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Posts Tagged ‘courage’

The indomitable human spirit, part 2

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. Several of them are named Killion (HT: Michelle Malkin), and Michael Fumento told their story:

After Sept. 11, when most of us were utterly horrified and then went back to business as usual, the Killions felt the pull of history. Rob enlisted in the active Army in July 2003 at age 18. "I joined the infantry," he says, "because they're the best." Douglas enlisted in the Indiana National Guard in 2003 at age 24 as a communications specialist. Even Rob's wife, Anya Kormanos Killion, is an Iraq vet. She served there before Rob enlisted. They met at the 101st's home in Fort Campbell, Kentucky and she is now a civilian.

Now it was Rick's turn. At 46, he was well past prime fighting age and was comfortable in his job. But he knew where his boys were headed and he wanted to be there with them. So "OMK" as they call him, short for "Old Man Killion," once again raised his right hand and rejoined the National Guard. Because of the length of his absence, he had to give up a stripe and enter as a sergeant E-5. But he made sure that if Doug deployed, so would he.

 Read. The. Whole. Thing. And take a moment to salute the Fighting Killions of Indiana. 


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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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“We will no longer remain slaves”

Posted by Richard on October 23, 2006

On this day fifty years ago, the people of Hungary, chanting the banned song lyric, "We vow, we vow, we will no longer remain slaves," toppled Stalin’s statue and overthrew the Soviet puppet government. It lasted about two glorious weeks, during which the West did nothing. Eventually, the Soviets sent 17 divisions of the Red Army into Hungary. The United Nations, in sharp contrast to its response in Korea, merely expressed concern. The forces of freedom and democracy were slaughtered, and those captured imprisoned or executed.

Hathor remembered with two excellent YouTube videos and a personal recollection:

I was crestfallen as a child, my vision of America changed after this event. Heard much talk of Radio Free Europe and the encouragement we were giving the new Soviet satellites to seek freedom. Communist were the scourge of the earth, and yet we let the Hungarians fight alone. My most vivid memory, watching the news and seeing the Russian tanks roll through the streets. I could not understand why America was not helping.

Later we fought this fight in some distant rainforest.

I don’t remember the 1956 uprising (I was only 7), but I remember reading about it just a few years later and having the same reaction — how could we stand idly by? I suppose that’s the naive reaction of someone who doesn’t have to pay the cost (in lives and dollars) or consider the consequences. Nonetheless, the events of October and November 1956 brought honor to many Hungarians — but none to the U.S., the U.N., or the NATO countries.

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A gift from a grateful Afghani

Posted by Richard on July 18, 2006

Lt. Col. Grayson Gile completed a tour in Afghanistan recently. Now that he’s back in Illinois, however, he still has one more mission to complete — delivering a special gift from a grateful elderly Afghani to President Bush. Thanks to The Anchoress for pointing out this wonderful, heartwarming, feel-good story in The Southern Illinoisan — you just know it’ll never be covered in the MSM:

One of those friendships involved a Kabul rug merchant who pulled Gile aside before he left the country. The merchant told Gile the story of an elderly man, so overwhelmed with gratitude to the United States for its intervention in the conflict that he made a gift for President Bush – a gift that was a year in the making and made, given the conditions of the country, under penalty of death.

Gile was astonished when he saw the hand-knotted rug, a portrait of Bush, filled with Christian and Catholic symbolism. Filling the center of the rug is an incredible likeness of Bush, dressed in religious vestments, standing at a podium decorated with the official seal of the country and flanked by two waving American flags.

Directly above Bush is Jesus with a sacred heart and stigmata carefully knotted into the rug’s pattern. The rug also shows cherubs and, apparently in an homage to both Bush and a fallen Northern Alliance leader, two lions.

"(Ahmed Shah) Masood was often called ‘the Lion of Panjshir.’ As one of the country’s military leaders, he put some very, very heavy licks to the Soviets and then turned around and delivered the same to the Taliban," Gile said. "He was assassinated two days before 9/11."

One corner of the rug reads, "President George W. Bush," while the opposing corner has the words, "Number one champion."

