Saturday, February 27, 2016

Buckley Deserves a Statue

WFB was a frequent visitor to Hillsdale, which does so much to preserve our patrimony.

By Thomas Novelly — February 27, 2016

In 2004, William F. Buckley Jr. sent Hillsdale College thousands of the columns, speeches, and articles he had written over the years. The founder of National Review donated much of his life’s work to the college for an online database. Today, anyone can access his writings free of charge.

An injury prevented him from attending the unveiling ceremony, but he recorded his remarks for the gala dinner. “Thanks to Hillsdale College, it is all here, a lifetime’s work,” Buckley said. “Necessarily, you will find infelicities here, and maybe a deviation or two, but it is all an earnest attempt to contribute to the patrimony, preserved here thanks to Hillsdale.”

Now it’s time to preserve Buckley’s legacy in something more prominent than pixels. Hillsdale College — where am a student — should commission a statue in his honor.

We’re known at Hillsdale for our campus statues, on what the college calls the Liberty Walk. We have statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We have a statue of a Civil War soldier representing Hillsdale College students who fought in that conflict, and another of Abraham Lincoln. In May, when the class of 2016 graduates, we’ll put up a statue of Frederick Douglass.

We also have a statue of Ronald Reagan, the only statue of Margaret Thatcher in the Western Hemisphere, and a statue of Winston Churchill, holding a cigar in his right hand.

Buckley would be a fitting addition to this group, to commemorate his devotion to America, his dedication to young people, and his love for Hillsdale College.

Buckley understood the importance of higher education. In his first book, God and Man at Yale, he criticized his alma mater for neglecting its mission. “I believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world,” he wrote. “I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.”

That book launched his career, but he didn’t have to pick that fight or any of the others he would take on as he founded National Review, fought for the nomination of Barry Goldwater, ran for mayor of New York City, started Firing Line, and promoted Ronald Reagan. “Buckley could have been the playboy of the Western world,” historian Lee Edwards said in the new documentary The Best of Enemies, “but chose instead to be the Saint Paul of the conservative movement.”

President Reagan, the guest of honor at the magazine’s 30th anniversary party in 1985, told Buckley and his NR colleagues, “You gave the world something different, something in its weariness it desperately needed, the sound of laughter and the sight of the rich, green uplands of freedom.”

Novelly with the Ronald Reagan statue at Hillsdale College
Novelly with the Ronald Reagan statue at Hillsdale College
A statue of Buckley would also salute his impact on young people. In 1960, Buckley invited a group of young activists to his family home in Sharon, Conn., to write down a set of principles. The Sharon Statement, as it was called, begins with words that can still inspire: “We, as young conservatives, believe that foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force.”

The Sharon Statement became the founding document of the Young Americans for Freedom. Today, it’s required reading at Hillsdale College. It’s in American Heritage: A Reader, a special compilation of primary documents assembled by our faculty and published for a core course on American history. This big anthology starts with the Mayflower Compact and ends with Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1981 and his speech to the British Parliament in 1982. In between, students encounter the Sharon Statement.

Buckley visited Hillsdale College many times. “Hillsdale is one of the truly exciting liberal-arts colleges in America,” Buckley said in a speech at the college in 1980. “It’s vibrant with a genuine enthusiasm for learning.” In 1996, the college gave him its Adam Smith Award for his dedication to conservative principles and his embodiment of Hillsdale’s values.

When Hillsdale sought a new president in 1999, Buckley formed a special committee to find the perfect fit. The next year, Buckley’s committee selected the college’s current president, Dr. Larry Arnn, one of the founders of the Claremont Institute. “Buckley was a friend of mine for at least two decades,” Arnn said. “He spoke at my inauguration.”

Hillsdale’s statues pay homage to great individuals and great visions. The addition of a statue of Buckley would honor his service to both modern conservatism and a school whose mission he personally embodied and publicly promoted.

When Buckley died, eight years ago today, President George W. Bush honored him. “Bill Buckley was one of the great founders of the modern conservative movement,” said Bush. “He brought conservative thought into the political mainstream, and helped lay the intellectual foundation for the conservative movement that continues to this day.”

The mission statement of National Review, which Buckley wrote, is well known: National Review, it proclaims, “stands athwart history yelling Stop.” A statue of Buckley on the grounds of a college he loved would send a message to the world — that Buckley’s ideas remain very much alive, forever standing athwart history.

