Monday, August 18, 2008

Pre-emptive Grovelling

An interesting article from Times Online:

A festival of grovelling to terrorists

If works of art are withdrawn because of fear of reprisal, we lose the chance for open debate

Mick Hume

Have you heard about the first novel by a young American woman that has become the “new Satanic Verses”, sparking terrorist attacks on the publishers and riots by Islamic militants that make the protests against Salman Rushdie's book look like an English tea party?

No, you probably won't have, since there is no book for anybody to riot about. The US publishers Random House pulled The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, due out today, on the ground that it “might be offensive to some in the Muslim community” and “could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment”. An executive told the author that they had stopped her racy historical novel about Aisha, young wife of the Prophet Muhammad, out of “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims” and concern for “the safety and security of the Random House building and employees”.

There had been no acts of violence or terrorism, nor even threats or protests. All that happened was that one non-Muslim associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas, who was sent a proof copy, apparently cautioned that the book would be seen as “a declaration of war... explosive stuff... a national security issue” and more offensive than The Satanic Verses. There swiftly followed a riot of retreating publishers, and the book was blown out before anybody had the chance to set light to it for the cameras.

It looks like another example of a quiet wave of self-censorship and cultural cowardice sweeping Western art circles. Two years ago, when the Deutsche opera in Berlin scrapped a production of Mozart's Idomeneo for fear that it might offend some Muslims, I described it as “pre-emptive grovelling”. This now appears to be the modus operandi of the transatlantic arts elites.

It has just been reported that the BBC has dropped a big-budget docu-drama, The London Bombers. A team of journalists had spent months researching it in Beeston, Leeds, home of some of the 7/7 terrorists, and a top writer was preparing the final draft, when it was scrapped. The journalists were reportedly told by BBC executives that it was Islamophobic and offensive.

Last year, the New Culture Forum published a survey of similar cases, from the BBC hospital soap Casualty changing Muslim terrorists into animal rights activists, to the Barbican cutting out scenes from Tamburlaine the Great and the “cutting-edge” Royal Court Theatre cancelling an adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, both for fear that they might offend some Muslims.

The threat to freedom here does not come from a few Islamic radicals, but from the invertebrate liberals of the cultural establishment who have so lost faith in themselves that they will surrender their freedoms before anybody starts a fight. The mere suggestion of causing offence to some mob of imagined stereotypes is enough to have them scurrying for a bomb shelter, their creative imaginations blowing up small protests into the threat of a big culture war. Of course, such pre-emptive grovelling only encourages any zealot with a blog to demand even more censorship.

Who needs book burners if “offensive” books are not allowed to be published in the first place? Why bother to protest against provocative plays if the theatres will turn the lights off for you beforehand? There is no need even for a polite exchange on Points of View if the controversial programmes never get made.

The quality or lack of it in the self-censored works is not the issue here. That associate professor from Texas condemned the novel about Muhammad's wife as “soft porn”. But so what if it was? Free expression should mean freedom for what others see as filth, too. If there are artists childishly causing offence for its own sake, feel free to ignore them, but not to gag them.

Pre-emptive grovelling, encouraged from the top down by our illiberal authorities, is bad for the arts and for society. The arts can only flourish in a climate of cultural anarchy rather than compulsion and conformity. The attempt to limit what can be said must have a chilling effect, encouraging other writers and artists to pull in their horns.

Such self-censorship is also dangerous for those who don't much care about high culture. There is indeed a lesson from the Satanic Verses controversy, but not the one often cited. The dominant response to that clash of cultures was to try to bury it beneath worthy multicultural claptrap about celebrating difference. After more than 15 years of such attempts to suppress honest debate, the tensions festering beneath the surface exploded on the London transport system. As one female Muslim writer critical of the decision not to publish The Jewel of Medina says: “The series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.”

As an old libertarian of the Left, who has long upheld the Right to Be Offensive, what makes me most angry today is to see fearful self-censorship and pre-emptive grovelling in the name of liberal values. That really is something worth intellectually rioting about.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cindy McCain for First Lady

I estimate I've thrown out more mail from George W. Bush, John McCain, and even Cindy McCain (who enclosed no autographed photo) than even offers of 0% interest credit-cards. Every time I think it's time to get serious and send the Maverick some money, he says or does something, or usually both, that stops me from wanting to show him my support.

