The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: September 2007

The Murderous “Mind-Sets” of Mysticism

Ayn Rand identified and named the two species of anti-man, anti-life mystics that have largely governed man’s history: the mystics of spirit, and the mystics of muscle.

It is rare that two prominent mystics appear on the world stage at the same time to deliver their ultimata: Pope Benedict XVI and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Pope Benedict’s appearance and utterances on September 23 passed almost unnoticed, while Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia University on September 24 garnered international headlines.

Columbia University’s invitation to Ahmadinejad to speak to an audience of students, faculty and the public provoked a firestorm of opposition, chiefly from those who challenged the propriety of extending the courtesy to a dictator who not only imprisons, murders and brutalizes people in his own country, but whose government funds international terrorism and whose agents are helping to kill Americans in Iraq.

Aside from the impropriety of inviting a self-proclaimed enemy to speak anywhere in this country, never mind at a noted university, there is the question of what President Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia thought he could accomplish by the invitation. He cited the prerogative of making such an invitation in the name of “free speech.”

Since the Press Law of Iran cited by Bollinger forbids criticism of the government in any form whatsoever, that is, forbids freedom of speech, why extend the right to a dictator responsible for the censorship and repression? Is the right to free speech extended to convicted criminals? By any objective standard, for having committed capital crimes, have they not forfeited the right to freedom of speech? Is not that forfeiture a part of their punishment and incarceration?

In defending his decision to invite Ahmadinejad, Bollinger said during his opening remarks at the event that “this is the right thing to do and, indeed, it is required by existing norms of free speech….”

What are those norms? Bollinger did not elaborate. Do those norms include welcoming a monster who, at his Nuremberg-like rallies in Tehran, regularly calls the U.S. the “Great Satan” and predicts and prays for its destruction at his hand?

One also must wonder what he believed he could accomplish by accusing Ahmadinejad of exhibiting “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” and by reading from a list of crimes committed by the dictator. Did he expect Ahmadinejad to acknowledge the truth of Bollinger’s damnation, suffer an incapacitating guilt attack, then wreathe and weep in heart-wrenching contrition? What was the point? If he was hoping for a “robust debate” of his charges against Ahmadinejad, the robustness of the “confrontation” was an eminently one-sided one. The vulpine Ahmadinejad demonstrated agility in evasive sophistry matched only by Hillary Clinton when cornered by facts and fault.

Bollinger’s list of charges against Ahmadinejad included the jailing and execution of Iranians for demanding freedom of speech, in addition to denying the Holocaust, advocating the destruction of Israel, funding terrorism, providing men and weapons to fight Americans in Iraq, and denying that Iran is working to develop a nuclear bomb.

Ahmadinejad slithered around every one of those charges and every one of the pointed questions put to him by members of the audience. Reading a transcript of his address, there is in it not a single direct answer to any one of Bollinger’s charges or an honest answer to any of the audience’s questions.

Bollinger expressed his subtle estimate of Ahmadinejad during his rationalization of why the dictator should be allowed to speak:

“It is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil and to prepare ourselves to act with the right temperament.”

But if the enemy is already known, and if one knows that his mind is evil (or what Bollinger characterized as Ahmadinejad’s “fanatical mindset”), why “confront” it in debate? Did we debate with Hitler of Nazi Germany or Tojo of Imperial Japan the rightness or wrongness of their aggression and atrocities?

Bollinger cautioned against “the very natural but often counter-productive impulses that lead us to retreat from engagement with ideas we dislike and fear.”

But Ahmadinejad has no idea but one: brute force. He does not wish to “engage” with ideas he dislikes and fears and which do not conform to his intrinsicist universe of Islam. Ideas emanate from minds, and it is minds he wishes to bypass and ultimately subdue or destroy – which is the leitmotif of Islam. He dismissed Bollinger’s moral indignation as irrelevant, almost comical.

Bollinger also revealed himself as an intrinsicist. His premise was that knowledge of the “good” was somehow an innate resident of Ahmadinejad’s mind as a repressed operative, and that what he wished to “discourse” with Ahmadinejad was why the dictator did not acknowledge it.

Ahmadinejad did not acknowledge it. He has his own set of intrinsic values, all subsumed under Islamic theology. He called Bollinger’s charges “insulting.”

Ahmadinejad’s address was not so much a speech or a lecture as a sermon, and he began it, appropriately enough, with an invocation. “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful….Oh, God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those to attest to his rightfulness….”

Perhaps it was lost on or forgotten by Bollinger and the audience, not to mention the press, that Ahmadinejad regards himself as the next “Mahdi,” the expected spiritual and temporal leader of Muslims, and in that role he is preparing the way for the return of the Hidden or Twelfth Imam by laying the groundwork for Armageddon or the Apocalypse. The joke was on Bollinger and the audience; the Mahdi had arrived, and he was Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad’s sermon was such a vile and bizarre soufflé of Koranic references, prattlings about science, scholars, light and “realities,” oblique insinuations of the crimes of American “imperialism” past and present, commiserations about the plight of the Palestinians, and querulous babblings about the ill-treatment of Iran, that it would be fruitless to try to summarize it all here. Its general tone was a combination of an appeal to pity and an appeal to guilt.

(Ahmadinejad’s speech at the U.N. was even more bizarre. He lectured the General Assembly almost exclusively on the virtues of the Hidden Imam. But then, the U.N. is a bizarrely immoral, anti-U.S. institution anyway, which the U.S sanctions with its membership.)

If one wanted proof of Ahmadinejad’s mystical roots and fundamental irrationality, one statement of his at Columbia stands out:

“Realities of the world are not limited to physical realities and the materials, [they are] just a shadow of supreme reality. And physical creation is just one of the stories of the creation of the world.”

Ahmadinejad has read his Koran and his Kant. Both Bollinger and his “guest” are intrinsicists, but Ahmadinejad harbors a strong streak of whim-worshipping subjectivism, as well, against which Bollinger’s anger was impotent. He ended his rant with, “We are a peaceful, loving nation. We love all nations.”

He loves them enough to either conquer them or destroy them, just as Hitler loved Europe and Japan loved Asia.

One does not invite killers to a civilized venue to merely scold them for their crimes. One arrests them, or shoots them, or eradicates their murderous governments. Ahmadinejad in this instance was the enemy and should have been denied entry into this country. Instead, both Bollinger and the U.S., in the names of “fairness” and diplomatic protocol, allowed him to come here to take advantage of propaganda platforms, and he left “victorious and in good health.”

