Saturday, May 22, 2010
Orange County Register
Barack Obama's remarkable powers of oratory are well known: In support of Chicago's Olympic bid, he flew into Copenhagen to give a heartwarming speech about himself, and they gave the games to Rio. He flew into Boston to support Martha Coakley's bid for the U.S. Senate, and Massachusetts voters gave Ted Kennedy's seat to a Republican. In the first year of his presidency, he gave a gazillion speeches on health care "reform" and drove support for his proposals to basement level, leaving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to ram it down the throats of the American people through sheer parliamentary muscle.
Like a lot of guys who've been told they're brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy, and doesn't always choose his words with care. And so it was that he came to say a few words about Daniel Pearl, upon signing the "Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act." Pearl was decapitated on video by jihadist Muslims in Karachi on Feb. 1, 2002. That's how I'd put it. This is what the president of the United States said:
"Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is."
AP FILE PHOTO: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is shown with a gun held to his head in this file photo obtained on Jan. 26, 2002.
Now Obama's off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he's talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased's family is standing all around him. And, even for a busy president, it's the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving and true. Indeed, for Obama, it's the work of seconds, because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.
Instead, he delivered the one above, which in its clumsiness and insipidness is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: "The loss of Daniel Pearl." He wasn't "lost." He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his "loss" merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.
Even if Americans don't get the message, the rest of the world does. This week's pictures of the leaders of Brazil and Turkey clasping hands with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also monuments to American passivity.
But what did the "loss" of Daniel Pearl mean? Well, says the president, it was "one of those moments that captured the world's imagination." Really? Evidently it never captured Obama's imagination because, if it had, he could never have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl's fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: "one of those moments" – you know, like Princess Di's wedding, Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, whatever – "that captured the world's imagination."
Notice how reflexively Obama lapses into sentimental one-worldism: Despite our many zip codes, we are one people, with a single imagination. In fact, the murder of Daniel Pearl teaches just the opposite – that we are many worlds, and worlds within worlds. Some of them don't even need an "imagination." Across the planet, the video of an American getting his head sawed off did brisk business in the bazaars and madrassahs and Internet downloads. Excited young men e-mailed it to friends, from cell phone to cell phone, from Karachi to Jakarta to Khartoum to London to Toronto to Falls Church, Virginia. In the old days, you needed an "imagination" to conjure the juicy bits of a distant victory over the Great Satan. But in an age of high-tech barbarism the sight of Pearl's severed head is a mere click away.
And the rest of "the world"? Most gave a shrug of indifference. And far too many found the reality of Pearl's death too uncomfortable, and chose to take refuge in the same kind of delusional pap as Obama. The president is only the latest Western liberal to try to hammer Daniel Pearl's box into a round hole. Before him, it was Michael Winterbottom in his film "A Mighty Heart": As Pearl's longtime colleague Asra Nomani wrote, "Danny himself had been cut from his own story." Or as Paramount's promotional department put it, "Nominate the most inspiring ordinary hero. Win a trip to the Bahamas!" Where you're highly unlikely to be kidnapped and beheaded! (Although, in the event that you are, please check the liability-waiver box at the foot of the entry form.)
The latest appropriation that his "loss" "reminded us of how valuable a free press is." It was nothing to do with "freedom of the press." By the standards of the Muslim world, Pakistan has a free-ish and very lively press. The problem is that some 80 percent of its people wish to live under the most extreme form of Sharia, and many of its youth are exported around the world in advance of that aim. The man convicted of Pearl's murder was Omar Sheikh, a British subject, a London School of Economics student, and, like many jihadists from Osama to the Pantybomber, a monument to the peculiar burdens of a non-deprived childhood in the Muslim world. The man who actually did the deed was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed in March 2007: "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi." But Obama's not the kind to take "guilty" for an answer, so he's arranging a hugely expensive trial for KSM amid the bright lights of Broadway.
Listen to his killer's words: "The American Jew Daniel Pearl." We hit the jackpot! And then we cut his head off. Before the body was found, The Independent's Robert Fisk offered a familiar argument to Pearl's kidnappers: Killing him would be "a major blunder... the best way of ensuring that the suffering" – of Kashmiris, Afghans, Palestinians – "goes unrecorded." Other journalists peddled a similar line: if you release Danny, he'll be able to tell your story, get your message out, "bridge the misconceptions." But the story did get out; the severed head is the message; the only misconception is that that's a misconception.
Daniel Pearl was the prototype for a new kind of terror. In his wake came other victims from Kenneth Bigley, whose last words were that "Tony Blair has not done enough for me," to Fabrizzio Quattrocchi, who yanked off his hood, yelled "I will show you how an Italian dies!" and ruined the movie for his jihadist videographers. By that time, both men understood what it meant to be in a windowless room with a camera and a man holding a scimitar. But Daniel Pearl was the first, and in his calm, coherent final words understood why he was there:
"My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California, USA ..."
He didn't have a prompter. But he spoke the truth. That's all President Obama owed him – to do the same.
I mentioned last week the attorney general's peculiar insistence that "radical Islam" was nothing to do with the Times Square bomber, the Pantybomber, the Fort Hood killer. Just a lot of moments "capturing the world's imagination." For now, the jihadists seem to have ceased cutting our heads off. Listening to Obama and Eric Holder, perhaps they've figured out there's nothing much up there anyway.
Friday, May 21, 2010
By Ralph Peters
New York Post
May 21, 2010
The world changed this week and we yawned. Our government and media utterly failed to grasp the meaning of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey nuke deal.
Undercutting the sanctions-lite bargain Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thinks she has with Russia and China was the least of it.
We're so obsessed with the single (albeit important) issue of terrorism that we're missing profound global realignments and the rise of grave new threats.
Iran's "agreement" to ship a slice of its enriched-uranium pie to Turkey for reprocessing is pure gamesmanship. We expect that from Iran. The alarming part is that, this time, Turkey and Brazil are in on the game.
Erdogan: Turk aims to follow once Iran breaks atomic ice. (EPA)
The ludicrous terms of this con-job have long since been overtaken by events. Brazil's President Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan aren't trying to stop Iran's nuke program.
They're eager to facilitate it.
What Brazil and Turkey just did wasn't intended to impede Tehran, but to make it harder for Western powers to impose sanctions. Both countries want Iran to run interference for them.
Once Iran gets the bomb and takes the (slight) heat, Brazil and Turkey both intend to go nuclear.
Brazil wants vanity nukes to cement its position as South America's hegemon, a regional alternative to the US. Turkey's slow-roll Islamist government dreams of a new Ottoman age -- as it turns from the West to embrace the Muslim states it ruled a century ago. After easing Tehran's path to the bomb, Ankara will claim that it needs its own nuclear capability to maintain regional stability.
But the coming widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons will be profoundly destabilizing. Each Middle Eastern country, especially, that goes nuclear increases the probability of a nuke exchange exponentially.
As Western states fantasize about a "nuclear-weapons-free world," their developing-world darlings are scrambling like mad to develop nuclear arsenals. And we don't get it.
Which leads to the second problem with our asleep-at-the-wheel foreign policy (content to equate Arizona's human-rights record with China's): New alliances are developing that are already destabilizing our strategic architecture -- even without nukes.
Let's connect a few of the Iran-Turkey-Brazil dots:
* Iran and Brazil share close ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and support other left-wing movements in Latin America.
* Russia sells arms to Iran and Venezuela. Iran supplies weaponry to Hezbollah and Hamas. Venezuela equips Latin narco-terrorists and guerrillas -- to which Brazil turns a blind eye -- and backs Islamist terror.
* While artfully dismantling Turkey's once-secular constitution, Ankara increasingly supports radical-Muslim causes abroad. Turkey's new embrace of Iran is paralleled by a growing intimacy with Russia, as well.
* After flirting with Israel, Turkey chose Syria (whose regime also seeks nukes) as its neighborhood partner. Syria cooperates with Iran in support of Hezbollah and Hamas -- and has deep ties to Russia.
* China's working hard to strengthen its strategic ties with Brazil and Venezuela, and Beijing's already Iran's staunchest defender on the international stage.
* What do Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, Syria and even our "NATO ally" Turkey have in common? They're all resentful of American power and want to see Washington taken down several notches.
