These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 17, 2008.
Monday, 17 March 2008
St Patrick's Day greetings
This being Holy Week many St Patrick’s Day celebrations have taken place already and it sounds like great fun was had by all.
The previous record is 1,096 Mohammeds so they were looking for at least 1097 Patricks, Paddys or Patricias yesterday.
The organisation works to raise money for the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and as a side issue is trying to discourage the demise of the name which is now rarely given to new babies.
Something similar has happened to the name John and I don’t know why. Some of the other main apostle’s names are still popular. Luke is more popular than ever and I see plenty of small boys around called Matthew, Andrew, Simon and James. But no Johns and very few Peters.
David is no longer given either but George is gaining in popularity.
And next month we must celebrate St George!
Posted on 03/17/2008 3:04 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 17 March 2008
Oaths of Alllegiance
Our American Pledge of Allegiance was one of the very first pieces of speech I memorized as a small child. It still carries the power to stir my emotion so I am much less cynical about these kinds of exercises than A. Miller who writes at Brussels Journal:
The British government has finally woken up to the idea of nationhood. The recently unveiled review of British citizenship suggests a “Britishness Day” and the swearing of an oath of allegiance to the Queen by school children. You might think that – like a hungry trout that sees only the worm, and not the fisherman’s hook – the nation would rise up to bite this morsel of Britishness. “Britishness”, after all – and even as it remains undefined – is the Prime Ministers new word.
But, his word means nothing, of course. He is a politician, and, worse still, a Labour politician – and, who can forget, elections are looming. Unsurprisingly, reaction by British citizens was overwhelmingly negative, with some rejecting the idea of an oath because it was too American and “un-British”, and others because they don’t like the Queen or are opposed to monarchy as a general rule. Many more Brits see it as nothing more than a desperate bid to claw back a few of constituents. A collection of entirely crass individuals, Labour has hardly disguised its contempt for Britishness. As far back as 1999 one-time leader of the Conservative Party William Hague denounced the government, saying:
Because New Labour do not understand the British way, they pursue policies which not only threaten our political institutions but also, because those institutions shape our national character, threaten Britain itself. This is not some academic threat [...] here in Westminster, we find a Government which, you could be forgiven for believing, thinks that British history started on 1st May 1997, [and] that understands nothing about our traditions except that it wants to destroy them
Destroy them it has. British history is hardly even taught at school today, having been replaced by lessons on ‘citizenship’, and the culture of other countries. After years of attempting to destroy Britishness once and for all, so that it might have a political blank slate of faux socialism, the people aren’t buying the sudden burst of flag waving. Nor does Labour seem to believe its own hype.
Since the Prime Minister’s conversion, the Labour government has stripped the Queen’s personal attendant, ‘Black Rod’ (a position created in 1350 A.D.), of most of his functions, which will be handed over to a bureaucrat. Likewise, the laudably titled “Culture Minister”, Margaret Hodge, has publicly denounced the country’s foremost patriotic ceremony, the Proms (a series of concerts that conclude with a night of patriotic compositions and the national anthem, with the audience waving the Union Jack). For Hodge, its just too traditionally British, and not representative of modern, multicultural Britain.
In Labour’s eyes “Britishness” is, or should be, a synonym for “multiculturalism”; without the latter the former has no existence, and no purpose. A section entitled, “British Culture” on the government’s website for the U.S., states that “Like the US, Britain is proud of its multicultural heritage”, and an accompanying section “The History of Multicultural Britain” seems to suggest that ancient Britain was as nearly ethnically diverse as the modern country, or perhaps more-so. In this supposed British history, the largest paragraph out of only nine is on the Muslim community, and the word “Muslims” appears four times while “Celts”, “Angles”, “Saxons”, “Norse”, and “Danes” appear only once. “English”, “Irish”, “Scottish”, “Welsh”, and “White” don’t appear at all.
Again, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown invokes “Britishness” at every turn, he erodes it in policy and practice. He himself has recently confined the figure of Britannia to the trash. This embodiment of Britain as goddess-figure has endured for nearly 2,000 years, as if proof of the nation’s defining fortitude and spirit, and emblematic of its history and culture. It was on ancient Roman coins in use in Britain and had been re-adopted for the country’s coinage nearly two centuries before America became an independent nation, but will, with the Prime Minister’s signature, be replaced by a more modern symbol for the modern, less traditionally British country.
An oath within this context is an oath to fashion, ephemera, and political whim. The monarchy itself has been dubbed “Cool Britannia” (a reference to the words of the national anthem, “Rule Britannia”) because of its desperate attempts to seem modern. Now Britannia herself has been banished. Consider the words of Conservative M.P. Liam Fox almost a decade ago, and you realize the horrible perversity of the loss of our most ancient and enduring depiction of our country. It is near prophetic [pdf]:
Our country is in grave danger. The Government has embarked upon a series of radical changes to the way we run our affairs -- but, as always, has got no idea how to finish what it's begun […] a few years from now, the United Kingdom as we know it will no longer exist.
Posted on 03/17/2008 8:36 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 17 March 2008
The Last Curtsey
Fiona MacCarthy recalls being among the last of the debutants brought out in Britain in 1958:
Half a century ago this week, a strange ceremony ended. I was among the last 400 girls arriving at Buckingham Palace to make our formal curtseys to the Queen.
