The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: August 2014

The Self vs. the Group

Is anyone “born” anything, except
tabula rasa? Is one “born”
a Jew, or a Catholic, or a Muslim, or Buddhist, or even an atheist?
Recently, a writer I esteem for his
consistently perspicuous and insightful observations on foreign affairs,
domestic policies, and modern culture, writing about being Jewish, made this startling
statement
:
“Jewish is a
group identity. There is no such thing as an individual Jew. No man is an
island and certainly no Jew is. Someone who is not part of the Jewish people is
not a Jew.”
Yes, being Jewish might be a “group
identity.” But Jews are individuals first, Jewish second. People can
choose to be part of a “group,” but they’re still individuals making
individual choices. An individual has no innate collective identity, unless he
chooses one, and then it is not “innate.” There is nothing in any
person’s genes or physical makeup that determines the content of his mind. Groups
or collectives don’t think. One can choose to join a mob or a political party
or a fraternity and the like, but this is making an individual choice. No one
is destined to be drawn inexorably or helplessly into an imaginary gestalt,
however benign or malevolent it might be.
Regardless of one’s circumstances, the
element of volition and choice is ever present in any individual, regardless of
the circumstances of his birth. One can be born into a Jewish family, a Muslim
family, a Catholic one, even an atheist one, a Zulu tribe, and so on, and be
raised in strict accordance with the dogma or tenets, traditions, or beliefs shared
by that group. At any point in one’s life, one still has the capability of
questioning whether what one is taught is true or false. If one has the
courage, or the curiosity, one can step outside of one’s “group,” and
observe it from the outside. Groups are not necessarily unbreakable chains or boast
of “force fields” that prevent one from leaving them.
Tabula
rasa
,
a Roman Latin term for “clean slate,” is an all- important ingredient
in this issue. One can write one’s own slate, or let others write it. One can
form one’s own independent mind, or allow others to determine what is in it and
therefore make one dependent. It’s that simple.
Claiming that one is born anything but tabula rasa is to utter a fallacy, to
make oneself a prisoner of circumstances and irrelevancies.
The same truth applies to race. One’s skin
color or facial features do not determine the content of one’s mind, no more
than do one’s limbs or body weight. Claiming that one has been born
“black” or Hispanic or Chinese, and so is unable to change how one
thinks, is to surrender to determinism, to accept a fate worse than death,
which is to say that one is the helpless pawn of forces beyond one’s control. Then,
if one commits a crime – or achieves an admirable value or accomplishes a
rational success – one can indulge in the double-edged luxury of claiming: I
couldn’t help it, I’m black (or white, or Asian). This is robbing Peter – you – to pay tribute to a tribe of
anonymous, undifferentiated Pauls, who had nothing to do with your crime or
your achievement, and who may even claim it. You steal from yourself to give to
strangers. Group think is altruist. You sacrifice your own identity and pride
to and for the group.
Communists can change their minds (even if
they were born as “red diaper babies”), and become neoconservatives, vociferously
excoriating Communism but not enthralled with capitalism, or are inarticulate
in stating what they are for.
Christians can convert to Islam, or to Buddhism, or become Moonies, or
Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons – or vice versa – or become founding members of
the Front for Free Range Poultry committed to acts of terror on Tyson and
Perdue chicken farms, or even join an actual domestic terrorist group.
Children raised in strict or lax religious
households can abandon religion all together or switch to another, more
earnest-sounding creed. Children born into a family of Progressives or
Democrats or Republicans can, when their store of knowledge is sufficient,
switch politics and become opponents of their parents’ political beliefs and
convictions. Children’s minds are subjected to or immersed in the practice and
doctrine of a creed, and really have no means to defend themselves. So they may
simply grow to adulthood not questioning anything. They will think: I must be a
Jew, or a Christian, or a Muslim, because no man is an island, I must have been
born a Jew, Christian, Muslim, or a black, and so I am but a cipher of that
group. I cannot take credit or be indicted, one way or another.
That way he can convince himself there is
no other alternative, and can consciously or unconsciously disavow
responsibility for his own actions or the criminal actions committed by members
of his “group.”
But, regardless of the rationality or
irrationality of the creed or of one’s choice, choosing to remain
“Jewish” or “Christian” is an act of volition.
One can choose not to choose. This is the most serious, damning, and perilous
condition. It, too, is an act of volition. This is the more common decision
most men make when it comes to politics or a system of ethics or a morality.
For one reason or another, it is an act of mental stagnation, of not wanting to
bother to think, of being comfortable in a state of mental arrest. Such men are
satisfied with the inert, unchallenged contents of their minds, letting the
slate written by others remain uncorrected. The basic reasons for refusing to
think are either fear or being content with being a mental dullard. Ayn Rand,
the novelist/philosopher, called this “second-handedness.”
When an individual will question his
“received wisdom” depends on his courage and determination to know
the truth for better or for worse, and having had developed a disposition to
investigate other answers to “life’s questions.” Again, it is a
matter of choosing to think. Some people don’t begin to question what they
believe until some stage or point in their adulthood. Others begin in their
teens or early adulthood. Very few individuals are willing to perform a volte-face in their premises and world
views once they have reached or passed the age of fifty. They become dependent
on a lifelong store of knowledge which they cannot validate or be certain is
true or not. They become defensive when it is questioned and hostile to anyone
who seems to contradict it or who seems to be a reproach to their life-long
held values.
Habits are not necessarily a bad thing.
Choosing to think is a good habit. Choosing not to think, as John Galt, the
philosopher-inventor in Rand’s novel, Atlas
Shrugged
, said to the world, is tantamount to the notion of Original Sin.
Thinking is man’s
only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the
source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but
struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of
one’s consciousness, the refusal to think—not blindness, but the refusal to
see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of unfocusing your
mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment—on the
unstated premise that a thing will not exist if only you refuse to identify it,
that A will not be A so long as you do not pronounce the verdict “It is.”
Non-thinking is an act of annihilation, a wish to negate existence, an attempt
to wipe out reality. But existence exists; reality is not to be wiped out, it
will merely wipe out the wiper. By refusing to say “It is,” you are refusing to
say “I am.” By suspending your judgment, you are negating your person.
The negation can be compartmentalized. An
individual can be rational “to a fault” in his career and elsewhere
in his life, but still claim that he is either an inseparable member of his
group (a race or a religion or a political cause), or even a superb example of
his group. (See my column, “The
Origins of Modern Black Collectivism
” for W.E.B. Du Bois’s early promulgating
the notion of a black “Talented Tenth” who would lead, presumably,
the “Untalented Ninety Percent,” of blacks out of poverty and discrimination
by that other enemy group, whites.)
Groups can be persecuted (as Jews have been
for millennia), or Christians slaughtered (as they are now in the Mideast).
Centuries ago Catholic France persecuted French Protestants. The Cambodian
intelligentsia was sent to the “killing fields” by another group, Pol
Pot’s Communists. Stalin, a Georgian Russian, targeted the relatively
prosperous Kulaks in Russia for extermination. Instances of one group
destroying or persecuting another are legion in human history. The most
notorious one in the present, targeted for death, submission, or slavery, are
non-Muslim “infidels,” regardless of their race, color, gender, or
creed (e.g., Sunni Muslims are battling Shi’ite Muslims, the one group
regarding the other as heretical “infidels”). 
Groups do exist, but they must be defined
by a common thread or denominator of choices made by those who elect – or by default
or without thought – to “belong” to them, and by what things are
chosen by those who wish to  “belong” to any specific group. Hassidic
Jews are a distinct group of Jews. The Mennonites differ from the Amish.
Catholics who prefer masses said in Latin disparage Catholics who prefer masses
said in English. The differences between groups are endless.  But what members of these groups all have in
common is that it is a consequence of individual volition and choice (but not
necessarily of thought).
I might, as Rand did herself, call myself a
radical for capitalism. But that is a conscious choice. I was not born tabula rasa except that laissez-faire was already written on it.
That never happened. It wasn’t in my genes or in my race, I wasn’t fated to
become one. After years of observing men’s behavior in politics and economics
and social relationships, I wrote that
myself.

