Saturday, June 06, 2009

Never Forget D-Day

by Ted Nugent

July 4, 1776. December 7, 1941. September 11, 2001. These dates that were seared into hearts and minds of the collective American consciousness now seem -- to some -- distant, faded, even unimportant. But those who care to learn from history will always remember them, and teach their children.

There remains one other date in American -- no, world history -- that signifies good over evil, freedom over tyranny, liberty over oppression.

That date is June 6, 1944. For as long as the world shall exist, June 6, 1944 will be forever known as D-Day.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the order of the Day.
June 6, 1944

As you read this, 65 years ago almost to the exact day, tens of thousands of scared young American soldiers were crammed together on landing craft in the English Channel heading for the beaches of Normandy, France. Their mission: save the world. Though they surely didn't know it, these young men in all those landing craft would be forever known in American history as the Greatest Generation.

Just prior to the invasion that would ultimately liberate Europe and save civilization from the dark evil of Nazism, General Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, transmitted a message to the young men who would fight and die in the coming hours. It read in part: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

As their landing craft pitched in the waves of the English Channel, in front of them on the high ground above the beaches known as Sword, Utah, Juno, Gold and Omaha was the Nazi war machine. Omaha beach was the most heavily fortified by Hitler's war machine, and Omaha beach was the objective of the American military.

As the landing craft full of the Greatest Generation warriors came closer to Omaha beach, the Nazis aimed their machineguns, artillery, rifles and mortars at the landing craft full of 19, 20, and 21-year-old young American infantry soldiers. As the gates of the landing crafts fell, the Nazis unleashed Hell upon the Greatest Generation. In mere minutes, hundreds had been killed or wounded. By day's end the American military would suffer 5,000 casualties on Omaha beach, all in the name of freedom. Know it.

The American dead and wounded on Omaha beach was so severe that American commanders considered abandoning the beach. But what our commanders had not counted on was the tenacity and fighting spirit of the Greatest Generation. Just as the firemen on 9/11 kept rushing up the stairs of the burning Twin Towers into the hands of God, the landing craft full of American infantry kept coming.

Under withering Nazi machine gun fire, the Greatest Generation slowly inched forward silencing the Nazi war machine on the bluffs above Omaha beach. By the end of June 6, Omaha beach would be largely secured. In less than a year the Nazi war machine would be crushed, Hitler dead.

Those young Americans who stormed Omaha beach on that morning 65 years ago on June 6th accomplished their mission: they saved the world.

June 6 is D-Day. Do not ever forget this day. Teach your children, make sure no one forgets how good wins over evil and the price that is paid. God bless the warriors.

Rock legend Ted Nugent is noted for his conservative political views and his vocal pro-hunting and Second Amendment activism. His smash bestseller Ted, White & Blue: The Nugent Manifesto, is now available at Nugent also maintains the Official Ted Nugent Site at

Obama's Arabian dreams

By Caroline Glick
June 5, 2009

US President Barack Obama claims to be a big fan of telling the truth. In media interviews ahead of his trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt and during his big speech in Cairo on Thursday, he claimed that the centerpiece of his Middle East policy is his willingness to tell people hard truths.

Indeed, Obama made three references to the need to tell the truth in his so-called address to the Muslim world.

Unfortunately, for a speech billed as an exercise in truth telling, Obama's address fell short. Far from reflecting hard truths, Obama's speech reflected political convenience.

Obama's so-called hard truths for the Islamic world included statements about the need to fight so-called extremists; give equal rights to women; provide freedom of religion; and foster democracy. Unfortunately, all of his statements on these issues were nothing more than abstract, theoretical declarations devoid of policy prescriptions.

He spoke of the need to fight Islamic terrorists without mentioning that their intellectual, political and monetary foundations and support come from the very mosques, politicians and regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt that Obama extols as moderate and responsible.

He spoke of the need to grant equality to women without making mention of common Islamic practices like so-called honor killings, and female genital mutilation. He ignored the fact that throughout the lands of Islam women are denied basic legal and human rights. And then he qualified his statement by mendaciously claiming that women in the US similarly suffer from an equality deficit. In so discussing this issue, Obama sent the message that he couldn't care less about the plight of women in the Islamic world.

So, too, Obama spoke about the need for religious freedom but ignored Saudi Arabian religious apartheid. He talked about the blessings of democracy but ignored the problems of tyranny.

In short, Obama's "straight talk" to the Arab world, which began with his disingenuous claim that like America, Islam is committed to "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," was consciously and fundamentally fraudulent. And this fraud was advanced to facilitate his goal of placing the Islamic world on equal moral footing with the free world.

In a like manner, Obama's tough "truths" about Israel were marked by factual and moral dishonesty in the service of political ends.

On the surface, Obama seemed to scold the Muslim world for its all-pervasive Holocaust denial and craven Jew hatred. By asserting that Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are wrong, he seemed to be upholding his earlier claim that America's ties to Israel are "unbreakable."

Unfortunately, a careful study of his statements shows that Obama was actually accepting the Arab view that Israel is a foreign - and therefore unjustifiable - intruder in the Arab world. Indeed, far from attacking their rejection of Israel, Obama legitimized it.

The basic Arab argument against Israel is that the only reason Israel was established was to sooth the guilty consciences of Europeans who were embarrassed about the Holocaust. By their telling, the Jews have no legal, historic or moral rights to the Land of Israel.

This argument is completely false. The international community recognized the legal, historic and moral rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel long before anyone had ever heard of Adolf Hitler. In 1922, the League of Nations mandated the "reconstitution" - not the creation - of the Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel in its historic borders on both sides of the Jordan River.

But in his self-described exercise in truth telling, Obama ignored this basic truth in favor of the Arab lie. He gave credence to this lie by stating wrongly that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history."

He then explicitly tied Israel's establishment to the Holocaust by moving to a self-serving history lesson about the genocide of European Jewry.

Even worse than his willful blindness to the historic, legal and moral justifications for Israel's rebirth, was Obama's characterization of Israel itself. Obama blithely, falsely and obnoxiously compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to white American slave owners' treatment of their black slaves. He similarly cast Palestinian terrorists in the same morally pure category as slaves. Perhaps most repulsively, Obama elevated Palestinian terrorism to the moral heights of slave rebellions and the US civil rights movement by referring to it by its Arab euphemism, "resistance."

BUT AS disappointing and frankly obscene as Obama's rhetoric was, the policies he outlined were much worse. While prattling about how Islam and America are two sides of the same coin, Obama managed to spell out two clear policies. First, he announced that he will compel Israel to completely end all building for Jews in Judea, Samaria, and eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem. Second, he said that he will strive to convince Iran to substitute its nuclear weapons program with a nuclear energy program.

Obama argued that the first policy will facilitate peace and the second policy will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Upon reflection, however, it is clear that neither of his policies can possibly achieve his stated aims. Indeed, their inability to accomplish the ends he claims he has adopted them to advance is so obvious, that it is worth considering what his actual rationale for adopting them may be.

The administration's policy toward Jewish building in Israel's heartland and capital city expose a massive level of hostility toward Israel. Not only does it fly in the face of explicit US commitments to Israel undertaken by the Bush administration, it contradicts a longstanding agreement between successive Israeli and American governments not to embarrass each other.

Moreover, the fact that the administration cannot stop attacking Israel about Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, but has nothing to say about Hizbullah's projected democratic takeover of Lebanon next week, Hamas's genocidal political platform, Fatah's involvement in terrorism, or North Korean ties to Iran and Syria, has egregious consequences for the prospects for peace in the region.

As Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas made clear in his interview last week with The Washington Post, in light of the administration's hostility toward Israel, the Palestinian Authority no longer feels it is necessary to make any concessions whatsoever to Israel. It needn't accept Israel's identity as a Jewish state. It needn't minimize in any way its demand that Israel commit demographic suicide by accepting millions of foreign, hostile Arabs as full citizens. And it needn't curtail its territorial demand that Israel contract to within indefensible borders.

In short, by attacking Israel and claiming that Israel is responsible for the absence of peace, the administration is encouraging the Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole to continue to reject Israel and to refuse to make peace with the Jewish state.

The Netanyahu government reportedly fears that Obama and his advisers have made such an issue of settlements because they seek to overthrow Israel's government and replace it with the more pliable Kadima party. Government sources note that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel played a central role in destabilizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's first government in 1999, when he served as an adviser to then president Bill Clinton. They also note that Emmanuel is currently working with leftist Israelis and American Jews associated with Kadima and the Democratic Party to discredit the government.

While there is little reason to doubt that the Obama administration would prefer a leftist government in Jerusalem, it is unlikely that the White House is attacking Israel primarily to advance this aim. This is first of all the case because today there is little danger that Netanyahu's coalition partners will abandon him.

Moreover, the Americans have no reason to believe that prospects for a peace deal would improve with a leftist government at the helm in Jerusalem. After all, despite its best efforts, the Kadima government was unable to make peace with the Palestinians, as was the Labor government before it. What the Palestinians have shown consistently since the failed 2000 Camp David summit is that there is no deal that Israel can offer them that they are willing to accept.

So if the aim of the administration in attacking Israel is neither to foster peace nor to bring down the Netanyahu government, what can explain its behavior?

The only reasonable explanation is that the administration is baiting Israel because it wishes to abandon the Jewish state as an ally in favor of warmer ties with the Arabs. It has chosen to attack Israel on the issue of Jewish construction because it believes that by concentrating on this issue, it will minimize the political price it will be forced to pay at home for jettisoning America's alliance with Israel. By claiming that he is only pressuring Israel to enable a peaceful "two-state solution," Obama assumes that he will be able to maintain his support base among American Jews who will overlook the underlying hostility his "pro-peace" stance papers over.

OBAMA'S POLICY toward Iran is a logical complement of his policy toward Israel. Just as there is no chance that he will bring Middle East peace closer by attacking Israel, so he will not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons by offering the mullahs nuclear energy. The deal Obama is now proposing has been on the table since 2003, when Iran's nuclear program was first exposed. Over the past six years, the Iranians have repeatedly rejected it. Indeed, just last week they again announced that they reject it.

Here, too, to understand the president's actual goal it is necessary to search for the answers closer to home. Since Obama's policy has no chance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is apparent that he has come to terms with the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran. In light of this, the most rational explanation for his policy of engagement is that he wishes to avoid being blamed when Iran emerges as a nuclear power in the coming months.

In reckoning with the Obama administration, it is imperative that the Netanyahu government and the public alike understand the true goals of its current policies. Happily, consistent polling data show that the overwhelming majority of Israelis realize that the White House is deeply hostile toward Israel. The data also show that the public approves of Netanyahu's handling of our relations with Washington.

Moving forward, the government must sustain this public awareness and support. By his words as well as by his deeds, not only has Obama shown that he is not a friend of Israel. He has shown that there is nothing that Israel can do to make him change his mind.

Obama's message of weakness

Syndicated columnist
Orange County Register
Friday, June 5, 2009

As recently as last summer, General Motors filing for bankruptcy would have been the biggest news story of the week. But it's not such a very great step from the unthinkable to the inevitable, and by the time it actually happened the market barely noticed, and the media were focused on the president's "address to the Muslim world." As it happens, these two stories are the same story: snapshots, at home and abroad, of the hyperpower in eclipse. It's a long time since anyone touted GM as the emblematic brand of America – What's good for GM is good for America, etc. In fact, it's more emblematic than ever: Like General Motors, the U.S. government spends more than it makes, and has airily committed itself to ever more unsustainable levels of benefits. GM has about 95,000 workers but provides health benefits to a million people: It's not a business enterprise, but a vast welfare plan with a tiny loss-making commercial sector. As GM goes, so goes America?

But who cares? Overseas, the coolest president in history was giving a speech. Or, as the official press release headlined it on the State Department Web site, "President Obama Speaks To The Muslim World From Cairo."

Let's pause right there: It's interesting how easily the words "the Muslim world" roll off the tongues of liberal secular progressives who'd choke on any equivalent reference to "the Christian world." When such hyperalert policemen of the perimeter between church and state endorse the former but not the latter, they're implicitly acknowledging that Islam is not merely a faith but a political project, too. There is an "Organization of the Islamic Conference," which is already the largest single voting bloc at the United Nations and is still adding new members. Imagine if someone proposed an "Organization of the Christian Conference" that would hold summits attended by prime ministers and Presidents, and vote as a bloc in transnational bodies. But, of course, there is no "Christian world": Europe is largely post-Christian and, as President Barack Obama bizarrely asserted to a European interviewer last week, America is "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world." Perhaps we're eligible for membership in the OIC.

I suppose the benign interpretation is that, as head of state of the last superpower, Obama is indulging in a little harmless condescension. In his Cairo speech, he congratulated Muslims on inventing algebra and quoted approvingly one of the less-bloodcurdling sections of the Quran. As sociohistorical scholarship goes, I found myself recalling that moment in the long twilight of the Habsburg Empire when Crown Prince Rudolph and his mistress were found dead at the royal hunting lodge at Mayerling – either a double suicide, or something even more sinister. Happily, in the Broadway musical version, instead of being found dead, the star-crossed lovers emigrate to America and settle down on a farm in Pennsylvania. Recently, my old comrade Stephen Fry gave an amusing lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in London on the popular Americanism, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade" – or, if something's bitter and hard to swallow, add sugar and sell it. That's what the president did with Islam: He added sugar and sold it.

The speech nevertheless impressed many conservatives, including Rich Lowry, my esteemed editor at National Review, "esteemed editor" being the sort of thing one says before booting the boss in the crotch. Rich thought that the president succeeded in his principal task: "Fundamentally, Obama's goal was to tell the Muslim world, 'We respect and value you, your religion and your civilization, and only ask that you don't hate us and murder us in return.'" But those terms are too narrow. You don't have to murder a guy if he preemptively surrenders. And you don't even have to hate him if you're too busy despising him. The savvier Muslim potentates have no desire to be sitting in a smelly cave in the Hindu Kush, sharing a latrine with a dozen half-witted goatherds while plotting how to blow up the Empire State Building. Nevertheless, they share key goals with the cave dwellers – including the wish to expand the boundaries of "the Muslim world" and (as in the anti-blasphemy push at the U.N.) to place Islam, globally, beyond criticism. The nonterrorist advance of Islam is a significant challenge to Western notions of liberty and pluralism.

Once Obama moved on from the more generalized Islamoschmoozing to the details, the subtext – the absence of American will – became explicit. He used the cover of multilateralism and moral equivalence to communicate, consistently, American weakness: "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons." Perhaps by "no single nation" he means the "global community" should pick and choose, which means the U.N. Security Council, which means the Big Five, which means that Russia and China will pursue their own murky interests and that, in the absence of American leadership, Britain and France will reach their accommodations with a nuclear Iran, a nuclear North Korea and any other psychostate minded to join them.