In the depths of the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement was a sorry joke in which rhetorical grandstanding and leftist economics stopped development in its tracks for decades. Member countries hurt themselves far more than they annoyed us.
The emerging constellation of alliances will mean a lot more trouble. Not least, because so many countries will have nukes.
Several years ago, I wrote that, despite the end of yesteryear's superpower confrontation, our military's going to find itself on a nuclear battlefield, after all -- either smack in a war, or running a gruesome cleanup operation. The odds of that happening will soar as proliferation worsens.
And we are not prepared.
Rising and troubled states alike are embracing nuclear arms, power alignments are shifting profoundly, and our national priority is to provide electricity to Afghan hovels.
The consolation is that Afghanistan, at least, will never be a nuclear power. It will simply be surrounded by them.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Endless War."
by Christopher Horner
As predicted was inevitable, today the Spanish newspaper La Gaceta runs with a full-page article fessing up to the truth about Spain’s “green jobs” boondoggle, which happens to be the one naively cited by President Obama no less than eight times as his model for the United States. It is now out there as a bust, a costly disaster that has come undone in Spain to the point that even the Socialists admit it, with the media now in full pursuit.
Breaking the Spanish government’s admission here at Pajamas Media probably didn’t hurt their interest in finally reporting on the leaked admission. Obama’s obvious hope of rushing into place his “fundamental transformation” of America into something more like Europe’s social democracies — where even the most basic freedoms have been moved from individuals and families to the state — before the house of cards collapsed has suffered what we can only hope proves to be its fatal blow. At least on this front.
La Gaceta boldly exposes the failure of the Spanish renewable policy and how Obama has been following it. The headline screams: “Spain admits that the green economy as sold to Obama is a disaster.”
This is now an explosive scandal in Spain, coming on the heels of shabby treatment over there in payback to an academic team for having pointed the disaster out (joined by equally shabby treatment by the Obama administration).
I’d say “I hate to say I told you so,” but I revel in it. My only regret is that they couldn’t have admitted it about three weeks ago to coincide even more perfectly with the release of Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America. In the book, I detail the folly of Obama’s claims about European “green economy” miracles and what cramming them down here means for you, unless you stand up and fight back now.
The man who exposed the disaster, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, kindly praises the dissection of free-ice-cream “green jobs” economics on the jacket. That fight begins anew next week with the likely Senate vote on S.J. Res. 26, the Murkowski resolution to disapprove of the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to impose much of this agenda through the regulatory back door without Congress ever having authorized such an enormous economic intervention. Read Power Grab to get your head around the numerous fallacies and fabrications, and give Washington hell.
(An English translation of the La Gaceta article is provided below.)
(The article below was published in La Gaceta on May 21, 2010.)
Spain admits that the green energy as sold to Obama is a disaster
The Spanish government leaks a report that admits the ominous economic consequences of betting in favor of renewable energies.
by Cristina Blas
The president of the United States, Barack Obama, doesn’t seem to have chosen the right model to copy for his “green economy,” Spain. After the government of José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero demonized a study of different experts about the fatal economic consequences of renewable energies, an internal document from the Spanish cabinet that it is even more negative has just been leaked.
To one of the authors of the first report, Gabriel Calzada, “the government has leaked it intentionally in order to turn the media against renewable energies and to be stronger in negotiations with businesses.”
Because even though Zapatero himself opposes abandoning his grand bet, some voices — such as the minister of Industry, Miguel Sebastián — are beginning to express their worry over the enormous debt that has been generated by the investment in so-called clean energies, which could even delay Spain’s exit from the economic crisis.
On eight occasions, the occupant of the White House referred to the Spanish model as an example to follow. The paradox is that it is a model that Obama himself wants Spain to abandon, as made clear in his call to Zapatero last week in which he asked him to change his strategy on the crisis.
The internal report of the Spanish administration admits that the price of electricity has gone up, as well as the debt, due to the extra costs of solar and wind energy. Even the government numbers indicate that each green job created costs more than 2.2 traditional jobs, as was shown in the report of the Juan de Mariana Institute. Besides that, the official document is almost a copy point by point of the one that led to Calzada being denounced [lit. "vetoed"] by the Spanish Embassy in an act in the U.S. Congress.
The presentation recognizes explicitly that “the increase of the electric bill is principally due to the cost of renewable energies.” In fact, the increase in the extra costs of this industry explains more than 120% of the variation in the bill and has prevented the reduction in the costs of conventional electricity production to be reflected on the bills of the citizens.
If the document indicates that the development of renewable energies has had a positive impact, especially in the reduction of emissions, it has also admitted that the evolution has been too fast, due to subsidies.
“Between 2004 and 2010, the quantity of subsidies has been multiplied by five,”,says the text of the Spanish Ministry. In 2009 alone they were doubled from the previous year to 5,045 million euros, the equivalent of the whole public investment in I+D+i ["Investigación + Desarrollo + Innovación tecnológica", or "research, development, and technological innovation"] in Spain.
The numbers in the long run are even scarier. The government itself says that the alternative energies sector will receive 126 billion euros in the next 25 years. Just an example: The owners of solar plants make 12 times more than what they pay for the energy coming from fossil fuel combustion. The majority are subsidies charged to the consumer.
The conclusion is that with the economy at the point of bankruptcy, it is not possible to keep injecting money in such a costly sector. And the government seems to realize this now.
But aside from all this, Obama’s green energy project might cost him votes. The republican Rand Paul, animated by the tea party movement, won the primary on Tuesday for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat owing to, among other things, being a fierce critic of the president’s agenda on climate change.
Obama has made the focus of his economic and environmental politics a change towards a “green economy,” which, to the judgment of some analysts, could be a risk for the recovery of the world’s biggest economy.
- Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and author of the recently-published Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America.
This week brought the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change to Chicago. That may sound like last December’s climate conference in Copenhagen, but this gathering of scientists and policy-makers is unlike any other in the mad and often maddening world of global-warming debate. What separate’s Heartland’s gathering from the more famous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s doom-fests is that Heartland’s conference actually features a diversity of opinions and conclusions. It’s science the way it ought to be.
By and large, the mainstream media does it best to ignore the Heartland conference, since it’s far easier to dismiss something out of hand than to actually evaluate the arguments presented. Happily, this is increasingly not the case for the rest of the nation. This was Heartland’s biggest conference yet, attracting a number of politicians from across the country, bloggers and media from around the world and a surprising number of average Joes who are frustrated with the fallacy of “scientific consensus” about climate change and decided to further their personal climate-science education.
There are a number of misconceptions that progressives and environmentalists toss about when it comes to the Heartland conference, in an effort to smear the event so people don’t listen to the science that’s being presented. Let’s deal with a few of those myths up front. Heartland is not funded by Exxon-Mobil, Koch Industries, or Richard Scaife. In fact, Heartland hasn’t taken any money from any of them for years and – as a matter of policy – doesn’t not allow any group or industry sector to provide more than five per cent of its funding. The sponsors of the conference (some of which do have ties to industry) don’t pay for that privilege. It’s rather the other way around: Heartland subsidizes their attendance in a number of cases. The scientists and policy-makers at the conference aren’t in the pocket of the energy companies either. Respected, distinguished scientists like ex-NASA climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer, MIT atmospheric physicist Dr. Richard Lindzen, University of Colorado atmospheric scientist Dr. William Gray and a host of others are independent voices of integrity and sanity when it comes to climate research.
Most important, there’s no marching in lockstep among these brave dissenters. Opinions vary, as they should in a field so intricately complex and poorly-understood as global climate. There’s no “consensus” at the Heartland conference. That’s a refreshing, invigorating atmosphere when one is used to being beaten about the head over and over again with the same, tired arguments that some alarmists wield like a club. There’s a decidedly friendly, open-minded tone to this conference, at once intellectually challenging and entertaining. The global warming argument, such as it is, is often advanced using this sort of statement: “human activities are causing catastrophic climate change.” That over-simplification disguises at least five, more subtle arguments, each of which is critical to making the case that mankind ought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid planetary disaster. These are: 1) the climate is changing, 2) that change is alarmingly different than changes in the past, 3) that change is not occurring naturally, 4) greenhouses gases generated by mankind can affect the planet’s climate, and 5) it can therefore be proven that greenhouse gases generated by humans actually are affecting the planet’s climate in an unprecedented, catastrophic manner. The experts and policy-makers attacked at the Heartland conference tackled each of these issues, in accordance with their particular expertise.
