Today is the 200th anniversary of the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” an event commemorated in Baltimore this weekend — the site of Fort McHenry whose defense against a pitiless British bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key to write the stirring words that eventually became our National Anthem.
Every school child in America knows the story — or, at least, they used to. Today, I’m not so sure. With such short shrift given to the uplifting parts of our national narrative, Key’s remarkable, emotional story may have become something less than a footnote in history books.
Key was on a mission approved by President Madison to negotiate an exchange of prisoners with British Admiral Alexander Cochrane, including a good friend of Keys who had been captured a few days earlier. The attack began on the morning of September 13, with the British launching huge mortar shells and Congreve rockets against the fort. The rockets were more of a psychological weapon at that time as they were very loud but not very destructive. Not so the mortars that arched over the walls of the fort causing few casualties but wreaking havoc on the fort’s infrastructure.
The British plan was to silence the fort’s big guns that would have made any attempt to sail past McHenry into the harbor a suicide mission. Once in the harbor, the ships would then support a ground force whose job was to take the city of Baltimore.
It was a good plan, but dependent on the ability of Cochrane’s ships to either so demoralize the Americans that they surrendered, or cause so much damage that the the fort could not effectively resist. Cochrane believed Key would be useful to negotiate the fort’s surrender so he allowed him to reboard the sloop that brought him to the admiral’s flagship and join the fleet that was bombarding McHenry.
Key had a birdseye view of the bombardment. By all accounts an emotional man, Key watched and fretted while the fort took a pounding for more than 24 hours, as nearly 2000 shells and 1000 rockets pummeled the works. Toward morning, the fort’s defenders replaced the storm flag that had flown throughout the battle with the huge 46′ by 32′ flag that now resides in the Smithsonian.
But Key couldn’t see in the dim light and because smoke obscured his view. Finally, as dawn broke, Key caught sight of the huge flag and was so filled with gratitude and patriotism, that he wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” which was later put to music — “Anacreon in Heaven” – and the rest is history. The “Star Spangled Banner” become the official anthem of the US in 1931.
There have been numerous complaints through the years about the anthem; it’s too “martial”; it’s hard to sing; the song is inappropriate because it was originally a drinking song (not true, but it’s a good story); the lyrics are overwrought.
Steve Vogel, author of “Through the Perilous Fight: From the Burning of Washington to the Star-Spangled Banner: The Six Weeks That Saved the Nation”, debunks several myths about the anthem in a recent column for the Washington Post:
Rather than martial chest-thumping, Key’s first verse is a long question, wondering not just whether the flag still flew over the fort but whether the young nation would survive. In the dark hours before dawn, the guns fell quiet. For Key, the silence was dreadful, a sign that the fort may have fallen. The second verse captures Key’s relief at spotting the American flag “in full glory reflected” at first light.
The rarely sung third verse is angry and vengeful, rejoicing that the enemy’s “blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.” Perhaps the lyrics reflect Key’s emotion after watching the British attempt to incinerate Baltimore. Key takes a more pious tone in the fourth and final verse, celebrating the return of peace and the end of “war’s desolation.”
The man who wrote this most patriotic of American songs in fact deeply opposed the war. Key had been dismayed by the U.S. declaration of war in 1812, considering it foolhardy for the young nation to take on one of the most powerful militaries on Earth.
Politico’s Ted Widmer wonders if it isn’t time to replace the “Star Spangled Banner” with a song that’s easier to sing, and with a less problematic history. Apparently, Key owned slaves and was a vigorous defender of the abomination. Should this disqualify him and his creation?
Two hundred years after that long night in Baltimore, is it time to rethink the Star-Spangled Banner? It has its merits—to drown out bad news with bluster, brass and percussion worked in 1814, and the song continues to radiate personality, even as most of us try and fail to sing along with its awkward leaps over one-and-half octaves. It feels right that the city that gave us Hairspray also surrendered this essential bit of national theater. The music has entered so deeply into our consciousness that even its parodies can seem beautiful—much as the Jimi Hendrix version, inflammatory at the time, has acquired a great dignity of its own.
But the story of Key’s nearness to slavery cannot easily be forgotten, especially in an era that demands more accountability, and offers to tools to find it. Critics over the years—I am hardly the first—have been brutal about the Star-Spangled Banner’s many shortcomings. The New York Herald Tribune dismissed it as “words that nobody can remember [set] to a tune that nobody can sing.” In 1918, a woman named Kitty Cheatham denounced the words as “German propaganda” (because they undermined the Anglo-American alliance), and saw the music as a product of “darkness,” “degeneracy,” and “the carnal mind.” Christian Science leader Augusta Stetson called it a “barroom ballad composed by a foreigner.” A 1965 writer thought it “as singable as Die Walkure, as American as ‘God Save the Queen’”; the columnist Michael Kinsley has ripped its “empty bravado” and “mindless nonsense about rockets and bombs.”
Perhaps—like Old Glory herself—the unsingable song is here to stay. But if not, we have a worthy contender waiting in the wings: “America the Beautiful,” a stirring piece of music, easily sung and irrefutably composed by U.S. citizens.
Like all of us, Key was a product of his times. The fact that he supported slavery is only one aspect of his character, and to condemn him unmercifully for a sin shared by tens of millions of Americans north and south seems harsh and arbitrary. Using that logic, no American born before 1865 deserves recognition for anything. It cost the US 600,000 lives to wrench the institution of slavery from our midst — a horrible price to pay and illustrative of just how difficult it was to escape the institution’s historical trap.
Certainly Key should be criticized for his views on slavery, especially when you consider the growing abolitionist movement in America during his lifetime. He could have changed but he didn’t. That’s a black mark on his character that history will not wash away.
But why besmirch his heartfelt patriotism and sheer relief that Baltimore was saved and possibly, the war with it? The emotional lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” are a celebration of American values and a demonstration of the American character. It is as much a part of American history as any icon we possess.
Surely we can find room for Francis Scott Key in the pantheon of American heroes despite his flaws, and celebrate his creation no matter how hard it is to sing. For the sake of our children, we have to.
To understand why the Islamic State not only decapitates its “infidel” captives, but also mutilates and mocks their corpses—and all to sadistic laughter—one need only turn to the Koran and deeds of Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The Koran exhorts believers to “Fight them [those who oppose Islam], Allah will torment them with your hands, humiliate them, empower you over them, and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts” (Koran 9:14-15).
As usual, to understand the significance of any Koran verse, one must turn to the sira andhadith—the biography and anecdotes of Muhammad, respectively—for context.
Thus we come to the following account concerning the slaughter of ‘Amr bin Hisham, a pagan Arab chieftain originally known as “Abu Hakim” (Father of Wisdom) until Muhammad dubbed him “Abu Jahl” (Father of Stupidity) for his staunch opposition to Islam.
After ‘Amr was mortally wounded by a new convert to Islam during the Battle of Badr, Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, a close companion of Muhammad, saw the “infidel” chieftain collapsed on the ground. So he went to him and started abusing him. Among other things, Abdullah grabbed and pulled ‘Amr’s beard and stood in triumph on the dying man’s chest.
According to Al-Bidaya wa Al-Nihaya (“The Beginning and the End”), Ibn Kathir’s authoritiative history of Islam, “After that, he [Abdullah] cut his [‘Amr’s] head off and bore it till he placed it between the hands of the Prophet. Thus did Allah heal the hearts of the believers with it.”
This, then, is the true significance of Koran 9:14-15: “Fight them, Allah will torment them with your hands [mortally wounding and eventually decapitating ‘Amr], humiliate them [pulling his beard], empower you over them [standing atop him], and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts [at the sight of his decapitated head].”
The logic here is that, pious Muslims are so full of zeal for Allah’s cause that the only way their inflamed hearts can be at rest is to see those who oppose Allah and his prophet utterly crushed—humiliated, mutilated, decapitated. Then the hearts of the believers can be at ease and “healed.”
This is surely one of the reasons behind the Islamic State’s dissemination of gory videos and pictures of its victims: the new “caliphate” is trying to heal the hearts of every believer inflamed for the cause of Allah.
If this sounds too farfetched, consider the following picture of a decapitated “infidel” from the Islamic State’s websites. The Arabic caption to the left says “healing for hearts”—a clear reference to the aforementioned Koran verse… Click for images and to keep reading
President Barack Obama delivered his strategy to defeat ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State — choose the name you prefer — Wednesday night. The four-pronged strategy includes the use of American and allied air power; partnering with the Iraqis, the Kurds and the Free Syrian Army; counterterrorism operations; and humanitarian aid.
The Free Syrian Army alliance is problematic for two reasons. The FSA is weakened by years of war against both Syrian dictator Assad and against ISIS. It is also infiltrated with Islamists who are more sympathetic to radicals, and who may have sold American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff to ISIS. Patrick Poole reports that the FSA is working with ISIS.
The president’s speech included this strange passage. The president touted two nations in which he believes counterterrorism has worked against al Qaeda, and similar strategies can be deployed against IS.
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order,” the president said.
Successful? Al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab controls territory in Somalia and regularly launches attacks.
Counterterrorism in Somalia, essentially, is Whack-A-Mole. It works to some extent against terrorist leaders and cells, but IS is a very different prospect. It is a terrorist army numbering in the thousands, powered by stolen oil and robbed banks, mechanized by abandoned American tanks and HUMVEES, which is now building a capital city and gunning to bring about Armageddon. It has carved out a large territory and it is recruiting fighters from all over the world, including American and European citizens. Whack-A-Terrorist, as the Obama administration has done in Yemen, is unlikely to make much of an impact on IS.
The U.S. effort in Somalia is a particularly disturbing one for Obama to turn to. The United States has been involved in one way or another in Somalia since December of 1992.
President George H. W. Bush ordered U.S. forces into that chaotic failed east African territory as the main component of an international force dispatched to restore its government and provide food to the impoverished people there. The American military made shore along Somalia’s coast in a nighttime operation made bright by the glare of media TV lights. The cable news networks were tipped and were literally waiting onshore for the Americans to land and walk up the beach.
Not a shot was fired that night, and the Somalis initially greeted America as liberators. Operation RESTORE HOPE looked like it would be a peaceful humanitarian mission, and nothing more. The warlords who had replaced Somalia’s central dictatorship with feudal local power centers even cooperated with the international force and each other, at first. I was in the Air Force, stationed in Japan, when Somalia operations got into full swing. One of my co-workers volunteered and deployed there. Many of us, including myself, considered volunteering. I ended up staying put in Tokyo.
This is not ancient history. We all know what happened eventually. Mission creep. The hunt for Aidid. The Battle of Mogadishu. Black Hawk Down. American troops killed in a hyperviolent urban battle, and their bodies dragged through the streets of Mogadishu for all the world to see.
Americans quickly lost interest in the Somalia mission and President Bill Clinton was not inclined to continue it. Our swift exit encouraged Obama bin Laden to see us as a paper tiger. He attacked us on our soil 13 years ago today.
