Thomas Piketty and the False Promise of “Solidarity”
by Theodore Dalrymple
According to many philosophers, starting with Kant, existence is not a predicate, but whether this is so or not, the first time I have ever seen it praised as something meritorious in itself was in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper, the bellwether of British center-left liberal (in the American sense) thought.
The article was titled “Our manifesto to save Europe from itself,” and was a manifesto collectively-signed by a number of European intellectuals and academics, but apparently written by Thomas Piketty, the French economist who recently, and rather unexpectedly, became a world celebrity with the publication of his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
Embedded in the article was the following curious statement:
Our ideas may not be perfect, but they do have the merit of existing.
In so far as this means anything, it must mean that it is better to have bad ideas than no ideas at all, a proposition that I find dubious at best, and which I believe to be more likely false than true. The worst political monsters in the world had ideas, often many of them, that had the supposed merit of existing, but the somewhat graver defect of occasioning the deaths of millions of people. Give me any time a man, even a dictator, with no ideas rather than someone with the ideas of a Lenin, a Hitler, a Mao or a Pol Pot—or of an Islamic terrorist.
I am not sure that I should trust anyone very far with my investments, or with anything much much else, who was capable of expressing the sentiment that Professor Piketty here expressed. Few are the situations in human existence that cannot be made worse by ideas, more especially those of intellectuals and academics. But let us pass over this foolish sentence as if it were a mere slip of the pen and look at the actual ideas that had the merit of existing. Here, I am afraid, things are not much better.
That the world in general, and Europe in particular, is not going swimmingly may easily be admitted by people of all possible political opinions. At what time in history, indeed, were there not problems (which had the merit, or was it the demerit, of existing?) which caused dissatisfaction to many? But I am afraid that Professor Piketty has the equivalent in politics of stone-deafness in music.
He is worried by the rise of populism in Europe, which does indeed include worrying elements, if anything so nebulous as populism can be designated by a single term. But he does not see how he, and people like him, have played an important part in fostering such elements by means of their own ideas and ways of putting things. Thus:
Our continent is caught between political movements whose programme is confined to hunting down foreigners and refugees on one hand, and on the other those who claim to be European but in reality continue to consider that hardcore liberalism and the spread of competition is enough to define a political project.
Let us take “on the one hand” first. Hunting down is deliberately emotive language and connotes the posses (whose existence is not meritorious) of angry hunters who kill their prey when and wherever they find them. In fact, what he really means is that some governments have denied entry to large numbers of people whose entitlement to the status of refugee is often doubtful, as well as having made some not very vigorous efforts to expel people who have no legal right to be in their countries.
The corollary of Professor Piketty’s way of putting it is that European governments have the duty to open their borders to whomever wishes to enter and must also accept the presence of any number, however large it might be, of people already illegally present, irrespective of the ease of absorbing them: in other words, that legality itself should be abolished and have no force. These are not doctrines that are likely to appeal to the people who have to suffer their consequences other than a choice of exotic cuisines every night to choose from. If you want to know why the gilets jaunes in France are angry, read Professor Piketty’s Manifesto for Democratisation in Europe, in which he makes President Macron look like a man of the people.
As to the other, or second hand, of the Professor’s false dichotomy, it seems to have escaped his notice that no European polity can be properly called “hardcore liberal.” For example, in his own country, France, the public sector accounts for more of the GDP than does the private sector, and though in other countries it accounts for less. But in no European country is the public sector inconsiderable. Indeed in every country, the public sector looms so large as to have a profound influence on the whole tenor of life. Furthermore, it is often difficult, so imbricated are they, to distinguish the public from the private sector. It would be more accurate to call European countries “hardcore corporatist” than “hardcore liberal”; to go further, it would be more accurate to say that the Professor is a hardcore Stalinist (though still it would not be not accurate) than to call European countries hardcore liberal: for the very high proportion of the French GDP accounted for by the public sector is still not enough for the Professor’s taste, and actually with a little effort with the aid of his ideas could be brought up to the levels of Stalin’s Russia.
In Britain, as in other countries, more than a quarter of the income tax is paid by 1 per cent of the population. But this is not enough for the Professor, irrespective of whether increasing the rate would increase the take (the purpose of tax being primarily symbolic). He would like capital to be taxed too, from above the not very high limit of $900,000. This would increase both equality and efficiency, according to the Professor, in so far as the money raised would then be redistributed and invested productively by the philosopher-kings of whom the professor is so notable an example.
