Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Mushroom Cloud Over Tel Aviv

No one is watching the development of Teheran’s nuclear program more closely than the Israeli government. The Jewish state is a tiny island of civilization in a sea of vicious, virulent, and irrational Jew-hatred aided and abetted by the corrupt tyrannies of the Muslim Middle East. The prospect of a nuclear weapon in the hands of such folks surely concentrates the minds of those charged with Israel’s security.

An article in WorldNetDaily (hat tip: Bill Quick) describes an address by Dr. Jerome Corsi, founder of the Iran Freedom Foundation, to the Israeli Knesset:
    “Israel might need to launch a pre-emptive attack against Iran, even if the international military and diplomatic reprisals that follow might bring immense pressure upon Israel itself,” Corsi said in a keynote address to the Knesset's prestigious Forum on the Middle East.
“Israel might well calculate that Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be too unpredictable and dangerous to tolerate. At any moment and for any reason, Iran might simply launch a nuclear strike on Israel,” said Corsi, warning of the consequences of a nuclear Iran.
Given that former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has suggested that Iran would use its nuclear weapons against Israel, the Israelis have good reason to worry. And Israel cannot rely on the United States to act against Iran, since America does not stand in the mullahs’ immediate line of fire.
     Corsi warned the Knesset that Israel should not assume the U.S. will act on its behalf: “The United States cannot be expected to take the first steps if military action should be required. The first credible threat will be to Israel, not the more distant shores of America.”
“Although the mullahs armed with nuclear weapons capability may well seek to develop an improvised nuclear device and ship it into the United States, the threat of an 'Atomic 9-11' has failed to waken public fear in a nation which has not experience a terrorist attack since the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked.”
The Europeans will also be within range of Iran’s nuclear-tipped missiles, so we can expect even more craven appeasement from them in the near future. More “religious tolerance” laws, more Koran education in the schools, more suppression of books and art that offend Muslims, more dhimmi behavior…

“Nice doggie, here’s a bone; now don’t bite me, bite those nasty Jews instead.”

The Israelis know that they do not have the luxury of such behavior. The only thing they can do to placate those who wish them harm is to commit collective suicide.
    …Corsi urged immediate action: “Having sworn 'Never Again,' the government of Israel must not take the risk of discovering that Iran has a nuclear weapon by waking up one morning to witness a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv.”
I certainly wouldn’t want to be in Ariel Sharon’s shoes right now. So much hangs in the balance, and so many millions of lives can be lost based on a wrong decision.

Our turn will come, but the Jews have to go first.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"International" + "Freedom" = Doublespeak

Debra Burlingame has the facts on who is behind the "International Freedom Center" -- i.e., the memorial planned at Ground Zero.
    Take Back the Memorial!The driving force behind the IFC is Tom Bernstein, the dynamic co-founder of the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex who made a fortune financing Hollywood movies. But his capital ventures appear to have funded his true calling, the pro bono work he has done his entire adult life--as an activist lawyer in the human rights movement. He has been a proud member of Human Rights First since it was founded--as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights--27 years ago, and has served as its president for the last 12.
The public has a right to know that it was Mr. Bernstein's organization, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, that filed a lawsuit three months ago against Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was Human Rights First that filed an amicus brief on behalf of alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, an American citizen who the Justice Department believes is an al Qaeda recruit. It was Human Rights First that has called for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the alleged torture of detainees, complete with budget authority, subpoena power and the ability to demand that witnesses testify under oath.
In fact, the IFC's list of those who are shaping or influencing the content and programming for their Ground Zero exhibit includes a Who's Who of the human rights, Guantanamo-obsessed world:
• Michael Posner, executive director at Human Rights First who is leading the worldwide "Stop Torture Now" campaign focused entirely on the U.S. military. He has stated that Mr. Rumsfeld's refusal to resign in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal is "irresponsible and dishonorable."
• Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, who is pushing IFC organizers for exhibits that showcase how civil liberties in this country have been curtailed since September 11.
• Eric Foner, radical-left history professor at Columbia University who, even as the bodies were being pulled out of a smoldering Ground Zero, wrote, "I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House." This is the same man who participated in a "teach-in" at Columbia to protest the Iraq war, during which a colleague exhorted students with, "The only true heroes are those who find ways to defeat the U.S. military," and called for "a million Mogadishus." The IFC website has posted Mr. Foner's statement warning that future discussions should not be "overwhelmed" by the IFC's location at the World Trade Center site itself.
• George Soros, billionaire founder of Open Society Institute, the nonprofit foundation that helps fund Human Rights First and is an early contributor to the IFC. Mr. Soros has stated that the pictures of Abu Ghraib "hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself."
All these leftist lovelies are going to create a monster. Fortunately, you live in America so you have the chance to stop it. Go here before the window closes because you won't want to go near Ground Zero if the IFC has its way.

You can use their button on your website. Remember: Anything that has "international" and "freedom" in the title is a socialist trick. Think "Peace and Justice" and you'll get the idea.

Such a disgusting bunch of movers and shovers should not have their way on this one.

Nota Bene: There are addresses and information about people you can write. Letters are probably the most effective tool. A good chance to use the Mail Merge on your tool bar.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Quote o' the Day

The displaced Arabs started out with 400,000; they screamed genocide and became four million. This is what happens when you leave genocide up to Jews. -- Julia Gorin

Read the whole thing.

The Poetry of War, Part VII

Conclusion of a Series — Previous Installments:   I   II   III   IV   V   VI

The Survivors: “Dead as the Men I Loved”

Them that dies, they’re the lucky ones!

The old saying might have been coined by the veterans of the Great War. No one who lived in the hell of the Western Front ever really left it. Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome had not yet been identified in 1918, but the war left us its own term for the same condition: shell-shock. To one degree or another, all the returning combat veterans suffered from it.

The poets who returned preserved and honored the memory of those who did not. Edmund Blunden was an accomplished poet who survived the war, and it fell to him to edit for publication the verse of his late comrade, Wilfred Owen.

But he left his own record. The following poem, with its haunting and melancholy imagery, was written at a point when he was far enough away from the war to be able to look back:
    1916 seen from 1921
Tired with dull grief, grown old before my day,
I sit in solitude and only hear
Long silent laughters, murmurings of dismay,
The lost intensities of hope and fear;
In those old marshes yet the rifles lie,
On the thin breastwork flutter the grey rags,
The very books I read are there — and I
Dead as the men I loved, wait while life drags
Its wounded length from those sad streets of war
Into green places here, that were my own;
But now what once was mine is mine no more,
I seek such neighbours here and I find none.
With such strong gentleness and tireless will
Those ruined houses seared themselves in me,
Passionate I look for their dumb story still,
And the charred stub outspeaks the living tree.
I rise up at the singing of a bird
And scarcely knowing slink along the lane,
I dare not give a soul a look or word
Where all have homes and none’s at home in vain:
Deep red the rose burned in the grim redoubt,
The self-sown wheat around was like a flood,
In the hot path the lizard lolled time out,
The saints in broken shrines were bright as blood.
Sweet Mary’s shrine between the sycamores!
There we would go, my friend of friends and I,
And snatch long moments from the grudging wars,
Whose dark made light intense to see them by.
Shrewd bit the morning fog, the whining shots
Spun from the wrangling wire: then in warm swoon
The sun hushed all but the cool orchard plots,
We crept in the tall grass and slept till noon.
The Cenotaph © 2003 Mary Ann SullivanRemembrance of the war — the collective process of coming to terms with its horrendous carnage — was a preoccupation in the years after the Great War. With the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, plans for an appropriate monument in London were drawn up, and the Cenotaph was unveiled the following year. It became the focus of the annual Remembrance Day on 11 November, and the symbol of British sacrifice in the war.

