Saturday, October 27, 2007

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.: Seven Things About Clinton

The New York Sun

October 26, 2007

This week it was reported in the authoritative Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, that Don Van Natta Jr. and Jeff Gerth included some unsavory news about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in "Her Way," their recent book on her. Mrs. Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign, "listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics…." Washington observers appeared shocked.

Where have they been all these years? The Clintons have engaged in brute behavior for decades, much of it a matter of record. The Hill's report moves me to now list seven issues every American should know about the Clintons before 2008. Journalists should be particularly interested, as well as Democrats intent on avoiding a repeat of the Clinton 1990s.

1) Every Clinton Scandal of the 1990s had a precedent in the Clinton Governorship of the 1980s. Just as the Clintons abused the presidential pardon power when they left the White House and took property that was not their own, so did they abuse the pardon power and pilfer from the governor's mansion upon leaving it in 1981. Just as they have been caught taking money from the shadowy Norman Hsu this year and from other dubious Asian figures in the 1990s, so too were their 1980s campaigns marked by financial irregularities. The first Asian donors entered their political lives in 1986 with the Indonesian Chinese Riady family. In 2001 the Riadys paid over $8 million in FEC fines for their munificence in the 1990s. Hsu's donations are of a piece with what might be called the Clintons' "Chop Suey Connection." The Clintons dismiss all this as "old news," but that is only because they are what law enforcement officials call "repeat offenders."

Even Mrs. Clinton's healthcare fiasco of 1993-94 had a precedent in her statewide education reform in Arkansas that left Arkansas still at the bottom of the heap in national education ratings.

2) For years the Clintons have bullied the press, political opponents, prosecutors, and those women who caught Bill's eye. Their successful efforts to suppress the recent GQ story by Josh Green show that their bullying continues. Since the 1980s the Clintons have employed private investigators, for instance, Terry Lenzner, Jack Palladino, and Anthony Pellicano, the last of whom is a convicted felon. Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, and Kathleen Willey are but the most famous of the many women who have been harassed by the Clintons' private detectives. In my recent book, "The Clinton Crack-Up," I report that at least one independent counsel in the 1990s took to carrying a gun after being harassed on Washington streets. The harassment was very similar to harassment my reporters experienced in Little Rock in the mid-1990s.

3) Rumors of Senator John McCain's temper have haunted his campaign. Mrs. Clinton's temper is even more widely documented, by disaffected Secret Service agents, military aides, Arkansas state troopers, and others. The Senator has repeatedly been in rows with agents whom she importuned to carry her bags despite Secret Service regulations against the practice. While First Lady, she threw a book at the back of an agent's head, as reported to me by White House military personnel. She has repeatedly thrown temper tantrums in front of staff, used foul language, and hit her husband, as reported by security and other staff members.

4) She is given to what the historian Richard Hofstadter termed "The Paranoid Style In American Politics." In 1998 she famously claimed that a "vast right-wing conspiracy" had mobilized against her and her husband. She has repeatedly characterized simple two-party partisanship as the consequence of secretive conspiratorial maneuverings. No modern American politician so high in American politics has so frequently manifested the paranoid style, a style Hofstadter associated generally with political extremists, generally extremists on the far right.

5) The Clintons have, to use the words of President Harry Truman — who while president scrupulously insulated the White House from fundraising and in retirement refused speakers' fees — "commercialized the presidency." They used the White House, most notably the Lincoln Bedroom, to reward donors. Bill Clinton himself has earned over $43 million in speakers' fees since leaving the White House, including millions from the Red Chinese and the United Arab Emirates. Such venality by a retired president is unprecedented, and his encroachments on campaign finance regulations have been numerous.

6) Very little of this has escaped the notice of journalists and of Democratic leaders. Yet, after every scandal they forget their public denunciations of the Clintons. Here are some flavorous reminders. After the Clintons and their siblings were caught in the 42nd president's last-minute pardon scandal, Jimmy Carter called them "disgraceful." Robert Reich opined that "Clinton is utterly disgraced." Al Hunt called Clinton the "albatross" of his party who should "drop dead." Al Gore's campaign manager, Donna Brazile wrote in the New York Times, "It's time to let Bill Clinton go — go on and live the rest of his life and allow a new generation of Democratic leaders to renew their fight on behalf of working families in America." New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote: "Bill Clinton has been a disaster for the Democratic Party. Send him packing. It's time for the Democratic Party to wise up. Ostracism would be a good first step. Bill Clinton should be cut completely loose….some of Mr. Clinton's closest associates and supporters are acknowledging what his enemies have argued for years — the man is so thoroughly corrupt it is frightening."

In a February 2001 editorial the New York Times asserted that the former president "seemed to make a redoubled effort in the last moments of his presidency to plunge further and further beneath the already low expectations of his most cynical critics and most world-weary friends." And the newspaper lamented that it might "never understand the process by which a departing president and his wife come to put sofas and flatware ahead of the acute sense of propriety that ought to go with high office." The New York Observer assessed Hillary's election to the Senate as a "a terrible mistake," adding that "Hillary Rodham Clinton is unfit for elective office."

Those are some of the unlovely things said about the Clintons by their friends. Now are the Democrats really going ahead with a Hillary nomination?

7) The press has been lax in reporting the Clintons' unprecedented record of ethical failings and outright corruption. Most glaringly even the conservative columnists remain inert. The conservatives have adopted the position that all of the above is passé and to dwell on it is unseemly and awkward.

Well, call me unfashionable, but I find the Clinton record alarming.

Mr. Tyrrell is the founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor of The New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.

Mark Steyn: War, like life, is not a movie

Saturday, October 27, 2007
Orange County Register

As far as I know, the movie "Deliverance" has been featured in political discourse just the once. Back in 1996, Pat Buchanan, hot from his triumph over Bob Dole in the New Hampshire primary, warned the country-club Republicans that he was coming to get them "like a character out of Deliverance." In the film, you'll recall, a quartet of suburban guys spend a nightmare weekend in the backwoods, in the course of which one of their number winds up getting sodomized by a mountain man. ("Squeal, piggy!")

At the time of Pat's remark, I remember thinking: What a great country! In how many other political cultures can a fellow identify himself with a stump-toothed inbred psycho hillbilly homosexual rapist as an applause line? I'd love to think he'd paid some demographic-positioning consultants to focus-group the thing, but it seems more likely it was an impromptu flourish by the candidate.

Now, however, Newsweek has attempted a more sustained political deployment of the movie. In a column headlined "War and Deliverance," their Middle East editor, Christopher Dickey, makes the picture the defining metaphor for "the Mesopotamian quagmire." The Atlanta suburbanites in the picture include Burt Reynolds as the obsessive wannabe back-to-nature survivalist and Jon Voight as "the perfectly ordinary man, the just-getting-by guy," but the one who, in the end, delivers his pals from the hell of their weekend in the country.

Unlike most of us, whose knowledge of the film relies on hazy memories from the 1970s and late-night TV screenings, Dickey knows the story in depth: His dad wrote the novel and the screenplay. And, as he sees it, the Burt Reynolds character with his "untested ersatz fortitude" is "Dick Cheney's closet fantasy of himself," and the Jon Voight character is "the rest of us, just scared and trying to get by." As for the river whose rapids they set out to negotiate, "that's the war in Iraq."

Christopher Dickey paints with a broad brush: "On a grand scale they [the administration] could reinterpret the Constitution until it became meaningless." (Monitoring jihadist phone logs being the reinterpretation into meaninglessness, unlike, say, partial-birth abortion, which is merely an ancient constitutional right the founders had cannily anticipated a need for.) So one's first reaction to this is a faint flicker of surprise that Dickey doesn't see Cheney as the mountain man and the Constitution as his rape victim. One's second reaction is that the metaphor is dishonest. When it comes to "closet fantasies" about toppling Saddam, it's not Dick Cheney versus "the rest of us." Throughout the 1990s and all the way up to the Iraq war resolution, there were a lot of folks auditioning for the Burt Reynolds role: Bill Clinton, Al Gore and almost every other prominent Democrat indulged in just as much "ersatz fortitude" about Iraq and its WMD as Dick Cheney ever did.

But the third and bigger point is that, enjoyable as they are, pop-culture metaphors aren't really of much use, especially when you're up against cultures where life is still defined by how you live as opposed to what you experience via media. It seems to me, for example, that when anti-war types bemoan Iraq as this generation's Vietnam "quagmire," older folks are thinking of the real Vietnam Рthe Gulf of Tonkin resolution and whatnot Рbut most anybody under 50 is thinking of Vietnam movies: some vague video-store m̩lange of "The Full Metal Deer Apocalypse."

Take the Scott Thomas Beauchamp debacle at the New Republic, in which the magazine ran an atrocity-a-go-go Baghdad diary piece by a serving soldier about dehumanized troops desecrating graves, abusing disfigured women, etc. It smelled phony from the get-go – except to the professional media class from whose ranks the New Republic's editors are drawn: To them, it smelled great, because it aligned reality with the movie looping endlessly through the windmills of their mind, a nonstop Coppola-Stone retrospective in which ill-educated conscripts are the dupes of a nutso officer class.

