Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The UN, Europe, the Holocaust, and the Jews

What is genocide? In Israel, the Israelis knock down buildings and try not to kill people. The Palestinian population, although not growing as fast as Palestinian propaganda would have, is still markedly expanding. (See here for an article discussing the fact that Palestinians used faked numbers to convince the Israelis that they were going to be swamped by a huge Palestinian baby boom.) Nevertheless, Israeli is repeatedly accused of commiting genocide against the Palestinians. (You can find your own links to this one. I'm not going to dignify the trash-bearing websites that make this charge by linking to my own blog.) By the way, just for contrast, keep in mind that the Nazi's successfully slaughtered two-thirds of the entire European Jewish population. (If you'd like a good primer on this depressing subject, check out the Holocaust Encyclopedia.) Now, contrast what is going on now in Israel with what is going on in the Sudan, where the Sudanese government has slaughtered 70,000 people, and evicted more than 2 million. Sounds pretty brutal to me but -- and this is where you have to follow things very carefully -- this is not genocide:

A UN report has said Sudan's government and its militia systematically abused civilians in Darfur - but it stopped short of calling the violence genocide. It said those responsible should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Where genocide is found to have taken place, signatories to a UN convention are legally obliged to act to end it. The report also said rebel forces in Sudan's western region had committed serious human rights violations. More than 70,000 people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes in Darfur since February 2003. Khartoum denies arming the pro-Arab Janjaweed militias and blames Darfur's rebel groups for starting the conflict. The report was initiated in October by the UN Security Council which had asked Secretary General Kofi Annan to set up a commission to investigate alleged human rights violations in Darfur. 'The commission found that [Sudan's] government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks,' the report by the five-member commission said. It said those included 'killing of civilians, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur'. The commission concluded that the Sudanese government 'has not pursued a policy of genocide', but added that the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur might be no less serious. It said some individuals - including government officials - may have committed 'acts with genocidal intent'. However, it did not name names. Genocide is defined as intent to destroy a group on national, ethnical, racial or religious grounds.
This heinous story is coupled in my mind with the hypocritical observations of the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation. I say hypocritical because the same governments that sent wreath layers to Auschwitz are presiding over some of the worst anti-Semitism in their countries since WWII. It's also coupled with the point I made above, which is that the left has coopted the Holocaust and is using it against Israel. (I'm not even going to get into PETA's use of the Holocaust in advertisements comparing chicken deaths to Jewish deaths.) And lastly, it mixes in my mind with the Prince Harry debacle -- not a rather dumb 20 year old's idiocy in dressing like his country's most-recent and worst enemy, but the fact that the "punishment" for being stupid was that people were talking about forcing him to go to Auschwitz. Yeah, a forced trip to Auschwitz as a punishment -- that will certainly get Harry's sympathy juices flowing. All of this leads to my belief that it's time for the Jews to take the Holocaust out of the public domain and bring it to being a purely Jewish memorial. The Holocaust is being so horribly cheapened and degraded by much of the public that Jews, rather than continuously trying to force it on the ignorant, should simply remove it from discourse. Nothing we can do will make the Holocaust deniers cease their denial, especially as more and more of the people who actually witnessed the Holocaust are dying. And given that the Holocaust is now being used to describe the effects on an otherwise booming population of destroying buildings, or even the death of chickens, while it will not be used to describe the slaughter of 70,000 Sudanese innocents, it's clear that, in the realm of public discourse, the Holocaust's potency has been depleted, if not destroyed. Nothing can therefore be gained if well-meaning people and groups (ranging from Prince Charles, trying to punish his son, to the estimable Simon Wiesenthal organization), keep trying to make people accept something which they are no longer capable of understanding. I know that someone is going to read this and say that I'm trying to shut down the Simon Wiesenthal center or that I'm trying to deny the Holocaust myself. I'm not. I'm just saying that the Simon Wiesenthal center should continue doing its good work, that the Holocaust Museum in D.C. should continue to exist, but that the Holocaust can no longer be a working part of modern political discourse.

The New York Times, its readers, and the Iraqi election

Below is the New York Times 25 Most Popular Articles (that is, the articles emailed most frequently), as of 11:00 E.S.T. on January 31, 2005.

1. OPINION | January 30, 2005 Op-Ed Columnist: Torture Chicks Gone Wild By MAUREEN DOWD By the time House Republicans were finished with him, Bill Clinton must have thought of a thong as a torture device. For the Bush administration, it actually is. 2. NATIONAL | January 30, 2005 Under One Roof, Aging Together Yet Alone By JANE GROSS In the past decade, the number of elderly Americans in assisted living has tripled, to nearly one million. 3. BOOKS / SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW | January 30, 2005 'Collapse': How the World Ends By GREGG EASTERBROOK Jared Diamond draws on vanished societies to explain how cultures contribute to their own demise. 4. MAGAZINE | January 30, 2005 Dr. Ecstasy By DRAKE BENNETT Will new research into the therapeutic benefits of mind-altering drugs like Ecstasy vindicate Alexander Shulgin at last? 5. OPINION | January 30, 2005 Op-Ed Columnist: The Geo-Green Alternative By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN You give me $18-a-barrel oil, and I will give you political and economic reform from Algeria to Iran. 6. OPINION | January 31, 2005 Op-Ed Contributor: Form Follows Fascism By MARK STEVENS Philip Johnson's role in American culture is a darker one than many have thought. 7. OPINION | January 31, 2005 Editorial: An Update on Corporate Slavery An eye-opening research project at J.P. Morgan Chase has revealed how slavery was not confined to the cotton fields of the South. 8. OPINION | January 31, 2005 Op-Ed Columnist: Acts of Bravery By BOB HERBERT Iraqis may have voted yesterday, but they still live in dangerous, occupied territory. 9. OPINION | January 30, 2005 Editorial Observer: The New Social Etiquette: Friends Don't Let Friends Dial Drunk By CAROL E. LEE To the list of the unforeseen hazards that seem to plague the information age, we can now add another: "drunk dialing." 10. OPINION | January 31, 2005 Op-Ed Contributor: The Composer Was a Cop By CHRIS MARCIL On the composers 249th birthday, Mozart scholarship has taken a new turn. 11. ARTS / TELEVISION | January 30, 2005 Steal This Show By LORNE MANLY and JOHN MARKOFF Homemade cable boxes. Episodes swiped off the Web. TV is becoming a do-it-yourself affair, and the industry is terrified. 12. WASHINGTON | January 31, 2005 Employers Can Get Medicare Subsidies for Lower Benefits By ROBERT PEAR New rules would allow employers to collect subsidies for drug benefits less generous than what many retirees were expecting under the new Medicare law. 13. THEATER | January 31, 2005 Friends, Generals and Captains of Industry, Lend Me Your Ears By BRUCE WEBER A former adviser to President Ronald Reagan has turned his love for Shakespeare into a management-training business. 14. INTERNATIONAL / ASIA PACIFIC | January 31, 2005 Fearing Future, China Starts to Give Girls Their Due By JIM YARDLEY To reverse the birth imbalance between boys and girls, Chinese officials have declared that selective sex abortions will become a criminal offense. 15. MAGAZINE | January 30, 2005 The New Boss By MATT BAI Andy Stern, who leads the largest union in the country, is willing to tear apart the labor movement — and perhaps the Democratic Party as well — in order to save the American worker. 16. NEW YORK REGION / THE CITY | January 30, 2005 New-SAT Takers: Confused Yet? By JENNIFER MEDINA Anywhere there are high school juniors this season, the new SAT, with all its imponderables, is creating high anxiety. 17. FASHION & STYLE | January 30, 2005 Mommy (and Me) By DAVID HOCHMAN A generation of new parents are telling tales from the crib in blogs that revel in self-absorption. 18. BUSINESS | January 31, 2005 Federal Reserve Is Expected to Continue Raising Rates By EDMUND L. ANDREWS The Federal Reserve appears poised to continue raising interest rates for most if not all of this year. 19. BUSINESS / MEDIA & ADVERTISING | January 31, 2005 A Texas Paper Bets on Español, Not Assimilation By SIMON ROMERO Four new Spanish-language daily papers have launched in Texas, catering to the ethnic group predicted to be a majority in 20 years. 20. TECHNOLOGY | January 31, 2005 Bush Vows to Back Digital Health Records By STEVE LOHR The Bush administration renewed a pledge to finance projects intended to accelerate the adoption of computerized health records. 21. MOVIES / MOVIES SPECIAL | January 31, 2005 Critic's Notebook: Nonfiction Has Its Day at Sundance By A. O. SCOTT A division between American dramatic competition and documentaries could be seen in this year's competitive selections. 22. BOOKS / SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW | January 30, 2005 Essay: Tool for Thought By STEVEN JOHNSON The word processor has already changed the way we write, but new software for searching personal documents may actually change the way we think. 23. OPINION | January 30, 2005 Op-Ed Contributor: The Doctrine That Never Died By TOM WOLFE The Monroe Doctrine lives on in President Bush's Inaugural Address. 24. HEALTH | January 31, 2005 Experts Urge Tests for Men at Risk of Abdominal Aneurysms By GINA KOLATA An advisory group is recommending that all men aged 65 to 75 who are smokers or who ever smoked have an ultrasound test for abdominal aortic aneurysms. 25. TRAVEL | January 30, 2005 Hog Heaven on the High Seas By ROBERT ANDREW POWELL That roar your hear isn't the surf. When these cruise passengers hit the islands, their Harleys roll off with them.
If you're like me, the first thing you'll notice is that, the day after a historic election in Iraq, an election during which the Iraqi people braved death to go to the polls, and a day that exceeded all of the naysayers' expectations, NY Times readers do not care. There is only one article NY Times readers sent to each other in this 24 hour period that even touches on the elections, and that is Bob Herbert's article grudgingly acknowledging the vote, but nonetheless really harping on just how bad things are ("Iraqis may have voted yesterday, but they still live in dangerous, occupied territory."). The NY Times, clearly, is up to its usual shenanigans of completely trying to inter any good that George Bush does. (Sorry, I'm waxing Shakespearean here. You know, the bit in Julius Caesar where Brutus says " The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.") But I digress. What's also clear, aside from the NY Times' bias, is that it's obviously shaping its product to its audience. NY Times readers have no interest in success in Iraq. They, too, want to wallow in doom and gloom, and constantly to be reminded of George Bush's failures (real or imagined), without having their sensibilities lacerated with even the hint of Republican success. Clearly, between the Times and its readers, it's a match made in Demo heaven.

