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Ed Driscoll

War And Anti-War

‘It Doesn’t Get More Hostile Than This’

January 29th, 2015 - 6:57 pm

“Ugly anti-Muslim taunts by Texas lawmaker, protesters are embarrassments to Texans,” a Dallas Morning News columnist writes, with a severe case of the vapors:

Enter Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, who on her FaceBook page, directed staffers to ask Muslim visitors in to the Capitol for the seventh annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day to pledge allegiance to the U.S.

“I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws,” she said on Facebook. “We will see how long they stay in my office.”

On top of that, about 200 Muslims intending to speak with legislators about the session were heckled by about 30 ”Christian protesters,” who shouted such mindless things as ”Islam will never dominate the United States and by the grace of God it will not dominate Texas.” Throughout the rally, Muslim children became upset when protesters shouted “get out” and “ISIS will gladly welcome you.”

So much for a warm Austin welcoming. It doesn’t get more hostile than this.

What a curious phrase from the author. Actually, as we’ve seen on 9/11, 7/7 and earlier this month in Paris, things can get far more hostile than this, hence Islam’s dramatically tarnished brand in the West since 9/11.

The photo the Dallas Morning News chose to tweet to promote their article is a fascinating choice:

As the first commenter to the Dallas Morning News‘ Tweet asks, “Which one of those signs do you people think embarrasses native Texans like me?”

Andrew Klavan punches back twice as hard against the Killer But-Heads of the left in his latest Revolting Truth  video.

As their many “we support free speech, but…” statements indicate, it’s been obvious for quite some time that left doesn’t support free speech at all, As I said last year, the left’s longest modified limited hangout has officially concluded; militant Islam’s attack on Charlie Hebdo simply “heightened the contradictions” as Lennin would say.

And speaking of Lenin’s descendents

Related: “Is Jonathan Chait liberal?”, James Taranto asks at the Wall Street Journal. Read the whole thing.™

Goodbye to Sullivan & Sophistry

January 29th, 2015 - 1:10 pm

In his “A Long Overdue Goodbye to Andrew Sullivan,” Pejman Yousefzadeh, whom I believe first started blogging in 2002, right around the same time I did, writes, “Andrew Sullivan was one of two big-time bloggers–the other being, of course, Glenn Reynolds–to have helped put me on the blogospheric map. For that, I shall always be grateful.” Those early days of blogging were heady times indeed; living in California, I remember Glenn would sign off at around 9:00 or 10:00 PM pacific time, then I’d switch over to James Lileks’ Bleat, which would go live right around that time, then check if Steven Den Beste had written his daily mega-post of at least 5,000 words (or so it seemed at the time), and then around midnight, I’d see what new items Andrew Sullivan had posted. Forget Carson, Cavett, Snyder, and Letterman, this was some quality late-night programming tailor-made for discussing the immediate aftermath of the post 9/11-world:

At the outset, when I first started blogging, Sullivan’s political views and mine coincided quite neatly. After a while, they began to diverge. I certainly changed some of my political views as the years went on, and I don’t quite see how anyone could go an appreciable period of time without reappraising at least some political views. Sullivan’s views, of course, changed drastically. He went from being a supporter of George W. Bush to a fervent opponent. The shift began when Bush signed on to the Federal Marriage Amendment issue, and Sullivan reacted with outrage. I always got the sense that this issue became the jumping-off point for other Sullivanesque disagreements with the Bush administration; over Iraq, over interrogation and detention policy, and over foreign policy in general. Of course, it ought to go without saying that Sullivan was and is entitled to change whatever political views he wanted and wants to change.

So while Sullivan and I had our differences, some of those differences were reasonable in nature. Others . . . not so much.

In 2008, Sullivan decided that he really liked Barack Obama a lot. But he didn’t want to be identified as a contemporary American liberal, so he started concocting all sorts of ridiculous claims that the onetime senator and future president was and is a conservative. Hayek was cited, as was Locke, as was Oakeshott. Oakeshott was cited a lot. The claims, of course, made no sense whatsoever, but that didn’t stop Sullivan from making them, even as the rhetoric and policies from the White House became more and more port-sided. Of course, Sullivan could have taken the honorable road and simply announced a fundamental shift in his political philosophy. But instead, Sullivan, like Shakespeare’s Caesar, claimed and claims to be as constant as the North Star when it comes to his ideology, and his approach instead has been to desperately try to shoehorn Barack Obama into that ideology. It never worked before, it doesn’t work now, and it won’t work in the future, but Sullivan, not recognizing defeat when it stares him in the face, keeps on trying to make it work. The whole thing is rather pathetic, really.

Sullivan had begun that shtick four years earlier, in the aftermath of George W. Bush not supporting the notion of gay marriage during the election year of 2004. Sullivan, who had previously dubbed Bush 2002′s “Man of the Year”, at first hemmed and hawed over whether he would support him in again. And then this classic bit of sophistry appeared in the Sunday addition of the London Times and on Sullivan’s own Daily Dish blog:

The argument that Kerry must make is that he can continue the war but without Bush’s polarising recklessness. And at home he must reassure Americans that he is the centrist candidate, controlled neither by the foaming Michael Moore left nor by the vitriolic religious right.

Put all that together and I may not find myself the only conservative moving slowly and reluctantly towards the notion that Kerry may be the right man — and the conservative choice — for a difficult and perilous time.

I guess you could make the case that Kerry’s conservative in some fashion — he dresses nicely; his hair style is a cross between cold warriors JFK and Jack Kemp, freeze-dried to Shatner Turbo-2000 levels of perfection. But back in the real world, one need only look at Kerry’s infamous radical chic, anti-war, anti-American C.V. to realize that Sullivan was making himself look increasingly silly trying to make Kerry into something he obviously wasn’t rather than simply saying, I disagree with Bush on my defining issue, and as a result, I’ve moved to the left. Or, rather I moved back somewhere to the left; Sullivan was associated the New Republic magazine prior to blogging, after all.

And then the late summer of 2008 would of course see the emergence of Andrew Sullivan, Ace Uterus Detective, as Pejman goes on to note. By that time, Sullivan’s self-beclowning was complete.