It's the same with all those guys driving around with "9/11 Was An Inside Job" bumper stickers. That aligns reality with every conspiracy movie from the past three decades: It's always the government who did it – sometimes it's some supersecret agency working deep within the bureaucracy from behind an unassuming nameplate on a Washington street; and sometimes it's the president himself – but when poor Joe Schmoe on the lam from the Feds eventually unravels it, the cunning conspiracy is always the work of a ruthlessly efficient all-powerful state. So Iraq is Vietnam. And 9/11 is the Kennedy assassination, with ever higher percentages of the American people gathering on the melted steely knoll.

There's a kind of decadence about all this: If 9/11 was really an inside job, you wouldn't be driving around with a bumper sticker bragging that you were on to it. Fantasy is a by-product of security: it's the difference between hanging upside down in your dominatrix's bondage parlor after work on Friday and enduring the real thing for years on end in Saddam's prisons.

That's the real flaw in Christopher Dickey's "Deliverance" metaphor: If Cheney is Burt Reynolds, and the rest of America is Jon Voight, and the river is Iraq, who are the hillbillies? Well, presumably (for he doesn't spell it out) they're the dark forces you make yourself vulnerable to when you blunder into somewhere you shouldn't be. When the quartet returns to Atlanta a man short, they may understand how thin the veneer of civilization is, but they don't have to worry that their suburban cul-de-sacs will be overrun and reduced to the same state of nature as the backwoods.

That's the flaw in the thesis: Robert D. Kaplan, a shrewd observer of global affairs, has referred to the jihadist redoubts and other lawless fringes of the map as "Indian territory." It's a cute joke but a misleading one. The difference between the old Indian territory and the new is this: No one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue, just as Burt Reynolds never had to worry about the mountain man breaking into his rec room. But Iran has put bounties on London novelists, assassinated dissidents in Paris, blown up community centers in Buenos Aires, seeded proxy terror groups in Lebanon and Palestine, radicalized Muslim populations throughout Central Asia – and it's now going nuclear. The leaders of North Korea, Sudan and Syria are not stump-toothed Appalachian losers: Their emissaries wear suits and dine in Manhattan restaurants every night.

Life is not a movie, especially when your enemies don't watch the same movies, and don't buy into the same tired narratives. To return to that 1996 presidential race, Bob Dole, apropos Pat Buchanan's experience hosting a CNN talk-show, muttered testily at one point, "I was in the real crossfire. It wasn't on television. It was over in Italy somewhere, a long time ago." Happy the land for whom crossfire is purely televisual and metaphorical. But, when it turns real, it's important to know the difference.


Bruce Springsteen, back in true form

Joel Selvin, San Fransisco Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bruce Springsteen apparently feels like being Bruce Springsteen again.

With his new No. 1 album, "Magic," reaching back for the sound of his glory days, his first tour in five years with that old gang of his, the E Street Band, feels less like a reconvening than a picking up where they left off.

"This is the Oakland Coliseum," said Springsteen in his first of two sold-out shows Thursday at what is now called Oracle Arena. "Isn't that what they used to call it?"

The first time Springsteen worked the room it was indeed called the Oakland Coliseum Arena and he had just released "The River," the album from his past that his new record most resembles. It is no coincidence that he followed the rousing, anthemic concert opener, "Radio Nowhere," the first track on the new album, with "The Ties That Bind," the song that opened "The River."

"The River" was more than 25 years ago, and the world is a different place. But somehow, some way, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band still stand for the same things, still shine the same beacon, still stay true to the dream. They are older, wiser men - joined now by women, Soozie Tyrell and Patti Scialfa - and they are slowed by time. Saxophonist Clarence Clemons, the Big Man, recovering from double hip replacement, ain't dancing like he once did. The Boss himself couldn't quite put that harsh wailing urgency into "Backstreets," but just the fact that he was playing the song again for the first time in years said everything.

He did nine of the 11 numbers from "Magic" in the 23-song, 130-minute concert, half the length of his epic shows in his younger days, but he looked miraculously untouched by the ravages of time, slim and coiled like a spring as he stalked the large, open stage wearing jeans, boots, vest, his sleeves rolled up, ready for business. He sported a triangular patch of beard beneath his lip and a buccaneer's earring.

The concert contained many delights to savor - the modified Bo Diddley of "She's the One," Springsteen and Miami Steve Van Zandt trading guitar solos at the end of "Gypsy Biker," a duet with his wife, Scialfa, on "Town Called Heartbreak," a track from her recent solo album, "Play It As It Lays." Springsteen commended the album to the audience and said it was for sale at the merchandise table, along with "a new line of E Street Band sex toys."

The tracks from "Darkness on the Edge of Town," his 1978 follow-up to the "Born to Run" breakthrough, sounded especially sweet - a pounding "Adam Raised a Cain," the majestic "The Promised Land" and a thunderous "Badlands" that brought the set to a close before the encore.

With "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," he opened the encores with the most unSpringsteen-like song of the evening, riding on a lithe, gentle melody that wouldn't be out of place on an old Beach Boys record. The song made for a dramatic juxtaposition with the subsequent "Thunder Road," immediately followed ("1...2 ...3...4...") by "Born to Run," with the houselights snapped on full at the opening chord.

By that point, the concert had reached the kind of revival meeting furor in which Springsteen has always specialized. A euphoria descended on the crowd, liberally salted with gray hair, and all was right with the world as Springsteen finished his concert with a juiced up "Dancing in the Dark" and a hoedown number, "American Land," a Springsteen original based on a Pete Seeger song sneaked out as a bonus track on the special edition release of his last year's album, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions."

Being Springsteen, before playing "Livin' in the Future," perhaps the most Springsteenesque piece from the new album, he made a few remarks about the erosion of civil rights under the current regime, political comments that were received with enthusiastic applause, and he dedicated a song in the encore to Oakland's People's Grocery, a local food justice group. It's never enough just to bring people together for a rock concert for Springsteen; he needs to give them a sense of community, if only for the time they spend together.

And he does. The Springsteen concert is convocation of shared ideals, not just another rock show. With this tour and album, he is not singing arty acoustic erotica or "Up With People"-styled folk songs. He has returned to his own artistic core values and, with the now 10-piece E Street Band, he dusts off that old wedding suit like it was only yesterday.

E-mail Joel Selvin at

This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


"Radio Nowhere"
"The Ties That Bind"
"Lonesome Day"
"Gypsy Biker"
"Reason To Believe"
"Adam Raised a Cain"
"She's the One"
"Livin' in the Future"
"The Promised Land"
"Town Called Heartbreak"
"Your Own Worst Enemy"
"Devil's Arcade"
"The Rising"
"Last To Die"
"Long Walk Home"


"Girls in their Summer Clothes"
"Thunder Road"
"Born to Run"
"Dancing in the Dark"
"American Land"

Friday, October 26, 2007

D'Souza: Debunking Atheists

By David Limbaugh
Friday, October 26, 2007

My goal here is to convince as many of you as possible to read Dinesh D'Souza's compelling new book, "What's So Great About Christianity."

Since I wrote my book chronicling the war against Christianity in our culture, many atheists have come out of the closet to admit their hostility toward Christianity and formally declare war against it.

Anti-Christian books have cropped up like alien pods in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," not only disputing Christianity but arguing that it is a societally destructive force.

I have often lamented that too many Christians have opted out of the culture wars, for varying reasons. Some are apathetic; others mistakenly believe that the biblical injunction to rejoice in their persecution also means we should roll over and surrender. Still others grossly underestimate the stakes involved and the fierce determination of their opponents.

Dinesh D'Souza is not among the AWOL Christians. And, unlike some other Christian apologists, he meets the enemy on his own turf, confronting and deconstructing his arguments rather than merely reciting Scripture that might be intelligible only to "the choir."

He presents a comprehensive yet concise apologetic of the Christian faith, facing head-on and answering the nagging intellectual obstacles to faith, not least the problem of human suffering. He also affirms the reliability of Scripture, the historicity of Jesus, the overwhelming proof of His resurrection and the uniqueness of Christ and the Christian religion.

But this book is more than the traditional, theological apologetic. It also contains a robust defense of Christianity's positive influence in history and debunks the revisionist disinformation condemning the religion.

"Christianity is the very root and foundation of Western civilization." Because of its premise that man is created in God's image, Christianity is foundational to our firm belief in man's dignity and our higher notions of morality, even many the secularists have plagiarized as their own. D'Souza warns that we cannot remove the Christian foundation without, ultimately, removing its values along with it.

Indeed, D'Souza shatters the fable that Christianity is responsible for most of the atrocities through the ages and documents that atheist regimes have been responsible for exponentially more deaths in the last few decades than have Christian regimes throughout history.

He also exposes the illogic of atheism's claim to moral superiority when it can't even offer a rational explanation for man's moral component. Nor can atheism explain man's consciousness. Apart from God, there is no accounting for either conscience or consciousness.

