Sunday, March 30, 2008

Faith, Reason, and Jihadism

Kathryn Jean Lopez has an interesting interview with George Weigel on the occasion of the conversion and public baptism in Rome of former Muslim, Magdi Allam. (“Allam & Allah/A war of ideas.”). Weigel is the writer of, among other things, a biography of Pope John Paul II. His most recent book is Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action.

Here are some highlights from Lopez’s interview with Weigel:

Lopez: Who, among Muslims, should be held up as to encourage those who want to fight jihadism?

Weigel: The kind of Muslims who will be our most effective allies in the war against jihadism are those Muslims who want to make an Islamic case for tolerance, civility, and pluralism. The temptation to think that the answer to the problem of jihadism is the conversion of 1.2 billion Muslims to Western liberal secularism ought to be stoutly resisted as the ivy-league fantasy it is. The question is whether, and how, Islam can effect what Christian theology would call a “development of doctrine” on issues like religious freedom and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. A lot of 21st-century history is riding on the answer to that question….

Lopez: Has Pope Benedict been an important voice in this war? Is he being listened to?

Weigel: I think Benedict’s Regensburg lecture of September 2006 was the most important papal statement on a public question of global consequence since John Paul II’s 1995 U.N. address in defense of the universality of human rights. As I put it in my small book, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism, the Regensburg Lecture identified the linked problems at the center of a lot of turbulence in world politics today: the detachment of faith from reason (as in jihadism) and the loss of faith in reason (as in much of western Europe and too much of American high culture). The former leads to the notion that God can and does command the irrational, such as the killing of innocents; the latter leaves the West intellectually disarmed in the face of the jihadist challenge. At Regensburg, the pope also gave a pluralistic world a vocabulary with which to deal with these grave problems: the vocabulary of rationality and irrationality. Whether these issues are understand in the world’s chancelleries and foreign ministries in the terms in which the Holy Father understands them is another question altogether….

Lopez: Do we deserve to win if we wind up electing Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama president?

Weigel: Whether we deserve to win or not, we’re much less likely to win with a president who manifestly does not understand the nature of the enemy or the multifront struggle in which we are necessarily engaged. A return to the Nineties — to foreign-policy-as-therapy — is not going to see us, or the Magdi Allams of this world, through to a future safe for the exercise of religious freedom.

Detroit's Divine Kwamedy

The shiny black Escalade pulled to the curb in front of Detroit's 36th District Court.

Plainclothes police officers began assuming positions as if they were going to protect their very important passenger, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Someone sitting in the backseat was wearing a stylish fedora, just like the mayor.

But the scene on Madison Avenue on Tuesday afternoon was not what it appeared.

The Escalade was a decoy.

The person in the backseat was a body double.

A body double?

Yes, a body double, just like the one used by U.S. President Henry Ashton in the current film thriller, "Vantage Point."

While the faux Kilpatrick rolled up in front of the courthouse, the real mayor entered from the rear. (“Mayor's security pulls rare ruse/Body double tactic seldom used by U.S. city leaders”).

They say that every comedy ends up relying on a case of mistaken identity. I don’t know if that’s always true, but Detroit’s mayoral comedy was a case in point just the other day, when His Honor was scheduled to show up at 36th District Court to be arraigned on 8 felony counts. The courtroom activity was televised, naturally, and the news crews were waiting out front on Madison for the Kingpin’s arrival. Those of you goldbrickers who were watching it, like I was, know all about the 3-4 minute wait after the Escalade rolled up, only to find--fooled ya!-- Kwame was already standing in the courtroom in front of the judge.

DU has been unable to confirm what we’re told by sources close to the Kipatrick defense team that Kilpatrick’s lead attorney, Dan ("Dream Weaver") Webb, actually had to argue Kwame out of walking into court through the front door. It turns out Kwame had been rehearsing one particularly stylish shoulder-rolling, knee-popping perp walk for weeks, hoping to impress potential jurors with it. It’s the same one he uses when he arrives at church, so he doesn’t get to use it much.

Still, (we're told), Webb insisted on the decoy operation. But not just to spare the Mayor an embarrassing encounter with pushy reporters in front of Steve Wilson’s camera crew. Rather, Webb's already planning now how the decoy operation will play a key role later in the Kilpatrick trial strategy.

We've watched for weeks as Defendant Kilpatrick has flatly denied, (pretty unconvincingly), that he did any of the things that all the evidence shows him doing. Webb's strategy is to have his client just come right out and level with the jury:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the reason I say I never did those things, is because all those things were done by my body double.

“It was my body double who was holding Christine Beatty’s face in his hands while he ‘sang whatever song it was;’ it was my body double snuggling up with the Jamaican chippie in that Russell Woods barbershop; it was my body double lolling in a North Carolina hot tub withCarmen Slowski.’”

In fact, if push comes to shove, the Mayor is prepared to swear under oath that it was his body double partying at the Manoogian Mansion the night the First Lady sent Tamara Greene to the ER, or who told all those lies in court during the whistleblower trial, or who signed the secret agreement.

And what possible reason, you may ask, could Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick offer a jury that might explain why he would ever send a pinch hitter in to do his God-given off-hours pinching, or to seize his divinely-ordained opportunities to hit it?

To protect his family, that's why.

It was the only way this desperate, put-upon Mayor could save his family from all the threats made against him by hostile non-Detroit Wayne County residents , and all these other people who “don’t care about us,” as Reverend Horace Sheffield III describes them--the ones who spend every waking hour trying to figure out ways to harm Detroit's very own "God's Guy."

Friday, March 28, 2008

CAIR's Dawud Walid Recognized in Lansing

Our favorite local CAIR executive director, Dawud Walid, was at Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing last September receiving an award from the mayor Virg Bernero.

“Walid was giving a speech, ironically titled ‘Building Bridges.’ The event was the City of Lansing’s first annual Unity Iftar Program,” writes Joe Kaufman at FrontPage Magazine. (“Hate and Terror Awarded”).

Kaufman's article gives all of us some additional background on Walid, whom we know around here for magically appearing as official spokesman at every single Muslim-related event in Michigan. Kaufman writes:

First and foremost, Walid is involved with CAIR-Michigan, as the organization’s Executive Director. CAIR recently was designated by the United States government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a federal trial that ran from July through October of 2007, which dealt with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. During the trial, the FBI provided testimony proving CAIR’s involvement with the former head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook, in his American Palestine Committee. The government reiterated CAIR’s “affiliation” with Hamas, in a federal court brief filed in December of 2007.

As well, Walid is an active member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF). Other members of NAIF include Mazen Mokhtar, an Al-Qaeda web designer who was indicted in April of 2007 for tax evasion and for filing false tax returns, and Siraj Wahhaj, an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The President of NAIF is
Omar Shahin, a former representative of two Hamas-related “charities,” KindHearts and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), both of which have been shut down by the U.S. government.

Furthermore, Walid is the assistant imam of Masjid Wali Muhammad. Formerly Muhammad’s Temple No. 1, the mosque has very close ties to the Nation of Islam (NOI) and its former Supreme Minister, Elijah Muhammad, whose
picture adorns the inside of the mosque.

The mosque’s ties to NOI have not escaped Walid. In February of last year, he joined others, at a press conference to welcome the group and its overtly anti-Semitic leader, Louis Farrakhan, to Detroit. About Farrakhan’s appearance, Walid stated with great anticipation, “We have been told that Minister Farrakhan is going to be making a big announcement at this meeting.”

Speaking of “bridges,” I find Walid an interesting example of a bridge himself, the way he somehow straddles the unbridgeable divide between historical Islam, and the whacked-out science fiction version taught as Nation of Islam doctrine. (“When It Comes to Role Models, Allah Knows Best”);

Walid’s ties with NOI and Farrakhan are all the more interesting right now as we've been commenting lately on the ties between so many black churches, the NOI, traditional Islam, and all of them seem to work so closely with many black political leaders. See ("What’s Kwame Got to Do with Dearborn? Part I"); and (" Detroit Clergy Look Forward to Ecumaniacal Embrace of Nation of Islam").

