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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Anti-Sharia rallies across the nation on June 10

Posted by Richard on June 5, 2017

Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT for America is sponsoring “March Against Sharia” rallies in cities across the country this Saturday, June 10, to voice opposition to female genital mutilation (FGM), honor killings/violence, and other anti-woman and anti-human-rights practices of fundamentalist Islamic law that are taking place right here in the United States.

The first US arrests for FGM took place in Detroit just a few weeks ago, but fundamentalist American and immigrant Muslims have been engaging in the barbaric practice under the radar for many years. In a column posted today at Breitbart, Gabriel describes a horrific honor killing and discusses the much more prevalent problem of honor violence of other types:

“Do you know you are going to die tonight?”

This is how Zein Isa, a Palestinian Muslim and naturalized United States Citizen, told his 16-year-old daughter Tina, that she was going to die.

He told her she brought dishonor to the family by finding part time work, dating a boy outside of her faith, playing high school soccer, going to the prom, and becoming “Americanized.”

Tina was brutally stabbed to death by her father with a butcher knife, while her mother Maria, held her down.

The horrific events and Tina’s screams for mercy were recorded on an FBI tape:

Several studies have concluded that while the reported number of honor killings in the United States is relatively low—rough estimates of 23 to 27 killings annually—the number of honor violence victims increases exponentially when other nonlethal forms of honor violence are added to the equation.

Information about honor violence is closely concealed by families and communities. Victims or potential victims may not report victimization out of fear. Further, victims may not report honor violence because in their home culture what has occurred is not viewed as a crime.

Read more about the rallies, other barbaric aspects of sharia, and the victims of sharia who are participating in these rallies at WorldNetDaily. But keep in mind it’s WorldNetDaily, so don’t venture into the comments unless you have a strong stomach; lots of crazies (on both sides) comment there.

If you support equal rights for all and especially if you’re a real feminist (not a fake feminist like Linda Sarsour), and there’s a rally near you, come out and make your voice heard.

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More guns, less crime

Posted by Richard on February 26, 2014

From the Citizens Committee for the Right to Bear Arms:

BELLEVUE, WA – The FBI’s semi-annual uniform crime data for the first half of 2013 confirms once again what the firearms community already knew, that violent crime has continued to decline while gun sales have continued to climb, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

The report, issued last week, says murders declined 6.9 percent from the first half of 2012, while aggravated assaults dropped by 6.6 percent nationwide and robberies were down 1.8 percent. Forcible rapes declined 10.6 percent from the same period in 2012 and overall, violent crime fell by 10.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties and 3.6 percent in metropolitan counties.

“This new information reinforces the notion that not only do guns save lives, their presence in the hands and homes of law-abiding citizens just might be a deterrent to crime,” observed CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “The National Shooting Sports Foundation has been reporting a steady increase in firearm sales for the past few years. Taken as a whole, one cannot help but conclude that the predictions from gun prohibitionists that more guns leads to more crime have been consistently wrong.”

Gottlieb said the tired argument from the anti-gun lobby that more firearms in the hands of private citizens would result in sharp increases in violence have run out of traction. Not only has the decline in crime corresponded with an increase in gun sales, it also coincides with a steady rise in the number of citizens obtaining concealed carry licenses and permits, he noted.

“The FBI report says burglaries and auto theft have also decreased,” Gottlieb said, “and it is impossible to look at this pattern and not suggest that increased gun ownership just might be one contributing factor. Gun prohibitionists would, of course, dismiss that suggestion as poppycock, but you can bet your life savings that if the data was reversed, and violent crime had risen, the gun control lobby would be rushing to every available microphone declaring that guns were to blame.

“This continuing pattern brings up a pertinent question,” he concluded. “If the gun ban lobby has been so wrong about more guns resulting in more crime, what else have they been wrong about? The word ‘everything’ comes to mind.”

2013 was yet another record year for gun sales.

In Detroit, where government services including law enforcement have been cut back, more and more people are taking responsibility for defending themselves. And, wonder of all wonders, they have the support of the police chief:

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has been an outspoken supporter of arming law-abiding citizens, and has publicly stated that “Good Americans with concealed pistols translates into crime reduction.”

