Saturday, May 17, 2008
May 16, 2008, 0:00 p.m.
By Thomas S. Hibbs
A wonderful scene in the second half of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian — the second film in the Narnia series, based on C. S. Lewis’s beloved books — highlights the importance of cultivating a memory of the past in the face of strong cultural and political tendencies toward decay and decline. Returning to Narnia after a one-year absence (1,300 years in Narnia time), the Pevensie children — Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) — find themselves in a cave whose walls are covered with ancient drawings. The drawings are memorials to them and their heroic feats in Narnia; it turns out that they have entered a sort of crypt built around the stone tablet on which Aslan was murdered and from which he rose to defeat the White Witch.
The sense of the remote past, as both almost lost and yet recoverable, permeates Lewis’s book. Yet, apart from the scene in the cave, the film neglects this theme in favor of grand battles and a budding romance between Caspian (in a rather lackluster performance by Ben Barnes) and Susan. Indeed, devoted readers of Lewis’s books will likely take umbrage at the many changes the filmmakers have introduced. The unsettling question they ought to be asking themselves is whether the film transforms what, following Chesterton, we might call a great romance of orthodoxy into a Hollywood bubble-gum romance.
Having issued that harsh charge, I hasten to add two qualifications. On its own terms, the film version of Prince Caspian has much to offer. It is a solid piece of entertainment, with rousing battle scenes and many moments of humor. (The CG character Reepicheep, the honorable and hilarious mouse, steals every scene in which he appears.) But Caspian is more: it contains moving portrayals of the seductive power of temptation, and profound reflections on heroism — including a lesson on how the inordinate use of violence harms the perpetrator as well as the victim. Perhaps most impressive, particularly for those who have seen the first film, is the transformation of Edmund, who remains repentant for having disbelieved Lucy and for having treacherously served the White Witch. In a splendid performance, Skandar Keynes makes Edmund’s moral development credible and palpable; he is now wiser, more faithful, and more resolute.
The other thing that needs saying about the film is that the book from which it is drawn presents greater challenges to the filmmaker than does The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Director Andrew Adamson, who directed the first Narnia film after achieving fame for his work on the Shrek movies, takes more liberties with Lewis’s book than he did in the first film, of necessity. In the first half of Lewis’s book, he brings the Pevensie children (and his readers) up to date on the 1,300 years of Narnian history since the events related in the first book.
Lewis is doing more here than giving us a prolix prelude to a final battle. He is attempting to captivate his audience with the art of storytelling and with the superiority of real history over what passes for knowledge of the past in contemporary culture or in an ordinary academic setting. Lewis is also telling us something about the eponymous Caspian, a royal son, raised by his scheming uncle Miraz — who, it turns out, murdered Caspian’s father, and whose opportunistic desire to care for Caspian dissolves once his own wife gives birth to a son. We also learn that Caspian is from his youth a “lover of the Old Things,” in contrast to his uncle, who actively seeks to suppress the ancient and heroic history of Narnia.
Now, it makes sense to streamline Lewis’s historical narration, but, apart from the scene in the cave, the film fails to find a way to inject its version of the story with Lewis’s sense of devotion to the “Old Things.” Stressing Caspian’s longing to revive a lost way of life would have given his character greater gravity, something needed in the film to counterbalance the boyish good looks of Ben Barnes. His pretty appearance, the lack of character depth, and the filmmakers decision to focus on his innocuous flirtations with Susan render him a less than persuasive embodiment of Lewis’s main character.
That is not to say that all the changes are ill-conceived. One addition that works effectively is a longish battle scene in which Peter leads a surprise attack on Miraz’s castle, from which his army has to retreat in humiliation and sorrow, leaving behind many dead comrades.
Another addition concerns the reappearance of the White Witch, whose return is mentioned in the book as a possibility, but which never comes to pass. In the film, she returns — and who can blame them for bringing back Tilda Swinton’s chilling menace? — paralyzed in ice, which is a marvelously fitting image that recalls both her commitment to making Narnia always winter and never Christmas, and Dante’s vision of Satan as paralyzed in ice. This time, she is a powerful temptation not to Edmund, but to Peter.
The real problem with the film, I’m saddened to report, has to do with Aslan. This is due in part to the book’s relegation of him to a more marginal role than he had in the first book. On screen, he seems almost like one of the other animals — more powerful, certainly, but not all that mysterious. Except for when he roars, he is more cuddly than fearful. His admonitions to Lucy about the importance of fidelity to him come off as formulaic. A sign of the extent to which Aslan has been diminished in the film is evident in the penultimate scene, in which the children depart Narnia. In the book, they say goodbye to everyone else and then, last, “wonderfully and terribly,” as Lewis puts it, “it was farewell to Aslan himself.”
By contrast, in the film, the parting culminates with Susan’s sorrow over leaving Caspian. The scene is sweet and innocent enough, but it cultivates in the audience the mundane sense of unrealized romantic possibility, rather than the grand appreciation, both terrible and wonderful, of a cosmic romance of redemption.
— Thomas S. Hibbs is distinguished professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University and author of Arts of Darkness.
May 16, 2008, 0:00 p.m.
By Rebecca Cusey
Douglas Gresham, co-producer of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, is the stepson of the author of the Narnia series, C. S. Lewis. A child when Lewis married his mother, Joy Davidman, Gresham and his brother grew up in Lewis’s household and inherited Lewis’s estate. Much of Gresham’s life has been spent safeguarding his stepfather’s legacy, and pursuing the dream of properly adapting the series into film. In a phone conversation, I asked him about life on the set and behind the scenes of the movie, which hits theaters this weekend.
What is the essential thing that they absolutely have to get right in this movie?
The underlying messages of the story are so important, and so vital in fact, to the story; [they] are the return to faith, truth, justice, honesty, honor, glory, personal commitment, personal responsibility. All those things come out so strongly in the movie and were very important to me. Also the message is of vital importance, No matter how far away we stray, there’s always just one way back.
Do you think they got Aslan right?
Oh, yes. Far better than last time even. Aslan, in this movie, has all those characteristics which were so difficult to attempt last time. We’ve taken the technology that we’ve pioneered in some respects, but we’ve pushed out again. So, [with] this huge Aslan, you get this great character who is not only a great lion and beautiful to look at, but he’s warm and he’s welcoming, and just a tad bit forbidding, all at the same time. He’s not a tame lion. It’s all there now.
This film, even more than the other, seems to embody the idea of Muscular Christianity — fighting for what is right against desperate odds — that is apparent in C. S. Lewis’s writings. Would you agree that it is there in this film?
I think it is certainly there in this film to a certain degree. What you have to bear in mind is that the Narnian side tried everything they could, even to the extent of single combat with Peter, to avoid a bloodbath; it was the evil side in the end that brought it about. And that is of course, exactly what happens in our world. At the time that they were being written, Chamberlain [made an] effort to make peace with Hitler, right up until Hitler had betrayed everything they had agreed on. And of course we see it in our world today, where we are trying, Western society is trying — desperately almost — to the mistake of rolling over and playing dead, to pander to everyone else who is attacking it, one way or another. Eventually, of course, what will happen is people will dig their heels in, just as in Narnia, and the thing will be forced upon them. I think there are causes which are important to fight for, and I think that comes out in Prince Caspian.
It resonates throughout the whole of our society. We have to become more and more conscious of that fact, by the way. Most of us go about our little lives hoping that these things will go away and just leave us alone. Well, they won’t. The forces of evil are always going to be there. We’re always going to have to fight them. As Tolkien himself said, “All wars are lost. THE war goes on.”
Douglas Gresham at Belmont University.
Did you meet Tolkien?
Yes I did. Fine man, I liked him enormously.
Can we talk a little bit about Susan and Lucy’s more active role in the movie? How do you think Lewis would have responded to that?
Well, I’ve been persuaded by Andrew Adamson, that Lewis’s attitude toward women changed to some extent after he married my mother. Now there was a wonderful occasion that epitomized this to some extent. We’d had a problem in the wood with trespassers coming into the wood, local youths breaking down the trees, carving their initials into the trees, throwing rubbish into the lake, including each other and so forth. Mother said, “Jack we’ll just build a barbed wire fence to keep them out.” Jack said, “It’s no good my dear, they’ll just cut the wire and steal it.”
