Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The plight of the Palestinians

I just read a well-written and eloquent rant from Breath of the Beast about the lingering sad plight of the Palestinians in the Middle East. I think it's pretty much spot-on. Here's just one sample excerpt:

Here is a people who, along with the Lebanese, once were thought of as the most modern, secular and sophisticated Arabs in the world. The Caliphists and the despotic Palestinian ruling class have them and much of the western media and left wing convinced that they are reduced to wallowing in their own excrement because of Israel. Israel is no more the cause of Palestinian misery than it is the Syrian-led destruction of Lebanese civil society. How much longer can their leaders divert their attention from this insanity by blaming Israel and America? How much longer will they allow the dark forces of Caliphist Islam and the ruling elite of the Arab world to use those excuses for their venality and incompetence? How could this people have allowed their leaders to stunt the growing financial prosperity, social progress and modernization?

Once upon a time, Beirut was known as the Paris of the Middle East. Then Syria moved in and for the past thirty years it has been a terrorist haven and a place of religious intolerance, sectarian violence and fear. It is a terrible irony that now that tired old metaphor has been turned inside out under the same Caliphist pressure. These days, Paris is fast becoming the Beirut of Europe....

Read the whole thing. Makes sense to me. It is hard to imagine a more psychologically dysfunctional situation than the way the Middle Eastern Arab countries (other than Jordan) have treated the Arab Palestinian refugees and the way those Palestinians have seen fit to put up with that and even worse, how they have seen and treated themselves. Taking a fantastical emotional refuge in the hatred of militant anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has become their self-destructive dead end.

How different a conclusion there can be for those individuals--or indeed those entire peoples--able to think realistically, rationally, and pragmatically enough to go forward from a bad situation and make the most of their opportunities and their assets. The key difference is a clear head and a realistic view of losses and assets, of opportunities and the price of looking back vs. going forward. I am thinking of the Scottish people generating a truly educated class under English emperialism in the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries; the "displaced" ethnic German refugees forced out of Poland following World War II; the multitudes of lowly immigrants starting a new life and finding freedom and success in America; the Jewish survivors of the Nazi death camps making the desert bloom in Israel.

Human capital, based on values held by individuals. Whether we are talking about the individual or about large populations--some people choose to hold positive values and invest in their own human capital and make it grow, while others wallow in the paralyzing sewage of unproductive blame and hate.

"By their fruits ye shall know them." Taking it one step further, I wonder if the difference of success and failure can be partly attributable to the values of a people being determined by the religion they embrace. Do you think it is too simplistic to compare the respective religions of Christians and Jews (as valuing the sanctity of human life, the law of the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule, the equal worth of every individual, and tolerance for freedom of conscience) to Muslims (as valuing Mohammed's rules for deceit, intolerance of the infidel, unequal worth of individuals, blood revenge, and the propagation of the faith by the sword) as being part of the equation?

UPDATE: I'm not the only one to notice: Victor Davis Hanson also writes this about

Captives of the Past

The success of a country is almost inextricably connected to the degree of its strangulation by the past: confident societies like Japan, Germany, Italy, Israel, China, etc. don’t dwell on the past in the context of victimhood.

But a stereotypical rule of thumb: when I talk to a Mexican national, he whines about the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; when speaking to a Greek, the 1967 coup or the 1973 invasion of Cyprus starts the discussion, for an Iranian of any persuasion, it is always 1953 and Mosaddeq. A Palestinian talks only about 1947, and shows some strange rusted key to a house in Jerusalem.

The point is not that there are not legitimate grievances that have had repercussions, but that they are in the past and one must get on with one’s life. Americans don’t talk about the burning of the White House in the War of 1812, and are not obsessed with hating the Vietnamese for that lost war.

The only exception might be Southerners’ obsession with Longstreet at Gettysburg or Albert Sidney Johnston dying at the high water mark at Shiloh. But rarely now are any in the South captives to the Lost Cause, which is always a symptom of an insecure and angry mind, that faults others for the past rather than looks confidently toward the future. And nowhere is this more common than the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Friday, March 30, 2007

"Jokes about fat Americans are just safer."

Came across this essay "Evil Americans, Poor Mullahs" by Claus Christian Malzahn, Spiegel Online's Berlin bureau chief (thanks to Instapundit). He points out how years of dedicated (and mentally twisted) America-bashing by Germans has succeeded in conditioning your average German to think America is, among other things, a bigger threat to world peace than Iran. It's just the tip of the iceberg of German views toward America, apparently:

Anti-Americanism is hypocrisy at its finest. You can spend your evening catching the latest episode of "24" and then complain about Guantanamo the next morning. You can claim that the Americans have themselves to blame for terrorism, while at the same time calling for tougher restrictions on Muslim immigration to Germany. You can call the American president a mass murderer and book a flight to New York the next day. You can lament the average American's supposed lack of culture and savvy and meanwhile send off for the documents for the Green Card lottery.

Not a day passes in Germany when someone isn't making the wildest claims, hurling the vilest insults or spreading the most outlandish conspiracy theories about the United States. But there's no risk involved and it all serves mainly to boost the German feeling of self-righteousness.

But Iran is a different story. Malzahn is on to something true when he points out that it is much safer to bash Americans and American values than it is to criticize the mullahs. No kidding! I don't think we should underestimate the presence or the power of this dynamic even or especially when we encounter it among our homegrown native America-bashers, those who are quick to train an exclusive and compulsively blindered eye on perceived faults and crimes in America because it's America, while ignoring much more egregious crimes elsewhere. The words "hypocrits" and "cowards" come to mind.

As usual, the indispensable Davids Medienkritik gives us the context to this essay, and how Der Spiegel has elevated to a fine art the process of fanning the flames of anti-Americanism to entertain its readers and make money.

Does America still have friends among the Germans? Wasn't long ago I was wondering that about the French, too. Oh, wait, if we don't, it's all America's fault, isn't it?

UPDATE: French anti-Americanism (via No Pasaran).

"The British are in effect reenacting a Carter strategy"

As Arthur Herman said, they used to wonder if they’d left a navy big enough to defend Great Britain. Now the question is do they have a navy big enough to defend the navy.

Nice reading to start your morning: Mark Steyn on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, giving his views on Chicago's "secret" trial of Conrad Black (who?), bad coffee, Quebec politics, and the kidnapping of British sailors by Iran:

Now if you allow people to get away with it, they try it again. They get a little more bolder. This parading of this woman, this female sailor, Royal Navy personnel rating, as they call it in the Royal Navy, in Islamic clothing, is a clear breach of the Geneva Conventions....

But all the people who complain and whine about Gitmo all day long don’t care about countries like Iran violating the Geneva Conventions. Iran can violate them with impunity, and so will continue to do so. And I’m very concerned. Iran, you talk about the chronology, Iran respects far fewer of the basic courtesies between states than the Soviet Union, or the Chinese Communists, or any other traditional enemy of the United States has ever done. And the fact of the matter is that we respond weakly every time this happens. The absolute low point of the Cold War was nothing to do with America’s relations with the Soviet Union, but was Jimmy Carter’s completely disastrous behavior, vis-à-vis Iran in 1979. And the British are in effect reenacting a Carter strategy, 28 years later....

I mean, Iran surprises us all the time. It seizes sailors, it takes out hit contracts on British subjects like Salman Rushdie, it blows up community centers in Argentina, it seizes the U.S. Embassy. Iran doesn’t threaten to do that, it just gets on with it and does it. And maybe there’s a case to be said for well, maybe we should just do something against Iran. Maybe we should just take out that refinery, and they can wake up to it, and see it smoking when it happens, and then they’ll realize we’re serious.

But, as Mark and Hugh remind each other, we're not serious. Read the rest.

UPDATE: "Why didn't you guys defend yourselves?" A great article by Diana West (via Power Line) points out how the current politically correct and fantastical "rules of engagement" for Britain and the U.S. have overtaken any sense of the right or obligation of self-defense. She nails it, and whoever is responsible for institutionalizing and perpetuating these rules of engagement has the blood of our soldiers on their hands.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Al Gore as self-proclaimed global warming "expert"

Roger Simon reminds us of the obvious: "Why are we listening to a politician talk about this?"

Simon's review of the Al Gore documentary on global warming points out how the very form and nature of a documentary film guarantees a certain distortion and bias in information, and summarizes an inconvenient truth (inconvenient for Gore and for global warming dogmatists):
Gore's problem may stem from the attitude inherent in his remark before a Congressional Committee quoted further down in the Rasmussen article: "Global Warming is 'not a partisan issue; it's a moral issue.'" Wrong, Al. It's neither. It's a scientific issue.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bi-polar

I think it's growing harder than ever to be an American and not be cynical and increasingly numbed-out and repulsed by the media onslaught. You begin to feel you're on a roller coaster between optimism and pessimism about the way our country is going. This morning two of my favorite bloggers tap into the ups and downs:

"How Beautiful We Were" at American Digest (the "upside," but with a wistful look back, as if it's all quite gone by now; thanks, Gerard)

and "Four Days in the Nation's Capital" by Roger L. Simon.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

As shari'a as you wanna be

Power Line has been closely following the latest developments in the case of the "flying imams" hitting back in the U.S. court system not only at the airlines and our security screening, but at ordinary travelers rightfully reporting suspicious behavior. Thankfully, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a past defender of Muslims, has in this case tellingly stepped forward to provide pro bono legal representation for the ordinary Joes and Janes, good citizens who are about to be harassed in our court system by these radical troublemakers with their own agenda.

Additionally Power Line also points out, in "Sharia in Minnesota", a new Katherine Kersten article in the Wall Street Journal revealing just what that agenda is, and how radical imams in Minnesota are busy working to foment civil unrest among vulnerable Muslim populations:

Why is it that Minneapolis, of all places in the United States, faces the eruption of controversies over Sharia law? From the Somali taxi drivers who refuse to transport passengers carrying alcohol to the Target cashiers who refuse to ring up pork products and the flying imams testing airport security, something's happening here.
I'll say. I'm so glad I'm not the only one to see these trends as a very troubling would-be threat to our civil liberties and ultimately, the future well-being of our country. Under the legal guise of "suffering" religious or racial "discrimination," these Muslims want to agitate and push in the public square and in the courts until a two-tier system is slipped under the radar and tolerated in our country: one law for Muslims and one law for the rest of America. First shari'a alongside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights--then shari'a uber alles (their fondest dream). As I've said before, don't let them get away with this.

Not one step toward shari'a in my America.


Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, fighting the same battle in his own country, has previously put it very nicely:
"They are quite out of touch with contemporary values ... I not only reject the comments, I condemn them unconditionally."
And again:
There's a small section of the Islamic population which is unwilling to integrate, and I have said, generally, all migrants have to integrate, and that means speaking English as quickly as possible, it means embracing Australian values and it also means making sure that no matter what the culture of the country from which they come might have been, Australia requires women to be treated fairly and equally and in the same fashion as men. And if any migrants that come into this country have a different view, they better get rid of that view very quickly.


And here is the evaluation to help clarify the situation and how to oppose it:
...A "commitment to Jihad" means a commitment to ending the rule of Infidels in Infidel lands and replacing it by the rule of Islam. Infidels may continue to exist here and there, but only as dhimmis -- for that is how, in every single land that Muslims conquered, for 1350 years, non-Muslims were treated, at best....

Quote the hundreds of verses in the Qur'an that would, if Infidels were made aware of them, chill their spines. Quote from the Hadith. Explain, in speeches, or have others in the Administration explain, in a tone of fake "more-in-sorrowness," that "we find troubling" the Hadith about "Islam is to dominate and is not to be dominated." Say aloud that "we find troubling" the desire to institute the Sharia, and then give an analysis of what the Sharia means -- and don't limit it to the mistreatment of Muslim women, but focus on the treatment, always, of Infidels. That's the main thing Infidels should worry about....

And yet there are millions [of Muslims] in the West, behind what they consider to be enemy lines, who are allowed to live not only without any hindrance, but find the governments of the Western world mostly bending over backwards to make them as comfortable as possible. Those governments are trying so desperately not to offend the local Muslims, not to point out that their attempts to change Infidel lands for the sake of Islam and Islamic beliefs is passing strange. They are desperate as well to "integrate" these Muslims, while failing completely to realize that most Muslims are taught not to integrate, not to befriend "Jews and Christians for they are friends only with each other" (Qur’an 5:51). They are taught not to fall for the whisperings of Shaytan that can be heard in the siren-song of seeming kindness offered by Infidels.

And we Infidels will never be sure, can never be sure, when this or that seeming "moderate" is transformed, for reasons we may never understand, into an "immoderate" Muslim. And even if that "moderate" remains "moderate," who knows what the children, or the grandchildren, will be like? Already all the evidence suggests that they will be far more devout and even fanatical than the first generation of immigrants , many of whose representatives were intent only on making a living....

Don't be duped. Inform yourself. Know what's going on here, and what's at stake.

Push back.

UPDATE: This is how it's falling apart in Europe (can you see us following?).

This is how some are pushing back in the U.S. Congress (thanks, guys!).

And here's The John Doe Manifesto--brilliant!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Taking a break, of sorts

I've been taking a break from blogging, from reading blogs as incessantly as in the past, and from hanging on every word of daily media news as I have been known to do in the past. Instead, I've been working on a writing project that's been almost all-absorbing (though I have still found the time for my primary job of being Wife and Mom). Sometimes you just need to walk back into the woods and hang around Walden Pond for awhile.

Today I read something I want to post here. I have an 11-year-old daughter, and this made me cry, especially after I clicked through to Caroline's Page.

Actually, I found that page by visiting something else her father wrote, that was funny and apt, as referred to by Instapundit.

Life can be complex, wonderful, and horrendous, and the computer can bring it all home, as much as you can stand, and then some.

I'm off now to make some German potato salad and sponge cake for my Dreamboat's birthday. Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all of you. You knew Saint Patrick was Welsh, didn't you? Seems I unfortunately missed mentioning St. David's Day.