The Origins of Modern Black Collectivism

I remember these scenes vividly.
Sometime in the mid-1950’s, when I was
about ten years old, I was in the family car with my foster father on some
errand. My foster father was an Italian-American Lutheran truck driver who
married into an Irish-German family. We had to stop on Perrysville Avenue (this
was in Pittsburgh), right in front of Perrysville High School (as it was known
then). A black cop was directing traffic at the five-way intersection, which
had no traffic light. My foster father remarked angrily, “Damned niggers
are taking over everything!” 
Now, I had never seen a black man before,
and did not understand my foster father’s anger. But the seething malice was evident
in the way he uttered the words. I gave him what I guess he perceived to be a
“dirty look,” but which was simply my astonished but mute inquiry.
When we got home, he beat me with the strap
of his belt. I guess he saw reproach in my glance.
In another episode of
“misunderstanding,” the family had company over. We were in the
living room and there was a lively conversation on politics, in which I did not
participate. I don’t recall exactly what the subject was, and I think I was in
my pre-teens. But either my foster father or foster mother asked me: “What
color are we, Eddie?”
I answered: “Beige.” Well, I was
the only member of the family who read books. My foster parents had conniption
fits every time I consulted the pristine set of the Encyclopedia Americana they had bought for show and shelved in a
glass-door cabinet.  I had encountered
the term somewhere, and it seemed more appropriate and truer than was
“orange” or “white.” The term was in my vocabulary, not my
family’s.
So, “beige” was not the answer
any of the adults expected to hear. I think they all sat stunned, and my foster
parents looked embarrassed.
When the company left, I again heard the
swoop and felt the sting of my foster father’s belt.
Yes, racism existed in America then, and it
still exists, and will continue to exist for as long as men think of others in
collectivist terms. Observe the racism and destructive furor evident in
Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting of a black man by a white police officer.
Except that it is basically “black” racism. A man who has just robbed
a convenience store, assaulted a police officer, and charged that officer with
every intention of causing him more harm, was shot and killed by the officer.
But the facts and circumstances are irrelevant. The black “youth” is
being touted as a “victim” of white racism.
No one asks: What was the cop, Darren
Wilson, who was injured, supposed to do when the “youth” sauntered
away? Ignore the assault, call in sick and drive to the nearest hospital to
have his injured eye attended to? If he is a law enforcement officer, and
suspected Brown of just robbing a convenience store, he was obliged to act, and
not let Brown walk off to boast to his buddies, “Hey! I just socked a honky
cop and he ain’t done nothin’ about it!”
In today’s politically correct, thought-repressing
climate, imagine what would be said, shouted from the rooftops, and headlined were
the Darren Wilson/Michael Brown roles reversed.
A white man, of the same weight, height,
and nasty disposition as Brown’s, barely literate, as well, except in the
“rap” vernacular, and known to most locals as a brutish thug, robs
and manhandles a convenience store clerk, then walks out with merchandise he
did not pay for. A black policeman stops him on the street, asking him to walk
on a sidewalk. The white man assaults the officer, tries to take his gun,
causing it to fire once. He pummels the officer, then walks off. The officer
gets out of the patrol car and tells him to stop. After all, the
“white” Brown has already committed a felony assault on the officer,
in addition to being a suspect in a store robbery that has just come over the
patrol car radio.
The white man turns and charges the
officer, maybe uttering a “rebel yell,” intending to inflict further
bodily harm the officer. The officer shoots, several times. The brute is hard
to stop.
The verbally abusive redneck yahoo is
killed.  
Would the black officer be accused of
racism? No. it would be the white man. “See,” the chorus of the MSM
and race-card players and liberals would cry, “that just proves that
whites don’t respect blacks, even when blacks are part of the establishment.
Let’s hang that white trash!”
Michael Brown has not been portrayed as a
thug, but as an “innocent” youngster who meant no harm.  All he was doing was walking in the middle of
a busy street. And also, well…getting away with robbery in spite of his
video-taped assault on the store clerk.
The preceding is by way an introduction to
a book by Murali Balaji, published in 2007, The
Professor and the Pupil
:  The
Politics and Friendship of W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson.
Balaji is a regular do-gooder contributor
to the Huffington
Post
, and seems to want to do for Hindus in this country what CAIR (the
Council on American Islamic Relations) has been doing for Muslims: Empower them
politically, culturally, and socially. 
He has written an adulatory character study
of the most influential advocates and propagandists for black racism, William Edward BurghardtW. E. B.Du Bois (1868-1963), the black sociologist, civil rights
activist, and advocate of one species of racism, a study which parallels Du
Bois’s life with that of Paul
Robeson
(1898-1976), the black actor, singer, Stalinist admirer of the
Soviet Union, and secret member of the Communist Party of the United States.  (His son, Paul
Robeson, Jr
. , who went to grade school with Josef Stalin’s daughter in
Moscow, had denied it until it the CPUSA boastfully outed him in 1998, calling
him “one of their own”). 
Du Bois’s racial theories  — and there were many until he became as
committed a racist as Louis Farrakhan and Rev. Jeremiah Wright – advanced over
decades by him and his ilk were as vile as the “scientific” racial
theories of Madison
Grant
,  Houston Chamberlain,
and
Joseph
Arthur, Comte de Gobineau
.
The current black strain of racism has at
least a century of ideological antecedents. But, it would be appropriate to let
Ayn Rand, the
novelist/philosopher, have the first word on the subject of racism:
Racism is the
lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of
ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic
lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are
produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in
practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but
by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
Racism claims that
the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content)
is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined
before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the
caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited
knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism
is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of
collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various
breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.
Like every form of
determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man
from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects
of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with
chemical predestination.
Yes, black racism is also a form of
collectivism, and much of it was encouraged and propounded by communist and
socialist intellectuals. Du Bois and his successors in racial
“studies” such as Marcus
Garvey
, Henry
Louis Gates, Jr.
, Cornel
West
, Derrick
Bell
, and Regina
Austin
, and a score more offered irrational solutions to racism that
entailed the employment of racial preferences (affirmative action), force, the
inculcation of self-consciousnesses of being “black” (black pride), reclaiming
Africa from capitalist and colonialist Europeans, and blatant bigotry against
any and all whites.
Virtually the only black spokesman in the
20th century for genuine black freedom was Booker T. Washington
(1856-1915) who disagreed with Du Bois about how to go about emancipating blacks from discrimination or achieving equal rights with whites. He thought that
force, preferential treatment,  and
“revolutionary” action would only be counterproductive and leave
blacks worse off than before. As they have been left worse off, by chiefly the
Progressive Democrats, who wish to keep blacks in thrall as a tool of
perpetuating the welfare state.
Derrick Bell argued that America was an
intrinsically “racist” country and that its fundamental character as
a nation of laws not of men was but a complicated ruse and dumb show concocted
by whites to perpetuate “white” supremacy and to oppress blacks.  Therefore, laws were needed to compensate
blacks for the discrimination and to enforce their preferential treatment. Any
perceived “injustice” to whites in such a program was but reparations
in the name of the ancestors of whites, who may or may not have had anything to
do with enslaving or persecuting blacks.
Bell in the 1970’s began to develop his Critical
Race Theory
(CRT).
Founded by the late Derrick Bell, critical
race theory is an academic discipline which maintains that society is divided
along racial lines into (white) oppressors and (black) victims, similar to the
way Marxism frames the oppressor/victim dichotomy along class lines. Critical
race theory contends that America is permanently racist to its core, and that
consequently the nation’s legal structures are, by definition, racist and
invalid. As Emory University professor Dorothy Brown puts it, critical race
theory “seeks
to highlight the ways in which the law is not neutral and objective but
designed to support white supremacy and the subordination of people of
color.” A logical derivative of this premise, according to critical race
theory, is that the members of “oppressed” racial groups are entitled—in fact
obligated—to determine for themselves which laws and traditions have merit and
are worth observing.
Further, critical
race theory holds
that because racism is so deeply ingrained in the American character, classical
liberal ideals such as meritocracy, equal opportunity, and colorblind justice
are essentially nothing more than empty slogans that fail to properly combat—or
to even acknowledge the existence of—the immense structural inequities that
pervade American society and work against black people. Thus, according to
critical race theorists, racial preferences (favoring blacks) in employment and
higher education are not only permissible but necessary as a means of
countering the permanent bigotry of white people who, as Bell put it, seek to
“achieve a measure of social stability through their unspoken pact to keep
blacks on the bottom.”
Regina Austin, a professor of law at the
University of Pennsylvania, and an advocate of Critical
Race Theory
, can be characterized as a high priestess of the theory and how
to practice it in real life. Black criminals should be treated with kid gloves,
or not at all.
Central to Austin’s
“Advanced Torts” course is her claim that minority status confers the privilege
of interpreting the law as one pleases. As writer Heather MacDonald points out,
Professor Austin, in her published articles, has exhorted the black community
to reject the distinction between lawful and unlawful activity as the imposed
strictures of an oppressive white society. Austin pours scorn on such
“traditional values” as “conformity to the law,” which she insists will
“intensif[y] divisions within the black community.”
Austin has also
called on blacks to engage in outright lawbreaking, which she calls “hustling,”
but which in fact amounts to any number of acts of thievery licensed by
Austin’s demands for social justice. Thus, “clerks in stores [who] cut their
friends a break on merchandise, and pilfering employees [who] spread their
contraband around the neighborhood,” are encouraged by Austin to occupy the
“good middle ground between straightness and more extreme forms of
lawbreaking.”
Much of this thinking is either Marxist in
essence or heavily influenced by Marxism. The riots in Ferguson, Missouri this
month are a direct application of those ideas, trickled down from academia to
government programs and a compliant news media, and ultimately, to “the
street.”  
Then there are the non-intellectual
preachers and promulgators of the same vicious ideology, such as Nation of
Islam head Louis
Farrakhan
, and retired minister to President Barack Obama, Jeremiah
Wright
. In addition, there were the Black Panthers, individuals such as
Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, and numerous
other “activists.” Whether it is the naked “whitey is the
devil” claim of Farrakhan’s or the “black theology” of Wright’s or
Bell’s Critical Race Theory, they are all collectivist in their fundamental
premises. There are as many variations of black racism as there are of white
racism, but they are all evil.
The racial philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois,
for example, in Balaji’s description of the “Doctor’s” world view,
moved in stages over time from concocting the notion of a “Talented
Tenth” of American blacks – the notion that the “best and
brightest” would, after being educated and proving their worth to live in
a “white-dominated” society, help to uplift the balance of blacks
from poverty and ignorance – to an unreserved endorsement of the Soviet Union,
with full knowledge of Stalin’s genocide and the murderous purge of the
Communist Party of its original founders (such as Trotsky and other Inner Party
luminaries). Both Du Bois and Paul Robeson were certain that the Soviet way of
government was the blacks’ only hope of achieving equality, dignity and
freedom.
Du Bois and Alain
Locke, his contemporary at Howard University, championed the New Negro and the
Talented Tenth, a belief that those blessed with the “natural”
proclivity for intelligence and education would lead the uplift of the Negro
race…But Du Bois’s first political awakening came after a visit to the Soviet
Union, where he saw firsthand the application of Socialist principles.
Du Bois and Robeson both viewed Germany and
Italy’s Fascism as the inevitable result of capitalism, colonialism, and an
“innate” European desire to subjugate the “dark races.” This
is pure Marxism.  And both men –the
recipients of university education, in which they seemed to excel – viewed the
Soviet Union as the chief bulwark against “white supremacy,” as well
as the imperialism of Japan in spite of its literal rape of China in the 1920’s
and 1930’s, simply because the Japanese were not “white.” Robeson
opposed this view of Du Bois’s, which absolved Japan of its own brand of racism
against the Chinese and Mongolians. Robeson asked the logical question:
If the Japanese had
“no regard” for the Chinese, how could they have any regard for
African Americans? Robeson would argue this point as he became more absolute in
his opposition to colonialism and Fascism. By the time the United States
entered World War II, Robeson led the charge to demonize Fascists, who existed
“not only in Germany, Italy (and) Japan, but in Canada, the United States,
the West Indies (and) Africa.”
Du Bois and Robeson both visited the Soviet
Union at least twice, were given the red carpet treatment, and saw what the
Soviets wanted them to see. They were consequently bedazzled by the Soviets’
alleged campaign against racism and concern for the “minorities” in
the Soviet empire. While Du Bois remained skeptical about a Soviet-style system
working in America, Robeson remained for the rest of his life enamored of the
Soviet Union. It could do no wrong, not even when he had knowledge of the
monstrous wrongs it was committing.
So [Robeson] stayed
loyal, proclaiming that the Soviet Union’s lead in the global freedom struggle
and their fair treatment of minorities made it the one nation that valued human
dignity. Robeson, in one of the rare public comments he made on the [show]
trials, told Ben Davis the Soviets “ought to destroy anybody who seeks to
harm that great country.”
Du Bois was that leftist brand intellectual
who donned blinders to the reality of Soviet tyranny – tyranny was okay as long
as it was anti-white and anti-capitalist. Robeson was a forerunner of today’s
celebrities who have nothing to say about Islamic atrocities but oppose Israel
defending itself against jihad, and also
excoriate capitalism while enjoying its fruits. Du Bois and Robeson both wound
up embittered hulks nurturing a deep hatred for the U.S.  Robeson died of a stroke close to the 200th
anniversary of the founding of the U.S.; Du Bois joined the CPUSA in 1961, and
moved to Ghana, a “socialist police state,” and died there in 1963.
The only means of perpetuating racism and
discrimination against blacks or any other “minority,'” or even
against a “majority,” however “well-intentioned,” is by
force, to nullify the voluntary freedom of association in employment, education
and in other human relationships. Government force, in the hands of racist
politicians or those with a vested interest in perpetuating racism as a tool of
power and “social and political transformation” (such as President
Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder), will only exacerbate racism,
and knowingly promote it (see the careers of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson).
The Civil Rights
Act
of 1964 and Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” have had the
opposite effect, ignoring or disparaging the basic principle that the government
is powerless to force a mind (whether or not an individual holds racist views),
but can only corrupt it by introducing the element of legislative compulsion
and therefore stressing the alleged ubiquity of the irrational.
“Black” racism is no answer to “white”
racism, and those are not the only species of racism extant today. For example,
“white” or Semitic Muslims despise Muslim and non-Muslim blacks alike
(in Arabic, blacks are called “abeeds,”
or slaves). Light skinned or “mullatos” or mixed-race blacks look
down on dark-skinned blacks, and vice versa. Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams,
black intellectuals who promote individualism and reason, and who oppose any
kind of racism, especially black racism, which they regard as a folly, are
despised by most black civil rights organizations and by liberals and leftists,
as is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
I received my first taste of racism as a
young boy, at the end of a leather strap, a long time ago, because I did not
exhibit an “inherent” white racism which Du Bois, Robeson, and
Derrick Bell, among others, claimed was a permanent character trait of whites.
So I know how vicious any species of
racism can be.
*The
Professor and the Pupil
:  The
Politics and Friendship of W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson
, by Murali
Balaji. New York: Nation Books, 2007. 481pp.