Read the rest of Kaufman’s very thorough article here.

Hillary Searches for the Missing Lincoln

Hillary Clinton, secretly impressed with Obama’s speech on race, (the one he gave to deflect criticism of his close association with Jeremiah Wright, and that earned him comparisons with Abraham Lincoln), has decided, in order to deflect attention from Snipergate, to give her own speech setting forth her views on lying.

DU has been unable to confirm the authenticity of draft excerpts provided us, but we’re posting them anyway, because I'm tired and doing so just proves I'm human:

...This is the reality in which Bill and I and other sixties-style liberals of our generation grew up. We came of age when Richard Nixon was facing impeachment, and opportunity for dishonest statements and political hits on enemies was systematically constricted for all public officials. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of increased scrutiny of public statements, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way, like Bill and me, for example.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past. In fact, the past never even happened.”

But even for those ambitious political animals who did make it, habits of lying, perjury, and trickery continue to define our worldview in fundamental ways. And occasionally that dishonest worldview finds voice at political rallies, in press interviews, or in stump speeches we repeat over and over again. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear the falsehoods in some of my speeches simply reminds us of the old truism that the most gullible moments in American life occur during presidential campaigns. Our tendency to lie is not always productive.

But the dishonesty is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists among the voters.

I can no more tell the truth about things like the Bosnia visit than I can disown Bill Clinton. And I can no more disown him than I can my black grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, the typical black woman who taught me all the old Negro spirituals—(sings) “I aint no ways tard!”—and took me to march with her at Selma when I was only two, where we dodged bullets fired at us by police, which made me cringe.

I have never been so naïve as to think that I can get through eight years as President without ever once leveling with myself, or you, the American people, about anything.

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in my own absolute correctness about things, and faith in the gullibility of the American Democratic voter - that working together we can move beyond some of the ridiculous things I say, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path to the more perfect utopian society I have so carefully planned for this nation.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Saddam Was Always Thinking Outside the Box

Now we find out that the anti-war trip to Iraq made by Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California in 2002 (“The Baghdad Democrats”), was paid for by Saddam’s intelligence agency. (“Charity Official Accused of Spying”):

Muthanna Al-Hanooti, who worked as a top official at Life for Relief and Development a charity in Southfield, Mich. allegedly coordinated U.S. congressional delegations to Iraq at the direction of executed dictator's intelligence service between 1999 and 2002.

In return, investigators say he received payoffs via the United Nation's Oil for Food program.

Al-Hanooti is also a CAIR director, and was named last year as an unidicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. (“CAIR called 'turnstile' for terrorist suspects”).

Debbie Schlussel suggests that the third party mentioned in the indictment, but not charged, is Shakir Al-Khafaji, a Detroit- and Dearborn-area operator long known to have been a money-man for Saddam.

According to Steve Hayes,

Al-Khafaji first came to public notice after revelations that he gave former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter $400,000 to produce a film that criticized the United States for its role in the inspection process. Al-Khafaji, who is listed as a "senior executive producer" of the film, arranged meetings for Ritter with high-level officials in Saddam's government, a feat New York Times magazine writer Barry Bearak found "impressive." Ritter had previously been an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein, and issued dire warnings about the status of the Iraqi dictator's weapons of mass destruction. His sudden flip--he is now a leading apologist for Saddam's regime--and revelations about Ritter's 2001 arrest for soliciting sex with minors have fueled speculation about the nature of his relationship with al-Khafaji. (“Saddam's Cash: And the journalists and politicians he bought with it.”).

According to the Detroit News, that unindicted co-conspirator was

a former officer of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and Al-Hanooti was paid by the Iraqi spy agency, the indictment alleges.

That Iraqi spy asked Al-Hanooti to publicize in the United States the harmful effects of U.S. sanctions against Iraq and to bring to Iraq delegations from the U.S. Congress, the indictment alleges.

Between 1999 and 2002, Al-Hanooti gave the Iraqi Intelligence Service a strategy on how to get the sanctions lifted and in 2002 he helped organize a trip to Iraq by a delegation of members of Congress, the indictment alleges.

(“Feds: Southfield Muslim charity official worked as Iraqi spy”).

The three anti-war Democrats have not been charged with anything. The feds say they were oblivious their trip was being underwritten by Saddam. I can believe it. The three were also oblivious that they were being used by Saddam as useful idiots. Saddam was trying to stave off military intervention while he continued to defy UN resolutions, and he wanted the sanctions regime to end so he could resume his WMD programs.

Bonior, McDermott, and Thompson were selected because Iraqi intelligence had identified them as weak links in American foreign policy. They could be used, (being oblivious the way they were), to sell the Iraqi line back home in the US that the sanctions should be relaxed or jettisonsed for the sake of the suffering Iraqi children.

A brief refresher might be helpful for some of our short-memoried countrymen.

After Operation Desert Storm, an international sanctions regime was put in place against Saddam’s Iraq, meant to choke off funding for his WMD programs, restrain his war-making impulses, and perhaps hasten the end of the Baathist dictatorship. This arrangement was necessary, in part, because the coalition nations had been unwilling to support US forces driving on to Baghdad and finishing off Saddam once and for all after liberating Kuwait. When Saddam realized we weren’t coming to destroy his Revolutionary Guards and arrest him, he promptly characterized himself as the victor of Desert Storm and began to, in modern parlance, "move on."

In addition to sanctions, there were supposed to be international weapons inspections to insure that Saddam got rid of and was no longer developing WMD. Then British and American forces had to set up no-fly zones to protect Shia in the south, and Kurds in the north, from being bombed by Saddam's air force. All of this just to keep Saddam "in his box."

The irony of all this now is that the only component of this arrangement that actually worked was the military one—the no-fly zones really did protect the people we were trying to protect.

But the sanctions weren’t otherwise so effective. Like every dictator could be expected to do, Saddam responded to the reduced oil revenue by simply using more of the remainder of Iraq’s assets for his own military, security, and palace-building projects, while the average Iraqis went without. The result was shortages of food and medicine, sick and starving children, and the international community blaming the USA for the effects of the sanctions instead of Saddam, who was the undeniable First Cause of the whole problem.

As writer Joshua Micah Marshall wrote in November 2002, “if Saddam's in a box, we're in there with him.”

Exposing the flaws in what he called "unworkable deterrence," Marshall said:

Every year the burden of sanctions weighs lighter on Saddam--the regime gets to sell more oil for humanitarian and other non-military purposes. As the flow of revenue rises, more can be skimmed off for military objectives. And every year the diplomatic capital we must expend to keep the sanctions in place grows. The Muslim world blames us for the civilian deaths, the images of dying babies--even if these tragedies are mainly due to Saddam's manipulation of sanctions rather than the sanctions themselves. Similarly, we pay a heavy price for the garrisons that we maintain in the region to keep Iraq contained. One needn't be an Osama bin Laden appeaser to recognize that the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia has been a major rallying cry for al Qaeda recruitment. All told, if Saddam's in a box, we're in there with him. Yes, war against Iraq would be violent, destructive, and destabilizing. What supporters of containment often ignore is that their policy has quite similar results--just spread out over time.

The policies didn't work at all in making Saddam cooperate with the world community. By March 2003 he had flipped off the UN and their feckless resolutions 16 times.

And the liberals of the world hated the sanctions. Or, rather, they hated us and the British for being the only ones trying to enforce the sanctions. Just as the world community hasn't shown much pluck in helping out in Iraq now, they weren’t going to stick with the sanctions for much longer back then, either. (And that was even without knowing then, as we didn’t know in 2003, just how successfully Saddam was using the oil-for-food program to buy influence and corrupt the process: at the UN (Kofi Annan), amongst the weapons inspectors, (Scott Ritter), and to buy off international Western leaders, (Jacques Chirac).

