The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: October 2006

Hope for a ‘Do-Nothing’ Congress

After Dr. Leonard Peikoff issued his position earlier this month on the fall Congressional elections and how Objectivists ought to vote (which was straight Democratic, regardless of the venality and agendas of the candidates, in order to oust the religious, theocracy-prone Republicans), I drew up a check-off list to compare the two parties’ records and aspirations, in order to see which party was the more inimical to the survival of the U.S.

The measure of the comparison being the country’s survival and capacity to recover from over one hundred years of statist folly, neither party, in my estimate, wins an advantage over the other. Both are gravely and morally culpable. My comparison takes into account C. Bradley Thompson’s brilliant essay, “The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism.” Aside from its many noteworthy points, Thompson elucidates that while many “compassionate” and “neocon” Republicans base their agendas on religion, others are the moral heirs of a more secular Rousseau.

First, I focused on the welfare state. Today’s Republicans wish to expand it, on the dual premise that it is the duty of the country and its most successful citizens to “share” the bounty, coupled with the “neocon” policy, that, since it exists, and since reducing or abolishing it would cause civil upheaval, it is best to just “deal with it” (and never mind the Republican record of abetting its growth over the last half century or more). The Republicans see capitalism and private property as the most efficient means to serve altruist ends. Possibly the most prominent examples of this policy in practice are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who are “giving back” their fortunes (in defiance of the logic, I might add, that they created wealth that didn’t exist before they “took” it).

The Democrats, on the other hand, also wish to expand the welfare state to encompass every aspect of American life. The Republicans may not hate America, but the Democrats do. They wish to inflate the welfare state out of sheer nihilistic malice for the haves, whether they are middle class or wealthy.

So, one must ask oneself: Which is worse – being impoverished from motives of Christian, altruistic duty, or from hatred and undisguised thuggery?

Second, I focused on international relations. The Republicans wish the U.S. to be a partner in a “community” of nations that care, and to defer to the standards of the majority (a.k.a., the United Nations), provided those standards are altruist. The Democrats wish the U.S. to demote itself to just another nation among dozens of indistinguishable nations. They wish to see the U.S. humbled before the court of international opinion.

Next, I focused on Iraq and Afghanistan. The Republicans, in their campaign to “democratize” these two backwater pestholes at the expense of American blood and treasure, have more or less succeeded. Both countries have attained “democracy,” and voted themselves nominal theocracies, and wish the U.S. to leave. The “war on terror” focuses on Islamic “extremists,” and thus rules out dealing with states that sponsor terrorism and attacks on the U.S. and the West.

The Democrats wish the U.S. to throw in the towel, as it did in Vietnam. It did so under a Republican president, Nixon, even though it was a Democratic president who took us into Vietnam, John F. Kennedy, a war prosecuted disastrously by another Democrat, Lyndon Johnson. Today’s Democrats have always wished the U.S. to fail in its military matters. They despise efficacy and strength in all matters, especially military ones.

Next, I focused on Iran. The Republican policy has been to negotiate, bribe, and hope Iran’s getting the bomb isn’t as serious as the evidence indicates. That goes for North Korea, as well. The Democrats do not wish to contemplate the matter at all, and act as though they were oblivious to the Iranian threat. They would probably be more submissive and traitorous in any dealings with aggressive tyrannies than have been Bush and Secretary of State Rice, as their record has shown.

So, in the end, I don’t see that the Republicans have a single leg up on the Democrats, except possibly that they don’t wish to destroy the country, just see it transformed into “Christian” nation in contravention of the Constitution. Both parties are in effect elective oligarchies that wish to remain in power in order to “run” the country, the Republicans, out of “compassionate” expediency, the Democrats, out of malice for the country’s origins and existence now as a semi-free nation.

Lest anyone doubt that the Democrats regard free Americans as a greater enemy than Iran, Syria or North Korea, consider an article on the agenda of Representative Henry Waxman of California, “Waxman Plans Tougher Oversight of Companies” in The Wall Street Journal (October 28), which reports that a Democratic victory in the House would see Waxman head a committee that “would aggressively expand oversight of many large industries – with the focus on drug prices, oil company profits and Halliburton Co.’s contracting work in Iraq.” Waxman was the pit bull who attacked the tobacco companies and subjected them to a Congressional auto-da-fé, and sponsored and helped to write numerous coercive, nanny state federal laws.

An editorial in the same issue of the WSJ focuses on another power-luster, Representative Nancy Pelosi, also of California. “The Pelosi Democrats favor a ‘windfall’ profits tax on oil companies and a virtual moratorium on drilling for more domestic oil in Alaska and on the outer continental shelf (where the U.S. may have more energy than Saudi Arabia).” The editorial goes on to state that the Democrats would also mandate higher fuel efficiency standards and campaign to have the U.S. sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

It has always been clear that the Democrats’ first priority is to bring the U.S. to its knees and convert it into Marxist paradise buoyed by the wealth produced in the country’s past, regardless of what predators lurk beyond its borders. The Democrats smell blood this fall, and are already assembling their leashes, cattle prods, and Mace.

On the Republican side, The Washington Post on October 29 reported that “a Harvard University curriculum committee proposed that, since a poll indicated that most college students believe in God, graduates be required…to take one course in an area that the committee styled ‘reason and faith.'” Such a course “would deal not so much with the relationship between reason and faith as with reasoning about faith, religion and religious institutions and their impact on the world.”

Odd. I had always regarded the fundamental relationship as one of reason versus faith – as one of mutual hostility.

The article, written by the provost of University of Notre Dame, argues that all universities should implement programs that emulate his school’s program, “to create classes that convey the intellectual riches of a religious tradition and help students engage in reasoned reflection from within the perspective of faith.” Among other things, such a course requirement would help students counter the religious fanaticism of Muslims and that of other religious “extremists” and contribute to “social cohesion and civic culture.”

The article reflects a domestic consequence of the Republican campaign to Christianize America, and certainly anticipates by at least a year, if such a program is already in place at Notre Dame, Pope Benedict’s call for “dialogue” between Christianity and Islam. It is a form of Bush’s faith-based initiative that completely conforms to courses and programs in middle and secondary public schools that indoctrinate children, multiculturally, about the alleged benevolence of the Islamic creed.

Another form of that initiative is reflected in our foreign policy, which rests on the belief that reaching out to Islam in out-of-the-trenches and over-the-top sorties of blubbering tolerance will win the U.S. friends, allies and generous reciprocity. But, as evidence of the utter air-headedness of such a policy, Cal Thomas, a writer for Jewish World Review, on October 25th interviewed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (The interview was published on October 28th.) It came out during the interview that Rice apparently bases her diplomacy on polls and wishful thinking, chiefly wishful thinking.