No one, on any side of this debate, disputes proposition number one. As Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University (Queensland, Australia) adroitly put it: the phrase “climate change” is a tautology. You can’t have climate without change. The climate today is different than it was fifty years ago, fifty centuries ago and fifty millennia ago. Is the climate changing? Of course it is. That’s what climate does. Some scientists at the Heartland conference even presented evidence that we’re about to enter a significant cooling phase. That did not appear to be the majority view, but everyone I listened to agreed on the basic point: climate does indeed change, whatever mankind does or does not do.
The importance of proposition number two, that today’s changes are markedly different from historical climate changes depends on a couple of things, a) how far back you are willing to look, and b) how much faith you place on a given temperature record data set. The shorter the “look back” the more alarming recent climate changes appear. Viewed over geologic time spanning millennia, today’s variations are trivial. If one considers only the past century and a half or so, and if one ignores several troubling issues with temperature records over that period of time, today’s changes appear much more worrisome. This is a tough one to argue for the alarmist set and I’m not sure why they spend so much time trying to argue it. You can’t write off Ice Ages.
Proposition three is the most important battleground issue in this debate. Nobody disputes the fact that we experienced a warming cycle from about 1970 through 1998 and that this trend has since leveled off. Scientists like Phil Jones and Michael Mann attribute that warming trend to greenhouse gas emissions. Other scientists like Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, Jay Lehr and
Chris De Freitas used the Heartland conference to advance their arguments that natural forces have dominated, and will continue to dominate the climate picture. Using satellite and weather balloon data, contrasted against gaping flaws in the surface temperature record, Spencer, Lindzen and Lehr argued that greenhouse gases have a weakly negative feedback effect on climate. “Feedback” is the key here, because no scientist on any side of this debate believes that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases generated by man can directly influence planetary climate to a large degree. Rather, as the theory goes, the climate is so sensitive that a small increase in greenhouse gases will “force” stronger greenhouse gases – chiefly water vapor – to retain more heat in the atmosphere. However, an increasing body of data suggests that the opposite is true. Spencer has long advanced the theory that cloud over (which reflects sunlight and therefore has a cooling effect) is the misunderstood, underestimated factor in the global climate equation and that increased greenhouse gas concentrations marginally enhance this effect.
The scientific community has long recognized that the “El Nino Southern Oscillation” (ENSO) has a big effect on the climate, the only question is: how much? ENSO refers to the heat absorbing/heat releasing cycle associated with the Pacific Ocean. Phil Jones, Michael Mann and the like believe that ENSO explains roughly thirty per cent of recent global warming. Chris De Freitas presented a peer-reviewed paper that suggests that ENSO is responsible for about eighty per cent of the temperature rise. If one combines the importance of clouds with ENSO effects, there is a strong case to be made that recent temperature increases are largely – if not entirely – natural and that conclusion would rip the heart out of anthropogenic global warming theory.
No serious scientist disputes proposition number four, that greenhouse gases generated by man can affect the climate, it’s simply a question of how much. That question leads us to proposition number five. Most (though not all) alarmists rely on the surface temperature record to “prove” the case that human activities have been unduly influencing planetary temperatures. The invaluable work of Anthony Watts, and others, has shown how deeply flawed the surface temperature record really is. Moreover, as Spencer and some his colleagues have demonstrated, the atmospheric temperature record – the one that really matters – tells a much different story.
If cap and trade loving policy-makers and alarmist researchers were really serious about this issue, they would have been at the Heartland Conference, learning, discussing and exchanging information. One prominent scientist who continues to believe in AGW, Dr. A. Scott Denning of the Colorado State University, did show up and, at the end of the conference, he asked to address the crowd of skeptics that had gathered for the closing ceremonies. While Denning didn’t back off his basic positions, he did say that “it’s really too bad that more of my colleagues in the scientific community didn’t attend this…” and that “we have much more in common than our differences…” while calling for more discussion and less name-calling on all sides of the debate. (You can watch his remarks here). Kudos to Dr. Denning for doing what scientists are supposed to do: keeping an open mind. Would that more of his colleagues and the politicians pushing for climate change legislation did the same.
Tags: Australia, average joes, change, Chicago, Climate, climate conference, climate science, Conference, Copenhagen, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. William Gray, exxon mobil, fifty, gathering, heartland, heartland conference, heartland institute, intergovernmental panel on climate change, koch industries, mankind, number, personal climate, Professor Bob Carter, Richard Scaife, today, World
By Mona Charen
May 21, 2010 12:00 A.M.
The Obama administration is deeply embarrassed by the legislators of Arizona. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, in discussions with representatives from China (China!), cited the Arizona law as evidence of human-rights failures in the U.S. Doubling down, State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley agreed that the law could pose a “fundamental challenge to human rights around the world.”
At a joint press conference with Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, who recently described the Arizona law as “violating the human rights of all people,” President Obama delivered a message to “the American people and to the Mexican people” that his administration was taking a hard look at the “troubling” law. President Calderón has issued a travel advisory to Mexicans, warning them to avoid Arizona lest they be, well, what exactly? Grabbed, hooded, hustled into a dark cell, and never heard from again? Um, no, asked a few questions.
You might think President Obama would find a way to make that point — tactfully, of course — to our Mexican guest, rather than agreeing that the law amounts to “discrimination.” But no, as on so many other occasions on the world stage, President Obama finds himself in general agreement with our critics. If we embarrass him, the feeling is mutual.
Is the president aware that in Mexico, police are “required to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country before attending to any issues”?
While the administration was fulminating about the horrific human-rights violation the Arizona law represents, Amnesty International was issuing a report about Mexico’s mistreatment of its own illegal migrants. “Migrants in Mexico are facing a major human rights crisis leaving them with virtually no access to justice, fearing reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses,” said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International. “Persistent failure by the authorities to tackle abuses carried out against irregular migrants has made their journey through Mexico one of the most dangerous in the world.”
The migrants, who are usually attempting to make their way through Mexico to the United States, suffer kidnappings for ransom, robbery, and rape. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission reports that nearly 10,000 were abducted over six months in 2009. Almost 50 percent of victims said that public officials were involved in their kidnapping. Amnesty estimates that six out of ten migrant women and girls experience sexual violence.
It suits Democrats to treat immigration as an issue of “race” and discrimination, because it permits them to frighten Hispanic Americans and secure that important voting bloc. But it’s a fiction. We have an immigration problem because the U.S. is an incredibly desirable place to live and work. Immigrants continue to enrich our society, not least because they are often more appreciative of our institutions and liberties than are the native born. If it were feasible, millions of people worldwide would come here. And millions wait patiently, sometimes for decades, for the chance to do so. Democrats worry ostentatiously about the unfairness of asking people to prove their legal status. What about the unfairness of giving an advantage to line jumpers over those who abide by the law and wait their turn?
President Obama has proposed that “undocumented” workers be required to go to the “back of the line” before being considered for citizenship. But how could that work? Those waiting abroad for green cards frequently wait for a decade or more. Where exactly would the end of the line be?
The U.S. needs many different kinds of legal immigrants — particularly those who are job creators. As Ben Wildavsky outlines in The Great Brain Race, “Between 1995 and 2005, 25 percent of all American engineering and technology companies were founded by immigrants — including half of those in Silicon Valley. Nearly one-quarter of all international patent applications filed from the United States in 2006 named foreign nationals as inventors. . . . While immigrants made up just 12 percent of workforce in 2000, they accounted for fully 47 percent of scientists and engineers with PhDs. . . . Two-thirds of those who entered science and engineering fields between 1995 and 2006 were, yes, immigrants.”
But our current immigration law makes it difficult for these Ph.D.s, trained with considerable investment from U.S. taxpayers, to remain in the United States. They are returning to their countries and taking their job-creating skills with them.
These are the sorts of immigration questions that serious leaders should consider — rather than demonizing the people of Arizona.
— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
The Washington Post
Friday, May 21, 2010
It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). Which is why the French foreign ministry immediately declared that the trumpeted temporary shipping of some Iranian uranium to Turkey will do nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Vahid Salemi/associated Press)
It will, however, make meaningful sanctions more difficult. America's proposed Security Council resolution is already laughably weak -- no blacklisting of Iran's central bank, no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry, no nonconsensual inspections on the high seas. Yet Turkey and Brazil -- both current members of the Security Council -- are so opposed to sanctions that they will not even discuss the resolution. And China will now have a new excuse to weaken it further.