It was not Allah or God who was merciful and compassionate and who answered Ahmadinejad’s prayers. It was the State Department and the President of Columbia University. It is such mercy and compassion that will be the death of us.

Pope Benedict’s pronouncements on Sunday the 23rd were a kind of warm-up act to Ahmadinejad’s. In his own sermons, according to The Scotsman of the 24th, under the headline, “Pope urges rich to turn from Satan and help the poor,” he “denounced what he called the world’s ‘profit mind-set’…warning that money can turn people into ‘blind egoists’ as he urged the wealthy to share their riches with the poor.

“Benedict said life was about making choices between good and bad, between altruism and egoism, honesty and dishonesty….Ultimately, he said, it was about making the choice between God and Satan.”

Yes, life is about making choices, and knowing that those choices enable one to live – if one’s purpose is to live. If one makes the wrong choices, one suffers or dies. Benedict has those choices inverted, however. If one chose between good and bad by his criteria, one would indeed suffer or die. It requires honesty to assert that one owns one’s own life, and that one lives selfishly. It requires dishonesty to profess otherwise.

“…When the mind-set of sharing and solidarity prevails, you can correct your course and change it to a sustainable and equal development,” said Benedict.

“The pope called for a ‘conversion’ of economic goods,” said The Scotsman article. “’Rather than using them for self-interest, we should also think about the needs of the poor, imitating Christ,’ he said.”

Once a National Socialist, always a National Socialist. There’s a “mind-set” for you.

One might innocently pose these questions to Benedict: If the rich and the middle class heeded his altruistic homilies, and shared their wealth with the poor – then what? Who or what would generate more wealth to give away? Would not such a mass transfer of wealth trigger an economic collapse, and impoverish everyone? Would not everyone then be literally staring starvation and death in the face?

Aye, there’s the rub! That is the secret, unexpressed mutual goal of both Ahmadinejad and Pope Benedict. They are humanitarians, “lovers” of mankind, mystics of muscle and mind.

Rand had personal names for them: Attila and the Witch Doctor.

Western Reason vs. Islamic Mysticism

A “moderate” Muslim organization called “Muslims Against Sharia” posted a comment on my “Islamophobia is Justified” commentary (in English and in Swedish, no less). Here is my reply to it. I do not often respond to criticisms by Muslims, but the reader will see why I do in this instance in the first and last paragraphs.

Sirs/Mesdames:

Thank you for replying to my “’Islamophobia’ is Justified” commentary on Rule of Reason. It quite startled me that you not only praised the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks and his colleagues, but also countered with your own bounty on the head of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi (obviously an alias of the contrivance of the coward who hides behind it).

I printed out your Muslims against Sharia Manifesto to read more closely and to compose some commentary on it. You are to be commended for taking the position on Sharia law that you have – that it must be completely abolished – and I agree with many of the points in the Manifesto, if not entirely with their style of expression, then in spirit, especially in regard to religious privacy, outdated practices, words and phrases, and especially with your endorsement of free expression in terms of depicting Mohammad. I particularly liked your characterization of terrorists as “homicidal zombies’; a more accurate description of them I have not encountered elsewhere.

All that, together with your condemnation of Muslims who murder Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of Islam, certainly deserves recognition of your courage and honesty, and you have mine.

You posed a very interesting question in the Manifesto. After citing the possible (and likely) corruption of the Bible over the centuries (if not expedient inventions of great parts of it by the Church), you ask: “Could it be possible that the Koran itself was corrupted by Muslims over the last thirteen centuries?”

I’m sure you are aware of the abrogation issue concerning the Koran, and if you or Muslim scholars attempt to reform Islam, this will be a major and I think insurmountable hurdle. It is my understanding that the earlier sections of the Koran and Hadith reveal a sort of “kinder, gentler” Mohammad who did not call for war against all unbelievers. I would probably agree with some historians who aver that these sections were calculated merely to win him allies among non-Muslims during his campaign to conquer the Arabian Peninsula. There is no other accounting for their content other than that they are a form of taqiya. Later sections of the Koran abrogate or supplant the earlier ones, however, and these contain the homicidal and belligerent injunctions that fundamentalists cite to sanction jihad.

Another issue I think you or your scholars would face would be retaining Islam’s purported “peaceful” identity, so reforming it would prove to be a daunting but nevertheless insoluble and impossible task.

If you performed a theological and textual vivisection on the written corpus of the religion – that is, managed to “reform” it by excising all its objectionable injunctions, leaving only its more “benign” aspects – could you could still call it “Islam”? What would be left would be a collection of unconnected, disparate rules and sentiments with no system at all. It might be a more pacific creed, akin to the Amish or Quaker, but would it still retain the identity you wanted to preserve? I don’t think it would. You would need to call it by another name.

My final remarks concern faith. Muslims, like Christians, Jews and other religionists, have “faith” in the existence of a supreme being, and that what such a being commands or prescribes as moral is true and right. Of this, all religionists are “certain.”

Now, there is a crucial difference between faith and certainty. You exhibit certainty about the existence, for example, of your car keys, that the laws of cause and effect will enable you to unlock the car door with them, and that the laws of physics will cause them to start the engine. Your certainty is grounded in reality. You don’t even think about it, or need to think about it. Reality and your certainty about it are the given.

You exhibit faith when you believe, without so much as an iota of proof, in the existence of a supernatural being who has never appeared to anyone in history, but whose existence is merely asserted by priests, mullahs or other professional mystics. Apocryphal anecdotes about this being comprise all the sacred texts of all the religions, all of them claiming at some point that this being spoke to or appeared before or somehow manifested his existence to a variety of prophets, seers, saints and so on.

But all of these assertions are merely legends that offer no supporting evidence to substantiate them other than what long-dead, shadowy monks and the like recorded. A pile of unsubstantiated written assertions does not make a truth, no matter how many millions of words or thousands of pages are devoted to “proving” it. Nor do millions of people believing in a thing make it a fact or a truth.

But, you are asked (or told) to accept this “truth” on faith. In short, you are expected to treat the unreal as real. Further, you are not permitted to think about or doubt or question what you are expected to believe. You are not to apply reason to the subject. Even further, you are expected, under pain of sin or punishment, to conduct your life according to a chaos of arbitrary rules and injunctions – pacific or not – purportedly authored by a being – call him Allah, God, Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, or Wontonka – evidence of whose existence you have not a shred, except for the assertions or say-so of a hierarchy of witch doctors.