D'Souza also conclusively refutes the secularists' widely believed myths that Christianity is the enemy of reason and science. Christianity gave rise to modern science, and most of the world's great scientists have been Christians.

Christians believe that God set man apart from other beings, giving him "a spark of divine reason" and the special power of apprehending His creation. This eminently rational God created an orderly universe whose mysteries could be unveiled through application of man's reason, his "faith in the possibility of science."

D'Souza explains why science didn't flourish in other relatively sophisticated cultures, like ancient and medieval China. "There was no confidence that the code of nature's laws could ever be unveiled and read because there was no assurance that a divine being, even more rational than ourselves, had ever formulated [a code of nature's laws] capable of being read."

D'Souza's approach is admirable because he doesn't allow himself to be on the defensive but aggressively highlights the weaknesses in atheistic thought and proves that professed intellectual objections to Christianity are often a cover for rebellion against Christian morality.

While atheists congratulate themselves for employing reason to follow the evidence "wherever it leads," D'Souza shows that their presuppositions, including their "unwavering commitment to naturalism and materialism," sometimes inhibit their objective inquiry.

It's one thing for scientists to define science in such a way as to exclude the supernatural -- one of the secularists' rationales for opposing the introduction of intelligent design theory into the classroom. But it's altogether another for secular scientists to use science as "a complete framework for understanding man and the universe." It is completely nonsensical and dogmatic to say God is beyond the scope of scientific inquiry and then proceed to use science to promote an atheistic worldview.

It is impossible to do this book justice in a short review. But please trust me that it is an indispensable ally for the Christian in defending his faith -- historically and doctrinally. But it is also tailor-made for any open-minded skeptics among us who might be surprised by the clarity, intelligence, depth and inviting gentleness D'Souza brings to these unsurpassably important issues. I strongly encourage you to buy it -- and read it from cover to cover.

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party.

Why Mattingly Matters
2007-10-25 09:58by Alex Belth

Over the past several years, I've had more than a few skeptical out-of-towners ask me why Don Mattingly is such a big deal in New York. On a superficial level, it's like asking a Cubs fan why Ernie Banks, or Ryne Sandburg are popular in Chicago: they were all great players on losing teams. Okay, so Mattingly didn't have a great career, but from 1984-1989 he was a great player. It doesn't matter that he isn't a Hall of Famer. Hey, most fans just love guys who hit for a high average and drive in runs without striking out much.

As Joe Posnanski wrote in an e-mail:

He wore the pinstripes, and played Gehrig's position, and he was all throwback -- he wore that black under his eye, and he had that great swing, he came to the park to beat you ever day. I think he's one of those guys who, had he played in Boston, Cleveland, Texas, Philadelphia, Seattle, anywhere, would have still been everybody's favorite ballplayer. There really was nothing phony about him. He went up there to hit. He stood off the plate, he walked shockingly little, he drove in bleeping runs. Guy hit .314 with runners in scoring position.

I always got the feeling from friends that Mattingly was the coveted, "One Yankees player you really wish was on your team." Not because he was good, but because he was a player you liked despite yourself.

The second half of Mattingly's career was marked by injuries. He also played through some awful years in the Bronx, which helped increase his popularity, but the legend of Donnie Baseball started in his first full year (1984) when he won the batting crown on the last day of the season, and the following year when he walked away with the AL MVP. It is also rooted in the fact that Mattingly was an overachiever--he was a heady player with limited physical gifts, a grinder, just the kind of player fans love, especially white fans.

"By the time his career is over," said Ron Guidry in the spring of 1986, "he could be one of the best who ever played this game. He may not turn out to be quite what Lou Gehrig was, but he'll be closer than anybody else."

"His play, not his words, were the thing," says BP's Joe Sheehan. "He was a beacon of dignity in a time when the Yankees were largely undignified."

Mattingly arrived on the scene as the Yankees were spiraling into George's version of Groundhog's Day. The Yankees annually discarded young players for big-name, big-ticket free agents. You remember the names--Kemp, Collins, Clark. Through it all, Mattingly was driven, confident and without pretense--"100% ballplayer, 0% bullsh**," as Bill James later wrote.

Mattingly was the best young Yankee since Mickey Mantle, and like Mantle had the country-boy-in-the-big-city appeal. But he was no dope. He paid his dues on the infamous Columbus Shuttle. "It's good that it didn't all come so easy," Mattingly once told Sports Illustrated. "One thing I can say about the Yankees: They've never given me a thing."

After his MVP season, Steinbrenner haggled with Mattingly before avoiding arbitration and signing him to a one year, $1.375 million deal. Mattingly tweaked the owner at a Super Bowl banquet by showing up wearing sunglasses and a headband that read, "Steinbrenner." (Mattingly was paying homage to Chicago Bears quarterback, Jim McMahon, who famously wore headbands with new slogans each week that season.)

Two years later, Mattingly said, "You come here and you play and you get no respect. They treat you like sh**. They belittle your performance and make you look bad in the media. After they give you the money, it doesn't matter. They can do whatever they want. They think money is respect."

It's not hard to tell who Mattingly was talking about and his willingness to stand-up to Steinbrenner only increased his reputation with the fans. (When The Boss gave Mattingly grief about the length of his hair, Mattingly grew it longer.)

Best of all, Mattingly loved to work.

"I love to watch him practice," Gene Mauch said when he was managing the Angels. "He's very serious during infield, never wastes a swing in the cage. From there on I don't want to look at him."

Just yesterday, Mike Gallego recalled a favorite Mattingly story to Joel Sherman. It was 8 a.m. The Yankees had played a game the night before and had another game that afternoon. Mattingly was alone in the batting cage with about 200 balls littered around the cage:

"Donnie had no idea I was there," said Gallego, now the Rockies' third base coach. "I watched for 20 minutes. He was sweating bullets and all he was doing was tracking the ball. No swings. None. He'd watch all 200, put the balls back in a bucket, feed the machine and start again. He had been having trouble seeing the ball and there he was, the most famous player in the game, hours before the game, alone, retrieving his own balls, looking for an edge. I tell that story to our players now when they think they are working hard enough and they aren't."

Gallego loves the story, in part, because he admires Mattingly so much and thinks it depicts the man. Not just the diligent work ethic. But the humility. The discipline. The grinder makeup. And something else that, Gallego asserts, you could only know if you were observant around Mattingly.

"He is one of the quietest, fiercest competitors that I have ever played with or against," Gallego said. "And he has great belief in himself. He thinks he will find a way to beat you. But he is not going to talk about it. He is not going to tell you how hard he is working or brag on his ability."

In the summer of 1990, Mattingly was struggling and the Yankees had just about hit rock bottom. Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield were gone. Mattingly was the last Yankee, according to an article by Paul Solotaroff in The National Sports Daily (the piece can be found in Glenn Stout's excellent collection, Top of the Heap):

"My place in Yankee history?" sniggers Donald Arthur Mattingly. "I'll tell you what my place in Yankee history is. It's hitting .260 on a struggling ballclub, and letting everyone down in here. At the moment, I don't exactly feel too much a part of Ruth or Gehrig or DiMaggio.

...It's pretty ugly, to tell you the truth. What they need to do is get rid of anyone who doesn't care. I take it home every night, and some guys just leave it. That ticks me off, to see a guy laughing and joking around when we lose...You don't want any of those kind of guys on your team."

So, what kind of manager will Mattingly be? I asked a bunch of friends and colleagues yesterday and the response were decidedly mixed. I have no idea how he'll do. I was not especially into the idea until a few days ago. I don't know what turned me around exactly. Maybe I'm just being nostalgic for the Mattingly of my youth, the one who mattered so much to us. Who knows? Point is, I won't be upset if he gets the nod. In fact, I'll be eager to see how he does.

Hey, think he can get Zimmer to be his bench coach?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ann Coulter: Have You Hugged an Islamo-Fascist Today?

A masked insurgent carries a police flak jacket and rocket propelled grenade launcher after a police station was attacked in Mosul November 11, 2004.
October 25, 2007

College liberals are in a fit of pique because various speakers are coming to their campuses this week as part of David Horowitz's Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week – not to be confused with Islamo-Fascism Appreciation Week, which I believe is in April.
Apparently, liberals support Islamo-fascism.

The Democratic leadership might want to have a powwow with their base because I believe their public position is to pretend to oppose Islamic fascism.

Elected Democrats at least make empty rhetorical gestures about opposing Islamic fascism. Of course, amidst their nonspecific condemnations of Islamic terrorism, they make very specific demands that we genuflect before Islam and perform exotic fetishes on the fascists.

Liberals believe in burning the American flag, urinating on crucifixes and passing out birth control pills to 11-year-olds without telling their parents – but God forbid an infidel touch a Quran at Guantanamo.

College campuses across the nation are installing foot baths to accommodate Muslims' daily bathing ritual, while surgically removing the Ten Commandments from every public space in America. Maybe the Ten Commandments could be printed on towels and kept next to the foot baths.