Gile said he was impressed by the man’s efforts.

"For this man to sequester himself away for a year to hand knot this rug speaks highly of his gratitude," he said. "And for an extraordinarily devout Muslim to have taken very strong Christian and Catholic symbology and incorporate them into the rug is amazing. He may come from a different religious culture, but he was respectful enough to do that, and that is very interesting and humbling."

Here’s Lt. Col. Gile showing off the Afghani rug (photo by Steve Jahnke / The Southern):

Afghani rug honoring Bush

As The Anchoress said:

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

Someday, when the current fever of hate and the trend to mendacity has faded…in a saner world…right-thinking people will look back and realize that this president – THIS president – has not been an evil, moronic, malevolent and war-mongering dictator but one of the greatest humanitarian presidents in the history of our nation. It may not happen in Bush’s lifetime, but Dr. Martin Luther King said, "a lie can’t last."

This is one of those stories that so marvellously illustrates the decency, goodness, and humanity of which people are capable — and the empathy that one human being of good will can feel toward another, no matter how different they are — it just stirs me to the quick.

I remember hearing about Ahmed Masood from the late David Segal of Denver, a former IDF officer whose knowledge of military history, the Middle East, and Afghanistan never ceased to amaze me, and whom I thought about — and mourned — just the other day when the current fighting between Israel and Hezbollah began.

Segal, too, admired Masood and thought that his assassination was a real shame for the future of Afghanistan — and he believed it was no coincidence that Masood was eliminated just before al Qaeda struck us.

Given some of the negative news from Afghanistan lately, it cheers me to hear that there are Afghanis who still admire and honor Masood. And Bush.

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Support Oriana Fallaci

Posted by Richard on July 6, 2006

Italian journalist and author Oriana Fallaci is a remarkable woman. Born in 1929 to anti-fascist parents, she began her fight against fascism as a young girl during WWII — she joined the armed resistance group founded by her father, earning a medal at the age of 14.

Fallaci was in her 70s and long retired when 9/11/01 caused her to renew her fight against fascism — this time, Islamofascism. The result was two books — The Rage and The Pride (2001) and The Force of Reason (2004) — warning Italy and Europe that they’re being "colonized" and subjugated by radical Islam, that freedom and democracy and Western Civilization are under attack and virtually no one in Europe has the courage to resist.

Fallaci is living in New York and dying of cancer. But in Italy — in ironic proof that she’s right about Europe’s pandering to the Islamofascists — she is on trial for writings "offensive to Islam" (the trial was recessed in mid-June, and I can’t find any news of its resumption via Google News). If Fallaci were to return to Italy, she’d be thrown in jail during the trial, in which she faces large fines and up to two years in prison for statements (in The Force of Reason) such as this:

Despite the massacres through which the sons of Allah have bloodied us and bloodied themselves for over thirty years, the war that Islam has declared against the West…is a cultural war…they kill us in order to bend us. To intimidate us…Their goal is not to fill cemeteries. Not to destroy our skyscrapers…It is to destroy our soul, our ideas. Our feelings and our dreams. It is to subjugate the West once again.

The Future Europe association, founded in Poland last year, is rallying support for Oriana Fallaci at, where you can sign the Letter of Solidarity with Oriana Fallaci:

Judge Armando Grasso of Bergamo acknowledged a suit against Oriana Fallaci filed by the president of Muslim Union of Italy. On June 6th the trial against a journalist and a publicist over insult of Islam by statements made in her book "The force of reason" will start. We want to express our concern about the decision made by the judge of Bergamo, since such practices can lead to restrictions of freedom of speech in the realm of European democracy with human rights being its largest achievement.

We believe that freedom of speech is a universal value and should not fall within political, cultural or religious interests. Oriana Fallaci has been fighting for the freedom of expression in her work as a journalist throughout her whole life. As we intend to protect the freedom of speech we want to express our solidarity with Oriana Fallaci. Being aware of contentiousness of her latest statements, we still stand against the trial which is infringing the freedom of expression.