Even those who weren’t being bought off by Saddam couldn’t pass up the chance to blame the effects of the sanctions on America. The truth is that liberals hated the sanctions, but not because they care about starving children: but because they never feel more alive than when accusing the United States of crimes against humanity.

By 2000 it was to the point where a supercilious Amy Goodman got to interrogate then-President Clinton this way:

AMY GOODMAN: President Clinton, UN figures show that up to 5,000 children a month die in Iraq because of the sanctions against Iraq.

President Clinton, to his credit, flatly contradicted this, and explained that,

“If any child is without food or medicine or a roof over his or her head in Iraq, it's because he is claiming the sanctions are doing it and sticking it to his own children. We have worked like crazy to make sure that the embargo only applies to his ability to reconstitute his weapon system and his military statement.”

No matter. Goodman just came back with her next question.

"The UN says our policy is genocidal. How do you respond to that?"

(Oh, I don't know. How about: sanctions are the UN’s policy, too, Amy).
(“Bill Clinton on Sanctions Against IraqAmy Goodman interviews Bill Clinton”).

In 2001, four years before he crowned his career by becoming one of Saddam's defense attorneys, Ramsey Clark referred to the sanctions as “genocide,” and insisted they “must be completely removed immediately. Every day the sanctions continue adds to the death toll of the worst genocide of the last decade of the most violent century in human history.” (End Sanctions, Prohibit Assaults On Iraq).

Always a zealous prosecutor when indicting his own country, Clark charged that even America's efforts to resolve the worst effects of sanctions were stained with a criminal motive:

The U.S., realizing that world opinion will no longer tolerate the sanctions, is seeking to take credit for modifying them while its purpose will be to continue to control their implementation and cause their reinstatement for alleged violations by Iraq.

Then in December 2003 The Nation was crying that:

“The humanitarian disaster resulting from sanctions against Iraq has been frequently cited as a factor that motivated the September 11 terrorist attacks. Osama bin Laden himself mentioned the Iraq sanctions in a recent tirade against the United States. Critics of US policy in Iraq claim that sanctions have killed more than a million people, many of them children. (“A Hard Look at Iraq Sanctions”).

Even the Vatican disapproved of the sanctions regime.

But now, after the Left has had five years to work out the kinks in their No War in Iraq at All Costs Policy, they discover that they love the sanctions. When challenged for their solutions to the ongoing instability Saddam's regime stood for in the wake of 9/11 , his threats to his neighbors, and his internal brutality, we’re told that “containment was working and that Saddam was still in a box”; wrote a repentant Jacob Weisberg at Slate recently, "[S]anctions were working…Saddam had given up his WMD programs.”
(“How Did I Get Iraq Wrong?I believed the groupthink and contributed to it.")

Containment, we're now told, was the obvious solution preferable to this “unnecessary war.” But the harping about the unnecessity of the war is just supposed to show that there was no necessity to do anything about Saddam, in 1992, 2001, 2003, or ever, which obviously wasn’t the case. But, reply the liberals--reply now, that is--military action was unnecessary, --because containment was working!

So are you able to follow this? Our criminal illegal war was unnecessary because our criminal, genocidal sanctions were working.

Which is intellectually unsatisfying, I find, as writer Jeff Weintraub points out:

Sanctions against Iraq are a crucial part of the "policy of containment." If the sanctions are criminal, then how can the policy be "working well"? And if the sanctions are removed, the "policy of containment" will collapse. You can't have it both ways.
(“Iraq sanctions & the moral contradictions of "anti-war" rhetoric”).

Jack Spencer at Heritage wrote,

Some claim we had Saddam "in a box" - that sanctions were working and war was unnecessary. How were sanctions working? Saddam kept a team of scientists on hand to resume WMD programs the minute the West looked the other way. His oppression and mass murder continued unchecked. The United States spent billions on its "no-fly zones" in the north and south, which ensured the Iraqi people would continue to starve even as their leader continued to build palaces and other monuments to himself. (“No Evidence of WMD Required”).

The fact of history, and fairly recent history, too, is that, short of removing Saddam's regime by force in what antiwar critics keep calling a “war without end,” we would have had sanctions without end, containment without end, US bases in Saudi Arabia without end, and, (big surprise), world resentment without end. Short of being made dead somehow by others, Saddam would probably have lived many more years, and Uday and Qusay would have survived, too, young, healthy, and ready to step into their dad’s hobnail boots. To paraphrase John McCain, under the sanctions policiy, we’d be in Iraq for 100 years.

The point is that sanctions hadn’t worked in to truly make Saddam harmless, except to keep him straining on his leash for several years. A leash that was ready to snap. Once the sanctions were gone, (since Saddam had already thrown inspectors out in 1998), he'd be back at it like a shot. (Again, this was what we already knew in 2003--before all the facts came out about the oil-for-food scandal, and the genius Saddam had for buying friends among world leaders to help him get around the sanctions.) As David Kay reported,

Saddam… had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction [and] intended to resume these programs whenever the external restrictions were removed. Several of these officials acknowledge receiving inquiries since 2000 from Saddam or his sons about how long it would take to either restart CW production or make available chemical weapons.

And among the things Saddam did to get out from under the sanctions was to manipulate the American left. That’s where McDermott, Bonior, and Thompson came in: they were some of the useful idiots he could use to help get those sanctions lifted. The war intervened, no thanks to McDermott, Bonior, and Thompson.

And because of the war to depose Saddam we don't have to worry about the sanctions regime any more, nor weapons inspectors, nor no-fly zones, nor a re-arming Saddam next door to a nuclear arming Iran, nor, for that matter, Saddam, Uday, or Qsay.

They're staying in their boxes now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Update on Hemlock Park Hezbollah Fighter

There are going to be still more delays before any facts about the Houssein Ali Zorkot case see the light of day.

Zorkot, the third-year medical student who was arrested last September for deploying in Hemlock Park with loaded AK-47, has changed his mind about waiving his preliminary exam, and wants one after all. (“Accused Hemlock Park gunman back in court”).

He waived his preliminary exam in December, letting himself be bound over for trial in circuit court. But now the circuit court has granted Zorkot’s motion to come back to Judge Hultgren’s courtroom Dearborn’s 19th District Court for his preliminary exam. At a preliminary a prosecutor must show the court that there’s sufficient probable cause that a crime has been committed to warrant trial. The new hearing is now scheduled for April 18.

City officials say Zorkot has not been tied to terrorism. But Zorkot was running a pro-Hezbollah website, and posted photographs of himself in Lebanon wearing military garb, and posing in front of heroic photographs of Hezbollah Headman Hassan Nasrallah (known locally in Dearborn as “Our Leader!”). Zorkot was charged with “one count of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, one count felony firearm and one count of possession of a loaded firearm.”

When he was stopped by police exiting Hemlock Park he fought back so hard he had to be Tasered twice.

Frankly, this may all turn out to be nothing, or at least, nothing that ever adds up to anything. Zorkot may have become the victim of his own fantasies of himself as a fighter, and got caught playing army in the park with a loaded AK. I am interested, though, in the basis for the dangerous weapon with unlawful intent count.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

UM-Dearborn Gets Empowered Over Iraq

In case you hadn’t heard, it was “Iraq Awareness Week” in Dearborn last week. (“Students protest on war anniversary”). Yeah, I didn’t know about it, either. Anyway, the Students United for Peace and Justice (SUPJ) are at it again, holding a protest last Tuesday at UM-Dearborn “to highlight the death and destruction of the Iraq war.”

“Five years ago, the United States of America began its war on Iraq without the permission of the United Nations in search for weapons of mass destruction,” said SUPJ President Rashid Baydoun. “Since then, the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and American soldiers have been lost. $500 billion later, the war is still an on-going issue which the current administration plans to put no stop to.”

It’s obvious Rashid has a bet going on campus as to how many misstatements he can cram into two lines. When a guy at a war protest even gets the cost of the war wrong by drastically underestimating it, I have to think he’s really not showing up for these things very well prepared.