Six years prior though, when he named GWB his man of the year in 2002, Sullivan wrote, “Forget the bloviations of the Hate-America-First crowd. History will one day credit Bush with patience, multilateralism and conviction. But right now, history is still being made. And there is a war to be continued and to be won.”

Well, it sounded good at the time, I guess.

Related: Will Andrew quit blogging permanently? “That’s what he says. I kinda doubt it,” Kathy Shaidle writes, and she’s been blogging as long as Andrew.

As they say in the music world, you have to break up the band before you can have the triumphant reunion tour to replenish the coffers — as Andrew himself well knows.

Update: “Conspiracy Theorist Andrew Sullivan Quits Blogging,” John Nolte writes at Big Journalism. But like the Stones and The Who sitting out most of the 1980s, it’s only a matter of time before the lucrative reunion tour begins: “Because Sullivan trained his debunked conspiracy theories at the child of a conservative woman and the Pope, he will always be welcome in the mainstream media.”

MSNBC: Still Jim Crow TV

January 29th, 2015 - 10:47 am

“Just when you thought MSNBC was giving up on calling everyone racist…”, Noah Rothman writes at Hot Air. Though that headline precedes from a false assumption: Nobody thinks that paranoid NBC and its spin-off channels would give up on calling its enemies racist:

In a discussion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday, NBC Foreign Affairs Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was asked for his thoughts on the wildly popular film American Sniper. After conceding that the film is powerful, Mohyeldin was prompted to expand on his obvious reservations about the movie’s subject matter. He let the veil drop.

“When you juxtapose it with the real Chris Kyle, and the story, and what has emerged about what kind of personality he was in his own words,” Mohyeldin began, “A lot of stories about when he was back home in Texas. A lot of his own personal opinions about what he was doing in Iraq; how he viewed Iraqis. Some of what people have described as his racist tendencies toward Iraqis and Muslim as he was going on some of these, you know, killing sprees in Iraq on assignment.”

Jaws hit the floor. To describe the performance of a decorated combat veteran in a hostile theater as a killing spree is to confess a level of bias that is virtually disqualifying for a foreign affairs reporter. The stigma associated with serving as a sniper in a war is painful enough for proficient sharpshooters, but to directly equate the actions of those servicemen with the behavior of a mass murder is beyond the pale.

Add this to the remarks from Michael Moore, Seth Rogen, and Max Blumenthal on Kyle, the left is once again revealing themselves as really not supporting the troops, no matter what their mission, a regression to their McGovern-era id. As with their lack of support of free speech and their terror over losing the PC overculture they’ve built, it’s a reminder that yet another modified limited hangout of the left has now concluded. (Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.) And as Jeffrey Lord wrote at the American Spectator last year, MSNBC won’t be losing its sobriquet as “Jim Crow TV” anytime soon.

Quote of the Day

January 27th, 2015 - 11:59 pm

I’ll never forget Claude Lanzmann, the director of Shoah, the nine-and-a-half-hour Holocaust documentary, shouting at me, accusatorially, in his Parisian flat: “There is even a baby picture of Hitler!” Virtually aghast at the very idea that there could be such a picture, because it would insidiously ensnare people into the evil enterprise of trying to explain why — why that innocent infant evolved into a genocidal monster.

Lanzmann rejected any such “understanding,” preferring a Hitler who sprang full-blown like a demon in our midst. Almost like Macduff, not “of woman born,” Hitler not of human formed. A hostility to the baby picture, almost disclaiming the picture’s right to exist because of its misleading potential. All of which led, after the French publication of the book, to my clash with Lanzmann, which the Parisian magazine Le Figaro called “L’Affair Rosenbaum. ”

Of course, it is true, many explanations become exculpations, but I would suggest that does not deny, prima facie, the validity of the search to know more than we do. Or entail forgiveness — on the grounds that “to understand all is to forgive all” — no matter how much we know. Maybe we will never know all, never know enough, but it won’t necessarily be because we’re dealing with a supernatural creature beyond human explanation. It may be because human nature has more profound depths than we imagined. Or it may be that we lack some crucial piece of his personal history.

But something or some things made Hitler want to do what he did. It wasn’t a concatenation of impersonal, external forces, a kind of collective determinism. It required his impassioned personal desire for extermination, even at the potential cost of defeat for Germany. It required him to choose evil. It required free will.

“Hitler, Continued: Afterword from the Updated Edition of ‘Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil,’” by Ron Rosenbaum, Los Angeles Review of Books, July 10th, 2014.

When Memes Collide

January 26th, 2015 - 6:13 pm

obama_chamberlain_charlie_hebdo_1-11-15-1

“Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’, says head of BBC Arabic Tarik Kafala,” the London Independent reports. Check out this Orwellian dissembling:

Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said the term “terrorist” was too “loaded” to describe the actions of the men who killed 12 people in the attack on the French satirical magazine.

Mr Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, told The Independent: “We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is.”

Mr Kafala said: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The UN has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That’s much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.”

“Of all the giveaways in those few lines, the most telling may be the reference to the U.N. as a supposedly neutral authority,” NRO’s  Andrew Stuttaford writes in response.

And I love this line from Kafala:

“The value judgements frequently implicit in the use of the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist group’ can create inconsistency in their use or, to audiences, raise doubts about our impartiality. It may be better to talk about an apparent act of terror or terrorism than label individuals or a group.”

Raising “doubts about our impartiality?” Wait, when it comes to the writers at Charlie Hebdo — whatever you think of their work — when it comes to choosing sides between journalists and cartoonists, and those want to kill them, you’re going to remain impartial? Gee, I think this is one issue where the media might want to take sides. But then, to borrow from Glenn Reynolds’ recent USA Today column, it isn’t just Islam that’s a tarnished brand in the years after 9/11.

Or as Stuttaford writes, “There’s little that’s more revealingly subjective than the elaborate pretense of objectivity.” (Note to self: file that sentence away for future use.)

So I finally saw American Sniper yesterday.

Short review: You should too. Right now.

Slightly longer review: Based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography and a well-crafted script by actor/writer Jason Hall, this is a surprisingly multifaceted movie that asks the questions that Hollywood rarely explores, and certainly not with this depth: in the 21st century, in an era of an all-volunteer military, what is it that makes a man volunteer? And once he’s done his time “in country,” what is it that makes him return back there again and again? For Kyle, it becomes not letting his fellow soldiers down and, in the story that provides the arc that structures the film’s scenes set in Iraq, killing his Syrian counterpart “Mustafa,” which gives the film the resonance of Ahab versus the whale, or Clint Eastwood’s earlier film about an obsessed man with a rifle, White Hunter, Black Heart.

