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Posts Tagged ‘moral equivalence’

Catching up on the Twitter reaction to Samantha Power: ‘evil or stupid?’

Posted by Richard on February 25, 2014

Sunday night, UN Ambassador Samantha Power (who has a history of making embarrassing statements and blaming the US and Israel for Middle East violence) issued a bizarre tweet about Daniel Pearl’s beheading.

If, like me, you missed the torrent of Twitter reaction on Monday, Twitchy comes to the rescue. See here, here, and here for some of the better angry responses and rejoinders. For more entertaining reading, Twitchy also collected some of the fake Samantha Power tweets. I rather like the whimsy of this one:

Click #AmbPowersTweets to see all of them.

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LA Times: Israel started it by firing back

Posted by Richard on January 19, 2014

This has become so predictable that it’s practically a “dog bites man” story. But it needs to be called out as a reminder of where our leftist mainstream media is coming from.

From HonestReporting (emphasis in original):

This LA Times headline is a sneak preview of more misleading reporting of Palestinian terrorism:

Israeli forces attack Gaza in new round of cross-border violence

The headline deliberately portrays Israel as an aggressor while a “new round of cross-border violence” is the equivalent of the “cycle of violence” where Palestinian terrorism and Israeli responses are treated as morally equivalent.

Unfortunately the LA Times is no stranger when it comes to this mentality.

But just to make sure you know who the aggressor is (emphasis added):

A cease-fire brokered between Hamas and Israel in late 2012 brought a period of relative quiet to the Gaza Strip. That was shattered last month, when Israeli military forces launched a series of attacks after suspected Palestinian sniper fire killed an Israeli civilian doing repair work on the border fence.

So let’s get this straight – Palestinians carry out acts of terror but Israel is the one that breaks a ceasefire by responding.

Or, “It all started when Israel fired back…”

Note also the phrase “a period of relative quiet to the Gaza Strip.” The LA Times is unconcerned about whether there is “a period of relative quiet” in Israel.

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Human Rights Watch finally notices rocket attacks on Israel

Posted by Richard on August 12, 2009

Human Rights Watch has for a very long time had a highly selective view of the Middle East, relentlessly critical of Israel and solicitous of the Palestinians. But now, after eight years of almost daily rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas, HRW has noticed that these attacks are war crimes. Of course, they're still playing the moral equivalence game, essentially saying that the many "war crimes" committed by Israel are no excuse for Hamas to commit war crimes, too.

Still, it's somewhat of an improvement — is it better late than never? Not according to Honest Reporting, which thinks it knows why HRW has suddenly acknowledged some of Hamas' crimes (emphasis added):

While any acknowledgment of Hamas crimes from HRW or any other powerful NGO is welcome, we have to ask why has it taken so long, after several years and thousands of Qassam rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip. Could it be because HRW was caught with its hands in the Saudi cookie jar?

As we recently reported, HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson was exposed trying to fundraise from wealthy Saudis by highlighting battles with "pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations". HRW has been suitably embarrassed and its latest report on Hamas rocket attacks needs to be seen in this context.

In addition, NGO Monitor asks a number of questions, including over the timing of the report, HRW's perpetuation of the "balance" between terrorist groups and their targets, and HRW's failure to condemn Hamas for its extensive use of human shields.

Sorry HRW, but your report and video are simply too little too late.

You can watch the HRW video at Honest Reporting. Check out NGO Monitor, too. Their questions about HRW's report are quite pertinent.

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Celebrating the death of a murderer

Posted by Richard on July 25, 2009

At our breakfast gathering this morning, I told my compatriots about a joke Jimmy Fallon told regarding the probable killing of one of Osama bin Laden's sons. One person in the audience cheered, and a couple of people applauded. The rest sat in stony silence. A friend suggested that maybe they thought it wasn't appropriate to joke about the death of anyone.

I consider that explanation unlikely. I suspect that a significant percentage of the typical Jimmy Fallon audience considers slasher movies and Grand Theft Auto to be high entertainment. But it got me thinking. 

It's a common belief among Christians that all human life is sacred/valuable (many other religions/cultures share that belief, and some extend it to other creatures as well), and that therefore the death of even the vilest murderer or brutal tyrant should be mourned — or at least not celebrated.

I completely disagree. That belief shows a callous disregard for the murderer's future victims. When an al Qaeda leader is killed, how many people will not be blown up or shot, how many women and children will not be brutalized and subjugated, how many men will not be beheaded as a consequence of his death?