As you have probably concluded, I am an atheist. I was raised in the Catholic faith, but I could never take it seriously, because every one of its tenets contradicted the evidence of my senses and my nature as a thinking, volitional being, and my senses and my mind and my nature are engineered to deal with reality, not with some fictive other-worldly realm. Every human being is so engineered, without exception, and nature did the engineering or “designing,” not a ghost. If reason cannot be applied to an issue, in this instance, the existence of a supreme being, call him what you will, if it is excluded from any discussion of the subject, then I see no reason to concern myself with the question.

But, you might ask, as so many Christians and Jews do, what about the “first cause”? What about the “beginning”? The cosmologies of the various religions, including Islam’s, are ludicrous, fantastic and metaphysically impossible. I think that most men suffer from a kind of mental block, or absorb it from our semi-rational culture, that stops them from accepting the axiom that existence exists. Period. So they become nominally “faithful” or agnostic.

The concept of a “first cause” or “beginning” is a logical fallacy that beggars metaphysical validation, and is subject to an endless reductio ad absurdum argument. Did existence come into existence when Allah or God or Vishnu snapped his fingers or just “wished” it, and if existence didn’t exist before that, where did this being reside if matter and nothingness did not exist before he did, and where did he come from, and why is his supernatural realm always beyond human perception and comprehension? And so on. It is a matter deserving an essay far longer than my remarks here. Aristotle and Ayn Rand have done a better job of exploding that concept than I could ever attempt.

As a primitive form of philosophy, I do not think any religion is “great.” It has caused so much misery, suffering, horror and destruction in man’s history. And because it has attracted so much attention lately, I find Islam especially repellent for its degrading rituals, prohibitions and virulent anti-mindedness. I don’t like seeing men bowing to a ghost or throwing pebbles at a rock in defiance of another ghost.

Faith and reason are incompatible and antithetical means of living, but most men commit the error of compartmentalizing them to avoid facing the issue. They know that doing the hokey-pokey while reciting a doggerel won’t cause their car keys to work, but they’ll do much the same thing believing it will make a morality work.

Because your Manifesto exhibited a quantum of reason, as did your response to my Islamophobia commentary, I thought it earned a reciprocal reply, which is the best kind of respect I can offer. However, I do not wish to debate this subject at any length, but hope you accept my observations in the spirit in which they are offered.

Democracy for Dummies

The World Forum on the Future of Democracy at Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary, the subject of extensive commentary by this site’s host (“Colonial Williamsburg’s Summit of Scrambled Egg-Heads,” September 5), ended on September 18 on a flat note. Only one session of the three-day event was open to the public. The other sessions were “private” events at Colonial Williamsburg’s Williamsburg Lodge, so it cannot be determined if these secret deliberations ended on a high note. Perhaps The New York Times columnist David Brooks, one of the Forum participants, will wax poetic on those private sessions in the near future and let the world know what transpired in them.

The Forum, the signature event of “Jamestown 2007” to mark the founding of Jamestown in Virginia in 1607, was more like a quasi-religious synod of high-minded altruists, globalists, collectivists and pragmatists to discuss in hush-hush huddles how they propose to reform, manage and save the world through “democracy.” As Mr. Provenzo pointed out in his “Scrambled Egg-Heads” commentary, “democracy” had little or nothing to do with the founding of either Jamestown or the United States. All the delegates and participants of the Forum, however, seemed to think it had everything to do with it. This fallacy or untruth neither they, nor the Forum’s publicists, nor the press cared to scrutinize, nor, for that matter, demonstrated any awareness of it. Contradictions cause them no consternation.

It is likely that not one of the 3,000 local residents, students and guests who attended the public session at the College had the presence of mind to challenge any of the panelists with the question: “But, wasn’t this country founded as a republic, and its representative government established to preserve and protect individual rights?” See “Scrambled Egg-Heads” for why individual rights could not be a concern to any of the Forum’s 600 delegates and speakers. Such a question would have left any one of the panelists blinking in momentary speechlessness until he could compose some reassuring but bilious blather.

For example, individual rights were not mentioned by Ali Ansari, panelist and director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, in answer to a question put to him during the public session. According to the September 18 Daily Press (Newport News, VA) article, “Democracy is no cure-all, Iran expert warns,” he said that democracy “is a process that requires a lot of work. It’s a means and not an end.”

The article reports that “One student asked if democracy and theocracy are mutually exclusive.

“’I think they probably are,’ Ansari said. But he added that religion and democracy aren’t incompatible. He also said in response to an earlier question that theocracy is ‘undoubtedly compatible’ with that form of government.”

Which can be taken to mean that, in the evolution of a theocratic state, democracy is compatible if everyone votes the straight Islam-Sharia law ticket. Then democracy, the “means,” can be discarded because a totalitarian theocratic state, the “end,” will be established – permanently. This is probably what Ansari meant when he said the two forms are “probably” and ultimately mutually exclusive.

Dissension from that “consensus” can result in a charge of apostasy or heresy and relegation to a state of dhimmitude of anyone who protests, or worse. The consequences of opposing Islamic theocracy, elected or not, are remarkably similar to those suffered by dissenters under totalitarian communism and Nazism.

The intellectual roots of Ansari’s brand of vacuous doublethink are strictly Western; see Immanuel Kant, Hegel, Comte, Marx and other anti-Western theorists of the 18th and 19th centuries. Islam’s own leading theorists studied them well in Western universities in the early and mid-20th century in search of a credible system which would both sanction Islam’s irrationality and allow it to gather strength with which to first, resist the inroads of the West, and then emasculate and ultimately subdue it. Not for them and their contemporary heirs and practitioners to see Islam suffer the fate of the Catholic Church, when reason in the Renaissance and Enlightenment contributed to that institution’s diminished role as a political force.

If Islam is enjoying a resurgence, it is only because the West has abandoned reason as the primary means of combating and defeating any species of irrationalism. Ansari and his other Muslim Forum participants could have pointed out (but certainly didn’t) that Islam is as much a political system as it is a religious one. Its fundamentalist purists and moderates make no distinction between God and government. They are one and the same, which is what Christian conservatives are asserting more aggressively today in the U.S.

It is doubtful that Ansari offered Iran as an exemplar of “deliberative” democracy. After all, Iranians voted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into power, and now they are stuck with a copycat Hitler who is running the country ragged in his pursuit of Iranian hegemony in the Mideast. Ansari’s glib answer was so vacillating that he might feel it is safe enough to return to Tehran. He must have suspected that his remarks were being closely monitored from far away by Ahmadinejad’s thought police. It is certain they gave his performance high marks.

