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As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
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














Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Another Opinion Poll Misses The Point
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About 93 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are moderates and only seven percent are politically radical, according to the poll, based on more than 50,000 interviews.
--from this news article

These opinion polls, where it is Muslims who are being polled, are always skewed -- but not, as with other opinion polls, skewed now this way and now that way, but skewed in only one way. No Muslim, being interviewed as to whether or not he "approves" of a terrorist act, is going to say he approves of it if he does not. In other words, there will be no cases in which someone will declare, falsely, that he approves. [Compare a public opinion poll about support for candidates, in which one can imagine, in a despotism, people lying about whom they will support, or even in a democracy, lying in order to meet the expectations, as they see it, of the interviewer. How many Americans right now may be afraid of being thought either "racist" (so answering one way) or "sexist" (so answering another)?]

They are especially skewed because Muslims know perfectly well when the results are to be disseminated among non-Muslims, and they know perfectly well that non-Muslims are watching keenly to see for signs of support for violence.

So the figure of 91 million is not the absolute largest number of Muslims who support the most outrageous and famous attack on non-Muslim civilians, that of 9/11/2001, but the absolute rock-bottom number. And since it is a principle of Islam that "war is deception," since that injunction from Muhammad himself led to religiously-sanctioned dissimulation, that is not limited to Taqiyya (which originates in Shi'a Islam but is no longer limited to it) and Kitman ("mental reservation") but has become a perfectly normal and natural way for Muslims to deal with non-Muslims when speaking about Islam, the entire spectacle of this Opinion Poll is not one that should comfort anyone, but rather be seen as the ludicrous effort it always was intended to be, to calm our fears.

And when we discount many of the responses as simply designed to allay non-Muslim fears, especially since those fears, if they grow, might actually lead to an ending of Muslim migration to Infidel lands, and that is something they do not wish to see stopped, not now and not ever, or to a hardening of Infidel attitudes toward Muslim demands, made at every level, for changes in the social arrangements (from women's gym hours) to those of the workplace (the demands for prayer rooms and time off, five times a day, for the canonical prayers), to public spaces (again, those prayer rooms or at least those "shared prayer rooms" that quickly become open for "Muslims Only"), to legal codes (demands for the Shari'a to be imposed on Muslims as a "community"), to political institutions (demands for changes in the basic understandings, including the rights guaranteed in this country by the Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses), that Muslims wish to transform so as to longer constitute what they consider an "obstacle" to the spread, and future dominance, of Islam.

It is your guess, or mine, how many answered with a lie.

It is also your guess, and mine, as to how many who claim to have been opposed to the 9/11/2001 attacks nonetheless have no trouble defending terrorist attacks on, say, Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad and, before them all, by the PLO, or defending the terrorism of Pakistani and Indian groups that have driven 400,000 Hindus out of Kashmir, and that result in bombs being set off in Mumbai and attacks on the Indian Parliament in Delhi. And how many of those answering now claim to be opposed to the 9/11/2001 attacks just the way some imams did, when they noisily joined Interfaith Vigils, only for the security services to subsequently discover that their real views -- sometimes caught on tape -- were quite other, forcing some of them to flee abroad, and others to lie low.

What do the defectors say, those who, just like KGB defectors during the Cold War, are the surest and truest guides to what Muslims are taught to think, what the attitudes and atmospherics of those growing up in states or societies or even families suffused with Islam, really think when they know there are no Infidels around to eavesdrop? We know what the defectors think. Ask Wafa Sultan. Or Nonie Darwish. Or Ibn Warraq, Or Irfan Khawaja. Or Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Or Ali Sina. To a man and a woman, they all think the same thing, about what Islam inculcates, and what a great many Muslims, the overwhelming majority of Muslims, therefore believe. And the numbers of those who support violent Jihad, through what we have no difficulty calling "terrorism" but that they consider to be legitimate "combat" or qitaal, would not then be 91 million, but five or ten times that number.

And what about those who don't support Jihad through terrorism? Oh, those? They support it through other means, through deployment of the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, demographic conquest from within the Bilad al-kufr. If the goal is the same -- the spread and dominance, all over the world, of Islam -- does it matter quite so much which instruments one chooses to further that goal? Is demographic conquest, are campaigns of Da'wa, less of a permanent threat?

Missing-the-pointness is the essence of this sweetly sinister, meant-to-comfort but deeply discomforting, opinion poll.

A word to the wise.

Keep your powder dry.

Count those spoons even faster.