With the rare exception of Eastwood himself, few who reach the upper echelons of Hollywood have ever served in the military, and, as Bill Clinton would say, most loathe the military and those who serve. Which is why so few films of this nature have been made since the late 1960s, when the young, largely left-wing turks began to succeed the men who originally built Hollywood. Or in the few cases they have, such as Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, invariably, after returning home, soldiers are depicted as wild-eyed near-psychopaths, unable to return to their families and civilian life in general. That’s not the story depicted here, which is yet another reason why reactionary Hollywood lefties such as Michael Moore and Seth Rogen are having aneurisms over this film, and reliving the late ’60s and 1970s, when left-wing Hollywood frequently smeared the US military in the worst possible light.

Similarly, given the era in which it was released, American Sniper is serving as much of a litmus test to see where the rest of Hollywood and film critics stand on Iraq and the American military as did Eastwood’s Dirty Harry and the left’s efforts to promote violence for its own sake and weaken law enforcement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the Weekly Standard, in a piece titled, “The ‘American Sniper’ Freakout,” Mark Hemingway writes, “Leftists simply can’t digest the fact that their own safety is predicated on the willingness to fight of courageous men they openly disdain.”

Which is yet another reason to go see it.

So beyond all that, as Max Boot asked this past Thursday at Commentary, why all the criticism?

Perhaps because almost all of the Iraqis are depicted as bad guys–or to use the word that Kyle used “savages”–while Kyle and his SEAL teammates are depicted as dedicated professionals who try as hard as possible to avoid killing civilians. Although the movie shows a scene at the beginning of Kyle killing a woman and her child who are carrying a grenade to blow up a Marine column (in reality he only killed the woman–there was no child present), it later shows how relieved he is that a child who picked up a rocket-propelled grenade and aimed it an American Humvee put down the weapon and ran away before Kyle could shoot him. This is, in short, not a movie like  Platoon or Born on the Fourth of July or In the Valley of Elah or MASH that depicts American soldiers in the worst possible light.

But guess what? In my experience having visited Iraq a number of times during the war, Clint Eastwood, the movie’s director, is telling it like it is. Oh sure, large elements of the film are fictionalized (no, Kyle did not have a personal duel with a Syrian sniper called Mustafa), as is the case with pretty much every Hollywood movie. But the movie gets the larger truth right–that, with some lamentable and inevitable exceptions, American soldiers did behave themselves in exemplary fashion in Iraq, certainly compared to their enemies who drove car bombs into crowds of civilians and ruthless tortured to death anyone they suspected of opposing them.

Which reminded me of Tom Wolfe’s response to his critics when asked if his breakthrough first novel Bonfire of the Vanities was racist.  

In February of 1989, Wolfe was interviewed by Time magazine about Bonfire. (Coincidentally or not, the interview occurred right around the time that producer Peter Guber was asking Tom Hanks if he’d like to star in the movie version of the book for Warner Brothers, owned by the same conglomerate that owned Time.)  One of the interviewer’s questions was, “Bonfire has received great critical acclaim, but critics have also called it cynical, racist, elitist,” to which Wolfe replied:

That’s nonsense. I throw the challenge to them: if you think it is false, go out and do what I did. Go beyond the cocoon of your apartment and [get in a] taxicab and take a look. Take notes. Then let’s compare notes. I’ll bet your picture of New York is not very different from mine.

What they are really saying is that I violated a certain etiquette in literary circles that says you shouldn’t be altogether frank about these matters of ethnic and racial hostility. But if you raise the issue, a certain formula is to be followed: you must introduce a character, preferably from the streets, who is enlightened and shows everyone the error of his ways, so that by the time the story is over, everyone’s heading off wiser. There has to be a moral resolution. Unfortunately, life isn’t like that. I felt that if you are going to try to write a novel about New York, you cannot play falsely with the issue of ethnic and racial hostility. You can’t invent implausible morality tales and make it all go away in some fictitious fashion.

Hollywood war movies often have a similar formula: Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket features non-stop crudely misogynistic jokes from the film’s ultra-macho Marines and a scene in which Lee Ermey’s martinet drill instructor mocks Christmas by referencing a religious service that day for the recruits from “Chaplin Charlie and his magic show.” During the film’s climax, the first time in which the audience gets a clear look at a live North Vietnamese soldier, it turns out that (surprise) she’s a young female North Vietnamese sniper who prays after being badly wounded by Matthew Modine’s formerly sardonic above-it-all soldier-journalist.

In contrast, as Max Boot wrote at Commentary, there are no redeeming Iraqi characters shown in the film, with the possible exception of a handful of Muslim interpreters working with the troops. The civilians are duplicitous, ready to sell out the Americans at a moment’s notice, terrified of the local neighborhood Al-Qeada enforcers, one who uses an unspeakable method to ensure loyalty and the omertà from the hapless local civilians.

When we’re first introduced to Mustafa, Kyle’s Syrian counterpart, he’s lying prone, lining up a shot. As with many real-life Islamic terrorists, he’s perfectly happy wearing western-made 21st century consumer goods and their logos, even as he’s bent on destroying the culture that makes them possible. The camera pans from his feet to his head, looking down the scope of his rifle, lining up his next potential kill. In a nice directorial touch from Eastwood, the camera glides by Mustafa’s Nike sneakers.

And of course, Hollywood has its own omertà. As Daniel Greenfield writes on “The Hollywood Jihad Against American Sniper,” at his Sultan Knish blog, “The Iraq War already had an official narrative in Hollywood. It was bad and wrong:”

Its veterans were crippled, dysfunctional and dangerous. Before American Sniper, Warner Brothers had gone with anti-war flicks like Body of Lies and In the Valley of Elah. It had lost a fortune on Body of Lies; but losing money had never stopped Hollywood from making anti-war movies that no one wanted to watch.

Even the Hurt Locker had opened with a quote from leftist terrorist supporter Chris Hedges.