It is also doubtful that he cited Iraq or Afghanistan as models of democracy in action, countries whose citizens promptly voted in theocratic regimes.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put in a surprise appearance at the Forum – the Bush administration having a special interest in “democracy” – and gave a talk titled “Promoting Democracy Abroad: A Realist’s View.” His presence was written up in a companion Daily Press article of the same date, “Gates: Leaving Iraq a setback for freedom.”

The article reports him as saying that the United States “has made its share of mistakes.”

“From time to time, we have strayed from our ideals and have been arrogant enough in dealing with others. Yet what has brought us together with our democratic allies is a shared belief that the future of democracy and its spread is worth our enduring labors and sacrifices – reflecting both our interests and our ideals.”

Without implying admiration for him, Woodrow Wilson said it better. Gates’s statement is just an echo of Wilson’s imperative in his April 1917 address to Congress that “the world must be made safe for democracy,” and is simply a reiteration of President Bush’s exhortations on the same “duty” to pursue the same selfless goal.

The Daily Press article reported that “Gates emphasized that it takes time to develop democratic governments, referring to efforts within the last 60 years in Germany, Japan, South Korea and other countries, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The article did not mention if Gates dwelt on the nature of those efforts, which in Germany meant a program of ruthless denazification, and in Japan of stripping the Emperor of his deity status and extinguishing every bit of militarism from the culture. It is doubtful that Gates discussed these efforts, or that he even knows much, if anything, about that chapter of successful U.S. foreign policy.

But, can we imagine Gates or Bush Junior or Condoleezza Rice approving a program of “de-Islamizing” Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan? No. Such a program would be “arrogant” and “un-democratic.” To propose and impose a separation of mosque and state and a system of objective law would be “offensive” to a “great religion.”

“Gates said that for the U.S. ‘to leave Iraq and the Middle East in chaos would betray and demoralize our allies there and in the region, while emboldening our most dangerous adversaries.’ He urged staying the course in Afghanistan, which he called ‘a litmus test of whether an alliance of advanced democracies can still make sacrifices and meet commitments to advance democracy.’”

Translation: If the U.S. withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan because of the incalculable expense of blood and treasure, it would mean an admission that the policy of altruistic sacrifice to promote democracy, any time, anywhere, is at least futile and impractical, if not immoral. It would be a concession that a failure to act in the U.S.’s self-defense and security has only emboldened our adversaries, chiefly Iran, all of whom correctly treat the U.S.’s policy of selflessness and willingness to “talk things out” as a weakness to be exploited.

Another surprise participant on the public Forum panel was the doppelganger of former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, a left-over from Bush Senior’s administration.

The has-been Secretary of State, however, the Daily Press reports, “drew one of the night’s biggest bursts of applause by saying the United States no longer can take out leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, though it’s done things like that in the past. He said leaders like Chavez could get themselves into trouble on their own and then get replaced.”

Like Osama bin Laden, whom President Bill Clinton had a chance to “take out” but passed up? Or Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe? Or Fidel Castro of Cuba? Or Omar Qadaffi of Libya? Or Vladimir Putin of Russia? Or Ahmadinejad of Iran? Instead of being replaced, these “leaders” have demonstrated remarkable staying power, a power they derive largely from the pragmatic, compromising moral relevance policies of the West and particularly those of the U.S.

Eagleburger expressed an odd opinion, given the venue:

“We should never expect that we can take American democracy into somebody’s country and expect it to work.”

While his statement contradicted the theme and purpose of the Forum, this contrarian assertion apparently passed unnoted and unchallenged. It is as much a reflection on Eagleburger’s chaotic philosophical and moral premises, as on the audience’s.

The Daily Press article also reported that Eagleburger “provided a feisty response to a student’s question on whether increased government surveillance will lead to a Big Brother-style regime.

“’I’m not going to apologize for getting tougher when there are problems within this country that have to be dealt with,’ Eagleburger said. He said the nation must take terrorism seriously and do things it hasn’t done before, within limits.”

“Within limits”? O’Brien, the villain of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, would not agree that there are “limits” to such power, once it is acquired, and he is much more persuasive on that matter than Eagleburger could ever be. As for the “problems within this country,” anyone can go onto Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project site and see how extensive those problems are by studying the map of the U.S. that pinpoints the dozens of Al Qada, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other “Islamic extremist” cells that exist in this country. One can’t gauge how “tough” the authorities are being with them.

And concerning taking “terrorism seriously,” the best “serious” policy would be to deal militarily with states that sponsor terrorism and that fund all those cells. If that happened, all those cells would perish, or they would show their hand only to have it lopped off by the authorities. Then there would be no more need for Big Brother-style surveillance.

But statists need an on-going crisis, real or imaginary (whether it is terrorism, obesity, health care, smoking, global warming, interest rates, etc.), as a rationale for acquiring and retaining extra-legal powers. It usually takes mass civil disobedience, an uprising, or a revolution to force a government to relinquish them.

Also on the public session panel was retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She may have had more to say about democracy, but the Daily Press article chose to merely report her Jay Leno-style “Man in the Street” observation that “a recent poll found that more young people are able to name the Three Stooges than the nation’s three branches of government.

“She said, ‘If young people can’t name the three branches, then we might be in a little bit of trouble.’”

She might have added that if older people, such as the Forum’s speakers and participants, can’t or won’t distinguish between the concepts of democratic and republican forms of government, then we are in more than just “a little bit of trouble.” After all, it is her own and her successor generations of teachers and thinkers who are largely responsible for the general ignorance of young people today.

And that was the congress of knaves, cads, and illusionists, who assembled from around the world to test (liberally paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson in his last letter) the new chains of “monkish ignorance and superstition” about democracy. They came, “booted and spurred,” to persuade men that they were indeed born with “saddles on their backs” to be ridden legitimately by the select few of the Forum, by the tripartite graces of collectivism, unreason, and power.

It was democracy for dummies. Will the dummies ever open their eyes and acquire some smarts before it is too late?

“Islamophobia” is Justified

Islam gets such good Western press that one can’t imagine why Muslims protest so much. For every “offensive” cartoon of Mohammad that bubbles up into public view from the fetid swamp of a decaying and suicidal European culture, there are miles of newsprint that implicitly or overtly take the side of Islam. Of course, the “public” is fortunate if it ever sees these cartoons, because most Western newspapers and news services are too tremulously funked to reprint them for their readers’ edification. The cowardice is artfully disguised by most publications under the cloak of multicultural “tolerance” and “respect” for a great religion.