Und so weiter.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 2:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Danes 'won't set foot in Sudan again'
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SUDANESE President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said overnight Danes will not be allowed to set foot in his country after Danish newspapers reprinted a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.
Danish newspapers have reprinted one of the drawings in protest against what they said was a plot to murder the cartoonist who drew it.
Sudan has banned Danish imports, mainly dairy produce. (Not their delicious bacon and probably the best lager in the world then?)
"We are capable of delivering the decisive response ... boycotting personalities and companies," Mr Bashir said.
"We tell you that no Dane will foul the land of Sudan again," he told thousands at a rally organised by his ruling party.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig later said: "We will implement the president's decision. We will ban all Danes from entering Sudan."
He would not say if the decision included diplomats.
Danish consulate officials in Khartoum were not available for comment.
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Posted on 02/27/2008 1:28 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Jail terms for 20 Islamic radicals (Spain)
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A COURT in Spain overnight sentenced 20 Islamic radicals to prison terms of between five and 14 years for belonging to a terrorist group, but acquitted them of planning to blow up the courthouse.
All 30 were charged with belonging to an al-Qaeda-inspired cell and of planning attacks in Spain.
The chief defendant, Abderrahman Tahiri, considered the head of the cell, received the stiffest sentence of 14 years, the court said.
They were arrested in 2004, several months after the Madrid train bombings of March 11 that killed 191 people and which were claimed in the name of Al Qaeda by an Islamic cell.
The prosecutors at the anti-terrorist court charged the 30 were planning an attack either on the National Audience, the Supreme Court, a Madrid metro station or the headquarters of Spain's opposition Popular Party.
The prosecutors said the plot against the National Audience anti-terrorist court was the most advanced.
The court ruled that this charge could not be proved. . . But it convicted 20 of the 30 defendants of setting up a terrorist network by recruiting Muslims in prison for the jihad, or holy war.
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Posted on 02/27/2008 1:22 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Wilders Receives Death Fatwa From Al Qaeda
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RNW Press Review: The populist de Telegraaf opens with news that al-Qaeda has handed down a death sentence against Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders for his not yet released film about the Koran. "Jihad against Wilders" is splashed in huge letters across its front page. The paper writes that the al-Qaeda terrorist network has called on its followers to "bring us the throat of this unbeliever" and has also called for the Netherlands to be terrorised to prevent the film being shown.

De Telegraaf claims that the call to murder the Dutch MP was found on the terrorist organisation's website and was intercepted by a US intelligence gathering unit. The paper says the website praises Mohammed Bouyeri, the man who murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh, saying that he is an example to all good Muslims. The populist paper says the call to terror was posted on al-Qaeda's site just days after Mr Wilders, leader of the populist Party for Freedom, announced he was planning to make a film about the Koran.
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Posted on 02/27/2008 12:54 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Musical Interlude: Somewhere Over The Rainbow
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Reader Alan suggested this performance by Sarah Vaughn (it's been fifty years since the recording), but I've always loved Judy Garland's original.
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Posted on 02/27/2008 12:42 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Scrubs, But Not A Comedy
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HEALTH officials are having crisis talks with Muslim medical staff who have objected to hospital hygiene rules because of religious beliefs.

Women students at Liverpool’s Alder Hey children’s hospital have raised objections to removing their arm coverings in theatre and to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands because it is regarded as immodest.
--from this news article

They should be discharged, of course, at once, and all those who defend their refusal to conform to basic and indispensable regulations concerning hospital hygiene, should also be dismissed. Pakistan, and indeed every Muslim state, is in dire need of doctors, even those who do not properly wash up. They can go there.

And even if we are now told that these female doctors-in-training will, under pressure, reluctantly and begrudgingly conform, can patients be sure that they will? Would there not be lingering doubts that the most devout of all will find a way to avoid exposing their lower arms to the gaze of...whom, exactly?

In every European country, male doctors report that they are often not allowed to meet, alone, with female Muslim patients, but are expected to conduct an examination through the female patient's husband, or by giving directions to a female nurse, and the same is true for operations, including deliveries. This is not always and everywhere yielded to, but it happens enough to have seriously disrupted medical care --medical care for everyone.

This information, as to the effect on a nation's medical care of those who are demanding, threatening, and entirely unreasonable among that nation's Muslim population of both patients and medical staff, needs to be openly discussed. Instead, it gets out in anecdotal evidence, in dribs and drabs. Some patients observe it. Some doctors and nurses experience it. But the public, in the countries of Western Europe, still do not know anything like what they need to know, and what their own ruling elites, in and out of the government, do not want them to know.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 12:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
More Than One Kind Of Antisemitism
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An open letter calling for “dialogue” was introduced this Monday, February 25, 2008, by Tariq Ramadan, ballyhooed by its promoters in grandiose terms as the “World’s First Cross-Denominational Statement from Muslims to Jews.” A press release sent to me directly by one of the Muslim organizers of the initiative, Dr. Akbar Ahmed, touted two Jewish leaders, Rabbi David Rosen, “International President, Religions for Peace and Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel,” and Rabbi Danny Rich, described as “Director of Liberal Judaism,” who had quickly endorsed the statement.

Rabbis Rosen and Rich should disavow their naïve endorsements because support for this initiative, as framed in the letter, is an egregious error.