If you've studied free-market economics, you may be familiar with Frédéric Bastiat's essay, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” In it, he argued that we tend to focus on the immediate, intended consequences of an action (what is seen) and fail to recognize the later, unintended consequences (what is not seen). For instance, when the government allocates a few hundred billion dollars for "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects, we see the jobs created (they put up big signs at the project sites to make sure we do). But we don't see the goods that would have been purchased, the investments that would have been made, and the jobs that would have been created if the government had left that money in private hands instead of taxing or borrowing it away. 

I contend that the death of a murderer represents a moral issue analogous to Bastiat's principle of economics. You can see the lifeless body of a terrorist or serial killer (or at least the news reports) and recognize that a human life has been taken. But too often, you fail to see the lives that have been spared in the future as a consequence of his death.

Not me. I celebrate the deaths of barbarians like Saad bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — because I'm gladdened by the thought of the innocent victims, the honest and peaceful people, who will be spared because of their demise. And I unashamedly value the lives of the latter more than the lives of the former. Ridding the world of such evil men and preventing their future acts of violence is the noble, decent, civilized thing to do. It is virtuous and it is just.

If you still insist that all killing is always wrong, here's a thought experiment. You see a man with his knife raised, about to stab the chest of a helpless, bound woman. There is a gun at hand. What would you do? Would you shoot him, trading his life for hers?

Would you do nothing, because taking any life is wrong? Then she dies, and he can move on to the next victim.

If all human life is equally valuable, and pain and suffering are bad, maybe you should shoot her! Either way, someone dies, and (since you don't care who) you can at least spare her a more painful death. 

I would shoot him without hesitation, and if I succeeded, I'd be relieved and happy for her and for his future victims. The lives of honest, peaceful, innocent people are infinitely more valuable than the lives of murderous predators.

Likewise, I hope that Predator drone did take out Saad bin Laden, and I'm gladdened by the thought of the lives that will be spared as a result of his death. Making a joke or two at the scumbag's expense is not out of order.

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The Georgia war conspiracy theory

Posted by Richard on August 14, 2008

When Russian troops attacked Georgia, I expected the "blame America first" crowd to claim it was somehow our fault. And I figured that the purveyors of moral equivalence would suggest that we were in no position to criticize Russia since we invaded Iraq. (Never mind that we liberated Iraq from a brutal, genocidal dictatorship after it defied 14 U.N. resolutions, whereas the Russsians are trying to topple a democratic government and want to take over a free country as a first step to reestablishing a Russian Empire.)

But I admit that even I was surprised by Robert Scheer's insane conspiracy theory claiming that the McCain campaign is behind the whole thing:

Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?

Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government, ending his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's senior foreign policy adviser.

Previously, Scheunemann was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. Iraq invasion.

In 2005, while registered as a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Scheunemann worked with McCain to draft a congressional resolution pushing for Georgia's membership in NATO. A year later, while still on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to that country, where they met with Saakashvili and supported his bellicose views toward Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Um, unless I'm mistaken, Saakashvili's "bellicose views" are that Russia should stop supporting rebel armies in two provinces that have long been a part of Georgia, should stop trying to intimidate and dominate Georgia, and has no right to annex Georgia. <snark>What a monster.</snark>

As for the rest of Scheer's screed, it criticizes Georgia's "imperial designs" on two of its own provinces, it attempts to demonstrate that the whole Georgia crisis was manufactured by McCain and his "neoconservative cabal" to further his election chances, and it paints Vladimir Putin as an innocent victim.

Wow. 

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Olbermann unhinged

Posted by Richard on May 15, 2008

In a rant so over the top that he seemed to be channeling Howard Beal, Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night accused President Bush of creating "cold-blooded killers … who may yet be charged someday with war crimes" and who have "laid waste to Iraq." Of course, this was on MSNBC, so almost no one saw it.
(text | text with commentary | video)

They're lapping it up at Democratic Underground, Huffington Post, Pandagon, Crooks and Liars, etc.

But don't you dare say they don't support the troops.

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Another anti-war bomb

Posted by Richard on November 26, 2007

Four weeks ago, I noted that Hollywood's recent spate of anti-American propaganda films had been singularly unsuccessful:

The bad news is that Hollywood is relentlessly cranking out film after film intended to undermine support for the war against Islamofascism. The good news is that Americans are avoiding these propaganda pieces in droves. Most recently, Babel, The Kingdom, and Rendition have all bombed at the box office.

