Saturday, May 04, 2013

Interview: Eric Metaxas

We can learn about virtue and manliness from some of history’s heroes. 

What does it mean to be a good man?  Eric Metaxas, who has previously written books on William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is the author of the new book Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness. Metaxas talks about men, women, and heroic virtue with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.

​KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why a book about men? Does this prove that there is a Christian disdain for women?

ERIC METAXAS: We have a crisis of manhood in our culture. We’re afraid to talk about what it means to be a man, so I wanted to talk about it and to show the lives of seven truly great men. But if this book does well I’d love to write a book titledSeven Women. But if men aren’t learning how to be real men, it’s women who suffer more than anyone. So I had to write this book first.

LOPEZ: Why are you stuck on Father Knows Best? Do you want to turn back the clock?

METAXAS: Yes, I want to turn the clock all the way back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth, about 6,000 years ago. Is that so wrong?

But seriously, somewhere along the line in the last 40 years we lost our idea of what a man is. Every parent knows that a young man needs to know what it means to be a man — and that he needs and wants heroes. But in about the same way that we’ve shrunk from saying what a man is, we’ve denigrated the idea of heroes in general. Deep down, all men want to live heroic lives. And unless I missed something, playing video games isn’t all that heroic.

LOPEZ: Is chivalry dead, and if it’s not, what does it look like in 2013??

METAXAS: Chivalry is whenever a man acts like a gentleman and treats others — but women especially — with grace and civility and selflessness. There’s less and less of this in our public life, so it’s important to reconsider the concept. We need to know that there have been many men whose lives were defined by this kind of behavior. George Washington was exceedingly gracious, as my chapter on him illustrates, but all of the men in my book were chivalrous to some extent. We need to recognize this as an important part of what it means to be a great man, especially because many contemporary public figures behave decidedly unchivalrously. But just because Donald Trump has lamentably stooped to say boorish and vicious things publicly about women who have somehow mussed his hair — metaphorically speaking — doesn’t mean that there aren’t many who consider such behavior deplorable.

LOPEZ: What does the sacrifice of the three men who died trying to protect their girlfriends at last year’s movie-theater shooting in Aurora teach us about how men should treat women?

METAXAS: Many people don’t even know that that happened, and we should know that it happened. It’s an extraordinary thing, and it’s deeply discomfiting to those who preach the idea that there’s no difference between men and women. Don’t these men’s heroic actions themselves say what we are afraid to talk about in our ridiculously politically correct culture: that men and women are different?

Of course, this is what men are supposed to do. It’s what I’d want a man to do if he was with my daughter or my mother or my wife, and it’s certainly what I would expect myself to do. Men express their love this way. It’s how God made us. Of course, women typically don’t jump in front of their boyfriends to shield them from bullets, because that’s not how God made women to express their love. But we have to wonder: Why did God make men that way? Why would we instinctively want to protect others, even if it means dying ourselves? What’s that about?

That’s what this book is all about. Men and women are different. God created us different. What is God’s idea of a man and why aren’t we talking about that? I’d suggest that the three men who gave their lives to save their girlfriends give us a picture of God’s idea of a man. It’s heroic, and it’s beautiful and moving and we need to celebrate it.

LOPEZ: In your chapter about George Washington, you write, “Who really thinks of him as an actual flesh-and-blood human being who struggled as we all struggle and who put on his breeches one leg at a time? That’s the problem with being that famous. People often don’t think about you as a person at all.” This is a real problem, isn’t it? How can we avoid it?

METAXAS: This cuts both ways. We put more expectations on public figures, but that’s just as it should be. As one wag in antiquity put it, “To whom much is given, of them much is required.” But yes, the other side of this is that we inflate famous people to such cartoonish proportions that we actually end up thinking less of their noble accomplishments, because we forget these people were genuinely no different than we are.

LOPEZ: Did anyone really need to write anything new about George Washington?

METAXAS: I don’t write anything new, nor was that my goal. On the contrary, I only wanted to reiterate the basics, because I’m afraid most Americans aren’t really aware of those basics about him anymore. It was once de rigueur in our schools to teach his story, but as I say in the introduction to this book, that’s no longer the case and this is having a baleful effect. We’ve so focused on the negative things about him that we have forgotten how superlatively great he was and what tremendous sacrifices he made. Every American needs to know his story.

LOPEZ: What was your goal and what do you think you accomplished in Seven Men?