An Iraq War movie was supposed to be an anti-war movie. There was no other way to tell the story. Spielberg’s own interest in American Sniper was focused on “humanizing” the other side. When he left and Clint Eastwood, coming off a series of failed films, took the helm, it was assumed that American Sniper would briefly show up in theaters and then go off to die quietly in what was left of the DVD aisle.

And then American Sniper broke box office records that had been set by blockbusters like Avatar, Passion and Hangover Part II by refusing to demonize American soldiers or to spin conspiracy tales about the war. Instead of pandering to coastal progressives, it aimed at the patriotic heartland.

In a sentence you no longer expected to hear from a Hollywood exec, the Warner Brothers distribution chief said, “This is about patriotism and all the things people say the country is lacking these days.”

Though as Sonny Bunch added at the Washington Free Beacon, “Of all the arguments that have taken place about American Sniper, the supposition that it is some sort of rah-rah-war-is-fun-the-GOP-is-great flick is the oddest.” If it wasn’t for Israel, I’d be far more inclined to sign onboard with Rand Paul’s so-called “To Hell With Them” doctrine when it comes to the Middle East, given what Glenn Reynolds and Breitbart London’s Milo Yiannopoulos call Islam’s tarnished brand, which American Sniper does little to polish, much to the Hollywood street’s seething rage and anger.

But I think I understand a bit better why men volunteer to fight for America after seeing American Sniper.

Orwell apparently never said “We sleep safely in our beds because rough men with guns stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.” But given his excoriating take on pacifism during World War II, he’d very likely agree with that statement, which, in retrospect, makes a nice summation of one of the many themes that American Sniper ‘s well-crafted script explores. It’s a topic that hasn’t been properly broached by Hollywood in a very long time.

And given how much the left hates this movie, and the uniquely American culture whose story is finally told in an approving fashion by a master director, it may be quite some time before effete Hollywood deigns to get its hands dirty with such a topic on the big screen again.

All the more reason to see this film while it’s still in the movie theater.

Update:

After 40 years of Hollywood counterpropaganda telling us war is necessarily corrupting and malign, its ablest practitioners thugs, loons or victims, “American Sniper” nobly presents the case for the other side…Mapping the interior landscape of a damaged soul is something books do better than movies, but in Cooper’s recoils from sudden noises, in his slumping at a hometown bar when his wife doesn’t even know he’s back in the country and in his staring at the floor when thanked for his prowess, we learn much about the price warriors pay. Cowboys, adventurers, joyriders — these are exactly what our best fighting men are not. They suffer merely to be alive, when so many brothers lie in boxes draped with flags. “American Sniper” does honor to them.

“‘American Sniper’ is the year’s most extraordinary film,” Kyle Smith, the New York Post.

And from John Nolte at Big Hollywood, “Media Hoax Claims ‘American Sniper’ Inspired Anti-Muslim Threats.” But hey, doesn’t everything?

“Anyone reading this knows where he was on September 11, 2001. A diminishing number remember where they were on January 30, 1965—the day we said farewell to Winston Churchill. (He died fifty years ago, January 24, 1965.),” Richard Langworth writes at the Weekly Standard:

For me it was a life-changing experience. Suddenly, unforgettably, on my flickering, black and white TV screen in New York City, the huge void of Westminster Abbey filled with The Battle Hymn of the Republic. He was, we were reminded, half-American, an honorary citizen by Act of Congress.

That day was the start of my 50-year career in search of Churchill—of what his greatest biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, calls, “labouring in the vineyard.”

After the funeral I picked up The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his World War II memoirs. I was snared by what Robert Pilpel called his “roast beef and pewter phrases.” It’s biased, as he admitted—“This is not history; this is my case.” But it is so ordered as to put you at his side for the “great climacterics” that made us what we are today.

Churchill’s life spanned sixty years of prominence, unmatched in recent history. Of course, he insisted, “nothing surpasses 1940.” That was the year Britain and the Commonwealth—“the old lion with her lion cubs,” as he put it, “stood alone against hunters who are armed with deadly weapons” until “those who hitherto had been half blind were half ready.”

But I soon learned there was more to Churchill than 1940. Martin Gilbert wrote: “As I open file after file of Churchill’s archive, from his entry into Government in 1905 to his retirement in 1955, I am continually surprised by the truth of his assertions, the modernity of his thought, the originality of his mind, the constructiveness of his proposals, his humanity, and, most remarkable of all, his foresight.”

Sadly, England as a whole lacked Churchill’s foresight; at MercatorNet, Alun Wyburn-Powell explains “How Winston Churchill lost the 1945 election:”

Among the excuses the Conservatives offered after their defeat was that the Army Bureau of Current Affairs had indoctrinated service personnel to vote Labour. This excuse was at least plausible in principle, but it was pretty flimsy stuff.

There were some more obvious reasons for Churchill’s humiliation. Ultimately, the Conservatives had simply lost the electoral “ground war”.

In contrast to the other parties, the Conservatives had stuck rigidly to the spirit and the letter of the wartime electoral truce, only holding one party conference during the war and putting little effort into policy development and constituency organisation. The result was that the party machine was in a terrible state, with a greatly depleted band of agents and volunteers.

The party was also still carrying the blame for the appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s, for which it had been excoriated by the 1940 book Guilty Men.

Public memory was also against the Tories for another reason: the travails of David Lloyd George, who died in 1945. While still credited as the man who won World War I, Lloyd George’s record as prime minister after the war was dismal, marked by broken promises, unemployment, industrial unrest and threats to start another war. His dire tenure created a popular consensus was that good war leaders do not necessarily make good peacetime leaders.

Meanwhile, British society had changed during the war. Voters had become less class-bound; the evacuation of urban children to rural areas, service of all classes in the armed forces, and civilians sharing bomb shelters with strangers, had facilitated social mixing on an entirely new scale.

That in turn helped create a whole new political atmosphere. After World War I, many people had wanted a return to life as it had been – but after World War II, most people wanted a complete break with the past. In that climate, Labour’s forward-looking election slogan, “Let us face the future”, was far more appealing the Conservatives’ plea to let Churchill “Finish the job”.

