Thursday, May 04, 2006

Catholic World News: Second Things

From the "Off the Record" section of Catholic World News
by 'Diogenes'
3 May 2006

From the Baltimore Catechism (III), 1891:

Q. 491. What is the duty of the Teaching Church?

A.The duty of the Teaching Church is to continue the work Our Lord began upon earth, namely, to teach revealed truth, to administer the Sacraments and to labor for the salvation of souls.

Listening to "progressive" bishops lecture us on the use of condoms for reducing AIDS infection, I was struck by how far the model of the Church's teaching office has departed from the traditional one stated above. Note that the catechism said the Church's prime duty was to teach revealed truth -- not psych, not medicine, not sociology. And the goal of such teaching was not improved hygiene or race relations, but the salvation of souls.

Since the Council we've watched "the salvation of souls" drop out of the vocabulary of the progressivist Catholic majority, while the duty to teach revealed truth has been shouldered aside in favor of efforts to engage contemporary secular problems in contemporary secular terms. The thinking behind this shift (fueled by a grotesquely sentimentalist misreading of certain passages in Gaudium et Spes) was to revitalize the Church by regaining the attention of the indifferent masses by showing interest in what the masses were interested in. Old liberals deny it today, but back then they gleefully announced from every podium the self-evident truth that, by accommodating herself to cultural and political fashions, the Church would see huge increases in Mass attendance and vocations, a reanimated parish life, and a groundswell of enthusiasm for religion on the part of young people. "Let's engage the Church's worldly mission," the thinking ran, "then we'll be in a stronger position to engage her supernatural one."

Wrong. When the Church tried her hand at psycho-drama and economics she dismayed those who loved her, amused those who hated her, and simply bored the rest. Churches, convents, and seminaries emptied, and the young people for whose sake the supernatural duties were abandoned resented being patronized even more than being scolded.

In a 1942 essay called "First and Second Things," C.S. Lewis drew attention to the paradoxical nature of the blunder: "To sacrifice the greater good for the less and then not to get the lesser good after all -- that is the surprising folly." He went to generalize the law:

Every preference of a small good to a great, or a partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice was made. Apparently the world is made that way. If Esau really got his pottage in return for his birthright, then Esau was a lucky exception. You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.

The sight of a retired Jesuit archbishop reduced to coaching Africans in marital onanism is sorry enough, but it only recapitulates the trajectory of his own order. Precisely in the measure that it swapped faith for justice, it ended up with neither. And the same is true of post-Conciliar progressives in general: by putting secular prestige before spiritual duty and teaching human sciences instead of revealed truth, they gutted the Church Militant and lost contact with the Church Triumphant. Today, strutting in an empty chapel of their own design, they can neither bless nor heal.

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Movie Critics Aghast at Andy Garcia's 'The Lost City'

By Humberto Fontova
Monday, May 1, 2006

Fernando Calzada
Andy Garcia, right, during the filming of "The Lost City," a project about Cuba that he has been working on for the last 16 years.

Andy Garcia blew it big-time with his movie "The Lost City." He blew it with the mainstream critics, that is. Almost unanimously, they're ripping a movie 16 years in the making. In this engaging drama of a middle-class Cuban family crumbling during free Havana's last days, which he both directs and stars in, Garcia insisted on depicting some historical truth about Cuba – a grotesque and unforgivable blunder in his industry. He's now paying the price.

Earlier, many film festivals refused to screen it. Now many Latin American countries refuse to show it. The film's offenses are many and varied. Most unforgivable of all, Che Guevara is shown killing people in cold blood. Who ever heard of such nonsense? And just where does this uppity Andy Garcia get the effrontery to portray such things? The man obviously doesn't know his place.

And just where did Garcia get this preposterous notion of pre-Castro Cuba as a relatively prosperous but politically troubled place, they ask. All the Cubans he portrays seem middle class. Where in his movie is the tsunami of stooped and starving peasants that carried Fidel and Che into Havana on its crest, they ask. Where are all those diseased and illiterate laborers and peasants my professors, Dan Rather, CNN and Oliver Stone told me about, ask the critics.

Garcia – that cinematic bomb-thrower – has seriously jolted the mainstream media's fantasies and hallucinations of pre-Castro Cuba, of Che, of Fidel, and of Cubans in general. In consequence, the critics are unnerved and disoriented. Their annoyance and scorn are spewing forth in review after review.

Garcia blew it. If only his characters had spoken with accents like John Belushi's as a "Saturday Night Live" killer bee! If only they'd dressed like The Three Amigos! If only they'd behaved like Cheech and Chong! If only they'd mimicked the mannerisms and gait of Freddie Prinze in "Chico and the Man"! If only the women had piled a roadside fruit stand on their head like Carmen Miranda in "Road to Rio"! If only the cast had looked like the little guy who handles my luggage when I visit Cancun! Or the guys who do my lawn! Everybody knows that's what Hispanics look like!

If only masses of Cubans had been shown toiling in salt mines like Spartacus, or picking crops like Tom Joad, or getting lashed by a vicious landlord like Kunta Kinte, or hustling for a living like Ratso Rizzo!

"In a movie about the Cuban revolution, we almost never see any of the working poor for whom the revolution was supposedly fought," sniffs Peter Reiner in The Christian Science Monitor. "'The Lost City' misses historical complexity."

Actually, what's missing is Mr. Reiner's historical knowledge. Andy Garcia and screenwriter Guillermo Cabrera Infante knew full well that "the working poor" had no role in the stage of the Cuban revolution shown in the movie. The anti-Batista rebellion was led and staffed overwhelmingly by Cuba's middle and, especially, upper class. To wit: In August of 1957 Castro's rebel movement called for a "national strike" against the Batista dictatorship – and threatened to shoot workers who reported to work. The "national strike" was completely ignored.

Another was called for April 9, 1958. And again Cuban workers blew a loud and collective raspberry at their "liberators," reporting to work en masse."Garcia's tale bemoans the loss of easy wealth for a precious few," harrumphs Michael Atkinson in The Village Voice. "Poor people are absolutely absent; Garcia and Infante seem to have thought that peasant revolutions happen for no particular reason – or at least no reason the moneyed 1 percent should have to worry about."

What's "absolutely absent" is Mr. Atkinson's knowledge about the Cuba Garcia depicts in his movie. His crack about that "moneyed 1 percent" and especially his "peasant revolution" epitomize the cliched idiocies still parroted by the chattering classes about Cuba.

"The impoverished masses of Cubans who embraced Castro as a liberator appear only in grainy, black-and-white news clips," snorts Stephen Holden in The New York Times. "Political dialogue in the film is strictly of the junior high school variety."

It's Holden's education on the Cuban Revolution that's of the "junior high school variety." Actually it's Harvard Graduate School variety. Many more imbecilities about Cuba are heard in Ivy League classrooms than in any rural junior high school.

"It fails to focus on the poverty-stricken workers whose plight lit the fires of revolution," complains Rex Reed in the New York Observer.

You're better off attempting rational discourse with the Flat-Earth Society, but nonetheless I'll try to dispel the fantasies of pre-Castro Cuba still cherished by America's most prestigious academics and its most learned film critics.

I'll even stay away from those "crackpots" and "hotheads" in Miami. In place of those insufferable "revanchists" and "hard-liners" I'll use a source generally esteemed by liberal highbrow types: the United Nations.

Here's a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba circa 1957: "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class," it starts. "Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8-hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans are covered by social legislation, a higher percentage than in the U.S."

In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the eighth-highest wages in the world. In the 1950s Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco. Cuba had established an eight-hour workday in 1933 – five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it. Add to this a one-month paid vacation. The much-lauded (by liberals) social democracies of Western Europe didn't manage this till 30 years later.

And get this, Maxine Waters, Barbara Walters, Andrea Mitchell, Diane Sawyer and the rest of you feminist Castro groupies: Cuban women got three months of paid maternity leave. I repeat, this was in the 1930s. Cuba, a country 71 percent white in 1957, was completely desegregated 30 years before Rosa Parks was dragged off that Birmingham bus and handcuffed. In 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates per capita than the U.S.

The anti-Batista rebellion (not revolution) was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Unemployed lawyers were prominent (take Fidel Castro himself). Here's the makeup of the "peasant revolution's" first Cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the anti-Batista fight: seven lawyers, two university professors, three university students, one doctor, one engineer, one architect, one former city mayor and a colonel who defected from the Batista army. A notoriously "bourgeois" bunch, as Che himself might have put it.

By 1961, however, workers and campesinos (country folk) made up the overwhelming bulk of the anti-Castroite rebels, especially the guerrillas in the Escambray mountains. And boy, would THAT rebellion make for an action-packed and gut-wrenching movie! If by some miracle it ever got made, you can bet these learned critics would pan it too. Who ever heard of poor country folk fighting against their benefactors Fidel and Che?

The New York Times' Stephen Holden also sneers at Garcia's implication that "life sure was peachy before Fidel Castro came to town and ruined everything."

In fact, Mr. Holden, before Castro "came to town," Cuba took in more immigrants (primarily from Europe) as a percentage of population than the U.S. And more Americans lived in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S. Furthermore, inner tubes were used in truck tires, oil drums for oil, and Styrofoam for insulation. None were cherished black market items for use as flotation devices to flee the glorious liberation while fighting off hammerheads and tiger sharks.