The National Council for Social Studies recommended a lesson plan after 9/11 that included a story titled "My Name Is Osama" about a nasty little white boy, "Todd," who taunts a fine upstanding Iraqi immigrant named "Osama." Go ahead, laugh it up – we'll see who's laughing when "My Name Is Osama" ends up on ABC's prime-time lineup next year.

This story was proposed in response to an event in which Muslims with names like "Osama" committed the most massive hate crime in U.S. history against 3,000 innocent civilians with names like "Todd."

Still and all, Democrats who seek the votes of their fellow Americans continue to claim in a vague, meaningless way to oppose Islamo-fascism.

And then when speakers like Cyrus Nowrasteh, the writer and producer of the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11," and Nonie Darwish, whose father founded the Fedayeen, show up on college campuses to criticize Islamic terrorism, the Democratic base threatens to riot. The only thing that makes the cut-and-run crowd mad enough to fight is the idea that someone, somewhere might be criticizing radical Islam.

Consequently, the speakers for Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week require the sort of security phalanx one would expect for someone more like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Oh wait – no. Ahmadinejad was cheered by college students a few weeks ago – at least until he expressed reservations about sodomy. (On the basis of Ahmadinejad's claims, instead of looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, how about we start looking for gays in Iran?)

Even American intellectuals like Dennis Prager and Michael Medved who are speaking during Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week are denounced by liberals as if they were David Duke. One pro-Islamo-fascism website indicts Medved on the grounds that he "has claimed that Islam has a 'special violence problem.'" It doesn't get much more diplomatic than that.

Conservative speakers are constantly being physically attacked on college campuses – including Bill Kristol, Pat Buchanan, David Horowitz and me, among others. Fortunately, the attackers are Democrats, so they throw like girls and generally end up with their noses bloodied by pretty college coeds. But that doesn't make it right.

Michael Moore can waddle anywhere he wants in America without fear of violence from Republicans. But we still have to hear about every testy e-mail Paul Krugman ever receives as if liberals are living in the black night of fascism. Any time Krugman wants to get into a "Most Vicious Hate Mail" contest, just say the word. You don't hear me sniffling.

Congressional Democrats are constantly calling for conservative private citizens to be silenced. Even Democratic candidates for president and their wives are getting in on the act.

A few weeks ago, in the midst of Senate Democrats' demand that Rush Limbaugh's microphone be silenced, Lizzie Edwards distracted herself from the latest National Enquirer by announcing on Air America that Limbaugh's draft deferment was phony.

I was pretty shocked. Who knew Air America was still on the air?

I know every time Democrats call for me to be silenced, I feel a delicious surge of martyrdom. For a brief moment, I understand the thrill the left gets by going around claiming to be victimized all the time.

I could almost imagine a poem:

First they came for Rush Limbaugh, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't Rush Limbaugh;

And then they came for Ann Coulter, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't Ann Coulter;

And then they came for David Horowitz, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't David Horowitz;

And then ... they came for me ... And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

Liberals claim to be terrified that the religious right is going to take over the culture in a country where more than a million babies are exterminated every year, kindergarteners can be expelled from school for mentioning God, and Islamic fascists are welcomed on college campuses while speakers opposed to Islamic fascism are met with angry protests.

If liberals want to face real fascism, try showing up on a college campus and denouncing fascism.

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Raymond Ibrahim: A Tale of Two Cult Classics

The Al Qaeda Reader and Mein Kampf.
October 24, 2007 4:00 AM

1925 Copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf

A number of book reviewers have recently pointed to the similarities between The Al Qaeda Reader and Mein Kampf. For instance, writing in the New York Observer, James Buchan notes that,

In their [al Qaeda’s] brutality and candor, their fulminations against democracy and loose morals, their obsession with territory, their finicky racism and absolute disdain for the material needs of the public, these documents are a strange echo of Hitler’s writings from prison.

Writing for Slate, however, Reza Aslan disagrees:

The comparison between the scattered declarations of a cult leader [bin Laden] literally dwelling in a cave and the political treatise of the commander in chief of one of the 20th century's most powerful nations [Hitler] may be imprecise, to say the least…. [W]hether a hodgepodge of interviews, declarations, and exegetical arguments can be read as a sort of jihadist manifesto is debatable. While these writings provide readers with page after page of, for example, arcane legal debates over the moral permissibility of suicide bombing, they do not really get to the heart of what it is that al-Qaida wants, if it wants anything at all.

While the suggestion that al Qaeda might not “want anything at all” may incline one to dismiss Aslan’s entire critique as puerile, he does raise an important question: In what respects is The Al Qaeda Reader truly similar to Mein Kampf? Conversely, how do the two volumes differ?

Before analyzing these questions, however, it is imperative to point out that, contrary to Aslan’s historical conflations, Hitler did not write Mein Kampf while he was “commander in chief of one of the 20th century’s most powerful nations.” In reality, when Hitler wrote his manifesto, he was a political prisoner, the failed leader of the infamous “Beer Hall Putsch” of 1923. It would be nearly another decade before he would come into power.

In fact, the circumstantial similarities surrounding the writings of Hitler and al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri are more akin than not. Hitler was a prisoner; al Qaeda’s leaders are fugitives. While in prison, Hitler was a popular figure — a “cult leader” — inundated by nationalistic fan mail. Bin Laden is an icon in many parts of the Islamic world, a world which, though impoverished, refuses to relinquish this “hijacker” of their religion for 50 million dollars, and which has made “Osama,” once an arcane Arabic name, second only to Mohammed in popularity for newborn Muslim boys in countries like Pakistan. Consequently, if history is any instructor, should an Islamist state of “caliphatic” proportions ever come into being in the near future, it should come as no great surprise if bin Laden or Zawahiri — or, more likely, one of their countless associates — were to emerge from their caves and assume command.

But to the pressing question: How is The Al Qaeda Reader similar to Mein Kampf? A single sentence from the introduction of the 1999 edition of Mein Kampf, published by Mariner Books, goes a long way in answering this question: “He [Hitler] had made his ultimate goals clear in Mein Kampf as early as 1926: rearmament, the abolition of democracy, territorial expansion, eugenics, the ‘elimination’ of the ‘Jewish threat.’”

The Al Qaeda Reader dwells on, if not obsesses over, four of these same five “ultimate goals” of Hitler — everything but eugenics, which is a temporal byproduct of 19th century pseudo-scientific racial theories. But al Qaeda’s writings certainly dwell on dealing with the “Jewish threat,” overthrowing the “pagan religion” of democracy, both territorial re-conquests (from Palestine to Andalusia) and territorial expansion (to the whole world), as well as rearmament. Even more telling, the “fascistic” tone of Mein Kampf — ridicule and contempt for modernity and peace, praise for heroism and martyrdom, condemnation of promiscuity and lax mores — saturates The Al Qaeda Reader. Indeed, that there are many similarities is best represented by the fact that the German words “mein kampf” translate to “jihad-i” — or, “my jihad” — in Arabic.

The introduction continues:

Mein Kampf may have been dismissed by the West when it was first published — it is largely a theoretical text, lacking an identifiable program for accomplishing the goals it describes — but here Hitler was taking concrete steps to realize his vision. Yet nothing was done.

This is ominously reminiscent of Aslan’s dismissive critique of the statements and writings of al Qaeda, where he questions “whether a hodgepodge of interviews, declarations, and exegetical arguments can be read as a sort of jihadist manifesto,” and that “there is in these writings an almost total lack of interest in providing any specific solution or policy.” So too was the weltanschauung of Mein Kampf dismissed as absurd and impractical (or, more euphemistically, as a “theoretical text, lacking an identifiable program for accomplishing the goals it describes”). Yet who can doubt its subsequent, and most horrific, influence? In like manner, jihadists the world over are taking steps to realize their vision — murky as it may be, and bloody as it certainly will be should it ever come to fruition.


What follows are similar quotes and excerpts from Mein Kampf (MK) and The Al Qaeda Reader (AQR), arranged thematically in order to illustrate the many parallels between both books. I have taken the liberty of italicizing key words and adding clarifications in brackets to better highlight the similarities.

“The Jew”

It is almost pointless quoting hostile excerpts from either book directed against the Jews, since practically every other — or, in some sections, every — page of both books makes some sort of anti-Semitic remark, ranging from the hackneyed to the genocidal. The word “Jew” (and other variants) occurs separately in both The Al Qaeda Reader and Mein Kampf some 250 times. Witness, however, the similar treatment of the Jewish people in the following small sampling from both books:

MK: “Hence today I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord,” p. 65.

AQR: “You should know that seeking to kill Americans and Jews everywhere in the world is one of the greatest duties [for Muslims], and the good deed most preferred by Allah, the Exalted,” p.270.