All this is to be done in the name of what Piketty calls solidarity. ‘If Europe wants to restore solidarity with its citizens it must show concrete evidence that it is capable of establishing cooperation’: that is, it must raise taxes on the prosperous. Overlooking the question of what Europe actually is, or how it is to be defined (I suspect that the Professor thinks it is not continent or a civilisation, but a bureaucracy), this seems to me the kind of solidarity that only someone suffering from autism could dream up, solidarity equalling taxation administered by politicians, bureaucrats and intellectual advisers.
Schumer and Pelosi won in the short term, but now they will need to budge genuinely and significantly on immigration.
by Conrad Black
There is room for rejoicing all round in the end of the shutdown. The window-rattling ululations of joy of the Democrats at their unimaginable humiliation of the president has been refreshingly excessive and sets them up well for the next round. But the president has just removed from the deck and shredded the best Democratic card, crinkled and greasy at the edges though it had become: the endless claim that he was a madman who would never retreat or compromise, a psychotic bull in the China shop of the world’s nations, rampaging through American government, heedless of any sense of compromise or nuance.
They should have noted the finesse with which he played his role in the Kavanaugh affair — praising Christine Blasey Ford, and saying the right things about all the most sensitive gender issues. The Democrats were too overwrought by the Kavanaugh nomination, even ditching the Clintons, and too overborne by their militant-feminist presidential aspirants saying that Ford should be believed automatically because she was a woman, to notice, but Trump worked deftly with Senator Grassley of the judiciary committee and majority leader McConnell, and they all walked on eggshells to keep Senator Flake in particular, a Never Trumper retiring from the Senate with nothing to lose, from breaking rank. As it was, he succumbed to militant feminists screaming at him in a Senate elevator and telling him to “look at me when I’m speaking to you,” and he asked for a reopened FBI hearing. The slightest miscue from the president would have blown up the nomination.
On this occasion, Senator Schumer has been a trumpeter swan: “The president has learned his lesson,” an orgy of crowing and gloating. But the Democrats made themselves hoarse throughout the shutdown promising that if government fully reopened, all things were possible on “border security,” though Speaker Pelosi continued her robotic mantra on the evils of a wall. In this new phase, the shoe will be on the other foot. Border security won’t really be enhanced by drones and cameras, if there are not obstacles or appropriately trained, equipped, and instructed personnel to detain illegal entrants and an adequate judicial and detention apparatus to end the longstanding and often tragic farce of simply releasing these people into the country to make their way, and clog the welfare and education facilities of America. The Democrats will have to deliver something believable on border security, and if they repair to the leftist house of debating cards, that there is no problem and therefore nothing need be done except a few humanitarian measures, they will be hammered. Pelosi and Schumer are tired components of the creaking and grunting pantomime horse of liberal Democratic medievalism, but they can’t take that argument to the country.
The longstanding state of the southern border has been a scandal and an outrage. Historians of the future will wonder what confederation of cynicism between Democratic politicians and Republican employers was allowed to subvert the interest of the entire American working and middle classes and to promote the passivity of the American state for decades as a total of apparently more than 20 million people poured into the country illegally. The presence of all this cheap labor did not assist American manufacturing to prosper, and it did drive organized labor heavily into the public sector, where there is no end of needless cost, inefficiency, and feather-bedding they can produce.
My friend Ann Coulter, a delightful person who even in private mobilizes her long limbs and locks and Eleanor Roosevelt voice for some fairly exotic notions, has got on the wrong bus on this latest development. Tweeting that the incumbent, whom Ann has very demonstratively supported, has displaced George Bush senior as the foremost wimp in the history of the American presidency is just nonsense, and it’s also excessive toward Bush 41. He had his limitations and his obsequies were another occasion, fast on the heels of the week-long, transnational McCain rites, for the Democrats and their talking puppets in the media to proclaim their admiration for Republican presidential candidates they could defeat. It reminded those of us with memories how inexcusable it was to allow a charlatan like Ross Perot to steal 20 million mainly Republican votes in 1992 and inflict the Clintons on America. But Ann should not write such bile, which wrongs both President Bush and President Trump. Funding for a quarter of the government was all that the president could hang on to, and he couldn’t hang on to it once airports became impassable, national parks and monuments couldn’t be visited by people who had made holiday plans — the laid-off government employees weren’t involved in the border-security debate and the country would naturally sympathize with the pawns and be angry about their own inconvenience.
