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Posts Tagged ‘courage’

Ordinary people acting courageously

Posted by Richard on December 26, 2009

As I write this, reports are still sketchy about the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. Apparently, Nigerian Abdul Mudallad tried to detonate a bomb he said he got from al Qaeda in Yemen. Either the device was defective or he screwed up — instead of exploding, it just burst into flames.

But that doesn't detract from what struck me about the story. Without a moment's hesitation, the passengers around Mudallad sprang into action

An Ohio man who witnessed the attempted destruction of a Northwest Airlines flight to Metro Airport said he's proud of how passengers reacted.

Syed Jafry of Holland, Ohio, who had flown from the United Arab Emirates, said after emerging from the airport that people ran out of their seats to tackle the man.

Jafry was sitting in the 16th row — three rows behind the passenger — when he heard "a pop and saw some smoke and fire." Then, he said, “a young man behind me jumped on him.”

Jafry said there was a little bit of commotion for about 10 to 15 minutes. The incident occurred during the plane's descent, he said.

He said the way passengers responded made him proud to be an American.

Actually, the passenger who jumped on Mudallad reportedly is Dutch. But I understand what Jafry meant. He's proud to be part (by his own choice, I'm guessing) of a culture that embraces individual responsibility and that rejects barbaric 7th-century anti-human, anti-freedom, anti-life beliefs. 

Scott Beamer and the other passengers and crew on United Flight 93 were heroes — no question. But they weren't extraordinary or unique. They were simply the first to learn that the conventional wisdom of the day regarding hijackers and terrorists — remain calm, don't take any action, do as you're told, let the authorities handle things — was no longer an option. Now everyone knows it. 

It's no longer easy to hijack or blow up an airliner. The world is full of people able and willing to take responsibility for their own safety and that of those around them — people who, when the need arises, act with courage, decisiveness, and no hesitation. In any given planeload of two to three hundred people, there will be many of them. Apparently, there were several in the immediate vicinity of Abdul Mudallad on Flight 253. Bravo to them!

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Such men

Posted by Richard on October 5, 2009

This past weekend, eight American soldiers were killed and 24 wounded at Camp Keating, a remote outpost in Afghanistan. The Taliban forces used a mosque and a village as cover, and set a wildfire to force U.S. forces to retreat from their perimeter. 

Karen Russo of ABC News, on a MEDEVAC helicopter flying into the camp, was the only journalist on the scene. She reported (emphasis added):

Flying into the besieged Afghan base during a nighttime firefight this weekend was a harrowing mix of overwhelming noise, stomach dropping maneuvers and shadows hurrying through the gloom.

When the chopper lifted off moments later with three wounded soldiers, it left behind others who were wounded but refused to be MEDEVACED out of the combat zone so they could return to fight with their buddies.

That moved me. And it reminded me of a Ronald Reagan quote. This is from 1974, when he was governor of California: 

Where did we find such men? They are typical of this land as the Founding Fathers were typical. We found them in our streets, in the offices, the shops and the working places of our country and on the farms.

Indeed we did. And, I sincerely hope, we always will. RTWT.

I only wish we had a commander in chief with the same courage, fortitude, and commitment to victory as those brave soldiers at Camp Keating.

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The next Joe the Plumber

Posted by Richard on August 24, 2009

Barack Obama made a mistake last fall when, while walking a neighborhood, he approached "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. This ordinary "common man" turned out to be an articulate, passionate, and courageous advocate for individual liberty, limited government, and the free market, and he became a hero to those of us who share those American values.

One of the reasons that I never remain pessimistic for very long is that this country seems to produce an endless supply of Joe the Plumbers. At an August 18 town hall meeting, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) made a mistake similar to Obama's when he called on Marine Corps veteran David Hedrick. Baird has found for us another Joe the Plumber. 