Police Blame Media for Race Riots

Or, they ought to. Some
have
. In a manner of speaking, and very guardedly. Don’t blame the
Democrats for perpetuating black poverty. Don’t blame Obama, either. Heavens,
if an individual or official did that, a brick outhouse would drop and crush
the fellow. It’s happened before. It’ll happen again as long as Obama is still
in power.
Note that I didn’t say, “As long as Obama
is still in office.” There’s a significant
difference in the terms. Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Valerie Jarrett,
and that whole motley, malevolent crew regard their offices as seats of
unrestrained power, unchecked by the Constitution and by Congress. And the news
media seem to want Obama to go the limit, to reach the goal posts and do his
pitiful victory dance again, nine-iron in hand.
Reading Cliff Kincaid’s Family Security
Matters article of August 18th, “Media
Blame Police for Race Riots,
” it occurred to me that there ought to be
an article titled, “Police Blame Media for Race Riots.” So, here it
is.
I can’t top Daniel Greenfield’s sardonic
article, “How
to Write About Israel
” column of August 18th.  It is a veritable instruction and policy manual
for liberal and clueless “journalists” on how to misrepresent Israel
and the facts behind any conflict between it and its attackers. It’s a
playbook, an absolutely mandatory script to follow, lest one be relieved of
employment or be reassigned to cover pet parades in Oshkosh or a sighting of
the Loch Ness Monster in the Dead Sea.
At one point in the Fox
News
video of the chaos, the riot-geared police can be seen backing off, passing
a shoulder-to-shoulder mass of photographers with their cameras, rows thick,
perhaps several score of them, some possibly standing on bleachers in the rear
to give them better shots of the police firing into the menacing crowd of
“peaceful” protesters.
The question is: Why aren’t the
“protesters” attacking the newsies? Because the protesters are on TV
now, on camera. They’re hamming it up for the news media, putting on their best
“America’s Got Chanting Angry Mob Talent” performances. Were it just
a news scribbler and his flash camera photographer from the Daily Ferguson
Flier, the rioters and their provocateurs wouldn’t be out in such numbers, if any
were out at all, and certainly wouldn’t be egging the police on to fire into
the crowd and crack heads with their batons. (Oh, horrors! The police are so
brutal, not the rock-throwing punks! They’re black, and can do no wrong, you
racist!) But the news media has pumped up the riots for national and
international consumption.
There is no video of Darren Wilson shooting
Michael Brown, in the back or anywhere else on his ample anatomy. No video of
Brown trying to grab Wilson’s gun and slamming the cop’s door on him. No sound
bytes of the cop’s gun going off in the car after Brown tried to wrest it from the
cop, nor of the cop telling Brown to freeze as he walked away from assaulting a
policeman. There is just the video
of Brown manhandling
the store clerk and walking away with stolen merchandise minutes before Brown
had his altercation with the cop. That was incriminating enough.
There are several
witnesses
who substantiate the officer’s
rendition
of what transpired from the time the police car idled by to tell
Brown and his friend to not walk in the street to the time Brown lay dead, a
“victim” of his own arrogant folly.
Attorney General Eric Holder has gone to
Ferguson to make sure Brown remains a “martyr” who died waging his
own brand of “jihad,” and was not just another dime-a-dozen thug who miscalculated
and got what he deserved.
In the meantime, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch
reporter who tweeted that she had spoken to witnesses who corroborate Officer
Darren Wilson’s rendition of what happened, has been relieved of duty. Daniel
Greenfield, in his FrontPage column of August 19th, “St.
Louis Post-Dispatch Purges Reporter Who Spoke to Witnesses Corroborating
Ferguson Police Story,”
asked:
Since when does Twitter count as a newspaper’s standards for publication?
Plenty of New York Times reporters tweet their views and opinions and parts of
developing stories. Plenty of reporters have been behaving in a wildly
unprofessional manner over Ferguson, on and off Twitter. They’ve been acting
like a lynch mob.
Byers was reporting conditions on the ground on Twitter in much more
neutral and professional terms, but at the same time the conclusion could have
been drawn that she was sympathetic to the law and order side of the angle, not
the rioters and looters that her colleagues preferred.
Christine Byers was actually quoting what police told her about the
violence. That may have been a no-no. Pulling her silences the police and lets
Obama, Sharpton and Co. play their games.
This is the new journalism.
Well, not so much “new” as
shop-worn. We saw it over and over again in the MSM’s coverage of the Gaza War,
from the Frostbite Falls Bugle to the New York Times to the Washington Post to
the Sacramento Bee.
I’m going to take the liberty of
paraphrasing some of Greenfield’s paragraphs from his edifying article, “How
to Write About Israel
.” The lessons to be gleaned from that marvelous
commentary are equally applicable – and are being applied even as I write this –
to the Ferguson, Missouri “war zone.” I hope he forgives me.
Writing about Ferguson
has become a booming field. No news agency, be it ever so humble, can avoid
embedding a few correspondents and a dog’s tail of stringers into the town and its
environs, to sit outside of undestroyed, un-looted shops, clicking away on
their laptops, meeting up with other leftists and the oppressed protester or
grieving mother of the week.
Ferguson is hot
(well, it is August) with the
suggestion of violence brimming under the surface, except when it’s no longer a
suggestion but a volcanic eruption. Ferguson should be described as a
“troubled town.” Throw in occasional ironic references to civil
rights and Martin Luther King, Jr., and end every article or broadcast by
emphasizing that peace is still far away.
Weigh every story
one way. Depersonalize the cops and shopkeepers, personalize blacks. One is a
statistic, the other a precious snowflake. A blacks-only looting and torching a
Korean-owned store is always in retaliation for something, but a shopkeeper’s
defending his property with a gun is rarely a retaliation for anything. When shopkeepers
repel a mob by simply waving their guns from a rooftop, suggest that this
latest action only feeds the “Cycle of Violence” and quote some
official who urges the shopkeepers to talk and negotiate with those who would
harm them – whether or not there actually is anything to talk about. Well,
maybe free Swisher cigars for the overweight among the mob, with unlimited EBT
card use at the counter.

Center everything around reconciliation and “reaching out.” If the shopkeepers
have any credible complaints (probably racist) about the rudeness and character
of their customers, do your best to avoid learning about them. Assume that all shopkeepers
– Korean, white, black, Hispanic, whatever – think the same way. Every concession
of theirs, made in a state of terror, is a referendum on the “peace
process.”

 Convey to the reader that there is something
disturbing about the tenacity with which the store owners and shopkeepers cling
to their businesses, while making it clear that they will have to be economically
cleansed from the town for there to be peace. Many are already ruined and won’t
be back, but don’t mention that. Do not use the word “economic
cleansing,” use “expropriation in the name of social justice,”
it sounds cleaner. Mention something about the Indians and slaves. Talk to the black
youth and contrast their fresh faces with their unwillingness to make peace
with their Korean, black, Hispanic and white neighbors who have harmed and
insulted them in uncountable ways, such as expecting them to pay for what they
want without walking out of a store in a huff.
Visit with
politicians and black activists and other racial activists, such as Al
Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Democratic Governor Nixon’s envoy, and other
out-of-towners, and maybe with a committee representing besieged Ferguson shopkeepers.
If the latter make jokes (which is unlikely), describe it as a transparent and
offensive effort to curry favor with you and influence the freedom of the press.
The police are even
worse. Press them about their rules of engagement with suspects, their profiling
policies, their constant harassment of blacks who absent-mindedly pilfer stores
or have a record of shoplifting and threatening store clerks, and so on. Get them
to admit that they’re all secret members of the KKK or some other racist outfit.
If the police give you the bum’s rush and ask you to leave, write about it
being an embedded hostility to the press and a denial of law enforcement transparency.
Property owners are
even worse. Press them about the all the misery and deprivation they’ve caused
in town. Then get your Washington and Springfield contacts to introduce you to
friendly left-wing pols who will commiserate with you about the state of the
peace process and the leap of faith that needs to be taken to make peace. Get a
quote from them about the next generation of potential protesters, and describe
them as saddened by their government’s unwillingness to allow thugs and looters
to roam free in town and in their stores. Express exasperation about the
police’s violation of the freedom of association during a riot or other social
crisis that calls for “military” gear and other scary symbols of
oppression.
Don’t be fooled by
the shopkeepers’ committee suddenly and collectively holding up their hands with
nervous smiles and saying as one, “Don’t Shoot. Don’t Loot.” They’re
simply patronizing you and mocking those with legitimate grievances. You’re a
journalist and deserve better treatment than that.
Write about how all
the guns make you uncomfortable, but that you’re not uncomfortable with rocks
and Molotov cocktails and crowbars and guys running around wearing masks and
babushkas over their faces pretending be ISIS “martyrs.” Close with
an old man who expresses hope, however inarticulately (you can clean up his English
later, if you know how to) that one day peace will come to this troubled town.

Then go home to your usual stomping grounds and your Starbucks lattes and
comfortable apartments or homes and clean working environments where the most
dangerous thing to sail past your head is a rubber band shot by a pranksterish
colleague from another cubicle.

Our Descent into Madness

“Whom the gods
destroy, they first make mad.”
– Euripides, 5th
Century B.C. Greek tragedian
No, we are not all descending into madness. Just our political leaders, our news
media, our schools, and assorted loose human cannons who are plumbing the
depths of insanity and institutional irrationality to see when their and our
craniums crack.  And they seem to want
the rest of us to go berserk and take up residence with them in their loony bin
where we can all tiptoe through
the tulips
and have huggy-bear sessions with our killers.  They are mad, and they wish to make us mad. Insanity
is the new norm.
The America Heritage Medical
Dictionary
defines insanity
(or madness) as:
1. Persistent mental
disorder or derangement. Not in scientific use.
2. Unsoundness of
mind sufficient in the judgment of a civil court to render a person unfit to maintain
a contractual or other legal relationship or to warrant commitment to a mental health
facility.
3. In most criminal
jurisdictions, a degree of mental malfunctioning considered to be sufficient to
relieve the accused of legal responsibility for the act committed.
In a sane world, men would not, for
example, protest the right of Israel or any other sovereign nation to defend
itself against attacks by its neighbors or by terrorist groups like Hamas. Instead,
they would urge the Israeli government to wipe out its enemies and uproot them,
or at least spray Hamas with a root-killing chemical (shall we call it
“DDT” – Deter Deranged Terrorism?) and leave their former subjects
and human shields to fend for themselves.  
Another mark of madness is the spectacle of
Jews opposing Israel’s existence and blaming Jews for anti-Semitism, and even
accusing them of racism. Daniel Greenfield, in his August 8th
FrontPage article, “J
Street Accuses Jews of Racism, Blames Jews for Anti-Semitism,
” noted
another form of madness:
After Hamas violated yet another ceasefire, anti-Israel group J Street stepped up to do what it
does best. Attack
Jews and Israel
.
Jeremy Ben Ami [a spokesman for J Street] then launched into a pitch for
letting Hamas smuggle as many weapons as it wants “Occupation, Blockade,
Frustration, etc…), accused Israel of racism, warned Israel to “heed to the
advice of its friends in the White House and the State Department and at a
minimum should show them the respect that the country’s closest ally deserves.”
Then Jeremy Ben Ami claimed that the conflict was promoting anti-Semitism
and ranted about “growth and extent of hatred of the other, intolerance and
outright racism in our own Jewish community.”
For example, one would have thought that
the virulent anti-Semitism
that as a rule in the past expressed itself Nazi-style in murders, fire-bombings,
attacking Jews, and in loud and noisy demonstrations against Jews and Israel was
a disease that had been eradicated or at least suppressed, like polio or
malaria. There was a time when, if one was an anti-Semite, one kept it to
oneself. There was a time when it was at the risk of social embarrassment and
even ostracism to blurt it out. Now tens of thousands of people are flaunting
it, boasting of it, spitting out their venom under the pretence of
“freedom of speech.”  It is a
form of Kristallnacht,
practiced by Muslims and their allies on the Left in demonstrations and by
roving mobs. Douglas Murray, in his August 13th Gatestone Institute
article “Are
‘Integrated Muslims’ Integrated?
” writes:
The Gaza War has
produced flagrantly anti-Semitic protests, attacks on Jews and the burning down
of Jewish buildings. Those protests have come as a surprise to parts of the
European public – nowhere more so than in Germany, where a hatred thought to
have been disgraced for all time has found its way back onto European streets
under a new guise….
Most noticeable was
that the protests across Western European cities have overwhelmingly been led
by Muslims — not Islamists — just normal, “integrated” Muslims, who
stay at home when any other war occurs. (Where were their protests against
Qatar for funding Hamas?)
Where were they? Whatever advances the
imposition of an Islamic caliphate is justified, even when it’s a violent
imposition, and not a candidate for protest. It’s nothing to shout about, not
an opportune time to carry signs that say, “Islam will dominate” and
“Kill those who insult the Prophet.” The Koran permits latitude of discretionary protesting.  To wit, one of
many, many instances:
Sura 8:38-42 (Keep fighting
them until they stop persecuting believers and until Islam is established. If
they stop fighting then stop. Now, a fifth of all the booty belongs to God and
His leader.)
“Say to the unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from unbelief), their
past would be forgiven them, but if they persist, the punishment of those
before them is already (a matter of warning for them).” And fight them on
until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and
faith in God altogether and everywhere. But if they cease, verily God doth see
all that they do.

[YA: “If they cease from fighting and from the persecution of truth, God
judges them by their actions and their motives, and would not wish that they
should be harassed with further hostility.”]
There are 164 such
verses
in the Koran, each as
bloody minded as the next.
And what is the policy of the mad men who
know what a global Islamic “world order” would entail, which is
slaughter, rapine, destruction, and legalized looting? To submit peacefully and
without prejudice to Islam, for otherwise there would be “violence.”
Notwithstanding the mountains of data and
evidence about the fundamental means and ends of Islam and Islamic terrorist
organizations such as Hamas, our political culture is poisoned with the
Kantian/Hegelian imperative that the West must, in the name of
“peace,” negotiate and tolerate our executioners. These urgent supplications
have come from such demonstrable fools and professional altruists, and gadflies
for “peace” such as Jimmy Carter, former U.S. president, and Mary Robinson,
 former president of Ireland in their
Foreign Policy article , “How
to Fix it
,” of August 4th :
This tragedy
results from the deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the
region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced
in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint
control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members.
The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by
the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the
European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence
to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and
has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza….
 There is no humane or legal justification for
the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war. Israeli bombs,
missiles, and artillery have pulverized large parts of Gaza, including
thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals….
There is never an
excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This
is true for both sides. Hamas’s indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians
is equally unacceptable. However, three Israeli civilians have been killed by
Palestinian rockets, while an overwhelming majority of the 1,600 Palestinians
killed have been civilians, including more than 330 children. The need for
international judicial proceedings to investigate and end these violations of
international law should be taken very seriously.
According to Carter and Robinson, Israel is
guilty by the fact that regardless of Israel being attacked by Hamas, and its
rockets deliberately pointed at Israeli citizens, hoping to inflict as many
deaths as possible, especially of Israeli children, it had no right to
retaliate with all the force it could muster, and regardless of Hamas’s using
Palestinians as human shields, including men, women and children, Israel is
more guilty than Hamas because more Palestinians died than did Israelis. This is
topsy-turvy thinking, if can be called thinking at all. It is lunacy. It defies
reason, logic, and all measures of morality. Carter and Robinson must know down
deep – or perhaps they don’t, and that is a measure of their insanity – that if
Israel meets all of Hamas’s demands, it would be signing its own death warrant.
Andrew McCarthy, in his PJ Media article of August 6th, “Carter
and Robinson: The Hamas Jihad’s Useful Idiots
,” noted that:
Carter and Robinson
are desperate to derive or otherwise manufacture Hamas’s purported agreement to
the Quartet conditions because Hamas has made quite clear that it will never
actually agree to renounce the jihad and accept Israel’s right to exist. The
authors would cut Hamas slack on this score because, they say, the organization
cannot be expected to “cooperate in its own demise.”
Even by loathsome
Carter-Robinson standards, the assertion is breathtaking. The operating
assumption of their op-ed is that Israel must cooperate in its own demise
by ceasing to defend itself and abandoning the blockades absent which Hamas
would quickly acquire even more deadly mass-destruction weapons. Furthermore,
Hamas’ raison d’être is the annihilation of Israel by terrorist jihad;
so by the authors’ reasoning, it could never be expected to agree to
non-violent coexistence with a Jewish state since that would amount to the
demise of Hamas.Without the demise of Hamas, there is no chance for peace in
the Middle East. It will require tuning out terror’s useful idiots.
In
his FrontPage article of August 6th, “Jimmy
Carter: The Only Way to Fix Gaza is by Giving Hamas Everything It Wants,