METAXAS: I wanted to begin a cultural conversation on what men are and what they ought to be. We’ve gotten so confused on this subject that we’ve shrunk from it, and that’s been tremendously unhealthy. And as part of beginning this conversation, I wanted to hold up the examples of these seven men whom I think worthy of general emulation. These were real men who faced monumental difficulties with courage and grace. We need to educate ourselves — and the new generation — with these stories. We used to do that. Plutarch’s Lives was popular for centuries. Bonhoeffer actually was reading it during his last days on this earth. We need heroes very desperately, and these seven men are a good place to start.

LOPEZ: Why do you bring up a David Brooks column in your chapter on Eric Liddell?

METAXAS: About two years ago, David Brooks mistakenly claimed that strong Christian faith tended to make one uncompetitive, which is dramatically untrue. Some of the greatest athletic champions have been men of great faith. Jackie Robinson and Eric Liddell, two of the men in this book, are the first examples that leap to mind. But there are many currently active and fiercely competitive sports figures who are men of devout Christian faith. R. A. Dickey, Tim Tebow, and Jeremy Lin are three who leap to mind.

LOPEZ: Liddell wouldn’t run on a Sunday, even in the Olympics. Wasn’t he being overly scrupulous?

METAXAS: No. In the 1920s, the idea of doing anything significant on the Lord’s Day was absolutely out of the question for many serious Christians. Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey practically invented modern baseball and he wouldn’t go near a ball field on Sunday. Christians today have lost that sense of the sanctity of the Sabbath, but reading about Eric Liddell makes you wonder if we haven’t taken things much, much too far in the direction of blurring the bright sanctuary of Sunday into the rest of the gray week.

LOPEZ: What’s the most practical lesson from the life of Eric Liddell for men living in today’s secular culture?

METAXAS: That anyone who takes God seriously can’t have his faith confined to Sunday mornings or to some “private” sphere. Faith is either something that informs one at all times or it isn’t anything at all, really. When the Chinese government tells its citizens that they can worship in a certain building on a certain day, but once they leave that building they must bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state, you have a cynical lie at work. They’ve substituted a toothless “freedom of worship” for “freedom of religion,” because the latter freedom is powerful and dangerous to statist interests. I talked about that at CPAC recently.

LOPEZ: How important is William Wilberforce’s idea of “graciousness in the midst of battle”? Is that idea realistic in the media and political environments today?

METAXAS: It’s never easy, but yes, it’s not only realistic, it’s vital. In fact, it’s simply smart politics, which is to say it’s effective. The cynical thinking that says I can’t be gracious, I’ve got to win, is actually short-sighted and ultimately stupid. Wilberforce won one of the greatest political battles in the history of politics. You could argue that he is the most successful political reformer who ever lived. If that’s what civility will get you, perhaps we should have more of it.

LOPEZ: You’re way into Wilberforce. Is he a particularly significant model for our day?

METAXAS: Yes! He shows that politics is important — that people of faith especially should not shrink from politics. But he also shows us that we are not to make an idol of politics. We are to fight for what is right, but we are to do so in a way that is right. We cannot stoop to do whatever is necessary to win, as I’ve said. We need to understand this, and not merely to be more effective; our souls depend upon it.

LOPEZ: Why did you choose to include Jackie Robinson in this book?

METAXAS: I had no idea the movie 42 was coming out when I decided to include him in the book. Very few people realize how serious Jackie Robinson was about his faith and how prayer played a role in his being able to do what he did. It’s a historical fact that this man made a great sacrifice, and we need to know that and celebrate it. I’ve been wanting to tell his story for years. There’s just so much to it that is important.

LOPEZ: You include John Paul the Great in Seven Men. How is the life of a celibate relevant to every man?

METAXAS: To some extent a life of celibacy is a picture of how all of us are to live, containing our passions for God’s purposes. Freud propounded the materialist canard that we must “express” ourselves sexually or we’ll eventually develop facial tics, and we’ve been paying the price ever since. Many of the greatest people in history have been celibates. Bonhoeffer was of course one of them. Can we really doubt that the oversexualized culture in which we live has taught men to be selfish? And has hurt women?

LOPEZ: The story of Chuck Colson and his commitment to prison ministry seems especially relevant to a consideration of how we can help men be good men. What can we learn from his life?

METAXAS: Chuck Colson went to prison for a Watergate-related offense. When he got out he decided that he would spend the rest of his life not forgetting about the men he had met during his seven months on the inside. His willingness to spend 35 years going into prisons when anyone would have said he should put that all behind him is one of the reasons we need to know about the life of this great man. He is a hero, and I had the great honor of knowing him personally and calling him a friend. His story teaches us so much. It teaches us that we may have no idea of what it is that can make us great. In Chuck’s case it was going to prison, crazy as that might sound. It also teaches us that we’ve got to care about those who are suffering, even if they are suffering because of their own actions. That’s a big part of what it means to be a real man, a mature man.