The exceptions are perhaps such bastions of freedom of the press as The New York Times, which, so much the worse, seems to be sincere in its esteem for a creed whose chaotic and often homicidal tenets were established by a murderous barbarian who heard a voice in the night. The angel Gabriel’s, the legend goes. One imagines Allah was too much of elitist snot to speak directly to a mere mortal.

The Islamists’, or Islamofascists’ protests against such alleged “offenses” seem all out of proportion to their infrequent occurrences. This is because the Islamists demand complete, across-the-board “respect” – or submission. Islam forbids Muslims to criticize the creed; its fundamentalists also expect infidels to abide by the same prohibition.

An instance of Islam-friendly journalism is an Associated Press item of September 16, under the headline “U.N. expert: Religious bias a threat to peace.” No, the “religious bias” is not Islam’s persecution and murder of Christians, Jews, and other religious faithful around the world, but a phenomenon called “Islamophobia.”

“A U.N. expert on racism on Friday branded the defamation of religions – in particular critical portrayals of Islam in the West – a threat to world peace.

“’Islamophobia today is the most serious form of religious defamation,’ Doudou Diene told the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is holding a three-week session in Geneva.

“Diene cited a caricature of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in a Swedish newspaper, a protest by far-right groups in Belgium Tuesday against the ‘Islamization of Europe,’ and campaigns against the construction of mosques in Germany and of an ‘ever increasing trend’ toward anti-Islamic actions in Europe.”

One’s first thought after reading this pap is: “He must be kidding.” But, then, Mr. Diene is a U.N. “expert,” and such “experts” not only get things backwards, but get them perversely backwards, as well. No one notices it, perhaps least of all Western journalists.

“Diene, a Senegalese lawyer and U.N. expert on racism, was presenting a report on defamation of religions to the 47-member council. The report also includes sections on anti-Semitism and other forms of persecution around the world.”

If Mr. Diene asserted in his report that “Islamophobia” is the “most serious form of religious defamation,” then one can bet that the sections on anti-Semitism and “other forms of persecution” will not be very lengthy or sententious. If they exist, these sections will not dwell on:

• The regular defamation in cartoons, editorials and in television programming of Jews, Christians and other religionists in the Muslim media.
• The Islamic Sudanese government’s campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Darfur.
• The fatwahs against the Danish and Swedish cartoonists (not to mention the still outstanding fatwah against Salman Rushdie, and the achieved fatwahs against Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh).
• The destruction or vandalizing of churches and attacks on non-Muslims during Muslim riots in Europe, especially against non-hijabed, non-Muslim women.
• The synagogues in many European cities now protected by the police or private armed guards against Muslim jihadists.

That is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Associated Press item concludes:

“African and Islamic countries welcomed the assessment and called for moves
to draft an international treaty that would compel states to act against any form of defamation of religion. European Union members of the council and other countries cautioned against equating criticism of religion with racism.”

The only religionists now claiming that any criticism of Islam by Westerners constitutes “racism” are Muslims. And the “caution” by Europeans and presumably other Western nations on the council is the usual meekly vacuous squeak of protest.

None of this was noted by Frank Jordans, who filed the AP report. Now, before he filed his article, he might have taken time to consult a dictionary on the term “phobia.” The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a “morbid fear or aversion.” Webster’s New Collegiate defines it as “an irrational, persistent fear of a particular object or class of objects.” The American Heritage defines it as “a persistent, abnormal, or illogical fear of a specific thing or situation.”

He might have then asked himself: If Islamists or jihadists in the name of Allah were not so regularly persistent in their suicide bombings, detected and foiled conspiracies to perpetrate mass casualties in the West, kidnappings and murders of non-Muslim humanitarian workers, and other episodes of Islamic religious violence, would anyone be justified in developing a “phobia” for Islam? No.

However, since all these outrages are committed by Muslims in the name of Islam, could “Islamophobia” be considered at all morbid, irrational, illogical or even abnormal? Is such a phobia any less justified or understandable than harboring a phobia for rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, or poisonous centipedes?

Perhaps, he might have further thought, such a phobia is more justified or understandable because, while one might have a chance but fatal encounter with a snake, spider or centipede, Islamists or Islamofascists deliberately target their victims. The difference, he might have realized, is one of volition.

Then the journalist might have scoffed: Who or what is the real “threat to world peace”? How can this U.N. “expert” take so much exception to the defiant but pathetic gestures of a dying culture – the cartoons, the protest against the Islamization of Europe and so on – and characterize them as “destabilizing”?

And, if he had any self-respect as a journalist, and respect for his profession, he might have taken principled exception to the idea of an “international treaty” that would prohibit or punish the defamation of any religion. He might have thought: I’ll say what I damned well please about any religion. As far as I’m concerned, and based on all the evidence of the last thirty years of Islamic violence, Islam has earned that phobia.

Jordans could have enlightened his readers about the Swedish cartoon mentioned by Doudou Diene – of Mohammad’s head on the body of a dog, a mullah holding the dog leash – drawn by Lars Vilks and published in Nerikes Allehanda on August 18. He could have mentioned the $100,000 reward for the murder of Vilks and a $50,000 reward for murdering the newspaper’s editor, both offered by the purported head of Al Qada in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.

Whose “peace” was threatened? Islam’s, or the Swedes’? These questions did not occur to Jordans, and so he did not bother to enlighten his readers.

Jordans could have enlightened his readers about the “far-right protests in Belgium against the ‘Islamization of Europe.’” These protests occurred in Brussels on September 11, when a peaceful protest by members of Belgium’s opposition parties was broken up by Belgian police, who beat and arrested two prominent demonstrators. The police undoubtedly wanted to prove to Islamists that they are on their side and can be just as brutal when it comes to punishing anyone who publicly speaks on the danger of recognizing Sharia law in an expiring Western culture.

Jordans could have questioned the use of the term “far-right” when it is used to smear anyone who protests Islamization anywhere, and emphasized that while it has traditionally been the “far right” that is accused of using “police state” tactics to squelch opposition, any more it is the far left that is employing them, such as in Belgium.

Jordans’ investigative skills must have been in a sleep mode on this subject, too.

Finally, Jordans could have mentioned another instance of anti-Islamic action in Europe cited by Diene, the “campaigns against the construction of mosques in Germany and Switzerland.” He might have merely noted these campaigns, and posed the question of whether they alone can stem the tide of Islamization, then proposed that it is the totalitarian ideas that are the foundation of Islam which must be combated, not their manifestation in the form of mosques. (He might have even pointed out that no synagogues, churches or even chapels may be built in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic fiefdoms, and delved into the Islamists’ double standard on the matter of places of worship.)