But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program.
The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.
That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.
They've watched President Obama's humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.
They've watched America acquiesce to Russia's re-exerting sway over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine (pressured by Russia last month into extending for 25 years its lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol) and over Georgia (Russia's de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is no longer an issue under the Obama "reset" policy).
They've watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran's agent in the Arab Levant -- sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the United States and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. "engagement."
They've observed the administration's gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez organizes his anti-American "Bolivarian" coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chávez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.
This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat -- accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.
Nor is this retreat by inadvertence. This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle. It's the perfect fulfillment of Obama's adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world. Hence his foundational declaration at the U.N. General Assembly last September that "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation" (guess who's been the dominant nation for the last two decades?) and his dismissal of any "world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another." (NATO? The West?)
Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the United States retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Washington Post
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The candidate who on Tuesday won the special election in a Pennsylvania congressional district is right-to-life and pro-gun. He accused his opponent of wanting heavier taxes. He said he would have voted against Barack Obama's health-care plan and promised to vote against cap-and-trade legislation, which is a tax increase supposedly somehow related to turning down the planet's thermostat. This candidate, Mark Critz, is a Democrat.
And that just about exhausts the good news for Democrats on a surreal Tuesday when their presumptive candidate for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut -- the state's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal -- chose to hold a news conference at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall to discuss why he had falsely said he fought in a foreign war. National Democrats may try to find a less damaged candidate for Connecticut, but first they may have to do that in Illinois.
Their candidate to hold the Senate seat Obama held, Alexi Giannoulias, has a problem: The failure of the bank owned by his family -- it made loans to Tony Rezko, the convicted developer who helped Obama with a 2006 property transaction -- may cost taxpayers many millions. Proving his credentials as a disciple of the president, Giannoulias blamed the bank's failure on George W. Bush.
Illinois Democrats have already had to replace the colorful fellow they nominated for lieutenant governor. Five days after the primary, in a bar, during the Super Bowl, South Side pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen wept as he bowed out beneath a cloud of controversies about a 2005 arrest for domestic battery against a former girlfriend -- he was accused of holding a knife to her throat -- and complaints of spousal abuse and revelations of steroid use.
If Democrats lose Obama's former seat, as they are almost certain to lose Joe Biden's in Delaware, and as they may lose the Nevada seat held by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, they will achieve a negative hat trick in November, losing all three of the so-called "trophy contests." Democrats and, not amazingly, many commentators say Republicans are the ones with the worries because they are nominating strange and extreme candidates. Their Exhibit A is Rand Paul, winner of Kentucky's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.
Well. It may seem strange for a Republican to have opposed, as Paul did, the invasion of Iraq. But in the eighth year of that war, many Kentuckians may think he was strangely prescient. To some it may seem extreme to say, as Paul does, that although the invasion of Afghanistan was proper, our current mission there is "murky." But many Kentuckians may think this is an extreme understatement.
Recently Utah's conservative three-term senator, Robert Bennett, was eliminated from contention for this year's Senate nomination by two even more conservative candidates. Many Democrats and commentators who had not hitherto been histrionic about their high regard for Bennett mourned his loss as evidence that the Republican Party, the health of which they say concerns them greatly, is becoming unhealthy.
One of the two Utah candidates, Mike Lee, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito, has been in Washington espousing such strange aspirations as the repeal of Obamacare and No Child Left Behind. He is extremely eager for the Supreme Court to stop construing the Constitution's commerce clause as a license for Congress to do whatever it wants as long as it asserts that what it wants involves regulating interstate commerce. Lee and Rand Paul will get along.
Paul is, of course, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), and he shares some, but not all, of the views of his father. Concerning whom:
Ron Paul's book "End the Fed," which explains his animus against the central bank, has on its dust jacket just one blurb. It is a famous name, but given a million guesses you would not hit upon it: Arlo Guthrie.
He, too, is the son of a famous father -- Woody Guthrie, the Depression-era composer and singer of leftist songs. Arlo's libertarian leanings were already strong on Thanksgiving Day 1965 when he had a famous run-in with government in the form of Officer Obie in Stockbridge, Mass. The story -- it had something to do with illegally dumping trash -- is told in the song "Alice's Restaurant."
More than four decades later, Arlo evidently decided he shares Ron Paul's hot dislike for the subject of Paul's book, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Has American politics ever been this entertaining?
Big losses for big government
May 20, 2010
This past week, just a few months prior to the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedies, the Planning Commission of lower Manhattan has approved the construction of a $100-million mosque near the site of Ground Zero.
The thirteen-floor building, as reported by The New York Times a few days ago, will reach a height of one hundred feet. The group sponsoring the project has said that the city and its population would benefit from its purpose as a cultural center which will work to bring harmony between Islamic culture and New Yorkers.
The mosque will be constructed in a city still bleeding from one of the worst civilian attacks since WWII, still suffering with the sad memory of the destruction of the World Trade Center and the loss of almost three thousand lives. After almost nine years, New Yorkers and all Americans still wait to see the replacement of the destroyed towers, but instead we find ourselves with a proposed Islamic cultural center, which for some will be nothing more than a landmark and a memorial to the victory of bin Laden and company as a sample of Islamic jihad against Western infidels.
As a professional architect, I wonder why the Planning Commission of lower Manhattan decided to keep its residents uninformed about a project in this sensitive location with such purpose and proportion. A project of this size would normally need in-depth urban study and infrastructure planning. The location for construction of an Islamic cultural center in very close proximity to the disaster area of Ground Zero -- where less than nine years ago two commercial airliners carrying innocent passengers were hijacked by Muslims from Saudi Arabia and Egypt and flown into two office buildings -- is not a mistake or coincidence. At the very least, it is insensitive to Americans.
Aren't we the least bit suspicious of this desired harmony when public condemnations or demonstrations of remorse made by Muslims and Arab leaders regarding this barbaric act have been few and far between? In fact, the reports we do have are to the contrary, with Arabs and Muslims around the world celebrating the success of this attack on the United States. Furthermore, all Americans have suffered the offensive rumors that claim the origin of the 9/11 attacks to be an inside job by our own FBI or the American Jews -- insulting our intelligence and humiliating the victims and their families with this insidious form of denial.
Let us not forget as well that New York City Mayor Giuliani refused to accept a donation of ten million dollars from a Saudi Prince as a pledge to rebuild whatever was destroyed by Arab terrorists (his own fellow citizens) in lower Manhattan. It is now important that New Yorkers and all Americans remember the reason for the former mayor's rejection of this offer, along with the prince's statement against U.S. policy in favor of Israel.
Giuliani proved to America and the whole world that freedom is priceless and that money means nothing next to the integrity of our free country, where no manipulation of our foreign or our domestic policies will be tolerated. By using his heart in a moment of great courage, Giuliani gave the whole world a lesson in confronting Arab hypocrisy. At a time when Americans were in a state of shock, the insensitivity of such an offer by the Saudi Prince was counteracted by the American spirit embodied in Giuliani's wholesale rejection of money coming from the same source as the attackers in order to dictate their own agenda and buy our sovereignty.
Recently The New York Times reported a statement made by an imam indicating that the intended cultural center would bring "a new discourse in the relationship between the United States, New York City, and the Muslim world." One only need look at the current situations in Muslim-majority countries today, where non-Muslim minorities suffer human rights violations sanctioned under Shariah law, which dominates the constitutions of those nations. The reality of a supremacist system within Islamic culture should be enough to preclude any dialogue with those who live by the U.S. Constitution and subscribe to the modern culture of New York City.
Which Islamic organization in America, Europe, or Arab-Muslim country condemned the recent attacks in Upper Egypt, where innocent people were killed while leaving their church on the Eastern Christmas Eve? Where are the Islamic voices opposing and protesting the persecution, oppression, and discrimination in their own homelands in countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, and Iraq, to name just a few? Islamic actions, not words, are what Americans need to heed, and we must be cautious toward what we are being told by those whose actions are lethal around the world.