Daniel Greenfield notes that:
Carter skips over that by claiming that peace will only come from a
PLO-Hamas agreement (what’s more likely to bring peace than a unity agreement
between two terror groups?) and urges a lifting of the blockade and replacing
Egyptian and Israeli border monitoring with the UN.
“The international community’s initial goal should be the full
restoration of the free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through
Israel, Egypt, and the sea. Concurrently, the United States and EU should
recognize that Hamas is not just a military but also a political force. Hamas
cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by
recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor — one that represents a
substantial portion of the Palestinian people — can the West begin to provide
the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons.”
Carter presumes that Hamas wants to lay down its weapons. There is no
evidence of that whatsoever. Hamas is an acronym for “Islamic Resistance
Movement”. The goal of terrorist groups is to take power, not put down their
weapons. Hamas deals with dissent by shooting dissenters.
Hamas, if Israel is
foolish enough to empower it with concessions, means to commit genocide, just as
the “Islamic State or ISIS is committed to the genocide of the Yazidis, by
kidnapping Yazidi women and girls for rape and sex slavery.  An unsigned Catholic Online article of August 14th,
300
Kurds kidnapped for rape: The Islamic state plans to breed out the blonde
Iraqis
,” reports:
There are fears that the 300 Yazidi women who have been kidnapped by
militants from the Islamic State last week will be used to bear children in
order to break up the ancient community’s bloodline….
Referencing the kidnapping of the Yazidi women, Adnan Kochar, chairman of
the Kurdish Cultural Center in London told MailOnline:
“The Kurds and Yazidis are originally Aryans. But because the Yazidis are
such a closed community they have retained a fairer complexion, blonder hair
and blue eyes. They don’t marry non-Yazidis. Kochar continued: “ISIS have
taken around 300 women from Sinjar to give to jihadists to marry and make
pregnant to have a Muslim child. If they can’t kill all Yazidis, they will try
to smash the blond
bloodline
.”
This story was also carried by the Daily
Mail
and other sites.  Well, there’s Islam’s
tolerance and absence of racism for you.
Meanwhile, in Europe and other places, anti-Semitism
is raising its ancient and ugly head. Here is a photo
gallery
of the cities in which anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic)
“protests” took place, with the Gaza War, which Hamas was losing,
being the excuse to vent one’s hatred. Or madness.
The U.S. has seen its share of anti-Semitic
and anti-Israel demonstrations. But the Metropolitan Opera has committed the
most outrageous and contemptible expression of anti-Semitism by going ahead
with the production of an “opera” that decidedly blames Jews for
their murders. Surely this is a sign of troubling derangement. The opera is The Death of Klinghoffer. The New York
Post reported on June 16th in its article, “Metropolitan
Opera romanticizes one NYer’s murder
“:
In 1985, New Yorker
Leon Klinghoffer, 69, and his wife Marilyn took a cruise to celebrate their
36th wedding anniversary. Leon never came back: Four members of the Palestine
Liberation Front hijacked the Achille Lauro, shot him in the head and threw him
overboard in his wheelchair.
Starting in
October, The Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center plans to show a mockery of
this brutal murder — the long-dormant “The Death of Klinghoffer.” The title
gives away the show’s agenda: Klinghoffer didn’t “die”: This World War II vet
was murdered by terrorists.
The show has widely
been denounced as anti-Semitic and sympathetic to the hijackers. Performances
planned in Boston and elsewhere were cancelled shortly after 9/11. If it wasn’t
then, what makes it acceptable now for Lincoln Center to glorify the murderers
of a disabled New Yorker?….
The Metropolitan
Opera receives local, state and federal funding. Will taxpayer funds support
anti-Semitism? What is the artistic value in celebrating the murder of
innocents?
The Met cancelled its lucrative simulcast of
the show which would have reached perhaps thousands  of paying subscribers in the U.S.  and across the world when it was broadcast in
local theaters. Fox News, in its June 24th article, “Met
Opera stands behind decision to cancel ‘Klinghoffer’ simulcast amid
anti-Semitic concerns
,”
reported the cancellation of the
simulcast and revealed the depraved state of its general manager, Peter Gelb.
If the opera is not anti-Semitic, it is in the worse possible taste. The
cancellation of the simulcast was a reaction to the severe criticism the opera received.
The Metropolitan
Opera is standing firm in its decision to cancel plans for a global simulcast
to cinemas of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer” despite
receiving criticism for shifting their plans once concerns rose that the show
could stir anti-Semitic sentiments. 
The Met’s press
director, Peter Clark, acknowledged the criticism when reached by FOX411, but
said there are no plans to reconsider the decision, despite the harsh reactions
[from those accusing the opera’s critics of censorship].
“I’m convinced
that the opera is not anti-Semitic,” Peter Gelb said. “But I’ve also
become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish
community that the live transmission of ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ would be
inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe….”
Jewish advocacy
groups immediately lauded the move to cancel the simulcast. 
The ADL praised the decision, noting that “while the opera
itself is not anti-Semitic, there is a concern the opera could be used in
foreign countries as a means to stir up anti-Israel sentiments or as a vehicle
to promote anti-Semitism.”
Put
another way, staging The Death of
Klinghoffer
is tantamount to staging an opera, complete with atonal singing
and music and an absurdist  script, about
the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman during the Ferguson,
Missouri riots
over the shooting of Michael Brown, a thug, by a city police
officer. It, too, would also be elevating criminality and unreason to a high
art, and celebrating insanity.
The
gods are not destroying us and Western civilization. We are destroying
ourselves and it.

Yearning to Breathe Free: The Foundations of a Rational Immigration Policy


Yearning to Breathe Free: The Foundations of a Rational Immigration Policy


One of the critical insights made by individual rights champion Ayn Rand is that ideas and philosophy are what move history. The purpose of this article is to apply that lesson to the topic of immigration.  Specifically, I will show that ideological screening of immigrants is an appropriate immigration restriction – not just in today’s welfare state or War on Terror context, but also as a necessary requirement for the survival of any free society which is an island of liberty surrounded by an ocean of collectivism.

Since the early days of the American republic, Federal law has contained the ideological requirement that prospective immigrants swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States before becoming citizens.  Even in popular culture, Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty refers to welcoming those immigrants who “yearn to breathe free.”  Yet today, some leading voices – including many of Ayn Rand’s intellectual champions – advocate totally open immigration that admits entry virtually indiscriminately to anyone, absolutely irrespective of whether the prospective immigrant brings with him collectivist and anti-Constitutional ideals from his home culture.  Many open immigration advocates claim that so long as proper limits on government with respect, for example, to the welfare state, are in place today, there is nothing that even hordes of cultural collectivists from abroad may import which will ever breach those proper governmental limits.  Many of these voices also claim that their position on open immigration is the only moral position. 

Harry Binswanger, board member of the Ayn Rand Institute, advocates a policy of “absolutely open immigration, without border patrols, border police, border checks, or passports,” and that entry into the U.S. should be “unrestricted, unregulated and unscreened, just as is entry to Connecticut from New York.”*1  Binswanger also argues that amnesty for illegal entrants is not enough – they are owed an apology, too.*2  Binswanger further advocates that “the principle of individual rights demands open immigration,” so this is a moral issue for him.*3  What matters most to Binswanger is that government immigration restrictions which interfere with the right of free trade violate individual rights.*4.  Whether the prospective entrant is an ideological friend or foe of individual rights is not something Binswanger believes should be a consideration in determining whether someone should be allowed entry into the United States – if the political institutions protecting individual rights are strong enough, he believes they will protect the United States from any barbarism that an immigrant may be carrying from his home country.

Craig Biddle at The Objective Standard similarly advocates a policy of open immigration as a moral crusade, although he appears to accept slightly more screening than Binswanger does.  Biddle concedes that there should be checkpoints and an objective screening process at the border – but Biddle contends that such screening process must be limited to excluding only those carrying infectious diseases and those who have previously established themselves to be criminals and/or enemies of America. Like Binswanger, Biddle also believes that illegals currently in America are entitled to amnesty and a presidential apology.*5  Biddle also agrees with Binswanger in reducing the issue to one primarily of free trade.  Again, this position does not allow for any screening of prospective immigrants to determine whether they are friendly or hostile toward individual rights.

Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute, also advocates a policy of open immigration.*6  In his public debate with Ayn Rand’s intellectual heir, Leonard Peikoff, Brook rejected the notion that immigration poses any risk of harm to America.  *7  Brook also maintains that ideologically screening prospective immigrants for their cultural background and beliefs is wrong, and agrees with Binswanger and Biddle that employers should be allowed to hire any foreigner that they please.*8

The position advocated by these intellectuals upends Ayn Rand’s teaching of the power and importance of ideas.  This position also undercuts Ayn Rand’s teaching that capitalism and free trade are derivative issues – not primary first causes. The politics of a society is a consequence of the ideas held by the people living in the society – and if enough new individuals with ideas contrary to the existing political order are introduced into a society, it will not be long before cultural change renders the old political institutions obsolete and discardable.  Indeed, this is precisely the plan of the Democratic Party today, which rather than seeking to change minds seeks to change the composition of the electorate.*9

A free society with a government limited to protecting individual rights is a monumental achievement in the history of mankind – it is not the product of random happenstance or chance, as tens of thousands of years of tyrannies demonstrate.  It is not something that occurs in nature, waiting for man to come and pick it off trees as though it were low hanging fruit.  A free society has certain cultural requirements and prerequisites, without which it could never be created and without which it cannot be maintained.  Proper immigration policy must reflect these facts and must serve to preserve the cultural factors on which a free society is based. 

What are these cultural requirements and prerequisites?  At a bare minimum, they include that the people living in the society have an understanding of and a commitment to individual rights and personal responsibility.  Included in this understanding is the politically incorrect and anti-multiculturalist notion that the American system of individual rights is better than the cultural tradition of the country from which the prospective entrant has arrived.  In the context of immigration policy, it also requires of all prospective immigrants a commitment to using American freedoms to make a better life for himself rather than an intention to use those freedoms for the purpose of destroying individual rights.  

Exposing cultural collectivists to good political/cultural institutions and ideas does not magically awaken some (non-existent) innate respect for individual rights.  Instead, such exposure corrupts the delicate respect for the law and the institutions of freedom which has taken generations of shared experience and hard work to achieve.  That was the central flaw in Bush’s Forward Strategy of Freedom: providing American political ideas to the Iraqis and Afghanis was not enough to transform them into a people that respect and understand individual rights.   

Freedom is a value, and like all values it must not only be earned but also requires a certain course of action to preserve it.  People who reject the ideas prerequisite to a free, rights respecting society will not take the actions necessary to protect those cultural institutions simply because they have been exposed to them – and this is true whether the institutions are brought to the cultural collectivists by the US Military or if the cultural collectivists come to the institutions via immigration.
Ironically, Biddle implicitly acknowledges all of this in arguing that “all rights respecting individuals should be allowed entry.”  But how does he know which prospective immigrant is “rights respecting” and which is not, when he is opposed, *on principle*, to any kind of ideological screening prior to entry? Of course, he cannot know that – he simply takes it as an article of faith that anyone appearing at the border must be presumed to be rights respecting and that an ideological screening represents the wrongful use of government force.  

As former chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute Peter Schwartz wrote many years ago in another context, “the desire to advance liberty without any concern – indeed, with militant unconcern – for the values and ideas on which it genetically depends is fundamentally in opposition to Objectivism.”*10  In applying that principle to the current immigration debate, those who promote open immigration are advocating that “liberty be treated as an axiomatic truth regardless of context.”*11  The open immigration advocates’ claim that the use of force to keep people out is *necessarily* evil is made without checking the context of whether the person kept out is *himself* evil.  Advocating for liberty as a contextless absolute – without first ensuring that the necessary prerequisites for liberty exist – does not promote a free society, but in fact destroys the foundation of a free society.

Stating Schwartz’s cogent remarks differently, the idea that a free society can be maintained by any random group of people exposed to the institutions of a free society is an example of multiculturalism that Ayn Rand vehemently opposed.  It is simply not the case that rights respecting political solutions can survive indefinitely irrespective of the cultural beliefs of the people living under those institutions.  Not all cultures are equal, nor are they equally capable of supporting the tenets of a free society grounded upon the principles of individual rights.  The institutions of a free society will not long survive unless there is a critical mass of popular understanding and support for them by the people being governed.  Reality teaches us not only that free societies with a critical mass of rights respecting people are rare, but that the majority of men throughout history have been cultural collectivists of one kind or another.