Haleh Esfandiari is an Iranian American who escaped the revolution in ’79. Currently directing the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Esfandiari was held captive by the Iranian regime for 105 days in 2007. One of the few voices willing to speak up for the women being oppressed under the ISIS regime, she recently turned a critical eye toward Arab and Muslim governments in the region in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
Arab and Muslim governments, vocal on the threat ISIS poses to regional stability, have been virtually silent on ISIS’s systemic degradation, abuse, and humiliation of women. To the men of ISIS, women are an inferior race, to be enjoyed for sex and be discarded, or to be sold off as slaves.
…Zakia Hakki, an Iraqi judge and a woman herself, says that the fighters leave behind pregnant women who, as “soiled goods,” are ostracized by their own societies, while their children are treated as illegitimate. These raped women become targets for honor killings in their own families and communities. The governments of Iraq and Syria have also failed to protect these women and give them any assistance; nor have Western NGOs been effective in looking after these abandoned women and children. ISIS’s men not only leave behind dead bodies in their wake but also women and children who are scarred for life.
In its propaganda, ISIS emphasizes women’s modesty and piety. It created the al-Khansaa female brigade to protect the morality of women and to ensure they appear totally veiled in public. The irony will not be lost on anyone.
Esfandiari’s damning evidence adds fuel to the fire most feminists are unwilling to take on. But, it is her cultural analysis that demands the West’s wholehearted attention (emphasis mine):
Volunteer fighters from around the world, including from Western countries, who have joined ISIS are complicit in these crimes against women. These young men who grew up in Western cultures seem to have absorbed nothing regarding the value of human life and respect for women. Why are there are no demonstrations in Western and Muslim societies against this barbaric onslaught on women and girls? How much longer will the Muslim and Arab world watch these horrors against women and children before speaking out and acting forcefully to protect them and rid the region of the ISIS calamity?
This week the Drudge Report had this link from the UK Telegraph with the headline and subhead:
How Isil doctored the image of Obama, making him appear haggard in videos
The terrorist group carefully manipulate their videos to make the US president look as tired and weary as possible, demonstrating its technical prowess
Welcome to war in the modern age where our enemies use media manipulation to taunt President Obama. (Remember when Putin and the Russians made light of Obama’s wimpy image using the kitty cats? Click here if you missed that unusual caption contest.)
Below, the Telegraph describes the techniques ISIL (or ISIS) used in the screen-grab image that is the subject of our contest.
In the same way, Mr. Obama’s blue jacket is made to appear a funereal black. His strands of grey hair are picked up and exaggerated. The editor has also caused an interlacing effect of black lines to run across the president’s white shirt. For good measure, he has carefully stretched the screen length ways in order to make Mr. Obama appear thin and gaunt.
Now, here is your “special ops” mission for these dangerous times. You must translate the message written in whatever language these barbarians used, into a language that PJ Media readers can better understand.
In addition to the “official translation,” you can also write a non-official translation from the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee or from any committee or organization you wish, even the NRA or the Navy Seals.
Finally, is it just me, or does the ISIS video manipulation make Obama resemble, even more than before, “this guy” from the History Channel’s Bible mini-series? (Official name of “this guy” withheld for many political, religious and IRS reasons.)
Good luck, and you don’t have to be nice with your translations because the “folks” who did this video manipulation really are the personification of “this guy” in the photo above.
A beaming President Obama said he was at one of the places he’d always wanted to visit while touring Stonehenge after the NATO summit.
Obama walked about the prehistoric monument for about 20 minutes, according to the White House pool report, exclaiming, “How cool is this!”
The visit was added to his schedule at the last minute before he departed the UK.
“It’s spectacular, it’s spectacular. It’s a special place,” he added.
Reporters asked if he had always wanted to visit Stonehenge, which could have been an ancient calendar or spot for sacred ritual. “Knocked it off the bucket list!” the president replied.
Obama is scheduled to arrive back at the White House tonight.
— Mic (@micnews) September 5, 2014
President Obama makes a surprise visit to Stonehenge, one of the wonders of the world. pic.twitter.com/4btSfwmRzb
— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) September 5, 2014
En route to Estonia, Pres Obama waves from AF1 (remote GoPro camera) pic.twitter.com/PS7Lhqqpgx
— petesouza (@petesouza) September 2, 2014
The Times of Israel carried the startling report of one radical Islamist mother-in-law who was willing to send not one, not two, but all of her daughters to slaughter for the Palestinian cause:
The bereaved mother-in-law of Hamas terror chief Muhammad Deif said she would be “honored” were he to marry her two other daughters, even if they were “martyred” as a consequence.Deif’s wife Widad and his son and daughter were killed last week in an Israeli airstrike aimed at Deif, the Hamas military commander said by Israel to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis in a career of terrorism dating back to the early 1990s.Apparently believing that Deif survived the Israeli strike, Widad’s mother Zeian Asfura, 61, told London’s Sunday Times in an interview published Sunday: “Should Deif request the hand of any of my other daughters, I will happily consent and even if she, too, is martyred I will consent to the third.
“It is an honor to have Deif a husband to any of my daughters and be a father to their children,” Asfura added.…Asfura said that when she consented to the marriage in 2011, she realized the possible consequence. “When I agreed the marriage, I in effect consented to a fate of martyrdom for my daughter,” she said.
Mainstream feminists news sources didn’t bother carrying this story, but give them time. Nearly a month after the rest of the world learned that Yazidi women were jumping off cliffs to avoid becoming Islamic State sex slaves, Jezebel finally granted a few words to the issue. Referring to the women as “brides” instead of “sex slaves”, the author demurely referred to to the situation as “just awful.” The Yazidi choice to commit suicide didn’t even make the story.
Friedan feminists lapped up the liberties their mothers and grandmothers had fought hard to earn and shrugged. As a result, their daughters live comfortably, insulated in their so-called feminism that remains ignorant of the real persecution of women the world over. The more politically inclined among them fell for the Marxist narrative of postcolonial struggle, rendering them powerless against a perceived racial minority’s religious ideology that subjects a woman to a life of objectification and abuse. Hence contemporary American feminism isn’t equipped to confront radical Islam’s threat against women.
The struggle of the Yazidi women and the perverted ideology of Zeian Asfura demand that feminism not be defined by upper class white women supplementing their career of bored housewife with fundraising galas for the latest cause celeb. It is time feminism got back to its roots of Bible believing, slave-freeing, vote-wielding powerful women who worked as forces of nature fighting against female persecution. Ignorance is evil, and the kind of ignorance embraced by modern feminism is the kind that empowers evil to thrive to the point that no ocean border can wash it away. The West needs feminism, true feminism, Biblical feminism, lest the story of the Yazidi become a global narrative and evil mother-in-law jokes take on a sick, sad new meaning in our neck of the woods.
More and more I’m convinced that America right now isn’t a country dealing with a mere dip in its mood and might. It’s a country surrendering to a new identity and era, in which optimism is quaint and the frontier anything but endless.
— Frank Bruni, NY Times, Lost in America, 8/27/2014
Drawing on a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Times columnist Frank Bruni paints a picture of a nation on the down slope, with no end in sight. He notes that 60 percent of those polled feel America is “in decline.”
But if you dig into the data you find that, while the depressing number has indeed climbed to 60 from 54 percent in January 2011, in five of the last eight times the pollsters asked this question (going back to October ’91) the readout was higher than 60, peaking at 69 percent in June 2008.
So, you might say, cheer up, Frank Bruni, it could be worse.
However, the next question in the survey brings a chilling context to that 60-percent figure. The question: “Do you feel confident that life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us?”
Only 21 percent said they do. Back in the dog days of decline in summer 2008, that number was 31. During a declension nearly as severe, in 1991-92, around 41 percent still felt confident their kids would have a better life.
We Are Dissatisfied
Americans have always been a dissatisfied lot — we wouldn’t have come here if we were not. But we’ve always coupled that dissatisfaction with a belief in a better tomorrow. We’ve backed that belief with a determination to make it so, and a bone-deep conviction that we lived in a land where anything is possible. We’re all about “the pursuit of happiness.”
This is what seems to have slipped…or rather, to have been tripped.
You see, it’s not that a Jimmy Carter-esque malaise has fallen across the fruited plain, but rather that malaise has been spread like mayonnaise across the amber waves of grain by people who seem determined to share the gloom of their own existential angst with the rest of us.
I, for one, will have none of it.
America still offers the greatest franchise opportunity on earth, available with no money down, to anyone willing to invest his sweat equity. In fact, that opportunity now exceeds the wildest dreams of our Fathers, as the internet has dried up the ocean and we can cross it barefoot in a moment. Global markets lay beneath our feet like Russell H. Conwell’s proverbial “Acres of Diamonds.”
That doesn’t mean careful plans can’t collapse in the face of unforeseen obstacles. They quite likely will, and perhaps should, since passionate dreamers tend to lose touch with marketplace reality and must run headlong into an obsidian wall from time to time, to jar us into exploring other options.
This opportunity also doesn’t excuse us from competition, both legitimate and nefarious. Some of your opponents will see your presence as healthy inspiration for their own innovations. Others will work tirelessly and deceitfully to ensure that you’re bankrupted and living under a bridge in a cardboard box. But the alternative to the exhilarating roller coaster of competition is the mundane merry-go-round of corporate wage-slavery, or government-subsidized bondage. The merry-go-round thrills only those who have never ventured beyond the painted pony.
The Daily Beast’s anti-Second Amendment crusader Cliff Schecter is full of praise for Microsoft founder, billionaire Bill Gates, because Gates wants to force every gun transaction in Washington State to go through a government check.
It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.
Gates is only the latest Washington billionaire to give to the effort, with original Amazon investor Nick Hanauer providing crucial early funding, and more recently upping his overall donation to $1.4 million. Additionally, Gates’s Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has provided $500,000 for the cause.
But Gates’s fame brings more attention and further legitimizes the initiative in a way that almost nobody else could. Once the Gates Foundation made it a priority to combat malaria around the world in 2000, it brought down deaths due to the insect-borne disease by 20 percent in 11 years, saving the lives of 1 million African children in the process.
Gun ownership is a civil right, at least if you respect the Constitution.
Universal background checks won’t stop criminals. Universal checks, like the related “gun show loophole,” is a red herring to combat a problem that is decreasing.
Overall gun-related violence is down, and it is sharply down in Chicago — after concealed carry permits were forced on the state’s Democratic leadership. More guns, less crime, because criminals can no longer count on their victims being disarmed.
Bill Gates, like Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and George Soros, is a special interest kingpin. But he’s the right kind of one-percenter special interest donor, so the Beast praises him.
Bloomberg is worth $33 billion, but if that’s not enough, Gates is worth well over two times that amount. Who knows, with that kind of dough, maybe even measures that “only” enjoy 56 percent support like bans on assault weapons and/or high-capacity magazines could pass via direct voting by uncorrupted American citizens. Or perhaps state legislators and members of Congress who bend easily to the will of these Lords of War could be swapped out for those who live in a closer neighborhood to the best interests of the American populace.
That’s packed full of emotional nonsense. The “Lords of War” have nothing to do with the Second Amendment. The left’s “Lords of Cash,” on the other hand, keep attacking the Second Amendment rights of everyday Americans.
