Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Controversy over Syrian Refugees Misses the Question We Should Be Asking

By Andrew C. McCarthy — November 28, 2015

Afghan university students shout anti-US slogans and hold a banner reading 'No Democracy; We want just Islam!' during a demonstration in Kabul on October 25, 2009.

The jihad waged by radical Islam rips at France from within. The two mass-murder attacks this year that finally induced President Francois Hollande to concede a state of war are only what we see.

Unbound by any First Amendment, the French government exerts pressure on the media to suppress bad news. We do not hear much about the steady thrum of insurrection in the banlieues: the thousands of torched automobiles, the violence against police and other agents of the state, the pressure in Islamic enclaves to ignore the sovereignty of the Republic and conform to the rule of sharia.

What happens in France happens in Belgium. It happens in Sweden where much of Malmo, the third largest city, is controlled by Muslim immigrant gangs — emergency medical personnel attacked routinely enough that they will not respond to calls without police protection, and the police in turn unwilling to enter without back-up. Not long ago in Britain, a soldier was killed and nearly beheaded in broad daylight by jihadists known to the intelligence services; dozens of sharia courts now operate throughout the country, even as Muslim activists demand more accommodations. And it was in Germany, which green-lighted Europe’s ongoing influx of Muslim migrants, that Turkey’s Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in their new Western countries is “a crime against humanity.

So how many of us look across the ocean at Europe and say, “Yeah, let’s bring some of that here”?

None of us with any sense. Alas, “bring it here” is the order of the day in Washington, under the control of leftists bent on fundamentally transforming America (Muslims in America overwhelmingly support Democrats) and the progressive-lite GOP, which fears the “Islamophobia” smear nearly as much as the “racist” smear.

This, no doubt, is why what is described as the “controversy over Syrian refugees” is among the most deceitful public debates in recent memory — which, by Washington standards, is saying something.

Under a Carter administration scheme, the Refugee Admissions Program, the United States has admitted hundreds of thousands of aliens since 1980 — and, as the Center for Immigration Studies explains, asylum petitions have surged since the mid-Nineties. If there is a refugee “crisis,” it most certainly is no fault of ours: For example, the U.S. took in two-thirds of the world’s refugees resettled in 2014, with Canada a distant second, admitting about 10 percent.

Those figures come from an invaluable briefing by Refugee Resettlement Watch, which illustrates that the Syrian component is but a fraction of what we must consider. Tens of thousands of what are called “refugees” have come to our shores from Muslim-majority countries. From Iraq alone, the number is 120,000 since 2007, notwithstanding the thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars sacrificed to make Iraq livable.

Many of the refugees are steered to our country by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Naturally, the UNHRC has a history of bashing Israel on behalf of Palestinian Islamists — indeed, it works closely with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, one of Hamas’s most notorious sympathizers. The UNHRC works in tandem with the State Department, which resettles the refugees throughout the U.S. with the assistance of lavishly compensated contractors (e.g., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, other Christian and Jewish outfits, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants) — often absent any meaningful consultation with the states in which Washington plants these assimilation-resistant imports.

Responsibility for vetting the immigrants rests with the Department of Homeland Security. As the ongoing controversy has illustrated, however, a background check is only as good as the available information about a person’s background. In refugee pipelines like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan, such information is virtually nonexistent. (But don’t worry, we can rest assured that the UNHRC is doing a fine job.)

Let’s assume for fantasy’s sake, though, that the vetting is perfect — that we have comprehensive, accurate information on each refugee’s life up to the moment of admission. We would still have a calamity.

There are two reasons for this, and they are easily grasped by the mass of Americans outside the Beltway.

First, vetting only works if you vet for the right thing. Washington, in its delusional Islamophilia, vets only for ties to terrorism, which it defines as “violent extremism” in purblind denial of modern terrorism’s Islamist ideological moorings. As the deteriorating situation in Europe manifests, our actual challenge is Islamic supremacism, of which jihadist terrorism is only a subset.

For nearly a quarter-century, our bipartisan governing class has labored mightily to suppress public discussion of the undeniable nexus between Islamic doctrine and terrorism. 

Consequently, many Americans are still in the dark about sharia, classical Islam’s societal framework and legal code. We should long ago have recognized sharia as the bright line that separates authentic Muslim moderates, hungry for the West’s culture of reason and individual liberty, from Islamic supremacists, resistant to Western assimilation and insistent on incremental accommodation of Muslim law and mores.

The promotion of constitutional principles and civic education has always been foundational to the American immigration and naturalization process. We fatally undermine this process by narrowly vetting for terrorism rather than sharia adherence.

Yes, I can already hear the slander: “You are betraying our commitment to religious liberty.” Please. Even if there were anything colorable to this claim, we are talking about inquiring into the beliefs of aliens who want to enter our country, not citizens entitled to constitutional protections.