Thomas Jefferson understood the dangers of unlimited immigration from the monarchical dictatorships that existed during the Founding period.  He warned that such immigrants 

“will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another.  It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty.  These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children.  In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation.  They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.”*12

Jefferson further noted that “[e]very species of government has its specific principles” and that the American one is “more peculiar than those of any other in the universe.”  He expresses great skepticism that the principles of America could long be maintained if large numbers of emigres from the absolute monarchies of Europe came to America and imported their cultural traditions with them – even though he admittedly did not do anything to erect legal barriers to such immigration, other than with regard to the slave trade. 

John Adams wrote that the American constitution was written for a moral and religious people, and would be wholly inadequate to the government of any other.*13  Leaving aside the reference to religion, Adams was exactly right – and his commentary applies to the current immigration debate.  The American system of government is not proper to any cultural collectivist who might show up at our border and demand entry.  Nor was the American system designed to function as a remedial institution for those who are hostile to individual rights.  As Adams noted, the American system is only proper to a moral people who understand and value individual rights and personal responsibility.  It is not adequate to withstand the demands of hordes of cultural collectivist immigrants who have no experience with the requirements of individual freedom nor the inclination to adopt them.

Leonard Peikoff expressed a similar skepticism about importing large numbers of people whose cultural beliefs are antagonistic to America’s principles, at least insofar as the present political context is concerned.  In an August 26, 2013 podcast, Peikoff stated that 

“And the other thing I want to say that’s going to come as a bombshell to Objectivists, and that’s too bad, you can stop listening, as far as I’m concerned, I am against the immigration bill 100%, not just one clause or another, for one very simple reason: it happens to be the case that we are teetering on the edge of a dictatorship, it happens to be the case that if the Democrats continue to have or grow their political power we will be over that edge. And it happens to be the case, whether you like it or not, that of all Hispanics in America, whether they are rich or poor, self-made men or anything else, 80% are reliably and continually Democrat, so if you are talking about a bill, I don’t care whether it’s fair, unfair in any other respect, if you are talking about a bill that infuses into this country a massive amount of Democratic supporters and thereby guarantee the destruction of this country, that is what immigration means today. And there’s no use asking me in theory what do I think, we’re at the end, so it’s a question of buying time, that’s it.”*14

In his subsequent debate with Yaron Brook, Leonard Peikoff suggested that even America’s golden age of immigration during the 19th century may have been responsible for the importation of the German philosophy of Progressivism through the free immigration of German immigrants, which Progressivism is presently destroying the country.*15  However, Leonard Peikoff’s advocacy of the need for immigration restrictions as a temporary necessity is ultimately grounded in the conclusion that we are presently in an emergency situation.  It is true that we are in an emergency situation, but a large part of the reason for this emergency is that, for the better part of American history, waves of immigrants have been admitted without regard to whether they did indeed yearn to breathe free, indiscriminately and without any ideological standards whatsoever.  Because the American concepts of individual freedom and limited government always were and remain rare in the world, rational immigration screenings and restrictions will continue to be required so that new “emergency” situations do not continuously arise. 

But what of the claim that the people fleeing dictatorships – such as Ayn Rand herself – need a landing place to escape the evil of their home countries?  At the outset, notice the appeal to altruism – the need of those trapped in dictatorships to have a place to go is treated as superior to the right of Americans to protect themselves from any cultural collectivists who might similarly seek to emigrate from those toxic cultures.  Proponents of this view insist that this position is grounded in self-interest, but they simply presume that the contributions of a brilliant mind like Ayn Rand will necessarily outweigh the detriment caused by the importation of waves of cultural collectivists.  However, this calculation is not something that may properly be presumed without question or empirical evaluation.  In a truly free society, rational immigration policy cannot be based on the gamble that the rare gems of genius will offset hordes of cultural collectivists.

As sad as individual cases may be, the plight of oppressed refugees of dictatorships is the fault of their own statist governments. They are not America’s responsibility, moral or otherwise.  Indeed, this is well recognized when it comes to proposals to bomb those dictatorships and *kill* even the innocent people who are victims of those regimes. So despite the reality that the plight of such refugees is unfortunate and even deplorable, the moral responsibility for the misfortune of those unfortunate souls lies with the dictatorships terrorizing them – not with America for protecting herself from potentially being infected with the same poison.

Nonetheless, it may well be worth having a targeted exception to the general rule of ideological screening which allows refugees fleeing certain dictatorships to enter and remain in the United States, so long as they respect individual rights while here.  But the key point here is that this must be a *targeted exception* and not the general rule for immigration policy.

So what is the solution to our immigration problems that is consistent with the requirements of a free society and limited government?  Any solution must recognize, as Thomas Sowell has,*16 that immigrants are not widgets, and they are not all interchangeable with each other.  Unlike real widgets, immigrants are people who carry with them cultural values that they introduce into their new cultural milieu.  Blanket statements that all immigrants are good are as invalid as blanket statements that all immigrants are bad.  

Recognizing that immigrants are not widgets has important implications. It means that screenings, ideological and otherwise, must be performed on an individualized basis parallel to the way, for example, that El Al Airlines individually screens for terrorists.  Of course, this also means that quotas and blanket prohibitions are typically improper. It further implies that as many Ayn Rands and Ayan Hirsi Alis as want to come here should be allowed to come here – but that indiscriminately welcoming every collectivist from a communist country like the Soviet Union or a tribalist country such as Somalia would not be rational or wise. Moreover, ideology and ideas have no racial component, so the claims of racism, bigotry and xenophobia often made by proponents of open immigration are nothing more than invalid attempts to argue by intimidation. 

One objection to ideological screening for immigrants is that it improperly grants the persons running government the power to impose their own personal judgments in determining which prospective immigrant is rights respecting. But in fact, every law enacted even by a proper, rights respecting government embodies a determination by the persons running the government as to what is rights respecting. This complaint represents a resistance to objectivity in general and to government as such in particular. The fact that objective standards for immigration policy must be crafted and implemented by actual persons in government is not a valid reason to dispense with standards altogether, nor is it a reason to allow virtually indiscriminate entry to anyone not having a communicable disease. 

As Biddle notes, rights respecting people should be allowed to enter – but this necessarily implies that the screening process for entry include a check for whether the prospective entrant is, in fact, rights respecting. This implies an ideological test even though Biddle rejects one.  Prospective entrants should thus face an ideological screening prior to entry in the United States in a process that would be akin or analogous to the current screening done by the citizenship test.  This screening should generally take place in foreign embassies and consulates, and would be a prerequisite to obtaining a visa for entry.  The screening would aim to ensure, as best as reasonably possible, that the prospective entrant is not hostile or averse to the American system of individual rights.  

Curiously, most open immigration advocates have no problem with such a screening being performed at the citizenship level – as it has been done since the early days of the Republic – after the foreigner has already peacefully resided in the country for a period of years.  But if there is a threat that warrants such a screening at the citizenship stage – after much is already known of the foreigner – surely it is not a rights violation to perform such a screening when nothing is known of the foreigner as he stands at the gates to the society.  

Moreover, foreigners can and do impact the culture in myriad ways even without voting. They can join groups like La Raza and CAIR and engage in political protest; they can write letters to the editor and become journalists; they can become schoolteachers and teach our children; they become consumers of television, movies and other art whose diffusion impacts the culture; and of course they can import cultural traditions such as Sharia law and create neighborhoods in which the police are afraid to enter, as is happening in cities in Europe and even America.  Indeed, Ayn Rand’s observation that ideas and philosophy move history underscores the fact that foreigners with different ideas and philosophies can and do have a strong impact on American culture even without the right to vote.

Capitalism and free trade are not the primary questions to be asked and answered in any political debate: they are critically important, but they are not the most fundamental.  Ayn Rand noted that capitalism is a derivative issue of secondary importance to more fundamental issues.  Or as Mark Steyn writes, “culture trumps economics” when it comes to the immigration debate.*17  As Dagny Taggart eventually came to understand in Atlas Shrugged, capitalism and free trade are of no benefit when dealing with cultural collectivists.  So while the free trade arguments refuting the mercantilist fallacy “immigrants steal our jobs” are correct – the open immigration advocates’ dismissal of the even greater importance of cultural ideas makes them more off the mark than the nativist mercantilists.

As noted above, Leonard Peikoff, the leading authority of the ideas of Ayn Rand, argues that restrictions are necessary to deal with the current immigration crisis. Dr. Peikoff is precisely right, and his voice needs to be heard and heeded.  America *is* in crisis and the American republic *is* in grave danger.  It is in danger in large part because America has not been careful enough in the past to ensure that those who entered the country would understand and respect the principles of individual rights.  Past failures to properly screen prospective immigrants and protect American culture from mass influxes of cultural collectivists are a significant component of our current crisis.  

The true justification for immigration restrictions is the need to protect those who respect individual freedom from those who are cultural collectivists – not the need to protect the welfare state from overload or even the need to protect innocent Americans from jihad. Even if the welfare state were repealed today and all jihadists were terminated tomorrow, the ideological requirement to protect a free, democratic, and rights respecting society from masses of incompatible cultural collectivists would still remain.  The real crisis in immigration is not demographic but intellectual, and it exists not in the immigrants themselves, but in those who refuse to recognize the requirements of a free society in the real world today.

The current Democratic Party is intentionally exploiting this intellectual crisis by attempting to bring as many cultural collectivists to America as it can.  Those immigrants can be expected to vote, legally or illegally, to further the collectivist policies of the Democratic Party with which they are familiar from their own cultures.  Indeed, this bloodless coup strategy is not a new one for the Democrats: even going back to the golden age of immigration in America, Democrats in the big cities greeted the Irish, the Italians, the Jews and other immigrant classes and found them government jobs as policeman, fireman, teachers, and other members of the bureaucracy – which solidified these groups’ big city support for the New Deal, then the Great Society and now for Obama.

Refusing to oppose the Democrats’ proposed coup amounts to advocating national suicide for America.  The indiscriminate entry across America’s southern border of MS-13 gangs and Islamic terrorists who leave their prayer rugs behind is a clear and obvious threat to America.  To those, add the tens of thousands of children, illiterate in English and unable to care for themselves, who are obviously not self-supporting and thus pose a threat to the individual rights of taxpaying citizens already in America.  None of this is of concern, however, to the open immigration absolutists, who insist that undertaking such dangerous risks is morally mandatory.  Not even if the number of cultural collectivist immigrants were to mushroom into the millions would the open immigration advocates admit any limitation in their theory, for the precise reason that they are dedicated to their abstraction regardless of the facts of reality.  Those who insist that Americans have no moral right to oppose such obvious dangers as these are taking a patently absurd position, and their unwillingness to see the most manifest of threats strips them of intellectual and moral credibility in advocating the application of Ayn Rand’s ideas in other contexts.

Advocating a supposedly ideal course of action as “moral” without regard to consequences in the real world – especially when those consequences amount to suicide – is Platonism.  Philosophy is not a tool for helping us acquire morality chips to be used in heaven – it is a tool for helping us live successfully on earth.  

Ayn Rand devoted the prime of her life to explaining to the world the meaning of the island of freedom known as Galt’s Gulch, and she devoted the final years of her life, with all her waning strength, to showing men of independence that they must withdraw their sanction for being victimized by cultural collectivism.   The central lesson of Atlas Shrugged is that men of freedom must protect themselves, by separation when and as necessary, from the cultural collectivists of the world.  

An immigration policy proper to an island of freedom in a worldwide sea of collectivism must recognize the power and importance of ideas.  It must acknowledge that cultural morality drives the world, and that the cultural morality of the people who comprise a society determines its future.  It must acknowledge that the right of an individual to protect his life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is in fact, as Jefferson said, inalienable.  And it must recognize that because these rights are inalienable, they are not lost when men act together – and it is just as necessary for men acting together to exercise it to maintain their freedom through rational immigration policies as it was for John Galt acting individually to exercise it to exclude people from Galt’s Gulch. 

Those who wish to immigrate to a free country, but are excluded by a rational immigration policy, have no more claim to argue that their “freedom of movement” has been taken away than did those who were excluded from Galt’s Gulch.  And those intellectual leaders who, within a free society, fail to see the justice in keeping out cultural collectivists are no more representative of the ideas of Ayn Rand than was Dagny Taggart, who in her confusion and lack of understanding voluntarily chose to leave Galt’s Gulch.  In regard to the issue of separation from cultural collectivists, Dagny was wrong.

Any free society that wishes to survive must institute and maintain policies that neutralize the threat posed by immigrants who have no cultural affinity for individual rights and personal responsibility.  In short, traditional rules of ideological screening currently used at the citizenship level should not only be maintained, but strengthened.  Only by fully recognizing the power of ideas – by following John Galt’s example of separation from cultural collectivists – can a free people survive and secure its happiness and safety.