The president seized what he could, held it as long as he could without being tanked, and though reviled even more strenuously than usual by the neutral media, lost only a few points in the polls and elicited fairyland Democratic promises to take border security seriously if only the starving workers were brought back and their advancing suffering alleviated. February 15 already hovers over the contestants, and this time it will be easier to start building the border security that the experts recommend, and it will be hard to lay it all at the door of Trump’s arbitrariness and grumpiness. The president will have an ironclad case to begin putting up the necessary barriers, leaving Ann Coulter (whose supposed veto over the president’s conduct, which she never claimed, has been exposed as another Democratic talking point) speaking to herself with her customary panache.
The system has a chance to work, at last. The holy grail of “comprehensive immigration reform,” a fatuous cliché to disguise partisan entrenchment and inflexibility for decades, may finally have a possibility of enactment. If not, Trump orders the construction of border security, and the Democrats and their minions on the federal bench will have the chance to bloviate and posture more stertorously than usual, but it won’t fly, and it will have to go to the Supreme Court. We’ve been through all this before, and 60 percent of Americans recognize that illegal immigration is a crisis. With no offsetting problem such as the laid-off federal employees and declining essential services, the Democrats will have to compromise. A compromise is all that is needed for the country to win, Trump to fulfill his promise, and Ann Coulter to return to the fold. And the charge that Donald Trump is mad will be feebler than ever.
A Muslim school will not allow girls to eat lunch until after boys have finished, an Ofsted chief has told MPs.
Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham is still segregating boys and girls despite a Court of Appeal ruling in 2017 that found it was unlawful,
Addressing the women and equalities select committee, he said that Ofsted inspectors are trying to hold schools account for discriminating against girls but feel “isolated” when their stance is not backed up by ministers.
He said that Al-Hijrah school was enforcing a “very strict gender segregation” which included “denying the girls to have their lunch until the boys had had theirs”. “And we had some very discriminatory texts for instance, encouraging violence against women,” he said.
Mr Tryl told MPs: "The Court of Appeal rightly said that schools needed a transition period where they were segregating and yet still we have not just Al-Hijrah but we have countless other schools, mixed schools which are segregating on the basis of sex.
"Similarly other schools who have refused to teach about sexual orientation issues. We have commented on reports but we haven't seen a change there. This is where I talk about the isolation. We go out there. We make these tough decisions and we often take quite a lot of criticism for the stance we take but we don't always see the enforcement action we would like to see."
Birmingham Live reported in November that the school (and twoother Muslim schools in Birmingham The Acecinna Academy and The Wisdom Academy?) was still defiantly practising segregation. The school's proposed solution is to end segregation by closing its doors to secondary age pupils but remaining open to pupils aged four to 11.
The clever cognitive war strategy deployed against Israel
When it comes to Israel, there are no facts and no objectivity, just clever confusion and demonization over and over until the lies become Holy Doctrine.
by Phyllis Chesler
Following in UNESCO’s 2017 footsteps, Amnesty International has just released a Report which accuses Israel of trying to Judaize Jerusalem (!) According to Gerald Steinberg at NGO Monitor:
"On January 29, 2019, Amnesty International published “The Tourism Industry and Israeli Settlements,” a report alleging that “the Israeli government has political and ideological reasons for developing a tourism industry in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank.” According to Amnesty, “Israel has constructed many of its settlements close to archaeological sites … [as] part of an active campaign to normalize and legitimize Israel’s increasing control of the OPT.”
This publication is “part of a broader campaign of BDS to bolster the forthcoming UN BDS blacklist. Amnesty denies Jewish connections to historical sites – including in the Old City of Jerusalem – and in essence faults Israel for preserving Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians. (Further), by suggesting that foreign tourism to Israel is about supporting settlements, not about religious and/or historical interest, Amnesty International erases the Christian connection to the Holy Land."
The propaganda against Israel which desires its isolation and de-legitimization exists on every continent. It is deeply rooted and geographically expansive. The following is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of daily, ongoing, campaigns against the Jews in cities all across America.
This past weekend, on January 26th, 2019, the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary sponsored its 21st Racial Justice Summit. The third panel of the day was titled “Rewriting the Narrative: Reimagining the Future.” Someone in attendance wrote to me, in a small panic. She is afraid to be quoted by name but sent me a video of the third panel which, quite frankly, frightened and appalled her.