Living conditions in Detroit have declined in recent years. The city’s bankruptcy led to a reduced police force, and residents have had to learn to protect themselves. Self-defense killings in Detroit rose to 2200% above the national average in recent years, and Chief Craig says that more than 300 legally armed citizens defended themselves last year.

Maybe wanna-be thugs in Detroit will think twice about messing with homeowners in the area.

UPDATE: Related — Michael Barone says the evidence of the last quarter-century has changed his mind regarding “shall issue” concealed carry laws:

The result has been that over the years the entire nation has become carry-concealed-weapons territory, as shown in a neat graphic in a Volokh Conspiracy blog post by Dave Kopel. Back in 1987, some people, myself included, worried that such laws would lead to frequent shootouts on the streets arising from traffic altercations and the like. That has not happened — something we can be sure of since the mainstream media would be delighted to headline such events.

To the contrary, violent crime rates have declined drastically during the last quarter-century. I don’t think you can prove that concealed-weapons laws caused that result, but they have probably contributed to it, because would-be criminals are less likely to assault people they believe might be armed. In any case the argument that concealed-weapons laws would lead to more violent crime has been about as thoroughly refuted as an argument can be.

One lesson, I think, is that responsible citizens tend to behave like responsible citizens, even if — or perhaps especially if — they’re armed. Another lesson is that the national political dialogue can be totally irrelevant to what really happens in American life.

HT: Instapundit

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Ukranians seek to add right to bear arms to constitution

Posted by Richard on February 26, 2014

I guess being attacked by your own government for daring to protest its actions has a way of focusing the mind on what’s important. The Ukrainian Gun Owners Association recently issued this statement (emphasis in original):

Today every citizen of Ukraine understands why our country has hundreds of thousands of policemen. Last illusions were crushed when riot police used rubber batons and boots at the Independence Square on peaceful citizens.

After such actions we realize that it is not enough to only adopt the Gun Law.

As of today Ukrainian Gun Owners Association will start to work on the preparation of amendments to the Constitution, which will provide an unconditional right for Ukrainian citizens to bear arms.

People should have the right to bear arms, which will be put in written into the Constitution.

Authorities should not and will not be stronger than its people!

Armed people are treated with respect!

Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, Tim Knight of the Colorado Second Amendment Association, and the NRA have voiced their support. Townhall’s Katie Pavlich noted:

Currently, gun laws in the Ukraine are categorized as restrictive and only “licensed gun owners may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition.” Ukrainians who apply for a firearms license must show “genuine reason” for why they are doing so, which must approved by the State.

I’m guessing that “I want to protect myself from government goons” is not an acceptable “genuine reason” for getting a firearms license there. Sort of like New York, Chicago, …

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A boundless imperial presidency

Posted by Richard on March 6, 2013

I feel like I’ve been transported to an alternate universe. Sen. Rand Paul asked Obama administration officials repeatedly over a period of weeks whether “the President has the power to authorize the use of lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.” After stonewalling for weeks, they finally responded by saying essentially that they haven’t assassinated anyone yet, they currently have no plans to do so, but they might in the future if an American posed, in the President’s judgment, an “imminent threat.”

AG Eric Holder maintained that “[a]s a policy matter” the administration rejects the use of military force against Americans on US soil when it isn’t necessary, and rejected Sen. Paul’s question as “entirely hypothetical.” In other words, they think the President has the authority to order Hellfire missile strikes on Americans in the United States if he decides it’s necessary.

Sen. Paul is filibustering the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director. He offered to end his filibuster if the Obama administration submitted a clear, concise statement outlining its position regarding the President’s authority and the legal basis for its position. No response. Earlier this evening, he offered to end his filibuster if the Senate by unanimous consent suspended the rules and voted on a “sense of the Senate” resolution declaring that the President may not use drones to assassinate  Americans on US soil who don’t pose an imminent threat. Sen. Dick Durbin (who during a previous administration compared the guards at Gitmo to Nazis, Stalinists, and the Khmer Rouge) objected. Senate Democrats refuse to say that killing Americans on US soil who pose no threat is wrong; in fact, they refuse to go on record one way or the other on the question.

