Friday, February 02, 2007

Plots and paranoia are mainstream views for Muslims of Sparkbrook

by Andrew Norfolk
The Times of London
February 02, 2007

In this quiet suburb, almost everyone believes the arrests were meant to demonise Muslims

To wander the streets of Sparkbrook yesterday, from shabby corner shop to proud, white-domed mosque, was to enter a world where conspiracy theories are the breath of life.

Birmingham Central Mosque

Many ordinary Muslims did not believe that Wednesday’s arrests were an act to foil a terrorist plot aiming to visit unspeakable barbarity on a young British soldier.

Rather the entire operation was a giant con trick. This fits a growing perception of a post-9/11 world in which innocent Muslims are demonised, and the terror threat manufactured to suit the dark designs of the West’s Judaeo-Christian elite.

The decision to distribute 5,000 multilingual leaflets, carefully setting out details of the anti-terrorist operation and the events leading up to it, may have sought to offer a well intentioned reassurance “that the police are not targeting communities or faiths, but suspected criminals”.

To many Muslims that message has fallen on deaf ears. That many seem not to believe police reassurances is at least in part because they are listening to a very different message from mosques across the city. Take the Birmingham Central Mosque, where up to 4,000 people will be attending Friday prayers today.

Its chairman for the past 32 years has been Mohammed Naseem, a past champion of interfaith dialogue who was for many years regarded as a voice of Islamic moderation. A year ago, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Birmingham.

Dr Nasseem, 83, yesterday told The Times of his certainty that the nine arrested men were innocent of any crime and would eventually be released without charge.

He spoke of his conviction that the Government was “pursuing a policy of maintaining a perception of a [terrorist] threat to justify the draconian anti-terror laws they have been passing”.

He went on to compare Tony Blair’s Britain to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin. People were beginning to realise, he said, that the Government had embarked on “a campaign to strike terror in the hearts of the Muslim people”.

And Dr Naseem is said to be a voice of the mainstream. Indeed, he explicitly condemns terrorism and “the killing of innocent people”. He was keen to appeal for calm yesterday and to urge Muslims “not to lose their dignity by taking the law into their own hands”.

As fellow believers left his mosque after lunchtime prayers yesterday, many were reluctant to discuss the arrests. Some complained that their words would be distorted and one man loudly suggested that it would be more appropriate to “go to the Church and ask the preacher”.

Mohammed Idrees was prepared to talk. A 37-year-old car mechanic, he was polite, friendly and utterly certain that any plot to kill a British Muslim soldier had been the work of “the Government or people hired by the Government”.

Mr Idrees went on to explain that his duty as a Muslim came before his duty to Britain. He would leave the country rather than fight against a fellow Muslim in a country such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

There are mosques in Birmingham whose views are far more radical than the Central Mosque.

The Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, on Green Lane, was outraged to be the subject of an undercover television investigation last month in which a preacher was secretly filmed as he allegedly spouted hatred of Christians and Jews. Osama bin Laden was better than a thousand Tony Blairs, explained Abu Usamah, before going on to describe homosexuals as “perverted, filthy dogs” and explaining that all women have a deficient intellect.

The mosque, which is affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain, later complained that it was “committed to promoting interfaith dialogue and political harmony”. It said it did not necessarily agree with the views of all the scholars who spoke in its premises.

For some of the hardline Salafists who run a bookshop and a mosque in the Small Heath area of Birmingham, even the fundamentalists of Ahl-e-Hadith come across as weak-kneed liberals who are hardly fit to be called Muslim.

And yet even they condemn terrorism. For the real extremists, one need only search the internet. Here, it is not difficult to find those who believe that Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, from Birmingham, who last July became the first British Muslim soldier to die in Afghanistan, was an apostate traitor to Islam who fully merited his fate.

A message board entry on one website says of the fallen soldier: “I’m a British Muslim and all I can say is ha, ha, ha. Hope this bastard died a slow and painful death.” Another contributor wrote: “Shame on him and his family,” while posters on the Hizb ut-Tahrir website condemn him as a “traitor who got what he deserved”.

Lance Corporal Hashmi’s brother, Zeeshan, 27, himself a former soldier who is now reading Arabic at Cambridge, said yesterday that the extremists must not be allowed to triumph. The alleged plot, if carried out, would have had terrible repercussions for Muslims worldwide, he said.

“What I would say to the extremists is that extremism does not change anything. If you really want to make a change and be effective, be part of the system and work peacefully within.”

Mr Hashmi’s views would have been warmly supported by Mohammed Yousaf, 67, the only person to emerge from the Central Mosque prepared to say that the kidnap plot may have been genuine.

“I can’t understand it. What is wrong with them? Why do they have such hate in them?” he said.

The nine suspects

* Azzar Iqbal, 38, who runs a pizza takeaway business, was arrested at his home in Ward End Park Road, Alum Rock. Arrived in Britain from Kashmir in 1977. Through his cousin he denies any involvement

* Amjad Mahmood, 29, runs a greengrocer’s. Was arrested at his home in Jackson Road, Alum Rock. His brother said he has two sons

* A bookseller, 29, father of two, who was arrested at his home in the Sparkhill area of the city. He runs the Maktabah bookshop

* A schoolteacher who lives with his wife and two children in north Birmingham. Neighbours say that he is tall, well built and in his thirties. Was arrested at his home

* An unemployed father of four who returned from Pakistan. Was arrested at Foxton Road, Alum Rock

* A man in his twenties who was arrested in Asquith Road at a property said by locals to be owned by brothers

* A man who was arrested during the raids at council block near Edgbaston

* A man who was picked up by police on a motorway

* Another man was arrested at an undisclosed location

UN Climate Summary Designed to Dupe, Critics Say

By Kevin Mooney Staff Writer
February 02, 2007

( - Scientific evidence for human-induced global warming will receive a significant boost Friday when the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases the summary of a key report, according to environmental activists and top Democrats in Congress.

But wait.

Some climate researchers and environmental scientists previously associated with the IPCC claim the public relations summary of the panel's fourth assessment report distorts the actual scientific findings and that the discrepancies are driven by a political agenda.

The IPCC Summary for Policymakers, roughly 20 pages long, is primarily the work of political appointees, not of scientists, according to Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric science at MIT.

The full text will not be available for another three months, as two further documents making up the fourth assessment report are scheduled to be released in April and May.

Lindzen specialized in the study of clouds and water vapor for IPCC's third assessment report, which was released in 2001.

He told Cybercast News Service the rules for the fourth assessment report specifically require changes to be made to the body that will bring it into line with the summary statement.

"If you were doing that with a business report, the federal trade commission would be down your throat," Lindzen said.

"These people are openly declaring that they are going to commit scientific misconduct that will be paid for by the United Nations," Harvard University physicist Lubos Motl wrote on his website last week.

"If they find an error in the summary, they won't fix it," Motl said. "Instead, they will 'adjust' the technical report so that it looks consistent."

The relevant provision, which appears in an appendix of the IPCC's principles, also attracted the attention of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a global warming skeptic and long-time critic of the IPCC process.

In a statement Inhofe slammed what he termed the "systematic and documented abuse" of the scientific process by the IPCC and called for changes that would mitigate against relevant scientific evidence from being excluded from its reports.

While Inhofe has previously questioned the "alarmist" findings contained in some climate change studies, Democratic colleagues, such as Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, the new chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, have generally taken a different line.

"If we fail to take action on global warming now, we can expect future catastrophic impacts like rising sea levels, more extreme weather events of all kinds, damage to coral reefs and fisheries, and negative impacts on food production and water supplies," Boxer said Tuesday.

"We need to act soon, before we reach a tipping point when irreversible changes to the world we know may occur."

In the U.S. House, meanwhile, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Hearing, said he believes the science on global warming has "grown more compelling" over the past 15 years.

A memorandum prepared by the committee's Democratic majority staff invokes the IPCC report as proof that a strong scientific consensus has emerged on global warming.

This sentiment is shared by public advocacy groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists (USC), which described the last IPCC report as a "landmark review" presenting evidence for an "overwhelming scientific consensus" on global warming.

In recent congressional testimony, Francesca Grifo, a USC senior scientist, claimed the reality of human influence upon climate change has been "repeatedly affirmed by scientific experts."


Nonetheless, at least one scientific expert saw fit to resign from participation in the latest IPCC report, because he says "media sessions" associated with his research on hurricanes and tropical cyclones were being misrepresented.

Christopher Landsea, who is now science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, resigned from the IPCC's fourth assessment team two years ago.

In his resignation letter, Landsea expressed concern over statements by the IPCC to the media, which he said were "far outside current scientific understandings."

Landsea told Cybercast News Service his primary concern was with how lead authors representing the IPCC were interacting with the public and the media.

The hurricane activity Landsea has observed over the past 12 years is not, in his estimation, out of proportion with what was experienced in the mid-20th century during the last active hurricane cycle.

While he believes a "good portion" of the warming that has been detected most recently is manmade, the "sensitivity" to those changes in the areas where hurricanes form has been "very tiny."

Landsea also said the most relevant, up-to-date work done in this area comes from the The International Workshop on Tropical Cyclone, rather than from the IPCC.

According to Sterling Burnett, senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, the IPCC draws from experts in fields that don't necessarily have the best perspective to properly assess the factors behind warming and cooling periods.

Bonner Cohen, author of "The Green Wave: Environmentalism and Its Consequences," said in an interview he had similar concerns with what he views as an overly narrow perspective on the science of global warming.

He described geology as the "dog that is barking but being crowded out."

Cohen also said the political summary available on Friday, which precedes the release of the actual scientific data by three months, will overshadow the most important findings in the full report.

"It is safe to assume the summary will have the usual buzzwords, it is going to talk about 'dire consequences' and this is going to be for the media," he said.

But the actual report -- when it comes out later this year -- will be read by less than one percent of the world's journalists and will be treated accordingly in the media, Cohen predicted.

TV Review: 'Extras'

From left, Orlando Bloom (good-looking or merely famous?), Ricky Gervais and Ashley Jensen.

Pretending to Like the Little People

The New York Times
Published: February 2, 2007

That species of star known as the celebrity altruist is a creature in whom the British comic Ricky Gervais seems to have absolutely no faith. The actors, directors and rock singers who give money to Holocaust foundations and adopt babies from impoverished places and expound before the United Nations General Assembly on the crisis of African debt — these people simply do not figure in his consciousness, one consumed by a brilliantly uncharitable view of fame.

“Extras,” midway through its second queasy, funny season on HBO, is Mr. Gervais’s deft essay on the vainglory of the well known. And it leaves you wondering, in the end, whether Mr. Gervais down deep imagines no real difference between what motivates Clint Eastwood and what drives Vanna White.

Each week Mr. Gervais — who writes, directs and stars in the comedy with his creative partner Stephen Merchant, with whom he also worked on “The Office” for the BBC — gets celebrities to appear on the show as themselves. Kate Winslet and Patrick Stewart showed up last season; Coldplay’s Chris Martin appears this Sunday in the taping of a public-service announcement, which he tries to exploit to promote his new album.

The celebrities are not meant to be playing themselves; not really. They are there to enact Mr. Gervais’s caricature, largely reprising the same dim, self-aggrandizing megalomaniac over and over. Every time they do, they seem to be inadvertently making Mr. Gervais’s point for him, because by getting in his game, they are betraying the kind of self-regard that leaves us assuming that they consider themselves exempt from his critique. Anyone who subjects himself to Mr. Gervais’s camera must believe that he does not belong to the class of arrogant jerks that Mr. Gervais is making so much fun of.

“How do I act so well?” Ian McKellen earnestly asks Mr. Gervais’s character in a forthcoming episode. “What I do is I pretend to be the person I’m portraying in the film or play,” he whispers. “You’re confused. Case in point, ‘Lord of the Rings,’ Peter Jackson comes to New Zealand and says to me, ‘Sir Ian, I want you to be Gandalf the Wizard,’ and I say to him, ‘You are aware that I’m not really a wizard.’ ”

Mr. Gervais’s character, Andy Millman, is an actor who had been making his living as an extra and has seen his fortunes change this season. An even greater misanthropy has accompanied the shift. Andy has managed to sell a workplace comedy to the BBC. He stars in it, and though the network suits have insisted it be stupider than he had ever hoped, he suddenly finds himself among the quasi-famous.