I have now viewed most of it. And I share her concern. Yes, Pittsburgh is where the abominable massacre of eleven Jews at prayer took place last fall. One might expect a heightened sensitivity, especially among justice-seeking Christian theologians. One’s hopes would be misplaced. Sadly, few progressives are willing to understand the connection between Jews and Jewish Israel, or the way in which the issue of Palestine is being used to defame Jews and incite large populations of aggrieved justice-seekers to potentially exterminate the Jews—yet again.
In Pittsburgh, it’s not only what invited panelist Susan Abulhawa, identified as a Palestinian-American novelist, said. It’s also who the moderator was. The same Big Lies, are, alarmingly everywhere, and increasing at warp speed. According to Abulhawa:
"Initially, when Zionism was born in Europe it was a political movement that was conceived by wealthy Jewish businessmen in eastern Europe and the idea was to establish a Jewish homeland. When all these Zionists started immigrating to Palestine and eventually took over the country and kicked the indigenous people out, the narrative was that these Europeans who had been in Europe for thousands of years, who had documented European history for thousands of years, in literature, and art, and culture, in science and politics, that these people were actually indigenous to Palestine and the indigenous people who had been there were, in fact, the squatters…"
This view is precisely that taken by the production of the opera Klinghoffer at the Metropolitan Opera. Onstage, the Jews were portrayed as only recent European arrivals with suitcases. The Palestinian chorus rose as if earth-bound, indigenous, native.
“The earliest story was that Palestine was a land without a people, for a people without a land. We didn’t even exist in that original narrative. The story of a land without a people, for a people without a land was so enticing to the west, it was the perfect ending to their own crimes. It was a happy ending. It was romantic. Three-quarters of the population had been expelled and pushed into refugee camps and were not allowed to return while Europeans and Jews from all over the world continued pouring into Palestine. We were going from one port to another, we were waiting in camps. It was only when Palestinians started highjacking planes that the west was like, oh wait, there’s such a thing as Palestinians. And so we exerted at least our presence in the late 60s and early 70s through violence, through violent resistance.
"And so then the narrative switched. It was Palestinians are terrorists. Now that narrative has persisted to this day. As long as the world can believe that, then everything Israel does is ok with us. As long as people believe that Black men are thugs, gangsters, mass incarceration is ok. As long as people can believe that Iraqis had WMDs or that they oppress their women, whatever, going in and destroying that beautiful, sophisticated, high-functioning ancient society was ok. Likewise, in Libya, in Afghanistan, in Syria. So narrative is where everything begins. It’s where cruelty begins. So now Palestinians have, because we live in a diaspora, many of us ended up in western countries, like myself. And we’ve learned western languages. And we begin to rewrite our narrative. In the same way that once Black America was able to get an education, they produced this whole canon of literature and culture and actually defined the culture of this country."
One does not know where to begin. But notice how seamlessly Abulhawa equates the Palestinian situation with that of Black Americans. Notice how she minimizes the oppression of women in Muslim and Arab society. Above all, notice how she fails to mention the 850,000 Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews from Arab and Muslim countries who had been second- and third-class citizens and who were finally forced to flee with only the proverbial shirts on their backs when they were finally forced out. Perhaps Abulhawa should view Pierre Rehov’s film The Silent Exodus.
Abulhawa’s first novel, was titled “The Scar of David” (2006, 2010) and is about an Israeli soldier stealing an Arab (Palestinian) child and giving the boy to a “Polish Holocaust survivor” in Israel. It was re-titled “Mornings in Jenin” and has since been translated into twenty-seven languages. French philosopher, Bernard Henri Levy, described the book as “a concentration of anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish cliches masquerading as fiction.” In turn, Abulhawa discredited Levy as a “French pop star of philosophy and intellectual elitism,” which is not exactly an issue-based rejoinder. Insults, not facts.
The Pittsburgh Theological Seminary panel moderator was Bekezala Mguni, identified as an African-American librarian and artist, who has worked with “LGBTQIA communities and with the Black Unicorn Project, a Black, queer, feminist library archive.” Perhaps less known is her participation in Librarians and Archivists with Palestine. Mguni was part of a delegation of librarians, archivists, and “information workers” who visited Palestine in 2013. Here is the Solidarity Statement she signed after the visit:
“We respected the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel...(our purpose) was to bear witness to the destruction and appropriation of information about Palestinian pasts and presents and to support efforts to preserve cultural heritage...(we were) eager to dispense with the superficial and inaccurate portrayals of life in Palestine/Israel that we see in the West and to learn about the realities of life under occupation and settler colonialism.”
