Jonathan Sacks: The Return of Anti-Semitism

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Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, violence and hatred against Jews is on the rise, especially in the Middle East and among Muslims in Europe

Jonathan Sacks writes: Last Tuesday, a group of Holocaust survivors, by now gaunt and frail, made their way back to Auschwitz, the West’s symbol of evil—back to the slave-labor side of the vast complex, with its mocking inscription Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work makes you free”), and back to the death camp, where a million and a quarter human beings, most of them Jews, were gassed, burned and turned to ash. They were there to commemorate the day, 70 years ago, when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and saw, for the first time, the true dimensions of the greatest crime since human beings first set foot on Earth.

“Today Christian communities are being ravaged, terrorized and decimated throughout the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, and scores of Muslims are killed every day by their brothers, with Sunnis arrayed against Shiites, radicals against moderates, the religious against the secular. The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.”

The moment would have been emotional at the best of times, but this year brought an especially disturbing undercurrent. The Book of Genesis says that, when God told Abraham what would happen to his descendants, a “fear of great darkness” fell over him. Something of that fear haunted the survivors this week, who have witnessed the return of anti-Semitism to Europe after 70 years of political leaders constant avowals of “Never again.” As they finished saying Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourners, one man cried out, “I don’t want to come here again.” Everyone knew what he meant. For once, the fear was not only about the past but also about the future.

Two Jews, kneeling at right, about to be put to death by the sword as revenge for the death of Jesus, who looks on at top left. Manuscript illumination, c1250, from a French Bible. PHOTO: THE GRANGER COLLECTION

Two Jews, kneeling at right, about to be put to death by the sword as revenge for the death of Jesus, who looks on at top left. Manuscript illumination, c1250, from a French Bible. PHOTO: THE GRANGER COLLECTION

The murder of Jewish shoppers at a Parisian kosher supermarket three weeks ago, after the killing of 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, sent shivers down the spines of many Jews, not because it was the first such event but because it has become part of a pattern. In 2014, four were killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. In 2012, a rabbi and three young children were murdered at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

“In 2008 in Mumbai, four terrorists separated themselves from a larger group killing people in the city’s cafes and hotels and made their way to a small Orthodox Jewish center, where they murdered its young rabbi and his pregnant wife after torturing and mutilating them.”

In 2008 in Mumbai, four terrorists separated themselves from a larger group killing people in the city’s cafes and hotels and made their way to a small Orthodox Jewish center, where they murdered its young rabbi and his pregnant wife after torturing and mutilating them. As the Sunday Times of London reported about the attack, “the terrorists would be told by their handlers in Pakistan that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times those of non-Jews.”

A copy of Adolf Hitler's ‘Mein Kampf’ is sold at a street shop in Cairo in 2009. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PESSE/GETTY IMAGES

A copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is sold at a street shop in Cairo in 2009. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PESSE/GETTY IMAGES

An ancient hatred has been reborn.

Some politicians around the world deny that what is happening in Europe is anti-Semitism. It is, they say, merely a reaction to the actions of the state of Israel, to the continuing conflict with the Palestinians. But the policies of the state of Israel are not made in kosher supermarkets in Paris or in Jewish cultural institutions in Brussels and Mumbai. The targets in these cities were not Israeli. They were Jewish.

The grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, inspects Bosnian SS members in 1944. PHOTO: ALAMY

The grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, inspects Bosnian SS members in 1944. PHOTO: ALAMY

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, an Egyptian cleric, Muhammad Hussein Yaqub, speaking in January 2009 on Al Rahma, a popular religious TV station in Egypt, made the contours of the new hate impeccably clear: “If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them…They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing…You must believe that we will fight, defeat and annihilate them until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth…You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains.”

“Anti-Semitism has existed for a very long time. One critical moment came around the end of the 1st century C.E., when the Gospel of John attributed to Jesus these words about the Jews: ‘You belong to your father, the Devil.’ From being the children of Abraham, Jews had been transformed into the children of Satan.”

Not everyone would put it so forcefully, but this is the hate in which much of the Middle East and the Muslim world has been awash for decades, and it is now seeping back into Europe. For Jews, “never again” has become “ever again.”

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“If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them…They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing…You must believe that we will fight, defeat and annihilate them until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth…You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains.”

– Egyptian cleric, Muhammad Hussein Yaqub, speaking in January 2009

The scope of the problem is, of course, difficult to gauge precisely. But recent polling is suggestive—and alarming. An Anti-Defamation League study released last May found “persistent and pervasive” anti-Jewish attitudes after surveying 53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories world-wide. The ADL found that 74% of those surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa held anti-Semitic attitudes; the number was 24% in Western Europe, 34% in Eastern Europe and 19% in the Americas. Read the rest of this entry »


The Truth About American Sniper

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‘I lost track of how many soldiers and Marines told me of their frustration with an American media that so often describes them as either nuts or victims’

Michael J. Totten writes: Clint Eastwood’s new film, American Sniper, is a blisteringly accurate portrayal of the American war in Iraq. Unlike most films in the genre, it sidesteps the politics and focuses on an individual: the late, small-town Texan, Chris Kyle, who joined thekyle-tall Navy SEALs after 9/11 and did four tours of duty in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Baghdad. He is formally recognized as the deadliest sniper in American history, and the film, based on his bestselling memoir, dramatizes the war he felt duty-bound to fight and his emotionally wrenching return home, with post-traumatic stress.