So when he complains to a boy’s mother in a restaurant that the boy is way too loud, without noticing first that the boy has Down syndrome, his tactlessness becomes front-page tabloid news. He is ultimately forced to have his picture taken with the child as he gives him an Xbox.

Andy has more money now, but he gives it away only meagerly, and merely for the purpose of small-scale image enhancement. When a homeless man recognizes him on the street, Andy gives him £20. When Andy asks the man what, hypothetically, he might ever say about the exchange to the press, the man responds, “I’d say, don’t ask Andy Millman for money because he’ll only give it to you begrudgingly.”

The new conceit — Andy as a real television actor — gives the show a sharper focus than it had last season and puts Mr. Gervais’s talents in the foreground more easily, giving him greater claim to Andy’s selfishness and diminishing his abjection.

Abjection, one of the show’s favorite themes, is now almost entirely Maggie’s to bear, and she bears more than a viewer’s comfort level can sustain. Played by Ashley Jensen, Maggie is Andy’s closest friend in the world of disrespected extras, a Bridget Jones without the wit, verbal range or ability to attract good-looking bad men.

She is a foil for all the big egos around her, pathetic, but in a different way, because she possesses ambition for nothing. And yet her apathy toward the actors she lets humiliate her leave them courting her approval: celebrities crave recognition even from those they denigrate or barely notice.

In one exceptionally funny episode a few weeks ago, in which Maggie is an extra in a period courtroom drama starring Orlando Bloom, she points out to him that women approach him only because he is famous. There’s really little else special about him at all. He disagrees: “They’re not doing it just because I’m famous. It’s my looks as well.”

He goes on to explain that other actors don’t get nearly as much attention: “I’ll tell you who gets ignored: Johnny Depp,” Mr. Bloom says. “On the set of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ the birds just walked straight past him: ‘Get out of our bloody way, whoever you are, we just want to get to Orlando.’ ”

Mr. Gervais wants to get to the world’s Orlandos, and also, subversively, at them.


HBO, Sunday night at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.

Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant; Charlie Hanson, producer; Jon Plowman, executive producer.

WITH: Ricky Gervais (Andy Millman), Stephen Merchant (Darren Lamb), Ashley Jensen (Maggie Jacobs), Shaun Williamson (Barry).

Peggy Noonan: Happy Birthday, Mr. Reagan

President Ronald Reagan gives a thumbs-up to reporters as he boards Air Force One in Phoenix on Aug. 21, 1982.

He was a man of determination and good cheer--one of America's greats.

The Wall Street Journal

Friday, February 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Next Tuesday would have been Ronald Reagan's 96th birthday, which is amazing when you consider he is, in a way, more with us than ever: his memory and meaning summoned in political conversation, his name evoked by candidates. I remember 10 years ago when there was controversy over the movement to name things for him--buildings and airports. I was away from home at the time, and I realized that to talk to people in Washington about it, I'd have to land at JFK, take the FDR Drive and go through the Lincoln tunnel.

This is America; we remember our greats. You tell yourself who you are by what you raise a statue to.

The other day a friend asked: What do you think made him so likable to many who disagreed with him and who look back with nostalgia on his White House?

It's funny that people like to talk about this even though they know the answers. There was the courage to swim against the tide, to show not a burst of bravery but guts in the long haul. The good cheer and good nature that amounted to a kind of faith. The air of pleasure Reagan emanated on meeting others, and his egalitarianism. He thought everyone, from Nobel Prize winners to doormen, equal. Not that he wasn't aware of status. When he stood behind Errol Flynn for a still photo to promote "Santa Fe Trail," he knew of Flynn's towering reputation. Between shots, Reagan kept quietly pushing little piles of dirt together. When he had a mound, he stood on it so that he was, literally, of equal stature. He told the story on himself for years because it was funny, and he believed in laughter. He was a little like Art Buchwald in this; he thought laughter was a value of its own. I think he thought that people who shared a laugh had in fact just voted for something together: something funny and human just got said or done.


Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" was CBS's White House correspondent during the Reagan administration, and I asked her what she remembered most. She said, "We reporters would stake out 'the driveway' to see who was going in to see the president. In the first few years there was a stream of people who came to argue against his budget-cutting proposals. They would march up that driveway in a huff, smoke coming out of their nostrils as they rehearsed their angry arguments about why he was destroying the lives of poor people, or schoolkids.

"I remember specifically a group of mayors from big cities, livid about cuts to their welfare programs, school-lunch programs, etc. They were there to give the president a scolding; they were going to tell him. And in they'd march. Two hours later, out they came. We were all ready with the cameras and the mikes to get their version of the telling off. But they were all little lambs, subdued. . . . He had charmed them. . . . The mayors told us Reagan agreed with them. That they had persuaded him. . . .

"Thirty minutes later Larry Speakes was in the press room telling us the numbers would not in fact change. The mayors had 'misunderstood' the president. Still, I'll bet anything if you talked to those mayors today, they would tell you Reagan was a great guy."

She mentioned "his personal touch, his gallantry." You knew he was a good man and you knew he meant it. So you understood how he could be the biggest supporter of FDR and the New Deal in 1944, and the most persuasive voice for Barry Goldwater in 1964. He'd thought it through and changed, not overnight but in time and with effort. He could change his mind on abortion in the same way, and not because he feared the base. Reagan was the base.


Last week I was at a gathering of old Reagan hands and I asked aloud if something that I'd heard might be true. It was that Mikhail Gorbachev now lives in California and has a pool. The minute I said it, a longtime Reagan friend laughed. He knew where I was going. Reagan always said what he really wanted to do with a Russian premier was get him in a helicopter, ride over Southern California, point down at the million little houses and million little pools, and say "Mr. Gorbachev, that's how the proletariat lives in America."

But it wasn't true. Mr. Gorbachev lives in Moscow, where he has a think tank, a former cabinet secretary told me. Mr. Gorbachev had given the secretary a tour, and proudly noted that he paid for the building by renting out two floors. "Gorbachev has discovered the free market," the secretary said.

It was almost as good.

This led the Reagan intimate to remember being on a private plane with him one day. They had a steak and fine wine. "Reagan said to me, 'You know, I believe everyone in America can have these things.' I said, 'You really believe that?' Reagan said, 'Yes, I do.' " The intimate said to me, "See, I don't believe that, that anyone here can do it." Then he paused. "But it's good to have a president who does."


Lately we are hearing of President Reagan's famous 11th commandment: "Speak no ill of a fellow Republican." It's a good rule for both parties, but it's good also to remember how he approached it in practice. Ronald Reagan turned his own party upside down, enraged its establishment, and threatened its immediate future when, in 1976, he mounted a fierce challenge to an incumbent Republican president. He ran full and hard against Jerry Ford and it was bitter--the stakes were high, the issue freedom at home and abroad. Reagan lost, his challenge doomed Ford in the general election, and four years later Reagan roared back. And when he won the nomination he turned around and seriously considered as his running mate . . . Jerry Ford.

When he ran against Ford, it wasn't personal. And when he almost picked Ford as his vice president, that wasn't personal either. It was more like this: This is America. We have been arguing about everything for 200 years. It's what we do. It's our glory.

Our politics then were grimmer yet had a lighter touch. The Soviets could nuke us tomorrow; let's have a hellacious brawl. It was a serious time, but I don't think we were in general so somber, so locked in. The 11th commandment meant the fight should never be mean, low or unnecessarily injurious to the person, or the party. But a fight could be waged--should be waged--over big, big things.

That he knew that is part of why we remember him as great. It's part of why when you next fly to Washington, you'll land at Reagan National Airport.

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 Fridays on

Don Feder: Joe Kennedy Pimps for Hugo Chavez
February 2, 2007

Hugo Chavez is moving Venezuela at breakneck speed toward a Marxist dictatorship (“Fidel – The Sequel”). He’s allied himself with the most odious creatures on the planet. He supports terrorism and has an all-consuming hatred for America.

He’s the most dangerous man in the hemisphere – and a good friend of Joe Kennedy. The ex-Congressman and head of the Citizens Energy Corporation has become chief U.S. cheerleader for the hideous little tyrant.

Joe Kennedy of the Citizens energy Corporation speaks to Chavez and heating oil program beneficiaries in April 2006

Here’s the scam: Kennedy gets heating oil from Citgo, wholly owned by Venezuela, which is wholly owned by Chavez. Little Joe (who loves playing Lord Bountiful to the needy, in preparation for his next bid for public office) offers the product to low-income families, while boosting “our friends in Venezuela” in TV spots.

A series of public service announcements seem to be running non-stop on Massachusetts stations. They go something like this:

(Anxious-looking mother and daughter, shivering in a frigid apartment, the thermostat set at 60) “Mommy I’m cold.”

Elderly man with a foreign accent, “I can’t afford to pay for heat.”

(Joe, in a windbreaker, pops up on the screen – classic toothy Kennedy grin): “I’m Joe Kennedy and help is on the way – heating oil at 40 percent off from Citgo and our friends in Venezuela. Dial-1-877-Joe-4-Oil.”

I wish they’d stop running these during the dinner hour. It’s hard to hold food down after Kennedy’s smarmy performance.

Some have had the audacity to criticize this clumsy attempt to buy good will for the Venezuelan regime. (Imagine the nerve, criticizing a Kennedy!)

Joe will hear none of it. “Those who have no problem staying warm at night should not condemn others for accepting Venezuela’s oil. Rhetoric means little to an elderly woman who has to drag an old cot from her basement to sleep by the warmth of her kitchen stove or give up food or medicine to pay her heating bills,” Kennedy self-righteously thundered in a December 24th op-ed piece in The Boston Globe.

I’m only surprised he didn’t make the elderly woman crippled, trailing several sickly and malnourished grandchildren after her, as she dragged her old cot to the warmth of the kitchen stove.

One person who doesn’t have to worry about staying warm in New England winters is Joseph P. Kennedy II, who (besides his family’s wealth) draws an annual salary of $400,000 from the Citizens Energy Corporation – more than twice his pay as a Congressman.

Joe-4-Oil started the Citizens Energy Corporation, then passed it over to his brother Michael, when he went to Congress (1987-1999). When Michael died in a skiing accident, and Joe discovered what his brother was pulling down from the foundation, the great humanitarian decided that he couldn’t afford to stay in Congress ($160,000 vs.$400,000). Kennedys believe charity begins at home.

In his Globe commentary, 1-877-Joe-4-Oil planted a big, wet one on Senor Chavez. Kennedy: “Meanwhile, in Venezuela, the president is socializing his nation’s oil profits. (Kennedys like socializing profit, as long as its not their own.) Poverty has dropped by 25 percent. State-sponsored provision of basic needs like food and health care has expanded.” He has seen the future and it works – especially for rich-boy gringos drawing hefty salaries to help frosty grandmothers.

Kennedy: “So, sure, we’ll distribute Hugo’s oil. Doing so is called compassionate capitalism (courtesy of a communist). Right now, our country’s vulnerable families fend for themselves, while the well-to-do can afford to throw snowballs at our program from the security of their warm homes and offices.”

There you have it: If you dare question Joe Kennedy’s partnership with the man who’s turning Venezuela into a police state, you are a heartless plutocrat who doesn’t give a damn for the shivering masses. How the scion of one of America's wealthiest families can get away with this shameless class-baiting is a mystery.

Besides resorting to class warfare at the first hint of criticism, Kennedys are great at shilling for tyrants.

Joe-4-Oil’s alliance with Chavez is reminiscent of his grandfather’s pre-World War II infatuation with another socialist tyrant – National Socialist Adolf Hitler.

