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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 27, 2008.
Monday, 27 October 2008
Obama 2001 Interview

He discusses how best to achieve redistribution of wealth in America and that the civil rights movement should have pushed more in that direction. He doesn't think it could be achieved through the courts, but legislatively and administratively. Listen here.

Posted on 10/27/2008 7:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 27 October 2008
Another Mild-Mannered Jihadi

Times of India:

MUMBAI: With an impressive resume, a senior position with Yahoo and hailing from an educated family, Mansoor Peerbhoy may have appeared an unlikely jehadi to his folks and peers. But the facade masked a fanatical commitment to a jehad against "tormentors" of Muslims.

Intelligence sources who collaborated with Mumbai police to arrest Mansoor and others of an Indian Mujahideen cell conspiring to wreak mayhem in Mumbai were struck by the techie terrorist's utter lack of remorse. Frail and bespectacled, Peerbhoy, one of whose brothers is a chest specialist in UK and another an architect, was not fazed by his arrest or the punishment that awaits him.

"We are ready to face any consequence," he stoically remarked when one of his interrogators asked him whether he had ever paused to think what would befall him in the event of his being apprehended.

"We are not bothered about what happens in this life," Mansoor snapped, revealing the depth of radical zeal that can turn educated and "regular" guys into jehadis who do not flinch from mass murders of innocents.

Nor did the 31-year-old from Pune look particularly perturbed by the likely fallout of his diabolic enterprise for his wife, a homoeopath with a BHMS degree, and kid. "Allah will take care (of them)," he said coolly when asked why even concern for loved ones failed to deter him from taking to the path of violence and risk when things were going fine for him.

Steeped in what he saw as the persecution of Muslims in India, Iraq, Chechnya, Indonesia and other places, Peerbhoy had taken lessons in Arabic at Pune's Quran Foundation. Why a successful professional would take time off his busy schedule, which took him to the US twice in the past year or so, to learn Arabic puzzled interrogators, but for the terrorist this was not just a distraction but an important obligation. "You can appreeciate the best practices of Islam only if you know Arabic," he said...

Posted on 10/27/2008 7:16 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 27 October 2008
Sober, Thoughtful, Mild-Mannered Lunatic
Posted on 10/27/2008 9:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 27 October 2008
Elitism (Whatever That's Supposed To Be)

"Are you a real American or an...elitist" [from a reader taking issue with  this piece]

Look again at the title of the piece. Charges against Obama that make sense are vitiated when other charges that make no sense are so embarrassingly flung about at the same time. And when the word "elitist" is used as a pejorative in present-day America it offends. It offends me.  Without a cultural elite sure of itself, and sure of itself with reason -- an elite defined in financial terms is something else entirely -- things fall to pieces here, there, everywhere.

Cornel West became a University Professor of something or other at Princeton, where those who hired him were unembarrasedly overjoyed -- what a coup for Princeton, so they said -- to have hired him once he had had his brouhaha with Lawrence Summers. Homi Bhabha was hired and hailed (by, among others, Stephen Greenblatt, then Head of the English Department) at Harvard, where he is a Professor of English who cannot write English (put his name in the search engine at the NER site), and he now advises President Faust on how to improve the state, undeniably parlous, of undergraduate education, when he is the embodiment, and a carrier, of the very disease for which he is supposed to help suggest the cure.  Now at this point, in order to avoid the appearance of some darkly racist views, we all know what I am supposed to do. Having mentioned Cornel West, and then Homi Bhabha, I am no doubt at this point supposed to obligingly offer one or two or three names of others of the same usurping tribe, condemned by me to the same galere, but these must now be the names of people who are 1) obviously white and 2) obviously American.

No. To hell with that. Though I recognize my supposed need -- an unstated duty -- to prove the absence of racism (presumably implied by an attack on Cornel West if that attack is unaccompanied by some simultaneous scorn poured over someone who is white) or scorn for someone who is an immigrant from India (and how do I feel about Parsees? And what about that famous Indian scientist named Homi Bhabha? And where do I stand on suttee, on satyagraha, on the whole business of the scheduled classes?) by adding such names, I think I'll choose to do the awkward thing and refuse to suppy what is so obviously expected, and practically de rigueur, and leave my list just as it is, limited to two names, those of Cornel West and Homi Bhabha. Both Princeton and Harvard would be better places without either of them, but there are so many other usurpers of all races and creeds whose names could be added to the list. I can rest easy, secure in the knowledge that thousands of other names that fit that by-me deliberately unpaid bill (names of white, native non-immigrant Americans)  can readily be added to the list of those from whom I would detract, or subtract -- added to, along with tip and tax, by any informed reader who cares to take the time.