“All psychologically normal people feel at least some hatred for the enemy in a war zone. It’s not humanly possible to like or feel neutral toward people who are trying to kill you. Race hasn’t the faintest thing to do with it.”

The movie has become a flashpoint for liberal critics. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore dismissed the film out-of-hand because snipers, he says, are “cowards.” “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds,” comic actor Seth Rogen tweeted, referring to a fake Hitler propaganda film about a Nazi sniper, though he backtracked and said he actually liked the film, that it only reminded him of Nazi propaganda. Writing for the Guardian, Lindy West is fair to Eastwood and the film but cruel to its subject. Kyle, she says, was “a hate-filled killer” and “a racist who took pleasure in dehumanizing and killing brown people.”51yLU7NDvOL._SL250_

[Order Michael J. Totten’s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa from Amazon]

The Navy confirms that Kyle shot and killed 160 combatants, most of whom indeed had brown skin. While he was alive, he said that he enjoyed his job. In one scene in the movie, Kyle, played by a bulked-up Bradley Cooper, refers to “savages,” and it’s not clear if he means Iraqis in general or just the enemies he’s fighting.

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“What would you think of a man who kills a kid with a power drill right in front of you? Would you moderate your language so that no one at a Manhattan dinner party would gasp? Maybe you would, but Kyle wasn’t at a Manhattan dinner party.”

But let’s take a step back and leave the politics aside. All psychologically normal people feel at least some hatred for the enemy in a war zone. This is true whether they’re on the “right” side or the “wrong” side. It’s not humanly possible to like or feel neutral toward people who are trying to kill you. Race hasn’t the faintest thing to do with it.

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“Here’s a medical fact: psychopaths don’t suffer from post-traumatic stress or any other kind of anxiety disorder. And cowards don’t volunteer for four tours of duty in war-torn Iraq.”

Does anyone seriously believe Kyle would have felt differently if white Russians or Serbs, rather than “brown” Arabs, were shooting at him? How many residents of New York’s Upper West Side had a sympathetic or nuanced view of al-Qaida on September 11, 2001? Some did—inappropriately, in my view—but how many would have been able to keep it up if bombs exploded in New York City every day, year after year?

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Kyle had other reasons to hate his enemies, aside from their desire to kill him. In American Sniper, we see him in Fallujah and Ramadi fighting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq, the bloody precursor to ISIS. Read the rest of this entry »


Krauthammer: ‘Want to truly honor the dead? Make ‘never again’ more than an empty phrase’

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The Final Solution: a Nuclear Iran 

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, and in the Middle East a new Holocaust looms

Charles Krauthammer writes: Amid the ritual expressions of regret and the pledges of “never again” on Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a bitter irony was noted: Anti-Semitism has returned to Europe. With a vengeance.

It has become routine. If the kosher-grocery massacre in Paris hadn’t happened in conjunction with Charlie Hebdo, how much worldwide notice would it have received? As littleJohn Shinkle/POLITICO as did the murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. As little as did the terror attack that killed four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

“From the Jewish point of view, European anti-Semitism is a sideshow. The story of European Jewry is over. It died at Auschwitz.”

The rise of European anti-Semitism is in reality just a return to the norm. For a millennium, virulent Jew-hatred — persecution, expulsions, massacres — was the norm in Europe until the shame of the Holocaust created a temporary anomaly wherein anti-Semitism became socially unacceptable.

“Europe’s place as the center and fulcrum of the Jewish world has been inherited by Israel, now the largest Jewish community on earth.”

The hiatus is over. Jew-hatred is back, recapitulating the past with impressive zeal. Italians protesting Gaza handed out leaflets calling for a boycott of Jewish merchants. As in the 1930s. A widely popular French comedian has introduced a variant of the Nazi salute. In Berlin, Gaza brought out a mob chanting, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone!” Berlin, mind you.

European anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, however. It’s a European problem, a stain, a disease of which Europe is congenitally unable to rid itself. Read the rest of this entry »


Sean Davis: Language Policing Doesn’t Pervert Liberalism, It Is Liberalism

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Modern liberalism depends on the language police, and Jonathan Chait himself is Exhibit A.

 writes: In a widely praised piece for New York Magazine, liberal writer Jonathan Chait says the leftist language police are perverting liberalism. Chait is wrong. The politically correct language police don’t pervert modern liberalism; they embody it. And amateur leftist thought cop Jonathan Chait himself is proof.

“Speech codes are a widely used tool taken right out of the fascist toolbox. If they can’t control how you act, then they’ll control how you speak. If they can’t control how you speak, then they’ll control how you think.”