Again, where to begin: Do these librarians have absolutely no knowledge of the very long Jewish presence in Israel/Jordan/Transjordan? I guess not. Do they know nothing about the archeological findings in Israel/Jordan/Transjordan that far, far outweigh anything to which Muslims and Christians can also lay claim? Do they know how the Waqf has tried to disappear evidence of the First and Second Temples on the Temple Mount?
Mguni’s Solidarity statement consistently refers to “1948 Palestine (Israel).” It describes a horror-landscape of “checkpoints and watchtowers, metal detectors, and settler militias.” It discusses “Israeli apartheid and colonialism.”
Not all Palestinians are thrilled about the global BDS movement against Israel. Perhaps the librarians might read Palestinian activist and journalist Bassem Eid’s analysis of this.
The statement talks about visiting “the rubble of villages that were destroyed in 1948.” As a librarian, Mguni is particularly upset by the “erasure of Palestinian culture and history (which is) a tactic of war and occupation.” Then there is this: “In Nabi Saleh, weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the confiscation of the community’s land and water are met with extreme violence from the Israeli military.”
Non-violent? Is she and the other signatories kidding?
Now where have I heard about Nabi Saleh? Ah yes. It is home to the infamous Tamimi clan which included the blonde, curly-headed Ahed Tamimi who spits, slaps, and incites Israeli soldiers as the video cameras roll—as well as the home of other violent Tamimi terrorists (whose cause Abulhawa has already justified). And Ahed has male relatives who have done far more than physically assault Israelis.
More: If these librarians had only dared read Tuvia Tenenbom’s Catch the Jew! they would understand the nature of the Potemkin Villages that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza create for visiting journalists. The media is shown only staged events—and then threatened with death or the destruction of their equipment and notes if theyreport anything else.
Mguni’s delegation was particularly interested in a Palestinian museum dedicated to “challenging the process of ethnic cleansing and the erasure of cultural memory... We learned about the articulation of Palestinian-specific understandings of sexual identity, and the Singing Sexuality project, which discusses sexuality through music.”
As a “Black unicorn” she fails to mention the profound homophobia on the 'West Bank' and in Gaza and the fact that Palestinian homosexuals routinely flee to Israel for asylum (which is, invariably, granted). The Solidarity statement fails to mention the increased misogyny and oppression of girls and women in Gaza and on the 'West Bank'. The statement does not include honor-based violence, honor killing, forced face veiling, child marriage, or polygamy as part of the “indigenous” Palestinian culture.
However, these Lies have been told so often and so well that they now constitute Holy Doctrine. Their presence is repeated almost everywhere (in classrooms, at conferences, in reviews of published books, online, in the media, at the United Nations). Lately, the momentum seems to be accelerating. As a friend put it: “Hatred sure rides a fast horse.”
Sitting at my desk, I receive countless, endless, examples of how religion is being confused with race; how Palestinians are being confused with African-Americans; how the history of slavery in America and South African Apartheid are both being confused with alleged European “settler” colonialism—especially in a small part of the Jewish Middle East.
Something like this cannot be happening by chance or coincidence alone. This strongly suggests a cognitive war strategy that has been deployed for the last fifty years or more.
Private emails—daily—continue to confirm that Jewish Israel is being demonized and endangered at progressive and gay gatherings—even when such a conference has promised not to do so again; Listserv groups whose mandate is another subject entirely (psychology, women’s rights, the environment, gay and lesbian rights), continue to choose Palestine over Israel and to bring it in no matter what else is being discussed.
To me, this particular virtue-signaling is equivalent to a Nazi Salute or to the red stripe or star worn under Soviet tyranny. It is meant to signal membership on the right side of history or rather is meant to appease bullies and tyrants—even as one becomes one.
Nothing is objective or fact-based. Everyone has their own “narrative.” All things are subjective and relative. Oddly enough, this is all in the service of the most dreadful conformity. Racially, ethnically, and sexually marginalized American populations are brandishing propaganda about Palestine as a shield in their own battle against Western white supremacy.
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are at full gallop and countless rough beasts are slouching towards Bethelemen.