A short primer about Krugman's lies

As someone who loathes Paul Krugman for the dishonesty he regularly splays across the pages of the NY Times, I was delighted to find a Donald Luskin article ripping apart Krugman's racist stand regarding Social Security. The article is long, so I won't quote it all here, but these are a few of the highlights:

Look up the word “vile” in the dictionary and you will find an appropriate description of Paul Krugman’s New York Times column from last Friday. In the column, America’s most dangerous liberal pundit throws a gutter accusation of “bigotry” at President Bush — yes, the man who just appointed his female African American national security advisor as the successor to his African American secretary of State. Why, in Krugman’s mind, is Bush a bigot? Because the president is seeking to reform Social Security with personal accounts — which, by the way, is the same reform being argued for by Harold Ford, the African American Democratic congressman from Tennessee. In Ford’s words, the existing system “provides a measure of security for retirees, but it cannot be passed on to provide financial security for their children and grandchildren. The key to retirement security and upward social mobility is wealth creation.” *** Krugman’s position is extremely confused. He is taking the position that Social Security reforms that make the system fairer for African Americans must be opposed because President Bush hasn’t waved his magic wand and bestowed upon African Americans the same statistical life expectancy as whites. Even if such a thing were in Bush’s power and Bush refused to do it — and even if his refusal to do so was based on bigotry — it is still indefensible to oppose reforming the unfairness in the current Social Security system. It is Krugman — not Bush — who diminishes the importance of the shorter life expectancy of African Americans. Krugman waves it away, almost casually, saying that 14.6 years of life expectancy at 65 for African American males is “not that far short of the 16.6-year figure for white men.” Those 2 fewer years of life may not mean much to Krugman, but I’ll bet they sure do to African American men and their families. As Krugman Truth Squad member Sylvain Galineau quipped on my blog, perhaps the diminutive pundit would “get it if we put the debate in terms he understands; so let’s assume that Social Security benefits are based on height.” *** Krugman attempts to support his insupportable positions with his patented abuse of statistics. Krugman writes, “Blacks’ low life expectancy is largely due to high death rates in childhood and young adulthood” — the point being that during their working lives and retirements their life expectancies are much like those of whites. But Krugman Truth Squad member Jim Glass points out on his blog that this is a flat-out lie.
The dialogue in this country regarding economic issues will always be tainted as long as Krugman has such a prominent soapbox for his bile.

Europe -- going to H*ll in a handbasket

A few days ago, PalmTree Pundit did a post about the fact that, in Germany, parents can be denied the right to homeschool their children. Now, she follows with this:

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany, but this isn't: 'There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry,' said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. 'The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits.' -------- Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002 because the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime. So, in Germany, you can't homeschool your children, but you can operate, work in, and visit brothels legally. And if that's the only job you can find, you have to take it or lose your unemployment benefits. Way to encourage 'responsible citizens', Germany!" (Hat tip: Drudge)
It is, of course, irresistable to couple this sterling example of decline in Germany with this Jonathan Rauch article attacking the current belief amonst left-leaning thinkers that Europe is the next big superpower. As Rauch points out, these same thinkers (or people of similar mindset), said precisely the same thing about Japan in the 1980s. You remember, don't you? Japan was set to rule the world with its perfect economic model. Well, it didn't happen. Fortunately, the Japanese have achieved a new, successful stability, but we're not speaking Japanese and bowing to the Emperor on this side of the Pacific. And Rauch makes the same point about the predictions about Europe. True, Europe is doing well now (and the Euro is high), but Europe has some deep problems (aside from legal prostitution and illegal home-schooling) that aren't going away. The main problem, of course, is that Europe is one giant social welfare state with an aging population that is not being replaced (and we think Social Security has problems). And this main problem leads to the second big problem Europe has: The only way to replace the vanishing European-born workforce is with immigrants and, in Europe, these immigrants are Muslims. As Theo Van Gogh's death in Holland shows, as the huge tensions in France show, as the death-spewing mosques in England show, these immigrants are not paving the way to social and economic success. UPDATE: David Limbaugh takes the same story and asks, "Given our culture's lurch toward Postmodern moral relativism is it too far-fetched to imagine that this could happen here in a few years?" I think it won't happen in our lifetime -- as long as we keep too many activist judges off the Court. UPDATE II: Found a great/depressing post at Michelle Malkin's website which highlights how degraded European culture -- actually, in this case, Dutch culture -- has become. The bowing and scraping to hate-filled Islamists is horrifying, and certainly doesn't bode well for the actually efficacy of the "tough talk" that came from Holland in the week or two after Theo Van Gogh's death.

News from where it's happening

If you want to read a "feel good" post, check out Beef always wins' take on election day, which begins:

Yesterday I was happy to be in Baghdad. Most days I can think of many places I would rather be, but on January 30, 2005 I was in the right place at the right time.
Read on for the whole optimistic post. Thank you to ~rich and his fellow troops for making this wonderful day possible. It is absolutely accurate to say, "We couldn't have done it without you guys!"

This man wants to be President in 2008

John Podhoretz wrote a great op-ed about the less than gracious Demo response to the splendid election turn-out in Iraq yesterday. He includes within this op-ed a great riff on John Kerry:

[The successful election is] a big fat gigantic winning vindication of the guy that the Moores and Kennedys and millions of others still can't believe anybody voted for. And they know it. And it's killing them. Case in point: the junior Eeyore from Massachusetts, John Forbes Kerry, who had the distinct misfortune of being booked onto "Meet the Press" yesterday only 90 minutes after the polls closed in Iraq — and couldn't think of a thing to say that didn't sound negative. "No one in the United States should try to overhype this election," said the man who actually came within 3 million votes of becoming the leader of the Free World back in November. No? How about "underhyping"? How about belittling it? How about acting as though it doesn't matter all that much? That's what Kerry did, and in so doing, revealed yet again that he has the emotional intelligence of a pet rock and the political judgment of a . . . well, of a John Kerry. At the worst possible time to express pessimistic skepticism, Kerry did just that. The election only had a "kind of legitimacy," he said. He said he "was for the election taking place" (how big of him!), but then said that "it's gone as expected." Hey, wait a second. If it went as Kerry "expected," how could he have been "for the election taking place" — since the election only had, in his view, a "kind of legitimacy"? I mean, who would want an election with only a "kind of legitimacy"? Is Kerry perhaps saying he was for the election before he was against it? Kerry views the results in Iraq as being less legitimate than, say, the opinions about U.S. conduct in Iraq as expressed to him by "Arab leaders." In a truly jaw-dropping moment, he told Tim Russert approvingly of his conversations with those self-same Arab leaders — Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan among them — who expressed concerns about the Bush administration's approach in Iraq. Kerry seems to believe that the autocrats and oligarchs in the region are actually rooting for the creation of a democracy in their midst — and want to help the United States make it happen.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Mark Steyn is the man

Mark Steyn, who accurately predicted America's 2004 election, also accurately predicted the voter turnout in Iraq in this article clearly written before the election itself:

In Europe, the wise old foreign-policy ''realists'' scoff at today's elections in Iraq -- Islam and democracy are completely incompatible, old boy; everybody knows that, except these naive blundering Yanks who just don't have our experience, frankly. If that's true, it's a problem not for Iraq this weekend but, given current demographic trends, for France and Belgium and Holland a year or two down the line. But, as it happens, it's not true. The Afghan election worked so well that, there being insufficient bad news out of it, the doom-mongers in the Western media pretended it never happened. They'll have a harder job doing that with Iraq, so instead they'll have to play up every roadside bomb and every dead poll worker. But it won't alter the basic reality: that today's election will be imperfect but more than good enough. OK, that's a bit vague by the standards of my usual psephological predictions, so how about this? Turnout in the Kurdish north and Shia south will be higher than in the last American, British or Canadian elections. Legitimate enough for ya?
As always, this is just to let you know a new Steyn column is out there and to urge you to read the whole thing.

Hurrah for the Iraqi people!

Busy family day, but still time to celebrate the bravery of the Iraqi people:

Millions of Iraqis turned out Sunday to cast ballots in the country's first free elections in a half-century, the ranks of voters surging as attacks by insurgents proved less ferocious than feared and enthusiasm spilled over into largely Sunni Arab regions where hardly a campaign poster had appeared.
Click here for the whole WaPo article. And hurrah for Bush for insisting on this moment (and feh! to the naysayers in the Democratic party, all of whom gleefully predicted a voter turnout even lower than those we have here in the good old democratic US of A).

Saturday, January 29, 2005

How to get a modern education

This post is a bit self-referential, because I'm commenting on a post Bill C, over at Brain Droppings did after reading one of my earlier posts about the hooha over at Harvard, after Larry Summers dared to offend the feminists' delicate sensibilities. The reason I'm now linking back to Brain Droppings, is because Bill C did a very funny, and somewhat sad, post about getting along with a feminist professor over at Kenyon College. The things one needs to do to get an "A" nowadays!