It was the usual wild March weather, cold winds ruffling our full-skirted silk dresses, our mothers in their furs and our moustached fathers wore top hats as we lined up by the railings, gaped at by waiting crowds kept at a discreet distance as if in an Ealing comedy...
We were trained to make the curtsey, which was by no means a perfunctory bob but a low, sweeping curtsey. The left knee needed to be locked behind the right, allowing a graceful descent with head erect, hands by your side. We learned the technique from Madame Vacani, a dancing teacher who held a kind of royal warrant for the curtsey. A Vacani curtsey was part of the mystique.
However hard we practised, the experience was nerve-racking. Our hearts thumped as we assembled on little stiff gilt chairs in an antechamber, waiting to be called into the ballroom where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh sat on twin thrones under a crimson canopy adapted from the Imperial shamiana, redolent of the then relatively recent British rule in India.
One curtsey to the Queen, then three sidesteps and another deep curtsey to Prince Philip. What if you wobbled? What if your heel caught in your petticoat and ripped it, the disaster that overtook a friend of mine? How should you respond if a bored Prince Philip winked?...
Posted on 03/17/2008 9:10 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 17 March 2008
Fitna To Be Released Easter Sunday
Posted on 03/17/2008 9:23 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 17 March 2008
By advocating this "strategy" the U.S. is actually playing right into the hands of our enemies because it weakens the U.S. military and weakens resolve at home. If you wanted to defeat the U.S., which war would you study?
AP: BAGHDAD - Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain vowed in meetings with Iraq's prime minister Monday that the U.S. would maintain a long-term military presence in Iraq until al-Qaida is defeated there.
Explosions went off near the heavily fortified Green Zone shortly after Cheney arrived. Helicopter gunships circled central Baghdad, but no details were immediately available on the cause of the explosions.
The presumptive Republican candidate for president, who has linked his political future to military success in Iraq, met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shortly before the Iraqi leader began separate talks with Cheney.
Al-Maliki said he and the vice president discussed ongoing negotiations over a long-term security agreement between the two countries that would replace the U.N. mandate for foreign troops set to expire at the end of the year.
"This visit is very important. It is about the nature of the relations between the two countries, the future of those relations and the agreement in this respect," the prime minister told reporters. "We also discussed the security in Iraq, the development of the economy and reconstruction and terrorism."
McCain stressed that it was important to maintain the U.S. commitment in Iraq, where a U.S.-Iraq military operation is under way to clear al-Qaida from its last urban stronghold of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.
"We recognize that al-Qaida is on the run, but they are not defeated," McCain said after meeting al-Maliki. "Al-Qaida continues to pose a great threat to the security and very existence of Iraq as a democracy. So we know there's still a lot more of work to be done."
Al-Qaeda is the magic word. Every Iraqi knows that. It's what keeps the money and weaponry flowing.
Posted on 03/17/2008 9:52 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 17 March 2008
The more one studies the brief career of Barack Obama, the less there is to be found there. What, after all, shall we judge him on? Shall it be the fact that, once academic merit was no longer the sole or even main criterion, he was elected -- as an amiable and friendly fellow, capable of listening with judicious mien to various sides -- and by all accounts "just a great guy" -- president of the Harvard Law Review, when a few years before, had that academic merit been the main or even the sole criterion, he would not have had a chance?
Shall it be that he went off to join Sidley & Austin, having found -- as so many do -- the work in a big firm taxing and not to his liking, and left after two years, which in the careful campaign re-telling of his life's story, becomes not someone simply desiring to get out from under the rigors of life as a junior associate in a big and hard-driving law firm, but rather, someone who was always interested singlemindedly in "helping people." For some reason the very large number of associates who, having endured a year or two or four of big-firm life, leave that big-firm (and sometimes law) altogether, discovering it is not for them, do not present themselves as motivated by lofty motives, but rather, willingly admit that they didn't like that life, or didn't wish to work those 80-hours weeks. Not Obama: for him it is always presented as a Higher Calling.
Shall we judge him on the basis of his six years, -- or was it seven? -- in the Illinois State Legislature, where he apparently had no legislation of his own, but in his last year, the new head of the Illinois Legislature, a man who had taken an interest in pushing the career of Barack Obama, made sure that legislation that had been crafted by, worked on by, others for months and years, was attached to the name "Barack Obama" so that he could be given credit?
Should we judge him on the basis of his having been in the Senate for not much more than two years, and in that time, having distinguished himself not at all?
Should we judge him on the basis of his deciding, when he had no good reason other than o'erweening ambition, and an unjustified sense of his own destiny and worth that he apparently believed justified many in overlooking the extraordinary thinness of his experience -- essentially that of a "community organizer" representing a most unrepresentative part of southside Chicago -- and the thinness, not only of his political experience, but of his mental preparation.
For aside from the inspirational platitudes, what has Barack Obama learned about the world? He seems to confuse personal biography (his father, who decamped when Obama was two, was Kenyan; he spent a few years as a child in Indonesia) with the need to study up on the world. This he not done, the way for example that Churchill, when he was out of office, studied men and events, including men and events in the past.