LOPEZ: Why do you compare Colson to William Wilberforce?

METAXAS: Chuck Colson didn’t need to spend his life fighting for prisoners and their families, and William Wilberforce didn’t need to spend his life fighting for African slaves. Both these men gave their genius, talents, time, and influence toward helping the most marginalized members of their societies — what the Bible calls “the least of these.” In doing this, both Wilberforce and Colson rise together as shining examples of what great men can do in the public sphere.

LOPEZ: What was the most important lesson Colson taught you?

METAXAS: That the life of the mind and the life of faith are not only not mutually exclusive, but they are inextricably intertwined. As soon as I found faith I discovered his books and was tremendously encouraged along those lines.

LOPEZ: He was writing about religious liberty until the end — including on NRO. What might he remind us about now if he could?

METAXAS: For one thing, he would remind us that the battle for same-sex marriage has less to do with sexuality than with religious liberty. And that if we don’t have a serious discussion about this before we make the decision to ratify this historically unprecedented concept, we will forever regret it. I was myself entirely ignorant about religious liberty until Chuck Colson made that connection for me, and now I talk about it all the time, hoping others will finally see that it’s the real elephant in the living room.

LOPEZ: “Playing to the proverbial audience of One” is a phrase you use in the book. What is its significance? God did, after all, give us all these other people. We’re not lone agents in marriage, family, friendship, work, and life.

METAXAS: It’s a theatrical metaphor, of course, like “cracking the boards” or “playing the Dane” or “waiting in the wings” or “in the limelight.” And of course we do consider others in doing what we do. But sometimes in life we come to a place where many, if not most, of those around us won’t understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. At that point we need to have a deeper sense of what’s right and wrong that is not contingent on even what those closest to us might think. We need to have God’s mind on the subject, as almost all of the men in this book did at one time or another, and at that point it is his opinion that must be dispositive in how we proceed. History will judge whether we got it right, and in the cases of the seven men in this book, it seems that they did.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.

Benghazi Impeachment Suddenly Not So Far-Fetched

Posted By Roger L Simon On May 4, 2013 @ 12:42 am In terrorism,Uncategorized | 147 Comments

An armed man waves his rifle after buildings and cars were set on fire inside the US Consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

On October 27th, 2012, only days before the presidential election, I wrote [1]:
If Barack Obama is reelected, will he face impeachment over Benghazi — a yet more unpleasant and far more wrenching result than to lose an election?
It could happen — and in my estimation should happen — the way revelations are playing out over the bloody terror attack that took four American lives and has led to weeks of prevarication and obfuscation.
The scandal thus far has at least tarnished and quite possibly implicated everyone from the CIA director, to the secretaries of State and Defense, to the UN ambassador and, of course, the president himself — with no end in sight, because Obama, normally loath to expose himself and even less so in an election season, refuses to answer questions on the subject.
It’s not the crime, but the cover-up, we learned in an earlier impeachment, only in this case the crime may be just as bad or worse.”
That post was a follow-up to my item from the previous week saying that Obama should resign over Benghazi [2], which was linked to by Drudge [3], and created a minor brouhaha. Between those two posts, a number of people accused me of being overheated.  I even started to feel that way myself. (Hey, I’m a screenwriter. Dramatic license comes with the job description.)

No longer. Reading Stephen F. Hayes’ new article in The Weekly Standard — “The Benghazi Talking Points” [4] — I am beginning to feel like Nostradamus.  I’m not ready to make any predictions, but let’s put it this way…

Barack Obama is bloody lucky he’s a Democrat, because if he were a Republican, he’d be in deep trouble right now, close to the brink of extinction.  Only his increasingly pathetic loyal media claque can save him.  It will be interesting to see if they do so at the expense of their own reputations.

Of course the reputations of the State Department need to be considered as well, that same State Dept that, according to Hayes (and this is corroborated by emails he publishes), bowdlerized and censored all references to al-Qaeda involvement in the Benghazi events before they could reach the fragile American public in an election year, almost even as they were happening.  This was before Susan Rice made her dog-and-pony performance on the Sunday shows, asserting it was all caused by a video nobody watched, and long before the oleaginous Candy Crowley famously covered up for Obama on Benghazi at the presidential foreign-policy debate.

Hayes names the names of some of the State Department miscreants involved in this repellent anti-democratic censorship. Among them is one Victoria Nuland, who makes Pinocchio seem like Diogenes.  (You can find a video of her as well as some droll tweets from the blogger Ace of Spades demanding an explanation for all this prevarication, and even a tweet from me, here [5].)