MK: “People who can sneak their way into the rest of mankind like drones, to make other men work for them under all sorts of pretexts, can form states even without any definitely delimited living space of their own. This applies first and foremost to a people under who parasitism the whole of honest humanity is suffering, today more than ever: the Jews,” p. 150. “He [“the Jew”] begins to lend money and as always at usurious interest…. He regards commerce as well as all financial transactions as his own special privilege which he ruthlessly exploits,” p.309 “From the publisher down [i.e., the media world], they were all Jews,” p.61.

AQR: “You [America] are a nation that permits usury, though it has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, thereby taking control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life, making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense — precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against,” p.203.

MK: “When over long periods of human history I scrutinized the activity of the Jewish people, suddenly there rose up in me the fearful question whether inscrutable Destiny, perhaps for reasons unknown to us poor mortals, did not with eternal and immutable resolve, desire the final victory of this little nation [“Jewry”]. Was it possible that the earth had been promised as a reward to this people which lives only for this earth?” p.64.

AQR: “Come let me [bin Laden] tell you who the Jews are. The Jews have lied about the Creator, and even more so about His creations. The Jews are the murderers of the prophets, the violators of agreements…. These are the Jews: usurers and whoremongers. They will leave you nothing, neither this world nor religion.... Such are the Jews who, in accordance with their religion, believe that human beings are their slaves and that those who refuse [to recognize this] should be put to death,” p.277.


Hitler constantly criticized (and, when he came into power, finally abolished) democracy as totally contrary to Nature. So too with al Qaeda leaders. In fact, while democracy is berated in a sporadic fashion throughout The Al Qaeda Reader, a more formal treatise, written by Ayman Zawahiri and devoted to showing how democracy is antithetical to Islam, is also included. Another interesting parallel is how both Hitler and al Qaeda leaders portray democracy as a tool of Zionists, or, “international Jewry.”

MK: “A wild gesticulating mass [parliament] screaming all at once in every different key…. I couldn’t help laughing,” p.77.

AQR: “Is there any greater mockery than withholding sharia, or superimposing another [law] over it, or putting together a piece of paper and presenting it to the so-called ‘people’s council’ — whoever agrees agrees, whoever disagrees disagrees — deeming this the only way to govern?” p.123.

MK: “And that is why this type of democracy has become the instrument of that race which in its inner goals must shun the light of day, now and in all ages of the future. Only the Jew can praise an institution [democracy] which is as dirty and false as he himself,” p.91.

AQR: “You [Americans] elect the wicked from among you, the greatest liars and most depraved, and you are enslaved to the wealthiest and most influential [among you], especially the Jews — who direct you through the lie of ‘democracy,’” p.210.

MK: “By rejecting the authority of the individual and replacing it by the numbers of some momentary mob, the parliamentary principle of majority rule sins against the basic aristocratic principle of Nature…” p.81.

AQR: “Know that democracy, that is, ‘rule of the people,’ is a new religion that deifies the masses by giving them the right to legislate without being shackled down to any other authority…. [D]emocracy is a man-made infidel religion, devised to give the right to legislate to the masses — as opposed to Islam, where all legislative rights belong to Allah Most High: He has no partners,” p.130.


While Hitler complained about trying to reunite former German lands to reclaim the (nebulous) borders of ancient Germania in Mein Kampf, he occasionally let slip his true sentiments of world conquest. The same is true with al Qaeda: while constantly bemoaning the lot of Palestine — as well as Kashmir, Chechnya, Bosnia et al — in their writings, which were never meant to be read by non-Muslims, they make clear that, with time and strength, they mean to conquer the world in the name of Islam. In fact, the fundamental difference between both sets of writings is that al Qaeda’s worldview is much more assertive and wholly devoid of subtleties.

MK: “For as matters stand there are at the present time on this earth immense areas of unused soil, only waiting for the men to till them. But it is equally true that Nature as such has not reserved this soil for the future possession of any particular nation or race; on the contrary, this soil exists for the people which possesses the force to take it and industry to cultivate it,” p.134

AQR: “In fact, Muslims are obligated to raid the lands of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their systems of governance for an Islamic system, barring any practice that contradicts the sharia from being publicly voiced among the people, as was the case at the dawn of Islam,” p. 51.

MK: “What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherlands, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe [i.e., lordship of the world],” p. 214.

AQR: “Warfare against infidels, loyalty to the believers, and jihad in the path of Allah: Such is a course of action that all who are vigilant for the triumph of Islam should vie in, giving and sacrificing in the cause of liberating the lands of the Muslims, making Islam supreme in its own land, and then spreading it around the world,” p.113.

MK: “If land was desired in Europe, it could be obtained by and large only at the expense of Russia, and this meant that the new Reich must again set itself on the march along the road of the Teutonic Knights of old, to obtain by the German sword sod for the German plow and daily bread for the nation,” p.140.

AQR: “Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam: either willing submission; or payment of the jizya [tribute], through physical though not spiritual submission to the authority of Islam; or the sword — for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live,” p.42.

MK: “If our forefathers had let their decisions depend on the same pacifistic nonsense as our contemporaries, we should possess only a third of our present territory,” p.139.

AQR: “What did the Prophet, the Companions after him, and the righteous forefathers do? Did they wage jihad against the infidels, attacking them all over the earth, in order to place them under the suzerainty of Islam in great humility and submission? Or did they send messages to discover ‘shared understandings’ between themselves and the infidels in order that they may reach an understanding whereby universal peace, security, and natural relations would spread [i.e., Hitler’s “pacifistic nonsense”] — in such a satanic manner as this?” p.31.

Heroism, Self-Sacrifice, and Warrior-Pride:

Talk of the heroic, martyr-seeking warrior, as well as the real or mythical Teutonic and Islamic “golden eras,” meant to inspire, saturate the writings of both Hitler and al Qaeda.

MK: “If the struggle for a philosophy [or religion] is not led by heroes prepared to make sacrifices, there will, in a short time, cease to be any warriors willing to die,” p.105.

AQR: “[Mohammed said:] In order that the people [Muslims] have a livelihood, it is best that they have a man who holds on to the reigns of his horse [i.e., a “hero” or “warrior”], battling in the way of Allah. He flies upon [his horse’s] back every time he hears the call or alarm, wishing for death or expecting to be slain,” p.146.

MK: “As soon as the Pan-German movement [compare to “Islamist movements”] sold its soul to parliament, it attracted “parliamentarians” instead of leaders and fighters. Thus it sank to the level of the ordinary political parties of the day and lost the strength to oppose catastrophic destiny with the defiance of martyrdom. Instead of fighting, it now learned to make speeches and ‘negotiate,” p.105.

AQR: “Not only have the [Muslim] Brothers [the “godfather” of all Islamist movements] been idle from fulfilling their duty of [waging] jihad, but they have gone as far as to describe the infidel governments as legitimate, and have joined ranks with them them in the[ir] jahilliya [pagan style of] governing, that is, democracies, elections, and parliaments. Moreover, they take advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervor by bringing them into their fold only to store them in a refrigerator. Then, they steer their onetime passionate Islamic zeal for jihad against tyranny toward conferences and elections,” p.116.

MK: No one can doubt that this world will some day be exposed to the severest struggles [literally, a “jihad”] for the existence of mankind. In the end, only the urge for self-preservation can conquer. Beneath it, so-called humanity, the expression of a mixture of stupidity, cowardice, and know-it-all conceit, will melt like snow in the March sun. Mankind has grown great in struggle [jihad], and only in eternal peace does it perish,” p.135.

AQR: “[Mohammad said:] Because you have forsaken jihad, taking hold of cows’ tails and dealing in merchandise, Allah has adorned you with shame and you will never be able to shake it off yourselves until you repent to Allah and return to your original positions [as jihadists],” p.162.

The Perils of Debauchery, Decadence, and Passivism

Both Hitler and al Qaeda leaders constantly denounce(d) the decadence of modernity, which, as usual, is always attributed to exploitative Jews, while simultaneously warning against the volk’s or umma’s passivity.

MK: “The relation of the Jews to prostitution and, even more, to the white-slave traffic, could be studied in Vienna…. When thus for the first time I recognized the Jew as the cold-hearted, shameless, and calculating director of this revolting vice traffic in the scum of the big city, a cold shudder ran down my back,” p.59. “Only now did I become thoroughly acquainted with the seducer of our people,” p.61.

AQR: “[T]he Jews have taken control of your [Americans] economy, thereby taking control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life... You are a nation that permits acts of immorality…. You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools… You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments are built on this [commodity], under the name of ‘art, entertainment, tourism, and freedom,’” p.203-204.

MK: “It seemed as though a continuous stream of poison was being driven into the outermost blood-vessels of this once heroic body [the German nation] by a mysterious power [Jews], and was inducing progressively greater paralysis of sound reason and the simple instinct of self-preservation,” p.154.

AQR: “And the most dangerous of these groups are those that cloak themselves in the garb of Islam and its summons [i.e., “moderates” and “hypocrites”], worming their way into the umma’s beliefs, mind, and heart. They are like a lethal bacteria trying to overcome the human immune system, trying to destroy it to sow corruption in the cells of the human body,” p.104.