— Thomas Novelly is a junior at Hillsdale College, where he serves as assistant city news editor of The Collegian, the campus newspaper. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Islamist Turkey is Imploding
February 24, 2016

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks at a business forum during a visit in Lima, Peru, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Janine Costa

In the past two weeks a number of events have taken place in Turkey that, taken together, indicate that this erstwhile U.S. ally is spinning dangerously out of control with neither Ankara nor Washington and its European allies having the slightest clue of what to do. It started several days ago with the Turkish artillery targeting the Kurdish YPG military units n Syria, a key U.S. ally against ISIS, as they made progress in taking over formerly terrorist-occupied terrain north of Aleppo. This was followed by Turkey enabling thousands of jihadists entering Turkish territory from Syria with all of their weapons and exiting back into Syria from a different border crossing to join the battle against the anti-Assad forces. As if to show on whose side Ankara really is, a local news agency provided pictures of trucks loaded with Turkish ammunition delivered to these very people. It may be recalled that for publishing similar pictures of supplies to Syrian jihadists by the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT), in January 2014, two prominent journalists were accused of “treason and espionage” and are facing the prospect of life in prison. In yet another proof of Turkish collusion with ISIS terrorists, wiretaps of phone conversations between Turkish military and ISIS commanders have just been made public that show close cooperation.

The problem that Turkey and its Islamist leadership are now facing is something that has been known for a long time, but is no longer credibly deniable. Under Erdogan, Turkey has never been interested in fighting ISIS, Al-Nusra, and other Sunni terrorists. On the contrary, it has assisted them in every way possible for at least the last three years. Washington under Obama preferred to look the other way, but the latest events have faced it with a stark choice -- either defeat ISIS and limit growing Russian influence in alliance with the Syrian Kurds, or continue to put up with Erdogan’s duplicitous Islamist agenda and lose the last shreds of credibility it has left in the region. With the leader of the Turkish parliamentary opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, now openly calling for the leaders of the AKP to be tried for “aiding and abetting terrorist organizations,” it is high time for Washington to reconsider its failing policies.

There is yet another compelling reason to stand up to what more closely resembles an Islamist dictatorship in Turkey. After suffering a major electoral defeat with the rise of the Kurdish HDP party in parliamentary elections last June, Erdogan opted for new elections that many experts both in and outside of Turkey believe were rigged, along with massive repression of the Kurds. In a number of Kurdish cities in southeastern Turkey, military suppression of the youth wing of the PKK and de facto martial law imposed have been so heavy-handed that civil war is a more accurate description of what’s happening. In the town of Cisre, for instance, after two months of curfew and heavy fighting, the Turkish General Staff announced on Feb. 12 that it had successfully rid the town of terrorists, though it did not lift the curfew. It gave the following figures for terrorists killed and weapons confiscated: 600 terrorists killed, 2 machine guns, 27 AK-47s and 2 RPGs plus ammunition. This, of course, means that all but 31 of the ‘terrorists’ killed were unarmed. No wonder that Selahattin Demirtash, co-chairman of the HDP, has accused the government of ‘mass murder.’ His charges were seconded by the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Turkey, Kati Piri, who on Feb. 22 from Diyarbakir described the operations of the Turkish Security Forces as ‘civil war’ and accused the military of “ opening fire on civilians.”

It is, of course, true that the PKK was a terrorist organization, but times and circumstances have changed and for the AKP to risk a full-fledged civil war with the Kurds now is suicidal. First, the peace process with the PKK, which had progressed well until Erdogan unilaterally cancelled it last June, demonstrated that the Kurds would be satisfied with autonomy within Turkey. Secondly, the previous war with the PKK in the 1980s and 1990s, which claimed 40,000 victims, was fought primarily in rural areas which could be controlled by depopulation. Today, the Kurds make a large percentage of the population in all large towns outside the southeast where it dominates. The HDP also enjoys considerable support among non-Kurds, who appreciate its secular stands against the oppressive and intolerant Islamist dogmatism of the AKP. Finally, the Kurds now have 2 million co-ethnics on the other side of the 565-mile-long Syrian border, who are well-armed and already enjoy wide-ranging autonomy. If Erdogan continues to insist on brutally suppressing the Kurds, Turkey will descend into chaos. As Abdullah Gὒl, former president of Turkey and founding member of AKP, put it succinctly, “Turkey is going through one of the most difficult days in its history.”

Finally, there is a third and hugely important reason for the United States and its allies to confront Turkey’s Islamist government. Since AKP’s coming to power, virtually unnoticed in the West, Turkey has become a major exporter of radical Sunni extremism in the West. Erdogan’s main instrument for Islamization in Turkey and abroad, the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, better known as Diyanet, has had its budget increased sevenfold since 2003 and now has an army of 150,000 religious functionaries doing its bidding. It is active in promoting radical Islam in virtually every European state and dominates the Islamic establishment in countries like Germany, Austria, Belgium, and in the Balkans. In many of these countries it works in close cooperation with radical Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Milli Gὄrὒs. It has also begun a program of funding and building mega-mosques worth hundreds of millions of dollars, often in places where there are but few Muslims like Bucharest, Budapest, and Lanham, Maryland.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that President Obama will do much along these lines for the rest of his term, because he was the one who in 2009 advertised Erdogan’s regime as a model of democratic Islam worth following. Nor are we likely to hear much from the presumptive democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, who did the same as U.S. Secretary of State. But it is more than curious than we have not heard a single Republican presidential contender mention Turkey’s nefarious role in the disastrous Middle Eastern conflict. Especially because it is certain that one of the first questions the next president of the United States will have to deal will be “Who lost Turkey?”