Siegfried Sassoon, another prominent war poet who survived the conflict (and lived until 1967), had a more sardonic view of the monument:
    At the Cenotaph
I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the following prayer.
     Make them forget, O Lord, what this Memorial
     Means; their discredited ideas revive;
     Breed new belief that War is purgatorial
     Proof of the pride and power of being alive;
     Men’s biologic urge to readjust
     The Map of Europe, Lord of Hosts, increase;
     Lift up their hearts in large destructive lust;
     And crown their heads with blind vindictive Peace
The Prince of Darkness to the Cenotaph
Bowed. As he walked away I heard him laugh.
The ink on the Treaty of Versailles was scarcely dry when it became evident that another global conflict was on the way. “The War to End All Wars” did not do so; the West was facing two decades of strikes, revolutions, depression, dictatorship, and genocide, followed by another unimaginably brutal war.

But nothing comparable to the Great War has happened since. The stupid and senseless slaughter of the trenches has not been repeated. The hundreds of millions of innocent victims of Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot and Saddam were not victims of war, but of something more banal, and therefore more horrifying: the brutal and cynical calculation of absolute dictators.

We should thank God that in our time, when wars must come, they at least have meaning.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Italy Seeks Revenge

It happened in 2003, a month before the Iraq war started. Here's Joy of Knitting's take on it:

Last Friday Milan’s District Attorney Office issued arrest warrants for thirteen CIA agents who had allegedly kidnapped an imam attached to a Milan mosque and suspected of being a terrorist. Apparently, they had subsequently taken him to the Aviano American military base (Northern Italy), then to Ramstein American military base (Germany) and finally to Egypt, where he was interrogated and perhaps tortured.
And Italy is hopping mad. There are several MSM reports, including The Boston Globe, though none say why Italy waited more than two years to issue the warrants.

The Globe notes that the warrants list dates and places of birth, credit card numbers, and American addresses of the alleged kidnappers. While the article speculates that these would be aliases anyway, the deliberate publication of the information shows the depth of the Italians' ire.

The man who was kidnapped was an imam in Milan, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. He was believed to be a member of Ansar al-Islam and to have ties with the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and al-Qaeda -- all of which may point to a motivation for the kidnapping, perhaps? Nasr, a native of Egypt who sought political asylum in Italy, had lived there for two years prior to his disappearance.

"He was involved in an organization that sent people to training camps in Kurdistan," said (an) Italian law enforcement official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. "He was involved in preparing false documents and passports for sending people in Iraq, [perhaps] to train for bomb attacks."

DIGOS, the Italian counter-terrorism police, had been closely following Nasr's activities. That came to an end when he disappeared. The following year he contacted his wife, telling her he was in Egypt and had been tortured by the authorities there.

Joy's take on the story is one of puzzlement at her country's anger:

At first I thought that it was something done just to abide by the official rules, and then forgotten about. After all, we are supposed to be on the same side and if Americans had overstepped their mark in the pursuit of an alleged terrorist a polite protest could suffice. I was wrong. Today, Monday, the Italian arrest warrant was transformed into a European arrest warrant and Italy has decided to go after the American agents employing the full force of the law.
She also has a long memory, recalling Italy's refusal to help years ago:

This reminds me of the time when Italian authorities refused to hand over the Islamic terrorists who had hijacked the Italian cruise ship “Achille Lauro” and killed one of the passengers, American Leo Klinghofer, and then allowed at least one of them to escape. I was so nauseated then that I’ve been wanting to apologize to someone in the US ever since.
Apology accepted. Now, Europe: continue with your snit fit. The war will go on without you.

No Need to Turn Off the Lights and Don't Bother Closing the Door

The Pharisees are in the driver’s seat of the Mini Cooper that has become the Anglican Church in England. Following the map printed up for them by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, the C. of E. is busy driving over the cliff. How could anyone with a lick of common sense believe one word coming from a "Peace and Justice" committee? Did these people sleep through the birth and (Deo gratias) death of Communism? Do they not see the bright neon socialist signage in "Peace" or "Justice" --good Lord, never mind the double whammy PEACE and JUSTICE.

Does the Anglican Communion in England have any idea how irrelevant it is? The Incredible Shrinking Church has just shriveled another centimeter or two. It’s sooo bad it’s embarrassing. You could go read the report here (it's a PDF. You'll need version 7), but why bother. You can recite the p.c. lines from memory by now: poor Palestinians, bad Jews. Let’s take our money away from the bad Jews and give it to the deserving Palestinians who only want peace but the Jews are too mean to let them have it. Blah. Blah.

Well, we knew it was coming; this was just a matter of waiting for the final mainstream sheep farm to sell out. The only surprise is that it took so long. Here’s Melanie Phillips’ take on this "defining moment" --
     The APJN report is full of the most inflammatory lies, libels and distortions about Israel — and the fact that the amended resolution that was finally passed only welcomed part of it (a weaselly caveat to provide deniability) does not alter the fact that it provided the ammunition for a poisonous onslaught against Israel. The document uncritically reproduced the Arab propaganda version of Israel’s history and the present circumstances of the Middle East conflict, presenting the Arab perpetrators of genocidal mass murder as victims and their real victims as oppressors merely for trying to defend themselves. But then what can one expect of a report which concludes by referring to ‘the honor of meeting the President of the Palestinian Authority, the late Yasser Arafat, who so warmly welcomed us in what turned out to be one of his last days among us’?
A warm welcome from the late pederast himself. How charming. Arafat was the father of terrorism, a diabolical Communist and one of the most truly evil people of his generation, so of course the Anglican Peace and Justice Network loved him. What’s not to love? Do you suppose they have a position paper on Castro,too? Another honorable sweetie-pie.

There are not words to describe the moral revulsion the name Arafat engenders. You could perhaps see why the naive could be taken in by the man-in-the-street Palestinian: they've had years to work on and perfect their royal sense of resentful entitlement. And you might even decide to overlook the festering sores on a culture which produces suicide bombers who want to attack the hospital that treated them. But information on Arafat is readily available; his shameful history is there for the reading. One has to be willfully blind to refuse to acknowledge the depth and breadth of his malevolent inquity.

This is a grievous moment. The beautiful Anglican tradition, its sacramental life, its Scriptural authority -- all sold for a few pieces of agitprop dung. And there is no C.S. Lewis to turn us around, no transcendent generosity, none. Into the silence drop the neutered utterings from the current Archbishop of Canterbury. St. Augustine he is not.

So we pick up our prayerbooks, take a deep breath and head out into the world to put our money to better use: let's find a practical way to invest in Israel before we get trampled by the sheep.

In my heart of hearts, I hope Lambeth Palace is cut up into council housing.

Pimping Misery

Sometimes relationships reach the point of no return. Often it's not possible to say when that point comes except in retrospect. And so our long arrangement with the United Nations is coming to a close. How long and dragged-out will be the divorce is unknown, but the dissolution of ties is coming, be it through mandate or court battle.

Jinnji at Hot Needle of Inquiry thinks that the corruption in the United Nations is too pervasive for the UN to be salvageable as an institution. Calling it a “misery pimp,” Jinnji points out that the order of business for the UN is simply that: misery—

So what is the industry of the UN today, if it is not preventing holocausts? I think it is misery. The UN administers misery, and Kofi et al are misery pimps. Since this is the main industry of the UN, there is really no incentive to eliminate it, or even to try. The UN keeps misery at a nice stable level, managing it and skimming off a respectable profit. And that is just basic misery management--not including the perks like sex with underage children in Dafur and the Congo, and giant managment bonuses like Oil for Food bribes and contractor kick-backs.

Pointing out how unlikely it is to change, Jinnji suggests that the whole thing be dissolved and that we start all over again.

An interesting idea, but I don’t think it goes far enough. Why don’t we simply eliminate it and refuse to participate ever again in any bloated, centralized entity? There are many smaller confederations we could join — and have joined — for mutual security and economic reasons.

The world has gotten smaller and the rate of change has increased exponentially so the last thing we need is central control. It can’t respond quickly enough, as the Tsumani aftermath proved; it has no moral authority, as illustrated in Darfur, and it has no accountability, as Oil for Food demonstrates, continuing to bubble out vast reserves of corruption and downright evil.