Three Iraqi refugees were arrested on Wednesday in northern Germany for preparing a terror attack. Federal prosecutors said Shahin F. and Hersh F., both 23, and Rauf S., 36, were taken into custody in an early morning raid by a police SWAT team in the area of Dithmarschen, near the border with Denmark.
"According to the findings to date, the suspects had not yet selected a specific target for their attack," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement. One of the suspects had allegedly spoken of wanting to target the largest possible group of 'non-believers, but not children', Spiegel Online said.
Investigators allege the two 23-year-olds, Shahin F. and Hersh F., downloaded bomb-making instructions from the internet and tried to purchase a detonation device from the United Kingdom. British authorities were able to halt the shipment of the detonation device to Germany.
The suspects, who had refugee status in Germany, had been under surveillance for some time by a task force of around 200 investigators, said Holger Muench, the head of Germany's federal police. “The case shows that the threat of Islamic terrorism is still present,” Muench told reporters.
It wasn't immediately clear when the suspects came to Germany.
Denise Spellberg on Jefferson’s “Marked Interest” In Islam
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Whenever there is the swearing-in of a Muslim on Jefferson’s Qur’an, or whenever there is an Iftar Dinner held at the White House, Denise Spellberg uses the occasion to trot out the same article she’s been republishing for the last five years, as here or here, the one entitled “Jefferson’s Quran” or “Jefferson’s Iftar Dinner,” or “Why Jefferson’s Vision Of American Islam Matters Today.” She is dutifully interviewed on television, where she claims that the fact that Jefferson once bought a Qur’an shows that “Islam has been part of American history for a long time.” No one thinks to ask her: If Jefferson had bought a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, would that show that Hinduism had always been “part of America’s story”?
Here’s the latest iteration by Spellberg of the same article, with only a handful of words changed to connect it to what’s currently in the news at the time of writing — from Keith Ellison’s swearing-in to President Trump’s failure to hold an Iftar Dinner in 2017, to Rashida Tlaib’s recent swearing-in, like Keith Ellison’s before her, that was announced to be on Jefferson’s Qur’an, but turned out to on her own copy.
Muslims arrived in North America as early as the 17th century, eventually composing 15 to 30 percent of the enslaved West African population of British America. (Muslims from the Middle East did not begin to immigrate here as free citizens until the late 19th century.) Even key American Founding Fathers demonstrated a marked interest in the faith and its practitioners, most notably Thomas Jefferson.
This claim that 15-30 percent of slaves in America were Muslims, a claim now so often repeated that it has become unquestioned “common knowledge,” defies belief. How is it that the slave owners themselves failed to notice all these Muslims among their slaves? And why did the other, non-Muslim slaves, not report to their masters on the existence of these Muslims? Why did this subject come up only in the last few decades, coinciding with the attempts to claim that “Muslims have always been part of America’s story”? This does not mean there were no Muslim slaves; we do have records of about 10-20 slaves who appear to have been Muslims. But to leap from this number — one one-thousandth of 1% of the total number of slaves — to the claim that “15-30%”of the slaves were Muslim” — is absurd.
“Even key American Founding Fathers demonstrated a marked interest in the faith and its practitioners,” she claims. No, they did not. Neither Washington, nor John Adams, nor Madison, nor Alexander Hamilton, nor John Jay, nor Benjamin Franklin. And what little they did write about Islam was always negative. As for John Adams, his owning a Qur’an did not signify an endorsement of Islam. On July 16, 1814, in a letter to Jefferson, John Adams described the Muslim prophet Muhammad as one of those (he listed others as well) who could rightly be considered a “military fanatic,” one who “denies that laws were made for him; he arrogates everything to himself by force of arms.” Adams is nowhere on record as praising any aspect of Islam, nor even “advocating” its toleration. The only president who ever exhibited a “marked interest” in Islam, the only one known to have actually read the Qur’an, was John Quincy Adams, the son of a Founding Father and the most learned of our presidents. J. Q. Adams did study Islam, and wrote about it at great and horrified length. He grasped its essence perfectly:
The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force.