MK: “In exactly the same way, our German pacifist will accept in silence the bloodiest rape of our nation at the hands of the most vicious military powers if a change in this state of affairs can be achieved only by resistance — that is, force — for this would be contrary to the spirit of his peace society,” p.112.

AQR: “But what does amaze us from some who claim to adhere to Islam is that when the infidels attack and ridicule their religion, openly advertising it as a “Crusade” against Islam, we suddenly find them responding by saying that they do not crave war but instead they desire coexistence, universal peace, and justice….Does this not count as a defeat? Is it not a perversion of the Islam of Mohammed?” p.23-24.

No to International Unity, Yes to (Re-)Armament

The predecessor of the U.N., the League of Nations, was constantly criticized by Hitler as a silly and impotent concept. In similar fashion, al Qaeda condemns the U.N. as a nefarious organization bent on subjugating Islam. Hitler and al Qaeda instead opt to (re-) arm the fatherland and umma, respectively.

MK: “[E]nsnared by all the enthusiastic tirades, they [Germans] thought they could entrust their future to a League of Nations? Did it not help to teach our people a miserable morality? Did it not ridicule morality and ethics as backward and petty-bourgeois, until our people finally became ‘modern,’”? p.243.

AQR: [T]he United Nations and their humanistic articles…revolve around three principles: equality, freedom, and justice. Nor do they mean equality, freedom, and justice as was revealed by the Prophet Mohammed. No, they mean the West’s despicable notions, which we see today in America and Europe, and which have made the people like cattle. Verily, Allah described them well: “They are like cattle — indeed! They are more misguided, for they are heedless” [7:179], p.26. “In brief, the United Nations, through the eyes of Islam, is essentially a hegemonic organization of universal infidelity: [a true Muslim] is not permitted to join or have recourse to it. It exists in order to prevent rule by sharia and to guarantee submission to the rule of five of the greatest criminals on earth [U.S., Russia, China, France, and Britain],” p.102.

MK: “We must clearly realize the fact that the recovery of the lost territories is not won through solemn appeals to the Lord or through pious hopes in a League of Nations, but only by force of arms, [bold in the original]” p.627. “Today I am guided only by the sober realization that lost territories are not won back by sharp parliamentary big-mouths and their glibness of tongue, but by a sharp sword; in other words, by a bloody fight,” p.629.

AQR: “[T]he U.N. is part of the Crusader kingdom, over which reigns the Caesar in Washington, who pays the salaries of Koffi Annan and his like,” p. 178. “Muslims in general and Iraqis in particular, must brace themselves for jihad against this unjust campaign, and be vigilant in acquiring ammunition and weapons. This is a prescribed duty upon them. Allah Most High said: ‘[L]et them take precautions and bear arms; for the infidels desire that you may be careless of your arms and your luggage, so that they may then turn upon you with a sudden united attack’ [4:102], ” p.247.


There should be little doubt at this point, of how similar the worldview delineated in The Al Qaeda Reader is to that of Mein Kampf’s: Jews, democracy, peace, modernity and decadence, and the notion of a peaceful “United Nations” are anathema to both. Conversely, authoritarianism, self-sacrificing heroism and martyrdom, military pride and prowess, and, above all, a zeal for world conquest — rationalized for both as a “divine mission” — are idealized.

That said, the two books still do differ, in certain respects. For starters, only one man — Hitler — authored Mein Kampf, whereas two authored The Al Qaeda Reader (bin Laden and Zawahiri). Furthermore, Mein Kampf is a complete text, whereas I played the role of editor for The Al Qaeda Reader, selecting which texts to include and how to organize them at my own discretion.

The most obvious difference, of course, is the ultimate goal of both books — Aryan supremacy for Mein Kampf, Islamic supremacy for The Al Qaeda Reader; the one a secular enterprise, the other a religious enterprise. (Still, all the key words and ideologies present in Mein Kampf have their natural counterparts in The Al Qaeda Reader. In other words, both books present a similar paradigm.)

Another difference between the two books is the fact that al Qaeda’s tone is actually much more brutal and direct than Hitler’s. One can almost sense the “romantic” in Mein Kampf — a deluded Goethe lamenting the mediocrity of a world that shuns his greatness. Expansion is rationalized only in order to “till the earth” and earn the people’s “daily bread.” In contrast, al Qaeda unequivocally declares its intentions to kill infidels, kill Americans, and kill Jews anywhere and everywhere, until the earth and all its inhabitants submit to Islam. This contrast is underpinned by the fact that Mein Kampf was written in the first person and revolves around Hitler’s personal life. Not so with The Al Qaeda Reader; though delineated by two men, the worldview presented therein is hardly influenced by their personal experiences.

Which leads to the most fundamental, albeit subtle, difference between Mein Kampf and The Al Qaeda Reader: the words contained in Mein Kampf belong to one man, Hitler, who was a byproduct of a particular age and temporal worldview. In contrast, perhaps as much as half of The Al Qaeda Reader’s words are quotations from 1) the Koran, 2) Mohammed (i.e., hadith), and 3) authoritative Islamic theologians — in other words, half of the statements of The Al Qaeda Reader do not originate with al Qaeda at all, but rather find their origin in Islam itself.

Fully aware of their lack of official religious credentials, bin Laden and Zawahiri have made it a point to ground their arguments in Islam’s most authoritative texts. Even the exegeses they rely upon, comes from some of the most renowned Islamic theologians. The result is that the worldview presented in The Al Qaeda Reader is not so much al Qaeda’s idiosyncratic view of things, but rather the traditional worldview of Islam. For example, al Qaeda’s insistence that Islam must one day rule the world is not of their own making: based on several Koranic verses (e.g., 2:193, 2:216, 8:39, 9:5, 9:29) and numerous hadith, which in no uncertain terms preach world conquest, the theologians and articulators of sharia law determined a long time ago that the “Abode of Islam” must always (except when militarily incapable) be at war with the “Abode of War” (e.g., the West) until the former subsumes the latter.

Similarly, al Qaeda’s condemnation of democracy is fully grounded in Islam’s unambiguous requirement that the faithful submit to sharia — that is, Allah’s — law (e.g. Koran: 3:64, 5:50, 17:9, 18:26, 33:36, 42:10), giving credence to Zawahiri’s proclamation that “whoever claims to be a ‘democratic-Muslim’ or a Muslim who calls for democracy, is like one who says about himself ‘I am a Jewish Muslim,’ or ‘I am a Christian Muslim’ — the one worse than the other. He is an apostate infidel.”

As for the Jews, much more unflattering and slanderous accusations are set against them in Islam’s most authoritative texts than in any of the above quotations from al Qaeda (for example, Koran 2:61 and 3:112). While Hitler portrayed Jews as “no lovers of water” who could be detected “with your eyes closed,” the Koran gives an account of rebellious Jews being transformed into apes and swine (see 2:65, 5:60, 7:166) — appellations still popular in parts of the Islamic world. Indeed, anyone who goes through Andrew Bostom’s upcoming tome, The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism, will confront nearly 1,000 pages of anti-Semitism straight from Islam’s most authoritative sources: the Koran, the hadith, and the fatwas and treatises of the theologians.

In the final analysis, the theological aspects of The Al Qaeda Reader make it a much more disturbing read than something like Mein Kampf. That the ideologies presented in Mein Kampf are ultimately traced back to a man, whereas many of the ideologies of The Al Qaeda Reader are traced back to Mohammed and Allah — transforming ideologies to theology — is a great matter. Man-made ideologies can always be discredited and allotted to the dustbins of history. Ideologies grounded in theologies, however, are not so easily dismantled, for they are grounded in the Immutable and simply must apply — yesterday, today, and tomorrow — regardless of all outward evidence to the contrary. To reject them is to reject the commandments of God and fall into a state of infidelity, though to accept them in this case is a human tragedy.

— Raymond Ibrahim is editor of The Al Qaeda Reader.

Media myths about the Jena 6

A local journalist tells the story you haven't heard.

By Craig Franklin

Christian Science Monitor
from the October 24, 2007 edition

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco announces durign a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007 in Baton Rouge, La., that LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters will not appeal a court decision to have Jena Six defendant Mycal Bell tried in juvenile court.

Jena, La.: By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests – the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics.

There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.

The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side's statements – the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they'd read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.

The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It's time to set the record straight.

Myth 1: The Whites-Only Tree. There has never been a "whites-only" tree at Jena High School. Students of all races sat underneath this tree. When a student asked during an assembly at the start of school last year if anyone could sit under the tree, it evoked laughter from everyone present – blacks and whites. As reported by students in the assembly, the question was asked to make a joke and to drag out the assembly and avoid class.

