As for the ones who put him in, across the Bible Belt and the South, us outsiders can only feel pity...the self-righteous, gun-totin', military lovin', sister marryin', abortion-hatin', gay-loathin', foreigner-despisin', non-passport ownin' red-necks, who believe God gave America the biggest d*** in the world so it could urinate on the rest of us and make their land "free and strong".

Someone, I think, needs a nice cup of tea - and urgent psychiatric attention.

Jimmy Akin: Meet Jack Chick

[Many thanks to my friend, Phil, for sending this article my way...anyone who is not familiar with these tracts will surely get a kick out of investigating the World of Chick...if you're at all interested in this stuff, please check out . You will find all sorts of entertaining's fun reading for the whole family...for example, don't miss out on the opportunity to educate yourself and your loved ones on the real meaning of Halloween and the Vatican's hidden agenda ("The Death Cookie" is one of my personal favorites). I also highly recommend the Chick Tract Club : .]

by Jimmy Akin

For decades the cartoon tracts of Jack T. Chick have fascinated and horrified. In their pages, one reads of the most extreme, paranoid conspiracy theories one could imagine. Among other things, Chick publications will tell you:

The Catholic Church keeps “the name of every Protestant church member in the world” in a “big computer” in the Vatican for use in future persecutions.[1]

Through the Jesuits, the Vatican runs an extensive conspiracy that includes the Illuminati, the Council on Foreign Relations, international bankers, the Mafia, the Club of Rome, the Masons, and the New Age Movement, among others.[2]

That Catholic conspiracy also includes creating venomously anti-Catholic movements, such as Communism, the Ku Klux Klan, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and Islam.[3]

Chick’s material is weirdly compelling. It’s amateurish, paranoid, lurid, garish, ham-fisted, and viciously hateful at times. It’s incredibly intense, and something about that intensity makes people want to read them. They generate a kind of bizarre fascination. Since he first began publishing tracts, Jack Chick has distributed over half a billion, making him the most published comic book author in the world. Yet little is known of him. The seventy-nine year old Chick is a recluse. His office does not give tours, he never allows his photo to be taken, and he never, ever gives interviews. Little is known about him beyond what is revealed in the biography on his web site,

Recently Chick has ventured out of the world of comic book publishing to produce a feature-length movie titled The Light of the World. I unexpectedly received an invitation to the premier of the movie. Writing movie reviews is a hobby of mine, and the camp value alone of a Chick film would make it worth reviewing, so I made the trek to the premier—and got more than I ever imagined I would.

* * *

The Light of the World premiered in Ontario, California, where Chick Publications is based. The site was an old auditorium that would have been dazzling in the 1940s and which still boasted an impressive main theater. As I approached it an hour before the screening was scheduled to begin, a small group of people including a number of elderly men were out in front.

“Could one of these men be Jack Chick?” I wondered. “Probably not,” I thought. He’s already seen the completed film, and with his reclusive tendencies he probably wouldn’t show up.
Still, I kept an eye out—particularly for an elderly man with a young Asian wife. A few years ago Jack was widowed, following which he married a much younger Asian woman.

In the foyer of the auditorium, representatives of Chick Publications had tables set up where copies of the film were on sale on VHS and DVD. One table was cash only, one check only, and one credit card only. Having a copy of the film would let me to get exact quotes for a critique of the film—which was sure to be anti-Catholic—but I didn’t really want to give my credit card or checking account number to a bunch of conspiracy theorists.

I approached the cash only table.

Once I had the copy in hand, I began to contemplate the fact that I had just driven two hours to get to the theater, the screening wouldn’t even begin for another hour, and it would be almost midnight before I got back home to San Diego. The thought of simply driving back and watching the DVD in the comfort of my own home was becoming attractive, and I was on the verge of heading back home when I decided to take one more look around to see if I could spot Jack Chick.

I was sitting in the back row, so I had a good view of the theater. I cast my eyes around the theater. Nobody looked like an obvious candidate to be Chick. The folks in the front row were too young. I couldn’t see any elderly men sitting with Asian wives anywhere. There was an elderly guy sitting on the far side of my row, but he was alone.

Perhaps I could ask one of the Chick Publications employees if Jack was here tonight. Would they tell me? Probably not. Or at least they wouldn’t tell me who he was.
I noticed that the elderly gentleman on the back row was now talking with a few people in the aisle. I heard one of them say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.” I took a closer look at him. He had white hair, glasses, and was wearing white dress shirt and dark slacks. There was a tope-colored blazer in the seat next to him, and he had a fancy gold wristwatch (a Rolex?)—the kind that you could afford to wear if you’d sold half a billion tracts.

If I was Chick, what would I say to him? The apologist in me would have loved to debate him theologically. A big part of me would want to ask him futile questions like “You don’t really believe all that stuff you publish, do you?” But I decided that the most charitable thing I could do would be to simply be nice to him and chat, showing him that Catholics can be kind.

Moving a few seats closer to him, I heard him tell the people: “We got started about forty years ago . . .” Doing some quick math in my head, I realized that was when Chick Publications began.
I moved to the seat next to him (well, technically, next to his jacket), and when the well wishers moved on, I said “Excuse me, sir. Are you Jack Chick?”

“I am he replied,” smiling warmly. “What’s your name?”
“Jimmy Akin,” I replied. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.”
We shook hands, and he asked me “What do you do?”
“I’m an evangelist.”

At this is face brightened. “Praise God!” But his eyes studied me a moment. Wearing a Stetson, cowboy boots, faded blue jeans, and a Texas belt buckle, I didn’t look like the typical suit-and-tie evangelist from Chick’s Fundamentalist world.

“I’ve read a lot of your comic tracts,” I said as he settled back into his seat.
“We have plans for a lot more,” he replied.
“You’re going to be doing a lot after the film?”
“Yes,” he smiled. “That’s in their hands now,” he said, referring to the Light of the World Project, which has hopes to translate the film into a thousand languages. “There were times when I thought we would never be finished with it.”

How long had Chick been working on it? Ten years? Fifteen? I tried to recall. “I understand you’ve been working on it for ten years?”

“Fifteen,” he corrected. “I think it will help a lot of pastors. It should get a lot of people sold—uh, saved.”