So, my mother, being from the Bronx, said, “If they do that, I’ll buy a shotgun.” They did steal the wire. Well, she bought one. Small gun. Threw a few pellets, never hurt anybody. She used to blast into the leaves of the trees whenever she saw a trespassers and they all chickened out and went somewhere else.
One day, Jack and my mother were walking up the hill ahead of me. Suddenly, out from the shrubbery, leapt a young man with a longbow and a quiver of arrows, casting himself in the part of a latter day Robin Hood, perhaps. Jack said, “Excuse me, but this is private land and you really shouldn’t be here. Would you mind leaving?” The man’s answer was to put an arrow to the string and draw the bow and point it at them. Immediately, Jack stepped in front of my mother to shield her from the arrow. He stood there for a moment, a very chivalrous thing to do, until he heard my mother in tones of chilled steel behind him saying “Goddamn it, Jack, get out of my line of fire.” He stepped sideways very smartly. That whole kind of experience of my mother’s determination and personality, I think changed Jack’s ideas toward women. In the first book he said “battles are ugly when women fight,” and he was right. But in the second, he did from there on, give them an active role for fighting for truth and justice and what was real.
I’m not entirely comfortable with it, because I do believe battles are ugly when women fight. I think they’re pretty ugly to start with, more so when women get involved. I believe what George MacDonald said was very true, which is that it’s every man’s responsibility to protect every woman, first of all from himself.
So what is the role of chivalry in a world where women take part in battles?
That becomes a very difficult thing to define. I don’t really think women should be involved in active combat. I don’t think it’s fair for the men who are fighting beside them, or the men who are fighting against them. And it’s not fair for the women themselves. I think the idea that women have to become men in our current society is a very bad one.
How do you think passionate fans of C. S. Lewis will receive this movie?
I think passionate purist fans of Jack’s works are going to have some interesting surprises when they see this movie. There is no more purist, more passionate fan of Narnia than myself. After all, I grew up there. I think the people who think about changing the book to a movie will see it was absolutely essential to do what we’ve done.
How involved were you?
Well above my neck, you might say. They call me a co-producer, but so much is under my umbrella of responsibility, there isn’t really a credit for what I do. I’m involved in the development of the screenplay, involved in just about every facet of the film and everything related to it. Video games, merchandise. And of course, we’re working on the next one as well.
How often were you on set?
I spent a lot of time on set. We had some interesting experiences. We were in a valley, way in the mountains, deep in the bush of New Zealand. It rained so savagely. There was a ford to get across the little stream to get into the place. Of course the river rose. No body could get in. It was just myself and about four others were the only people left in the whole base camp. For four days nobody could get in or out. I was on set as much as my other responsibilities to the movie would allow.
What do you do when you’re not making movies?
That depends. A lot of my life is spent overseeing everything that is being done in the publishing department of Lewis’s work. My spare time is largely filled, at the moment, with chopping down a forest of prickly pears in a field I’ve just bought. My life is pretty full.
You have children and grandchildren?
We have five children and we have nine, about to be ten, grandchildren. The keenest thing about having kids is grandkids, believe me. It’s wonderful when they hand you grandbabies and you spoil them rotten and when they turn an interesting green color, you hand them back.
— Rebecca Cusey writes from Washington, D.C.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Orange County Register
"That's enough. That – that's a show of disrespect to me."
That was Barack Obama, a couple of weeks back, explaining why he was casting the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into outer darkness. It's one thing to wallow in "adolescent grandiosity" (as Scott Johnson of the Powerline Web site called it) when it's a family dispute between you and your pastor of 20 years. It's quite another to do so when it's the 60th anniversary celebrations of one of America's closest allies.
President Bush was in Israel the other day and gave a speech to the Knesset. Its perspective was summed up by his closing anecdote – a departing British officer in May 1948 handing the iron bar to the Zion Gate to a trembling rabbi and telling him it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of the Jerusalem was in the hands of a Jew. In other words, it was a big-picture speech, referencing the Holocaust, the pogroms, Masada – and the challenges that lie ahead. Sen. Obama was not mentioned in the text. No Democrat was mentioned, save for President Truman, in the context of his recognition of the new state of Israel when it was a mere 11 minutes old.
Nonetheless, Barack Obama decided that the president's speech was really about him, and he didn't care for it. He didn't put it quite as bluntly as he did with the Rev. Wright, but the message was the same: "That's enough. That's a show of disrespect to me." And, taking their cue from the soon-to-be nominee's weirdly petty narcissism, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Joe Biden and Co. piled on to deplore Bush's outrageous, unacceptable, unpresidential, outrageously unacceptable and unacceptably unpresidential behavior.
Honestly. What a bunch of self-absorbed ninnies. Here's what the president said:
"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
It says something for Democrat touchiness that the minute a guy makes a generalized observation about folks who appease terrorists and dictators the Dems assume: Hey, they're talking about me. Actually, he wasn't – or, to be more precise, he wasn't talking onlyabout you.
Yes, there are plenty of Democrats who are in favor of negotiating with our enemies, and a few Republicans, too – President Bush's pal James Baker, whose Iraq Study Group was full of proposals to barter with Iran and Syria and everybody else. But that general line is also taken by at least three of Tony Blair's former Cabinet ministers and his senior policy adviser, and by the leader of Canada's New Democratic Party and by a whole bunch of bigshot Europeans. It's not a Democrat election policy, it's an entire worldview. Even Barack Obama can't be so vain as to think his fly-me-to-[insert name of enemy here]concept is an original idea.
Increasingly, the Western world has attitudes rather than policies. It's one thing to talk as a means to an end. But these days, for most midlevel powers, talks arethe end, talks without end. Because that's what civilized nations like doing – chit-chatting, shooting the breeze, having tea and crumpets, talking talking talking. Uncivilized nations like torturing dissidents, killing civilians, bombing villages, doing doing doing. It's easier to get the doers to pass themselves off as talkers then to get the talkers to rouse themselves to do anything.
And, as the Iranians understand, talks provide a splendid cover for getting on with anything you want to do. If, say, you want to get on with your nuclear program relatively undisturbed, the easiest way to do it is to enter years of endless talks with the Europeans over said nuclear program. That's why that Hamas honcho endorsed Obama: They know he's their best shot at getting a European foreign minister installed as president of the United States.
Mo Mowlam was Britain's Northern Ireland secretary and oversaw the process by which the IRA's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness became ministers of a Crown they decline to recognize. By 2004, she was calling for Osama bin Laden to be invited to "the negotiating table," having concluded he was no different from Adams: Stern fellow, lots of blood on his hands, but no sense getting on your high horse about all that; let's find out what he wants and give him part of it.
In his 2002 letter to the United States, bin Laden has a lot of grievances, from America's refusal to implement Sharia law to Jew-controlled usury to the lack of punishment for "President Clinton's immoral acts." Like Barack Obama's pastor, bin Laden shares the view that AIDS is a "Satanic American invention." Obviously, there are items on the agenda that the free world can never concede on – "President Clinton's immoral acts" – but who's to say most of the rest isn't worth chewing over?
This will be the fault line in the post-Bush war debate over the next few years. Are the political ambitions of the broader jihad totalitarian, genocidal, millenarian – in a word, nuts? Or are they negotiable? President Bush knows where he stands. Just before the words that Barack Obama took umbrage at, he said:
"There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously."
Here are some words of Hussein Massawi, the former leader of Hezbollah:
"We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."
Are his actions consistent with those words? Amazingly so. So, too, are those of Hezbollah's patrons in Tehran.
President Reagan talked with the Soviets while pushing ahead with the deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe. He spoke softly – after getting himself a bigger stick. Sen. Obama is proposing to reward a man who pledges to wipe Israel off the map with a presidential photo-op to which he will bring not even a twig. No wonder he's so twitchy about it.
Friday, May 16, 2008
By the Editors
A wedding cake is seen during a demonstration in West Hollywood, California, May 15 after the decision by the California Supreme Court to effectively greenlight same-sex marriage.