The world not only doesn't need the United Nations, the sad fact is the world would be a better place without the United Nations. If it ever had any usefulness that utility is so long past it's no longer visible.

When the UN disappears the economic costs to New York City will be great. But we have closed military bases before and communities have thrived. New York can be helped; it would be a better city without the scofflaws and outlaws who people the whore house on First Avenue. Simply put, the United Nations cannot and should not continue.


Prayer for the UN

Let Kofi be the last.
Let the past be the past.
Do not feed it anymore.
May the UN be like the Marxist state:
Let it wither away.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Boiling the Frog

Am I done yet?Last Thursday, in the already notorious decision Kelo et al v. City of New London, the Supreme Court ruled that the phrase “public use” means whatever local government officials say it means. For practical purposes, there is no longer any such thing as private property — each of us is enfeoffed to the federal government, and we retain our holdings at the whim of our liege lord. Next you can expect that a local bureaucrat will exercise his droit de seigneur with your wife.

How did we come to this pass? At one time this was a nation of liberties, and our forefathers raised a militia and took up arms to keep it so. How have we come to surrender meekly to such tyranny and injustice, with scarcely a whimper of protest? What happened to us?

There is an old chestnut about how to boil a frog: you don’t drop him into boiling water, because he’ll hop right out. Instead, you put him in a pot of water at room temperature and increase the heat under him very slowly. The frog never notices the incremental changes in temperature, and eventually boils without realizing what is happening.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think our frog is very nearly cooked.

It’s not only the frog of our property rights which is almost boiled. The erosion of our liberties has proceeded on many fronts, aided by a grotesque expansion of the size and scope of government. Our common culture has been so degraded that words like “decency” and “civility” can hardly be used without irony. And traditional American self-reliance has been simmering in the pot for so long that we are rapidly becoming wards of the state.

Presented below is a random sample of the boiled frogs of American political culture. Readers will undoubtedly want to add their own favorites.
The Commerce Clause. The Gonzalez vs. Raich decision on June 6 demonstrated the extent to which the federal government will go to interfere with the rights of the individual and the prerogatives of the states. There was a time when “commerce” actually meant commerce, and interstate commerce involved monetary or in-kind transactions that crossed state lines. Little by little the meaning of interstate commerce has been transformed, so that a commodity produced and consumed by an individual locally, and never sold, is considered to be “interstate commerce”. Just as in Kelo, the phrase means whatever the government says it means.
Taxes. Changes in taxes ratchet in one direction only: up. Once a tax is passed, it is rarely repealed, and reductions in rates are just as rare. The federal surcharge on your telephone bill was enacted in order to pay for the Spanish-American War. Strangely enough, it’s still there.
The Size of Government. Government transfers and subsidies have more than doubled since the 1960s, as a share of GDP. There are more people employed now by the government than in manufacturing jobs. Once a government program is set up, it is next to impossible to shut it down, and its funding must increase every year by more than the rate of inflation; anything less is deemed a “cut”. Once hired, a federal employee is almost impossible to dislodge. These trends damage the economy and the character of American citizens; when the employees of the government and their “clients” exceed half the population, the government and the country will have become synonymous.
Political Correctness. Restrictions on “hate speech” and laws against “sexual harassment” did not appear overnight. Incremental infringements on our First Amendment rights accumulated until they produced our current PC climate. The right not to be discriminated against became the right not to be offended.
The Cultural Sewer. Two generations ago, the occurrence of the word “damn” in a movie was risqué and daring. Public discourse and popular culture managed to thrive without the “F” word, and decorous civility was the norm. Brick by brick the barriers to expression have been removed, so that children are routinely sexualized and exploited in pop culture. Even as political expression has been stifled, pornography has come to be considered an inalienable right.
Illegal Immigration. At one time it was considered normal to restrict the flow of foreigners into our country, and to arrest and deport those who entered it illegally. Now only “racists” call for curbing immigration and enforcing the law on “undocumented workers”. We have imperceptibly lost the cultural self-confidence that once insisted on maintaining the integrity of our borders.
Education. The America-hating Left did not storm the schools and universities and occupy them in a blitzkrieg operation. Yet they have become one of the four pillars of liberal extremism (along with the courts, the media, and the federal bureaucracy). Professor by professor, textbook by textbook, the common cultural heritage that used to be transmitted from generation to generation by our schools has been replaced by ideological cant.
The Great Jihad. How did we get to the point where it is more important not to damage a copy of the Koran than it is to take terrorists out of circulation? When did it become more of a priority not to offend Muslims than to prevent innocent Americans from being murdered? We didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Let’s hire civil rights lawyers for foreign terrorists and then let them out on bail!” Yet somehow it happened.
*    *    *    *    *    *

The frog’s eyes are a little bloodshot and steam is rising from him. At what point does he cease being a frog and become dinner? And who will be left to eat him?

Frogs’ legs, anyone?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Council Winners Here

Watcher's CouncilThis week's Council Winner is Dr. Sanity for her "La Belle Indifference." I know she translates it to English for us dummies, but "La Belle" has always been one of my favorite medical terms, along with the Islets of Langerhans. "Where you going on vacation this year?" Oh, probably the Islets of Langerhans. The wife likes it there."

Anyway, the good doctor has a definition of conversion hysteria and a practical application of this disorder to the news of the day as filtered through the questionable mental apparatus of the MSM. Go read it just for her table. I hope it spreads through the blogosphere.

The Non Council King of the Hill is the Jawa Reports Kos Says U.S. Torture 'Equal' To that of Saddam Hussein (A Comparison). Recommendation: don't go there if you suffer from PTSD. It'll trigger you for days. I'm still looking for the door. The rest of you, please go. Witness must be borne.

Also to be recommended is Varifrank's I've Got a Bad Feeling Aout This. And here's what he has a bad feeling about:
The end result of this “Shark Summer” process will be for the Democrats to push for impeachment of the President some time during the summer of 2005; the groundwork is already being laid for this action this summer. The Democrats are trying to get traction on something, anything to allow them to drive home to an impeachment trial on which they will end the Bush Legacy.
Each week there are so many good posts to read. Try the Education Wonks if you want to be truly disturbed about fraud and waste in our schools. Those criminals put the Third World baksheesh mentality to shame.

For comic relief, read Dennis the Peasant and see justice done as Hop Sing, the Mexican houseboy with the dead armadillo, puts the rich kid in her place.

It's all here thanks to the Watcher of Weasels.

How About Some SOLs for the NGOs?

What a waste. Americans opened their hearts and their pocketbooks to the tsumani victims and all they got was a storm of corruption.

Mark Steyn, the inimitable, points out that Oxfam paid a million dollars in "fees" Sri Lanka to be allowed to use their four-wheel-drive vehicles to get into the country to deliver aid. And fourteen Unicef ambulance idled on the docks in Indonesia because of the Indonesian Red Cross paperwork.

Here's an idea: let's turn the UN, the Red Cross, all the do-nothing NGOs and their hangers-on over to the NEA here in America. The NEA can design a feasibility study, see, one that would be based on outcomes or some other education-speak, and we could give all these organizations and the countries in which they languish some report cards.

In addition to SOLs for students, we could have SOLs for non-profits, including the UN. Oh, dear God, especially the UN. They could get report cards, grades to be based on what they actually do rather than on their thick, bound, handsome proposals about what they're going to do. Someday.

Until we get some hard facts on their accomplishments here's an idea for the next major disaster: send your contributions to the Pentagon so they can be used to fuel the ships and planes and personnel who actually get there, do something useful, and then move on.

Otherwise, keep your money in your pocket. Sometimes the best response is no response, as the Tsunami Tshakedown (thank you, Mr. Steyn) has proved.