As Ambassador to the Court of St James’s (1938-1940), Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. was a huge fan of Der Fuhrer. When told of the persecution of Jews in the early days of the Third Reich, the patriarch of the Kennedy clan reportedly snapped, “Well, they brought it on themselves.”

In June, 1938, the German ambassador to Britain reported to Berlin that Kennedy “fully understood our Jewish policy.” As Herbert von Dirksen explained to his superiors, Old Joe was only concerned that Kristallnacht and related anti-Semitic incidents were generating bad PR for the Nazis.

It’s a pity Ambassador Kennedy and Herr Hitler didn’t hit on the idea of providing Volkswagens and Wiener schnitzel at 40 percent off to Depression-era Americans.

Speaking of classic anti-Semites, earlier this month, Iran’s nutcase President Ahmadinejad was in Caracas for talks with his principal Latin American ally.

Chavez greeted the man who doesn’t let a day go by without threatening Israel with nuclear annihilation as a “ fighter for just causes,” while variously referring to the host of a recent Holocaust-denial conference as a “revolutionary” and a “brother.” (Hey Joe, think you can get discount oil from the Islamacists in Tehran? The mullahs could use a prominent American collaborator.)

In a ceremony at Tehran University last July, Ahmadinejad awarded Chavez Iran’s highest honor, the Islamic Republic medal, for supporting the nation’s drive for nuclear weapons. In a stirring example of revolutionary rhetoric, Chavez told Ahmadinejad: “Let’s save the human race; let’s finish off the U.S. empire,” while simultaneously attacking Israel for “terrorism,” “fascist attitudes” and “genocide” in defending itself from Hezbollah.

Chavez is quite the orator. At various times, he’s referred to the president of the United States as an “aspiring world dictator,” “a terrorist,” “an assassin” and – in an address before the U.N. General Assembly last fall – “the Devil.” America is “the greatest threat looming over our planet” and a nation whose “hegemonic pretensions…are placing at risk the very survival of the human species,” Joe-4-Oil’s pal opines.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Chavez declared, “The United States brought the attacks upon itself, for their arrogant and imperialistic policy.” How does the oily philanthropist feel about that little gem? Dial-1-877-Joe-4-Treason.

Major Juan Diaz Castillo, a Venezuelan defector, claims that prior to the World Trade Center attack, Chavez transferred $1 million to Osama bin Laden.

A lawsuit by the Washington-based group Judicial Watch alleges that Chavez not only provided financial support to bin Laden, but that Al Qaeda is currently operating a training camp on the Venezuelan island of Margarita. Others have charged Chavez is providing false identity documents to individuals from the Middle East, to facilitate their entry into the United States. He also supports Colombia’s FARC terrorists.

Let us pause to reflect on the glories Kennedy’s favorite Marxist is inflicting on his nation:

* In a move decried as censorship by everyone from the Organization of American States to Human Rights Watch, on January 18, Chavez announced that he would close Radio Caracas Television. The 54-year-old station is his main media critic.

* Under the Chavez-sponsored Law on Social Responsibility of Radio and Television, reporters face up to 20 months in prison for “disrespect” of the maximum leader.

* Freedom House ranks Venezuela under Chavez 34th out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere in press freedom, ahead of only Cuba. But Castro has been in the business of throttling dissent for almost 50 years. Just give Hugo a little time.

* On the day that he moved against Radio Caracas Television, Chavez’s rubber-stamp National Assembly gave 1-877-Dial-Hugo-4-Marxism the power to rule by decree for 18 months in 11 key areas.

* Chavez has announced his intension to nationalize Venezuela’s energy, oil and telecommunications industries. He’s looted the country’s National Bank of billions.

* Those who signed a 2004 petition to recall Chavez (more than a million marched through the streets of Caracas at the time) have found themselves frozen out of state jobs and contracts, denied public assistance, and have even had applications for passports rejected.

* Chavez has announced his intention to rule Venezuela until 2031 – making him a president-for-life in all but name.

* Chavez is reported to have closed deals for the purchase of $3 billion of Russian arms, including fighter jets, military helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles. Since no army is poised on its borders to invade Venezuela, it’s reasonable to assume that, when the time is right, all of this will be turned on opponents of the regime.

* Chavez is trading Venezuelan oil for Cuban police-state expertise. Since 2005, he’s imported tens of thousands of Cubans to staff key positions in the nation’s military and intelligence services.

The noose is tightening on the people of Venezuela. The above are all inexorable steps toward achieving Chavez’s grand vision of “Fatherland, socialism or death.” Hugo, Hugo uber alles….

I’ve been to Cuba and witnessed the suffering of its people first-hand. If Chavez stays in power, it’s only a matter of time before Venezuela becomes a Cuba-clone – with grinding poverty (notwithstanding the nation’s oil wealth), shortages of everything, the very air Venezuelans breathe socialized and a populace reduced to slavery.

“Sure we’ll distribute Hugo’s oil” and spread his propaganda, 1-877-Dial-Joe-4-Oil proclaims.

The man in the lime-green leisure-suit with a silver-spoon dangling from his neck sidles up to you. He points toward a swarthy man dressed in a mini skirt and tank-top, swinging a purse.

“Psst, hey, fella, wanna buy some heating oil at a 40 percent discount?” Or am I throwing snowballs at shivering old women from the security of my warm home again?

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

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ed Bouchette: Urlacher upholds Bears linebacker tradition

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher directs the defense against the Seahawks in the NFC playoff football game in Jan. 14.

No teddy bear: Chicago's Urlacher upholds linebacker tradition

Size, speed and range combine to make him one of the NFL's best defensive players, if not the best

Thursday, February 01, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The moment that defined the Steelers' improbable march to their Super Bowl victory last season was so visually pleasing it appeared on countless loops of highlights of their championship season.

You could not watch TV for 10 minutes the week leading up to the Super Bowl without seeing Jerome Bettis plow through the snow at Heinz Field and run over a Chicago Bears linebacker on his way to a 5-yard touchdown in the third quarter of the Steelers' 21-9 victory.

That not only ended the Bears' eight-game winning streak, it revitalized the Steelers. It was their first victory of eight in a row that delivered an unexpected Vince Lombardi Trophy.

It also was no ordinary linebacker Bettis used as the stepping stone that day. He ran over Brian Urlacher, who would be named the NFL's defensive player of the year for that season, a six-time Pro Bowl player in his seven NFL seasons.

Urlacher can be excused if that play is not on his personal highlights reel of memories. Even the best sometimes get run over.

"It's one play," said Lance Briggs, one of Chicago's two outside linebackers. "You win some, you lose some. It's football. You can't knock everybody over. Jerome Bettis is not a second-rate back, he's a top back."

He also retired after getting his only Super Bowl ring. Urlacher won't retire after the Bears' game against the Indianapolis Colts. He's only 28 and, according to his coach, getting better.

"Brian was defensive player of the year last year,'' said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "I think he has played better this year ... I can talk about Urlacher for a long time. I think he is the best player in football."

He could be the best middle linebacker to play in Chicago. That might be considered blasphemy, because three Hall of Fame middle linebackers dominated Bears defenses between 1952 and 1992.

"Bill George started us out, and then we've got Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary," Urlacher said. "It's a great tradition.

"When you think of the Chicago Bears, No. 1 for me at least, I think of Walter Payton and then the great linebackers who have played there. Our fans are blue-collar, and they love defense and they love linebackers for some reason."

The Bears play a 4-3 cover-2 defense, the kind the Steelers may adopt before too long. Urlacher is perfect for it, a rangy, 6-foot-4 258-pounder who can stop the run and cover receivers deep. He drops deeper than any linebacker in ages. That's not surprising because he played free safety, linebacker and wide receiver at New Mexico, where he also returned kickoffs and punts, using techniques he says helps him today.

"Everyone knows I run down the middle in cover-2," Urlacher said, "so it helps me adjust to the ball a little bit so I can see where I need to be, and where the ball is going to end up. I think it has helped me just in judging the ball a little and knowing where it's going to be and where I need to be."

Urlacher was shown knocking passes away deep in the zone against Seattle in the Bears' first playoff victory. People claim he actually gained ground on Reggie Bush, passing his own defensive backs, as he chased the Saints' rookie on the way to his 88-yard touchdown run in the NFC championship.

Bush taunted Urlacher, pointing the ball at him as he ran the final 10 yards. Urlacher merely turned after the play and walked to the Chicago sideline, without a hint of reaction.

"When he makes a false step or a bad key, he makes up for it because he's so fast," said Briggs. "And he creates problems for teams because he's so tall. You have to get it over his head, and, if you lob it over his head, you give the secondary time to make a play.

"He's a physical guy, competitive, high motor. There's nobody like him in the league."

One of Urlacher's toughest jobs Sunday won't involve his speed or other physical skills. He must match wits with Peyton Manning. The Colts' quarterback is famous both for taking his time at the line of scrimmage in the no-huddle offense to call a play and faking the call as he runs up and down the line, shouting sometimes little nothings into the ears of his offensive linemen.

"We just have to get adjusted to it because it is so fast and it happens so quick," Urlacher said. "You kind of panic when you don't need to, and that's what we did early [in a 2004 loss to the Colts, 41-10]. If you don't panic and you just let your coaches make your calls for you, you should be OK. It's hard to do that because you are so nervous about them snapping the ball before you are ready."

Perhaps, it's Manning and the Colts who should be nervous whenever they look up and see Urlacher.

(Ed Bouchette can be reached at )

Victor Davis Hanson: The Ugly American

John Kerry pays a visit to NASA in July 2004

February 01, 2007

Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic candidate for president, is at it again with another rude gaffe, this one providing an unintended glimpse of the way many contemporary cosmopolitan elites characterize their homeland when abroad.

In the past, Kerry has said that our soldiers were "terrorizing" Iraqi civilians in their homes. He has also warned that uneducated Americans "get stuck in Iraq" -- a supposedly botched joke. Now, he assures an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the United States is a "sort of international pariah."

Kerry, who appeared on stage in Davos this past weekend with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, also proclaimed, "When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don't advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy."

Kerry could learn a few simple rules of etiquette that should guide the "message" of all high American officials when abroad:

Tell the Whole Truth Without Posturing or Spinning

Kerry was clearly directing his criticism at the Bush administration, but the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate treaty, was first rejected by the U.S. in 1997. Ten years ago, President Clinton wisely chose not to refer the treaty to the Senate. Even that was not enough for outraged senators, who went ahead anyway to vote 95-0 to oppose any international agreement on climate control like Kyoto in which China, India and other developing countries would remain exempt. Kerry himself cast one of these votes -- an ironic example of what Kerry now calls "duplicity and hypocrisy."

Nor was the United States "irresponsibly slow" in regard to African AIDS relief. In fact, the Bush administration has devoted $4 billion annually to combat AIDS in Africa. That's triple what the Clinton administration budgeted. That generosity deserves praise, not scorn.

Remember we are at war.

Kerry's criticisms are hauntingly similar to al-Qaida's own talking points. Both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have preposterously claimed that America's past inaction on Kyoto was a good excuse for going to war. In various ways, they have long blamed America for the spread of AIDS, and insisted that the United States is an international outlaw. When Kerry makes similar charges, it only enhances the jihadist propaganda, and weakens the United States in a war that is largely to be decided by relative resolve.

Don't single out the United States.

Kerry said nothing publicly critical to former President Khatami about his own theocracy's violation of United Nations non-proliferation accords. He could have lamented Tehran's support for the terrorists of Hezbollah who are undermining democracy in Lebanon. And he might have deplored the infiltration of Iranian jihadists into Iraq.

"Pariah" status is instead given only to Kerry's own homeland. Yet, the United States is currently working with the European Union and the United Nations to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. With NATO, we fight to save Afghan democracy. And we spend blood and treasure alongside an international coalition to offer Iraqis something far better than either dictatorship or theocracy. Some pariah.

Avoid partisanship.