The California supreme court, by a 4-to-3 margin, ruled Thursday that it is not sufficient that California has enacted a domestic-partnership scheme that makes available to same-sex couples “virtually all of the same substantive legal benefits and privileges” as marriage. The court instead invented a “right of same-sex couples to have their official family relationship accorded the same dignity, respect, and stature as that accorded to all other officially recognized family relationships.” In short, it required that marriage itself — both the term and the institution — be redefined to be fully available to same-sex couples.
Chief Justice Ronald M. George’s majority opinion is as arrogant as it is confused. Never mind that, as his opinion concedes, “[f]rom the beginning of California statehood, the legal institution of marriage has been understood to refer to a relationship between a man and a woman.” Never mind that the very right to marry that he so wildly misconstrues is built on that understanding. Never mind that California voters in 2000 overwhelmingly ratified that understanding by adopting by initiative — by a 61.4-percent majority — the California Defense of Marriage Act.
Gay men exchanging rings at their wedding. California's supreme court ruled that a ban on gay marriage was unlawful Thursday, effectively leaving same-sex couples in America's most populous state free to tie the knot in a landmark ruling.
As associate justice Marvin R. Baxter aptly stated in dissent, “Nothing in our Constitution, express or implicit, compels the majority’s startling conclusion that the age-old understanding of marriage — an understanding recently confirmed by an initiative law — is no longer valid. California statutes already recognize same-sex unions and grant them all the substantive legal rights this state can bestow. If there is to be a further sea change in the social and legal understanding of marriage itself, that evolution should occur by similar democratic means.”
Fortunately for Californians, they will likely have an opportunity this November to undo their court’s mischief. Headed for the state ballot is the California Marriage Protection Act, a voter-sponsored initiative that would amend the California constitution to provide expressly that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The initiative would thus override the court’s misinterpretations of the state constitution. (The California Defense of Marriage Act in 2000 was an ordinary law, not a constitutional amendment.)
From left, Ernie Frausto, Ricky Terry, Ben Holder, and Eric Shangle, all of San Francisco, dance as they celebrate California's supreme court decision on Castro Street in San Francisco, Thursday, May, 15, 2008. A huge crowd gathered in the Castro district to celebrate, after the California Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on gay marriage Thursday in a ruling that would allow same-sex couples in the nation's biggest state to tie the knot.
(AP Photo/Darryl Bush)
Reasonable people of good will have competing views on whether and how state laws should accommodate same-sex relationships. Our own views on this matter are traditionalist. But in a representative democracy, everyone ought to agree that any changes should result from legislation, not from activist judges who twist and distort constitutional text to their own ends.
Both John McCain and Barack Obama say they are opposed to same-sex marriage, but both oppose a constitutional amendment to codify that view. Such an amendment is the surest way to prevent judicial meddling. But there is nonetheless an important difference between these candidates. McCain, judging from his record and his recent speech against judicial activism, will try to appoint judges who will refrain from engaging in such meddling. About Obama we know no such thing, and have reason to suspect otherwise. We hope that Senator McCain will be willing to draw this distinction, which puts him on the right and popular side of this issue.
Friday, May 16, 2008
When the Left writes its own history, the past gets rewritten to suit the needs of the present. This is why I wrote A Conservative History of the American Left, to conserve not only fascinating figures now forgotten but to retrieve from the memory hole all that the Left has tossed down it. What is the history of the American Left that leftists want you to forget?
10. Ayatollah Khomeini, Leftist Hero
Reflexive anti-Americanism initially moved the Left to embrace the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Mother Jones, for instance, in 1979 predicted that “if Khomeini or his followers take power” then “democratic reforms, freedom for political prisoners, an end to the astronomical waste of huge arms purchases, and a constitutional government” would follow. The Nation, Michel Foucault, and other pillars of the Left similarly projected their ideals upon Khomeini and company.
9. Manson Family Values
“I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV,” hippie guru Jerry Rubin professed. “His words and courage inspired us.” Weatherman hoisted “Charles Manson Power” banners, adopted a spread-fingered greeting to symbolize the fork with which the Manson murderers impaled a victim’s stomach, and even boasted a cell nicknamed “The Fork.” Weatherman matriarch Bernardine Dohrn infamously proclaimed: “Dig it: first they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach. Wild!”
8. Gay Activists Sue to Block AIDS Test
Today, homosexual activists blame Ronald Reagan and the clergy for the spread of AIDS. But in the mid-1980s, the National Gay Task Force and the Lambda Legal Defense, citing civil-liberties concerns, actually sued the federal government to stop the AIDS test. Thankfully, they lost and scores of lives have been saved as a result.
7. Murder Chic
The easiest way to become a hero on the Left is to kill another human being. John Brown, the Molly Maguires, the Haymarket Square Bombers, Joe Hill, Huey Newton, and Mumia Abu-Jamal—murderers all—have been venerated by the Left in song and on screen. The people they murdered are not even an afterthought.
6. Jonestown Kool-Aid
Before orchestrating the murder/suicides 900+ people in Guyana, Jim Jones was the darling of the San Francisco Left. Huey Newton, Angela Davis, and Willie Brown embraced a man who killed more blacks than the KKK. Democrats Rosalynn Carter, Walter Mondale, and Gerry Brown made campaign visits to the Peoples Temple’s “comrade leader.” The mayor of San Francisco even rewarded Jones for his activism by appointing him chairman of the city’s housing commission. “The temple was as much a left-wing political crusade as a church,” The Nation reported in 1978. Unfortunately, as the years progressed, more Americans gulped down the Left’s Kool-Aid that Jones was of the religious Right and not an atheist leftist.
5. Concentration Camps, American Style
A year before Hitler came to power in Germany, Margaret Sanger called for a vast system of concentration camps for the United States. The Planned Parenthood founder demanded “a stern and rigid policy of segregation or sterilization” for “dysgenic” Americans who “would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.” The 1932 speech concluded that “fifteen or twenty millions of our population would then be organized into soldiers of defense—defending the unborn against their own disabilities.”
4. Heaven on Earth
American intellectuals looked upon the hell on earth that was post-revolutionary Russia and saw a heaven on earth. The New Republic credited the Russian Revolution with providing “the most democratic franchise yet devised in our world,” while The Nation found that “the franchise is more democratic in Russia than in England or in the United States.” Lincoln Steffens marveled after a visit to the Soviet Union, “The revolution in Russia is to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.”
Even before the progressive era when most states instituted eugenics laws, the American Left had agitated for state controls over procreation. John Humphrey Noyes’ Bible Communists lamented that freedom of marital choice “leaves mating to be determined by a general scramble, without attempt at scientific direction” and devised the first eugenic experiment in the U.S.—“stirpiculture”—that produced dozens of children and prevented hundreds more. In Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy dreamed of “race purification” to “preserve and transmit the better types of the race, and let the inferior types drop out.” Other proponents included Margaret Sanger, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who famously decreed in Buck v. Bell, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” State governments ultimately sterilized upwards of 60,000.
2. Assassinating Presidents
Three of the four presidential assassins have been left-wing radicals. Bible Communist Charles Guiteau murdered President Garfield, anarcho-communist Leon Czolgosz murdered President McKinley, and Soviet Communist Lee Harvey Oswald murdered John F. Kennedy. Rather than own that history, the Left has invented conspiracy theories that absolve leftists from responsibility.
1. Nazi-Soviet Pact
The Left switched from pacifists to warmongers overnight once the Nazi attack upon the Communists dissolved the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Communist Party USA chief Earl Browder, who had dubbed WWII “the second imperialist war” during the pact, so thoroughly switched course when the Nazis attacked the Communists that he embraced conscription (after his opposition to it led to jail in WWI), endorsed a ‘no-strike’ pledge for labor unions (after encouraging strikes to impede the war effort), and kicked out Japanese Americans from the CP (after ostensibly championing civil rights). The Hollywood Anti-Nazi League ceased operations during the pact. The Communists’ New Masses panned the anti-Nazi Watch on the Rhine when it appeared as a play during the pact only to praise it when it appeared as a movie when Hitler and Stalin were again enemies.