Everyone should watch the 26-part World at War series released in 1973 by Thames Television, available on DVD from Amazon, and pretty easily found in streaming format on the Web. As I’ve written before, it was produced at exactly the right moment — when television was technically sophisticated enough to undertake a project of this scope, and while many of the major players were still alive and many still relatively young, and while Laurence Olivier was alive to narrate the series with the gravitas it deserved.

But perhaps most importantly, before the excoriating impact of political correctness would begin to tarnish how we view World War II, which unless we really have reached what Robert Tracinski of the Federalist calls “Peak Leftism,” will likely only get worse in coming decades. Political correctness is a disease that advanced slowly before fully metastasizing; but its roots were already present among 1930s British leftwing elites, who vowed would “in no circumstances fight for king and country,” and feared Churchill more than they feared Hitler (plus ça change). And as the 15th-episode of the World at War, titled “Home Fires” notes, even as England was on the verge of defeating National Socialism in Germany, it was about to institute an ever-increasing peacetime amount of nationalization and socialism at home:

That’s an excerpt from that episode; watch the whole thing here.

As to how Labour would radically reshape the people who inhabited postwar Britian, Peter Hitchens, the Tory-leaning brother of the late leftist Christopher Hitchens, does a remarkable job of highlighting the transformation of his country in his 2000 book, the The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana. (Please, somebody release this book in Kindle format). As the book’s title suggests, Hitchens begins by comparing the British people who turned out with stiff upper lips for the 1965 funeral of the Man Who Won World War II, and 30 years later, ululated en masse over the demise of Princess Diana, who was largely famous for being famous and for being a wannabe pop star and fashion icon. In other words, for purely aesthetic reasons.

“Wouldn’t it be simpler,” socialist playwrite Bertolt Brecht famously wrote, if the government dissolved the people and elected another?”

It took a few decades, with a timeout of sorts during the Thatcher years, but mission accomplished in postwar, post-Churchill England.

Speaking of political correctness, the transformation of a people, and Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Obama couldn’t be bothered to attend her funeral in 2013. Presumably, he wouldn’t have made time for Churchill’s either, right?

Update: At Power Line, Steve Hayward is more optimistic about the West’s future than I am, dubbing Churchill “Not the Last Lion:”

Manchester wrote in 1983 (in National Review, surprisingly enough) that “If there is a high office in the United States to which Winston Churchill could be elected today, it is unknown to me.”

The irony is that pre-war Churchill thought very much the same thing: see his remarkable essay from around 1930 entitled “Mass Effects in Modern Life,” which is in the must-have collection, Thoughts and Adventures. “Modern conditions do not lend themselves to the production of the heroic or superdominant type,” he wrote.  This was, Harry Jaffa pointed out in a splendid essay entitled “Can There Be Another Churchill?,” an instance of Churchill being wrong:

In 1939, Winston Churchill did not think so. But, as so often in his life, he was mistaken. Let us take comfort in that.

And in response to my post, Kathy Shaidle proffers excellent advice:

The Theory of Moral Relativity Defined

January 24th, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Shot:

Chaser:


Shot:

Chaser:

Hangover:


Paul Johnson, call your office.
Update: “You know, Robert Conquest once wrote, ‘The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies,’ but that statement is striking a little too close to home lately.”

“Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday—rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden—while other countries are slated to send their heads of state,” according to Daniel Wiser of the Washington Free Beacon:

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday—rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden—while other countries are slated to send their heads of state.

Tuesday’s ceremony will likely be the last major anniversary where a significant number of survivors of the Nazi camp are present. About 300 are expected to attend, and most of them are in their 90s or older than 100. Nazi authorities killed 1.1 million people at the camp, mostly Jews, which was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945.

“Heads of state from France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, and Denmark will be present,” Wiser adds.

Insert obvious reference to Obama in 2008 imagining his uncle liberated Auschwitz here.

And as with Obama blowing off the enormous march in Paris earlier this month to protest the killing of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebro offices, after seeming to embrace mammoth gatherings such as his speech in Berlin in 2008 and his Styrofoam column acceptance speech later that year, gentlemen, start your conspiracy theories.

Or just chalk it up to the fact that, as Michael Walsh writes today, “It’s Barack Obama’s Cloud Cuckoo-Land and We Just Live In It.”

It’s Come To This

January 23rd, 2015 - 1:35 pm

“An Israeli barber has fashioned what he calls ‘magic’ yarmulkes out of hair, designed to allow religious Jews to cover their heads without attracting unwanted attention from anti-Semites,” AP reports:

Shalom Koresh said his skullcap, known as a yarmulke in Yiddish and a kippa in Hebrew, was inspired by rising anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere. He said he has seen particular interest from buyers in France and Belgium.

“This skullcap is washable, you can brush it, you can dye it,” Koresh said in his salon in central Israel. “It was created so people could feel comfortable going to places where they are afraid to go, or places where they can’t wear it, and feel secure.”

France has seen a spike in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years. The killing of four French Jews in a hostage standoff at a Paris kosher market earlier this month has deepened fears among European Jews.

But remember, all of those no-go zones in Europe are just a myth now that Marco Rubio has referenced them, even though CNN, Newsweek and the New York Times all reported on them a decade ago; some sources even prior to the French Banlieue riots and car-b-ques starting in 2005.

Naturally, leave it to John Kerry to completely invert the problem, comparing the “lack of integration” of Muslims in Europe to the U.S. Civil Rights struggles of the 1960, to paraphrase the headline of this article from Jeryl Bier at the Weekly Standard, which quotes Kerry bloviating at length when asked by a reporter on the topic:

Well, let me just begin quickly on the integration issue. When I was – I entered college in 1962. And in 1963, ’4, ’5, we were deeply embroiled in this country, and we – college students in the Civil Rights Movement. And we were deeply impacted by that and have always been, I think, as a generation, much more sensitive to this question of minority and rights and integration and so forth. We’ve made unbelievable progress in our nation, unbelievable progress in the years since then. But it would be completely disingenuous not to say to you that we still have some distance to travel. We’re not finished. We’re still – you heard the President last night talk about voting rights. So what was won in 1965 still has to be fully embraced and implemented here, and other things that are linked to that. We’ve seen our own struggles in some communities and great debates about race in America in the last year.