Exporting Terror

An interesting article in Wednesday's South Asia Times discusses the export from Pakistan of the manpower for the Great Jihad.
     From Australia to Europe to North America, a spate of arrests, trials and convictions has brought to the world's attention the growing threat posed by jihadis from Pakistan.
On June 5, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested a pair of Pakistani-Americans from the sleepy little farming town of Lodi, California. Hamid Hayat, 23, and his father, Umer Hayat, 47, were later charged with lying to the authorities regarding their connection with jihadi training camps. But the formal FBI affidavit contained the bombshell piece of information that the training camps in question were in Pakistan, not in the notorious tribal areas, but right outside the city of Rawalpindi, which also hosts the Pakistan army headquarters.
These busy mujahedeen gathering and training in the terror camps are bound for locales all over the world, including the branch of Lashkar-e-Taiba here in Virginia:
     In 2003, American authorities broke up a terrorist cell in the state of Virginia. During the subsequent trial, six men pleaded guilty, while three more were convicted of terrorism-related charges. The men, belonging to various ethnic backgrounds, admitted to being members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the notorious Pakistani Salafist group that is also active in Indian Kashmir. The US government released their indictment, which laid out the dates and periods when they went to Pakistan to train in LeT's camps.
An amusing detail is the Pakistani government’s version of the “I didn’t hit him, and besides he hit me first” defense:
     For its part, the Pakistani government denies that there are any terrorist camps in its territory. However, even Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri recently admitted during questioning that there were LeT terror camps in Pakistan, but insisted that the government had closed them down. The jihadi groups themselves, which still operate under new names despite being "banned", regularly publish magazines and newsletters that give out the phone numbers and addresses of their recruiters. Many former Pakistani officials have also pointed out that the Pakistan government's denials lack credibility. They note that Pakistan's continued support of Kashmir jihadi elements effectively torpedoes any chances of removing al-Qaeda from Pakistan, since jihadi groups do not tend to distinguish between Kashmir, Afghanistan and the West. "To these tanzeems [outfits], Hindus, Jews and Christians are all the same type of enemy," one Pakistani expert based in the West noted.
Note that the Pakistani official is echoing the assertion that we have been making here for so long: from the point of view of the Great Islamic Jihad, we are all kufr. Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists — same thing.

Professors of Terror

An article in the current issue of The Jewish Week tells a story which has not received much play in the major news media -- Are Arab Professors Masterminding Terror?:
     It has been called “the most significant terrorism trial” since 9-11: the first time alleged leaders of Islamic Jihad, self-confessed killers of more than 100 Israelis and two Americans, are being tried in an American court; the first time the controversial Patriot Act has lassoed jihadists of this magnitude; and the first time that Arab professors in an American university who have claimed “academic freedom” for their pro-Palestinians views have been indicted for using their university offices to direct and finance terrorist activity.
Yet most New Yorkers are oblivious to this case because The New York Times, let alone most other northern newspapers, has decided not to cover the extraordinary testimony being heard now in a Tampa, Fla., courtroom.
Charged with racketeering, conspiracy, materially aiding terrorists and running the American office of Palestinian Islamic Jihad are Kuwaiti-born Palestinian Sami Al-Arian, former professor at the University of South Florida; Sameeh Hammoudeh, a former instructor at the university; and two Islamic activists, Hatim Fariz and Ghassan Ballut.
The professors are accused of complicity in an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing of a bus in Israel in 1995, one which killed a 20-year-old college student from New Jersey. The prosecution is presenting evidence of their involvement in promoting and funding the terrorist group.

Academics such as Sami Al-Arian know how to talk the PC talk in English in front of the microphone for the media, but they walk the jihad walk in Arabic with their “students” in mosques and political meetings. Protected by tenure and the First Amendment from any consequences, they are swathed in the suffocating layers of political correctness that have become so pervasive in our country. The protective layer covering them now is that of media silence.

But it was not always thus. As the article points out, Sami al-Arian was a media darling not that long ago:
     It’s not that the Times was always reticent about Al-Arian. Three years ago (Jan. 27, 2002) he was the centerpiece of an editorial charging that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the University of South Florida “dishonor ideals of public universities by trying to fire Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian … whose anti-Israel statements have produced threats to campus and a decline in contributions.” Now there are no Times editorials.
Al-Arian was the focus as well of two Times columns by Nicholas Kristof. On March 1, 2002, he wrote that Al-Arian “denounces terrorism” and “promotes interfaith services with Jews,” and warned that “a university, even a country, becomes sterile when people are too intimidated to say things out of the mainstream. … Three exhaustive studies of his conduct have found no evidence of wrongdoing.”
Now that evidence is being presented and Kristof is silent.
These professors have something to teach us all. But are we prepared to learn?

Note: interested readers can find thorough and up-to-date coverage of the trial at The Tampa Tribune.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

One of God’s Homies

Dymphna has started up another blog at The Neighborhood of God. She will post things there that, for one reason or another, are not appropriate for Gates of Vienna. It will be a place where she can run free in the fever peat-bog of her Hibernian imagination.

And Baron Bodissey will not be allowed in, except to visit.

Give It Up, Guys

I Could Scream
The MMA in Pakistan is having a hard time. Failing on all sorts of initiatives, this loose consortium of Islamic-law political parties is reduced to beating up women when they show up as participants at marathons.

salwar kameezInitially the MMA claimed it was the fact that they didn’t want their “sisters and sisters-in-law” running around the country in their t-shirts and knickers. So when the women showed up in the traditional salwar kameez and wearing high heels, the MMA retreated to another tack: no running with men. When that didn’t work, they got down to it: no running at all for women, not even during the Haji rites.

The MMA is fighting a rear-guard action in Pakistan. They have tried in various ways to throw a spanner into President Musharraf’s alliance with the United States and his determination to bring Pakistan into the 19th century. Failing politically, they have entered into cultural mode, beginning with women’s participation in public life.

They have succeeded in defeating attempts to repeal the Islamic penal provisions that date from the 1980’s. Thus, a woman still needs four men to testify for her when she’s raped. They’ve also been successful in defeating Musharraf’s attempts to repeal blasphemy laws. But they failed to stop bus service into Kashmir and they are in crisis since the government has begun negotiating with Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. If Musharraf can bring off a successful negotiation, it will end his dependence on the MMA for parliamentary strength.

Here’s one way to look at it: when you see pictures of the police beating up women runners, you know whoever is behind it is on the losing side. This is a picture of desperate measures. It is only a matter of time till time catches up with them.

Welcome to the modern world, guys.


Here are the news items (dating back to April 2005) used as background for this post:
Pakistani Police Clash With Demonstrators
Pakistan's Hard-Line Islamists
Races Turn Into FIght for Pakistani Women's Rights

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Poetry of War, Part VI

An Occasional Series — Previous Installments:   I   II   III   IV   V

Wilfred Owen: The News of All the Nations

One of Wilfred Owen’s gifts was the ability to turn from the overwhelming horror of the moment and look beyond the nightmare of the Western Front to higher things. A great inspiration for him was the comeradeship of men in the trenches. The idealism of 1914 was gone, bitter anger and resignation had set in, and still these men were fierce in their devotion to their “mates”. The war was viewed as a monstrous insanity; yet each man would kill — and die — for the man next to him in the line.

Owen contemplates this devotion in the following sonnet (an “identity disc” is what we would call “dog tags”):
    Sonnet to my Friend
(With an Identity Disc)
If ever I had dreamed of my dead name
High in the heart of London, unsurpassed
By Time for ever, and the Fugitive, Fame,
There seeking a long sanctuary at last, —
Or if I onetime hoped to hide its shame,
— Shame of success, and sorrow of defeats, —
Under those holy cypresses, the same
That shade always the quiet place of Keats,
Now rather thank I God there is no risk
Of gravers scoring it with florid screed.
Let my inscription be this soldier’s disc.
Wear it, sweet friend. Inscribe no date nor deed.
But may thy heart-beat kiss it, night and day,
Until the name grow blurred and fade away.
Owen is looking here to the larger world, and does not seem to think it likely that he will survive to re-enter it. As it turned out, of course, his name was indeed unsurpassed among the poets of the Great War, though it was unknown in his own lifetime.