Doings in the Middle East

This story brought two comments to mind:

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has sent bulldozers to demolish buildings put up illegally in Gaza City in the start of a crackdown on lawlessness. Many buildings have been illegally built on public land by militants, security men and unlicensed traders. About 200 Palestinian policemen were on the streets to protect the bulldozers."
(Click here if you want to read the rest of the story.) First, if the Palestinians really take control over their own people, my bet is that the masses are going to miss the Israelis' tender mercies. Arab leaders are not known for humanity towards their own people. Israelis tend to direct their reprisals either to the actual culprits or to buildings. Arabs have already shown a tendency to vigilante justice. Second, speaking of building destruction, how is the American Presbyterian Church, which is boycotting Caterpillar since Israeli's have used their products to raze buildings housing terrorists going to cope now that the Palestinians are doing the same thing? UPDATE: Anne, over at PalmTree Pundit, made a comment that deserves to be up here in the text: "Just for clarity's sake, the Presbyterians to whom you refer are the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), of which my church is a part, is distinctly different." Thanks for the clarification, Anne -- it's a very important distinction.

Staged terrorism

If you were wondering whether the terrorism in Iraq is aimed at the Iraqi people or at world opinion, this amazing post pretty much ensures that you will recognize that world opinion is an essential element in modern terrorism. The terrorists stage events with the press's compliance. Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs.

The terrorists are afraid

I know the MSM views stories like this as signs that terrorism is incredibly strong:

A suicide bomber attacked a police station Saturday in a Kurdish town, killing eight people, and insurgents blasted polling places in several cities on the eve of landmark elections in which the president acknowledged many Iraqis will not vote because of fears for their lives.
I view it as the opposite, though. This is the last ditch effort of an organization that knows its day is over when the people take power. I remain very hopeful that the Iraqi people, who have dealt with so much over the last two and a half decades, will resoundingly inform the terrorists that democracy is the victor. UPDATE: Along the same lines -- i.e., the terrorists' violence is in direct response to their fear that the Bush doctrine sounded their death knell -- I found this great post at Power Line.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Listen to your enemy -- and believe his expressed intentions

Stan Goodenough, a self-identifed South African gentile living in Israel expresses the same suspicion of and disgust with European and UN platitudes about the Holocaust -- and he uses it as a springboard to discuss the fact that the Middle Eastern countries are bristling with weapons aimed at Israel's annihiliation, even as the Western World keeps encouraging Israel to weaken herself. Read this whole op-ed. The following are just a few highlights:

This week, in what was described as an historic event, the people of the world represented by the United Nations held a special meeting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. As reported by The Jerusalem Post , the event marked 'the first time that the United Nations [had dedicated] a session to memorializing the victims of the Holocaust.' The theme of Monday's special session was:'The evil which murdered six million Jews in the death camps still threatens us today.' Us? It never murdered 'us' in the death camps. It never rounded up and mass murdered any of the civilian nationals whose representatives sit in the General Assembly, nor does it threaten genocide against any of those nationals today. The theme should have read: 'The evil which murdered six million Jews in the death camps still threatens the Jews today.' For the hatred that drove men to incite against the Jews, demonize them, mark them for 'special treatment,' round them up in ghettos, herd them into trains and drive millions of them through the doors of the gas chambers, is alive and well in our 21st Century world. And many UN member states are infested with this unique hatred; this most enduring form of hatred --hatred of the Jew. *** Iran is pursuing an aggressive nuclear program, has expressed its determination to produce its own atomic weapons of mass destruction within the next few years, and has warned that, should Jerusalem try to sabotage this effort, it will immediately move to obliterate the State of Israel. This week the chief of Israel's Mossad warned that Iran's nuclear program was nearly past the point of no return. Syria, widely suspected of squirreling away Saddam Hussein's non-conventional weapons, is manufacturing its own VX Gas warheads to mount on its arsenal of SCUD missiles. Lebanon?s Hizballah has around 20,000 missiles aimed into northern Israel. Last July, the Syria-supported group took delivery of extended range missiles together with non-conventional warheads for some of its rockets. Saudi Arabia is bristling with the most advanced weapons systems in the world, and has refused to redeploy its US-made warplanes away from positions from which they can easily strike Israel, while the House of Saud is under constant threat of being overthrown in a coup that would see Islamic radicals taking control of its military machine. And Egypt, a country that has a peace treaty with Israel, and which is not militarily threatened by any of its neighbors, is upgrading its armed forces to the tune of billions of dollars, and holding war-games in which Israel is the enemy. A former Egyptian Minister of War has stated publicly that in the next Arab-Israeli war, Egypt?s peace treaty with Israel will go into the trash can, and his country will join its Arab brothers against the Jews. *** Since 1991, Israel has been under unrelenting pressure to relinquish control over strategic and historic central parts of its tiny land, in exchange for which it has been repeatedly promised peace. It is the determined intention of the entire world today, led by the United States, that Israel will let go of that land and allow on it the creation of another Arab state whose citizens are fully aligned in intent, with the rest of their Arab brothers, to destroy utterly what would be left of Israel. The world expects Israel to agree to withdraw behind a border that, at its waist, is just nine miles wide, with 75 percent of its population living in this narrow coastal plain beneath the looming high ground of what would be Palestine.
Israel is the canary in the coalmine. If we allow the forces of hatred and darkness to destroy it, the whole world will be plunged into an unimaginable place of darkness and evil.

Balance in all things

If you'd like an intelligent article about appropriate interrogation methods for detained terrorists, as opposed to the chimeras the press imagines, check out this Heather Mac Donald in City Journal. She opens by positing a scenario in which a detained Saudi, caught in circumstances clearly showing active terrorist connections, chants prayers endlessly when polite questions are put to him.

Even if the 16 traditional psychological gambits codified in the Army Field Manual would ever stand a chance on this guy, you can’t even try them, because he drones over your openings. I don’t know how Marty Lederman would respond, but here’s what some interrogators tried to do: break his concentration. Some interrogators would call out random numbers like a football play. Others played advertising jingles to distract him—never at ear-splitting levels. And yes, the Meow Mix theme may well have been one of those jingles. Call me callous, but my conscience is not shocked. I fail to see how such treatment comes anywhere near to torture or abuse, or how it could possibly inflict psychological damage in the short or long term. If such methods are psychologically lethal, the interrogator is also putting himself at risk, because he is in the room as well.
More importantly, Mac Donald points out that most of the things Lederman and his ilk are excited about are tactics that the Pentagon has prohibited:
I’m happy to debate interrogation methods, but would prefer to focus on methods that were actually approved. Lederman, however, continues his penchant for worrying about techniques that were explicitly rejected by Pentagon officials. Thus, in his recent post (paragraph 5), he places considerable emphasis on boilerplate language by DoD General Counsel William Haynes that three proposed methods were “legally available.” Lederman does not disclose that in the same sentence Haynes rejected those methods as at odds with military tradition. Donald Rumsfeld accepted Haynes’s recommendation and never approved them.
It used to be that people said, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." The current political mantra is, if you can't say something mean, make something up!

The last word on a sad subject

Amy, over at A Place to Talk About War, makes it very clear that she believes suicide is wrong and inappropriate, and that she is firmly opposed to it. Having established that principle, she points to the horrible tragedy in Glendale as evidence of the fact that suicidal people often couple homicide with their efforts, whether on purpose or not:

If, however, some people are determined to end their own lives, can't they please manage to do so in a way that doesn't take other people with them? Because this man in California was 'despondent,' he parked his SUV on the train tracks, setting off a wreck that involved three trains and killed 11 people who were not despondent and had no wish to die. And to top it off, he had second thoughts and jumped out of his SUV at the last minute, so he's still alive!
I wonder whether, when people commit suicide, their thinking process is so deranged (otherwise, why commit suicide?) that their unable to see the logical consequences of their final actions, or whether they really do intend to bring other people down with them?

Why we're fighting in Iraq

Mark Alexander writes a long and interest article with this as the central point:

Let's be clear: American forces are NOT, first and foremost, 'fighting for Iraq's freedom.' They are fighting for U.S. national-security interests and those of the free world, which was, and to a lesser degree (thanks to our considerable military achievements), remains, in great peril. Ultimately, these two objectives are inextricably bound. Our ultimate objective in Iraq is to establish a forward deployed presence in the Middle East -- military personnel, but primarily equipment -- now that the Saudis have pulled our lease. Our analysts estimate that once the new Iraqi government is seated, the U.S. will be invited to establish permanent military installations in southern Iraq. This presence is critical, given that it would place us in the heart of Jihadistan, with the ability to protect our national interests in the region quickly without having to respond via sea and airlift. Our sources indicate that this new forward presence will be offset by part of our Cold War tactical and strategic assets in Germany.
If you wonder why we ended up in Iraq, and why we're staying there, this is a great column to read.