Was that a Freudian slip? Given Chick’s tendency to devote publication after publication to the sensationalist claims of men who were later exposed as religious con men, there has been some question of whether he really believes his own publications. Some have suggested he is simply in it for the money.

Another group of well wishers came by to greet Jack, and while they did I fished out a pen and a tract promoting the film that I had been given at the door. When he turned back to me, I said “I’m sorry, but could I get your autograph?”

He laughed heartily, as if he wasn’t used to giving autographs. I handed him the tract and pen, and he fumbled a bit looking for a good way to sign it.
“Here, you can use this as a hard surface,” I said, handing him my Light of the World DVD.
He signed and handed the articles back to me. His signature look just like the previous versions I had seen printed in his publications.

The previous group of well wishers had mentioned Fred Carter to Jack, and I decided to ask about him. Fred Carter is the man who does much of the artwork for Chick Publications these days—as well as all of the images used in The Light of the World, which consists of more than three hundred color paintings.

Originally Chick did all of the comics’ art himself, but starting in 1972 he began working with a then unknown artist. Fans noticed the difference immediately. Since the artist never signed his name and since his work was much more realistic than Chick’s own style, fans speculated for years on who “the good artist” was, or whether there was in fact more than one additional artist working with Chick. In 1980 Chick finally revealed that the artist working with him was an African American pastor named Fred Carter, who Chick claimed was rather shy and did not wish to have his name on his work.

Jack Chick’s art in The Hit

Fred Carter’s art in The Deceived

“The artist you work with who does the comic books . . .” I began, blanking on the gentleman’s name.
“Fred Carter,” Jack said helpfully. “He’s a pastor. I’m really hoping he’s going to be here tonight.”
Cool, I thought. Perhaps I could meet him, too.
“I really like his work,” I said. “He has a wonderful technique.”
“He does,” Chick agreed.

“I practiced for a long time to be a comic book artist,” I added, causing Jack to perk up at the recognition of me as a fellow illustrator. “I really like the way he uses Zip-A-Tone,” I said, referring to a technique comic book artists uses to generate detailed textures in their work.
Chick agreed.

“Have you ever used any other artists, or has it just been the two of you?”
“No, just the two of us,” he said.
Score! I thought. One more rumor about Chick disconfirmed.
“Are you affiliated with any church?” Jack asked me.
“Catholic,” I replied.
Jack’s eyes widened in surprise. “Oh? . . . You have a Catholic background?” he queried.
“Yes, sir.”
“I love Catholics,” he was quick to assure me.
“Uh-huh,” I said, already familiar with the I-love-Catholics-that’s-why-I-attack-their-faith routine used by countless Fundamentalists.
“Well! A Catholic evangelist!” Jack mused. “Are you a Jesuit?” he said abruptly.

Now it was my turn to laugh. If Jack didn’t believe his comics’ paranoid conspiracy theories about Jesuits, he was going to act as if he did.
“No, I’m just a layman. I’m not even a priest. I’m not an anything,” I chuckled, hoping to reassure him that I wasn’t a sinister Vatican agent. Perhaps a brief profession of faith might help. “We have our differences,” I told him, “but we both worship God—and his Son Jesus.”
Chick made what was probably best read as a pleasant but non-committal acknowledgement.

“I’m sure the pope will have seen this movie by next week,” he observed.
“Oh, yes. I’m sure it’ll be going out on a plane. They have all my stuff at the Vatican.”
“I see.”
Since he’d signed a tract for me on the back of my Light of the World DVD, he might think that my copy was the very one which would be sent to the pope.
“I’m one of the few who stands up against Rome,” Jack continued. “That all started years ago when I met Alberto. Do you know about Alberto?”
“Oh, yes,” I said.

Alberto Rivera and his conspiracy theories are the main subject of many of Chick’s comics and tracts. He claimed to be an ex-Jesuit sent to infiltrate and destroy Protestant churches for the Vatican. He was later exposed as a fraud by Protestant publications and groups including Christianity Today, Cornerstone Magazine, and the Christian Research Institute. He also was wanted by the law in a number of locations for writing bad checks and credit card theft, among other financial improprieties. Chick’s persistence in publishing Rivera led to his leaving the Christian Booksellers Association. Rivera died in 1997 of colon cancer.

“Alberto was murdered, you know,” Jack informed me.
“Well, I understand that he had cancer, but beyond that I’m not aware of anything,” I replied.
“Oh, yes, he was murdered.” Jack went on to say that he had been told by an ex-member of the IRA of two poisons, one of which causes cancer. “And that was what they gave him.”
“I see.”

More well wishers said hello to Jack. While they chatted I tried to think how I might be able to get a tour of Chick Publications itself. These are seldom granted, and I knew my chances were next to nil, but I had to ask. When Chick turned back to me I said, “I’m sorry, but I have to ask: Do y’all ever give tours of your place? I’d love to see where you work.”
“No, I’m afraid not,” he said.

I paused for a minute trying to think if there was a good way to ask for an exception.
“Sorry,” he smiled, knowing what I was thinking. “We have to draw the line somewhere. I don’t let my picture be taken. I’m on too many hit lists.”
“Yes, we get death threats every week . . . from the Muslims.”
“Yeah, we get them, too,” I said, thinking of the periodic threats we get at Catholic Answers from various groups, though not Muslims in particular.
“Really?” he said with surprise. “I wouldn’t have thought you would.” A natural assumption for Chick if he believes his own propaganda about the Catholic Church starting and then later manipulating Islam.

“Do you still draw a lot?” he asked me.
“No, not anymore,” I replied. “These days I’m mostly just a writer.”
This seemed to tickle Chick’s fancy. “Really?” he chuckled at an unstated irony, perhaps thinking of his own evolution from being a writer and illustrator to being principally a writer.
“Where do you work?” he asked.
“In San Diego,” I said, then realized this probably wasn’t what he was asking. “At Catholic Answers,” I added quickly.
Jack laughed uproariously.
“You know of us?” I asked.
“Oooh-h, yes,” he said mirthfully.

Over the years Catholic Answers has conducted a number of campaigns to educate people about the paranoid anti-Catholicism in Chick’s tracts. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of educational material went out. No doubt some made their way across Chick’s desk. I thought of telling him that I was the author of the latest special report critiquing his work, but decided it might spoil the moment.