The larger world — the world that soldiers visited on leave, that they hoped one day to rejoin, that seemed so strange and irrelevant to the hell they lived in — was to be changed forever by the Great War. People went about their routines, children went to school, business was transacted, fortunes were made and lost, but an age had ended and a new one was about to begin.

There are intimations of this ominous new time in the following poem:
    Six o’clock in Princes Street
In twos and threes, they have not far to roam,
      Crowds that thread eastward, gay of eyes;
Those seek no further than their quiet home,
      Wives, walking westward, slow and wise.
Neither should I go fooling over clouds,
      Following gleams unsafe, untrue,
And tiring after beauty through star-crowds,
      Dared I go side by side with you;
Or be you in the gutter where you stand,
      Pale rain-flawed phantom of the place,
With news of all the nations in your hand,
      And all their sorrows in your face.
When the war ended, the “news of all the nations” continued. Revolution, social chaos, financial ruin, dictatorship, and, of course, another war — these were the shape of things to come.

The next post in this series will return to some of the other war poets.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hawaiian Independence and Other Topics of Interest

I recently came across a new blog, the World History Blog. Since I am a history addict, it caught my eye, with numerous posts on any historical topic you can imagine. It is maintained by Miland Brown, but beyond that I have no information, since his profile is not available, and he does not allow comments.

Today’s post is on Hawaiian independence. Apparently there are groups that think the statehood of Hawaii is bogus, and do not believe that the United States has legal claim to the state. After discussing the details of the issue, Miland says:
     All the rest of the stuff that comes from these Hawaiian Independence sites is based on the flawed logic that Hawaii is currently undergoing occupation by the USA and that the Kingdom of Hawaii still legally exists! This logic then leads these sites to argue that Hawaii should be allowed to secede from the USA (or in their words restored) without a vote of the people of Hawaii. Further, any one without the correct DNA (the majority of Hawaiians!) would be denied a vote as only Hawaiians with ancestors who were citizens under the Hawaiian Kingdom would be allowed to vote in the new government. That is a cause that is assured to go nowhere. Can you really see world opinion swinging in favor of the disenfranchisement of the majority of Hawaiian citizens? Grandfather clauses are so post-Civil War American South...
The US Congress apologized for any past injustice in Hawaii in 1993. This was a political move to shore up support amongst Democratic voters. It may have helped in Hawaii but the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress in the 2004 election anyway. This resolution has no legal force of law and is merely a PR act equivalent to the state of New Jersey declaring April 4th State Cherry Pie Day. Yet, the separatists always point to it as some great proof that Hawaii is not American...
The final argument is this. If the USA does not legally own Hawaii, why haven't the majority of people heard of this before? If the Hawaiian vote of 1958 was interpreted illegally by the UN, why didn't the Soviet Union veto it? They were pretty good at doing their best at making the USA look bad. Why haven't current American antagonist made an issue of this? China hasn't even when they are critiqued about Tibet. Cuba, Iran, North Korea are silent on this point. If Hawaii is not American and there was any legal case internationally to be made of this, don't you think the UN, the World Court, and the international media would be all over this? The deafening silence you hear tells you exactly what the world community believes about Hawaii and the USA.
This issue will probably go away in another century or so. Nature being what it is most Hawaiians will eventually have DNA from both the original Hawaiians and the “occupiers” by then. It would be pretty dead now if it were not for the Internet and the ability of every fringe group to have their message heard on the Web. As it is, it will probably provide another generation or two of radicals the opportunity to confuse the public and be paid speakers on the university anti-American circuit.
An interesting topic in an interesting blog. History buffs should drop by the World History Blog.

The Poetry of War, Part V

An Occasional Series — Previous Installments:   I    II    III    IV

Wilfred Owen: The Pity of War

I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense conciliatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful. — Wilfred Owen

The young men dropped into the crucible of the Western Front emerged from it transformed, if indeed they emerged from it at all. The horrors of the trenches were of such magnitude and scope that any aesthetic sensibility could not help but be altered.

Before the war took its toll on him, Wilfred Owen was a promising young poet, albeit one practicing unremarkable variations on conventional themes in traditional forms. Consider the following poem:
    My Shy Hand
My shy hand shades a hermitage apart, -
      O large enough for thee, and thy brief hours.
Life there is sweeter held than in God’s heart,
      Stiller than in the heavens of hollow flowers.
The wine is gladder there than in gold bowls.
      And Time shall not drain thence, nor trouble spill.
Sources between my fingers feed all souls,
      Where thou mayest cool thy lips, and draw thy fill.
Five cushions hath my hand, for reveries;
      And one deep pillow for thy brow’s fatigues;
Languor of June all winterlong, and ease
      For ever from the vain untravelled leagues.
This is a pleasing and competently executed effort, but one that would hardly have been noted if it were all that Owen had ever offered us. But, just a short while later, we have this, which could have been written by an entirely different poet:
    Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
“Dulce et Decorum Est” (the Latin inscription means “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”) is Owen’s best-known work, and one of his most powerful, condensing into a few lines all the horror and insanity of the Great War. It is widely viewed as the prototype of all anti-war verse, as if Owen were to be given an honorary posthumous membership in international ANSWER.

But to view Owen’s poetry in this light is to engage in “Presentism”, to apply the standards of the present to a past in which they are not appropriate. It is a failure to understand the context of the times. Modern Western culture is already so unthinkingly saturated with the sensibilities created by the Great War and its aftermath that it is difficult for us to reclaim even the ghost of that lost world of 1914.

The intelligent and thoughtful young men who were confronted with the monstrosity of the war at first reacted with horror and indignation. Later, as the horror became their daily routine, these were replaced with cynicism, bitterness, resignation, despair, and above all pity, both for themselves and for the comrades whose death and suffering confronted them daily. One of Owen’s late poems reflects these responses:
Under his helmet, up against his pack,
After the many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.
And in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There was a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping...
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.
And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping
From the intrusive lead, like ants on track.
*          *          *
Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking
Of great wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars,
High pillowed on calm pillows of God’s making
Above these clouds, these rains, these sleets of lead,
And these winds’ scimitars;
— Or whether yet his thin and sodden head
Confuses more and more with the low mould,
His hair being one with the grey grass
And finished fields of autumns that are old...
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass!
He sleeps. He sleeps tremulous, less cold
Than we who must awake, and waking, say Alas!
Concern for comrades, indignation at the futility of it all, disdain for those in world outside who cannot possibly understand: these are the typical responses of the wartime poet. Antiwar sentiment as an active political force did not emerge until well after the war, when Soviet backing and the political climate of the time channelled the revulsion for the war into pacifism.

But the men in the trenches of the Great War did not react to their situation as a political one. After all, unless you were a Socialist Revolutionary, the available political options of the day did not offer you any viable alternative, since all had led to the same inferno in the trenches.

To view the Great War poems politically is to diminish them; they were much more important than that.

My next post in this series will conclude the examination of Wilfred Owen’s poetry.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Dublin Blogger

Mark Humphrys, that rara avis -- a libertarian and pro-American Irish blogger* -- has some good links and information on democide, which he defines as a government’s murder of its people, whether it be for politics, race, or simply mass murder as a method of control.

Here’s an example: according to Mark’s figures, the Shah of Iran, while ruling from 1954 to 1979, was responsible for the deaths of sixteen thousand people. Since taking over the country the Islamic Republic has gone on to kill perhaps one hundred thousand Iranians. As he says, this is reminiscent of the Bolshevik “liberation” of Russia. With government leaders like these, who needs homicidal maniacs?