No more. Today I didn't throw out McCain's request for money.

That said, I was one of those guys who was more than a bit cranky in November 2006 when so many conservatives and Republicans sat on their hands while the nation fell beneath the wheels of a Congress controlled by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. So much for sending messages.

Here’s how I see the whole thing: There’s going to be a war.

I say that not because I have dreams and visions, prophetic powers, nor because I know someone who's cousin knows someone in the Bilderberg group.

I say it because Iran is well into their Manhattan Project, Arabs hate Israel no less today than they did in 1948, Russia is back on the march, and, global Islam--well, you know what I think about global Islam.

Last but not least, the world’s dictators take very seriously the miles of American news commentary that—no matter who gets elected in November—the departure of George W. Bush means the USA will have once again reverted to classic isolationist mode so we can get the world to "like" us again.

And whenever the USA does this, the human race has to go through the whole “sleeping giant” exercise all over again--which always begins with lots and lots of other nations’ bodies piling up.

As a war president, McCain is the only choice. I don’t have to like him. (I don’t, in fact, dislike him. I dislike much of his domestic policies, and his recent disloyalty to President Bush.)

The truth of it is, eight years of liking George W. Bush has taken its toll on me. I, and the handful of other extant Bush supporters, have been forced to suffer, vicariously, every one of the vicious jabs against the most slandered president in modern times. Frankly, I’m looking forward to having someone in the White House whom I don’t hold in high personal regard.

I respect McCain as a warrior and a survivor. He’s on our side in the Iraq war, and if we get hit with another 9/11, his first call won’t be to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

And I happen to one of those who believe that voting for a third-party candidate who has no chance of keeping Obama out of the White House is a vote for Obama. I forget now what the message was everybody was trying to send in 2006 by staying home. I only wish I could forget Reid and Pelosi.

I also believe that, if elected and facing a Democratic Congress, McCain soon will lose his habit of reaching across the aisle, as the Democrats will be biting his hand every time he tries. Another Republican presidential win will drive the Democrats in Congress into a white-hot frenzy. Democrat insanity has now degraded to the point where they can’t believe that they ever lose elections, but only have them stolen. Even if McCain wins 49 states, they’ll deny his legitimacy. Democrats have had had eight years to experiment with how personal attacks on a president as a liar, a crook, and a traitor are just as effective at galvanizing their political base as actually coming up with policies that work. You can't compromise with that.

Who knows? McCain may even learn to appreciate conservative Republicans once he’s in office a while.

In any event, the United States cannot prevail against the enemies we face with Barack Obama in the White House. Nothing matters more than winning the war we’re in. Because of that, I’m voting for John McCain.

'25 Hints You're Not Voting for Obama'

Peter Kirsanow wrote this for the Corner at NRO Online:

Today's Rasmussen daily tracking poll has 80% of Democrats supporting Obama and 87% of Republicans supporting McCain. There are still a healthy number of undecideds. This conflicts with the stream of media reports that Obamacons, evangelicals, black conservatives and independents are flocking to Obama.

If you're an independent, moderate or conservative on the fence about whether to vote for McCain or Obama, here's a helpful guide:It's unlikely you'll vote for Obama if you....

1. aren't a news anchor.

2. read the New York Times for pretty much the same reason the NSA monitors radio transmissions.

3. automatically conclude that the person laughing in the car next to you must be listening to Rush. Or maybe Obama off teleprompter.

4. dislocated your shoulder trying to explain Obama's position on Iraq to co-workers.

5. find autobiographies generally more interesting when the author has, you know, done something.

6. remember the Carter Administration.

7. would give a month's pay to play Jack Bauer's partner on 24.

8. increasingly agree with Mark Steyn that "almost everything [Obama] says is, well, nuts."

9. think it's relevant — despite what the sophisticates say — that several of Obama's mentors and associates have displayed a dislike for America or a disdain for Americans.

10. think it's relevant that several of McCain's mentors and associates are American heroes of historic magnitude.

11. think about 9/11 more than once a year.

12. have concluded that Larry the Cable Guy makes way more sense than Howard Dean.

13. feel a little safer during turbulence when your pilot is a calm "white haired dude."

14. thought about Hillary's 3:00 a.m. phone call ad when you first heard about Russian tanks in Georgia.

15. wonder why Obama felt it necessary to give a speech on patriotism.