Add Brian De Palma's execrable Redacted to the list. In fact, put it at the top. According to a NYPost story quoted by JammieWearingFool, it may be the biggest box-office bomb ever. On its opening weekend, it took in about $25,000. No, I didn't accidentally leave off three zeros. Twenty-five thousand dollars. At what — about eight bucks a ticket? That means more people attended your average minor-league hockey game than saw this left-wing turkey.

JWF's post also has the unbelievable story of how De Palma is complaining that he's a victim. You see, his corporate overlords insisted on blurring the faces of dead American soldiers in a "collage of actual bloody bodies at the end of the film." He's been censored! Denied his opportunity to inflict gratuitous pain and suffering on the families and friends of the dead in service of his art (and politics)! Poor Brian!

De Palma is a vile POS, and a pretty sorry director, too — overrated, overblown, and completely derivative. His career should have ended years ago. I remember a great (late 70s?) Saturday Night Live parody commercial for a De Palma film called The Clams — a silly ripoff of Hitchcock's The Birds, complete with clams gathering on a jungle gym. As I recall, the money line at the end was "every couple of years, he picks the bones of a dead director and gives his wife a job."

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Hollywood’s war

Posted by Richard on October 31, 2007

The bad news is that Hollywood is relentlessly cranking out film after film intended to undermine support for the war against Islamofascism. The good news is that Americans are avoiding these propaganda pieces in droves. Most recently, Babel, The Kingdom, and Rendition have all bombed at the box office.

But it's not just that film-makers are making anti-war movies. They've also gone out of their way to avoid portraying the most believable and likely villains around today, Islamist terrorists, even if it meant rewriting stories like Tom Clancey's The Sum of All Fears to kowtow to the demands of CAIR (unindicted co-conspirators in a terrorism-financing operation). The film version replaced the Islamist terrorists in Clancy's novel with cartoon neo-Nazis.

Michael Fumento noted the difference between Hollywood then and now:

In 1942, Hollywood went to war. It began pumping out countless movies designed both to entertain the public and bolster its will to fight. A lot of them were cheap, hokey, or both. But even in a nation that seemingly needed little reminder of the dastardly attack on Pearl Harbor or the evils of the Nazis, they kept drilling home the message that we must persevere no matter the costs or the duration.

Well that they did. President Franklin Roosevelt lived in constant fear that the public would turn against the war. Indeed a Gallup Poll taken just five months before Germany’s collapse and long after the American public began learning of the horrors of the Holocaust, showed about one-fourth did not want to drive on to unconditional surrender.

Fast forward that reel to the post-9/11 era. Just how many Hollywood movies (not documentaries) have been made in which the bad guys are Islamist terrorists that do not specifically concern the Sept. 11 attacks? If you have to guess, guess “none.”

Read the whole thing. As Fumento observed, Hollywood seems bent on convincing us that either Islamist terrorists aren't really a threat or that they're no worse than we are.

Also, read Ed Driscoll's Hollywood Nihilism, which argues that the change in Hollywood predates 9/11 and Bush ("who's the real enemy," indeed).

It's really remarkable (and disgusting) that Tinseltown — with its well-known predilection for hedonism, its commitment to feminism, its enthusiastic embrace of alternative lifestyles, and its general "do your own thing" attitude — has consistently sided with the most barbaric, mysogynistic, intolerant, and repressive religio-political movement on the face of the earth, a movement that would, given the chance, behead or stone to death practically every last one of them. 

Driscoll be damned, I blame Bush.  

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Islam, feminism, and fecklessness

Posted by Richard on May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day! If you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother, if you care about mothers, if you're at all interested in or concerned about women's rights, please go read Christina Hoff Sommers' outstanding essay, "The Subjection of Islamic Women." Subtitled "And the fecklessness of American feminism," it's the cover story in the May 21 issue of The Weekly Standard. It's not a screed or diatribe, and it's not a catalog of atrocities and outrages. It does point its finger at the feckless, but more in sadness than in anger, and it gives credit where it's due. It's a thoughtful look at a shameful situation, but with a hopeful ending:

The subjection of women in Muslim societies–especially in Arab nations and in Iran–is today very much in the public eye. Accounts of lashings, stonings, and honor killings are regularly in the news, and searing memoirs by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi have become major best-sellers. One might expect that by now American feminist groups would be organizing protests against such glaring injustices, joining forces with the valiant Muslim women who are working to change their societies. This is not happening.