Myth 2: Nooses a Signal to Black Students. An investigation by school officials, police, and an FBI agent revealed the true motivation behind the placing of two nooses in the tree the day after the assembly. According to the expulsion committee, the crudely constructed nooses were not aimed at black students. Instead, they were understood to be a prank by three white students aimed at their fellow white friends, members of the school rodeo team. (The students apparently got the idea from watching episodes of "Lonesome Dove.") The committee further concluded that the three young teens had no knowledge that nooses symbolize the terrible legacy of the lynchings of countless blacks in American history. When informed of this history by school officials, they became visibly remorseful because they had many black friends. Another myth concerns their punishment, which was not a three-day suspension, but rather nine days at an alternative facility followed by two weeks of in-school suspension, Saturday detentions, attendance at Discipline Court, and evaluation by licensed mental-health professionals. The students who hung the nooses have not publicly come forward to give their version of events.

Myth 3: Nooses Were a Hate Crime. Although many believe the three white students should have been prosecuted for a hate crime for hanging the nooses, the incident did not meet the legal criteria for a federal hate crime. It also did not meet the standard for Louisiana's hate-crime statute, and though widely condemned by all officials, there was no crime to charge the youths with.

Myth 4: DA's Threat to Black Students. When District Attorney Reed Walters spoke to Jena High students at an assembly in September, he did not tell black students that he could make their life miserable with "the stroke of a pen." Instead, according to Walters, "two or three girls, white girls, were chit-chatting on their cellphones or playing with their cellphones right in the middle of my dissertation. I got a little irritated at them and said, 'Pay attention to me. I am right now having to deal with an aggravated rape case where I've got to decide whether the death penalty applies or not.' I said, 'Look, I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. With the stroke of a pen I can make your life miserable so I want you to call me before you do something stupid.'"

Mr. Walters had been called to the assembly by police, who had been at the school earlier that day dealing with some students who were causing disturbances. Teachers and students have confirmed Walters's version of events.

Myth 5: The Fair Barn Party Incident. On Dec. 1, 2006, a private party – not an all-white party as reported – was held at the local community center called the Fair Barn. Robert Bailey Jr., soon to be one of the Jena 6, came to the party with others seeking admittance.

When they were denied entrance by the renter of the facility, a white male named Justin Sloan (not a Jena High student) at the party attacked Bailey and hit him in the face with his fist. This is reported in witness statements to police, including the victim, Robert Bailey, Jr.

Months later, Bailey contended he was hit in the head with a beer bottle and required stitches. No medical records show this ever occurred. Mr. Sloan was prosecuted for simple battery, which according to Louisiana law, is the proper charge for hitting someone with a fist.

Myth 6: The "Gotta-Go" Grocery Incident. On Dec. 2, 2006, Bailey and two other black Jena High students were involved in an altercation at this local convenience store, stemming from the incident that occurred the night before. The three were accused by police of jumping a white man as he entered the store and stealing a shotgun from him. The two parties gave conflicting statements to police. However, two unrelated eye witnesses of the event gave statements that corresponded with that of the white male.

Myth 7: The Schoolyard Fight. The event on Dec. 4, 2006 was consistently labeled a "schoolyard fight." But witnesses described something much more horrific. Several black students, including those now known as the Jena 6, barricaded an exit to the school's gym as they lay in wait for Justin Barker to exit. (It remains unclear why Mr. Barker was specifically targeted.)

When Barker tried to leave through another exit, court testimony indicates, he was hit from behind by Mychal Bell. Multiple witnesses confirmed that Barker was immediately knocked unconscious and lay on the floor defenseless as several other black students joined together to kick and stomp him, with most of the blows striking his head. Police speculate that the motivation for the attack was related to the racially charged fights that had occurred during the previous weekend.

Myth 8: The Attack Is Linked to the Nooses. Nowhere in any of the evidence, including statements by witnesses and defendants, is there any reference to the noose incident that occurred three months prior. This was confirmed by the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Donald Washington, on numerous occasions.

Myth 9: Mychal Bell's All-White Jury. While it is true that Mychal Bell was convicted as an adult by an all-white jury in June (a conviction that was later overturned with his case sent to juvenile court), the jury selection process was completely legal and withstood an investigation by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Court officials insist that several black residents were summoned for jury duty, but did not appear.

Myth 10: Jena 6 as Model Youth. While some members were simply caught up in the moment, others had criminal records. Bell had at least four prior violent-crime arrests before the December attack, and was on probation during most of this year.

Myth 11: Jena Is One of the Most Racist Towns in America. Actually, Jena is a wonderful place to live for both whites and blacks. The media's distortion and outright lies concerning the case have given this rural Louisiana town a label it doesn't deserve.

Myth 12: Two Levels of Justice. Outside protesters were convinced that the prosecution of the Jena 6 was proof of a racially biased system of justice. But the US Justice Department's investigation found no evidence to support such a claim. In fact, the percentage of blacks and whites prosecuted matches the parish's population statistics.

These are just 12 of many myths that are portrayed as fact in the media concerning the Jena cases. (A more thorough review of all events can be found at – click on Chronological Order of Events.)

As with the Duke Lacrosse case, the truth about Jena will eventually be known. But the town of Jena isn't expecting any apologies from the media. They will probably never admit their error and have already moved on to the next "big" story. Meanwhile in Jena, residents are getting back to their regular routines, where friends are friends regardless of race. Just as it has been all along.

• Craig Franklin is assistant editor of The Jena Times.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse: Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

This article originally appeared in AGAIN Vol. 29 No. 3, Fall 2007.

Almost thirty years ago Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn delivered an address at Harvard University that still ranks as one of the most trenchant and inspired critiques of Western culture ever given. Although some of the political references are dated, two observations remain as true today as when they were first spoken. The first is that the philosophical materialism that shaped communism and led to the Gulags now operates in the Western world. The second is that mankind stands at an anthropological threshold.

What is philosophical materialism? To use Solzhenitsyn's definition, it is the belief that man has no touchstone other than himself:

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging and evaluating everything on earth . . . we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

Philosophical materialism has concrete cultural ramifications. To social utopians, it means that persons have no enduring value -- so society can be forcibly arranged around notions of the common good. To hedonists, it means that the body is primarily a pleasure machine. To nihilists, it means that because the death of the body is also the end of existence, we should exalt death and violence.

These themes shaped much of the course of the last century. Solzhenitsyn had firsthand experience of Marxist social utopianism, but he was not the first to sound the alarm. Almost a century earlier, Dostoevsky heard the rumblings that would make Russia susceptible to communist tyranny and warned, "Without God, everything is permitted."

Prophets of the West

The Democratic West had its own literary prophets, who, while not steeped in Christianity as deeply as Solzhenitsyn or Dostoevsky, nevertheless understood the Christian moral tradition and thus were able to discern the cultural trends that Solzhenitsyn would express so clearly at Harvard years later.

One such visionary was George Orwell, who foresaw the tyranny of the social utopianism that follows when traditional notions of truth and virtue are supplanted, and confronted it in 1984. Another was Aldous Huxley, who, in his classic Brave New World, focused more on the elevation of pleasure and the senseless preoccupation with stimulation that would afflict culture once moral norms shifted. Neil Postman, in his brilliant Amusing Ourselves to Death, pointed out the differences between the two authors:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

As trenchant as Orwell's and Huxley's prophecies were, however, Solzhenitsyn's emerges as more compelling because of his explicit religious appeal. In locating the cultural calamities in the loss of an awareness of God, he shows the stance Christians -- particularly those who understand that current cultural conflicts require more than a political solution -- should take today.

The Anthropological Threshold

Mankind, said Solzhenitsyn (and here he means Christendom -- the culture that drew from the well of Judeo-Christian morality), stands on an anthropological threshold as significant as the shift from the medieval to the modern period:

If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.

"Anthropology" comes from the Greek word anthropos, which means "man." In theological terms, anthropology means what we understand the human person to be. It encompasses who he is, what he was created for, how he should comport himself -- all the constituents of man's existence that raise him above the animal, that define his purpose, that make meaning out of his relationships.

Consider Solzhenitsyn's exhortation in the questions facing us today, especially the looming issues concerning the advancements in medical technology. We have unlocked some secrets about human life that were unthinkable just a generation or two ago. Who would have thought we could map the human genome or grow organs from a single cell, as it appears may soon be the case? Who foresaw such advancements as locating and even correcting fetal abnormalities? Who guessed that we could extend life expectancy by decades in some cases?

These advancements are front and center for several reasons. First, they require us to answer foundational questions about the nature and value of the human person. These questions have not been answered, at least in terms that have achieved any kind of cultural consensus. Secondly, how they are answered will drive research and development in the future. Frankly, how we decide these questions will determine what kind of society we bequeath to our children and grandchildren.

These advancements are fraught with ethical difficulty. Is it wrong to test for Down's Syndrome in an unborn child? Is it wrong to extract stem cells from embryos? How far do our obligations to keep people alive really go? These types of questions are highly contentious, as any student of the culture knows. One thing we know for certain is that as our knowledge increases, the ethical questions concerning the nature and value of human life will become more numerous and complex -- and the contention is likely to increase.

The contention has been largely defined in political terms. Every reader is familiar with the hot-button conflicts -- teen sexuality, homosexual marriage, abortion, the Terri Schiavo dilemma -- that have been fought in the public arena. The political arena will always remain a venue for moral conflicts, but we sell ourselves short if we conclude that the political dimension is the arena where these questions will find their final resolution.