Shall we judge him on the basis of the people he chose as his "advisers" in foreign policy? If so, then Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has entered history as Carter's National Security adviser, and that means two things: the quite-unnecessary loss of Iran to the Khomeini fanatics, by the crazy misreading of Khomeini (a "fellow man of faith" as Carter oozily described him), and the abandonment of the Shah (admittedly vainglorious and with a corrupt court, but compared to Khomeini, the Shah was Churchill, the Shah was Abraham Lincoln), and the vicious treatment of Israel, with the hectoring of Begin at Camp David, and the utter indifference, or rather, active hostility, of both Brzezinski and Carter to Israel, perhaps to some not quite as obvious as it has become in the years since, their indifference to Israel's legal, historic, and moral claims and, not surprisingly, their willful ignorance of Islam and its much more extravagant claims, not to a tiny strip of territory, but to the entire world, which must everywhere succumb, in the end, to dominance by Islam, and to Muslim rule, even if some non-Muslims will be allowed to continue to exist, under conditions that 1350 years of history indicate are those of humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity.
And along with Brzezinski, there is Samantha Power, who made her name, and academic fortune, on the basis of her interest in "genocide" and specifically, the mass-murder in Darfur, but like that other beneficiary of the Darfur murders, Samantha Power has stayed well away from attempting to understand the Arab supremacism within Islam that justifies, and explains, the Arab killing of black Africans -- indeed, she is quick to describe the Darfur situation as "Muslims killing Muslims" as a way to absolve Islam of any conceivable role, for she still has no idea that Islam is, and always has been, a vehicle for Arab imperialism (see the Kurds, see the Berbers, see see see), for she is fixated on the fact of "genocide" and unable, in a specific case, to point to its ideological promptings. Her other views, including those that show she has no idea what Israel faces -- a Lesser Jihad that has no end, but can be contained through deterrence, and that deterrence requires that Israel not only be, but be perceived to be, overwhelmingly stronger, than those who would wish to destroy it -- have been taken apart by others, and need not be repeated here.
And then there is Anthony Lake, but since he has been in semi-retirement in the Berkshires, one hardly knows if his is only a name added, as a respectable afterthought, to the list of Obama "advisers." And then there is Robert Malley, whose Syrian background may possibly help to explain his decades of work on behalf of the cause of undermining Israel, and though the usual soft-headed but of course "Jewish" supporters -- the indyks and rosses and millers -- signed a letter in stout support of Robert Malley, it is they, rather, for their continuing misunderstanding of what prompts Arab Muslim opposition to Israel, and their professional careers spent entirely on Arab-Israeli "peace-processing" that is based, fatally, on a continued, by this point willful ignorance of the texts and tenets and attitudes of Islam, that make their testimony on behalf of Malley, and indeed their own understanding of things, essentially pointless, even worthless.
And we are told it is impermissible to judge Barack Obama by the man who became his surrogate father, his pastor, his introducer into the greater world of southside Chicago politics, impermissible to listen to the harangues and rants of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and draw our own conclusions about him, but we are expected to believe that in nearly 20 years of attending Rev. Wright's church, of having him officiate at one's marriage and at the baptism of one's children, of having called him repeatedly a mentor, a guide, an everything, that the nature of Rev. Wright's sermons, and the quality of mind that those sermons -- ex ungue leonem, even one such sermon or two or three will do -- reveal, must be ignored. And we are further expected to believe every kind of implausible tale: that Barack Obama never, in his nearly 20 years of church-going, ever heard such things. Or, in the alternative, perhaps he did hear such stuff but he never approved it. Or, now that there is evidence that he was present at such sermon-giving, and also that he nodded his head in approval, no doubt we will be told that the head-nodding was merely a sign not of approval, but of Sunday-morning sleepiness, or something.
There's a limit to this. That limit has been reached. Those who thought they could somehow validate themselves, prove how wonderful and "post-racial" they were by voting for Barack Obama, have another think coming. Instead, they might try, more soberly, to vote for the candidate whose policies have been most clearly and, in detail, laid out, and which that particular voter thinks, all in all, are likely to accord most with his sense of what needs to be done.
There are those of us who are entirely uninterested in proving -- or even thinking we have to prove -- that we are "post-racial" by supporting, much less being enthusiastic about, Barack Obama. That word "post-racial" is being associated with, promoted by, a campaign that is, in a dozen different sly ways, all about race. While Barack Obama was raised entirely in a "non-racial" manner, by a white mother and white grandparents, he has deliberately cultivated in himself a concern with race, and that involves "finding himself" by going in "search" of his Kenyan father, the father he essentially never knew and who played no role whatsoever in responsibly raising him, or even taking the slightest interest in him; his memoir manages to make much of this absent father, and consequently to slight his mother, who whatever her political innocence, never decamped but did everything she could to raise Barack Obama properly.
His entire political career has been spent in a black district, with black voters, attending the largest and best-connected and therefore, to him, with the electorate that then mattered, the most politically effective black church, a church where the sermons on black self-reliance apparently contained a solid dose of anti-white blame-laying, and America-attacking, that does not travel well, and the fact that Obama never saw fit to distance himelf until he had to, the day before yesterday, tells you all you need to know.
The campaign to make black voters vote for Obama as a block, has been and will continue to be successful. And the campaign to make white voters, of the young and innocent kind, or the self-satisfied boomer-beemer-schemer-dreamer kind, both kinds demonstrating to themselves their own moral fitness (for use), by allowing themselves to be used by the Obama campaign, all of it predicated on the pretense that Barack Obama embodies a new America getting beyond racial "divisiveness" and those by the mere act of supporting him demonstrate, in the most convincing way possible, their "post-racial" bonafides, and blah blah blah, was always hard to take.
And now it is impossible to take.
A minute of listening to Jeremiah Wright ought to be enough. It ought to be more than enough.