More well wishers came by, and Chick informed me that his wife would soon arrive and that she would be sitting in the chair between us, where his jacket currently rested. I was very interested to see what she looked like. By this point, I was reconsidering staying for the movie. Being able to say that I watched the world premier of Jack Chick’s movie sitting next to Chick and his wife would make it worth staying.

“I figured I’d be ‘approached’ tonight,” Chick confided.

“Really? I didn’t know you were going to be here,” I said, unable to think of a way of convincing him that I wasn’t a Vatican agent sent to “approach” him for some sinister purpose.
It was occurring to me that, despite his friendliness, Chick might well be uncomfortable with my presence—especially if he really was the paranoid conspiracy nut he outwardly appears to be. He probably was not looking forward to watching the film with a presumed Jesuit agent sitting by his side. Things were quite amicable between us, but it came as little surprise when a final group of people showed up in the aisle and Chick very politely asked if I could move so that they could take the seats next to him. One in the group was his wife. Not as young as I had supposed from press accounts, but still quite pretty.

“Of course,” I said as graciously as I could, and we stood up to part.
“We’re in the war,” Chick said. “I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you in the future.”
“I’m sure,” I said, nodding and smiling warmly.
“It’s been a pleasure to meet you, sir,” I said, extending my hand again. Jack shook it and smiled, and that was the end of our encounter.

* * *

On the way out I saw a smartly dressed African American man walking up the far aisle, and I began to suspect that he might be Fred Carter. As I approached to find out, a thin, poorly groomed looking man with an inflamed skin condition around his eyes threw his arms around the man and cried, “Fred! I’m so happy to see you!”

When the thin man released him, I walked up and said, “Excuse me, sir. Are you Fred Carter?”
He acknowledged that he was, and I shook his hand, saying “I’m pleased to meet you. I really like your artwork. You have an excellent technique.”

He expressed his appreciation, but I wasn’t able to strike up a conversation because the thin man with the skin condition suddenly became interested in me, introduced himself, and started asking about a book on St. Paul that I was carrying. Carter departed for the foyer.

* * *

As I drove home, I reflected on my meeting with the king of Fundamentalist kitsch. He came across as a kind, gentle old man. He was nothing but polite. He smiled. He laughed. Unlike the characters in his comic books, he didn’t say “Haw! Haw!” when he laughed. From meeting him one would never suspect him to be the most infamous broadcaster of hate and paranoia in the Christian comics world.

Being able to have such a cordial encounter with him was ironic. Chick noted that “we’re in the war,” and the only experience I could compare it to are strange wartime incidents I’ve read about, where soldiers of opposing sides are to put down their weapons and share a moment of humanity. Like when Yankees and Confederates stopped shooting at each other long enough to trade coffee and tobacco. Or when German and British soldiers climbed out of their World War I foxholes to exchange Christmas greetings.

I wondered what Chick thought of the event. Maybe nothing, but maybe his conspiracy-prone mind would cause it to assume larger than life proportions. He had read me as a potential Jesuit agent making some kind of sinister “approach” to him. Maybe he would think that there was a cancer-causing poison on my palm when we shook hands.

Given Chick’s tendency to sometimes include real people in his comics, even as minor, unnamed characters, he might even record the incident. If you’re ever reading a Chick comic and see a young, bearded Jesuit agent dressed like a cowboy, it’ll probably be me.

I only hope Fred Carter does the art.

Find out what Jack Chick looks like!
Chick's high school yearbook photo!

[1] My Name . . . In The Vatican?
[2] Four Horsemen.
[3] The Big Betrayal, The Godfathers: Alberto Part Three, The Force: Alberto Part Four, The Prophet: Alberto Part Six.
Comments (16)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ben Johnson: Four More Years

By Ben Johnson, November 3, 2004

At the polls yesterday, the American people gave George W. Bush an unprecedented mandate to win the War on Terrorism. Even according to notorious election night “exit polling” – which appears to be Big Media’s last attempt to fix the race for the Left – the vast majority of voters considered terrorism the top issue this year, and “security voters” gave President Bush a lopsided advantage over the junior senator from Massachusetts.

With 96 percent of the nation’s precincts reporting as of this writing, George W. Bush had already received more than 57 million votes, more than any other candidate in electoral history. (Ronald Reagan won 54 million in 1984.) Although the popular vote was still being tabulated as of this writing, it appears George W. Bush will garner nearly 51 percent, making him the first president in 16 years to be elected by a majority of voters. This is the largest popular vote victory since his father won 54 percent of the vote against Michael Dukakis in 1988. (To put things in perspective, Ronald Reagan also won 51 percent of the vote in 1980. By contrast, Bill Clinton earned only 49 percent in his 1996 “landslide” victory over Bob Dole.)

Most importantly, last night the American people endorsed an aggressive, forward-looking policy of taking the War on Terrorism to the enemy. The race began with the Democrats flocking to Howard Dean’s antiwar message and ended with John Kerry promising a more effective effort to “hunt down and kill the terrorists wherever they may be.” Had he been elected, Kerry would have faced the same policy restrictions Bill Clinton did, undoubtedly with less grace and self-serving panache. With a hawkish American public and a Republican Congress, Kerry would “not even have the courage of his weakness.” The nation is better off not forcing an already indecisive candidate to develop political schizophrenia. We can now unite around a leader who has proven his unwavering resolve in the fires of political controversy.

A History Making Presidency-

We are now embarking upon the second half of an historical presidency. Even at this early juncture, it is fair to say history will likely remember George W. Bush as a steadfast leader during a time of national peril, the right man at the right time.

His entire presidency to date has been one for the record books.

George W. Bush was the first presidential candidate ever to have his political opponents try to steal the election judicially – and nearly succeed. After an unprecedented 36-day recount, Bush became one of four presidents elected despite losing the popular vote count. (The last was Benjamin Harrison in 1888.)

Displaying the determination that would inspire his admirers and infuriate his enemies, he did not allow his confidence in his agenda to be shaken by leftist catcalls of “President Select” or Jesse Jackson’s charges of “illegitimacy” (a word choice soon revealed to be pregnant with irony). After dramatically reforming the tax code and passing the largest tax cut in history, he boldly asserted American interests by canceling the International Criminal Court, Anti-Ballistic Missile and Kyoto treaties – all over the vehement objection of the “international community” and the Democratic Party. Shortly thereafter, a gadfly Republican defection gave America only its second evenly divided Senate in history, the first in 120 years. The Democrats used this advantage to filibuster federal judicial nominees for the first time in history – a history that, sadly, is still playing out.