But it’s not just State. According to Hayes, on the CIA side, a fellow named Mike Morell, their deputy director, “cut all or parts of four paragraphs of the six-paragraph talking points — 148 of its 248 words. Gone were the reference to ‘Islamic extremists,’ the reminders of agency warnings about al Qaeda in Libya, the reference to ‘jihadists’ in Cairo, the mention of possible surveillance of the facility in Benghazi, and the report of five previous attacks on foreign interests.”

So why did this all happen?  Who were they covering up for, hiding Islamic terror involvement? Post-Boston, it seems particularly despicable, even if it was already bad enough with all the death and injury to U.S. service personnel who risk life and limb to defend our freedom.
But never mind. We are in a fascinating period of unraveling.  Whistleblowers in the defense community are appearing.  I’m sure at State, some are looking over their shoulders, waiting for the “Night of the Long Knives” to begin.  It probably has already.

How far will it go?  We will soon, no doubt, be in the period of “limited hangouts.”  (The attempt by Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, to play the “Benghazi happened a long time ago” dodge [6] on Wednesday arguably fits this definition.) Who will be the John Dean, the Erlichman, and Haldeman?  Is “Deep Benghazi Throat” talking at this moment?

While we are making Watergate analogies, it’s worth noting this is far worse than that noxious moment in American history or the other recent impeachment episode — Clinton.  In the former, some dumb zealots broke into the campaign headquarters of the opposition party in an election that wasn’t remotely close.  Nevertheless, the paranoid Nixon destroyed himself by trying to cover up the idiocy.  Clinton wagged his finger at us and lied about sex under oath, while his wife — an important figure in Benghazi where she has already been caught dissimulating — similarly lied by publicly blaming her husband’s philandering on the “great right-wing conspiracy.” (What power!)

Creepy behavior all around and certainly nothing remotely presidential, but, compared to Benghazi, no one died or was even injured.  As far as I know, no one even stubbed a toe.
Benghazi, on the contrary, was an important battle in the Global War on Terror, which has now reached our shores more than once. It will undoubtedly do so again.  Those who take this casually in the slightest are conscious or unconscious traitors or fools — or so self-interested as to be beneath contempt.

The Congress must be unstinting in pursuing the truth of Benghazi wherever it leads and however high it goes.  If they do not, our country will be weakened, probably beyond recognition.

I don’t know about you, but I will be watching closely on May 8, when Rep. Issa begins his public inquiry.  These may be the beginnings of the most important hearings of our lifetime.
In the meantime, for some comic relief, let’s do the “Mashed Potato,” BHO-style, and dedicate it to Jay Carney: “Benghazi started long time ago / With a guy name Gaddafi / No one knew how to spell his name / Come on baby, gonna teach it to you…”

Also read:

Will Congressional Committees Pull Together for One Benghazi Probe [7]

Names of Benghazi Whistleblowers Revealed [8]

Article printed from Roger L. Simon:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] I wrote:
[2] Obama should resign over Benghazi:
[3] linked to by Drudge:
[4] “The Benghazi Talking Points”:
[5] here:
[6] “Benghazi happened a long time ago” dodge:
[7] Will Congressional Committees Pull Together for One Benghazi Probe:
[8] Names of Benghazi Whistleblowers Revealed:

How Kierkegaard Changed My Life

On the famed philosopher’s message for anxious Christians.
MAY 3, 2013
I have always lived in anxiety.
In grade school, I was the kid who got picked on. I was timid and anxious, and the torment inflicted upon me by my peers only perpetuated my anxious behavior. Throughout my adolescence, my anxiety quietly festered. In college, I felt trapped, alone and terrified. It took every ounce of strength to go to my classes. If someone tried speaking to me, I would often shut down. What was very much internal angst began to show external physical signs. Panic attacks, sweats, shortness of breath and other anxiety-ridden symptoms took over. I was prescribed medication for this, which helped physically, but mentally I removed myself from the internal issues I needed to confront.
Then I enrolled in a philosophy course. We studied the typical figures—Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, etc. It was the first time I encountered Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. I didn’t know it at the time, but my life was about to radically change.
Here was a philosopher—and a man of faith—who actually experienced anxiety like me.
Kierkegaard is unique among philosophers, in that he listened to and even trusted human emotions. Whereas some philosophers dispose of and do not trust the emotive state of individuals, Kierkegaard not only embraced them, he wrote entire books on them. I began to pursue my masters in philosophy, and Kierkegaard took a prominent role in my life.
Throughout my education, I’ve studied many arguments for the existence of God. While I believe some are successful, many lack the existential pull that is so prevalent in Kierkegaard. My second year living in Denver for graduate school was perhaps the most treacherous year of my life, but it was indeed the most formative. Despair is the single word that sums up that year of my life, a word Kierkegaard knew much about. As it is described in the The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, “hopelessness is just a sign that one has reached a point where the goal of oneself must ... be re-conceived in a way that offers new hope.”
I remember vividly reading this line—sitting back in my rocking chair, putting down my pipe, and weeping. There it was. It seemed simple, really. But the moment was as profound as the quote itself. I’d been doing things all wrong. Everyone, included myself, told me I had to get rid of or at least suppress this fear. But the everyday task of taming and attempting to repress the anxiety and fear was futile. The anxiety, the hopelessness, was always there. It was a part of me.
So I read Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety. It’s a difficult read, perplexing at times, yet the lessons radiated in my being. Kierkegaard argues that anxiety is not, in fact, the enemy, but a part of humanity. The attempts to remove anxiety are futile, he says: “Anxiety is an alien power which lays hold of the individual, and yet cannot tear oneself away, nor has a will to do so; for one fears, but what one fears one desires.”
Kierkegaard taught me what I had been waiting to hear my whole life: Anxiety is necessary and even good. It manifests itself at the juncture where an individual realizes the power he or she has in making decisions. Anxiety is the realization of freedom and the possibility of choice. Some decisions are easy, and sometimes we become paralyzed in our decision-making. Anxiety provoked me to face those decisions, the seemingly infinite possibilities set before me, and walk forward. It provoked me to move.
This book so radically reoriented my concept of anxiety that I was able to develop who I am instead of run from it, condemn it or suppress it.
Society is so quick to run from what scares us—even if we are the object of our own fear. But such hasty movement away from ourselves leaves us feeling hopeless. Yet hopelessness, Kierkegaard teaches, is a catalyst—it is a moment in which one must refocus, shift the paradigm and find new hope.
What’s surprising is that many Christians don’t see it this way. Many will cite passages such as Philippians 4:6-8: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” They read this and think anxiety should have nothing to do with the life of a believer. From this passage, there seems to be a common—though unrealistic—perception that to worry or to have anxiety is to sin. This is not only false, but incredibly unrealistic. To remove anxiety would be to separate oneself with an attribute of humanity.
Without room for extensive hermeneutics, the Philippians passage speaks as to how one should engage with anxiety: Enter into it with prayer and supplication. It would be foolish to wrestle with anxiety without seeking God’s help through prayer. Whereas anxiety is a part of what it means to be human, it can indeed turn dangerous thing if not engaged properly. And it can lead a person into sin.
Being anxious does not necessarily imply that our faith is weak. Rather, anxiety tests our faith in relation to decision-making. Anxiety reminds us that they are free to make own decisions—whether that decision will better ourselves and our relationship with Christ, or glorify our own self-interests.
Kierkegaard voiced what many of us know already firsthand: “Anxiety is potentially present at every instant.” This seems true enough for my life. In his journals, Kierkegaard writes, “All existence make me anxious, from the smallest fly to the mysteries of the Incarnation; the whole thing is inexplicable to me, I myself most of all; to me all existence is infected, I myself most of all.”
Kierkegaard did not cure me of my anxiety. But he showed me what to do with it. Today, every time I enter the classroom to teach, I enter with some degree of fear and trembling. But the angst is not formed from a lack or preparation. Rather, it is the realization that I can influence my students. The angst reminds me of my own responsibility as an educator, and the seriousness with which I take such a role.
Today, I thank God for my anxiety. And I thank Søren Kierkegaard for changing my life—by teaching me that there is room for fear and trembling in faith.

Today's Tune: Johnny Cash with Hank Williams Jr. - That Old Wheel

The Immigration Transformation

A rational immigration reform would attempt to reorient, not accelerate, current policy.