Posted on 03/17/2008 11:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 17 March 2008
Tony Blair saves the world
Tony Blair has not been idle since he stepped down as Prime Minister. On the contrary, he has been a very busy bunny indeed, selflessly saving the world. Rod Liddle:
This is going to be a busy year for Tony Blair. He has taken up a senior academic post at Yale University. Also, he wants to be president of the European Union. Plus he’s in charge of a plan to make Jews and Palestinians love each other. Now he is to head a team of climate change experts who will save the world from turning into something resembling a smoky bacon crisp.
Don’t you feel a lot safer as you tuck yourself into bed of a night, knowing that while you sleep Tony is zipping around the stratosphere like a rabid bat on amphetamine, saving Europe, the Middle East and the rest of the planet, pausing only to lecture a few students and rake it in from his consultancies at a private bank and an insurance giant?
Posted on 03/17/2008 12:33 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 17 March 2008
Complicity in Iran's Jihad Against Homosexuals
Robert Spencer writes at Frontpage:
The British government announced Thursday that it was ending efforts to deport Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old Iranian who has been studying in Britain – a move that should be applauded by human rights activists everywhere. Had he been forced to return to Iran, Kazemi would almost certainly have been executed there. Roger Roberts, one of eight members of the House of Lords who petitioned British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to allow Kazemi to stay in Britain, declared: “There is no doubt that he will be persecuted and possibly face state-sanctioned murder if he is forced to return.”
This is because, while in Britain in 2005, Kazemi learned that his male lover back in Iran had been hanged for the crime of sodomy. He applied for asylum in Britain, was turned down, went to the Netherlands and applied for asylum again, and was turned down again.
The Dutch denied Kazemi’s application because European Union regulations allow someone to apply for asylum in only one EU country. But why did Britain initially turn him down also? Because according to British authorities, Iran does not persecute homosexuals.
According to The Independent, “The Home Office’s own guidance issued to immigration officers concedes that Iran executes homosexual men but, unaccountably, rejects the claim that there is a systematic repression of gay men and lesbians.” Maybe British officials have subscribed to the view of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who famously declared at Columbia University last year: “We don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. We don’t have this phenomenon; I don’t know who’s told you we have it.”
In reality, homosexuality has often been punished with death in Iran. According to the Iranian gay and lesbian rights group Homan, the Iranian government has put to death an estimated 4,000 homosexuals since 1980. Scott Long, director of the Human Rights Watch Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program, notes that Iranians who are suspected of being gay commonly face torture. Hossein Alizadeh of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has declared that in Iran gays live with “constant fear of execution and persecution and also social stigma associated with homosexuality.” On July 19, 2005, when two teenage boys, Mahmoud Asgari, 14, and Ayaz Marhoni, 16, were hanged in a particularly brutal manner in Iran for the crime of homosexual activity. Although Iranian officials insisted that the death sentence was for the rape of a third boy, the National Council of Resistance of Iran has said otherwise. But Asgari and Marhoni were not alone.
Of all this Mehdi Kazemi is well aware. In his asylum application in Britain, he wrote: “The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me….If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like [my boyfriend]. Since this incident…I have been so scared.”
Yet despite all this, the Left in America, for all its vaunted concern for gay rights, remains largely silent about Iran. Has The Nation, or Katha Pollitt, rushed to Kazemi’s aid? No – not a word about Kazemi has appeared in The Nation. And The Nation is not alone. Although Columbia students did react derisively to Ahmadinejad’s denial that there were homosexuals in Iran, the violent persecution of gays in Iran was well-known in the West long before the President of Iran’s visit there – and yet he was still welcomed enthusiastically by students who would have lustily reviled Pat Robertson or Franklin Graham, neither of whom has ever called for anything remotely close to the execution of gays, had either of them dared to set foot on campus. And a delegation of Columbia professors, according to Tehran’s Mehr News Agency, even planned a trip to Iran in order to present an official apology to Ahmadinejad for the way he was treated by Columbia President Lee Bollinger when he visited the university.
Why did these professors, no doubt all confirmed and proud Leftists, want Columbia to be nice to a government that executes gays? ...
Speaking in Nashville, Yvonne Ridley suggested that gays who were persecuted in Muslim lands "must have wanted to be caught" since the the standard of proof requires four eye witnesses. I doubt very much that is the case.
Posted on 03/17/2008 12:33 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 17 March 2008
A Musical Interlude: I'm Through With Love (Donald Voorhees Orch., voc. Scrappy Lambert)
Posted on 03/17/2008 1:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 17 March 2008
Early Childhood Education
Here is the latest MEMRI clip of the Palestinian children's show "Pioneers of Tomorrow" in which Assud the Bunny talks about killing Danes and boycotting Danish products over the Muhammad cartoons and then goes on in the usual fashion to indoctrinate the children on the necessity of recapturing all of Palestine. "We're not terrorists, they're the terrorists."
Posted on 03/17/2008 1:06 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 17 March 2008
Douglas Murray interviews Geert Wilders for the UK Spectator:
...A few days before I saw Wilders last week, Holland’s Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, held a press conference calling for the film to be halted. Others have followed suit. ‘The government leaked that the movie was coming,’ says Wilders. ‘Our foreign minister went to Syria and said what they said to every diplomat all over the world... Listen, there is a movie, we are fully against this movie... So they created a huge thing, almost a self-fulfilling prophecy because, thanks to the government, it was now known from Timbuktu to Afghanistan that there will be a movie.’