The New Medievalists

As you may recall, when Pres. Bush, in the early days after 9/11, mentioned a "crusade" to protect American interests, much of the world went ballistic:

President Bush's reference to a "crusade" against terrorism, which passed almost unnoticed by Americans, rang alarm bells in Europe. It raised fears that the terrorist attacks could spark a 'clash of civilizations' between Christians and Muslims, sowing fresh winds of hatred and mistrust.
I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and have a few observations to make about who the new crusaders really are. First, a little bit about the word "crusade." As the American Heritage dictionary notes it originates with the Latin word crux or cross. That is, its origin is rooted in Christian imagery. A capital "C" crusade was, says the dictionary, "Any of the military expeditions undertaken by European Christians in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims." So far so good. But in the 700 years since the last capital "C" Crusade, the word has taken on another, small "c" meaning: "A vigorous concerted movement for a cause or against an abuse." Only the most resolutely obdurate would attempt to charge that Bush was using the capital "C" meaning (a religious Holy War), as opposed to the small "c" meaning. Of course, as is so often the case in political discourse, meaning and intent matter little. Second, having established the different meanings attached to the word crusade (or, if you will, Crusade), I want to develop a theory that there is a Crusade out there, but that it is not originating in the Western World. It is, instead, a product of the fundamentalist Islamic world and, like the first Crusades, it is rooted firmly in Medieval ideology. To begin with, Islamists are not shy about their religious Crusading purpose. As Robert Spencer points out in the side bar on his "Jihad Watch" web page: the spread of Islam, by violent means if necessary, is a central tenet of the religion:
Jihad is a central duty of every Muslim. Modern Muslim theologians have spoken of many things as jihads: defending the faith from critics, supporting its growth and defense financially, even migrating to non-Muslim lands for the purpose of spreading Islam. But violent jihad is a constant of Islamic history. Many passages of the Qur'an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad are used by radical Muslims today to justify their actions and gain new recruits. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrines of armed jihad. The theology of jihad, which denies unbelievers equality of human rights and dignity, is available today for anyone with the will and means to bring it to life.
This is not just Mr. Spencer talking. Modern Islamist preachers are not shy about their goals, including their intention to bring fundamentalist Islam to Americans, by fair means or foul:
The Muslim population in this country is not like any other group, for it includes within it a substantial body of people—many times more numerous than the agents of Osama bin Ladin—who share with the suicide hijackers a hatred of the United States and the desire, ultimately, to transform it into a nation living under the strictures of militant Islam. The receptivity indeed was greater, but still the idea of an Islamist takeover remains unrecognized in establishment circles – the U.S. government, the old media, the universities, the mainline churches.... In suburban Rosemont, Ill., several thousand people attended MAS’ annual conference in 2002 at the village’s convention center. One speaker said, “We may all feel emotionally attached to the goal of an Islamic state” in America, but it would have to wait because of the modest Muslim population. “We mustn’t cross hurdles we can’t jump yet.” [From a Daniel Pipes article posted by Robert Spencer.]
If this isn't a Crusade, I'm not sure what would fit that definition. But why do I say it's a medieval Crusade? Well, first of all, there's the manifest religious impulse driving it. That is, contrary to Communism, it's not merely a political ideology. That's a bit of a sophistic distinction, though, because I've often thought of Communism as religion with a God. No, what strikes me more about Islamist Crusades is that, in this hypermodern age, so much of the Islamic population lives a life consistent with medieval times. For example, as ~rich over at Beef Always Wins pointed out, Islam prohibits paying interest. As ~rich also points out, this is an economic prohibition that "comes in mighty handy for keeping your subjects poor, with little chance of improving their lives." In the Middle Ages, too, the Church barred charging any interest. Fortunately for the economic development of the Western world, this proscription was observed in the breach, and the medieval world was able to use the Jews as a cash source. (The Jews were an especially good cash source for medieval kings because, after borrowing massive amounts of money from the Jews, and promising to pay interest, the kings could conveniently kill or expell the Jews, an early form of debt cancellation.) The modern aversion in Islam to paying interest is not, of course, the only thing that makes them the last of the Medievalists. Their punishments for religious failings are also still rooted in the Middle Ages. These punishments include beheading, chopping off hands, gouging out eyes, removing tongues, stoning (the last being positively Biblical). Click here for a recent article about punishments in Iran; click here for a description of medieval civil and religious "justice." I don't think I need to provide a link to the Islamists' current obsession with beheading. And yes, I know we still engage in capital punishment in America, but we've at least dressed it up in modern scientific garb (somehow to the modern mind, lethal injection is more humane, and certainly less bloody, than a beheading). I'm also pretty sure that no American state has recently ordered stoning, eye removal, or hand removal as a punishment for some perceived religious violation. What's also consistent between Medieval Christianity and modern fundamentalist Islam is the belief in the rewards of the afterlife that animates the willingness to face death here and now for a religious war. In Jonathan Phillips' fascinating book, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, he points out that the inducements for a crusader were twofold: "the afterlife and money." (p. 36.) The former was not just an idea of some green meadow and angels with wings floating around:
It is difficult to overstate the medieval preoccupation with making good the consequences of sin and avoiding the eternal torments of hell. One historian has described it as 'the most guilt-ridden age in history', where sins of violence, lust, greed and envy were never far from the thoughts and deeds of its people. *** Yet a crusader could -- if he confessed his sins -- be absolved from all his misdeeds. [p. 36.]
The engine powering the Medieval Crusaders into battle was their run from the Devil, just as the engine powering the modern jihadists is their absolute faith in those seventy virgins (or raisins). That is, both Medieval man and Islamic man use religion, not only as a support in day-to-day life, but as an animating force for violent religious war. And, because it's time for me to wrap up, I'll end on a more superficial level (with pictures, yet), comparing the fact that both Medieval women and Islamic women tend to share the same clothes (something especially clear when one compares nuns' garb to a modest Muslim woman in robes and hijab). Here (on the right) is the Medieval nun: And here's the modern Islamic woman: The Middle Eastern Scholar Bernard Lewis wrote a very interesting book called What Went Wrong? : The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, in which he commented that modernity in the Islamic world was truly only skin deep. The Middle East has co-opted much Western technology (especially in the area of weapons) without co-opting our mind-set. From the modernists' perspective, a Medievalist with a nuclear weapon is a very scary thought. UPDATE: Just learned, courtesy of Little Green Footballs, that most American mosques contain Saudi sponsored anti-American propaganda, aimed at turning America into an Islamic country. Click here for a link to the .pdf document.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Where the left is going

This Brent Bozell article has an amusing beginning, which I quote below, but turns deadly serious when it comes to the free pass the MSM media gives to the extremely anti-American protest groups out there:

Turning reality upside down is easy when you live in the world of people like actress Janeane Garofalo, who proclaimed on MSNBC just hours after the inauguration festivities: 'George W. Bush is unelectable, in my opinion.' This isn't dissent. It's beyond denial. Welcome to liberal dementia.

Meaningless posturing at the UN

This snippet is from a trenchant article by Anne Bayefsky regarding the charade of Holocaust commemoration going on at the UN.:

Widening the lens, we notice that last month the U.N. adopted 22 resolutions condemning the state of Israel, and four country-specific resolutions criticizing the human-rights records of the other 190 U.N. member states. Also in December the public entrance of the U.N. sported the annual solidarity with the Palestinian people exhibit, featuring a display about Palestinian humiliation at having to bare midriffs at Israeli checkpoints. (No mention was made of the purpose of the checkpoints or the Israelis who have died from suicide belts on Palestinians who circumvent them.) On exactly the same day that the secretary-general announced the holding of the commemorative session, January 11, 2005, he also pushed forward the U.N. plan to create a register of the Palestinian victims of Israel's non-violent security fence. (There are no plans to create a register of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism.) In March the U.N. will begin its annual session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, at which Israel will be the only U.N. member state not allowed to participate in full because U.N. states continue to prevent it from gaining equal membership in a regional group. The U.N. remains without a definition of terrorism, never having transformed the names of Palestinian terrorists from abstract entities into the targets of specific U.N. condemnation or consequences of any kind. And any day now we can expect the secretary-general to continue his pattern of denouncing Israel's lawful exercise of self-defense as 'extrajudicial killing' or as a morally reprehensible contribution to 'a cycle of violence.' In other words, U.N. demonization of Israel and the green light to the killers of Israelis that such demonization portends will not skip a beat. This is the face of modern anti-Semitism.
Somehow, the UN's actions speak a whole lot louder than its oily words.

There's a cancer in our democracy

I did an earlier post about the Left's sudden inability to appreciate that ours is now, and always has been, a winner take all society. In this lucid Thomas Sowell commentary we see where this state of denial leads us. The following material comes from the middle of the article, but I urge you to read the whole thing:

Elections are supposed to be an alternative to other ways of settling political differences, including riots, military coups and dictatorships. But riots have been re-christened 'demonstrations' by the mealy-mouth media. What are these 'demonstrations' demonstrating -- other than adolescent self-indulgence and contempt for the rights of other people to go about their lives without finding their streets clogged with hooligans and the air filled with obscenities? The irony is that many of those who are indulging themselves in these strident orgies are the same people who were telling us to 'get over it' and 'move on' during President Clinton's scandals. Today the liberal is the last place where people are willing to move on. While this is overwhelmingly a phenomenon of the political left, the increasing acceptance of irresponsible behavior -- including vandalism and violence -- as a normal part of our public discourse says something about what is happening to this country as a whole. Not only is there a growing class of people for whom indignation is a way of life, their sophomoric slogans are taken seriously by people who should know better. Moreover, their disruptions of the lives of ordinary people are accepted as if such things were nothing more than free speech. The media even give rioters free air time in exchange for providing them with a spectacle to broadcast and liven up their news programs. The taxpayers who foot the bill for mob control seldom rate a mention. Neither do the police who get injured trying to keep hoodlums in check. This may be some people's idea of a healthy democracy but it is more of a sign of a spreading sickness in a society too wimpish to insist that law and order matter and too mushy-minded to see that self-indulgence at other people's expense is not idealism.