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Camp Bastion Cover-Up

by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Sgt. Bradley Atwell, left, and Lt. Col. Christopher Raible were killed when insurgents attacked Camp Bastion in Afghanistan on Sept. 14.
Do you remember what happened last year on 9/14? Where are the White House phone calls for the families who continue to grieve? What is being done to prevent another fatal attack like the one on 9/14? And why is the full truth being withheld from the American public?
Benghazi isn’t the only bloody disaster being covered up by the Obama administration. As I reported in a series of columns and blog posts last fall, three days after the deadly siege on our consulate in Libya, the Taliban waged an intricately coordinated, brutal attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Two heroic U.S. Marines — Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell — were killed in the battle. Many fallen and surviving Marines have been honored for their brave, quick-thinking actions to save their comrades and civilians caught in the crossfire.
Family members are angry that military brass are still trying to suppress details of the fateful budget and strategic decisions that led to the attack. But they won’t stay silent. “This is political,” one Camp Bastion relative told me this week. “Just like Benghazi, they don’t want people to know.”
In case you were sleeping or had forgotten: The meticulously coordinated siege at Camp Bastion by 15 Taliban infiltrators — dressed in American combat fatigues and armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons — resulted not only in two deaths and nearly a dozen injuries, but also in the most devastating loss of U.S. airpower since Vietnam. Camp Bastion is Britain’s main military base in Afghanistan; it’s adjacent to our Marines’ Camp Leatherneck.
Eight irreplaceable U.S. aircraft were destroyed or put out of action during the raid. A trio of refueling stations was decimated; a half-dozen hangars were damaged. The attack came exactly six months after a failed jihadi suicide attack targeting former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Camp Bastion family members are hearing that U.S. and British military leaders left their loved ones vulnerable to attack by outsourcing watchtower security on the base to soldiers from Tonga, who were known to fall asleep on the job. Deborah Hatheway, aunt of Sgt. Atwell and the family’s spokesperson, is naming names and mincing no words. She says Major General Charles “Mark” Gurganus, who recently returned to the U.S. after commanding coalition forces in Afghanistan, was ultimately responsible for skimping on security patrols. “He might as well have made it easier for the Taliban by cutting the perimeter fence himself and putting out the welcome mat,” Hatheway told me.
This is the same Gurganus who ordered Marines to disarm — immediately after the failed jihadi attack on Panetta last year — because he wanted them “to look just like our (unarmed) Afghan partners.”
Hatheway says her family has learned that “it took over an hour before any of the other coalition forces arrived to help the Marines, who were already engaged with the terrorists and had it under control.” In addition, she says, they’ve learned that those on the ground did not have “proper protective gear available … or properly functioning weapons.”
Bastion families have raised questions with politicians and Pentagon officials in Washington, but are being forced to jump through Freedom of Information Act hoops to get to the bottom of the story. If ever.
In the meantime, a few officers in the know have begun leaking to the press. A little-noticed article by Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran two weeks ago reported that “several officials with direct knowledge of the assault said in recent interviews that staffing decisions by U.S. and British commanders weakened the base’s defenses, making it easier for the insurgents to reconnoiter the compound and enter without resistance.”
Cue the stonewalling. According to the Post, “When the House Armed Services Committee asked to see the initial Marine security review earlier this year, senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff deemed it insufficient for release and ordered the Marines to conduct a fuller review, military officials said. But that examination still fell short of an official investigation.” Neither the Marine Corps nor NATO plans to release the results of their separate investigations — in part, the Post reports, “to avoid embarrassing the British for leaving towers unmanned.”
There’s a whole lotta CYA going on. Sgt. Atwell’s family wants America to know: “This must end.”
Related: Former Marine officer Nick Francona blasts Maj. Gen. Gurganus’s glib assessment that the Taliban just got “lucky:”
The attack only occurred because of an egregious failure in basic infantry practices. The enemy may have been lucky to exploit these failures, but neglect was the precondition that set the stages for this attack. Intelligence analysts should not have to issue a warning of an impending frontal assault on a major military base for the base to be prepared.
There is an appalling lack of accountability and introspection that is evident in Maj. Gen. Gurganus’ comments about this incident. It is painfully obvious that this attack would not have been successful, or likely even attempted, if not for multiple security failures at Leatherneck/Bastion. This single episode highlights a much larger problem of accountability in the Marine Corps. It is nearly impossible to get fired for incompetence.
We need to stop treating the Marine Corps like a teachers union and demand excellence and accountability from our officer corps.

Islam — Silence, Please

Posted By Roger L Simon On May 3, 2013 @ 12:26 am In Uncategorized | 9 Comments

The United States is not yet so bad as France where, a few years back, Muslim thugs burning cars all over their country were called simply nameless “youths” [1] (les jeunes), as in “boys will be boys,” making all their mayhem just a — perhaps oversized — version of fraternity hijinks.

But we are getting there.

Here our political and media leaders take a more psychoanalytic tack, defining those who do violence to us as unfortunate neurotics unable to fit in — misunderstood failures ill-equipped to adapt to our fast-paced, licentious lifestyle.

So they are.

And so was (Godwin’s law alert) Hitler.  Hitler was a failed painter.  Tamerlan Tarnaev was a failed boxer.   No wonder they sought vengeance on a heartless world, poor devils.