In his piece, Chait catalogued numerous discussions within a large Facebook group called “Binders Full of Women Writers” to show the toxic effect that language and thought crime policing can have on basic political discourse.

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“Jonathan Chait’s recent critique of political correctness insists that the phenomenon has undergone a resurgence. It hasn’t; contrary to Chait’s characterization, it never went away. The difference is that it is now being used as a cudgel against white liberals such as Jonathan Chait, who had previously enjoyed a measure of immunity.”

[More – Kevin D. Williamson’s Liberals Seek PC Exemption at NRO]

“Chait is hardly in a position to complain about that, given his own heavy reliance on that mode of discourse. Chait isn’t arguing for taking an argument on its own merits; he’s arguing for a liberals’ exemption to the Left’s general hostility toward any unwelcome idea that comes from a speaker who checks any unapproved demographic boxes…”

– Kevin D. Williamson

At times, members of the overwhelmingly liberal group would demand that certain sentiments not be shared. Sometimes, members declared that certain people weren’t even allowed to have opinions on a subject on account of their color, gender, or sexual orientation. Here’s a small selection from Chait’s piece:

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On July 10, for instance, one member in Los Angeles started a conversation urging all participants to practice higher levels of racial awareness. “Without calling anyone out specifically, I’m going to note that if you’re discussing a contentious thread, and shooting the breeze … take a look at the faces in the user icons in that discussion,” she wrote. “Binders is pretty diverse, but if you’re not seeing many WOC/non-binary POC in your discussion, it’s quite possible that there are problematic assumptions being stated without being challenged.” (“POC” stands for “people of color.” “WOC” means “women of color.” “Non-binary” describes people who are either transgender or identify as a gender other than traditionally male or female.)

Two members responded lightly, one suggesting that such “call-outs” be addressed in private conversation and another joking that she was a “gluten free Jewish WWC” — or Woman Without Color. Read the rest of this entry »


The Spreading Menace of Boko Haram

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The jihadist group in Nigeria killed 11,245 people last year. Now their rampage seems ready to escalate in 2015

Emad Mostaque writes: The new year began with terror attacks in Paris inspired or orchestrated by al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and ISIS and then reports of up to 2,000 residents killed by Boko Haram in a days-long massacre in Baga, Nigeria. While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria. This weekend the group captured the town of Monguno and its military barracks while simultaneously attacking the state capital, Maiduguri.

“While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria.”

A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be “true” believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death. High-profile attacks aim to polarize societies and create animus against mainstream Muslims, creating more potential recruits for the radical Islamists.

A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be ‘true’ believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death.”

ISIS has intensified its bloodletting over the last year, using social media to amplify its mass beheadings and other fearsome deeds—and thus the group’s power and threat—in line with the recommendations outlined in jihad theoretician Abu Bakr Naji ’s 2006 text “The Management of Savagery.” However, ISIS has reached the limits of unopposed and easy expansion in Iraq as it now faces well-armed forces in non-Sunni areas, bolstered by coalition airstrikes. ISIS gains in Syria continue, but the group appears more contained, having failed to take Kobani from its Kurdish defenders. Read the rest of this entry »


Why the Left Hates American Sniper

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Hating evil is just as important as loving the good. Because if you don’t, you’re likely to give evil a pass

 writes: American Sniper is a film of soaring patriotism and an ode to our courageous military. For too long Americans have lived with only two percent of the population losing arms and legs and dying so that the other ninety-eight percent can be safe and free. If we’re not going to copy the heroes of the military at least we can salute them. But the prerequisite of gratitude is knowledge and so few of us really know how much our military sacrifices that it’s hard to feel indebted. That’s what makes American Sniper a movie that portrays Hollywood at its best, telling the story of a valiant and selfless soldier with complexity, truth, and depth.

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“What American Sniper is really about is the battle by decent men against truly dark forces of wickedness. The American soldiers who battle the terrorists in Iraq do not hide their contempt for the killers. They hate them, despise them, loathe them, and want to kill them.”

So why are so many people on the left attacking the film? What is their issue with a hero like Chris Kyle, who dedicated his life to saving Americans from murder and was himself killed when he tried to help a psychologically damaged marine?

In this photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)

In this photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school

“The most accurate standard in judging our commitment to humanity is the  extent to which we fight to preserve life. For some that fight involves research in a lab to defeat cancer. For others it involves climbing a ladder in a terrible inferno to rescue a stranded child. And for some it involves going to war against barbarous terrorists so that they cannot blow up pregnant women.”

The answer lies in our failure to hate evil. What American Sniper is really about is the battle by decent men against truly dark forces of wickedness. The American soldiers who battle the terrorists in Iraq do not hide their contempt for the killers.

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“Churchill spoke openly of his utter hatred of Hitler…And because he hated the beast he inspired a nation to fight him. The French, who did not hate Hitler, collaborated with him and sent Jews and many others to the gas chambers instead. But on the political left, hatred has gone out of vogue.”