“The great majority of Palestinian people…they just want a better life,” Rice told Thomas. “This is an educated population….I just don’t believe mothers want their children to grow up to be suicide bombers. I think the mothers want their children to grow up to go to university. And if you create the right conditions, that’s what people are going to do.”

What a fantasy! Firstly, women do not call the shots in Muslim society; men do. And the frequent stories and news footage of Palestinian and Muslim women elsewhere who boast that their sons or daughters died as suicide bombers burst that balloon, as well. And the barbarians who breed and kill each other in Gaza and the West Bank (besides in Iraq and Afghanistan) can hardly be called an “educated” population. I don’t doubt that the Palestinians want “a better life,” which, going by their actions, would mean one in which all Jews were exterminated and the Islamic crescent fixed atop the Washington Monument, Big Ben, and the Arc de Triomphe.

“I don’t believe that most people in the Middle East really want to blow themselves up,” said Rice, “and believe in this [“extremist”] ideology….There are always extremists who are going to do that…always ideologues who are going to believe and they are always going to recruit from a pool of disaffected people. So you have to lessen the pool of disaffected people, give them alternatives, and people choose other paths….”

If there were a grain of truth or the slimmest link to reality in that “belief,” I would like to ask Madame Secretary: So, where are all the Muslim tap-dancers? The Muslim Garbos? The Muslim Edisons and Salks? Am I mistaken, and those two Rovers on Mars are actually Saudi probes in a quest for knowledge? But, since there isn’t the least fealty to reality in any of Rice’s statements, one can only conclude that she is blind to the fundamental nature of Islam and Muslim life, which is a cult of death. Islam breeds disaffection with life, and the “disaffected” practice their creed fully and consistently.

Do the Palestinians really want “a better life”? John Galt had an answer to that, and if Rice were any kind of reputable “ideologue,” she would know how to quote him to any Arab’s face: “I know that I want to live much more intensely than you do….I know that you, in fact, do not want to live at all.” (Atlas Shrugged, p. 1104, said to Mr. Thompson, Head of State)

Rice is not likely to “offend” any Arab with such wisdom, nor is any Democratic envoy. Cal Thomas believes she is “utopian and rather naïve”; I think that is too generous an appraisal of her character. But the Democrats are nearly as nihilistic as Islamists in their hatred of men and are in a state of criminal denial; they see too much of themselves in parasitical Saudi princes and looting Muslim tyrants.

(My thanks to two individuals for alerting me to this illuminating and revealing interview, John Lewis and Robb LeChevalier).

A key issue governing next week’s elections will be Iraq and its endless cost in American lives and fortunes. Is either party – or, for that matter, any commentator or pundit – observing that it is the wrong war, and that it is a signal instance of the philosophy of sacrifice and duty that both parties advocate and practice? No. Both parties have a stake in one form or another of the same morality.

To Objectivists, therefore, I can only recommend that they hope for the creation of gridlock in Congress, a state that would neutralize or minimize, for a time, the capacity of either party to further damage the country.

Sparrowhawk: Wings of Praise

There comes a time when the praised should return the favor. As a belated birthday present to myself, I will dwell, for a change, on a pleasant subject, which in this instance is the quality of fan mail my Sparrowhawk novels have generated.

The catalyst for this diversion is a letter I found in my post office box last Friday the 20th, from a reader who apparently had galloped through the first four titles in the series.

“Your books have opened my mind to a new world, a wonderful world. I am a third grader at Harbor Day School in Newport Beach [California] and I checked out the Sparrowhawk novels from my school library. Although I did not know it, the day I checked your books out was one of the greatest days of my life.”

So wrote Benjamin Most, in a genuine, handwritten letter, with complete, well-constructed sentences and in a legible, cursive style (better than my own). I will not quote the rest of his letter here (it contains “plot spoilers”), but will say that it represents two important things: that he is a prodigy who has received some encouragement from his parents and teachers to think, and to think independently; and that he is obviously being taught to form his own values and express them. Not a hint of self-consciousness or apology is in the letter. What Benjamin likes about the novels he comments on in a lengthy postscript; the main body of the letter, however, is reserved for observing why the novels are important to him.

For me, the letter is further evidence that there are individuals “out there” who are receptive to heroes like Jack Frake and Hugh Kenrick (and their ages are irrelevant). As a “fan” letter, Benjamin’s is nonpareil, given his age (probably eight or nine years). It is the kind of letter that justifies the dedication in Books Four through Six, which is a quotation from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: “To hold an unchanging youth is to reach, at the end, the vision with which one started.”

Which is what Jack and Hugh achieve by the end of Book Six: War, the last in the series, debuting in December. In this instance, it is a vision Benjamin shares with Jack and Hugh when they were his approximate age in Books One and Two, a vision they never relinquished or allowed to be corrupted or abridged.

When one considers the state of education today and the obscene fare that passes for children’s literature and entertainment, together with the unrelenting pressures imposed on children to conform, give up, and become “multicultural” and semi-literate, selfless, value-deprived or value-repressing ciphers of their “communities,” Benjamin’s letter is an unusual and spectacular exception to the norm. Jack and Hugh as young boys are role models I intended them to be, and Benjamin has proven that this was a successful experiment in “good intentions.”

Needless to say, I am honored that the novels inspired Benjamin, and his letter will have a special place in my collection of fan mail. He is my kind of reader – a hero of his own making.

Also heartening for me is the mail I receive from teenagers and adults, who are no less immune to Sparrowhawk’s appeal. The notes of appreciation, astonishment, and honest enchantment from teens and college students are rarer, but they are sent. Titles from the series are being used in college and high school literature courses, a development I dared not dream of while writing the novels. (Often I will remark to interested browsers at booksignings that the series is becoming a classic, and I’m not even a “dead white male.”) Teachers are ebullient that the series provides an alternative to the deficient, always politically correct history textbooks available to them, or to the multicultural, value-negating (and boring) literary fiction recommended or mandated by school boards.

Parents, especially, are grateful that Sparrowhawk exists, not only for their own “entertainment” and edification, but because it serves as an antidote to what their children are exposed to in school. A goodly number of them are home-schooling their children. Most of them email me their thanks and their hopes that I will continue the series.

Occasionally, however, a parent will go beyond praise, as in this excerpt from a long email sent to me by Peggy, a mother in Ruckersville, Virginia. After making some very perceptive observations about the political state of the country and the apathy or ambivalence of many Americans, she asked:

“…Are we so far removed that we don’t care any more? Where are all the heroes when you need them – or perhaps more to my point – are there any people now who have the courage and knowledge to forge a new government or at least a modification of the one we have for the better?….There are many nights I lay awake thinking of these things when I hear my children rustle in their beds. I know you don’t have the answers to all my questions, but I was hoping you might have a more learned opinion of how this country might be able to go forward from what we have learned from the past…..”