The learned Mr. Holden is also annoyed by "buffoonish parodies of sour Communist apparatchiks barking orders." Apparently, Communist apparatchiks should be properly depicted as somewhat misguided social workers, or as slightly overzealous Howard Dean campaign staffers.

It's no "parody," Mr. Holden, that the "apparatchiks" Garcia depicts in his movie incarcerated and executed a higher percentage of their countrymen in their first three months in power than Hitler and his apparatchiks jailed and executed in their first three years. As well complain that the guards and police in "Schindler's List," "Julia" or "The Diary of Anne Frank" come across as hackneyed caricatures. Instead let's portray them with more "complexity," as misguided idealists who followed a leader who unshackled the German working class from its subservience to snooty barons, who eradicated Germany's unemployment and who ended Germany's national humiliation at the hands of Europe's premier imperialist powers.

Andy Garcia shows it precisely right. In 1958 Cuba was undergoing a rebellion, not a revolution. Cubans expected political change, not a socioeconomic cataclysm and catastrophe. But I fully realize such distinctions are much too "complex" for a film critic to grasp. They prefer boneheaded cliches. Garcia might have followed the laudable examples of "historical complexity" and "accuracy" shown in previous movies on Cuba. Take two that these critics compare (favorably) to "The Lost City," "Havana" and "Godfather II."In "Havana," the brilliant director Sydney Pollack casts Fulgencio Batista with blond hair and blue eyes. In fact Batista was a black.
In "Godfather II," Francis Ford Coppola, to show Havana streets on New Year's Eve 1958, casts more people than marched in Los Angeles last week and depicts them in a battle scene right out of "Braveheart." In fact, Havana streets were deathly quiet that night.

I don't presume to the exalted position of a film critic. So I don't comment on the dramatic and cinematic criticisms made by these august critics. I'm not saying, or even implying, that "The Lost City" is a better movie than "Godfather II." I'm simply criticizing the critics on their criticism of the historical accuracy of "The Lost City." In these reviews we see – in all its classic splendor – the mainstream media's thundering and apparently incurable stupidity on matters Cuban.

Humberto Fontova is the author of "Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant," described as "absolutely devastating. An enlightening read you'll never forget" by David Limbaugh. David Horowitz says: "Humberto has performed a valuable service to the cause of decency and human freedom. Every American should read this book."

Dave Anderson: Controversy and the Commissioner Followed Aaron, Too

The New York Times
May 4, 2006

AS Barry Bonds closes in on Babe Ruth, the story line is somewhat the same, yet so different from Hank Aaron's pursuing, catching and passing the Bambino.

Controversy and the commissioner surround Bonds, who has 712 homers after going 0 for 4 in the Giants' game last night in Milwaukee, just as controversy and the commissioner surrounded Aaron in 1974, when he hit his record-breaking 715th home run on the way to his record total of 755.

Steroid allegations and possible perjury and tax-evasion indictments hound Bonds; death threats and racial hate mail haunted Aaron.

Commissioner Bud Selig declared that Major League Baseball would not officially celebrate Bonds's 715th home run. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the Braves to play Aaron in Cincinnati rather than save him for the Atlanta home opener. Then Kuhn did not attend the Atlanta opener when Aaron surpassed the Babe.

And the personalities are so different: Bonds arrogant and defiant, Aaron humble and gracious.

Bonds's chase narrowed when he hit his 712th homer Tuesday afternoon in San Francisco before 34,641 cheering customers and dozens of reporters and television cameras that recorded the moment before the Giants departed for a two-game series in Milwaukee, where Selig lives and has an office and where throngs of reporters and cameras waited.

Aaron, who hit his 712th on a Saturday night in Houston, returned to Atlanta for the final week of the 1973 season, when some 15 out-of-town reporters and a few cameras had gathered for the countdown, but Atlanta itself didn't seem to care.

In the hours before two midweek games attracted crowds of 10,211 and 5,711, Aaron sat at his locker and talked casually and easily with the reporters until it was time for batting practice. With a smile, he picked up his bat and said, "Let me go hit."

Attendance improved. Aaron hit his 713th homer off the Astros left-hander Jerry Reuss before 17,836 on a Saturday night. During the season finale Sunday afternoon, 40,517 held their breath whenever Aaron swung. Three singles lifted his average to .301 with 40 homers and 96 runs batted in, quite a season for a 39-year-old outfielder.

But in the off-season, he would wonder about the dozens, if not hundreds, of death threats among the thousands of letters and packages he received and eventually saved. Most were encouraging, like the youngster's letter that read, "I hope you beat that other guy in homers." Many other letters warned that he would be shot.

"I can't go into hibernation now," Aaron said. "I can't hide. I've said that all I have to do to break Babe Ruth's record is to stay alive, but I got to live my life."

Aaron later became a prosperous auto dealer in Atlanta, but with an estimated $200,000 salary in 1973, he drove a Chevrolet Caprice that "gets me around."

As the 1974 season approached, the Braves announced that they would not play Aaron in the opening three-game series in Cincinnati, thereby ensuring that he would not tie or break the record until the Braves' home opener. Stirred by criticism in the news media, Kuhn objected; he expected Aaron to play at least two of the three games in Cincinnati.

On his first swing against the Reds right-hander Jack Billingham in the season opener, Aaron walloped his 714th homer, tying the Babe's record. But after Aaron was kept out of the lineup for Saturday's game, Kuhn telephoned Braves Manager Eddie Mathews with a direct order to start Aaron in Sunday's game or face "serious penalties." Aaron struck out twice and grounded out.
Kuhn had been expected to be in Atlanta for the Braves' opener, but strangely, he didn't show. His explanation was that he had a previous commitment in Cleveland.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Al Downing pitching carefully before a hushed 53,775 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Aaron took a called strike before walking. His next time up, he shattered the silence with his first swing, a thunderclap that propelled his 715th homer over the fence in left-center field into the Braves' bullpen, where Tom House caught the ball.

Fireworks and cheers accompanied Aaron in his head-up, elbows-back trot. When two teenagers joined Aaron, Calvin Wardlaw, an Atlanta police detective the team had hired to travel with Aaron, wondered what those kids might be up to and gripped the .38 that he carried, but he didn't flash it. As Aaron crossed home plate, his mother, Estella, who had run from her box seat, hugged him, to protect him as much as love him.

"If they were going to kill my son," she said later, "they were going to have to kill me, too."

When Kuhn's representative, Monte Irvin, the former New York Giants slugger who worked in the commissioner's office, walked out to congratulate Aaron, he was booed. Years later, Aaron mentioned that he had talked to Kuhn about his absence the night of the 715th home run and that, in his mind, there were no hard feelings.

"Grudges," Aaron said, "are something I don't have time for."

But with Barry Bonds, grudges seem about all he has time for.

Robert Spencer: Sympathy for the Devil

Robert Spencer
May 4, 2006

Almost everyone thinks Zacarias Moussaoui is mad except Zacarias Moussaoui, and now he will have a lifetime to ponder that curious fact. Those who believe he is insane got yet more evidence on Wednesday when he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 9/11 attacks, and reacted as if he had been acquitted. He clapped his hands and shouted, “America, you lost. I won.” After all, what sane person would react in such a way to being sentenced to life behind bars? As if to explain his bizarre behavior, CNN placed a video link immediately following its account of Moussaoui’s exclamation: “Watch how Moussaoui grew up surrounded by pain -- 3:07).”

Maybe Moussaoui did grow up surrounded by pain, and as an adult, driven insane by this pain, turned to jihad. His own lawyers, abetted by his sisters and some of his old friends, attempted to stave off the death penalty by mounting what has become known as the “Officer Krupke” defense: fans of West Side Story will recall how gang member Action explained his delinquency to Krupke: “Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.” If anyone was deprived, it was Moussaoui. According to his sister Jamilla, their father “poisoned our lives. He left us completely destitute. ... He was a man who never should have had children.” Moussaoui’s onetime friend Christophe Marguel testified that the future mujahid had a “very hard time” with racism in France. A clinical social worker, Jan Vogelsang, said that an upbringing like Moussaoui’s “would place someone at risk to wind up in serious circumstances later in life.”

Moussaoui himself would have none of this, dismissing it as “a lot of American B.S.”
Nevertheless, the strategy apparently worked: he was indeed spared the death penalty. And to be sure, Moussaoui’s own erratic behavior has contributed to the impression that he is more than a little unhinged. Not the least of his strange outbursts was his reaction to video and audio of the destruction of the World Trade Center and the cries of the victims. “Burn in the U.S.A.!” Moussaoui shouted. “No pain, no gain!” For years he has sent long-winded, rambling “legal briefs” to Judge Leonie Brinkema, whom he dubbed “the death judge.” Brinkema, however, was herself not convinced that Moussaoui was crazy, writing in 2002: “It’s very, very, very significant that the day-to-day observations of the people in the Alexandria jail consistently negate any question about there being any serious mental illness or disease in Mr. Moussaoui.”

But if he isn’t insane, then what could possibly account for his behavior? Any normal person faced with either execution or life imprisonment might rejoice at being granted the latter, but why would Moussaoui characterize this as a victory for himself and a defeat for America?

