Thursday, February 14, 2008
Information on Caribou’s Ownership
Caribou Coffee became a public company after our initial public offering priced on September 28, 2005.
Our majority shareholder since 2000 is an affiliate of Arcapita Bank B.S.C.(c), a global investment group founded in 1997 with offices in Atlanta, London and Bahrain, a strong U.S. ally in the Middle East and the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s 5 th Fleet. Following our initial public offering, Arcapita continues to own approximately 61% of our outstanding common stock.
Arcapita Bank has provided Caribou with the necessary resources for continuing to expand our store base in the U.S. Arcapita has total assets of over $1.2 billion and has executed transactions valued at over $7 billion in three main lines of business – corporate investment (private equity), real estate investment and asset-based investment. Arcapita’s corporate investment line of business has invested over $1 billion in equity across 17 transactions totaling over $2 billion in transaction value. Current and past corporate investments span a broad range of industries, including consumer products, healthcare, specialized manufacturing and technology. Portfolio companies include Cypress Communications (a telecommunications provider), Church’s Chicken (a quick service restaurant chain), Cirrus Industries (a general aviation aircraft manufacturer), Loehmann’s (a specialty retailer) and TLC Health Care Services (a national home nursing provider).
Arcapita, whose investors are located primarily in the Middle East , makes its investments in a manner consistent with the body of Islamic principles known as Shari’ah. Consequently, we operate our business in a manner consistent with Shari’ah principles and will continue to do so as long as Arcapita is a significant shareholder.
In particular, we must comply with Shari’ah principles regarding money that we borrow from other parties. For example, our lease financing arrangement, under which we have obtained financing to fund our operations and expand our business, is structured in a manner that complies with Shari’ah principles. The structure of this lease financing arrangement is described in the prospectus relating to our initial public offering. Also, a Shari’ah-compliant company is prohibited from dealing in the areas of alcohol, gambling, pornography, pork and pork-related products.
Religious Jameat Ulmae Pakistan (JUP) activists burn a placard with a heart painted on while denouncing Valentine's Day celebrations during a protest in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008.(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
Good grief. No Valentines for you, Charlie Brown. At least not in Kuwait. And no roses or cards with red hearts for you, Lucy. Not in Saudi Arabia. The ever-tolerant Muslim world is now condemning Valentine’s Day.
Jamaan al-Harbash, a member of the Kuwaiti parliament, has called for Valentine’s Day celebrations to be banned. “We call on the commerce minister,” he declared in a fine froth of moral indignation, “to perform his duties by banning celebrations of Valentine’s Day which is alien to our society -- and contradicts our religion’s values and teachings.” Another Kuwaiti MP, Waleed al-Tabtabai, chief of a committee in parliament that monitors “alien practices,” said his committee will undertake a study this week on how to stop Valentine’s Day from initiating the “moral corruption” of Kuwaiti youth.
Over in Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, the notorious religious police who go by the name of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have banned red roses. The Virtue Cops have even ordered florists and gift shops in Riyadh to take any red item off the shelf, lest Saudi lovebirds associate red with hearts and start a-spooning. Nothing new in that: in 2004, the Saudi fatwa committee forbade Saudis from celebrating the day: “It is a pagan Christian holiday and Muslims who believe in God and Judgment Day should not celebrate or acknowledge it or congratulate (people on it). It is a duty to shun it to avoid God’s anger and punishment.”
This is not just an Arabian Peninsula thing, either. Last year in Malaysia, a government official, Muhammad Ramli Nuh, declared, according to the Bernama News Agency, that “celebrating the Day could be regarded as recognizing the enemies of Islam because Valentine or Valentinus took part in planning and attacking Cordoba, once a well-known centre of Islam in Spain, causing its downfall.” Actually, St. Valentine was a third-century Christian martyr in the Roman Empire, but give Muhammad Ramli Nuh points for imagination.
All this indicates that in at least some parts of the Islamic world the dour spirit of the Ayatollah Khomeini is alive and well. For it was Khomeini, a man who took pains to make sure he was never photographed smiling, who once gave vent to this classic statement of religion-based dyspepsia: “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.” Likewise the jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb, after an unhappy sojourn in America in the late 1940s, complained about that Americans even “go to church for carousal and enjoyment, or, as they call it in their language, ‘fun.’”
Ok, students, let’s review: the Islamic jihadists promise poverty, hardship and prayer, from which people are released only at death -- which can be hurried along by strapping a bomb on yourself and detonating near some people you don’t like. Such as those Americans who are so misguided that their Declaration of Independence actually enumerates rights (which they -- how dare they? -- believe are endowed by God) to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Clash of civilizations? If there was ever any indication that it is upon us, it is this. The gulf between that noted American philosopher Dr. Seuss’s lapidary phrase, “These things are fun, and fun is good” and Khomeini’s barren “There is no fun in Islam” is yawning and unbridgeable. Many analysts and policymakers have remarked that the threat of the worldwide jihad has an ideological dimension, but political correctness, multiculturalism, and a fear of offending religious sensibilities have prevented most from articulating this dimension in any meaningful way. Perhaps the annual assault on Valentine’s Day, renewed again this year, points the way: the global jihad pits the civilization of fun and joy against the civilization of anger, rage, and dreariness.
As the controversy continues this week over Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’s avowal that Britain’s adoption of some elements of Islamic Sharia law is “unavoidable,” it might be useful to bear that in mind. And remember, also, that it was a Muslim woman, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who replied that what Williams “wishes on us is an abomination.” Those who have suffered from the latest crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would no doubt agree -- and would probably even ally with the West against the forces of Islamist gloom, given half a chance.
But will there be any Western leaders willing or courageous enough to cast off their multiculturalist shackles and give those people heart -- during this Valentine’s Day week -- by affirming that our struggle is one for simple joy in existence, against those who would rob us of that joy?
Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" , "The Truth About Muhammad" and "Religion of Peace?" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).
DETROIT FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
February 14, 2008
WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 13: Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens (C) gets a pat on the arm from his attorney Lanny Breuer after testifying about allegations of steroid use by professional ball palyers before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill February 13, 2008 in Washington, DC. The 'Mitchell Report' named several former and current major league baseball players, including Clemens, who are accused of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Somebody's lying. The question is who?
And who cares?
Let's face it, The Roger Clemens Story has turned into a witch hunt, and what most everyone wants is to prove Clemens used steroids and human growth hormone, because there is almost a sense of obligation now in sports -- if not a perverse thrill -- to pop the biggest balloon.
And Clemens, with his puffy jaw set and his big belly stretching those three-piece suits, has indeed appeared balloon-like as he shouts his innocence all over the country, in news conferences, on "60 Minutes," all the way to the closing statement of a televised congressional hearing Wednesday, when Clemens interrupted the chairman after four hours of testimony to again insist his accusers were lying.
"Excuse me, but this is not your time," Henry Waxman admonished the All-Star pitcher, banging his gavel, "to argue with me."
Clemens stared him down so intensely, you swore if he'd had a baseball, it would have been headed for Waxman's eyeballs.
But so what? In the end, you have Brian McNamee, a personal trainer who has told a lot of lies in his life, who may or may not be lying about this.
And you have Clemens, with an amazing 24-year pitching career, who may or may not be lying about his past.
Then you have guys like Waxman, who don't know squat about baseball, but seem intent on defending the Mitchell Report, perhaps because it was done by a former senator.