So it would be dishonest of me – and I’m not involved in domestic politics right now, so I’m not going to go into it in depth, except to say that therefore, I think I can say with honesty that there is a challenge in many other parts of the world. And Federica is absolutely correct; this particular incident of violence wasn’t a specific targeting that grew out of that, but we all can do work in many parts of the world that I have seen where one minority or another or another is not able to share fully in the full integration in whatever country they happen to be living. So the world has a road to travel on that, and that’s why we continue to put such a high premium here on the issue of human rights and democracy, and to continue to push, because I think we’ve learned through our own experience the difference that it can make to the strengthening of the quality of our democracy, to our society, and people benefit when we live by that high moral standard.

As with most of the gaseous rhetoric uttered by the Secretary of State, who by the way served in Vietnam, that’s entirely bass-ackwards, as Ed Morrissey writes:

Unlike the US in the Jim Crow era (or South Africa during apartheid, to use another example), the issue in France and other nations on the continent is not official policies of discrimination. It’s not even cultural pressure to marginalize and “otherize” Muslims. The insularity of those communities is self-imposed. They want to be separate, and thanks to a perverse prioritization of multicultural sensitivity in France and other countries over assimilation, those cultures allow them to do so on an extraordinary scale.

And needless to say, they have no interest in accepting the traditions of other cultures in nations they immigrate to.

Just ask these fellows.

“The United States has pulled more staff out of its embassy in Yemen, U.S. officials said on Thursday as Washington scrambled to cope with the collapse of a government that had been a key ally in the fight against al Qaeda,” Reuters reports. Unlike Benghazi, “At least this time there has been an evacuation of some American personnel,” Ed Morrissey responds:

The problem is that you can’t have both a “light footprint” strategy on counterterrorism and a project to overturn the governments in the region at the same time. Obama derided George Bush’s strategy in Iraq, but at least Bush understood that much — that you have to control the ground after a forced regime change and stick around long enough to make sure the pieces come together properly.  Libya proved the folly of “light footprint” regime change dramatically in 2011-12, but this White House didn’t learn the lesson then, and as late as September of last year kept insisting that these strategies were great successes for Obama. The evacs tell a much different story, especially to the radicals in the Middle East. They see an America on the retreat — and right now, that’s not an unrealistic picture.

But do Obama and John Kerry, he of the recurring Vietnam flashbacks, view that as a bad thing?

Incidentally, here’s a future evac that really is worth imagining. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one:

obama_sunset_thumbnail_10-2-11-big-3

Related: More from Jonathan Spyer at PJM: “Yemen Joins List of Collapsed Mideast States.”

Filed under: War And Anti-War

Gee, And After All Barry’s Done For Him

January 23rd, 2015 - 10:36 am

“Netanyahu ‘spat in our face,’ White House officials said to say,” according to the Times of Israel:

The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had “spat” in President Barack Obama’s face.

“We thought we’ve seen everything,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us.

“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.  [What, beyond giving Iran the bomb? -- Ed]

Officials in Washington said that the “chickenshit” epithet — with which an anonymous administration official branded Netanyahu several months ago — was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s planned speech came in.

I look forward to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic Voxsplaining how Obama isn’t really anti-Israel. Because nothing says loyalty and friendship like calling a trusted ally “chickenshit.”

A wise man who once said, “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother” shouldn’t be surprised that others keep score as well.

Update: I’m surprised the “unnamed senior US official” didn’t accuse Netanyahu of stabbing Obama in the back, a metaphor that would send the administration that began its second term promising “Peace in our time” full circle.

Talk About Failing Your Life’s Goal

January 22nd, 2015 - 4:12 pm

“King Abdullah, who sought to modernize Saudi Arabia, [Dead] at 90,” AP reports, and yes, there’s a missing word in their Drudge-linked headline, which will likely be replaced once it’s caught by AP’s proverbial layers and layers of fact checkers and editors.

As for Abdullah, AP hagiographically reports:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the powerful U.S. ally who joined Washington’s fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom with incremental but significant reforms, including nudging open greater opportunities for women, has died, according to Saudi state TV. He was 90.

So how exactly are those reforms coming along in Saudi Arabia? Not well, to say the least, based on headlines such as this and this. Not to mention reports that the Saudi’s wished to umm, modernize the New York skyline in quite a dramatic fashion.

Saudi Arabia isn’t ISIS — but deep down inside, it’s not all that far removed from ISIS’ vision of the Middle East, either.

As for reform, as my colleague Michael Ledeen would say, “Faster, Please.” Much faster than Abdullah’s glacial (read: non-existent) timetable.

Question Asked and Answered

January 22nd, 2015 - 4:00 pm

“Why Does Hollywood Ignore the ‘American Sniper’ Audience?,” Larry O’Connor asks at the Washington Free Beacon:

Hollywood ignores the middle of our country. So much audience out there just WAITING to give their money to these arrogant studios. If only they had the wisdom to hire more writers, producers, and directors who spoke to this audience. It makes you wonder … why don’t they?

We keep hearing that all Hollywood cares about is money … well, if that’s the case, then why don’t they capture the money from this audience by creating more content that appeals to them?

Ask most who’ve worked in the industry who hold a right-of-center political perspective and they’ll tell you that these subjects are so outside the world view of most studio executives (and their gatekeepers) that the content rarely even makes it to their desks for evaluation.

It’s hardly breaking news to say the entertainment industry’s values and priorities are antithetical to the rest of America. Just look at the dismal performance of HBO’s Girls, a series celebrated and rewarded within the industry but virtually ignored outside of New York and LA.

As the late Andrew Breitbart told me once during an interview, David Geffen is under no obligation to make a movie that’s antithetical to his worldview.

No matter how much it might clean up at the box office.

As I noted in late August 2010, a year in which the media increasingly knew Congress was about to change hands, and in response threw a temper tantrum (as Peter Jennings would say) shouting the most hateful incantations the Tea Party specifically and Americans in general, our news media is basically “closed circuit TV for the ruling class” on both coasts. So is most of the entertainment that Hollywood produces, with the exception of breakthroughs such Mel Gibson’s The Passion and Clint’s American Sniper, and other than the summer sci-fi and superhero movies. (And even those pulp-inspired genres have increasingly begun to reflect the left’s obsessions.) That’s also true of much of cable TV’s entertainment product: In-between exploring the personal psychodramas and sophomoric power games that drive many TV producers, Brett Martin’s highly readable book Difficult Men is largely about how networks such as HBO crafted a viable entertainment model similarly designed to appeal almost entirely to a tiny niche of blue state coastal elites and their wannabe brethren.