That letter earned a two-page reply from me, in which, among other points, I stressed that politics would be the last field of human action to be affected by a renaissance of rationality and individual rights. I also assured her that there were many besides her who cared, who responded to the novels in exactly the way she did, and that Sparrowhawk was intended, besides being an epic on the moral revolution necessary in men before a Declaration of Independence could ever be written, to be an allegory on our own time.

I also pointed out that in virtually every instance, regardless of the nature of the response, whether it was just a brief thanks or an enthusiastic encomium, the novels caused people to think, to acknowledge the differences between 18th century America and Americans and their 21st century counterparts, and to wonder what they might be able to do about it.

Peggy’s letter is evidence of the success of another “good intention” of mine.

I have received fan mail for Sparrowhawk from virtually every European country but France. I won’t attempt here to explain why not; it would require a lengthy cultural critique. Perhaps the French are still under the collective spell of Jerry Lewis, Tati, Sartre, Beckett, Ionesco, and other comic and not-so-comic absurdists and existentialists. Heroes who revolt against tyranny and don’t make a mess of it, as historically the French have repeatedly done, must not exude that peculiar Gallic élan that seems to appeal to the French. I earnestly wish to be proven wrong.

If only the French would rediscover the value of great French writers and artists such as Hugo, Rostand, and Ingres (the roll call of French “greats,” most of them of the 19th century, is quite long), I would not presume that their Tricolor is destined to sport the Islamic crescent and star.

But, here is an excerpt from Mike Kindler, a British fan from Selsdon, Surrey:

“I have been spellbound by the Sparrowhawk series, not just by the way you make me feel as if I’m a fly on the wall during the events of those momentous times, but also by the parallels we Brits face now with our absorption by the EU. Thank you on both counts….”

The biggest volume of “foreign” fan mail comes from Britain, followed closely by Scandinavia.

Fan mail also comes from readers with a religious bent, or from readers who have bought the erroneous notion that America was founded on Christian principles. To wit, from Thad Jahns, in response to a remark of mine on the Rule of Reason site, in which I said, “The ‘Spirit of ’76’ is not in evidence in America today, except in a minority of individuals marginalized by the dual phenomena of collectivism in politics and the revival of religion.”

Mr. Jahns asked: “How would you define ‘collectivism in politics’? Are you implying that the ‘Spirit of ’76’ and religion are mutually exclusive?”

After citing Ayn Rand’s commentaries on collectivism from the Lexicon, I more or less answered his second question (though in a more civil tongue): “You’re damned right they were mutually exclusive! How else would you explain the Constitution, and the fact that it does not permit the establishment of a theocracy? See John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, et al.”

Objectivists (a minority becoming less and less “marginalized”) can be counted among my fans, and they have sent me mail, as well. Some compare the Sparrowhawk novels with Ayn Rand’s, and some have the perspicacity not to make such a comparison. The first group are forgiven their enthusiasm, but I must side with the second group. It was never my intention or purpose to emulate Rand or her novels. I have always been my “own writer,” and if literary critics and literature professors wish to place the Romantic epic of Jack Frake, Hugh Kenrick, and America in the same class with Rand’s novels, so be it.

Personally, I don’t think the jury is still out with that verdict, but it isn’t for me to read it to the court. However, I cannot recall Rand ever comparing her novels with Victor Hugo’s or anyone else’s. In that respect, I must emulate her absence of vanity.

The last two excerpts help to substantiate my claim and my purpose. Marnee wrote that she has

“…fallen in love with Jack and Hugh. I never thought I would find novels with characters and stories that I could cherish as much as I do Ayn Rand’s novels…I would like to thank you for doing justice to our American Founders, our heroes, giving them the moral character and putting their fight and achievements into the philosophical context that they deserve….”

And, Erskine wrote:

“What did I like best about the stories? The heroes. You succeeded in making them both real and heroic. They are not weak imitations of John Galt, and they don’t stand in his shadow. Jack Frake and Hugh Kenrick are distinct heroes with their own existence, and their own claim to my admiration. They are fully alive.”

So, I thank Benjamin, Peggy, Mike, Marnee, Erskine, and their countless discriminating fellows for contributing to Sparrowhawk‘s success as a contemporary literary phenomenon, for valuing the series as I had envisioned it would be valued, and for demonstrating their own “unchanging youth.” They, too, are fully alive.

An Islamic Newsreel

While Bo Derek is persuading U.S senators to co-sponsor a bill to ban the export of horsemeat for human consumption, as the country recovers from the Great Spinach Scare, as Madonna returns from Malawi with her $3 million dollar baby, and as the news media continues its obsession with American obesity and trans fats in food and simultaneously celebrates the confounding of the Republicans over the Foley Congressional page scandal, the Islamists are marching onward, here and overseas.

I have often wondered what it was like to sit in a movie theater in the 1930’s and 1940’s and watch the Movie Tone newsreels that preceded the short subjects and double features. Would I have been able to distinguish between the important news and the trivial and human interest? Probably. In the latter ’30’s and throughout the ’40’s the Nazis would have dominated much of the news, their rise to power in Europe and their imminent fall at the hands of men who weren’t afraid of identifying them as evil and not the least hesitant to dispatching them General George Patton-style.

Ah, yes. General Patton, who didn’t believe in “holding one’s position,” but of advancing and forcing the Hun to “hold” his position, if he could. And when he defeated the Hun, he wanted to draft the German army into the Allied side to fight those fine friends of Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, the looting, raping Soviets before they swallowed half of Europe. The Germans wouldn’t have needed much convincing to fight under American and British commanders to defend their country from those human locusts. Patton would have found in ally in Churchill, but not in the White House.

That development, however, was never seen in the newsreels. Instead, Americans saw American, British and Soviet soldiers hugging each other as laughing chums and drinking to the defeat of the Nazis.

Patton doubtless would be censored today, just as he was censored during the war, for asking why the West, and in particular the U.S., was fighting a “holding position” against Islam. If that indeed is what we are doing. It is difficult to tell anymore.

My red flags of suspicion would have gone up if the Associated Press had run a newsreel titled, “Bush Honors Muslims Aiding in Terror War” (October 16). After a mental “Huh?” I would have asked my seatmate: “Does that mean our president is helping the terrorists in their war against us, or vice versa?”

“He’s a born-again Christian,” she would have replied, “and he can’t help it. What do you expect?”

Someone sitting in back of me leaned forward and whispered into my ear, “It’s easy to be confused by Bush. He’s either a closet Al-Qada, or an Amish Democrat.”

“How are they helping?” I would have asked, as I watched our smiling president dine with ambassadors from Islamic nations, U.S. Muslim leaders, and administration officials to celebrate the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, adding, “Their clerics are preaching jihad against us everywhere. Their Koran permits and encourages it.” I would have winced when I heard Bush say to his guests as the cameras rolled, “You know that the majority of the victims of terrorists have been innocent Muslims, and many of you have seen terrorist violence in your own cities and your streets.” And I would have said out loud, ignoring the shushing of the audience, “But doesn’t that say something about Islam? A lot about Islam?”