For all his anger at the current administration, Kerry conveniently doesn't tell his audience that the United States Congress voiced overwhelming bipartisan distrust of Kyoto. He forgets that he and other Democrats in the House and Senate, in traditional bipartisan fashion, authorized wars against Afghanistan and Iraq by large pluralities that are now so controversial.

What then drives John Kerry to say such ugly things?

Kerry must still hurt over his recent loss to the supposedly less sophisticated George Bush. And he and other leftist elites apparently must remind their kindred European counterparts that there are still refined Americans like themselves who are not flag-waving Christians from Texas.

But, mostly, it is intellectual laziness. It is always easier to cite America's flaws to applause than to take the time to explain the nature of its rare morality to catcalls. In truth, the United States has never been richer or more generous. Its military is preeminent, protects vulnerable allies and fights extremism worldwide. Immigrants risk their lives to reach our shores.

But we are in a deep spiritual crisis when a recent candidate for our presidency either cannot, or will not, patiently explain that to the world. Instead, Sen. Kerry, the new ugly American abroad, glibly misleads a global audience that his own America is a "pariah" -- a verdict that is as embarrassing to us as it is stupid for him.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing

George Will: School Choice Tide is Turning

February 01, 2007
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Fifty-seven years later, the Sumner Elementary School in Topeka is back in the news. That city's board of education is still wrongly preventing the right people from getting into that building. Two educators wanted to use Sumner for a charter school, a public school entitled to operate outside the confinements of dictated curricula and free from many work rules written by teachers unions. Their school would have been a back-to-basics academy for grades K through five, designed to attack Topeka's 23-point gap between the reading proficiency of black and Hispanic third-graders and that of whites.

When the school board rejected the application of the two educators -- African-American women -- but praised their dedication to children, one of the women was not mollified: "A bleeding heart does nothing but ruin the carpet.''

Sumner is a National Historic Landmark because in 1950 Oliver Brown walked with his 7-year-old daughter Linda the seven blocks from their home to Sumner, where he unsuccessfully tried to enroll her. But Topeka's schools were segregated, so Linda went to the school for blacks 21 blocks from her home, and her father went to court. Four years later came Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka.

Sumner, which has been closed for years, would have required costly repairs. Still, clearly one reason for the rejection was the usual resistance of public educators to innovations that challenge the status quo, meaning centralized control of schools.

In Arizona, some amazingly persistent and mostly liberal people are demonstrating the tenacity with which some interests fight to prevent parents of modest means from having education choices like those available to most Americans. In 1999, Arizona's Supreme Court upheld a program whereby individuals receive tax credits for donations they make to organizations that provide scholarships to enable children to attend private schools, religious and secular. More than 22,500 children have benefited from the program in a decade. Thousands of families are on waiting lists for scholarships because 600 Arizona schools have failed to meet federal academic requirements.

In 2000, Arizona opponents of school choice, in a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, attacked the program in a federal court. They failed again, in a ruling issued in 2005, which was not surprising, given that in 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional infirmity in government-sponsored and administered programs that involve "true private choice'' by giving government aid directly to parents, who use it at their discretion for sectarian or nonsectarian schools.

Now Arizona opponents of school choice, thirsting for a third defeat, are challenging what Arizona's Legislature enacted last year. Noting the success of the individual tax credit for scholarship contributions, the Legislature has authorized corporate donors a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private, nonprofit school tuition organizations. So opponents of school choice are trudging back to court where they will recycle twice-rejected arguments.

Doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results is a sign of insanity, but what really defines the plaintiffs is banality. This is about the control of schools by bureaucrats, about work rules negotiated by unions and, not least, about money -- not allowing any to flow away from the usual channels.

The public school lobby, which apparently has little confidence in its product, lives in fear of competition -- the fear that if parents' choices are expanded, there will be a flight from public schools. But the tide is turning:

Newark's Mayor Cory Booker, a member of the board of the national Alliance for School Choice, proposes a scholarship program similar to Arizona's. New Jersey corporations could get tax credits totaling $20 million a year collectively for scholarships for low-income students in five cities with especially troubled schools.

New York's new Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, proposes lifting the cap that restricts the state to a mere 100 charter schools. This common-sense idea -- lowering a barrier the government has erected to limit innovative schools that compete with the government's existing system -- is welcome, but not as bold as what Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing with the nation's largest school system, New York City's, with 1.1 million pupils.

He is dividing large schools into smaller ones, emancipating many principals to be educational entrepreneurs under a system that holds them accountable for cognitive results. The logic of Bloomberg's reforms is that public money should follow wherever students are attracted by competing schools. So school choice is gaining ground in the city that has historically been ground zero for collectivist, centralizing liberalism.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ian O'Connor: Bears' Johnson shouldn't be allowed to play

Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who has been arrested three times in 18 months, isn't ready to say "sorry."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


MIAMI -- Tank Johnson talked about demons, and not the kind with gargoyle heads and bloody claws. These are demons disguised as garden variety columnists, dime-a-dozen haters and Hall of Fame running backs.

In short, anyone who thinks the Bears' defensive tackle has no business Sunday lining up on the other side of Peyton Manning's ball.

"They come in so many different shapes and sizes," Johnson said.

But only in one color.

"I've never had a person come to me and say anything racist my whole life," Johnson said, "and now I look at it, I'm like, 'Wow.' I realize that people buy into stereotypes. ... I'm young, I'm black, I've got tattoos, so it's easy to stereotype me and put me into a category. I've learned a lot about people."

He apparently hasn't learned that James Caan wasn't the one playing Gale Sayers in "Brian's Song."

Sayers, the dignified Bears' great, isn't just on record saying that Johnson should've been suspended from Super Bowl XLI for his multiple brushes with the law. Sayers has declared that Johnson would've been fired had he been the one making the call.

"No question about it," Sayers said.

At the very least, Johnson shouldn't be representing the Bears in Miami. He spent a full hour Tuesday saying otherwise while being deposed by a circle of unlicensed attorneys, and the journalists conducting the interview found a 315-pound man willing to absorb any and all body blows.

Johnson was respectful, polite, at times even engaging. He took his grilling like a man, and gave a full answer to every question but one:

"Are you sorry?" the columnist asked.

"Am I sorry to [whom]?" the tackle responded.

Johnson would chuckle and let a deafening silence hang over the group. He should be sorry to his family, his team, his league and his community for being arrested three times in 18 months, for allegedly turning his home into a supply shop at the OK Corral, and for finding himself at a nightclub suspected of being a gang hangout, the nightclub where his best friend and housemate was shot dead.

But Johnson shouldn't be the only one left to apologize. The Bears should be sorry for refusing to suspend him for the balance of the season, including the postseason. The NFL should be sorry for declining to push the Bears in that responsible direction.

And John J. Moran Jr., a judge out of Cook County, Ill., should be sorry for losing hold of his moral compass and freeing Johnson from his house arrest so he could have some fun in the Miami sun before winning one for the home team.

"I'm free to do what the Super Bowl allows," Johnson said.

And hallelujah to that.

First, the rap sheet: In November of 2005, Johnson was sentenced to 18 months' probation after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge. In February of 2006, Johnson was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest outside a Chicago nightclub when he tussled with a police officer attempting to ticket Johnson's limo driver.

The Bear reportedly told the cop: "You ain't the only one with a Glock. If it wasn't for your gun and your badge, I'd kick your [butt]." The cop used mace to subdue Johnson, but the charges ultimately were dropped.

Last month, with Johnson still on probation, police raiding his home reportedly found marijuana, more than 500 rounds of ammunition and six firearms that weren't properly registered -- two assault rifles, a hunting rifle, a .44 Magnum and two other handguns. Johnson's daughters, ages 3 and 1, were in the home at the time.

Johnson was arrested on the gun charges and his best friend and bodyguard, William Posey, was arrested on the drug charge. Not even 48 hours later, Posey was gunned down.

"He was everything to me," Johnson said.

Then the Bear caught a big career break, because that's what professional athletes on winning teams often do. Moran could've held him to the strictest terms of his house confinement. He could've prevented him from crossing state lines. He could've done to Johnson what he likely would've done to your average accountant who wanted to attend the Super Bowl of accounting conventions in Miami.

Clipped him at the knees.

Moran turned him loose on South Beach and the Colts instead. No more messing around, he said, "or dire consequences will result."

Way to go, Judge. Let Johnson trade the Chicago winter for South Florida, let him walk barefoot in the sand into the small hours of night, and then let him play a championship football game before 100 million viewers -- all without having to check in once with a probation officer.

That will teach him.

"I don't have any kind of confinement," Johnson said. "I've been out to dinner, I've been able to do a couple of things. ... I've had a great time out here."

He caught the movie, "The Departed." The film's subtitle reads: "Cops or criminals. When you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?"

Johnson said he's probably through with guns. He said he'll tighten his circle of friends, stay clear of music and TV shows that glorify violence, and commit himself to giving his daughters a better youth than the one given him.

Growing up, Johnson was shuttled from school to school, city to city, relative to relative. He has said his parents battled drug problems. As a boy in Gary, Ind., before he was moved to Minnesota and then to Phoenix, Johnson said he was attacked by gang members who had harassed his sister. They poured gas on him and tried to set him ablaze.

"Luckily the match didn't ignite," Johnson said. "I've been through some unbelievable situations."

He's caused some, too. Johnson had his two toddlers living with an arsenal of weapons, and with three pit bulls that frightened neighbors and caused police to make some of their 10 to 20 visits to Johnson's home.

The Bears suspended him for one lousy game, clearing the way for Johnson to play in the Super Bowl while he awaits trial.

He's gotten rid of the guns and the pit bulls, and he wants the demons to disappear, too.

"It's the job of you guys to write the hot story," Johnson told reporters, "and unfortunately I was the story that gave you guys the ammunition to write about me."

No more ammo from Johnson's stash is required. His story isn't about race; it's about celebrity and the warped place that winning athletes occupy in our culture.

Someone should've blocked this tackle long before he faces the Colts' offensive line.


Debra Saunders: See No Dissent, Call It Science

Al Gore Bringing the Heat

January 31, 2007

The San Fransisco Chronicle

It is a sign of how politicized global warming has become when a father's push for his daughter's junior high school science class to present both sides of the global warming controversy becomes a national story -- with the father being portrayed as the villain.

To recap, Frosty Hardison, the parent of a seventh-grader who attends school in Federal Way, Wash., was troubled to learn that science teacher Kay Walls had planned on showing her class Al Gore's global-warming pic "An Inconvenient Truth" -- without presenting any contrary information.

Hardison is an evangelical Christian who, as The Washington Post reported, sees global warming as "one of the signs" of Judgment Day. That is, Hardison fits the sort of stereotype bound to attract national media attention under the rubric: religious zealot fights science in schools.

The school board put a moratorium on showing the movie -- since lifted -- while it investigated whether Wells was violating a school policy requiring that, when class materials "show bias," educators "point out the biases, and present additional information and perspectives to balance those biases."

On the one hand, it is a sad commentary that districts see a need to restrict teachers' ability to communicate -- and that this country has become so sensitive that parents feel a need to muzzle what teachers can say in class. On the other hand, we've all seen teachers who think their political views are gospel.

In this case, Walls told The Washington Post that she could not find any authoritative articles that counter "An Inconvenient Truth" -- other than a 32-year-old Newsweek article. CNN apparently went to the same school as Walls, as it aired a segment in which University of Maryland Professor Phil Arkin asserted, "I don't think there is legitimately an actual opposing viewpoint to the 'Inconvenient Truth' film."

Allow me to present a few names. Massachusetts Institute of Technollogy's Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology Richard S. Lindzen complained to the Boston Globe about the "shrill alarmism" of Gore's flick. Neil Frank, who was considered authoritative when he was the director of the National Hurricane Center, told The Washington Post that global warming is "a hoax." Hurricane expert William Gray of Colorado State University believes the Earth will start to cool within 10 years.