Jacques Barzun's "Teacher in America" and "The House of Intellect" both spelled out a half-century ago what repeated attacks on, and steady undermining of, the very idea of, the desirability and necessity of, a well-educated cultural elite, would eventually mean. The attitudes and fashions and confusions and collapses Barzun observed, analysed, held up for inspection, have not been kept in mind, and his piercing criticisms not been taken to heart, and things have only gotten worse, with the results we all see. And now the word "elitist" is used as a pejorative when in should be used as a description, and impliedly, with favor. That this epithet is used by some in this political campaign to denote something deplorable is itself deplorable. And the attempt by both candidates to offer feigned just-folksiness by way of defense against such a charge sickens. I miss Thomas Jefferson. I miss John Quincy Adams. I miss Adlai Stevenson. I miss Millicent Fenwick.


Posted on 10/27/2008 10:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 27 October 2008
US Special Forces Syria ops: Was it a possible al Qaeda leader ‘Snatch’?

When the AP news flashed last night on the US Special Forces cross border attack into Syria from Iraq, I had posted this on Israpundit:

“Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem accused the United States earlier this year of not giving his country the equipment needed to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq. He said Washington feared Syria could use such equipment against Israel”. N.B. This US Special Forces attack inside Syria was heliborne and did not use armed Predator UAVsas was the case in the March, 2008 Sadr City battle. Could it be that intelligence was obtained on CBW WMDthat Syria may have been supplying to Al Qaeda foreign fighters? Just a few months ago, terrorist websites were chattering about how al Qaeda fighters in Iraq were being decimated. As Alice said in Wonderland: “curioser and curioser”.

Today, the Long War Journal has another explanation that appears to be credible: a ‘snatch’ operation of a senior al Qaeda commander in Syria.  Note this comment:

US special operations hunter-killer teams entered Syria in an attempt to capture Abu Ghadiya, a senior al Qaeda leader who has been in charge of the Syrian network since 2005. US intelligence analysts identified Ghadiya as the leader of the Syrian network, The Washington Post reported in July. Ghadiya was identified as a “major target” by the US military in February 2008.

This morning I had this exchange with a Viet Nam era fellow officer and West Point graduate, Class of ’59, Bob Roth:

As the article implies, I think it was an old fashioned "snatch." Probably both personnel and documents/computers. Most likely about Iran & Co. No other reason that I can see for a high profile raid when, as you correctly observe, a missile would do the job--preferably by the Israelis to keep us out of it.

My response:

As you and I agree knocking off a senior al Qaeda operative could have been done via Predator UAV as in the Sadr City ops in March.  This cross border special ops could have been to collect more direct evidence of Syrian involvement in facilitating the insertion of al Qaeda foreign fighters to engage in IED attacks against US and Iraqi forces in western Irag. If that is indeed the case, Syria is an ally/proxy for Iran where Revolutionary Guards have supplied experts and technology. Most of the al Qaeda foreign fighters have been Sunnis with a fair contingent of Saudis, Libyans, and others.  Note that our new ally, Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi's son was one of those foreign fighters in Iraq. How does it square with the internet chatter on al Qaeda chat room forums earlier this year indicating they were decimated by a combination of the Surge and the Sunni awakening in the Western provinces? 

Whatever the circumstances behind this cross border raid, rivaling those in Pakistan using Predator UAVs, there could be a late election campaign benefit. Note this from a comment to my earlier Israpundit post by “Yamit 82”:

Since there is nothing new here and the Syrians have always aided and abetted Terrorists in Iraq, the questions should be why all of a sudden NOW? What has changed? Could it be a last desperate effort by Bush to change the election subject away from the economy and onto a subject more helpful to Republicans and McCain?