As they say in gangster movies, you watch out for your own.
But somebody's lying.
An incredible credibility gap
McNamee told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that "I was wrong" for injecting players with banned substances, as if that makes him sympathetic. But remember, it's in his best interest to say that now. He already has confessed. He's trying to save his neck from jail.
Meanwhile, you wonder why a guy with a history of lying suddenly becomes George Washington. Or as Tom Davis, the co-chair of Wednesday's hearings, told the media afterward, "Mr. McNamee is obviously not the most credible witness."
On the other hand, if he told the truth about injecting Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblach -- and their statements suggest he did -- then why would McNamee make all this up about Clemens? Which led Waxman to declare, "Mr. McNamee was very credible."
You see why this is so insane. (By the way, even if McNamee told the truth about Pettitte and Knoblach, it doesn't mean he DIDN'T lie about Clemens. Maybe he hates the guy. Maybe he's jealous. Who knows?)
Meanwhile, here are the hardest things to believe about Clemens' testimony Wednesday: that he didn't know what his investigators were asking McNamee privately, that he never got a call to talk to George Mitchell (oh, please), and that he suddenly felt a need to reconnect with a nanny he hadn't seen in years -- who may have been at a party where HGH was discussed.
Still, the hardest thing to believe is this: If he really did use this stuff, why would he risk perjury? Is he that belligerent? Is his strategy to simply shoot down his accusers' credibility? Is he that sure of his own?
Lights, cameras, chatter
I think he is. I think if Clemens is guilty, he is treating it like an injury the other team can't know about. Just get out there, look tough and pitch your butt off. He may figure nobody will believe a creep like McNamee, and Pettitte will never turn hard on him, he can just say Andy "misremembered" their conversations. In other words, in pitching terms, he can retire the side.
A big risk? You bet. But Clemens is nothing if not self-assured.
Meanwhile, what's the big picture here? What changes if Clemens is proven a liar? We already have plenty of big fish admitting steroids. One more changes nothing. If he did it, he did it years ago, when there was no testing.
Sure, you have to be tough on him -- because we certainly have been tough on Barry Bonds and others. But in the end, I think this is more about the thrill of the hunt than anything else. That, and congressmen getting face time on ESPN, which, unlike C-SPAN, is a station their constituents actually watch.
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or email@example.com. Catch "The Mitch Albom Show" 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens (R), Charlie Scheeler, investigator on former Sen. George Mitchell's staff (C) and former Major League Baseball strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee (L) raise their right hands as they are sworn in to testify about allegations of steroid use by professional ball players before the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Clemens, fighting to preserve his All-Star reputation, came under intense and skeptical grilling from lawmakers at a congressional hearing Wednesday, as he stoutly denied doping allegations.
(AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)
One day soon, as Roger Clemens stands before a federal judge, accused of perjury, he'll ask himself why he was so blind. So stubborn. So incredibly dense, believing he could charm his way through Congress with the same denials of steroid use. The greatest pitcher of our time is now the game's greatest liar, walking straight toward indictment. After 4½ hours of hearings Wednesday, this much is clear about the Rocket: His worst days are ahead of him.
The irony is, it's not accuser Brian McNamee who will ultimately take Clemens down. It's Andy Pettitte, whose sworn testimony last week all but ensured the Justice Department's involvement. Pettitte says Clemens talked to him about HGH and steroids in 2002 and again in 2004, an assertion so damning the best Clemens could do was say his buddy had "misremembered" their conversation.
No discerning American buys that one. But Clemens is in so deep, he's decided to run the table. That means smearing McNamee, denying they ever spoke about performance-enhancing drugs and even pretending he was unaware that his wife, Debbie, was using HGH. The Rocket does so despite the enormous risk of prosecution and, perhaps, jail time. In fact, an hour before he was supposed to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Clemens was cautioned against testifying by Rep. Tom Davis, the committee's senior ranking member.
Davis reminded Clemens that he was under no obligation to appear. He didn't have to answer any questions. There was no penalty for invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, or even skipping out altogether. But Clemens declined to use the escape hatch. To him, this is a challenge no different than the ones he's faced from 60 feet 6 inches. It's all the same war to the man who's made a living out of bullying opponents. Clemens intends to beat Congress the same way he once dealt with Mike Piazza, with a high, hard one and a follow-up stare that says, "Do something about it."
But there were plenty of telltale signs of Clemens' inner panic. He licked his lips constantly, stammered through half-answers, talked around the charges he couldn't defend. Clemens said he never knew former Sen. George Mitchell's investigators wanted to talk to him, blaming his agents for the lapse. Further questions revealed that Clemens may have tampered with a witness - a former nanny who was ready to tell investigators that Clemens was lying about missing a Blue Jays team party at Jose Canseco's house, where a discussion of steroids allegedly took place.
Clemens made sure to speak to the nanny before putting the committee in touch with her. If that wasn't illegal, it surely was improper, yet the Rocket had the audacity to say he was doing Congress "a favor" by making her available. It's that sense of entitlement that has ruined Clemens: His family, friends, lawyers and sycophants have convinced him that baseball - no, America - owes him for years of greatness on the mound. We are in Clemens' debt for his charity work, for his trip to the Gulf visiting the troops, even his willingness to represent the U.S. in the World Cup.
Who are you going to believe, me or a slime-4.000>ball like McNamee, is the foundation of Clemens' defense. Only, it's not that simple anymore. Forget that McNamee's testimony has been corroborated by two of the three people he named as steroid and HGH users. He said Chuck Knoblauch used. Correct, says Knoblauch. He said Pettitte used. That story checked out, too, according to Pettitte, who revealed he was cheating not only in 2002 but 2004 as well.
So why would McNamee tell the truth about two former Yankees, but lie about Clemens?
Better question: Why would Pettitte, whom everyone in the room called an honest man, say Clemens was cheating?
Clemens had no answer for that, forced to fall back on his theory that his buddy had "misremembered" their conversation in 2006, after they'd been named in a leaked story in the Los Angeles Times. Pettitte, in a state of panic, asked Clemens what they were going to do now that the dam had burst. Cold and calculating, the Rocket pretended he didn't know what Pettitte was talking about, insisting their conversation had been about Debbie Clemens.
Pettitte didn't challenge the Rocket any further. He realized the great man he'd admired, if not idolized, had sealed himself up in a lie, one that he refuses to surrender. What a pity. What a waste. All Clemens had to do was tell the truth - just say he broke the rules, tried juicing, regretted it, and advised anyone who was considering steroids to run the other way.
Americans would've forgiven Clemens in an eye blink. Congress would've had no further interest in him. Using steroids, after all, is hardly the kind of crime the government will bother prosecuting. But it's the lying - the pathological, bold-faced, unyielding lie - that will send you to jail. And therein lies Chapter Two of this dark saga. Sooner or later, this case will be heard in a courtroom, not on Capitol Hill. And Pettitte won't be able to get away with a statement behind closed doors.
He'll have to take the witness stand and tell the world what he told the committee, that Clemens is a liar. Don't think that scenario hasn't already played out a million times in Pettitte's head. He asked the Yankees on Wednesday for a five-day reprieve before reporting to spring training. The pressure, he said, had turned into a tidal wave. Brian Cashman granted Pettitte's wish, telling reporters, "I was in no position to refuse."
The Yankees' general manager, no dummy, was staring at the obvious: For Clemens and Pettitte, the worst is yet to come.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Johnny Cash and Roseanne Cash, Hiltons, Virginia
By Annie Leibovitz, 2001
(Click on title to play video)
Jamie Rose for The New York Times. The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin provides tickets to children from the Most Valuable Kids charity, then signs autographs for them after games.
By LYNN ZINSER
The New York Times
Published: February 13, 2008
When Bruce Boudreau first met his players as the Washington Capitals’ coach, he had no idea what to expect. His career, spent largely bouncing around minor leagues, had not taken him in front of the kind of players now judging his every move.
So Boudreau was amazed when one of the first players to shake his hand in the locker room that November day was Alex Ovechkin, the team’s outlandishly talented 22-year-old left wing.
“He walked up to me and said, ‘What do we do, Coach?’ ” Boudreau said. “That’s the way he is. He follows every direction. He does things superstars just don’t do.”
Ovechkin’s ability to astound began in the first game of his N.H.L. career, when he lived up to every bit of his hype by scoring two goals, and has barely let up. In his third season, Ovechkin leads the league in goals (47) and points (76). He has a handful of the most spectacular plays of the season and negotiated his own contract extension worth an eye-popping $124 million over 13 years.
His on-ice flair is so flamboyant that he practically commands a channel on YouTube — his falling-down-and-shooting backward goal as a rookie is an endless loop on his Wikipedia entry — but among the Capitals, he manages to be simply Alex. Ovechkin is teased by his teammates for his contract, for his scraggly beard and uneven haircut. He grew up in Russia playing the sport he loved since he was first exposed to it.
And he wants to win, which was the first thing Boudreau noticed.
“He helped us believe in each other,” Ovechkin said of Boudreau. “We believe in ourselves and believe in our power and we win the games now.”
The Capitals have climbed into the Southeast Division lead and occupy a playoff spot.
“Now we bring the fans and the crowd is very good,” Ovechkin said. “When it’s full, it’s unbelievable. Everybody has to understand, one player cannot bring a good team. It’s a whole team. We just have a great team right now, a young team, and everybody does what they can try to do to win.”
After a thrilling overtime victory over the Rangers last Sunday in which he had a goal and two assists, Ovechkin emerged from the Capitals’ locker room to greet a group of children who had gone to see him. He stopped to kiss his parents, Mikhail and Tatiana, before wading into the group to sign the red foam No. 8’s they had spent the game waving in support.
He entered with no fanfare and smiled his missing-tooth grin, posing for pictures. He sponsors a different group of 8-to-12-year-old underprivileged children with tickets for each game. Sometimes, the tickets go to military personnel. They sit in a lower section at Verizon Center in Washington, waving their No. 8’s.
“I think for kids, it’s very important when people take care of them,” Ovechkin said. “I want to give people a chance to see what is hockey because if they don’t know what’s going on, they can’t come to the game and see us.”
Ovechkin has quickly become Washington’s pied piper of hockey. Drafted by a franchise with so little success, Ovechkin arrived from Russia with much fanfare. His rookie season, immediately after the lockout, coincided with the arrival of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
From the beginning Ovechkin was different. He thrived in a league intent on freeing its superstars, scoring 52 goals to snatch rookie of the year honors from Crosby. He brought a combination of speed, a dazzling shot and relentless energy. He took hits and dished them out. His YouTube clips also include several big checks as well as a fight.
In his most spectacular game this season, an overtime victory over Montreal, he scored four goals, including the game winner, despite having his lip stitched after a puck hit him and having his nose broken when he was driven into the boards. He also had a cut under his eye from a high stick the previous game.
“He competes so hard,” Boudreau said. “That’s what sets him apart from other players.”
Ovechkin has also bucked convention by learning English quickly, asking the Capitals for an English-speaking roommate when he was a rookie. The N.H.L. marketing machine quickly latched on to his photogenic smile and sense of humor.
But Ovechkin said he was taught from a young age that what mattered most was his team’s success. That lesson came from his parents. Mikhail was a professional soccer player and Tatiana was a two-time gold medalist in basketball for the Soviet Union. As a teenager, Ovechkin helped Dynamo win a Superleague title.
“I don’t want to prove anything, I just want to win,” Ovechkin said. “I just want to go to the playoffs and go as far as we can. There is only one goal here. There is only one Stanley Cup.”
And, he is quick to remind people, he cannot win that by himself.
New York Daily News
Wednesday, February 13th 2008, 4:00 AM
Joe Louis enjoys Daily News recap of victory in Max Schmeling rematch but champ endured hard times later in life.
For years when I was growing up, I thought Joe Louis was a part of my family. That's because my great-grandmother had strategically placed an 8-by-10, black-and-white photo of a young Louis in our family photo album.
As a kid I would flip through the photos and there between pictures of my great-grandfather in his World War I doughboy uniform and the various aunts and uncles in their Sunday finest was the strapping Louis in a boxing pose.
I would ask my great-grandmother how we were related to Louis and she would just say, "That's Joe Louis," in the most reverential tone. That Louis photo held the same prominence in our photo album as the pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK on the walls of most African-American homes in the '60s and '70s.
I was reminded of that "family" photo after viewing "Joe Louis, America's Hero - Betrayed," the fine HBO "Sports of the 20th Century" documentary, which airs Feb.23 at 8 p.m. as the prelim for the Wladimir Klitschko-Sultan Ibragimov heavyweight unification fight at Madison Square Garden.
The 75-minute documentary shows the full scope of Louis' significance to American history and society and the horrible manner in which the IRS hounded Louis for back taxes. It is one of the best pieces of work by the sports documentary duo of Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein at HBO.
Joe Louis Barrow Jr., Louis' son and one of the most important voices in the documentary, said he and Greenburg talked about making the film 15 years ago. He was pleased with the way that it came out.
"I've never been to any place in the world where people didn't have respect for my father," Barrow said.
The film follows Louis from the time he migrates to Detroit from Alabama with his family as a child to his death in 1981. In between is an insightful look at Louis' rise through the heavyweight division, his memorable matches against Max Schmeling, Billy Conn and Rocky Marciano, and his sad ending as a hotel greeter at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
Barrow said his father never complained about his plight or even the fact that the IRS mercilessly hounded him for back taxes. The film details how Louis donated money to Army and Navy charities and did countless exhibitions while enlisted in the Army for four years during World War II. The feds even went so far as to take the $64,000 trust funds that Louis had set aside for his two children.
"It was an inappropriate way to treat anyone, let alone someone who had done so much for society," Barrow said.
Louis came along at a bleak time for African-American heavyweights who wanted to be world champion. He broke a more than 20-year blackout that was based on the behavior of Jack Johnson, which was considered inappropriate for a black man at that time. The flamboyant Johnson dated white women and flaunted his superiority in the ring by taunting his white opponents after he knocked them out. Newspapers at the time actually said another black champion would lead to race riots and general social unrest.
In his pursuit of the heavyweight championship, Louis was given rules by his handlers that forbade him from being photographed alone with white women and never to raise his arms in victory after he won a fight. The humble, strong, silent role actually fit Louis' personality, so it was nothing he fought against, according to Barrow.
Barrow said his father made America come to grips with segregation. But as a new African-American athlete came to the fore during the civil rights movement, Louis seemed out of step. There is a clip of Muhammad Ali in the film calling Louis "an Uncle Tom for white people."
"At my father's funeral Muhammad Ali came over to me and whispered in my ear that my father was really The Greatest," Barrow said. "I think that was his mea culpa for what he said."
A mea culpa never came from the government, though Ronald Reagan cleared the way for Louis to be buried in Arlington Cemetery with full military honors.
The HBO documentary evokes all the emotions that I'm sure my great-grandmother had when she considered the full measure of Joe Louis in our family album. I didn't fully understand it until I saw the film.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Edward Said throwing a stone at Israeli border guards.
With jihad terrorists around the world making recruits and justifying their actions by reference to Islamic teachings, academic study of Islam is needed more urgently than ever. Yet in today’s universities, political correctness almost completely forecloses any honest examination of the elements of Islamic culture or belief. Much of this is the result of the work of the late Edward Said, a hugely influential professor and author of the book Orientalism, which has set the tone for Middle East Studies in the United States ever since its first appearance in the 1970s. Said contended that Western academic study of Islam and the Middle East was deformed by notions of cultural superiority, and was a racist handmaiden of Western colonialism and imperialism.
Said’s word has become law. On most campuses today any examination of matters Islamic that is even remotely critical is shouted down and labeled bigotry and “hate speech.” Pre-1960 works by Western scholars on Islamic and Middle Eastern studies are disparaged or ignored. Said’s influence has for three decades now had the baneful effect of inhibiting academic and public debate about crucial issues such as how Islam must be reformed and whether or not this reform can be accomplished, and how Muslims and non-Muslims can develop a framework for peaceful coexistence as equals on an indefinite basis.
But now the fearless and clear-sighted Islamic scholar Ibn Warraq has dealt a body blow to the Saidist establishment in his new book Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism.
Ibn Warraq not only reveals the sloppiness and tendentiousness of much of Said’s research; he also demonstrates that Western study of Islam and Muslims has never been as uniform, imperialist, or supremacist as Said contended, delving deeply into the work of the classic Orientalists themselves – painters, sculptors, artists, and writers, much of whose work was once influential in numerous fields, but has of late been under a Saidist cloud. Defending the West shows these men to be, as Ibn Warraq describes them, “colorful and gifted individuals” who “had their own individual reasons for exploring artistically foreign climes, customs, people and costumes,” were not racist, and were not part of some rapacious imperialist project.
But in a certain sense, the subtitle of this book is unfortunate. For while Ibn Warraq elegantly and eruditely eviscerates Said’s thesis, the scope of this book is much wider. In an epigraph, he quotes Arthur Koestler, a man who knew a thing or two about the decline of civilizations: “The predicament of Western civilization is that it has ceased to be aware of the values which it is in peril of losing.” Ibn Warraq identifies three characteristics of Western intellectual inquiry – and of the work of the Orientalists whom Said disparages – that cannot be found consistently in non-Western (including Islamic) intellectual endeavors, and which are in danger of being lost today in the West, not least because of the ideological straitjacket that Said’s followers enforce in universities. The first of these is rationalism, and the prizing of knowledge for the sake of knowledge – Ibn Warraq observes that “under Islam, orthodoxy has always been suspicious of ‘knowledge for its own sake.’ Unfettered intellectual inquiry is deemed dangerous to the faith.” Then there is universalism, the idea of the essential unity of mankind that leads to a genuine openness to other peoples and cultures. While this has characterized the West since the Greeks, Ibn Warraq notes that, in a peculiar inversion of Said’s claim, the Islamic world has generally regarded non-Muslim cultures with contempt and lack of interest – even to the detriment of its own civilizational development. And finally, Ibn Warraq points out that the West has demonstrated from the beginning a capacity for self-reflection and self-criticism that has been almost wholly lacking in Islamic cultures. He explains that “the ability to turn a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits” has always been “the distinctive and redemptive grace of Western civilization.”
But today in our own colleges and universities the redemptive graces of Western civilization are ignored in favor of a Saidist litany of Western crimes and misdemeanors, sapping our strength for civilizational self-defense at the time we need it the most. Erudite, enlightening, entertaining, and magnificently broad in scope, Defending the West is the antidote.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Beneath the deceptively placid surface of everyday life, the British population is engaged in a momentous encounter with Islam. Three developments of the past week, each of them culminating years' long trend – and not just some odd occurrence – exemplify changes now underway.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith describes terrorism as "anti-Islamic."
First, the UK government has decided that terrorism by Muslims in the name of Islam is actually unrelated to Islam, or even anti-Islamic. This notion took root in 2006 when the Foreign Office, afraid that the term "war on terror" would inflame British Muslims, sought language that upholds "shared values as a means to counter terrorists." By early 2007, the European Union issued a classified handbook that banned jihad, Islamic, and fundamentalist in reference to terrorism, offering instead some "non-offensive" phrases. Last summer, Prime Minister Gordon Brown prohibited his ministers from using the word Muslim in connection with terrorism. In January, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith went further, actually describing terrorism as "anti-Islamic." And last week the Home Office completed the obfuscation by issuing a counter-terrorism phrasebook that instructs civil servants to refer only to violent extremism and criminal murderers, not Islamist extremism and jihadi-fundamentalists.
Second, and again culminating several years of evolution, the British government now recognizes polygamous marriages. It changed the rules in the "Tax Credits (Polygamous Marriages) Regulations 2003": previously, only one wife could inherit assets tax-free from a deceased husband; this legislation permits multiple wives to inherit tax-free, so long as the marriage had been contracted where polygamy is legal, as in Nigeria, Pakistan, or India. In a related matter, the Department for Work and Pensions began issuing extra payments to harems for such benefits as jobseeker allowances, housing subventions, and council tax relief. Last week came news that, after a year-long review, four government departments (Work and Pensions, Treasury, Revenue and Customs, Home Office) concluded that formal recognition of polygamy is "the best possible" option for Her Majesty's Government.
Third, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, endorsed applying portions of the Islamic law (the Shari‘a) in Great Britain. Adopting its civil elements, he explained, "seems unavoidable" because not all British Muslims relate to the existing legal system and applying the Shari‘a would help with their social cohesion. When Muslims can go to an Islamic civil court, they need not face "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty." Continuing to insist on the "legal monopoly" of British common law rather than permit Shari'a, Williams warned, would bring on "a bit of a danger" for the country.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says that Islamic law in Great Britain "seems unavoidable."
Prime Minister Brown immediately slammed Williams' suggestion: Shari‘a law, his office declared, "cannot be used as a justification for committing breaches of English law, nor can the principle of Shari‘a law be used in a civilian court. … the Prime Minister believes British law should apply in this country, based on British values." Criticism of Williams came additionally from all sides of the political spectrum – from Sayeeda Warsi, the Tory (Muslim) shadow minister for community cohesion and social action; Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats; and Gerald Batten of the United Kingdom Independence Party. Secular and Christian groups opposed Williams. So did Trevor Phillips, head of the equality commission. The Anglican church in Australia denounced his proposal, along with leading members of his own church, including his predecessor, Lord Carey. Melanie Phillips called his argument "quite extraordinarily muddled, absurd and wrong." The Sun newspaper editorialized that "It's easy to dismiss Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as a silly old goat. In fact he's a dangerous threat to our nation." It concludes acerbically that "The Archbishop of Canterbury is in the wrong church."
Although widely denounced (and in danger of losing his job), Williams may be right about the Shari‘a being unavoidable, for it is already getting entrenched in the West. A Dutch justice minister announced that "if two-thirds of the Dutch population should want to introduce the Shari‘a tomorrow, then the possibility should exist." A German judge referred to the Koran in a routine divorce case. A parallel Somali gar courts system already exists in Britain.
These developments suggest that British appeasement concerning the war on terror, the nature of the family, and the rule of law are part of a larger pattern. Even more than the security threat posed by Islamist violence, these trends are challenging and perhaps will change the very nature of Western life.
Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).
Monday, February 11, 2008
COMPLEX TOUGH GUY: Roy Scheider began acting at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and by the time he graduated, he knew he wanted to be an actor. He spent time in repertory theaters and appeared in more than 60 films.
By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 11, 2008
Roy Scheider, the jagged-nosed actor who brought complexity to tough-guy roles in such films as "The French Connection," "Jaws" and "All That Jazz," and was also known for political activism off the set, died Sunday afternoon at a hospital in Little Rock, Ark. He was believed to be 75, and had been battling a form of blood cancer for three years.
Scheider, who lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y., died at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital, which specializes in the treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer that affects blood cells. He died of complications from the disease, said Leslie Taylor, a university spokeswoman.
Taylor said Scheider had been receiving treatments at the hospital's Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy in recent years. On its website, the institute says that it has kept patients alive for six to seven years after diagnosis, about twice the national average.
In a career spanning four decades, Scheider appeared in more than 60 films, as well as in numerous roles on stage and television. But his most acclaimed roles came in a span of eight years in the 1970s, beginning with "The French Connection" in 1971.
He probably will be best remembered for his role as Martin Brody, the water-shy police chief in "Jaws" (1975) who uttered the immortal line: "You're gonna need a bigger boat," after seeing the size of the shark. He once lamented that the role "will be on my tombstone."
His favorite role, he said, was playing choreographer Joe Gideon, a thinly disguised stand-in for Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse, in "All That Jazz" (1979) -- a role for which the former boxer had to learn to dance. "That will always be my favorite film," he told the San Jose Mercury News in 1999. "But I never worked harder in my life. I felt I had to prove myself to the dance company. I didn't want to misrepresent them. . . . I was in relatively good shape. But at the end of the day, I'd return to the Holiday Inn with my Tiger Balm."
That role earned Scheider some of his best reviews. Pauline Kael would later write in the New Yorker that Scheider "made you feel you were watching Fosse himself. It wasn't an impersonation; it was as if Fosse had taken over his body, from the inside. That's the only role in which Scheider had an exciting presence, and it wasn't his; we seemed to be looking right through him to Fosse."
Scheider in "All That Jazz", 1979
And then-Times critic Charles Champlin wrote that Scheider "is a wonderment, a dancing dynamo whose portrayal of this life-splurging, death-obsessed man poses the Academy voters another mind-boggling decision."
It was not a decision that came down in his favor -- Scheider never won an Oscar. He was nominated as best actor for "All That Jazz," but lost to Dustin Hoffman in "Kramer vs. Kramer." His only other nomination was for best supporting actor in "The French Connection," the movie that launched him as a star.
Scheider played Det. Eddie Russo, the abrasive, street-smart partner of "Popeye" Doyle, played by Gene Hackman. The two New York narcotics cops were on the trail of an international drug gang that has been shipping heroin from Marseille, France, to New York. In later years, Scheider delighted in telling the story of how he got the part by sheer luck while auditioning for a stage role in New York. The stage part called for an actor who was at least 6 feet tall.
"Every time I started reading, the director sitting out there in the dark in the theater would interrupt and ask me how tall I was," Scheider recalled in a 2001 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I told him I was 5-foot-10, but he asked me to stand back-to-back with another actor. I lost it, and flung the script into the darkness. It so happened the casting director for 'The French Connection' was sitting in on the auditions and watching. He told me later he knew he had found Popeye's partner."
Scheider was reportedly born Nov. 10, 1932, in Orange, N.J., although in some interviews he indicated he was born in 1935. He grew up in the New Jersey suburbs outside New York City. He was, by his own account, a sickly, pudgy child, and spent a good deal of time bedridden. Among his greatest delights as a child, he once said, was going to the Saturday matinees at the movie theater in Irvington, N.J., eating popcorn and watching movies.
From the age of 8, he said, he worked weekends pumping gas at his father's service station, a job he loathed. "It's true that I had more pocket money than my friends, but I also had more responsibilities," he said in a 1975 interview with The Times. "I was driving cars around that place when I was 11. But what I really wanted to do was go swimming with the other kids."
His health improved in his late teens, and when he was about 17 he began boxing at the local YMCA. Under the tutelage of a retired welterweight, Scheider entered the Golden Gloves competition in Elizabeth, N.J. He won one fight and lost the next. In the process, he got his nose broken, creating the slightly off-kilter profile that lent him authenticity in his later tough-guy roles.
After a stint in the Air Force, Scheider began acting at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and by the time he graduated, he knew he wanted to be an actor. He spent the next seven or eight years doing classical theater.
Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss, "Jaws", 1975
His film debut was in Del Tenney's "Curse of the Living Corpse" (1964). He won attention for his role in "Klute" in 1971, followed months later by "The French Connection." Among other notable films, he appeared in "Marathon Man" (1976), "Sorcerer" (1977), "Jaws 2" (1978), "Still of the Night" (1982), "2010" (1984) and "The Russia House" (1990).
For decades, Scheider had been active politically, participating in protests against the Vietnam and Iraq wars and for environmental issues on Long Island. In 2003, he was among a group of protesters who laid down on a Long Island highway in a symbolic reference to the casualties of war.
In December 2004, while seeing a doctor for a routine examination, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Ten months later, speaking about the experience on "The Today Show," he said he considered himself lucky. "Every single day, it's a miracle," he said.
Scheider's first marriage, which ended in divorce, was to film editor Cynthia Scheider. He is survived by his second wife, documentary filmmaker Brenda King, and three children, Maximillia Scheider, Molly Scheider and Christian Verrier Scheider.
Times staff writer Scott Glover and Times researcher Robin Mayper contributed to this report.
February 10, 2008
A young British Muslim woman who would only allow her last name, al-Shaikh, to be printed, wears a full-face veil. “It’s an act of faith,” she said. (Hazel Thompson for The New York Times)
The United Kingdom, from common language and shared heritage, offers us our best window into what is happening in Europe. This is especially so when we try to come to grips -- if we have the courage to do so -- with the historically sudden irruption, and rapid spread, of Islam across Europe.
There are parallel developments in all the nations on the Continent: high immigration rates from Islamic countries, comparatively high birth rates among that immigrant population, and the radicalization of their young in Wahabi mosques financed by the oil wealth of Arabia. But for many English-speaking Canadians, it is the British experience that brings the phenomenon home.
The demographic issue is at the centre of much controversy. There can be little dispute over the statistical facts, which are quite dramatic, and as exhilarating from an Islamist point of view, as they are ominous for those who fear the loss of everything associated with western civilization. For, owing to the prior triumph of the leftist "multicultural" ideology, which holds that one "culture" is as good as another, and therefore it is wrong to preserve our own way of life, there is considerable opposition to discussing these facts.
We have seen this in Canada, where journalists Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant have been hauled before "human rights tribunals" -- kangaroo courts in which defendants are stripped of all the traditional protections of court law, and where judgments may be passed against them by people with no legal qualifications on the basis of whim and hearsay.
Mr. Steyn, in particular, stands accused of having openly discussed demographic questions. Mr. Levant stands accused of having published materials the mainstream media had been cowed into suppressing by the fear of Islamist violence.
In both cases, the journalists are being prosecuted by Muslims who advocate the imposition of Shariah law, but are using an apparatus that was designed by the Left for the persecution of those expressing right-wing views.
The British system works differently, and the media in Britain remain more robust than the media in Canada, and willing to report things that would be studiously ignored in a Canadian newsroom. On the other hand, by sheer force of numbers, and the intimidation value of several Islamist atrocities on London's streets, the "fear factor" in Britain is much higher, and the Labour government has proved much more responsive to Islamist demands.
The chief, and most consistent Islamist demand, is for the imposition of Shariah law, at least for Muslims, but ideally by the whole state. In fact, many Shariah courts are already operating informally in Britain, dealing mostly with routine civil questions of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and financial disputes, but sometimes with crime. For instance, a Shariah court in the London district of Woolwich was allowed recently -- apparently with the co-operation of police -- to pass judgment on unnamed Somali youths in a knifing incident. (The assailants were released in return for an apology to their victim.)
In various other ways, Shariah is being recognized, semi-formally. For instance, although bigamy remains nominally a crime in Britain, the Labour government has approved new social provisions by which extra welfare payments, council housing privileges, and tax benefits may be claimed by polygamous households, and the cash benefits to which the extra wives are now entitled may be paid directly into the account of their husband.
At a higher level, the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, publicly called this week for the recognition of "some form of" Shariah law for Muslims in Britain, and said it should be given equal status with parliamentary law. While Archbishop Williams has a long history of muddled pronouncements, and is widely observed to be emotionally unstable, the strength of his office is now engaged on the Islamist side.
Muslim groups such as the Ramadhan Foundation responded luke-warmly, welcoming the suggestion but criticizing the archbishop for having failed to punish his Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, who is under police protection after recently suggesting that various Muslim districts in Britain had become "no-go areas" for people who are not Muslim. (The Anglican Archbishop of York is also under fire, for making remarks critical of radical Islam.)
The saddest part of this, is that so many "moderate" Muslims emigrated to Britain (as to Canada) expressly to escape from societies in which Shariah law is normative. And what they are learning now, is that, thanks to the triumph of multiculturalism in the West, "you can run but you can't hide."
Copyright 2008, Ottawa Citizen
Feb. 10, 2008
Clemson's Demontez Stitt (2) guards North Carolina's Quentin Thomas during the second half of a college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008. North Carolina won 103-93 in double overtime.
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Somewhere, at some time, you'll be asked to quantify senior leadership.
It's a nebulous concept, especially in the current era of college basketball. Does it really do any good to have one of those players hanging around who has four years of experience? These days, most teams would rather have a one-year guy who can tomahawk dunk and hit three-pointers. As Roy Williams noted in 2005, a perception has almost developed that there's something wrong with players who are still in school in their fourth year.
So next time the topic comes up, you just cite this conversation. Clemson leads Carolina, 79-74, with 2:02 remaining Sunday night. Tyler Hansbrough has just drawn a charge on K.C. Rivers, and the two teams are coming out of a timeout. Carolina senior Quentin Thomas grabs sophomore Wayne Ellington at midcourt. He puts his right hand on the back of Ellington's head and leans in close.
"Things aren't always going to go smoothly," Thomas tells him over the steadily increasing din of 20,767 people. "It's games like this and situations like this that will show us what kind of team we're capable of being. Keep your head up. Keep working. At the end of this game, we're going to be happy."
Anyone could have said those things. Only Thomas did. Even more impressively, then he went out and acted on them.
"Q is so positive with us," Ellington said. "It really helps having him as a senior leader, because he's been through a lot. He's won a championship at Carolina, and that means a lot to us."
There's a certain connotation that goes with the phrase "Carolina senior." You must have smarts. You must have competitiveness. You must have savvy. You must have leadership.
Over the final 15 minutes of Sunday night's game, Quentin Thomas had all of those things. He is on his way to becoming Carolina's all-time winningest player. Coming into the game, he had been a part of 108 victories, and he had the current mark of 117 wins (held by the 1983-84 senior class) in his sights.
But you would have been hard-pressed to pick a signature Thomas game in any of those 108 victories.
Sometimes, 109 is the charm. This was the Quentin Thomas game.
Yes, I understand that Tyler Hansbrough scored 39 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and had the signature play of the game when he swiped the ball from David Potter and then hurled himself on top of the loose ball to seal the victory. But this is how good Hansbrough is--he scored 39, but there's no guarantee this is the best we'll see from him all season. Who knows? He might drive the bus to the game against Virginia, score 40 points, and then decide to grill his teammates a steak in the locker room. With Hansbrough, you don't rule out anything.
CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 10: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots against Raymond Sykes #12 of the Clemson Tigers during the first half at the Dean E. Smith Center on February 10, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Every once in a great while a star comes through the Tar Heel hoops universe like Hansbrough. We know what to do with them--we hang their jersey in the front row of the Smith Center. They are exceptional and there is a tangible reward.
Four-year players like Thomas are universal and their rewards are primarily intangible. They are the ones who accept the trophies after big wins ("Give it to the seniors"). They get water first at practice.
On this night, Thomas was Melvin Scott stepping in at point guard against Villanova and Scott Cherry bringing the ball upcourt against Michigan (cue Billy Packer: "I don't know what Dean Smith is doing here.") and Pearce Landry going from playing one minute as a sophomore to scoring nine critical points at Duke as a senior in the legendary 102-100 game.
He was, in other words, a Carolina senior.
I would like to replay for you a possession that you might remember. It was right after Thomas had given Ellington the pep talk, so Clemson still had its 79-74 lead. It probably sounded a little something like this in your head:
"OK, let's get the ball in-bounds here. Oh no, Q, don't dribble behind your back! Tyler, out of the way! No, don't turn it over! Tyler's got it! Why is he 45 feet from the basket? What are we doing? Look at Danny! Tyler, Danny's open!
I don't understand how or why, may never understand how or why, but those types of plays happen in a Carolina comeback. That was especially noteworthy because to that point, the game hadn't followed the normal Tar Heel comeback script. By now, we know it by heart. Get the game under double-digits at halftime (nope). Set a reachable second-half goal to start the frenzy--say, getting the lead down to eight points at the 8:00 mark (nope). Use offensive/defensive substitutions to take advantage of your defensive stopper (nope, the stopper, Marcus Ginyard, was sidelined with a right ankle injury).
And yet, it still happened. Imagine how you feel about winning a football game at Virginia. Almost impossible, right? The Tar Heels have lost big there, they've lost small there...they've just lost, almost all the time. Now extend that feeling of futility to, well, eternity. That's what it's like to be a Clemson fan in Chapel Hill.
Once Green hit his three-pointer and then followed it with another 40 seconds later, it was time to hand the game over to Thomas. With Clemson nursing an 82-80 lead with 30 seconds to play, the Tar Heels ran a favorite set for Ellington.
CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 10: Danny Green #14 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after hitting a three-point basket near the end of regulation against the Clemson Tigers at the Dean E. Smith Center on February 10, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina defeated Clemson in double overtime 103-93. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
It was covered.
So instead of forcing it, Thomas peered inside, saw daylight, and knifed to the basket for the game-tying bank shot. That's the kind of play you make when you've been around four years, when you understand the diagram on the clipboard is just a starting point, and when you've executed the same set hundreds of times in practice.
He did it again in overtime, standing at the foul line with a 90-88 Clemson lead and 38 seconds remaining. Have you ever heard 20,000 people try to be completely silent? There is nervous murmuring and then there is a hush as everyone sucks in their breath. Then the shots find the net and there is one big exhale of joy, softened with a low hum of, "Cueeeeeeeeeeeee."
"My dad has probably already called me," Thomas said. "All summer, he told me free throws are going to win games and that I was going to be put in the position to make them."
By the way, between saving the Tar Heels in regulation and overtime Thomas also found time to hold Cliff Hammonds, who had previously been on the way to one of those kinds of games, scoreless over the final 11 minutes of action. The Carolina senior stoned the Clemson senior on the last Tiger possession of regulation, when Oliver Purnell wanted Hammonds to win the game. Instead, Hammonds had to give up the ball because of Thomas's pressure.
Thomas has spent four years praising everyone else and being selfless. Sunday night, he deserved to do a little chest-pounding. Just admit it, Q. After all, you're going to hear it all over campus tomorrow. Tonight, in this gym, at this time, you were the man. Say it, Q. Say, "I'm the man."
"I can't do that," he said. "That's not me. I made free throws and a layup, but it's a team game. I'll never be the type to take credit for a win, especially for this win. Danny made some great shots, Tyler made a great defensive stop at the end, and Wayne had a great game. It was everyone."
Maybe so. But only one of them was a Carolina senior.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," said Bobby Frasor as he left the locker room.
What, the comeback?
"No. To see a guy like Quentin, a guy who maybe hasn't had the opportunity over his whole career, but has always stayed so positive.
"And tonight, it was Quentin who made the play."
Adam Lucas most recently collaborated on a behind-the-scenes look at Carolina Basketball with Wes Miller. The Road To Blue Heaven is available now. Lucas's other books on Carolina basketball include The Best Game Ever, which chronicles the 1957 national championship season, Going Home Again, which focuses on Roy Williams's return to Carolina, and Led By Their Dreams, a collaboration with Steve Kirschner and Matt Bowers on the 2005 championship team.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
John Henry NewmanFather John Christopher Aidan Nichols, O.P., is a figure to be reckoned with. Aidan Nichols, as he signs himself, has written extensively and authoritatively on the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar and has also authored the very useful volume The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger. He has collaborated on several projects with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is currently the first John Paul II Memorial Lecturer at Oxford University, the first lectureship in Catholic theology at Oxford since the sixteenth century.
In view of Nichols’ theological and ecumenical stature, it is rightly thought to be newsworthy when he brings out a little book titled Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England. His proposal will, as you might expect, be receiving careful attention in the pages of First Things. The conversion of England is, of course, a topic with a long and troubled history. Some prefer to speak of the reconversion of England. As Eamon Duffy demonstrated in his marvelous study The Stripping of the Altars, the English were once a very Catholic people.
From a Catholic perspective, the Church of England is a schismatic form of the Church in England that should be restored to full communion with the bishop of Rome and those in communion with the bishop of Rome. In this ecumenical age, to be sure, this is not usually stated so bluntly. Father Nichols’ candid reopening of these questions is, as he says, unfashionable.
To say that the history of these questions is troubled is an understatement. Remember the Spanish Armada, the English martyrs of the sixteenth century (Thomas More, Edmund Campion, John Fisher, et al.), Bloody Mary, the Gunpowder Plot, and on and on. The identity and, at times, the very survival of England has been viewed as inseparable from the established church with the monarch as its supreme head. When in the nineteenth century Rome reinstated the Catholic hierarchy, first under the leadership of Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman and then under the former Anglican, Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, many Englishmen saw it as a direct assault upon the religious, cultural, and political definition of the nation.
No reflection on these questions can bypass the thought and influence of John Henry Newman. After his distinguished, albeit controversial, career as an Anglican at Oxford, Newman was received into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1845. The repercussions of his conversion, continuing to this day, can hardly be overestimated. There have been many distinguished converts over the years, and some conversions have been described as being as historically consequential as that of Newman’s, but I don’t think so.
In addition to Newman’s scholarly and literary achievements leading up to and following his conversion, his becoming a Catholic sparked a national crisis such as could hardly happen anywhere outside England. Among other things, he was every inch an Oxford man, and Oxford was then—more than Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and a dozen other prestige schools rolled together in this country—both the finishing school and bulwark of the ruling class. To become a Catholic was to commit treason against one’s class and to go over to the dark side in the war against the religious and political settlement by which the country was ruled.
Like Aidan Nichols and others, Newman gave careful thought to the possible conversion, or reversion, of England to the Catholic faith. Newman became a Catholic when, after the most arduous attempts to do so, he could no longer convince himself that it was possible to be in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church without being in communion with Rome. While many followed Newman into full communion, he was extremely cautious about encouraging conversions that were not as thoughtful or driven by theological and moral necessity as his own. And he was sharply critical of those who attacked the establishment of the Church of England.
In 1860, for instance, he declined to support the building of a new Catholic church at Oxford, fearing it would be an unnecessary provocation. He wrote:
While I do not see my way to take steps to weaken the Church of England, being what it is, least of all should I be disposed to do so in Oxford, which has hitherto been the seat of those traditions which constitute whatever there is of Catholic doctrine and principle in the Anglican Church. . . . In weakening Oxford, we are weakening our friends. . . . Catholics did not make us Catholics; Oxford made us Catholics. At present Oxford surely does more good than harm. . . . I go further than a mere tolerance of Oxford; as I have said, I wish to suffer the Church of England. The Establishment has ever been a breakwater against Unitarianism, fanaticism, and infidelity. It has ever loved us better than Puritans and Independents have loved us. And it receives all that abuse and odium of dogmatism, or at least a good deal of it, which otherwise would be directed against us.
“I am afraid to make hasty converts of educated men,” Newman wrote in 1863, “lest they should not have counted the cost & should have difficulties after they have entered the Church. . . . The Church must be prepared for converts, as well as converts prepared for the Church.”
This reluctance to press for conversions was a constant in Newman’s thought, as was his view that the Church of England was, while not part of the one true Church of Christ, a valuable “bulwark” against infidelity. This was joined, as students of Newman know, with his distinctly uncomplimentary view of the leadership of the predominantly Irish Catholicism in the England of that time. He did not think that leadership was up to replacing the religious and cultural establishment rooted in the Church of England.
There is a splendid essay on Newman and ecumenism in a book forthcoming from Fordham University Press. The book is Church and Society, a collection of Avery Cardinal Dulles’ semiannual McGinley Lectures from 1988 to 2007, most of which were published in First Things, America, and various academic journals. In that essay, Dulles concludes: “Newman was a forerunner, standing on the threshold of a new ecumenical age. In him the convert spoke louder than the ecumenist. But he did succeed in combining a loyal adherence to the Catholic Church with a deep concern for Christian unity and a measure of appreciation for the workings of grace in other Christian communions.”
More than a century and a half after Newman, the circumstance is dramatically different in which Father Aidan Nichols makes his “unfashionable” proposal. It is very doubtful that the Church of England is today a “breakwater” against infidelity. Many view it as a source of infidelity, or at least of doctrinal and moral frivolousness that undermines fidelity. Nor is it, as Newman thought it was in his day, a guarantor of national cohesion. In today’s England, there are more churchgoing Catholics than Anglicans, and more observant Muslims than either.
In addition, the worldwide Anglican Communion, once anchored in the Church of England and thought to be a compelling reason for its preeminence, appears to be on the edge of dissolution. Moreover, with large numbers of English converts, plus large communities of committed Catholic immigrants from Central Europe and elsewhere, Catholicism is increasingly viewed as the only candidate to lead in the evangelization, or re-evangelization, of England. If the English are ever again to be something like a Christian people, Father Nichols’ proposal appears to be less unfashionable than inevitable.
As I said, this subject will be receiving further attention in the magazine. What we would really like to do is commission an article on these questions from John Henry Newman, but, since that does not appear to be possible, we’ll be glad to settle for informed speculation on what Newman might now think about his vision of a “second spring” so very long delayed.
ResourcesThe Theology of Joseph Ratzinger by Aidan Nichols
Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England by Aidan Nichols
The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy
Church and Society by Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.
Orange County Register
Saturday, February 9, 2008
His tough talk distracts from his far-from-conservative stands on global warming, immigration and other issues.
It's looking like a grim pick of the daisy petals for conservatives: McCain. Clinton. Obama. He loves us not. She loves us not. He wants to waft us upward on a great uniting bipartisan marshmallow of "hope" and "change" so he can implement down-the-line by-the-book highly partisan hopeless unchanged liberal policies.
How did it get to this? I was on the radio with Laura Ingraham an hour or so before she introduced Mitt Romney's farewell appearance at CPAC, and she played Stevie Wonder's campaign song for Barack Obama, whose lyric runs:
Ba-ra-ack Obama-a … "
(Repeat until coronation.)
It would be hard to believe you could come up with a Barack Obama campaign song thinner in content than a Barack Obama campaign speech, but Mr. Wonder has apparently accomplished it. So Laura and I had a laugh over Stevie's two-word lyric and moved on to discussing McCain and Romney and policies on this and that, at which point I observed that, on reflection, that Stevie Wonder song is actually quite a useful way to look at the campaigns. When a guy starts running for president, a few of us tend to hear the lyrics – what's he saying about the war, abortion, taxes. But a lot more people respond to the tune – howhe's saying it.
That was part of the problem with Mitt's campaign: When the sheet music came rolling off the fax machine from the Romney press office, it looked great. Good policies on the economy, national security, social issues – all three legs of the Republican coalition. But, when Mitt put the sheet up on the stand and started to sing, it wasn't quite what the broader GOP electorate wanted to hear.
Mitt is a smart, talented, successful man, but he has a clean-cut mien, and he says "Golly!" quite a lot. I found that goofily endearing. When someone raised the old polygamy question about Mormons, Mitt could have snidely pointed out that, in contrast with certain former New York mayors and Arizona senators, he was the only candidate still on his first wife, but instead he just took Mrs. R's hand and said "Golly, I hate polygamy." I don't know whether I'd want to be married to someone who said "Golly!" quite that often, but that's Mitt: not a polygamist, but a gollygamist.
A decisive chunk of the Republican primary electorate didn't find this goofily endearing. When Mitt stood up and warbled, they didn't like his tune. They wanted something meaner and rawer and tougher, and there was John McCain. At the risk of overextending my musical analogy way beyond its natural 32 bars, it should be noted that the defining McCain moment came back in the fall when he responded to Hillary Clinton's support for public funding for a Woodstock museum. If you're under 70 and have no idea what "Woodstock" is or why it would require its own museum, ask your grandpa. But McCain began by saying he was sure Mrs. Clinton was right and that it was a major "cultural and pharmaceutical event." Which is a cute line. And McCain wasn't done yet: "I wasn't there," he said of the 1969 music festival. "I was tied up at the time."
And the crowd roared its approval. It's not just a joke, though it's a pretty good one. It's not merely a way of reminding folks you've stood up to torture and you can shrug it off with almost 007-cool insouciance. But it also tells Republican voters that, when Sen. Clinton offers up some cobwebbed boomer piety, you know a piñata when you see one, and you're gonna clobber it.
And that's the music a lot of Republican voters want to hear. For a certain percentage of voters, McCain is tonally a conservative, and that trumps the fact that a lot of his policies are profoundly unconservative. He won New Hampshire because if you stuck him in plaid he'd be a passable Beltway impersonation of the crusty, cranky, ornery Granite Stater. The facts are secondary that, on campaign finance, illegal immigration, Big Pharma and global warming, the notorious "maverick's" mavericity (maverickiness? maverectomy?) always boils down to something indistinguishable from the Democrat position.
As it happens, on the Woodstock museum, McCain's absolutely right: If clapped-out boomer rock is no longer self-supporting and requires public subsidy, then capitalism is dead, and we might as well Sovietize the state. In a sense, it's the perfect reductioof geriatric hippie idealism: We've got to get back to the garden, but at taxpayer expense. A McCain presidency would offer many such moments. But, in between, he'd be "reaching across the aisle" to enact essentially Democrat legislation on climate change, illegal-immigration amnesty and almost everything else.
Charles Krauthammer calls McCain the "apostate sheriff," which is a nice term. He suggests that, for many Republican voters, "national security trumps social heresy." I'm not sure about that. This isn't shaping up to be a war election and, if it was, McCain would come under greater scrutiny. What's his big picture on radical Islam? We know, because he now claims all but sole credit for it, that he's pro-surge, and he was surging when surging wasn't cool, especially among jelly-spined Republican senators. But, as Mark Levin points out, the surge is a tactic, not a long-term strategy.
So, if Republicans went for McCain because he's the "national security sheriff," I think it's the sheriff part they like, rather than the national security. It's easy to see him moving down a dusty Main Street in a low crouch, hands ready to draw. Actually, now I do try to picture it, he's less like the sheriff and more like Yosemite Sam, and that doesn't usually work out as well.
Still, Republicans seem to have decided that McCain matches their mood. George W. Bush, you'll recall, was reviled by Dems and Europeans as a shoot-from-the-hip, dead-or-alive Texas swaggerer, but Republicans could never quite match the Dubya caricature with the guy who cooed all the religion-of-peace mush while strolling hand in hand with King Abdullah or announced homoerotically that he'd gazed into Putin's eyes and got a glimpse of his soul. It's hard to imagine McCain offering such effusions, yet at the same time, insofar as he has anything that could be regarded as a grounded political philosophy, it lies in the same "compassionate" direction as much of the Bush era.
Meanwhile, in this primary season, as the field has winnowed on the Republican side, the gap between GOP and Democrat "enthusiasm" has widened. John McCain is supposedly the man who'll bring "moderates" and "independents" and even "anti-Hillary Democrats" into the big tent. Look at the Super Duper Tuesday turnout figures. One reason why the tent feels big is because it's getting emptier.