“Hey, mister,” the guy in the seat on my other side would have chimed, “there are moderate Muslims. Don’t be so intolerant. He’s against extremists.”

“Like, there were moderate Nazis?” I would have countered. And, in the privacy of my thoughts, I would have heeded the logic that both Islam and Christianity, followed and practiced to their moral extremes, meant death. Did it matter if a Muslim was a fundamentalist or a hanger-on?

An image of Patrick Henry speaking in the General Assembly against submitting to Parliamentary authority popped into my mind. On the floor next to him was a moderate Muslim, bowing repeatedly to Mecca in submission to Allah. “There is no reconciliation between Parliamentary tyranny and liberty,” Henry was saying. “Nor between that,” he went on, pointing to the Muslim, “and this,” he concluded, pointing to his forehead. “Would the sergeant-at-arms please eject this odious, cowering…dog from our temple of liberty? He offends mine sight.”

That was just a fleeting daydream. The next newsreel featured Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abd al-Aziz, looking up from beneath his headdress with a malevolence I’d only seen in the faces of street thugs, warning his listeners about dealing with “moderate” Muslims. I recalled seeing a still of this creature in The Objective Standard on October 4th. “We are familiar with their relations with foreign elements,” the translator was saying. “We are fighting them and will continue to fight them, and we will cut off their tongues.” Well, that would be enough to silence any “moderate” Muslims, if they existed. So much for “reforming” the Koran. Then I asked myself: How would one reform or tone down Mein Kampf? It couldn’t be done. Both tracts would need to be discarded.

The Saudis were our allies in the war on terror, we are told.

What eludes everyone worried about the “demonization” of Muslims and Islam is that Islam contains a political agenda as well as a religious one. They are woven closely together in Sharia law and cannot be divorced. Christianity was tamed when its political power was neutered, and that was after a hard fight from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. The fiery Old Testament took a back seat to the relatively pacific New. Islam is a different animal; it can be defeated only if it is repudiated in its entirety. A big step in that direction would be the vaporization of the Kaaba and the Black Stone of Mecca. Nazism commanded the irrational zeal of a religion; it lost its millions of believers and collapsed when its “paper-hanging” Messiah perished in his bunker in 1945. The same would happen to Islam if Mecca were rendered radioactive gas.

The next newsreel was an “info-mercial” advertising the merits of a new book, the Guide for Individual Jihad, written by Al-Hakaymah. It first appeared on an Islamist website and was reviewed by Geostrategy. Several photogenic Muslims demonstrated on live, illegal Mexicans how a conscientious warrior could contribute to the cause of defeating the West, even in his own backyard, whether in Jihad Alley in Virginia, Des Moines, Iowa, or San Francisco.

These well-groomed, well-dressed gentlemen – not one sporting a ski mask! – showed how infidel Americans, assimilation-resistant Brits, and recalcitrant Frenchmen could be stabbed, fed overdoses of cocaine or heroin, injected with air by needles, burned alive in their homes, blown up in their cars or with roadside IEDs, run over with Saudi-oil fueled SUV’s, and even lured to their deaths via the Internet. Do-it-yourself assassination kits were available for only $9.95, not including shipping, and would be sent in plain brown wrapping so as not to alert the authorities.

Al-Hakaymah’s book featured a blurb from the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari, who boasted that the book contributed to a “positive” image of Muslims, who lately were being “stigmatized. What is happening…has been a barrage of demonization of the Muslim community to such an extent that the community is now scared and feels vulnerable.”

As I watched him promote the book up on the big screen, I wondered who was actually feeling scared and vulnerable: Muslims or Tube riders. And the Muslims I saw demonstrating in London in the next newsreel didn’t look very scared or vulnerable to me, particularly the ones carrying signs that read “Behead the Insulters of the Prophet,” “Kill Arrogant Infidels.” One of their spokesmen, addressing a BBC reporter, promised that there would be hell to pay if the 2012 summer Olympics were scheduled during Ramadan that year.

The double feature finally unreeled, “His Girl Friday,” and the original British film version of Patrick Hamilton’s play, “Gaslight,” about a woman driven mad by lamps that kept dimming and brightening (engineered by her scheming husband), much like the assurances of Muslims that they were committed to Western values of freedom of speech and the separation of church and state.

When I got home, I listened to the radio. That was full of depressing news, too. British Airways planned to introduce a special uniform for its Muslim ground staff, and British hospitals had already introduced special burkah gowns for Muslims patients. And some Muslim speech teacher was suspended for insisting on wearing her veil in class, especially if men were present. What was she afraid of? Men would start hitting on her? Or maybe all Muslim women had halitosis, a condition that came with the creed. And that scarf, or hajib, or whatever it was called that went over the hair: Was that to hide lice? Never could believe the “modesty” explanation.

As I prepared to retire, I remembered my seatmate’s suggestion that I should write a satire on Islam and the West’s incremental submission to it. I wondered now how one could pen a satire about an ongoing tragedy. Perhaps I could begin with President Roosevelt hosting a White House dinner for his moderate Nazi guests, the ones who deplored “extremism” and claimed Mein Kampf was blueprint for peace and coexistence. But, I’d have to combine that with the incremental turn to fascism in the country itself. It was going to be a tough satire to put together, especially if I wanted to make the point that it was no laughing matter.

Golden Genes

Out of the suffocating bureaucratic morass that is the European Union – suffocating because of its campaign to homogenize its members and emasculate their sovereignties, even to the extent of subverting their individual legal systems – stands a Frenchman who defies the gray and flaunts his gold. The gold is that of genetically modified corn.

On October 12, The Wall Street Journal ran a story, “Stalk-Raving Mad,” about this crop featuring a French farmer near Bordeaux, Claude Menara, who experimented with the “alien” corn, planting a mere seventeen acres of the Monsanto-patented seed in 2005. He was so impressed with the results that this year he planted 250 acres, and next year he plans 500.

I do not believe the French are wild about corn-on-the-cob. It is, after all, an American favorite. Most of the corn grown in France and in the rest of Europe is destined to be consumed by cattle, in M. Menara’s case, by Spanish cattle. According to the WSJ, in fact, Spain is the biggest producer of GM (genetically modified) corn with 148,200 acres devoted to its production, followed by France, the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Germany. GM corn is the only “man-made” crop permitted by the EU to be grown in all that it surveys and regulates, although the bureaucrats of Brussels do allow a few GM crops to be imported. They are mulling over what other GM crops they will allow their worker ants to grow.