Then tragedy struck. For the first time since the War of 1812, a foreign enemy attacked Americans in their homeland. President Bush rallied Americans to the defenses, reversing a decade-long retreat in the face of terrorism. After a lightning-quick campaign (which, Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, was being called a quagmire during its second week), the new commander in chief destroyed the Taliban while bombing innocent Muslim children – with care packages donated by their American counterparts, at his behest.

Moving to protect the United States against the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction, he gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum: fully disclose the status of WMD programs or face “serious consequences.” Stumping the nation with this message in 2002, President Bush became one of the few presidents in modern times to pick up Congressional seats during a midterm election, winning back control of the Senate.

He then overcame an international Oil-for-Food blackmail to launch a "unilateral" war aimed at…preserving the integrity of the United Nations. In the process, he endured an unprecedented level of hatred from his political enemies, receiving criticism from feminists for shutting down a regime that employed the rape and torture of women (and young girls) as tools of political repression. He has since liberated a second Muslim nation from the clutches of a madman.

With last month’s election of Hamid Karzai, he brought democracy to Afghanistan for the first time in history. Next January, he will do the same for Iraq.

On the domestic front, after his second tax cut package took effect, Bush presided over the best economic gains in 20 years. He has since added 1.6 million new jobs to the economy, nearly canceling out the jobs lost during the Clinton recession and 9/11.

And with tonight’s election, he became the first “second generation” president ever to be re-elected president of the United States. (John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, and Benjamin Harrison, the grandson of William Henry Harrison, lost their re-election bids in 1828 and 1892, respectively.)

Already the force of his character has left an historic imprint upon his nation, and the quality of character cannot be overestimated. Recent times have shown us that events do not make the man. After 9/11, Bill Clinton publicly sulked that he faced no great crisis that would cement his legacy in perpetuity. Yet as president, he exploited the greatest act of domestic terrorism to that time for crass political advantage, blaming the Oklahoma City bombing on the “anti-government rhetoric” of his political opponents. Confronted by North Korea’s nuclear program, Red China’s saber rattling, and ever-more-ominous incidents of Islamic terrorism, he averted his ever-smiling gaze to more politically advantageous subjects. Even Hollywood leftist Rob Reiner caricatured his do-nothing, poll-tested presidency in the film The American President. Great men are self-made; Bill Clinton was not a great man.

If he continues to wage a successful and unrelenting war on America’s intractable foes, George W. Bush may prove to be. In the interim, we may rest assured we are in good hands.

A Time for Healing-

With tonight’s resounding endorsement of George W. Bush and an aggressive war on terror, it is time for the nation to reunite from the fractious political battles of the past four years. After their bitter (and undeniable) defeat in the 2000 recount, leftists waged an endless political war, reaching heights of personal hatred not seen in 20th century America. Unlike the responsible opposition of the last fifty years, they proceeded to politicize a war, undermine troops in battle, and provide our terrorist foes with talking points in their blind hope of clawing their way back into power.

America has spoken, and America has rejected their destructive cynicism. Today's election proves America's elections can't be purchased by George Soros, Peter Lewis, and the constellation of 527 front groups their dirty money funds. Further contesting a hopeless race will only perpetuate the divisions of the past and prevent our needed national reconciliation. Voters have come together to protect their nation from the threat of suicide bombers who are convinced they are doing the will of Allah, and patriots from around the nation have selected the man who pledged to be most forthright in his defense of their families.

The Left may continue its unreasoning hatred of that man and his policies, but the American people stand united behind their president. We are ready to heal our divisions, secure our borders, and defend our freedoms.
It is time for the thoughtful Left to join us.

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

Erick Stakelbeck: Jihad at the St. Petersburg Times

By Erick Stakelbeck, November 3, 2004

Over the past month, Mike Frazier has received, by his count, six death threats and 47 menacing phone calls. He’s been accosted by complete strangers in public and vilified as an “extremist” by the largest newspaper in his state. Frazier—a pastor at Landmark Baptist Church in Brooksville, Florida—has even seen several churchgoers leave his congregation during this period, because, according to him, “they were afraid.”

Such is the price Frazier has paid for criticizing the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the most influential radical Islamist group in the United States.
Frazier’s plight is symptomatic of the politically correct hysterics that critics of militant Islam have been subjected to since 9/11, as anyone who dares question the motives of certain American Muslims is invariably tarred as an “Islamophobe” by the mainstream press. Even if—as is the case with CAIR—the Muslims in question are clearly on the wrong side of the issues when it comes to the War on Terror.

Frazier’s problems began on September 14, when he spoke at a meeting of the Hernando County (FL) Commission. Frazier, who hosts a local radio program, was troubled that several local and state officials had attended an awards dinner hosted by CAIR a few weeks before.

After calling attention to CAIR’s radical ties, Frazier requested that any officials who had attended the CAIR dinner and accepted awards from the group return them immediately and apologize to the people of Hernando County.

“As an elected official, you can’t sit down with just anybody,” says Frazier. “If these people would have bothered to check CAIR out beforehand they would have seen that it is a radical group. At the meeting, I made very clear that I wasn’t talking about all Muslims. I was only talking about CAIR. But it was absolutely unbelievable what followed.”

Two days after the county commission meeting, St. Petersburg Times reporter Jennifer Liberto wrote an article detailing the event. Her piece laid the groundwork for what would soon become a venomous assault on Frazier’s character by the paper.

“A taste of the Crusades broke out at the Hernando County Commission meeting Tuesday,” wrote Liberto. “When a local Baptist pastor accused county leaders of supporting terrorism by attending a private, educational forum on Islam last month.”

As if comparing Frazier’s actions to the Crusades weren’t sensationalistic enough, Liberto went on to allege that members of Frazier’s church chanted “terrorists, terrorists,” when elected officials tried to speak, a charge Frazier flatly denies.

“Only three people I knew were even at that meeting,” says Frazier. “My son-in-law and two friends who came for moral support. As I was speaking, two people sitting behind me—who I didn’t even know—said the word, terrorist. They certainly didn’t chant it. Another reporter who covered the meeting has backed me up on this.”

Nevertheless, the St. Petersburg Times gleefully hammered Frazier. The same day as Liberto’s screed appeared, the paper’s editorial page editor, Jeff Webb, penned a column titled, “Pastor’s Talk of Terrorists is What’s Truly Scary.”

In the piece, Webb labeled Frazier an “extremist” and a “fundamentalist zealot,” and accused him of “propagating fear, terror and disunity.” He also blamed Frazier for spreading “misinformation and exaggeration to stir the pot of intolerance.”

Furthermore, according to Webb, Frazier’s criticism of CAIR was nothing more than “irresponsible, alarmist, conspiratorial claptrap.”

First, some facts: CAIR was founded in part with seed money from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization that has been indicted for providing material support to Hamas. CAIR has also accepted substantial donations from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal as well as the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the International Islamic Relief Organization, two Saudi–funded, Wahhabist groups.

Two of CAIR’s founding members, Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad, both previously worked for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a group which has “acted in support of” Hamas, according to a federal judge’s August 2002 ruling. Tellingly, during a 1994 speech at Florida’s Barry University, Awad, who is now CAIR’s Executive Director, stated, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”

In addition, former CAIR employee Randall “Ismail” Royer was sentenced to 20 years in prison last April for “participation in a network of militant jihadists centered in Northern Virginia,” according to the Department of Justice. And Ghasan Elashi, the founding board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was convicted of violating the Libyan Sanctions Regulations in July 2004 and has also been indicted for providing material support to Hamas.

Much of this information—which, incidentally, only begins to scratch the surface of CAIR’s radical activities—is readily available online. Yet the St. Petersburg Times, in its headlong rush to demonize Frazier, conveniently dismissed CAIR’s nefarious history.

“I’ve had to completely alter my life,” says Frazier. “I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. I’m considered a bigot by the biggest newspaper in the state. I never know when I open the paper if this is the day they are going to attack me again. They’re taking me apart piece by piece, article by article.”

Indeed, on October 1, just when Frazier thought the controversy may begin to die down, Jeff Webb wrote yet another column accusing him of “the worst sort of religious stereotyping,” and “using anger over domestic terrorism issues to cloak…religious prejudice.”

For the St. Petersburg Times, which has also shown a troubling deference toward Sami Al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor who currently stands accused of being the North American leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, its support for CAIR is par for the course.

In defending CAIR and denouncing Mike Frazier, the paper has not only apologized for radical Islamists, it has also tarnished the reputation of a patriotic American.

Florida deserves better.

Erick Stakelbeck is senior writer for the Investigative Project, a Washington, D.C.-based counter-terrorism research institute.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Jonathan V. Last: Where Do Terrorists Come From?

Pundits keep maintaining that George W. Bush's policies are creating more terrorists than John Kerry would. How's that?
by Jonathan V. Last 11/01/2004 7:20:00 PM

BY NOW, you have no doubt heard that President Bush is "creating more terrorists" with his neoimperialist wars on terror, Iraq, Arab nationalism, etc. The meme has gotten so out of control that even mostly sensible people such as Mickey Kaus are spouting it. Sayeth Kaus:
In the larger war on terror, however, it's no contest. Both candidates will hunt down and kill existing terrorists. The issue is how many new terrorists are we creating. . . . Let's say that n is the number of net new terrorists who'll come online in the next four years. Isn't it obvious that n is a lot lower if Kerry is president than if Bush is president?

Obvious how? The creation of terrorists is one of those perfect little Rorschach tests since, as Reuel March Gerecht recently pointed out, there is (a) no data on how many terrorists there are today; (b) no data on how many terrorists there were yesterday; and (c) no foreseeable way to collect data on how many terrorists there will be tomorrow. In other words: You can take whatever position you want with utter confidence because nobody will ever be able to prove you wrong.

Kaus theorizes that terrorists are like the brooms in Fantasia--and he may be right. But he has no evidence--statistical or anecdotal--to support him and his conclusion is far from obvious.

What do we know?

* Prior to George W. Bush, American policy towards Islamic extremism was basically one of malign neglect. This policy--the adverse of
Bush's--seems to have created very many terrorists. Or at the very least, it seems to have created very many terrorist attacks. See September 11, 2001.

* Kaus and others theorize that America's war on terrorism is helping recruit many new terrorists. Maybe, maybe not. There's no proof either way. There is proof, however, that soft American policy in Somalia--again, the opposite of Bush--was used as actual al Qaeda recruiting propaganda. (Remember that bin Laden called America the "weak horse.") So it would seem that, at the very least, the terrorists thought the old, softer, American policies were good for helping them create new terrorists.

* There's another country which has some applicable experience in these matters: Israel. Under Ehud Barak--the Israeli Bill Clinton / John Kerry--terrorism in Israel skyrocketed. This may well have been accompanied by an increased number of terrorist recruits. Under Ariel Sharon--the Israeli Bush--terrorist attacks dropped precipitously. It seems possible--maybe even obvious!--that terrorist recruiting also suffered. So where do Kaus and the rest of the world get this strange notion that confronting, fighting, and killing terrorists only makes more of them?

Partly it comes from confusing anger with recruitment. Arab Muslims may be angrier at the United States under Bush, but that does not mean, ipso facto, that they will all subsequently go and sign up at the al Qaeda chin-up bar. The other factor is an implicit belief that Islamism is different from other pathologies. I doubt Kaus would have argued in 1944 that killing Nazis was only going to create twice as many of them. But he, and others, seem to believe that there is something about Islamism that causes its adherents to be less-than-rational actors. Whatever the case, the world should let go of this silly trope.

Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard and runs the blog Galley Slaves.

Dutch Filmmaker Theo Van Gogh Murdered

[Hmm...looks like another random act of kindness perpetuated by a follower of the religion of peace.]

Movies - AP
By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A filmmaker who was the great-grandnephew of the painter Vincent van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street Tuesday after receiving death threats over a movie he made criticizing the treatment of women under Islam.
AP Photo
AP Photo
Slideshow: Dutch Filmmaker Theo van Gogh Murdered

A suspect, a 26-year-old man with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, was arrested after a shootout with officers that left him wounded, police said.
Filmmaker Theo van Gogh, 47, had been threatened after the August airing of the movie "Submission," which he made with a right-wing Dutch politician who had renounced the Islamic faith of her birth.

Police had kept watch on Van Gogh's house as protection immediately after the film's release, but it was dropped because there was no concrete evidence of a threat, public prosecutor Leo de Wit said.
In a recent radio interview, Van Gogh — who is the great-grandson of the brother of Vincent van Gogh, who was also named Theo — dismissed the threats and called the movie "the best protection I could have. It's not something I worry about."

Authorities had felt the more likely target of revenge attacks was the film's writer, Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of parliament who frequently has outraged fellow Muslims by criticizing Islamic customs and the failure of Muslim families to adopt Dutch ways. She has been and remains under police protection.
Police said Van Gogh's killer shot and stabbed his victim and left a note on his body. They declined to comment on reports that his neck was slashed and would not reveal the contents of the note.

The attacker fled to the nearby East Park and was arrested after exchanging gunfire with police, police spokesman Eric Vermeulen said. Both the suspect and a policeman suffered minor injuries.
One unidentified witness who lives in the neighborhood told the Dutch national broadcaster NOS that she heard six shots and saw a man with a long beard and wearing Islamic garb concealing a gun.
Another witness told Dutch Radio 1 the killer arrived by bicycle and shot Van Gogh as he got out of a car. "The shooter stayed next to him and waited. Waited to make sure he was dead," the witness said.

Van Gogh's killing immediately rekindled memories of the 2002 assassination of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who polarized the nation with his anti-immigration views — particularly against Moroccan and Turkish immigrants — and was shot to death days before national elections. A Dutch animal rights activist was convicted in his slaying.
Van Gogh's next movie, scheduled to debut on the Internet in December, was titled "06-05" and was about the May 6, 2002 slaying of Fortuyn.

The filmmaker had often come under criticism for his controversial movies, and he wrote columns about Islam on his Web site and for the Dutch newspaper Metro.
He has had formal complaints filed against him for making alleged anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-Muslim comments in interviews and columns that he wrote. His many provocative statements including mocking a prominent Dutch Jew, making references to "the rotten fish" of Nazareth and calling a radical Muslim politician "Allah's pimp."
His short English-language film "Submission," which aired on Dutch television in August, enraged the Netherlands' Muslim community — including some Muslim women's groups that called its depiction of abuse of women insensitive.

In the fictional story, a veiled Muslim woman spoke about her violent marriage, being raped by a relative and being brutally punished for adultery. In parts of the movie, the actress' naked body is shown through a transparent gown — with Quranic verses written on it in one scene — further angering some Muslims.
The place of Muslim immigrants in Dutch society has long been a contentious issue, with many right-wing politicians pushing for tougher immigration laws.

In a written statement, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said "Nothing is known about the motive.
"I want to call on everyone not to jump to far-reaching conclusions. The facts must first be carefully weighed so let's allow the investigators to do their jobs," Balkenende said, praising Van Gogh as a proponent of free speech.
"It would be unacceptable if a difference of opinion led to this brutal murder," he said.

Dick Morris: Missing bin Laden -- and the Point

By Dick November 2, 2004

When John Kerry tries to spin the bin Laden tape to his own advantage, he is fond of saying that the ghoul's message just serves to indicate that he is still around because Bush failed to get him "when he was surrounded" in Tora Bora.

Kerry's attack misses the fundamental point: If Osama bin Laden, who once sent hijacked airplanes into buildings, has been reduced to mailing tapes to TV stations instead, it means that his capacity for terrorism is being effectively neutralized as he hops from cave to cave in Pakistan.

And we need to understand who is to blame for failing to get bin Laden — for America blew at least three opportunities during the 1990s, when he was there for all to see in Afghanistan. And the reasons why we failed don't speak well of a potential Kerry administration.

Our first shot at bin Laden came in Feb. 13, 1998, when President Bill Clinton's aides scuttled a CIA plot that had been eight months in the planning to kidnap Osama, using local Afghan tribesmen and to ferry him to the United States to stand trial. Why did they torpedo the mission? Because they worried that bin Laden might be killed!

To quote the 9/11 Commission report: They worried that "the purpose . . . of the operation would be subject to unavoidable misinterpretation and misrepresentation — and probably recriminations — in the event that bin Laden, despite our best intentions and efforts, did not survive." The kidnapping was blocked because the Clinton people worried that it might be perceived as "an assassination."

The second chance came when we actually did launch cruise missiles to kill bin Laden on Aug. 20, 1998. (Apparently, if he died in an air strike that would not be an assassination). Clinton ordered the hit, but instructed that the Pakistani Army Chief of Staff be briefed right before the missiles overflew his air space so he would not think them to be Indian and order retaliation. Word leaked from Pakistan to bin Laden, who escaped right before the missiles hit.

The final missed opportunity came in May, 1999 when the CIA reported that bin Laden would be in Kandahar, Afghanistan for five days. The 9/11 Commission reported: "If this intelligence was not 'actionable,' working-level officials said at the time and today, it was hard for them to imagine how any intelligence . . . could meet that standard."

One senior official told the commission, "It was in our strike zone . . . a fat pitch . . . a home run." But still Clinton's folks — the same guys on whom Kerry would rely if elected — said no. Why? Because we had just bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by mistake and they were worried about being accused of being trigger happy. (Officials were also worried that Republicans would echo the charges they made — totally irresponsibly and inaccurately — about the August 1998 strike and say Clinton was "wagging the dog.")

When one contemplates who would wage the more determined War on Terror, we must remember the tentative and hesitant way the Clinton people waged it — always bowing to global public opinion and political concerns rather than taking forthright and bold action.

Under Bush, bin Laden has been reduced to sending in impotent tapes and wild threats. Under Kerry, the same geniuses that let him escape three times will be back in charge running things.

Dick Morris is a former adviser to President Clinton.

Daniel Pipes: Have Americans Learned From 9/11?

By Daniel Pipes
November 2, 2004

As Americans pick a president, one key criterion is how the war on terror is going. Is George W. Bush correct in his positive view or John Kerry in his negative one?

This same debate, interestingly, is also taking place within conservative circles, where analysts sharing the same basic outlook – that Americans are fighting for their very existence – come to dramatically different conclusions. Consider the contrasting views of two important voices on the right, Mark Helprin and Tod Lindberg.