Mark links to Freedom’s Nest, a libertarian website where you can find Rudolph Rummel’s figures on annihilation in the twentieth century, broken down by either regimes or by country. Of particular interest are the numbers killed by the Soviet Union and by China. As is well-known, Stalin deliberately starved 6,000,000 people in Ukraine, while the world (and the New York Times) looked on. In the 1960’s, however, the Chinese created a famine by ineptitude and bad theory, (mis)managing to starve 27,000,000 of its citizens. Is is better to be starved to death by deliberate misdeed or by miscalculation?

Here are Rummel’s total figures for democide in both countries:

Soviet Union: 62,000,000
Communist China: 65,000,000 (including famine victims).

But wait. Mr. Rummel has another 110,000,000 for China:
     Additionally, there is the difficult question of involuntary abortion, of children desired by the parents, at the behest of the state or its agents. Whether the killing of a foetus is murder, and if not, whether it becomes murder when done against the mother’s will, is the problem. It is not clear if these abortions should be included in the democide totals.
But one may consider that Chinese abortions are often administered by allowing the mother to go through labor, then crushing the child’s skull with forceps as it is being born. This seems quite a bit like murder. Additionally, there have been numerous reports of infants being murdered following birth. Infanticide is not the official policy of Communist China. It is, however, the actual policy, official denials not withstanding.
The number of deaths resulting from coerced abortions and infanticide since 1971 is estimated at over 110 million, making this perhaps the greatest crime in all of history.
And so, in yet another round of unintended consequences, China is facing the same steep demographic decline that is coming to haunt much of the West. Our children's children will be forced to live with the plague of all this social engineering. Do you think their curses will ring back down to years to us, their forebears, for being so stunningly arrogant, so stupidly blind?

Somehow, I don't think there will be anyone left to pray us into Heaven.

*see Mark’s distinction between what he does and what a blog does. He's been keeping up his site -- blog or not -- since 1995.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fathers of Daughters

Father’s Day is a pale feast compared to what we do in May for mothers. That’s understandable since mothering roles have changed less than fathering has in the last generation. The daddy template is broken, or if not broken, certainly skewed and bent by stress. As the job has become more thankless and more easily taken from them, fewer daddies are to be found at their posts.

The easiest piece to see of this sad situation is the animus that the previous generation’s feminists have for men. Their anti-male bias has taken its toll on men, but it has not served women well either. Feminist politics are those of resentment and victimization. The younger generation of women coming along behind them are not eager to trap themselves in this ghetto where men are vilified and condescended to.

The most damaging thing the feminist movement did to women was to push fathers to the periphery. “I’d-rather-do-it-myself” was a mantra whose end result was not stronger, happier children. Long term studies of the children of divorce do not paint a pretty picture.

In contrast to this philosophy, I offer two anecdotal pieces of evidence of the importance of fathers for girls. We know they’re crucial for boys if they are to grow up able to strive and to maintain themselves in the world as productive adults, able — as Freud said — to work, to love, and to play. Without Dad, some of that will wither. What about the girls, then?

Here are two stories that show what a woman can only accomplish with the help of her father. These are fathers who had to buck the culture to give their daughters what they needed. They are brave and courageous and anonymous men who deserve our attention on Father’s Day.

The first story appeared this week in the print edition of the Wall Street Journal. Neo-neocon reports the serendipitous appearance at her front door of a copy of the Journal which contained an article entitled “Married at 11, a Teen in Niger Returns to School,” with Roger Thurow's byline. Neo-neocon relates the sad story she read of the young Muslim girls of the Southern Sahara who face several horrific problems directly related to gender.

The first is genital mutilation. The second is premature marriage at wholly inappropriate ages to men much older than they. These early marriages result in pregnancy in little bodies that are not yet ready to bear babies to term. When the babies are ready to be born they cannot easily leave a womb which has no room to let them pass. The result is protracted labor in which long days of pressure on the walls of the uterus cause it to tear a hole between the uterus and vagina. The result is a fistula. The result is urinary incontinence and social ostracism for smelling so bad.

The girl under discussion here was sold by her father into marriage in exchange for a camel. Mr. Thurow gives us her story:

Anafghat Ayoub left school in third grade to get married. Her mother had died, leaving her goat-herder father with several daughters, of whom Anafghat was the oldest. After marrying, Anafghat’s husband left to find work in Libya, but not before impregnating his eleven year old wife. When the baby was ready to deliver, Anafghat’s body was not. She had been in labor for three days when her anxious father scraped together money from friends and relatives to get to the nearest maternity hospital. After traveling over sixty miles of rutted roads they were told the nurses couldn’t handle her delivery.

Mohamed Ayoub hired another car to get to Niamey — another forty dollars and another hundred miles away.

Eventually, the stillborn baby was delivered by forceps but the damage to Anafghat had been done. She had a fistula “the size of a baseball.” The doctors cured her infection, but they could do nothing for the fistula. Anafghat lived at the hospital for four months, waiting the arrival of volunteer American doctors who would be returning for their sixth visit to operate on little girls like her. In the end, a surgeon from Johns Hopkins performed the repair.

Now Anafghat is back in school. She lives at home with her father and sisters and will not be returning to her husband. She plans to go on with her education: while at the hospital she met a woman who is a medical student from Niger. Anafghat decided then and there that she would go on with her education and become like this woman.

Her father agreed with her plan and now all his daughters are with him, and all are in school. The future looks hopeful for this particular family because this particular father allowed his love for his daughter to transcend the limits of his life. The daughter he sold for a camel (which was later stolen) will be the jewel of his family and the way out for his other daughters.

Thousands of miles from Niger there is Mukhtar Mai. Gates of Vienna has devoted several posts to her situation — being gang-raped while her village laughed and danced, her efforts to bring her assailants to justice, her desire to make a better life for the children of her village, the outpouring of aid from around the world in response to her story of courage and determination, even in the face of death by her assailants and their defenders.

The opening chapters of her story are not that different from many tragedies for Muslim women. Shari’a law allows families to sacrifice women for debts of honor and she was thus designated by the village to stand in for a trumped-up charge against her brother. It was the middle chapter when she changed the story line. Instead of leaving to commit suicide as she was expected to do she was met on the road by her father, who covered her nakedness with a shawl and led her home. Through the following days of darkness it was her father and her imam who encouraged her to live, and then insisted that she file charges against her assailant.

And so it came to pass that instead of skulking off to die, Mukhtar Mai went to court. Her assailants were found guilty and she was awarded compensation. She took the money back to her village and opened two schools, one for boys and one for girls. She named the one for boys after her father.

Mukhtar MaiHer story isn’t over yet. President Pervez Musharraf won’t let her leave Pakistan because her story will bring shame on his country. But he is keeping her alive. And money has poured in from around the world, allowing her to bring electricity to her village and to fund other schools. None of this would have been possible without her father’s love and his courage to stand up to the powerful clan in his village who savaged his daughter. Can any of us imagine what it must have taken for this man to shield, protect, and urge his daughter on to justice?

These are stories of fathers that could not have been told about mothers. It is not that we don’t love our children. Of course we do. It is that we cannot provide the same things a father can, that a father must provide if he wants his daughter to grow strong and straight.

In this country, you can tell the girls with good fathers. They are at ease in the world and they are confident of finding their way. Unlike the fatherless ones, or the ones with absent or empty fathers, they do not have to live in a city of one. Having experienced being carried by the strong daddy who strode so easily past the white water places where she knows she could have gone under had it not been for him, the girl with the good father is free, freer than she could ever know.

If Only

Right Wing Nuthouse recently posted a moving look back at D-Day and the character of the American soldier which allowed us to pull victory out of a brutal and chaotic situation. From the perspective of sixty years, he looks back on that assault as the defining moment for the twentieth century, listing the many disasters which might have followed on the defeat of those soldiers hitting the beach.

In a house filled with amateur historians, the post sparked dinner table conversations that lasted for several days. Finally, the consensus came down to one incident, one date, that changed the course of the 20th century and set into play the events which were to dog the rest of our days, even down to the present.

Gavrilo PrincipThat moment, of course, is June 28, 1914. The incident is the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to Austro-Hungarian throne, by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.