Notwithstanding the inappropriateness of selecting Mr. Ramadan as the “presenter”—given his penchant for espousing anti-Jewish conspiracy theories—the statement itself (available in full here) is a thoroughly disappointing amalgam of raw denial, and disingenuousness.
--Andrew Bostom

Bostom, and others, keep trying to state the obvious: that, pace Bernard Lewis, had European antisemitism in the twentieth century never existed, Islamic antisemitism -- that is, a special hostility reserved for Jews within the wider anti-Infidel hatreds inculcated by the texts of Islam -- would still exist. Some people have a great deal of difficulty in even beginning to think about this calmly. First, they appear to believe that there is only one kind of antisemitism, and anything that does not look exactly like the variety, in Europe, with different wellsprings, cannot therefore be described as "antisemitism." But there is not one antisemitism, but rather two: that which is to be found to be an outgrowth of early Christian efforts to distinguish Christianity, among its potential pool of earliest adherents, Jews, as superior to the Judaism that was already available to them (in other words, it was like IBM badmouthing Apple -- you don't win converts to Christianity by telling them how wonderful Judaism is), and, over time, the attack on Judaism intermingled with the desire to present a history that diminished the role of the Romans and ascribed a collective guilt to "the Jews" for the death of Jesus, while Herod and other Romans retreated from view. Over time, with a little help from a few passages in the Gospel of John, antisemitism in Western Christendom became established, not unmixed, of course, with the usual promptings -- the desire, for example, of assorted kings or nobles to help themselves to the possessions of Jews, those killed, or those forced to leave, whether from England (1297), or France (1396), or Spain (1492), and provided with ideological justification.

Islamic antisemitism is not rooted in the same theme of "Christ-killing." But the Jews have been depicted as the enemies of Muhammad, and of Islam, and even accused of being responsible for Muhammad's death. It is a different, but a parallel, tradition. They rejected not Allah, but Allah's Messenger. And many of the most important events in the life of Muhammad, the ones which to us show him at his worst, involve attacks on Jews: the Banu Qurayza, the Khaybar Oasis, and the assassination of a 90-year-old Jewish man.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 12:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Buckley's Legacy
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Buckley once sent a copy of one of his books to Norman Mailer. Mailer, checking the index first to see if he was mentioned, was startled to find, right beside his name, Buckley's handwritten "Hi!"  For me, the second it took Mailer to realize that Buckley had anticipated, and made comical provision for,  his, Mailer's, predictable act of egomania, was Buckley's finest hour.

His books, both the forgettable fiction and his non-fiction, have as little likelihood of transcending their time as most of the books written by his politically opposite numbers during the same period. His influence on American political life, on the other hand, has lasted for a long time, and may continue, in some form, to endure.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 12:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
History Obscured
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Le Salon Beige, a French blog, received an email from a reader who took his children to visit the Basilica of Saint Denis, near Paris, where the kings of France are buried. The blog writes:

He was surprised by the brochure entitled "Tour of Discovery for the Young":

First, on page 8, he read: "Dagobert, the first king buried in Saint-Denis. [...] A contemporary of Mohammed, Dagobert was King of the Franks from 629 to 639."

Then, on page 9, [...] "In the Bible we find the story of the Angel Gabriel, the very one who would bring the Koran to Mohammed, who announces to Mary, a young girl engaged to Joseph, that she will soon give birth to a son named Jesus."
--from Brussels Journal

St. Denis is where the kings of France are buried. It is now in the middle of a Muslim district, and visitors will be startled to find themselves en plein Marrakech, and no doubt disturbed as well. It would be as if one went to visit the bridge at Concord, and found on both banks a busy souk, with hawkers of rugs telling you that you really must examine their wares, and eyeing you with hostility if you dare to bargain, and with hatred if you refuse to buy their wares, and where the Old Manse now stands, where once Emerson and, briefly, Hawthorne and his wife lived, instead there was a mosque, and a bristling minaret, from whose height the electronic voice of a muezzin's wail carried over the bridge, and the graves of the British soldiers, and the obelisk erected in 1836, and the statue of the Concord Minuteman by Daniel Chester French (his very first commission), and all the way across the river, and up the hill -- the muezzin's wail, the towering minaret, all covering the scene to which the rude bridge that arch'd the flood is now, just like the kings of France at St. Denis, merely a minor afterthought.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 12:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Nasrean Suleaman's Misprision Of Felony
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A BBC producer failed to give police information that would have helped track down the July 21 bombers, the trial was told.

Don't Panic, I'm Islamic, which featured the group paintballing and an interview with Mohammed Hamid, was shown on BBC2 on June 12, 2005.

Nasreen Suleaman, the producer, told the court that Hamid said he would use his £300 fee to settle the fine he had been given by magistrates for racially abusing two policemen at his Oxford Street stall.

Called as a defence witness, Miss Suleaman admitted that she had spoken to Hamid in the days following the July 21 attacks and found out he knew the wanted men...