We shall see what the military and political implications are of this stunning cross border incursion into Syria by US Special Ops.
Posted on 10/27/2008 10:06 AM by Jerry Gordon
Monday, 27 October 2008
A Musical Interlude: Poppa's On The House Top, Won't Come Down (Scrapper Blackwell, Leroy Carr)
Posted on 10/27/2008 10:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 27 October 2008
Just the facts, please

Richard Dawkins – he of the “probably no God” adverts on our bendy buses – has declared war on fairy tales, on the grounds that they are not true. Libby Purves discusses this in The Times:


“I don't know what to think about magic and fairy tales,” [Dawkins] says thoughtfully. “It is anti-scientific - whether that has a pernicious effect, I don't know... many of the stories I read in childhood allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes. Whether that has a sort of insidious effect on rationality, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's something for research.”

Excellent. He wants children to “look at evidence”, but is willing to do the same himself, and accepts that reading about frog princes didn't ruin his career as a biologist by making him spend fruitless decades in the lab, pointing wands at frogs.


On the whole, serious students of child development conclude that far-fetched magical stories play an important part in the developing mental life of young children; and that normal children easily distinguish stories from reality. When, aged three, you talk to your teddybear, you do not really expect an answer. But it's still fun. When you tremble with fear at the wolf's approach, safe on your mother's lap, you are preparing yourself to face real fears and trials with calm. Healthy children enjoy sentences beginning “Let's pretend...”. Some of their pretences are bloodcurdling, but a normal child knows what's real. “Bang, you're dead,” said one of mine, adding “Not really dead, just bang dead.”


The reason I am delighted at Professor Dawkins' investigation, therefore, is that I am pretty sure his intelligence will bring him to the same conclusion as the psychologists: that a bit of magic and fantasy in childhood is useful and helps you to grapple with your fears about life, death, peril and chance. It may even (to be flippant for a moment) serve to keep future laymen's minds open to the more provable marvels of science. If you've played at invisible fairy-dust, you may have acquired the kind of counter-intuitive mental flexibility required to accept what goes on in the Large Hadron Collider.

The uses of enchantment and myth need to be reiterated and examined because there is a worrying modern tide of thought that says that children must be allowed only dull bald truth. One online essayist, typical of many, writes: “If I have children I shall spare them such nonsense. It's not just the happily ever after element that's damaging... we are civilised societies in a quest for advancements in science and technology. We need to eradicate superstitions. Children should learn that only through hard work, perseverance and patience do their dreams come true - not magic.”

I wouldn't hire her as a babysitter. Not if she can't understand that luck and chance exist as much as just deserts, and that the courage of the seventh son or the gentle powerlessness of Cinderella might inspire a child to effort and kindness rather more effectively than her dreary sermonising.

Others excoriate poor old Santa - ultimate symbol of a jokily benign universe - and worry that Harry Potter makes children believe in spells and hexes. Very patronising, that: especially when the same adults flock to films about James Bond, who never existed and whose faux-tech gadgets wouldn't work any better than a wand and broomstick. They probably also enjoy a rush of irrational pleasure when watching a really good close-up conjurer “doing” impossible things - pushing bottles through tables and cigarettes through coins. We know it's not real and yet we see it: thus we are temporarily released from the iron corset of reason, even as we laugh at ourselves for being fooled. Feels good.

Magic is useful. Myths are helpful, pointing at truths which are all the deeper for not being literal. Neither is a threat to scientific understanding. Let children cast off their clouds of glory at their own pace.


Millions of Cats? Don't exaggerate. One or two, probably.


A Cat or Two?


Perhaps adults should also read only those books that contain facts. Why read about Greek gods when they don’t really exist? Beowulf, King Arthur, King Lear? All made up and no use to us at all. And that so-called history book 1066 And All That – why, some of it isn’t really true. It’s no use being funny if it isn’t true. Anna Karenina? We don’t want people putting their heads under trains over someone who didn’t exist. Lolita? Never happened, but if people read it, they’ll turn into perverts in no time.


No - what we want is facts, as they say in Coketown. Ooops, no they don’t, because Coketown doesn’t exist.


Actually, if you want a real fairy story, try the financial statements of the European Union. They are dull enough for Gradgrind, but are completely made up.


Posted on 10/27/2008 12:04 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 27 October 2008
A Literary Interlude: Gradgrind

"Thomas Gradgrind. A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into allowing for anything over. Thomas Gradgrind, sir -- peremptorily Thomas -- Thomas Gradgrind. With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to. It is a mere question of figures, a case of simple arithmetic. You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind (all supposititious, non-existent persons), but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind -- no, sir!