The government has tried legal threats, financial and moral blackmail — including the claim that the movie will make Dutch troops in Afghanistan a target — to persuade Wilders to pull the movie. For their part, al-Qa’eda has issued a fatwa calling on all Muslims everywhere to try to kill Wilders. Even for a man who has been under 24-hour security protection for three and a half years (‘It’s something that you don’t wish for your worst enemy’) this is a new order of threat.
And while the death threats flood in, so do the kind of petty threats from the home-side which can rankle even more. Fear of terrorist attacks in response to the film mean the government is threatening to close the streets around the parliament. Shopkeepers are already presenting pre-emptive claims for lost earnings to Wilders.
‘[We] have such a coward of a Prime Minister,’ he says. ‘They are trying to get fear in the heads of the people of the Netherlands. ‘If something happens they want to say afterwards, this guy was to blame.’
And will he not be at all? Wilders is adamant: ‘I’m not bound to any Afghan or Sufi or Pakistani law. I am bound to the Dutch law and I’m sure that my movie will be within all the boundaries of the Dutch law. You can like the text or dislike the text, like the message or dislike the message, but I’m not doing anything that will be an incitement of hatred or things like that.’ So what is his aim?
‘I really believe that the Koran is a fascist book and Islam — which is more ideology, according to me, than religion — is something that is at least very bad for our values and our society. I’m not a cultural relativist. I believe that we should be proud of our culture. Our culture is far better than the more retarded Islamic culture. So this is why last year in an article I wrote, I said, well, we should ban the Koran. I initiated a big debate with the Prime Minister in the Dutch parliament about it and talked about how it would be good if there could be a new Koran like a New Testament and all the hatred and incitement and intolerance — get rid of that.’ The sole limit to freedom of speech that Wilders recognises is incitement. And this is the problem he has with the Koran.
‘Big parts of the Koran today are still used... to do the most terrible things. And I believe a lot of people don’t know that and I hope it will open their eyes and we will get a discussion going about the real nature of Islam. We should stop this process of Islamisation and we should protect not only our identity but also our freedom more. With the growing amount of Islamisation of both our countries and our societies we will lose our freedoms. At the end of the day Islam will kill our democracy and our society, and I know it will not happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow but there is a process going on and there is a total lack of urgency of people who really feel that it is a threat.’
And what is his main message to the non-Muslims who see his film?
‘Stop being a cultural relativist and be proud of who you are, and fight for it especially if, you know, I mean these people are not Buddhist. I wrote an article a few weeks ago that said, imagine if I would have said last year that I wanted to burn the Bible, that I want to make a movie to show the fascist character of Christianity. Would there be extra meetings of the government? Would there be evacuation plans of our embassies in Rome, Berlin and Brussels? Would there be bishops like grand muftis who say there would be bloodshed?... The answer of course is “no”. So it proves my point already. All the reactions of the Islamic world, even unfortunately from the Dutch government, show that Islam is something different, has to be treated differently, as something entirely beside our own culture and values.’
And why did he choose the title he did? Because ‘Islam is our challenge — our fitna. Every day, a few times every Muslim if he sees a woman walking in a short skirt or somebody with a picture or drawing of Mohammed, all the time they have fitnas... A Muslim knows from the age of five what fitna means, every Muslim and, well — Islam is the fitna of our society. Will we survive the challenge of this terrible ideology? Will we be able to stop it or to give it the place that it will not kill our democratic society and values that we share in the West?’...
Wilders sums it up defiantly: ‘If I surrender, they will win. And they will never win. They have to lose, and they will lose.’
Posted on 03/17/2008 1:36 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 17 March 2008
Muslim leader slams 'semi naked' Eden parade
WYCOMBE Islamic Society has criticised Eden's (a new shopping centre) opening celebrations claiming they failed to represent the town's ethnic minorities.
The group, based at the Islamic Centre in Arnison Avenue, has hit out at the shopping centre's Brazilian carnival parade on Thursday morning.
Volunteer Zahid Jawed, speaking on behalf of the society, said: "I had the wonderful opportunity to witness the opening of the Eden shopping centre last Thursday. This has been much needed and will no doubt attract people and jobs to the area. It could also have been a great opportunity to celebrate the town and its people. Instead we had the pleasure of watching such things as semi naked dancers on parade. It was made even worse as I had taken children with me. Once again the planners decided to ignore and alienate significant parts of the local population and then will no doubt accuse them of not wishing to integrate. I would have liked to have seen a much more local and multicultural celebration on the day. Another opportunity for community cohesion wasted."
I thought Brazilian was multicultural. Wrong kind of multicultural obviously. I hope the Samba school protest to the Race Relations Board about the Islamic Society. If Basil Brush can be accused of racism anyone can be.
Posted on 03/17/2008 2:03 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 17 March 2008
Professor Hans Jansen's New Book, For Those Who Want To Try Out Their Dutch
Posted on 03/17/2008 2:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 17 March 2008
Barack Obama And What It Means Not To Know What 'Fulsome' Means
"The statements that were the source of controversy from Rev. Wright were wrong and I strongly condemn them," the Illinois senator reiterated today. However, Obama added, "I think the caricature that is being painted of him is not accurate. And so part of what I'll do tomorrow is to talk a little bit about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church community, for example, which I think views this very differently."