Duncan Penny, prosecuting, said: "Did you tell him to go to the police?"

Ms Suleaman replied: "I don't think I needed to."
--from this news article

What does "I don't think I needed to" mean? That Nasreen Suleaman had no duty to tell him to give himself up because he certainly, she assumed, going to? Or, more likely, does it mean that she didn't think she had any duty to go directly to the police herself? To confirm the latter meaning, there is this:  

"[s]he said she thought he was scared the fugitives might try to call him but did not contact the police because she felt under "no obligation" to do so."

She felt "no obligation." Apparently she is unaware of the meaning of "misprision of felony."

Will Nasreen Suleaman be allowed to keep her job at the BBC, continuing to help in its effort to apologize for Islam on every occasion, and of course to continue to blacken, in every possible way, the perception of the Infidel country that is the chief victims of violent Jihad, Israel, and of the Infidel country that is perceived by Muslims to be the most resolute and powerful leader of the Camp of Infidels, the United States.

Will Nasreen Suleaman avoid being charged by the state with other crimes -- the crime of failing to report what she knew in a case involving terrorist murder and those who trained, those who knew about it?

If she is not so charged, what will that tell the people of Great Britain about those who presume to instruct, and to protect them? How will they react, as they begin to realize that the political and media elites are paralyzed, or impotent, and that right smack in the middle of the BBC is a Muslim producer who feels she has no need to alert the police to possible terrorists.

What effect will that failure, either of the government to charge her, or of the BBC to discharge her, have on the sense of security that people in Great Britain need to have reinforced, whenever Islam is involved, and not undercut on every occasion? What effect will it have on the behavior of other Muslims, if Nasreen Suleaman does not suffer any consequences? What effect will the failure to charge her, and the failure to discharge her, have on the  trust people need to have in their own institutions, including the long-discredited BBC and the more-recently discredited government?

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Posted on 02/27/2008 11:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82
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William F. Buckley Jr. in his office at the National Review in 1965.  (New York Times)

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Posted on 02/27/2008 11:25 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Vaste Programme, Monsieur
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Those waiting with bated breath for the outcome of this Turkish attempt at Islamic reform should keep carefully in mind that a rearrangement, as to assigned rank of authenticity, of the Hadith, is the easiest of the tasks of those who would make less dangerous the texts of Islam.

But since the Hadith were spun, quite naturally, out of the Qur'an, it is the text of the Qur'an itself that will need changing. Eliminating the doctrine of "naksh" or abrogation will soften the many blows delivered, in the Qur'an, against Infidels, but the dangerous passages will remain. The task will still be that of somehow managing to interpret such passages as 9.29 -- unambiguous passages -- so that their clear meaning is made only "symbolic."

And then there is the figure of Muhammad himself, the Model of Conduct, uswa hasana, the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil. Just how will those scholars bent on reforming Islam by changing the texts manage to eliminate so much of what is recorded as being part of Muhammad's life. Will they declare his participation in the decapitation of the bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza to be a fiction? The attack on the inoffensive farmers of the Khaybar Oasis? The seizure of loot, and the women of those whom he and his followers killed? The murders of Asma bint Marwan and Abu Akaf? The marriage to little Aisha? Will all of this somehow disappear?

And even if these Turkish scholars manage to re-assign levels of authenticity, presumably through their own study of the isnad-chains, there is a question of authority and of acceptance. How many of the world's Muslims are likely to accept what these latter-day Bukharis and Muslims suggest, rather than to stick with what, in history-haunted fossilized Islam, was decided long ago, by the real Bukhari, and the real Muslim, and the other celebrated muhaddithin whom presumptuous twenty-first century moderns, in still-Kemalist Turkey, dare to re-arrange, dare to second-guess?

De Gaulle's laconic comment on another proposal for a similarly large undertaking:

Vaste programme, monsieur.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 9:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
The earth moved last night...
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...and I slept through the whole thing. From the BBC:

The biggest earthquake in the UK for nearly 25 years has shaken homes across large parts of the country.

People in Newcastle, Yorkshire, London, Cumbria, the Midlands, Norfolk and also parts of Wales, felt the tremor just before 0100 GMT.

A man suffered a broken pelvis when a chimney collapsed in South Yorkshire.

A small earthquake, then. An apology for an earthquake. That said, I slept through the Great Storm of 1987, so even a real earth-mover would have passed me by.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 9:44 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Que Hubo, Che?
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On the subject of memorabilia, pace the observation below, Nazi and Fascist memorabilia are both collectible, and collected. I would be a millionaire today if the jewel-encrusted knife formerly owned by the Nazi minister of economics Ley,  and seized in Berlin by an American major who brought it back and gave it to my grandfather, had not been thrown out, quite soon afterwards, jewels and all,  by my grandmother, disgusted at its Nazi symbols and indifferent to its potential value to twisted collectors in the future. 