The problem with this psycho-drivel [2] is that practically every human being is a failed something or other.  I know I am.  And I don’t know anybody who isn’t.

Forget Hitler.  If we all acted out on our failure only on the level of Tarnaev, civilization wouldn’t even last a day.

The real question should really be what most compels violence among the almost unlimited number of neurotic individuals in the world with some grievance or other.

In our time it is unquestionably Islam, exponentially more than anything else. It’s almost as if that religion were designed in its ideology to attract the disaffected and turn them into violent animals.

A website with the politically incorrect URL of [3] tracks these things.  According to them, as of May 2, 2013, there have been 20,794 deadly attacks by Islamic terrorists since September 11, 2001.  Here’s only the last three days via the same website:
Amazing, isn’t it?  Those events, all at least as murderous in head count as Boston and in most cases far more, did not make even a ripple in our media. Dog bites man, I suppose. But I guess it’s a good idea, when in Thailand, to stay clear of Buddhist convenience stores, even if you forget your mantra.

Kidding aside, what do we do about this grisly litany? What is to be done with this information?
We live in a country whose leadership, almost twelve years after 9/11, still does not name our enemy.  They will do anything but, often to the extent of comic absurdity. Too bad that nonstop uncomfortable head count dampens the levity.

The justification for this extreme bowdlerization by our leadership and mainstream media, I’m assuming, is that to name Islam — and often even radical Islam — as the culprit is to make matters worse,  to stir them up.

This attitude is actually racist.  By making Islam immune to criticism, you are treating its adherents as if they were children (mere “wogs” in the unattractive parlance of the British Empire), unable to correct or adapt their ideology and join modern civilization.  Consciously or unconsciously, you are saying they are just not up to it.

And in that case, they certainly won’t be.  Those who fail to criticize Islam are enabling it.

Something is wrong here, very wrong.  And you don’t have to read [3] to know it – but stopping by once in a while is a grim reminder.

Article printed from Roger L. Simon:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] nameless “youths”:
[2] with this psycho-drivel:
[4] Image:

Huge Flaw in Pew Survey on Muslim Views about Sharia

There will be more to say about the findings of the newly released Pew survey ”The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.” Of course, such revelations as the approval by upwards of two-thirds of Middle Eastern Muslims of the death penalty for apostates, and by one-third of suicide bombings, are depressing — though not at all surprising for anyone who has been paying attention. (I wrote about similar poll results in The Grand Jihad.) But what is striking is that the depressing state of affairs is manifest despite Pew’s best efforts to make things seem better than they are.
Principally, the survey is about Muslim views about sharia, Islam’s legal system and framework for society. It is intimated that Pew’s study is exhaustive, involving interviews with 38,000 Muslims across 39 countries. But, as my friend Andy Bostom pointed out to me this morning, guess which countries are not included in the survey? That would be Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan — perhaps the three most sharia compliant countries in the world, home cumatively to nearly 150 million Muslims. (Scroll down from here to see which countries are included in the survey.)

This gaping omission invites the standard progressive fairy tale about sharia, and Reuters does not disappoint: “Unlike codified Western law, sharia is a loosely defined set of moral and legal guidelines based on the Koran, the sayings of Prophet Mohammad (hadith) and Muslim traditions. Its rules and advice cover everything from prayers to personal hygiene.”

In point of fact, sharia is the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran. These countries profess themselves as reflections of the true Islam (Saudi Arabia from the Sunni perspective, Iran from the Shiite) in which no law but sharia is necessary and no departures from sharia are permissible. Sudan (a Sunni Muslim country) is already close to the Saudis and Iranians in this regard and is sure to be more so when it finally adopts a new constitution (which it has been threatening to do for several years). Moreover, as I have repeatedly pointed out in these pages, there is a manual of sharia law that has broad acceptance among Islamic supremacists — whose ideology is dominant in the Middle East. It is called “Reliance of the Traveller” and it is expressly endorsed, in the manual’s foreword, by the scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo (the most important and influential institution in Sunni Islam since the tenth century) and by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (the influential Islamic-supremacist think tank established by the Muslim Brotherhood in Virginia). 

It is true enough that there are authentic moderate Muslims who are moderateprecisely because they rationalize ignoring sharia by construing it as mere “advice” or “loosely defined . . . guidelines.” But Reuters reports their interpretation as if it were controlling and authoritative – as if it were what sharia is, rather than what these moderates claim it is. And their claim is not persuasive. When the Saudis say homosexuals must be killed and that non-Muslims are not permitted to set foot in Mecca, that is not just “advice.” People are killed, maimed, imprisoned, ostracized, and tormented over  failure to comply with the dictates of sharia. Your First Amendment right to free speech is threatened because the Obama administration supports the supremacist campaign to impose sharia blasphemy standards that forbid frank discussions of Islam. To keep telling people, as the media does, that sharia is nothing to be concerned about because it is just an airy, aspirational, personal moral compass is dangerously irresponsible.