But the claim is not colorable in any event — it just underscores how willful blindness to our enemies’ ideology has compromised our security. Only a small fraction of Islamic supremacism involves tenets that, in the West, should be regarded as inviolable religious conviction (e.g., the oneness of Allah, the belief that Mohammed is the final prophet, the obligation to pray five times daily). No one in America has any interest in interfering with that. For Muslims adherent to classical sharia, however, the rest of their belief system has nothing to do with religion (except as a veneer). It instead involves the organization of the state, comprehensive regulation of economic and social life, rules of military engagement, and imposition of a draconian criminal code.

Unlike the Judeo-Christian principles that informed America’s founding, classical sharia does not abide a separation of spiritual from civic and political life. Therefore, to rationalize on religious-liberty grounds our conscious avoidance of Islamist ideology is to miss its thoroughgoing anti-constitutionalism.

Sharia rejects the touchstone of American democracy: the belief that the people have a right to govern themselves and chart their own destiny. In sharia governance, the people are subjects not citizens, and they are powerless to question, much less to change, Allah’s law. Sharia systematically discriminates against women and non-Muslims. It is brutal in its treatment of apostates and homosexuals. It denies freedom of conscience, free expression, property rights, economic liberty, and due process of law. It licenses wars of aggression against infidels for the purpose of establishing sharia as the law of the land.

Sharia is also heavily favored by Muslims in majority-Muslim countries. Polling consistently tells us that upwards of two-thirds of Muslims in the countries from which we are accepting refugees believe sharia should be the governing system.

Thus, since we are vetting for terrorism rather than sharia-adherence, and since we know a significant number of Muslims are sharia-adherent, we are missing the certainty that we are importing an ever-larger population hostile to our society and our Constitution — a population that has been encouraged by influential Islamist scholars and leaders to form Muslim enclaves throughout the West.

This leads seamlessly to the second reason why the influx of refugees is calamitous. Not only are we vetting for the wrong thing, we are ignoring the dynamics of jihadism. The question is not whether we are admitting Muslims who currently have ties to terrorist organizations; it is whether we are admitting Muslims who are apt to become violent jihadists after they settle here.

The jihadism that most threatens Europe now, and that has been a growing problem in the United States for years, is the fifth-column variety. This is often referred to as “homegrown terrorism,” but that is a misnomer. The ideology that ignites terrorism within our borders is not native: It is imported. Furthermore, it is ubiquitously available thanks to modern communications technology.

In assessing the dynamic in which ideological inspiration evolves into actual jihadist attacks, we find two necessary ingredients: (1) a mind that is hospitable to jihadism because it is already steeped in Islamic supremacism, and (2) a sharia-enclave environment that endorses jihadism and relentlessly portrays the West as corrupt and hostile.

Our current refugee policies promote both factors.

One last point worth considering: Washington’s debate over refugee policy assumes an unmet American obligation to the world. It is as if we were not already doing and sacrificing far more than every other country combined. It is as if there were not dozens of Islamic countries, far closer than the United States to refugee hot-spots, to which it would be sensible to steer Muslim migrants.

Yet, there is nothing obligatory about any immigration policy, including asylum. There is no global right to come here. American immigration policy is supposed to serve the national interests of the United States. Right now, American immigration policy is serving the interests of immigrants at the expense of American national security and the financial security of distressed American workers.

Our nation is nearing $20 trillion in debt, still fighting in the Middle East, and facing the certain prospect of combat surges to quell the rising threat of jihadism. So why is Congress, under the firm control of Republicans, paying for immigration policies that exacerbate our peril?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Today's Tune: Bruce Springsteen - Party Lights

Review: Bruce Springsteen - 'The Ties That Bind: The River Collection'

November 20, 2015

Like its predecessors, “Born to Run: 30th Anniversary Edition” and “The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story,” “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection” is a boxed set that tells the story – through album tracks, outtakes, live performances, film documentaries and essays – of how one of Bruce Springsteen’s masterpieces came together.

But it’s a very different kind of story.

For “Born to Run” (1975) and “Darkness” (1978), The Boss agonized and fine-tuned until he had an intense collection of songs that said exactly what he wanted to say, with no wasted words or notes. For 1980’s “The River,” as explained in the boxed set, he wanted to do something different: Echo the thematic variety and rough-edged sounds of his concerts, and tell stories that had more to do with real people living in the real world than his own angst.

He turned in, to his record company, a single-disc version of the album, but it didn’t feel right to him, so he asked for it back, and turned it into a double album that ranged from dark ballads to joyous rockers, and yielded his first Top 10 single, “Hungry Heart.”

“The River” was, and is, a wild ride. And “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection,” which will be released on Dec. 4, offers a rich, rewarding experience for any Springsteen fan who dives into the depths of its four CDs, three DVDs and 148-page coffee table book. The tracks and the videos will also be available via iTunes for $89.99.