They hate them, despise them, loathe them, and want to kill them. Not because they have any bloodlust and not because they enjoy violence. Rather, they are committed to life and are well aware of the fact that the only way to prevent the murderers from slaughtering the innocent is through the necessary evil of conflict.

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“Hating evil is just as important as loving the good. To be truly righteous, it’s not enough to love good people. You have to hate—and fight—bad people.”

From time immemorial theologians have debated what makes a person truly righteous. How do we know when someone’s faith is sincere? Some say it is evidenced by a love of humanity. But I have met legions of confirmed atheists who are the finest human beings alive.

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“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Others argue that it is martyrdom and a readiness to lay down one’s life for a great cause. But suicide bombers blow themselves up in the name of their faith all the time. Still others argue that goodness is judged by religious ritual observance. But we all know religious people who are devout church and synagogue-goers but who are utterly unethical in other spheres.

Which brings me to this conclusion. Read the rest of this entry »


Are Today’s Millennials a New Victorian Generation?

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Michael BaroneBarone-3 writes: Public policymakers and political pundits tend to focus on problems — understandably, because if things are going right they aren’t thought to need attention. Yet positive developments can teach us things as well, when, for reasons not necessarily clear, great masses of people start to behave more constructively.

“What accounts for this virtuous cycle? …I think what we are seeing is a mass changing of minds.”

One such trend is the better behavior of the young Americans of today compared to those 25 years ago. Almost no one anticipated it, the exception being William Strauss and Neil Howe in their 1991 book Generations, who named Americans born after 1981 the Millennial generation and predicted that “the tiny boys and girls now playing with Lego blocks” — and those then still unborn — would become “the nation’s next great Civic generation.”

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The most obvious evidence of the Millennials’ virtuous behavior is the vast decline in violent crime in the last 25 years. The most crime-prone age and gender cohort — 15-to-25-year-old males — are committing far fewer crimes than that cohort did in 1990.

Statistics tell the dramatic story. In two decades the murder rate fell 49 percent, the forcible rape rate 33 percent, the robbery rate 48 percent, the aggravated assault rate 39 percent. Government agencies report that sexual assaults against 12-to-17-year-olds declined by more than half and violent victimization of teenagers at school declined 60 percent.

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Binge-drinking by high school seniors is lower than at any time since 1976, sexual intercourse among ninth graders and the percentage of high school seniors with more than three partners has declined. Read the rest of this entry »


From Fake Rapes To ‘Microaggressions,’ Colleges Have Lost Their Way

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U.S. colleges foster and encourage lynch mobs and thought police in place of actual education. It’s time for serious reform.

 writes: For anyone still keeping up with the University of Virginia’s fraternity gang-rape fiasco, this month brought a bit of good news: the Charlottesville Police Department announced it could find no proof that the alleged gang rape had occurred at Phi Kappa Psi. UVA subsequently reinstated the fraternity after having shut it down a few months before.

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“Unsurprisingly, much of this bankrupt ideology centers on feminism, which has filled the role that eugenics once filled in American universities: a crystalline instance of peak Progressive thought animated by bigotry and pseudoscience.”

This is small comfort to a debacle that has been both shameful and injudicious from start to finish. If there is anything good to be had from the entire mess, it is that a slapdash and irresponsible publication has been justly humiliated, and that an incompetent and malicious journalist has been perhaps permanently outcast from the good graces of the Fourth Estate. So far as I can tell, Sabrina Rubin Erdely has not been heard from publicly since last tweeting at the end of November. That is fine by me; indeed, if she finishes out her career as an obscure copy editor at a small-town bi-weekly, I do not think journalism as a whole will be worse off, even if the small-town bi-weekly suffers.

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“Modern feminism drove much of the witch hunt on UVA’s campus, for instance, and it can be seen at plenty of other colleges, as well.”

Yet the Rolling Stone fiasco is on the main depressing and discouraging, if for no other reason than it has starkly highlighted the fundamental hollowness of our institutions of higher learning, saturated as they have become by the often-toxic influence of academic leftism.

A Microcosm of U.S. Colleges’ Sick Culture

Indeed, UVA provided a perfect example of the moral bankruptcy one often finds at the average American college. In the wake of the Rolling Stone article, the university suspended Greek life on campus with no due process whatsoever; a University of Virginia law school student demanded that Phi Kappa Psi be treated as a “criminal street gang” subject to asset seizure by the government; the fraternity house was vandalized; and effectively the entire university lined up against a group of young men who had been viciously slandered in a national media outlet based on the strength of one uncorroborated and unexamined accusation. “The whole [fraternity] culture,” claimed UVA English professor Alison Booth, with no irony whatsoever, “is sick.”

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From its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the University of Virginia displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations.

“From coast to coast, the vanities of progressivism are having a profoundly negative effect on our institutions of higher learning.”