… During the 1980s, there were massive demonstrations on American campuses against racial apartheid in South Africa. There is no remotely comparable movement on today's campuses against the gender apartheid prevalent in large parts of the world.

… For a brief period before September 11, 2001, many women's groups protested the brutalities of the Taliban. But they have never organized a full-scale mobilization against gender oppression in the Muslim world. The condition of Muslim women may be the most pressing women's issue of our age, but for many contemporary American feminists it is not a high priority. Why not?

One reason is that many feminists are tied up in knots by multiculturalism and find it very hard to pass judgment on non-Western cultures. They are far more comfortable finding fault with American society for minor inequities (the exclusion of women from the Augusta National Golf Club, the "underrepresentation" of women on faculties of engineering) than criticizing heinous practices beyond our shores. The occasional feminist scholar who takes the women's movement to task for neglecting the plight of foreigners is ignored or ruled out of order

Sommers offers a number of examples and cites some women's rights champions critical of their peers to back up her thesis. What most bothers me is the pervasive attitude of moral equivalence. Feminist leaders speak of "Christian Wahhabism" and equate Focus on the Family with the Taliban. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World describes both the United States and Uganda as having extreme restrictions on women. In Uganda, a man can claim an unmarried woman by raping her. The U.S. got the same rank, according to author Joni Seager, because "state legislators enacted 301 anti-abortion measures between 1995 and 2001." Never mind that U.S. abortion laws are still among the most liberal in the world. 

Sommers takes on Nation columnist Katha Pollitt for her moral equivalence argument:

Soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Katha Pollitt wrote the introduction to a book called Nothing Sacred: Women Respond to Religious Fundamentalism and Terror. It aimed to show that reactionary religious movements everywhere are targeting women. Says Pollitt:

In Bangladesh, Muslim fanatics throw acid in the faces of unveiled women; in Nigeria, newly established shariah courts condemn women to death by stoning for having sex outside of wedlock. . . . In the United States, Protestant evangelicals and fundamentalists have forged a powerful right-wing political movement focused on banning abortion, stigmatizing homosexuality and limiting young people's access to accurate information about sex.

Pollitt casually places "limiting young people's access to accurate information about sex" and opposing abortion on the same plane as throwing acid in women's faces and stoning them to death. Her hostility to the United States renders her incapable of distinguishing between private American groups that stigmatize gays and foreign governments that hang them. She has embraced a feminist philosophy that collapses moral categories in ways that defy logic, common sense, and basic decency.

It's not just an essay about the depressing state of American feminism, though. In the final third, Sommers describes the growing Muslim feminist movement: 

The good news is that Muslim women are not waiting around for Western feminists to rescue them. "Feminists in the West may fiddle while Muslim women are burning," wrote Manhattan Institute scholar Kay Hymowitz in a prescient 2003 essay, "but in the Muslim world itself there is a burgeoning movement to address the miserable predicament of the second sex." The number of valiant and resourceful Muslim women who are devoting themselves to the cause of greater freedom grows each and every day.

The courage of Muslim women fighting for their rights is inspiring. As Sommers notes, early American feminists risked being shunned or ridiculed; Muslim feminists risk imprisonment, beatings and torture, even death. But their cause is important not just for women and not just for the Islamic world, as Sommers, quoting Canadian journalist and human rights activist Irshad Manji, observes:

In her 2004 feminist manifesto, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji writes, "We Muslims . . . are in crisis and we are dragging the rest of the world with us. If ever there was a moment for an Islamic reformation, it's now."

Manji is right: In particular, a feminist reformation could be as dangerous to the dreams of the jihadists as any military assault by the West. After all, the oppression of women is not an incidental feature of the societies that foster terrorism. It is a linchpin of the system of social control that the jihadists are fighting to impose worldwide. Women's equality is as incompatible with radical Islam's plan for domination and submission as it is with polygamy. Women freely moving about, expressing their opinions, and negotiating their relationships with men from a position of equal dignity rather than servitude are a moderating, civilizing force in any society. Female scholars voicing their opinions without inhibition would certainly puncture some cherished jihadist fantasies.

Go read the whole thing. I think it's a truly important essay, and I felt hopeful and uplifted at the end. 

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The “verbal violence” of Imus

Posted by Richard on April 19, 2007

Despite an ability to sound rather moderate, mainstream, and reasonable, Sen. Obama's positions on the issues are standard far-left positions, so I was never inclined to vote for him for President. But now, he's disqualified himself in my eyes for non-ideological reasons — a lack of judgment and decency exhibited in his remarks about the Virginia Tech massacre.