Obama: The Fall

By Published: May 2

The Washington Post

Fate is fickle, power cyclical, and nothing is new under the sun. Especially in Washington, where after every election the losing party is sagely instructed to confess sin, rend garments and rethink its principles lest it go the way of the Whigs. And where the victor is hailed as the new Caesar, facing an open road to domination.

And where Barack Obama, already naturally inclined to believe his own loftiness, graciously accepted the kingly crown and proceeded to ride his reelection success to a crushing victory over the GOP at the fiscal cliff, leaving a humiliated John Boehner & Co. with nothing but naked tax hikes.

Thus emboldened, Obama turned his inaugural and State of the Union addresses into a left-wing dream factory, from his declaration of war on global warming (on a planet where temperatures are the same as 16 years ago and in a country whose CO2 emissions are at a 20-year low) to the invention of new entitlements — e.g., universal preschool for 5-year-olds— for a country already drowning in debt.

To realize his dreams, Obama sought to fracture and neutralize the congressional GOP as a prelude to reclaiming the House in 2014. This would enable him to fully enact his agenda in the final two years of his presidency, usually a time of lame-duck paralysis. Hail the Obama juggernaut.

Well, that story — excuse me, narrative — lasted exactly six months. The Big Mo is gone.
It began with the sequester. Obama never believed the Republicans would call his bluff and let it go into effect. They did.

Taken by surprise, Obama cried wolf, predicting the end of everything we hold dear if the sequester was not stopped. It wasn’t. Nothing happened.

Highly embarrassed, and determined to indeed make (bad) things happen, the White House refused Republican offers to give it more discretion in making cuts. Bureaucrats were instructed to inflict maximum pain from minimal cuts, as revealed by one memo from the Agriculture Department demanding agency cuts that the public would feel.

Things began with the near-comical cancellation of White House tours and ended with not-so-comical airline delays. Obama thought furious passengers would blame the GOP. But isn’t the executive branch in charge of these agencies? Who thinks that a government spending $3.6 trillion a year can’t cut 2 percent without furloughing air-traffic controllers?

Looking not just incompetent at managing budgets but cynical for deliberately injuring the public welfare, the administration relented. Congress quickly passed a bill giving Obama reallocation authority to restore air traffic control. Having previously threatened to veto any such bill, Obama caved. He signed.

Not exactly Appomattox, but coming immediately after Obama’s spectacular defeat on gun control, it marked an administration that had lost its “juice,” to paraphrase a charming question at the president’s Tuesday news conference.

For Obama, gun control was a political disaster. He invested capital. He went on a multi-city tour. He paraded grieving relatives. And got nothing. An assault-weapons ban — a similar measure had passed the Congress 20 years ago — lost 60 to 40in a Senate where Democrats control 55 seats. Obama failed even to get mere background checks.

All this while appearing passive, if not helpless, on the world stage. On Syria, Obama is nervously trying to erase the WMD red line he had so publicly established. On Benghazi, he stonewalled accusations that State Department officials wishing to testify are being blocked.

He is even taking heat for the Boston bombings. Every day brings another revelation of signals missed beforehand. And his post-bombing pledge to hunt down those responsible was mocked by the scandalous Mirandizing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, gratuitously shutting down information from the one person who knows more than anyone about possible still-existent explosives, associates, trainers, future plans, etc.

Now, the screw will undoubtedly turn again. If immigration reform passes, Obama will be hailed as the comeback kid, and a new “Obama rising” narrative proclaimed.

This will overlook the fact that immigration reform has little to do with Obama and everything to do with GOP panic about the Hispanic vote. In fact, Obama has been asked by congressional negotiators to stay away, so polarizing a figure has he become.

Nonetheless, whatever happens, the screw will surely turn again, if only because of media boredom. But that’s the one constant of Washington political life: There are no straight-line graphs. We live from inflection point to inflection point.

And we’ve just experienced one. From king of the world to dead in the water in six months. Quite a ride.

Read more from Charles Krauthammer’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Read more: Jamelle Bouie: Why Obama struggles to ‘beat’ the GOP E.J. Dionne Jr.: Obama needs to hope again Dana Milbank: A presidential bystander Greg Sargent: No, Obama can’t bend Congress to his will Jonathan Capehart: Obama’s real ‘leadership’ problem Jennifer Rubin: Obama’s condescending press conference