The best thing about the set is the two DVDs that feature 24 songs from a Nov. 5, 1980, concert at the Arizona State University Activity Center in Tempe. There are great performances throughout, including much of the then-new “River” material, all captured by a professional four-camera crew.

For anyone looking for filmed proof of the live power of Springsteen and the E Street Band, this immediately goes at or near the front of the list. (Historical note: The concert took place the day after Ronald Reagan was elected president, and Springsteen says, when he introduces “Badlands,” “I don’t know what you guys think about what happened last night, but I think it’s pretty frightening.”)

After the concert footage, the 20 minutes of tour rehearsal footage that is also included feels anticlimactic. The other DVD features an hourlong documentary, “The Ties That Bind,” in which Springsteen, with typical eloquence, explains how the album evolved and plays new solo acoustic versions of some of the songs. (The film will be shown on HBO at 9 p.m. Friday.)

The boxed set’s first two CDS are devoted to the double album itself. The third includes the rejected single-album version of “The River,” which turns out to be quite different, with three tracks that didn’t make the final cut (“Be True,” “Loose End” and “Cindy”) and some major differences in some of the tracks that did. This “Stolen Car” is faster and less desolate – and very different, lyrically – from the version that made it onto the double album. “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” gets a rockabilly arrangement rather than its familiar, feverish garage-rock; it sounds at times like a cousin to Elvis Costello’s “Mystery Dance.”
“Be True” and “Loose End” are familiar to Springsteen fans already, having been released on his 1998 rarities collection, “Tracks.” But “Cindy” is a real find — a catchy, bittersweet pop song about a dysfunctional relationship. “I pick you up with flowers when you get off from work/It’s like you don’t even care, it’s like I’m some kind of jerk,” Springsteen sings.

The fourth CD contains more outtakes and is a mixed bag. “Meet Me in the City” is a rousing anthem, and “Party Lights” has some of the hurtling, headlong energy of “Two Hearts” (though a nastier lyrical message). “Little White Lies” is a game attempt at new wave pop, and “Paradise by the C” a solid studio take on the rowdy instrumental that has only been released, previously, as a live track. But songs like “Night Fire,” “Stray Bullet” and “Whitetown” are blander than anything on the finished album: Springsteen was aiming for something with these tracks, but didn’t get there.

Springsteen says, in the documentary, that “The River” is about the connections that hold people together, and that he was yearning for those kinds of connections in his own life. In “Mr. Outside” (included as a demo recording), he cuts to the core, singing, “Mr. Outside, all your money and your power/Won’t help you, come the dark hour/Well, kingdoms crumble unto your feet/You’re just another thief out on the street.”

The fourth CD includes “The River” outtakes already released on “Tracks” or the 2003 compilation, “The Essential Bruce Springsteen.” There’s some undeniably great stuff here, including “Roulette” – which Springsteen admits, in the documentary, he should have included on the initial album – “Where the Bands Are,” “Living on the Edge of the World” and “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come).” But surely the vast majority of Springsteen fans contemplating a purchase of this boxed set have these in their collections already.

Still, they’re needed to show just how superhumanly productive Springsteen was during this phase of his career. It may have felt like a bold step, for him, to release “The River” as a double album. But even if he opted for a triple album, some first-rate songs would have been left out.