Certainly a mild and polite (too polite for my tastes) defense of free speech and Western values, perhaps a bit awkwardly translated from the Polish.  Something no reasonable person should hesitate to put their name to. So what are you waiting for? Go to and add your name right now. As Kentucky Dan said, "If you only sign to have your name on the same petition as LECH WALESA, do it for that reason."

Support Oriana Fallaci and free speechFor more about Oriana Fallaci, her books and ideas, and her trial, check out:

Michelle Malkin (with links to previous posts)

This interview with Fallaci in OpinionJournal

Robert Spencer at JihadWatch here and here

Robert Spencer in an excellent FrontPageMag article last year (addresses each of Fallaci’s 18 "defamatory" statements)

This outstanding post by Dymphna at Gates of Vienna

This WorldNetDaily story about the trial


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Watchcat vs. bear

Posted by Richard on June 19, 2006

About a week ago, I heard a story on the radio about the cat in New Jersey who treed a bear. Now I’ve seen the picture to prove it. From the New York Post:

A black bear picked the wrong New Jersey yard for a jaunt this week, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree – twice.

Jack is a 10-year-old, 15-pound, declawed orange tabby. So much for my original theory that the bear ran off after getting its nose clawed. Shame on the owner, though, for declawing Jack (a procedure akin to amputating all your fingers), and double shame for letting a declawed cat outside. Good thing for Jack that he’s full of bluff and bluster, since he’s basically defenseless.

"We used to joke, ‘Jack’s on duty,’ never knowing he’d go after a bear," cat owner Donna Dickey told The Star-Ledger.

Neighbor Suzanne Giovanetti first spotted Jack’s accomplishment after her husband saw a bear climb a tree on the edge of their North Jersey home’s back yard on Sunday.

After about 15 minutes peering down at the cat from the tree, the bear descended and tried to run away, only to have Jack chase it up another tree.

Giovanetti provided the AP with this striking picture:

bear treed by tabby
Photo by AP Photo/Suzanne Giovanetti

Makes sense that it was a Joisy cat — even the neutered ones have cojones. And an orange tabby — tabbies all seem to have attitude.

(HT: The Gothamist via Tammy Bruce )

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s resignation statement

Posted by Richard on May 16, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s statement resigning from the Dutch Parliament is a an absolute must-read. Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the link to the English version at the Dutch news site Trouw. It begins thus:

I came to Holland in the summer of 1992 because I wanted to be able to determine my own future. I didn’t want to be forced into a destiny that other people had chosen for me, so I opted for the protection of the rule of law. Here in Holland, I found freedom and opportunities, and I took those opportunities to speak out against religious terror.

In January 2003, at the invitation of the VVD party, I became a member of parliament. I accepted the VVD’s invitation on the condition that I would be the party’s spokesman for the emancipation of women and the integration of immigrants.

What exactly did I want to achieve?

First of all I wanted to put the oppression of immigrant women — especially Muslim women – squarely on the Dutch political agenda. Second, I wanted Holland to pay attention to the specific cultural and religious issues that were holding back many ethnic minorities, instead of always taking a one-sided approach that focused only on their socio-economic circumstances. Lastly, I wanted politicians to grasp the fact that major aspects of Islamic doctrine and tradition, as practiced today, are incompatible with the open society.

Now I have to ask myself, have I accomplished that task?

Go read the whole thing. It’s a compelling and uplifting statement, which makes it even clearer how lucky we are that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is coming to the United States. Assuming that the anti-immigrant crowd doesn’t block her entry.

Oh, and you might want to make a note to yourself about this (emphasis added):

For those who are interested in the intimate details of my transition from a pre-modern society to a modern one, and how I came to love what the West stands for, please read my memoir, which is due to be published this fall.

Speaking of must-reads!

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali coming to America

Posted by Richard on May 15, 2006

It hasn’t been easy for Ayaan Hirsi Ali lately. At the end of April, a Dutch appeals court agreed with her neighbors that — since Islamofascists want to kill her — her presence put them at risk, thus violating their human rights. She was ordered to vacate her apartment.