Understanding one member of the Axis of Evil

If you have a strong stomach and a driving need for accurate knowledge about the world, be sure to read this Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi article about the current situation in Iran. The article covers religious torture, unemployment, mafia-style corruption, increasing drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS problems, among other things. The first paragraph gives you a taste of what a powerful article this is:

Given Iran’s incessant foreign policy saber-rattling—including its continued development of nuclear weapons, support for Islamist terrorist groups, and facilitation of the terrorism in Iraq—it’s easy to lose sight of the horrifying domestic situation within the Islamic Republic. The mullahs have not only destroyed the lives of countless foreigners through their worldwide export of Islamic terror and extremism; they’ve also plunged the Iranian people into a violent, hellish abyss of torture, repression, hopelessness, drug addiction and despair.
The article also comes complete with an utterly heart-rending picture of a woman being prepared to be stoned to death. I just wish that the Frank Rich's of this world (see my earlier article about Frank Rich's idiotic attacks on America), people who believe America is irredeemably evil, could be brought to even some limited awareness of what evil really is.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Need a laugh

I just discovered that one of my all time favorite TV segments might be something you can download (I say "might" because I've been unable to connect, but you may be more lucky). Jay Leno has a segment on his show called "Jaywalking," where he asks people on the street simple questions to which they really ought to know the answers. The ones who don't -- and especially the ones who are wonderfully wrong -- end up on the Jaywalking segment. Leno's writers then had the brilliant idea of getting the three most ridiculously wrong Jaywalkers on the show and pitting them in a head-to-head contest. With luck, you can see that contest by clicking here. If that link doesn't take you anywhere, try this link and then scroll down until you find "The Battle of the Jaywalk Allstars."

Something to send you off with sweet dreams

Clicking here will get you to a marvelous Chrenkoff post detailing all the little green shoots of liberty emerging from the dry ground in the Middle East. Best post I've read in a long time, simply because it left me so cheerful.

The truth again seems to be lost

I found this New York Times post very disheartening:

If you're going to call a book 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History,' readers will expect some serious carrying on about race, and Thomas Woods Jr. does not disappoint. He fulminates against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, best known for forcing restaurants and bus stations in the Jim Crow South to integrate, and against Brown v. Board of Education. And he offers up some curious views on the Civil War - or 'the War of Northern Aggression,' a name he calls 'much more accurate.' The introduction bills the book as an effort to 'set the record straight,' but it is actually an attempt to push the record far to the right. More than a history, it is a checklist of arch-conservative talking points. The New Deal public works programs that helped millions survive the Depression were a 'disaster,' and Social Security 'damaged the economy.' The Marshall Plan, which lifted up devastated European nations after World War II, was a 'failed giveaway program.' And the long-discredited theory of 'nullification,' which held that states could suspend federal laws, 'isn't as crazy as it sounds.' At the start of the "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History," Mr. Woods says he is not trying to offer "a complete overview of American history." That frees him to write a book in which major historical events that do not fit his biases are omitted, in favor of minutiae that do. The book has nothing to say about the Trail of Tears, in which a fifth of the Cherokee population was wiped out, or similar massacres, but cheerfully points out that "by its second decade Harvard College welcomed Indian students." The "Politically Incorrect Guide" is full of dubious assertions, small and large. It makes a perverse, but ideologically loaded, linguistic argument that the American Civil War was not actually a civil war, a point with which dictionaries disagree. More troubling are the book's substantive distortions of history, like its claim that the infamous Black Codes, passed by the Southern states after the Civil War, were hardly different from Northern anti-vagrancy laws. The Black Codes - which were aimed, as the Columbia University historian Eric Foner has noted, at keeping freed slaves' status as close to slavery as possible - went well beyond anything in the North.
It's high time we move away from the leftist ideology now permeating our history books but, if Adam Cohen, who authored the NY Times article is correct, Mr. Woods has produced something just as bad. History, of course, always belongs to the victor, in that the victor gets to put the spin on events. The problem is honest reporting and balance about the underlying events. While I'm willing to bet I disagree with Mr. Cohen's view of history, I suspect he's right that Mr. Wood's is equally slanted (I guess it takes one slanted historian to recognize another!). Somewhere out there, there's got to be an honest history book!

Once again, we're failing our boys

In a WaPo article calling attention to the fact that, Harry Potter notwithstanding, American boys are reading less than ever, the article's authors make this interesting point about politically correct classrooms:

Although one might expect the schools to be trying hard to make reading appealing to boys, the K-12 literature curriculum may in fact be contributing to the problem. It has long been known that there are strong differences between boys and girls in their literary preferences. According to reading interest surveys, both boys and girls are unlikely to choose books based on an 'issues' approach, and children are not interested in reading about ways to reform society -- or themselves. But boys prefer adventure tales, war, sports and historical nonfiction, while girls prefer stories about personal relationships and fantasy. Moreover, when given choices, boys do not choose stories that feature girls, while girls frequently select stories that appeal to boys. Unfortunately, the textbooks and literature assigned in the elementary grades do not reflect the dispositions of male students. Few strong and active male role models can be found as lead characters. Gone are the inspiring biographies of the most important American presidents, inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs. No military valor, no high adventure. On the other hand, stories about adventurous and brave women abound. Publishers seem to be more interested in avoiding 'masculine' perspectives or 'stereotypes' than in getting boys to like what they are assigned to read. At the middle school level, the kind of quality literature that might appeal to boys has been replaced by Young Adult Literature, that is, easy-to-read, short novels about teenagers and problems such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorced parents and bullying. Older literary fare has also been replaced by something called 'culturally relevant' literature -- texts that appeal to students' ethnic group identification on the assumption that sharing the leading character's ethnicity will motivate them to read. There is no evidence whatsoever that either of these types of reading fare has turned boys into lifelong readers or learners. On the contrary, the evidence is accumulating that by the time they go on to high school, boys have lost their interest in reading about the fictional lives, thoughts and feelings of mature individuals in works written in high-quality prose, and they are no longer motivated by an exciting plot to persist in the struggle they will have with the vocabulary that goes with it.
Boys and girls are different, folks. Accept it and work with it!

Whatever happened to a talking-to and a non-criminal consequence?

I know that the wounds of Columbine run deep, but I found this a creepy story at more levels than I care to contemplate:

Two boys, ages 9 and 10, were charged with felonies and taken away from school in handcuffs, accused of making violent drawings of stick figures. The boys were arrested Monday on charges of making a written threat to kill or harm another person, a second-degree felony. The special education students used pencil and red crayon to draw primitive stick figure scenes on scrap paper that showed a 10-year-old classmate being stabbed and hung, police said. 'The officer found they were drawing these pictures for the sole purpose of intimidating and scaring the victim,' said Ocala Police Sgt. Russ Kern. The boy depicted in the drawings told his teacher, who took the sketches and contacted the school dean, Marty Clifford. Clifford called police, who arrested the boys after consulting with the State Attorney's Office.
Here's one of the pictures: I just can't shake the feeling that, absent extraordinary circumstances, turning what I regret to say is fairly normal boy behavior (aggression) into criminal conduct seems a bit extreme. On other other hand, maybe this is the wake-up call these boys need to learn to control their aggression and handle it in a socially more acceptable manner.

Newsweek's take on the world

Just got the new copy of Newsweek in the mail, and was glad to learn that, thanks to American imperialism and Bush's general evil-ness, the world is going to hell in a handbasket. (Although there were some pretty nice pictures of the inauguration.) There's the conjectural "Gonzales: Did He Help Bush Keep His DUI Quiet?" Apparently, when Governor of Texas, Bush was called to do jury duty in a DUI case. Had he gone through the jury questioning process, he would have had to reveal his own DUI history. According to the report, Gonzales went to Court with Bush and made a patently fallacious legal argument to keep Bush off the jury. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. The fact is though, that it's so obviously positioned as a simultaneous Gonazales/Bush hit piece, I just have my doubts. I suspect that the people that the article cites to are going to prove to be "long-time Democratic operatives" or some such palaver. Nothing's believable anymore, especially with this type of partisan rancor driving the discourse. That's just kind of fluff. The story that really got my goat was this one: "Election Time: Americans 'liberated' Iraq, but it's hard to find anyone who is grateful." The picture illustrating the article is an emotionally loaded (and obviously tragic) shot titled "An Iraqi girl screams after her parents are killed by U.S. soldiers in Tal Afar." The article then opens with a line comparing Americans to Saddam Hussein: "Iraqis often point out that Saddam Hussein talked about freedom and democracy almost as much as the Americans do." It goes on to note that, under Hussein, they got to vote, too, and, amusingly, points out that Hussein once won by a 104% margin. Well, 104% is not good enough: "When the Americans arrived almost two years ago, most Iraqis had high hopes for much better. Now every major poll shows an ever-larger majority of Iraqis want the Americans to leave." The article then goes on to savage the electoral process:

Elections aren't necessarily going to make people feel much better. Sunni moderates are mostly boycotting the elections, while Sunni insurgents threaten to kill anyone who participates. In most cases, voters will cast ballots for a party, yet won't even know the names of the actual candidates, which are being kept secret for security reasons. To protect polling places, the government has banned all vehicle traffic on Election Day, forbidden travel and mobilized every last cop and soldier. But that will just make it easier to spot the voters and give the resistance what it likes best: soft targets. "On Jan. 31, elections will have triumphed," says one Coalition diplomat. "But democracy will have failed."
According to the article, there's horrific violence, too (and a little riff actually explaining the tragic orphan in the photograph illustrating the article):
Increasing violence feeds this disenchantment. Last week alone there were at least 11 suicide car bombings in Iraq. Soldiers are jumpy. In Tall Afar, a generally pro-American area in the north, a patrol of the Stryker Brigade shot up a car that approached them and didn't stop, the driver apparently oblivious to the soldiers' instructions in the dark. Mom and Dad were killed in the front seat, leaving six blood-splattered, but mostly unhurt, orphans in the back. "They did everything they could to warn the vehicle to stop," said military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan. "In a perfect world, it wouldn't happen. But we're not in a perfect world."
And on and on. The problem is that, again, I don't believe this relentlessly dark view of things. When one escapes the stranglehold of the MSM, there are tremendous stories out there of hope, optimism, and courage. (For example, see this story at Beef Always Wins, or this post at Chrenkoff, or this post at Chrenkoff, which predicts a much higher percentage turnout than we're used to in American elections.) In any event, there's a dangerous naivete animating the MSM if it believes that a bloodthirsty dictator can be removed and the entire infrastructure can be rejiggered in a matter of minutes. Even in better functioning Democracies we have electoral problems -- somehow tire-slashing in Milwaukee springs to mind, not to mention those famous voting felons in Washington. Admittedly, these are not car bombs, but they're not signs of a perfectly functioning democratic process, either. Democracy, Thank God, is not facism -- that means, people are free to act, and some of them act appallingly, making life difficult for the rest of us. The problem is, if you let the bad actors control the discourse, you've given up -- something the US is not willing to do, and something the Iraqi's, who promise a 76% turnout at the polls, don't appear willing to have happen either. UPDATE: Not that he was addressing the Newsweek article, but John Podhoretz, in an op-ed in today's New York Daily Post, provides the best possible rebuttal to the doom-and-gloom reporting out of Newsweek. I think this language is the core of his argument:
To the extent that the pessimism is based on fears of an election day terrorist calamity, it's hard to argue with. The relentless suicide-bombing campaign of the last few months raises the specter of an all-out onslaught against voters on Sunday. But others speak in pessimistic tones about the inability or the unwillingness of the residents of the "Sunni Triangle" to participate. Sunni Muslims, who were the dominant force in Saddam Hussein's regime, constitute 20 percent of Iraq's population. And yet the argument is seriously made that a Sunni boycott will invalidate the election results. If white South Africans had refused to participate in that nation's first-ever free elections back in 1994, nobody on earth would have argued that their lack of participation invalidated the election results. Now, it will certainly be tragic if Sunnis who wish to vote are forcibly prevented from doing so by the terrorists in their midst. But those Sunnis' best chance to secure their freedom to vote at a later date will emerge from a viable result in Sunday's elections. Why? Because once a legitimately elected Iraqi assembly is seated, the insurgents will have no argument left with which to advance their cause — except for the open hatred of liberty.
Podhoretz is careful to point out something that Newsweek, with its generalized attack on America, ignores. The terrorists' target is democracy itself, the very process at issue here. And from there, he points to the real target of MSM reporting:
The latest tape from Iraq's terrorist master, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, made that point crystal clear. "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," Zarkawi says. "Anyone who tries to help set up this system is part of it." Note that Zarqawi doesn't say he's fighting imperialism, or foreign invaders on Iraqi soil, or any other (and far more seductive) argument. He is waging war on democracy inside Iraq — on the right of Iraqis to choose their own leaders and structure their own governments. Zarqawi is a very frightening and very evil man, a destructive force with hundreds of gallons of American and Iraqi blood on his hands. Iraqis and Americans alike have reason to be concerned about his declaration of war. But calling democracy "evil" is a self-defeating exercise. By doing so, he is including among the evildoers all Iraqis who go to the polls. His fight will no longer be with Western devils, but with Iraqi patriots. There is a very real likelihood that under such conditions, his insurgency will collapse from the inside or will merely transition into becoming a brutal gang of parasites who use kidnapping and the threat of terrorism to extort money, pure and simple. So let's talk turkey about the dark talk emanating from the media and opinion leaders this week. Their pessimism isn't really based in concern about Iraq's elections. It's really based in concern about the success of American policy in Iraq. Anti-Bush partisans — both Democrats and Leftist ideologues — understand that if the elections are seen as a triumph, they will be seen as Bush's triumph, and they cannot stomach it. And for those who are still mired in the foreign-policy conservatism of the past, success on Sunday will place them permanently on the shoulder of the road to the future, thumbs outstretched. Once they were the drivers. In a world with a free Iraq, they will be hitchhikers. Maybe what they're really pessimistic about isn't Iraq's future but their own.

A little perspective and a lot of condolences

It was a terribly tragic day in Iraq, with 31 of our troops dying in a single helicopter crash:

Thirty-one U.S. troops were reported killed in a helicopter crash and five more died in insurgent attacks Wednesday in the deadliest day for American forces since they invaded Iraq (news - web sites) 22 months ago.
I send my sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who died. I'd also like to give a little perspective into the fact that, considering that war is premised on killing, this is a remarkably bloodless conflict from the American side. On September 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, 23,000 men died in a single day, making it the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. It was a stupidly fought battle in an important war. On July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme began:
As the 11 British divisions walked towards the German lines, the machine guns started and the slaughter began. Although a few units managed to reach German trenches, they could not exploit their gains and were driven back. By the end of the day, the British had suffered 60,000 casualties, of whom 20,000 were dead: their largest single loss. Sixty per cent of all officers involved on the first day were killed.
By October 1916, when this offensive finally ended, "[t]he British suffered around 420,000 casualties, the French 195,000 and the Germans around 650,000." This was a stupidly fought battle in what proved to be an utterly pointless war -- the last war fought for territory, without any underlying principles attached. At the Battle of Crecy, in August 1346, it was estimated that "5,000 (low) to 10,000 or more (high) for the French Knights and Genoese crossbowmen. English casulties were several hundred." One of the pivotal and most stupid battles fought for territory without any attached principles. This was a famous battle in the Hundred Years War, which saw the English and French, working together, utterly decimate the French countryside. In February 1945, at the Battle of Iwo Jima, "In 36 days of fighting there were 25,851 US casualties (1 in 3 were killed or wounded). Of these, 6,825 American boys were killed. Virtually all 22,000 Japanese perished." One of the most important battles ever fought, in one of the most significant wars ever fought. Sadly, I could go on and on with this horrible laundry list of death. I don't want to minimize the tragedy of what occurred in Iraq today, I just think that, before the MSM and Democrats go off caterwauling about it, and making policy decisions based upon it, it's important to understand that the nature of war is death. Indeed, when I read stories of major battles, I'm often surprised, not by the number who were killed, but by the number who survived. My father, who was in the RAF, was part of the battle and subsequent evacuation of Crete in 1941. He always told about standing in line at the port for days with thousands of other British troops, with nowhere to hide, and German planes flying overhead strafing them non-stop. And yet most survived that evacuation. (See here for a fairly detailed discussion of the Battle for Crete and its aftermath.) I think that the war we're fighting today ranks with the Civil War and WWII as a pivotal moment in history. It's sad that to maintain and make progress we have to wage war -- but we do. And once you commit to the importance of a war, and its corresponding necessity, you also have to accept that not all soldiers will return home. And so you mourn your deaths and move forward, rather than turning each personal tragedy into a roadblock to important national concerns.

Seymour Hersh exposed for the idiot he is

As were other people, I was disturbed when Seymour Hersh, in The New Yorker purported to expose America's covert operations in Iran, a place that I think needs to be covertly checked out and then de-fanged. If you shared my worries, Michael Ledeen comes to the rescue in an article where he points out that Hersh said exactly the same thing (almost verbatim, it seems) regarding Pakistan and was wrong, wrong, wrong:

Last week I noted that Sy Hersh, the celebrated New Yorker writer who specializes in getting things backwards, had been warning the world that secret Pentagon teams, in tandem with secret Israeli units, had been unleashed on the Iranian countryside to identify and target nuclear facilities. I also confessed that I rarely read Hersh's stuff, because so much of what he has written has proven wrong, and I prefer not to cloud my mind with material likely to be padded with disinformation. It's the same principle I apply to the evening network news and the New York Times: I'm better off without them. Had I read more of Hersh, and did I not suffer from an onslaught of senior moments, I might have remembered that Hersh had written the same story before. I'm grateful to one of NRO's thoughtful readers for pointing me in a useful direction. Slightly more than three years ago (in the issue dated November 5, 2001), he wrote something for the New Yorker (lightheartedly labeled 'FACT') called 'Watching the Warheads.' It's about Pakistan; and Hersh warns us that our hunt for Osama 'has evolved into a regional crisis that has put Pakistan's nuclear arsenal at risk, exacerbated the instability of the government of General Pervez Musharraf, and raised the possibility of a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India.' And of course, Hersh darkly notes that the smart guys in Washington (the 'government's intelligence and diplomatic experts') and the fools in town ('the decision-makers of the Bush Administration') are at odds over the matter. Indeed, it's led to 'a serious rift.'
After pointing out each parallel assertion issue then make regarding Pakistan and now makes regarding Iran, Ledeen wraps up the article thusly:
But not to worry. Most everything in the 2001 prophecy turned out wrong. Musharraf didn't fall, India-Pakistan relations have much improved, and the most obvious result of the liberation of Afghanistan is a happier country living in a remarkably freer polity. With free elections coming up in Iraq, and the Iranian people asking themselves why their neighbors are free while they are enslaved, it might well turn out that the entire vision of the Middle East was wrong. Which would make the recent purge at CIA look pretty good. It would also make the oracle of the New Yorker look pretty silly. Yet again.
Read the middle of his article, which I have not included here, for the good stuff.