November 27, 2015
One way to understand the prime real estate of Bruce Springsteen’s career is as one grand narrative told through a single actor. From 1974’s Born to Run through 1992’s Human Touch/Lucky Town we can draw – sometimes smoothly, sometimes roughly – an arc of one person’s triumph, defeat, defiance, and redemption. In Born to Run, the protagonist hustles Mary out of a town full of losers, the future boundless before them. In Darkness on the Edge of Town, things get tricky in the face of resistance; Mary’s turned out to be a bit more complicated than originally thought, and working at the factory sucks, but it’s nothing that some grit won’t cure – our hero’s ready to walk into that twister with his bags packed, absolutely sure that there’s a Promised Land.
In The River, originally released on October 17, 1980, the party is over for the protagonist. He’s run headlong into one of the most persistent – and most tragic – of all Springsteen constructs: the idea that a single moment, a bad decision, a cruel twist of fate, can obliterate one’s soft shell of fulfillment, stability and connection, completely and irrevocably, and leave you alone on a long road toward despair. The River is replete with applications of this hard lesson: get your teenage girlfriend pregnant? Man, that’s all she wrote; you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to forget what could have been. Draw the blinds in your crappy Jackson Cage apartment, because there’s no getting out of here. They shot you, point blank. You learn to settle. You learn to sleep at night with the price you pay.
And so, The River is positioned to be the next chapter in the grand narrative, heartbreaking and desperate though it may be. In fact, it nestles perfectly as a depressing epilogue for our optimist from Darkness, and a troubling, but natural, prologue for what’s coming next in Nebraska (spoiler alert: it ain’t good).
There’s just one problem: the foregoing accounts for only half of the The River. There’s an equal number of tracks that can only be construed as good time, Friday Night, let your hair down rock and rollers. We’re meeting out in the Street, gonna do some Ramroddin’ (whatever that is), ‘cause, you know, I’m a Rocker! Wait — what?
Now, it’s no great insight to suggest that The River is really two albums in this way (it’s literally a “double album”). And this isn’t the only place that Bruce makes us deal with wildly conflicting emotions in a short space – “Workin’ on the Highway” co-habitates with “My Hometown”, after all. But The Riverpresents this contrast so starkly, so consistently, that it leaves the thinking Bruce Fan to wonder just how to reconcile it all. How can one understand the grand narrative, while attending to Frat Rock homages like “Sherry Darling”? Is there something that can be gleaned by this dialectic? Or should we just relax and rock out?
This conflict has vexed me ever since I laid ears on The River (probably to the point where I don’t appreciate the album as much as I should). And it’s why I most wanted to see The Ties That Bind, the HBO documentary to be released concurrent with a CD/DVD box set of River outtakes.
The film is what it purports to be – a penetrating explanation from Bruce (and Bruce alone) on the motivations, influences, characters and process that ultimately rendered The River. For one, there’s confirmation here that the record is, in fact intended to be the next episode of the grand narrative – a conscious effort to broaden the focus of Darkness into an “age-appropriate” (e.g., early-30s) exploration of more complex relationships (marriage, parenthood, how young adults decouple from their parents).
On the whole, the film is an illuminating peek into the building of a record by what we know as the “Bruce Springsteen Brand” – sweat, brotherhood, conflict and collegiality. Anyone who has read Peter Ames Carlin’s biography Bruce knows the relentless attention to detail that Springsteen demanded from his camp in those days; the film adds color to the benefits – and costs – of this approach. Also of interest is the selection and deselection of songs for the final cut. Bruce even suggests that there are any number of songs that would be different if the album were made today, leaving fans to wonder what might have been (I’ll never understand how a snoozer like “I Wanna Marry You” made it over the earnest “Loose Ends” or the excellent, driving “Take ‘em As They Come”).
But, still, why the contrast in content? Springsteen is absolutely forthright in admitting that the record has its “heart and soul tracks” and its “trashy”, “fun” bar band singles. Fortunately, he also spends a fair amount of time explaining why.
First, there’s the popularly understood explanation that the record made a concerted attempt to recreate, in album format, the exhilaration of the band’s live shows (I think it fails miserably at this, if only because it’s an unreachable goal; I challenge anyone who’s ever seen “Ramrod” live to convince me they got the same vibe from the album version). There’s even a subtle suggestion by Springsteen that the motive was commercial in that, at least outside its core following in the Northeast, the public’s familiarity with the band’s body of work was limited to only the two commercially successful albums to that point.
But ultimately the film delivers the real answer: the core, “cinematic” narrative songs, according to Bruce are all too slow. And, according to the Boss, you can’t have too many slow songs. There needs to be room for “fun”; there needs to room for capital “R” Rock, incongruence with the narrative be damned.
That’s it, Bruce Fans. That’s your answer.
It’s not necessarily the artistically appropriate answer – it’s not even a consistent one considering other Springsteen records that, while excellent, aren’t a whole lot of “fun” (DarknessTunnel of Love). But it’s an answer that’s satisfying as hell, and it’s why Bruce fans love Bruce. It is not, in fact, a sin to be glad you’re alive, and even souls condemned to pay for their mistakes for eternity have permission from the Boss to meet out in the street, and walk the way they wanna walk. This is a crystallization of why Bruce has sustained his place as the goddamn GOAT of American popular music – this perfect calibration of substance and style.
So go ahead, self-important Bruce Fan – enjoy the last party shouts of “Sherry Darling” as it fades into “Jackson Cage”. It’s not incongruity, it’s not inconsistency; it’s Rock and Roll.
[You can watch The Ties That Bind on HBO Go and HBO Now beginning on November 27; the movie premieres on HBO at 9 p.m. on November 27]
J. Smythe’s first live “Brooooccee” experience was during the regrettable “Human Touch/Lucky Town” tour. It was still enough to get him hooked for life.

Review: Bruce Springsteen - The Ties That Bind:

The Boss is on blinding form with this intriguing collection 
November 27, 2015
Bruce Springsteen | Photo by Joel Bernstein | Via
When planning the follow-up to Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen originally envisaged a single album set, to be called The Ties That Bind, its title track a leftover from the previous album sessions. He delivered the album, but then had second thoughts: one of the later tracks written for it, “The River”, had uncovered a darker train of thought that led to more solemn investigations of political and personal issues, and with the songs pouring out of him, Springsteen revised his ambitions in favour of a double-album in which the rough sat alongside the smooth, joy set shoulder-to-shoulder with struggle. 
As this retrospective summation shows, the creative banquet that became The River was actually more like a gourmand tasting-menu of the huge quantity of available material. The Ties That Bind: The River Collection features the  remastered double-album in its entirety, alongside the abandoned single album, four hours of video footage on 3 DVDs, and most intriguingly, 22 more outtakes, only a few of which have surfaced previously on the Tracks compilation.
The single album works fine, as you’d expect, opening like The River with the Spectorised Byrdsy jangle of “The Ties That Bind” and including such highlights as “Hungry Heart”, “Stolen Car” – whose lovelorn escape fantasist seems an early harbinger of both “Nebraska” and “Tunnel of Love” – and “The River” itself. Only three tracks never made it down to The River: “Cindy” is one of Springsteen’s more troubling girl-songs, about a sick girl whose ailment the protagonist would happily contract; “Be True” another of those ebullient E Street fairground mini-street-operas, close in style and tone to “Rosalita”; and “Loose Ends” does exactly what it claims. 
But it’s the unreleased outtakes that are the main selling point of this box set. “Meet Me in the City” is a classic album opener, a typical Springsteen anthem of romance and escape featuring the E Street Band’s reliable division of emotional labour: piano and organ embodying fantasy ideation, and Clarence Clemons’ rasping sax break, lustful realisation. “Handcuffed to the jailhouse door/ Transmitting from the gallows floor” wails Bruce, his emotional fever aching all the way back to traditional blues roots.
The desperate need to escape continues “burning rubber, spilling gasoline” into “The Man Who Got Away”, a fascinating narrative exercise in which the singer, watching a movie, realises he’s the outlaw up there on the screen, his actions reflected back and his guilt laid bare before him. It’s a brilliant piece of songcraft that gives the lie to those critiques that he deals with just “cars and girls” on the most basic level. 
Sadly, not all the outtakes are up to that standard. “The Time That Never Was” wallows too exultantly in melancholy fatalism, and the piano arrangement of “Night Fire” is too slight to bear the weight of its melodrama. But elsewhere, even the supporting material packs a punch: “Chain Lightning” is a predatory creeper with bags of “Peter Gunn” swagger, and “Paradise By The ‘C’” (for “Clemons”, presumably) is a rasping sax instrumental with lots of background party vibes. 
Some of the songs reflect unexpected influences, especially “Roulette”, which has a compressed drama that recalls Magazine’s “Shot By Both Sides”. But “Stray Bullet”, for all its stylistic affinities with Van Morrison, is a serious, original piece of work, a haunting depiction of “the stray bullet that shot my baby down”, in which Springsteen’s lead vocal is accompanied by his distant, echoing background vocal, a wailing mourner at the funeral. Its impact is all the more powerful for being succeeded by the rough demo strum of the desolate “Mr. Outside”, the personification of alienation. 
All in all, it’s a fine addition to the seemingly bottomless corpus of Springsteen’s ever-expanding oeuvre, concluding in fine fettle with “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)”, a lascivious rocker with a murderous sting in its tail – the kind of thing Jerry Lee Lewis could cover with aplomb.