Does that sound like we’re still a free people? Does that sound like we still have the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Does that sound like we’re still a government of laws and not of men?

I fear for my country. The spirit of Hugo Chavez is alive and well in Washington, D.C.

I can only hope that the outrage over this assertion of unlimited Presidential power and the support for Sen. Paul continue to grow and have significant and lasting effects. I #StandWithRand.

And I may have to go ahead and buy an AR-15 now, regardless of price.

UPDATE: As of 11:20 PM (MT), the top trend on Twitter is no longer #StandWithRand (it had been for much of the day). It’s dropped to second — behind Sen. Rand Paul and just ahead of #filibuster.

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“Shall issue” concealed carry coming to Maryland

Posted by Richard on July 25, 2012

In clear violation of the Constitution and fundamental human rights, the state of Maryland requires a “good and substantial reason” for the issuance of a concealed carry permit. In a case challenging the constitutionality of that restriction, U.S District Judge Benson Everett Legg ordered the state to process permit applications without requiring a reason, but originally issued a stay of his ruling. Now, he’s going to lift the stay in two weeks because it’s “not warranted.” The Second Amendment Foundation, which together with a Baltimore resident filed the suit in 2010, is delighted:

“There is no good reason for the state to continue violating the constitutional rights of its citizens just to maintain this burdensome and arbitrary system,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “As Judge Legg originally observed, the Second Amendment’s protections extend beyond the home.”

While it is possible that the state may file a motion with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to impose a stay of Judge Legg’s order, the trial court precedent is an important one. It established that the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not stop at the door of one’s home.

“No citizen should be required to give a ‘good and substantial’ reason in order to exercise a constitutionally-protected civil right,” Gottlieb observed. “In his order today, Judge Legg noted that the state has pointed to ‘little in the way of truly irreparable injury that is likely to result should their request for a stay be denied’.”

The judge also noted, “If a stay is granted, a sizeable number of people will be precluded from exercising, while the case is argued on appeal, what this Court has recognized as a valid aspect of their Second Amendment right. In the First Amendment context, the Supreme Court has stated that ‘loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury’.”

I’m delighted, too.

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“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” silver anniversary

Posted by Richard on June 12, 2012

Twenty-five years ago today, President Reagan stood at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and gave one of the most important speeches of the 20th century. If you’re too young to remember the world before the fall of the Soviet Union, know this: for the four decades before Reagan called on Gorbachev to open that gate and tear down that wall, East German border guards had been shooting down men, women, and children trying to escape from the gigantic prison camp known as the Soviet empire. Little more than two years later, the wall came down and what Reagan called the Evil Empire fell.

The speech is a beautiful, stirring thing delivered with strength and conviction. I still get chills listening to it. I urge you youngsters who’ve never heard it and you oldsters who’ve forgotten it to listen to it in its entirety (26 minutes). Here’s the complete video and an excerpt from the transcript (PDF available here).


[YouTube link]

Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty–that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

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US to blind Chinese dissident: Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out

Posted by Richard on May 2, 2012

Apparently, the Obama State Department was so desperate to get Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng out of the American Embassy in Beijing without further pissing off the Chinese government that they were willing to do or say almost anything. Including, according to Chen, passing along the Chinese government’s death threats against his wife.

The story isn’t playing well. Hillary Clinton’s visit to China looks to be something less than a diplomatic triumph. The Obama administration is about as good at negotiating this kind of public relations minefield as they are at stimulating the economy.

When they can’t get the “newspaper of record” to cover for them, you know they’ve screwed up.

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March gladness for SAF

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2012

The Second Amendment Foundation had a great month in March, winning four gun rights victories in court. The latest was in Massachusetts, of all places. The Federal District Court struck down a law barring permanent resident aliens from owning a handgun:

BELLEVUE, WA – A Federal District Court Judge in Massachusetts today granted summary judgment in a Second Amendment Foundation case challenging that state’s denial of firearms licenses to permanent resident aliens.