Respect for human rights is a fundamental principle that governs our free democratic society, but not so in Arab-Islamic countries. In the West, religion is a personal issue, and the right of every citizen to practice a private matter between an individual and his God. How is it possible to have discourse between our culture, which is based on such freedoms, and a culture based on the goal to make its own religious precepts the legal and government system even in non-Muslim countries? A few days ago, in an interview published in Kul-al-Arab, a weekly newspaper in Israel, a Knesset Member, Imam Masoud Ganaim, was calling to replace the state of Israel with an Islamic caliphate.
This kind of remark shows the true nature of Islam today, and yet we allow ourselves as Americans to be told that we need to have discourse with those who espouse ideas antithetical and detrimental to the basic precepts of free democratic societies in the world, including the United States of America. What more as Americans are we to understand that we can't already see for ourselves? Leaders of Islam and the Cordoba Institute must first prove to us that they demonstrate the same openness to coexist with those of all other faiths and beliefs in the nations where Islam dominates.
The free world has already allowed the most egregious actions to take place, such as the placement of Iran onto the U.N. Commission for Women's Rights, the FIFA reversal of the banning of the hijab worn in Olympic games, and the Egyptian sponsorship of the U.N. Religious Defamation Act, to name just a few in recent days. Shall we add to this list the building of an Islamic mega-center at the sacred site of Ground Zero, as if the teachings consistent with the forces that caused this tragedy will not be taking place inside?
If New York is in need of a new cultural center in the heart of the Ground Zero community, it should be built and run by those who stand up for freedom, human rights, tolerance, and the love of humanity. New Yorkers have been the ones to open their hearts and receive immigrants, who come from around the world to seek a better life and share in our freedom -- the kind of freedom which those who seek to build this project know nothing about.
May 20, 2010 4:00 A.M.
Melanie Phillips, the British journalist, is author of The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power. As the title suggests, the book covers a lot of ground. Phillips touches on much of it in an interview with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s notable about the current “apparent mass departure from rationality”?
MELANIE PHILLIPS: What I have found so striking is that, in this supposed age of reason, there is such an implacable refusal, over a wide and disparate range of issues, to acknowledge the authority of factual evidence over opinion, or distinguish truth from propaganda and lies, or differentiate between justice and injustice, victim and victimizer. More than that, this phenomenon is confined to the supposed custodians of reason, the intelligentsia; and some of the most prominent of these often-militant “rationalists” propound assertions that are demonstrably irrational.
Even more striking is that this repudiation of reason is associated with the most fashionable and progressive causes — anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, environmentalism, moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism, scientism. Yet they promote not just irrationality but a return to primitivism, pre-modern levels of social disorder, and the persecution of dissenters.
LOPEZ: What does a self-described “agnostic” care about God?
PHILLIPS: You don’t have to be a religious believer to understand that if religion — more specifically, the Hebrew Bible and the Christianity that built upon it — underpins Western civilization and the codes of right and wrong — putting others above yourself, freedom and equality, and belief in reason — that form the bedrock of that civilization, then eroding or destroying that religion will erode or destroy those virtues and the civilization they distinguish.
LOPEZ: You write that progressives, Islamists, environmentalists, fascists, militant atheists, and religious fanatics are “united by a common desire to bring about through human agency the perfection of the world.” Is this becoming more apparent?
PHILLIPS: It may seem strange to lump all these ideologies together since they are all so different. But, when you look at them, it is immediately apparent that they are all at root utopian, millenarian visions of the perfection of the world through human agency — the age-old recipe for totalitarian terror. The idea that fascism is in a wholly different place from the Left is in my view quite misplaced: Although conventionally one is described as “right” and the other as “left,” this is historically and philosophically inaccurate; they share common roots in the repudiation of individual reason and liberty.
One of the mysteries of the age is the way “progressives” who fetishize sexual freedom, gay rights, female equality, and the like march shoulder to shoulder with Islamists who stone adulterers, kill gays, and subjugate women. They share a common desire to destroy the cultural traditions and normative values of the West — all in the cause of creating the perfect society, which creates in turn a totalitarian mindset, which links religious fanatics and the political tyrannies of both Communism and fascism.
To some of us, this is very apparent — but many who are in the grip of these delusions are frighteningly incapable of understanding what it is that they don’t understand.
LOPEZ: Why do you put the word “progressives” in quotation marks?
PHILLIPS: Glad you asked that! Because there’s nothing progressive about the totalitarian fanatics of the Left, even though they claim that label for themselves. One of our biggest problems is the hijacking of language by the Left, which has turned words such as “liberal,” “tolerant,” and “progressive” into their very opposites. I do believe in being progressive in the true sense — the authentic, classical-liberal goal of creating a better society by encouraging the good and discouraging the bad. But to achieve that, we have to reclaim the language of social progress for its true meaning, which is based on a proper differentiation between right and wrong, truth and lies, justice and injustice. Until we do that, we allow ourselves to be co-opted into the discourse of moral and intellectual inversion, and we allow the lunatics to run the asylum.
I do hope that this language is not politically incorrect.
LOPEZ: Are there really a hundred thousand practicing pagans in Britain today? There’s a Pagan Police Association?
PHILLIPS: Yup! It’s testimony, is it not, to the rich diversity of diversity in Britain? We all have to keep straight faces while our police officers take official leave to dance naked ’round a pile of stones.
LOPEZ: So Islam is not London’s only religion problem.
PHILLIPS: The real problem in Britain is not Islam but the vacuum in British culture which Islam is opportunistically attempting to fill. That vacuum has been caused by the retreat and surrender of the Christian church under the tide of secularism and aggressive atheism. This has opened the door not to an age of reason but to an epidemic of paganism — environmentalism, or worship of the earth, is the most conspicuous example, but there’s lots of other absurd stuff, too, such as seances, crystals, astrology, and the like. The Islamization of Britain is only taking place because the spiritual playing field has been abandoned to hyper-individualism and irrationality. The U.S. isn’t immune to this madness by the way — just look at Madonna and “Kabbalah” (not).
LOPEZ: How is “Londonistan” faring? Any better? Any worse?
PHILLIPS: Better in the narrow but obviously highly important sense that our security people have picked up on and stopped so many Islamist plots against Britain. But just as bad, or even worse, in the degree to which the political and security establishments still refuse to acknowledge that Britain and the West are the victims of a religious war, an Islamic jihad. They refuse to use the terms “Islamic extremism” or “Islamic terrorism.” Sound familiar?
Worse, they believe that the Muslim Brotherhood — who are the spiritual fathers of al-Qaeda and Hamas amongst others, and whose aim is to reestablish the medieval Islamic caliphate and conquer the world for Islam — are just a bunch of harmless religious nuts who can be used to divert impressionable young British Muslims away from terror. So they actually employ such Islamic extremists in government — as advisers against Islamic extremism. They are doing nothing to halt the advance of a parallel sharia jurisdiction and are even welcoming sharia finance. Only people who have lost touch with rationality in general can be so blind, surely.
LOPEZ: Why does Princess Diana remain an important cultural case study?
PHILLIPS: The hysteria over Princess Diana was a spectacular example of the tendency towards psychological projection, in which the public projects its deepest fears and fantasies onto a public figure who is held to transcend disadvantage. At its worst, this process makes the celebrity into a kind of sainted figure. A similar kind of pathological projection took Barack Obama into the White House.
LOPEZ: Tell me about “kitsch emotion,” what it is, and why it’s important to recognize.
PHILLIPS: Kitsch emotion replaces real feelings, such as love or grief, with a sentimentalized pastiche that is, at root, all about making the person feel good about himself. Thus, as with the death of Diana, people advertise their moral worth with open displays of grief over someone they only knew as a media construct; emotional restraint is seen not as an admirable stoicism but as evidence of callousness.
These are emotions for a narcissistic age; they are all about the self, not about looking out for other people. It’s important to recognize this so that we can distinguish them from the real thing — which otherwise will become confused and may be lost altogether, along with our concern for others and our whole understanding of the difference between what is true and what is false.
LOPEZ: How can Britain be “post-religious” when religion seems to be an issue there?
PHILLIPS: It’s post-Christian, to be more precise; in other words, the indigenous population has turned away from faith in and adherence to the doctrines and moral precepts of the religion that underpins British society. By comparison with the U.S., Britain is pretty godless.