Speaking of Rashid’s concern for “innocent…American soldiers,” he was the one who refused a polite request from Iraq War veteran and UM-D student J. David McHann, to remove offensive posters hung on campus by the SUPJ depicting American soldiers threatening Iraqi women and children with their weapons, and captioned: “Oppression.” How can Rashid’s be concerned for the innocent soldiers when he doesn't think there are any?

Considering that the stated goal of the effort is to “educate” the UM-D campus about the war, (as well as, of course, to “empower the campus about this war,” but that goes without saying), you’d think the organizers would trouble themselves to gather a fact or two.

Even guys who are paid to be prepared show up with notes scrawled in crayola. According to The Arab American News, last Wednesday’s lecture by Dr. Hashim Al-Tawil “The liquidation of Iraq: Five years later,” focused on “the impact of the war on the country, the destruction of the social and political structure.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d think that once you tipped your hand by speaking of Iraq as a place that had been “liquidated” five years earlier, there wouldn’t be much of an impact left to make? Or maybe it’s a really slow liquidation, like those 3-days-only sales Art Van has been throwing since 1966.

For all it matters, Al-Tawil is an Art History professor at Henry Ford Community College, and his criteria for a good society seems to be limited to whether or not the modern art scene is fluorishing. Apparently a scant few social institutions escaped Saddam's totalitarian bootheel, includng the modern art scene. As Al-Tawil tells it,

“Fine art in pre-occupation Iraq was thrilling since the sixties and seventies,” says Dr. Hashim Al-Tawil, Professor of Art History at Henry Ford College in Michigan and former Iraqi active artist and faculty member of the college of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad.

Dr. Al-Tawil said that Baghdad was the center of art activities on a national and international scale for over three decades, from the period of 1960-1990. Arab art Biennials, international exhibits and conferences, and national annual exhibits were commonplace in Iraq all year long.

“It [fine art] was hindered temporarily by the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988), but was not affected substantially,” Dr. Al-Tawil told Fine Art Registry (FAR). “That cultural activity was severely wounded by the US bombing of 1990-91 followed by 13 years of brutal sanctions and isolation ended by the US-British invasion of 2003 which has paralyzed every cultural activity in the country.” ("Iraq’s Forgotten MODERN Art").

Things were great under Saddam, It was those fucking Americans and Brits who ruined everything.

Art activities weren't the only things Baghdad was the center of under Saddam, but Al-Tawil didn't seem to notice the mass killings, the secret police and torture, or the rape rooms, what with all the important artwork on display. Which proves one thing--Muslim, Christian, atheist, or Jew, art assholes speak the same language all across the globe.

I’m too tired to organize yet one more itemized list of how, even with all the violence and setbacks, (and even after the looting of the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art, formerly known as the Saddam Center for the Arts), the social and especially the political life in Iraq has been on a steadily upward curve. Before March 2003 Iraq’s social and political life under Saddam were in a poison-induced, death-like sleep: not that mention of that is ever made up at these events.

At one point, according to The Arab American News, “’From sea to shining sea, we want Iraqis to be free,’ rang through the air.”

I agree completely. So why, I ask, should we abandon the Iraqis to their enemies?

Close Enough for Government Work?

I have a friend who used to tell personal anecdotes that, at the last moment, would turn slightly fantastic. When people realized they were begin kidded and challenged him, he’d always laugh and say, “Well, it coulda happened.”

Hillary Clinton apparently has a similar sense of humor, as she now remembers her trip to Bosnia differently than the way she’s been telling it. Instead of a corkscrew landing and a life-or-death dash for cover under a hail of Serbian sniper fire, Senator Clinton merely meant to say that “she was told they had to land in a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire.”

It coulda happened, so why not tell it that way?

Monday, March 24, 2008

What's Kwame Got To Do with Dearborn?--Part I

Every now and then someone sends us an unhappy comment demanding to know what some subject we’re discussing “has to do with Dearborn.” Maybe there’s some validity to this, especially lately as the scandal enveloping the mayor of our northern suburb, Detroit, is simply too big a target to ignore. We’re also in the middle of a national election that, I’m sure most Dearborn residents would agree, is going to affect life in Dearborn.

Then again, just because we blog about Dearborn, doesn’t mean we’ve taken a vow never to speak of anything else, or anywhere else. Why would it? Especially when those other things are related to the issues of greatest interest to us here--like freedom of speech, Islamism, Israel, the Middle East, international jihadist terrorism, the mau-mauing of the press and government officials by mouthpiece organizations like CAIR. Last but not least, blogging offers no rewards such as money nor fame for the vast majority of us, so we should get to write about whatever we want.

As it happens I do think there are quite clear connections between the corrupt and venal Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Islam, and also between the callow and shortsighted Senator Barack Obama and Islam, that make their situations relevant to us at DU. That connection subsists in the never-discussed mutual cooperation between clergymen in many of America’s black churches, and the Nation of Islam and other radical Islamist leaders who’ve made common cause with America’s left.

We’re witnessing it right now in the revelations about Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s debased thinking, who rewarded Farrakhan and paid homage to Khadafi, goddamned America and has presided over a cult in Chicago predicated on racism, class envy, urban myths, and whatever leftist bullshit he can make use of.

It was there to be noticed if anyone was inclined, when Farrakhan endorsed Kwame Kilpatrick for re-election in 2005, and when the local New Black Panther/Nation of Islam member Minister Malik “Motown”* Shabazz showed up to pray with the embattled Kilpatrick and some of his patronage partners in the unions. [CORRECTION: Minister Malik Shabazz has pointed out to me that I'm in error identifying him as a Muslim: he states, "I am not Muslim , I am a Christian who respects Islam." I gladly make the correction.]

Is Kingpin Kilpatrick a Muslim? Of course not. Why should he be? He’s already had his 72 houris, and then some, without having to set off a suicide belt to get them, and as Detroit's Highest Ranking Christian, he gets his ass hauled around in a black Escalade. (Not for much longer, though). Is Obama a Muslim? I have no reason to doubt his own statement that he’s a Christian. It doesn’t matter. Muslims aren’t supporting these guys because they’re brother Muslims, but because they’re useful to jihad. Because they’re useful idiots. (Don’t think so? Obama almost had this thing won. Why is he losing now? Because of his own devil’s bargain with the prancing charlatan in the safari surf shirts they can’t stop showing on Fox News.)

Within weeks after 9/11 the first cries of “Islamophobia” were going up. It was evident by then that America’s jihadist spokesmen were already blowing past the speed limit on the Victim Grievance Expressway first excavated and paved by the post-MLK civil rights community, and then taken over and improved upon by the homosexual lobby. The re-education of American editors and news anchors and Hollywood that took the civil rights community thirty years to accomplish, and the gays much less than that, was accomplished by CAIR and a few university Middle East studies professors in just a few weeks. “As early as October 2001, the Society of Professional Journalists provided guidelines to the American free press that jihad was to be defined as ‘to exert oneself for the good of Islam and to better oneself’”.

As noted continually in these pages, and much more thoroughly at Dhimmi Watch and other prominent blogs, Islam, and Muslims in America, are very nearly immune from criticism in the mainstream media, and enjoy a kind of affirmative action on many of their initiatives because folks are terrified of being called a name if they raise any criticisms.

In the 1990s Seinfeld was able to poke fun at the craven fear of giving offense we'd all been reduced to on the subject of homosexuality. The show as able to get away with ridiculing both the sacramental attitudes towards AIDS (“the ribbon Nazis”), and especially the strict prohibition of criticizing homosexuality per se by continually reassuring all listeners whenever the subject came up, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

The American media, and most Americans, now are incapable of mentioning Islam or Muslims without immediately following up with some similar declaration assuring listeners we don’t think there’s any thing wrong with that.

Which isn't news to many of us.

But at the same time all this is happening between Islam in America and the media and public opinion, the black Christian community in America enjoys an almost complete immunity from the kinds of press or social criticisms that are so tiresomely repeated when it comes to white, Republican, or conservative political figures who so much as dare to mention the contents of their faith in relation to any official duty or setting. Google “theocracy” and you’ll see what I mean.