Likely the NRA will try to do to Gates what it has attempted to do to Bloomberg for a few years now, and seek to make this fight about him and not its right-wing radicalism in the service of avarice. He’s a billionaire trying to influence our political process, after all, unlike Manhattan resident David Koch, who along with his brother Charles has polluted our political process to no end, including funding the NRA.
See, Gates is just the right kind of special interest.
Bill Gates is welcome to waste his money on this. He might even succeed, in Washington State, and the failure of a universal check to have an impact on gun crime ought to serve as evidence that the entire effort is a ruse to disarm average non-billionaire Americans bit by bit.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that billionaires tend not to live by their own anti-gun rhetoric. Don’t expect the likes of Cliff Schecter to call them out on that.
Matti Friedman, a former AP Correspondent, has written a brilliant, must-read analysis of why the mainstream media’s reporting on Israel is skewed, biased, and downright reprehensible:
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
The 3 page story explains a number of popular misnomers that are the result of mainstream media reporting techniques, including:
- In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
- The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
- Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell.
Concluding with, “Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality,” the story is a must read for anyone willing to confront the mess of mainstream media and the reality of life in Israel and the Middle East.
Commemorating the 200th anniversary of burning the White House. Only sparklers this time! pic.twitter.com/QIDBQTBmmL
— British Embassy (@UKinUSA) August 24, 2014
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote an article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:
Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.
Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:
“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?
The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.
What does one make of this—that under Saddam, who was notorious for human rights abuses, Christians were better off than they are under a democratic government sponsored by humanitarian, some would say “Christian,” America?
Although I first suggested over three years ago that Christian minorities are the first to suffer whenever the U.S. intervenes in Islamic nations—evincing the types of people the U.S. ends up empowering—this notion is now an ironclad fact, with other examples to add to Iraq, including Libya, Syria, and Egypt under Obama allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like a Baghdad caliph, Saddam appears to have made use of the better educated Christians, who posed no risk to his rule, such as his close confidant Tariq Aziz. Moreover, by keeping a tight lid on the Islamists of his nation—who hated him as a secular apostate no less than the Christians—the latter benefited indirectly.
Conversely, by empowering “the people,” the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting Western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that “people-power” will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society—despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Arab/Muslim world, “majority rule” traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect; increasingly, it means Islamist domination.
Either which way, the minorities—notably the indigenous Christians—are the first to suffer once the genie of “people-power” is uncorked. Indeed, evidence indicates that the U.S. backed “democratic” government of Iraq enables and incites the persecution of its Christians. (All of this raises the pivotal question: Do heavy-handed tyrants—Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al—create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order?)
Again, a reminder that it is not just the Islamic jihadis and other U.S. sponsored “rebels” that persecute Christians, but even the U.S. installed government of Iraq. Moreover, a few months after the above was written, the government of “liberated” Afghanistan destroyed the last Christian church—entirely under U.S. auspices.
Another indicator that empowering Muslim masses equates Christian suffering is the fact that, though Iraqi Christians amount to a mere 5% of the population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq. It is now the same in Egypt: “A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.”
At least Egypt’s problems are homegrown, whereas the persecution of Iraq’s Christians is a direct byproduct of U.S. intervention. More ironic has been Obama’s approach: Justifying U.S. intervention in Libya largely in humanitarian terms, the president recently declared that, while “it is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs… that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.”
Indeed, and we have since seen what Obama’s “humanitarian” actions in Libya have led to—the empowerment of Islamists and jihadis, evinced from things like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the dramatic rise of Christian persecution. Since Obama “liberated” Libya, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. And it’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was hardly the case under Gaddafi.
True, indeed. Yet, as Obama “acts on behalf of what’s right” by providing military protection to the al-Qaeda connected Libyan opposition, Iraq’s indigenous Christians continue to be exterminated—right under the U.S. military’s nose in Iraq. You see, in its ongoing bid to win the much coveted but forever elusive “Muslim-hearts-and-minds™”—which Obama has even tasked NASA with—U.S. leadership has opted to ignore the inhumane treatment of Islam’s “Christian dogs,” the mere mention of which tends to upset Muslims.
And now the job is largely done, as Christians and other religious minorities are being cleansed from large parts of Iraq, not to mention much of the Islamic world.
A Disturbing Pattern: Eight Times that Democrats Used Court Shenanigans Against Republicans They Couldn’t Beat at the Ballot Box
The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on August 15, 2014 has drawn criticism from pundits, politicians and papers all over the country. Some Democrats have disavowed the indictment, going as far as to claim that launching courtroom attacks against their opponents in the GOP is just not how Democrats operate.
But is that the case? Or have Democrats shown a disturbing pattern of using courtrooms to go after Republicans who pose a threat to them?
The following eight cases suggest that Democrats will wield ethics complaints and courtrooms as weapons against Republicans at strategic moments.
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle brought several charges against newly elected Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) in 1993. Hutchison had previously won statewide election as state treasurer, and was a rising star in Texas politics. She won a special election by landslide to replace Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D), who had been nominated to serve in the Clinton administration.
Even in 1993 there was talk that Hutchison was a future governor. As a woman with considerable poise in front the press, Hutchison represented a clear and present danger to the Democrats who hoped to build on Gov. Ann Richards’ success statewide. Hutchison came along at a time when Texas was shifting from a reliable Democratic state to a swing state, to becoming the Republican bastion it is today. A conservative, attractive woman who could even charm the hostile Texas media, Hutchison posed a grave threat to the Democrats at a pivotal moment.
Earle’s indictment, built through the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, alleged that Hutchison engaged in felony misconduct and ordered state employees to destroy evidence while she was state treasurer. Hutchison was essentially indicted over Christmas cards.
Hutchison’s attorneys won a change of venue out of heavily Democratic Travis County, to Fort Worth. The case fell apart at trial.
Result: Full acquittal. The change of venue pulled the flimsy case out of Travis County to Fort Worth, where Earle had to give it up. Hutchison won re-election in 1994 and would go on to serve as senator until she retired and Sen. Ted Cruz (R) replaced her in 2012.
The Democrats were by no means finished with legal shenanigans to try to keep their grip on Texas. Republicans finally won the state House in 2002 for the first time since Reconstruction. That empowered them to draw up the state’s electoral map for the very first time, and in the 2003 legislative session, they did just that, with the help of Rep. Tom DeLay. Democrats knew that they would lose the vote that would adopt the Republicans’ new map — a map drawn within the constraints of the law, but which no longer guaranteed the Democrats a majority in the state’s US House delegation.
Eleven Democrats responded by running off to Oklahoma to deny the House the quorum it needed to pass the map as long as they could.
Democrats would get around to punishing DeLay directly a few years later. Read on.
The IJReview picked up a story from the UK Daily Mail that featured the eye witness testimony of an Israeli Iron Dome commander responsible for protecting Tel Aviv, Israel’s business center, from incoming rocket attacks:
A missile was fired from Gaza. Iron Dome precisely calculated [its trajectory]. We know where these missiles are going to land down to a radius of 200 meters. This particular missile was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or [a central Tel Aviv railway station]. Hundreds could have died.
We fired the first [interceptor]. It missed. Second [interceptor]. It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident.
Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that … sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!”
The story, originally circulated in Israeli media, was translated into English by the Jerusalem-based news agency Israel Today. The commander’s testimony continued:
“I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send that missile into the sea.”
Israel Today noted that earlier unconfirmed reports circulating around the Internet had Hamas fighters have attributed the success of Iron Dome to the ability of Israel’s God to move Hamas rockets in mid-air. This is not the first report of Divine intervention in the midst of Operation Protective Edge. Following the Biblical terms of a pre-Jubilee year harvest, Orthodox farmers took enough wheat from their fields to reveal terrorists hiding in their midst. Most recently, it was reported that an Israeli soldier’s well-timed recitation of the Shema saved a Hamas female suicide bomber in Gaza.
Israel Today ended their Iron Dome miracle report by detailing another report of miracles in the midst of combat:
Also last week, Col. Ofer Winter, commander of the Givati Infantry Brigade, described a mysterious fog that favorably covered he and his troops as they advanced on an enemy position in morning light, after their nighttime raid was postponed.
Col. Winter labeled the covering as “clouds of glory.”
Earlier in the Gaza war, Col. Winter sparked heated national debate when he encouraged his troops to lead the charge against an enemy that “curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel.” Col. Winter concluded his letter by praying that the “Lord your God go with you, to fight for you against your enemies and to save you.”
A Little Bit Vulnerable tells her story of everything — life in Hollywood with the megahit Northern Exposure, fighting addiction and heartbreak, being a Christian and a single mom, and more. The title comes from a conversation she had with her daughter, Juliette, after Janine finished writing the book.
Her daughter, by the way, is not yet 18 years old yet she has written two impressive books of her own, in addition to penning some columns for us here at PJ Media. Juliette Turner’s second book, Our Presidents Rock!, comes out September 30.
In A Little Bit Vulnerable, Janine Turner shares her poetry, her political writings, her thoughts on the crises in our culture and much more. “I share my knowledge [of sobriety] and that of my great, great grandfather about the cyclical aspects of the disease and how to cope with the stresses of the world in a sober way,” she tells me, and she closes the book with a chapter about her father, who graduated from West Point and became an Air Force pilot. Sadly, her father passed away while Janine was writing the book. The book includes blurbs from the late Andrew Breitbart, First Lady of Texas Anita Perry, Chris Wallace and many more.
A Little Bit Vulnerable, by Janine Turner, is available now on Amazon for pre-order. It comes out September 30. It’s on my Kindle devices now and I’m really looking forward to reading it. At first glance it looks fantastic.
Breitbart published an exclusive report on the details surrounding the deaths of three Israeli soldiers, including Lt. Hadar Goldin, originally thought to have been kidnapped after Hamas terrorists set off a suicide bomb near a tunnel entrance. The report highlights Hamas’s gross abuse of women in Gaza, including their willingness to turn young women into suicide bombers. The account also provides evidence of the life-saving power of faith at work on the front lines:
In the midst of this attack, a second force of IDF soldiers–which had gone into a mosque looking for weapons, explosives, and rockets– encountered a female suicide bomber who was about to detonate the belt she wore, which would have resulted in the deaths of the soldiers. One of the soldiers instinctively recited the opening words of the holiest Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael”. The female suicide bomber hesitated and began trembling, giving the soldiers a chance to grab her and disable the device.
The soldiers then took her prisoner and turned her over to a counter-intelligence unit. Their investigation uncovered that the female suicide bomber’s mother was a Jew who had married a Palestinian in Israel and, after the wedding, was smuggled against her will into Gaza. There she lived a life filled with abuse and humiliation, and was basically a captive. In addition to the female suicide bomber, there were two smaller children as well. An armored force went in and rescued the two small children.
The Shema, “Hear O’Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One,” taken from Deuteronomy 6:4, was the last prayer recited by countless Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed by Fronda, a leading website in Poland. The English-language version of the Polish interview, originally titled “Raymond Ibrahim: Prostration before Islam,” follows:
Who is Raymond Ibrahim? A scholar, a writer, an activist? What is his mission and the main goal?