Ben Smith at Politico has a link to the 23-minute MP3 and offers a brief summary with quotes:

"There's also another kind of violence that we're going to have to think about. It's not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways," he said, and goes on to catalogue other forms of "violence."

There's the "verbal violence" of Imus.

There's "the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country."

There's "the violence of children whose voices are not heard in communities that are ignored,"

And so, Obama says, "there's a lot of different forms of violence in our society, and so much of it is rooted in our incapacity to recognize ourselves in each other."

Many politicians would avoid, I think, suggesting that outsourcing and mass-murder belong in the same category.

Or the crude, stupid insults of Imus. Or being ignored. This load of moral equivalence crap — this inflating of the importance of minor slights or failings or inconveniences — trivializes a truly horrific event and insults its victims.

It reminds me of Ingrid Newkirk's infamous comparison of broiler chickens with Holocaust victims, and it's utterly contemptible. To borrow a quote from the past, "Senator, have you no shame?" 

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Chocolate Jesus

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2007

Oh boy, oh boy, this means trouble:

The Easter season unveiling of an anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ, dubbed "My Sweet Lord" by its creator, has infuriated Catholics preparing to observe some of their holiest days of the year.

The 6-foot sculpture by Cosimo Cavallaro was to debut Monday evening, four days before Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The final day of the exhibit at the Lab Gallery inside Manhattan's Roger Smith Hotel was planned for Easter Sunday.

The naked Jesus is supposed to be displayed in a street-level window.

I expect that mobs of young Catholics in New York and elsewhere around the country will burn down the Roger Smith Hotel, along with some randomly selected secular institutions and synagogues, mosques, and ashrams. And evangelical Christians all over the world will riot, carrying signs with slogans like "Crucify those who insult Jesus!" and beating up secular humanists.

Do you think the Pope will call on the United Nations Security Council to convene and condemn this display? 

Actually, Cosimo Cavallaro's sculpture may be the biggest chocolate Jesus, and it's almost certainly the only one that's naked and anatomically correct, but it's nowhere near the first. Here, let Tom Waits tell you about it:
 

 The lyrics are here .

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. The hotel has canceled the display. I think all the looting, overturned cars, and burned-out buses frightened them. 

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Welcome to Bizarro World

Posted by Richard on March 16, 2007

Welcome to Bizarro World, where one of today's most ruthless butchers confesses/brags about his atrocities, and moonbats and media outlets everywhere denounce his captors, accuse them of crimes, joke about his terror plots, doubt his guilt, sympathize with his plight, and defend his humanity

Khalid Sheik Mohammed seemed to be especially proud of one particular atrocity:

"I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan," Mohammed is quoted as saying in a transcript of a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, released by the Pentagon.

"For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head," he added.

There are indeed. In fact, the video is readily available. Should you watch it? Jeff Jacoby addressed that difficult question at the time:

June 13, 2002 — The video of Daniel Pearl's beheading is searing and nightmarish, but the key to its power is not that it shows him dead. It is that it shows him alive. You look into his eyes, you hear his voice, you all but smell his fear as he tells the camera what his captors are forcing him to say.

"My name is Daniel Pearl. I'm a Jewish American from… Encino, California, USA. I come from, on my father's side, a family of Zionists. My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I'm Jewish. My family follows Judaism. We've made numerous family visits to Israel…"

The three-minute video is a piece of Islamist pornography: A frightened Jew — even better, a frightened American Jew — confesses his Jewish roots and denounces US foreign policy. Then his head is cut off and brandished triumphantly as English words scroll up the screen: "And if our demands are not met, this scene shall be repeated again and again."

When CBS aired the first part of that video, Pearl's mother was outraged. Jacoby acknowledged the family's pain, but saw things differently:

Who cannot understand her fury and anguish? Whose heart doesn't go out to the devastated young widow, whose infant son will never know his father?

And yet this video, depraved and evil as it is, does something for Daniel Pearl that has been done for virtually none of Al Qaeda's other victims: It makes him real. It allows him to be seen as a flesh-and-blood human being, a guy with a face and a voice and a house in Encino. Countless Americans who never knew him in life will experience Pearl's death as a sickening kick in the gut. His murder is an atrocity they will take personally — because they will have seen it with their own eyes.