The Amazing Life of Frederick Forsyth

November 26, 2015

When reading Frederick Forsyth's The Outsider, people may wonder if art imitates life or if it is the other way around.  This memoir is not an autobiography of the prolific writer, since it is a series of recollections and not a chronological narration.  It's as if a family member is sitting there, telling his life experiences.  Unfortunately, this will be Forsyth's last book, because he is retiring.  American Thinker had the privilege of discussing with Forsyth his life and the book based upon it.
Although this book reads more like a thriller, readers get a glimpse of those events and personalities Forsyth has come in contact with.  He noted to American Thinker, "I consider myself a journalistic writer, keeping to the facts and making sure they are accurate.  I do not write much emotional stuff or fancy language.  My books were all contemporary current affairs based on what I had seen.  Hell, I made mistakes and have done so many things I chose to write about them, or maybe not."
Before discussing his novels, Forsyth talked about his career as a journalist working for Reuters.  He believes that a journalist should retain the qualities of detachment, curiosity, and skepticism.  He explained that the title for the book came out of his belief that "a journalist should never join the establishment, no matter how tempting the blandishments.  It is our job to hold power to account, not join it.  In a world that increasingly obsesses over the gods of power, money, and fame, a journalist and a writer must remain detached, like a bird on a rail, watching, noting, probing, commenting, but never joining.  In short, an outsider."
The legendary books The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File were based on Forsyth's real-life journalistic experiences.  His first assignment, one that would change his life forever, was being sent to France in May 1962.  Paris was a city targeted by frequent terrorist attacks linked to the Algerian War for Independence.  A faction of the right-wing French military officers decided to assassinate then-president Charles de Gaulle for what they saw as his acceding to the rebels' demands.  Forsyth researched the conspiracy theorists and was in the country when they nearly succeeded, as they riddled the president's limousine with bullets on a trip to the airport.
Readers will also wonder if the scene in The Jackal where one of the characters encounters a countess is similar to Forsyth's own experience of sleeping with the mistress of a high-ranking East German official.  Forsyth noted, "The Day of the Jackal was factual, including all the police methods and the French security service operations.  It is a twin hunt story, where the Jackal is hunting the president and the police are searching for him.  But there is no similarity between my affair and the Jackal's.  I had an affair with the East German defense minister's mistress.  She was a cougar, about twenty years my senior.  I remember her singing this song to me, and one day I found out she was a Nazi singing one of their songs.  I thought it amusing that she was doing it with me, a part of the race that conquered her."
The Odessa File is based on the real-life fugitive known as the "Butcher of Riga."  It chronicles the life-and-death hunt of a notorious former concentration camp-commander, a man responsible for the deaths of thousands.  Forsyth told American Thinker, "Odessa is a brotherhood that is in no way fictional.  After the war, many of these mass murderers stripped off their uniforms, adopted another persona, and disappeared into postwar German society, often returning to becoming influential.  I was going to invent a character based on these facts, but Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter, told me in a meeting, 'Why invent one?  I have twelve.'  He pointed to a face and said, 'He is perfect.'  It was Eduard Roschmann, a camp commander in Latvia.  He was a monster, a sadistic fellow who escaped.  Do you know he was found out after the movie came out, when someone recognized him?  Since the movie was based on the book, I guess I could take a little credit."
Forsyth is fascinated by the Jewish people's determination and resolve.  Shortly after Israel defeated the Arabs in the Six-Day War he was able to meet with two Israeli legends: Ezer Weizman, the first commander of the Israeli Air Force, and David Ben-Gurion, whom he calls the "founding father of Israel.  I considered him one of the greatest men I have ever met.  I was allotted twenty minutes, but we actually spoke for three hours.  He described the creation of Israel in a step-by-step manner.  As we talked, I thought how he was a walking history lesson.  I could have filled ten notebooks, but I just sat and listened to someone who had seen it all."
He also tells a humorous story of meeting Weizman, who needed to take a trip to Tel Aviv.  Forsyth recalls, "I thought he was going to take us in a limo, but he actually meant to fly us there.  As he was describing to me the first dogfight he was in during the War for Independence, he took his hands off the controls, which I grabbed.  I got a history lesson and a flying lesson all at once."
American Thinker asked Forsyth about the British Foreign Office anti-Semitism.  He commented, "I found it odd.  On most issues, they reflected a disdain of foreigners, yet they made one exception: a preference for Arabs and Islam.  This was mirrored in the left-wing media.  Unfortunately, it is still like that today in this country.  The Labor Party has been taken over by the extreme wing that is strongly pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic, led by the liberals, intellectuals, and the left."
He also gave American Thinker a little history lesson about the Labor Party, explaining, "Tony Blair moved from the left to the center to get votes and power.  He created the 'right wing.'  He was a moderate loathed by the extremists.  But now 'Blairism' is dead.  The leadership has swung hard left and hates Americans, Jews, and capitalism, just about everything that most of us regard as good.  This guy Jeremy Corbyn was put into power when the outgoing leader did something very stupid by allowing anyone to vote in the election for a fee of three pounds.  Every Communist, Marxist, and anarchist paid up and got to vote.  Unfortunately there is no Winston Churchill to come to the rescue."
Those readers who love an action-packed story based on realistic events can always count on a Frederick Forsyth novel.  Sadly, this will no longer be the case, because The Outsider is his last book.  Anyone who wants the suspense of a thriller needs to read about this author's full and fascinating life.
The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jersey Sure

By Mark Steyn
November 24, 2015

I have a strong dislike of the current fashion among American's decrepit and unreadable newspapers for "fact-checker" columns, because the practice attempts to cloak run-of-the-mill hacks in an aura of dispassionate authority that they do not, in fact, possess. Case in point: The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, who has awarded "four Pinocchios" to Donald Trump, for claiming to recall seeing "thousands" of Jersey City Muslims celebrating on September 11th 2001. Mr Kessler wrote:
Trump says that he saw this with his own eyes on television and that it was well covered. But an extensive examination of news clips from that period turns up nothing. There were some reports of celebrations overseas, in Muslim countries, but nothing that we can find involving the Arab populations of New Jersey.
Kessler has spent the day re-writing and re-re-writing that confident assertion. As of now, that last sentence currently reads:
There were some reports of celebrations overseas, in Muslim countries, but nothing that we can find involving the Arab populations of New Jersey except for unconfirmed reports.
When Kessler says "nothing that we can find", he didn't have to search very hard. After a two-minute Google search, Powerline's John Hinderaker turned up the following:
In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners' plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.
What demented fringe conspiracist website would traffic in such nonsense? Well, in fact, it was Glenn Kessler's own newspaper, The Washington Post, which published the story on September 18th 2001. Is it an "unconfirmed report"? Well, Kessler's colleague, Post reporter Serge Kolvaleski, said in a 2003 email that he got the story from the Jersey City Police Department and "confirmed the JCPD's information via interviews of eyewitnesses of the celebration".