Ponder the logic of that for a moment. The court held that Ayaan Hirsi Ali — not the murderous thugs who threaten her — had caused her neighbors to feel less safe, and thus had violated their rights under Article 8 of the European Treaty on Human Rights.

More recently, political opponents expressed shock at the "news" that she’d lied on her 1992 asylum application (even though she’d revealed this in 2002 when she ran for parliament), and demanded that she be deported. Judith Apter Klinghoffer noted that Hirsi Ali, like Anne Frank, seems to be "too much trouble" for the Dutch.

Apparently, Hirsi Ali has had enough of Dutch cowardice and dhimmitude. Today, it’s being reported that she’s accepted a position with the American Enterprise Institute and will be moving to the United States in September.

The Netherlands’ loss is our gain. Welcome, Ms. Ali!

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Liberal betrayal

Posted by Richard on May 5, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi AliAyaan Hirsi Ali is a remarkable woman. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1969 and brought up Muslim, she at one time was an Islamic fundamentalist who wanted to become a martyr. In 1992, on her way to Canada for an arranged marriage with a distant cousin, Hirsi Ali went to the Netherlands instead and was granted asylum. She studied political science in the Netherlands, eventually getting a Masters degree. She became active in the Social Democrat party, and today serves in the Dutch Parliament as a member of the center-right (classical liberal) V.V.D. (People’s Party of Freedom and Democracy).

Hirsi Ali is an outspoken critic of radical Islam and especially its treatment of women. She’s been honored numerous times for her work in defense of human rights and Western/Enlightenment values. She wrote the script for the short film Submission, for which director Theo Van Gogh was brutally murdered on an Amsterdam street by an Islamist thug. Her life has been threatened countless times, and she’s under armed guard everywhere she goes.

This past weekend, she was in New York, speaking at the PEN American Center’s "World Voices" event. International PEN bills itself as the world’s oldest human rights organization and defender of free expression, so they should welcome and honor someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, right?

Umm, not so much. It seems the New York liberals who run PEN aren’t all that comfortable with someone who passionately defends Western values, reason, and the Enlightenment and who challenges Western leftists’ multiculturalism and tolerance of the intolerant. Pamela at Atlas Shrugs provided portions of Brendan Bernhard’s New York Sun column (paid subscribers only) about her appearance:

Mr. Chernow’s introduction was curiously ungracious. It consisted largely of a warning that the audience might find itself in agreement with only some of what Ms. Ali had to say, or perhaps just a small portion of it, or even none of it. Nevertheless, he assured us, we could all agree that she is a woman of uncommon courage and integrity.

A slender, dark-skinned woman with a pretty face and long-fingered, expressive hands, Ms. Ali, 37, smiled politely as she took this in. She is, after all, a politician, and accustomed to what in a few minutes she would term “the liberal betrayal” — namely, the failure of the West to defend its own Enlightenment values against those who openly seek to undermine or destroy them. On this particular afternoon, it would take an African refugee to remind a New Yorker writer (Mr. Gourevitch), a multi-lingual European intellectual impresario (Mr. Holdengraber), and the president of PEN American Center (Mr. Chernow) that courage and integrity are not necessarily at odds with rational, coherent thought, and might even be an integral part of it. At least Salman Rushdie, seated in the front row in what appeared to be a gesture of moral support for a co-religionist in trouble with Muslim radicals, seemed to understand.
. . .

“My criticism of the West, especially of liberals, is that they do take freedom for granted,” Ms. Ali responded. She noted that Western Europeans born after World War II are unused to conflict. “They have lost the instinct to recognize that there can be such a thing as an enemy or a threat to freedom, and that’s what I’m witnessing in Europe now,” she stated. “[There is] a pacifist ideology that violence should never be used in any circumstances, and so we should talk and talk and talk. Even when your opponent tells you, ‘I don’t want to talk to you, I want to destroy you,’ the reaction is, ‘Please, let’s talk about the fact that you want to destroy me!’”