On the other hand, a "single nation" certainly has the right to tell another nation anything it wants if that nation happens to be the Zionist Entity: As Hillary Clinton just instructed Israel regarding its West Bank communities, there has to be "a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions." No "natural growth"? You mean, if you and the missus have a kid, you've got to talk gran'ma into moving out? To Tel Aviv, or Brooklyn or wherever? At a stroke, the administration has endorsed "the Muslim world's" view of those non-Muslims who happen to find themselves within what it regards as lands belonging to Islam: the Jewish and Christian communities are free to stand still or shrink, but not to grow. Would Obama be comfortable mandating "no natural growth" to Israel's million-and-a-half Muslims? No. But the administration has embraced "the Muslim world's" commitment to one-way multiculturalism, whereby Islam expands in the West but Christianity and Judaism shrivel remorselessly in the Middle East.

And so it goes. Like General Motors, America is "too big to fail." So it won't, not immediately. It will linger on in a twilight existence, sclerotic and ineffectual, declining unto a kind of societal dementia, unable to keep pace with what's happening and with an ever more tenuous grip on its own past, but able on occasion to throw out impressive words albeit strung together without much meaning: empower, peace, justice, prosperity – just to take one windy gust from the president's Cairo speech.

There's better phrase-making in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, in a coinage of Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Committee on Foreign Relations. The president emeritus is a sober, judicious paragon of torpidly conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, musing on American decline, he writes, "The country's economy, infrastructure, public schools and political system have been allowed to deteriorate. The result has been diminished economic strength, a less-vital democracy, and a mediocrity of spirit." That last is the one to watch: A great power can survive a lot of things, but not "a mediocrity of spirit." A wealthy nation living on the accumulated cultural capital of a glorious past can dodge its rendezvous with fate, but only for a while. That sound you heard in Cairo is the tingy ping of a hollow superpower.


Today's Tune: Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart

(Click on title to play video)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Frog in Hand (Worth Two Glances)

Inside Art

The New York Times
June 5, 2009

VENICE — This dazzling city got a new landmark this week, an eight-foot-tall sculpture of a boy holding a frog, by the American artist Charles Ray.

Prominently situated outdoors on the very tip of the Punta della Dogana on the Grand Canal, it has already become a signpost for Venice’s newest contemporary art space.

Charles Ray’s “Boy With Frog” was unveiled on Wednesday to commemorate the opening of the Dogana on the Grand Canal. More Photos >

Two years ago François Pinault, the French luxury goods magnate and art collector who owns Christie’s, beat out the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the 17th-century Dogana, the former customs house, signing a 33-year agreement with the City of Venice to transform it into a gallery to show off his enormous collection. In 2004 he bought the 18th-century Palazzo Grassi and hired the Japanese architect Tadao Ando to renovate the building. It opened in 2007 filled with work by Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Rudolf Stingel and others.

Mr. Ando has also renovated the Dogana. To commemorate its opening on Wednesday, Massimo Cacciari, the mayor of Venice, unveiled Mr. Ray’s “Boy With Frog.”

At sunset that evening, at a cocktail party in his honor on a terrace overlooking the sculpture, Mr. Ray discussed the piece. “He’s a classic model,” he said of the boy, a family friend of about 12 who posed for him. “He’s not presenting the frog to Venice but just looking at it as if he’s just lifted it from the water.”

Mr. Ray grappled with the issue of how tall to make the sculpture. “I made three foam models,” he said, “one 14 feet tall, one life size and one 8 feet tall, and brought them to the site.” He decided on the eight-foot version after talking to several Venetians, who told him how walking around the Dogana has long been a favorite with locals.

“I was haunted by that conversation,” Mr. Ray said. “This is the place where couples have fights, break up, get engaged and have their first kiss.” He said he realized it had to be a height pedestrians could relate to, not some monumentally scaled, imposing figure.

As the sculpture was being unveiled on Wednesday, a motorboat anchored nearby was decorated with balloons holding up a banner that read, “Mr. Pinault Please Buy My Art.”

Over the years having works in the Pinault collection has helped many artists’ careers. His connection to Christie’s and his reputation as a collector can raise the profile of the artists whose work he owns.

The two sites are different: the Palazzo Grassi is more domestic, with smaller rooms, while the Dogana has grander spaces for large-scale works. In his Dogana renovation, Mr. Ando left the wooden beams and worn brick walls exposed. “It was the building itself that dictated the installation,” Mr. Pinault said, of the project, which cost nearly $30 million.

The inaugural exhibition, “Mapping the Studio,” features works by artists he has collected over the years: Britons like Rachel Whiteread and Jake and Dinos Chapman; Americans including Cy Twombly, Richard Prince and Bruce Nauman; and the Swiss team Fischli & Weiss.

Some works were bought for his collection; others, like Mr. Ray’s sculpture, were commissioned for the building. The curators Alison Gingeras and Francesco Bonami (who is also curator of the next Whitney Biennial) are responsible for the installation, which also includes suites of works by a single artist. Two years ago, for example, Mr. Pinault bought a group of seven dark abstract translucent canvases — a triptych and six individual paintings — by Sigmar Polke that have a space to themselves.

“It’s the same idea as the Rothko Chapel in Houston,” Mr. Pinault said as he walked through the building this week. When he got to a room filled with paintings by Marlene Dumas, he paused at “Dora Maar, the Woman Who Saw Picasso Cry,” a 2008 portrait of Picasso’s muse and lover. “The title is wrong,” he said with a wink. “I don’t think Picasso ever cried.”

This week’s opening was a milestone for Mr. Pinault, who for nearly a decade has been consumed with the notion of presenting his collection to the public. But his original idea did not include Venice. In 2000 he announced plans to open the François Pinault Foundation for Contemporary Art on the Île Seguin, an island in the Seine in Paris. But five years and $24 million later he abandoned the project, saying that the local government made it impossible. (At the time critics were opposed to a vanity museum, especially one with almost no French artists.)

What will the French say now? “I hope they think it’s a good collection,” Mr. Pinault said. “And that it will give people another reason to come to Venice.”


The California artist John Baldessari first came to Venice in the early 1970s, when he was invited to show his works in a Biennale. He recalled, “I slept on top of a Volkswagen bus parked in the Giardini,” the shaded gardens that have been home to the Biennale for well over a century.

This year he is back, ensconced in a hotel and no longer considered part of the avant-garde. At 78 he is one of two winners of the Golden Lion Award, a lifetime achievement prize he is sharing with Yoko Ono.

A Santa Claus look-alike, with snow-white hair, a bushy beard and a hulking 6-foot-7 frame, Mr. Baldessari was hard to miss the other day. He was standing in front of what has long been called the Italian pavilion but this year has been renamed the Palace of Exhibitions, an 1895 colonnaded structure that is the first thing visitors see when they walk through the Giardini’s iron gates. An anchor of sorts, the building is a familiar meeting place amid the labyrinth of national pavilions. It is also here that the artistic director presents a special exhibition.

For the first time the pavilion is no longer white. From a distance the structure seems a cool sky blue. But close up a vista reveals itself: Mr. Baldessari has wallpapered the top half of the pavilion with a photographic image that resembles a sun-dappled sky and the bottom half with an image of a calm rippled sea. At either end of the building stands a tall pair of palm trees, also part of his wallpaper handiwork.

“It looks like a faux Roman villa, something from Malibu,” he said.