LOPEZ: “People didn’t want to hear about the anti-white, anti-Western church to which he had belonged for twenty years, nor about his questionable associations with people in Chicago’s corrupt political machine, nor about his friendships with and tutelage by anti-Western radicals.” Is this at the heart of so many problems? People simply don’t want to know?
PHILLIPS: Yes, it’s human nature, unfortunately, to hide heads in sand and hope unpleasant things will just go away. But what’s so alarming now is the extent to which people are allowing emotionalism and wishful fantasies to delude them, especially at such a dangerous juncture for the world. The way in which the American public refused to acknowledge the evidence of Obama’s radical background and thus elected an anti-Western radical to the White House was indeed a conspicuous example of this flight from reality.
LOPEZ: Has the public fully appreciated the significance of the Climate Research Unit fraud?
PHILLIPS: One of the striking aspects of mass ideological delusion is a refusal to acknowledge even the clearest evidence of the intellectual and moral corruption at its core. The gerrymandering of scientific evidence by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, in order to uphold the theory of anthropogenic global warming in the face of evidence that the earth was not warming at all, has been pushed aside as either an artificially created uproar or, at worst, an error of judgment by one hard-pressed scientist.
It was far worse than that, of course, because the various scientists involved had been for years absolutely central to the promulgation of AGW theory; and what the leaked emails revealed was their instinctive impulse to wrench the facts to fit their prior assumptions. Most chilling of all was their unshakeable certainty that they had a duty thus to wrench that evidence — in order to demonstrate the truth of the theory, because it was simply impossible that there could be evidence to the contrary.
What was also glossed over or missed altogether in the uproar over East Anglia was that AGW theory has been sustained on the back of one scientific fraud or sloppy and flawed research exercise after another. Yet astonishingly, it is still being promoted quite shamelessly by those for whom there can simply be no contradiction to the theory, and who thus project in turn all the falsehoods and frauds onto the skeptic side of the argument. It is surely the biggest exercise in totalitarian thought-reversal and reality-denial since Stalinism.
LOPEZ: If it is “demonstrably untrue” that “Bush lied, people died,” how has it taken root so deeply?
PHILLIPS: Through the refusal of a highly ideological media — composed of visceral Bush-haters, Israel-bashers, and transnational “progressives” — to report what was actually out there in terms of evidence or even follow the elementary rules of logic on the related topics of the Iraq war they had overwhelmingly opposed and the Islamic jihad they blamed on Israel. As a result, simple facts, such as the reasons Bush or Blair actually gave for the war or what the Iraq Survey Group actually found, were airbrushed out of the debate, and history was effectively rewritten — with virtually no dissent allowed.
LOPEZ: What is scientific triumphalism? Does harping on it make you anti-science?
PHILLIPS: Scientific triumphalism is the belief that scientific materialism alone has the answers to all the questions in the universe. This causes science to overreach beyond its proper realm, seeking to explain what is explicable, into claiming to explain what is inexplicable, which is properly the realm of religion. The attempt to use materialism to explain what it cannot explain causes promoters of scientism to become irrational. So pointing this out is certainly not anti-science. It is against the perversion of science.
LOPEZ: Is there a secular inquisition?
PHILLIPS: Yes. By that, I mean that secular ideologies such as environmentalism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, scientism, moral relativism, multiculturalism, and so forth have a quasi-religious belief that they embody a revealed truth that cannot permit any challenge. And yet all these ideologies, which are militantly secular and which hold that religion is a source of irrationality and oppression, resemble to an uncanny degree the millenarian beliefs of Christianity in the Middle Ages and Islam through the ages; their dogmatic belief in a revealed truth of sin, guilt, and redemption caused heretics to be persecuted. Today, we have secular inquisitions in which heretics are also persecuted for expressing forbidden ideas that challenge the received assumption of “virtue”; thus we have the demonization of dissenters.
LOPEZ: What is the “Middle East Witch-Hunt”?
PHILLIPS: Medieval witch-hunts involved singling out certain women as scapegoats and then killing them for crimes of which they were innocent but of which they found themselves incapable of proving their innocence because the case against them was rigged. In Britain in particular, but also in parts of Europe and on American campuses (see the Mearsheimer/Walt calumny), there is an obsessive malice toward Israel which goes far beyond reasoned debate and has become a pathological scapegoating of a nation.
The treatment of Israel by the left-wing Western intelligentsia is unique in its irrationality and moral and historical inversion. It takes a nation that is the historic victim of aggression and blames it for jeopardizing peace in the region and causing Islamic extremism worldwide — despite demonstrable evidence that this is simply untrue. It accuses Israel, wholly falsely, of “apartheid” and ethnic cleansing when Israeli Arabs have full civil rights and the Palestinian population has increased many times over — and when Jews are excluded from parts of the Arab world (including the putative state of Palestine).
It takes a nation that has been under exterminatory attack for six decades (nine, if you include the Palestine Mandate) and insists that it make compromises with its attackers, even as they continue to attack it. And if any Jew dares protest at the manifest injustice, lies, and bigotry in this unique delegitimization, they find themselves accused of “dual loyalty” or being part of a covert global conspiracy to put the world at risk.
LOPEZ: With polls suggesting President Obama is hurting with Jewish voters, are there signs that Jewish voters may divorce themselves from the Left?
PHILLIPS: No; the world would surely stop turning on its axis were this to happen. More seriously, of course some may do so; and Orthodox Jews are already more inclined to vote Republican. But among liberal Jews, the most I would expect is a turning away from Obama — if even that — rather than a divorce from the Democratic party.
LOPEZ: Does the BBC hate Jews?
PHILLIPS: No, not Jews per se. The BBC simply embodies the world-view of the Left, which demonizes Israel and holds America responsible for Israel’s behavior. Of course, you might say that is itself a form of Jew-hatred, but that is an argument that needs to be unpacked.
LOPEZ: What can be done about anti-Semitism in the West? Elsewhere?
PHILLIPS: Jew-hatred, as I prefer to call it, can surely never be eradicated. But the lies that currently fuel it — lies about Israel’s behavior, the history of the Middle East, and so on — should be publicly confronted and exploded. Similarly, the ways in which the blood libels about the Jews pouring out of the Arab and Muslim worlds are poisoning minds not just in that world but in the West should also be prominently discussed, along with the continuity between the Arab/Palestinian agenda and that of the Nazis, whose allies they once were.
One of the main problems is the silence of Israel on this mass derangement in the West, and its failure to challenge it forensically and systematically. This has left an intellectual vacuum into which bigotry flows. While the irrationality of Jew-hatred cannot be defeated by reason, there are many in Britain and the West who are not natural bigots but are actually people of high-minded conscience, who have merely been indoctrinated with falsehoods about Israel that are never publicly challenged. Some of those people, at least, can certainly be reached by addressing their ignorance.
LOPEZ: Is relativism the problem? How do you combat it?
PHILLIPS: Relativism, or the belief that there is no hierarchy of values, not even truth over lies, is at the root of these problems. In my view, it is a product of aggressive secularism, and thus can only be addressed by a return to Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.
LOPEZ: What’s so special about Britain? Why and how is it at the forefront?
PHILLIPS: Britain is particularly godless, as discussed above. It is thus furthest advanced in social, cultural, and moral breakdown, hugely exacerbated by the loss of its belief in itself as a nation and the demoralization — in every sense — that has followed from that. But as the parent of the English-speaking world, it still punches culturally far above its weight. Where it leads today, others will surely follow. And since Britain was first into the Enlightenment and is now first out, America and the rest of the West should be concerned.
LOPEZ: How close behind — or ahead — is the U.S.?
PHILLIPS: The U.S. is relatively well protected through Middle America, which is still overwhelmingly God-fearing and committed to the American nation and its particular values. But all the things I’ve been talking about are nevertheless steadily encroaching. The culture wars have been raging in the U.S. for decades now, and the universities are particularly porous to these noxious ideologies. And then there’s Obama . . .
LOPEZ: Is the existence of the EU part of the problem?
PHILLIPS: The EU is the embodiment of the doctrine to which the Left now subscribes: “transnational progressivism,” or the belief that the nation is illegitimate and is trumped by supranational institutions and laws promoting the Brotherhood of Man through “universal” values. This is deeply anti-democratic and secularizing, standing against the particulars of creed or culture. So yes, the EU is both symptom and, partly, cause of this problem.