Jordans could have written something like this:

“In the West, churches and synagogues are just that – places for people to go and worship and socialize. But in the West, as well as in the Middle East, and in Indonesia and other Muslim-dominated countries, most mosques are venues of rabble-rousing and jihadist recruiting, where imams and mullahs regularly declaim against the West for its sins against Allah and call for holy war. This has been so thoroughly documented by intelligence services that it is a wonder most mosques in Europe and the U.S. have not been raided and closed down by counter-terrorism authorities.”

But, he didn’t write that. And if he had the knowledge to write it, he would not have dared to write it and file it. And if he had the integrity to write and file it, would the AP have accepted it? Is its motto “All the facts all the time”? Not likely.

That is giving Islam a good Western press. It is dishonest enough to cause one to develop a severe case of “media-phobia.”

The Ashes of Universal National Service

An interesting movie came and went in 1993 without much critical or even public notice, Thomas Carter’s Swing Kids, set in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1930’s. It is interesting because it presaged an issue that has been trial-ballooned by politicians and collectivists in the U.S. for decades – and is now rearing its ugly head again – ever since President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”: Mandatory national service.

The movie focuses on the conflicts of a group of rebellious teenagers devoted to “swing,” the popular dance music of the period. That style of music and dance, however, was not only frowned upon by the Nazi government as an instance of Western decadence, but was outlawed, as well. The teenagers are under constant pressure from their parents and teachers to conform to Nazi norms of good citizenship, which meant, among other things, serving their country by joining the Hitler Youth.

All but one in the group cave in to the pressure (that one character commits suicide after being hazed by members of the Hitler Youth). The most moral one, wearing the uniform of the Hitler Youth, is tasked to deliver little wooden boxes to several women in the city. He is not told of their contents. When he learns the boxes hold the ashes of husbands who were executed in concentration camps, of men who had opposed the Nazi regime, he breaks down, suddenly realizing the true horror of the monster he had formerly rebelled against but was now serving.

In a final, desperate, blind protest against the evil he cannot understand, he attends a dance at the Hotel Bismarck he knows is to be raided by the SS and the Hitler Youth. He is ultimately arrested and put on a truck with other dancers, presumably destined for a concentration camp.

(In one of his most effective roles, British actor Kenneth Branagh [Hamlet, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing] plays an SS officer who persuades the principal teenager to join the Hitler Youth by promising better food and luxuries for his family and immunity from Nazi purges. A friend called him the “great seducer.”)

This raises the question of how many American youths today would be able to rebel against the American version of the Hitler Youth as proposed by Time Magazine in its August 30th issue, “The Case for National Service: A Time to Serve.” Would they have the character to spurn the inducements, rewards and emoluments described in that propaganda? Would they have the repressed moral premises with which to gauge the evil of mandatory or pseudo-voluntary national service?

The questions are not difficult to answer. Are today’s youth being taught to regard themselves as individuals not answerable to the state, the collective or the nation for their existence? No.

Are they taught that they own their own lives? No.

Are they taught that they are not obligated to “give back” to society what it never gave them, and never could? No.

Are they taught that their education today is more a gauntlet of indoctrination than an acquisition of knowledge and skills? No.

Are they taught that reason is their sole guide to survival and living? No.

Are they taught that independence of mind is a virtue never to be compromised or adulterated? No.

Are they taught that whether it is national or “community” service, it is a policy of extortion? No.

Are they being taught that one’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are one’s inalienable rights? No.

They are being taught that those inalienable rights are imaginary, or perhaps that they were valid in the past but not in the present, or that they are obstructive to the public good and so alienable, or are conditional privileges granted by the state or the collective to be abridged, abrogated or nullified at whim or by expediency.

Today’s youth – and past generations of youth, to judge by the flaccid complaisance of today’s adults and “senior citizens” – are taught to believe that consensus and group-think are valid policies with which to judge right and wrong, that these are the only feasible means of dealing with others, that whatever independence or sense of self they may feel must be subordinated to the state or collective.

Two obscenities in the Time article must be dealt with before examining the piece in depth. The first is its twice quoting Benjamin Franklin out of context in a puerile resort to the argument from authority to make it seem that he endorsed the idea of national service. The second obscenity is its concluding flourish of quoting from the Declaration of Independence. “The courageous souls who signed the Declaration of Independence pledged ‘our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.’ The least we can do to keep the Republic is to pledge a little time.”

This last is either an instance of a profound ignorance of what moved the Founders to action, or an unmitigated, thoroughly dishonest subrogation of their words. Did it occur to the article’s author that the Founders pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in a commitment to freedom, not to slavery? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the tactic indicates that the author of the article is a college graduate who was taught that a study of history and ideas is merely a study of historical graffiti that can be indiscriminately linked to any proposition, any time, anywhere.

The flourish then manipulates that quotation to hang an onus of responsibility over the reader, implying that his own life, fortune and honor require him to pledge himself to voluntary or involuntary servitude in order to “keep the Republic.”

On to the critique of Time’s master plan to “save” the Republic.

In prefatory remarks to the article’s assertion that more and more Americans are volunteering in public service – “Polls show that while confidence in our democracy and our government is near an all-time low, volunteerism and civic participation since the 1970’s are near all-time highs” – the authors cite what they claim are some reasons for the purported rise in “volunteerism.”

• “…[T]hey see public-school system with 38% of fourth graders unable to read at a basic level.” The percentage is probably higher. But regardless of the percentage, isn’t that figure a reflection of the non-efficacy of government-run, compulsory public education? Shouldn’t the disgracefully low test scores in math, science and literacy of American students suggest a termination of public education?
• …[T]hey see the cost of health insurance escalating as 47 million people go uninsured.” Why is the cost escalating? It is the government’s interference in the medical business and its incremental socialization of the medical profession. What about those alleged 47 million uninsured people? Perhaps they don’t want the insurance, or can’t afford it, because they are already paying for their neighbors’ medical coverage and bills through their taxes.
• …[T]hey see a government that responded ineptly to a hurricane in New Orleans.” Should the federal government go to the rescue of state and local governments to reward them for their corruption and negligence? According to ABC, the federal government has to date already spent $114 billion on rebuilding New Orleans, and will spend billions more. Yet, the Time article recommends creating a “Rapid-Response Reserve Corps” of volunteers to work under the “guidance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” the very mismanaged bureaucracy that responded so ineptly!
• …[T]hey see a war whose ends they do not completely value or understand.” Neither do our politicians, including the President. Has any one of them heard of the Islamic jihad, or the Muslim Brotherhood, or the fifth column of cultural jihadists in the U.S., or placed any importance on them vis-à-vis the war against the West? No. There are apparently more important matters to see to than wondering how and why Islamists want to turn the U.S. into a caliphate.