Islamist terrorists butchered more than 3,000 innocent men, women, and children last Sept. 11. And before them there had been more than a thousand other victims — in the Marine barracks in Beirut, on Pan Am 103, in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, at the Khobar Towers barracks, in the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, on board the USS Cole. Yet who, their families and friends excepted, knows what any of them looked like? Who remembers any of their names?

The Pearl family's ire is understandable. But I wonder if it isn't the loved ones of all the other victims who have the better reason to be angry.

There are times when no good purpose is served by publicizing a terrible image. The repeated broadcast of race car driver Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash last year was gratuitous. Nothing was gained by replaying, over and over, the beating of Rodney King.

But the beheading of Daniel Pearl is different. It conveys with a force no words can match the undiluted malignancy, the sheer evil, of the enemy we are fighting. Yes, it is a horror. Yes, it is barbaric. But we are at war with barbarians, and what they did to Pearl, they would gladly do to any one of us. This is no time to be covering our eyes.

I won't tell you that you should watch the video. It's pretty awful. Maybe you don't need to in order to fully appreciate who and what Khalid Sheik Mohammed is. But if you're one of those who feels sympathy for the man or worries about him being robbed of his humanity — well, I hope you do watch. So you can see that he wasn't robbed of his humanity — he rejected it.

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The case for homeschooling, part 378

Posted by Richard on August 11, 2006

Mike Gallagher described a call to his radio show from someone who really needs to be hunted down and forced to make a career change:

She was calling from Colorado, and she chastised me for embracing violence as a solution to violence. “You right-wingers love blood and guts and you never have any sympathy for the other side”, she said. “The other side?” I asked. “You mean the terrorists?” She responded with a sneer in her voice: “You just don’t understand. They feel that WE’RE the terrorists. You conservatives are wrong in defining this war as something between good and evil.”

I had just about had enough. “Amanda, let me ask you something”, I said. “Do you consider the 19 hijackers of 9/11 evil?” Long pause. “No, I do not,” she replied. “We should look at ourselves to discover what we did to make them hate us so much. This is all our fault.”

Make no mistake, this woman was serious. I actually told her I hoped she was a comedienne, someone making a prank call to a national radio show. She assured me that she was not. So I had to ask her what she did for a living. Her answer will haunt me for a long, long time: “I’m a schoolteacher.”
 

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Is it 1938 again?

Posted by Richard on August 8, 2006

Here is Victor Davis Hanson’s "The Brink of Madness." Read every word. Read it several times. This may be the most important thing you read all year:

When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.

Of course, the trauma of the Great War was all too fresh, and the utopian hopes for the League of Nations were not yet dashed. The Great Depression made the thought of rearmament seem absurd. The connivances of Stalin with Hitler — both satanic, yet sometimes in alliance, sometimes not — could confuse political judgments.

But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Not any longer.

Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.

It is now nearly five years since jihadists from the Arab world left a crater in Manhattan and ignited the Pentagon. Apart from the frontline in Iraq, the United States and NATO have troops battling the Islamic fascists in Afghanistan. European police scramble daily to avoid another London or Madrid train bombing. The French, Dutch, and Danish governments are worried that a sizable number of Muslim immigrants inside their countries are not assimilating, and, more worrisome, are starting to demand that their hosts alter their liberal values to accommodate radical Islam. It is apparently not safe for Australians in Bali, and a Jew alone in any Arab nation would have to be discreet — and perhaps now in France or Sweden as well. Canadians’ past opposition to the Iraq war, and their empathy for the Palestinians, earned no reprieve, if we can believe that Islamists were caught plotting to behead their prime minister. Russians have been blown up by Muslim Chechnyans from Moscow to Beslan. India is routinely attacked by Islamic terrorists. An elected Lebanese minister must keep in mind that a Hezbollah or Syrian terrorist — not an Israeli bomb — might kill him if he utters a wrong word. The only mystery here in the United States is which target the jihadists want to destroy first: the Holland Tunnel in New York or the Sears Tower in Chicago.

In nearly all these cases there is a certain sameness: The Koran is quoted as the moral authority of the perpetrators; terrorism is the preferred method of violence; Jews are usually blamed; dozens of rambling complaints are aired, and killers are often considered stateless, at least in the sense that the countries in which they seek shelter or conduct business or find support do not accept culpability for their actions.