When a reporter asked the Democratic candidate whether the Wright controversy had damaged him politically, Obama responded, "You guys are in a better chance to assess that than I am." He refused to discuss the issue any further.[update: the word "chance" has now been changed to the word "positiion"]
"This is why I'm giving a speech tomorrow that will be a lot more fulsome than a press conference," he said. – Barack Obama in today's Washington Post
That Obama has managed to get where he is, was even made (by that time it was an elective office, and personality, not academic merit, was the main consideration) president of the Harvard law Review, and has nearly reached the age of fifty without knowing what the word “fulsome” means – he apparently thinks it means “more complete” – is an indictment, but not only of him. Of the education he supposedly received, as a graduate of Columbia (after transferring from Occidental) and of Harvard Law School. Of all those who, surrounding him, heard him mis-use the word, and either were unclear of it themselves, or didn’t think it mattered, and never set him straight.
I'll pass over without comment Obama's eyebrow-raising use of English, in an impromptu moment, when he is not carefully following a rehearsed axelrodian script (when he assumes, as he so often does, that careful mien of furrowed-brow thoughtfulness and judiciousness), as he tells members of the press that "You guys are in a better chance [sic] to assess that than I am." This is Bush-speak.
No, I'd like to direct your attention to that last phrase about a speech that he promises will be "a lot more fulsome than a press conference." “Fulsome” does not mean “full” or “fuller.” “Fulsome” means too copious, too elaborate, too everything. “Fulsome praise” is a bad thing, for it mean “praise that is too excessive, too full” as to become nauseating, and renders suspect both the one who offers that “fulsome praise” and, often, the object of that “fulsome praise.”
An error so egregious in the use of language calls Barack Obama’s supposedly superior education into question. And it reminds us again of his lack of curiosity about all kinds of things. For just as he was never curious enough to look the word "fulsome" up in order to get it right, he has exhibited an apparent lack of curiosity about all kinds of other, even more important things. For example, about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose rants he had witnessed over many years (for that kind of thing cannot be hidden, or compartmentalized), and about the views, on all kinds of matters, and the accomplishments or lack of such accomplishments, of those whom he has listed as his “foreign policy advisers.” It's all of a piece. And just how curious is he, Barack Obama, about Islam – a subject which, one might have thought, given his time in Indonesia as a child, possibly have read about, but one can be sure that he is as little up on the contents of Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira as are any of those who have run, or are running, against him.
Had he been curious he might well, in the last year, even asked to have Ayaan Hirsi Ali in for a little discussion. The two most celebrated people, with an East African connection, in Washington. But he never did ask her in for a talk, despite her being down the street in Washington, and despite her book "Infidel" and despite her amazing appearances on television and what she had to say about Islam. He might have taken a special interest in what she had to say. But he didn't. It never occurred to him.
He’s incurious. And that lack of curiosity, combined with a lack of outrage, has gotten him into trouble. And he apparently thinks that he can now get away with initating, as a way of dealing with the Rev. Wright business, a “discussion about race” and apparently wants us to forget, or overlook, that we have been here before with that treacly and forgettable "National Conversation About Race" that a certain Bill Clinton, along with Christopher Edley, attempted to get going a while back, complete with town-halls and forums and all the rest of it. He, Obama, and his calculating advisers, are no doubt hoping to put Obama's little problem into a larger context, a context that suggests we all need to just sit down and have another of these "national conversations" about race, and that will somehow make the Jeremiah-Wright thing come right. No it won't. The tinsel, once off, can't be pasted back on the idol. He's now running on empty. And that tank can't be filled up again.
Posted on 03/17/2008 3:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 17 March 2008
And now for something completely different,
a musical interlude from the days when all artists on BBC’s Top of the Pops mimed their hits and from the looks of this clip Germany’s Beat Club had the same policy. I dread to think what they made of this title.
Of course the true test of a professional whistler is In a Monastery Garden, which I have not heard performed for many years.
Posted on 03/17/2008 5:51 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 17 March 2008
A Musical Interlude: I Only Have Eyes For You (Bertini & Tower Blackpool Dance Band)
Posted on 03/17/2008 8:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 17 March 2008
Is America stupid?
According to Lawrence Auster “a certain island nation lying off the coast of northwest Europe” is “contemptible”. I wonder which island he means. American irony is so tricky.
So why is Britain contemptible? Well, apparently a report in The Times euphemistically described what were obviously Muslims as “Asians”. So the reporter, Kevin Dowling, is “contemptible”, and so is the newspaper, even those who write for the same newspaper – Rod Liddle, for instance – who mock and reject such euphemism. So are Britons who never read The Times. So are sixty millions Britons, whatever they say, think or do:
Kevin Dowling, you are contemptible. Times of London, you are contemptible. And--though I hate to say it--a certain island nation lying off the coast of northwest Europe, you are contemptible.
Don’t get me wrong. I can’t stand the euphemism “Asians” for “Muslims” and deplore its use by Kevin Dowling. I can’t stand any euphemism for Muslims, and have written in somewhat acid tones on the subject in my piece, Don’t Mention the Muslims:
One of the challenges facing journalists in recent years has been how to report incidents of terrorism without mentioning the word “Islam” or “Muslim”. In the UK, “Asian”, or “of Asian extraction” regularly stands in for Muslim, as if Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and atheists from the Indian sub-continent were as likely as Muslims to plot jihad. A problem then arises if the Muslim terrorists are black, Arab or white. The BBC, more anxious than most of our news media to avoid the M-word, has even resorted to “men”. This narrows the field down to half the population. Should a Muslim woman become a terrorist – and this has happened in other countries – she will be called a “carbon-based life form”.