University of Virginia professor emeritus Fred Singer co-authored a book, "Unstoppable Global Warming -- Every 1,500 Years," that argues that global warming is not human-induced but based on a solar cycle. Last year, 60 Canadian scientists signed a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in which they argued that there is no consensus among climate scientists.

Odd, isn't it? Global warming believers heap scorn on religious zealots for not valuing science and knowledge. Yet the thrust of their argument to prove apocalyptic global warming relies on denying the existence of views and scientists who clearly exist.

A Boston Globe editorial mischaracterized the controversy as the mischief of some parents objecting "to having their children see" "An Inconvenient Truth" -- despite the fact that Hardison had told The Seattle Times that he wanted the teacher to present "a whole broad spectrum of facts." Buying into the teacher's argument that she cannot find heterodox articles, the editorial suggested that Walls find her "balancing 'data' in Michael Crichton's novel 'State of Fear.' It's science fiction." That was supposed to be clever.

It is fascinating to watch Gore's acolytes belittle Crichton for being a novelist, apparently undaunted by the fact that they're getting their science from a movie and a politician. At least Crichton is a Harvard Medical School graduate -- which suggests that he has some appreciation for the scientific method. When Gore took natural science classes at Harvard, The Washington Post has reported, he received a D as a sophomore and a C+ in his senior year.

Over the phone Monday, Lindzen remarked on Gore's grades, as he noted that global warming believers have tried to argue that there has been consensus since 1988 -- when fewer scientists believed in climatic apocalypse. And those who deny that credible scientists have opposing views are "expressing their will, not their finding. They want this to be so, so they'll ignore anything else."

So who is the real zealot -- the father who said he is happy both sides will be shown? Or the teacher who denies the existence of scientists with heterodox views?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Spengler: Admit it - you really hate modern art

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso

The Vision of St. John by El Greco

Jan 30, 2007

Asia Times Online

There are esthetes who appreciate the cross-eyed cartoons of Pablo Picasso, the random dribbles of Jackson Pollack, and even the pickled pigs of Damien Hirst. Some of my best friends are modern artists. You, however, hate and detest the 20th century's entire output in the plastic arts, as do I.

"I don't know much about art," you aver, "but I know what I like." Actually you don't. You have been browbeaten into feigning pleasure at the sight of so-called art that actually makes your skin crawl, and you are afraid to admit it for fear of seeming dull. This has gone on for so long that you have forgotten your own mind. Do not fear: in a few minutes' reading I can break the spell and liberate you from this unseemly condition.

First of all, understand that you are not alone. Museums are bulging with visitors who come to view works they secretly detest, and prices paid for modern art keep rising. One of Jackson Pollack's drip paintings sold last year for US$140 million, a striking result for a drunk who never learned to draw, and splattered paint at random on the canvas.

Somewhat more modest are the prices paid for the grandfather of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), whose top sale price was above $40 million. An undistinguished early Kandinsky such as Weilheim-Marienplatz (43 by 33 centimeters) will sell for $4 million or so by Sotheby's estimate. Kandinsky is a benchmark for your unrehearsed response to abstract art, for two reasons. First, he helped invent it, and second, he understood that non-figurative art was one facet of an esthetic movement that also included atonal music. Kandinsky was the friend and collaborator of the grandfather of abstract music, composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), who also painted. Schoenberg, like Kandinsky, is universally recognized as one of the founders of modernism.

Kandinsky attended a performance of Schoenberg's music in 1911, and afterward wrote to Schoenberg:

Please excuse me for simply writing to you without having the pleasure of knowing you personally. I have just heard your concert here and it has given me real pleasure. You do not know me, of course - that is, my works - since I do not exhibit much in general, and have exhibited in Vienna only briefly once and that was years ago (at the Secession). However, what we are striving for and our whole manner of thought and feeling have so much in common that I feel completely justified in expressing my empathy. In your works, you have realized what I, albeit in uncertain form, have so greatly longed for in music.

Kandinsky was entirely correct in his judgment. An enormous literature exists on the relationship between abstract painting and atonal music, and the extensive Kandinsky-Schoenberg correspondence can be found on the Internet. For those who like that sort of thing, as Abraham Lincoln once said, it is just the sort of thing they would like.

The most striking difference between the two founding fathers of modernism is this: the price of Kandinsky's smallest work probably exceeds the aggregate royalties paid for the performances of Schoenberg's music. Out of a sense of obligation, musicians perform Schoenberg from time to time, but always in the middle and never at the end of a program, for audiences flee the cacophony. Schoenberg died a poor man in 1951, and and his widow and three children barely survived on the copyright royalties from his music. His family remains poor, while the heirs of famous artists have become fabulously wealthy.

Modern art is ideological, as its proponents are the first to admit. It was the ideologues, namely the critics, who made the reputation of the abstract impressionists, most famously Clement Greenberg's sponsorship of Jackson Pollack in The Partisan Review. It is not supposed to "please" the senses on first glance, after the manner of a Raphael or an Ingres, but to challenge the viewer to think and consider.

Why is it that the audience for modern art is quite happy to take in the ideological message of modernism while strolling through an art gallery, but loath to hear the same message in the concert hall? It is rather like communism, which once was fashionable among Western intellectuals. They were happy to admire communism from a distance, but reluctant to live under communism.

When you view an abstract expressionist canvas, time is in your control. You may spend as much or as little time as you like, click your tongue, attempt to say something sensible and, if you are sufficiently pretentious, quote something from the Wikipedia write-up on the artist that you consulted before arriving at the gallery. When you listen to atonal music, for example Schoenberg, you are stuck in your seat for a quarter of an hour that feels like many hours in a dentist's chair. You cannot escape. You do not admire the abstraction from a distance. You are actually living inside it. You are in the position of the fashionably left-wing intellectual of the 1930s who made the mistake of actually moving to Moscow, rather than admiring it at a safe distance.

That is why at least some modern artists come into very serious money, but not a single one of the abstract composers can earn a living from his music. Non-abstract composers, to be sure, can become quite wealthy, for example Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber and a number of film composers. American Aaron Copland (1900-90), who mainly wrote cheerful works filled with local color (eg, the ballets Billy the Kid and Appalachian Spring), earned enough to endow scholarships for music students. Viennese atonal composer Alban Berg (1885-1935) had a European hit in his 1925 opera Wozzeck, something of a compromise between Schoenberg's abstract style and conventional Romanticism. His biographers report that the opera gave him a "comfortable living".

After decades of philanthropic support for abstract (that is, atonal) music, symphony orchestras have given up inflicting it on reluctant audiences, and instead are commissioning works from composers who write in a more accessible style. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the shift back to tonal music "comes as large orchestras face declining attendance and an elderly base of subscribers. Nationwide symphony attendance fell 13% to 27.7 million in the 2003-04 season from 1999-2000, according to the American Symphony Orchestra League."

The ideological message is the same, yet the galleries are full, while the concert halls are empty. That is because you can keep it at a safe distance when it hangs on the wall, but you can't escape it when it crawls into your ears. In other words, your spontaneous, visceral hatred of atonal music reflects your true, healthy, normal reaction to abstract art. It is simply the case that you are able to suppress this reaction at the picture gallery.

There are, of course, people who truly appreciate abstract art. You aren't one of them; you are a decent, sensible sort of person without a chip on your shoulder against the world. The famous collector Charles Saatchi, proprietor of an advertising firm, is an example of the few genuine admirers of this movement. When Damien Hirst arranged his first student exhibition at the London Docklands, reports Wikipedia, "Saatchi arrived at the second show in a green Rolls-Royce and stood open-mouthed with astonishment in front of (and then bought) Hirst's first major 'animal' installation, A Thousand Years, consisting of a large glass case containing maggots and flies feeding off a rotting cow's head."

The Lord of the Flies is an appropriate benchmark for the movement. Thomas Mann in his novel Doktor Faustus tells the story of a composer based mainly on Arnold Schoenberg, whom resentment drives to make a pact with the Devil. Mann's protagonist cannot create, so out of rancor sets out to "take back" the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, by writing atonal lampoons of them that will destroy the listener's ability to hear the original.

Many critics maintain that Picasso's famous painting originally named "The Bordello at Avignon" (Les Demoiselles d'Avignon) was the single most influential modernist statement. In this painting Picasso lampooned El Greco's great work The Vision of St John. Picasso reduces the horror of the opening of the Fifth Seal in the Book of Revelation to a display of female flesh in a whorehouse. [1] Picasso is trying to "take back" El Greco, by corrupting our capacity to see the original.

By inflicting sufficient ugliness upon us, the modern artists believe, they will wear down our capacity to see beauty. That, I think, is the point of putting dead animals into glass cases, or tanks of formaldehyde. But I am open-minded; there might be some value to this artistic technique after all. If Damien Hirst were to undertake a self-portrait in formaldehyde, I would be the first to subscribe to a commission.


1. Wikpedia

The Inside Man

Cape Henry Memorial

William & Mary's new president tries to get rid of a cross on campus.

by Cesar Conda & Vince Haley
01/30/2007 1:45:00 PM

THE 400th ANNIVERSARY of Act One, Scene One of American history will be celebrated on April 29, 2007.

On that day in 1607, English colonists, who ultimately settled at Jamestown, first landed at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay near Virginia Beach. In one of their first acts, they erected a cross to give thanks to God for safe passage across the ocean. The settlers called the place Cape Henry, and every year the raising of this cross is commemorated. A memorial cross of granite was erected on the site in 1935 by the Daughters of the American Colonists and is part of the Colonial National Historic Park, administered by the National Park Service. Today, a representation of the Cape Henry Cross is found on the seal of Virginia Beach, a city understandably proud of its heritage.

Four hundred years after the raising of the Cape Henry Cross, the symbol is under assault in Virginia. In the face of this attack, many political leaders across the Commonwealth, including Governor Tim Kaine and Rector Michael Powell, of the College of William & Mary, have been largely silent. Apparently they are poised to accept a radical argument about the appropriateness of the public display of crosses offered by the new president of William and Mary. If accepted, this argument will directly and logically lead to the repudiation and dismantling of the historic Cape Henry Cross, and other important crosses in Virginia.

THIS GLOOMY FUTURE has its origins at the College of William and Mary located in Williamsburg. Founded in 1693, William & Mary is the nation's second oldest university. Last year, the institution hired a new college president, Gene Nichol. Among President Nichol's early acts was his decision last October to order the removal of the 18-inch cross from atop the altar table in the school's 275-year-old Wren Chapel. A gift from the neighboring Bruton Parish Episcopal Church--the same church that William & Mary's first president, the Reverend James Blair, presided over in the 1690s--the cross had been a fixture on the Wren Chapel altar for the last 70 years.

Nichol's dictum has created a public backlash. An online petition to return the cross has garnered over 10,500 signatures. Dozens of op-eds and letters to the editor have filled local and Richmond newspapers. Williamsburg's Virginia Gazette editorialized last week "enough already," and urged the restoration of the cross.

BUT WHY DID NICHOL decide to remove the cross in the first place? Nichol wrote that over the 18 months he has been president, a number of members of the William & Mary community complained that the display of the cross is "at odds with [William and Mary's] role as a public institution." Nichol went on to cite these same community members as suggesting that the cross "sends a message that the Chapel belongs more fully to some of us than to others. That there are, at the College, insiders and outsiders." [emphasis added].

Nichol's explanation is curious because the language he attributes as coming from community members is the same language ACLU staff attorneys use in letters and lawsuits when they attempt to remove religious symbols from the public landscape.

Take for example Connecticut ACLU staff attorney Sam Brooke's December 2006 explanation as to why the ACLU objects to a Connecticut high school holding graduation ceremonies in a local Baptist church while its football field was being renovated: "It unequivocally tells Christian students . . . that they are 'insiders, favored members of the political community; those who are of different religion, or no religion at all, are told that they are 'outsiders'". [emphasis added]

Then there is New Mexico ACLU staff attorney Peter Simonson in September 2005 explaining why the cross in the Tijeras village (population 474) logo is wrong: "Religious minorities cannot be made to feel like outsiders."