Yet the present Western apology to all this is often to deal piecemeal with these perceived Muslim grievances: India, after all, is in Kashmir; Russia is in Chechnya; America is in Iraq, Canada is in Afghanistan; Spain was in Iraq (or rather, still is in Al Andalus); or Israel was in Gaza and Lebanon. Therefore we are to believe that “freedom fighters” commit terror for political purposes of “liberation.” At the most extreme, some think there is absolutely no pattern to global terrorism, and the mere suggestion that there is constitutes “Islamaphobia.”

Here at home, yet another Islamic fanatic conducts an act of al Qaedism in Seattle, and the police worry immediately about the safety of the mosques from which such hatred has in the past often emanated — as if the problem of a Jew being murdered at the Los Angeles airport or a Seattle civic center arises from not protecting mosques, rather than protecting us from what sometimes goes on in mosques.

But then the world is awash with a vicious hatred that we have not seen in our generation: the most lavish film in Turkish history, “Valley of the Wolves,” depicts a Jewish-American harvesting organs at Abu Ghraib in order to sell them; the Palestinian state press regularly denigrates the race and appearance of the American Secretary of State; the U.N. secretary general calls a mistaken Israeli strike on a U.N. post “deliberate,” without a word that his own Blue Helmets have for years watched Hezbollah arm rockets in violation of U.N. resolutions, and Hezbollah’s terrorists routinely hide behind U.N. peacekeepers to ensure impunity while launching missiles.

If you think I exaggerate the bankruptcy of the West or only refer to the serial ravings on the Middle East of Pat Buchanan or Jimmy Carter, consider some of the most recent comments from Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah about Israel: “When the people of this temporary country lose their confidence in their legendary army, the end of this entity will begin [emphasis added].” Then compare Nasrallah’s remarks about the U.S: “To President Bush, Prime Minister Olmert and every other tyrannical aggressor. I want to invite you to do what you want, practice your hostilities. By God, you will not succeed in erasing our memory, our presence or eradicating our strong belief. Your masses will soon waste away, and your days are numbered [emphasis added].”

And finally examine here at home reaction to Hezbollah — which has butchered Americans in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia — from a prominent Democratic Congressman, John Dingell: “I don’t take sides for or against Hezbollah.” And isn’t that the point, after all: the amoral Westerner cannot exercise moral judgment because he no longer has any?

An Arab rights group, between denunciations of Israel and America, is suing its alma mater the United States for not evacuating Arab-Americans quickly enough from Lebanon, despite government warnings of the dangers of going there, and the explicit tactics of Hezbollah, in the manner of Saddam Hussein, of using civilians as human shields in the war it started against Israel.

Demonstrators on behalf of Hezbollah inside the United States — does anyone remember our 241 Marines slaughtered by these cowardly terrorists? — routinely carry placards with the Star of David juxtaposed with Swastikas, as voices praise terrorist killers. Few Arab-American groups these past few days have publicly explained that the sort of violence, tyranny, and lawlessness of the Middle East that drove them to the shores of a compassionate and successful America is best epitomized by the primordial creed of Hezbollah.

There is no need to mention Europe, an entire continent now returning to the cowardice of the 1930s. Its cartoonists are terrified of offending Muslim sensibilities, so they now portray the Jews as Nazis, secure that no offended Israeli terrorist might chop off their heads. The French foreign minister meets with the Iranians to show solidarity with the terrorists who promise to wipe Israel off the map (“In the region there is of course a country such as Iran — a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region”) — and manages to outdo Chamberlain at Munich. One wonders only whether the prime catalyst for such French debasement is worry over oil, terrorists, nukes, unassimilated Arab minorities at home, or the old Gallic Jew-hatred.

It is now a cliché to rant about the spread of postmodernism, cultural relativism, utopian pacifism, and moral equivalence among the affluent and leisured societies of the West. But we are seeing the insidious wages of such pernicious theories as they filter down from our media, universities, and government — and never more so than in the general public’s nonchalance since Hezbollah attacked Israel.

These past few days the inability of millions of Westerners, both here and in Europe, to condemn fascist terrorists who start wars, spread racial hatred, and despise Western democracies is the real story, not the “quarter-ton” Israeli bombs that inadvertently hit civilians in Lebanon who live among rocket launchers that send missiles into Israeli cities and suburbs.

Yes, perhaps Israel should have hit more quickly, harder, and on the ground; yes, it has run an inept public relations campaign; yes, to these criticisms and more. But what is lost sight of is the central moral issue of our times: a humane democracy mired in an asymmetrical war is trying to protect itself against terrorists from the 7th century, while under the scrutiny of a corrupt world that needs oil, is largely anti-Semitic and deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, and finds psychic enjoyment in seeing successful Western societies under duress.