Alex Alexiev is chairman of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies ( He tweets on national security at and could be reached at

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While Obama fiddles ...

February 25, 2016
President Obama Delivers Statement On Plan To Close GITMO Detention Facility
President Barack Obama makes a statement about his plan to close the detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and relocate the terrorism suspects there to the United States with Vice President Joe Biden (L) in the Roosevelt Room at the White House February 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo : Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
State of the world, Year Eight of Barack Obama:
1. In the South China Sea, on a speck of land of disputed sovereignty far from its borders, China has just installed antiaircraft batteries and stationed fighter jets. This after China landed planes on an artificial island it created on another disputed island chain (the Spratlys, claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam). These facilities now function as forward bases for Beijing to challenge seven decades of American naval dominance of the Pacific Rim.
“China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea,” the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command told Congress on Tuesday. Its goal? “Hegemony in East Asia.”
2. Syria. Russian intervention has turned the tide of war. Having rescued the Bashar al-Assad regime from collapse, relentless Russian bombing is destroying the rebel stronghold of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, creating a massive new wave of refugees and demonstrating to the entire Middle East what a Great Power can achieve when it acts seriously.
The U.S. response? Repeated pathetic attempts by Secretary of State John Kerry to propitiate Russia (and its ally, Iran) in one collapsed peace conference after another. On Sunday, he stepped out to announce yet another“provisional agreement in principle” on “a cessation of hostilities” that the CIA director, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff deem little more than a ruse.
3. Ukraine. Having swallowed Crimea so thoroughly that no one even talks about it anymore, Russia continues to trample with impunity on the Minsk cease-fire agreements. Vladimir Putin is now again stirring the pot,intensifying the fighting, advancing his remorseless campaign to fracture and subordinate the Ukrainian state. Meanwhile, Obama still refuses to send the Ukrainians even defensive weapons.
4. Iran. Last Thursday, Iran received its first shipment of S-300 antiaircraft batteries from Russia, a major advance in developing immunity to any attack on its nuclear facilities. And it is negotiating an $8 billion arms deal with Russia that includes sophisticated combat aircraft. Like its ballistic missile tests, this conventional weapons shopping spree is a blatant violation of U.N. Security Council prohibitions. It was also a predictable — and predicted — consequence of the Iran nuclear deal that granted Iran $100 billion and normalized its relations with the world.
The U.S. response? Words.
Unlike gravitational waves, today’s strategic situation is not hard to discern. Three major have-not powers are seeking to overturn the post-Cold War status quo: Russia in Eastern Europe, China in East Asia, Iran in the Middle East. All are on the march.
To say nothing of the Islamic State, now extending its reach from Afghanistan to West Africa. The international order built over decades by the United States is crumbling.
In the face of which, what does Obama do? Go to Cuba.
Yes, Cuba. A supreme strategic irrelevance so dear to Obama’s anti-anti-communist heart.
Is he at least going to celebrate progress in human rights and democracy — which Obama established last year as a precondition for any presidential visit? Of course not. When has Obama ever held to a red line? Indeed, since Obama began his “historic” normalization with Cuba, the repression has gotten worse. Last month, the regime arrested 1,414 political dissidents, the second-most ever recorded.
No matter. Amid global disarray and American decline, Obama sticks to his cherished concerns: Cuba, Guantanamo (about which he gave a rare televised address this week) and, of course, climate change.
Obama could not bestir himself to go to Paris in response to the various jihadi atrocities — sending Kerry instead “to share a big hug with Paris” (as Kerry explained) with James Taylor singing “You’ve Got a Friend” — but he did make an ostentatious three-day visit there for climate change.
So why not go to Havana? Sure, the barbarians are at the gates and pushing hard knowing they will enjoy but 11 more months of minimal American resistance. But our passive president genuinely believes that such advances don’t really matter — that these disruptors are so on the wrong side of history, that their reaches for territory, power, victory are so 20th century.
Of course, it mattered greatly to the quarter-million slaughtered in Syria and the millions more exiled. It feels all quite real to a dissolving Europe, an expanding China, a rising Iran, a metastasizing jihadism.
Not to the visionary Obama, however. He sees far beyond such ephemera. He knows what really matters: climate change, Gitmo and Cuba.
With time running out, he wants these to be his legacy. Indeed, they will be.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Today's Tune: Brandon Flowers - Only The Young

Immigration or an iPhone

We don’t have an encryption problem; we have a Muslim immigration problem.