I am a little of all that and more. Due to my background, academic and personal, I have had a long interest in the Middle East and Islam, especially the historic and contemporary interaction between Islam and Christianity. After the strikes of September 11, 2001, I took an interest in the current events of the region vis-à-vis the West, and what immediately struck me was how, on the one hand, the conflict was almost identical to the historic conflict, one of continuity—at least that is how many Muslims were portraying it.
But on the other hand, in the West, the narrative was very different and based on a “new paradigm,” one that saw Islam and Muslims as perpetual victims of all sorts of outside and material pressures, mostly from the West. Thus the analyses that were being disseminated through media and academia were to my mind immensely flawed and, while making perfect sense to people in the West—for they were articulated through Western, secular, materialistic paradigms—had little to do with reality as I saw and understood it.
That was one of the reasons I left academia and began writing for more popular audiences, to try to offer a corrective to these flawed narratives. My first book, The Al Qaeda Reader (2007), was meant to do precisely this—to compare the words of al-Qaeda as delivered to the West and as delivered to fellow Muslims, and to show how when speaking to the West, al-Qaeda and other Islamists used Western arguments, claiming any number of grievances, political and otherwise, as being the source of their jihad. Obviously such arguments, widely disseminated by Western mainstream media, made perfect sense to the West.
But al-Qaeda’s Arabic writings that I discovered when I was working at the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., and which I translated for the book, made completely different arguments, basically saying that, irrespective of all grievances, Muslims must hate and wage jihad on all non-Muslim “infidels” until they come under Islamic authority, according to the worldview of Sharia, or Islamic law.
So in a way, you can say my mission since then has been to open Western eyes to the truths and reality of Islam—at least the reality of how it is understood and practiced by many Muslims—for Western eyes have been closed shut in recent times.
You have a dual background. You were born and raised in the U.S. by parents who were born and raised in a Coptic community in Egypt. Are you the ‘clash of civilizations’ personified? What kind of advantages and disadvantages does such an identity and upbringing lead do?
That’s an interesting way of putting it. Along with obvious benefits—being bilingual (Arabic and English), for example—yes, I do believe my background gives me more subtle advantages. Growing up cognizant of both worlds and cultures has, I believe, imparted a higher degree of objectivity to my thinking. Most people’s worldviews are colored by whichever culture they are immersed in—hence exactly why so many Western people tend to project their own values on the Islamic world, convinced that any violence and intolerance that comes from that region must be a product of some sort of socio-political or economic “grievance”—some sort of material, not religious, factor. While I understand, appreciate and participate in Western values and norms, because of my “dual” background, I also cannot project such values and norms on non-Western peoples (and vice-versa, of course).
This has caused my worldview to be, I believe, more neutral and objective, less colored by cultural values and references. Conversely, I have, so far, not encountered any notable disadvantages from such a background—other than perhaps being overly objective and not always able to participate in the common.
In addition to numerous articles in a variety of media, you are also the author of two books. The last one, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians argues that martyrdom is not a thing from the past. It is not a book with a happy ending, is it?
I prefer to think of it as a dire wake up call to the West. The topic of Muslim persecution of Christians is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. In Crucified Again, I look at the history of this phenomenon, the Islamic scriptures that support it, and the modern era. And what I find and document is unwavering continuity. According to Islamic teaching, Christians and other non-Muslims are “infidels,” and as such, they are seen as at best third class subjects in Islamic states. They cannot build or renovate churches, display crosses or Bibles; they have to pay tribute with humility, according to Koran 9:29; they cannot speak well of Christianity or criticize Islam. They are even required to give up their seats to a Muslim if he demands it, according to strict Islamic teaching (and as found in the “Conditions of Omar,” an important text that discusses how Christian minorities are to be treated under Islam).
Now if you look at history—as recorded by early Arabic/Islamic historians—you will see that that is exactly how Christians were treated under Islam for centuries; that is exactly how nations like Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and all of north Africa, went from being Christian majority to Muslim majority over the centuries: most Christians opted to convert to Islam rather than constantly suffer from third-class status as well as sporadic persecution.
And today, what we are seeing is simply the ongoing continuation of history, as Christians continue to be persecuted, continue to dwindle in numbers in lands that were Christian centuries before Western Europe embraced the faith. Yet, according to Western analysts, etc., all of this is some sort of “misunderstanding” or because Muslims are angry about Israel—anything and everything but codified religious intolerance, even though the latter is so well documented, doctrinally, historically, and in current events.
There are many initiatives aimed at bringing the ‘spirit of dialogue’ between the religions. In the Catholic Church we even celebrate a Day of Islam. What is your opinion on this kind of inter-faith outreach? Will it be successful in decreasing the persecution of Christians or helping individuals like Asia Bibi?
No, it will exacerbate Christian persecution. From my perspective, the more the West and/or Christianity kowtow to Islam—and that is what modern day “interfaith outreach” often amounts to—the more aggressive that religion becomes.
Here, again, is another example of Westerners projecting their norms onto others, namely, Muslims. In the Western paradigm, itself an offshoot of Christianity, showing tolerance and forgiveness will supposedly cause some sort of reciprocation from the one being forgiven and tolerated—since everything is always supposedly a “misunderstanding.” Yet in Islam, might has always made right, and “tolerance” has always been seen as sign of equivocation or weakness—a lack of conviction. If Christians praise Islam, so many Muslims conclude, that is because they feel it is the truth—not because they are trying to find commonalities, a paradigm that is foreign to classical Islam, which sees the world in terms of right (Islam) and wrong (non-Islam).
Again, history sheds some light on this. In the medieval era, there were Christians like Francis of Assisi who tried to have dialogue with Muslims—but in order to get to the truth, including by asking hard questions about Islam often in the context of Christian teaching. Such dialogue is of course admirable because it is sincere. But trying to have dialogue in order to find and parade some minor “commonalities”—while overlooking and ignoring the fundamental differences, which are much more immense and the true sources of conflict—is simply a game of wasting time.
In your writings regarding the Muslim persecutions of Christians, two themes are constantly recurring. Firstly, you claim that it constitutes “an elephant in the room” and secondly you believe that liberal academia and media are biased “whitewashing Islam and blaming the West” for Islamic attacks against non-Muslims. Can you explain the reasons for such arguments?
It’s the “elephant in the room” because few things show such remarkable continuity between the past and the present—while still being thoroughly ignored and treated as an aberration by academia, media, and government—as Muslim persecution of Christians. If you look at the true history recorded by both Muslims and Christians during the Medieval era—one Muslim historian tells of how one caliph destroyed 30,000 churches—you will see that the persecution and subjugation of Christians is an ironclad fact of history.
Today, not only do we see Christians persecuted from one end of the Islamic world to the other, but we see the same exact patterns of persecution that Christians experienced centuries ago, including hostility for and restrictions on churches, hostility for the crucifix and other Christian symbols and icons, restrictions on Christian worship and freedom. (I discuss this in more depth here and here.) As for academia and media, they reject modern day persecution of Christians for a plethora of reasons—not least because they tend to be ideologically anti-Christian—but primarily because it contradicts their entire narrative, specifically the notion that, far from being persecuted, Christians themselves are the most intolerant groups, and that Muslims are “misunderstood others” who have been oppressed by the West.
These themes are today so predominant in the West that few can believe they are almost entirely fabricated—but so they are, according to both history and current events, both of which are naturally suppressed or distorted by academia and media in the interest of keeping their ideologically-charged narrative alive.
In her book, Tenth Parallel, Eliza Griswold writes that religion becomes means of political emancipation, especially between the equator and the tenth parallel, where Christianity and Islam meet. So perhaps it is not about spirituality but power?
Again, one need only turn to history, followed by doctrine, to see that mainstream Islam has always been about power. Its founder and prophet, Muhammad, was a warlord, who went on caravan raids and incited his followers to attack and plunder other tribes that rejected his “prophecy,” seizing their property and women and children—and all in the context of “God told me so.” After his death, his followers did the same, giving people three choices: be part of their “team” by converting, or else keep their religious beliefs, but pay tribute and live as third class subjects, or else die. In this context, and over the course of several centuries of jihadi conquest, the Islamic world was forged.
All this is well justified by the Koran and Islamic Sharia. Compare and contrast this with Christianity’s founder, Jesus Christ: far from a warlord, he preached mercy, peace, and spirituality. And that’s one of the problems: Westerners are so well acquainted with Christianity that they tend to project its approach to Islam—naively thinking that all religions must be the same, primarily spiritual, not concerned with the temporal. But Islam is immensely concerned with the temporal—with power.
You have written about conceptual failures dominating the Western discourse on Islam. What are the main fallacies and why are they dangerous?
Along with the aforementioned fallacy of projecting Christian/Western worldviews onto a distinctly different religion/civilization like Islam, secular Westerners almost always try to understand Islam through secular and materialistic paradigms—the only paradigms they themselves are familiar with. Thus the mainstream interpretation in the West is that “radical Islam” is a byproduct of various sorts of material discontent (economic, political, social) and has little to do with the religion itself.
Westerners apparently think this way because the secular, Western experience has been such that people respond with violence primarily when they feel they are politically, economically, or socially oppressed. While true that many non-Western peoples fit into this paradigm, the fact is, the ideologies of Islam have the intrinsic capacity to prompt Muslims to violence and intolerance vis-à-vis the “other,” irrespective of grievances.
Conceptually, then, it must be first understood that many of the problematic ideologies associated with radical Islam trace directly back to Sharia, Islamic law. Jihad as offensive warfare to subjugate “infidels” (non-Muslims); mandated social discrimination against non-Muslim minorities living in Muslim nations (the regulations governing ahl al-dhimma); the obligation to hate non-Muslims—even if a Muslim is married to one—all of these are clearly defined aspects that have historically been part of Islam’s worldview and not “open to interpretation.”
For example, the obligation to wage expansionist jihad is as “open to interpretation” as the obligation to perform the Five Pillars of Islam, including praying and fasting. The same textual sources and methods of jurisprudence that have made it clear that prayer and fasting are obligatory, have also made it clear that jihad is also obligatory; the only difference is that, whereas prayer and fasting is an “individual” duty, jihad is understood to be a “communal” duty (a fard kifaya). All these intricacies must be understood before Westerners can understand Islam on its own terms.
One of the most popular views as to the reasons of Islamic terrorism is that it is based on political and economic grievances. The recipe to achieve the peaceful world would be then to remove the factors contributing to poverty or oppression and this way disarm the ‘relative deprivation’ bomb. Do you think it is feasible?