In such terms Mr. Gradgrind always mentally introduced himself, whether to his private circle of acquaintance, or to the public in general. In such terms, no doubt, substituting the words "boys and girls" for "sir". Thomas Gradgrind now presented Thomas Gradgrind to the little pitchers before him, who were to be filled so full of facts.

Indeed, as he eagerly sparkled at them from the cellarage before mentioned, he seemed a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts, and prepared to blow them clean out of the regions of childhood at one discharge. He seemed a galvanizing apparatus ,too, charged with a grim mechanical substitute for the tender young imaginations that were to be stormed away.

"Girl number twenty," said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, "I don't know that girl. Who is that girl?"

"Sissy Jupe, sir," explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.

"Sissy is not a name," said Mr. Gradgrind. " Don't call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecelia."

"It's father as calls me Sissy, sir," returned the girl in a trembling voice, and with another curtsey.

"Then he has no business to do it, " said Mr. Gradgrind. "Tell him he mustn't. Cecelia Jupe. Let me see. What is your father?"

"He belongs to the horseriding, if you please, sir."

Mr. Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with his hand.

"We don't want to know anything about that, here. You mustn't tell us about that, here. Your father breaks horses, don't he?"

"If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break horses in the ring, sir."

"You mustn't tell us about the ring here. Very well, then. Describe your father as a horsebreaker. He doctors sick horses, I dare say?"

"Oh, yes, sir."

"Very well, then. He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier, and a horsebreaker. Give me your definition of a horse."

(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand.)
"Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!" said Mr. Gradgrind for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. "Girl number twenty possessed of no facts in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy's definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours."

The square finger moving here and there, lighted suddenly on Bitzer, perhaps because he had chanced to sit in the ray of sunlight which, darting in at one of the bare windows of the intensely whitewashed room, irradiated Sissy. For, the boys and girls sat on the face of an inclined plane in two compact bodies, divided up the centre by a narrow interval; and Sissy, being at the corner of a row on the sunny side, came in for the beginning of the sunbeam, of which Bitzer, being at the corner of a row on the other side, a few rows in advance, caught the end. But, whereas the girl was so dark-eyed and dark-haired that she seemed to receive a deeper and more lustrous colour from the sun, when it shone upon her, the boy was so light-eyed and light-haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little colour that he ever possessed. His cold eyes would hardly have been eyes, but for the short ends of lashes which, by bringing them into immediate contrast with something paler than themselves, expressed their form. His short-cropped hair might have been a mere continuation of the sandy freckles on his forehead and face. His skin was so unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge, that he looked as though, if he were cut, he would bleed white.

"Bitzer," said Mr. Gradgrind. "Your definition of a horse."

"Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in the mouth." Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

"Now, girl number twenty," said Mr. Gradgrind, "You know what a horse is."

She curtseyed again, and would have blushed deeper than she had blushed all this time. Bitzer, after rapidly blinking at Thomas Gradgrind with both eyes at once, and so catching the light upon his quivering ends of lashes that they looked like the antennae of busy insects, put his knuckles to his freckled forehead, and sat down again. "

Posted on 10/27/2008 3:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 27 October 2008
Missing From Their Text

Not to be found in the well-known text by Dawkins and Gradgrind:

Posted on 10/27/2008 3:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 27 October 2008
The Man With The Sterling Reputation
From a news story on October 11, 2008:
"Colin Powell told jurors in the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens yesterday that the powerful Alaska Republican had a "sterling" reputation among the nation's military and political leaders.

"He was someone whose word you could rely on," said Powell, who also is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "As we say in the infantry, this is a guy you take on a long patrol."

Powell said he had worked closely with Stevens on difficult national security and defense matters. "He always had the best interest of the country at heart," Powell testified in U.S. District Court."

Today, scarcely two weeks later, the Man With A Sterling Reputation, whom Powell described -- "as we say in the infantry," as "a guy you take on a long patrol," was found guilty of corruption by a jury, apparently neither overawed, nor greatly impressed, by Powell's character reference.