When Daniel Birnbaum, the Biennale’s artistic director, asked Mr. Baldessari if he wanted to create a work inside the pavilion or out, he immediately opted for the facade.

The choice is vintage Baldessari. For the last five decades he has continually reinvented himself, working in a variety of mediums including painting, photography, books, sculpture and exhibition design, all the while taking inspiration from art history and mass media.

“I had just finished this architectural project in Krefeld, Germany, with a Mies van der Rohe house, and I was in the frame of mind to continue doing something architectural,” he said.

At first he proposed painting on the facade the words “No More Boring Art,” a signature phrase he first used in 1971. (A banner with that sentence hangs off Ca’ Giustinian, a nearby palazzo on the Grand Canal.) But the idea didn’t fly with the Biennale’s organizers.

“They thought some of the artists would have thin skins and think I was talking about them,” he said. Then he suggested placing the phrases “Greetings From” or “Welcome to” above his sky and seascape so it would look just like a postcard. But that idea was shot down too.

“I still hope that instead of sending postcards, people will take a picture of this,” Mr. Baldessari said. “And then e-mail it to their friends.”

The Age of Middle East Atonement

Therapeutic efforts to disguise the truth never really work.

By Victor Davis Hanson
June 04, 2009, 5:10 p.m.

President Obama made an earnest effort — as is his way in matters of discord — to split the difference with the Islamic world. His speech essentially amounted to: “We did that, you did this, tit-for-tat, now we’re even, and can’t we all just get along?” He should be congratulated for expressing a desire for peace and for gently reminding the Muslim world of the way to reform, even if he did so while inflating Western sins.

But the problem with such moral equivalence is that it equates things that are, well, not equal — and therefore ends up not being moral at all.

To pull it off, one must distort both the past and the present for the presumed higher good of getting along. In the 1930s, British intellectuals performed feats of intellectual gymnastics in trying to contextualize Hitler’s complaints against the Versailles Treaty, assignment of guilt for the First World War, and French bellicosity — straining to overlook the intrinsic dangers of National Socialism for the higher good of avoiding another Somme. Over the short term, such revisionism worked; over the longer term, it ensured a highly destructive war.

Whatever a well-meaning President Obama thinks, occasional American outbursts against Muslims are not analogous with the terrorism directed at Westerners or the hostility toward Christianity shown in most of the Muslim world. Try flying into Saudi Arabia with a Bible, as compared to traveling to San Francisco with a Koran. One can easily forsake Christianity; one can never safely leave Islam. European worries about headscarves are not the equivalent of the Gulf states’ harassment of practicing Christians. Sorry, they’re just not.

Pace Obama, Arab learning in the Middle Ages, while impressive, did not really fuel either the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. If anything, the arrival in Europe of the learned of Byzantium fleeing Islam over two centuries was a far stronger catalyst for rediscovery of classical values, while enlightened European sympathy for Balkan peoples enslaved by the Ottomans rekindled romantic interest in Hellenism in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Colonialism and the Cold War — both of which have now been over for decades — do not account for present Arab pathologies. The far more pernicious Baathism, Nasserism, Pan-Arabism, and Islamism were all efforts, in varying degrees, to graft ideas of European socialism and Communism onto indigenous Arab and Muslim roots.

Today, Russia and China are much harder on Muslims than is the West. (Consider Russia’s actions in Chechnya and China’s treatment of the Uighurs.) Neither country pays any attention to Muslims’ grievances, and therefore Muslims respect and fear Russia and China far more than they do the United States.

There are no Arab coffeehouse discussions today about the nearly 1 million Muslims killed over two decades by the Soviets in Afghanistan and the Russian government in Chechnya, yet there is constant haranguing over Abu Ghraib, where not a single inmate was killed by rogue American guards. In short, neither logic nor morality is in abundance on the Arab Street, and conjuring up American felonies will not change that.

“On the one hand, on the other hand” — what Greek rhetoricians knew as men/de — when delivered in mellifluous tones, can suggest a path to reconciliation. But denial of fundamental differences leads nowhere. Our problems with the Middle East will dissipate, as have to varying degrees our problems with Japan, Southeast Asia, South Korea, and South America, when the region adopts, in part or in toto, open markets, consensual government, and human rights. Until then, we are in an uneasy and dangerous waiting period.

Conflating Western misdemeanors with Middle Eastern felonies is classical conflict-resolution theory, and laudably magnanimous. But privately the world knows that Muslims are treated better in the West than Christians are in Muslim countries. That Muslims migrate to the lands of Westerners, and not vice versa. That disputes over a border between Palestinians and Israelis do not explain the unhappiness of the Arab masses, suffering from state-caused poverty and wretchedness. That American military assistance to Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Somalia, direct aid to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians, and moral condemnation of Chinese, Russian, and Balkan treatment of Muslims, coupled with a generous U.S. immigration policy, are not really cause for apology or atonement.

In short, few Arab leaders wish to give a “speech to the West.” They would have to take responsibility, directly or indirectly, for either fostering or appeasing radical Islam, while denying their culpability for its decades of mass murdering. They would also have to lament the global economic havoc caused in part by oil cartels and energy price-fixing.

President Obama’s intent is noble, but therapeutic efforts to disguise the truth never really work. We will see how the short-term good created by his therapeutic speechmaking compares to the long-term harm caused by telling the Muslim world, once again, that its problems were largely created by us — and, therefore, that we are largely responsible for providing the remedies.

Neither is true.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Farewell to Judgment

The Pursuit of Knowledge

By Roger Scruton from the June 2009 issue
The American Spectator

The sciences aim to explain the world: they build theories that are tested through experiment, and which describe the workings of nature and the deep connections between cause and effect. Nothing like that is true of the humanities. The works of Shakespeare contain important knowledge. But it is not scientific knowledge, nor could it ever be built into a theory. It is knowledge of the human heart. Shakespeare doesn’t teach us what to believe: he shows us how to feel—case by case, person by person, mood by mood.

Statue of William Shakespeare in Leicester Square, London

As universities expanded, the humanities began to displace the sciences from the curriculum. Students wished to use their time at university to cultivate their leisure interests and to improve their souls, rather than to learn hard facts and complex theories. And there arose a serious question as to why universities were devoting their resources to subjects that made so little discernible difference to the wider world. What good do the humanities do, and why should students take three or four years out of their lives in order to read books which—if they were interested—they would read in any case, and which—if they were not interested—would never do them the least bit of good?

In the days when the humanities involved knowledge of classical languages and an acquaintance with German scholarship, there was no doubt that they required real mental discipline, even if their point could reasonably be doubted. But once subjects like English were admitted to a central place in the curriculum, the question of their validity became urgent. And then, in the wake of English came the pseudo-humanities—women’s studies, gay studies and the like—which were based on the assumption that, if English is a discipline, so too are they. And since there is no cogent justification for women’s studies that does not dwell upon the subject’s ideological purpose, the entire curriculum in the humanities began to be seen in ideological terms. The inevitable result was the delegitimizing of English. Unlike women’s studies, which has impeccable feminist credentials (why else was it invented?), English focuses on the works of dead white European males whose values would be found offensive by young people today. So maybe such a subject should not be studied, or studied only as a lesson in social pathology.

People of my generation were taught to believe that there are human universals, which remain constant from age to age. We were taught to study literature in order to sympathize with life in all its forms. It doesn’t matter, we were told, if Shakespeare’s political assumptions do not coincide with ours. His plays do not aim to indoctrinate; they aim to present believable characters in believable situations, and to do so in heightened language that would set our imaginations and our sympathies on fire. Of course, Shakespeare invites judgment, as do all writers of fiction. But it is not political judgment that is relevant. We judge Shakespeare plays in terms of their expressiveness, truth to life, profundity, and beauty. And that is how you justify the study of English, as a training in this other kind of judgment, which leaves politics behind.