- Daniel J. Flynn is the author of Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas and A Conservative History of the American Left. He is also the editor of www.flynnfiles.com.
Friday, May 16, 2008
US President George W. Bush and his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres review a guard of honour in Jerusalem on Mayk 14. Bush has vowed to support Israel in battling "terror" groups, a day after a rocket fired from Gaza wounded 14 people and triggered warnings of retaliation.(AFP/Jim Watson)
“The Zionist regime is dying. The criminals assume that by holding celebrations...they can save the sinister Zionist regime from death and annihilation…. Nations of the region hate this criminal fabricated regime and will uproot this fabricated regime if the smallest and shortest opportunity is given to them.” These words were spoken Wednesday by a head of state, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, in a live address on state television.
Ahmadinejad knew that, even though incitement of this kind is illegal under international law, he would pay no penalty for his words. Indeed, for Austrian oil and gas giant OMV, which in April last year signed a 22-bn-euro joint natural gas project with Teheran, the mullahs’ regime is not only not criminal, but big business.
Also on Wednesday at OMV’s annual stockholder meeting in Vienna, protesters from the Stop the Bomb movement distributed flyers and asked questions that didn’t get very far. Queried whether it was consistent with OMV’s ethical code to do business with a country that “has executed more adolescents than any other state,” CEO Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer replied, “We reject the execution of adolescents, whether in the USA, China or Iran. We cannot change governments.”
His animus against America is understandable since, when asked about sanctions against Iran, Ruttenstorfer replied that OMV is waiting for “political change in the USA.”
And OMV is far from alone in Europe; Switzerland, for instance, is going ahead with the huge gas deal signed in Teheran last March by its foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey in a headscarfed handshake with Ahmadinejad, and Germany is Iran’s biggest European trading partner of all. So when you see Ahmadinejad smiling so much, there’s good reason for it.
Meanwhile the “Zionist regime” was indeed celebrating its 60th birthday along with President George Bush, who touched down in Israel on Wednesday. When a few hours after his arrival an Iranian-made Katyusha rocket crashed into a shopping mall in the coastal city of Ashkelon, wounding fifteen including four seriously, some of the Israeli ministers departed the festivities for the site of the attack.
One of them, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, invited Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—part of Bush’s entourage—to come with him and see the damage and the reality of life in southern Israel, but she declined.
Although one indeed doesn’t want to spoil the mood at a party, Bush expressed concern to Olmert about the strategic situation in the region and said the crisis in Lebanon “is an Iranian effort to destabilize that young democracy.”
Yet about the Palestinians Bush was optimistic as always; while allowing that “Hamas’s stated objective is the destruction of the state of Israel,” he added that “the United States will stand strongly with Israel, as well as stand strongly with the Palestinians who don’t share that vision.”
It was hard, though, to know who he had in mind as Palestinians not only in Hamastan/Gaza but also throughout the West Bank and even in Lebanon geared up to mark Israel’s 60th—or, for them, Nakba (Catastrophe) Day—in their own way with marches and strikes. And Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, the centerpiece of Bush’s peace plans and object of his praise, lent his signature to a document vowing to continue the “struggle” for all Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
A document, in other words, touting that very “vision”—Israel’s destruction—that Bush insists is only an objective of Hamas. But even if Bush attended to any of this—and, since he keeps affirming the peacefulness of non-Hamas Palestinians, there is no indication that he does—he could have found even worse tidings in Palestinian Media Watch’s latest report on Abbas’s Palestinian Authority’s severe anti-Americanism.
If Bush were to take some time out from his busy schedule and leaf through it, he could learn that just last March on PA TV a legislator from Abbas’s Fatah party called the U.S. “the greatest Satan in the world”; that the PA feels comradeship for distant, non-Muslim countries like North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela “precisely because [they] publicly challenge and express loathing for the U.S.”; or that the PA has named schools, streets, and sporting events after Saddam Hussein and its media are full of tributes to him.
He could learn, too, that the PA media lauds terrorist groups fighting the U.S. in Iraq; that in April 2007 the speaker of the PA Legislative Council implored Allah on PA TV to “take hold of the Americans and their allies… Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one”; and that the report concludes by saying “this hatred by Palestinian Fatah and its closeness to these enemies of the U.S. are not a result of any specific U.S. policy, but are reflective of a deep and sincere ideological affinity to those enemies of the U.S.”
Israel’s 60th anniversary is indeed cause for celebration, but when looking at the security environment one’s jubilation has to be tempered. Whether it’s the European democracies—including the descendants of the Nazis—doing brisk trade with the Nazi regime in Teheran, the West’s and Israel’s continuing helplessness before Hezbollah’s assault on Lebanon and Hamas’s pounding of southern Israel, or the U.S. president’s ongoing delusional preoccupation with the Palestinian issue and perseverance in coddling and strengthening deadly enemies, the situation is hauntingly similar to the bleak landscape from which Israel eventually emerged.
May 16, 2008
Click to enlarge
WASHINGTON -- Before sending Lewis and Clark west, Thomas Jefferson dispatched Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia to see Dr. Benjamin Rush. The eminent doctor prepared a series of scientific questions for the expedition to answer. Among them, writes Stephen Ambrose: "What Affinity between their (the Indians') religious Ceremonies & those of the Jews?" Jefferson and Lewis, like many of their day and ours, were fascinated by the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and thought they might be out there on the Great Plains.
They weren't. They aren't anywhere. Their disappearance into the mists of history since their exile from Israel in 722 B.C. is no mystery. It is the norm, the rule for every ancient people defeated, destroyed, scattered and exiled.
With one exception, a miraculous story of redemption and return, after not a century or two, but 2,000 years. Remarkably, that miracle occurred in our time. This week marks its 60th anniversary: the return and restoration of the remaining two tribes of Israel -- Judah and Benjamin, later known as the Jews -- to their ancient homeland.
Besides restoring Jewish sovereignty, the establishment of the State of Israel embodied many subsidiary miracles, from the creation of the first Jewish army since Roman times to the only recorded instance of the resurrection of a dead language -- Hebrew, now the daily tongue of a vibrant nation of 7 million. As historian Barbara Tuchman once wrote, Israel is "the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and same language as it did 3,000 years ago."
During its early years, Israel was often spoken of in such romantic terms. Today, such talk is considered naive, anachronistic, even insensitive, nothing more than Zionist myth designed to hide the true story, i.e., the Palestinian narrative of dispossession.
Not so. Palestinian suffering is, of course, real and heart-wrenching, but what the Arab narrative deliberately distorts is the cause of its own tragedy: the folly of its own fanatical leadership -- from Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem (Nazi collaborator, who spent World War II in Berlin), to Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser to Yasser Arafat to Hamas of today -- that repeatedly chose war rather than compromise and conciliation.
Palestinian dispossession is a direct result of the Arab rejection, then and now, of a Jewish state of any size on any part of the vast lands the Arabs claim as their exclusive patrimony. That was the cause of the war 60 years ago that, in turn, caused the refugee problem. And it remains the cause of war today.
Six months before Israel's birth, the U.N. had decided by a two-thirds majority that the only just solution to the British departure from Palestine would be the establishment of a Jewish state and an Arab state side by side. The undeniable fact remains: The Jews accepted that compromise; the Arabs rejected it.
With a vengeance. On the day the British pulled down their flag, Israel was invaded by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan and Iraq -- 650,000 Jews against 40 million Arabs.
Israel prevailed, another miracle. But at a very high cost -- not just to the Palestinians displaced as a result of a war designed to extinguish Israel at birth, but also to the Israelis, whose war losses were staggering: 6,373 dead. One percent of the population. In American terms, it would take thirty-five Vietnam memorials to encompass such a monumental loss of life.
You rarely hear about Israel's terrible suffering in that 1948-49 war. You hear only the Palestinian side. Today, in the same vein, you hear that Israeli settlements and checkpoints and occupation are the continuing root causes of terrorism and instability in the region.
But in 1948, there were no "occupied territories." Nor in 1967 when Egypt, Syria and Jordan joined together in a second war of annihilation against Israel.