Via NewsBusters, here is Hedrick's statement about the video below: 

"I, David William Hedrick, a member of the silent majority, decided that I was not going to be silent anymore. So, I let U.S. Congressman Brian Baird have it. I was one questioner out of 38, that was called at random from an audience that started at 3,000 earlier in the evening. Not expecting to be called on, I quickly scratched what I wanted to say on a borrowed piece of paper and with a pen that I borrowed from someone else in the audience minutes before I spoke. So much for the planned talking points of the right wing conspiracy."

I cheered right along with the audience. Then I watched it again and cheered again. Bravo, David William Hedrick!

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Bravo, Sir Paul!

Posted by Richard on September 16, 2008

Unlike many of his countrymen, Paul McCartney isn't cowed by radical Islamists:

Despite several threats by extremists, Paul McCartney has refused to cancel an upcoming concert in Israel. He will go ahead with a gig in honour of the country's 60th anniversary.

"I do what I think and I have many friends who support Israel," McCartney told Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth this weekend.

His comments come in response to a Sunday Express interview with the militant Islamic activist Omar Bakri Muhammad. "If he values his life Mr McCartney must not come to Israel," said Bakri, who has been barred from returning to the UK. "He will not be safe there. The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for him."

"The sacrifice operatives" — that's Islamofascist-speak for "lunatic Islamist suicide-bombing murderers." I'm betting that they can't get past Israeli security.

Good for Sir Paul. I always liked him best.

HT: Instapundit

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Tony Snow, R.I.P.

Posted by Richard on July 12, 2008

This morning, Tony Snow lost his battle with cancer. I'm greatly saddened by this. Snow was one of the good guys — intelligent, articulate, passionate but never abrasive or mean-spirited, full of optimism and joy and good humor. When he was host of Fox News Sunday, I looked forward to that show every week and watched it religiously. When he became White House press secretary, I cheered.

President George W. Bush:

"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," Bush said in a statement.

"It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work. His colleagues will cherish memories of his energetic personality and relentless good humor," Bush said.

"All of us here at the White House will miss Tony, as will the millions of Americans he inspired with his brave struggle against cancer," he said.

Former President George H. W. Bush: 

"He won the respect of even those who violently disagree with the president's proposals and policies. For that I think he'll be remembered. He brought a certain civility to this very contentious job," he said.

I'm very sorry that Tony Snow had only 53 short years on this Earth.

And I can't help but think that the Bush Administration would have been far, far more effective at communications and public relations if Tony Snow had been there from the beginning, instead of the inept and disloyal Scott McClellan.  

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How the troops celebrated in Iraq

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2008

Speaking of patriotism, our troops in harm's way know the meaning of true patriotism and the significance of Independence Day. Bob Krumm has a marvelous report and video of an Independence Day ceremony in Iraq:

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.

Among those in attendance were service members from the more than two dozen Allies serving with MNF-I. Along with their American counterparts, each appeared in awe of the sacrifice of these incredible men and women. Each of the reenlistees knows full well the costs of war, and yet, they chose to stand with their units, their mission, and each other. It was as humbling an experience as I have ever witnessed. On this 4th of July, while you celebrate around grills and coolers all across America, keep in mind the 1,215 who allow us that privilege.

Thanks to Bob for a great Independence Day present (and to Instapundit for the pointer).

I'll be quite surprised if this story makes it onto any of the broadcast networks' evening newscasts. Here's Bob's video (1:23):

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The student who saved Venezuela

Posted by Richard on May 20, 2008

Belated congratulations to Yon Goicoechea. Last week, the Cato Institute awarded him the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Goicoechea is a 23-year-old law student in Venezuela. About a year ago, Hugo Chavez shut down the most popular TV station in the country, Radio Caracas Television (RCTV). In response, Goicoechea organized a student movement to defend democracy and human rights that soon spread far beyond Venezuela's campuses. 

Despite death threats, intimidation by Chavez goons, and a beating that left him with a broken nose, Goicoechea organized scores of peaceful protests, many of which drew more than 100,000 participants. Many people credit Goicoechea with being personally responsible for the defeat of the December constitutional referendum that would have given Chavez dictatorial powers.