The University of Virginia, in other words, behaved shamefully and with no civic decorum: from its administration to its faculty to its studentry, the entire institution displayed the aplomb of a sulky teenager unwilling to think critically about even the most basic of ethical considerations. UVA’s president, Teresa Sullivan, should be apologizing profusely to the members of Phi Kappa Psi along with the whole fraternity community. Instead, she’s forcing fraternities to adopt pointless new rules on the basis of a single allegation that even the police now dispute.

Read the rest of this entry »


Laure Mandeville: Even For the French, it is Almost Surreal to See How the White House Avoids Using the Phrase ‘Radical Islam’

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Mrs. Mandeville is the U.S. bureau chief for the French newspaper Le Figaro.

Laure MandevilleMandeville writes: In French, we have an expression: “Call a cat a cat.” Appeler un chat un chat. That is exactly what French Prime Minister Manuel Valls did after the horrific terrorist attacks that hit my country on Jan. 7, when he identified “radical Islam” as our enemy. In France, most rallied to this clear acknowledgment of the threat we are dealing with, because it is simply impossible to deny.

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“There is something nearly Orwellian in this refusal to call things by their names. If we say that the terrorists are not radical Islamists, we might as well say that truth is lie, that right is wrong, that black is white.”

– Flemming Rose, foreign editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten

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That is why it has sounded almost surreal when the Obama administration and many observers in the U.S., despite their heartening support for the French, go to great lengths to insist that the terrorist attack had nothing to do with Islam.

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Naser Khader

“President Obama does us a disservice, because doing so deprives the Muslim community of its responsibility to fight this radical monster. By doing that, the West fails to understand that the Muslims will be the most crucial soldiers to fight this Islamic terrorism.”

– Muslim democrat Naser Khader, a former member of the Danish Parliament

The intention is good: President Obama doesn’t want to mix Islamist terrorists and the wider community of Muslims around the world. He is trying to appeal to Muslims, to prevent them from feeling ostracized. More than ever, the world needs Muslims who wish to live in harmony with non-Muslims.

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Flemming Rose

But ask Flemming Rose how the Obama approach sounds to someone who knows too well the Islamist threat. Mr. Rose, now the foreign editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, was its cultural editor in 2005 when he had an idea for a series of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. Their publication sparked deadly protests in several countries and has made him a marked man. “There is something nearly Orwellian in this refusal to call things by their names,” Mr. Rose tells me. “If we say that the terrorists are not radical Islamists, we might as well say that truth is lie, that right is wrong, that black is white.”

To put a fig leaf over the threat doesn’t make the problem go away, and doesn’t help us understand that the radical Islamist attacks are precisely about the House of Islam and who can speak for it.

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Joshua Mitchell

“This is a battle about who is going to define Islam: the radical Islamists, who try to convince the world that someone can be assassinated if he dares draw a mocking cartoon representing the Prophet, or who ridicules fanatics of all sorts; or the democratically inclined Muslims who accept that religion cannot be an encompassing whole that dictates all the rules of everyday life in the earthly realm.”

– Joshua Mitchell, a professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University

By denying that this is about Islam, “President Obama does us a disservice, because doing so deprives the Muslim community of its responsibility to fight this radical monster,” says Muslim democrat Naser Khader, a former member of the Danish Parliament, now at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Tuttle: American Sniper Backlash Exposes ‘Bush Derangement’ Syndrome Hasn’t Gone into Remission, Still Malignant

Chris Kyle Complicates the Narrative

National Review Buckley fellow Ian Tuttle addressed the seething discontent on the American left over the popular success of American Sniper, saying the backlash against the story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle represents continuing “derangement” over the Bush years and the Iraq War.

“One of the reasons that Chris Kyle has garnered so much animus is because there remains a derangement when it comes to Iraq and the Bush years, against which Chris Kyle stood…”

Tuttle spoke with Fox NewsBill O’Reilly on Wednesday about the vitriolic outpouring against Kyle by left-wing bloggers and pundits like Michael Moore and Max Blumenthal, who accused the sniper of being a coward and a mass murderer. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Seeing ‘American Sniper‘ Made the State of the Union Speech Pretty Unbearable’

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Obama’s American Sniper

Dan Henninger writes: Barack Obama was 15 minutes into his State of the Union speech when I arrived home to watch it, having just walked back from seeing “American Sniper.”

“Watching a movie about a Navy SEAL who served four tours fighting in Iraq was not the best way to enhance the experience of a Barack Obama speech. As a matter of fact, it was pretty unbearable.”

Because Clint Eastwood directed “American Sniper” the movie is about more than the story of Chris Kyle, the highly skilled rifle marksman from Texas. In 2006, Mr. Eastwood presented two movies about the famous World War II battle of Iwo Jima. “Letters from Iwo Jima” told the story from the perspective of Japanese soldiers, and “Flags of Our Fathers” from the Americans’ side.