__________________________________________________________________________________________

Ed Mazlish writes political commentary from an Objectivist perspective. He has been a Student of Objectivism since 1993.  When he is not writing political commentary, Ed is an attorney in New York City and New Jersey.  He can be reached on Facebook and via email at EdMazlish@aol.com.










*10  Peter Schwartz, “Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty,” page 52.

*11  Peter Schwartz, “Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty,” page 48.







The “Smashers of Everything”

Soon after 9/11, I wrote a column about Immanuel Kant’s
connection to that act of war against the U.S., against the West. I cannot
recall when or where it was first published; it was long before I began penning
articles for Rule of Reason; it was certainly before I had finished writing Sparrowhawk, which is also the subject
of the essay. That essay and this one share the same title.
At any rate, I wish to thank John Webb in Britain for
jarring my memory about the essay here and about the source of this column’s
title by referring his correspondents to a site called, Counting Cats in Zanzibar
and “Nick M’s” column on the 100th anniversary of the beginning
of World War I, a conflict which heralded the self-destructive decline of the West.
As John points out in his comments on the article, the chief culprit was a German
(or Prussian) philosopher, Kant. He quotes Heinrich Heine’s response to Kant’s Critique
of Pure Reason,
aided and abetted
by David Hume, who sustained a “philosophical mutual admiration”
society of two with Kant. John noted:
Hume’s principle contribution to philosophy was to invalidate the
conceptual faculty…. In the process he reduced man to the level of an animal
dependent on instincts.
He denied
the validity of the senses, undermined our awareness of entities, he destroyed
the the law of cause and effect, made reality unknowable, volition
unsustainable, abstraction impossible. and turned all necessary truths into
mere conventions…..
Kant just
took the very worst of Hume and combined it with the very worst Plato –
destroying the Enlightenment and setting the future Germany on its inevitable
crusade against mankind.
Heine was no
hero either but when he described Kant as “world-annihilating” he wasn’t wrong.”
I couldn’t have put it better. I can always count on John
to synthesize essentials.
I’m writing this also on the occasion of the
“ceasefire” between Israel and its mortal enemy, Islam, this time in the
person of Hamas, the terrorist gang, and because the Foreign
Policy
article by former President Jimmy Carter and former president of Ireland
Mary Robinson is a perfect example of the lunacy rampant in today’s political
climate. Read the article. I would say that their article not only incorporates
Kant’s and Hume’s principal tenets, but goes them one better by believing that
a Hegelian melding of
“thesis and antithesis” is possible, workable and in the interests of
world “peace.” (I dramatize the essentials of this Ouija board
philosophy in my detective novel, Presence
of Mind
., available on Kindle, as a print book, and on audio.)
Here is my original essay, unedited. I trust readers
will see the connection between Kant and a world that is descending into a
madness by clinging stubbornly to the irrationality of altruism, by deprecating
reason, and by denying the evidence of our senses in a quest for nothingness.  
In 1781, the year of
America’s decisive victory over Britain at Yorktown, there appeared in Europe a
book of philosophy called the Critique of Pure Reason. When he read it,
a friend of the author wailed and called his colleague “the smasher of
everything.”
The Critique
did not lay the groundwork for the attack on America on September 11, 2001;
that act’s perpetrators were applying the fundamental tenets of a creed founded
in the 7th century. What that book did, aside from heralding a sustained,
wholesale repudiation of reason and the pro-man Age of Enlightenment, was
ultimately sanction that creed and disarm America. The author hijacked the term
“reason” in order to destroy reason, just as Islamic militants hijacked the
products of reason to destroy their symbols. His entire career was devoted to
rescuing Christianity from the mortal influence of reason; his purpose,
therefore, differed in no instance from the purpose of the plane hijackers and
their superiors, which is to save Islam by becoming “smashers of everything”
Western.

The author’s name is Immanuel Kant. He was a professor of logic and metaphysics
at a university in authoritarian Prussia. He taught that man can know nothing,
and that things could be and not be at the same time. His intellectual
descendents have a near-monopoly on the teaching of philosophy in politically
correct American universities.

This writer has struggled with the problem of how to tie the events of Black
Tuesday with the theme of Sparrowhawk, without appearing to promote the
book for reasons other than edification. The 18th century and the 20th and 21st
centuries are ostensivly irreconcilable. From a literary standpoint, the chasm
between our own time and the 18th century, when Kant thrived, seems vast and
unbridgeable, separated from our interrogatory quest not only by the
magnificent benevolence, progress, and confidence of the 19th – all that by
grace of reason – but by our ignorance of both centuries.
The contrasts between
the politics, science, art, and Enlightenment philosophy of that era, and what
passes for culture and enlightenment in our own, are violent and, at first
glance, incomprehensible. Yet, the contrasts and their causes can be grasped by
a mind willing to address the task, provided it employs the faculty of reason,
man’s only tool of survival. Anyone willing to accept that task is advised to
adopt the motto of a fictional 20th century detective, who specialized in
solving moral paradoxes: “Nothing that is observable in reality is exempt from
rational scrutiny.” Then perhaps the fundamental causes of the events of
September 11th will come into sharp, merciless focus.

Sparrowhawk: Book One –Jack Frake, as well as subsequent titles in this
series of historical novels, is about men who adopted that motto without ever
giving it formal expression. Like its successor titles, which deal with other
characters confronted with the same questions, Book One dramatizes the spirit
of America by following, in word and deed, the infancy and development of a
rational epistemology in the person of Jack Frake between the ages of ten and
fifteen. Jack, like other men whose minds and spirits have not been corrupted,
cowed, or crippled by doubt, fear, or education, is not concerned with the
metaphysics of his own existence or that of the universe. For him, these are
irreducible primaries.

In the novel, Jack’s concern is with his place in the world and his
relationship to other men; that is, with morality and politics. The question of
his place requires, for him, but a brief query: He existed, and was responsible
for his own being and happiness. Every breath, every movement of his limbs,
every act of thought, was caused by him and by him alone, for his own sake. By
what right, he asks, do other men claim to have a divine or temporal interest
in or power over him? None, he concludes. No one – not George the Second, not
Prime Minister Robert Walpole, not Parliament, not God – had a right to one
moment or one particle of the marvelous fact of his own existence. In this way,
he contradicts the metaphysics of those who lived for and by others through
guile, fraud, or force. And so, in an age prepared by Newton and Locke, and
celebrated by Handel, Vivaldi, and later by Mozart, Jack becomes an outlaw in
mid-18th century England.

America is such an outlaw, in the eyes of the chronically envious, such as
Europe, in the eyes of dedicated, obsessive nihilists, such as the men who
hurled planeloads of men, women, and children into the symbols of its outlawry,
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It is an outlaw in the sense that
America contradicts every tenet of the multifarious ethics that men exist
solely for the state, for the collective, or for some Supreme Being. The World
Trade Center was a symbol of man’s successful living on earth; the Pentagon, of
the successful defense of his life. In the eyes of our enemies, however, these
symbols were as offensive as the sight of a leper, as threatening as a
poisonous snake. They were metaphysical facts that their creed commanded them
to wound, maim, or destroy. America is to them the “Great Satan,” and these
were the badges of its pride and efficacy.


The Founders of this country, together with their intellectual ancestors, John
Locke and Aristotle, were responsible for those symbols. (Oh, yes, our Founders
were intellectuals who performed a task since abandoned by most modern
intellectuals, that of protecting this country from sabotage by Kant’s fifth
column subversives in our universities.) And when these symbols were attacked,
so were the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, capitalism, and
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It was an act of war,
a war whose end is to end America, and to replace it with a static, suffocating
nothingness – if “nothing” in this sense can be defined as a huddling
collection of anonymous subhumans whose miserable existence is sustained by and
dependent on unthinking allegiance to God, Allah, or some form of dictatorship
or totalitarianism – by allegiance to anything but themselves as proudly free
and unconquerably rational men.

The Founders, most of whom were Deists, went to great lengths to separate
church from state. Their sense of God distanced Him from the affairs of men on
earth; indeed, it removed Him from interference anywhere in the universe. This
view of God and man, so feared by Kant, was a consequence of the Enlightenment.

In this country, liberty’s enemies preach an end similar to that of Islam’s, or
to that of secular totalitarians; the reader is referred to Jerry Falwell’s and
Pat Robertson’s vicious remarks in the aftermath of the attack of September 11th  and to recent, ill-disguised assaults on the
Second Amendment by politicians and the courts.

The Founders were conscious of the danger of a state church, and sought to
eradicate the danger by separating church and state, their reasoning being that
since the state existed to protect an individual’s rights, what the individual
did to preserve his own soul was both his natural right and his business.

No such breach is possible in Islam. In Islamic philosophy, Allah and the state
are inseparable. An encyclopedia description of Islam is “the religion of which
Mohammed was the prophet, the word signifying submission to the will of God.”
It is all or nothing for the individual: complete and unquestioning submission
to Allah and his will, or the eternal status of “loser” in the eyes of Allah
and the Muslim collective. Allah is the source of all law, civil and religious;
Allah is universal and all encompassing.
This is why our
politics has never successfully dealt with Muslim regimes. Our policymakers
cannot credibly or effectively argue against the contradictions in Muslim
“universal law” (never mind those present in Christian dogma) when they are the
clueless heirs of Kant’s dictum, transmitted by 19th and 20th century
philosophers in a variety of forms in our universities, to “Act as if the maxim
from which you act were to become through your will a universal law of nature”
(from The Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Ethics, 1785).

By Islamic precepts, all Christians, agnostics, atheists and others not of the
Muslim faith are unbelievers and infidels, and, by extension of Allah’s will,
damned and dispensable. The creatures who ploughed into the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon  and the field near
Shanksville, Pennsylvania willed their own destruction and the deaths of their
victims in the name of a “higher duty,” one which, in all but name, can be
classified as a Kantian “categorical imperative.” Hatred is based on fear, and
these automatons hated America for its steady erosion of a stagnant, life- and
mind-stifling, undemanding credo, one in which self-loathing and self-sacrifice
are supreme virtues. They achieved their maxim: death and destruction of the
good for being the good, good being that which they could never achieve or be
in life.

“…The struggle against terrorism is ultimately a struggle of ideas, which can
be dealt with only by intellectual and philosophical means,” wrote Dr. Leonard Peikoff,
foremost authority on Objectivism, the thoroughly, top-to-bottom pro-reason
philosophy of Ayn Rand, after Black Tuesday on the requirements for defeating
terrorism and the crucial necessity of persuading America to abandon its own
suicidal policies. The Founders did not have the advantage of such a
philosophy; they accomplished the best possible politics with what they
inherited from the Enlightenment. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

But Americans must pick up where they left off, if they are to preserve
themselves and this country, Western civilization, and all the glorious things
possible to it and us. They should not mistake their nihilist enemies for
“misguided idealists”; those enemies have marked us for extinction, and the
notion that we are the objects of such malign “idealism” ought to be as
outrageously repellent to them as it is to this writer, and send them running
for their weapons like the Minutemen of old. Nor should they underestimate the
scale of warfare that lies ahead; the enormity of the conflict surpasses that
which caused the American Revolution.

From the beginning, one of my primary goals in Sparrowhawk was to
dramatize what was required of men to accomplish not only political freedom
from tyrants, but intellectual and psychological independence from any need of
them. Free men, after all, are their own rulers. In that sense, Jack Frake and
his brothers-in-spirit throughout Sparrowhawk will, I hope, serve as
models of the kinds of men Americans might and ought to be. Then, perhaps, they
will acquire the confidence and ability to fight and defeat the “smashers of
everything,” those beyond our shores, and those who assault them in our schools
and universities.

© 2001 by Edward Cline
Yorktown, Virginia
25 September 2001




Women and Children First?