“Yon Goicoechea is making an extraordinary contribution to liberty,” said Edward Crane, President of the Cato Institute. “We hope the Friedman Prize will help further his non-violent advocacy for basic freedoms in an increasingly militaristic and anti-democratic Venezuela.”
Renowned Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa remarked, “Freedom and complacency are incompatible and this is what we are seeing now in countries like Venezuela where freedom is disappearing little by little, and this has produced a very healthy and idealistic reaction among young people. I think Yon Goicoechea is a symbol of this democratic reaction when freedom is threatened.”

The Friedman Prize is more than something to display on the mantle — it's $500,000. I hope Goicoechea had the money deposited in a U.S. (or other non-Venezuelan) bank account. Just in case Chavez carries his penchant for nationalization beyond foreign oil companies. 

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Jeanne Assam honored

Posted by Richard on December 14, 2007

Jeanne Assam, the armed New Life Church parishioner who saved scores of lives by shooting Matthew Murray, has been honored by the Second Amendment Foundation. Here’s the press release:

BELLEVUE, WA – For her remarkable display of heroism and courage under fire, the Second Amendment Foundation announced today that it will recognize Jeanne Assam, who confronted a gunman on Dec. 9 at the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, with the Eleanor Roosevelt Award.

The Roosevelt award was created by SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, co-author of America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age. The award honors exceptional women who use firearms in self-defense and the defense of others. The award is named in memory of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who frequently carried a revolver for personal protection, even while she lived in the White House, and during the times that she campaigned in the South for civil rights.

“Jeanne Assam, an armed private citizen who volunteered to provide security at the New Life Church, was suddenly faced with a deadly emergency and without hesitation, disregarding her own safety, she rose to that challenge,” Gottlieb said. “By confronting a killer, Assam undoubtedly saved many lives.

“The news media, perhaps to try diminishing Ms. Assam’s bravery and the significance of her intervention, have revealed her dismissal as a Minneapolis police officer several years ago,” he added. “We concur with church Senior Pastor Brady Boyd, who observed that all of us have past experiences we may regret, and that she should not be ‘convicted or crucified for being a heroine.’ Today, the entire nation should be proud of Jeanne Assam, and grateful that her life’s path led from Minneapolis to Colorado Springs.

“Jeanne Assam did an incredibly brave thing under circumstances that could easily be described as above and beyond the call,” Gottlieb stated. “Every day in this country, armed private citizens defend themselves or others, frequently preventing or stopping crimes. Their actions go largely unrecognized and more frequently ignored by the press and public officials who would rather suppress the notion that Americans can fight back.

“We created the Eleanor Roosevelt Award to recognize the efforts of armed women who practice personal safety,” Gottlieb concluded. “In Jeanne Assam’s case, we are honoring a truly remarkable woman who placed herself in harm’s way for the safety of others. We are humbled by her good and noble deed.”

UPDATE: Check out the excellent editorial about Jeanne Assam and the right to carry at Investor’s Business Daily.

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Michael Yon: Come Home

Posted by Richard on November 16, 2007

So you think that the war is lost and Iraqis just aren't ready to live in an open, tolerant, pluralist democracy? Then go look at Michael Yon's new dispatch, Come Home, a photo essay about the mass at St. John's Church in Baghdad yesterday (you might want the tissues handy). You really need to go look at the whole thing, but here's something to think about:

LTC Michael told me today that when al Qaeda came to Dora, they began harassing Christians first, charging them “rent.” It was the local Muslims, according to LTC Michael, who first came to him for help to protect the Christians in his area. That’s right. LTC Michael told me more than once that the Muslims reached out to him to protect the Christians from al Qaeda. Real Muslims here are quick to say that al Qaeda members are not true Muslims. From charging “rent,” al Qaeda’s harassment escalated to killing Christians, and also Muslims. Untold thousands of Christians and Muslims fled Baghdad in the wake of the darkness of civil war.  Most of the Christians are gone now; having fled to Syria, Jordan or Northern Iraq.

Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”


Don't forget, Michael Yon's reporting is entirely reader-supported. Please contribute a little something to help support the next dispatch. 