LOPEZ: What was the most alarming fact you learned during the course of writing your book?
PHILLIPS: The full extent of the persecution of dissidents from all these ideologies within the academy.
LOPEZ: What was the most consoling fact you learned during the course of writing The World Turned Upside Down?
PHILLIPS: That so many, many people throughout the West think as I do.
LOPEZ: If every reader took one action item from your book, what would you want it to be?
PHILLIPS: To make known the truth about the monstrous misrepresentation of Israel, the key and normative issue of our time from which so much else follows.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
from the May 17th issue of National Review
The British election campaign didn’t do much to catch the attention of Americans (at least not until after the vote), but one little item feels pertinent – although it attracted remarkably little attention even across the pond. In Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, a lady called Phyllis Delik received a postcard from Gordon Brown’s Labour Party. On one side, there was a photograph of a woman suffering from breast cancer saying “It’s the sort of thing you think will never happen to you.” On the reverse, there was a question: “Are the Tories a change you can afford?” – followed by a warning that the Conservatives would scrap a Labour guarantee that any woman diagnosed with breast cancer is entitled to see a specialist within two weeks.
(Yes, yes, I know that lingo still sounds a little strange to Americans: Government bureaucrats announce “targets” for the length of time between seeing your family doctor and seeing your specialist, or between getting your MRI and getting your operation. But don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to it.)
As it turned out, Mrs Delik is a breast cancer survivor herself, so the postcard was very relevant to her. She brought it up among a group of her girlfriends – seven of them. Six had not received the Labour election card. The seventh had – and, by a remarkable coincidence, Shirley Foreman had had surgery for breast cancer. So in a group of eight women the only ones to receive the government’s breast-cancer warning were the two breast-cancer patients themselves. “When I received the breast cancer card at first I thought it was from the hospital,” said another Sherwood resident, Janet Arslan. “I did not think Labour would be that crass to deliberately target a terminal cancer patient like me.”
The party’s official position is that, well, they sent out 250,000 of their Vote-Labour-Or-Die postcards, so it’s not surprising that a few of them should have wound up going to women who happen to have breast cancer. In this case, however, everybody who’s come forward to say she received the card has been either diagnosed with, treated for, survived or, in at least one case, died of breast cancer (it was her widower who came forward). A 44-year old TV producer in Poplar and Limehouse, a marginal constituency in East London, canvassed 50 of her neighbors and discovered that she was the only to get the card. Like all the others, it was personally addressed to her. She’d recently been told she had a lump in her breast.
So a quantum leap in targeted marketing has just been made: The governing party of a free society was able to identify women with breast cancer in swing constituencies and send them a postcard warning that if you vote for the opposition they’ll cut off your chemo and kill you.
The official position of Gordon Brown’s chaps is that “we make no apology for highlighting the difference between Labour and the Conservatives on cancer care” – which sounds oddly evasive, although they concede the private mailshot companies they contract with use sociodemographic data in the public domain. However, no publicly accessible database knows about Janet Arslan’s terminal cancer. Diane Dwelly, the patient featured on the postcard, says she thought she was being photographed for a magazine published by the National Health Service, not a campaign commercial for the Labour Party. She complains that she has “probably been used by Labour.”
But in Gordon Brown’s Britain who hasn’t been? Labour denies that it somehow accessed confidential medical records, while declining to offer an alternative explanation as to how it was able to alert sick women that the opposition is planning on killing them.
Britain today is a land in which the citizen takes for granted that he will be photographed by closed-circuit TV multiple times in the course of his day, and in which roadside cameras can zoom into your car and detect whether you’re illegally eating a sandwich while operating a motor vehicle. In some municipalities, cameras in trash cans record your garbage. These are only the most obvious signs of an omnipresent state which maintains hundreds of different databases tracking the activities of the citizenry in every sphere of life. In theory, these databases are entirely separate: The National Health Service bureaucrats cannot access your tax records; the tax collector cannot access your medical records. But in practice who knows? You’ll recall that, when Joe the Plumber’s appearance on the scene proved unhelpful to Barack Obama, it was the work of moments for “public servants” to leak his confidential information.
It may well be that voting Tory reduces your life expectancy. On the other hand, it could be the case that, when you’re already sick and vulnerable, the stress of receiving a scary notification suggesting that your health treatment is in jeopardy might also reduce your life expectancy. If you live in a small apartment house in a marginal constituency and collect your mail from the hall table and you see the lady on the top floor’s breast-cancer card lying there one morning, the stress of wondering if next week the postman will leave a personally addressed erectile-dysfunction mailout warning that the Tories are going to cut back on your Viagra might easily impact your performance.
Sherwood is, of course, the famous forest where Robin Hood once foiled the Sherriff of Nottingham. It was easier to cock a snook at the overbearing state back then. In a high-tech world, Big Government takes big liberties, in every sense. In this respect, it seems relevant that the biggest employment boost from ObamaCare will be 16,500 new …doctors? nurses? hospital janitors? No. IRS agents, hired to determine whether your health-care arrangements are government-compliant. I wonder what they’ll need to know about you to establish that – and how they’ll go about finding out.
By Jonah Goldberg
May 19, 2010 12:00 A.M.
We are taught to believe that ideology is the enemy of free thought. But that’s not right. Ideology is a mere checklist of principles and priorities. The real enemy of clear thinking is the script. We think the world is supposed to go by a familiar plot. And when the facts conflict with the script, we edit the facts.
So, for instance, David Horowitz is a stock villain on U.S. campuses because he deviates from the standard formula of coddling the usual victims and lionizing the usual heroes. Once a committed left-wing radical, Horowitz now resides on the right. Two of his favorite targets are academia and radical Islam. He leads an extensive network of websites, books, lecture series, pamphlets, and conferences aimed at exposing the folly and dangers of both. Horowitz’s detractors, and even some of his friends, sometimes roll their eyes at his confrontational tactics and rhetoric.
But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Horowitz recently spoke at the University of California, San Diego. You can find an excerpt from his appearance on YouTube (and here). In it, a young Muslim student from UCSD, Jumanah Imad Albahri, asks Horowitz to back up his attacks on the Muslim Students Association. Horowitz turns the tables on her. In less than two minutes, she reveals herself as a supporter of the terrorist group Hamas. Horowitz then notes that Hezbollah, another terrorist organization, wants all Jews to return to Israel so they can be more conveniently liquidated in one place. Horowitz asks Albahri whether she’s for or against that proposition. She is “for it.”
I asked UCSD, via e-mail, whether the woman in question was censured in any way for endorsing bigotry and genocide, or if the video was somehow misleading. In response, I received boilerplate about how, in the tradition of Aristotle, UCSD treasures “discourse and debate” and how “the very foundations of every great university are set upon the rock-solid principles of freedom of thought and freedom of speech.”
I wrote back, in part: “Thank you for your response. I must say I find it fairly non-responsive. Out of curiosity, if a UCSD student publicly called for the extermination of gays and blacks, would this be your only response as well?”
I then received an even less responsive primer on how student groups are funded on campus.
Now, I could write at length about UCSD’s hypocrisy. After all, the school recently launched a “Battle Hate” campaign in response to some idiotic stunt called the “Compton Cookout” at which a fraternity held a racially offensive event off campus during Black History Month. Administrators went into overdrive, the Black Student Union issued 32 demands, the vice chancellor righteously explained to students that although the event may have been beyond the school’s “legal jurisdiction,” it was not beyond UCSD’s “moral jurisdiction.”
“We have the moral high ground!” the vice chancellor shouted before trying to start a chant of “Not in our community!”
Well, Albahri’s statements were not only within the UCSD community, they were well inside the school’s legal and moral jurisdiction. And yet in response, we don’t get the familiar kabuki of official outrage. Instead we get: This endorsement of genocide is brought to you by Aristotle.
The important point here isn’t the school’s double standard. It’s that on campuses and in the wider intellectual culture, people can’t let go of their dog-eared script. It’s not that conventional racism is no longer a problem, nor is it that the civil-rights era no longer resonates. But freaking out over the vestiges of familiar racism is firmly within the comfort zone of contemporary liberalism. Indeed, it’s an industry. Yet when it comes to students like Albahri — and there are many like her — administrators become brainless and lost. Lacking an adequate script, they resort to bromides about Aristotle.