At the monthly antiques fair in Arezzo, and no doubt elsewhere in Italy, Fascist-era stuff started reappearing in the 1970s, put out unembarrassedly, after decades of being hidden from view. Medals from the Abyssinian war, pictures of Il Granitico haranguing crowds, ranks of Balilla marching along, the works, the hideous works.

But I suppose it is true that there is less embarrassment about displaying, or giving to others, something with a Communist theme. Someone once gave me a greatcoat worn by East German guards of  the Dzerzhinsky Regiment. I have not yet let it come out of the closet but, refusing to emulate my grandmother with Ley's bejewelled bodkin, have not yet thrown it out. After all, I need the money, and if someone wants to buy it....

An acquaintance of mine proudly displays on his wall his Wanted Poster for Che Guevara, issued by Bolivian authorities decades ago in Cochabamba. The "vivo o muerto" has added to it  the chilling phrase "preferibilmente muerto." One might attempt to argue that such a poster is not an example of revolutionary-chic, but rather of anti-revolutionary chic. After all, didn't Che end up dead, unable to answer when a wit in a lunfardo muy cerrado asked "Que hubo, Che?" One might, but I'm not buying.  In any case, the thing would go for a lot on eBay.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 8:26 AM by Hugh Fitzerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Castro the hero
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I have posted many times about the way that Nazi and other Fascist memorabilia are regarded as beyond the pale, yet Communist memorabilia are, at most, disapproved of, and are generally seen as rather amusing. This despite Communism’s much higher murder toll. I admit to sharing this inconsistent reaction – I can’t summon up the same revulsion for a hammer and sickle as for a swastika. 

Nobody seems to be able to explain this. Perhaps it is simply that the Germans have – officially at least – acknowledged the evils of Nazism. Supporters of Communism have yet to admit, that they were wrong. Sadly, we in the free world take them at their word. China, in particular, has got away with murder on a scale that makes the Nazis seem quite puny, for motives no less hateful, and – like Germany - with the enthusiastic participation of ordinary people.

Daniel Finkelstein writes in The Times on the mysterious attraction of another murderous dictator - Fidel Castro:

Let's eliminate from our inquiries the idea that Fidel was somehow better than the rest of them, better than Honecker and so forth. Those cigars, those battle fatigues, that beard. Kinda cool, no? No. Death sentences for those who want to flee, prison sentences for dissidents, gags for the press, jail for homosexuals, ruinous central planning for the economy, his support for a nuclear first strike against America, his opposition to any kind of reform, his four-hour long speeches, his personality cult. Fidel Castro was just like the rest of them.

 

[...]

[I]t is not enough just to think about Cuba. We have to understand why parts of the Left, people who think of themselves as impeccably liberal, still think of communism as an heroic doctrine and communists as basically well meaning and a bit “alternative”. It's a pervasive attitude that goes well beyond politicians. Go to Tate Modern and you will find an exhibition of Soviet art - workers joyfully producing tractors or some such. In the bookshop you can buy a book of posters from the cultural revolution. Hitler memorabilia is not on sale. They wouldn't dream of having a room full of artfully designed Juden Raus! posters.

I struggle a little to understand the distinction being made here, but I think it is this. It's not that the liberals are unaware that millions died under Mao and under Stalin. It's just that they think it was different. Hitler had a killing machine; under Mao (“the greatest man of the 20th century”, according to Tony Benn) and Stalin many people just up and died.

I've heard this argument made before. When I wrote that my mother had seen Anne Frank arrive in Belsen, I had an e-mail from a Nazi claiming that I was wrong to describe the little girl as having been killed by the Nazis. She had, he said, died of typhoid. I responded that if you imprison an innocent person in terrible conditions or starve them, or both, and they die, you have murdered them. The same goes for the communists.

There is another reason why people prefer communists to fascists. It is that the latter believe we are entirely the product of our genes, while the former regard us as entirely the product of our environment. Somehow genetic determinism is regarded with greater distaste than environmental determinism. I am not entirely sure why. In any case, scientific evidence now shows that both views are wrong. Even if they weren't, neither justifies the killings carried out in their name.

Which leaves me with one final reason for the Left's attitude to communism - that anyone who defies the United States is somehow seen as a valiant progressive, whatever their crimes. I am sure that Castro's resistance to the US is a major reason for [Labour MP] Harriet Harman's admiration.

From time to time, Left thinkers make an effort to reconcile liberals and America. From Tony Crosland in the Fifties to Jonathan Freedland's admirable and convincing book Bring Home the Revolution, the efforts have failed. Almost anyone - a homophobic, misogynist Islamist cleric for example - is given some credit if the US is their punchbag.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 7:21 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Coughlin Out, Islam In After All
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Frank Gaffney writes at Townhall (hat tip: Jihad Watch):

Imagine trying to fight a war without a clue as to what motivates your enemy or governs his strategy for your destruction. Actually, you don’t have to work too hard to get your head around such an insane idea; it is the current practice of the United States government.