As for the movie industry, O’Connor asks, “The question is, will this practice change after the success of American Sniper?”

I wouldn’t count on it for two reasons: the next pro-military film won’t be made by someone who has a lifetime of directing chops like Clint, just as the few earnestly religious films made in the immediate wake of The Passion didn’t have the same skill, and er, passion that Mel Gibson brought to the table, before his self-inflicted career-killing implosion.  And second, both genres allow for plenty of subversion by Hollywood. The immediate post-9/11 era saw the release of Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and Gibson’s We Were Soldiers, both likely films that were green-lit before 9/11 occurred. These were followed by the seemingly endless craptacular stillborn anti-Iraq, anti-Bush movies that Hollywood became infamous for during the years of 2004 through 2008.

And Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus are both examples of what modern Hollywood can do to subvert the genre of religious films. Noah was dubbed by its director “the least biblical film ever made,” which is all middle America needs to hear to know it should stay home. Similarly, regarding Scott’s film, as John Podhoretz memorably began his review last month at the Weekly Standard, “Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent.”

Enjoy the one-off success of American Sniper. I hope I’m proven wrong, but leftwing Hollywood’s not about learn from its lessons anytime soon.

When Obama’s Lost NBC…

January 21st, 2015 - 11:54 am

And I don’t mean just MSNBC, the network’s crazy drooling id, but the actual top-level network where millions of elderly low-information voters still get their news at 6:30 at night. Which is where they heard the above exchange between newsreader Brian Williams and man in the field Richard Engel. As Noah Rothman quips at Hot Air, “The neoconservatives at NBC News predictably savage Obama’s approach to foreign policy… wait…” Heh:

Among those who took a baseball bat to Obama’s remarks were the arch-conservative Dick Cheney fans at NBC News. In the immediate wake of Obama’s State of the Union address, anchor Brian Williams and Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Richard Engel just dumped on the president’s borderline delusional assessment of his own efficacy on the global stage. (h/t Washington Free Beacon for pulling this clip).

“Richard, we woke up here in the States this morning – new ISIS video. Two Japanese hostages,” Brian Williams began. “They’re asking for $200 million, or they’re going to assassinate both of them. Video of a Russian intelligence ship cruising into the harbor in Havana; it might as well have been 1962. And then this on-again, off-again possible coup in Yemen, a U.S. ally.”

While we we’re taking stock of the foreign policy disasters that were revealed only yesterday, Williams forgot to mention renewed combat operations in Eastern Europe between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Richard Engel delivered the coup de grâce: “It sounds like the president was outlining a world that he wishes we were all living in, but which is very different than the world you just described with terror raids taking place across Europe, ISIS very much on the move.”

Wait, this Richard Engel, who a decade ago said “I think war should be illegal,” to Howard Kurtz, then still with the Washington Post, adding, “I’m basically a pacifist.”

Oh, and speaking of MSNBC and elderly low-information voters, as Ed Morrissey adds that it’s fair to say that “Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell didn’t feel thrills running up their respective legs. In fact, both of them wondered what the color of the sky in Obama’s world might be:”

MATTHEWS: Because I kept thinking tonight that there’s a real world out there he didn’t really talk about, and had perhaps overambitious notions about where we stood in the war against ISIL, the Islamic State. He doesn’t want to call it the Islamic State, but that’s what they call themselves. Those two Japanese people with no guilt on their shoulders, just staring there out of the desert who are going to be apparently decapitated — that reality, what’s going on in Nigeria is reality. How close was the President to reality overall, globally, tonight?

MITCHELL: I think that on foreign policy, his projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, as I said, is not close to reality. They have not come up with a strategy, and they’ve built a global coalition, but again, he’s talked about Ukraine, he’s talked about Putin being isolated. Yes, Putin is isolated economically and the falling oil prices have hammered his economy. But at the same time, there’s renewed fighting in Donetsk, and we haven’t figured out Ukraine, we haven’t figured out how the NATO alliance can push back. Sanctions have not really worked, and Ukraine is going to need more weaponry, and they have not reached that point. So you’re right, Chris, it doesn’t match the reality.

As Ed Morrissey adds, “It’s as though Obama was asleep between the 2014 SOTU and last night. That would explain a lot about last year, actually …”

I’d say that when it’s so bad that even NBC and MSNBC both notice, it might be a wake-up call for the White House — but perhaps not this White House, where the president obviously needs to be well-rested for his weekend leisure-time activities and late night bull sessions with actors and rock stars.

Sweet dreams for everyone else though. Oh and sug, don’t forget to say your prayers.

The Closing of the British Mind

January 20th, 2015 - 12:54 pm

“Progressivism:” Where time stands still:

By 1932, a frustrated [H.G.] Wells found his superior wisdom bypassed time and again by the superior mass appeal of fascism and Communism. In a talk at Oxford provocatively titled “Liberal Fascism,” he called for liberalism to be “born again.” After his customary denunciation of parliamentary politics as an anachronism, he let out his frustrations, calling for fascist means to serve liberal ends by way of a liberal elite as “conceited” and as power-hungry as its rivals. “I suggest that you study the reinvigoration of Catholicism by Loyola,” Wells said. “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti.” It was also to Communism that “we shall have to turn—we outsiders, that is, the young people with foresight for enlightened Nazis; I am proposing that you consider the formation for a greater Communist Party; a western response to Russia.”

“The Godfather of American Liberalism,” Fred Siegel’s history of H.G. Wells as “novelist, historian, authoritarian, anticapitalist, eugenicist, and advisor to presidents,” City Journal, Spring 2009. (And yes, Wells’ speech was the inspiration for the title of a best-selling book with the same name in 2008.)

Flash-forward to November of 2014:

I spent Thanksgiving debating at the Oxford Union.

Oxford University is the most prestigious university in the world. And the Oxford Union, hosting debates since 1823, is the world’s most prestigious stage for competing ideas. These facts made what transpired all the more depressing.

The proposition debated was: “Hamas is a greater obstacle to peace than Israel.”