16. get sorta creeped out by 200,000 Germans chanting "Obama! Obama!"

17. think the jury may still be out on Harvard Law School.

18. suspect "merci beaucoup" is French for "empty suit."

19. doubt that teleprompters are really magical dispensers of good ideas.

20. know in your gut that defiantly withstanding 4 1/2 years of torture trumps all of Obama's qualifications and accomplishments combined — regardless of what the elite pundits say.

21. repeatedly find yourself asking "Change to what?"

22. have ever used the term "pompous twit' in the same sentence with "Marx," "Marcuse," or "Sartre."

23. don't like being told what to do — especially by someone who hasn't done it.

24. really like ticking off the media, Hollywood, academics, and PC busybodies everywhere.

25. weren't born yesterday.

Score (# of descriptions that apply to you):
0— Go ahead, write in Dennis Kucinich
1—3 Obama may be your choice after all
4—5 You think Hillary got a raw deal and won't vote Obama
6—24 McCain's your man
25 It's OK to write in Reagan

Interesting Times

“Over and over again,” writes Michael Ledeen at NRO Online, (“No Options? Nonsense. It’s ours to win.”), “in tones ranging from annoyance to paternalistic, the pundits tell us that ‘there is no military option’ with regard to the Russian invasion of Georgia. And in case you missed the point, they will tell you that we’re not going to war with Russia over this particular crisis. Not for little Georgia, so unimportant, so far away. It’s very hard to find any of the leading commentators who thinks otherwise. . . .”

Except, continues Ledeen:

“We’ve got war already, and it was a big war, long before the invasion of Georgia. The battlefield runs from Afghanistan into Somalia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel, across northern Africa, and deep into Europe. The latest Russian gambit is part of that big war, as any of our friends and allies in the war zone will tell you. Insofar as America is seen as weak, our enemies will redouble their actions and our friends will hold back, fearing that association with us will not protect them, and single them out for attack. Those consequences are immediate, traveling across the airwaves of the BBC and al Jazeera and the other propaganda outlets favored by our enemies. The Chinese, who will feel free to bare their fangs after their Potemkin Olympics, may be emboldened to move against Taiwan, another small place very far away.”

Read the entire article here.

Which suggests the nation seriously will be in need of a wartime president. Which is a prospect, similar to Samuel Johnson's observations on the prospect of being hanged, should focus the mind wonderfully.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Power of the Media

I thought the reports of the media blacking out the John Edwards adultery story were exaggerated--until now. I just pulled up behind a 1995 Subaru wagon, and all traces of Edwards’s name had completely vanished from the faded Kerry/2004 bumper sticker!

Noose Update

Last December I predicted the Great CMU Noose Incident of 2007 would not result in any charges, as it was only a prank. (If you can’t remember this tempest in a teapot, you can refresh your memory here. (“The Preacher, the Prosecutor, and the Lynch Law”)).

As promised, on July 30 the matter was dropped with both federal and state charges being ruled out. (“No federal charges in CMU noose case”; “Eight-month probe into CMU nooses ends”).

Back then, head rabblerouser, Al Sharpton protégé Rev. Charles Williams II, declared “This is not just a prank…This is serious and the Isabella County office needs to prosecute to the fullest extent, or we will be calling for a national protest.”

Now, none of the hypocritical clergymen, who back then were too beside themselves with impatience for "justice" to wait for facts or due process, have a thing to say about the matter being dropped now.

Now, charges aren’t going to happen and there isn’t going to be any prosecution “to the fullest extent.”

So where’s the promised national protest? Since the announcement was made neither Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, nor Rev. Samuel H. Bullock Jr. of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit , both outspoken at last year’s noose rally, have been available for comment.

Rev. William Revely, whose sweet kisser was featured on our blog last December demanding instant justice at December's rally for all CMU's lynching victims, has now figured out that, at least where Kwame Kilpatrick is concerned, taking a go-slower approach to due process is a better alternative. How so? Because "of course, we don't know -- something you are alleged to do is not necessarily something you did." ("Prayers for Mayor Kilpatrick grow; calls for resignation continue").

Yes, now they're all busy defending Kwame Kilpatrick (last count, ten felonies and rising), and insisting he’s entitled to his day in court.

These charlatans could have cared less about due process when they were trying to lynch this kid at CMU last December.