Possibly those who find that thoroughly political animal Colin Powell at this point a bit too much to take, especially considering how much he has taken from the likes of Prince Bandar ( those earnest sessions of raquetball, tennis, and long talks and walks with that suave conman who  for decades in Washington represented the interests of the House of Al Saud. and that Jaguar received a few days after Powell resigned, and then of course those lecture fees) will find the verdict even more pleasing because of Powell's stoutly assuring the judge and jury of Stevens' reputation for probity. That "reputation for probity"  is only slightly less-deserved than that of Powell himself, a man who has been coasting on his own, grossly-inflated, unexamined reputation for probity, for far too long.

The members of the Jury were not impressed with Powell. Perhaps others should follow their example.

Posted on 10/27/2008 3:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 27 October 2008
Bendy bus jihad

"Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, and cut off their bendy bits."

Whatever else you might want to call London's elected mayor Boris Johnson, "jihadist" surely isn't one of them. Or is it? As today's MEMRI clip on the Zionist conspiracy shows, credulity knows no bounds. Andrew Gilligan in the London Evening Standard:

There's a certain mad nobility in the way Boris's opponents seem determined to strap themselves to the most unpopular causes going. You wonder what's next a support group for double-glazing salesmen? A bid to rehabilitate that misunderstood feminist icon, demonised by the Right-wing media, Rose West?

On the "Boris Watch" website, among the most unintentionally hilarious in London, one tireless Johnson-basher, Tom Barry, explains how the Mayor's opposition to bendy buses is actually part of a sinister, global neo-conservative conspiracy: "The overlap between neo-conservatism and the bendy jihad is interestingly close ... my theory is that after [Ken] Livingstone spotted the US was on the way down and thought London should court the next economic superpowers, people wedded to the US way of politics and money got worried." 

Posted on 10/27/2008 4:18 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 27 October 2008
It's okay to hate women if they're conservative

Palin-bashing from the Left is hardly surprising; left-wing feminists hated Margaret Thatcher, peace be upon her. But the sheer misogyny and hatred of the Palin-bashers does, nevertheless, surprise. Gerard Baker wrote in The (London) Times a couple of days ago:

It's hard to make a reasoned and fair judgment about the Alaska Governor because she has been the victim of one of the nastiest, most sustained and comprehensive slime-jobs ever performed by a hyper-partisan national and global media.

The latest piece of nonsense to hit the media's fan this week is a fine example: the news that the Republicans paid $150,000 to kit out her and her family for the election campaign. Forget for a moment the special and ridiculous sartorial demands made of a woman and her family over three months on the campaign trail, or that the party has said it will donate the clothes to charity afterwards (she can't keep them, in any case, under tax law). Just think how we would have scoffed if she had shown up for her television appearances in an off-the-rack dress from the Anchorage Dress Barn or if she had been spotted wearing the same jacket twice in a week.

So, the Palinphobia is so shot through with condescension and ideological incomprehension on the media's part that trying to cut through to the reality of her political message is not easy.

Her performance on the campaign trail has been shaky, it's true, though it has significantly improved of late (she is now talking directly to reporters more frequently than any of the other candidates). But in the absence of much hard experience of national politics it does seem as though she and her Republican handlers fell back on the Sarah Palin Story as a substitute for a political argument.

This has harmed her and distorted what she could bring to a Republican Party in renewal. There's still a better story to be told about her record as politician in Alaska, where she has achieved more of substance than Barack Obama has in Washington.

As for the anti-intellectualism she seems to represent, this is a favourite old saw not only of the Left but also of the whole Establishment crowd. There's an unshakeable view among the coastal elites that real wisdom is acquired only by circulating between the ivy-encrusted walls of scholarship and the Manhattan and Hollywood cocktail set.

But there's real wisdom among those derided Americans who have never even ventured to the coasts, but whose steady consistent voice and values have been truly responsible for America's many successes.

Going to the coasts (Blackpool, Southend, Clackton-on-Sea) doesn't have the same intellectual connotations in England, but the rock's better.

The latest piece of nastiness is this advertisement for "Manhattan Mini Storage" which, according to Roger Kimball  "was sent to us by a New York reader who noticed it while riding the F train":

This is disgustingly misogynist, but I don't suppose we'll be hearing from any outraged feminists.

I'm intrigued to learn that New Yorkers get to "ride the F train". We don't have trains like that in England, and even if we did, they probably wouldn't come on time.

Posted on 10/27/2008 5:24 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 27 October 2008
A Musical Interlude: Druzhba (Vadim Kozin)

Druzhba means "friendship" and something even stronger.

Posted on 10/27/2008 10:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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