Forced charity

I've long been an admirer of John Stossel, and I agree with him word for word regarding the "charitable giving" forced on debt-ridden California voters regarding controversial stem cell research:

Last November, the people of California decided to contribute $3 billion to stem-cell research. More precisely, 6.48 million people in California decided to do that; another 4.5 million voted not to, but they lost. Since California voted, other states are moving in the same direction. The Associated Press reports officials in Illinois, Wisconsin, New York and Connecticut are promoting state funding of stem-cell research. Last week, the acting governor of New Jersey, Richard J. Codey, announced that his state would spend $150 million to 'build and equip' an institute for stem-cell research, which he asked New Jersey's voters to 'put their faith behind' and fund with another $230 million. *** I happen to think stem-cell research is a good idea: Take an embryo that hasn't come close to consciousness and never will, harvest its stem cells, and work to save the lives of people who are desperate to live. But many Americans think that an embryo is already a person with a right to life and that to kill it is murder. Why should people who think abortion is murder be forced to pay for research that involves abortion? Robert Klein thinks he can answer that question. "As a democracy," he told me, "we vote for public schools, and everyone contributes tax dollars to public schools. What we're doing here is really no different." If that's true, where does it stop? California is already $53 billion in debt. This will add billions more. And it's completely unnecessary. Many of the referendum's backers are among the richest people in America. Bill Gates has given billions to charity, but he and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar are so rich, they could pay the entire $3 billion themselves and still have $52 billion left. So why didn't they?
There's more and it's definitely worth reading. I'm always surprised at how people, lamb-like, accept celebrities' exhortations that they should put their hard-earned, scarce money to pay for things that celebrities could support entirely with the interest on one year's income! Of course, I find it surprising that so many Americans let celebrities, who are often ill-educated and under-informed, set so much of our public discourse and agenda.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

They do it differently in Holland

You have to have a Wall Street Journal subscription to see a very good WSJ article about the fact that Holland is thinking that, maybe, it should change its society so that it's no longer perceived (at least by Fox TV), as the place to go if you want drugs and hired sex. If you can, read the whole article. I share this with you, both as a reminder of what a good news source the WSJ is, and of what a crazy society once Puritan Holland is:

Dutch daily De Telegraaf reported this week that a court in the southern town of Breda sentenced an armed bank robber to four years in jail, ordering him to return the €6,600 he had had stolen. Nothing unusual about that. But here comes the Dutch twist. The criminal was allowed to deduct the €2,000 he had paid for the gun -- as a business expense so to speak.

Maybe it's all in how we teach the subject

In connection with the hoo-ha about Harvard Pres. Larry Summers' comments, I learned this from the NY Times:

Overall size aside, some evidence suggests that female brains are relatively more endowed with gray matter - the prized neurons thought to do the bulk of the brain's thinking - while men's brains are packed with more white matter, the tissue between neurons. To further complicate the portrait of cerebral diversity, new brain imaging studies from the University of California, Irvine, suggest that men and women with equal I.Q. scores use different proportions of their gray and white matter when solving problems like those on intelligence tests. Men, they said, appear to devote 6.5 times as much of their gray matter to intelligence-related tasks as do women, while women rely far more heavily on white matter to pull them through a ponder.
As I read this, women process information differently. And that's the springboard for the rest of this post. My children attend a Montessori school. Using Maria Montessori's unique approach to education, they've been dealing with sophisticated mathematical concepts since they were 3. For example, Maria Montessori came up with the idea of number chains. (I couldn't find good pictures of these chains, but here is a catalog with pictures of her mathematical teaching products, including the number chains I try to describe below.) For example, a three chain would consist of a rigid bar with three beads, a loose link, another rigid bar with three beads, a loose link, and a third and final rigid bar with three beads. Like this: * * *-* * *-* * *. A four chain, of course, would look like this: * * * *-* * * *-* * * *-* * * * Little children love working with the chain and counting the total number of beads. For example, they know that a three chain has a total of 9 beads; a four chain a total of 16 beads. The children also know that these chains can be snaked back and forth. Here's a three chain snaked around: * * *- * * *- * * * As you can see, the beaded three chain, when snaked, creates a square. Whooo! "Three squared" really is a square, and one that consists of 9 beads! Same for four squared (except for the 16 beads, instead of 9). Indeed, same for all of the chains, through the 10 chain. And if you take three of these three squares and stack them one on top of each other, it creates a cube, and the cube has in it 27 beads. And if you take four of the four squares, and stack them one on top of each other, that too creates a cube, this time with 64 beads in it. The kids know this because they do it and they count it and they see it. This is a simple example, and I've conveyed it poorly, but I can assure you that at every stage of Montessori math, there is this tangible approach. I've watched 9 year olds receive instruction in the binomial equation, and it makes perfect sense to them, both because of the tactical, practical way it is taught, and because they have a visual model of these concepts going back to work they did when they were 3 or 4. Unsurprisingly, Montessori kids find math fascinating and fulfilling. And, I think, unsurprisingly, they consistently test very well in math, girls as well as boys. It seems to me that boys have the mental ability to understand math whether taught in the purely abstract way of traditional education, or whether taught (much more enjoyably) in the tangible way of the Montessori approach. Girls, however, seem to do better with Montessori, where they can actually visualize the concepts they're learning. Any comments?

Dennis Prager takes aim at Summers' critics

As part of his challenge to America's moral collapse when it abandons Judeo-Christian values, Dennis Prager has taken aim at the ludicrous goings on surrounding Harvard Pres. Larry Summers' positing that it might be worthwhile inquiring whether biological differences between men and women account for women's failure to make significant achievements in the maths and sciences. Here's part of his article, which I would classify as a must read:

Over 100 Harvard professors signed a petition against President Summers, leftist alumni threatened to give no more money to Harvard, and the vast majority of Harvard's professors kept a cowardly silence while their colleagues sought to suppress completely respectable intellectual inquiry. Consequently, President Summers felt forced to apologize. In the year 2005, nearly four centuries after Galileo was forced to recant observable scientific facts about our solar system, the president of Harvard University was forced to do a similar thing. He was compelled to apologize for advancing an idea about men and women supported by scientific research and likely to be true. But for most professors, neither finding truth nor seeking wisdom nor teaching is the primary goal of the university; promoting leftist ideas is. Most Americans know this to be true -- hence the chasm between most Americans and the university. But many Americans do not wish to acknowledge this. To come to realize that the highest institutions of learning often do not value learning but seek to propagandize their children (largely against everything they, the parents, believe in) is too painful. Most people can't confront the fact that, unless their child is studying the natural sciences, they have paid huge sums of money for their child to be able to share bathrooms with members of the opposite sex, read columns in college newspapers about American evil and tongue techniques for better oral sex, binge drink and, with a few noble exceptions, be propagandized.
If you're the parent of a college-bound child, be scared, be very scared.

A lucid, intelligent attack on America's Fifth Column Press

I've ranted before about how our press is a Fifth Column, dedicated to America's failure in the current war against terrorists. If only I were as good at writing as Thomas Sowell, who as this to say (and more, if you take the time to read his whole column):

One of the biggest American victories during the Second World War was called 'the great Marianas turkey shoot' because American fighter pilots shot down more than 340 Japanese planes over the Marianas islands while losing just 30 American planes. But what if our current reporting practices had been used back then? The story, as printed and broadcast, could have been: 'Today eighteen American pilots were killed and five more severely wounded, as the Japanese blasted more than two dozen American planes out of the sky.' A steady diet of that kind of one-sided reporting and our whole war effort against Japan might have collapsed. Whether the one-sided reporting of the war in Vietnam was a factor in the American defeat there used to be a matter of controversy. But, in recent years, high officials of the Communist government of Vietnam have themselves admitted that they lost the war on the battlefields but won it in the U.S. media and on the streets of America, where political pressures from the anti-war movement threw away the victory for which thousands of American lives had been sacrificed.

One of the best people I ever knew

Lately, owing to a variety of issues that have arisen in my life, I've been thinking a lot about Harry, one of the best people I ever knew. Bear with me, if you'd like to read a story about an unusually kind, ethical man. (I've changed all names but for Harry's, to protect the privacy of those still alive, but the story is true, word for word.) Harry and his sister Esther were born to a Jewish shopkeeping family in Berlin sometime during or immediately after World War I. They lived an ordinary middle class life, until 1933, when their world ended. The family tried to keep going for a while, but in 1935 they could no longer pretend to normalcy. It was in that year that Harry was attacked by some Brown Shirts and beaten around the head so badly he suffered permanent neurolgical damage. When I met him forty plus years later, the left side of his face drooped, and he had some speech difficulties. Luckily, his parents were able (God knows how) to send Harry to England and Esther to what-was-then Palestine (now Israel). Unfortunately, Harry and Esther's parents were not so fortunate. The remained in Germany and were eventually rounded up by the Nazis and taken to Dachau. I think they were very good and nice people, because their German shop girl, Gretel, followed them to Dachau. That is, she didn't immure herself in the camp with them, but she moved into the town and bent all her energies to keeping them alive -- something she did at great risk to herself. Sadly, she failed, and Harry and Esther's parents were two more people destroyed by the Holocaust. After the war, Harry, who had served with distinction in the British military despite the handicaps caused by the beating he received, came back to Germany looking for his parents. He learned that they had died in a concentration camp, but he also learned about Gretel's efforts to keep them alive. He then went looking for Gretel, and discovered her living in great destitution. Although he barely remembered her from his childhood -- and she was much older than he was -- Harry offered to marry her and care for her for the rest of her life, and she accepted. Either naturally, or as a result of her war experiences, Gretel was a sickly woman, and Harry knew that this would not be easy. He was, as I can attest, a devoted and loving husband until the day Gretel died, more than thirty years later. Meanwhile, in Palestine, Esther met and married Alex, one of my parents' friends. Alex and his brother, Max, had spent the war years in the British military. After the war, Max met Miriam, a Holocaust survivor. I'm going to digress here a minute to tell Miriam's story, since it deserves to be remembered. Miriam was from a middle-class Jewish family in a suburb of Prague, in Czechoslovakia. When the Germans came, she and her family were rounded up. (Indeed, Miriam's entire school was rounded up. She once showed me a picture of her first or second grade class at school, 35 sweet, round-faced children, and told me she was the only survivor.) The Nazis immediately killed her father, but Miriam, her mother and her sister were sent to Therezienstadt. From there, the three of them were shipped to Auschwitz. On their arrival at Auschwitz, Miriam and her family were put in line to pass Mengele's review. Miriam, all of 14 years old, immediately noted that the old, very young, and the sick, were sent off to Mengele's left, while the healthy went to his right. When she reached Mengele, he told her sister and mother to go right. He then looked at Miriam, who is very sallow, pronounced the word "jaundice," and directed her to the left. Miriam bravely stopped. "Dr. Mengele, I'm healthy. Look at the whites of my eye -- they're not yellow. I can work." Mengele looked her over again, saw that she was indeed capable of working, and redirected her to the right. By the time Miriam got out of the line for the gas chamber, however, she'd lost her mother and her sister. As you may or may not know, Auschwitz was enormous -- it was a huge complex of death and labor. For the next two years, Miriam, a young teen, survived alone in Auschwitz, without ever finding her family. As the war was wrapping up, Miriam was transferred to Bergen-Belsen. Although Bergen-Belsen did not have gas chambers, the prisoners actually considered it worse than Auschwitz. Auschwitz was hell, but at least it had organizing principles that gave people something to hang onto. Bergen-Belsen was pure chaos -- a stinkhole of mud, death and disease (it was here that Anne Frank actually died). Surprisingly, in the midst of this Dante-esque Hell, Miriam was reunited with her mother and sister. Miriam eventually ended up in Israel, where she met Max (whose brother Alex married Esther, who is the sister of Harry, the man about whom I'm writing here). Fast forward to the 1980s. Harry and Gretel lived in Germany; Miriam and Max lived in Israel; Alex and Esther lived in America. None had children. At the beginning of the 1980s, Alex died, and Esther died less than two weeks later. They had written reciprocal wills, each leaving his (or her) half of the marital estate to the other, with the survivor of the two leaving his (or her) combined estate to his (or her) sibling. This meant that when Alex died, everything went to Esther. And when Esther died less than two weeks later, everything went to Harry. Harry, however, thought this wasn't fair. He knew that, had Esther lived long enough to change her will, she would have left half of her estate to Alex's brother and his wife (Max and Miriam). So Harry did something unheard of: he announced that he was, as he said, "done with beating through the bushes" and he was going to give half the estate to Max and Miriam. The estate lawyers were agog. They had never heard of something like this before, and did not even believe it could be done as a matter of law. With pressure from Harry, and the cooperation of the Probate Court, however, it was done, and Max and Miriam duly inherited half the estate. My family lost contact with Harry years ago, and I'm sure he's died. However, whenever I think of a righteous man, Harry -- who married an older woman he didn't know or love, because he owed a debt to her, and who gave up half of a valuable estate because it was the right thing to do -- springs to mind.

Random thoughts

*** I was watching an old Great Performances show about American Popular Music which included a lovely segment about popular music in WWII. One of the points the show made (entirely without irony considering its PBS origins) was that the American entertainment industry threw itself wholeheartedly behind the war effort. One of the most popular songs -- and one of my favorite songs -- was this Irving Berlin song, which he originally wrote during WWI:

God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, And guide here, Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, To the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam, God Bless America, My home, sweet home.
What a lovely, simple expression of American patriotism. I'm admitted entirely ignorant about current American popular music, but I'd be willing to bet that no one has composed something comparable. Also, if memory serves me correctly, immediately after 9/11, people all over America turned to "God Bless America" again as the song that could best express the emotions of our nation at war. That's a testament both to the song's timelessness, and to the unavailability of any current music to fill that emotional need. *** Thinking of war got me thinking about the World War Two Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Click here for pictures.) Personally, I find the memorial a bit bombastic. What was incredibly moving when I was there, though, was the visitors. The day I was there, survivors from a unit that was at the Battle of the Bulge were there too. The memorial site was filled with hundreds of very old, often very sick old men, their equally aged and ill wives, and their children and grandchildren. And practically to a man, the old men were crying, as they remembered the most horrible, meaningful, important time in their lives. If you can watch dozens and dozens of old warriors weeping without tearing up yourself, you have a heart of stone. What I wondered, though, is what that cold stone monument's impact will be when there are no more warriors who visit and remember.

Mark Steyn alert

If you surf over to the Telegraph you'll find another great Mark Steyn column:

According to a poll by the University of Bielefeld, 62 per cent of Germans are 'sick of all the harping on about German crimes against the Jews' - which is an unusually robust formulation for a multiple-choice questionnaire, but at least has the advantage of leaving us in no confusion as to how things stand in this week of panEuropean Holocaust 'harping on'. The old joke - that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz - gets truer every week. I have some sympathy for that 62 per cent. Killing six million people is a moral stain on one's nation that surely ought to endure more than a couple of generations. But, on the other hand, almost everything else about the Germany of 60 years ago is gone - its great power status, its military machine, its aggressive nationalism, its need for lebens-raum. The past is another country, but rarely as foreign as the Third Reich. Why should Holocaust guilt be the only enforced link with an otherwise discarded heritage? *** From time to time, the late Diana Mosley used to tell me how "clever" she thought the Jews were. If you pressed her to expand on the remark, it usually meant how clever they were in always keeping "the thing" - the Holocaust, as she could never quite bring herself to say - in the public eye, unlike the millions killed in the name of Communism. This is a fair point, though not one most people are willing to entertain from a pal of Hitler. But "the thing" seems most useful these days to non-Jews as a means of demonstrating that the Israelis are new Nazis and the Palestinians their Jews. Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, has told the Home Secretary that his crowd will be boycotting Thursday's commemorations because it is racist and excludes any commemoration of the "holocaust" and "ongoing genocide" in Palestine. Ah, well. He's just some canny Muslim opportunist, can't blame the chap for trying it on. But look at how my colleagues at The Spectator chose to mark the anniversary. They ran a reminiscence by Anthony Lipmann, the Anglican son of an Auschwitz survivor, which contained the following sentence: "When on 27 January I take my mother's arm - tattoo number A-25466 - I will think not just of the crematoria and the cattle trucks but of Darfur, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Jenin, Fallujah." Jenin? Would that be the notorious 2002 "Jenin massacre"? There was no such thing, as I pointed out in this space at the time, when Robert Fisk and the rest of Fleet Street's gullible sob-sisters were going around weepin' an' a-wailin' about Palestinian mass graves and Israeli war crimes. Twenty-three Israelis were killed in fighting at the Jenin camp. Fifty-two Palestinians died, according to the Israelis. According to Arafat's official investigators, it was 56 Palestinians. Even if one accepts the higher figure, that means every single deceased Palestinian could have his own mass grave and there'd still be room to inter the collected works of Robert Fisk. Yet, despite the fact that the Jenin massacre is an obvious hallucination of Fleet Street's Palestine groupies, its rise to historical fact is unstoppable. To Lipmann, those 52-56 dead Palestinians weigh in the scales of history as heavy as six million Jews. And what's Fallujah doing bringing up the rear in his catalogue of horrors? In rounding up a few hundred head-hackers, the Yanks perpetrated another Auschwitz? These comparisons are so absurd as to barely qualify as "moral equivalence".
Read the whole thing. These samples don't do the whole article justice. UPDATE: BeefAlwaysWins has an interesting post about Koffi Annan's belated acknowledgment on the UN's behalf that the Holocaust was actually directed at Jews (although it ended up sweeping in many others, such as the handicapped, Gypsies and homosexuals). ~rich was nice enough to wonder what my take on the this is. I include my take on this subject in the context of this Mark Steyn post because I can only echo what Steyn has to say: the UN statement, like the European ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation, are all so much window dressing, utterly devoid of content. As -rich himself notes, actions speak louder than words, and the incessant drumbeat of anti-Semitism (often dressed up as pro-Palestinian sentiment) is stronger and louder than any platitudes about an event 60 years ago. UPDATE II: In keeping with my statements in UPDATE I, I found the following at the New York Post:
Sixty years after the world learned that bored Germans flung Jewish babies into the air for target practice at the Auschwitz death camp, our oily pals at the United Nations have officially acknowledged the Holocaust. Enjoy it quickly, because if yesterday was any indication, the anti-American, anti-Semitic rats infesting the banks of the East River — a species alternately known as the "French," "Germans" and "Libyans," among others — will forget the lessons of Auschwitz, or just insist the camp didn't exist. Only one man spoke the truth about anti-Semitism. But that man was not Israeli or American, but Italian. Who knew? *** Seats in the General Assembly were half-full. Jordan and Afghanistan were the only Arab governments whose reps spoke. And then Marcello Pera, speaker of the Italian Senate, spoke up. "We have an obligation to admit that anti-Semitism is still with us," Pera said. "Today, it also feeds on such subtle and insidious distinctions as are often made between Israel and the Jewish state, Israel and its governments, Zionism and Semitism. Or, it crops up when the struggle for life led by the Israelis is labeled 'state terrorism.' " Even Europe's Constitutional Treaty cannot make reference to the continent's Judeo-Christian roots, he railed. "If we believe that our core values are no better than others; if we start thinking that the cost of defending them is too high; if we give in to the blackmail or fear, then we have no more instruments to counter the anti-Jewish racism which continues to poison us than we have to counter the fundamentalist and terrorist racism which puts peaceful co-existence at risk."