The answer can be found in the ideology that motivated Moussaoui to get involved with Al-Qaeda and the 9/11 plot. He told prosecutors that he felt “no regret, no remorse” for 9/11: “We want pain in your country. I wish there would be more pain.” Why? At his death penalty hearings, according to AP, Moussaoui “told jurors that Islam requires Muslims to be the world’s superpower as he flipped through a copy of the Koran searching for verses to support his assertions. One he cited requires non-Muslim nations to pay a tribute to Muslim countries.” It is likely that he cited Qur’an 9:29, which commands Muslims to make war against the “People of the Book” (i.e.. primarily Jews and Christians) until they pay the jizya, a poll tax not collected from Muslims, and “feel themselves subdued. An echo of this verse comes through in Moussaoui’s statement that “we” -- the Islamic world -- “have to be the superpower. You have to be subdued. We have to be above you. Because Americans, you are the superpower, you want to eradicate us.”

Moussaoui made himself very clear. He identified himself as an adherent of the jihad ideology that fuels Islamic movements around the globe today, who are fighting in part because of the conviction enunciated decades ago by the Pakistani jihad thinker and politician Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi: he declared that non-Muslims have “absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of Allah’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines.” If they do, “the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.”

From this perspective, why should Moussaoui feel any remorse for what he did? As he put it, “There is no regret for justice.” He sees 9/11 as the Muslims doing their utmost to dislodge the infidels from political power. He believes that when he inflicts pain upon those who are at war with Islam, he is doing what pleases Allah. He is working for justice in this world.

Why did he consider his evading the death penalty a victory? Some have suggested that executing Moussaoui would just make him a martyr in the Islamic world. In fact, however, this is unlikely. Strictly speaking, Paradise is promised only to those who “slay and are slain” for Allah (Qur’an 9:111), not to those who die an ignominious death at the hands of Infidel corrections officers. While there is little doubt that a dead Moussaoui would nevertheless be lionized in the Islamic world as another victim of America’s putative “war on Islam,” he is of more value to the global jihad alive than dead.

There are several reasons for this:

[1] The verdict will be seen in the Islamic world as another manifestation of American cowardice and failure of will, akin to Bill Clinton’s withdrawal from Somalia after the Black Hawk incident -- which convinced Osama bin Laden that America could be beaten. A man who believes that the Almighty commands him to be “merciful” to his fellow Muslims but “ruthless” to the unbelievers (Qur’an 48:29) does not readily understand acts of mercy or forbearance as anything other than weakness. In this view a strong America would execute Moussaoui; a weak America allows him to live on.

[2] Moussaoui’s trial has aggravated the fissures between the United States and Europe. France has offered Moussaoui, a French citizen, consular protection. A living Moussaoui will be able to continue to try to worsen the tensions between the emerging Eurabia, made up as it is of terrified governments desperate to placate their growing and restive Muslim populations, and a U.S. still pursuing the war on terror.

[3] A living Moussaoui could become the Leonard Peltier of the jihad movement. Moussaoui executed will cause outrage for a moment; Moussaoui imprisoned will provoke outrage for a lifetime. For the next fifty years Moussaoui could become a symbol of American injustice: a rallying point for protestors, a new occasion for the international Left and the global jihad to make common cause. He himself has a tendency to make extreme, inflammatory statements -- so he will fit right in with the Left’s current crop of overheated rhetoricians.

[4] Moussaoui himself could become a heroic figure, most especially in whatever prison in which he is ultimately incarcerated. He will provide a new impetus for prison conversions to Islam, and a rallying point for jihad recruitment in his prison. This may be the most important reason of all why Moussaoui declared victory on Wednesday: he can see himself training up the next generation of mujahedin who will see his great battle for Allah through to final victory over the American Great Satan.

Of course, none of these reasons are likely to have been considered by anyone connected with Moussaoui’s sentencing. They were, in contrast, preoccupied with questions of Moussaoui’s sanity. It is unfortunate that they apparently did not understand or attach much weight to Moussaoui’s statement that suicide bombings were “not crazy but based on Islam.” If they had, they might have realized that by sentencing him to life in prison, they were only helping his cause.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.

Peggy Noonan: They Should Have Killed Him

The death penalty has a meaning, and it isn't vengeance.

The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, May 4, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP)--Moussaoui said as he was led from the courtroom: "America, you lost." He clapped his hands.

Excuse me, I'm sorry, and I beg your pardon, but the jury's decision on Moussaoui gives me a very bad feeling. What we witnessed here was not the higher compassion but a dizzy failure of nerve.

From the moment the decision was announced yesterday, everyone, all the parties involved--the cable jockeys, the legal analysts, the politicians, the victim representatives--showed an elaborate and jarring politesse. "We thank the jury." "I accept the verdict of course." "We can't question their hard work." "I know they did their best." "We thank the media for their hard work in covering this trial." "I don't want to second-guess the jury."

How removed from our base passions we've become. Or hope to seem.

It is as if we've become sophisticated beyond our intelligence, savvy beyond wisdom. Some might say we are showing a great and careful generosity, as befits a great nation. But maybe we're just, or also, rolling in our high-mindedness like a puppy in the grass. Maybe we are losing some crude old grit. Maybe it's not good we lose it.

No one wants to say, "They should have killed him." This is understandable, for no one wants to be called vengeful, angry or, far worse, unenlightened. But we should have put him to death, and for one big reason.

This is what Moussaoui did: He was in jail on a visa violation in August 2001. He knew of the upcoming attacks. In fact, he had taken flight lessons to take part in them. He told no one what was coming. He lied to the FBI so the attacks could go forward. He pled guilty last year to conspiring with al Qaeda; at his trial he bragged to the court that he had intended to be on the fifth aircraft, which was supposed to destroy the White House.

He knew the trigger was about to be pulled. He knew innocent people had been targeted, and were about to meet gruesome, unjust deaths.

He could have stopped it. He did nothing. And so 2,700 people died.


This is what the jury announced yesterday. They did not doubt Moussaoui was guilty of conspiracy. They did not doubt his own testimony as to his guilt. They did not think he was incapable of telling right from wrong. They did not find him insane. They did believe, however, that he had had an unstable childhood, that his father was abusive and then abandoning, and that as a child, in his native France, he'd suffered the trauma of being exposed to racial slurs.
As I listened to the court officer read the jury's conclusions yesterday I thought: This isn't a decision, it's a non sequitur.

Of course he had a bad childhood; of course he was abused. You don't become a killer because you started out with love and sweetness. Of course he came from unhappiness. So, chances are, did the nice man sitting on the train the other day who rose to give you his seat. Life is hard and sometimes terrible, and that is a tragedy. It explains much, but it is not a free pass.

I have the sense that many good people in our country, normal modest folk who used to be forced to endure being patronized and instructed by the elites of all spheres--the academy and law and the media--have sort of given up and cut to the chase. They don't wait to be instructed in the higher virtues by the professional class now. They immediately incorporate and reflect the correct wisdom before they're lectured.

I'm not sure this is progress. It feels not like the higher compassion but the lower evasion. It feels dainty in a way that speaks not of gentleness but fear.


I happen, as most adults do, to feel a general ambivalence toward the death penalty. But I know why it exists. It is the expression of a certitude, of a shared national conviction, about the value of a human life. It says the deliberate and planned taking of a human life is so serious, such a wound to justice, such a tearing at the human fabric, that there is only one price that is justly paid for it, and that is the forfeiting of the life of the perpetrator. It is society's way of saying that murder is serious, dreadfully serious, the most serious of all human transgressions.

It is not a matter of vengeance. Murder can never be avenged, it can only be answered.

If Moussaoui didn't deserve the death penalty, who does? Who ever did?

And if he didn't receive it, do we still have it?

I don't want to end with an air of hopelessness, so here's some hope, offered to the bureau of prisons. I hope he doesn't get cable TV in his cell. I hope he doesn't get to use his hour a day in general population getting buff and converting prisoners to jihad. I hope he isn't allowed visitors with whom he can do impolite things like plot against our country. I hope he isn't allowed anniversary interviews. I hope his jolly colleagues don't take captives whom they threaten to kill unless Moussaoui is released.

I hope he doesn't do any more damage. I hope this is the last we hear of him. But I'm not hopeful about my hopes.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Robert Spencer: Justice for a Traitor

Robert Spencer
May 3, 2006

Sami al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor, has been a master manipulator for years, gaining strong and vocal support for the American Left. But his luck has now completely run out. When he pled guilty not long ago to “conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds to or for the benefit of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist” organization, the maximum sentence was set at four years, nine months. But on Monday Judge James Moody, according to the St. Petersburg Times, “shocked the courtroom when he ignored the recommendation of prosecutors and defense attorneys for a lower sentence,” and slapped al-Arian with the maximum.

Moody also didn’t hesitate to tell al-Arian what he thought of him. Referring to al-Arian’s claim that he was raising money only for Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s “charity for widows and orphans,” the judge declared: “Your only connection to orphans and widows is that you create them.”

When al-Arian tried the old manipulation games that had served him so well for so long, speaking of his “belief in the true meaning of a democratic society...and the integrity of the jury system,” Moody was having none of it. “Dr. al-Arian,” he said, “as usual, you speak eloquently. I find it interesting that here in public in front of everyone you praised this country...but that’s just evidence of how you operate...You are a master manipulator.”