Was Kessler aware, while researching his "fact-check, that a Washington Post reporter had interviewed "eyewitnesses of the celebration"? As it is, a so-called "fact-checker" who claims "an extensive examination" turns up "nothing that we can find involving the Arab populations of New Jersey" was apparently ignorant of the fact that his own newspaper had carried such a story. Called on his omission by John Hinderaker, Mr Kessler turned defensive:
@AmFedJournal@jhinderaker "several people allegedly celebrating" does not equal "thousands"
As John Hinderaker pointed out, the phrase "several people" does not occur in the Washington Post2001 story, so Kessler is putting quotation marks round a non-quotation, which seems a rum thing for a fact-checker to do. One Pinocchio for you right there, Mister J-School Ethics! The Post says only that "a number of people" were detained and questioned. So now we're no longer arguing about whether there were even any reports of any New Jersey residents celebrating 9/11, but merely the number that were doing so.
Glenn Kessler's current version of his story now bears little relation to its original form, but John Hinderaker cuts to the chase:
@GlennKesslerWP Did you know about the 2001 Post article when you wrote your "fact check" or not?
Because, if you didn't, you're not much of a fact-checker.

Kessler has yet to respond.

A further Washington Post column, by Howard Kurtz on October 9th 2001, reminds us that, whether or not the story was on TV, it was widely reported on New York radio:
On Sept. 11, callers told New York radio stations WABC and WPLJ that some people in an Arabic section of Paterson, N.J., were celebrating the attacks.
Totally bogus, says city spokesman Bob Grant. He's so mad he has demanded transcripts from the Disney-owned stations and may demand equal time.
Grant is particularly steamed at WPLJ's "The Big Show With Scott and Todd," calling in to chide hosts Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill. "They called me a moron and I called them mendacious," he says... 
Curtis Sliwa, a WABC host also criticized by Grant, says callers told him of a celebration that "they felt was crazy, that was horrible, so we reported that based on the calls." Sliwa went to Paterson the next day and says people told him that the cheering was done by about a dozen bicycle-riding teenagers.
Paterson officials are "in total denial," says Sliwa. "They'd rather shoot the messenger."
Another obscure fringe hate-blog that referenced the "celebrations" was a site called The New York Times, reporting from Jersey City on September 30th 2001:
Since the F.B.I. raid, community relations in Jersey City -- which has a population of 240,000, 20 percent of whom are Arabs or of Arab descent -- have deteriorated, and Jersey City has become rife with rumors: about Muslim celebrations in the wake of the trade center attacks, about violence against Muslim residents, about who might have been involved in the terror, who might have harbored conspirators.
As "rumors" go, they were widespread. The San Francisco Chronicle, reporting from Jersey City onSeptember 22nd 2001:
A few Muslims have been harassed around town by non-Muslims, and police detained several men seen "celebrating" the attack as the smoke first rose across the river. Folks are worried that things could get worse. On both sides.
So this Kessler fellow seems to have got everything wrong. He claimed to be unable to find any reports of "the Arab population of New Jersey" celebrating on September 11th 2001, whereas his own newspaper carried such a report, as did other prominent newspapers and broadcast outlets. Were there "thousands" celebrating? Probably not. But hundreds? There are those who saw such things andstand by what they saw today. And Mr Kessler's own colleague at the Post claims to have interviewed eyewitnesses.

More to the point, these reports rely not just on supposed eyewitnesses, but on a police record: persons were "detained and questioned". Kessler's colleague also spoke to the Jersey City Police Department, which Kessler apparently has not. If he'd like to, the chap to have a word with is Captain Edgar Martinez, who back in those days handled public relations for the JCPD. After all, if it's true that "police detained several men", there would be a record of it that Captain Martinez would be able to confirm. Judging from the comments of the Jersey City mayor, there's evidently some political pressure to make whatever happened disappear down the old memory hole, but I don't believe they'd outright lie to Glenn Kessler, would they?

The past is a foreign country, wrote L P Hartley*, and the immediate post-9/11 period was a very different land from today's America. Here, for example, is bigshot mainstream liberal Jonathan Alter writing in Newsweek (then owned by The Washington Post) that there were Muslim schoolchildren in the New York area who had prior knowledge of 9/11.

But the moment passed, and liberals stopped writing such stories, and then denied such stories had ever been written. And year on year more of the specifics of that day were disappeared - starting with the images of the men and women who hurled themselves from the upper floors of the Twin Towers for the chance to spend their final moments falling through clean, bright sky rather than in that hellish inferno. A soft-focus blur, a generalized sadness, a yellow ribbon or two is all that remains. Yet there were Muslims who cheered 9/11 in Oslo and in Yorkshire, and if like Donald Trump you live in New York City, you would have read and heard similar stories from your own neighborhood.