Utah ACLU staff attorney Mark Lopez commented in August 2003, with respect to ongoing ACLU litigation against Salt Lake City, on why it is wrong for the Mormon Church to place restrictions on behavior on a section of its property that includes an easement for the city: "When government shows a preference for one religion it sends a chilling message to non-adherents that they are outsiders, and not full members of the community."

That President Nichol would hear concerns about the Wren Cross translated into the insider/outsider language of the ACLU is not surprising. Nichol had been actively involved with the ACLU in three different states for more than 20 years, first as an ACLU chapter president in North Florida, then as a member of the ACLU state boards in North Carolina and Colorado.

What is surprising is that Nichol would use his perch as college president to advance a secularizing agenda.

Normally, when the ACLU seeks to remove religious symbols, it must either file, or threaten to file, a lawsuit. But if a leader of a public institutions shares the ACLU world view, one can dispense with the bothersome exercises of litigation and persuasion. Instead, they can achieve their ends by administrative fiat.

If Nichol's decision is not reversed by the William & Mary Board of Visitors--led by Rector Michael Powell--at its next meeting on February 8, the secularizing implications for both William & Mary and Virginia will be clear. If the presence of the cross in the 275-year-old chapel unacceptably creates insiders and outsiders for Nichol, then surely the historically Christian Wren Chapel itself must do the same.

Indeed, Nichol has already called the chapel's continued existence into question. In a recent speech before the College community, Nichol responded to the outcry over his cross removal order by creating a "presidential committee" to examine the role of religion in public universities and to report back to him at the end of the semester. One of the questions Nichol charged his committee with is "[h]ow does one square the operation of an historic Christian chapel with a public university's general charge to avoid endorsing a particular religious creed?"

Perhaps it has not occurred to Nichol that having a long-time ACLU activist leading a review of religion at public universities is, itself, something of a hard conflict to square.

SHOULD WILLIAM & MARY'S Board of Visitors punt on the issue, then the task of righting this outrage will fall to Virginia's Democratic governor, Tim Kaine. What will he make of the Wren Chapel controversy? And if he deems President Nichol's move to be prudent, will Kaine see to the removal of the altar cross from the University of Virginia's school chapel? What about the school chapels at Virginia Tech and James Madison?

What about the other crosses across the Commonwealth? There is a cross atop the ceremonial mace of the Virginia House of Delegates that is presented by the sergeant-at-arms in the House chamber. It remains there each day until the House adjourns. The City of Norfolk likewise has a cross-adorned mace. As, coincidentally, does the College of William & Mary. For that matter, the logo of William & Mary's new Mason School of Business also has, naturally, a cross on its top. Where will it end?

THESE WORRIES are not far-fetched. For example, the ACLU is currently litigating for the removal of the century-old cross atop Mount Soledad near San Diego. In 2004, the ACLU successfully forced the dismantling of a cross from federal land preserve in the Mojave Desert. Also in 2004, the ACLU successfully threatened to sue the County of Los Angeles if it failed to remove a tiny cross in the city's logo (the L.A. County Board caved in a 3-2 vote, deciding to avoid the costs of a lawsuit).

Four hundred years ago, the Jamestown colonists waded ashore at Cape Henry and erected a cross in thanksgiving. Today, Gene Nichol, along with his ACLU allies, are working to push them back into the sea. We know the lengths to which the ACLU and its adherents will fight to erase America's historic memory by seeking the removal of crosses and other religious symbols from our public square. What is much less certain is to what lengths other citizens and their leaders will go to stop them.

Cesar Conda and Vince Haley are 1983 and 1988 graduates, respectively, of the College of William & Mary. Conda and Haley are leaders of Conda is also a member of the College of William & Mary's Washington D.C. Advisory Council.

© Copyright 2007, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Woods, Federer share pursuit of history

The athletes are so dominant in their respective sports that they use each other's accomplishments as major motivation.

By Jerry Crowe, Los Angeles Times

January 30, 2007

Anything you can do, I can do better.

The old Irving Berlin lyric from the Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun" seems apt these days when discussing Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, friendly rivals who seem bent on pushing one another to new and greater heights, burnishing their outsized legacies while relentlessly pursuing history in their respective sports.

Woods, 31, reigns over golf.

Federer, 25, rules tennis.

"He'll text me and say he won over there," Woods told ESPN on Sunday night after winning his seventh consecutive PGA Tour event, hours after Federer finished ripping through the field without losing a set to win the Australian Open, his 10th major championship. "Now, I've got to text him and say we're all even."

Seemingly locked in step as they stake their claims as the greatest to play their sports, neither a flamboyant personality but each a stylish competitor, Woods and Federer are chasing records that once seemed unattainable.

Woods' seven-tournament PGA Tour winning streak is the longest in 62 years, since Byron Nelson won 11 in a row in 1945.

With four more Grand Slam titles, Federer would tie the record owned by Pete Sampras, who told ESPN last week that Federer surely will supplant him.

"I really believe in my heart that he's going to win way more than 14," Sampras said. "I think the way he's going, and the fact that he doesn't really have players really pushing him, I think he can win close to 17, 18 majors.

"He's going to slide by me and hit Nicklaus soon."

That would be Jack Nicklaus, whose record of 18 major golf championships has been doggedly pursued by Woods, who has won 12.

Of more immediate interest to Federer is the French Open, the only one of the four Grand Slam events the Swiss champion has not won. He came close last June, reaching the final in Paris and winning the first set before inexplicably slumping and losing to his clay-court nemesis, Rafael Nadal of Spain, who nevertheless told reporters afterward, "Federer is the best player in history."

If Federer can finally break through and win the French title this year — "That will be a dream come true," he told reporters Sunday in Melbourne — he would be heavily favored to become only the third man to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year and the first to do it since Rod Laver in 1969.

Federer has won the last four Wimbledon championships and three consecutive U.S. Open titles, the last with Woods watching as a guest from Federer's box.

Later in the year, Federer walked the course with Woods at a tournament in China.

Perhaps they compared notes on the dynamics of their dominance, how opponents seem to melt in their presence. Maybe Woods reminded Federer that he once won all four of golf's major championships in succession, though not all in the same year. Perhaps Woods shared the news that his wife, Elin, was expecting.

Though Woods might sit out the British Open this summer to be on hand for the birth of his first child, he will be favored to win the Masters in April and the other two majors, the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh and the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.

In the meantime, he will continue to pursue Nelson's record at some point, though it's not certain when. He will play this week in a European Tour event at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but has left open when he'll play his next PGA Tour event: either the Nissan Open at Riviera starting Feb. 15 or the Accenture Match Play at Tucson the following week, with the Tucson event expected to get the nod.

He seemed reticent Sunday in discussing the streak.

"You can't compare [it to] four in a row in majors," said Woods, comparing his so-called Tiger Slam of 2000-01 to his current run of titles.

Majors are what count.

Majors are what drive him.

Federer too.


Tiger Woods' and Roger Federer's major titles (Federer has never won the French Open):


1997, 2001, 2002, 2005
2000, 2002
2000, 2005, 2006
1999, 2000, 2006


2004, 2006, 2007
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
2004, 2005, 2006

Note: Jack Nicklaus holds golf's record with 18 major titles; Pete Sampras holds tennis' record with 14 Grand Slam titles.

Thomas Sowell- Duke Case: The Larger Tragedy

District Attorney Michael B. Nifong, getting a hug from Shamieka Rhinehart, the assistant district attorney, after winning the election. "He's a good man," Ms. Rhinehart said. "I'm so proud of him."

January 30, 2007

It has now become more and more obvious, even to some people who initially believed the "rape" charges against Duke University students, that there was never a speck of evidence to support the charges and a growing amount of evidence to the contrary.

However reprehensible District Attorney Nifong's words and actions have been throughout this case, it would be a serious mistake to see in this tawdry episode just the vileness of one man.

The larger tragedy is what this case revealed about the degeneration of our times and the hollowness of so many people in "responsible" positions in the media, in academia, and among those blacks so consumed by racial resentments and thirst for revenge that they are prepared to lash out at individuals who have done nothing to them and are guilty of no crime against anybody.

The haste and vehemence with which scores of Duke University professors publicly took sides against the students in this case is just one sign of how deep the moral dry rot goes, in even our most prestigious institutions.

The January 29th issue of The Weekly Standard has a devastating article about the lynch mob atmosphere created, not only by the Duke University faculty and administration, but also by writers for such "respectable" publications as the New York Times and the Washington Post, not to mention a professor of law at the University of Southern California and a former president of Princeton.

We have become a society easily stampeded, even by the unsubstantiated, inconsistent and mutually contradictory statements of a woman with a criminal record.

All it takes is something that invokes the new holy trinity of the intelligentsia -- "race, class and gender." The story of a black woman gang-raped by white men fit the theme so compellingly that much of the media had no time to waste trying to find out if it was true before going ballistic.

The biggest losers from the current Duke "rape" case include not only the three students accused but also the black community, which has once more followed a demagogue who knew how to exploit their emotions for his own benefit.

Some of these demagogues are white like Nifong but there are also homegrown black demagogues like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who have prospered greatly, and basked in the limelight, by leading other blacks into a blind alley of futile resentments and counterproductive self-dramatization.

The unraveling Duke "rape" case should be a wake-up call, both for blacks and for liberals, on how easy it is for their emotions to be manipulated by even a third-rate demagogue with a flimsy fraud. The time is long overdue for some of those who consider themselves "thinking people" to start doing some thinking.

Many liberals can at least afford their mindless crusades. They may end up looking silly, but that has never stopped them before.

The biggest losers from getting sucked into these frauds are blacks, especially young blacks who go off on an emotional tangent that leads nowhere, at a time when there are so many opportunities in other directions, if they will direct their time and efforts in those directions through education and other serious interests.

The current self-destructive misdirection of energies in black ghettoes cannot be explained by a "legacy of slavery" or "racism." For one thing, this level of self-destruction in black communities did not exist half a century ago, when racism was worse and the black population was generations closer to the era of slavery.

Moreover, a virtually identical pattern of self-destructive attitudes and behavior has been found among British lower-class whites, where none of this can be blamed on racism or a legacy of slavery. (See "Life at the Bottom" by Theodore Dalrymple.)

What the two self-destructive communities on opposite sides of the Atlantic have in common is hearing a steady diet of propaganda blaming all their problems on others, and depicting "society" as determined to keep them down, regardless of anything they might do to try to lift themselves up.

That same deadly message has produced the same tragic results among very different people. The Duke "rape" fraud is yet another sign that the time is long overdue for all of us to start thinking.

Robert Spencer: The D'Souza Follies
January 30, 2007

The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11
By Dinesh D’Souza.
Doubleday, $26.95. 333 pp.

Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, is not all bad. He is absolutely right that Osama bin Laden’s perception that Bill Clinton was weak in the 1990s led to the stepping-up of global jihad efforts. But the central point of the book is that “the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11,” not only by fostering a view that America was weak, but by spreading around the world “a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies, especially those in the Islamic world that are being overwhelmed with this culture. In addition, the left is waging an aggressive global campaign to undermine the traditional patriarchal family and to promote secular values in non-Western cultures. This campaign has provoked a violent reaction from Muslims who believe that their most cherished beliefs and institutions are under assault.” Therefore, “without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.”

In response, D’Souza calls for the American right to build a traditional values coalition with what he calls “traditional Muslims,” who abhor both bin Laden and Britney Spears. “Admittedly,” he acknowledges, “some on the right may feel uncomfortable about teaming up with Muslims. Yes, I would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Michael Moore than with the grand mufti of Egypt. But when it comes to core beliefs, I’d have to confess that I’m closer to the dignified fellow in the long robe and prayer beads than to the slovenly fellow with the baseball cap.” Which core beliefs? D’Souza doesn’t say, but the grand mufti of Egypt has declared sculpture un-Islamic, so perhaps he and D’Souza could get together for a fun evening of statue-smashing. Of course, that is one of the core beliefs of the mufti that no doubt D’Souza does not share. But this is just one example of D’Souza’s propensity to make statements without apparently having examined their implications.