February 25, 2016
The public argument between Apple and the FBI over cracking the encryption on an iPhone used by the San Bernardino Muslim terrorists is one of those ongoing civil liberties debates that negotiate the terms on which we are asked to sacrifice our civil liberties for the sake of Muslim immigration.
We have already made a thousand accommodations and we will make a thousand more. There will be more databases, naked scanners, eavesdropping, vans that can see through walls, backdoors to every server, registrations, warrantless searches, interceptions and regulations. There will be heavily armed police on the streets. And then curfews and soldiers. These things exist in Europe. They'll come here.
Some libertarians will argue that we should have none of this and no restrictions on immigration. That we should just shrug off each terror attack and move on with our lives.
Eventually though there will be a terror attack that we can't shrug off and that can't be minimized by using the cheap statistical trick of comparing Terror Attack X to the number of people who die every year from cancer. Or there will just be an endless parade of daily attacks, bombings, stabbings or shootings, as in Israel, which create a constant climate of terror that will preclude any hollow rhetoric about the number of people falling off ladders each year or getting struck by lightning.
Some hawks will cheer every terror fighting measure short of closing the door on the root cause of the problem. They would rather see every American wiretapped, strip searched and monitored every hour of the day then just stop the flow of Muslim terrorists into this country.
The encryption methods of an iPhone, like the question of how many ounces there are in your tiny bottle of mouthwash, would not be much of an issue, if Muslim migration did not make it one.
Terrorists adapt to the terrain. They use the native population as protective coloration. They can find a way to transform a shoe, a tube of toothpaste or instant messaging on a game console into a terror tool. Just as the left can 'politicize' everything, Muslim terrorists can 'terrorize' everything. When everything is a potential terrorist tool, then there can be no such thing as privacy or civil rights.
Muslim immigration is forcing us to constantly choose between our lives and our civil liberties. It's a Catch 22 decision with no good choices. Terrorists push governments toward totalitarianism so that their own alternative totalitarian state starts to seem like a less terrible alternative. But the refusal to fight terrorism also makes the totalitarian state of the terrorists more viable.
With every Muslim terror attack, successful or only attempted, they win and we lose. The pressure of terror attacks discredit Western ideologies and worldviews, both on the right and the left. Each attack helps generate new converts for Islam and more political influence for Islamist organizations.
Vociferous debates over the choice between civil liberties and security make it seem as if we have to choose between our worldviews because something in our society is the problem. It isn't.
We do not have an American terror network problem. The Amish aren't using iPhones or obscure apps to coordinate terror attacks. We have a Muslim terror network problem. It's not because of the Methodists that we have to weigh our mouthwash or take our shoes off and put them in a greasy plastic tray at the airport. It's because 19 Muslims entered this country, hijacked our airplanes and murdered thousands of Americans. Guantanamo Bay is not an issue because Buddhists are at war with America. It's an issue because Muslim terrorists are at war with America.
We do not have an iPhone encryption problem or a shoe problem or a mouthwash problem. We have a Muslim terror problem.
Whatever decision is made about iPhone encryption will not be the last word. The simple reality is that privacy carries too high a price as long as we have large numbers of people in this country who want to kill us in equally large numbers. If we want our privacy back, it's not the FBI that is standing in our way. It's the religious organizations that are paid to bring Muslim "refugees" to this country. It's the liberal, libertarian and even conservative voices that think there is something wrong with pausing the mass migration of the group that is disproportionately responsible for our terror problem. It’s the media that would rather discuss anything and everything than discuss the problem we are really dealing with.
The source of this problem is not whether the FBI handled the iPhone correctly or whether Apple should be obligated to build a way for law enforcement to access its devices. These arguments would exist even without Muslim terrorism, but they would lack the same level of life and death urgency.
This is not an iOS problem. It's an immigration problem.
The San Bernardino massacre by Muslim terrorists would not have happened without Muslim immigration. The security flaw here was not in the work of FBI agents or of Apple programmers, but of our immigration laws. Just as we cannot and will not intercept every single Muslim terrorist who finds a way to hide explosives in his underwear, shoes, soda or laptop, we will not ever be able to crack every single encrypted Muslim terrorist device. And their underwear bombs and encrypted iPhones would not be an issue if we did not have Muslim terrorists in America in the first place.
Instead of discussing the Islamic root cause, we put stress on our own competing institutions, technology providers face off with law enforcement, hawks and civil libertarians berate each other as if they were each part of the threat. But we are not the problem here. They are the problem.
The only backdoor that should be at issue here is the one that Muslim terrorists use to enter America. We don't need to violate everyone's rights to close it. We just need the political will to do the common sense thing and shut down the source of the threat. Either that or give up on our privacy.
Our choice is very simple. We can have external security or an internal police state. But neither of the above is not an option. We can have open borders that fill our country with criminals, but that means that eventually any livable middle class neighborhood will have a cop on every corner. We can have airport security for the people coming into this country. Or we can have airport security for everyone.
Ongoing Muslim migration makes a police state inevitable. But to avoid the perils of profiling and the appearance of discrimination, it will be a universal police state that will strip away rights from everyone without regard to guilt or innocence in the hopes of averting the next Muslim terror attack.
The only way to protect our lives and our freedoms from Muslim terrorism and its consequences is by shutting down Muslim immigration. If we fail to do this, then we will lose our lives and our liberties.
 Tags: ImmigrationIslamMuslims

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Republican Establishment Needs to Stop Worrying and Love the Donald

February 23, 2016

Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to the crowd after being declared winner of the Nevada Repulican caucuses at his caucus night rally in Las Vegas (Reuters)

Now that Donald Trump has wiped the floor yet again with the other Republican candidates in the Nevada caucuses, it's time for the GOP to face reality -- barring force majeure, they have a presidential candidate, like it or not.