In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.

 

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Dead children and bloody shirts

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2006

On July 18th, in The war for public opinion, I noted neo-neocon’s contention that Hezbollah isn’t just indifferent to civilian casualties, it wants them, and I speculated that they might do more than just put civilians at risk (emphasis added):

The Islamofascists will make sure, via their tactics, that even a cautious and measured response results in sufficient collateral damage for their propaganda purposes. Heck, I suspect that if there weren’t enough collateral damage, they’d secretly create it.

It now seems to me that there’s a real question about the civilian deaths at the village of Qana: did Hezbollah merely manipulate the media and exploit an unfortunate event with cheap theatrics, or did they go even further?

Item: We’ve had numerous reports of Hezbollah holding civilians hostage, using them as human shields. The spokesmen from Qana/Hezbollah said the civilians couldn’t leave because the Israelis had destroyed all the roads and bridges. But rescue workers and media crews by the score had no trouble getting to Qana when summoned in the morning.

Item: A remarkable story in Australia’s Sunday Mail, documented with clandestine photos smuggled out of Beirut, shows how Hezbollah fighters operate amidst apartment buildings and homes.

Item: Initial news reports made it sound like the 3-story house was destroyed immediately when hit by an Israeli missile. But it turned out that the building was hit between midnight and 1 AM, and it collapsed around 8 AM. The delay could be explained in several ways. But it’s hard to explain the inconsistent stories of the purported survivors (who said the missile strike and collapse were contemporaneous). It’s even harder to understand why more than 50 people would remain in a severely-damaged building after the attack, apparently just going back to sleep (since rescue workers have told us the children were killed in their sleep).

Item: A pair of remarkable posts (warning: lots of pictures of the dead) by Richard at EU Referendum — Milking it? and Who is this man? — illustrated just how staged, manipulative, and contrived the news photos of the dead children are. People without a smudge on them emerged from the rubble with bodies. The same "rescue worker" posed with the same dead kids in photos taken hours apart, displaying them to the cameras like bowling trophies. Richard even discovered that the same gentleman posed with dead kids in Qana in 1996!

Item: Reuven Koret at israelinsider laid out the case for suspecting a hoax — or at least embellishment of the incident, perhaps by adding bodies killed elsewhere. There’s enough to make you wonder. Riehl World View and Confederate Yankee offered additional thoughts on the possibility of a fraud.

Regardless of what exactly happened at the village of Qana, one thing’s for sure: there is no better commentary on the situation than Gerard Van der Leun’s The Weaponization of Children. Of course, it’s usually the case that there’s no better commentary on anything to which Van der Leun turns his attention. On this subject, he’s understandably somewhat grim:

THE NEW BATTLE FLAG now being waved high over the armies of Allah mustering across the world is not the banner of Muhammad, but a flag almost as ancient as the prophet, the Bloody Shirt. Among the weak in arms and courage and righteousness, the Bloody Shirt is their weapon of mass distraction; their attempt to storm the moral high ground and hold it as they wait for their reinforcements of love, peace, compassion and truce to flow in from the far corners of the world screaming "Stop this barbaric war that slaughters, for God’s sake, innocent women and children!"

The cynical create and present the daily dead baby exhibit. And the fools of the world oblige them with their compassionate echoes sent out with the numbing predictability and regularity of a New York Times editorial or, worse still, a mushy screed from our high-priest of compassion, Jimmy Carter.

Am I marooned forever on John Donne’s continent where "any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in all mankind?" I suppose that, since I am yet of the world, this remains true in some sense. But at the same time I am convinced that while compassion remains within me, the expression of it is currently overwhelmed and what I feel, much more than compassion, is a grinding sense of "compassion fatigue."

I feel this not so much because of the platters of dead babies being served up in Gaza and Lebanon, but rather because I know it for what it is — the cynical attempt by a weak and cowardly cadre of killers to manipulate my compassion gland that is just as base and unrelenting as the attempts of pornographers across the internet to manipulate my lust. …

If you aren’t sure exactly who has the moral high ground in the current struggle in Lebanon, you might reflect that while it is possible to see a grown man on the Lebanese side of the struggle dangle a shredded child by an ankle for the world’s cameras, you don’t ever see that sort of thing at an Israeli funeral, do you?

Needless to say, you should RTWT. For one thing, you’ll learn the origin of the concept of "waving the bloody shirt" — I suspect you’ll be surprised.
 

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