Esmerelda and I regularly excoriate the press and the BBC when they use such euphemisms. Regular reader Pali, a British “Asian” of Indian extraction, is eloquently furious at being grouped with Muslims. Are we all – Esmerelda, Pali, Rod Liddle and I – also contemptible? Or are we four the “exceptions that prove the rule”? (On past form, Auster is fond of rule-proving exceptions. Millions of intelligent and successful women are “exceptions”, while one stupid one is “the rule”.)
Lawrence Auster has written something stupid. I could say it follows that everything Lawrence Auster writes is stupid and so are all Americans, or rather so is "a certain country situated to the south of Canada". But I’m not as clever as Lawrence Auster, being both female and British, and so I will limit my observations to the first of these statements.
Posted on 03/17/2008 4:20 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 17 March 2008
Fulsome, you lose some
Obama's use of "fulsome" is comically out of whack. Nobody's corrected him because he's black. And cute. You fulsome, you winsome. But "fulsome" need not be wlatsome. Hugh says:
“Fulsome” does not mean “full” or “fuller.” “Fulsome” means too copious, too elaborate, too everything. “Fulsome praise” is a bad thing, for it mean “praise that is too excessive, too full” as to become nauseating, and renders suspect both the one who offers that “fulsome praise” and, often, the object of that “fulsome praise.”
It did have this meaning, but is now also used to mean "lavish" and "copious" without negative connotations. The two meanings will co-exist for a time, but the latter will almost certainly prevail.
Will the sky fall in? Hardly. You fulsome, you lose some.
Posted on 03/17/2008 4:47 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 17 March 2008
Just What The Self-Esteem Doctor Ordered
Here is an appalling article, put up at "The Huffington Post" by Dennis Perrin.
Amid all the righteous noise made about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it was David Gergen, on Anderson Cooper's show, who made the most pertinent observation. The veteran GOP operative with bipartisan ties informed the audience that black America is having a different conversation than white America, so one cannot apply the CNN, Fox, or MSNBC framework to African-American concerns.
Gergen's insight came and went with little comment, since the Wright media spasm is largely a white creation. Who cares what those with no political power think? That it took a power broker like Gergen to make this obvious, important point further reveals how fixed our "national dialogue" remains. This of course allows all manner of patriotspeak to flow unimpeded, for there's nothing that the Liberal Media loves more than to prove its nationalist bonafides. After all, who do you think keeps the American flag lapel pin industry in the, er, black?
Jeremiah Wright's supposedly inflammatory statements about 9/11 and the ongoing specter of racism are uncontroversial to those following the real world. We live in horrific, corrupt times, and while I don't agree with everything Wright says, he's certainly not speaking fiction, primarily when it comes to American foreign policy. We are hated not so much for our freedoms, such as they are, but specifically for our mass murder, our torture, our occupations. There are other, cultural elements that are part of the overall mix, yet they are doubtless secondary to those seeking refuge from our cluster bombs and client armies. Wright's sermons about reaping what you sow is nothing new, especially in the Christian tradition. But to hear cable chatters and assorted reactionaries tell it, such time-honored concepts don't apply to the United States. The God who watches over us and guides our trigger-happy hand excuses any and all slaughter committed in His Holy Name. He wouldn't have endorsed that song about how He blesses us were the opposite the case.
I've been pretty hard on the Obama campaign, and still am; but if anything would soften my view, it's this bullshit furor over Jeremiah Wright. If you are white and don't listen to black talk radio, now would be a good time to start. Wright's opinions are not deemed crazy there, and you'll hear much stronger denunciations of imperialism and racism than you ever will on a white liberal's show. Sure, some dementia is present: this is America, after all. But contrast the opinions exchanged between African-Americans to those expressed on the corporate kabuki programs, or worse, white reactionary broadcasts. Which do you think is closer to what's actually going on?
Speaking of "extremist" black speech, here's a classic from December, 1964. Wonder how this man would be treated in the media world of today?
The clip of Malcolm X, and the query that precedes it -- what would we in "white America' now make of such a man, saying such things, is apparently meant to elicit from us shame at our reaction to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. If I understand Perrin correctly, he thinks that now we are supposed to think that our condemnation of Malcolm X back in 1964 was wrong, we were wrong to be horrified. But we were not wrong, not then, and not now. It is Perrin who has things all wrong.
He also suggests that "white" people should listen more to black radio to find out what "black America" is saying, as if there were something easily summed up as "black America" (so that any differences between Bayard Rustin, say, and Malcolm X, are unimportant because, you see, "black America" is all one thing or should be) and then we will all realize that Rev. Jeremiah Wright's rants are okay because they represent so many people, are simply par for the course. Well, if that is true, then there is something wrong with what many people, black and white, are apparently prepared to tolerate. It is useful, but also transparent, for a defender of Obama to claim or suggest that this is true, but of course it is not true.