Off campus, liberals crave a comfortable plot in which bigoted “homegrown” white men are the villains while Muslims are scapegoats. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was willing to bet that the Times Square bomber might turn out to be an opponent of health-care reform.
What’s the right script? Honestly, I don’t know. But those perched atop the moral high ground will have to climb down to find the facts before they can write it.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
Jumanah Imad Albahri, the Muslim student at the University of California at San Diego who last week endorsed a new genocide of Jews, has now issued a statement – and as is characteristic also of jihadist communiqués these days, it’s a masterpiece of disingenuousness and attempts to claim victim status.
Albahri started out by saying – apparently unequivocally – that she wasn’t for what she said she was for last week: “Allow me to begin by stating that I do NOT condone murder, I do NOT condone genocide, and I do NOT condone racism under any circumstance whatsoever against Jews or anyone else.” And what’s more, “these accusations are lies that I refuse to allow David Horowitz and his allies to perpetuate in their irresponsible and hateful smear campaign against those who disagree with or differ from them.”
Lies? What lies? It’s useful at this point to recall how Jumanah Albahri rocketed to fame in the first place: it all started when David Horowitz, during the question-and-answer period after his talk at UCSD, asked Albahri: “The head of Hizballah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally. For or Against it?” Albahri, enunciating her words clearly and forcefully, responded with a forthright endorsement of genocide: “For it.”
But now that she has become the poster child for Islamic neo-Nazism, the idea that she condones genocide is a “lie” and David Horowitz is perpetrating a “smear campaign.”
Poor Jumanah, smeared by her own words!
Albahri’s disingenuousness and finger-pointing only increases as her statement goes on. She dismisses as “ridiculous” the charge that she is anti-Semitic. Why? Because, Jumanah Albahri piously informs us, “I am a Semite.”
Very well. Let’s not waste our time arguing over nomenclature. Albahri is herself a Semite, and so could not be anti-Semitic? Fine. Allow me, then, to pose the question in a slightly different way: is Jumanah Albahri a Jew-hater? Would it be reasonable to think that she is, after her avowal of the fact that she wants to see the Jews gather in Israel so that Muslims don’t have to hunt them down elsewhere? Or would that be “ridiculous”?
Displaying her own fine grasp of the ridiculous, Albahri goes on to portray David Horowitz as the real villain of the piece: the problem, you see, is not that she endorsed genocide, but that “Mr. Horowitz spent an hour indiscriminately attacking liberals, students, Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians, utilizing verbiage that completely departed from an academic tone and delved into hate speech—especially labeling groups and individuals that support Palestinian rights ‘terrorists.’” One might think that given Albahri’s own endorsement of mass murder on a global scale, she might be more understanding about Horowitz’s use of the word “terrorists,” but she is apparently not that self-reflective.
After several paragraphs of puffery, filled with ad hominem attacks against David Horowitz and Palestinian claims to victim status, Albahri finally offers an explanation of how a poor victim soul such as she was manipulated by the demonic Horowitz into endorsing genocide:
“Towards the end of the exchange, I became emotional. I could no longer hear Mr. Horowitz speaking and so did not even hear his injection of Hezbollah’s credo of ‘rounding up’ Jews in his last tangent. I could no longer contain my anger at being implicitly and improperly labeled a terrorist, an anti-Semite, and a proponent of genocide. The answer I was coerced into giving grossly misrepresented my beliefs and ideologies.”
Those who are tempted to believe Albahri’s claim that she was “coerced” into saying she favored the mass murder of Jews should at this point watch the video again. Watching it makes it impossible to believe that she could not hear what Horowitz was saying, or that she was coerced in any way into answering the way she did. Perhaps sensing this, she goes on to attempt yet another explanation: she did say it, but she didn’t mean it:
My answer, “for it,” in the context in which it was said does NOT mean “for” genocide. I was referring to his initial question that asked me for my position on Hamas, a topic that for his own political reasons he was relentless in pursuing. “For it” was not a legitimization of Hezbollah’s or anyone else’s credo for that matter that Jews should be exterminated. In fact, Mr. Horowitz’s intent was to entrap me with his barrage of questions so that he could avoid answering my question, and construe any answer that I would provide as anti-Semitic, genocidal hate speech in order to further his political agenda.
Here again, watching the video makes this position impossible to sustain. Horowitz formulated his question clearly and pointedly. Albahri shows no signs of confusion or disorientation, and answers Horowitz’s question as deliberately and forcefully as he asked it.
And so finally, does Jumanah Albahri condemn Hamas? She does not. “My opinion of Hamas,” she explains, “is not as simple as condemn or condone, ‘for it’ or ‘against it.’” She opposes “the killing of civilians,” without explaining whether she endorses the common Muslim view that there are no civilians in Israel, and concludes:
“I condone Hamas in its ambition to liberate the Palestinian people. I condone Hamas as the duly elected representative government of the Palestinian people granted governance in an election overseen by our ex-President Jimmy Carter; and characterized as fair, open, and fully democratic. I condone Hamas in its desire to end the inhumane siege of the Gazan people. I condone Hamas in its struggle to free the 10,000 Palestinian men, women, and children unjustly locked away in Israeli prisons.”
Albahri sums up: “It seems that in Mr. Horowitz’s logic, my support of freedom, peace, and justice makes me a ‘terrorist.’”
No, Jumanah. Your support of genocidal Jew-haters makes you a terrorist, or at very least a terrorist sympathizer.
Meanwhile, the UC-San Diego chapter of the Muslim Student Association also felt it necessary to issue a “clarification,” but their entry only muddied the waters further – and raised questions about the prevalence of Islamic anti-Semitism and supremacism among Muslims in the United States.
The Muslim Student Association is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, an international Islamic organization that is dedicated (in its own words as recorded in a captured internal document) to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” And so it is perhaps not surprising that the MSA’s press release reeks of disingenuousness and damage control, but doesn’t get around to condemning Hamas and Hizballah (as Horowitz had asked Albahri to do), or even to condemning Albahri’s endorsement of genocide.
The USCD MSA did manage to condemn “all groups or organizations, whether state or non-state actors, who target civilians or target a civilian population to impose collective punishment.” Was it condemning attacks like September 11, or the July 7, 2005 bombings in London? Not necessarily. Once again, jihadists have said that “there are no civilians in Israel.” Thus a genocide of Jews there would not, according to this twisted logic, constitute the targeting of a civilian population. And it did seem as if the MSA had Israel in mind, since after explaining how the Koran forbade killing anyone “unjustly,” the MSA statement added: “It is for this very reason that MSA has organized events such as our annual Justice in Palestine Week.”
That sentence makes it clear that the MSA meant in its statement to condemn alleged Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians. They were not condemning Hamas or Hizballah, any more than did Jumanah Albahri.
The MSA statement is full of such weaseling. It quotes the Koran’s condemnation of one who “kills a human being unjustly” (5:32), without getting around to explaining what would constitute a just killing of another human being. It also condemns “the loss of all innocent lives, as well as all groups, whether state or non-state actors, that advocate and perpetuate the killing of innocent civilians.”
Then at last we get to some particulars: “Specifically, we condemn all Palestinian factions that have rejoiced in the killing of innocent Israeli civilians just as much as we condemn the indiscriminate murder of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians during Israeli military aggression. We reject the current apartheid system in Palestine-Israel that discriminates against people based on their ethnicity and race.”
The key word in that passage is “innocent.” Many Muslims consider no non-Muslim to be innocent, in accord with the Koran’s picture of them as being always and everywhere in bad faith — and even larger numbers of Muslims consider no Israeli to be innocent. Thus to condemn the killing of innocent civilians in Israel is quite possibly to condemn no killing at all.
And that’s not surprising. Genocidal statements are common from Muslim leaders today. On January 29, Palestinian Authority TV broadcast a mosque sermon saying: “The Prophet says: ‘You shall fight the Jews and kill them, until the tree and the stone will speak and say…‘Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah — there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’ Except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews. Thus, this land will be liberated only by means of Jihad.”
If that jihad involves Muslims murdering Jews en masse, then what’s to prevent a pious young lady like Jumanah Imad Albahri from believing that genocide is a good thing?
To see the timeline of the Truthful Girl saga, click here.