Again, as mentioned, political and economic grievances may be a reality; yet it is a distinct fact that, wherever Islam is—including in immensely rich nations like the Gulf nations—violence and intolerance of non-Muslims exist. For example, Christian persecution around the world today is being committed at the hands of Muslims of all races, languages, cultures, and socio-political circumstances: Muslims from among America’s allies (Saudi Arabia) and its enemies (Iran); Muslims from economically rich nations (Qatar) and from poor nations (Somalia and Yemen); Muslims from “Islamic republic” nations (Afghanistan) and from “moderate” nations (Malaysia and Indonesia); Muslims from nations rescued by America (Kuwait) and Muslims claiming “grievances” against America. Moreover, much of the underdeveloped world is suffering from economic, political, and social problems—and yet it is the Islamic world where terrorism in the name of God (Allah) is rampant. One does not hear of, say, disenfranchised Cuban dissidents crashing explosive-laden vehicles into government buildings—while screaming Jesus is great. Yet sceams of Allah is great in the context of terror attacks are ubiquitous.
You have devoted one of your publications to the concept of taqiyya. Can you explain what taqiyya is and why is it important to know it in the West?
Although Muslims are exhorted to be truthful, taqiyya is an Islamic doctrine that permits them to deceive non-Muslims, who by nature are deemed enemies. Some Western scholars and apologists for Islam insist that taqiyya is a very arcane teaching developed by Shi’a and to be used only when their lives are in danger. In reality, however, taqiyya—as well as its sister teaching, tawriya—is used by mainstream Islam (Sunnism) and gives Muslims great freedom to deceive infidels if the deception can be rationalized as a way to help empower Islam over non-Muslims.
Normative Islamic teaching is so that, almost anything can be rationalized as permissible—for example “martyrdom operations” (even though suicide is banned by Islam)—as long as they can be perceived as helping empower Islam. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself permitted deceit, including to one’s wife. One of the few Arabic language books devoted to the subject, At-Taqiyya fi’l-Islam (Dissimulation in Islam) makes it clear that taqiyya is hardly limited to Shi‘a dissimulating in fear of persecution. Written by Sami Mukaram, a former Islamic studies professor at the American University of Beirut and author of some twenty-five books on Islam, the opening sentences of the book clearly demonstrate the ubiquity and broad applicability of taqiyya: “Taqiyya is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it … We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya is mainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the mainstream … Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era.”
Do you have any words of advice to countries like Poland where the influence of Islam is still relatively weak but increasing due to immigration and certain radicalization of indigenous Muslim groups (e.g. Polish Tatars stopped their traditional prayers for Poland which used to be their custom)?
My advice is to take heed of what I call “Islam’s Rule of Numbers,” which is basically the unwavering, statistical fact that, the more Muslims grow in numbers (and thus strength), the more aggressive they become. In the U.S., for example, where Muslims are less than 1% of the population, acts of Islamic intolerance are relatively uncommon. Islamic assertiveness is limited to political activism dedicated to portraying Islam as a “religion of peace,” the painting of any and all critics as “Islamophobes,” and sporadic, but clandestine, acts of terror.
In some Western European nations, where Muslims make for much larger minorities—for example, the UK and France—open violence and religious intolerance is common. But because they are still a vulnerable minority, Islamic violence is always placed in the context of “grievances,” a word that, as we have seen, pacifies Westerners.
Where Muslim numbers reach 35-50% of a population, the full-blown jihad is often declared, as in Nigeria, which although is half Christian half Muslim is also one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian. In short, Islamic aggressiveness is very much a product of Islamic strength in numbers. I discussed this at length here.
Inevitably one stumbles upon the ‘so what?’ question. Nobody persecutes Christians in France and churches are not burnt in Germany. It is doubtful that Europe will be washed away with the waves of Islam. To the contrary, it looks like Europe wants to leave religions behind. Would you not say so?
Much of this view is based on selfishness, of the modern West’s egoistic and highly individualistic worldview. What such people are really saying is that, by and large, if nothing changes and people remain indifferent, they themselves and their generation will go through life fine without much worry from the Islamic question. But this position also shows absolute indifference to future generations and the world they will inherit. In short, yes, most Europeans today may not personally suffer from Islam. But they are opening the floodgates wide to the potential suffering of their descendants.
After watching his fellow pro-Israel ralliers get attacked by a pro-Palestinian mob, one average Canadian citizen wanted to send a message, not just to the thugs who sent 6 people to the hospital, but to the entire world. If you doubt that average people can do big things, you haven’t met Ron from Calgary, the founder of StopARocket.com.
Amused by the idea of a crowdsourcing campaign for the Iron Dome, I reached out to the folks at StopARocket.com to see if I could get a handle on the folks behind the fundraiser. It turns out that the “folks” is one guy named Ron who was willing to do an email interview. Obviously the guy has a day job. Most of his responses were sent in the wee hours of the morning, illustrating how dedicated he is to what he refers to as a simple, but profound way for Israel lovers across the globe to show their support for the civilian defense of the free world. Ron’s humble, straightforward responses illustrate how much we can accomplish when we’re willing to embrace Ben Carson’s axiom “Think Big”.
Please start by telling me a little about yourself and the group ForCanada. What is the group’s purpose? What are the goals?
I’m a private professional in Calgary. I attended a pro-Hamas rally a few weeks ago that degenerated into a violent mob that sent six people to the hospital. I’m worried not just about Israel’s safety in the Middle East, but the safety of Jews and non-Jewish Zionists in the west, including in North America.
For Canada is the committee that organized the pro-Israel rally last Thursday in Calgary. They agreed to let StopARocket.com use their mailing address and bank account to collect cheques from people who don’t want to use PayPal.
What drove you to fundraise specifically for the Iron Dome, as opposed to some kind of humanitarian aid for Israel (i.e. supplies for soldiers, etc.)? Shouldn’t military aid be managed by government officials?
Supporting Iron Dome is merely symbolic. I read a CNN article that said each Iron Dome anti-missile costs $62,000 so that seemed like an achievable fundraising goal. As we say on our website, we will ask the Israeli government to put the money towards the cost of one anti-missile, or any other civilian defence expenses to protect Israelis. It’s only for defensive efforts to protect civilians. But Iron Dome has captured the world’s imagination as a symbol of Israel’s ingenuity and value placed on life.
Are you working with any officials in Israel to coordinate this effort?
Before we launched the website, we confirmed with the Israeli embassy in Canada that they would support this project and would help us direct the funds to the appropriate agency in Israel.
India’s NDTV has released exclusive footage of Hamas terrorists assembling a rocket to fire in a residential neighborhood in Gaza:
In the minutes before the ceasefire kicked in at Gaza this morning, Hamas fired a flurry of rockets towards Israel – 30 according to some counts.
Israel has argued that that these rockets are fired from civilian areas, and this is why its retaliatory strikes can result in civilian casualties.
But this morning, NDTV witnessed one such rocket silo being created under a tent right next to the hotel where our team was staying. Minutes later, we saw the rocket being fired, just before the 72-hour ceasefire came into effect.
NDTV made sure to note that the report was filed after their team left the Gaza Strip:
This report is being aired on NDTV and published on ndtv.com after our team left the Gaza strip – Hamas has not taken very kindly to any reporting of its rockets being fired. But just as we reported the devastating consequences of Israel’s offensive on Gaza’s civilians, it is equally important to report on how Hamas places those very civilians at risk by firing rockets deep from the heart of civilian zones.
Blogger Aussie Dave posted a report at the popular pro-Israel blog IsraellyCool mapping out the location of the launch site based on the footage within the NDTV report:
As you can see, right near not just the hotel but the beach and houses.
From the hotel room view, you can see a tall white building on the right, and a tall building with jagged balconies in the background. The building on the right partially blocks the view of building in the back.
You can see that the right side of the image, is the source of the sun in the morning launch, making it a view towards the north.
When the reporter walks away from the launch area, across the street, a bit to the north, lies the 5-star Commodore Hotel with its yellow and glass facade.
Is jizya—the money non-Muslims historically paid their Muslim conquerors—meant to buy them “protection,” including from outside enemies, as modern Western academics maintain? Or was it simply extortion money meant to buy non-Muslims their lives, as Islam’s scriptures mandate?
The word jizya appears in Koran 9:29: “Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued(emphasis added).”
In the hadith, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, regularly calls on Muslims to demand jizya of non-Muslims: “If they refuse to accept Islam,” said the Islamic prophet, “demand from them the jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay jizya, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
Keeping the above in mind, consider the following July 18 report from Reuters:
Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….
It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”
“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.
“After this date [July 19], there is nothing between us and them but the sword,” it said.
The Nineveh decree echoes one that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the former name for the Islamic State, issued in the Syrian city of Raqqa in February, demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.
Note how straightforward the Islamic State’s words are—jizya, conversion, or death—compared to the language of Reuters, which twice invokes the concept of “protection” without explaining from whom: 1) “a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya”; 2) “demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.”
Reuters doesn’t bother to clarify this notion of “protection,” but rather leaves it vague, implying that the protection Christians receive is against some random elements.
The reason for this obfuscation is that Mideast academics in the West have been whitewashing the meaning of jizya for decades. After all, the concept of jizya is one of the most ironclad proofs that Islam is innately intolerant of non-Muslims.
A very typical Western definition for jizya can be found in the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “The Muslim rulers tolerated the dhimmis [conquered non-Muslims] and allowed them to practice their religion. In return for protection [from whom?] and as a mark of their submission, the dhimmis were required to pay a special poll tax known as the jizya.”
Other academics have gone so far as to claim that non-Muslims paid jizya to buy Muslim protection against outside forces. Consider the following excerpt from John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. It essentially makes the idea of being subjugated to Islamic overlords and paying them tribute appear as an enviable position for non-Muslim minorities:
In many ways, local populations [Christians, Jews, and others] found Muslim rule more flexible and tolerant than that of Byzantium and Persia. Religious communities were free to practice their faith to worship and be governed by their religious leaders and laws in such areas as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In exchange, they were required to pay tribute, a poll tax (jizya) that entitled them to Muslim protection from outside aggression and exempted them from military service. Thus, they were called the “protected ones” (dhimmi). In effect, this often meant lower taxes, greater local autonomy (emphasis added) …
The idea that jizya was extracted in order to buy “Muslim protection from outside aggression” is an outright lie—one that, as the equivocal tone of the aforementioned Reuters report indicates, has taken root in the West.
Equally false is Esposito’s assertion that jizya was paid to “exempt them from military service”—as if conquering Muslims would even want or allow their despised “infidel” subjects to fight alongside them in the name of jihad without first converting to Islam.
The root meaning of the Arabic word “jizya” is simply to “repay” or “recompense,” basically to “compensate” for something. According to the Hans Wehr Dictionary, the standard Arabic-English dictionary, jizya is something that “takes the place” of something else, or “serves instead.”
Simply put, conquered non-Muslims were to purchase their lives, which were otherwise forfeit to their Muslim conquerors, with money. Instead of taking their lives, they took their money. As one medieval jurist succinctly puts it, “their lives and their possessions are only protected by reason of payment of jizya” (Crucified Again, p. 22).
So jizya was, and is indeed, protection money—though protection, not from outsiders, as Esposito and others claim, but from surrounding Muslims themselves. Whether it’s the first caliphate from over a millennium ago or whether it’s the newest caliphate, the Islamic State, Muslim overlords continue to deem the lives of their non-Muslim subjects forfeit unless they purchase it, ransom it with money.