Like the French butter industry, the French corn industry is subsidized by the EU. M. Menara receives about $225,000 annually, a subsidy which will be phased out by 2013. It would be easy to gainsay M. Menara on the point of the subsidy, but his recognition that GM crops are a value is a quantum of redemption. He is looking ahead to when he can make a profit sans subsidies, thanks to the “alien” corn. A great portion of his expenses in damage control goes to using pesticides to protect his traditionally grown corn. The GM corn requires none.

The most telling part of the article was a picture of M. Menara holding two ears of corn: the perfectly golden GM one, and one grown by “traditional” methods, a quarter its kernels gone, the remaining ones with mottled brown spots, evidence of rot and parasites. Only cattle might have found it appetizing.

The culprits were mainly borer worms, which destroyed half of M. Menara’s crop in 1988 and which continue to consume significant percentages of his traditionally grown corn even with the use of pesticides.

“On a recent morning, he shows off an ear of GM corn, full and yellow, alongside an unaltered ear that was withered and ruined. Transgenic corn had added genes, which produce a protein that makes the borer’s stomach explode. Cracking open the stalk of the non-GM ear revealed a squad of pink worms.”

I was reminded of the season at Colonial Williamsburg when, in the course of researching the Sparrowhawk novels, I worked in costume in the “rural trades” section, growing tobacco, corn, beans and other colonial fare by 18th century methods. Just as disgusting and labor-intensive as picking hornworms from tobacco leaves and ridding the plants of equally destructive aphids, was inspecting and harvesting the corn, which crawled with pests that consumed entire ears. The only “pesticides” available in the 18th century were various kinds of domestic fowl that would be let loose in the tobacco fields to eat the hornworms. Raising a good corn crop, however, was a matter of chance.

A worse threat to M. Menara’s crop are environmental jihadists, reports the WSJ – although the article referred to them as “activists,” too benign a term to identify criminals and terrorists. Even though GM-produced food crops have not been proven to jeopardize human or livestock health, French environmentalists have mounted a campaign to ban the growth of GM crops not only in France, but also in the rest of Europe. Using modern technology such as the GPS, the Internet, and testing techniques perfected in the U.S., anti-technology Greenpeace jihadists randomly identify farms and send “detectives” to them to determine whether or not a farmer is growing GM corn. If he is, then gangs of environmentalists descend on the farm and trash his crop, or as much of it as they can before the police arrive.

M. Menara has the right perspective on these bipedal pests. “They are thugs,” he told the WSJ. He sued Greenpeace to force them to remove his GPS-located farm from its website, and won. “A few days later, Greenpeace activists traced a cross in his field by knocking down corn stalks,” reports the WSJ. Later, a notorious French environmentalist, Jose Bové, who was jailed for destroying a McDonald’s, led a mob of his ilk to M. Menara’s farm and destroyed 30 acres of GM corn. Three of the mob were arrested and face jail time. Menara plans to go ahead with planting his 500 acres of GM corn. It is encouraging to read of a Frenchmen who doesn’t wave the white flag of surrender.

Environmentalists opposed to GM crops claim they are concerned about their spread to, well, the environment. Environmentalism is their mystical calling. In this instance, their ostensive, short-range goal is to force farmers to grow crops by “traditional” methods, methods used in the 18th and 19th centuries until technology was brought into the business.

Their long-range goal is, frankly, man’s extinction, since even fields of crops are “intrusive” and replace whatever grew wild on the land before men came to make it productive. Never believe an environmentalist when he asserts a concern for humanity; it is humanity he hates and wants to erase from existence for the sake of an “unaltered” earth. The same motive that prompts terrorists to destroy a dealership’s SUV’s or to booby-trap trees to protest forestry companies, prompts them to sabotage farms.

For my money, M. Menara is a true “friend of the earth” and of human life.

Nobel Prizes in Nullity

Even more than the roster of activists for statism and collectivism discussed in my commentary on the Medal of Freedom (“Medals for Mendacity,” October 7), the roll call of activists for “peace” is a grab bag of the foolish, the subversive, the charlatan, and the insidious. And, like most of the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, most of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize reveal an ignorance of the requirements for peace among nations, or an overt hostility to those requirements.

For about sixty years in the 19th century, after the last Napoleonic War, peace reigned among the civilized nations of Europe and North America, chiefly because most of these countries had governments limited in their power to abrogate individual rights and which nominally fostered free trade. The harbinger of statism and of things to come in the twentieth century was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, when Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who established a comprehensive, universal welfare state in Germany, maneuvered France into a diplomatic impasse over a possible alliance of Spain and Prussia against France, and then handily defeated the French army at Sedan.

Emperor Napoleon the Third (Victor Hugo’s “Napoleon the Little”) was deposed by his countrymen, while Germany annexed Alsace and part of Lorraine and occupied France until an indemnity was paid. The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine remained a point of conflict from 1871 to the time of Hitler’s blitzkrieg aggressions. Under Bismarck’s leadership, all the German states, until then a loose confederation, were consolidated under one government and one emperor, William the First of Prussia. From that point on Germany was governed by Prussian militaristic and imperialistic policies up through the end of World War Two.

At the same time, “peace” became an obsession of diplomats and social activists. As a desired relationship between nations, they viewed it as an ideal state of affairs regardless of cause or consequence, without any thought to the political nature of the governments that were expected to observe the peace.

On the other hand, dictators have terms of peace. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and his Islamic imperialist cohorts promise “peace” on earth once a global caliphate is established, by force if necessary. Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and even Napoleon promised “peace” under their ideologies once other nations had been conquered or forced to submit to their hegemony.

But the exigencies of peace have been ignored by both aggressors and pacifists. Aggressors believe that “peace” can be achieved by force; pacifists believe that it can be achieved by compromise. Both force and compromise are antipodes of reason, which men need to consistently employ as individuals in nature and in their relationships with one another. And because reason has rarely played a role in the conflicts between nations, the record of peace movements has been largely one of repeated failure. In fact, most peace movements and diplomatic strategies to prevent war have almost consistently caused or led to war. Efforts by diplomats and pacifists, who eschew violence, to persuade those who live by and for force to refrain from coercion, only encouraged the use of force by those unconcerned with peace.

Ayn Rand observed in her essay “The Roots of War,” that:

“[T]hese same peace movements do not oppose dictatorships; the political views of their members range through all shades of the statist spectrum, from welfare statism to socialism to fascism to communism. This means that they are opposed to the use of coercion by one nation against another, but not by the government of a nation against its own citizens; it means that they are opposed to the use of force against armed adversaries, but not against the disarmed.” (From Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

It is interesting to note that as statism and collectivism grew in the West in the 20th century, peace movements grew shriller and less rational, to the advantage of the blatantly irrational. And the efforts of pacifists have been fundamentally to reconcile either the rational with the irrational, or the irrational with the irrational, with no thought devoted to the necessary preconditions of peace. No one has thought to ask: Why haven’t the U.S. and Canada gone to war? Or the U.S. and Britain? Or the U.S. and Mexico (the Mexican-American War of the 1840’s was caused by a Mexican dictator’s aggression). For example, historically, of all the peace treaties ever signed by former combatants, the oldest still in effect is between the U.S. and Britain, implemented in 1815 at the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.