That he is. For his respect for democracy and trial by jury rings rather false to those whose ears are still ringing with his calls for “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and such statements as this one documented by Steven Emerson in American Jihad: “Let us damn America. Let us damn Israel, let us damn their allies until death. Why do we stop?” Does he simply quarrel with current American policy but actually hold to democratic principles? Not likely. Emerson also quotes him as saying:

Muhammad is our leader. The Koran is our constitution. Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution! Revolution! Until victory! Rolling, rolling to Jerusalem.

Many on the American Left have been all too eager to be manipulated. On August 22, 2002, Phil Donahue featured al-Arian as a guest on his short-lived talk show, and apologized for asking him about his genocidal statements: “So, one more time, sir, and I know that you’re probably getting tired of these same questions – death to Israel did not mean you wanted to kill Jews, do I understand your position?”

Al-Arian agreed and suggested that his statement was comparable to Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” Donahue ate it up, stating: “The law of innocent until proven guilty doesn’t seem to exist for Professor Sami al-Arian…You are swimming upstream, professor, and this must be quite a shock to you. I know that your life has been threatened. I assume you have security.”

Donahue wasn’t alone, as I noted in a February 2003 FrontPage article. When the University of South Florida fired al-Arian from his job as associate professor of computer engineering, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a cover story called “Blaming the Victim?” and featuring a photo of al-Arian. Academic Islamic apologist John Esposito noted, “the University did a thorough independent review several years ago which found no merit in accusations made at that time” and worried that al-Arian was a victim of “anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Other encomiums to al-Arian appeared in the New York Times, Salon, and elsewhere – and al-Arian himself pitched in on August 26, 2002, with a self-exculpatory piece in CounterPunch entitled “Fighting for Right of Dissent & Due Process.” In it, he speaks of being “fascinated with the American system of government” as a young man and describes himself as “under the threat of being fired for controversy stemming from activism for the Palestinian cause.” Sounding all the right notes for the Left, he writes ominously that “in a number of ways my case is indicative of the status of civil liberties in post-9/11 America.”

He seems in this article to make an unequivocal renunciation of suicide terror attacks: “I have never once in my life advocated the killing of innocent civilians. I abhor terrorism at all levels, against all people. I condemn all violence against civilians – regardless of the faith of the perpetrators – whether they are in pizza parlors, bus stations or refugee camps. It’s wrong not only politically, but, more important, on religious, moral and ethical grounds.” Of course, this statement is utterly empty if al-Arian holds to the common view among jihadists that there are no civilians in Israel, much less any innocents. But the readers of CounterPunch were unlikely to know that; they were, apparently, all too happy to be manipulated.

On Monday Judge Moody was in no mood for any such manipulation. He told al-Arian, “You continue to lie to your friends and supporters, claiming to abhor violence.” He scored the former professor’s murderous activities: “Your children attend the finest universities this country has to offer,” he said to al-Arian, “while you raise money to blow up the children of others.” He noted that al-Arian used the suicide bombings in Beit Lid, Israel in January 1995 merely as an “opportunity to solicit more money to carry out more bombings,” while “anyone with even the slightest bit of human compassion would be sickened” by these murderous attacks.

But al-Arian’s supporters dug in. “The judge’s words – that al-Arian supported violence – contradict the very basis of the jury’s acquittal and the plea agreement, and raise questions about fundamental fairness,” declared David Cole of Georgetown University. One of al-Arian’s attorneys, Linda Moreno, said flatly, “there was no mention of violence in the plea agreement, which the judge approved.” Yet in fact the plea agreement stipulates that al-Arian raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and that he “was aware that the PIJ achieved its objectives by, among other means, acts of violence.”

Al-Arian, as well as Cole, Moreno, and the Florida jihadist’s other remaining supporters should come clean. The time for such deception and denial is over. The fact that Moody gave al-Arian the maximum sentence is a positive indication that perhaps henceforth Americans, Left and Right, will not be so easily fooled by the likes of Sami al-Arian, and will move resolutely to resist their efforts to foster the goals of the worldwide Islamic jihad on American soil.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

George Vecsey: Bonds Will Pass 714, but Not the Legend

May 2, 2006
The New York Times

HERE'S a modest proposal for Barry Bonds's next career move: Affix a toe plate to his shoe and try pitching.

That's right. It's one thing to pass Babe Ruth in home runs, but Bonds might like to emulate the Babe's pitching record — 94 victories, 46 losses, earned run average of 2.28. Even at this late date, the Babe's pitching numbers still boggle my mind.

I know, I know, Bonds's body is wearing down as he approaches his 42nd birthday on July 24, and Ruth did almost all his pitching between 18 and 24. But that's my point: before Ruth became the most important player in baseball history, he was already a great pitcher, who might have matched the longevity records of Cy Young, Warren Spahn and Nolan Ryan. We will never know.

The Babe has been on everybody's minds lately, as Bonds approaches his lifetime home run total of 714, with Henry Aaron's record of 755 sitting out there, majestically. Bonds, who had 711 homers going into last night's game with San Diego, is going to pass the Babe soon. And that's all right. It's really all right.

Bonds is an odious human being, with a steroid scandal and the potential of a perjury indictment hanging over him, but fans are fortunate to watch him hobble to home plate and launch a home run with his awesome short stroke on the only good pitch he will see all day. There is room for Bonds to be a cheat, a bully, a whiner and a superb hitter. Besides, nobody touches the Babe.
I have been wrestling with this for the past couple of years. At first, I found myself actively rooting against Bonds because he is a churl (and not just to the press; he is actively miserable toward most people).

Flinching in negative body English is a waste of time, however. I have come to believe that Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth live in their contexts while Bonds stews in his own sour juices.
Sometimes we need to go back over the legend of George Herman Ruth, the raw kid from the Baltimore training school who won all three of his World Series starts, pitching 31 innings with an E.R.A. of 0.87. But in a time when home runs were virtually considered a lucky coincidence, Ruth hit so many that the Red Sox could not afford to keep him on the bench three days out of four.

Ruth transformed his sport more than any other American has done. Muhammad Ali had a greater social impact, far beyond boxing, and Michael Jordan gave a huge commercial boost to basketball in a later time. But the Babe, coming on strong after the 1919 Black Sox gambling scandal, saved what used to be considered the national pastime, and may still be, deep down.

Bonds cannot save baseball from anything, certainly not himself, in the wake of his possible perjury in the Balco case or possible tax evasion over his cash earnings from autograph sales. He has tried to play the race card by saying "they" — whoever "they" are — didn't want a black man to pass the Babe, but that is just plain desperate.

The only racial angle with Ruth is that the Babe never got to compete against the great black athletes who were banned from the 1880's to 1947. But the Babe, an instinctively great athlete, would have done well against any competition of the time; the white mediocrities are another story.

In reality, there is room for many great players, including Bonds — either the 185-pound whippet who stole 52 bases and hit 33 homers in 1990, or the 235-pound behemoth who hit 73 homers and stole 13 bases in 2001, when he was bulking up on flaxseed oil, as he likes to claim, or something more potent and illegal, as his suppliers have testified.

As for the theory that the Babe (a carouser and a beer-drinker and a glutton) would have opted for steroids or amphetamines if they had been available, well, he never got the chance. Bonds, given the chance, seems to have obsessively cheated, as demonstrated in the current book "Game of Shadows," by the journalists Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.

After mucking in the shadows with Bonds, it is instructive to walk into the sunshine with a great player who was also a hero. Thirty-three years after the rickety airplane crashed off Puerto Rico, while starting a mission to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua, Roberto Clemente is having a comeback in the new book "Clemente," by David Maraniss.

Only now are people debriefing their impressions of this smart, proud right fielder with the sensational arm and quick bat. Clemente is worth knowing, Bonds is not. And there are more where they came from — Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson, who may have been the best clutch hitter of that magnificent generation.

There's room for all of them in our memories, but there was only one Babe. Actually, two — pitcher and slugger. Somebody give Barry a toe plate.


Cal Thomas: Republicans Running on Empty

May 02, 2006
The Sacramento Bee
Cal Thomas

So it has come to this: A group of Senate Republicans has proposed $100 rebates to low-income people to ease their "pain at the gas pump." They also are entertaining the possibility of higher taxes on oil industry profits, as if government does a better job of spending money than private industry. Have they forgotten the last time government imposed a "windfall profits tax" from 1980 to '88? Oil production fell (but demand grew) as "big oil" had less incentive to explore. A history of this bad idea can be found on The Tax History Project Web page

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial called the $100 rebate proposal "destined for the pandering hall of fame." When Democrats want to hand out checks, Republicans call it "welfare" and they claim to oppose it on principle. What should it be called when Republicans do it, hypocrisy?

GOP impotence in the midst of fuel price hikes may be the final proof that this is a party that has run out of gas. Democrats aren't any better and should they regain a congressional majority this fall, it won't be long before they again indulge in the same pandering, unethical behavior and content-free politics that has exposed Republican ineptness.

Where is any sign of real leadership? President Bush has made some personnel changes at the White House, but does he intend to say what needs to be said and do what should be done? Why is it so difficult to tell people that if they want to see gas prices go down, they should reduce consumption? Some estimates I've seen indicate that cutting consumption by as little as 3 percent could lower prices. It's called supply and demand, but too many of us have been making too many demands, not only on petroleum, but also on politicians.

Because contemporary culture is so self-focused, are Republicans afraid to tell people to do the equivalent of eating their vegetables? Republicans appear content to let people keep eating sugar by indulging them in the view that everyone is entitled to more, bigger and better in their pursuit of comfort and pleasure. Who will stand up and say, "Take control of your own lives and stop looking to Washington to solve everything"?

Republicans have forgotten why they wanted power. It was to reduce the size and cost of government and return power (and money) to individuals. Now they mimic the Democrats, focusing on their political careers and ever-expanding government.

Some Republicans think they can squeeze by this fall with scare tactics, such as reminding voters of the liberals who would gain leadership positions if they lose their current majority. Democrats are better at scaring voters than Republicans. Traditional GOP voters have been known to stay home to punish Republicans for cross-dressing as Democrats. A visionary and optimistic agenda would be a far better strategy. It also has the virtue of being more likely to succeed.

People want to vote affirmatively for their leaders. That is why the GOP's 1994 "Contract with America" was a politically brilliant document. Republicans put their intentions in writing and a majority of voters believed them enough to toss out Democrats who had been running the House for 40 years.

In this fall's election, can Republicans go to voters with a positive agenda and solid record of accomplishment? From the volatile subject of illegal immigration and lawbreakers demanding "rights" they do not have, to spending on wasteful and unnecessary projects, to a deficit and national debt that would almost shame Democrats (but doesn't shame Republicans), a majority of congressional Republicans are giving voters little reason to vote for them.

How could a party go from a visionary like Ronald Reagan who changed the world, not to mention restoring American optimism, to the tunnel vision of his illegitimate offspring who seem to care less about change than perpetuating themselves in office? They aren't even doing a good job of that as the fall election results may show, unless somebody or something quickly lights a fire under them. Never has the derogatory phrase, "Republican in name only," applied to so many who have done so little for so few.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Michael Riley: The Curious Apocalypse of Bruce Springsteen

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 04/30/06

It comes down to two words, really.

Two words and the end of the world.

These two words form the moral and emotional center of Springsteen's new album, and perhaps more poignantly, for his current concert tour on behalf of that album. (The disc, titled "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," consists of 13 covers of folk songs popularized by folk singer Pete Seeger.)

Those two words are part of the chorus to the gospel song cum civil rights anthem called "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize."

"Hold on," Springsteen sings again and again, and in doing so, he moves his traveling chautauqua/tent-revival show into the world of apocalyptic literature.

Most of us hear the word apocalypse and think of the visions conjured up in the last half of the Book of Daniel and in the Revelation of John: visions of world-ending battles, blood-soaked bodies stretching for miles. The skies darken and redden, filled with fierce armies of angels doing battle against monsters and dragons, while the stars fall and the world ends. It is theology as science fiction.

But those images almost miss the point of apocalyptic literature. Apocalyptic literature is written during times of hardship and persecution of those who see themselves as God's people. The fantastic and befuddling images are code, meant to keep the true message out of the hands of the powers that be, those with the whips and chains.

And the true message is simply and inevitably this: The world seems to be spinning out of control. Justice is a myth, and life is filled with sin and pain misery. But God still is in charge of history, he still loves his children and is working even now to deliver them from evil and bring them home.

Apocalyptic literature is a tract for hard times, and the message at the heart of it is simply: "Hold on."

And that is the message Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band are evidently going to bring night after night on the current tour, which will make stops in New York and New Jersey in late June.

Most apocalyptic preachers give us images of the future. Springsteen's apocalypse is curious in that he has reached into the past, bringing songs over a century old to bear on the world of today and tomorrow.

He opened one of the recent rehearsal shows at Asbury Park's Convention Hall with "Mary, Don't You Weep," a song that says our tears will end once we realize that if God has delivered Moses and his his people in the past, he will surely do the same again for us: "This old world will rock," he sings, and a fire is coming.

Everybody assumes that the apocalypse is a world-shattering event. But its always the end of the world for somebody. People die every day.

Springsteen's work always has chronicled the lives and deaths of those with hard luck or hard hearts.

He continues those stories in the appropriated folk songs in his new work, and even as he reworks his own songs:

The steel driving John Henry drops dead from hubris or progress or a broken heart.

Jesse James is shot in the back by a friend.

Johhny 99 still is begging to be put to death.

Much of the music belies the sadness and anger of the words of the songs. It seems almost as if the promises of God are carried in the driving or light arrangements of the songs.

Springsteen often links songs together in concert, forming set pieces that carry the narrative he's telling onstage. This tour would seem to be no exception. At the show I attended, Springsteen followed his own "If I Should Fall Behind" (a duet with his wife Patti Scialfa, performed as a waltz) with the Irish anti-war song "Mrs. McGrath," in which a Mother (and widow?) faces her wounded and ruined soldier son. Even if love lasts and brings forth new life, the juxtaposition of the songs seems to say that the horrors of war can take it away of ruin it.

Springsteen and the band melded "Cadillac Ranch" with the chorus of "Mystery Train," at first glance an unwieldy mixing of metaphors, or at least a strange amalgam like the horned beasts of Revelation. But both songs are about the destination that awaits us all when our hearts beat no more. We get there in a fast car or an iron horse, but we get there — and those we love are carried off as well.

But the most striking combination of songs comes when Springsteen sings the Depression era "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" It is a litany of injustices in the world and the unfairness of life. The question is sadly rhetorical. But Springsteen provides an answer with his next song, the Sunday school favorite"Jacob's Ladder," based on a dream the Biblical patriarch had of a ladder descending from heaven and angels traveling up and down it.

Theologically, Jacob's dream vision says something about the closeness of heaven and earth, of God and humanity.

Jacob's ladder is a gift of grace, a gift of God. He has not forgotten nor forsaken Jacob or us. There is a way up. Note also that reaching God requires effort — "Every rung takes us higher," we sing.

"How can a poor man stand such times as these?" a weary world asks.

And "climbing Jacob's ladder" is the answer, which means answering God's call, accepting his gifts and working for justice and mercy he requires of his children.

The theme is repeated in the gospel like "My City of Ruins," which is filled with broken lives and blasted landscapes, but ending with a call to rise up, to pray and work.

That sense of working for the kingdom of God is muted in a lot of modern apocalyptic blather.

But some people know that the two are connected, which is why folk songs become gospel songs and union songs and civil rights songs.

At the close of the concert, Springsteen sang the old Dixieland favorite "When the Saints Go Marching In," and you would expect it to blow the roof off the place.

But no, it was a quiet, muted performance, alternating lines sung by Springsteen and current bandmate Mark Thompson:

"Some say this world of trouble," they sing, "is the only one we need/But I'm waiting for that morning, When the new world is revealed."

That new world is at the heart of apocalyptic literature — what happens the day after the day the world ends? — and the answer is a new world, a new paradise, where humanity gets it right at last and the Lord is never far away.

"I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in," the two men sing with yearning in their voices, and then gain strength and power from each other as they continue to sing, and their hope becomes palpable.

The song thus becomes a quiet prayer of sorts, a prayer asking for the presence of God in our lives and in our land and the strength to find him in unexpected places.

It is every prayer we ever pray, in some sense, and certainly the prayer that ends the Book of Revelation.

"Come, Lord . . ." John writes.

"I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in," we hear, and music is so good and fine that you get the feeling that that fine day could right around the corner.

Michael Riley is an ordained Baptist minister.

Concert Review: Bruce Leads the Revival

Springsteen closes the New Orleans Jazz Fest's first weekend with an exhilarating performance.
By Randy Lewis
April 30, 2006
The Los Angeles Times

NEW ORLEANS -- Sometime, somewhere, a more dramatic and exhilarating confluence of music with moment may have existed than Bruce Springsteen's appearance tonight at the 37th annual Jazz & Heritage Festival here. But in nearly 40 years of concert-going, I haven't witnessed one.

The first public presentation of material from his new album offolk-rooted songs, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" had the feeling of no less than the turning of a tide, for the people of New Orleans and Louisiana, and perhaps well beyond.

It was serendipity that Springsteen happened to finish the album justenough ahead of Jazz Fest to accept an invitation to premiere his new Seeger Sessions band and the material for the occasion. But the waythis project uses American folk music tradition to express and transform people's pain, loss and anger dovetailed perfectly with the festival's role eight months after Hurricane Katrina as a salve on the wounds of the region's residents.

The album had been out just nine days before today's show with thisremarkably spirited 18-piece ensemble consisting of banjo, acoustic guitars, accordion, fiddles, mandolin, Dobro, steel guitar, bass, drumsand a freewheeling horn section that fit right in here in the brassband capital of the nation. The massed forces, which included several backup singers, exuded an enlarged sense of the communal spirit that's long typified Springsteen shows.

The audience at the closing set of the 10-day event's first weekend empathetically jumped in without so much as a cue on sing-along choruses that it cemented the feeling of a community coming together and rising above tragedy.

This, however, was above and beyond even Springsteen's high performance standards. Moving from the rock context of the E Street Band to the shout-out jubilation of an unfettered hootenanny, the New Jersey rocker was transformed into a troubadour evangelist. One concert cannot even start to undo such monumental destruction as Katrina left, but Springsteen seemed to understand that even a moment of renewal can be a powerful thing.

Springsteen began with the spiritual "O Mary Don't You Weep," soinfused with religious fervor it would have worked beautifully in the festival's gospel tent as he sang, "Brothers and sisters don't youcry/There'll be good times by and by."

Except for a few fittingly reworked numbers from his catalog, including"Johnny 99" redone as a New Orleans street parade workout, and a spare,deeply felt version of "My City of Ruins," the show stuck with the "Seeger Sessions" songs, supplemented by a couple that didn't make the final cut for the album.

One of those was "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" - a song written in 1929 at the start of the Depression, to whichSpringsteen added three of his own verses with Katrina in mind.

He spoke at one point of driving through mile upon mile of storm-devastated New Orleans neighborhoods, and sharing citizens' outrage at political incompetence and/or corruption that has compromised rebuilding efforts. But rather than giving in to despair, the songs he chose almost invariably sought - and found -redemption through faith and the resilience of the human spirit.

Such was the restorative power Springsteen and the band channeled that midway through their treatment of Bill and Sis Cunningham's Dust Bowl chronicle "My Oklahoma Home," it didn't seem the least bit coincidental that the gray storm clouds above parted to reveal the blue sky and shining sun behind them.

After Springsteen and his plentiful cohorts left the stage, anannouncer said, "This concludes the first weekend of the resurrectionof New Orleans." And for once such a comment didn't sound the least like hype.

Lowell Ponte: Uno de Mayo

lLowell Ponte
May 1, 2006

“We’re going to close down Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tucson, Phoenix, Fresno” on May Day this Monday, labor organizer Jorge Rodriquez told the British wire service Reuters.
“We want full amnesty, full legalization for anybody who is here [illegally],” said Rodriquez, organizer for one of the unions of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees of the AFL-CIO. “That is the message that is going to be played out across the country on May 1.”

Listen to the cynicism behind Rodriquez’s arrogant statement. Government workers who belong to AFSCME unions will not see their jobs taken or wages depressed by illegal aliens, as will poor and undereducated American citizens. On the contrary, illegal aliens will generate more government jobs – the one sector where unionization is growing – with their demand for more taxpayer-funded services (read: welfare).

By one estimate, every illegal alien household in America on average consumes at least $2,736 more in taxpayer-funded services than it pays in taxes each year. This adds a total burden that could exceed $27 billion on American citizen taxpayers.

Six decades have passed since the last large organized labor protest in the United States staged on May Day, the traditional date of the Soviet Union’s annual parade of its latest weapons through Moscow’s Red Square and holiday for its Euro-socialist fellow-travelers.

The radicals have insisted on May Day for “Day Without Immigrants” nationwide Hispanic rallies and “Buy Nothing Gringo” business boycotts, as well as work and school walkouts, and planned disruptions of major American cities (including cities such as New York and Chicago that historically were never “Mexican” territory).

The radicals behind this protest chose May first, rather than Cinco de Mayo, for a reason – and their allies in the Democratic Party, the racist Hispanic reconquista movement, and the Mexican government are behind them all the way.

The most vocal of these radicals, who also set last month’s nationwide pro-amnesty immigration protests that blocked Los Angeles streets with half a million Mexican flag-waving marchers, are activists with International ANSWER, a front group for the avowedly Marxist Workers World Party.

Do not be surprised on Monday if ANSWER activists in one guise or another try to cause violent confrontations with police, property damage or other violence. A longstanding radical tactic, such confrontations are intended to produce overreactions that polarize an issue and force those involved to “choose sides.” Confrontations on May Day would be calculated to produce a public backlash and to push otherwise-culturally conservative Hispanics into the arms of the Left.

This prospect has troubled even fellow leftists. Some of these graying comrades worry the backlash would stiffen the spines of politicians of both major parties who until now have been more than willing and eager to grant amnesty to America’s 12 million or more illegal aliens, despite overwhelming public opinion against doing so.

“It’s no accident that those pushing hardest for the May 1 boycott,” wrote Marc Cooper of the far-Left Nation Magazine and host of its tax-exempt foundation’s Radio Nation, “…have never shown much concern for real-world results, preferring to act out their ideological impulses.”

May Day was chosen for this mass demonstration as a “conscious nod” to the class confrontation traditions of this day, wrote the Socialist Worker. This journal proudly describes itself as standing “in the tradition in the Marxist tradition, founded by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and continued by V.I. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky.”

May Day, traditionally a spring day of pagan fertility rites, May Poles, and sprinklings for the May Queen (as celebrated in a song by Led Zeppelin), was expropriated in the 1880s to become the holiday of European and North American labor radicals, socialists, and Marxists.

Democrats, who dominate the California legislature, voted last week along party lines to endorse May Day’s protests in resolutions describing the school, worker and buyer walkouts as the “Great American Boycott 2006.”

“American wouldn’t have been created without illegal action,” said State Senator Richard Alarcon and Democratic Senate Whip of the Los Angeles suburb Van Nuys. “They dumped a bunch of tea in Boston harbor, illegally.”

And where does Senator Alarcon fit on the ideological spectrum? His sister Evelina has been Vice Chair of the Communist Party USA and chair of the Southern California District of the Communist Party USA as well as a “state coordinator” for the United Farm Worker union. Senator Alarcon has been featured speaker at a banquet for the People’s Weekly World, the newspaper of the Communist Party USA.

In voicing his support for the May Day protests, Democratic State Senator Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles “likened the debate over immigrant rights to the fights over slavery, women’s suffrage, the internment of Japanese during World War II, and the Vietnam War.”

Senator Cedillo has relentlessly authored bills to provide valid California Driver Licenses to illegal aliens, a legal document for the undocumented. He refuses to acknowledge that Mexicans in the United States can use a Mexican driver’s license. Cedillo has rejected Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s request that any such California license carry a distinguishing mark so it could not be used as ID to register a voter or for other privileges requiring American citizenship.

As a student at the University of California Los Angeles in the 1970s, Cedillo was an activist in the racist Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan, MEChA, dedicated to reclaiming the southwestern United States for Mexico.

The head of UCLA’s incendiary MEChA chapter in that era was Antonio Villaraigosa, later to become Speaker of the lower house of the California legislature, later Los Angeles City Councilman, and current Mayor of Los Angeles. As documented in this column, both Cedillo and Villaraigosa attended and became lawyers with the help of the People’s Law School, a factory for the manufacture of radical left-wing lawyers.

Another close Villaraigosa friend and ally has been Mario Obledo, co-founder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), who was awarded the 1998 Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton.
“California is going to be a Hispanic state,” Mario Obledo has proclaimed, “and anyone who doesn’t like it should leave. They should go back to Europe.” (Does this refer to the Europe that includes Spain and the Spanish language?)

This kind of racist MEChA-like thinking has largely taken control of California’s Democratic Party, whose longtime chairman has been veteran politician Esteban “Art” Torres.
“Power is not given to you. You have to take it,” said Torres at a January 1995 Hispanic gathering to discuss non-compliance with ballot Proposition 187 at the University of California Riverside. “Remember, 187 is the last gasp of White America in California!” (For audio of Torres’ statement, check out this website.)

Proposition 187 would have denied taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens. It passed with the support of 60 percent of California voters, including 30 percent of Hispanics. Recalled Democratic Governor Gray Davis refused to defend it in court. A federal judge set most of its provisions aside, her entire declared legal rationale for doing so being that “it would hurt people.”

This same Art Torres, Chairman of the California Democratic Party, who thrilled at “the last gasp of White America in California,” has attacked Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for having spent many years on the advisory board of U.S. English. This organization advocates English as the common language for all Americans. (English is now also the world language of diplomacy, science and business, as Latin and French were in previous centuries.)

U.S. English “has used its English-first message,” charged Torres, “to hide a more racially divisive agenda.” But America’s shared language, English, is a bridge that ends division and opens opportunities to members of all races. By contrast, leftists such as Torres have tried by hook and crook to keep Hispanics chained inside a Spanish language ghetto.

Research studies have found that when Hispanics learn to speak English and move from the barrio into the larger society, they start voting Republican in roughly the same proportion as other Americans. If this continues to happen with America’s fastest-growing minority, it would mean demographic doom for the Democratic Party. No wonder its members in California want to deny opportunity and education to young Hispanics, as will happen during Monday May Day – when Hispanics will walk out of school and work.

More evidence of the left-wing divide-and-conquer effort to drive wedges that split Americans apart came this past week in what purported to be a Spanish language version of America’s National Anthem, the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

As this columnist has noted, it’s odd to have a National Anthem that would get you arrested for speaking its lyrics about “bombs bursting in air” at a public airport or school. But the remixed Spanish version changes our anthem’s lyrics to say such things as “These kids have no parents, cause all of these mean laws…let’s not start a war with all these hard workers; they can’t help where they were born.” These new lyrics pervert America’s anthem into doublespeak making morality appear immoral and illegality appear legal.

The man who conceived this distortion is British music producer Adam Kidron, who will market it on the album Somos Americanos, “We Are Americans.” One dollar of the album’s $10 price, he said, will go to the National Capital Immigration Coalition (NCIC) in Washington, D.C.

No leftist mainstream media reporter pressed Kidron on what this organization is. NCIC is a front group for the radical Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that twisted arms to install Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. A majority of SEIU members are government employees, so it shares the same cynical politics against working Americans and in favor of higher taxes and bigger government as AFSCME. It is one of America’s biggest and richest labor unions. SEIU also played a major role in organizing the massive illegal immigration rallies throughout the Southwest.

The president of the newly-formed NCIC is Jaime Contreras, who arrived from his native El Salvador in 1988 and worked his way up from an SEIU janitor’s union to become one of the leaders of SEIU. No wonder he has been featured on every left-wing media outlet from National Public Radio (NPR), to Pacifica Radio, to Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” These outlets know how to build up and promote their own, although few bother to tell their audience of Contreras’ union background or extremist connections.

Unlike many other unions, SEIU retains the old radical dream of concentrating all union power in a few hands able to shut down all of America at the snap of a union boss’s fingers. It has welcomed illegal immigrants as a source of new membership to save the dying labor movement. SEIU has promoted the use of mass walkouts and disruption of entire cities to intimidate and force itself on employers and politicians.

It should not surprise us that this new anti-American anthem in Spanish is being used not only to advance radicalism but also to help fund the activities of a radical labor union disguised as a neutral-sounding immigration coalition.

“I think the National Anthem ought to be sung in English,” said President George W. Bush (who grew up in Texas, speaking both English and Spanish). “And I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to
sing the National Anthem in English.”

As we debate this issue, said President Bush, we should take care “not to lose our national soul.” Unlike other nations rooted in a single religion, race, culture, or history, the United States has gathered its people from throughout the world; Americans are held together by our ideals, our laws, our shared language English and our Manifest Destiny. The radicals behind Monday’s May Day demonstration advocate immigration that breaks our laws, rejects assimilation into America and insists on using Spanish as a language to keep it apart from the rest of America.

If illegal immigrants, most of whom are Mexican, in America want a day of protest, why not Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May, that arrives this coming Friday?

This is already a Mexican and Latino day of pride, the anniversary of Mexican forces in 1862 defeating a slightly larger French force in that first Battle of Puebla? In fact, during that battle, French troops were surprised to hear their opponents singing “La Marseillaise,” the revolutionary French national anthem, in Spanish.

Cinco de Mayo is already widely celebrated in the southwestern United States. But just as Hanukkah is celebrated more in the United States than in Israel, Cinco de Mayo is more of a holiday in the U.S. than in Mexico. Mexicans know that in the second Battle of Puebla in 1863, French troops crushed the Mexican army, days later occupied Mexico City, and continued to rule Mexico for the following four years.

The French Emperor Napoleon III dared to send troops to occupy Mexico only because the United States was preoccupied with its own War Between the States, a.k.a. our Civil War. When our war ended, we massed a huge American army on the Texas border with Mexico and informed the French Emperor that under the Monroe Doctrine we would not tolerate European control of Mexico.

Napoleon III beat a hasty retreat, leaving his installed “liberal” Hapsburg puppet “Emperor of Mexico” Maximilian I to be overthrown and executed by the locals in 1867. But drinking their beer each Cinco de Mayo, educated Mexicans bitterly remember that it was pressure from the United States that liberated their country from French colonial rule. The cultural residue of French influence in Mexico remains in many odd ways, e.g., the hired singers called Mariachis, whose name (despite frantic Mexican nationalist denials) was first used in 1852 and probably derives from the French word for marriage that arrived via the surreal 1838 French incursion known as “the Pastry War.”

France could also be blamed for Mexico’s loss of what is now the western United States. Napoleon I sold the U.S. the Louisiana Territory, which created a potential legal claim to a large, poorly-defined share of the wild West. Napoleon I also overthrew the government of Spain and put his own brother on the Spanish throne, which plunged Spain’s colonies such as Mexico into political chaos. The resulting uprisings in Mexico ousted Spain and installed a domestic revolutionary government that could not control the centrifugal forces that broke apart Spain’s old North American empire in Mexico (as well as South America with the uprisings of Simon Bolivar and Jose San Martin).

Many who stayed in the New World remained loyal to Spain. Mexico thus sent troops three times into California to suppress revolutionary Californios who did not want to be ruled by newly independent Mexico. The lands now part of the western United States were slipping free from Mexico’s tenuous, anti-democratic control even before America moved to secure them (preemptively, as it were, before Great Britain attempted to do so).

When American forces arrived in California in 1846, half the Californios greeted the Trailblazer John C. Fremont (in 1856 to become the first Republican presidential candidate) and his men as liberators freeing them from Mexican tyranny. President Abraham Lincoln returned to the Roman Catholic Church the Spanish missions that the greedy and corrupt Mexican government had expropriated.

Spain might have a weak historic claim to the southwestern United States. But post-revolutionary Mexico has virtually no legitimate claim whatsoever, contrary to the propaganda of racist groups such as MEChA. Since such groups speak of a mythical land they call Aztlan that they aim to restore, were the Aztecs ever here? Apparently not, except for rare raiding parties to attack tribes near today’s Mexican border in search of fresh victims for its pagan human sacrifices. What sane person would embrace such a flimsy territorial claim? And, as mentioned earlier, Monday’s May Day protests have targeted New York City and Chicago, both many hundreds of miles beyond any imaginable historic Mexican lands.

These protests will exploit innocent Hispanic children and fearful Hispanic adults to create hostility between Latinos and American citizens. This advances the anti-American radicals’ agenda, and that is why the radicals behind this protest selected May Day.

A backlash against the May Day protests is almost inevitable. In this, as Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle recognized, American citizens will see students who refuse to go to school, workers refusing to be reliable, and illegal aliens thumbing their noses at the law.

In the wake of such protests more than a month ago, the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute did polling in one state. The mass demonstrations made 17 percent of citizens more sympathetic to the immigrants’ cause, but they made 38 percent – more than twice as many – less sympathetic. The demands of these illegal aliens produced alienation.

…And Americans do not want to become an illegal aliens’ nation. As Quinnipiac’s assistant director Peter A. Brown observed, Americans are likely to respond negatively, not only to Monday’s protests but also to its deliberately having been set on May Day, a day associated with Communist nations. “The symbolism of [May Day’s] choice for the immigration economic boycott,” said Brown, “may not go down well in much of the country.” Moreover, wrote Brown, “American history is not one in which change has occurred in the streets. General strikes are not a U.S. tradition, as in many other countries in Latin America and Europe.”

The very nature of this style of mass protest, designed to show a group’s power by its ability to disrupt the lives and businesses of the rest of us, seems alien, threatening and un-American to most of us. We expect such things to be decided in the polling place, not on the streets.

Down on the border, meanwhile, the Minutemen have been constructing their own six-foot barbed wire fence 50 miles east of San Diego. They may be hoping that some illegals knock it down, thereby providing another polarizing issue for the other extreme of this debate. Even many leftists, from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Washington Post’s columnist Robert J. Samuelson, now agree a border fence is necessary.

And the pro-illegal immigrants protestors have painted themselves into a corner. By making May Day a “Day Without Immigrants,” they must either demonstrate major social and economic disruption or become an example that America can, indeed, live happily without its illegal immigrant workers. If they “go on strike” and nobody notices, their political and economic clout will evaporate.

But if they “go on strike” and cause massive social disruption, this will make millions of Americans afraid, angry, and unhappy at the actions of these foreign bullies. Either way, the politicians in this election year might suddenly realign on the side of those demanding a crackdown on illegals. President Bush, who grew up among Latinos and won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, last Monday declared that the “massive deportation” of 12 million Latinos living in the United States is “unrealistic.” The Tonight Show’s liberal comic host Jay Leno, who lives with a wetted finger in the air to sense the shifting winds of public opinion, had a pointed rejoinder to the President. “We’re not able to send 12 million Mexicans out of our country?” said Leno. “Mexico did.”

To offset the economic impact of Monday’s boycott, radio talk show hosts across the nation have variously urged Americans to turn May Day into a “buycott,” spending as much as possible to erase any sign that a Hispanic boycott is effective.

One such radio host is Los Angeles radio station KFI’s Bill Handel. “Have you noticed,” he says, “that the politicians and activists talk about how important ‘immigrants’ are to American but never use the word ‘illegal’? What you won’t be shown on Monday,” said Handel last Friday, “is what illegals cost us in public services, in taxpayer dollars. That won’t be shown by the media.”

“Don’t want to pay $10 a head for lettuce?” say other opponents of illegal immigration. You already are in the form of overcrowded and dangerous public schools for your kids, hundreds of closed hospital emergency rooms where illegals broke the bank by demanding and getting free treatment, and in a thousand other burdens they impose on society that increase your taxes. This “cheap labor” already costs you a fortune and is on the verge of costing you your country.

South of the Border, meanwhile, the Mexican government is maintaining unconvincing official neutrality about Monday’s May Day boycott. It will be keeping its consulates and embassy open. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez describes the boycott as “a strategy that is being defined by them [U.S. activists], not us.” But Mexican radicals in sympathy are staging a “Buy nothing Gringo” day to punish the Mexican owners of franchises such as McDonald’s. Approximately 40 percent of employed Mexicans in Mexico who do not work for government, work for American companies.

In Mexico, polls now show leftist candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador ahead for that nation’s July 2nd presidential election. This veteran of Mexico’s long-ruling revolutionary and corrupt PRI party cheers on illegals in the United States who send back $20 billion each year to relatives in Mexico, making them its most lucrative export. Obrador’s cultural advisor Elena Poniatowska openly advocates the reconquista, “reconquest,” of the United States. And he proposes to create a new electoral super-district which he calls the Sexta Circunscripcion for Mexican citizens. This Sixth Electoral District of Mexico would be the United States. Aztlan, anyone?

If Obrador becomes Mexico’s president, get ready for a very strange Fourth of July in the United States with lots of fireworks.

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Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

Mark Steyn- Book Review: The Force of Reason by Oriana Fallaci

Oriana Fallaci
April 28, 2006

Celebrate tolerance, or you're dead

Oriana Fallaci appeals to Europe to save itself. Good luck

Maclean's- Canada's Weekly Newsmagazine

Over in Sweden, they've been investigating the Grand Mosque of Stockholm. Apparently, it's the one-stop shop for all your jihad needs: you can buy audio cassettes at the mosque encouraging you to become a martyr and sally forth to kill "the brothers of pigs and apes" -- i.e. Jews. So somebody filed a racial-incitement complaint and the coppers started looking into it, and then Sweden's chancellor of justice, Goran Lambertz, stepped in. And Mr. Lambertz decided to close down the investigation on the grounds that, even though the porcine-sibling stuff is "highly degrading," this kind of chit-chat "should be judged differently -- and therefore be regarded as permissible -- because they were used by one side in an ongoing and far-reaching conflict where calls to arms and insults are part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict."

In other words, if you threaten to kill people often enough, it will be seen as part of your vibrant cultural tradition -- and, by definition, we're all cool with that. Celebrate diversity, etc. Our tolerant multicultural society is so tolerant and multicultural we'll tolerate your intolerant uniculturalism. Your antipathy to diversity is just another form of diversity for us to celebrate.

Diversity-wise, Europe is a very curious place -- and I mean that even by Canadian standards.
In her latest book, The Force of Reason, the fearless Oriana Fallaci, Italy's most-read and most-sued journalist, recounts some of her recent legal difficulties with the Continental diversity coercers. The Federal Office of Justice in Berne asked the Italian government to extradite her over her last book, The Rage and The Pride, so she could be charged under Article 261b of the Swiss Criminal Code. As she points out, Article 261b was promulgated in order to permit Muslims "to win any ideological or private lawsuit by invoking religious racism and racial discrimination. 'He-didn't-chase-me-because-I'm-a-thief-but-because-I'm-a-Muslim.' " She's also been sued in France, where suits against writers are routine now. She has had cases brought against her in her native Italy and, because of the European Arrest Warrant, which includes charges of "xenophobia" as grounds for extradition from one EU nation to another, most of the Continent is now unsafe for her to set foot in. What's impressive is the range of organized opposition: the Islamic Centre of Berne, the Somali Association of Geneva, the SOS Racism of Lausanne, and a group of Muslim immigrants in Neuch√Ętel, just to name a random sampling of her Swiss plaintiffs. After the London bombings and the French riots, the commentariat lined up to regret that European Muslims are insufficiently "assimilated." But, in fact, at least in their mastery of legalisms and victimology, they're superbly assimilated. One might say the same of the imam who took my chums at The Western Standard to the Alberta Human Rights Commission over their publication of the Danish cartoons.

Racked by cancer, Oriana Fallaci spends most of her time in one of the few jurisdictions in the Western world where she is not in legal jeopardy -- New York City, whence she pens magnificent screeds in the hope of rousing Europe to save itself. Good luck with that. She writes in Italian, of course, but she translates them herself into what she calls "the oddities of Fallaci's English," and the result is a bravura improvised aria, impassioned and somewhat unpredictable.
It's full of facts, starting with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, when Mehmet II celebrated with beheading and sodomizing, and some lucky lads found themselves on the receiving end of both. This section is a lively read in an age when most westerners, consciously or otherwise, adopt the blithe incuriosity of Jimmy Kennedy's marvelous couplet in his 1950s pop hit Istanbul (Not Constantinople):

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That's nobody's business but the Turks.

Signora Fallaci then moves on to the livelier examples of contemporary Islam -- for example, Ayatollah Khomeini's "Blue Book" and its helpful advice on romantic matters: "If a man marries a minor who has reached the age of nine and if during the defloration he immediately breaks the hymen, he cannot enjoy her any longer." I'll say. I know it always ruins my evening. Also: "A man who has had sexual relations with an animal, such as a sheep, may not eat its meat. He would commit sin." Indeed. A quiet cigarette afterwards as you listen to your favourite Johnny Mathis LP and then a promise to call her next week and swing by the pasture is by far the best way. It may also be a sin to roast your nine-year-old wife, but the Ayatollah's not clear on that.

Kinky as this is, it has nothing on Fallaci's next circle of cultural diversity -- the weirdly masochistic pleasure European leaders get out of talking themselves down and talking Islam up. Beginning with the German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher at the 1983 Hamburg Symposium for the Euro-Arab Dialogue, Signora Fallaci rounds up a quarter-century's worth of westerners who've insisted that everything you know was invented by Islam: paper, medicine, sherbet, artichokes, on and on and on . . .

"Always clever, the Muslims. Always at the top. Always ingenious. In philosophy, in mathematics, in gastronomy, in literature, in architecture, in medicine, in music, in law, in hydraulics, in cooking. And always stupid, we westerners. Always inadequate, always inferior. Therefore obliged to thank some son of Allah who preceded us. Who enlightened us. Who acted as a schoolteacher guiding dim-witted pupils."

This, it seems to me, is the most valuable contribution of Oriana Fallaci's work. I enjoy the don't-eat-your-sexual-partner stuff as much as the next infidel, but the challenge presented by Islam is not that the cities of the Western world will be filling up with sheep-shaggers. If I had to choose, I'd rather Mohammed Atta was downriver in Egypt hitting on the livestock than flying through the windows of Manhattan skyscrapers. But he's not. And one reason why westernized Muslims seem so confident is that Europeans like Herr Genscher, in positing a choice between a generalized "Islam" and "the West," have inadvertently promoted a globalized pan-Islamism that's become a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, Germany has Turks, France has Algerians, Britain has Pakistanis, the Netherlands has Indonesians. Even though they're all Muslims, the differences between them have been very significant: Sunni vs. Shia, Arab Islam vs. the more moderate form prevailing in Southeast Asia.

Once upon a time we used to understand this. I've noticed in the last few years that, if you pull any old minor 19th-century memoir off the shelf, the en passant observations about Islam seem more informed than most of the allegedly expert commentary that appeared in the year after 9/11. For example, in Our Crisis: Or Three Months at Patna During the Insurrection of 1857, William Tayler wrote, "With the Soonnees the Wahabees are on terms of tolerable agreement, though differing on certain points, but from the Sheahs, they differ radically, and their hatred, like all religious hatred, is bitter and intolerant. But the most striking characteristic of the Wahabee sect, and that which principally concerns this narrative, is the entire subservience which they yield to the Peer, or spiritual guide."

Mr. Tayler, a minor civil servant in Bengal, was a genuine "multiculturalist." That's to say, although he regarded his own culture as superior, he was engaged enough by the ways of others to study the differences between them. By contrast, contemporary multiculturalism absolves one from knowing anything about other cultures as long as one feels warm and fluffy toward them. After all, if it's grossly judgmental to say one culture's better than another, why bother learning about the differences? "Celebrate diversity" with a uniformity of ignorance. Had William Tayler been around when the Islamification of the West got under way and you'd said to him there was a mosque opening down the street, he'd have wanted to know: what kind of mosque? Who's the imam? What branch of Islam? Old-school imperialists could never get away with the feel-good condescension of PC progressives.

Here's Tayler again: "The tenets originally professed by the Wahabees have been described as a Mahomedan Puritanism joined to a Bedouin Phylarchy, in which the great chief is both the political and religious leader of the nation."

Just so. In 1946, Col. William Eddy, the first U.S. minister to Saudi Arabia, was told by the country's founder, Ibn Saud: "We will use your iron, but you will leave our faith alone."

William Tayler might have questioned whether that was such a great deal. The House of Saud used the Americans' "iron" to enrich themselves and export the hardest, most unyielding form of Islam to the Balkans and Indonesia and Britain and North America.

This resurgent Islam -- promoted by a malign alliance between Europe and the Saudis -- is a much better example of globalization than McDonald's. In Bangladesh and Bosnia, it's put indigenous localized Islams out of business and imposed a one-size-fits-all Wahhab-Mart version cooked up by some guy at head office in Riyadh. One way to reverse its gains would be with a kind of antitrust approach designed to restore all the less threatening mom 'n' pop Islams run out of town by the Saudis' Burqa King version of globalization. If a 21st-century William Tayler is unlikely, perhaps Naomi Klein could step into the breach.

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