“Watching “American Sniper,” it is impossible to separate these catastrophes from seeing what the Marines did and endured to secure northern Iraq. Again, anyone is entitled to hate the Iraq war…”

So “American Sniper” is not a crude paean to “our boys” in the Iraq war. What it does is convey the extraordinary personal, psychological and physical sacrifice of the U.S. Marines who fought al Qaeda i”n Fallujah, Ramadi and the other towns of Iraq’s Anbar province beginning in 2003 and through the period of the Anbar Awakening, which ended with the Marines pacifying the province.

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“…But no serious person would want a president to make a decision that would allow so much personal sacrifice to simply evaporate…”

It’s just a movie, so even “American Sniper’s” small slice only hints at the price America paid—some 3,500 combat deaths and another 32,000 wounded—to bring Iraq to a point of relative, if fragile, stability in 2011.

“…Which, in his serene self-confidence, is what Barack Obama did. That absolute drawdown was a decision of fantastic foolishness.”

Opinions will differ, often bitterly, on the war in Iraq and the reasons for it. In the movie, a painful funeral scene captures that ambivalence. But what is just not possible to choke down is President Obama’s decision in 2011 to reduce the U.S.’s residual military presence to virtually zero. It was a decision to waste what the Marines and Army had done. Read the rest of this entry »


Garry Kasparov: The Global War on Modernity

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Islamists set the time machine to the Dark Ages. Putin dreams of czarist Russia. A common enemy: Americakasparov-tall

Garry Kasparov writes: The recent terror attacks in Paris at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and at a kosher supermarket, leaving 17 people dead, represented the latest offensive in a struggle that most people, even many of its casualties, are unaware is even taking place.

“The guaranteed freedoms represented by the First Amendment frighten the radical mullahs and dictators more than any drone strike or economic sanction.”

Globalization has effectively compressed the world in size, increasing the mobility of goods, capital and labor. Simultaneously this has led to globalization across time, as the 21st century collides with cultures and regimes intent on existing as in centuries past. It is less the famous clash of civilizations than an attempt by these “time travelers” to hold on to their waning authority by stopping the advance of the ideas essential to an open society.

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“Many politicians and pundits in the Free World seem to think that refusing to acknowledge you are in a fight means you can avoid losing it. But ignoring the reality of the conflict puts more innocents like the Paris victims—instead of trained soldiers and law enforcement—on the front lines.”

Radical Islamists, from the Taliban and al Qaeda to Boko Haram and Islamic State, set the time machine to the Dark Ages and encourage the murder of all who oppose them, often supported by fatwas and funds from terror sponsors like Iran. The religious monarchies in the Middle East are guilty by association, creating favorable conditions for extremism by clamping down on any stirring of freedom.

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 “There are no easy ways to deter homegrown terrorists or nuclear-armed dictators, but this culture of denial must end before true progress can be made.”

Vladimir Putin wants Russia to exist in the Great Power era of czars and monarchs, dominating its neighbors by force and undisturbed by elections and rights complaints. The post-Communist autocracies, led by Mr. Putin’s closest dictator allies in Belarus and Kazakhstan, exploit ideology only as a means of hanging on to power at any cost.

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Since the time travelers cannot fight head-to-head with the ideas and prosperity of the Free World, they fall back on their arsenal of ideology, violence and disregard for human life.”

In the East, Kim Jong Un ’s North Korea attempts to freeze time in a Stalinist prison-camp bubble. In the West, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba use anachronistic socialist propaganda to resist increasing pressure for human rights. Read the rest of this entry »


Theodore Dalrymple: Tyranny of the Minority

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There is more to fear in one terrorist than to celebrate in 99 well-adjusted immigrants.

Theodore Dalrymple writes: The shots in the Paris street that were seen and heard around the world killed Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim policeman going to the defense of Charlie Hebdo: a reminder that by no means all Muslims in France, far from it, are France-hating, Allahu-akbar-shouting fanatics, and that many are well-integrated.

“A handful of fanatics can easily have a much more significant social effect than a large number of peaceful citizens…if only 1 percent of French Muslims were inclined to terrorism, this would still be more than 50,000 people, more than enough to create havoc in a society.”

I go to a Muslim boulanger in Paris whose French bread and pastries are as good as any in the vicinity; and, if anything, I have a prejudice in favor of patronizing his shop precisely to encourage and reward his successful integration. And he is only one of many cases that I know.

Illustration by Barry Blitt

Illustration by Barry Blitt

Unfortunately, this is not as reassuring as it sounds, because a handful of fanatics can easily have a much more significant social effect than a large number of peaceful citizens. There is more to fear in one terrorist than to celebrate in 99 well-integrated immigrants. And if only 1 percent of French Muslims were inclined to terrorism, this would still be more than 50,000 people, more than enough to create havoc in a society.

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The jihadists now have a large pool from which to draw, and there are good reasons to think that more than 1 percent of young Muslims in France are distinctly anti-French. The number of young French jihadists fighting in Syria is estimated to be 1,200, equal to 1 percent in numbers of the French army, and probably not many fewer than the number of Algerian guerrillas fighting during much of the Algerian War of Independence.

That is why the following argument, taken from an article in the Guardian by French journalist Nabila Ramdani, will not be of much comfort to the French or to other Europeans. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Least Free Place in America

Question: Which American institution—one that prides itself on being open, democratic, and diverse—unlearning-libertypunishes its members severely for offering unpopular opinions, while it offers them a very narrow, limited worldview?

[Check out Greg Lukianoff‘s book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate at Amazon]

Answer: Universities. Once the vanguard of open debate and free speech, colleges have become a place where alternative thinking goes to die. Students who speak out on behalf of traditional American ideals, unfortunately, are often silenced by college administrators. Learn how the college campus, a place that should be an intellectual melting pot, has turned into anything but, violating the rights of those who have alternate opinions.

Lecturer: Greg Lukianoff, President at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. His book, “Unlearning Liberty,” is available here.

 


Elon Musk and SpaceX Plan a Space Internet

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 reports: Because he doesn’t have enough going on, Elon Musk—he of Tesla Motors, SpaceXSolarCity, and the Hyperloop—is launching another project. Musk wants to build a second Internet in space and one day use it to connect people on Mars to the Web.

Musk is tonight hosting a SpaceX event in Seattle, where the company is opening a new office. The talk will mostly be about SpaceX’s plans for hiring aerospace and software engineers in the Pacific Northwest to boost the company’s rocket-building efforts. But he’ll also use the talk to announce his newest idea, which would launch a vast network of communication satellites to orbit earth. The network would do two things: speed up the general flow of data on the Internet and deliver high-speed, low-cost Internet services to the three billion-plus people who still have poor access to the Web. “Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek ahead of the announcement.

“In Musk’s vision, Internet data packets going from, say, Los Angeles to Johannesburg would no longer have to go through dozens of routers and terrestrial networks. Instead, the packets would go to space, bouncing from satellite to satellite until they reach the one nearest their destination, then return to an antenna on earth.”

The Space Internet venture, to which Musk hasn’t yet given a name, would be hugely ambitious. Hundreds of satellites would orbit about 750 miles above earth, much closer than traditional communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit at altitudes of up to 22,000 miles. The lower satellites would make for a speedier Internet service, with less distance for electromagnetic signals to travel. The lag in current satellite systems makes applications such as Skype, online gaming, and other cloud-based services tough to use. Musk’s service would, in theory, rival fiber optic cables on land while also making the Internet available to remote and poor regions that don’t have access. Read the rest of this entry »


Robert M. McDowell: The Turning Point for Internet Freedom

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As regulators weigh imposing net neutrality on the Web, Congress tries to pre-empt government overreach

Robert M. McDowell writes: The Federal Communications Commission is about to answer the most important question in its 80-year history: Does the agency intend to protect the open Internet, or is it lunging to seize unlimited power over the Web? We’ll find out on Feb. 26 when the FCC votes on “net-neutrality” rules that would treat the Internet like a public utility, with regulators potentially setting rates, terms and conditions for providers.

Meanwhile, the new Congress is maneuvering to change the net-neutrality equation, with hearings in the House and Senate beginning Wednesday. Republicans circulated draft bills on Friday to pre-empt the obama_pc_computeFCC’s overreaching new rules while still attaining the White House’s ostensible policy goals. Even congressional supporters of net neutrality, wary of increasing FCC power over something as vast and crucial as the Internet, are working to draft an alternative.

While Republicans and Democrats try to work out a deal, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler should hit the pause button on next month’s vote and let the elected representatives of the American people try to find common ground. At the end of this constitutional process, all sides may be able to claim victory.

“For opponents of new FCC rules, the bills could take Title II off the table; restore regulatory certainty; protect free speech; and create a legal firewall that would protect investment and innovation in the Web’s computer-network infrastructures from more government meddling.”

For years Washington has debated how to keep the Internet open and free from government or private coercion. Regulation proponents have argued that new rules are needed to prevent Internet service providers, such as phone, wireless and cable companies, from blocking or degrading the online content or applications consumers want. Though no market failure exists, and regulators have never conducted a study to diagnose the alleged potential illness, the FCC has twice tried to impose new rules on the Web. Each time it lost in court.

“This would also send a strong signal to foreign governments and international regulatory bodies that they should not smother the Web with antiquated rules designed in an era when people held their phones with two hands.”

The tragedy of this debate is that no one, including phone, wireless and cable companies, has ever contested the goals of keeping the Internet open. It has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was privatized in the mid-1990s because it is protected under existing antitrust and consumer-protection laws. Instead, the fight has been over how much regulatory power the FCC should wield. Read the rest of this entry »


The Inevitable Chilling Effect: Despite Its Stand Against the ‘Terrorist’s Veto’, France Treats Offensive Words and Images as Crimes

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 writes: On Sunday, as more than a million people marched through the streets of Paris in support of the right to draw cartoons without being murdered, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication declared that “artistic freedom and freedom of expression stand firm and unflinching at the heart of our common European values.” It added that “France and her allies in the EU safeguard these values and promote them in the world.”

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“In a free society, that is simply not the government’s job. When courts are asked to draw this line, artists and commentators must try to anticipate whether their work will pass muster, which promotes self-censorship.”

In the wake of last week’s massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, perpetrated by men who saw death as a fitting punishment for the crime of insulting Islam, these were stirring words. If only they were true. Sadly, France and other European countries continue to legitimize the grievances underlying the barbaric attack on Charlie Hebdo by endorsing the illiberal idea that people have a right not to be offended.

“Sacrilege may upset people, but it does not violate their rights. By abandoning that distinction, avowed defenders of Enlightenment values capitulate to the forces of darkness.”

It is true that France does not prescribe the death penalty for publishing cartoons that offend Muslims. But under French law, insulting people based on their religion is a crime punishable by a fine of €22,500 and six months in jail.

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[Also see – REPEAL THEM NOW: Hate-Speech Codes Won’t Protect Europe From Violence]

In addition to religion, that law covers insults based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. Defamation (as opposed to mere insult) based on any of those factors is punishable by up to a year in prison, and so is incitement to discrimination, hatred, or violence. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet NASA’s New Overseer

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Ted Cruz now oversees NASA, and that’s a very good thing

At The Corner, Josh Gelernter writes: With the GOP in charge of the Senate, Ted Cruz has taken charge of the Science, Space, and Competitiveness subcommittee. Which means Ted Cruz now oversees NASA. On Wednesday, Cruz issued a statement saying that “Our space program marks the frontier of future technologies for defense, communications, transportation and more, and our mindset should be focused on NASA’s primary mission: exploring space and developing the wealth of new technologies that stem from its exploration…We must refocus our investment on the hard sciences, on getting men and women into space, on exploring low-Earth orbit and beyond . . . I am excited to raise these issues in our subcommittee and look forward to producing legislation that confirms our shared commitment to this vital mission.”

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It’s not surprising that Cruz has taken an interest in NASA — whatever you think of his policies, there’s no question that he has a powerful intellect. And as a bonus, NASA’s Houston establishment is in the Texan senator’s constituency. So Cruz can be counted on to take this seriously….(read more)

National Review Online

Read the rest of this entry »


War On Vaping: Big Tobacco & Big Government Snuffing Out Competition

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It’s lobbying state governments to impose taxes and regulations on its competitors. 

Gregory Conley writes: When the success of America’s largest companies is threatened, they often turn to the government for a helping hand. They have been doing that for at least the past century. In recent years Congress gave more than $1 trillion in bailouts to banks, car companies, and credit lenders in the midst of great financial turmoil. But that kind of generosity isn’t the only way Uncle Sam has helped many of America’s biggest companies maintain market share. Using the growing bureaucracy’s powerful regulations, many corporations have worked hand in hand with government to snuff out competition.

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“In Big Tobacco’s war on these innovative technology products, it’s not just adult smokers and ex-smokers who will suffer at the hands of misguided regulators and lawmakers.”

A recent example of this offensive is Big Tobacco’s actions against the thousands of small startups that are helping people quit smoking. Cigarette companies are spending millions of dollars to push product bans, higher taxes, and expensive regulations on their competitors.

An R.J. Reynolds sign seen outside cigarette manufacturing facility in Tobaccoville

“Reynolds’s push for more-coercive taxation, burdensome regulations, and even bans on their competitors make sense, as no company wants to see its consumers switch to products it doesn’t sell.”

The cigarettes sold by Reynolds American Inc. and Altria (formerly Philip Morris) are highly taxed and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and over the past several years cigarette consumption has declined more rapidly than forecast by analysts and shareholders. Electronic cigarettes (“e-cigs,” or “vapor products”) have accounted for a significant portion of this reduction. These battery-operated and smokeless devices represent a free-market solution to a grave public-health problem. As alternatives to cigarettes, which kill more than 400,000 people each year, vapor products are far less hazardous. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hammer: Obama: Charlie Who?

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imrs.php Charles Krauthammer writes: On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.”

“As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible.”

Again? Already? Had not 4 million marchers and 44 foreign leaders just turned out on the streets of France to declare “No” to intimidation, and pledging solidarity, indeed identification (“Je suis Charlie”) with a satirical weekly specializing in the most outrageous and often tasteless portrayals of Muhammad? And yet, within 48 hours, the new Charlie Hebdo issue featuring the image of Muhammad — albeit a sorrowful, indeed sympathetic Muhammad — sparked new protests, denunciations and threats of violence, which in turn evinced another round of doubt and self-flagellation in the West about the propriety and limits of free expression. Hopeless.

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As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. Followed by the now-famous absence of any high-ranking U.S. official at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error.

“On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington.”

But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communications in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?)

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On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying that (a) the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.”

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During the White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest discussed the administration’s decision not to send a high-level official to a march honoring the victims of last week’s attack on a satirical newspaper and said the French ambassador would go to the White House later that day.

Read the rest of this entry »


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