There is nothing humane, reasonable, or admirable about demands for jizya from conquered non-Muslim minorities, as the academics claim. Jizya is simply extortion money. Its purpose has always been to provide non-Muslims with protection from Muslims: pay up, or else become one of us and convert to Islam, or else die.
And it is commanded in both the Koran and Hadith, the twin pillars of Islam.
In short, jizya is an ugly fact of Islam—one that, distort as they may, the academics can’t whitewash away, even as the world stands idly by watching its resumption in the twenty-first century.
Chloe Valdary, the self-titled “Lioness of Zion” wrote a public letter to the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) movement, published today in Tablet magazine. Valdary addresses the letter “from an Angry Black Woman” and delineates the student group’s hypocrisies, noting their nefarious misappropriation of African American history:
You do not get to pretend as though you and Rosa Parks would have been great buddies in the 1960s. Rosa Parks was a real Freedom Fighter. Rosa Parks was a Zionist.
Coretta Scott King was a Zionist.
A. Phillip Randolph was a Zionist.
Bayard Rustin was a Zionist.
Count Basie was a Zionist.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Zionist.
Indeed, they and many more men and women signed a letter in 1975 that stated: “We condemn the anti-Jewish blacklist. We have fought too long and too hard to root out discrimination from our land to sit idly while foreign interests import bigotry to America. Having suffered so greatly from such prejudice, we consider most repugnant the efforts by Arab states to use the economic power of their newly-acquired oil wealth to boycott business firms that deal with Israel or that have Jewish owners, directors, or executives, and to impose anti-Jewish preconditions for investments in this country.”
You see, my people have always been Zionists because my people have always stood for the freedom of the oppressed. So, you most certainly do not get to culturally appropriate my people’s history for your own. You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes and you do not get to feign victimhood in our name. You do not have the right to slander my people’s good name and link your cause to that of Dr. King’s. Our two causes are diametrically opposed to each other.
Known for going against the grain, Valdary’s statement cuts to the core of the Pro-Palestinian movement’s attempts to draw a correlation between the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and America’s civil rights movement. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, whose member groups include chapters of national organizations CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as SJP, devotes an entire section of their website to “Black America and Palestine Resources“. A quote from Palestinian American academic Edward Said motivates their campaign:
The late Edward Said wrote in the year 2000 that, to understand US policy towards the Middle East, “one must pay close attention to an aspect of America’s history mostly ignored by or unknown to educated Arabs … the contemporary treatment of the African American people, who constitute roughly 20 per cent of the population, a not insignificant number”.
Said co-founded the field of critical theory known as postcolonialism, a racist school of thought “…that interprets history, politics, and culture in the context of [white] Western domination and oppression.” The roots of postcolonial theory influenced the racist and anti-Semitic Black Nationalism of the 1960′s. Instead of campaigning for civil rights, the movement focused on “elevat[ing] racial separatism into a religious doctrine and declar[ing] that whites were doomed to destruction.”
Postcolonialism is a defense of human shields, of schools and hospitals being used as terrorist launching pads, of children growing up only to strap bombs to their chest in order to destroy the “white” menace. Valdary’s letter is a clarion call to renew the civil rights movement championed by both blacks and Jews that was so grossly distorted by racist theorists like Malcolm X and Edward Said. All those who “stand for the freedom of the oppressed” must confront and correct the racist lie that defends slaveholders like Hamas based on the color of their skin.
Sounds like a simple enough way to cure poverty: Form a partnership between donors and leaders of government. Get a set of measurable goals and diligently track progress toward those goals. There’s nothing we can’t do when we put our minds to it.
It’s a technocratic solution to a human problem that plays to our sense of confidence as scientific problem solvers.
That’s been the basic approach to economic development of the so-called “third world” by the “first world” since the middle of the last century.
But not only is it a failure, it actually props up dictators and stomps the rights of the poor, while allowing wealthy donors, like Bill Gates, to feel good about themselves as they monitor the “measurable” progress.
I love the [United Nations'] Millennium Development Goals. I think they’re the best idea for focusing the world on fighting global poverty that I’ve ever seen….Thanks to these goals…the world at large knows the key measures of poverty, hunger, health and education. Some of the numbers are good and some are not. But the fact that the world is focusing on these numbers is excellent….The Millennium Development Goals can guide the search for new discoveries by showing us where innovation can bring the biggest returns. This is their genius.
– Bill Gates, speech to U.N. General Assembly, September 2008 (video below)
Sounds great. But is it true?
The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, by William Easterly, demonstrates how a toxic stew of arrogance, altruism and racism has led “the West” to positively hinder “the Rest” from achieving the very thing we value most — equality under law. Easterly has produced a rarity among serious books — page-turning readability, with even-handed scholarship and careful documentation.
Easterly says the problem with well-meaning fellows like Bill Gates is multi-pronged.
1) We don’t have accurate data, we ignore contrary evidence, and we misinterpret the faulty data, attributing apparent growth to the activities of autocrats and bureaucrats when the evidence points to factors beyond their control.
2) We ignore history and the actual needs of the people, as if we could write our own solutions upon a blank slate, that we decide is framed by modern national boundaries.
3) We idolize strong leaders who can implement programs funded by donors, but ignore their autocratic repression of individual rights, and so we often use charity dollars to pay for pogroms via programs.
4) We think of innovation as something a few elite scholars and captains of industry bring to the poor, rather than something that springs from decentralized problem-solving by people who have freedom, property rights, equal justice under law and profit motive.
In the video below, Bill Gates speaks to the UN General Assembly — history’s greatest congregation of thugs and tyrants. For more than six minutes Gates praises the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), without even hinting that people might need more than food, medicine and education. He never mentions self-governance, liberty, or capitalism.
The best spin on this is that Gates think if we take care of health, learning and economic survival, then republican governance and its protection of person and property will come later.
The vector of history collides with, and obliterates, that notion.
The worst-case scenario is that Gates cravenly kowtows to the world’s oppressors because he needs their cooperation to reach his beloved development goals. Like a geek with an MS-Excel spreadsheet, he has lost sight of the human impact behind the columns, rows and formulae. All that matters is the data, not how you get there.
Moral equivalence is dead. When Bill Clinton, the “international community”-blessed architect of Oslo, can blatantly declare
In the short and medium term Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage by forcing (Israel) to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas. But it’s a crass strategy that takes all of our eyes off the real objective which is a peace that gets Israel security and recognition and a peace that gets the Palestinians their state.
it is obvious that Hamas has finally shot themselves in the foot with the terrorists’ ideological weapon of choice. So, why do news agencies insist on reporting nothing more than body counts in evening news reports, as if the latest conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is nothing more than a sports game?
Clinton may be a pervert, but he isn’t stupid. He acknowledged the “public relations” battle because he knows that the press follows the cues given by Hamas, the terrorist organization that holds reporters in Gaza against their will. Unless they have the intellect of toddlers, these reporters cannot be blind to the brainwashing from birth that turns children into human shields. Nor can they be so totally blind to the rocket launchers hiding behind schools and mosques in residential neighborhoods. Yet, the best they can muster is a body count followed by sarcastic commentary like that of CNN’s Ben Wedeman: “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” Amazing. Toddler Ben gets a gold star for that stellar observation.
As my PJMedia colleague Ron Radosh so excellently pointed out, the intellectuals also have no problem fettering mainstream media with arguments of moral equivalence. All they need is the right costume and a little bathtub gin and they could easily chatter the night away as if they were on the porch of Gatsby’s mansion. That is how comfortable they are turning an international war against Islamic terrorism into the banal “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” claim. Like America’s “restless” President, these politicos prefer the comforts of today’s Weimar. No doubt they are taking fiddling lessons so they can be fully prepared when Rome begins to burn.
There is a reality on the ground that escapes the Hamas-controlled media: Israel loves life. Israel’s policy is to warn Palestinian civilians (or, as Hamas calls them, weapons in Operation Human Shield) to get out of the way before they drop bombs or conduct ground invasions. Israel sets up field hospitals to treat wounded Gazans. We know about these things because, much to the chagrin of the death-loving Hamas, they cannot control the Internet. Just as Israelis are winning the ground offensive, Israel-supporters are winning the ideological offensive through alternative news sources and, most importantly, social media.
This past Saturday, 200 anti-Israel protesters fell to the ground in Boston in a “die-in” meant to demonstrate the number of Palestinians who have been killed thus far in Operation Protective Edge. A number of Israel supporters attended the event and were cornered by the anti-Israel crowd. One Zionist, Chloe Valdary told the Times of Israel:
We really do manage to disrupt them and distract them when we show up. We show up and it’s in the media, so the public sees how hate-filled and incredibly deluded these Hamas supporters are.
We’ve caught onto the PR game and we play to win. Now it is our turn to Tweet with a smile and watch as the death-obsessed Hamas-brainwashed fools fall and take their wretched canard of moral equivalency down with them.
Politico reported this week that President Obama has been pushing at the constraints of the Oval Office, leaving the White House to go on unscheduled walks in the middle of the day. ”Forgoing the motorcade on the way to an event at the Interior Department, he joked that he was like a circus bear off its chain, and ‘the bear is loose,’” Politico reported.
Obama repeated the line again on Monday when he seemed to bristle at Secret Service agents scrambling to clear the sidewalk for his unscheduled walk, complaining that they were defeating the purpose of his trip away from the White House.
“Let’s test your wrangling skills,” he said to Secret Service agents at one point, as he shook hands with gawkers he met on the street.
Alright. So now we know that it’s not the most funnest thing in the world to be President Barack Obama. Like, he wants us all to walk a mile in his custom-made Johnston and Murphy shoes. Dude, imagine what it’s like be stuck in the White House, day in and day out, surrounded by Secret Service agents with scary weapons, snipers on the roof, that evil War Room and the big, scary Glenn Beck-ish underground bunker where who-knows-what goes on — not to mention dealing with Michelle and her yammering about the latest twigs and acorn diet. Sure, there are toney vacations, hobnobbing with Hollywood elites, and the 176 rounds of golf, but life is hard when you’re President Barack Obama. Pity the poor man, who is suffering every bit as much the chained animals you see in those horrible late night TV commercials, for crying out loud. (Is there somewhere we can send a donation? Can we sponsor the poor, tortured president and get a card for the refrigerator along with a monthly update?) It’s like we’re some Third World county. Or something.
Thirty years ago we had a very different man in the White House. Ronald Reagan — a grown up by any measure — spent his eight year tenure as president maintaining a laser-like focus on the threat posed by the spread of Communism (while also managing to turning around the flailing economy, by the way).
In a 1984 campaign ad, Reagan compared the Soviets to a dangerous bear lumbering around in the woods — in the world — seeking to devour some unsuspecting victim. During the campaign, Walter Mondale had tried to attack Reagan on defense spending and arms control, suggesting his policies would escalate the rush to nuclear war. Without naming the Soviets in the ad, Reagan responded by suggesting that taking the threat seriously was preferable to pretending it didn’t’ exist. It was the only sensible course of action.
There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it’s vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear?
The text at the end of the ad read, “President Reagan. Prepared for Peace.”