For an intellectual sanction of Time’s plan for universal national servitude, the article relies on the assertions of an obscure Harvard (where else?) political scientist, Robert Putnam, who predicts that, despite the growing “diversity” of the American population, America will develop a “more capacious sense of ‘we.’” “We” meaning neither the thematic sense of Ayn Rand’s We the Living, nor the individualistic sense of “We” as the term is employed in the Declaration of Independence, but rather a boundless number of indistinguishable ciphers.

Twice in the course of the article the author insists that the proposed plan would be voluntary, not mandatory. Apparently he is anxious not to be accused of advocating involuntary servitude. What he fails to mention is that every one of the plan’s ten points requires another form of universal involuntary servitude: taxation. Individuals who resist the social pressure to sacrifice their time in “voluntary” service or refuse to be corralled in that “capacious ‘we’” not only can be shunned as “anti-social,” but can be dunned for the plan’s cost, as well.

Point One of the Time plan is to create a “National-Service Baby Bond.” Upon the birth of each American child, “the Federal Government would invest $5,000 in that child’s name in a 529-type fund – the kind many Americans are already using for college savings.” Where would that $5,000 come from but taxpayers? “At a rate of return of 7% [who or what will guarantee that rate?]…that money would total roughly $19,000 by the time that baby reaches age 20.”

Since it costs about $100,000 today to send a student through four years of an relatively inexpensive and mediocre liberal arts college, by the time “that baby” reaches college age, the cost could well be half a million dollars or more. And since such a “bond” would be similar to a Treasury bond, imagine the deleterious effects it would have in the marketplace for government securities; imagine all the rackets that would spring up in the trade of “baby bonds.”

The catch to this generous offer of other people’s money is “that baby” wouldn’t be allowed to touch it unless he spent at least one year in military or civilian “service.” This is a curious notion of “volunteerism.” Another catch is that the money “must be used to fund education, start a business or make a down payment on a home.” If, by that time, he can still afford such things.

Point Two of the Time plan proposes the creation of a White House cabinet-level department of universal mandatory service, which (under a “catchier” name, such as the Department of National Service, headed by someone whose surname shouldn’t rhyme with “Goebbels”) would amalgamate existing federal “volunteer” programs, such as National Senior Volunteer Corps and Americorps. That is, elevate the Corporation for National and Community Service to the executive level. This new department’s goal would be to “enlist at least 1 million Americans annually in national service by the year 2016.”

The author recommends appointing a department head “who would capture the imagination of the public,” such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, the petit fascist governor of California, or Michael Bloomberg, the petit fascist mayor of New York. If the author of the Time plan knows nothing else, he knows his statists and which ones would assume his departmental duties with power-hungry gusto. Yes, such a person would certainly capture the imagination of Americans who haven’t been beaten or who haven’t surrendered their independence to that “capacious ‘we’”: they would gird themselves for more proscriptions on their lives.

Points Four through Seven describe programs that would come under the aegis of this Department of National Service. The first is an “Education Corps” that would send selfless do-gooders into selected urban swamps of public education to tutor and teach children who can’t read and who are not “supervised” during after-school hours. This would presumably attempt to compensate for the failure of compulsory public school attendance. The “education corpspersons” (one supposes that would be the politically correct term) of course would not need to bother with children who can read and think because they are being home-schooled or sent to private schools (by parents who are also paying via property tax assessments for the dumbing down of public school students), those children far outperforming any prisoner or graduate of the public education system.

The second proposed DNS program would send children to what can only be called a “let’s pay the pubescent not to make trouble” program. “For many teenagers, the summer between middle school and high school is an awkward time. They’re too young to get a real job [thanks to child labor laws and the federal minimum wage] and too old to be babysat.” But apparently they are young enough for further indoctrination and old enough to be babysat by the federal government.

As a “rite of passage” program, the “summer of service” would organize “after-school activities for middle schoolers and run summer programs for younger students in exchange for a $500 college scholarship.” Presumably those activities and programs would focus on “doing good.” After all, our new Nazi youth must be energized. As for the pittance in scholarships, in the old days it was called embracery. Today it is called bribery.

Point Six of the DNS idea is to create a “Health Corps.” This program would oversee the education and make-work of volunteers who would direct low-income people to government insurance programs and work as nonmedical support staff. “The one-year experience in the Health Corps could lead these volunteers toward careers in nursing or medicine, helping to redress gaps that have left the U.S. with a dearth of qualified nurses and medical professionals.”

The simplest solution to filling that gap would be to abolish all immigration restrictions on competent medical professionals. The government’s problem with this solution is that most of those qualified immigrants would come from Europe, and that would be “discriminatory.” It should surprise no one that the federal government is the biggest practitioner of racism. Also, the government would need to abolish the INS, and all its personnel would need to find gainful, productive employment elsewhere – which wouldn’t be fair, either.

The last DNS program Time proposes is to “Launch a Green Corps.” “This would be a combination of F.D.R.’s Civilian Conservation Corps…and a group that would improve national infrastructure and combat climate change….Today there are 1.5 million Americans between 18 and 24 who are neither employed nor in school.”

One needn’t wonder why, since the un-schooled are either are not allowed (or don’t wish) to work or are not worth an employer’s federally mandated minimum wage. Picture semi-literate unemployables working on a New Orleans levee, or combating climate change by using giant fans to waft hot air back across the oceans. “The Green Corps could reclaim polluted streams [and seed it with more snail darters?] and blighted urban lots; repair and rehabilitate railroad lines, ports, schools and hospitals [all government owned or managed entities already!]; and build energy-efficient green housing for elderly and low-income people.” Which would be another invitation to more government-contractor racketeering, also paid for by the shunned and dunned.

Point Nine of the Time plan is to start a “National Service Academy.” Another and more accurate name for this idea would be an extended Nazi Youth Camp. In it, “students would be studying the Federalist Papers [provided they can read them] and learning how to transform a failing public school.” This four-year stint of indoctrination would entail a “five-year commitment to public service after graduation” in order to “create a new generation of civic leaders” – or bureaucrats and gauleiters.