Look at Gaza today. No Israeli occupation, no settlements, not a single Jew left. The Palestinian response? Unremitting rocket fire killing and maiming Israeli civilians. The declared casus belli of the Palestinian government in Gaza behind these rockets? The very existence of a Jewish state.
Israel's crime is not its policies but its insistence on living. On the day the Arabs -- and the Palestinians in particular -- make a collective decision to accept the Jewish state, there will be peace, as Israel proved with its treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Until that day, there will be nothing but war. And every "peace process," however cynical or well-meaning, will come to nothing.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
LIBERTAS REVIEW: The Chronicle of Narnia: Prince Caspian **BUMPED**
All 140 minutes of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian are vastly superior to its predecessor. The crucial difference is that unlike The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Caspian is not a C.S. Lewis picture, it’s a director’s picture — it‘s an Andrew Adamson picture. Wardrobe was overly cautious and entirely too tentative in bringing to life a beloved children’s book. Good intentions, while appreciated, don’t always make for great storytelling and Wardrobe had a precious, sterile quality which only served as a kind of serviceable entertainment; a film that didn’t betray the source material but whose fear of doing so kept us at arm’s length. With Prince Caspian, Adamson steps out with confidence and creates an epic and magnificent adventure that engages and exhilarates from opening scene to closing credits.
Only a year has passed for the four Pevensie siblings, who after growing to adulthood as kings and queens in Narnia are now having trouble adjusting as everyday children in the real world of WWII-era London. However, in Narnia, a full 1300 years have passed and the four siblings and their kingdom of wondrous talking animals have melted away into history — into the kind of legend found on cave drawings. Narnia’s now ruled by General Miaz, the power-hungry uncle of Prince Caspian — the rightful heir to the throne.
The story opens on the birth of Miaz’s son — a son who would be king were it not for Caspian. After narrowly escaping an assassination attempt, Caspian finds himself exiled and protected by the wondrous creatures he thought only existed in the folk tales taught to him by his mentor.
Relentlessly hunted by Miaz’s soldiers, Caspian uses Susan’s magic horn, drawing Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy from a London subway station back to their beloved Narnia. It takes a while for the four children to adjust to a Narnia they no longer recognize, but events soon force them into another confrontation with evil that will require from them even more than when they confronted the White Witch.
Caspian avoids the episodic plotting of its predecessor by immediately setting up a momentum towards a coming battle which looms within the subtext of every scene. Plenty of time is taken to introduce new characters and re-introduce old ones, but make no mistake, Caspian is a war film and everything is about preparing for that final confrontation.
While the special effects are much improved over those in Wardrobe, which were often cheesy, the characters are never lost in the grand spectacle. The plot is refreshingly simple, but the characters and their relationships are not, and even during the grandest of battle scenes, which are exceptionally well-choreographed and shot, the humanity of the people fighting the battle remain the focus.
Each of the four leads is given an opportunity to shine. These are the highlights of the film because of an exceptional script which keeps the moments essential to the story, faithful to the themes being explored, and important to the development of each character. It also helps that since the first film the four children have grown remarkably both as actors and in a natural ability to command the screen. As Prince Caspian, Ben Barnes is the most pleasant of surprises. All my concerns that he was just another hollow piece of Hollywood tween-bait faded quickly. He brings more to the table than a pretty face.
Other notable performances include The Mighty Peter Dinklage as the dwarf Trumpkin, who suffers the patronizing indignity of his size with a series of memorable laugh-out-loud asides. His best moment, however, comes at the end when the cynic is finally made to understand what he was really fighting for. If you loved Shrek’s Puss n’Boots, get ready for Eddie Izzard’s hilarious and warm interpretation of the gallant mouse Reepicheep who should be charged with felony scene stealing.
A more fitting title for this wonderful sequel might have been, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lie Of Kumbaya. Caspian’s themes of honor, faith, nobility, and self-sacrifice all come to a single point: confronting and destroying an evil that will not be appeased or negotiated with. This is often a dark adventure, and one that doesn’t ask us to turn the other cheek when it comes to confronting evil — even through war.
Like a great 1940s swashbuckler, Caspian never crosses the line from action into violence, and yet there’s still plenty of suspense and a sense of the real stakes involved in life and death. In the breathtaking climax, which rivals those in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the thrills are a result of your affection for the characters not from anything visceral.
The Christian theme is not only stronger in Caspian than in Wardrobe, but integrated more naturally into the story — slowly building with events until it perfectly climaxes at the end for maximum emotional effect. This is not some new-age Christian allegory where if you fall to your knees in some sun-dappled field and raise your hands to Jesus all your problems will go away. As in life, God is not a deus ex machina. There’s a bigger picture at work — a master plan — and it’s up to us to find our place within that plan, not the other way around. What Would Aslan Do? No. What Would Aslan Want Us To Do.
Everything you could possibly ask for in an adventure film Caspian offers and then some. Photographed with style to spare and set to a rousing score worthy of an Errol Flynn classic, Caspian delivers any number of wonderful, well-defined characters you care about, strong and worthy themes, warmth, humor, and a driven plot determined first and foremost to entertain. With Iron Man I was sure the best film of the summer was already behind us. I do love it when I’m wrong.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 7:45 am and is filed under Movie Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
On the very day of a special election to fill a vacated congressional seat this week in Mississippi, The New York Times accused the Republican candidate of running racist ads against his Democratic opponent.
Talk about dirty tricks! By The New York Times, that is.
The Republican thus accused of racism narrowly lost the election the night the Times article appeared, so I guess the Times can proclaim: "Mission Accomplished."
The ad in question, on behalf of Republican Greg Davis, pointed out that Barack Obama had endorsed Davis' opponent, Travis Childers -- another in a long line of fake-American goobers claiming to be "conservative Democrats," but who get to Congress and promptly vote to ban guns, surrender in Iraq and fund full-term abortions.
These days, I guess you can call yourself a "conservative Democrat" if you refrain from being sworn into Congress with your hand on a Quran.
The ad showed a clip of Obama's pastor g-damning America and mentioned Obama's recent remarks ridiculing rural folks for clinging to guns. It then concluded that Childers "took Obama's endorsement over our conservative values."
The Republicans had also run ads connecting Childers with other Washington liberals, such as Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry. (Times editors are still looking for the racist angle to those ads.)
To call that ad racist is a monstrous libel. Greg Davis and the Mississippi Republicans should bring a defamation action against The New York Times -- although such an action might be perceived as "racist" because some black people work at the Times.
Republicans are constantly linking the local hayseed Democrat to national liberals like John Kerry. The technique goes back at least to Michael Dukakis in 1988.
It is beyond outrageous for liberals to complain about the practice of linking Democrats to the national party when their calculated strategy in race after race in the red states has been to run Democratic candidates who appear to be Americans. They're not Americans. They're liberals! I don't care how much hay is sticking out of their straw hats.
In the 2006 midterm elections, Sen. Chuck Schumer and erstwhile ballerina Rep. Rahm Emanuel (now there's a couple of raw-boned Americans for you!) famously rounded up yokels from the local square dance contests to run as "macho Dems" -- as the Times admiringly called them. Schumer and the ballerina were hailed for their brilliant strategy to fool the hayseeds.
The phony blue-collar Democrats won their elections by driving around in pickup trucks and shooting guns, then moved to Washington and began voting against war in Iraq and in favor of taxpayer-funded abortions.
One of the Democrats' paragons of regular guy-ness that year was Jon Tester of Montana, who wore cowboy boots and had a buzz cut. The crew cut absolutely transfixed liberals in places like Manhattan. Search "Jon Tester and crew cut" on Google, and you'll get more than 200,000 hits. Even this tonsorial affectation was a liberal fake-out, inasmuch as Tester has no military service.
After campaigning throughout Montana in a pickup truck, Tester got to Washington and compiled a voting record more liberal than Chuck Schumer's, according to the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (Tester: 95 percent; Schumer: 90 percent). Tester also has a 100 percent rating from the pro-abortion group NARAL. There's your truck driving, gun-totin' Democrat.
Sen. Bob Casey Jr. was another consumer fraud perpetrated on voters in 2006 by the Democrats. Casey ran for office on the strength of his father's name and his alleged pro-life position. It was the pro-life position of his father -- the popular Democratic governor of Pennsylvania -- that disqualified Casey Sr. from speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1992.
Despite rumors that Schumer had assured Hillary Clinton that Casey was not really pro-life, the good people of Pennsylvania made him their senator, throwing out Rick Santorum, the kind of pro-lifer who actually opposes abortion.
In Casey's first year in office, he voted in favor of an amendment to a foreign appropriations bill introduced by the fanatically pro-abortion Barbara Boxer that overturned U.S. policy against providing taxpayer money to groups that perform abortions overseas. It also granted overseas abortion providers taxpayer money. There's a "pro-life Democrat" for you.
In elections in the patriotic parts of the country, Democrats keep producing candidates that look like they're out of a Norman Rockwell painting but vote like Karl Marx -- which is to say, they vote like the typical member of the Democratic Party. Naturally, Republicans respond to this tactic by linking the local phonies to the national party.
As soon as the Democrats stop running these mountebanks, Republicans will stop exposing them as lickspittles for their liberal masters in Washington.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
By Larry Thornberry
The American Spectator
Published 5/14/2008 12:08:01 AM
If Republicans are going to be stampeded by phony environmental alarms and propose terrible public policies in the name of these scams, what the hell do we need Democrats for?
America is so far gone in the global warming superstition that the Republican candidate for president (the REPUBLICAN!) is proposing a Soviet scheme to take decisions about energy use out of the private sector where they belong and turn them over to politicians and bureaucrats. If there's a quicker way to make America into a Third World nation, pray tell me what it is.
When a politician whoops up a really bad public policy, it's reasonable to ask if said politician is cynical or just stupid. But this one's a real puzzlement. We've seen enough of John McCain to know that he's not stupid -- willful sometimes, erratic for sure, too eager to insult conservatives, and taken to the odd flight of pique or narcissism. But he's not stupid by a long shot. And for all his faults, he's not notably cynical. At least for a politician.
So how account for the execrable cap and trade policy McCain sprung on us from Portland, Oregon, Monday and which he says will save us from the dreaded carbon dioxide? (If you're asking: "Carbon dioxide -- isn't that what makes the flowers grow and what baby's breath is made of?" Answer: yes.) All a cap and trade system (government energy rationing) would bring about is a sharp decline in our standard of living in return for, well, nothing. Sources of energy to replace the carbon-based ones we rely on now just aren't here yet, and we don't know when they will be.
Ignoring this, McCain is promising a terrible policy in the name of preventing warming of the planet, which some scientists and lots of politicians and bureaucrats and enviro-nutters claim will lead to a list of almost Biblical horrors. You've heard the litany -- death and disease from rising sea levels, brain-frying heat, lush land turning to desert, storms so strong as to make Hurricane Katrina seem a summer breeze by comparison, and rampant erectile dysfunction. (OK, I made that last one up -- but the only reason the global warming hysterics haven't claimed this is that they haven't thought of it yet.)
THE ONLY PROBLEM is that the evidence for these almost operatic calamities is, contrary to most of the public clamor, paper thin. Most scientists don't buy into the calamity theory, though various political organizations, like the UN's International Panel on Climate Control, claim they do. Consider just a few things:
* The temperature of the Earth and its atmosphere has been going up and down in long cycles for at least the last million years, and there's no convincing evidence that the slight increase in temperature during the 20th century (there's been hardly any measurable increase so far this century) is anything more or less than the normal variation.
* The Earth's warm periods (during one of which Greenland was named Greenland -- for good reason), many of them warmer than we are now, have been some of the planet's more prosperous times. The horrors that Al Gore and his co-religionists are threatening us with did not occur during the planet's previous warm periods. No reason to believe they will take place now.
* Even during the 20th century when the temperature of the planet went up about .7 of a degree Celsius (we have to say "about" because taking the planet's temperature is difficult, there being no clear place to stick the thermometer), temperature did not vary with the levels of CO2 being produced by Man. Much of the warming took place during the first half of the century before Man became really good at producing greenhouse gasses. Then temperatures actually went down from about 1940 into the seventies, the period of the most rapid industrialization on the planet, before starting up again in the eighties. The evidence tends to show that CO2 levels increase after warming as an effect rather than preceding it as a cause.
* Computer models relied on by scientists to predict future global temperature have been consistently wrong in the predictions they've made for the last decade-plus, vastly overestimating actual global temperatures.
* While global temperatures have not varied with the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, they have varied pretty closely to solar cycles. Which, as our Sun is the source of all heat, makes a good deal of sense. Knowing there has been some melting on the Earth's solar caps is less alarming when we realize solar caps on other planets in our solar system are also showing some melting.
* There's plenty more of this sort that puts the lie to the arguments of the calamitists. But you get the idea. The arguments of the "Repent now, the end is near" crowd dissolve on even half-way close inspection. You don't have to have a Ph.D. in science to see the disconnects between the febrile claims and the sparse evidence.
What seems crystal clear is that what has come to be known as global warming and the horrors that are said to attend it are not scientific questions. They aren't. The issue is political. Period. Paragraph.
FOR THE LEFT'S political agenda of taxes and regulation without end, you couldn't design a better scam than global warming. And a scam is all it is. As someone smart and famous once said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and dazzle the rest of them with statistics and charts." These folks just want as much control over the economy as they now exercise, to our sorrow, over the culture. And global warming is their ticket to ride.
What a dumb lucky break for the lefties that someone hit on this rich vein of nonsense. It would be enough to make some of them think there's a God, if they weren't so sure there isn't. Global warming has everything necessary to fool the marks -- at least those who don't have the time to play close attention, which is almost everyone because most everyone has a life.
The question of what causes climate change -- talk of "tackling climate change" is incoherent because climate is always changing -- is complicated. So almost no one has the time, talent, or inclination to pick through all the assertions (hypotheses) and compare them with the facts (evidence) to determine who's telling the truth. So the cynical activists and the hysterics can make the most preposterous claims, sure in the knowledge that journalists -- most of whom are so poorly educated in science they wouldn't know the scientific method from the rhythm method, and in any case just want something sensational for page one -- won't call them on it.
So why does McCain whoop this nonsense up? If you see him, please ask him. He doesn't return my calls. We've agreed that McCain isn't stupid. But if he's going to go along with leftwing silliness of this sort, he may as well be. If the so-called conservative party makes no attempt to counter left-wing silliness of epic proportions, and proposes policies that put our standard of living at risk, perhaps it's the Republicans we don't need.
Larry Thornberry is a writer living in Tampa (which is very warm, but always has been).
Khalid Yasin speaking at an MSA event in 2007.
Unless you live in a rural area, there is probably a mosque (or more than one) in your town, and most people -- including local law enforcement officials -- regard them with the complete indifference shown the local churches. It is the height of political incorrectness to even suggest that possibly, just possibly, it might be worth checking into the local mosque’s sources of funding, and what they’re teaching there. As a Las Vegas city councilor exclaimed when some people objected to a proposal to build a mosque right beyond the fence of the international airport, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a church!”
But imagine what the outcry would be if your local church sponsored speakers like Khalid Yasin, Siraj Wahhaj and Ingrid Mattson.
According to Patrick Poole of Central Ohioans Against Terrorism, Khalid Yasin will be lecturing at Sinclair Community College in Dayton on May 16, sponsored by Dayton’s Masjid-at-Taqwa. Who is Khalid Yasin? Patrick Poole says that he “says that the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks” and claims that “AIDS was invented at a US government lab and spread by Western governments through UN agencies and Christian missionaries. Of course, so far he sounds just like Jeremiah Wright, but he goes a lot farther than even Jeremiah’s jeremiads.
Yasin has also, according to Poole, advocated that homosexuals be put to death; not only called equal rights for women “foolishness” but justified wife-beating (which is mandated in the Qur’an, 4:34); called the beliefs of Jews and Christians “filth” (Jews and Christians are unclean according to Qur’an 9:28); and warned Muslims against taking Jews and Christians as friends (in accord with the prohibition in Qur’an 5:51).
And, according to Poole, Yasin has “justified the terrorist bombings in Bali because of years of Western oppression”; “visited Jemaah Islamiah terrorist leader Abu Bakar Bashir in prison,”; “lectured with Hizb-ut-Tahrir hatemonger Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was banned from the UK in 2006”; “was in Saudi Arabia on 9/11 soliciting support from the Al-Qaeda front Al-Haramain Foundation, which was designated a terrorist organization in 2004 by the US government, to help finance his Islamic Broadcasting Company”; and above all, he “rejects any separation between Islam and the state and openly advocates for the reestablishment of the caliphate.”
Meanwhile, on May 4 in Manchester, New Hampshire, the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester held a fundraiser for its new mosque, featuring Imam Siraj Wahhaj.
Siraj Wahhaj is a big star on the American Muslim speaker circuit. In 1991, he was the first Islamic cleric to give an invocation to the U.S. Congress. However, he has also warned that the United States will fall unless it “accepts the Islamic agenda.” He has lamented that “if only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.”
Siraj Wahhaj speaking at Vanderbilt Univeristy in March 2008.
In the early 1990s he sponsored talks by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman in mosques in New York City and New Jersey; Rahman was later convicted for conspiring to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993, and Wahhaj was designated a “potential unindicted co-conspirator.”
Just days before Wahhaj appeared, on April 30 the Islamic Society of Manchester also brought in Ingrid Mattson of the Islamic Society of North America.
The Islamic Society of North America was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation jihad terror charity case last summer. Also, it was named in a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum as one of the organizations pursuing in the United States “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
Now imagine if the local Catholic parish featured a speaker who said that the beliefs of Jews and Muslims were “filth” and that homosexuals should be killed, or a speaker who said that Constitutional law should be replaced by religious law, or who was a representative of an organization that was an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror funding case, and was named as part of an effort to destroy Western civilization in a memo from the group spearheading that effort.
If any of that were happening in your local parish, do you think you’d only be hearing about it in HUMAN EVENTS?
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).
May 14, 2008
US Air force soldiers load relief supplies into a C-130 aircraft for cyclone victims in Myanmar at the Utapao Royal Thai Navy Air Base in Utapao on May 12. The United States on Monday dispatched its first aid flight to Myanmar, where some 1.5 million survivors of a massive cyclone are still waiting for help as the relief effort flounders.
THERE is a certain familiarity to the concomitant series of actions and reactions when disaster strikes in the world. The US stands ready, willing and able to offer assistance. It is often the first country to send in millions of dollars, navy strike groups loaded with food and medical supplies, and transport planes, helicopters and floating hospitals to help those devastated by natural disaster.
Then, just as swift and with equal predictability, those wedded to the Great Satan view of the US begin to carp, drawing on a potent mixture of cynicism and conspiracy theories to criticise the last remaining superpower. When the US keeps doing so much of the heavy lifting to alleviate suffering, you'd figure that the anti-Americans might eventually revise their view of the US. But they never do. And coming under constant attack even when helping others, you'd figure that Americans would eventually draw the curtains on world crises. But they haven't. At least not yet.
So it was last week. The US stood ready to help the cyclone-ravaged Burmese people. It did not matter that Burma's ruling junta was no friend of the Americans. With more than 100,000 people feared dead and many more hundreds of thousands left destitute, US Air Force cargo planes loaded with supplies and personnel started arriving in nearby Thailand to begin humanitarian operations in Burma.
A US Navy strike group in the Gulf of Thailand sent helicopters ashore, ready to arrive in Burma within hours. Alas, Burma's military leaders left their people to die for 10 days before finally accepting help from the evil empire. Even if the Yanks are allowed to boost their assistance to Burma, they can expect a groundswell of criticism.
Back in 2004, the Americans - along with the Australians - arrived within hours to help the hundreds of thousands of people left devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami in Asia. A US carrier group steamed towards Indonesia's Aceh province. A second US Marine Corps strike force made its way to Sri Lanka with water, food and medical supplies.
The Pentagon spent millions of dollars sending C-130 transport planes from Dubai to Indonesia with tents, blankets, food and water. A navy chief in charge of co-ordination efforts said the US would deliver "as much help as soon as we can, as long as we're needed".
The resentment that comes from needing the military and economic might of the US translated into the most absurd criticism. Jan Egeland, the former UN boss of humanitarian affairs, cavilled about the stinginess of certain Western nations. His eye was on the US. Former British minister Claire Short was equally miffed, describing the initiative by the US and other countries as "yet another attempt to undermine the UN", which was, according to her, the "only body that has the moral authority" to help.
I love moral authority as much as the next guy, but the UN's moral authority is a mighty hard sell given that the UN club includes the most odious regimes in the world, such as Burma. And notice how the UN's moral authority did not quickly translate into helicopters laden with food and water?
When the UN finally does anything of use, it's propelled in large part by US dollars, with the US contributing more than any other country. Those other giants, China and Russia, are not filling the coffers of the UN's moral authority.
Then came the even more toxic comparisons between Iraq and US humanitarian assistance in Asia. In the anti-American mind, opposition to one US policy means blasting everything the Americans do. Of course, Egypt's Al Akhbar newspaper said the US was helping tsunami victims to "consolidate its hegemony" and had nothing to do with humanitarian and moral principles. But similarly rank reasoning was common. London's The Guardian newspaper columnist George Monbiot was not alone in sneering at US marines who, just a few weeks before saving lives in Sri Lanka, were "murdering civilians, smashing the homes and evicting the entire population of the Iraqi city of Fallujah".
The need to paint Americans as a greedy, selfish, war-mongering superpower cannot be disturbed by facts. It matters not that, in the year before the tsunami, the US provided $2.4 billion in humanitarian relief: 40per cent of all the relief aid given to the world in 2003. Never mind that development and emergency relief rose from $10 billion during the last year of Bill Clinton's administration to $24 billion under George W. Bush in 2003. Or that, according to a German study, Americans contribute to charities nearly seven times as much a head as Germans do. Or that, adjusted for population, American philanthropy is more than two-thirds more than British giving.
There is a teenaged immaturity about the rest of the world's relationship with the US. Whenever a serious crisis erupts somewhere, our dependence on the US becomes obvious, and many hate the US because of it. That the hatred is irrational is beside the point.
We can denounce the Yanks for being Muslim-hating flouters of international law while demanding the US rescue Bosnian Muslims from Serbia without UN authority. We can be disgusted by crass American materialism and ridiculous stockpiling of worldly goods yet also be the first to demand material help from the US when disaster strikes.
The really unfortunate part about this adolescent love-hate relationship with the US is that, unlike most teenagers, many never seem to grow out of it. Within each new generation is a vicious strain of irrational anti-Americanism. But unlike a parent, the US could just get sick of it all and walk away.
The US has had isolationist periods in the past and it must be enormously tempted sometimes to have another one soon. The consequences of that possibility deserve some serious thought. If the neighbours worry about Russian bullying over oil and gas, just imagine a Russia unfettered by a US military presence in Europe. How long would South Korea, Israel or Taiwan last if the US decided it wanted to spend on itself the money it presently devotes to military spending in the Middle East and Asia?
None of this is to say the US does not deserve loud and frequent criticism. No country has as many or as strident critics - internally and externally - as the US. The US actually promotes such debate. But just occasionally we should moderate that criticism when circumstances demand a dose of fairness.
Indeed, why not break into a standing ovation every now and again? As more US C-130s and helicopters stand waiting on Burma's doorstep, desperate to help a shattered populace and stymied only by an appalling anti-US regime, this is one of those times.
Let's hear it for America.
The American Spectator
Published 5/13/2008 12:07:55 AM
You have to admit it takes guts. Audacity, even.
Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive nominee of the Democrats, has in essence just defeated the heiress of the Clinton era by campaigning as the heir-apparent of the Carter era.
The question for the rest of the year is this: Are there enough voting Americans who survived the disastrous odyssey through the late 1970s that was led by blessedly now ex-president Jimmy Carter? While Ronald Reagan is rated in poll after poll by Americans as a great president, (most recently he rated second only to Lincoln), are there enough people who recall that Reagan's election came about because of Carter's...ahhh..."performance" in the Oval Office? And will they be able to make the Obama-Carter connection for younger voters hearing terms like "windfall profits tax" for the first time? More to the point, can Senator John McCain do this?
The greatest charade of the year thus far is the idea that something "new" is being said in this campaign. By anybody. To be bluntly accurate, the only thing new is that one of the final two candidates is black. It seems to escape some that in a country even as young as America, 55 presidential elections (2008 is the 56th) covers just about all the ground there is to cover in debating any given next four years in the life of the United States. Consider.
Since the 1788 election that produced (unopposed) George Washington as the first president, the agenda for presidential elections has been narrowed to one underlying issue: the role of government. Understood in that fashion, the following 220 years of American history can be read as if with Superman's X-ray vision. From slavery to abortion, the War of 1812 to the War in Iraq, from Lincoln's support for "internal improvements" to John McCain's disdain for congressional earmarks, the question at issue was the role of government. Whether dealing with the isolationism of Washington or Robert Taft or Ron Paul instead of the internationalism of Jefferson's chase after the Barbary pirates, Wilson's League of Nations or Ronald Reagan's determination to win the Cold War, the underlying question every time was the role of government.
This can be expressed in terms of its size (big or small), of its engagement with the world (the kind and quality of diplomacy) and its ability to protect American citizens (do we do it here or over there?). Yet always the issue is exactly the same. It is the underlying skeleton and vital organs of every question of policy facing the American people.
So too is it more than safe to say that America has seen every kind of candidate there is to be had in these 55 elections. Only the packaging is different in number 56, a truism of every previous election. Black this time for Obama, female for Hillary, there was Catholic for JFK. Short for Martin Van Buren, tall, skinny and hot tempered for Andrew Jackson. A failed haberdasher in Truman, a glossy movie actor in Reagan, a joke-cracking railroad lawyer in Lincoln and a school teacher in LBJ. A peanut farmer with Carter. Yet what each was saying both as candidate and president fell along one side or the other of the role of government argument. And as the string of American presidents and presidential campaigns gets longer, the newest candidates and the latest president have taken to looking backwards to select the presidential policies of admired predecessors
Which makes the audacity of the Obama campaign more than amusing -- and amazing -- to watch. Consciously or not, Obama has selected the philosophical template of the Carter administration, from defunding the military, fighting the "special interests" down to imposing the windfall profits tax on the rich. Well, as Justice Clarence Thomas might say: whoop-dee-damn-do! This is precisely the philosophy of Jimmy Carter, although Carter had the good sense not to campaign as the pacifist he really is in 1976, waiting until the moment his hand came off the bible for that.
IS IT POSSIBLE that America really wants to return to those depressing days of gas lines and leisure suits? Of malaise and shock over the aggressiveness of America's enemies? The days when the policies Obama is advocating raised unemployment rates, interest rates and inflation rates into the double digits? When America's enemies looked the President of the United States in the eye -- and found he really wanted to kiss them on the cheek?
After all of those 55 previous elections for president, with policy results seriously on record from George Washington to George W. Bush, it doesn't take much now to understand what doesn't work. The policy failures, not only of American presidents but world leaders in general, are all right out there to be seen.
Obama's windfall profits tax idea? A Jimmy Carter biggie. "Unless we tax the oil companies, they will reap huge and undeserved windfall profits," fumed Carter on national television in 1980. The New York Times agreed, warning darkly that "legislators who sit by idly while oil profits soar will have to answer to the voters." With Democrats controlling Congress they got their way. As if on cue, oil production -- fell. To the tune of 1.6 billion fewer barrels. America's dependence on foreign oil rose. Eventually even the Times was agreeing the tax had to be repealed, and by 1988 Reagan, who campaigned against it, signed the repeal (by a Democrat Congress no less) into law. And Obama wants to do this all over again? Yes. It's not only not a new idea, it's not a better idea. Yet in terms of Obama, most tellingly it was a Carter idea.
Another Carter favorite was to appear to attack the wealthy, going after "rich businessmen" who enjoyed themselves with the "$50 martini lunch." Elected, Carter went after the martini business lunch tax deduction all right, but then quickly turned on the middle class with a Social Security payroll tax. Obama is already well on board with Carteresque rhetoric about "tax cuts for the wealthy." What taxes will a President Obama raise that, as with Carter, can't be discussed as a candidate?
Appeasement and the notion that we can look evil in the eye and smile? Another Carter favorite (captured forever with the image of the American president kissing Brezhnev on the cheek at a Moscow summit in 1979) that more famously was the notion underpinning British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's desperate face-to-face sitdowns with Adolph Hitler. Didn't work either time, nor will it ever work as Obama seems to be seriously proposing with Iran. Why? Because bullies are bullies -- be they Russian Communists, German dictators or Iranian mullahs. Senator John McCain succinctly sums up Obama's take as a lack of both judgment and experience, which surely is true.
BUT OBAMA'S VIEWS are also something else. They are the product of a world view that has been around for centuries -- failing every time it's tried. Obama's campaign website says Obama "will take several steps down the long road toward eliminating nuclear weapons. He will stop the development of new nuclear weapons; work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate- range missiles so that the agreement is global." He also pledges to stop the research and deployment of a missile defense, the same system that Reagan created to end the Cold War.
America was led down this philosophical garden path most recently by Carter. Whether advocated by Carter in 1979, Chamberlain in 1939 or a President Obama in 2009, the philosophy behind this idea has simply never worked. Period. Yet , to borrow from Reagan's line in his debate with Carter, here we go again.
With all of the sweep of American history to look back on, with virtual libraries of history recording what works and what doesn't when running the American government, Obama has stunningly selected the Carter policies as his role model.
Tax cuts? Not for Obama. Military superiority? No, not for Obama. Do tax cuts work? Yes, as shown by Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43. Military strength? Yes, decisively too. From Lincoln's Union Army to Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet and his maxim to "talk softly and carry a big stick," from Wilson's Allied Expeditionary Force to FDR's vow to victory "so help us God" to Ronald Reagan's peace through strength, the idea of overwhelming military superiority works -- if the enemy believes you will use it. Or you actually use it.
But Obama, as with Carter, is having none of these approaches. From hiking Social Security payroll taxes to investing 20 percent less in defense budgets to telling Americans they had an "inordinate" fear of Communism, step by step Carter's policy selections and his decisions on the role of government led the American people down a dark and dangerous path that produced the worst economy since the Great Depression along with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and a beachhead in Central America with the Communist take-over of Nicaragua. When his policy towards Iran resulted in abandoning the Shah in favor of the extremist mullahs and the taking of American hostages, Carter's military was in such bad shape that American soldiers died in the Iranian desert during a miserably failed rescue attempt.
PERHAPS MORE ASTONISHING than his advocacy of a return to Carterism, Obama channels the Republican president to whom Carter was frequently compared -- Herbert Hoover. Obama is completely on board with protectionism, seemingly oblivious to the lessons of the Smoot-Hawley tariff that was a product of the Hoover administration in 1930. Upping the tariff on some 20,000 goods it is famous forever as the disastrous idea that deepened the severity of the Great Depression.
One has to wonder about the survival prospects down the road for the Democrats. They either can't get elected because their ideas are so bad -- extremist or tried and true failures -- or every once in a good while the latest crowd of American voters actually forgets their history (or never learned it in the first place) and gives a Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton a go at holding the reins. Enemies are then appeased, taxes raised, and judges go wild -- which in turn creates a new generation of conservatives who begin to understand why the last generation voted Republican.
The question for Senator McCain, accused by Obama of wanting to serve George W. Bush's third term, is whether he will hold Obama's feet to the fire on Obama's apparently passionate desire to serve Jimmy Carter's second.
Jeffrey Lord is the creator, co-founder and CEO of QubeTV, an online conservative video site. A Reagan White House political director and author, he writes from Pennsylvania.