Reportedly, after Mohammed Bouyeri pulled a gun and shot Theo van Gogh the first time, van Gogh shouted, "We can still talk about it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!" Bouyeri wasn’t interested in talking; he shot van Gogh a few more times, then slit his throat, and finally stabbed him in the chest.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali understands quite clearly that one can’t reason with or accommodate Islamofascism. One can submit — or die — or fight. She understands that the liberals’ unwillingness to fight — or even to let others fight — for the values they claim to support is a profound betrayal.

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Smoke and dust and heroism

Posted by Richard on May 4, 2006

I haven’t seen United 93 yet. Soon, maybe. I’ve read quite a few of the reviews and comments, and everything I’ve read suggests it’s as fine a film as I’d hoped it would be.

Nothing else I’ve read comes close to Gerard Van der Leun’s Of a Fire in a Field. I first read it several days ago and was unable to even write about it. I’ve read it several times now, and the impact is still powerful. I don’t recall anything that has ever moved me more.

It’s about United 93, but Van der Leun began by recalling 9/11 and its aftermath, when he lived in New York. He’s a fine writer whose words often paint evocative images; but I can’t find adjectives adequate to describe this passage:

Inside the wire under the hole in the sky was, in time, a growing hole in the ground as the rubble was cleared away and, after many months, the last fire was put out. Often at first, but with slowly diminishing frequency, all the work to clear out the rubble and the wreckage would come to a halt.

The machinery would be shut down and it would become quiet. Across the site, tools would be laid down and the workers would straighten up and stand still. Then, from somewhere in the pile or the pit, a group of men would emerge carrying a stretcher covered with an American flag and holding, if they were fortunate, a body. If they were not so fortunate the flag covering over the stretcher would be lumpy, holding only portions of a body from which, across the river on the Jersey shore, a forensic lab would try to make an identification and then pass on to the victim’s survivors something that they could bury.

I’m not sure anymore about the final count, but I am pretty sure that most families, in the end, got nothing. Their loved ones had all gone into the smoke and the dust that covered the end of the island and blew, mostly, across the river into Brooklyn where I lived. What happened to most of the three thousand killed by the animals on that day? It is simple and ghastly. We breathed them until the rains came and washed clean what would never be clean again.

. . .

Every time I read that, my eyes well up and my breathing becomes labored. It’s as if there’s a weight on my chest.

Van der Leun went on to describe the "ordinary courage" of the New York police and firemen who went up into the twin towers to rescue those trapped on 9/11, and then he connected it to the courage exhibited in the sky above Pennsylvania that day:

To this day, those men who went up those stairs exist in my mind as starlight, beyond my capacity to comprehend — only to honor. But I went to a few of their funerals and so I know, if only slightly, the human face and the life and the families of about a dozen.

Far above and away to the west on that day, there was as we knew, and now as we have seen, another group of American men and women who, when they found out what was happening and what was to be their likely fate, also took that fate in their own hands and came on, fighting to thwart or reverse that fate, until the last moment of their lives. Ordinary people in an extraordinary situation finding the ordinary courage to resist and to fight against the evil that appeared among them.

That’s the theme and the pace and the action of "United 93:" How ordinary people, at first strangers to each other, found the courage to act together in the face of certain death.

Despite the whines and the cavils of the weak and the vile and the corrupt among us, "United 93" has no "message."

Despite the rising and continuing attempts to cheapen the film from the spiritually and politically bankrupt that batten off America, "United 93" has no politics.

You don’t "review" this film if you have an ounce of soul left to you. You watch it.

"United 93," from the first frame to the last, simply and clearly lets you see what happened high in the air on that day. It is, as the phrase on the poster says, "The plane that did not reach its target." Instead, it reached something unintended and much higher. It became and will remain a legend; an integral part of the tapestry of the American myth from which we all draw what strength remains to us, and, in the future, will surely need to draw upon even more deeply. Like the best of our legends, it arises out of our ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Go read the whole thing. Van der Leun has outdone himself with this essay. And at the end, he has a question for you.

Of a Fire in a Field has been nominated — along with another Van der Leun post — for best non-council post by members of the Watcher’s Council. On Friday, the Watcher will post the results of the voting. I haven’t read most of the other nominated posts, but I can’t imagine this one not winning. It’s simply in a class by itself.

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