“The idea has been endorsed by Hillary Clinton and Pennsylvanian Republican Arlen Specter who are co-sponsors of legislation that would allocate $164 million per year for the envisioned 5,000-student academy.” It is bipartisan, so there can’t be anything wrong with the idea, right? Who said the Democrats and Republicans are worlds apart in social policy?

Point Ten of the Time plan is to create a “Baby-Boomer Education Bond.” “Over the next 20 years, 78 million baby boomers will be eligible to retire. That is, if they can afford to – and if they want to.” If they can’t afford to, it is because government tax policies penalize their savings and retirement funds, so they continue working part- or full-time to make ends meet.

For doing time teaching children to read or performing “community service,” “baby-boomer volunteers would be able to designate a scholarship of $1,000 for every 500 hours” of volunteer work; this amount would be “deposited in an education savings account or a 529 fund to be used by the volunteer’s children or grandchildren or a student they designate.” That works out to $2 an hour, way below the minimum wage, and it represents money that was already taken away in taxes over the years, but “given back” by the government, with the proviso that the sucker cannot use it himself but must hand it over to someone else. Leave it to a collectivist to dream up another scam.

The author of the Time plan for universal national service calculates that it would cost only more billions of dollars to implement. “At the same time, corporate America would need to play a critical role….The private sector has contributed more than $1 billion to Americorps. The private sector must step up to the plate in funding national service – after all, it benefits, too.” How? By being nationalized by the federal government for not doing enough for the “public good,” just as corporate Germany was nationalized by the Nazi government?

The Time article ends its advocacy of universal national service by remarking that people “are often skeptical of calls for national service, especially from politicians, as they see them as crowd-pleasing rhetoric or a way of avoiding asking people to make a true sacrifice.” Frankly, any American with a shred of self-respect should be frightened of politicians arrogant enough to ask for a “true sacrifice.” To quote Ellsworth Toohey in Rand’s The Fountainhead:

“…Just listen to any prophet and if you hear him speak of sacrifice – run. Run faster than from a plague. It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.”*

The Time article is not so much another trial balloon as an emphatic signal to the presidential candidates of both parties that universal mandatory service is an imperative they should all endorse and include in their party platforms. “’People understand the idea that this is a great country,’ says Zach Maurin, the co-founder of ServeNext.org, which has launched a campaign to get the presidential candidates to endorse national service.” And there isn’t a single candidate who would not hesitate to advocate some form of it. Every one of them is statist to the core.

In my role as a writer, my concept of “good citizenship” has always been and will ever be to oppose every form of tyranny over the mind of man – and over his life, as well. I know what ashes are in the boxes of universal national service – the ashes of a great, free country.

I refuse to carry them.

*The Fountainhead, Centennial Edition, p. 666

September 11th: Six Years and Counting

Today is the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a day that has become less a day of infamy in men’s minds and more of a fading memory, not only among politicians – most of whom, Republican and Democrat, are too concerned with how to best straddle themselves on the fence yet still look appealing to voters – but among most Americans. Most Americans are living now in the enfeebling purgatory of disillusion, mistrust, and moral exhaustion.

The U.S. won a war against two established war machines in World War Two. Six years after being attacked by our enemies, have we won the war against states that sponsor terrorism?

What war? No declaration of war was ever made against them. As a result, the West-hating regimes of those states still remain intact and in power. In fact, President Bush’s vacillation on whether to serve mankind by being a “democracy builder” or to honor his oath of office to protect this country and never mind what the rest of mankind thinks about it, has added two more states to the Islamic club of evil: Iraq and Afghanistan. (Pakistan has from the beginning been only a pseudo-ally, dominated by a military that is either on the Taliban take or sympathetic with the Taliban.)

Iraq’s government is determined to milk the U.S. for all the billions its bureaucrats can siphon into their pockets before the country succumbs completely to Iranian hegemony. Afghanistan has signaled its true allegiance by hosting a visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and by looking the other way while the Taliban raises cash from sales of poppy crops grown within the country’s borders.

Add a new, non-Islamic enemy: Vladimir Putin’s fascist Russia, which is flexing its muscles by claiming sovereignty over the North Pole and sending squadrons of Soviet era bombers close to British air space in exercises of “chicken.” Putin is emboldened by what he correctly sees as American (and European) uncertainty and weakness.

The U.S. has merely protested in its best diplomatic whine Iranian military responsibility for killing American troops in Iraq (technically, another reason to declare war on Iran). Congenitally unable to recognize and deal with the real world and so unable to take the proper actions in self-defense, our policymakers can only stare like frozen deer into the headlights of the oncoming juggernaut of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Their solution is to “end the war,” to “draw down” our presence in Iraq by stealthy degrees, but somehow leave Iraq and Afghanistan “stabilized.” This will somehow un-provoke Ahmadinejad from using his bomb and discourage further terrorist attacks.

Ever since 9/11, President Bush has adhered to a policy that is scarily reminiscent of the premise of the 1989 baseball fantasy, Field of Dreams. Presumably the voice of God has told him that if he builds fields of democracy, all those putative freedom-yearning Muslims will come, that they will stop hating the U.S. and emerge like magic from the cornfield to express their gratitude and “play ball.” God, true to form, has apparently insisted that this fantasy be accomplished only by well-meaning altruism and self-sacrifice.

What else could we expect from a man whose favorite “philosopher” is Jesus?

This observation is more than an analogy. It identifies the root premise that results can be wished into existence without any reference to the nature of existence or of things in existence. As famous but long dead baseball giants somehow inhabiting a Kantian noumenal realm can be called back to the phenomenal world if one “believes” and builds a baseball field, so an “ideal” state of non-judgmental amity with Islam and our other dedicated enemies can be called into the real world by wishing very hard – religionists call it praying – and it will become true.

There is no fundamental difference between the premise behind Field of Dreams and the premise that has governed Bush’s war and diplomatic policies since 9/11.

One real-world problem with his fantasy is that it costs him and his fellow wishers nothing to pursue it. However, it is costing American lives and American wealth, which the wishers believe are inexhaustible, but which are being sacrificed on the altar of altruism and pragmatism. Because individual rights and productivity are not quite “real” to them, the wishers consequently are ready and willing to expend countless lives and incalculable billions to attain their own “field of dreams.”

How great, perilous, and shameful is the gap between the fantasy world of the altruists in office and in power and the real world of the likes of Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers, who struggled to overcome their captor/killers on the flight that ultimately crashed in a Pennsylvania field near Shanksville on 9/11. They gave the last full measure of their devotion to actual values, to living in the real world, to taking the proper actions.

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