For although his book is focused on the Left, D’Souza has criticism for the Right also. He asserts that in order to cement the necessary alliance with these “traditional” Muslims, “the right must take three critical steps. First, stop attacking Islam. Conservatives have to cease blaming Islam for the behavior of the radical Muslims. Recently the right has produced a spate of Islamophobic tracts with titles like Islam Unveiled, Sword of the Prophet, and The Myth of Islamic Tolerance. There is probably no better way to repel traditional Muslims, and push them into the radical camp, than to attack their religion and their prophet.” He offers no prescription for how his “traditional Muslims” can repel the appeal to violence that jihadists everywhere base on the teachings of “their religion and their prophet,” for presumably in D’Souza’s ideal world even Muslim reformers, since they insult Muslim sensibilities, would be forbidden to discuss the Islamic teachings that jihadists use today to make their case among Muslims. How anyone would in that case counter or repel this jihadist appeal D’Souza does not explain.

Conservatives also must also “stop holding silly seminars on whether Islam is compatible with democracy. In reality, a majority of the world’s Muslims today live under democratic governments – in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Turkey, not to mention Muslims living in Western countries. There is nothing in the Koran or the Islamic tradition that forbids democracy.” And “if they want Sharia, let them have it.” Of course, even if most Muslims today do live under democracies, to assume that this means Islam is compatible with democracy is like saying that most Russians loved Stalin’s reign of terror, since they lived under it regime for so long.

But that is just a small example from one of the most poorly reasoned books I have ever read. There is so much wrong with it that a review that noted it all would be as long as the book itself, and many have already pointed out some of the holes in D’Souza’s thesis: although Kathryn Lopez fawned over D’Souza in National Review, the New York Times, Glenn Beck, and others have given him a hard time. D’Souza’s central contention, that the left has allied with Islamic jihadists and therefore the right should ally with “traditional Muslims” on the basis of shared moral values, is wrong in numerous ways. First, who are these “traditional Muslims”? In his entire book, D’Souza offers not a single name, although his criticism of conservative opposition to the Dubai ports deal last year suggests that he may consider the United Arab Emirates (which he calls “the small country of Dubai”) a “traditional Muslim” state. D’Souza doesn’t mention the fact that the 9/11 hijackers used the Emirates as a base of operations, or that Al-Qaeda has claimed to have infiltrated the Emirati government.

It is not surprising that D’Souza supported this deal, which would have turned over operation of six American ports to a UAE company -- for it manifested the same mistaken belief that D’Souza articulates in his new book: that the Islamic world hates the West because of something we have done, which we can undo with the proper display of good will. Throughout his book D’Souza shows no awareness whatsoever of the jihad ideology, which remains constant while the pretexts and grievances that fuel it shift. In fact, he asserts that “despite the religious enthusiasm of many suicide bombers, Islam has been around for more than a thousand years, and for most of its history it produced neither suicide attackers nor terrorists. It is only contemporary Islam that provides an inspiration for suicide missions and attacks on civilians.”

While comforting, this is false. Today’s jihadist predilection for suicide attacks is a matter of technological progress making possible what had hitherto been impossible; it does not represent a theological divergence from traditional Islam. Suicide attack recruiters today point to Qur’an 9:111, which guarantees Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah. This was not added into the Qur’an by contemporary Muslims, and has been acted upon by Muslims in the past: Andrew Bostom has found that John Paul Jones encountered suicide attacks by Muslim Turks in 1788. Jones described a naval encounter between the Turks and the Russians that took place when Jones served in the Russian Navy: “The Turks,” Jones explained, “had a very large force, and we have been informed by our prisoners that they were resolved to destroy us, even by burning themselves, (in setting fire to their own vessels after having grappled with ours.)” (Emphasis added.)

As for attacks on civilians, they are not forbidden in all cases in Islamic law. The prophet of Islam, Muhammad, himself ordered the assassinations of several poets who had made fun of him in their verses, and rewarded the killers – Muhammad’s first biographer, Ibn Ishaq, records these incidents approvingly. Here, as in all cases, Muhammad’s example became normative for Muslims. The Muslim jurist al-Mawardi in his legal manual al-Akham al-Sultaniyyah (4.2) allows for the killing of women and children who are perceived as in some way aiding the war effort against the Muslims. Other Islamic legal authorities echo this judgment (cf. ‘Umdat al-Salik o9.10).

And in Islamic history, the restriction that civilians were only liable to attack when they were perceived as aiding the war effort against Muslims was at times interpreted quite elastically. As Giles Milton documents in White Gold, the Muslim raiders who from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries kidnapped thousands of British men, women and children and sold them into brutal slavery in North Africa believed they were warriors of Islam engaged in a jihad. Much earlier, in 1148, Muslim commander Nur ed-Din did not hesitate to order the killing of every Christian in Aleppo. In 1268, when the jihad forces of the Mamluk Sultan Baybars took Antioch from the Crusaders, Baybars was annoyed to find that the Crusader ruler, Count Bohemond VI, had already left the city. So he wrote to Bohemond to make sure he knew what his men had done in Antioch: “You would have seen your knights prostrate beneath the horses’ hooves, your houses stormed by pillagers and ransacked by looters, your wealth weighed by the quintal, your women sold four at a time and bought for a dinar of your own money!...You would have seen your Muslim enemy trampling on the place where you celebrate the Mass, cutting the throats of monks, priests and deacons upon the altars, bringing sudden death to the Patriarchs and slavery to the royal princes.”[1]

When jihadists entered Constantinople on May 29, 1453, again the rivers of blood ran, as historian Steven Runciman notes: the Muslim soldiers “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn.”[2] Likewise, the Indian historian Sita Ram Goel notes that when the Muslim forces entered India, “the Sunnah [tradition] of the Prophet…required its warriors to fall upon the helpless civil population after a decisive victory had been won on the battlefield. It required them to sack and burn down villages and towns after the defenders had died fighting or had fled. The cows, the Brahmins, and the Bhikshus invited their special attention in mass murders of non-combatants….Those whom they did not kill, they captured and sold as slaves….And they did all this as mujahids (holy warriors) and ghazis (kafir [unbeliever]-killers) in the service of Allah and his Last Prophet.”[3]

Terrorism? If that word is understood to refer to attacks on civilians meant, at least in part, to demoralize an enemy population, then these incidents and many others like them were most assuredly terrorism. Moreover, they were part of an imperialistic pattern that even D’Souza acknowledges: “Inspired by Islam’s call to jihad,” he observes, “Muhammad’s armies conquered Jerusalem and the entire Middle East, then pushed south into Africa, east into Asia, and north into Europe.” Indeed, before Muhammad had been dead ten years (he died in 632), Muslim armies took Syria, Egypt, and Persia. Muslim armies conquered Damascus in 635, only three years after Muhammad’s death; substantial portions of Iraq in 636; Jerusalem in 638; Caesarea in 641; and Armenia in 643. The conquest of Egypt took place in the same period. The Muslims also won decisive victories over the Byzantines at Sufetula in Tunisia in 647, opening up North Africa; and over the Persians at Nihavand in 642. By 709 they had complete control of North Africa; by 711 they had subdued Spain and were moving into France. Sicily fell in 827. By 846 Rome was in danger of being captured by Muslim invaders; repulsed, the Muslims “sacked the cathedrals of St. Peter beside the Vatican and of St. Paul outside the walls, and desecrated the graves of the pontiffs.”[4]

Was this imperialist history motivated by the depravity of Western culture? The more one examines the historical record of jihad conquest, the more risible the question appears. An inventory of jihad wars across the world today achieves the same effect. Are Buddhist schoolteachers in Thailand the exponents of American pop culture? Are Christian schoolgirls beheaded in Indonesia on their way to school the vanguard of an invasion by Eve Ensler? Are churches torched in Nigeria because they are showing blue movies during off hours?

D’Souza takes no notice of the fact that these conquests were inspired by the same theological ideology that fuels today’s global jihad. Yet even Islamic apologist John Esposito acknowledges the reality of this theological ideology: “As Islam penetrated new areas,” Esposito writes, “people were offered three options: (1) conversion, that is, full membership in the Muslim community, with its rights and duties; (2) acceptance of Muslim rule as ‘protected’ people and payment of a poll tax; (3) battle or the sword if neither the first nor the second option was accepted.”[5] This triple choice was based on Muhammad’s words: “Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war…When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them…If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them” (Sahih Muslim 4294).

Is this just a matter of “cherry-picking” negative material? D’Souza would probably say it was. He notes that “Islam is notorious for the harshness of some of its punishments, such as cutting off the arms and legs of thieves, flogging adulterers, and executing drug dealers.” However, “in this respect one may say, with only a hint of irony, that Muslims are in the Old Testament tradition.” He does not explain, however, why, if that were true, no Jews and Christians are cutting off the arms and legs of thieves or flogging adulterers today – in other words, he completely bypasses the interpretative traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in order to make the crudest of moral equivalence arguments. Nor does he inform the reader that in fact the Old Testament says nothing whatsoever about cutting off arms and legs of thieves – in fact, the “eye for an eye” provision had already moved beyond the barbarism of such punishments.

However, in light of the above statements by Muhammad and many others like them that enjoin warfare against unbelievers, D’Souza’s assertion that blaming Muhammad “for the pathologies of radical Islam” is tantamount to blaming Martin Luther King “for the pathologies of inner-city black America” is absurd. For while it is doubtful that drug dealers and pimps ever quote King’s words to justify their actions, jihadists routinely invoke Muhammad’s example to justify theirs. At the beheading of American hostage Nicholas Berg in May 2004, Iraqi jihad leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared: “The Prophet, the most merciful, ordered [his army] to strike the necks of some prisoners in [the battle of] Badr and to kill them....And he set a good example for us.”[6] London Muslim leader Hani Al-Sibaai in February 2005 justified the slaughters being perpetrated by Al-Zarqawi’s mujahedin in Iraq: “[T]he Prophet drove nails into and gouged out the eyes of people from the ‘Urayna Tribe. They were merely a group of thieves who stole from sheep herders, and the Prophet drove nails into them and threw them into the Al-Hrara area, and left them there to die. He blinded them and cut off their opposite legs and arms. This is what the Prophet did on a trifling matter – let alone in war.”[7]

Moreover, Muhammad commanded his followers to fight “those who disbelieve in Allah,” not just to those who disbelieve in Allah and are threatening the stability of traditional Islamic culture. Likewise Qur’an 9:29 commands Muslims to fight against “the people of the book” – that is, principally Jews and Christians – “until they pay the jizya [a special tax on non-Muslims] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The verse does not stipulate that Jews and Christians should be fought if they are immoral and that immorality is threatening the Muslims: it commands war against them simply because they are Jews and Christians. This is a mainstream view in Islamic thought: the great Muslim philosopher Averroes (1126-1198) wrote: “the Muslims are agreed that the aim of warfare against the People of the twofold: either conversion to Islam, or payment of poll-tax (jizya).”[8] The tenth century Muslim writer Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (922-996), a legal theorist of the Maliki school of jurisprudence (madhhab) wrote in a similar vein: “Jihad is a precept of Divine institution....We Malikis maintain that is preferable not to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first. They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax [jizya], short of which war will be declared against them.”[9]

This is the same ideology that motivates today’s jihadists – as Osama bin Laden wrote to the American people, “The first thing we are calling you to is Islam.” Because violent jihad is so deeply rooted in the Qur’an and Islamic theology and tradition, jihadists present themselves among Muslims as the exponents of “pure Islam” – and make recruits on that basis. This recruitment centers on the Qur’an and other key Islamic texts. Take, for example, the case of Sahim Alwan, an American citizen and leader of the Yemeni community in Lackawanna, New York and onetime president of the mosque there. He has the distinction of being the first American to attend an Al-Qaeda training camp. Why did he go? He was convinced to do so by Kamal Derwish, an Al-Qaeda recruiter. Alwan explained that Derwish taught him that the Qur’an “says you have to learn how to prepare. Like, you gotta be prepared just in case you do have to go to war. If there is war, then you would have to be called for jihad.”[10]

Jihadists are pressing forward with jihad activity around the world today, after a long period of relative quiescence, because Saudi oil billions and the Khomeini revolution in Iran have made this reassertion of the jihad ideology possible. Jihadists do use the depravity of American culture as a recruiting tool, but this is more of a pretext than a root cause. In confusing the two, of course, D’Souza is not alone. Others on both the Left and the Right today differ with him on the root cause, but not on his assumption that the jihad is a reaction to American provocation – in other words, it is not something that springs from motivations to be found within Islam. Some point to the invasion of Iraq, or the establishment of Israel in 1948, or the toppling of Iran’s Mossadegh in 1953 — or a more generalized offense such as “American neo-colonialism” or “the lust for oil.” Those who are particularly forgetful of history blame it on newly minted epiphenomena such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandals or the alleged atrocities at Guantanamo.