Princip was a member of an anarchist group, the Black Hand. He was one of three assassins (that lovely Arabic word), sent to Sarajevo when it was known the Archduke was to be there, invited to inspect Army maneuvers. All three of these anarchists had tuberculosis and figured they wouldn’t live long. They wanted their short lives to be useful and to that end set out for their date with destiny.

However, the prime minister of Serbia was told about the plot ahead of time and ordered the men arrested. His orders were ignored, and the men arrived in Sarajevo. If only the arrest orders had been carried out.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and SophieThe first attempt on Franz Ferdinand’s life was a grenade under the Archduke’s car as they drove from the train station to City Hall for the usual reception. However, the driver of the car saw this and managed to speed ahead, avoiding damage. Unfortunately, two people in the car following were seriously injured. Thus, after the reception the Archduke insisted on going to the hospital to see them.

It was decided that the Archduke should be escorted to the hospital on a route that bypassed the city. Unfortunately, no one told his driver. It was only as they were turning into Franz Josef Street that the Army general accompanying them noticed the mistake and had the driver back up. Guess who was at a café on the corner? Gavrilo Princip. Firing from only five feet away, how could he miss? He shot the Archduke in the jugular vein and the Archduke’s beloved wife, Sophie, in the abdomen. As he was struck, Franz Ferdinand begged Sophie to live. “Think of the children,” he implored.

The couple died at the governor’s residence. If only someone had told Franz Urban, the driver of the car, about the change in plans.

The cascade of events following their deaths was like a carefully placed set of dominoes. The players in this deadly game were as follows:

1. Princip was a Bosnian Serb. It was presumed that the machinations of Serbia were behind the assassination. Thus the demands and ultimata by Austria-Hungary were on Serbia. They sent an “expert” to collect evidence.
2. Serbia was bound to Russia by alliance and by ethnic ties.
3. Germany was bound by its alliance with Austria-Hungary.

Can you see the clouds gathering here? Can you see the dominoes beginning to tremble?

4. Austria-Hungary demanded apologies and cessation of anti-Austrian propaganda. They wanted cooperation from Serbia in their investigations. Meanwhile, Serbia stalled. This intestinal fortitude was encouraged by word from St. Petersburg that Russia would back them.
5. Now come Britain and France. Bound by a mutual alliance with Russia, the Triple Entente, they were obliged to come to Russia’s aid.
6. So began the mobilization: Britain readied the fleet, France mobilized.
7. Austria declared war on July 28th. Two days later, Russia mobilized, part of which was deployment on the German border.
8. The Germans made an ultimatum to Russia: cease and desist.

On July 29th, Germany proposed British neutrality. In return, the Germans would not annex Belgium or French territory. If only the British had agreed.

9. On August 1st, 1914 - less than six weeks after the Archduke’s death - Germany declared war on Russia.
And so the dominoes fell. From the invasion of Belgium to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the losses were massive:
 Dead Wounded
Britain 947,000 2,122,000
France 1,385,000 3,044,000
Russia 1,700,000 4,950,000
Italy 460,000 947,000
US 115,000 206,000
Germany 1,808,000 4,247,000
Austria-Hungary 1,200,000 3,620,000
Turkey 325,000 400,000

The direct and indirect costs of the war, estimated in the 1940’s, were about $332,000,000,000. That’s billions. In today’s dollars such numbers are incalculable.

The Great War of 1914-1918, the War to End All Wars, was the cultural equivalent of the Black Death. Its demographic deadliness lies in its victims: mostly fit young men. The war destroyed the “seed crop” of the next generation and divided our times into a Before and After, just as the Black Death had done for the 14th century.

But the numbers don’t tell it all. The most significant event triggered by Gavrilo Princip was not the Great War itself, but the Bolshevik Revolution, which ushered in the brief but deadly Age of Socialism. Socialism was in the air anyway, and would have taken its turn on the world’s stage. But the particularly virulent form midwifed by Lenin in the Soviet Union depended entirely on the immediate circumstances of the Great War.

In 1917, If only the German high command had not made the strategically brilliant move of sending Lenin to the Finland Station in a sealed train. If only if Russia had not suffered the particular reverses it did on the Eastern Front; if only the United States had entered the war earlier rather than later…If… if… if…

Timing was all, and timing led to the ascendancy of socialism. All the murderous totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century — Fascist, Nazi, and Communist — were socialist in nature. One hundred million or more souls perished, directly or indirectly, as a result of socialism. Whether tortured and murdered in the camps, starved to death in deliberately engineered and accidental famines, or killed in the wars brought on by the dictators, the victims at the hands of the 20th century were, by and large, the victims of socialism.

Timing was all and timing allowed Gavrilo Princip his brief moment. Without that, there would have been no punitive Treaty of Versailles. Hitler would have remained a nobody. Lenin’s arrival in Russia would not have been so opportune, thus deflecting from their courses Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro and Guevara.

The 20th century began with Gavrilo Princip in June of 1914. It ended with Osama bin Laden in September of 2001. In Europe and all the territories of the Great War, socialism is on life-support. In America, a few ignorant souls call for its renewal.

Let us pray.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Poetry of War, Part IV

An Occasional Series — Previous Installments:   I    II    III    

Wilfred Owen: The Ram of Pride

Of all the promising young lives cut short by the carnage on the Western Front in the Great War, none was more promising or more tragically snuffed out than that of Wilfred Owen. His poetic abilities were considerable, and came to full flower in the appalling conditions of the trenches. He was scarcely out of childhood when he took up arms in 1914, and was killed by a sniper in 1918 at the age of 25, just a week before the armistice, when the war was all but over. He spent his entire adult life as a soldier in the war, and his poetry is a reflection of it.

He is best known for bitter and angry poems like “Dulce et Decorum Est”, but his work displayed a wide range of topics, moods, and styles. Sometimes his verse was traditionally florid and romantic, a throwback to the previous century; at other times it was spare and modern. But his were poems of grace and power, and English poetry is worse off for having been denied his maturity.

When confronted with the monstrosity that was the Great War, the natural reaction was to rage against God. Owen uses a specific scriptural parable in the following poem, reversing the outcome of the narrative in order to have Abraham acting against his God:
    Parable of the Old Man and the Young
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
What other explanation could be found, except for pride, that would compel the nations of Europe to continue the senseless slaughter?

The soldier at the front tended to identify with Christ, with the innocent suffering and death of the Messiah. Taking a different tack with “Soldier’s Dream”, Owen presents Christ as acting in opposition to God, in order to show mercy to the soldiers:
    Soldier’s Dream
I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big-gun gears;
And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;
And buckled with a smile Mausers and Colts;
And rusted bayonet with His tears.
And there were no more bombs, of ours or Theirs,
Not even an old flint-lock, nor even a pikel.
But God was vexed, and gave all power to Michael;
And when I woke he’d seen to our repairs.
Both these poems project outrage at a war that could not be explained except as “the pleasure of this world’s Powers who’d run amok.” If such was the will of God, how else to respond except with a defiance of God?

Wilfred Owen’s poetry is too large a topic to be covered in a single post; there will be more on him later.

That Danged Book Meme, Amended

It was Pastorius at CUANAS who initially tagged us with this meme. It seemed an impossible task. Name one book I was reading? Have never read just one book in my life. Total number of books owned? Don’t want to go there; it would mean looking at the number of books I’ve lost over the years. Five books which mean a lot to me? FIVE??? You’re kidding. I’m finally getting book cases built to hold some of the precarious stacks of things I can’t let go of… and I do let many of them go to the library sales.

Then Fundamentally Right showed up with the same list of questions in hand. All right, all right. But here’s an amended version of this game of tag.

Total Number Of Books Owned Ever:

Probably as few as three or four thousand, but maybe eight. Who keeps count? And this doesn’t take into consideration the books I really, really wanted but managed to contain myself and get at the library instead. Someone gave me a button that reads “ I am a bookaholic: if you love me don’t let me buy another book.” As a kid, I read to escape a less-than-optimum life. Reading under the covers at night, hoping the nuns couldn’t see the flashlight, I’d covered all the Nancy Drew books by the time I was eight. Ruined my eyesight in the process.

Read-a-holics cannot resist the printed word: It starts with cereal boxes at the breakfast table or newspapers abandoned in the restaurant booth by whomever ate there before you and continues into reading your high school English lit books the day you get them. This is not virtue. A therapist once posed the question: “so when did you discover that books were a neurotic escape?”

Motto: never leave home without a book. You never know when you might be trapped somewhere with nothing to read. Horrors.

A room without a bookcase is boring. Walking into a room with a bookcase is permission to look at someone’s soul.

Last Book Bought:

Books aren’t purchased singly. At the very minimum they come in pairs. The Right Nation (Micklethwait and Woolridge); Donbas (Jacques Sandulescu);Eccentric Culture (Remi Brague); Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology (Gerald May). The list of books in my Amazon shopping cart is eleven. That doesn’t count the ones on the “Buy Later” list. For book-aholics, Amazon’s shopping cart feature is most helpful. Put a book there and sometimes they age out and you lose interest.

Last Book I Read:

Have never read just one book at a time. Unlike the virtuous and diligent Baron, who carefully reads a book from beginning to end (including the footnotes and endnotes), I’m usually working on several things at a time, and not always from the first page. At the moment this is the litter on my side of the bed:

The Case for Democracy Natan Sharansky
The War Against the Terror Masters Michael Ledeen
Browser’s Dictionary John Ciardi
Garden Annual Southern Living
Jersusalem Bible, 1967 Reader’s Edition The Usual Suspects
The Book of Common Prayer
Several recent issues of First Things
Right Nation Micklethwait and Woolridge
Box of Rain Robert Hunter

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

Probably better off mentioning contemporary authors which mean a lot to me:

Jane Austen
Wilfrid Bion
Billy Collins
Theodore Dalrymple
Michael Eigen
Karen Horney
Elmore Leonard (no one has a better ear for American speech than L)
V. S. Naipaul
Flannery O'Connor
Robert Parker (bon bon books. Yum)
Pattiann Rogers
Ferrol Sams
Thomas Sowell
Anne Tyler
Evelyn Waugh
PG Wodehouse

Five Books I’ve Given Away Recently:

The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
I Heard God Laughing (Hafiz)
The Way the World Works (Jude Wanniski)
The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)
John Boyd: the Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (Robert Coram)

See why I put off doing this list? It establishes my greed and my attention deficit delusion — the one which allows me to think if I read fast enough, I can catch up.

Who Do I Tag?

I hope none of you has been tagged with this one before:

Bill's Comments

Hot Needle of Inquiry

L'Ombre de l'Olivier


Toe in the Water

Note from Baron Bodissey, who acted as scribe and editor for his lovely wife on this important post:

She left out Jack Vance. How could she leave out Jack Vance? Everyone: go read Jack Vance books.

Don't forget Orson Scott Card, Baron. Especially Ender's Game, which I have given to any number of people and which should be required reading for any boy/man over the age of ten. ~D

Friday, June 17, 2005

An Epistle to the Saved and Politically Certain

A commenter, Always on Watch, responded to the post on Walter Williams’ tongue-in-cheek “Amnesty” for white people by noting:
    The never-let-it-go mentality puts me in mind of the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Even worse, such thinking allows for much whining and much excuse-making.
He’s right on target with that one. What his comment highlights is the similarity between the tribal cultures remaining in the world. The links between Irish terrorism, jihadist murderous resentments, and the attitudes of the Black underclass are not a far reach. They all thrive on envy and bitterness. The individual is not primary, the group is; heaven protect you should you swim against the group-think of your tribe.

Honor and shame are closely linked and the latter is easily provoked. “Dissing” someone can get you hurt. Women are to be disrespected, of course. There is a difference only in degree between a man who calls his woman a “ho” and his compatriot in the Middle East who thinks her only place is total subservience.

Nor should we forget the tribe comes before the nation. Patriotism? Not hardly. Defense of your bro? Absolutely.

And who is the great defender of this kind of thinking? What segment of our population would defend to the death (someone else’s death, not theirs, thank you) the superiority of such tribal thinking? Surprise, surprise: it’s the same group who equate Guantanamo Bay with the Soviet gulag…

Unfortunately, this crowd fills the pews of my church. They apologize for the sins of their fathers, and they prostrate themselves for their racism. Not long ago, our diocesan newspaper printed one of these insufferable apologias as prologue to the formation of yet one more — yawn — Racism Committee.

Here is my response.
    “The Sin of Racism”: A Reader’s Response
The downward spiral of the Episcopal Church in its rush to irrelevance can nowhere be seen more clearly than in the enormous amount of leadership energy now spent on 1970’s-style consciousness raising. Periodically, congregations are subjected to yet more hortatory about the need for right thinking. Once again, congregations are shown to be lagging behind the bureaucracy: whether it be race or gender or Palestine, Episcopalians have to be in line with whatever the politically correct thinking is at the moment.
Surely there is not a white Episcopalian left who has not discovered with great personal dismay his own covert racist thinking? Right? As a racism workshop facilitator once said, “if you’re white, you’re wrong.” This facilitator also told his audience that it’s inherently impossible, given the racist culture in America, for a black person to be racist. How’s that for the ultimate in condescension?
My bona fides: I am white, but I live in a black community. I was married in a black church. Back when it was authentically cross-cultural, I was a member of the NAACP. In fact, we have some black people in our family.
Those who would condemn others for their failures to think correctly simply don’t understand the hard-wiring in the human soul. We are born with a capacity to prefer our own kind. Watch any child encounter a stranger and you can experience the primitive startle effect that leads to a preference to be with one’s own. This inclination toward the known is neither sinful nor wrong; it is human.
Game theory has shown that when members of a community are left to their own devices, groups of similars will collect or ‘bunch’ together. It is not deliberate segregation, it is congregation. Ask the black students on any campus who they prefer to hang with. And then ask them if this preference is racist.
In the continuing rush to right thinking, it is the children who lose out. The Law of Unintended Consequences is easily seen in the effects on children of both no-fault divorce and mandated diversity. The idea that culture can be sorted out and regulated is surely one of the most pernicious legacies from the 20th century. It is past time to move beyond this dated, statist thinking.
I’ll be the first in line when a commission is formed to investigate the harm which accrues to children from illegitimacy and illiteracy. With all the oxygen in the room being consumed by correct thinking, though, it seems there isn’t any left over for the kids. Bill Cosby had it right when he said the main problems facing black children have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with poor decisions. Now whose fault is that?
We are Christ’s people. We need to be about our Father’s business and we already have a Creed to tell us what that business is. The statements of Mr. Kelly’s Creed - the ones that begin with an individual examination of guilty conscience and ends with a call for a permanent national Episcopal committee on racism - are jarringly wrong-headed. How about a national committee to make illiteracy uncool? That would be both Christian and cogent. How about a church which devotes its energy to strengthening the good rather than a church which is compelled to wallow in its own sinfulness? If I wanted to be a Calvinist, I would not have chosen to be an Episcopalian.
Once upon a time, the Episcopal Church was at the forefront of educating children to the fact of their individual free will and their membership, via Baptism, in the City of God. Now it seems that we stand only for the further balkanization by race which has so grievously retarded our culture.
Race and ethnicity are accidental. They are not instrumental in our salvation.
This letter to the editor appeared in the online version of the diocesan paper because the webmaster agreed to include it. The editor of the print version never even responded. Call it an Epistle to the Saved and Politically Certain.

How long can a thinking person remain in the Church without gluing her gluteus maximus to the pew? Each person has their limit: mine will be when the Episcopal Church follows the lead of some of the other mainline denominations and dis-invests from Israel. At that point, I am, as they say, outta here.