The immunity of the black church protects both the black clergy--and more important, black politicians--from challenges over the mixing of church and state, regardless of how porous the barrier is between religion and politics. Black preachers or quasi-religious figures like Jesse Jackson can go on talk TV and appeal to the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount or the Old Testament to blast political opponents, and you'll never hear a peep from interviewers, either liberal or conservative, that our political system is not based upon the Bible. Even on NPR black Christians can speak freely about the commands of Christ, completely free from the acidic ironies and sarcastic segues any white Christian daring the same thing would have to endure. Black churches regularly open their pulpits up to Democratic candidates, during services, to preach their campaign speeches, without check or balance.

This immunity isn’t a sign of the media’s respect for black Christians.

In the first place, liberals are among the most racist people on earth, and their patronizing view of blacks includes interpreting their "faith tradition" as a sociological component of an ethnically rich heritage, a colorful holdover from their slave heritage, like gospel music, collard greens, and the practice of matriarchy.

Public liberals are demonically intolerant of any overtly Christian speech that issues from any white man or non-minority, unless it's that sissy watered-down pap about a Christ who came to Earth to establish food banks and nuclear-free zones. But at the same time, these same liberals don’t find the preachments of black religion threatening at all, even if the message is theologically more conservative. That's because they know any religious strictures can be easily overcome, when needed, by the absolutes of leftist political theory. Tens of thousands of black clergy have proved them right.

If it weren’t for the manipulation of the black church by the Left, I wouldn’t think this immunity was all bad. For one thing, it's natural I don’t have the antipathy for Christianity that I admit having for Islam, as I’m a Christian myself, more or less. Nor does Christianity harbor at its heart a violent, triumphalist vision that historically manifests itself in subjecting nations, sexes, and unbelievers to slavery and humiliation by war and forced religious obedience. Christianity played a central role in the founding of the nation, and in spite of the irrational reactions against it prevalent at the moment, has never posed a threat to the survival of the Republic. If black Christians can get into the media and say things about Jesus without being censored when white folks can't, I see that as a good thing.

I also think that the immunity of black Christians might one day become the source of unbounded moral power--power to demand the right kind of change--the way that moral power was displayed briefly during the middle of the last century for a few short years of the civil rights movement. But that kind of moral power could only return at such time as the black clergy breaks their unholy bond with the political left and the Democratic Party. You simply can’t have moral power when you’re telling your congregation they must vote for candidates falling over themselves to legalize gay marriage and abort your babies to reduce crime.

This is a bigger subject than I thought it would get to be. I’ll try to say more about it later.

*We have recently figured out that America has been blessed with two "Minister Malik Shabazzes," both claiming to be leaders of the New Black Panther Party, both claiming to be proteges of Louis Farrakhan and Khalid Muhammaed of the Nation of Islam, and neither one apparently willing to admit the existence of the other. One is local to Detroit, the other has more national exposure, and is often seen baiting Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor. For convenience sake, I'm referring to our local Shabazz as Malik "Motown" Shabazz, and the latter as Malik "Zulu" Shabazz, which is the middle name he chose for himself. [Minister Malik Shabazz has contacted me to protest that he and Zulu "get along fine." ]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Media Still Confused About Who the Enemy Is

Jeffrey Imm at Counterterrorism Blog has written about how the refusal of America's free press, like the Washington Post and the New York Times, have failed to define the jihadist enemy in a clear, consistent way, with the result that much of the the public is still confused, six years after 9/11, with whom we're fighting. ("Jihad, Islamism, and the American Free Press").

Without a precise definition of the enemy by American political leadership, major segments of the American free press have made their own foreign policy decisions as to who is and is not an enemy, made their own decisions on what terms like "Islamism" and "Jihad" mean (if they use such terms at all), and provided mostly "isolated incident"-style reporting on such subjects, with the exception of the largely anti-war colored reporting on Iraq.

The result, he writes, is that

instead of much of the American free press being used to largely address and confront enemy anti-freedom ideologies and their adherents, such media has been manipulated by editorial managers, publishers, and Islamist groups to focus their investigative reporting on the American government's reaction to Islamist terrorism. As much of American government actions are based on a reaction without a defined enemy, there has been plenty of source material for press critiques and for press managers to gain political points against an unpopular administration.

But as made clear last week in speeches by leaders of the Washington Post and the Associated Press, the larger issue of "Islamism" itself, its role as the root of "Islamist terrorism" (as defined in the 9/11 Commission Report), and coherent news reporting on the continuing global links between political Islamism and such Islamist terrorism is not even an objective of much of the American free press. The reactive political sniping agenda by much of the American press' reporting not only misses the larger issue, but also fails to understand that anti-freedom ideologies like Islamism are a threat to a free press itself.

Imm explains how basic and definable terms such as "Islamism" and "jihad," terms even Al Jazeerah uses, are unacceptable terms to the media now:

On March 3, Philip Bennett, the Washington Post's managing editor, gave a speech at the University of California Irvine (UCI) on Journalism and Islam, where it was reported that he believes the media is responsible for confusion about Islam, which is due to the lack of Muslims in American newsrooms (in his opinion). The Daily Pilot, a local newspaper, also reported that Washington Post's Philip Bennett stated that the term "Islamist" is something that the Washington Post editors still have not decided whether to add it to their style book. In Mr. Bennett's speech, he didn't even consider to qualify the need to have greater numbers of anti-Islamist Muslims represented in American newsrooms, because he and his Washington Post editors have not even decided whether to recognize political Islamism as a term they can use, let alone an anti-freedom ideology to be confronted.

Apparently, the Washington Post editors have not yet read the 2004-released 9/11 Commission Report where "Islamist Terrorism" is defined as a component of "Islamism". In 2008, nearly four years later, the Washington Post is still considering whether the very term "Islamist" is acceptable. Even Al Jazeera uses the term "Islamism", but over six years after the 9/11 attacks, the Washington Post is still thinking about it. Rather than being embarrassed by such mental paralysis in news reporting, the Washington Post's managing editor is proud of this failure and discusses this failure in speeches to universities. Moreover, when real investigative groups such as The Investigative Project challenge Islamist individuals and groups, the Washington Post's response is exemplified by its reporting on Esam Omeish, reporting the accusations of known Stalinists accusing IPT reports on Omeish as those of "right-wing anti-Muslim bigots".

Such deliberate unwillingness among American media to address the ideology of Islamism and its links to Islamist terrorism or Jihad is not limited to the Washington Post. As early as October 2001, the Society of Professional Journalists provided guidelines to the American free press that jihad was to be defined as "to exert oneself for the good of Islam and to better oneself".

This desire by "mainstream media" managers to "filter" and "shape" the news by deliberate ignorance of ideologies, language, and connections between events continues to be an ongoing threat to our free press - one that has largely necessitated the explosion of Internet blogs to simply provide a vehicle to report the news.

Read the rest of this well-researched and excellent analysis here.

Iraq Reality Check, Five Years later

Plenty to think about, from the American Thinker:

Woulda-coulda-shouldas on Iraq

By James Lewis

The woulda-coulda-shouldas sprang forth on the five-year anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein last week. It was Monday morning quarterbacking, mostly. Pundits confuse their personal brainstorms with history, and pretend they could have carried that football better than George W. Bush did in 2003; or even more bizarrely, they imagine there was no game at all that day. Saddam was obviously harmless, as the media think they know after the fact. 9/11 was a one-time accident. On Monday morning everything is clear.

Rational wars are waged for strategic goals, and yes, Iraq is a rational war. But to understand geopolitical strategy you have to look at a map, understand our life-and-death dependence on oil, face the spread of mass-killing weapons, watch the rise of deeply irrational regimes, and then cleanse your mind of all the cheap sentimental cliches and political spins that are constantly gushed by the media. You have to look at reality.