Thirty years later President Obama (apparently self-unaware) parodies himself as a submissive, pliant circus animal who occasionally works up the courage to bolt from his captors for a short jaunt around the neighborhood. While the president was perhaps only referring to the shackles of the Secret Service when he spoke of his chains, the larger subtext of the mental image he presented to the world is of a man chained to an ideology — not unlike Mondale in 1984 — that makes the world less safe with each passing day. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, Obama responds to every crisis on the world stage with predictable leftist pablum about “unacceptable behavior,” warning that he’s going to count to three and send the next evil totalitarian leader to his room if he shoots down another plane.
“The bear” is indeed loose in the world and Circus Bear POTUS can’t seem to see out from under the Big Top of the White House.
It’s been 45 years since the moon landing. And it’s been 52 years since President Kennedy challenged the nation to go there and to formulate the NASA program, “Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Watch Bill Whittle’s new Afterburner, ‘Apogee,’ on PJTV. He outlines how America has suffered from hypo-challenge for too long now. We tamed a continent, explored the skies, and went to the moon—all based on challenges that became existential to who we are as a people.
But, as he highlights, what challenges have we faced lately? The biggest push under Obama has been to discuss healthcare at the dinner table.
Where’s the spirit, the drive, of American greatness?
I want to go one step further, and point out that, not only has Obama not been pushing us to achieve more, to achieve higher things, but he has actually been rhetorically casting these pursuits aside.
What is the natural next big challenge? What is the next thing we can achieve that would have people stop in the tracks, and remember exactly where they were when they heard we had achieved it?
I saw an advertisement a few years ago for cancer research, in which they depicted that everyone would stop in the street and look at the news when a cure had been discovered. I think this is accurate. The next great challenge is to cure the diseases that have ailed us for too long—cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.
I know that research is being done on these fronts, and I know that, while substantial progress has been made, ‘cures’ are still a long way off.
While President Obama, and his signature healthcare law, by no means limit the research being done literally. But symbolically is another story.
One of the big pushes under Obamacare is that pre-existing conditions are welcome. Figuratively, this says that ending the pre-existing condition, eliminating the need for treatment, isn’t the goal.
That’s like putting the Civil Rights movement before the Abolitionist movement. Requiring water fountains to permit both slaves and non-slaves to drink is not the primary goal; the primary goal was to end slavery, and then to also fully embody rights for all.
The goal shouldn’t be to allow people with cancer to get insurance cheaper…it should be to cure cancer.
Again, let me be very clear. I am not insinuating that Obama has, in some way, delayed the cure for cancer or other diseases.
But, I am saying that, far from challenging the American people, the way that Kennedy did, Obama has asked us to accept the status quo.
I’m asking that we not settle, that we continue to push for something besides the status quo. Let’s cure cancer in the next decade, and let’s do it because it is very hard to do. Let’s make pre-existing conditions obsolete. Let us do these things because we are Americans, and because we will always astoundingly rise up to meet challenges.
Apparently, it takes the declaration of a culture war for most human beings to acknowledge how dreadfully sad liberalism truly is.
Not classical liberalism, of course. The political philosophy guiding America’s founding fathers espouses an incredibly positive attitude built on, above all things, faith in the success of the individual against all odds. The liberalism I am referring to is the darker ethos that currently masquerades as Liberal, despite the fact that it is anything but. One need look no further for proof of this truth than Adam Kirsch’s response to Adam Bellow‘s call for a counterculture conservative establishment via Liberty Island.
…why does Adam Bellow continue to believe that conservative writers are a persecuted minority? The reason may have something to do with the description of the kind of work he seeks at his Liberty Island website: “At Liberty Island, good still triumphs over evil, hope still overcomes despair, and America is still a noble experiment and a beacon to the rest of the world.” The problem is not that these are conservative ideas, but that they are simpleminded ideological dogmas, and so by their very nature hostile to literature, which lives or dies by its sense of reality. If you are not allowed to say that life in America can be bad, that Americans can be guilty as well as innocent, that good sometimes (most of the time?) loses out to evil—in short, that life in America is like human life in any other time or place—then you cannot be a literary writer, because you have censored your impressions of reality in advance.
In this one paragraph Kirsch clearly defines the Liberal view of reality. According to Kirsch, Liberals view America as a “bad” place where good is defeated ”most of the time” by evil. Bellow’s desire to publish positive, hopeful literature illustrates his biased impression of reality, an implied trait among conservatives. According to Kirsch, Bellow is both deficient and needy: “…he wants reassurance, the certainty that reality—of which literature is the perceiver and guardian—is always on the side of his political beliefs.” He accuses Bellow of seeking succor through “Tea Party”-esque revenge tactics.
These accusations stand in stark contradiction to Kirsch’s conclusion in which he blatantly accepts the fact that Liberals have abused the arts, turning what used to be pleasurable cultural outlets into forums for intense, almost religious levels of political brainwashing. According to Kirsch, true writers understand that politics “must be corrected by literature” and not vice-versa. Hence, so many writers are Liberals. Liberals who busy themselves using their screeds to “correct” the political landscape. Thus, is his own grand conclusion he ends up convicting Liberals for Bellow’s supposed crimes.
In creating Liberty Island, Adam Bellow did one better than scare the Liberal literary establishment: He annoyed them. In his conservative counterculture manifesto Bellow named the sins that have turned the world of American fiction into nothing more than a finely written dystopia. It is what Bellow proposes, marketing hope to the hopeless, that is the greatest cause for alarm. Kirsch and his ilk can attempt to disinform the public by accusing conservative writers of being “out of touch” with reality. This has and will only continue to act as a public airing of their own hopeless despair. When challenged with a positive alternative, Liberal literati will ultimately fail, because in a world rife with rockets and bomb shelters, riots and dictators, wars and rumors of wars, there is nothing the public craves more than a future and a hope.
It’s the Constitution, Stupid!
That’s the de facto cry as Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, Tea Partisans and others slam President Obama for ruling by executive order and bureaucratic regulation, bypassing the legislature and accruing unchecked power to the executive branch and its apparatchiks in the bureaucracy.
But this alarm falls on deaf ears, because the average American attended Democrat-union-run schools and all he knows of the Constitution consists of a jingle of the Preamble from Schoolhouse Rock.
The sum total of all living Americans who have both read, and understood the purport of the Constitution, could meet today in the room where Freedom’s Charter was drafted and hold a Pilates class without rubbing elbows or bumping exercise balls.
In any case, in this postmodern era, the argument from principles (argumentum super capita sua) has been supplanted by the argument from emotion (ifita fils güd du itum). So, my readers in ye olde tricorne hattef, might want to attempt a different tactic.
Listen, we could get all lathered (rinse & repeat) about the yawning ignorance of our founding documents, lamenting that the Constitution lies dormant among the dust-bunnies of history under the futon, or we could face reality and figure out a way to communicate that connects with who people are, what they feel, and even what they think, when the rare occasion arises.
Last week Sierra Mannie, a liberal arts major at The University of Mississippi, nervously stepped up to the mic on CNN to explain the angry op-ed she wrote for her student newspaper that wound up getting published in Time magazine. Entitled “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture“, Mannie’s fury turned her thinly-veiled export of classroom-based critical theory into a hot-button pop culture issue. Written in typical college-quality prose, the rage-fueled piece that begins with the line “I need some of you to cut it the hell out,” is unremarkable except for the fact that the author attempts to name a non-existent entity known as “black female culture.”
“There is no such thing as black female culture,” artist April Bey explains. What Mannie was actually referring to, according to Bey, is “ghetto culture,” a destructive ideology that has been appropriated by celebrities and is the subject of pop culture idolization.
According to The Urban Counterculture, ghetto culture is:
Characterized by escapism and materialism, this culture calls irresponsibility freedom, glorifies crime, violence, and hypersexuality, defies all authority, and acts as a coping mechanism for those who feel rejected by mainstream society and economy.
Ghetto culture doesn’t require an address in the ghetto, nor does it appeal solely to blacks:
…you clearly don’t have to live in the ghetto to ‘be’ ghetto; thanks to the entertainment industry, the gospel of the ghetto has been spread far and wide, promising fleshy satisfaction to all who would exchange civility for vulgarity and rebellion, and who will live for today instead of planning for tomorrow.
Most disturbingly, especially in light of Mannie’s rant, is the way ghetto culture treats women:
Because prostitution is one major aspect of the criminal economy of inner cities, the relative degradation and abuse of women is a part of the culture that members of every walk of life can participate in.
Perhaps that is why Beyonce, cited within the article and pictured by Time, is used to bespeak the “black female culture” Mannie claims to defend. As Bey illustrated in her most recent exhibit #WhoDoYouWorship, Beyonce, often a subject of feminism’s own racial double standard, exemplifies ghetto culture’s “black female culture” disinformation campaign.
This is how ghetto culture’s “black female culture” disinformation campaign works:
Seed of Truth: Ghetto culture sexually objectifies black women.
Pack of Lies: As Mannie’s argument illustrates, it is acceptable for black women and their audience to embrace and celebrate this objectification. They may even feel free to legitimize the abuse through the use of the term “black female culture”.
The Ultimate Goal is the glasnost (a strategy of glorification): The glorification of the ghetto culture’s “Ideal Black Woman”. The purveyors of ghetto culture market “black female culture” via the glorification of the Beyonce, the “Ideal Black Woman”. Hence Mannie took such offense at “outsiders” mocking the glorified identity.
When Mannie hammers away at the idea that “black people can’t have anything” therefore they need to hold tightly to “black female culture” she ends up defending the ghetto culture that hides its abuse and subjugation of black women behind a shield of Beyonces. In “breathing fire behind ugly stereotypes” spouted in college classrooms, Mannie became another Beyonce-worshipper. The most her article did was illustrate the fact that many American universities have become propaganda outlets for ghetto culture’s disinformation campaign against black women. The only reason this college student was published in Time magazine is because she obviously excels at being duped.
The Times of Israel reports:
Several thousand demonstrators walked calmly through the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read “Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People”.
But clashes erupted at the end of the march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas. The unrest was continuing early Sunday evening.
Media reports said that hundreds of Jews were trapped inside a synagogue in the area and police units were sent to rescue them.
A person in the synagogue told Israel’s Channel 2 news that protesters hurled stones and bricks at the building, “like it was an intifada.”
The event comes after a firebomb was hurled at a synagogue in the suburbs of Paris this past Friday night. Despite it being Shabbat, there were no injuries and only minor damage occurred.
On July 8, the day Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, a teenage girl in Paris was physically assaulted by a man with a “Middle Eastern appearance” who pepper sprayed her while shouting, “Dirty Jewess, inshallah you will die.”
France, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, is second only to Russia in terms of Jewish immigration to Israel. According to Israeli politician and former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky, “Something historic is happening. It may be the beginning of the end of European Jewry.”
According to Israel’s Channel 2 news, Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has confirmed that anti-Israel rioters attempted to enter two synagogues in central Paris. The rioters were stopped by French police.
Instagram user Jean-Baptiste Soufron posted a video from the Synagogue de la Roquette where pro-Palestinian activists were in the midst of a standoff with French police. One French Instagram user commented, “A shame for France ….far from the land of my childhood.” Another wrote, “The French media are responsible for inciting strong hatred and misinformation.”