The so-called establishment has a choice: Get on the Trump bandwagon or try some desperate maneuver to stop him. But what would that be? A Rubio-Cruz ticket, assuming they would do it?  At the time of this writing, the two men added together don't equal the Trump vote in Nevada -- and that's even assuming their voters would hold, which is a risky assumption, given the current momentum. I mean -- Donald won 46% of the Hispanics!  Enough already.

A lot of my Republican friends are depressed about this situation. They worry that Trump is not a real conservative.  They cringe at his vulgarity. They are concerned he's a bully, even totalitarian.

I'm not.  And  I am not depressed, even though I admire many of the other candidates in the race.  Given the gravity of the situation, what Obama has done to this nation and the candidates being offered by the Democrats, a world class liar and a Eugene V. Debs retread, a personality as large as Donald may be necessary to revive our country. In fact, I think I'll take the "may" out of that.

This is what I think the electorate senses and what the Republican establishment fears. Rather than being afraid that Donald will lose, many establishment folks, I suspect, are afraid he will win.  It will not be business as usual and most human beings seek business as usual, especially successful ones. What, for example, is more conventional and unchanging than the Democratic Party?  They have patented stasis under meaningless junk terms like "liberal" and "progressive." Nothing ever changes.  Republicans are at risk of doing the same thing with the word "conservative." If I hear another candidate claim to be the most "conservative," I think I'll bang my head against the table.  I can't be the only one who feels that way.

So if I were a member of the Establishment, whatever that is, I would quit bellyaching, embrace Donald and make him my friend.  He's ready and willing.  If you bother to check that ultimate news source the Daily Mail, you'd see that already he is hobnobbing with such Republican stalwarts as Rudy Giuliani, Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore.  Unless I missed it, I didn't notice the article mentioning  David Axelrod or James Carville.

And listen to what Trump is actually saying.  He's for lower taxes and a strong defense and he's not really against free trade.  He just wants a better deal.  Who wouldn't and who wouldn't assume he'd  get a better one than the Obama crowd?  Or the Bush crowd for that matter, on just about anything. He's also pro-life, despite soreheads like Erick Erickson screaming that Trump supports Planned Parenthood when he has said explicitly he does not support what they do on abortion, only on other women's health issues.  Does Erickson oppose pap smears for cervical cancer?  (Frankly, I don't want to know.)

People like Erickson and pundits far more sophisticated suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Because he's not part of "Their Crowd" they can't really grasp what he's saying.  Time to end that.  Don't fight Donald.  Be smart, co-opt him.  Or, as we used to say, be there or be square.  Next November depends on it