The shortest-lived treaties have been those signed between nominally “liberal” nations and dictatorships, such as the Neville Chamberlain and Hitler “peace in our time” paper, and between dictatorships, such as the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

In its long history of awarding Peace Prizes, the Nobel committee has demonstrated a penchant for picking failures, effectively giving recipients a mere “E” for effort. Let’s look at the record.

In 2005, the Prize was awarded to the International Atomic Energy Agency “for its efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes….” With North Korea having exploded a nuclear device this week, and Iran determined to enrich uranium to produce its own weapons to use against the West, the failure of the Agency to prevent the spread of nuclear technology is obvious.

In 2002, the Prize was given to former president Jimmy Carter “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts….” Obviously, he has never found those solutions, his effort frustrated by his refusal to distinguish between freedom and tyranny.

In 1994, the Prize was awarded jointly to Shimon Perez and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and terrorist chief Yasir Arafat “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” Yet, the Middle East is still in turmoil, as Israel struggles to remain in existence, while the Arab campaign to extinguish it has never abated.

In 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho of Communist Vietnam received the Prize for having negotiated a peace and the defeat of the U.S.

In 1960, Albert John Lutuli, president of the African National Congress, the political arm of black terrorists, received the Peace Prize. Nelson Mandela, also a leader of the ANC, received it in 1993.

Austen Chamberlain, British foreign secretary and half-brother of Neville, received the Prize in 1925 for having negotiated the Locarno Treaty, which established Germany’s borders with France and Belgium. These “inviolable” borders later meant nothing to Hitler. Chamberlain shared that Prize with Charles Dawes, vice president of the U.S. and chairman of the Allied Reparation Commission, who drew up a schedule for defeated Germany to pay for its aggression during World War One. It was a curious arrangement, with the Allies loaning Germany the means to make the payments, the U.S. chipping in $110,000,000. The Dawes Plan and its successor, the Young Plan, which reduced the German debt, were cancelled in 1933 when Hitler became chancellor. One of his political platforms was very popular with the German electorate: the alleged injustice of reparations and the Treaty of Versailles.

Throughout its over one hundred year history, the Nobel Peace Prize has rarely been awarded to a success. And there have been virtually no successful “peace initiatives” because the initiators discard, ignore, or are oblivious to the political requirements to attain a lasting peace. It is on record that nations which have a nominal respect for individual rights do not invade or seek to conquer each other. The histories of North America and post-World War Two Europe attest to that fact. But this fact is lost on diplomats and peace activists.

Observe the fancy, verbose evasions our government emits when faced with the fact that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons to with which to destroy Israel, rule the Mideast, and threaten the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. has surrendered its right to self-defense to the tut-tutting of the “international community.” It has lost the moral confidence of the rightness of its own existence. Opposing it is the moral intransigence of Islamic totalitarianism, which means to conquer the world. Instead of destroying Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities and its regime, the U.S. and the West evade the moral issue with diplomacy and bribery, which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismisses with the same contemptuous flair as his poster boy, Hitler, dismissed treaties and pacts.

Observe our pathetic response is to North Korea’s nuclear test. Instead of destroying North Korea’s ability to threaten its neighbors and even the U.S. – and destroyed it years ago — regardless of the “collateral damage” of civilian casualties, we seek to negotiate, cajole, and promise to shake our fist if Kim Jung Il doesn’t listen. Now we are talking about “sanctions.” Have our politicians forgotten that sanctions were imposed on Iraq, and that these pitiful, ineffectual actions were compromised by the “humanitarian” oil-for-food program, corruptly administered sub rosa by Kofi Annan, the outgoing secretary general, who accepted a Peace Prize in 2001 on behalf of the U.N.?

Apparently, they have. Tony Snow, President Bush’s press secretary, simply reported the administration’s displeasure at North Korea’s “provocative defiance of the will of the international community.”

Like the Medal of Freedom, like the Nobel Laureate in Literature, the Nobel Peace Prize, absent all rational criteria for measuring moral worth, is a nullity and a farce.

Medals for Mendacity

An examination of the list of individuals who were conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom over the last twenty or so years would move one to wonder what “freedom” has to do with the award. Originally established in 1945 by President Harry Truman, it was intended to be bestowed on military personnel to “recognize notable service in the war.”

President John F. Kennedy reestablished the medal in 1963 as a purely civilian honor. The list of recipients is largely a roster of scoundrels who are noted for having worked to abridge freedom, not promote it.

Not so curiously, in the context of an overall cultural phenomenon, the Medal of Freedom roster is, if seen through a certain prism, the opposite of the list of Nobel Laureate in Literature conferees. With few exceptions, most of the Nobel winners defy memory. Dario Fo in1997? Imre Kertésez in 2002? Naguib Mahfouz in 1988? The citation for Mahfouz reads, “who, through works rich in nuance, now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous, has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.” That was five years before the first World Trade Center bombing; one wonders what “nuanced” works he’s writing now.

Other names are recognizable – such as Harold Pinter, Saul Bellow, and Günter Grass – if only because these literary lights have had more press coverage than the others and have drawn the doting attention of our scrofulous critical establishment. And Günter Grass wrote “frolicsome black fables [that] portray the forgotten face of history.” Frolicsome and forgettable faces?

There are a few “greats” on the Nobel list: Winston Churchill, Rudyard Kipling, Sinclair Lewis, George Bernard Shaw, and Henryk Sienkiewicz — and a few of literary notoriety: Gerhart Hauptmann, Bertrand Russell, Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett, and Jean-Paul Sartre. But, the list is dominated by obscure authors who may or may not be known to the conscientious reader. The Nobel Prize committee for literature hasn’t displayed much prescience in picking memorable writers. Its roster could be dubbed “Authors Anonymous.”

Not so the Medal of Freedom list. At first glance, it seems eclectic. Baseball players and comediennes have received the Medal, such as Jackie Robinson and Martha Raye. Bill Cosby, Plácido Domingo, Jacques Barzun and Arnold Palmer have also received the Medal.

But the Medals list is over-populated with the enemies of freedom and their fellow travelers. Cesar Chavez, James Scott Brady, Albert Shanker, George McGovern, and Morris Udall have received the Medal. Labor leaders Walter Reuther and Lane Kirkland have received it. Civil rights activists – or opportunists – Jesse Jackson and Barbara Jordan have received it.