This other kind of judgment used to be called “taste.” When the humanities emerged in the late 18th century it was in order to develop taste in literature, art, and music. And so it remained right down to the time of my youth. The central discipline of a subject like English was criticism, and you taught criticism by getting students to raise questions about their own and others’ emotions, and by exploring the ways in which literature can both ennoble and demean the human condition. It was not an easy task, but there were examples to follow—great critics like R. P. Blackmur, F. R. Leavis, William Empson and T. S. Eliot, who had raised the study of literature to a level of seriousness that justified its claim to be an academic subject.

The same was true of art history and musicology. Both subjects involve historical and technical knowledge. But when they emerged as university disciplines they were inseparable from the cultivation of taste. You taught these subjects by way of introducing students to the great works of our civilization (and sometimes of other civilizations too); and all the knowledge you conveyed was designed to back up your principal endeavor, which was to justify aesthetic judgments.

To teach in this way is to run a great risk. Taste and judgment are faculties that we develop: they form part of the great transition from youthful enjoyment to adult discrimination. To teach them is to offer a rite of passage, into the adult way of life. And young people today are suspicious of rites of passage unless they themselves devise them. Their rites of passage are not from adolescence but more deeply into it. This, I believe, is the key to understanding their musical taste. The songs, styles, and groups that appeal to modern adolescents are invitations to join the gang. And criticism of their music by anybody who is outside the gang is offensive—an existential affront, which threatens their core experience of social membership.

This attitude makes judgment all but impossible, and it is one reason why departments of musicology are now “into” pop music and Heavy Metal, and refrain from creating the impression among their students that they regard the Western canon as anything more than a piece of musical history. I recently had the experience of teaching a course on the philosophy of music to young people in a British university, and was acutely aware at every moment of the resentment that now greets any criticism of pop. Only comparative judgments are acceptable, and the comparison has to be between one piece of pop music and another. This is in fact an interesting exercise. You can learn a lot from comparing Peter Gabriel and the Kooks which you probably will not learn from comparing Bach and Vivaldi—a lot about the varied forms of self-indulgence in music, and the many ways of failing to make voice-led harmonies or melodies that are capable of prolongation. But you are not allowed to judge. Lives have been built around this stuff, and they are lives that are armored against the adult world and determined to avoid any passage into it. Students would listen respectfully to my examples from the classics. But they were examples of my music, and in no way to be understood as examples for them to follow. Mozart and Schubert passed before their ears like caravans on the horizon—the spectacle of a distant, exotic, and in the end irrelevant form of human life.

TEACHERS IN SUBJECTS LIKE ENGLISH and art history have also encountered this flight from judgment, and it is one source of the crisis in the humanities, since judgment is what the humanities are really about. Subjects like English and art history grew from the desire to teach young people how to discriminate art from effect, beauty from kitsch, and real from phony sentiment. This ability was not regarded as an unimportant skill like fencing or horse riding, which students are free to acquire or not, according to their interests. It was regarded as a real form of knowledge, as vital to the future of civilization as the knowledge of mathematics, and more closely connected with the moral health of society than any natural science. It was only on that assumption that the humanities acquired their central place in the modern university.

If, however, the humanities are to avoid the cultivation of taste, it is not only their central place in the curriculum that is thrown in doubt. Given their prominence in the modern university, and the fact that increasingly many students come to university who are unprepared for any other form of study, any change in the humanities is a change in the very idea of a university. Conservatives often complain about the politicization of the universities, and about the fact that only liberal views are propagated or even tolerated on campus. But they fail to see the true cause of this, which is the internal collapse of the humanities. When judgment is marginalized or forbidden nothing remains save politics. The only permitted way to compare Jane Austen and Maya Angelou, or Mozart and Meshuggah, is in terms of their rival political postures. And then the point of studying Jane Austen or Mozart is lost. What do they have to tell us about the ideological conflicts of today, or the power struggles that are played out in the faculty common room?

The true conservative cause, when it comes to the universities, ought to be the restoration of judgment to its central place in the humanities. And that shows how difficult a task the recapture of the universities will be. It will require a confrontation with the culture of youth, and an insistence that the real purpose of universities is not to flatter the tastes of those who arrive there, but to present them with a rite of passage into something better. And the word “better” simply raises the problem all over again. Who has the right to say, that one thing is better than another?

- Roger Scruton, the writer and philosopher, is most recently the author of Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From a Life (Continuum).

The Settlements Myth

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Friday, June 5, 2009

President Obama repeatedly insists that American foreign policy be conducted with modesty and humility. Above all, there will be no more "dictating" to other countries. We should "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions," he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told al-Arabiya, America will henceforth "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating."

An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone -- Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: "a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."

What's the issue? No "natural growth" means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no housing for them -- not even within the existing town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out. No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these towns -- even before negotiations.

To what end? Over the past decade, the U.S. government has understood that any final peace treaty would involve Israel retaining some of the close-in settlements -- and compensating the Palestinians accordingly with land from within Israel itself.

That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. After all, why expel people from their homes and turn their towns to rubble when, instead, Arabs and Jews can stay in their homes if the 1949 armistice line is shifted slightly into the Palestinian side to capture the major close-in Jewish settlements, and then shifted into Israeli territory to capture Israeli land to give to the Palestinians?

This idea is not only logical, not only accepted by both Democratic and Republican administrations for the past decade, but was agreed to in writing in the letters of understanding exchanged between Israel and the United States in 2004 -- and subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent resolution of Congress.

Yet the Obama State Department has repeatedly refused to endorse these agreements or even say it will honor them. This from a president who piously insists that all parties to the conflict honor previous obligations. And who now expects Israel to accept new American assurances in return for concrete and irreversible Israeli concessions, when he himself has just cynically discarded past American assurances.

The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. Is the peace process moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren? It is perverse to make this the center point of the peace process at a time when Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert's peace offers, brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode -- waiting for Hamas to become moderate and for Israel to cave -- before he'll do anything to advance peace.

In his much-heralded "Muslim world" address in Cairo yesterday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people's "situation" is "intolerable." Indeed it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership that for three generations rejected every offer of independence and dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.

That's why Haj Amin al-Husseini chose war rather than a two-state solution in 1947. Why Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in 2000. And why Abbas rejected Olmert's even more generous December 2008 offer.

In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people's suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.

Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.

Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.

An American Leader Stands Up For His Country

By David Horowitz
Friday, June 05, 2009

Yes he rewrote history, particularly the history of Muslim and Arab rapacity and bigtory, and he pandered a lot. But the pandering was in large part diplomacy and far less than conservatives were predicting, and far less than the pandering that characterized his previous attempts to mollify the Muslim world. He most pointedly did not apologize for American actions after 9/11, or seek to find excuses for the terrorist attacks in our policies and behavior before 9/11. On the contrary, he deliberately opened the wound of 9/11 to justify America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts…”

And Iraq! This is the war he had opposed as unnecessary and wrong, until now. In Cairo he did not apologize for “Bush’s war” or America’s “occupation.” He said that the Iraqis were better off without Saddam Hussein, which obviously could not have happened without the war – a truism, which for seven years Democrats failed to concede. Where Kennedy and Gore and Obama himself condemned America’s war as “unnecessary,” “illegal” “based on lies,” an aggression against a “fragile and unstable” country that could not defend itself, Obama, speaking in a Muslim capital, defended our presence in Iraq as driven by a desire to give Iraqis their freedom and their country. Bush could not have said it better.