'Risen': The Reality of the Resurrection

February 24, 2016
When I saw the coming attractions for the new film Risen -- which deals with a Roman tribune searching for the body of Jesus after reports of the resurrection -- I thought that it would leave the audience in suspense, intrigued but unsure whether these reports were justified or not. The movie is, in fact, robustly Christian and substantially faithful to the Biblical account of what transpired after the death of Jesus.
My favorite scene shows tribune Clavius (played by the always convincing Joseph Fiennes) bursting into the Upper Room, intent upon arresting Jesus's most intimate followers. As he takes in the people in the room, he spies Jesus, at whose crucifixion he had presided and whose face in death he had closely examined. But was he seeing straight? Was this even possible? He slinks down to the ground, fascinated, incredulous, wondering, anguished.
As I watched the scene unfold, the camera sweeping across the various faces, I was as puzzled as Clavius: was that really Jesus? It must indeed have been like that for the first witnesses of the Risen One, their confusion and disorientation hinted at in the Scriptures themselves: "They worshipped, but some doubted." Once Thomas enters the room, embraces his Lord and probes Jesus's wounds, all doubt, both for Clavius and for the viewer, appropriately enough, is removed.
This scene reminded me of debates that were fashionable in theological circles when I was doing my studies in the 1970's and 1980's. Scholars who were skeptical of the bodily facticity of Jesus's resurrection would pose the question, "What would someone outside of the circle of Jesus's disciples have seen had he been present at the tomb on Easter morning or in the Upper Room on Easter evening?" The implied answer to the query was "well, nothing." The academics posing the question were suggesting that what the Bible calls resurrection designated nothing that took place in the real world, nothing that an objective observer would notice or dispassionate historian recount, but rather an event within the subjectivity of those who remembered the Lord and loved him.
For example, the extremely influential and widely-read Belgian theologian Edward Schillebeeckx opined that, after the death of Jesus, his disciples, reeling in guilt from their cowardice and betrayal of their master, nevertheless felt forgiven by the Lord. This convinced them that, in some sense, he was still alive, and to express this intuition they told evocative stories about the empty tomb and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.
Roger Haight, a Jesuit theologian of considerable influence, speculated in a similar vein that the resurrection is but a symbolic expression of the disciples' conviction that Jesus continues to live in the sphere of God. Therefore, Haight taught, belief in the empty tomb or the appearances of the risen Lord is inessential to true resurrection faith. At a more popular level, James Carroll explained the resurrection as follows: after their master's death, the disciples sat in a kind of "memory circle" and realized how much Jesus meant to them and how powerful his teaching was and decided that his spirit lives on in them.
The great English Biblical scholar N.T. Wright is particularly good at exposing and de-bunking such nonsense. His principal objection to this sort of speculation is that it is profoundly non-Jewish. When a first century Jew spoke of resurrection, he could not have meant some non-bodily state of affairs. Jews simply didn't think in the dualist categories dear to Greeks and later to Gnostics.
The second problem is that this post-conciliar theologizing is dramatically unhistorical. Wright argues that, simply on historical grounds, it is practically impossible to explain the rise of the early Christian movement apart from a very objective construal of Jesus's resurrection from the dead. For a first-century Jew, the clearest possible indication that someone was not the promised Messiah would be his death at the hands of Israel's enemies, for the unambiguously clear expectation was that the Messiah would conquer and finally deal with the enemies of the nation. Peter, Paul, James, Andrew, and the rest could have coherently proclaimed -- and gone to their deaths defending -- a crucified Messiah if and only if he had risen from the dead. Can we really imagine Paul tearing into Athens or Corinth or Ephesus with the breathless message that he found a dead man deeply inspiring or that he and the other Apostles had felt forgiven by a crucified criminal? In the context of that time and place, no one would have taken him seriously.
Risen's far more reasonable and theologically compelling answer is that, yes indeed, if an outsider and unbeliever burst into the Upper Room when the disciples were experiencing the resurrected Jesus, he would have seen something along with them. Would he have fully grasped what he was seeing? Obviously not. But would the experience have had no objective referent? Just as obviously not.
There is just something tidy, bland, and unthreatening about the subjectivizing interpretations I rehearsed above. What you sense on every page of the New Testament is that something happened to the first Christians, something so strange and unexpected and compelling that they wanted to tell the whole world about it. Frankly, Risen conveys the edgy novelty, the unnerving reality of the resurrection, better than much contemporary theologizing.
Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire.

Why Closing Gitmo Is Still a Terrible Idea

By Andrew C. McCarthy — February 23, 2016

The prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. CreditBrennan Linsley/Associated Press

Less than a week ago, French lawmakers voted to extend the state of emergency initiated in November after the Paris jihadist attacks that left 130 dead and 367 wounded. By law, the emergency status vests police with expanded powers to conduct raids, seize property, and detain persons without judicial oversight, much less trial.

It was impossible not to think of France this morning as President Obama once again agitated for the closing of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. It is an unkept promise to the hard Left from his 2008 campaign that the president has been working on since his first full day in office seven years ago.

The case has not gotten better with time, unless we factor in the extortionate tactics of the community organizer. Obama has released so many jihadists to other countries that the Gitmo prisoner population is down to 91 (according to the New York Times). Obama, in his brass knuckles way, is telling Congress, “Either shutter this place or I’ll spring even more committed terrorists to return to the jihad.” The threat is his most persuasive argument.

The rest of his case is as preposterous as it ever was. Or worse, actually. The president claims that our allies in the fight against “violent extremism” are dismayed by Gitmo’s continuing operation. Really? Does anyone really believe that the French are worried about Guantanamo Bay when they have suspended their own civil-liberties protections to deal with the prospect of more mass-murder attacks? How about other European countries grappling with the fallout of “migrants” overrunning their territories? Think Gitmo is at the top of their list?