….To be thrown under the Hamas bus as
human
shields
“?  Also the elderly and
the invalid?
Hamas’s operative policy is: Yes.
And if a Hamas rocket fizzles and lands in
the midst of a crowd of non-human shield Gazans in another part of town, that’s
a fortunate error, because then the
director, cast, and camera crews of Pallywood’s staged
photographs
and videos can go to work and fob it off to the gullible
Western news media
as another cruel and “genocidal” Israeli air
strike. That’s happened so many times it’s nearly a joke. Never waste the
crisis of a wayward missile.
Retired British Colonel Richard Kemp, in
his August 3rd Gatestone article, “Gaza’s
Civilian Casualties: The Truth is Very Different,
” wrote: 
With few
exceptions, reporters, commentators, and analysts unquestioningly accept the
casualty statistics given by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled medical authorities, who
ascribe all deaths to the IDF. We have never seen so much as a glimpse
of killed or wounded fighters.
Analysis of
casualty details released by Qatar-based Al Jazeera indicate that so far
most of those killed in Gaza have been young men of fighting age, not
women, children or old people.
All Palestinian
civilian casualties in this conflict result ultimately from Gaza terrorists’
aggression against Israel, and Hamas’s use of human shields — the most
important plank of Hamas’s war-fighting policy.
The tactic calls to mind two cinematic
instances of one side deliberately sacrificing its own: the opening scene of Enemy at the Gates (2001),
when Soviet officers ordered mostly unarmed Russian soldiers to charge a German
machine gun/tank position during the battle of Stalingrad, and are subsequently
slaughtered; and Seinfeld’s George Costanzia’s panic and subsequent tissue-thin
explanations for why he pushed everyone else out of the way during his to
escape from a burning
burger fire
during in indoor children’s party. The one instance is
terrifying; the other, amusingly pathetic.
But, that’s the Hamas way. And the MSM’s
way. George Costanza claimed, among other things, that he ran from the house in
order to “lead the way out.” Hamas claims it forces Gazans to stand
on the roofs of targeted buildings to “lead the way out” of an
“occupation.” Israel shouldn’t have held its fire in those instances.
A couple of blasted buildings with Gazan bodies strewn all over would have
likely sparked a revolt of the Gazans – against Hamas. Also, remember that
these are the same Gazans who voted for Hamas (whether or not the
“election” was rigged), who allow it to rule Gaza, and who celebrated
the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
To Hamas, women and children are expendable
as casualties. If the Israelis don’t kill them, Hamas will. And the Israelis
have (wrongly) gone out of their way to avoid “civilian” Gazan
casualties. They don’t seem to remember that but for the carpet- and
fire-bombing of German and Japanese cities during WWII, the war might have gone
on indefinitely. Aside from destroying an enemy’s capacity for making war, tens
of thousands of Germans and Japanese civilians perished from Allied bombings.
The purpose of those bombings was also to destroy the enemy’s morale and
willingness to continue fighting. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
cost nearly 150,000 Japanese civilian lives. But those bombings brought the
Pacific War to an abrupt end. The alternative was to invade Japan with
conventional forces and incur even more horrendous casualties on both sides.
(For a book on why total victory over an
aggressor enemy is necessary to “preserve the peace,” and not just a
“ceasefire,” see the late John David Lewis’s Nothing
Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History
,”
published by Princeton University Press in 2010. There are lessons in it which
Israel, as well as the U.S., could benefit from, but haven’t yet been absorbed
by those countries’ military and political planners. Lewis’s book would be an
ideal companion to the Hamas
manual
of how to use “human shields” discovered by the IDF.)
 Frankly,
I think Israel should establish as its ultimate goal the complete elimination
of Hamas, killing all its top leaders and any lower ranking leaders who poke
their heads out of their rat holes. Otherwise, Hamas will just keep
“reemerging” and “regrouping” over and over again. It isn’t
as though these were enemy soldiers, who, once captured, would be put in POW
camps. These are dedicated killers who won’t stop unless killed. If any manage
to escape, they should be tracked down to wherever they hide out and eliminated,
as were the perpetrators and planners of the murders of the Olympic Israeli
wrestlers
and others in 1972 in Munich.
Kemp goes on to explain why there’s an
insatiable demand in the Western press for pictures of “Israeli
atrocities.”
With few
exceptions, reporters, commentators and analysts unquestioningly accept the
casualty statistics given by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled medical authorities, who
ascribe all deaths to the IDF. Is anyone in Gaza dying of natural
causes? Mass executions of “collaborators,” and civilians killed by
malfunctioning Hamas rockets, are all attributed to IDF fire.
Are the
“overwhelming majority” of the dead really civilians? It would seem
so. We see a great deal of grotesque and heart-rending footage of dead and
bleeding women and children but never so much as a glimpse of killed or wounded
fighters. Nor do reporters question or comment on the complete absence of Gazan
military casualties, an extraordinary phenomenon unique to this conflict.
The reality of
course is that Hamas make great efforts to segregate their military casualties
to preserve the fiction that Israel is killing civilians only. There are also
increasing indications that Hamas, through direct force or threat, are
preventing journalists from filming their fighters, whether dead or alive.
Hamas knows its onions, and is only too
happy to oblige the Western press with what the Western press wants to know:  “proof” of Israeli
“guilt” in targeting
civilians
. Not mentioning Hamas’s policy of targeting Israeli civilians is
a kind of “gentleman’s agreement” among the Western press corps, even
though most Western journalists suspect or know that the
casualty reports of Gazan “civilians”
are largely
bogus
. Hamas can always count on the Western news media to lead off a story
about Gaza with a photograph of Gazans in the rubble of their own folly. The MSN News
story here is an archetypical example of such coverage. So is the foreign
press’s coverage, as exampled here in a “touching” Guardian
story
about the fate of a rioting Ramallah teenager.  
“Say, let’s really fire up our friends
and useful
idiots
in New York and London and Paris and Los Angeles and give them something
to really demonstrate against.”
As an extra added measure, the surviving
tunnel maze not destroyed by the Israelis could be regularly flooded with raw sewage
and turned into a sump. That ought to put a damper on terrorists’ tunneling
habits. But, then again, that might not work. After all, it’s not the he-man,
“we wage war on Jewish, Muslim, and infidel women and children” terrorists
who have constructed the tunnels, but Gazan
children
.
Unfortunately, aside from the lethal,
hamstringing ROE Israel imposes on its military, it also has a habit of
“repatriating” Islamic terrorists after they’ve spent a cozy time in
Israeli lock-ups. Invariably, they return to kill again. Just as the coddled
Islamic killers at Guantanamo have
been released to kill again.
What about those demonstrators in the West who
are the most vociferous in their anti-Israel, anti-Semitic chants and
noise-making? Richard Cravatts, in his FrontPage article of August 5th,
The
Moral Psychosis of Demonstrating in Support of Hamas
,” concludes his
article by ascribing the corrupting phenomenon of multiculturalism for the
appeal of these unthinking brutes:
The language of
multiculturalism that animates the hate-Israel crowd is sprinkled with the code
words of oppression, and radicals in newly-identified victim groups frequently
see themselves as deserving of protection and special political, racial, and
cultural recognition. Thus, the decades-old emphasis on enshrining
multiculturalism has meant that activists have been seeped in an ideology which
refuses to demarcate any differences between a democratic state struggling to
protect itself and aggressive, genocidal foes who wish to destroy it with their
unending assaults. For the multiculturalist left, the moral strengths of the
two parties are equivalent, even though the jihadist foes of Israel, for
example, have waged an unending struggle with the stated aim of obliterating
the Jewish state through the murder of Jews.
There is no other
explanation for why educated, well-intentioned and humane individuals,
experiencing paroxysms of moral self-righteousness in which they are compelled
to speak out for the perennial victim, can loudly and publicly advocate for the
murder of Jews—who already have created and live in a viable sovereign state—on
behalf a group of genocidal enemies of Israel whose tragic condition may well
be their own doing, and, at any rate, is the not the sole fault of Israel’s.
That these activists are willing, and ready, to sacrifice the Jewish state, and
Jewish lives, in the name of social justice and a specious campaign of
self-determination by Palestinian Arabs, shows how morally corrupt and deadly
the conversation about human rights has become.
“Free Palestine”?  But “Palestine” is as fictive an
entity as is J.R. Tolkien’s “Middle Earth” or J.K. Rowland’s Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. See this extensively researched article
on the history of the region and its actual historical antecedents:
The first clear use
of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and
Egypt was in 5th century BC Ancient
Greece
.[8]
Herodotus
wrote of a ‘district of Syria, called Palaistinê in The Histories, the first historical work
clearly defining the region, which included the Judaean
Mountains
and the Jordan Rift Valley….The Hebrew
name Peleshet (
פלשת Pəlésheth)
– usually translated as Philistia in English, is used in the Bible more
than 250 times. The Greek word Palaistinē (Παλαιστίνη, Palaistine)
is generally accepted to be a translation of the Semitic name for Philistia; however
another term – land of the Philistieim
τν Φυλιστιεμ, transliteration from Hebrew ארץ פלשתיםEretz Pəlishtím,
land of the Philistines) – was used in the Septuagint,
the second century BCE Greek translation of the Hebrew
Bible
, to refer to Philistia….
During the Byzantine
period
, the entire region (Syria Palestine, Samaria, and the Galilee) was
named Palaestina, subdivided into provinces Palaestina I and II.
The Byzantines also renamed an area of land including the Negev, Sinai, and the west
coast of the Arabian Peninsula as Palaestina Salutaris, sometimes called
Palaestina III. The Arabic
word for Palestine is
فلسطين (commonly transcribed in English as Filistin, Filastin,
or Falastin). Moshe Sharon writes that when the Arabs took over Greater
Syria
in the 7th century
, place names that were in use by the
Byzantine administration before them, generally continued to be used. (Italics and bold mine, to emphasize the
rise of Islam in the 7th century)  
But, the demonstrators and useful idiots in
the MSM in the West don’t bother to educate themselves on the imaginary land of
“Palestine.” Nor do they bother to educate themselves on what Hamas’s
true ends are regarding Israel, nor about how Hamas treats Muslim women and
children. Reality is what they want it to be, regardless of facts and evidence
to the contrary of their delusional but deadly epistemology and metaphysics.
Down deep in their souls, their vision of
“Palestine” is malign and nihilistic. Women and children are
disposable ciphers to them as they are to Islamic jihadists of every stripe. They can always be sacrificed first.

What is a Jew?

Forgive my ignorance, but what, exactly, is a Jew? What is a Semite?
There’s been so much intermarriage over the
course of centuries, I’m not sure if “Jew” is a valid designation of
a race. What are all these anti-Semite protestors and blood-thirsty barbarians
referring to when they call for gassing the Jews again? I confess my ignorance.
There is the Hebrew language, which only Jews and scholars can fathom. But a
language is not a race.
As I remarked in an earlier column, I
wouldn’t know a Jew on the street, not on sight. Jews don’t wear their
“race” on their sleeves, not unless they’re of the Hassidic or other
strict sect. Jews come in all sizes and races. There is no distinctive facial
definition of a Jew. Contrary to the Nazis’ cartoonish stereotyping and
vilification, not all Jews have hawkish noses and heavy eyebrows. Dress an
Amish farmer and a Hassidic rabbi in the same T-shirts, jeans, and Nike tennis
shoes, and I dare anyone to play that two-card-Monte game and win by pointing
out which is which. It’s only if they open their mouths and say something that
a distinction can be made.
One of my first jobs when I moved to New
York City in 1968 was as a backroom clerk for a big stock brokerage. Most of
the men in the room were Jewish. I picked up more foul language there than I had
in the Air Force. I won’t repeat any of the raunchy terms I learned in that big,
noisy room where we sorted through stock certificates and reconciled ownershps.
But raunchy language is not the monopoly of Jews. Blacks have their own, as do Italians
and Poles and Russians and there is a variety of Latino patois. I employ many black street terms in my Roaring Twenties
novels.
Later in my itinerate and very checkered
work life, I worked as a teletypist for Société
Générale in New York, and picked up some French obscenities. (The French, they
are a very snobbish people!). Once, having a coffee break with an American
black woman who was in charge of ciphering international transactions for the
bank, I told her not only that her most immediate ancestors came from Louisiana,
but from which coast of Africa her remote ancestors came (remote, meaning the American
colonial period). She gaped at me, open-mouthed, absolutely dumb-struck, and
asked me how I knew all that. She was unmarried and had a French surname. And her
skin color corresponded with the numerous light-skinned African slaves who were
brought over to America from the West Coast. (Most of the truly ebony slaves
came from the East Coast, where Muslims monopolized the slave trade, and still
do, although they’ve now branched out into enslaving Filipinos, Indonesians, and
the hapless members of other ethnic groups.)
But I could never
tell if a Jew’s ancestors came from Russia or Poland or the Ukraine or Munich
or Iraq or Persia. It’s the difference between Upper and Lower Swabia to me. That
person would need to tell me. Then I’d know. But I otherwise wouldn’t even venture
a guess. Racial or national origins mean nothing to me.  Culture and ideas do.
Let me be frank: As
an atheist, I don’t buy either the Christian, Judaic, or Islamic racial or
historic origins of Jews, no more than I believe in Noah’s Ark, Archbishop Ussher‘s
dating the beginning of the world on October 23, 4004 BC, or Moses parting the Red
Sea. Hate me if you like, but I don’t regard fables as evidentiary proof of anything,
regardless of how sacred and unassailable Christians, Jews, or Muslims regard
their foundational texts. That goes for Buddhists and Hindus, too.
Judaism, if
that’s what the belligerent and foul-mouthed anti-Semitic protestors are
“protesting,” is strictly
a religion
to me, not a race. Anyone with a lot of patience and superb
memory skills can convert to it. But that’s not what they’re protesting. They
are damning a race, the Semites. They’re “anti-Semites” shouting
vitriolic language about their historical brothers and sisters. At least, the Muslim
demonstrators
are. I can’t speak for the others.
But, what’s a
Semite? Arabs or “Palestinians” are Semites, according to ethnologists,
with a common ancient origin in terms of ethnicity. Strictly speaking, what the
Muslims and Leftard protestors (many of them Jewish) are “protesting”
is the whole Semite race, Jews and Arabs alike. So, should they all go to the gas
chamber
? Has it ever occurred to any one of them that if we’re going to go
by definitions, the Muslims themselves are cursing their own origins? I don’t think
it has occurred to them, and I would not envy the person who volunteered to
inform them of the fact. He’d probably be beaten to death for committing
blasphemy or “racism.”
Perhaps it’s analogous
to the difference people see between the Catholic Irish of Ireland and the
Protestant Irish of Northern Ireland. If we’re going to also define the Irish
as a “pure” race, what’s the difference except in terms of an
imaginary line called a border? But Ireland and the British Isles as a whole
were raided so many times by the rapacious Vikings there can hardly be anything
called an “Irish” or “Celtic” race. The Scots and the
“British” raided each other often enough to dilute any
“racial” purity in those groups. And, let’s not forget the Romans and
the Normans and 1066. And the Angles and the Saxons and the Picts. Then there’s
Germany, and France, and every European country invaded by waves of barbarians
over millennia.
I always laugh
when I watch Hitler ranting about the necessity of preserving the purity of the
German or Aryan race by getting rid of the Jews. In terms of measuring his
physiology against his ideal of a blonde, blue-eyed brute, he got the very
short end of the racial stick. I’ve even read articles which argued he had
“Jewish” blood in him. If there’s any substance to the idea, then Hitler
was the ultimate self-hating Jew. Much like the liberal Jews who hate Israel
and can be seen chanting deprecations with the other savages.
 I won’t go into the details of the rise in
anti-Semitic rioting across the globe here. That’s easy to read already and
details are plentiful. The rioting is caused by Israel’s actions taken in
self-defense against Hamas and that whole Islamic gang that wants to extinguish
Israel and crow on the ashes and bodies of Israelis. The whole anti-Israel
phenomenon reveals a hatred of Israeli successes in science, technology,
standards of living, and the freedom of the mind. What they’d ever do with a
“free Palestine,” except build new gas chambers and mass graves, doesn’t
require much imagination: Nothing. Remember what the Gazans did to the greenhouses
left behind after Israel ceded that part of Gaza and removed the Israeli
settlers? They were trashed, or their materials turned into weapons or other
uses.
The “Palestinians”
and their masters are experts at growing nothing but death. Islam
is a death-worshipping
, nihilist creed and political ideology. Nihilists
build nothing. They destroy. It’s their whole purpose in life. Whatever it is
in Judaism that permits Jews and especially the Israelis to excel in virtually everything
they undertake to promote life and happiness, I’m too ignorant of the creed to
say. Perhaps it’s a compartmentalized fealty to reason and reality, one that’s
segregated from the religion’s mysticism and historiography and traditions.  That’s my diagnosis.
Whatever explains it, Jews aren’t the only
ones who compartmentalize. Millions of non-Jews have the same handicap. That should
make us all Jews, we the thinking,
the productive, the glad-to-be-alive.
So, call me a Jew.