For Solzhenitsyn, spiritual development and self-awareness work hand-in-hand -- clearly a Christian value self-evident to any Orthodox Christian. But he also warns that because Western culture has been sidetracked into a philosophical materialism that has dimmed man's spiritual awareness, its future is threatened. The only way out of the present morass is spiritual renewal.
Solzhenitsyn experienced the ravages of the spiritual darkening firsthand, particularly during his eight years in a Soviet prison. There he received the fundamental insight that would propel his groundbreaking work: "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties -- but right through every human heart."

The timing of his Harvard speech couldn't have been better. His words fell on the ears of a nation that was already experiencing the wrenching dislocations of a cataclysmic shift in moral values and social order -- from the sexual revolution to riots in its cities -- in ways unprecedented in its history. At the same time, the wondrous -- and fearful -- unlocking of the deep mysteries of human nature was moving into full swing. America had entered a culture war.

The Anthropological Dimension of the Culture War

The culture war is fundamentally a conflict about anthropology -- how we value the human being, how we ought to define him, the purpose for his existence, what social arrangements society deems suitable for men and women, and so forth. And politics emerged as the prominent battlefield for the conflict.

Complex conflicts tend to drift toward simplification, and the culture war was no exception. Cultural liberalism and cultural conservatism roughly followed political lines: Democrats were liberal and Republicans were conservative. It wasn't a perfect fit, but even a big suit on a small man still covers his body.

No one has really been comfortable with the arrangement, except perhaps the activists. Adding to the discomfort is our characteristically American way of adjudicating moral conflict. American culture has no institution of moral judgment. We have no national Church, no council of legislative elders, and no final court of arbitration that can definitively resolve the perplexing moral questions that face us. As a result, the debates and political maneuverings that follow are often raucous and chaotic affairs.

There is wisdom in this system of apparent chaos, however. The Founding Fathers, in refusing to establish a central authority of moral judgment, ensured that these questions must be addressed by the culture itself, thereby affirming the precept, politics follows culture, in ways that inhibit any imposition of a final adjudication from the state.

This precept is also drawn from the Christian tradition. It is grounded in the notion that the power of the state draws not only from the consent of the people, but from a people grounded in the Christian moral tradition. Solzhenitsyn, again stressing the anthropological dimension, himself acknowledged this point in the Harvard address:

Yet in the early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility.

The model built by the Founding Fathers is not a perfect formula, but it does resist the tyranny that Solzhenitsyn experienced in Soviet Russia. One way is by providing a fluidity through which reform movements can arise. Take Democrats for Life, for example. Five short years ago an internal challenge to the hard-line pro-abortion position held by Democratic Party leadership was virtually unthinkable. But there it is.

Politics will always play a role in the great moral debates. It's the American way. In taking questions to the culture, then, we need to look past (but not overlook) the political factors and define more clearly the anthropological dimension of the debate. It's a complex topic, so let's restrict our discussion to one important theme: the use and misuse of the Christian moral vocabulary.

Moral Deconstruction

Moral deconstruction can be defined as the systematic takedown and restructuring of the moral assumptions that used to guide our decisions, especially those that touched on the foundational constituents defining our self-understanding and value. These would include decisions about life, death, sexuality, purpose, meaning, sacrifice, and more.

Coming back to our literary prophets, we can see that cultural deconstruction was what they feared. Orwell warned against the imposition of tyranny, Huxley against a mechanization of the body, and Solzhenitsyn against a moral redefinition of man through which his God-given direction towards freedom (ultimately found in Christ) would be obscured.

Ideas have consequences. How we think determines how we act. This describes not only the individual but also the society he inhabits. A society cannot continue to function without shared notions of right and wrong -- a dynamic we call the moral consensus. These ideas and values function as universals, as ways that a society organizes itself.

Further, these ideas depend on language, because it's through language that the ideas are passed from one generation to the next. They shape a story, a cultural narrative, which references ideas and actions to a larger body of meaning. Solzhenitsyn, in arguing that the moral touchstone has shifted from God to man in Western culture, thereby implies the narrative has shifted as well. Solzhenitsyn says as much by writing the Gulag series, which attempted (successfully as it turns out) to destroy the Marxist cultural narrative by telling the truth about it, employing the values and ideas of the traditional narrative Marxist ideas sought to supplant.

In terms of how these concepts enter the culture, however, Orwell is probably the clearest. In Politics and the English Language, Orwell warned of how the meanings of words are subverted to stand for ideas and concepts that are not true to their meaning. The promises of the socialist utopia sweeping Europe (and the American intelligentsia) at the time were Orwell's target, but the dynamic remains true today.

In all corners of the culture, words drawn from the moral tradition are employed to justify actions and behaviors that the tradition otherwise discourages and often prohibits. We saw it in the great debates about abortion and euthanasia in the last few decades. The conflict was not only about competing moral values, but also about the language by which those values were communicated. Words like freedom, choice, human value, and others whose meanings were relatively clear when the cultural consensus was shaped by traditional Christian morality now served a different function as that consensus shattered.

This co-opting of the Christian moral lexicon is one reason for the deep moral confusion in the culture. It creates a kind of moral schizophrenia in which people are unsure if right and wrong even exist. Repeat certain words over and over again, and people will tend to believe them. If these words have moral power, which is to say if they derive their authority from the moral tradition, people will tend to believe their new applications are the tradition.

That's what Huxley warned against. If man is a biological machine, and if that machine responds to pleasure, why not frame the pleasure-inducing activity in the terminology of a private good? Orwell warned of the same corruption. If man is machine, why not frame the attempts at social reorganization in terms of the common good? All it takes is wrestling common terms from their traditional moral contexts and employing them in ones that justify the dehumanization as progress. Good becomes evil, and evil becomes good. Society has reconstructed itself in a new moral order.

What makes Solzhenitsyn's exhortation so compelling (and ultimately more valuable) is his conviction that the crisis is fundamentally one of anthropology. As such, it might also be one of historical inevitability. Perhaps our progress has forced this dilemma upon us, just as the Nestorian controversy forced the elucidation of the two natures of Christ, and the Arian controversy the elucidation of Christ's divinity. The question we as a society need to answer is: What is Man?

The Re-Christianization of Culture

As awe-inspiring as our technological advancements are, and despite the promise they hold for the alleviation of human suffering, the application of new technologies towards the betterment of the human condition in terms traditionally understood is not assured. The moral crisis facing American culture, particularly the deconstruction of cultural forms that managed to safeguard the common and private good (and sometimes correct its failures), can easily subvert the knowledge into something grotesque and ugly while claiming to serve the good.

Solzhenitsyn warned as much when he said the crisis can only be resolved if man reawakens to the spiritual dimension of his existence: "This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but -- upward."

If Orthodox Christians should understand anything, it is this: Salvation is a concrete, existential encounter with the living God. Moreover, this Lord gives gifts, including wisdom, knowledge, insight, and courage -- all the elements needed to confront the maelstrom of confusion in which our culture finds itself, and all meant to be applied in the work of daily life, whether as mother, researcher, mechanic, priest -- whatever our vocation may be.

Salvation is not understanding the correct theological concepts; it is not nostalgia for civilizations past; it is not formal membership in a long-standing parish; it is not social activism; it is not morally appropriate behavior; it is not mastery of the moral vocabulary. Further, it is not enough to recall the certainty of the past. Nostalgic impulses, as comforting as they may be (including the Orthodox variants, such as the longings for Hellenistic Greece or Holy Russia), simply won't meet the challenge.

Orthodox leadership today requires great courage. Courage, said Winston Churchill, is the one quality that lets all other virtues flourish. When Solzhenitsyn delivered his address three decades ago, he spoke not as a philosopher, but as a voice crying in the wilderness. He cried out against the dehumanization of men he experienced in the East and saw advancing in the West. Only people with moral clarity and courage could successfully challenge it, he exhorted. What the world needs is not more philosophers, but moralists.

The exhortation drew from a supreme confidence in the power of truth. Solzhenitsyn believed that truth is self-verifying. When the truth is spoken, its veracity is self-evident to the hearer. This is a profoundly Christian notion rooted in the teaching of the apostle Paul: When the Gospel is preached, Christ (who is Truth) is revealed.

Any Orthodox response to the cultural challenge must first presume a recovery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The wisdom of the Fathers, the artistry of the poets, the healings of the miracle workers, the courage of the martyrs, the knowledge of the scholars, the patience of the teachers, the foresight of the bishops, the faithfulness of the priests -- all the elements that shaped and forged the moral tradition that founded Western civilization and must renew it today -- start with the recovery of the Gospel. As Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse is the president of the American Orthodox Institute, and editor of He is the pastor of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Naples, Florida.

This article originally appeared in AGAIN Vol. 29 No. 3, Fall 2007. Visit AGAIN online at Conciliar Press.

Read Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Address.

Read Orwell's Politics and the English Language.