The most laughable claim Obama makes is that Gitmo drives terrorist recruitment. This has always been a specious assertion, made all the more remarkable now by Obama’s campaign to bring thousands of unvettable Syrian “migrants” into our country — on top of the hundreds of thousands of foreigners from Islamic countries who have come to the United States during Obama’s presidency. For the guy who is bringing the recruits here in droves to fret about recruitment is even more precious than is the urging of Gitmo’s closing as a cost-saving measure by the guy who has added $10 trillion to the national debt in just over seven years.
In any event, I’ve responded to the recruitment point several times, most recently after the San Bernardino attack in December:
[T]here are two things that drive terrorist recruitment. The first is Islamic supremacism. In a West ever more indifferent to religion and entranced by the smug assumption that our “values” are universal, the power of a conquest ideology cloaked in religion eludes us. But it seizes our enemies and burns like a fire inside them. While Obama sees America as something to apologize for, Islamists portray their jihad as the road to esteem in this life and bounty in the next. It is a heinous belief system, but belief in something always beats belief in nothing. 
The second driver of terrorist recruitment is the perception that the jihadists are winning, the conviction that they will ultimately prevail. Osama bin Laden wooed young Muslims with the wisdom that people are always drawn to the strong horse and shun the weak one. While Islamic State “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi follows up each jihadist atrocity by seizing more territory and enslaving more subjects, the president of the United States follows each jihadist atrocity — Benghazi, Paris, and now San Bernardino — by releasing more jihadists from Gitmo.
It’s not Gitmo driving recruitment. It’s our president. 
In truth, Muslims don’t care a whit about Guantanamo Bay. I prosecuted one of the world’s most notorious terrorists in the mid ’90s, the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, who formed the cell that carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York. He got the gold-plated due process of a civilian trial and all the trimmings of top-shelf civilian prison — no Gitmo for him. And you know what? Islamic supremacists continue to condemn his incarceration and jihadists have killed scores of people to try to extort his release. They don’t care where we detain jihadists; they care that we detain jihadists. 
Does Obama think we should release all the terrorists in federal penitentiaries, too? You know, to depress recruitment . . .   
Because it is Islamic supremacism and the perception of victory that draws young Muslims to the jihad, the brute fact is: It’s not detaining terrorists at Gitmo that spurs recruitment; it’s releasing them. Muslims who wage war against America and are held in our prisons become icons of the jihad. They rise from obscurity to legend, and their status imbues them with authority to command attacks, raise funds, and attract recruits. 
The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was planned at Attica Prison in upstate New York, urged on by inmate Sayyid Nosair, who’d become a jihadi hero by murdering Meir Kahane. From stateside civilian custody, Nosair was able to make recruitment tapes, meet young Muslims, and plot new attacks with his jihadist visitors. 
That can’t happen at remote Guantanamo Bay, an offshore military installation. I’d tell you not to take my word for it and go ask Ibrahim Qosi. But he’s not at Gitmo anymore. Thanks to President Obama, he’s back in the jihad, [running al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen and] recruiting new terrorists.
It is simply a fact that released terrorists and terrorists imprisoned in stateside civilian penitentiaries have a proven history of recruiting for, fundraising for, planning, and inspiring jihadist attacks. Besides the aforementioned planning of the 1993 WTC bombing from Attica, I’ve further recounted:
The 1993 WTC bombers, despite being in maximum security conditions, managed to communicate by letter with al-Qaeda cells in Spain. Attorney Lynne Stewart, among others, was convicted for helping the Blind Sheikh run his Egyptian terrorist organization, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya or “the Islamic Group,” from his high-security U.S. prison confinement. Osama bin Laden, moreover, credit[ed] the Blind Sheikh with issuing the fatwa that approved the 9/11 attacks from the same confinement. . . . Referring to the United States, Abdel Rahman implored, “Muslims everywhere, dismember their nation, tear them apart, ruin their economy, provoke their corporations, destroy their embassies, attack their interests, sink their ships, and shoot down their planes, kill them on land, at sea, and in the air. Kill them wherever you find them!” 
Relatedly, quite apart from the Lynne Stewart case, terrorists have been known to use their lawyers, paralegals, and investigators to communicate messages to each other and to the outside world. You don’t need to believe that the lawyers et al. are willingly complicit in this (they could be being duped) in order to grasp that it is a major problem. Obviously, it is a far bigger problem if it is going on inside the U.S. than at Gitmo.
Besides refuting the recruitment canard and accounting for the capacity of imprisoned and released jihadists to inspire terrorism, it is worth rehearsing several other reasons why closing Gitmo remains a terrible idea, which I’ve outlined before:

The Violence to Facilitate Escape or Release Concern. While it would be virtually impossible for an inmate in a stateside supermax facility to escape, that makes little difference to members of terrorist organizations who are at large and who constantly plot either direct escape attempts or other acts of terrorism aimed at extorting the release of their imprisoned cohorts. To quote again from the Lynne Stewart terrorism-case indictment in New York, the Blind Sheik recorded a message from his American civilian prison to his followers worldwide, stating that it was “the duty of all Muslims to set free any imprisoned fellow Muslims,” and that “[t]he Sheikh is calling on you, morning and evening. Oh Muslims! Oh Muslims! And he finds no respondents. It is a duty upon all the Muslims around the world to come to free the Sheikh, and to rescue him from his jail.”