This is not, of course, the way it is supposed to be. According, for example, to the Pentagon’s own guidelines as reflected in the Army’s Field Manual 34-130 dealing with Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB), one of the first tasks in any conflict is to “Evaluate the threat.” This job requires military personnel to “update or create threat models: convert threat doctrine or patterns of operation to graphics (doctrinal templates); describe in words the threat’s tactics and options; [and] identify high value targets.”

Such guidance is eminently sensible and needed, not only at the tactical or battlefield level, but also at the strategic level. In fact, most national security practitioners would find it, well, unimaginable to try to do otherwise.

Yet, Stephen Coughlin, one of the very few people working for the U.S. government who has rigorously studied the current “threat doctrine” – the wellspring in the traditions, practices and Shariah Law of today’s totalitarian ideology known as Islamofascism – is, as of this writing, still being cashiered at the end of next month.

Worse yet, the individual who seems to be most responsible for shutting down Mr. Coughlin’s essential doctrinal analysis and training by driving him out of the Pentagon – one Hesham Islam – seems to be staying in a sensitive position working for the Defense Department’s Deputy Secretary, Gordon England. This notwithstanding serious questions raised about Mr. Islam’s public biography, conduct in relation to Muslim outreach, the Coughlin affair and his top secret security clearance.

To recap: Coughlin is the author of an impressive 330-page master’s thesis on the subject which was recently accepted by the Defense Intelligence University. He currently works under contract to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a job for which he is well suited as an Army Reserve Major, trained strategic intelligence analyst and attorney. His thesis brilliantly argues that jihad, or Islamic warfare, is rooted in the Islamists’ Shariah Law. According to the Army doctrine, it is the enemy’s conception of his doctrine that is the basis for developing threat templates and the threat model – not our uncritical assumptions about what “root causes” inspires him. As Maj. Coughlin observes, we are not at war with a “theory of terrorism.”

Maj. Coughlin has developed an intimate understanding not only of the “enemy threat doctrine.” He has also analyzed its “order of battle” including, notably, the various front organizations operated in America by the Muslim Brotherhood. Documents entered into evidence last year by the Department of Justice in the course of the Holy Land Foundation terrorism conspiracy trial offered insights into the stated objective of the Brotherhood – namely, the destruction of the United States from within. The Justice Department has also named names, identifying among many others, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as a Muslim Brotherhood front.

Unfortunately, thanks to Hesham Islam, ISNA has been of late the preeminent vehicle for Pentagon “outreach” efforts to the American Muslim community. When Mr. Coughlin warned the Pentagon leadership of the error of such contacts, he was pressed by Mr. Islam to desist. Shortly after the former refused to do so, his contract with the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not renewed because, as one unnamed officer told the Washington Times’ Bill Gertz, it had “gotten too hot” to keep Mr. Coughlin on the job.

Some in Congress who have taken an interest in the Coughlin affair have been led to believe that Mr. Coughlin’s contract was not re-upped for reasons having nothing to do with his altercation with Mr. Islam, that he was getting a job in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and that Mr. Islam was going to be leaving the Pentagon. It appears they have been misled.

As of now, the Defense Department’s best hope for understanding – and drawing the appropriate insights from – the Islamofascist threat doctrine will be separated from the government at the end of March. An appointment that would allow Maj. Coughlin to continue his vital work in a position within the Office of the Secretary of Defense is reportedly being blocked by Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman or one of his subordinates.

Meanwhile, serious questions about not only Mr. Islam’s possible ties to the Muslim Brotherhood organization but his truthfulness in describing his personal history seem to have gone unanswered. One of America’s most accomplished investigative reporters, Claudia Rosett, was unable to confirm various colorful claims made by this Egyptian expatriate on a Pentagon website. The Department’s response to date has been to remove the page from that site. Mr. Islam evidently remains what Deputy Secretary England has called him: “a close personal confidante.” In the counter-intelligence heyday of the Cold War, would outreach to suspected Soviet front organizations have been so blithely dismissed? ...

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Posted on 02/27/2008 7:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
A Little More On Boris Johnson And That Coffret A Cigares
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Boris Johnson should, while helping the police with their inquiries, explain that as a boy he was a great reader of Tintin tales, and that the combination of cigars and Middle-Eastern potentates has always fascinated him.

And here is the ocular proof:

http://home.scarlet.be/tintinophileparmidautres/images/cigare_g.jpg

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Posted on 02/27/2008 6:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
A tyrant is just a tyrant, but a cigar....
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Loveable mophead Boris Johnson is fuming, as it were. His reputation has been bemerded. From The Telegraph:

Scotland Yard has been accused of wasting taxpayers' money by launching an investigation into the alleged theft by Boris Johnson of a cigar case from the home of Saddam Hussein's deputy prime minister five years ago.