Fact 1. We were attacked on 9/11/01, and it was not a one-time threat. Both major branches of Islam are fielding their own terror groups. Iran keeps saying it will conquer the world and make the West "bow down" to its greatness. The Sunni Arabs have a similar ideology in the Muslim Brotherhood, which put Hamas on the front line.

Fact 2. Nuclear weapons are spreading. We can argue about the specifics. The general fact is unarguable, and has to be dealt with. Current most dangerous candidates: Iran and North Korea.

Five years ago, given our miserable intelligence, it was rational to suppose that Saddam was close to nukes. (In fact, he kept the capacity and expertise intact). And surprise: It now turns out that Libya was much closer to nukes than we ever imagined. So today we've knocked out two of those plausible threats, with two left to go.

Fact 3. Europe, the United States, China, India, Japan are utterly dependent on a free flow of Middle Eastern oil at market prices. If there is a real interruption in the oil supply, food will be priced out of the range of the poor, hospitals will close, naval battles will take place, people will die. Oil is blood.

Fact 4. In the real world --- not the wishful world of pundits --- you don't know the future. You make your best estimates. You know the CIA has been wrong on every threatening nuclear bomb project since 1949. Sane policy makers don't expect the CIA to penetrate terror states like Saddam's Iraq. So you make your best estimate, and either freeze in place (which is a policy choice) or move. The United States chose to move. Not to act vigorously in the face of 9/11 would have endangered us more.

Question: Why not just stay and fix Afghanistan?

The Democrats think that's a brilliant strategy, which should make all of us very suspicious.

Well, here are three reasons why Afghanistan was not enough:

a. Afghanistan has never been a modern state, with real control over its countryside. It's a coalition of tribes and warlords. Nobody controls more than a province or city. So all you can do is bring enough warlords and tribes to your side to knock out Al Qaida's safe haven, provided by the Taliban. That was done brilliantly by a tiny number of CIA-Special Ops forces on the ground, about 300, combined with precision bombing. It was amazing; it overthrew the Taliban and expelled Al Qaida from that sanctuary, but after that everything is long-term nation building.

b. Al Qaida is a quicksilver enemy, flowing from place to place. Depived of its safe haven in Afghanistan, it simply crossed the border into Pakistan. The Pashtoon tribes who have controlled that area for centuries, in spite of the Brits, the Pakistanis and the Russians, have never recognized that border anyway.

Pakistan is a teetering state with nukes and a huge population. The government is constantly trying to balance between Islamist and modernist forces, like all other governments in the Islamic world. A US invasion makes no sense at all --- contrary to Obama's flight of fancy some time ago.

c. How do you catch Al Qaida and its ilk, given that they were (and are) constantly threatening to pull another 9/11? This is not Imperial Japan, with a homeland that can be bombed. You need to set a trap that will attract all the indoctrinated zealots, so they can be defeated.

d. Iraq was that trap. That is why Afghanistan was not enough. Iraq was already targeted by 16 UN Security Council resolutions, the international stage was set, and the Bush Administration seized that opportunity. Was it opportunistic? Where there any other alternatives? Yes on the first, No on the second.

e. Icing-on-the-cake strategic side-effect.

Next door to Iraq is the most dangerous country in the world, the mad mullahcracy of Ahmadi-Nejad. It's huge, it has a martyrdom military ideology, it's mountainous and easily defended. Iran is building nukes, no matter what message the politicized intelligence community peddles today. Israel thinks Iran will have a nuke in 2009, enabled by the fecklessness of the last NIE estimate.

The strategic icing on the cake of the Iraq War is that Iran is now nearly surrounded by American-dominated countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, the Gulf (where the US Navy rules the waves), Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and for a possible tip of the spear, Israel. We may not be able to stop Iran's nukes, but we now have sophisticated anti-missile defenses in every country in the Gulf, on the seas, in likely target countries like Israel, and even on the missile trajectory to Europe. Result: The oil supply remains safe, guarded by the US Navy and other US assets.

That is one hell of a strategic accomplishment in the last five years. In the coming years we will see if it is enough to make the Iranians act rationally.

The final woulda coulda shoulda.

Professional army leaders wish it could have been otherwise. Ralph Peters is their spokesman, and he constantly argues we should have gone in with massive force, occupied the country like Germany at the end of WWII, maybe kept the Baath Party in place to control the country.

Just before the war, General Shinseki estimated it would take 400,000 troops to control Iraq completely after Saddam. That's the Powell Doctrine, which says you don't go to war except with overwhelming force. The kicker in the Powell Doctrine is that we didn't have anywhere near 400,000 troops, and the Administration knew damned well there was no appetite for a draft.

So the Powell Doctrine, which leaves army generals looking good, was impossible to execute. We did not have the capacity. Blame Bill Clinton, blame the "peace dividend" after the Soviet Union crumbled, blame the nature of politics. Whatever. It wasn't there.

The Powellites still believe that a massed armed occupation was the way to go. Somehow they never address the fact that it didn't exist. It's a fantasy. Donald Rumsfeld was right on target when he said that "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had."

Bush's Folly.

So the liberal story is that the Iraq War was all a big blooper, Bush's Folly.

Well, look at the consequences of believing that.

1. Saddam would still be in power, and we would still not know if he had nukes.

2. Al Qaida would not have been trapped in a killing field, after 9/11.

3. Lybia would have had nukes, or very close to it, and be ready to spread it around.

4. Iran would not be surrounded by American-dominated countries.

5. In terms of human rights, 50 million victims of Saddam and the Taliban would still be oppressed.

6. The oil supply would be at risk from both Saddam, Iran, and Al Qaeda (which has threatened terror bombings against it).

7. The United States would look like a gutless paper tiger, afraid of risking lives, just as Bin Laden said. UBL is right about Europe, and he is right about the American Left. They really are paper tigers, like Jimmy Carter. The world is a very rough neighborhood. We can't act like Jimmy Carter and survive for long. Let the Europeans and other crybabies pretend, as long as they know they are protected by us.

The Bottom Line: The Bush Administration took a rational geostrategic action. It was as painful as any war. Wonderful young people were lost. It was terrible.

The alternative would have led to more warfare, as countries like China began to actively defend their oil supplies. It would have made us more vulnerable to Al Qaida and all its hundreds of would-be Al Qaida imitators across the Muslim world. It would have put A'jad's sword at our throats --- more even than it is now.

Were mistakes made? Are human beings flawed and imperfect? Could we have run it better if we'd only known what we think we know today? Yes, and yes, and yes.

Did the United States act as a rational, civilized, responsible, geostrategic power?

Yes. That's the test of Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and Truman. It's the test of Churchill. It's what history understands, and it is how history will judge the Bush-Cheney team. They have made the tough choices.

Or do you want to try Jimmy Carter again?

James Lewis blogs at

Benedict Gives Them the Old Time Religion

Pope Benedict XVI has taken yet another deliberate step in reversing the trend in Europe and the Christian West to lie down and submit to Islam without a fight. At the Easter vigil on Saturday night in St. Peter’s in Rome, Benedict baptized “Magdi Allam, 55, an outspoken Egyptian-born critic of Islamic extremism and supporter of Israel, who has been under police protection for five years following death threats against him over his criticism of suicide bombings.” (“Pope risks Muslim anger by baptising controversial journalist”).

The Easter vigil is the traditional time when catechumens and converts are welcomed into the Church. There isn't anything unusual in an convert, Allam included, being baptized in this way. But because Benedict has already been the target of “Muslim outrage” over his speech at Regensburg University in 2006, when he implied that Islam was “violent, inhumane and irrational,” people seem to think that he is now on a short tether lest he anger Muslims all over again.

But it's turning out that Benedict feels his duty to make disciples: “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matt 28), takes precedence over bridge-building with Islam.

According to the Times Online, Allam had this to say about his conversion:

in a combative article for Corriere della Sera, the Italian paper of which he is a deputy editor, Mr Allam - who has lived in Italy most of his adult life and has a Catholic wife - said his soul had been "liberated from the obscurantism of an ideology which legitimises lies and dissimulation, violent death, which induces both murder and suicide, and blind submission to tyranny".
Instead he had "seen the light" and joined "the authentic religion of Truth, Life and Liberty".