UPDATE (11/17): Two comments from Vodkapundit's 11/16 post about Michael Yon's dispatch:

What makes the picture and the people so moving to me is the background of this cross raising event. St. John's Chaldean Catholic Church was car bombed along with two other churches all within minutes of each other exactely one year ago on November 8, 2006. The congregation took down the cross and bells and put them in storage. They cleaned up the interior of the church, and at an Easter liturgy this year they welcomed a Shiite notable, who spoke movingly of the unity of Iraqis. I am touched by the generosity of spirit of these Muslims. The cross and bells are hated by reactionary Muslims. What a magnificent rebuke is this event of neighborliness. This is an icon of tolerance and mutual acceptance and,yes,love.

Posted by Michael Barger at November 16, 2007 10:56 PM
Again, wow. Thank you, Michael, for the additional background information. 

I am neither a Christian nor a Muslim, but this makes me happy for both. "One foot in front of the other"… that is what it takes. How wonderful it is that those feet are usually walking alongside a strong young American idealist. I am so proud of my country and its young warriors for peace.

Posted by sherlock at November 17, 2007 12:49 AM

Like sherlock, I'm neither a Christian nor a Muslim. But I enthusiastically second his comment. There are, as I said recently, many "decent people of good will" in Iraq, and I'm so very proud of them and of the brave and dedicated Americans who are helping them. The scale is smaller, but looking at Michael Yon's photo essay evoked in me many of the same emotions I felt when I watched the Berlin Wall fall — a tremendous feeling of joy and pride about the greatness and glory that we humans are capable of, and a sense of optimism and hope for the future. 

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Michael Yon: Thanks and Praise

Posted by Richard on November 8, 2007

As regular readers are no doubt aware, I'm not religious. Nonetheless, Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq, Thanks and Praise, moved me. It's yet another example of basically decent people of good will coming together in that country — at great risk to themselves, I'm sure — to declare that they want to live together in peace:

A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from “Chosen” Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ” Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.)


By all means, click the link and look at Yon's wonderful, heartwarming photograph. And please make a donation so that his reporting can continue. 

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An exceptional young citizen

Posted by Richard on October 9, 2007

Every so often, I link to something I think is truly special and encourage you, dear reader, to go read it. Never have I done so with the intensity, urgency, and depth of feeling with which I ask you to please, please read Christopher Hitchens' November Vanity Fair article, "A Death in the Family":

I was having an oppressively normal morning a few months ago, flicking through the banality of quotidian e-mail traffic, when I idly clicked on a message from a friend headed "Seen This?" The attached item turned out to be a very well-written story by Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times. It described the death, in Mosul, Iraq, of a young soldier from Irvine, California, named Mark Jennings Daily, and the unusual degree of emotion that his community was undergoing as a consequence. The emotion derived from a very moving statement that the boy had left behind, stating his reasons for having become a volunteer and bravely facing the prospect that his words might have to be read posthumously. In a way, the story was almost too perfect: this handsome lad had been born on the Fourth of July, was a registered Democrat and self-described agnostic, a U.C.L.A. honors graduate, and during his college days had fairly decided reservations about the war in Iraq. I read on, and actually printed the story out, and was turning a page when I saw the following:

"Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him … "

I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.? …

… I feverishly clicked on all the links from the article and found myself on Lieutenant Daily's MySpace site, where his statement "Why I Joined" was posted. The site also immediately kicked into a skirling noise of Irish revolutionary pugnacity: a song from the Dropkick Murphys album Warrior's Code. And there, at the top of the page, was a link to a passage from one of my articles, in which I poured scorn on those who were neutral about the battle for Iraq … I don't remember ever feeling, in every allowable sense of the word, quite so hollow.

I writhed around in my chair for a bit and decided that I ought to call Ms. Watanabe, who could not have been nicer. She anticipated the question I was too tongue-tied to ask: Would the Daily family-those whose "house lay wrecked"-be contactable? "They'd actually like to hear from you." She kindly gave me the e-mail address and the home number.