I listen, in horrified fascination, to a program unaccountably permited on NPR, with a host named Tavis Smiley. It's a "black program." I wince in embarrassment at Tavis Smiley, at what he says when he is on the air alone, and what he says in his introduction of, or attempted conversation with, guests, some of whom, when they are men, address him as "Brother Tavis." He describes in hyperbolic fashion,the truly fantastic, almost unbelievable achievements of his guests, to remind us of their extraordinary lives (the exaggeration is itself embarrassing). To hear him tell it, the mere attainment of a certain title or position surely is a guarantee that that title means something, no matter what considerations, other than merit, contributed to its attainment. "Professor" Cornel West, for example, is frequently on, and is solemnly treated as some kind of exemplar of academic achievement, instead of what all sensible people know him to be. Everything is punctuated with a "brother" this and a "sister" that, reminding the audience, both intended black and presumably uninvited white, that this is a program for black people, and whites may listen in, but that's about it. From first to last this is a very special program, with all kinds of hints at exclusion, and an underlying theme of resentment and hostility that offends me, and should offend you, whether you are black or white.
I can well imagine the embarrassment that Tavis Smiley's voice must cause some black listeners, who no doubt turn him off with relief. And I can also imagine the worldview of those who do not turn him off, but find Tavis Smiley just what the doctor of self-esteem studies ordered, and I don't find that world-view reassuring, or any reason to go easy on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his defenders and admirers.
Posted on 03/17/2008 5:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 17 March 2008
Bavarian is Germany's first suicide bomber
A clerical worker was named yesterday as Germany's first suicide bomber and blamed for the deaths of two American soldiers in Afghanistan.
Cueneyt Ciftci, 28, who was born in Bavaria to a family of Turkish immigrants, is believed to have driven a pick-up truck laden with explosives into a US guard post on March 3.
An Uzbek terror group, the Islamic Jihadist Union (IJU), claimed responsibility. In the chaotic aftermath of the explosion, insurgents raked the Americans with gunfire and killed 60 men, the group claimed, adding that: “He was a brave Turk who came from Germany and exchanged his life of luxury for paradise.”
The US denied the hugely inflated casualty figure. For a week or so both the Germans and the Americans discounted the claims that the bomber was Ciftci.
But then a video clip of the Bavarian, clearly recognisable to his neighbours, turned up. It showed the bearded, smiling man brandishing a pistol and pointing one finger as if to Heaven. German police are tracing his position in a network that seems to lead back to radical Bavarian mosques and to a group arrested last September for preparing explosives to bomb Frankfurt airport.
Ciftci was born in Freising in Bavaria, the son of Turks who had migrated in the 1960s. He did well at school, spoke German with a lilting Bavarian accent. In theory he could have become a German citizen but he chose to remain a Turk. The family moved near Nuremberg, and he started to say his prayers at a mosque that has been under surveillance.
He married and had two children but last April he resigned from his clerical job and deregistered himself at the town hall. Most foreigners do not bother to do this when leaving the country, but Ciftci was a stickler for German bureaucracy.
His exit seems to have been organised by his friend Adem Yilmaz, under arrest after police raids broke up his cell of explosives experts preparing for an attack on Frankfurt airport, Ramstein airbase and other US targets in Germany. The other members of the cell, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, were white native Germans prompting the authorities to worry about German converts to Islam.
But the real cause for concern was Yilmaz - like Ciftci, a Turk with deep roots in Germany, who had, unnoticed by the authorities or the neighbours, turned into an Islamic radical.
Posted on 03/17/2008 5:30 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 17 March 2008
Shelby Steele On Barack Obama
Here's part of what is in the Wall Street Journal article by Shelby Steele (March 18, 2008):
"And yet, in the end, Barack Obama's candidacy is not qualitatively different from Al Sharpton's or Jesse Jackson's. Like these more irascible of his forbearers, Mr. Obama's run at the presidency is based more on the manipulation of white guilt than on substance. Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson were "challengers," not bargainers. They intimidated whites and demanded, in the name of historical justice, that they be brought forward. Mr. Obama flatters whites, grants them racial innocence, and hopes to ascend on the back of their gratitude. Two sides of the same coin.
But bargainers have an Achilles heel. They succeed as conduits of white innocence only as long as they are largely invisible as complex human beings. They hope to become icons that can be identified with rather than seen, and their individual complexity gets in the way of this. So bargainers are always laboring to stay invisible. (We don't know the real politics or convictions of Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey, bargainers all.) Mr. Obama has said of himself, "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views . . ." And so, human visibility is Mr. Obama's Achilles heel. If we see the real man, his contradictions and bents of character, he will be ruined as an icon, as a "blank screen."
Thus, nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama's political aspirations than the revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday -- for 20 years -- in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to mention other whites, could never feel comfortable. His pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a challenger who goes far past Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in his anti-American outrage ("God damn America").
How does one "transcend" race in this church? The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. And what portent of presidential judgment is it to have exposed his two daughters for their entire lives to what is, at the very least, a subtext of anti-white vitriol?
What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to "be black" despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity. And anyway, wasn't this hatred more rhetorical than real?
But now the floodlight of a presidential campaign has trained on this usually hidden corner of contemporary black life: a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism as a way of bonding and of asserting one's blackness. Yet Jeremiah Wright, splashed across America's television screens, has shown us that there is no real difference between rhetorical hatred and real hatred.
No matter his ultimate political fate, there is already enough pathos in Barack Obama to make him a cautionary tale. His public persona thrives on a manipulation of whites (bargaining), and his private sense of racial identity demands both self-betrayal and duplicity. His is the story of a man who flew so high, yet neglected to become himself."
Mr. Steele, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the author of "A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win" (Free Press, 2007).
Posted on 03/17/2008 11:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald