Saturday, February 19, 2005

Daniel Pipes: Denying [Islamist] Terrorism

New York Sun
February 8, 2005

Anyone following the investigation into the mid-January slaughter of the Armanious family (husband, wife, two young daughters), Copts living in Jersey City, N.J., knows who the presumptive suspects are: Islamists furious at a Christian Egyptian immigrant who dares engage in Internet polemics against Islam and who attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.

The authorities, however, have blinded themselves to the extensive circumstantial evidence, insisting that "no facts at this point" substantiate a religious motive for the murders.
Somehow, the prosecutor missed that all four members of this quiet family were savagely executed in the ritualistic Islamist way (multiple knife attacks and near-beheading); that Jersey City has a record of Islamist activism and jihadi violence, and that the website carried a threat against Hossam Armanious: "We are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you."

Law enforcement seems more concerned to avoid an anti-Muslim backlash than to find the culprits.

This attitude of denial fits an all-too-common pattern. I previously documented a reluctance in nearby New York City to see as terrorism the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge ("road rage" was the FBI's preferred description) and the 1997 Empire State Building shootings ("many, many enemies in his mind," said Rudolph Giuliani). And the July 2002 LAX murders were initially dismissed as "a work dispute" and the October 2002 rampage of the Beltway snipers went unexplained, leaving the press to ascribe it to such factors as a "stormy [family] relationship."

These instances are part of a yet-larger pattern.

* The 1990 murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane by the Islamist El Sayyid Nosair was initially ascribed by the police to "a prescription drug for or consistent with depression."

* The 1999 crash of EgyptAir 990, killing 217 - by a co-pilot not supposed to be near the aircraft's controls at that time who repeated 11 times "I rely on God" as he wrenched the plane down - went unexplained by the National Transportation Safety Board.

* The 2002 purposeful crash of a small plane into a Tampa high-rise by bin Laden-sympathizer Charles Bishara Bishop went unexplained; the family chimed in by blaming the acne drug Accutane.

* The 2003 murder and near-decapitation in Houston of an Israeli by a former Saudi friend who had newly become an Islamist found the police unable to discern "any evidence" that the crime had anything to do with religion.

Nor is this a problem unique to American authorities.

* The 1993 attack on foreign guests dining at the Semiramis Hotel in Cairo, killing five, accompanied by the Islamist cry "Allahu Akbar," inspired the Egyptian government to dismiss the killer as insane.

* The 2000 attack on a bus of visibly Jewish schoolchildren near Paris by a hammer-wielding North African yelling "You're not in Tel-Aviv!" prompted police to describe the assault as the result of a traffic incident.

* The 2003 fire that gutted the Merkaz HaTorah Jewish secondary school in a Paris suburb, requiring 100 firefighters to douse the flames, was described by the French minister of the interior as being merely of "criminal origin."

* The 2004 murder of a Hasidic Jew with no criminal record as he walked an Antwerp street near a predominantly Muslim area left the Belgian authorities stumped: "There are no signs that racism was involved."

I have cited 13 cases here and provide information on further incidents on my weblog. Why this repeated unease acknowledging Islamist terrorism by the authorities, why the shameful denial?

And for that matter, why a similar unwillingness to face facts about right-wing extremists, as in the 2002 murder by a cursing skinhead of a Hasidic Jew outside a kosher pizzeria in Toronto, which the police did not find to rate as a hate crime? Because terrorism has much greater implications than prescription drugs going awry, road rage, lunatics acting berserk, or freak industrial accidents. Those can be shrugged off. Islamist terrorism, in contrast, requires an analysis of jihadi motives and a focus on Muslims, steps highly unwelcome to authorities.

And so, police, prosecutors, and politicians shy away from stark realities in favor of soothing and inaccurate bromides. This ostrich-like behavior carries heavy costs; those who refuse to recognize the enemy cannot defeat him. To pretend terrorism is not occurring nearly guarantees that it will recur.

Other items in category Terrorism
Other items in category Militant Islam
Other items in category Islam in America
Other items in category Islam in the West

AP: New Springsteen Album Due in April, Tour to Follow

NEW YORK (AP) — The seeds for Bruce Springsteen's new album Devils & Dust were sown nearly a decade ago, when the singer-songwriter launched his first-ever solo acoustic tour.
Springsteen said the tour would be an acoustic affair whether he performs alone or with a band, targeting theaters and smaller venues.

"I was so excited after playing on that tour, I'd get off the stage and go write," Springsteen told The Associated Press about those 1995-96 dates. "Then I put those songs on the shelf for a while, until I had a chance to revisit them."

The visit is now complete, with a 12-song album due in stores on April 26 — Springsteen's first release of all-new material since his Sept. 11-themed The Rising in July 2002. A tour was planned to follow the release, although Springsteen said it was unclear if he would perform alone or with a small band.

Two of the new album's songs, The Hitter and Long Time Comin', were actually written and performed on The Ghost of Tom Joad tour. But not all the material dates back that far; the title track was written around the start of the war in Iraq, Springsteen said.

"It works as a metaphor for all the music underneath it, the individual stories of people wrestling with their demons," Springsteen said of the title track. "A lot of it is set in the west, in what feels like a rural setting.

"It's about people working through their confusions, sometimes well and sometimes tragically," he said in a telephone interview earlier this week.

Springsteen opted to record without the E Street Band for Devils & Dust. The core group was Springsteen on guitar and other instruments, producer Brendan O'Brien on bass and drummer Steve Jordan, who had produced last year's 23rd Street Lullaby album by Springsteen's wife, Patti Scialfa.

In keeping with his pattern of recording, the new album is a quieter, more acoustic affair than The Rising. Springsteen, now 55, has alternated between large-scale rock records followed by more introspective material since 1982's Nebraska was released two years after The River.

Pedal steel guitar, harmonica and violin fill in the sparse, rootsy arrangements. Springsteen, who says his vocal range has expanded with age, provides some higher-pitched vocals on the track All I'm Thinking About.

Springsteen said the accompanying tour would be an acoustic affair whether he performs alone or with a band, targeting theaters and smaller venues.

"I was actually signed as an acoustic act, and I've always enjoyed playing acoustic," Springsteen said. "Even when I was in a band, back in my early days, I was always writing songs that weren't meant for the band."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. Springsteen to Release "Devils & Dust" April 26th

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Springsteen Stares Down 'Devils' On New Album

Bruce Springsteen re-teams with producer Brendan O'Brien on his 19th album, "Devils & Dust," whichColumbia will release on April 26. The 12-track set follows the format of Springsteen's '90s studio work, in which he was surrounded by a rotating cast of collaborators, including some members of the E Street Band.

The title cut has been in Springsteen's catalog for several years, and was dusted off in soundchecks for the E Street Band's run on last fall's Vote for Change tour, but never performed at a show.

Two of the tracks on "Long Time Comin'" and "The Hitter" -- date back at least 10 years and were performed during the tour in support of the 1995 album "The Ghost of Tom Joad".

Like much of the material on that set, the songs are both first-person narratives, using details and fragmented scenes to sketch out a life's story. The first is about a father celebrating the optimism that comes with an awaited child; the second about a street fighter nearing the end of an unenviable career.

Springsteen will tour in support of the new album, but no details have been announced as to who will back him or what size venues he will play.

"Devils & Dust" is the artist's first studio album since 2002's O'Brien-produced "The Rising," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 2.09 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The tour in support of the set grossed $221.5 million from 121 shows reported to Billboard Boxscore.

As previously reported, Springsteen won a Grammy on Sunday for best solo rock vocal performance for the "Code of Silence," which was released on the 2003 collection "The Essential Bruce Springsteen."

Here is the track list for "Devils & Dust":

"Devils & Dust"
"All The Way Home"
"Long Time Comin'"
"Black Cowboys"
"Maria's Bed"
"Silver Palomino"
"Jesus Was an Only Son"
"The Hitter"
"All I'm Thinkin' About"
"Matamoras Banks"

Ann Coulter: Not Crazy Horse, Just Crazy

By Ann Coulter
February 17, 2005

University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill has written that "unquestionably, America has earned" the attack of 9-11. He calls the attack itself a result of "gallant sacrifices of the combat teams." That the "combat teams" killed only 3,000 Americans, he says, shows they were not "unreasonable or vindictive." He says that in order to even the score with America, Muslim terrorists "would, at a minimum, have to blow up about 300,000 more buildings and kill something on the order of 7.5 million people."

To grasp the current state of higher education in America, consider that if Churchill is at any risk at all of being fired, it is only because he smokes.

Churchill poses as a radical living on the edge, supremely confident that he is protected by tenure from being fired. College professors are the only people in America who assume they can't be fired for what they say.

Tenure was supposed to create an atmosphere of open debate and inquiry, but instead has created havens for talentless cowards who want to be insulated from life. Rather than fostering a climate of open inquiry, college campuses have become fascist colonies of anti-American hate speech, hypersensitivity, speech codes, banned words and prohibited scientific inquiry.

Even liberals don't try to defend Churchill on grounds that he is Galileo pursuing an abstract search for the truth. They simply invoke "free speech," like a deus ex machina to end all discussion. Like the words "diverse" and "tolerance," "free speech" means nothing but: "Shut up, we win." It's free speech (for liberals), diversity (of liberals) and tolerance (toward liberals).

Ironically, it is precisely because Churchill is paid by the taxpayers that "free speech" is implicated at all. The Constitution has nothing to say about the private sector firing employees for their speech. That's why you don't see Bill Maher on ABC anymore. Other well-known people who have been punished by their employers for their "free speech" include Al Campanis, Jimmy Breslin, Rush Limbaugh, Jimmy the Greek and Andy Rooney.

In fact, the Constitution says nothing about state governments firing employees for their speech: The First Amendment clearly says, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." Firing Ward Churchill is a pseudo-problem caused by modern constitutional law, which willy-nilly applies the Bill of Rights to the states – including the one amendment that clearly refers only to "Congress." (Liberals love to go around blustering "'no law' means 'no law'!" But apparently "Congress" doesn't mean "Congress.")

Even accepting the modern notion that the First Amendment applies to state governments, the Supreme Court has distinguished between the government as sovereign and the government as employer. The government is extremely limited in its ability to regulate the speech of private citizens, but not so limited in regulating the speech of its own employees.

So the First Amendment and "free speech" are really red herrings when it comes to whether Ward Churchill can be fired. Even state universities will not run afoul of the Constitution for firing a professor who is incapable of doing his job because he is a lunatic, an incompetent or an idiot – and those determinations would obviously turn on the professor's "speech."

If a math professor's "speech" consisted of insisting that 2 plus 2 equals 5, or an astrophysicist's "speech" was to claim that the moon is made of Swiss cheese, or a history professor's "speech" consisted of rants about the racial inferiority of the n-----s, each one of them could be fired by a state university without running afoul of the Constitution.

Just because we don't have bright lines for determining what speech can constitute a firing offense, doesn't mean there are no lines at all. If Churchill hasn't crossed them, we are admitting that almost nothing will debase and disgrace the office of professor (except, you know, suggesting that there might be innate differences in the mathematical abilities of men and women).
In addition to calling Americans murdered on 9-11 "little Eichmanns," Churchill has said:

"The U.S. Army gave blankets infected with smallpox to the Indians specifically intending to spread the disease. "

Not only are the diseased-blanket stories cited by Churchill denied by his alleged sources, but the very idea is contradicted by the facts of scientific discovery. The settlers didn't understand the mechanism of how disease was transmitted. Until Louis Pasteur's experiments in the second half of the 19th century, the idea that disease could be caused by living organisms was as scientifically accepted as crystal reading is today. Even after Pasteur, many scientists continued to believe disease was spontaneously generated from within. Churchill is imbuing the settlers with knowledge that in most cases wouldn't be accepted for another hundred years.

Indian reservations are the equivalent of Nazi concentration camps.

I forgot Auschwitz had a casino.

If Ward Churchill can be a college professor, what's David Duke waiting for?

The whole idea behind free speech is that in a marketplace of ideas, the truth will prevail. But liberals believe there is no such thing as truth and no idea can ever be false (unless it makes feminists cry, such as the idea that there are innate differences between men and women). Liberals are so enamored with the process of free speech that they have forgotten about the goal.

Faced with a professor who is a screaming lunatic, they retreat to, "Yes, but academic freedom, tenure, free speech, blah, blah," and their little liberal minds go into autopilot with all the slogans.

Why is it, again, that we are so committed to never, ever firing professors for their speech? Because we can't trust state officials to draw any lines at all here? Because ... because ... because they might start with crackpots like Ward Churchill – but soon liberals would be endangered? Liberals don't think there is any conceivable line between them and Churchill? Ipse dixit.

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).

Dennis Prager: The Case for Judeo-Christian Values, Part V

Better Answers: The Case for Judeo-Christian Values, Part V
By Dennis Prager February 15, 2005

Before continuing to make the case for Judeo-Christian values, it is time to answer a question frequently posed by Jews and Christians, as well as others: How can there be such a thing as Judeo-Christian values when Judaism and Christianity have different, sometimes mutually exclusive, beliefs?

The most important answer is that beliefs and values are not the same things.

Of course, Judaism and Christianity have some differing beliefs. If they had the same beliefs, they would be the same religion. The very term "Judeo-Christian" implies that the two are not the same. The two religions have some differing beliefs and occasionally even some different values.

For example, Christianity believes in a Trinity that Judaism does not believe in. That is a major theological difference, but it has no impact on values. Likewise, Christianity believes that the Messiah has come, whereas Judaism believes that he has not yet come. As a Jewish theologian, I am fascinated by theological differences among religions. But I am far more preoccupied with real-life issues of good and evil, and that is where Judeo-Christian values come in.

Both religions are based on the Old Testament, which Judaism and Christianity hold to be divine or divinely inspired. Clearly, then, they will share values -- unless one holds that the New Testament rejects Old Testament values. But that is untenable since, in addition to Christianity believing the Old Testament is God's word, Jesus was a believing and practicing Jew. He would not practice a religion whose values or Bible he rejected.

One way to understand Judeo-Christian values, therefore, is as values that emanate from a Judeo-based Christianity. Christians have always had the choice to reject the Jewish roots of Christianity (which, when done, enabled Christian anti-Semitism), to ignore those roots, or to celebrate and embrace them. American Christians have, more than any other Christian group, opted for the latter.

For much of Christian history, the majority of Christians either ignored or denied the Jewish origins of Christianity and the Jewishness of Jesus and the Apostles. That is how many Christians were able to rationalize their anti-Semitism, and that is why Europe self-identified as "Christian," not as "Judeo-Christian" as America has.

It is also true that as the centuries passed, some values differences, not merely theological ones, did arise. But it is the greatness of Judeo-Christian values that they combine the best of both religious traditions and cast aside some of their weaker aspects.

For example, the Christian emphasis on faith above works led often to faith without works. Meanwhile, the Jewish emphasis on works above faith has led to many Jews abandoning God and valuing only works -- meaning, more often than not, the embracing of destructive secular radical faiths.

Judeo-Christian values combine the two religions' strengths -- the Jewish emphasis on moral works in this world with the Christian emphasis on keeping God at the center of one's values and works.

Another example is the American Christian's ability to remain God-centered and hold onto traditional beliefs while fully participating in modern society. This has not generally been the case in Jewish life. Over the centuries, God-centered and Torah-believing Jews retreated from mainstream society. They did so because: 1) anti-Semitism forced Jews into ghettos; 2) Jewish ritual laws increasingly restricted contact with non-Jews; and 3) Jews are a people, not just a religious group.

On the other hand, Jewish rituals have kept Judaism and the Jews alive while the abandonment of ritual (for example, Sabbath observance) has hurt Christianity. And Jewish peoplehood has ensured action on behalf of persecuted fellow Jews while Christians usually did little on behalf of persecuted fellow Christians -- as, for example, those many Christians terribly persecuted under Communism; the Copts in Egypt; the Maronite Catholics in Lebanon; and the Christians of Sudan.

In sum, despite whatever differences they have, Jews and Christians need each other and Judaism and Christianity need each other. The Judeo-Christian values system has become a uniquely powerful moral force. Among its many achievements is that it is the primary contributor to America's greatness.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Mike Prisuta On NHL Labor Dispute

Leadership on both sides led owners, players astray

By Mike Prisuta
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

And so, it came to pass that on the 152nd day of a work stoppage that dragged hockey into darkness and despair, the NHLPA and the NHL finally saw a sliver of light.

Word spread on Tuesday morning that the players reportedly had at last agreed to the salary cap the owners had been insisting upon, and that the owners had surrendered on "linkage" between revenues and player costs (as if a cap wasn't enough protection from themselves all along).

So it was down to semantics, rather than philosophical differences.
These last-second concessions to common sense were made during a secret meeting on Monday, according to the Canadian Press.

That left what was left of the hockey world waiting and wondering, as yesterday afternoon dragged into last night, whether NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's scheduled news conference at 1 p.m. today would announce an agreement or the season's cancellation.

Both sides should be outraged that they blindly followed leadership so misguided it came to this.
No matter how it turned out.

The players should be ready to ambush Bob Goodenow the way Marty McSorley did Donald Brashear right about now. They've lost millions. And for what? Some half-baked stand on a principle that wouldn't apply to the majority of the rank and file, one that's been abandoned now that deal-seekers have turned desperate.

Some of these guys won't be coming back when this is eventually settled.
And not nearly enough of them went to college.

Those unfortunates will have lost their jobs in a fight to preserve someone's ability to obscenely overpay Jaromir Jagr.

As for those who have been doing the over-paying, the owners, they ought to be ready to take turns playing Claude Lemieux and Kris Draper on one another right about now.
Their biggest mistake -- and there have been many -- was putting their franchises in Bettman's hands.

All along Bettman has been part of the problem rather than part of the solution, the biggest part of the problem. The players despise him, and his mere presence compromised the process and delayed the inevitable inclusion of a salary cap from the beginning.

Once the owners get one -- today or down the road -- they'll consider the damage done to the league and among its dwindling fan base justified. But we won't know the extent of that damage for some time; we only knew going in that the NHL could scarcely afford anything that might offend its few customers and viewers.

Of course, the owners had good reason to stick with Bettman, whose reign of error produced the CBA that pushed the league to the brink of financial ruin, more unnecessary expansion and the dilution of talent. He also ushered in the neutral zone-trap era, officiating so inconsistent it's almost impossible for the game to attract new fans because no one can tell what is a penalty and what is not, and a TV contract that couldn't pay Alain Lemieux's salary, let alone Mario's.
Did the guy ever do anything right?

No wonder he gets booed before every draft.

He ought to be booed again today, no matter the announcement he has to make.
And the players, to a man, are guilty of gross misconduct.

Mike Prisuta is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Filip Bondy: Canseco's Charges Have Juice

The New York Daily News
14 February 2005

You watched Jose Canseco laugh and boast of his misadventures last night on "60 Minutes," not squirm a bit inside his open white shirt collar, and the thing you took away from it more than anything is that this shameless clown now must be taken seriously.

It's true. Canseco is suddenly some kind of public Deep Throat, an expert spy. He has been empowered by all the naughty Big Boys of Baseball, by the BALCO hearings and by the muscled jocks who treated hypodermics as if they were some kind of acupuncture treatment.

"The national pastime is juiced," he reiterated last night. Canseco wrote the book, "Juiced," and he says he personally stuck a couple of needles right there in Mark McGwire's gluteus maximus (Mike Wallace never asked which cheek).

Canseco says he did that in a bathroom stall after batting practice and before games, and that he used anabolic steroids with Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez. He says he also advised Jason Giambi on the matter of this cheating.

"Common ground," Canseco called it. It was a way to interact comfortably with teammates who were not always cozy buddies. This was a new form of clubhouse water cooler banter. Kind of like, "Inject me, and I'll inject you."

Canseco's details on this matter may be as suspect as his own personal history. But laugh at him now at your own risk. Wallace never did last night, because times have changed so much and plausible deniability among our oversized heroes is at an all-time low. Whenever they showed an old picture of Popeye McGwire last night on CBS, you had to wince and wonder at those forearms all over again.

The terrain has changed, and with it the media's outrage at informants has noticeably diminished. The stoolies are treated with wariness now, not dismissed as common horseflies.

Back in 1989, there was a guy named Darrell Robinson who went on the "Today" show, charging that he'd sold human growth hormones to sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner. Robinson had his own share of legal problems, much like Canseco, and the host Bryant Gumbel attacked Robinson as if he were the biggest jerk in the world. Then Griffith Joyner came on the show and called Robinson "a compulsive, crazy, lying lunatic."

And that was about the last you heard about Robinson and his charges, until the day Griffith Joyner died at the age of 38 from uncertain causes.

Now, though, it is tougher to reject the tell-all guys, even if they are as screwed up as Canseco. McGwire says it's all nonsense and Tony LaRussa says it's all nonsense and all the old Texas Rangers say that whatever Canseco says is nonsense.

But then you remember that Giambi once said the steroid reports were all nonsense, too. He was last seen apologizing in the Bronx, and if the leaked grand jury testimony is true then Giambi joins Gary Sheffield and Canseco as the third Yankee or former Yankee to admit using performance-enhancing drugs.

These days, there are two burners going full blast in the hot stove league, heating baseball's long winters. Over one fire, there are the free agent rumors and signings, the congratulatory quotes and back page headlines. The Mets, the Yankees, the Red Sox, they will all be champions. That is the old promise of spring this sport has always offered, a piece of October in February.

But right behind that, over full flame, come the steroid leaks and reports. They are now as big part of offseason baseball as the signings. Players are outed for steroids, the way they might once have been traded to Detroit. When the season starts, the rush of events will disguise the problem again for some time. Not for long, though. Never again.

It would be nice to at least believe that Canseco has learned something from all this, but of course then he would not be Canseco. He still seems to believe that steroids are more helpful than harmful, even after all of this.

"I don't recommend steroids for everyone and I don't recommend growth hormones for everyone," he said last night. "But for certain individuals, I truly believe, because I've experimented with it for so many years, that it can make an average athlete a super athlete. It can make a super athlete - incredible. Just legendary."

Canseco is a blithering idiot. Dismiss him at your own risk.

Originally published on February 14, 2005

Mark Steyn: UN Forces - Just a Bunch of Thugs?

The Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 15/02/2005)

It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the UN. If you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. Thus the Oil-for-Fraud scandal: in the end, Saddam Hussein had a much shrewder understanding of the way the UN works than Bush and Blair did.

And, of course, corrupt organisations rarely stop at just one kind. If you don't want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food programme, don't worry, whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits - in West Africa, it's Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it's drug dealing; in Kenya, it's the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves.

But you get the general picture: on a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece. Didier Bourguet, a UN staffer in Congo and the Central African Republic, enjoyed the pleasures of 12-year-old girls, and as a result is now on trial in France. His lawyer has said he was part of a UN paedophile network that transcends national boundaries.

Now how about this? The Third Infantry Division are raping nine-year olds in Ramadi. Ready, set, go! That thundering sound outside your window isn't the new IKEA sale, but the great herd of BBC/CNN/Independent/Guardian/New York Times/Le Monde/Sydney Morning Herald/Irish Times/Cork Examiner reporters stampeding to the Sunni Triangle. Whoa, hold up, lads, it's only hypothetical.

But think about it: the merest glimpse of a freaky West Virginia tramp leading an Abu Ghraib inmate around with girlie knickers on his head was enough to prompt calls for Rumsfeld's resignation, and for Ted Kennedy to charge that Saddam's torture chambers were now open "under new management", and for Robert Fisk to be driven into the kind of orgasmic frenzy unseen since his column on how much he enjoyed being beaten up by an Afghan mob: "Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi," wrote Fisk. "No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash."

Who's straining at the leash here? Down, boy. But, if Lynndie's smashed to pieces our entire morality with just one tug, Bush's Zionist neocons getting it on with Congolese kindergarteners would have the Independent calling for US expulsion from the UN - no, wait, from Planet Earth: slice it off from Maine to Hawaii and use one of those new Euro-Airbuses to drag it out round the back of Uranus.

But systemic UN child sex in at least 50 per cent of their missions? The transnational morality set can barely stifle their yawns. If you're going to rape prepubescent girls, make sure you're wearing a blue helmet.

And at least the Pentagon put a stop to Abu Ghraib. As a UN official in Congo told the Telegraph yesterday: "The crux of the problem is that if the UN gets bolshie with these governments then they stop providing the UN with troops and staff."

And the problem with that is?

In Congo, the UN has now forbidden all contact between its forces and the natives. The rest of the world should be so lucky.

I take it from his use of "bolshie" that the quoted UN wallah is British. If so, that's the system in a nutshell: when a British bigwig is with British forces, he'll enforce British standards; when a British official is holed up with an impeccably "multilateral" force of Uruguayans, Tunisians, etc, he's more circumspect. When in Rome, do as the Visigoths do.

The child sex racket is only the most extreme example of what's wrong with the UN approach to the world. Developed peoples value resilience: when disaster strikes, you bounce back. A hurricane flattens Florida, you patch things up and reopen. As the New Colonial Class, the UN doesn't look at it like that: when disaster strikes, it just proves you and your countrymen are children who need to be taken under the transnational wing.

The folks that have been under the UN wing the longest - indeed, the only ones with their own permanent UN agency and semi-centenarian "refugee camps" - are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth: the Palestinians. UN territories like Kosovo are the global equivalent of inner-city council estates with the blue helmets as local enforcers for the absentee slum landlord. By contrast, a couple of years after imperialist warmonger Bush showed up, Afghanistan and Iraq have elections, presidents and prime ministers.

When the tsunami hit, hundreds of thousands of people died within minutes. The Australians and Americans arrived within hours. The UN was unable to get to Banda Aceh within weeks.

Instead, the humanitarian fat cats were back in New York and Geneva holding press conferences warning about post-tsunami health consequences - dysentery, cholera, BSE from water-logged cattle, etc - that, they assured us, would kill as many people as the original disaster. But it never happened, any more than did their predictions of disaster for Iraq ("The head of the World Food Programme has warned that Iraq could spiral into a massive humanitarian disaster") or Afghanistan ("The UN Children's Fund has estimated that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die of cold, disease and hunger").

It's one thing to invent humanitarian disasters to disparage Bush's unilateralist warmongering, but a month ago the UN was reduced to inventing a humanitarian disaster in order to distract attention from the existing humanitarian disaster it wasn't doing anything about.

All this derives from a UN culture in which the free nations have met the thug states so much more than half way that they now largely share the dictators' view of their peoples - as either helpless children who need every decision made for them, or a bunch of dupes whose national wealth you can reroute to your Swiss bank account, or a never-ending source of fresh meat.

Those British officials trying to rationalise Oil-for-Fraud or child sex rings give the game away: it's not just the underage Congolese girls who get corrupted by contact with the UN.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Thomas Fleming: The Tsunami and the Pornography of Compassion
Feb. 11, 2005

The tsunami that struck Asia and Africa on St. Stephen’s Day wreaked a considerable amount of havoc, but no one knows, even approximately, how many people actually died. In the first few weeks, it looked as if the grisly total would add up to about 150,000 victims, but, as politicians in Indonesia began to see the advantages, the figures have crept up to perhaps 175,000.

Nonetheless, even 150,000 dead in a single day is a horrifying number. People all over the developed world took the news hard, as they stayed glued to CNN, watching for ever more graphic bits of footage, listening for even sadder tales of children snatched from their mothers’ arms. “What’s it up to now, Charlie?” I can almost hear their wives calling out from the kitchen.

When the tsunami struck, I was in Siena without a television set, and, though I had skimmed the front page of the Corriere, I did not grasp the dimensions of the catastrophe until I reached Naples on December 30. In Italy, the New Year’s Eve celebrations were supposed to be more muted this year, out of respect for the victims, but the explosions going off in Naples were enough to flatten the tires of parked cars and start trash fires all over the city. If that is Naples’ idea of muted, I do not want to be there when they have a really good time.

Some holiday parties in Europe and the United States were cancelled in honor of the event. I do not give or attend New Year’s Eve parties, but I should not have cancelled any plans for the sake of a far-off natural disaster. I do not know anyone who died, and I do not know anyone who knew anyone. It was 150,000 strangers who died. That is surely not an unusual event. After all, how many human beings die on the planet every day? One calculation I have discovered puts it at just shy of 150,000, roughly the same number as died in the tsunami. That adds up to roughly 55 million people per year. Such figures make John Donne’s famous sermon sound ridiculous. If each man’s death diminishes me by even a small particle, there would not be much left by the end of a decade. The truth is that we are more affected by the death of a pet hamster than we are by the death of 150,000 strangers to whom we are not bound by ties of history, kinship, or religion.

That most people agree with this cold-blooded conclusion is evident from all the national news reports. The Italian press was filled with heart-rending stories about killed and missing Italians; the BBC focused on British victims; American newspapers and networks talked mostly of Americans. One Islamic physicians’ group maintained its religious identity by saying that jihad was more important than ministering to the victims. What this means is clear: We feel little sorrow for the sufferings of strangers, but, if we are stirred up by the yellow press, we will clutch at anything to establish an imaginary bond of sympathy. The “pornography of compassion,” as I have described the phenomenon in The Morality of Everyday Life, is one of the hallmarks of the liberal mind-set. When the Lisbon earthquake wiped out a goodly part of the Portuguese capital in 1755, Voltaire rejected the cheery optimism he had imbibed from Leibniz and began railing against human suffering. He also, in a private letter, exulted that so many priests had been killed. Scratch an humanitarian, and you almost always find an anti-Christian. Samuel Johnson, by contrast, was at first skeptical about the numbers and, when they proved to be more or less correct, still refused to jump on the humanitarian bandwagon. The word he reserved for such enthusiasms was cant, and what was cant in 1755 is cant today. Voltaire’s sanctimonious poem on the “Lisbon Earthquake” led directly to his greatest anti-Christian squib, Candide, and we have been plagued ever since by the cynical sentimentalism that raises trillions of dollars to help strangers while poisoning us against the needs of family, neighbors, and friends. The Christian Dr. Johnson taught us that suffering and death are part of the human condition, and blaming God for our misery or pretending it is not so will not change that condition.

There is nothing wrong in Americans giving of their abundance to the victims of African genocide or Asian tidal waves, but there is something dreadfully wrong in the pretense that we care deeply. The more we flatter ourselves with such fantasies of universal compassion, the less room we have in our hearts for the suffering humanity we meet in our own hometowns. It is easier to write a check to a telethon than to carry supper to a shut-in. Groups such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society are to be applauded for doing what they can to discharge the obligations of Christian charity to people in their own communities. We leave it to liberals to neglect their own families while saving the world’s children. Mother Teresa, when a Milwaukee woman offered to come and help the poor in Calcutta, sagely advised her to find Calcutta in Milwaukee. Charity begins at home.

[From the forthcoming March 2005 issue of Chronicles, Cultural Revolutions]
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Mark Steyn: On Culture Front, We're Losing War

February 13, 2005

Here are three small news items from around the world you might have missed:

1) An unemployed waitress in Berlin faces the loss of her welfare benefits after refusing a job as a prostitute in a legalized brothel.

2) A British court has ruled that a suspected terrorist from Algeria cannot be detained in custody because jail causes him to suffer a ''depressive illness.''

3) Seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Eden of Charlestown, R.I., has been awarded an A by his teacher and the ''Silver Key'' in the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards for a diorama titled ''Bush/Hitler and How History Repeats Itself.''

A trio of itsy-bitsy little stories from the foot of page 27 of your daily paper, if they made it at all. But they're as revealing about the course of the war as anything going on in Iraq. The Germans, in the bad old days when their preferred field of combat was France rather than Fraulein Helga's government-regulated bondage dungeon, used to talk about ''wehrwille'' -- war will. America, Britain, Australia and a select few other countries have demonstrated they can just about muster the ''war will'' on the battlefield. On the broader cultural front, where this war in the end will be won, there's little evidence of any kind of will.

The waitress forced into prostitution by the government pimp is, at one level, merely an example of the unintended consequences that follow every legislative initiative. But, at another, it's the logical reductio of the modern secular welfare state. Like all those European utopias John Kerry wants America to be more like, Germany has a permanently high unemployment rate and, as a result, penalizes those who refuse to take available jobs -- like providing ''sexual services.'' The welfare office in Gotha ordered a 23-year-old woman to attend an audition for a job as a ''nude model.''

As Queen Victoria is said to have advised her daughter on her wedding night, lie back and think of England. Now the welfare office says lie back and think of Germany. And why not? When you cede to the state the responsibility for feeding, clothing, housing yourself, for your parents' retirement and your own health care, it's hardly surprising they can't see what the big deal is about annexing your sex life as well. If a welfare state were a German S&M club, the government is the S and you're the M. The ''security'' of welfare is not usually quite such literal bondage, but it always is metaphorically.

When the Germans legalized their whorehouses, they thought it showed how relaxed and enlightened they were. The al-Qaida types take a different line: They think it's a sign that the West is decadent and weak and cannot survive. And they have a point: The government forcing women into prostitution is merely the latest example of the internal contradictions of the modern secular state.

That British court judgment is another. SIAC, the United Kingdom's anti-terrorist court, found in 2003 that the 35-year-old Algerian male in question had ''actively assisted terrorists who have links to al-Qaida.'' But he was released from Belmarsh Prison because of his ''depressive condition.'' I'd be in a depressive condition if I were a terrorist: The Afghan camps are gone, the Great Satan's liberated Iraq, and Osama re-emerges from his three-year sabbatical only to release a floppo ''Vote Kerry!'' video recycling a lot of lame Michael Moore gags. The more Islamists in a depressive condition the better. Maybe if they get sufficiently depressed they'll stop being terrorists and become trainee accountants or male hairdressers.

But this surely illustrates the impossibility of fighting terror as a law enforcement operation. By Western standards, every Islamic terrorist is ''depressive'' -- for a start, as suicide bombers, they're suicidal. Sen. Kerry, you'll recall, thought terrorism should be like prostitution: a nuisance. But, if these court judgments are any indication, it seems to be more like German prostitution: They're free to do what they want, and with the full backing of the legal system.

In such a world, it's good to know we still have the guts to finger the real bad guys. Thus, when Chariho Regional High School art teacher Lynn Norton set her pupils the task of expressing an idea three-dimensionally, Jeffrey Eden immediately thought of a diorama comparing Bush to Hitler. You might think that ought to be disqualified on the grounds that characterizing Bush as Hitler is about as two-dimensional as you can get, and it's less of a diorama than the diarrhea of leftist rhetoric, as poured forth by millions of drones and nude Marin County feminist protesters and European activist puppeteers. But there's always room for one more, and Jeffrey's schoolmarm was thrilled at the way he did it so cutely, draping a swastika on one side and the Stars and Stripes on the other, and putting in little plastic soldiers -- Nazi and American, though who can tell the difference, right? -- and then adding his own penetrating observations on both Bush (''Saddam had no affiliation with the Taliban'') and his predecessor as Fuhrer (''Hitler's own justification was his own hatred.'' Hmm. What a testament to the quality of Rhode Island's ''Social Studies'' curriculum).

Well, Jeffrey's 17. One day, with a bit of luck, he'll realize Bush isn't Hitler. If he were, Jeffrey would be in the Bush Youth doing patriotic exercises in shorts every morning and singing the special Texan lyrics to the Horst Wessel song, and he wouldn't have time to do dioramas of dissent. But what are we to make of everyone else in this sorry story? The art teacher who gave him an A. The 15 judges in the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards who awarded him their ''silver key.'' The proprietor of Alperts Furniture Showroom in Seekonk where the winning ''art'' work is proudly on display. Are there no grown-ups left in Rhode Island?

I'm not worried about Iraq. As they demonstrated on Jan. 30, they'll be just fine. The western front is the important one in this war, the point of intersection between Islam and a liberal democratic tradition so mired in self-loathing it would rather destroy our civilization just to demonstrate its multicultural bona fides. It's not that young Eden knows nothing, but that neither his teachers, judges nor furniture showroom proprietors do. By contrast, our enemies know us very well, at least when it comes to courtroom strategies and canny manipulation of the fetish of ''tolerance.''

It's an open question whether the West will survive this twilight struggle: Europe almost certainly won't, America might; on the other hand, the psychosis to which much of the culture is in thrall may eventually reach a tipping point into mass civilizational suicide. And then the new barbarians will inherit, and young Master Eden will end his days pining for the rosy-hued nostalgia for the Bushitler tyranny.