Police have written to Mr Johnson, urging him to hand over the leather case, which he says he took in 2003 as a "souvenir" from the bombed-out home of Tariq Aziz, who had surrendered to US forces 10 days earlier as Iraq crumbled.

The intervention of the police astonished Mr Johnson, who is the Tory candidate in the London mayoral contest.

In the past month alone there were almost 19,000 reported crimes in the Metropolitan Police area, including 12 murders, 6,000 drug offences and 500 offensive weapon crimes.

"This is a monumental waste of time," said Mr Johnson, the Tory MP for Henley in Oxfordshire.

Mr Johnson has never made any secret of his acquisition from the home of Mr Aziz, the urbane English-speaking minister who was the face of the former Iraqi dictator's regime.

His campaign team suspects its opponents in the mayoral contest of dirty tricks.

In The Daily Telegraph in May 2003, Mr Johnson justified his decision to "trouser" the case.

He wrote: "To take the cigar case of the deposed number two of a deposed tyrant was hardly the same as swiping a 2300 BC bronze statue of a squatting Akkadian king. And yet it was still Aziz's property, surely, even if he was being detained at the pleasure of President Bush.

"If there was one thing more noxious than his cigar smoke, it was the clouds of lying and obfuscation. His function was to provide a veneer of international sophistication to a disgusting regime.

"At no stage did he show any sign of conscience, or try to restrain Saddam, or risk his own position to save his countrymen. He was a vain and conniving adjutant to terror, and I have temporarily taken his cigar case for safe keeping."

Scotland Yard was alerted in the past few days to Mr Johnson's removal of the case, which he kept at home, and an investigation has been launched by the Metropolitan Police art and antiques unit.

The letter to Mr Johnson states: "Police attention has been drawn to reports suggesting that you have in your possession an item that may be Iraqi cultural property, namely a cigar case from the address of Tariq Aziz."

It continues: "Obviously it is at an early stage of our enquiries but I would offer to act as the 'constable' should you wish to transfer the item into our possession for further investigation."

Mr Johnson, who has moved ahead in some polls of mayoral rival Ken Livingstone, was outraged. "There were over 18,000 crimes in London last month and yet the police write to me about this?" he said.

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Posted on 02/27/2008 6:15 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
A Musical Interlude: He's A Good Man To Have Around (Libby Holman)
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Posted on 02/27/2008 6:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Who's Offended By Farrakhan?
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Here is an excerpt from a report in the Los Angeles Times on last night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama:

"Both Clinton and Obama were tipped off balance by tough questions from MSNBC moderators Tim Russert and Brian Williams.

Obama stuttered a response when Russert asked whether he would renounce support from Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has spoken glowingly of his candidacy in recent days. Reminding the Cleveland State University audience and national cable viewers that Farrakhan had once called Judaism a "gutter religion," Russert pressed Obama for an answer.

Referring to Farrakhan as "Minister Farrakhan," Obama hedged about whether he would reject his support. Finally, after Clinton interjected that she would reject any such support, Obama conceded: "If the word 'reject' Sen. Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce."

"Excellent," Clinton chimed in.

It was a moment that may not cause trouble for Obama in the Ohio and Texas primaries Tuesday. But his hesitancy could provide an opening for Republicans eager to whittle away Jewish support and sow doubts about his commitment to Israel."

Note that editorializing comment by the Los Angeles Times reporter.  Why would it be, do you think,  that the author of this report assumes that Obama's hesitancy about denouncing the man he calls "Minister Farrakhan" -- not only a classic antisemite, but an Emperor-Jones-like figure whose measure was taken long ago by all sensible people, though Obama has continued, for twenty years, to belong to a church whose minister, Jeremiah Wright, with whom Obama apparently consults, is a great admirer of "Minister Farrakhan" --  would affect only "Jewish support" and "sow doubts" only "about his [Obama's] commitment to Israel"? This is akin to someone who, having demonstrating a keen interest in the locating, and proper punishment, of Nazi war criminals, finds himself being asked "So, did you have relatives who died in the camps?" 

Shall we expand on this reporter's view of the universe? Only workers who have lost their manufacturing jobs care about NAFTA? Only supporters of Falun Gong worry about Chinese Communist mistreatment of dissidents? Only evangelical Christians care about treatment of Copts, Maronites, Assyrians, Chaldeans? Only people of Serbian descent are disturbed by the unthinking alacrity with which  the American government recognized an independent Kosovo? Only people of Armenian background are offended by the Turkish state's attempts to silence discussion of the mass-murder of Christian Armenians by Muslim Turks and Muslim Kurds? Has it come to that?  

Farrakhan has for decades been the most prominent antisemite in American public life, with David Duke a close second. We are apparently asked to believe, by the author of this Los Angeles Times reporter,  that the stuttering hesitancy of Obama when asked forthrightly to completely condemn Farrakhan, is of concern only  to the kind of people who, as it appears to be in this reporter's viciously limited view, are able to offer or withhold "Jewish support" -- that is, to Jews.  