I don't intend to make a parade of my own feelings here, but I expect you will believe me when I tell you that I e-mailed first. For one thing, I didn't want to choose a bad time to ring. For another, and as I wrote to his parents, I was quite prepared for them to resent me. So let me introduce you to one of the most generous and decent families in the United States, and allow me to tell you something of their experience.

I promise you that reading the rest — both Hitchens' fine prose and the wonderful passages he quotes from Mark's statement and letters — will be well worth your time. Just have some tissues handy. It's both profoundly sad and joyously uplifting. I feel better just knowing that people like Mark Daily and his family exist.

I'll quote one more passage, this one from Hitchens' recounting of the day that Mark's ashes were scattered:

I became a trifle choked up after that, but everybody else also managed to speak, often reading poems of their own composition, and as the day ebbed in a blaze of glory over the ocean, I thought, Well, here we are to perform the last honors for a warrior and hero, and there are no hysterical ululations, no shrieks for revenge, no insults hurled at the enemy, no firing into the air or bogus hysterics. Instead, an honest, brave, modest family is doing its private best. I hope no fanatical fool could ever mistake this for weakness. It is, instead, a very particular kind of strength. If America can spontaneously produce young men like Mark, and occasions like this one, it has a real homeland security instead of a bureaucratic one. To borrow some words of George Orwell's when he first saw revolutionary Barcelona, "I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for." 


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Paternalism and passivity

Posted by Richard on April 21, 2007

(The first part of this post is a slightly edited version of a comment I originally added to Whither the Warrior Spirit?)

On Tuesday, I caught part of ABC's Nightline coverage of the Virginia Tech killings. They interviewed three students in Professor Liviu Librescu's class. Librescu was the 76-year-old Holocaust survivor who held his classroom door shut while his students fled out the windows. He was shot through the door and killed. Read about him at The Jerusalem Post.

The three students were males and looked reasonably fit. One seemed on the small side (maybe 5'8"), one was in between, and the third looked like a football player — over six feet, muscular, over 200 pounds.

They described the sound of gunfire, the fear and panic, the screaming from adjacent rooms. They talked about how they opened the windows, lined up, climbed out, and dropped to the ground. They described seeing Professor Librescu at the classroom door holding it shut.

None of these three strapping young men explained how and why they left a 76-year-old man to guard the door against a homicidal maniac while they fled to safety. None felt any need to explain or apologize or mention the moral quandary they faced at all. They weren't asked. It just never came up. Apparently, it never occurred to them (or their interviewer) that there was a moral quandary. 

How can this be? These three men thanked Professor Librescu. But it never even occurred to them to apologize to him and his family. How can this possibly be?

Admittedly, three is a small sample — but it disturbs me that these three gentlemen felt not an iota of shame or doubt. What kind of people are these that they won't even acknowledge the possibility of their own cowardice? That they don't even realize they had alternative courses of action? That they seem incapable even of self-examination?

With that as an introduction, I commend to you Mark Steyn's column, A Culture of Passivity:

On Monday night, Geraldo was all over Fox News saying we have to accept that, in this horrible world we live in, our “children” need to be “protected.”

Point one: They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet. Granted, we live in a selectively infantilized culture where twentysomethings are “children” if they’re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clinton’s Oval Office. Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.

Steyn illustrated his point two by recounting a Montreal mass murder with which I wasn't familiar, a story that left my jaw agape and chilled me to the bone. Go. Read.

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Whither the Warrior Spirit?

Posted by Richard on April 17, 2007

It's a touchy thing, second-guessing how people responded in a crisis. I wasn't there in that Virginia Tech classroom building, and I can't say for certain how I would have reacted had I been there. But there have been news reports that some of the victims were lined up and executed. At least one student survivor reported that the gunman burst into the classroom and started shooting, and they all "hit the floor" and waited for their bullet. This deeply saddens me.