He added: "Beyond the phenomenon of extremists and Islamist terrorism at the global level, the root of evil is inherent in a physiologically violent and historically conflictual Islam." ….

He said that by baptising him publicly the Pope had "sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a Church that until now has been too cautious in the conversion of Muslims because of the fear of being unable to protect the converted, who are condemned to death for apostasy".

He added: "Thousands of people in Italy have converted to Islam and practise their faith serenely. But there are also thousands of Muslims who have converted to Christianity but are forced to hide their new faith out of fear of being killed by Islamist terrorists."

Good for Benedict, and Allam, and Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hollywood Filmmaker Gives Up Kool-Aid

One of thousands of liberal slogans is that a liberal is only a conservative who has been arrested. (There's an answering slogan that a conservative is only a liberal who has been mugged, but I digress).

Like most liberal slogans, its lack of thought doesn't keep us from grasping the basic myth: in this case, the myth of liberals who are created by some transformative trauma, usually some disappointment, conflict, betrayal, or injustice suffered at the hands of a higher authority, such as being arrested by police, being forced by a housing commission to live in substandard dwellings, or being denied admission to the University of Michigan with only a low "C" average.

Liberalism is reactive, always explaining its energy in terms of historical events to which it can only respond--events it mentions as if the names themselves explain their significance: Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Katrina, the 2000 election.

I don't actually believe liberals are regular people who only become liberal in response to transformative experiences. I believe most liberals are born that way--that is, they are born with perfectly good minds, but infantile and unformed, and then their parents, their teachers, their elders, their churches, reinforce a certain view of the world that is actually quite compatible with the normal stages of being an infant, a toddler, and a small child--dependency, helplessness, and confidence that the Parental Unit knows all, will provide all that's necessary, all in exchange for obedience. If you want to hear liberal discourse in its purest form, spend an hour listening to small children playing some game at recess, and then watch any Democratic committee hearing on C-SPAN for an hour: the amount of attention both groups pay to resolving both what is fair and whose turn it is is just remarkable.

But as people mature--as they begin to learn to think of others, learn their parents, teachers, and other authority figures are imperfect and don't know everything, that there are things in life that must be worked for, and not simply received, and that one begins to learn the meaning of standing on principles in a world that doesn't necessarily agree with yours --liberalism is no longer compatible. It is subjective and me-centered, rather than objective and capable of considering the good of all.

In short, liberalism as a worldview equates with a stage of childhood that we are meant to develop out of.

When a youngster doesn't develop out of it, he will resent and hate his parents and teachers for being imperfect and failing to provide him everything, he will see it as an injustice that he has to achieve things on his own, and he will be narrow and intolerant towards anyone who holds different principles than his--and his principles invariably will be macrcosmic abstractions about the planet or peace that he can use to look down and despise others, but that don't require the slightest check on his own smallest impulse toward lust, anger, or envy.

Such are teenagers, in their acute form. Most adolescents go through these phases, anyway, and people somehow manage to live with them. It's when they get older and active politically that the worst of the trouble begins, especially if they get a majority in both Houses.

It's only human nature to follow the path of least resistance. If a youngster is surrounded by liberals at home, in school, and amongst his peers, not only will he have to work extremely hard to discover alternative ideas, but he faces the risk of the disapproval and scorn of friends and families. For most adolescents, scorn and rejection are the highest price they can imagine paying for anything.

That's when liberals need a transformative experience, one that will force them to think, and not just feel something and react. Because liberalsim is premised on a kind of internalized dismay over what's happening to us?, rather than a deliberative approach to what do we want to make happen?, it can never form the basis for intelligent political action. Fear of rejection, laziness, and an immature emotional approach to how things are supposed to be are all non-rational, and often irrational, bases for a political philosophy. "Obama makes me feel good, I don't know why, but I'll vote for him." "Iraq makes me feel bad, I don't know anything about it, but I'm for getting out now." "It sounds unfair wealthy people got a tax cut, too, and that makes me angry, so I guess taking everyone's tax cut away (even mine) makes as much sense as anything."

No one thinks his way into becoming a liberal, not even the fabled conservative who getsarrested. He doesn't convert because he's thought about his arrest--but because he's been traumatized by it.

But even so, whereas Mr. Conservative Who Got Arrested will be counseled by his therapist that, OK, you got arrested, it was upsetting, how can you move on? Don't let it define you--he will be counseled by his newfound liberal friends to refuse to even consider moving on, because he must make his trauma the foundation of his new political identity as a victim, as an aggrieved person, as a creditor demanding his due of government apologies, reparations, and "a place at the table."

Which is why I say liberals can think their way into being conservatives, but not vice versa.

On that subject, filmmaker, writer, and playwright, David Mamet has written an article in the Village Voice proclaiming himself as no longer “a brain-dead liberal.” ("Heretic! Mamet vs. the Greek chorus.)"

I'm not an expert on Mamet's work, though I found his 1994 Oleanna an extremely powerful comment on feminism and university life, and wondered at the time about this Hollywood director and his un-PC point of view.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online has written the following about Mamet's development:

Mamet vs. the Greek chorus.

By Jonah Goldberg

David Mamet, considered by some to be the greatest living playwright, has proclaimed for all to hear — but few to listen — that he is no longer “a brain-dead liberal.”

Mamet uses the phrase “brain-dead liberal” in quotation marks precisely because he was never actually brain dead. Rather, he just told the relevant parts of his brain to play dead whenever inconvenient facts staged an assault on his cranial bunker.

“As a child of the ’60s,” he recently wrote in a startling and lively essay for The Village Voice, “I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.”

But Mamet has changed his mind. The accretions left from wave after crashing wave of reality made it impossible for him to carry the load of his cognitive dissonance. For years he’d called NPR “National Palestinian Radio.” He’d realized that while government may be incompetent, corporations at times myopic, and the military imperfect, seeing politics through the prism of a Thomas Nast cartoon (you know, where industrialists are cast as pigs in tuxedos feeding at the public trough) might not be as wise as, say, The Village Voice believes it is.

“I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson and Shelby Steele ... and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.”

Mamet invokes John Maynard Keynes’s response to criticism that he changed his mind: “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?”

Michael Billington might have a different response. “I am depressed to read that David Mamet has swung to the right,” wrote the Guardian’s theater critic of more than three decades. “What worries me is the effect on his talent of locking himself into a rigid ideological position.”

This response is quite simply perfect, a Picasso of asininity, a Mona Lisa of moronic imbecility. Mamet, a dashboard saint of angst-ridden cosmopolitan liberalism, has set out to read widely and carefully, exploring how his outdated political pose no longer tracks with reality or with his own understandings of the world, and Billington worries that Mamet is locking himself into a rigid ideological position. Mamet has, Houdini-like, gone through the painful process of regurgitating a key to the chained-up straitjacket in which he’d been trapped, and after the required internal dislocations has emerged to think freely about the world, and this guy somehow thinks Mamet’s trapped himself.

The playwright has explicitly rejected dime-store Marxist categorical thinking, embracing instead the idea that whatever differences people bring to the stage of life based on their varied experiences, human nature is universal (at least to humans) and people are, well, people. Of course, some are evil, some good, most a complicated mixture of the two. But simply because a person represents or works for The Government or Big Business — or, for that matter, Fashionable Minority X, Y, or Z — doesn’t mean you know all you need to know about them. A business card is not a Rosetta Stone for deciphering a man’s soul.

But don’t tell this to those who define sophistication and nuance by a work’s ability to confirm preconceived notions. A writer in The Independent frets that “so complex and profound and gifted a playwright should now seek to reduce his own work and his own politics to simple concepts.” People like this see more complex hues in, say, George Clooney, than in a painter’s color wheel.

Clooney proclaimed not long ago, “Yes, I’m a liberal, and I’m sick of it being a bad word. I don’t know at what time in history liberals have stood on the wrong side of social issues.” Ah, yes, there’s fine-tuned, historically informed thinking on display!