When first apprised of the topic, I was so certain that an error had been made that I called both my debating partner, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and Oxford to confirm it. Outside of the Muslim world and the far Left, who would even think to argue that Hamas is not the greater obstacle to peace?

Is the Oxford Union unaware that the Hamas charter calls for — indeed the raison d’être of Hamas is — the destruction of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state? Yet, the proposition lost by a vote of 190 to 130, give or take a few votes. In other words, a majority of Oxford University students voting at the Oxford Union deem Israel a greater threat than Hamas.

“Oxford and the Crisis of the University: A debate on Hamas and Israel illustrates the moral confusion that reigns on campus,” Dennis Prager, National Review Online, today.

Allan Bloom, the author of The Closing of the American Mind, and Paul Johnson, whose best-selling Modern Times begins with a treatise on “The theory of moral relativity” wouldn’t be at all surprised by the Weimar-esque mental stasis at Oxford.

Related: “CNN’s Beating Up On Jindal, But CNN Ran A Report About ‘No-Go Zones’ in London.”

‘America The Murdering Psycho Sniper’

January 19th, 2015 - 4:22 pm

Caleb Howe on why Michael Moore has his giant panties in a twist over American Sniper:

Part One: he is not as close to people when he shoots them as other people are when they shoot. The blessed virtue of proximity, I suppose. By that reasoning, it is safe to conclude that Michael Moore finds the up close and personal beheading of a journalist to be far preferable to the long distance shooting of the beheader.

It is an addendum to this point that the reason it matters is that the sniper isn’t as much at risk of being killed as maybe he ought to be. If you’re going to war, expose your position and for heaven’s sake don’t wear body armor, or you might get a tsk tsk for not taking enough risk. Never you mind that these exact same people played moral scold over insufficient body armor not that long ago. Anything that might reduce your risk is “cowardly. All future military engagements, please take place in the nude using only staplers as weapons. For bravery.

Part Two: The sniper says negative or derogatory things about his targets. This is very important, because as you know, to all things there is an etiquette, and etiquette in all things. “I say, lovely chap I’ve got to shoot this morning. Smashing fellow. Real shame about the blowing people up thing, sad bit that. Still I daresay I’ll be sad to see him off. Dashing good looking too.” I am personally surprised a rugged tough guy like Seth Rogen is not aware of this, but in war, people say mean things about the people shooting at them. And the funny thing is? They also shoot and kill them, which turns out to be a tad more bothersome for all the participants, oddly enough. At least, though, we can say they are consistent and are outraged at any use of the word infidel. Right? Riiiiight.

Soldiers and Marines, especially those who have to pull a trigger, trash talk. Sometimes way more than that, they dehumanize. Is it pretty? No. But it’s real and it works. And selective hyperventilation from the knitting circle left isn’t going to change that.

To be fair though, one can understand why Moore took Kyle’s trash-talking about his enemies so personally, given his own past thoughts on America’s opposition in Iraq:

BowlingforFallujah

Related: My 2013 interview with Chris Kyle’s widow Taya, and his American Sniper co-author Jim DeFelice:

Update: Moe Lane sums up the left’s anger with Chris Kyle’s life story:

As the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday admitted in 2010, “creating a usable past” i.e., a simple, reactionary, anti-American, anti-conservative narrative is far more important for Hollywood (and DC) leftists than actual truth-telling. Kyle’s murder doesn’t permit the shaping of yet another 1970s-style boilerplate Hollywood violent war vet narrative to smear the entire American military, hence the anger by Moore, Rogan, and their ilk.

Much truth in this observation as to their roots of the Hollywood left’s anger as well.

More: “Chris Kyle was Charlie Hebdo with a rifle, not a pen,” Kurt Schlichter writes as he “detonates the [leftwing] narrative”at Truth Revolt. “This, of course, was unforgivable to the left.”

Mark Steyn spots a telling reader comment in the London Daily Mail and notes, “This reader assumes that societal development only goes in one direction: it advances”:

I’ve written previously about the mainstreaming of decapitation. Responding to today’s Beheading of the Day — on a quiet residential street in West London — this Daily Mail reader from Leeds comments:

Poor woman. Why is beheading always in the news, is this really 2015?

You can chop some people’s heads off, and it wouldn’t make any bloody difference, because there’s nothing up there. The foolish assumption behind that comment helps explain why our civilization is sleepwalking off the cliff: Oh, my! How can beheading be “always in the news” if this is “really 2015″?

This reader assumes that societal development only goes in one direction: it advances.

But that’s not true. If you’re as careless with our inheritance as we are, society can go backwards, and get worse. Much worse.

Why is beheading in the news if it’s really 2015?

Answer: It’s because it’s really 2015 that beheading’s in the news. If this was Britain in 1975 or 1955 or 1925 or 1885 or 1835, it wouldn’t be in the news. But it’s 2015 and beheading’s on the upswing.

Beheading was introduced to England by William the Conqueror after 1066, but was generally reserved for the highest of the high – men of noble birth, for whom execution by decapitation was felt to be the closest thing to death in battle – and for the lowest of the low – traitors. So the last person to be beheaded in Britain was Lord Lovat in 1747, and the last corpses to be beheaded were those of the Cato Street Conspirators in 1820, who had their heads severed posthumously by axe.

And that was it until the 21st century, when for the first time soldiers were beheaded on the London streets in broad daylight, and octogenarian widows in the privacy of their gardens, and now unfortunate ladies with intemperate husbands. Unless you’re prepared to do something about your immigration policy, get used to more decapitation. It’s 2015, and beheading is just one strand in the vibrant tapestry of the multicultural utopia.

Of course, that “vibrant tapestry” is beginning to look rather threadbare. Speaking of the London Daily Mail and societal development moving in a horribly wrong direction, in its headline section, Hot Air links to a Daily Mail piece titled “Without its Jews, Britain would not be Britain.” As one of Hot Air’s readers presciently notes in the comments under the article link: “That’s what every country says (substitute country name) just before the Jews are forced to leave.”

And as Glenn Reynolds adds at Instapundit, “Most of the British Jews now concerned with growing antisemitism probably voted for Labour, because they thought it was progressive and caring.”

Arguably even more so than the majority of American Jews in 2008 and 2012, they chose poorly.