There are two competing narratives here. If you loathe Trump, the story is: Trump's suggestion of terrorist sympathizers among American Muslims is outrageous. But, if you're minded to support Trump, the story is: Obama's and Hillary's and Kerry's assertion that there are no terrorist sympathizers among Muslims is not only ludicrous but mendacious and deeply weird in its relentless insistence. Glenn Kessler's "fact-check" confirms the latter.

[*CORRECTED: I originally wrote "E M Forster", which is pretty bad of me, considering I once advised the Hartley estate over a dramatic adaptation of The Go Between.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Radical Parents, Despotic Children

Sooner or later, Orwellian methods on campus will lead to Orwellian outcomes.

November 23, 2015
Students protesters at Yale; Photo Courtesy of: eurweb
“Liberal Parents, Radical Children,” was the title of a 1975 book by Midge Decter, which tried to make sense of how a generation of munificent parents raised that self-obsessed, politically spastic generation known as the Baby Boomers. The book was a case study in the tragedy of good intentions.
“We proclaimed you sound when you were foolish in order to avoid taking part in the long, slow, slogging effort that is the only route to genuine maturity of mind and feeling,”Miss Decter told the Boomers. “While you were the most indulged generation, you were also in many ways the most abandoned to your own meager devices.”
Meager devices came to mind last week while reading the “Statement of Solidarity” fromNancy Cantor, chancellor of the Newark, N.J., campus of Rutgers University. Solidarity with whom, or what? Well, Paris, but that was just for starters. Ms. Cantor also made a point of mentioning lives lost to terrorist attacks this year in Beirut and Kenya, and children “lost at sea seeking freedom,” and “lives lost that so mattered in Ferguson and Baltimore and on,” and “students facing racial harassment on campuses from Missouri to Ithaca and on.”
And this: “We see also around us the scarring consequences of decade after decade, group after group, strangers to each other, enemies even within the same land, separated by an architecture of segregation, an economy of inequality, a politics of polarization, a dogma of intolerance.”
It is an astonishing statement. Ms. Cantor, 63, is a well-known figure in academia, a former president of Syracuse University who won liberal acclaim by easing admissions standards in the name of diversity and inclusiveness. At publicly funded Rutgers she earns a base salary of $385,000, a point worth mentioning given her stated concern for inequality. The Newark Star-Ledger praised her as a “perfect fit” for the school on account of her “exceptional involvement in minority recruitment and town-gown relations.”
Yet this Stanford Ph.D. (in psychology) appears to be incapable of constructing a grammatical sentence or writing intelligible prose. All the rhetorical goo about the “architecture of segregation” and “dogma of intolerance” rests on deep layers of mental flab. She is a perfect representative of American academia. And American academia is, by and large, idiotic.
That’s why I’m not altogether sorry to see the wave of protests, demands, sit-ins and cave-ins sweeping university campuses from Dartmouth to Princeton to Brandeis to Yale. What destroys also exposes; what they are trashing was already trashy. It’s time for the rest of the country sit up and take notice.
For almost 50 years universities have adopted racialist policies in the name of equality, repressive speech codes in the name of tolerance, ideological orthodoxy in the name of intellectual freedom. Sooner or later, Orwellian methods will lead to Orwellian outcomes. Those coddled, bullying undergrads shouting their demands for safer spaces, easier classes, and additional racial set-asides are exactly what the campus faculty and administrators deserve.
In other words, the radical children who grew up to run the universities have duplicated the achievement of their parents, and taken it a step further. In three generations, the campuses have moved from indulgent liberalism to destructive radicalism to the raised-fist racialism of the present—with each generation left to its increasingly meager devices. Why should anyone want to see this farce repeated as tragedy 10 or 20 years down the road?
Education entrepreneurs have long been trying to find a new way forward, without much success. For-profit schools could help—if they weren’t the constant target of liberal invective and government investigations. It might help, too, if concerned alumni could apply greater pressure on their alma maters in the face of these campus uprisings. But as the Bass family discovered when they tried to establish a Western Civilization program at Yale some 25 years ago, rich schools can afford to blow off rich alumni.
A better way might be to found great new universities, as John D. Rockefeller did with the University of Chicago or Andrew Carnegie did with the Carnegie Technical Schools (later Carnegie Mellon) in Pittsburgh. Is there an Adelson or a Gates or a Walton University to be started along similar lines, perhaps on the campuses of colleges that have recently closed their doors? It would help, too, if these new schools adopted the model of Hillsdale College in Michigan (where there are no protests) by refusing to accept federal subsidies, thus relieving them of the strictures and mandates by which the government enforces political correctness.
The campus uprisings of 2015 are the latest symptom of the disease of the American academy. Nobody should be surprised by it. Whether the disease of the academy also becomes the disease of the American mind depends on how far we are willing to let this go. Another generation shouldn’t be incubated in idiocy before we try something new.