Libercontrarian had a similar reaction, and some apropos comments:

For the mad dog who is only interested in slaughter, only three things can make him quit: suicide, attack by an organized security force, and disarmament by the pool of as-yet uninjured victims. The first two have the annoying tendency of coming well after the terminus of the event, thus resulting in the highest casualties. The last is what stops cold the attack, but requires the will to not be like the citizens of Babi-Yar, who marched nervously to the unending hammering of the machine guns, telling themselves that the Germans were giving them delousing showers. This perhaps requires the greatest courage: to take the chance that by risking more, personally, you may end the affair before it reaches the originator's intent. That is the Warrior Spirit.

I am not sure that there is an answer here. I would, however, prefer to be armed if I was to be locked into a room with a crazed gunman. I would hope for a bit of the Warrior Spirit to rely upon in any case – I could conceive no worse end than pleading with some twisted individual, on my knees, living my last several moments knowing that I was unable to prevent my death because of my fear of losing the opportunity to get away without confronting the evil that has revealed itself before me.

But the definitive articulation of what Libercontrarian and I felt came from LawDog (HT: FreedomSight):

There are reports — granted unconfirmed at this time — that several students were forced to line up, kneeling, and executed from behind.

I pray to the old gods — the gods of war and blood and thunder — that this is not the case.

I pray that some students went down fighting.

Because as bad as this is — and this is a horror — as bad as this is, if fifty some-odd people were injured and killed by one person whilst on their knees begging like so many Eloi, like a herd of sheep — if no one stood up and fought back, then this is becomes an example of evil.

Not the evil that allows a man to kill other men — although that is here in abundance. No, I am speaking of the putrescent evil which convinces good men not to fight back; the sordid filth of the soul which allows one bad man to prevail against fifty — or 25,000 — good men because good men have been systematically denied the mindset required to meet with, engage and defeat evil — even if all you have is fingernails and rage.

I beg you to go read the rest. I dare you to not be moved. 


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Appeal for Courage

Posted by Richard on March 21, 2007

If you support victory instead of retreat and defeat, go to Gateway Pundit and read about Appeal for Courage. Then, if you're active duty military, Reserve, or National Guard, visit and sign their appeal for redress:

An Appeal For Redress is an authorized means for active duty military to submit a grievance to Congress. It can be signed by Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard military personnel.

It is authorized by DoD Directive 1325.6 and DoD Directive 7050.6.

The wording of the Appeal for Redress is:

As an American currently serving my nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to fully support our mission in Iraq and halt any calls for retreat. I also respectfully urge my political leaders to actively oppose media efforts which embolden my enemy while demoralizing American support at home. The War in Iraq is a necessary and just effort to bring freedom to the Middle East and protect America from further attack.

[There's a clarification stating that "oppose media efforts" means oppose with words, not legislation.]

If you're a civilian, go there too, and check out the FAQ page for some things you can do to help. I can't find any way to contribute — maybe they don't need any funds, maybe they just haven't thought of it yet. But if you're so inclined, you might contribute to one of the organizations supporting this effort, such as Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission.

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The indomitable human spirit, part 3

Posted by Richard on March 11, 2007

There are people in this world whose courage and character and strength are so remarkable and profound that it moves me to tears. Some of them are young Afghan girls who are glad to be free of the Taliban and just want to make music:

Nargiz started the Burka Band when she met a German music producer in Kabul in late 2002. The producer was teaching Afghans to play modern music, and Nargiz learned to play the drums. One day she wondered why all the burkas in Kabul were blue, and together with two friends she wrote the song "Burka Blue" which is about burkas and the way you feel when you wear them. The song was recorded in Kabul with help from the German producers. The band would rehearse behind locked doors, so nobody would find out that the women were playing music. The burka also helped hide who the band members really were.


The Burka Band has never performed in Afghanistan and at the moment the band is not active. During the Taliban regime music was totally forbidden, and women were not allowed to work. To sing in public could carry a death sentence. Today the country is still very conservative, and there is no market in Afghanistan for the Burka Band's music. The band members have to wait for a European or American record label to help them if they are to make a whole album one day.

These young girls epitomize the indomitable human spirit and its unquenchable thirst for freedom and self-expression. Here's their video:



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