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodcock concluded that “…the Massachusetts firearms regulatory regime as applied to the individual plaintiffs, contravenes the Second Amendment.”

The case involves two Massachusetts residents, Christopher Fletcher and Eoin Pryal, whose applications for licenses to possess firearms in their homes for immediate self-defense purposes were denied under a state law that does not allow non-citizens to own handguns. SAF was joined in the case by Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc. and the two individual plaintiffs. The case is Fletcher v. Haas.

The previous three victories came in North Carolina, Washington state, and Maryland. Read about them here.

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Gun rights wins in Colorado and Maryland

Posted by Richard on March 5, 2012

The Colorado Supreme Court killed the University of Colorado’s ban on campus concealed carry today. From Rocky Mountain Gun Owners:

This ruling supported the decision of a court of appeals from April 2010, and reversed a position paper by then-Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar (an opinion which the current Attorney General, John Suthers, refused to change).

The crux of today’s ruling states that the Colorado General Assembly did, in fact, intend on concealed carry permit holders to be able to carry on all campuses, statewide.

“First CSU and the Community Colleges, and now all the CU Campuses; finally, the administrators for Colorado’s public colleges have been told they don’t have dictatorial powers,” said Dudley Brown, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), and a lobbyist for the entire 9-year battle for Colorado’s Concealed Carry Act.

“The creation of this criminal safezone, where only criminals are armed, was ill-advised and dangerous to anyone who finds themselves on a college campus,” Brown said.

“Now, RMGO will move on to force more publicly owned facilities to live by the law.”

Meanwhile in Maryland, a federal court has ruled that the right to bear arms doesn’t end at your front door. The Second Amendment Foundation called it a “huge victory”:

Ruling in the case of Woollard v. Sheridan – a case brought by SAF in July 2010 on behalf of Maryland resident Raymond Woollard, who was denied his carry permit renewal – the U.S. District Court for Maryland ruled that “The Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home.”

U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg noted, “In addition to self-defense, the (Second Amendment) right was also understood to allow for militia membership and hunting. To secure these rights, the Second Amendment‘s protections must extend beyond the home: neither hunting nor militia training is a household activity, and ‘self-defense has to take place wherever [a] person happens to be’.”

“This is a monumentally important decision,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The federal district court has carefully spelled out the obvious, that the Second Amendment does not stop at one’s doorstep, but protects us wherever we have a right to be. Once again, SAF’s attorney in this case, Alan Gura, has won an important legal victory. He was the attorney who argued the landmark Heller case, and he represented SAF in our Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago.

“Equally important in Judge Legg’s ruling,” he added, “is that concealed carry statutes that are so discretionary in nature as to be arbitrary do not pass constitutional muster.”

“A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” Judge Legg wrote. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

A very good day for self-defense rights.

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Indian gun rights group joins international coalition

Posted by Richard on October 11, 2011

The National Association for Gun Rights India (NAGRI) has joined the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR), a coalition of 16 groups from 8 countries dedicated to protecting the natural human right of armed self-defense.

IAPCAR was founded by Julianne Versnel, director of operations for the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA). Via SAF email:

“It is heartening to see groups like NAGRI who are passionate and active for civilian arms rights joining our coalition,” said IAPCAR executive director, Philip Watson.

 “In the wake of the tragic Mumbai massacre, Indians are rethinking their country’s repressive gun restrictions and see the need to empower citizens. Self-defense is a civil right; the denial of this right should not be tolerated,” Watson observed.

 “NAGRI is delighted to be associated with IAPCAR. All pro-gun associations and civil rights organizations should join hands,” said Rakshit Sharma, a representative of NAGRI.

I'm guessing that the people who founded NAGRI in 2010 are familiar with my favorite Mohandas Gandhi quote

Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.

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Concealed carry comes to Wisconsin

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2011

And then there was one:

Wisconsin stands on the verge of becoming the 49th state in the country to allow citizens to carry concealed guns, after the state Assembly made a bipartisan vote to legalize that practice Tuesday.

The measure passed 68-27, with 11 Democrats voting in favor of the bill along with the body's lone independent and all Republicans except Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Hartford), who had wanted stronger legislation. Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) said his vote was mistakenly not counted and he would seek to correct that.

The approval of the bill marks one more piece of long-blocked legislation that Republicans have been able to pass now that they control all of state government. The bill to allow the concealed carry of guns and other weapons such as Tasers passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote last week, so approval in the Assembly sends the bill to Gov. Scott Walker, who supports the measure.

Once the measure is signed by Gov. Walker, Illinois will be the only remaining state in the nation that completely bans concealed carry. Nine states issue concealed carry permits, but give the issuing law enforcement agent (usually sheriff or police chief) some discretion on who to approve. The other 40 are "shall issue" states — anyone who meets the statutory requirements (generally some training and no felony conviction or adjudicated mental health problem) must be issued a permit — or "no stinkin' permit required" states (Vermont and Alaska). 

And as a result, our streets are running red with blood as crazed gun nuts shoot it out over parking spaces, cutting in line at the express lane, etc. Oh, wait … they're not. Violent crime continues to decrease as gun sales and carry permits increase.

In fact, it seems almost like violent crime rates are inversely related to rates of gun ownership and carry. Just what you'd expect if (1) the vast majority of people are peaceful and non-violent; (2) violent crimes are almost exclusively committed by a very small percentage of the population who have no moral compass or impulse control and aren't deterred by laws alone; and (3) that small violent minority can be deterred to some extent (and if necessary, stopped) by members of the peaceful majority who are prepared to defend themselves and others.

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Return of the Bush Doctrine

Posted by Richard on March 6, 2011

Charles Krauthammer nailed it on Friday, pointing out that some of the same people who denounced the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime are now clamoring for the West to do something about Moammar Gaddafi, a far less murderous and dangerous tyrant:

A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's. Gaddafi is a capricious killer; Hussein was systematic. Gaddafi was too unstable and crazy to begin to match the Baathist apparatus: a comprehensive national system of terror, torture and mass murder, gassing entire villages to create what author Kanan Makiya called a "Republic of Fear."

No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush's freedom agenda, it's not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy – the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds – money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy – by 70 percent.

This new realism reached its apogee [I'd say its nadir] with Obama's reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street – to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted, "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them."

There was a telling moment in Libya the other day, when rebels begged for Bush

Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman, however, the administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.

Now, it can be argued that the price in blood and treasure that America paid to establish Iraq's democracy was too high. But whatever side you take on that question, what's unmistakable is that to the Middle Easterner, Iraq today is the only functioning Arab democracy, with multiparty elections and the freest press. Its democracy is fragile and imperfect – last week, security forces cracked down on demonstrators demanding better services – but were Egypt to be as politically developed in, say, a year as is Iraq today, we would think it a great success.

For Libyans, the effect of the Iraq war is even more concrete. However much bloodshed they face, they have been spared the threat of genocide. Gaddafi was so terrified by what we did to Saddam & Sons that he plea-bargained away his weapons of mass destruction. For a rebel in Benghazi, that is no small matter.

Yet we have been told incessantly how Iraq poisoned the Arab mind against America. Really? Where is the rampant anti-Americanism in any of these revolutions? …

It's Yemen's president and the delusional Gaddafi who are railing against American conspiracies to rule and enslave. The demonstrators in the streets of Egypt, Iran and Libya have been straining their eyes for America to help. …

Facebook and Twitter have surely mediated this pan-Arab (and Iranian) reach for dignity and freedom. But the Bush Doctrine set the premise.

While his critics were making sneering jokes about My Pet Goat, George W. Bush was reading Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy and embracing the transformational power of liberty. How many bloody Middle East dictatorships must fall before he's awarded a Nobel Peace Prize?

Who am I kidding? There aren't enough murderous dictatorships in the world for that to happen.

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Pipes is becoming optimistic!

Posted by Richard on March 1, 2011

When Natan Sharansky expressed cautious optimism about events in Egypt about a month ago, those of us who read The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror weren't exactly shocked. But when Daniel Pipes, of all people, writes a column entitled "My Optimism on the New Arab Revolt," that's a real surprise. And a must read. Here's the nut:

The revolts over the past two months have been largely constructive, patriotic, and open in spirit. Political extremism of any sort, leftist or Islamist, has been largely absent from the streets. Conspiracy theories have been the refuge of decayed rulers, not exuberant crowds. The United States, Great Britain, and Israel have been conspicuously absent from the sloganeering. (Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi blamed unrest in his country on al-Qaeda spreading hallucinogenic drugs.)

One has the sense that the past century’s extremism — tied to such figures as Amin al-Husseini, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ruhollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat, and Saddam Hussein — has run its course, that populations seek something more mundane and consumable than rhetoric, rejectionism, and backwardness.

Pessimism serves as a career enhancer in Middle East studies and I am known for doom-and-gloom. But, with due hesitation, I see changes that could augur a new era, one in which infantilized Arabic speakers mature into adults. One rubs one’s eyes at this transformation, awaiting its reversal. So far, however, it has held.

Perhaps the most genial symbol of this maturation is the pattern of street demonstrators cleaning up after themselves. No longer are they wards of the state dependent on it for services; of a sudden, they are citizens with a sense of civic responsibility.

I, too, was struck by the demonstrators cleaning up Cairo's Tahrir Square. It reminded me of our Tea Party rallies. At every Tea Party rally I'm aware of, the attendees picked up all the trash afterward and left the place cleaner than before. Compare that to any leftist gathering (for example, see here and here).

When I saw a news clip of Egyptians cleaning up the square, I did a little fist pump and exclaimed "Yesss!" This is how people who see themselves as citizens, not subjects, behave. They embrace both freedom and personal responsibility. 

I share Pipes' and Sharansky's cautious optimism, and I consider these spontaneous, self-directed cleanup efforts as a very hopeful sign. Three cheers for "the transformational power of liberty"!

(Dare I say it again? I blame Bush! It was he who told the Washington press corps , "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy read Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy." It was he who talked about a "freedom deficit" in the Middle East and predicted that the example of a liberated and democratic Iraq could trigger change throughout the region. It seems that prediction is coming true. Who knew that Chimpy McBushitler was so prescient?)

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Sharansky hopeful about Egypt

Posted by Richard on February 5, 2011

The Wall Street Journal's David Feith interviewed Natan Sharansky about recent events in Egypt and other Arab dictatorships, and found him neither as surprised nor as pessimistic as most of the so-called experts:

"The reason people are going to the streets and making revolution is their desire not to live in a fear society," Mr. Sharansky says. In his taxonomy, the world is divided between "fear societies" and "free societies," with the difference between them determinable by what he calls a "town square test": Are the people in a given society free to stand in their town square and express their opinions without fear of arrest or physical harm? The answer in Tunisia and Egypt, of course, has long been "no"—as it was in the Soviet bloc countries that faced popular revolutions in 1989.

This idea is the animating feature of a worldview that bucks much conventional wisdom. Uprisings like Tunisia's and Egypt's, he says, make "specialists—Sovietologists, Arabists—say 'Who could have thought only two weeks ago that this will happen?'" But "look at what Middle Eastern democratic dissidents were saying for all these years about the weakness of these regimes from the inside," and you won't be surprised when they topple, he says.

Sharansky doesn't buy the idea that propping up tyrants like Mubarak is the only way to prevent Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over. He argues that the longer Mubark remains in power, the more the Brotherhood becomes the only strong, well-organized opposition poised to take over. Better that the dictator should go now, with the streets largely filled with people yearning for freedom and democracy, not radical Islamists.

Sharansky wants the US to adopt a policy of "linkage," as it did with the Soviet Union in 1974:

If he were a U.S. senator, Mr. Sharansky says, he would immediately introduce a law to continue support to Egypt on condition that "20% of all this money goes to strengthening and developing democratic institutions. And the money cannot be controlled by the Egyptian government." Ideally his measure would kick in as soon as possible, so that it can affect the incentives of any Egyptian transitional government established to rule until September, when a presidential election is scheduled.

Sharansky thinks President Obama's response on Egypt is improving daily and is certainly much better than his response to the 2009 Iranian revolution: 

… By his reckoning, the Obama administration's position during the recent Iranian protests was "maybe one of the biggest betrayals of people's freedom in modern history. . . . At the moment when millions were deciding whether to go to the barricades, the leader of the free world said 'For us, the most important thing is engagement with the regime, so we don't want a change of regime.' Compared to this, there is very big progress [today]."

Inconsistency is par for the course in this field. "From time to time," Mr. Sharansky says of the George W. Bush administration, "America was giving lectures about democracy." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a strong address in Cairo in 2005. And in 2002, by threatening to withhold $130 million in aid to Egypt, the administration successfully pressured Mr. Mubarak to release the sociologist and democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim from prison. In their final years, however, administration officials reverted to bureaucratic form and relaxed their pressure drastically.

Condoleezza RiceEarlier this week, I recalled Condi's marvelous 2005 speech in Cairo and some of Bush's finest moments speaking about "the transformational power of liberty." But by 2006, with things going badly in Iraq and his popularity tanking, Bush pretty much gave up on the one thing he got right

President Obama relaxed it even further, Mr. Sharansky notes, inserting only vague language about democracy into his June 2009 address in Cairo. "There was no mention at all that at that  moment democratic dissidents were imprisoned, that Mubarak had put in prison the leading [opposition] candidate in the past election," Ayman Nour.

Much needs to change in Egypt, Sharansky concedes, before it can become a free society, but he believes those changes can and must begin now: 

Even if the U.S. embraces linkage, Egypt's September election could be quite problematic. "Only when the basic institutions that protect a free society are firmly in place—such as a free press, the rule of law, independent courts, political parties—can free elections be held," Mr. Sharansky wrote in "The Case for Democracy." In Egypt, those "free, developed institutions," he tells me, "will not be developed by September."

What can develop over the next eight months, Mr. Sharansky says, is a U.S. policy making clear that "whoever is elected cannot continue to survive—he cannot continue to rely on the assistance of the free world in defense, economics, anything—if democratic reforms are not continued and if democratic institutions are not built." After several years of such democracy-building, he says, when dissidents like Mr. Ibrahim enjoy the ability to build institutions like trade unions and women's organizations, "then in a few years you'll have a different country, and you can have really free elections."

Read the whole thing. Then let your congresscritters know that you support Sharansky's proposal for aid linkage. 

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Punishing Christian speech, embracing Sharia law

Posted by Richard on November 11, 2010

Publicly professing a belief in Christianity or inviting others to learn about it are punishable offenses in more places than you might think. But the severity of the punishment varies considerably.

In Pakistan, they sentence you to death. And sometimes just shoot you on the spot.

In Dearborn, Philadelphia, and Wichita, they just throw you in jail for a while. Don't count on the ACLU and other human rights organizations to help.

Any statement suggesting that Islam is not the one true religion or that Islamic law shouldn't govern everyone everywhere is considered either "blasphemy" or "defamation" by the Islamists, and they're waging a worldwide campaign to criminalize (or silence through intimidation) such statements. They have the UN on their side.

Last week, Oklahoma voters — 70% of them — adopted a constitutional amendment barring judges from relying on Sharia or international law for court rulings. They were perhaps motivated by the Islamists' war on free speech and the growing trend in Europe of bending to Sharia, as evidenced by:

  • court decisions in Italy and Germany acknowledging the right of Muslim men to beat their wives and daughters.
  • the establishment in Britain of a Sharia court system parallel to the English courts and supplanting them for members of the Muslim community.
  • the criminal prosecution of Geert Wilders (Netherlands), Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolff (Austria), Jussi Halla-aho (Finland), and Brigitte Bardot (France), among others, for criticizing Islam. 

The will of Oklahoma voters has been thwarted for now by a restraining order granted to the Islamist group CAIR (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist funding case). Ironically, this ruling protecting the right of Muslim men to claim that Sharia law authorizes them to beat women — and to silence those who criticize them for that — was issued by a judge who was once a prominent women's rights advocate.

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