Clergymen and civil rights leaders pepper the list. Millard D. Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, and his selfless, hammer-and-nail handyman, former President Jimmy Carter, share the list with Elliot Richardson and David Rockefeller. Two advocates of public television have received it, Peggy Charren and Joan Ganz Cooney. Nanny state advocates C. Everett Koop and Justin Dart Jr. have received it. And Generals Colin Powell and Tommy Franks are up there with Rita Moreno, Charlton Heston, Julia Child, and Pope Paul the Second. Losers have every right to commingle and hobnob with winners and the half-dead.

All right. There are a few obscurities, such as Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee Nation leader, Gordon B. Hinckley, a religious leader, and Evelyn Dubrow, a lobbyist. Who? Well, that’s not important. Someone thought they were as prominent and well-known as John Kenneth Galbraith, Estée Lauder and Van Cliburn, who also were recipients.

Humanitarians, philanthropists and “government servants,” however, dominate the Medal of Freedom list, every one of them dedicated to advancing statism in their own, special little way. It is appropriate that it was the pioneer of the “Fascist New Frontier” who redefined the Medal.

The latest recipients are the not-so-odd couple, those notable humanitarians and inseparable golf partners, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who received their Medals in a ceremony in Philadelphia on October 5th. Bush Senior is also having dedicated to him this weekend a billion dollar aircraft carrier, which undoubtedly will be sent out to carry on future charity work around the world. The reader will now understand why the “Medal of Freedom” is a misnomer and a mockery of the idea of freedom. I trust an extensive rehash of the disastrous administrations of these creatures isn’t necessary here.

Suffice to say that “freedom” was not the leitmotif of either of their terms of office, and certainly not the substance of their legislative accomplishments. Bush, among other things, threw away a war, let a dictator remain in power, and spent millions of dollars and American lives to give the Kuwaiti sheiks back our oil fields, in addition to signing the Americans with Disabilities Act. Clinton, among other things, “pursued” Osama bin Laden, oversaw the virtual nationalization of the tobacco industry, and endorsed further federal censorship of the airwaves.

So, when one reviews the list of Medal recipients and why they were bestowed an ounce or so of gold hanging from a ribbon, the question should arise in one’s mind: Should the government be in the business of “recognizing” any accomplishments? Military decorations are proper and a means of recognizing and honoring those who risk their lives defending this country. “Civilian” decorations are inherently statist in nature, recognizing as they do statist values and achievements in a nation’s culture. The Medal of “Freedom” has become a status symbol for those who either never understood freedom, or who understood it and have dedicated their lives to destroying it.

A Diabolical Dialogue

This is Tony Brash, and we’re here today to interview Nihil Ibriham Oymgosh Malevmood, who agreed to be questioned about certain aspects of his Islamic faith. Mr. Malevmood, an imam of the recently completed Foggy Bottom Mosque, knows I am a no-holds-barred journalist, but he is confident that he can field my questions. I can guarantee readers that this “dialogue” between an infidel and a devout Muslim will be a tat more informative than that conducted by Pope Benedict and the Muslim clerics he invited to his Rome retreat, Castle Gandolfo. I will note that it was a curious dialogue, in that the only speaker seemed to be Pope Benedict. But, I digress.

BRASH: Good morning, Mr. Malevmood.

Malevmood: Good morning. Just remember that I agreed to questions, not to an interrogation.

BRASH: I have no instruments of torture here, Mr. Malmood. Just reason and honesty. And, if they cause you discomfort, that can’t be helped. I must admit this is a distasteful task I perform, which I fear it will be a futile and fruitless frank exchange of views.

Malevmood: It could not be otherwise for either of us. You are an infidel destined for hellfire, and I am pure, destined to humbly serve the Prophet. Not as pure as Mohammad, who was a perfect human being, not as pure as the Promised One, the Mahdi, of whom the esteemed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations last month, whose purity and perfection, when he manifests himself at Armageddon, will bring peace and justice and virtue to the world.

BRASH: That’s right. After Ahmadinejad’s delivered a few nukes, he thinks he’ll turn into the Mahdi. I read between the lines of his U.N. speech. He was about as narcistic about it as Hitler was about his role in Germany’s destiny.

Malevmood: He would take that as a compliment.

BRASH: I’m sure he would. Now, I’ll begin by bringing up a great point of contention between Islam and the Western idea of freedom of speech. Specifically, the Danish cartoons that were the object of so much violence and hatred earlier this year. Can you enlighten us about why Muslims object so much to any pictorial representation of Mohammad?

Malevmood: Islamic law forbids any depiction of Mohammad to prevent the wicked, distracting sin of idolatry.

BRASH: Idolatry? By whom?

Malevmood: By the faithful, of course.

BRASH: Now, why should the non-faithful – me, for example – care whether or not you or any other Muslims commit idolatry? It’s nothing to me, neither Mohammad nor Muslim idolatry.

Malevmood: You should care, for you are of the unfaithful. For one of you to depict Mohammad, is an act of disrespect, and a declaration of war on Islam. If you were faithful, you would not depict Mohammad.

BRASH: Well, we could go round and round on that one. Circular argument, you know. But I should like to point out that you do “idolize” Mohammad. Everything’s about him. He’s faceless, of course. Which, of course, leads one to wonder how you’d recognize him if he rose from the dead.

Malevmood: We will recognize him in Paradise. He will not rise from the dead. That is a silly Christian obsession. Mohammad is not Jesus.

BRASH: That, I will not dispute.

Malevmood: You Christians depict Jesus, and then idolize him, in countless ways, even in neon signs, and on T-shirts.

BRASH: I beg your pardon, but I’m not a Christian.

Malevmood: This I know. You are a universal infidel, alien to all creeds, even the false ones. You are twenty times damned to flames.

BRASH: Twenty times eternity? What a novel concept. Invalid, but novel. However, we will go on. Now, if I understand you correctly, you want infidels to refrain from representing Mohammad. Why shouldn’t we? Islam is not our creed. I’m not about to idolize him. As a matter of fact, I’d pin an image of him right over the bull’s eye of a dartboard. Mohammad, I mean.

Malevmood: That is evidence of your barbarism and impurity.

BRASH: So, would you say that respect for your religious rules is a sign of recognition? Such as the Queen of England setting aside a room at Windsor Castle as a prayer room for her lone Muslim employee?

Malevmood: It is a first step. One should not remain a kaffir all one’s life.

BRASH: A first step towards submission?

Malevmood: Towards Islam, yes. You are bright, brighter than so many spineless, empty-headed politicians. But that will not save you, not unless you convert to Islam.

BRASH: Not a chance. Now, here’s something I’ve heard many of your more outspoken extremists say: “You love life” – addressed to us kaffirs and unbelievers. Then, “We love death.” Do you believe in that?

Malevmood: Of course. Life is transient. Death is absolute. The proper attitude of good Muslims is to regard life as a mere transition to death and Paradise.