Mamet has committed the sin of free-thinking in a world that defines it as “ideological rigidity” while dubbing conformity “diversity.” Already, critics are saying his work is slipping. Soon, they will say his work was never that great to begin with (that’s what they’ve been doing to Dennis Miller for his heresy). The more Mamet rejects the divine pieties of the Left and thinks for himself, the more the Greek chorus of straitjacketed “free thinkers,” their heads shaking in unison, will tsk-tsk Mamet’s rigidity.
© 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Even ACLU-MN Sees the Problem In Minneapolis

This update thanks to Act! for America.

It looks as though, based upon the article by Katherine Kersten at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, about the public charter school being operated--and advertised-as an Islamic academy ("Establishing Islam in Minnesota")--the Minnesota ACLU is taking a closer look at the situation for possible violations of the Establishment Clause:

ACLU-MN opens investigation of Tarek Academy For Immediate Release
March 18, 2008

After receiving complaints that Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights is violating the Establishment Clause the ACLU-MN sent a letter to the academy questioning their practices. In the letter that was sent the ACLU-MN questions some of their practices, including addressing allegations that the school sponsors prayer.

Teresa Nelson, an attorney for the ACLU of Minnesota, says "We currently do not have enough facts to state whether or not the school is in violation of the establishment clause. The American Civil Liberties Union is a strong defender of separation of church and state and will take action if we find they are violating the establishment clause."

You can also read the letter that was sent to Tarek Academy.

The letter the ACLU sent to the principal is worth looking over. It gives more details of how the Tarek Academy is being run.

The ACLU-MN's quick response leades me to believe they must be more right-wing and homophobic than our chapter here in Michigan.

Who'd a thunk it?

No Surrender

From Wednesday's Wall Street Journal:

No Surrender

By FOUAD AJAMIMarch 19, 2008

"I am the same man and do not alter, it is you who change, since in fact you took my advice while unhurt, and waited for misfortune to repent of it . . . But you must not be seduced by citizens like these nor be angry with me -- who, if I voted for war, only did as you did yourselves."
-- Pericles's funeral oration, "The Peloponnesian War" by Thucydides

Wars have never been easy to defend. Even in "heroic" cultures, men and women applauded wars then grew weary of them. This Iraq war, too, was once a popular war. It was authorized and launched in the shadow of 9/11. During the five long years that America has been on the ground in Iraq, the war was increasingly forced to stand alone.

At a perilous moment in early 2007, when the project was in the wind and reeling, the leader who launched this war doubled down and bought time. The polls -- and this might be the war most endlessly measured by pollsters -- tell us that two out of every five Americans are now willing to stick with this endeavor.

The tipping point came with "the surge." The new policy was marked by stoicism and an acceptance of the burdens of this war. For once, there was no promise of easy success. "Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved," President George W. Bush said when he announced the new policy some 14 months ago. "There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship."

In Iraq, America was surrounded by enemies who were sure from the start that the great foreign power was destined to fail. They could not be given the satisfaction of a hasty American retreat. The stakes had grown: We were under the gaze of populations with a keen eye for the weakness of strangers. It was apt and proper that the leader who launched this war did not give up on it.

Speaking in Nashville, Tenn., to the convention of National Religious Broadcasters on March 11, President Bush defended, yet again, the war in Iraq: "The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency; it is the right decision at this point in my presidency; and it will forever be the right decision."

Mr. Bush made freedom in Arab-Islamic lands his cause. He rejected laments that Arabs do not possess a freedom gene, and that they are fated to tyranny. "The liberty we value is not ours alone," he told this Nashville convention. "Freedom is not America's gift to the world; it is God's gift to all humanity."

This has been Mr. Bush's wager ever since the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq ran aground, and the war and its sacrifices had to be defended and fortified. Grant Mr. Bush his due: He upheld his belief that liberty can stick on Iraqi and Arab soil, in the face of great doubts and misgivings.

In the five years that America has been in Iraq, this drawn-out war has seemed like a fight between American power and the laws of gravity. Sectarianism tested our souls and our patience; the fury of the region around Iraq was bottomless. Its misfits found their way onto Iraqi soil. We wanted a new life for that country, and there were sectarian hatreds beyond our comprehension.

For our part, we did not always fight this war most wisely and skillfully. It took us a while to get the right commanders and envoys on the scene. We did not have the linguists we needed, for the 1990s had not prepared us for wars of ideology and culture.

Even the bureaucracy itself -- the State Department, CIA -- was full of people who doubted the wisdom of this war and second-guessed it at every turn. Some of the very people dispatched to Baghdad were no friends of this project.

Still, five years on, this endeavor in Iraq is taking hold. The U.S. military was invariably the great corrector. In their stoic acceptance of the mission given them and in the tender mercies they showed Iraqis on a daily basis, our soldiers held out the example of benevolent rule. (In extended travel in and out of Iraq over the last five years, I heard little talk of Abu Ghraib. The people of Iraq understood that Charles Graner and Lynndie England were psychopaths at odds with American military norms.)

In those five years, the scaffolding of the war came under steady assault. People said that there was no connection between al Qaeda and Saddam, that no "smoking gun" had been discovered, and that the invasion of Iraq had turned that country into a breeding ground of jihadists.

But those looking for that smoking gun did not understand that the distinction between secular and religious terror in that Arab landscape was a distinction without a difference. The impulse that took America from Kabul to Baghdad was a correct one. Radical Arabs attacked America on 9/11, and a war of deterrence had to be waged against Arab radicalism.

Baghdad was the proper return address, as a notice was served on the purveyors of terror that a price would be paid by those who aid and abet it. It was Saddam Hussein's choice -- and fate -- that he would not duck and stay out of harm's way in the aftermath of 9/11. We have not fully repaired the ways of the radicals in the intervening years. But the spectacle of the dictator's defeat, and the sight of him being sent to the gallows, have worked wonders on the temper of the Arab street.

So we did not turn Baghdad into a democratic city on a hill, and we learned that the dismantling of Sunni tyranny would leave the Arab world's Shiite stepchildren with primacy in Iraq. A better country has nonetheless risen, midwifed by this American war. It is not a flawless democracy. But compare it to the prison it was under Saddam, the tyranny next door in Damascus and the norms of the region, and we can have a measure of pride in what America has brought forth in Baghdad.

This is not a Shiite state that we uphold. True, the Shiite majority was emancipated from a long history of fear and servitude, but Iraq's Shiites have told us in every way they can that their country is not a "sister republic" of the Persian theocracy to their east. If anything, the custodians of political power in Iraq have signaled their long-term intentions: an extended American presence in their midst and the shoring up of an oil state in the orbit of American power.

There has been design and skill in recent American endeavors. The Sunnis had all, but wrecked their chances in the new order. The American strategy in the year behind us worked to cushion the Sunni defeat. The U.S. now sustains a large force of "volunteers," the Sons of Iraq, drawn mainly from the Sunni community. This has not met with the approval of the Shiite-led government, but the attempt to create a balance between the two communities has been both deliberate and wise.

In the same vein, American power has given the Kurds protection and a historic chance in a neighborhood that had hitherto snuffed out all their dreams. But a message, too, has been sent to the Kurds. The condition of this protection is a politics of sobriety and a commitment to the federalism of Iraq. We have not re-invented that old, burdened country, but this war is the first chance Iraqis have had to emerge from a history of plunder and despotism.

In the past five years, the passion has drained out of the war's defenders and critics alike. Our soldiers and envoys are there, but the public at home has moved onto other concerns. Still, the public is willing to grant this expedition time, and that's for the good. There is no taste in this country for imperial burdens and acquisitions in distant lands. But Americans also know that the lands and sea lanes of the Persian Gulf are too vital to be left to mayhem and petty tyrants.

Mr. Ajami, a Bradley Prize recipient, teaches at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of "The Foreigner's Gift" (Free Press, 2006).