So, for example, when the WTC was bombed in 1993, the other top project on the cell’s agenda was breaking Nosair out of Attica. When the WTC bombers were arrested, their co-conspirators plotted several atrocities (a conspiracy to murder Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on a trip to New York and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks) which, in part, were designed (as they discussed in recorded conversations) to induce American authorities to release the prisoners. 

Further, to quote again from the Stewart indictment, in 1996, a statement, issued in the name of the Islamic Group, responded to the Blind Sheikh’s sentence of life imprisonment by threatening, “All American interests will be legitimate targets for our struggle until the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and his brothers. As the American Government has opted for open confrontation with the Islamic movement and the Islamic symbols of struggle, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya swears by God to its irreversible vow to take an eye for an eye.” In 1997, the organization reiterated: “The Islamic Group declares all American interests legitimate targets to its legitimate jihad until the release of all prisoners, on top of whom [is the Blind Sheikh].” 
Later in 1997, over 50 tourists were slaughtered in Luxor, Egypt, by members of the Islamic Group. As the afore-quoted indictment recounts: “The torso of one victim was slit by the terrorists and a leaflet calling for Abdel Rahman’s release was inserted.”

The Stewart indictment adds:
In or about March 2000, individuals claiming association with the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group kidnapped approximately 29 hostages in the Philippines, demanded the release from prison of Abdel Rahman and two other convicted terrorists in exchange for the release of those hostages, and threatened to behead hostages if their demands were not met. Philippine authorities later found two decomposed, beheaded bodies in an area where the hostages had been held, and four hostages were “unaccounted for.” 
On or about September 21, 2000, an Arabic television station, Al Jazeera, televised a meeting of Usama Bin Laden (leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization), Ayman al Zawahiri (former leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization and one of Bin Laden’s top lieutenants), and [Rifa'i Ahmad Taha Musa, the then-leader of the Islamic Group]. Sitting under a banner which read, “Convention to Support Honorable Omar Abdel Rahman,” the three terrorist leaders pledged to free Abdel Rahman from incarceration in the United States. During the meeting, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, . . . a son of Abdel Rahman, was heard encouraging others to “avenge your Sheikh” and “go to the spilling of blood.”
Obviously, some of this would happen whether prisoners were incarcerated in the U.S. or not, but concerns about escape plots will cause major security issues in states, cities, and towns where the prisoners are held.

The Violence Against Prison Guards Concern. Among the highest-ranking members of al-Qaeda ever brought to the U.S. for civilian trial is Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, one of the network’s founders who was indicted in the 1998 embassy bombings case. He never stood trial for those atrocities, however. That’s because he attempted to murder Bureau of Prisons guard Louis Pepe (by sticking a shiv through his eye and several inches into his brain). Interestingly, Salim chose a meeting with his U.S. taxpayer-funded defense lawyers — ostensibly for “trial preparation” — as the perfect time to execute his escape plot. He was planning to kidnap the lawyers to facilitate the escape of himself and other terrorists. 

Meanwhile, in 2006, Mark Levin’s Landmark Legal Foundation induced the Pentagon, under the Freedom of Information Act, to disclose reports documenting hundreds of assaults on prison guards at Guantanamo Bay. In addition, the information released in connection with combatant status review tribunals refers to plenty of inmate violence. Again, these would be concerns wherever the prisoners were incarcerated, but it is far better to have these problems in a military facility outside the U.S.

The Increased Risk that Terrorists Will Be Released by Courts. Finally, it is worth observing that Islamists and leftists protesting Gitmo are not so much against the prison camp in Cuba as they are against detention without trial under the laws of war. That situation would continue even if the prisoners were brought into our country. Remember, we are talking about trained jihadists who are known, based on solid intelligence (including years of interviews), to be a danger to the United States, but who cannot be tried because evidence against them is either inadmissible because it was obtained in wartime outside due-process rules, or cannot be used because it would jeopardize intelligence methods, sources, and information-sharing agreements with foreign allies.

The difference, however, is that once the prisoners were moved into the United States, they would unquestionably be within the jurisdiction of federal courts, including nearly 400 judges whom President Obama will have appointed by the time he leaves office. Many of these judges are innately hostile to indefinite detention without trial under military protocols rather than civilian due process. Thus, the chance that terrorists would be ordered to be released from custody would be markedly increased. While the jihadists are at Gitmo, all the courts can really do is rule that there is an inadequate basis to hold them as enemy combatants; when that happens, the executive branch holds them at Gitmo until it finds a country willing to take them — however long that takes. But once the terrorists are here, if the courts rule detention is illegal and the executive branch cannot find countries willing to accept the detainees, it is easy to foresee judges ordering their release within our borders.

Closing Guantanamo Bay is not a priority, much less a necessity. There will be abundant reason to keep it operational indefinitely. If it is to be shuttered, that should be done by a responsible commander-in-chief who acknowledges that the civilian-justice system is not designed to deal with enemy combatants and who is willing to cooperate with Congress in fashioning a legal framework for wartime detention, interrogation, and trial.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is as senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.