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Posted on 02/27/2008 4:58 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
No Arabic staff at jail 'creating risks'
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LONDON (Reuters) - A lack of Muslim and Arabic-speaking staff at a jail that detains terrorism suspects is creating a security risk because they could not understand what inmates were discussing, a government report revealed on Wednesday.
Despite staff working at Long Lartin prison's specialist terrorism unit insisting such culture training was essential, authorities had yet to introduce any sufficient education, a report by the Prisons' chief inspector found.
Anne Owers' report said that while managers had "taken steps to raise cultural awareness" - with visits to mosques and funding Arabic lessons - it was a small step "given the size of the cultural and language gaps".
The report concluded that security and care was balanced, but that could change because of the lack of Arabic-speaking and Muslim officers.
The specialist unit at the Worcestershire prison was created in May 2005 and can hold up to 20 detainees who have not been charged with offences, but are believed to be "involved in terrorist international activity and are said to be a threat to national security".
"A concern was that (apart from the Muslim chaplaincy) there were no Muslim or Arabic-speaking staff who had first-hand appreciation of important cultural differences or who could understand what the detainees were saying to each other," the report said.
"This made it more difficult to manage the detainees on a daily basis, as well as presenting some security concerns, as staff could never be certain what was being discussed between detainees. There was currently no training for unit staff, though staff, managers and the Muslim chaplaincy all said they felt (it) was essential."
It urged a recruitment drive to attract more Muslim staff and to increase funding for Arabic classes.
"In general, the balance between security and care was being properly managed, though we make recommendations for further adjustments and for more staff training," she added.
I am not particularly worried about the inmates “mental health needs” knowing the jihad instruction to allege torture and victim status but it is essential that officers know about Islam (and I don’t mean in a fluffy sensitivity sense, I’m thinking more of concepts such taqiyya, dhimmitude, jihad and jizya here) and understand what the inmates are saying.
I’m also interested to hear that Arabic is the language in question. Because were they speaking Urdu or other languages of that area a couple of Sikh or Hindu officers would sort out the problem. Perhaps that is why they are using Arabic. Or they are from the Middle East. In which case why not seek to recruit British Nationalised Lebanese Christians instead? There are a few about.
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Posted on 02/27/2008 3:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Saudi tutor gets lashes for meeting student
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A married university professor has been sentenced to 180 lashes and eight months in prison for having coffee with a female student.
The professor of psychology at Umm al-Qra University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was caught in a "honey trap" operation after angering members of the religious police during a training course, his lawyer said.
The academic is said to have received a call from a supposed student, who asked to discuss a problem in person; he agreed, provided she brought along a brother as a chaperone.
When the man arrived at the meeting place, the girl was alone, and he was arrested for being in a state of khulwa - seclusion - with an unrelated female.
The professor, who has not been named, was reported to be a married man in his late 50s with children.
Abdullah al-Sanousi, the professor's lawyer, said his client had upset some of the commission's (Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) trainees on a course that a number had failed.
The professor, who is said to have taped the girl admitting that she was sent by the police, is appealing against the sentence.
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Posted on 02/27/2008 1:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 26 February 2008
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Don't Forget (Silvana Mangano)
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Posted on 02/26/2008 8:27 PM by Hugh Fitzerald
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Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Will the Land Deal Haunt Obama?
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Big gift to the Clinton campaign from the Times of London today:

A British-Iraqi billionaire lent millions of dollars to Barack Obama's fundraiser just weeks before an imprudent land deal that has returned to haunt the presidential contender, an investigation by The Times discloses.

The money transfer raises the question of whether funds from Nadhmi Auchi, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, helped Mr Obama buy his mock Georgian mansion in Chicago.

A company related to Mr Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr Obama's bagman Antoin "Tony" Rezko on May 23 2005. Mr Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.

Three weeks later, Mr Obama bought a house on the city's South Side while Mr Rezko's wife bought the garden plot next door from the same seller on the same day, June 15.

Mr Obama says he never used Mrs Rezko's still-empty lot, which could only be accessed through his property. But he admits he paid his gardener to mow the lawn.

Mrs Rezko, whose husband was widely known to be under investigation at the time, went on to sell a 10-foot strip of her property to Mr Obama seven months later so he could enjoy a bigger garden.

Mr Obama now admits his involvement in this land deal was a “boneheaded mistake”.

The article — which features something rarely seen in the American press, namely, a sinister-looking photo of Sen. Obama — goes on to raise lots of interesting questions.  I imagine we may be hearing Clinton flaks raising them too in the next week ... although such deals are a double-edged sword for them, in a way they won't be for Sen. McCain.

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Posted on 02/26/2008 6:19 PM by Andy McCarthy
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Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Musical Interlude: Sam Cooke
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Posted on 02/26/2008 5:21 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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