BRASH: Sounds like Islam pinched a few lines from the Christians.

Malevmood: They are Mohammad’s words, his own. He pinches nothing.

BRASH: That’s not what I hear. Well, if you do believe that, why are you still here?

Malevmood: You are suggesting suicide. That is against Mohammad’s words. It is a Muslim’s duty to bear life’s sorrows and misfortunes. It is not for him to find life so burdensome to want to take his own life – not unless it is in the cause of opposing and destroying unbelievers. In that instance, suicide is admissible, and he becomes a martyr.

BRASH: You know, I just thought of something. Most of your suicide bombers are male. And when they blow themselves up, we’re told they go straight to Paradise and are awarded 72 virgins. But, there have been some female suicide bombers. What awaits them after they’ve splattered a pizza shop with their viscera?

Malevmood: Hmmm….Eternal heavenly life…..

BRASH: Seventy-two nerds? Or, maybe they join the ranks of the 72 virgins? That must be where some of those virgins come from. Do they grow on trees? And if they don’t, just where do all those virgins come from?

Malevmood: That is not for me to answer. It is in Allah’s power to supply them. As Mohammad, blessings and peace be upon him, is infallible, Allah is all-powerful.

BRASH: Heard the joke about Atta going to Paradise and meeting, not 72 virgins, but 72 Virginians?

Malevmood: No. And you are being disrespectful.

BRASH: It’s easy. And, I will tell you this: virgins are not all they’re cracked up to be. I speak from experience. So, I don’t know why you people make such a mystique of them. Then I have this question: After a martyr has had a virgin, what happens to her? Is she recycled?

Malevmood: I cannot answer that. We will not know until we enter the garden of Allah. Then many mysteries of Allah will be answered.

BRASH: Speaking of mysteries, there’s Islamic cosmology. A grand magic act likely cadged, I suspect, from Genesis, another magic act.

Malevmood: How do you mean?

BRASH: Well, according to the Bible, in the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was God…and you know the rest of it. On the seventh day He rested. Everything neat and tidy. Time to kick back and relax with a cosmic Grande Mocha Frappucino. In the Koran, the first six days are divided into three stages, and seven clouds or pillars. Created the earth first, then the stars. I think. Allah created everything from smoke – I believe the Arabic term is “dukhan” — but the earth first, or maybe it was last. He just spoke – was it the same Word? – and things began popping into existence at random. The chronology is very contradictory and confusing. Pardon the pun, but could you shed some light on the subject?

Malevmood: The wisest imams will tell you that there is no relation between the Koran and the corrupt Bible. It is mere coincidence. And because the Koran was told to Mohammad by Allah, it is the supreme authority. This point can be questioned only on pain of death.

BRASH: But you can’t deny that much of the Koran sort of emulated the Bible in format and tone. The Bible, or at least the Old Testament as it came down to us, was being fabricated by Christian fakirs – there’s another pun for you, sir — just about the time Allah was bending Mohammad’s ear, in the seventh century or thereabouts. And the Koran was probably fabricated by Muslim fakirs who could read Hellenistic Greek, which is the language the earliest versions of the Bible appeared in. I’m not the only one to detect some obvious migration of texts and not a little plagiarism.

Malevmood: You are wrong, unbeliever. The Koran came to us whole and perfect. It is the testament of the Prophet himself. I will not discuss the matter further.

BRASH: Suit yourself. Here’s a question: Do you believe there are “moderate” Muslims, that is, Muslims who don’t approve of suicide bombers and jihad and such?

Malevmood: There had better not be. If there are, then they are cowards who do not deserve Allah’s mercy. A moderate Muslim is merely a dog or a pig in human form, worthy only of beleaguering and death. A moderate Muslim commits the sin of placing earthly things before the will of Allah. Moderate Muslims will fuel the fires of hell alongside infidels and pagans. Doubt of the Prophet’s words and commands guarantees damnation. We do not recognize posturing Muslims. A true Muslim knows that his only true relationship with Allah is fear. A true Muslim submits both his soul and his body. A contemptible “moderate” Muslim merely genuflects. That is not submission. That is offensive to Allah and to true Muslims.

BRASH: Apparently. What do you think of what are called “extremists” and “radicals” of the Muslim faith?

Malevmood: There is no such thing as an “extremist” or “radical” Muslim. There are just Muslims. The martyrs and jihadists and beleaguers of the unbelievers merely carry their meticulous adherence to the Prophet’s commands to a higher level. Extremist and radical Christians were martyred by the thousands by the Romans, with crucifixions and being thrown to wild animals. Our extremists and radicals prefer to crucify infidels and turn loose the wild animals on them.

BRASH: That’s a rather bloodthirsty scenario.

Malevmood: It needn’t be, if infidels would merely submit.

BRASH: So, you don’t agree with President Bush and believe your creed was “hijacked”?

Malevmood: How could I agree with a fool? When we heard him say that soon after our martyrs destroyed so many of you years ago, we knew we would win.

BRASH: Why are you smiling, Mr. Malevmood? That’s a first.

Malevmood: The sword of the Prophet can slash, or it can worm its way into the body of an unbeliever. You will note that Islam adopts both strategies. But either pain can be avoided, by submitting to Islam, or at least by accepting its hegemony in this world.

BRASH: Or accept the role of dhimmitude, and pay jizya, or protection money, if we’re still alive and don’t convert to Islam.

Malevmood: There is an instance of Islamic benevolence. You may have your creed, and we will tolerate your unclean presence. It is only fair that you pay a tax to compensate for our inconvenience. But I must correct your use of that term, “dhimmitude.” We do not recognize its validity. It was created by a female apostate with intellectual pretensions, Bat Ye’or, on whom a fatwah has been decreed. She damned Islam, so our wise men damned her. The correct term is ‘inferior status.”

BRASH: I’m sure I’m flattered. May a peacock nest in your nostrils.

Malevmood: You are the foul mouthpiece of the Great Satan, and in the pay of the Little Satan, and of the vanquished Satan of Britain. When you are all vanquished, the earth will be clean enough for the Expected One to trod it to bring peace and justice and virtue —

BRASH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, excuse me, but I think we’ve run out of time. I must say in parting that I think the Koran was written by the Three Stooges, with a little help from the Marx Brothers, with script consultation supplied by Monty Python.

Malevmood: Who are these people?

BRASH: Comedians. I don’t suppose you’ve seen The Life of Brian, or The Holy Grail, or Bedazzled, the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore version?

Malevmood: You have left me behind, parentless one.

BRASH: In the Dark Ages. So, folks, I guess you’ve concluded that you shouldn’t expect an Islamic production of Bizet’s Carmen any time soon. This is Tony Brash on the ECN network. Goodnight, folks. Hey, Mr. Malevmood, what’s that you’re taking out of your shirt…?

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