As for the Middle East conflict, Obama began – began – by telling the Muslim world that the bond between Israel and the United States is unbreakable, and by opening the wound of the Jews that made a homeland for them a moral imperative: “America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”

And then he characterized Holocaust deniers like Ahmadinejad as despicable, and identified them as a cause of war in the Middle East, and announced that he was going to Buchenwald the next day (clearly to underscore that fact): “Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.”

And while Obama made false parallels between Jews and Arabs as contributors to the intractability of the Middle East conflict and rewrote some history, he also said in no uncertain terms that it was Palestinians who had to renounce violence (and here he drew no parallels and no moral equivalence) and had to recognize the Jewish state -- something even the “moderate” terrorist Abbas refuses to do.

And to underscore this point he drew a parallel between the struggles of American blacks for civil rights and Palestinians. But unlike Condoleeza Rice who not too long ago drew the same parallel to aggrandize the PLO terrorists as civil rights activists, Obama drew a sharp and revealing line of distinction between them: “Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.“

And that was really the core of Obama’s speech. It was a defense of America’s founding and America’s mission. We are a tolerant nation and a peaceful nation Obama told 1.5 billion Muslims and we will accept and embrace you if you reject the violent and hateful among you and walk a peaceful and tolerant path. And this tolerance must extend not only to the Jews of Israel, and other infidels, but to Muslims among you who are oppressed, specifically Muslim women: “The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the Wes that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.”

That is not pandering. It is saying that America’s democratic, tolerant, inclusive way needs to be the path to the future for the Muslim world.
Conservatives will make a great mistake if they fail to see this speech for what it was, and treat it as another round in the partisan food fight. It was not an appeasement our enemies. It was a forthright statement by an American leader in a Muslim capital explaining why America is in fact the global leader in those battles that matter most to people everywhere: freedom, equality, and peace. As conservatives we have many quarrels with the Obama administration – and we should have. But this speech is not one of them.

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Green With Guilt

By George F. Will
The Washington Post
Thursday, June 4, 2009

There once was an Indianapolis concert featuring 50 pianos. Splendid instruments, pianos. Still, 50 might have been excessive. As is today's chorus summoning us to save the planet.

In the history of developed democracies with literate publics served by mass media, there is no precedent for today's media enlistment in the crusade to promote global warming "awareness." Concerning this, journalism, which fancies itself skeptical and nonconforming, is neither.

The incessant hectoring by the media-political complex's "consciousness-raising" campaign has provoked a comic riposte in the form of "The Goode Family," an animated ABC entertainment program at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesdays. Cartoons seem, alas, to be the most effective means of seizing a mass audience's attention. Still, the program is welcome evidence of the bursting of what has been called "the green bubble."

Gerald and Helen Goode, their children and dog Che (when supervised, he is a vegan; when unsupervised, squirrels disappear) live in a college town, where T-shirts and other media instruct ("Meat is murder"), admonish ("Don't kill wood") and exhort ("Support our troops . . . and their opponents"). The college, where Gerald works, gives students tenure. And when Gerald says his department needs money to raise the percentage of minority employees, his boss cheerily replies, "Or we could just fire three white guys. Everybody wins!" Helen shops at the One Earth store, where community shaming enforces social responsibility: "Attention One Earth shoppers, the driver of the SUV is in aisle four. He's wearing the baseball cap."

The New York Times television critic disapproves. The show "feels aggressively off-kilter with the current mood, as if it had been incubated in the early to mid-'90s, when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed." That is a perfect (because completely complacent) sample of the grating smugness of the planet-savers, delivered by an entertainment writer: Reasonable dissent is impossible. Cue the pianos.

"The Goode Family" does not threaten Jonathan Swift's standing as the premier English-language satirist. But when a Goode child apologizes to his parent for driving too much, and the parent responds, "It's okay . . . what's important is that you feel guilty about it," the program touches upon an important phenomenon: ecology as psychology.

In "The Green Bubble: Why Environmentalism Keeps Imploding" [the New Republic, May 20], Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of "Break Through: Why We Can't Leave Saving the Planet to Environmentalists," say that a few years ago, being green "moved beyond politics." Gestures -- bringing reusable grocery bags to the store, purchasing a $4 heirloom tomato, inflating tires, weatherizing windows -- "gained fresh urgency" and "were suddenly infused with grand significance."

Green consumption became "positional consumption" that identified the consumer as a member of a moral and intellectual elite. A 2007 survey found that 57 percent of Prius purchasers said they bought their car because "it makes a statement about me." Honda, alert to the bull market in status effects, reshaped its 2009 Insight hybrid to look like a Prius.

Nordhaus and Shellenberger note the telling "insignificance," as environmental measures, of planting gardens or using fluorescent bulbs. Their significance is therapeutic, but not for the planet. They make people feel better:

"After all, we can't escape the fact that we depend on an infrastructure -- roads, buildings, sewage systems, power plants, electrical grids, etc. -- that requires huge quantities of fossil fuels. But the ecological irrelevance of these practices was beside the point."

The point of "utopian environmentalism" was to reduce guilt. During the green bubble, many Americans became "captivated by the twin thoughts that human civilization could soon come crashing down -- and that we are on the cusp of a sudden leap forward in consciousness, one that will allow us to heal ourselves, our society, and our planet. Apocalyptic fears meld seamlessly into utopian hopes." Suddenly, commonplace acts -- e.g., buying light bulbs -- infused pedestrian lives with cosmic importance. But:

"Greens often note that the changing global climate will have the greatest impact on the world's poor; they neglect to mention that the poor also have the most to gain from development fueled by cheap fossil fuels like coal. For the poor, the climate is already dangerous."

Now, say Nordhaus and Shellenberger, "the green bubble" has burst, pricked by Americans' intensified reluctance to pursue greenness at a cost to economic growth. The dark side of utopianism is "escapism and a disengagement from reality that marks all bubbles, green or financial." Reengagement with reality is among the recession's benefits.

Climate of Hate, World of Double Standards

By Michelle Malkin
June 2, 2009

When a right-wing Christian vigilante kills, millions of fingers pull the trigger. When a left-wing Muslim vigilante kills, he kills alone. These are the instantly ossifying narratives in the Sunday shooting death of late-term abortion provider George Tiller of Kansas versus the Monday shootings of two Arkansas military recruiters.

This undated booking photo released Tuesday, June 2, 2009 by the Sedgwick County Jail shows Scott Roeder, 51, who made his first court appearance Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court in Wichita, Kan. Roeder was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the death of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, asking the judge by video when he would see his court-appointed lawyer.
(AP Photo/Sedgwick County Jail)

Tiller's suspected murderer, Scott Roeder, is white, Christian, anti-government and anti-abortion. The gunman in the military recruitment center attack, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, is black, a Muslim convert, anti-military and anti-American.

Both crimes are despicable, cowardly acts of domestic terrorism. But the disparate treatment of the two brutal cases by both the White House and the media is striking.

President Obama issued a statement condemning "heinous acts of violence" within hours of Tiller's death. The Justice Department issued its own statement and sent federal marshals to protect abortion clinics. News anchors and headline writers abandoned all qualms about labeling the gunman a terrorist. An almost gleeful excess of mainstream commentary poured forth on the climate of hate and fear created by conservative talk radio, blogs and Fox News in reporting Tiller's activities.

By contrast, Obama was silent about the military recruiter attacks that left 24-year-old Pvt. William Long dead and 18-year-old Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula gravely wounded. On Tuesday afternoon—more than 24 hours after the attack on the military recruitment center in Little Rock, Ark.—Obama held a press conference to announce his pick for Army secretary. It would have been exactly the right moment to express condolences for the families of the targeted Army recruiters and to condemn heinous acts of violence against our troops.

But Obama said nothing. The Justice Department was mum. And so were the legions of finger-pointing pundits happily convicting the pro-life movement and every right-leaning writer on the planet of contributing to the murder of Tiller. Obama's omission, it should be noted, comes just a few weeks after he failed to mention the Bronx jihadi plot to bomb synagogues and a National Guard airbase during his speech on homeland security.

Why the silence? Politically and religiously motivated violence, it seems, is only worth lamenting when it demonizes opponents. Which also helps explain why the phrase "lone shooter" is ubiquitous in media coverage of jihadi shooters gone wild—think convicted "Jeep Jihadist" Mohammed Taheri-Azar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill or Israel-bashing gunman Naveed Haq, who targeted a Seattle Jewish charity or Los Angeles International Airport shooter Hesham Hedayet, who opened fire at the El Al Israeli airline ticket counter—but not in cases involving rare acts of anti-abortion violence.

Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, is escorted from the Little Rock police headquarters Monday, June 1, 2009 in Little Rock, Ark. Muhammad killed a soldier just out of basic training and wounded another Monday in a targeted attack on a military recruiting center, police said. The shootings were not believed to be part of a broader scheme.
(AP Photo/Brian Chilson)

Even Jeffrey Goldberg of the left-leaning Atlantic magazine noticed the double standards. He called attention to a National Public Radio report on the military recruiter attack that failed to mention the religion and anti-military animus of the suspect. Wrote Goldberg:

"Why not tell people what is actually happening in the world? We saw this a couple of weeks ago, when the press only gingerly acknowledged that the malevolent though incompetent suspects in the synagogue bombing-conspiracy case in New York were converts to Islam. How is the public served by this kind of silence? The extremist Christian beliefs of George Tiller's alleged murderer are certainly relevant to that case, and no one in my profession is hesitant to discuss them. Why the hesitancy to talk about the motivations of the man who allegedly killed Pvt. William Long?"

The truth is that the "climate of hate" doesn't have just one hemisphere. But you won't hear the Council on American-Islamic Relations acknowledging the national security risks of jihadi infiltrators who despise our military and have plotted against our troops from within the ranks—including convicted fragging killer Hasan Akbar and terror plotters Ali Mohamed, Jeffrey Battle and Semi Osman.

You won't hear about the escalating war on military recruitment centers on the op-ed pages of The New York Times—from vandalism to obstruction to Molotov cocktail attacks on campus stations across the country; to the shutdown of a Pittsburgh military recruitment office by zealots holding signs that read "Recruiters are Child Predators"; to the prolonged harassment campaign against the Marine recruiting center in Berkeley, where Code Pink protesters called America soldiers assassins; to the bomb blast at the Times Square recruiting center last March.

And you'll certainly hear little about the most recent left-wing calls to violence by a Playboy magazine writer who published a vulgar list of conservative female writers and commentators he said he'd like to rape (the obscene slang word he used is not printable). The list was hyped by the magazine's publicity team and light-heartedly promoted by mainstream publications such as (founded by Washington Post reporters).

Is it too much to ask the media cartographers in charge of mapping the "climate of hate" to do their jobs with both eyes open?


- Michelle Malkin [email her] is author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin is also author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild and the forthcoming Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies.


By Ann Coulter
June 3, 2009

In the wake of the shooting of late-term abortionist George Tiller, President Barack Obama sent out a welcome message that this nation would not tolerate attacks on pro-lifers or any other Americans because of their religion or beliefs.

Dr. George Tiller speaks to a small group in a tent during a rally at Tillers clinic in Wichita, Kan. , in a Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002, file photo. (AP)

Ha ha! Just kidding. That was the lead sentence -- with minor edits -- of a New York Times editorial warning about theoretical hate crimes against Muslims published eight months after 9/11. Can pro-lifers get a hate crimes bill passed and oceans of ink devoted to assuring Americans that "most pro-lifers are peaceful"?

For years, we've had to hear about the grave threat that Americans might overreact to a terrorist attack committed by 19 Muslims shouting "Allahu akbar" as they flew commercial jets into American skyscrapers. That would be the equivalent of 19 pro-lifers shouting "Abortion kills a beating heart!" as they gunned down thousands of innocent citizens in Wichita, Kan.

Why aren't liberals rushing to assure us this time that "most pro-lifers are peaceful"? Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful.

According to recent polling, a majority of Americans oppose abortion -- which is consistent with liberals' hysterical refusal to allow us to vote on the subject. In a country with approximately 150 million pro-lifers, five abortionists have been killed since Roe v. Wade.

In that same 36 years, more than 49 million babies have been killed by abortionists. Let's recap that halftime score, sports fans: 49 million to five.

Meanwhile, fewer than 2 million Muslims live in America and, while Muslims are less murderous than abortionists, I'm fairly certain they've killed more than five people in the United States in the last 36 years. For some reason, the number "3,000" keeps popping into my head.

So in a country that is more than 50 percent pro-life -- and 80 percent opposed to the late-term abortions of the sort performed by Tiller -- only five abortionists have been killed. And in a country that is less than 0.5 percent Muslim, several dozen Muslims have killed thousands of Americans.

But the killing of about one abortionist per decade leads liberals to condemn the entire pro-life movement as "domestic terrorists." At least liberals have finally found some terrorists they'd like to send to Guantanamo.

Tiller bragged about performing 60,000 abortions, including abortions of viable babies, able to survive outside the mother's womb. He made millions of dollars performing late-term abortions so gruesome that only two other abortionists -- not a squeamish bunch -- in the entire country would perform them.

Kansas law allows late-term abortions only to save the mother's life or to prevent "irreversible physical damage" to the mother. But Tiller was more than happy to kill viable babies, provided the mothers: (1) forked over $5,000; and (2) mentioned "substantial and irreversible conditions," which, in Tiller's view, apparently included not being able to go to concerts or rodeos or being "temporarily depressed" on account of their pregnancies.

In return for blood money from Tiller's profitable abattoir, Democrats ran a political protection racket for the late-term abortionist.

In 1997, The Washington Post reported that Tiller attended one of Bill Clinton's White House coffees for major campaign contributors. In addition to a $25,000 donation to Clinton, Tiller wanted to thank him personally for 30 months of U.S. Marshals' protection paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

Kansas Democrats who received hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars from Tiller repeatedly intervened to block any interference with Tiller's abortion mill.

Kathleen Sebelius, who was the governor of Kansas until Obama made her Health and Human Services Secretary, received hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars from Tiller. Sebelius vetoed one bill restricting late-term abortions and another one that would have required Tiller to turn over his records pertaining to "substantial and irreversible conditions" justifying his late-term abortions.

Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison also got elected with the help of Tiller's blood money, replacing a Republican attorney general who was in the middle of an investigation of Tiller for various crimes including his failure to report statutory rapes, despite performing abortions on pregnant girls as young as 11.

But soon after Morrison replaced the Republican attorney general, the charges against Tiller were reduced and, in short order, he was acquitted of a few misdemeanors. In what is a not uncommon cost of doing business with Democrats, Morrison is now gone, having been forced to resign when his mistress charged him with sexual harassment and corruption.

Tiller was protected not only by a praetorian guard of elected Democrats, but also by the protective coloration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- coincidentally, the same church belonged to by Tiller's fellow Wichita executioner, the BTK killer.

The official Web page of the ELCA instructs: "A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born." As long as we're deciding who does and doesn't have an "absolute right to be born," who's to say late-term abortionists have an "absolute right" to live?

I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?

Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.

Jihad Returns to America

By Robert Spencer
Thursday, June 04, 2009

Jihad came once again to American soil on Monday, when an American convert to Islam, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, began shooting at soldiers who were standing outside the Army-Navy Career Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Muhammad murdered Pvt. William Long, 23, and gravely wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18.

Muhammad was charged with capital murder and – in a departure from authorities’ practically reflexive dismissal of terrorism as a factor in virtually any act of violence by a Muslim -- sixteen counts of committing a terrorist act. Rather curiously, Muhammad has entered a not guilty plea, despite a prosecutor’s report that he had admitted shooting Private Long, and explained that he had done so “because of what they had done to Muslims in the past.” Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas said of Muhammad’s act: “We believe that it’s associated with his disagreement over the military operations.”

Apparently “they” were the United States, and Muhammad considered this random shooting of two innocent young men to be an act of defensive jihad against a force he believed to be making war against the global Islamic community. Muhammad seems to have driven up to the Army-Navy Career Center intending to kill as many American military personnel as he could. Deputy Prosecutor Scott Duncan said that Muhammad openly admitted that he “would have killed more soldiers had they been in the parking lot.”

According to a well-informed source, Carlos Leon “Corey” Bledsoe, who changed his name to Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad after he converted to Islam, is from Memphis, Tennessee. He was a student at Tennessee State University, where he majored in business. After becoming a Muslim in 2004 at the age of 19, he quit college and embarked upon a path that ultimately led him to Yemen, where another American convert to Islam, John Walker Lindh, learned Arabic and Islam before moving on to Afghanistan, where he fought alongside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda against American troops before his capture in 2002.

Muhammad went to Yemen hoping to study with a jihadist imam, Yahya Hajoori. It is not clear at this point whether he actually studied directly with Hajoori, or with one of his students. Interestingly enough, he apparently traveled to Yemen on a Somali passport, and was jailed for a time in Yemen for doing so. In light of the recent involvement of Somali immigrants to the United States in the jihad in Somalia, it is significant that Muhammad would have this passport. Apparently this and more about Muhammad did not escape the notice of American law enforcement officials: when he returned to the U.S. from Yemen, the Joint Terrorism Task Force began to investigate him. Unfortunately, he appears to have been able to stay at least one step ahead of investigators.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media and the U.S. government have given this murder very little attention. After the murder of abortionist George Tiller last week, Barack Obama expressed his sorrow and indignation, and Attorney General Eric Holder ordered U.S. Marshals to protect abortion clinic. But so far Obama has said nothing about the murder of Private William Long, and no one has made any move to protect military recruitment centers. And NBC was sadly typical in breezing past Muhammad’s motive for committing this murder, and failing to mention his religion at all. During coverage of the murder on the Today show last Tuesday, NBC’s Ann Curry said nothing about the jihad doctrine or about Muhammad’s religion at all, failed to mention his trip to Yemen, and explained the murders by saying only that Muhammad was “upset with the military.” She acknowledged that he had “political and religious motives,” but didn’t mention what his religion was – nor did she give his name. By contrast, according to Newsbusters, “both ABC and CBS mentioned the conversion and the Yemen trip.”

Some analysts have opined that Muhammad was committing what has been described as “sudden jihad syndrome” – that is, something made him snap, and his murder was unpremeditated. However, Fox News reported Tuesday night that Muhammad was not acting alone. His act was part of a larger jihad plot to attack military personnel.

This was certainly not be the first act of jihad violence on American soil, or anything approaching the most deadly. But given the inadequacies of the response of the government and the mainstream media, it will almost certainly not be the last.

- Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven 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, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Today's Tune: Ronny and the Daytonas - G.T.O

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Between the Covers with John J. Miller

P.J. O'Rourke on Driving Like Crazy

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"In the Obama Administration ... It's Easy Being Palestinian"

By Daniel Pipes
Monday, June 01, 2009

The much-anticipated meeting between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu on May 18 went off smoothly, if a bit tensely, as predicted. Everyone was on best behavior and the event excited so little attention that the New York Times reported it on page 12.

As expected, however, the gloves came off immediately thereafter, with a series of tough American demands, especially U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's insistence on May 27 that the Netanyahu government end residential building for Israelis in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. This prompted a defiant response. The Israeli governing coalition chairman pointed out the mistake of prior "American dictates," a minister compared Obama to pharaoh, and the government press office director cheekily mock-admired "the residents of Iroquois territory for assuming that they have a right to determine where Jews should live in Jerusalem."

If the specifics of who-lives-where have little strategic import, the Obama administration's rapid and harsh turn against Israel has potentially great significance. Not only did the administration end George W. Bush's focus on changes on the Palestinian side but it even disregarded oral understandings Bush had reached with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.

Yasir Arafat smiles as Barack Obama meets Mahmoud Abbas in July 2008.

An article by Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post captures this shift most vividly. Diehl notes, based on an interview with Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, that by publicly and repeatedly stressing the need for a without-exception freeze of Israeli building on the West Bank, Obama

has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. "The Americans are the leaders of the world. … They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, 'You have to comply with the conditions'."

Of course, telling the Israelis is one thing and getting their compliance quite another. To this, Abbas also has an answer. Expecting that Netanyahu's agreeing to a complete freeze on building would bring down his coalition, Diehl explains that Abbas plans "to sit back and watch while U.S. pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office." One Palestinian Authority official predicted this would happen within "a couple of years" – exactly when Obama is said to expect a Palestinian state in place.

Meanwhile, Abbas plans to sit tight. Diehl explains his thinking:

Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession—such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees. Instead, he says, he will remain passive. … "I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements," he said. "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

Abbas's idea of "normal life," one should add, is also largely provided by Washington and its allies; West Bank Palestinians enjoy by far the highest per-capita foreign aid of any group in the world; at just one "donors' conference" in December 2007, for example, Abbas won pledges for over US$1,800 per West Banker per year.

As Diehl tersely concludes, "In the Obama administration, so far, it's easy being Palestinian."
Even if one ignores the folly of focusing on Jerusalemites adding recreation rooms to their houses rather than Iranians adding centrifuges to their nuclear infrastructure and even if one overlooks the obvious counter productivity of letting Abbas off the hook – the new U.S. approach is doomed.

First, Netanyahu's governing coalition should prove impervious to U.S. pressure. When he formed the government in March 2009, it included 69 parliamentarians out of the Knesset's 120 members, well over the 61 minimum. Even if the U.S. government succeeded in splitting off the two parties least committed to Netanyahu's goals, Labor and Shas, he could replace them with right-wing and religious parties to retain a solid majority.

Second, the record shows that Jerusalem takes "risks for peace" only when trusting its American ally. An administration that undermines this fragile trust will likely confront a wary and reluctant Israeli leadership.

If Washington continues on its present course, the result may well be spectacular policy failure that manages both to weaken America's only strategic ally in the Middle East even as it worsens Arab-Israeli tensions.

Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.