The above news clip represents what the average American hears on a daily basis regarding Operation Protective Edge, the latest military spate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been going on (officially) since 1948. In the span of the 2 minute report, the Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza were mentioned 3 times. What was not mentioned: These civilians have been instructed by their Hamas government to ignore the flyers and phone calls from the Israeli Defense Forces warning citizens to get out of the way of impending rocket attacks in their areas.
While an Israeli mother putting her baby to sleep in a bomb shelter is included in the report, what the reporter didn’t bother to tell you are the number of Israelis currently being hospitalized for shock. Nor did the report include the fact that this is just another day for the residents of Sderot, who’ve received a constant barrage of rockets since Israel relinquished Gaza back to the Palestinians in 2005. That’s nearly a decade of rocket fire, making the generation who grew up under these attacks old enough to train incoming school students in how not to suffer the inevitable PTSD associated with a lifetime of death threats flying through the air and landing in your back yard.
American audiences hear none of this because the majority of American and world media have fallen prey to Hamas’s most powerful ongoing terrorist operation: A disinformation and glasnost campaign designed to destroy western support for Israel through a constant barrage of media bias.
Here is how the disinformation and glasnost campaign has been executed in response to Operation Protective Edge :
Seed of Truth: Palestinian civilians are being killed by Israeli rocket fire in Gaza.
Pack of Lies: Israelis are safely protected in bomb shelters under the Iron Dome while their military targets innocent civilians in the impoverished Gaza Strip.
Ultimate Goal: Encourage American and worldwide support for the Hamas campaign to wipe Israel off the map and eliminate all evidence of the Zionist entity, including the Jewish people and their supporters, from the face of the earth.
The glasnost element is the most perverse. Hamas plays on the western disbelief in the idea of martyrs, portraying these women and children as “innocent civilian victims” of Israeli aggression. When speaking to the non-Western media, these dead are referred to in a term most recently used by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, “the Gazan martyrs.” Glasnost is the term for glorifying the leader’s image abroad. In this case, Hamas is using the bodies of women and children to shield their missiles in life and glorify their reputations in death.
Some news agencies and opinion sites are catching onto this disinformation campaign, willing to call it “media bias against Israel.” This is more than media bias. This is a calculated effort on the part of Hamas to sway world opinion against the only nation willing to confront and fight against Islamic terror. Therefore, whether the mainstream media is a willing partner in this endeavor makes no matter. The bottom line is, the media is marketing this disinformation to audiences in America and worldwide that are watching blind, with no Iron Dome to protect them.
Alaska Democrat Sen. Mark Begich gave an interview to the Juneau Empire newspaper. The paper set him up with a question about corporate rights, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision.
In that Supreme Court decision, a 5-4 majority ruled that closely held corporations have some religious freedoms. Closely held corporations tend to be family owned, or owned by a small group of people. They are not publicly traded. The ruling essentially protects the rights of individuals who happen to own businesses from having to comply with some government mandates that violate their religious freedoms.
Sen. Begich doesn’t see it that way. He told the Empire, “At the rate we’re going, we’ll probably have corporations suit up and go fight wars. They consider corporations people, so my view is if you’re going to consider them people, suit up. Go overseas and fight these wars.”
Begich added that he believes that the Founders “never, you know, to believe corporations would be people would be unheard of. The Founding Fathers looked at individual rights to be people, not some entity created with laws that back then they had no clue would be in the future and how corporations are set up as they are today.”
The word corporation is Latin for “body of people.” Corporations existed long before the time of the American Founding Fathers. The colonial-era Dutch East India Company was a corporation. The definition of a corporation goes back to the 1500′s, and is:
“a group of people authorized by law to act as a legal personality and having its own powers, duties, and liabilities.”
So, the Founders were well aware of what corporations are. Several of the Founders were business owners themselves.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used to live in the shadows. But as his ISIS terrorist army is taking over Iraq and President Obama isn’t doing anything about it, al-Baghdadi has come out of hiding to declare himself the caliph.
The State Department said today it has “no reason to doubt” that the shadowy leader of a powerful Iraqi terror group revealed himself before a crowded mosque over the weekend, providing the first clear picture of the violent extremist who now believes himself to be the prince of all Muslims.
For years the public only saw Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (IS) formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, in a couple grainy pictures, like the one posted on the U.S. Rewards for Justice program wanted poster offering $10 million for information leading to his capture. But Friday a man looking very much like al-Baghdadi stepped into the spotlight, giving a fiery sermon at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in which he called for all Muslims to follow him.
“I was cursed with this great endeavor,” a 21-minute video of the event shows the man saying in Arabic. “Obey me in my obedience to God, disobey me if I disobey God.”
Al-Baghdadi’s ISIS group is threatening to unleash a new Holocaust.
A Twitter post Thursday by supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now calling itself the Islamic State (IS), has promised a Holocaust against the Jews.
“The Real Zionist Holocaust is Predicted in the Hadiths! The Hour [resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, and the tree will say: “Oh, Muslim, servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, kill him! THE PROMISED Holocaust,” the terrorist group’s Islamic State Media a graphic posted on its @ISIS_Conquests’s Twitter account said.
Daniel Pipes, an expert on jihadism, said the hadith likely was a recruitment tool.
“Yes, calling for a holocaust against Jews refers to a violently anti-Semitic strain among jihadis and will surely appeal to some of them,” Pipes said in an email to the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Want some comfort in this dangerous world? Here’s the US Central Intelligence Agency, showing the world that they’re on this ISIS threat.
No, we don’t know where Tupac is. #twitterversary
— CIA (@CIA) July 7, 2014
— CIA (@CIA) July 7, 2014
We, the Jewish people, are good at guilt. Gilbert Gottfried jokes that, in the Jewish world, the fetus is only viable after its finished law school. I’d add to Gottfried’s joke by explaining the reason for the degree: So that we may continue to expertly condemn ourselves in the court of public opinion.
This past weekend, Jews across the political spectrum rushed to denounce the murderous crime committed by radical Jewish activists in Israel. The fact that we live in a world where one must proclaim their disgust of such a vile act is a crime in and of itself. However, it is not their condemnation of the act, but the tone and style of their condemnation that I call into question. We don’t expect all Palestinians, nor all Muslims to apologize for the acts of radicals. Why, then, should we expect the entire nation of Israel, and Jewry’s worldwide collective, to apologize for the crime of 6 Israeli Jews?
Of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, Ben Shapiro rightly observed:
The world will apply Western standards of morality to the Jewish nationalists, as they should – they will not ask about their “root causes” or ponder their anger. They will then ignore those same Western standards, as they always have, when dealing with the Palestinians… Because Jew hatred is all about double standards and ignoring the facts.
We are all too familiar with the world’s double standard when it comes to judging Israel’s every breath. The Zionist nation has become the brunt for the Jewish burden established on Mount Sinai. We were called out to be different, to be a “light”, an example for the nations to follow, and we have been paying for being the “good student” ever since. Despite what our detractors would lead you to believe, we take our Biblical responsibility very seriously, and have no problem holding it over our collective head when even one of us fails to achieve the group’s objective. This is why Jewish accusations against our people’s moral fiber are running at an all-time high. It is also precisely why they shouldn’t be.
People of Israel, world Jewry at large, stop your self-flagellation. Your enemies will make the most of 6 bad decision makers the way any disinformation operative makes the most of a good crisis. In the meantime, you think your best defense is a self-inflicted finger in the wound before the bullies can poke at it for you? Neither you nor I are guilty for the bad choices of others. They should and will receive the full punishment that the law allows. That is our testimony to our God, ourselves and to the world of who we are: a nation of laws, not terror, or as one Jewish Press writer so eloquently put it:
We didn’t destroy trains and infrastructure, we didn’t hand out candies in celebration, we didn’t post photos of praise on Twitter and Facebook, we didn’t provide support and succor to the killers. We won’t be giving them salaries in jail, we won’t be naming streets and schools after them, we won’t be demanding their release for peace. Our mother’s won’t be saying they are proud of them, our leaders won’t have photo-ops with them, we won’t parade them through the streets as heroes, they won’t be portrayed as role models for our children, and we won’t be painting murals of them on the walls of our schools.
If you really want a sackcloth and ashes moment, take a tip from the families of Eyal, Gilad, Naftali and Mohammed, children who were murdered by the kind of insane radicals whose stripe transcends any and every national identity. Spare me your incessant, neurotic, hot-air attempts at obtaining the forgiveness you don’t need and the approval you so desperately seek. Want to be respected? Stop equating 13.8 million Jews worldwide, 6.1 million of them Israelis, with 6 murderous lunatics.
In a long-winded, rambling essay (as its long-winded, rambling title indicates), Jim Sleeper used Salon to perform one of the most out-in-the-open disinformation and glasnost operations yet seen in the pages of the liberal press.
On the face of it, Sleeper’s complaint comes off as yet another intellectual bemoaning of the state of American culture dressed up for a hot night out in multi-syllabic tones, much akin to Julia Roberts’s whore of a character in Pretty Woman. I’ll be the first to bemoan our declining literacy rate among adults, but really, Jim?
Our cure would also require reweaving a fabric of public candor and comity strong enough to resist the rise of ressentiment, a public psychopathology, once associated with the rise of fascism, in which insecurities, envy and hatreds that many have been nursing in private converge in scary public eruptions that diminish their participants even in seeming to make them big.
Working that hard to tart up your prose can blow even the best Mata Hari’s cover. And so it did, as I quickly sniffed out the disinformation in the works. Sleeper’s intense obsession with the politically correct “white boys with guns” myth, that has been carved into the shiv meant to take down the Second Amendment, acted as the sole defense of his thesis: We have no shared culture and it’s driving our young boys mad! A lack of shared culture is the grain of truth, blaming the guns is the disinformation that suits the bill.
Sleeper’s solution? Glasnost, of course: Obama as Messiah has come to save the day, embodying the best of shared American culture of years’ past only, somehow, in his mystical way, making it even better:
In 2008, Barack Obama seemed to incarnate so brilliantly the promise of weaving our diversity into a new republican discipline — he even invoked Puritan and biblical wellsprings in some of his speeches — that many people ’round the world considered him a prophet who would satisfy their hunger for new narratives. Probably no national political leader ever can do that.
Bow in praise of the political leader incarnate! A prophet! Our promised Savior! That is the glasnost: not an “openness to the West” but opening to the best of the West in order to use it to glorify the leader. It should come as no surprise that two days after learning that Americans believe Obama to be the worst president since World War II, Jim Sleeper is running a glasnost campaign over at Salon for his Messiah-in-Chief.
That is how disinformation and glasnost work. These are no longer foreign nor ancient terms. These are 21st century strategies for political conquest. In his essay, Sleeper was also quick to criticize the “invisible hand of God” cited by America’s founders. He would have to, considering that invisible hand carried within its Divine reach the implication of human independence. And on July 4, Sleeper, so quick to crown his earthly messiah, was keen to have none of that.