Netflix’s Mixed Bill of Fare

Netflix, a bargain Internet venue featuring
a cornucopia of movies and TV series for a minimal monthly charge, is a craps
shoot, a spin of the roulette wheel, what winning or losing card emerges from the
banker’s baccarat shoe.
One thing you can depend on before a movie
unreels, European or American, is a series of initial credits: Widget
Cinema….in association with Piglet Productions….A Floyd Floozy Film….in
cooperation with the Film Board of Patagonia….A Wholesome Fare Film…..a Cayman
Island Entertainment Production….together with Melody Lane LLC…..in partnership
with Howling Banshees Studios….Handcrafted Cinema Company….and on and on, each
with its own animated graphics. One almost falls asleep waiting for the cast
and directorial credits. For a person who grew up with the MGM lion, the
Columbia lady, Paramount’s Mount Everest, and even the British Rank/Ealing
Studios muscle man hitting a giant gong, and other signature production credits,
the parade of entities responsible for most of the movies offered by Netflix is
disconcerting. But, apparently that’s “progress.”
After a movie has been made, do these
entities vanish like puffballs, or go airborne like dandelion seeds, or roll
out of sight like tumbleweeds? Are they intertwined tax dodges, or cinematic
pyramid schemes? I have yet to see a single “associated with” name reappear
in the credits of any of the independent productions. Major producers, such as
TriStar with its white Pegasus, limit such credits to one or two before introducing
the major producer. And the older MGM and RKO credits, for example, put the
“associated” entities in parenthetical positions somewhere around the
major studio’s name. One never really notices them.
That complaint being lodged, here are some
appraisals of a handful of Netflix’s offerings.
Barbara Sukowa plays a credible Hannah Arendt, released in
2012, as the German-Jewish author of The
Origins of Totalitarianism
(1951) and Eichmann
in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
(
1963). This “docudrama” of her conflict
with other Jews about the true nature of the men behind the Holocaust
highlights her struggles as she attends Adolf Eichmann’s trial. She was not
prepared for the bitter opposition to her covering the trial for The New
Yorker, and was ostracized by many of her best friends. This is definitely
worth watching qua docudrama, with
great chunks of Arendt’s life left out or merely shown in passing, such as her
affair with Martin
Heidegger
, the Nazi intellectual.
Also from 2012 is No God, No Master,
a deceptive title because it has little or nothing to do with God or masters. The
title is nowhere explained in the film. The phrase was an early anarchist slogan
coined by French anarchist Auguste Blanqui in 1880. However, the film is just a
very well done “docudrama” of the early years of the FBI’s first
director (then known as the Bureau of Investigation), William Flynn, ably portrayed
by David Strathairn, and is set chiefly in 1919.  It chronicles the detective work of Flynn
before he was appointed B.O.I. director. When he stepped down after two years at
the post, he was succeeded by J. Edgar Hoover. The story begins with his trying
to determine who is responsible for a series of package bombs left on the
doorsteps of prominent Boston men or mailed to them.
The film, a little past halfway through it,
then blends into the story of Sacco and Vanzetti, the Italian anarchists
convicted of murdering a guard during a heist (not true to the actual event, as
portrayed in the film), and later executed, and Attorney General A. Mitchell
Palmer/J. Edgar Hoover’s raids
that purportedly netted some 10,000 new immigrants to be deported. Flynn
abruptly (and incredibly) becomes a champion of the immigrants and an enemy of Palmer.
A Spanish entry (actually made and set in
Spain), The Last Days, from 2013,
is a low-key end-of-the-world film. It follows the search of a Barcelona
computer geek, Marc, for his pregnant girlfriend, Julia. A mysterious but
unnamed virus has caused everyone everywhere to suffer from agoraphobia, or a
fear of being outdoors or in open spaces. Civilization is at an end. I don’t
know how good and bad acting are measured in Spain, but there was too much
intense staring that conveyed nothing and too many emotional Latin outbursts of
anger to suit my tastes for drama.
The purpose of the film is revealed at the
end: It’s an environmentalist attack on Western technology and
“consumerism.” Marc finds his girlfriend; they camp out in an
abandoned clinic. Time passes. They have a boy. He grows into a teenager. When
he goes off with a gang of other kids on an unknown quest, Marc and Julia,
looking as young as ever and none the worse for wear, wave goodbye, as the
group wends its way through a part of Barcelona whose buildings are smothered
with more vines than it took Harvard to grow in one and a half centuries. Ah,
the good life! How idyllic! Living on collected rainwater and on an indoor
vegetable garden. You see, Marc and Julia still can’t go outside without going
wobbly and woozy. Their ears would bleed, they would lose consciousness, and
would die.
I learned something about Scandinavian
folklore in Thale, released in 2012.
I’m not sure how I’d classify this entry, fantasy or horror. A pair of house
cleaners (Norwegian; they’re introduced scrubbing blood from a floor in a
private home; why, remained unexplained) discover a basement that turns out to
have been the research sanctum of a fellow who had captured a hulder,
or a woman with a cow’s tail.
What is most remarkable about the film is
that the two lead characters, the cleaners, played by Jon Sigve Skard and Erlend Nervold, are the sorriest excuses for
leading men I have ever seen. Skard doesn’t do much but look expressionless and
chew gum in between brief responses to his partner, while Nervold never loses
his look of trepidation and astonishment. The hulder, Thale, who
suddenly emerges from a trough, is played by the exquisite Silje Reinåmo, and
is mysterious enough to make one wonder what she’ll do to or with the two
intruders. Then some armed government men show up wanting to take over the hulder. Thale escapes, killing all the government
men, and cures Skard of cancer. Go figure. She retreats to the Norwegian woods
to try to join her wild sister hulders,
who run around naked and are dangerous. She can’t rejoin them, because her
captor had surgically and painfully removed her tail. She is an outcast.
I watched all five
seasons (2007-2011) of the British science fiction series, Primeval on
Netflix. Science fiction is a genre I’m no longer keen to spend time on anymore
because it’s usually PC balderdash about how man destroys the earth or man
being innately evil or flawed. Primeval
is about a crackerjack team that deals with “anomalies,” or rifts in
time that let loose dinosaurs, mammoths, beetles, and other nasty predators and
vermin on the present. The team’s job is to intercept the monsters and send
them back where they came from. They appear anywhere. The cast is good, much of
the plotting is tight, and it was a pleasure to discover actor Ben Miller, who
plays the nattily dressed and fastidious director of ARC, or the Anomaly
Research Center, and the team’s boss. He must have been an understudy for John
Cleese’s bungling hotelier Basil Fawlty of the comedy Fawlty Towers. His ironic asides are well-timed and spot-on. Another
pleasant discovery was Hannah Spearritt, a team member and a nimble sprite it’s
easy to develop a crush on.
The CGI-created
monsters are far above the usual fare, but, as I’ve remarked in earlier
commentaries, CGI does not a story make. What surprised me was the main thread:
the motive of one of the characters, a villainous scientist played by Juliet
Aubrey, who it’s revealed in the end plans to go back far in time to the Rift
Valley in East Africa in order to slaughter the first hominids, so that mankind
does not evolve “to pollute the planet and despoil the earth and cause
global warming.” It’s a confession one won’t hear anywhere else, not even
in real life.
She does go back,
and poisons one tribe of ape men, but is done in before she can kill again by a
raptor that followed her through an anomaly. Had she succeeded in her plan, history
would have changed and she would have vanished along with everyone who ever
existed. Earth would have been pristinely absent of the human race. Asked about
this by another character trapped in the Pleistocene period, she answers that
it would be worth the price if it eliminated man.
I don’t know of
another series (or movie) in which an environmentalist is a murderous villain.
Virtually all such movies and series offered by Netflix (and in the culture in
general) feature a “maverick,” unshaven environmentalism-friendly
“hero” who saves the day (and has marital problems). Or it’s an embittered
female geologist or the like who saves the day (and has boyfriend problems).
Yes, I have
watched some of those other science fiction movies or series, but stopped the
moment the “hero” or “heroine” opened his mouth about man’s
alleged destructiveness, foolishness and recklessness. The “science”
in these atrocities is truly fictional, as much as is Al Gore’s or the EPA’s. While
the technical qualities of these films vary from low-budget, laughable awfulness
to big-budget extravagance, the message is always the same. Man is guilty for
his very existence.
On the brighter
side, a younger David Strathairn appears as the protagonist in 1998’s Evidence of Blood, Jackson Kinley,
a Noble Prize winning author of true crime books. Informed that his best friend
from their school days, the sheriff of a small Georgia town, has died and left
him everything, he returns and begins an investigation into the murder of a
young woman 40 years ago, following some cryptic clues in his late friend’s
home and elsewhere.  The clues indicate
that the wrong man was found guilty of the murder (a verdict the man did not
protest) and subsequently executed. He meets resistance from the former prosecutor
and the man’s defense attorney, and also from the town’s retired chief of
police, who was a rookie cop at the time.  He also becomes involved with the beguiling
daughter of the executed man, Dora Overton, played by Mary McDonnell, who
simply wants the truth. In the end, Kinley returns to the scene of the alleged
crime, and discovers that he was a
witness to it. The film plods along at a leisurely pace, but the story deserves
patience and is rewarding in the end.
What is pure
dessert among Netflix’s offerings is Miss Fisher’s
Murder Mysteries
, a 2012-2014 Australian TV series set in Melbourne in
the 1920’s, starring Essie Davis as Phryne
Fisher
, a British heiress who resettles in Australia and decides to become an
investigator of murders. Her semi-nemesis is John Robinson, a police detective,
whom she helps solve crimes and who does not approve of her libertine, flapper
ways. As the ice melts between them they eventually become unofficial partners
in their work. Detective Robinson resists becoming enamored with Phryne Fisher
(he represses, in the beginning, an admiration for her unorthodoxy and
ingenuity, among her other assets) and implicitly surrenders to her irresistible
charms, so the possibility of a third season indicates a romantic liaison. The series
is based on the popular novels
of Kerry Greenwood. I have not read any of them (there are, to date, twenty-one
of them), but plan to order a few to see if they match the quality and spirit
of the TV series.
Evidence of Blood is worth
re-watching if only to observe the accumulation of clues that do not lead to the expected denouement,
while all the episodes of Miss Fisher’s
Murder Mysteries
are worth watching over and over again, if only to escape
our own time.

In one convenient venue, Netflix offers a broad
perspective on the state of Western culture, of its esthetics, of its arts, and
of its past and future.

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