Helprin, author of such powerful novels as A Soldier of the Great War and Winter’s Tale, writes a despairing analysis in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books, where he finds America’s failure today to understand the threat it faces “comparable to the deepest sleep that England slept in the decade of the 1930s,” when it failed to perceive the Nazi menace.

Helprin finds that the country, and its elites in particular, remain enamored with the illusion that it can muddle through, “that the stakes are low and the potential damage not intolerable.” In other words, 9/11 did not serve as a wake-up call. He calls on Americans to make up their collective mind and answer the simple question, “Are we at war, or are we not?” If not, they need not worry and can remain happily asleep in pre-9/11 mode. If they are, “then major revisions and initiatives are needed, soon.”

Helprin sketches out the steps needed for serious war-fighting, both abroad (focusing on Iraq and Iran) and at home. The latter include: truly secure the borders with a 30,000-strong Border Patrol, summarily deport aliens “with even the slightest record of support for terrorism,” closely surveil American citizens with suspected terrorist connections, and develop a Manhattan Project-style crash program to protect against all chemical and biological warfare agents.

The means to take these steps exist; what prevents them from taking shape is the Left being in a state of “high dudgeon” and the Right not even daring to propose such measures. “The result is a paralysis that the terrorists probably did not hope for in their most optimistic projections, an arbitrary and gratuitous failure of will.”

Lindberg, editor of the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review magazine, also finds a wide agreement among Americans, one that transcends the partisan divide of the current election season. Unlike Helprin, he is cheered by what he finds. The Bush administration, he notes in the Weekly Standard, has “outlined a new strategic doctrine that is going to guide national security policy for the next 50 years, regardless of who wins the 2004 election.” Whereas Helprin looks at the deficiencies, Lindberg points to four changes which Bush asserted and now Kerry appears to accept, namely that Washington:

· Forwards democracy globally, “because free, democratic states want to live in peace with each other.”

· Intends to do what it takes “to remain the world’s foremost military power by an order of magnitude sufficient to discourage all other states from attempting to compete militarily, thereby encouraging the peaceful resolution of disputes between states.”

· Holds governments responsible for permitting any support for terrorism within their borders, thereby discouraging this activity.

· Will, facing the prospect of weapons of mass destruction being used for terrorist purposes, reserve the right to engage in preemptive action rather than wait for aggression to occur, thereby dissuading some states from following the Iraqi example.

The Democratic nominee could have revised or rejected these policies. He could have endorsed lower spending on the American military, focused narrowly on terrorists and ignored the states behind them, forsworn preemptive war, and promised noninterference in the internal affairs of other states. But Kerry did none of these. Rather, he complains about implementation, basically limiting his criticism of Bush to Osama bin Laden’s eluding capture or gaps in the coalition versus Saddam Hussein.

Helprin and Lindberg have reached nearly opposite conclusions about the underlying agreement between the hostile Democratic and Republican tribes. But Helprin, who excoriates the American reluctance to do what’s necessary, is the more correct. Lindberg correctly discerns that Kerry has, during the electoral season, accepted the Bush administration’s presumptions because they are widely popular. But there is no reason to expect these views to survive into a Kerry administration, which is very likely to revert to a wholly different outlook.

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

Monday, November 01, 2004

MEMRI: Osama bin Laden Threatens U.S. States

Osama Threatens U.S. States: Don't Vote for Bush

By Yigal CarmonMEMRI November 1, 2004

The tape of Osama bin Laden that was aired on Al-Jazeera(1) on Friday, October 29th included a specific threat to "each U.S. state," designed to influence the outcome of the upcoming election against George W. Bush. The U.S. media in general mistranslated the words "ay wilaya" (which means "each U.S. state")(2) to mean a "country" or "nation" other than the U.S., while in fact the threat was directed specifically at each individual U.S. state. This suggests some knowledge by bin Laden of the U.S. electoral college system. In a section of his speech in which he harshly criticized George W. Bush, bin Laden stated: "Any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security."

The Islamist website Al-Qal'a explained what this sentence meant: "This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy. By this characterization, Sheikh Osama wants to drive a wedge in the American body, to weaken it, and he wants to divide the American people itself between enemies of Islam and the Muslims, and those who fight for us, so that he doesn't treat all American people as if they're the same. This letter will have great implications inside the American society, part of which are connected to the American elections, and part of which are connected to what will come after the elections."(3)

Another interesting aspect of the speech is the fact that while bin Laden made his specific threat to each U.S. state, he also offered an election deal to the American voters, attempting to influence the election by these means rather than influencing it through terrorist attacks.(4) This peace offer is a theme that follows up on his April speech directed to Europe, in which he offered a truce.(5) The Islamist website Al-Islah explains: "Some people ask 'what's new in this tape?' [The answer is that] this tape is the second of its kind, after the previous tape of the Sheikh [Osama bin Laden], in which he offered a truce to the Europeans a few months ago, and it is a completion of this move, and it brings together the complementary elements of politics and religion, political savvy and force, the sword and justice. The Sheikh reminds the West in this tape of the great Islamic civilization and pure Islamic religion, and of Islamic justice..."(6)

Another conspicuous aspect of the tape is the absence of common Islamist themes that are relevant to the month of Ramadan, which for fundamentalists like bin Laden is the month of Jihad and martyrdom. Noticeably absent from the Al-Jazeera tape was his usual appearance with a weapon, and more importantly the absence of references to Jihad, martyrdom, the Koran, the Hadith (Islamic tradition), Crusaders, Jews, and the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad on the duty to wage Jihad against the infidels. For the followers of the Al-Qa'ida ideology, this speech sends a regressive and defeatist message of surrender, as seen in the move from solely using Jihad warfare to a mixed strategy of threats combined with truce offers and election deals.

The following are the relevant excerpts from the speech; for the full excerpts visit the MEMRI TV Project at

"Oh the American people, I address these words to you regarding the optimal manner of avoiding another Manhattan, and regarding the war, its causes, and its consequences. But before this, I say to you: Security is one of the important pillars of human life, and free men do not take their security lightly, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom. Let him explain why we did not attack Sweden, for example. Clearly, those who hate freedom have no pride, unlike the 19 [suicide hijackers of 9/11], may Allah have mercy on them. We have been fighting you because we are free men who do not remain silent in the face of injustice. We want to restore our [Islamic] nation's freedom. Just as you violate our security, we violate yours.