But the jihadists were fighting long before Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Israel, or even the independence of the United States. Indeed, they have been fighting and imitating their warrior prophet ever since the seventh century – and, incidentally, for most of that time they have played the innocent victim no matter how much violence they themselves perpetrated. During the Crusades, Islamic writers consistently portrayed the Europeans as aggressors who had carried out an unprovoked attack on the Islamic world (as most Europeans and Americans see them today). It never occurred to those writers that the attacks on Christians in the Holy Land, and 450 years of jihadist aggression that had overwhelmed over half of Christendom, might have had something to do with the arrival of the “Franks” – just as it never occurs to D’Souza or most analysts today that Islamic jihad could be anything but a defensive reaction to aggression by others.

What’s more, the immorality of the West has been a feature of Islamic anti-Western writings since long before Britney Spears took to the stage. Jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb was scandalized by the dancing at a church social in Greeley, Colorado in 1948; however, D’Souza errs in attributing his jihadist views to this trip. Before he went to America, Qutb wrote Social Justice In Islam, calling for Islamic Sharia law to rule the world. The immorality he saw in American culture did not itself turn him against America, but illustrated for him why America was unfit to rule the world, and why only Islam was fit for that role. That immorality was never for Qutb the root cause of his opposition to America. And eight centuries before Qutb’s birth, a recurring feature of Muslim polemic against the Crusaders was the sexual immorality of the “Franks.” According to an anonymous poet at the time of the First Crusade, the Europeans completely overturned the moral order: “What is right is null and void and what is forbidden is made licit.”[11]

Have Westerners always been less morally upright than Muslims? According to D’Souza’s thesis, that’s the only possibility that could explain the fact that every century since the advent of Islam has seen jihad warfare. But it should be borne in mind that from the Islamic perspective, Christians are inherently immoral simply by virtue of their – in the Muslim view – exalting Jesus to divine status. The Qur’an has Allah asking Jesus: “Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?” (5:116). The deification of Christ has earned Christians the curse of Allah: “The Christians call Christ the son of Allah…Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” (9:30). In the Muslim view, this “association of partners with Allah” – shirk -- is a more grievous immorality than the most heinous crimes. The apologetic Call to Islaam website explains: “Murder, rape, child molesting and genocide. These are all some of the appalling crimes which occur in our world today. Many would think that these are the worst possible offences which could be committed. But there is something which outweighs all of these crimes put together: It is the crime of shirk.”[12] From that perspective, no matter how upright Christians may be, they are still immoral in the Islamic view.

In any case, despite the fact that D’Souza is aware, as he puts it, that “traditional Muslims are not ‘moderates,’” and that there are no theological differences and few political differences between them and the jihadists, he recommends that conservatives ally with them. He seems to envision this alliance as a counterbalance to the Left’s alliance with the global jihad, which certainly exists. D’Souza spends a great deal of time explaining how a 2004 message from Osama bin Laden is dedicated to convincing “his allies in America to coordinate their actions more closely with his.” However, D’Souza ignores Osama’s 2002 message to the American people, which could be read as an appeal to social conservatives in exactly the same way that D’Souza reads his 2004 message as an appeal to liberals. In the 2002 letter, bin Laden says to Americans: “We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gamblings, and trading with interest….You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.” Was bin Laden angling for an alliance with Pat Robertson, as well as Michael Moore?

In reality, the jihadists will ally with anyone foolish enough to enter into an alliance with them. The unhinged anti-Americanism of the Left has led them already to embark upon this path; now D’Souza is calling conservatives to follow their example with people he acknowledges have no theological differences with the jihadists. And what will this alliance look like? Conservative Americans will agree with D’Souza’s “traditional Muslims” against abortion and pornography. What, then, will they do when their new allies begin agitating for polygamy and the execution of apostates? Will conservatives be put into a position of opposing gay marriage while supporting polygamy? Will they be able to criticize Islam then?

Is this inconceivable? Why? D’Souza asserts that most Muslims oppose polygamy, but it nonetheless is widely practiced and enjoys the sanction of Muhammad’s example and Islamic law. Will then no “traditional Muslim” ever assert it – and even insist upon it in the face of opposition from mere infidels? On what grounds does D’Souza assume that “traditional Muslims” will happily enter into an alliance with non-Muslim Americans as equal partners? The answer, of course, is that he appears to be unaware of the mainstream character of jihad and Sharia supremacism within Islam; he doesn’t seem to know that Islamic tradition unanimously teaches that “Islam must dominate, and not be dominated.” On what grounds does he believe that “traditional Muslims” will set this principle aside indefinitely? Of course, the “traditional Muslims” upon which D’Souza places so much hope are the ordinary people of the Islamic world, who like ordinary people everywhere simply want to go about making a living and taking care of their families. He portrays them as rejecting polygamy, the execution of apostates, and other unpleasant features of Islamic law and practice. And certainly it’s true that for centuries -- notably, although not universally, in central Asia, Eastern Europe, and West Africa -- jihad supremacism and other elements of Islam for many Muslims lay dormant and even dropped out of the Muslim consciousness. But this is not a strong enough basis for an alliance, since these cultural Muslims do not have a theological foundation within Islamic theology and law -- and now jihadists are using chapter and verse of Qur’an and Sunnah to teach their vision of Islam to cultural Muslims. What will prevent D’Souza’s “traditional Muslims” from being susceptible to such recruitment?

This question becomes even more urgent in light of the fact that D’Souza believes that discussion of the elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify their actions will just drive these “traditional Muslims” to become jihadists. He insists that this is so despite the fact that he himself speaks forthrightly about negative aspects of Islamic culture, such as child marriage: “many traditional Muslims,” he says, “look with revulsion at the sight in their countries of young girls attached to men old enough to be their fathers.” Very well, but this practice is rooted in the example of Muhammad, who consummated his marriage with his favorite wife, Aisha, when he was in his early fifties and she was nine. Yet D’Souza would apparently forbid any discussion of how Muhammad’s example is deleterious here.

It is in this connection that he mentions my books Islam Unveiled and The Myth of Islamic Tolerance, along with Serge Trifkovic’s superb Sword of the Prophet. (Trifkovic has ably answered D’Souza here.) D’Souza’s point about such books, however, can again just as easily be used against him by inverting his thesis. While he claims that criticism of Islam breeds jihadists, it is just as easy to say that there is no better way to repel anti-jihad leftists and push them into the arms of the jihadists (with whom so much of the Left is already allied), than to dub them “the enemy at home.”

Even worse, when D’Souza assumes that peaceful Muslims will have a greater sense of solidarity with jihadists than with non-Muslims, he destroys his entire thesis. For if these peaceful Muslims really abhor jihadism, they should have no reason to object to critical presentations of the elements of Islam that foster jihadism. But if a few books will be enough to drive them into the arms of the jihadists, then how committed could they really have been to peace and moderation in the first place? D’Souza is assuming that they regard global jihad terrorism as less damaging to their religion than “Islamophobic tracts,” which in itself completely undermines D’Souza’s assumption that jihad terrorism is a twisting of “traditional” Islam. Shouldn’t violence perpetrated in the name of their cherished religion make them much more indignant than some books that explore the Islamic roots of jihad terrorism – even if those books were offensive (which they aren’t by any rational standard)? Throughout his book D’Souza makes moral equivalence arguments about the Judeo-Christian tradition and Islam. At one point he even asserts that the Islamic moral code of stonings and beheadings amounts to Old Testament morality (but doesn’t bother to explain why no Jews and Christians practice stoning or beheading). Yet the equivalence breaks down on the level of behavior: Christians have never embraced violence in reaction to innumerable insults to their faith in recent years. Why should we ask or expect less of Muslims?

And by the way, it is odd that D’Souza, for all his disgust for the Left, would pick up on the Leftist coinage “Islamophobia,” a trumped-up, politically manipulative term intended to stifle debate. I would have thought D’Souza would be ashamed of using it until I read his recommendation that “the right” stop producing books like mine. He has denied that this was a call to silence me and others like me, and I’m sure it wasn’t: if Trifkovic and I begin to retail the prevailing PC fictions about Islam as a religion of peace and join mainstream analysts in declining to hold Muslims accountable for their actions (since they’re just reacting to the depredations of bad old America), I am sure D’Souza will be happy if we flourish.

In a sermon broadcast on official Palestinian Authority television in 2000, Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya, a member of the Palestinian Authority’s Fatwa Council, anticipated D’Souza’s call to alliance and declared: “Allah the almighty has called upon us not to ally with the Jews or the Christians, not to like them, not to become their partners, not to support them, and not to sign agreements with them. And he who does that is one of them, as Allah said: ‘O you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies, for they are allies of one another. Who from among you takes them as allies will indeed be one of them.’ . . . Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.”[13]

In this Abu Halabiya was quoting Qur’an 5:51 (“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them”) and 9:5 (“slay the idolaters wherever ye find them”). His application of these words to the contemporary political situation would thus resonate even with “traditional Muslims,” whose Qur’an is the same as that of the jihadists. And Abu Halabiya intended it to resonate in that way.

If the exportation of American depravity were to end tomorrow, it would not efface these and other words from the Qur’an, or keep preachers from using them to prevent any peaceful accord between Muslims and non-Muslims. That D’Souza suggests that it would manifests an appalling ignorance of Islamic theology, history, and present reality. He writes that “no real understanding of Islamic culture is possible that refuses to take Islam seriously,” yet he ends up doing just that. In the fourteenth century, the Byzantine Emperor John VI Cantacuzenes entered into an alliance with the Ottoman Turks, whom he invited into Europe to help him win a dynastic dispute. In the fifteenth century, the Ottomans seized Constantinople and destroyed the Byzantine Empire, and were greatly aided in doing so by having a base in Europe.

Dinesh D’Souza, no less short-sighted and na├»ve as John VI Cantacuzenes, is exhorting conservatives today to rush into an alliance that would ultimately bring upon themselves the same disaster.


[1] Thomas Madden, The New Concise History of the Crusades, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005, pp. 181-182.

[2] Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.

[3] Sita Ram Goel, The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India, Voice of India, revised edition 1994, p. 44.

[4] Hitti, p. 205.

[5] John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, third edition, 1998. P. 35.

[6] Steven Stalinsky, “Dealing in Death,” National Review Online, May 24, 2004.

[7] “London Islamist Dr. Hani Al-Sibaai Justifies Slaughters in Iraq: The Prophet Muhammad Used to Slaughter As Well,” Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Clip No. 576, February 22, 2005.

[8] Averroes, Al-Bidaya, excerpted in Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, Markus Wiener Publishers, 1996. P. 40.

[9] Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani, in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996, p. 295.

[10] “Interview Sahim Alwan,” Frontline, October 16, 2003.

[11] Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, Routledge, 2000, p. 247.

[12] “Shirk: the ultimate crime,” Invitation to Islam Newsletter, Issue 2, July 1997.

[13] Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), “PA TV Broadcasts call for Killing Jews and Americans,” MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 138, October 13, 2000.

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