"But I am amazed at you. Although we have entered the fourth year after the events of 9/11, Bush is still practicing distortion and deception against you and he is still concealing the true cause from you. Consequently, the motives for its reoccurrence still exist...

"We had no difficulty dealing with Bush and his administration, because it resembles the regimes in our [Arab] countries, half of which are ruled by the military, and the other half are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents with whom we have had a lot of experience. Among both types, there are many who are known for their conceit, arrogance, greed, and for taking money dishonestly.

"This resemblance began with the visit of Bush Sr. to the region. While some of our people were dazzled by the U.S. and hoped that these visits would influence our countries, it was he who was influenced by these monarchic and military regimes. He envied them for remaining in their positions for decades, while embezzling the nation's public funds with no supervision whatsoever. He bequeathed tyranny and the suppression of liberties to his son and they called it the Patriot Act, under the pretext of the war on terrorism.

"Bush Sr. liked the idea of appointing [his] sons as state governors. Similarly, he did not neglect to import into Florida the expertise in falsifying [elections] from the leaders of this region in order to benefit from it in difficult moments.

"We agreed with the general commander Muhammad Atta, may Allah have mercy on him, that all operations should be carried out within 20 minutes, before Bush and his administration would become aware. We never imagined that the Commander in Chief of the American armed forces would abandon 50,000 of his citizens in the twin towers to face this great horror alone when they needed him most. It seemed to him that a girl's story about her goat and its butting was more important than dealing with planes and their 'butting' into skyscrapers. This allowed us three times the amount of time needed for the operations, Allah be praised.

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida. Your security is in your own hands, and any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security."

Endnotes:(1) Al-Jazeera (Qatar), October 27, 2004.(2) "Wilaya" refers specifically to a U.S. state; it would never refer to an independent country. The term for such a country is "Dawla."(3) (4) To illustrate this principle, he uses Sweden as a model of a country that was never attacked by Al-Qa'ida.(5) See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 695, April 15, 2004, "Osama Bin Laden Speech Offers Peace Treaty with Europe, Says Al-Qa'ida 'Will Persist in Fighting' the U.S." (6) (7) To view the full tape aired on Al-Jazeera or read the transcript, visit

Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Deroy Murdock: Patriot Act Puts Another Terrorist Behind Bars

Patriot Act Takes Terrorist Off Gotham Streets

by Deroy Murdock, Posted Oct 28, 2004

Among the Americans who complain about the Patriot Act, Mohammad Junaid Babar probably dislikes it more than most. Absent that often-criticized federal statute, Babar still might stroll the sidewalks of New York, gathering money and equipment for al Qaeda.According to the unsealed transcript of his June 3 appearance before U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, Babar pleaded guilty to five counts of furnishing "material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization" including "making or receiving a contribution of funds, goods or services to, and for the benefit of Al Qaeda."Babar, 29--a Pakistani-born, Queens-reared U.S. citizen--rose in federal court and confessed his crimes."From summer '03 to about March of '04, I provided night vision goggles, sleeping bags, water proof socks, water proof ponchos, and money to a high ranking Al Qaeda official in southern Waziristan [an Islamo-fascist-friendly Pakistani province] .

In summer of '03, I handed off to someone else, you know, to send it to South Waziristan. Then in January and February '04, I went myself, personally, to South Waziristan and handed over money to, and supplies to a high ranking Al Qaeda official."The former St. John's University student continued: "I set up a jihad training camp where those who wanted to go into Afghanistan where they could learn how to use weapons, and also, you know, any explosive devices that they wanted to test over there . And I also provided lodging and transportation in Pakistan for them, and I transported them to and from the training camp." "I was aware that some of the people who attended the jihad training camp had ideas about, you know, plotting against some targets in the United Kingdom, and I provided some of the materials, like I mentioned, aluminum nitrate, ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder for them in the use of explosive devices that was [sic] then tested out at the training camp."

The Associated Press quoted one official who implicated Babar in a conspiracy to "blow up pubs, restaurants and train stations" in London. Babar admitted he was no naïf who had been hoodwinked into felonies, as American Taliban fighter John "Johnny Jihad" Walker-Lindh unconvincingly claimed. "I understood that I was involved in ongoing military operations within Afghanistan," Babar said, "and also that Al Qaeda was involved in military organizations outside of Afghanistan, namely bombings and hijackings and kidnappings outside of Afghanistan, so that's what I understood that Al Qaeda was involved in, those kinds of military operations." FBI and NYPD officers arrested Babar April 10 as he approached his taxi-driving course in Long Island City, Queens. The FBI had watched for Babar--whose mother fled the ninth floor of 1 World Trade Center on September 11--since he told a Canadian TV crew in Pakistan: "I'm willing to kill Americans."

The fact that Babar is behind bars and not trolling Gotham chemical suppliers for car-bomb ingredients is yet another Patriot Act success story. "Those who say that the Patriot Act is unnecessary need to look at cases like the prosecution of Mohammad Babar," says Paul Rosenzweig, a Heritage Foundation researcher. "The information-sharing provisions of the Patriot Act let us track him, and he was charged under the material support laws that the Patriot Act created."
The Patriot Act's most notorious provision, Section 215, bears on Babar's case. It reputedly lets the FBI storm into libraries to demand patrons' reading lists. Federal agents already can do this by securing subpoenae from grand juries. Terror cases actually require a higher level of judicial scrutiny. Investigators must petition judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "It's a much, much bigger hassle to do that than it is for a grand jury investigator to get the same subpoena," Deputy Attorney General James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee September 22. That might explain why Babar used New York Public Library computers to check his e-mail. As Comey explained, "We found out after we locked this guy up that he was going there because that library's hard drives were scrubbed after each user was done, and he was using that library to e-mail other al-Qaeda associates around the world. He knew that that was a sanctuary. " Even in this case, Justice left a library alone.Nevertheless, thanks to the embattled Patriot Act, this former guerrilla in our midst is a guest of Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft. Mohammad Junaid Babar now counts the days until December 3, the morning he returns to federal court for sentencing.

Mr. Murdock, a New York-based commentator, is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a Senior Fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Va.