Spellberg describes Jefferson as “advocating for the rights of the practitioners of the [Muslim] faith.” This implies special pleading on his part for Islam. What Jefferson actually did was “advocate” for the principle of religious freedom in general, and famously quoted a line from John Locke’s 1698 A Letter ConcerningReligious Toleration: “neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.” What Spellberg does not mention is that Locke himself, from whose writings Jefferson derived his own views on religious toleration, later exempted from such toleration those believers who exhibited certain unacceptable features. He expressly excluded, according to his own criteria, four kinds of believers. First, those whose religious opinions are contrary to “those moral rules which are necessary to the preservation of civil society”; second, believers in a religion that “teaches expressly and openly, that men are not obliged to keep their promise”; third, those that will not own and teach the duty of tolerating all men in matters of mere religion…and that they only ask leave to be tolerated by the magistrate so long, until they find themselves strong enough to [seize the government]”; fourth, “all those who see themselves as having allegiance to another civil authority.” Specifically, Locke gives the example of the Muslim who lives among Christians and would have difficulty submitting to the government of a “Christian nation” when he comes from a Muslim country where the civil magistrate was also the religious authority. Locke notes that such a person would have serious difficulty serving as a soldier in his adopted nation (cf. the 2009 Fort Hood shooting spree by Nidal Hassan,who shouted “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 32).
Islam meets not just one, but all four of Locke’s criteria for being exempt from “toleration.” Did Jefferson see Locke’s list of criteria for exempting a faith from toleration? We don’t know. But his attitude toward Islam, whatever he thought about tolerating it, remained consistently negative. Contrary to the impression Spellberg hopes to give, by sleight of word, Jefferson never found anything good to say about Islam.
Jefferson’s first encounter with real Muslims came when he, along with John Adams, met with the Tripolitanian envoy Sidi Haji Abdrahaman in London in 1786. They asked the envoy “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury” to deserve being attacked, and the ambassador replied, as Jefferson reported:
It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.
And later, Jefferson reported to Secretary of State John Jay and to Congress at greater length:
The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
These reports did not come from someone who thought well of Islam. The more dealings Jefferson had with the representatives of the Barbary states, the more he grasped the aggressive nature of Islam, as first set out to him by that Tripolitanian envoy: the centrality of Jihad (even if Jefferson did not use that word), holy war waged as by right against non-Muslims, the inculcation of permanent hostility toward non-Muslims, and the heavenly reward for Muslims slain in battle against the Infidels.
Jefferson did not, despite Spellberg’s claim, demonstrate a “marked interest” in the faith. As a 22-year-old law student in Williamsburg, Virginia, he bought a Qur’an, just as he bought many books on many subjects, ultimately leaving a library of 6,487 books. There is no evidence that Jefferson ever read his Qur’an. There are no notes he left about its contents, no marginalia written by Jefferson, no subsequent reference anywhere to his having read any part of the Qur’an. Spellberg surely knows that. But she is determined to endow that Qur’an purchase with significance. She claims that “the purchase is symbolic of a longer historical connection between American and Islamic worlds, and a more inclusive view of the nation’s early, robust view of religious pluralism.”
What “historical connection” was there between the “American and Islamic worlds” that she so casually alludes to, hoping we will not think too deeply about the claim? The main “connection” in our earliest days as a nation was that of warfare waged against us by the Muslim privateers — the “Barbary Pirates,” as they were known — who attacked Christian shipping in the Mediterranean, including the ships of the young Republic. It was during his negotiations in London in 1786 over these attacks with the envoy from Tripoli, and in subsequent dealings with the Barbary Pirates, that Jefferson received his greatest lesson about Islam.
Although Jefferson did not leave any notes on his immediate reaction to the Qur’an, he did criticize Islam as “stifling free enquiry” in his early political debates in Virginia, a charge he also leveled against Catholicism. He thought both religions fused religion and the state at a time he wished to separate them in his commonwealth.
Note that Spellberg assumes, and wants us to assume, that Jefferson read the Qur’an, but “did not leave any notes on his immediate reaction.” That implies he left some notes later on. But he did not ever leave any notes on the Qur’an. She should have written, to be accurate, that “although there is no evidence that Jefferson read the Qur’an he bought as a student, he did criticize Islam as ‘stifling free enquiry.’”
Despite his criticism of Islam, Jefferson supported the rights of its adherents. Evidence exists that Jefferson had been thinking privately about Muslim inclusion in his new country since 1776. A few months after penning the Declaration of Independence, he returned to Virginia to draft legislation about religion for his native state, writing in his private notes a paraphrase of the English philosopher John Locke’s 1689 “Letter on Toleration”: “[he] says neither Pagan nor Mahometan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.”
This is not “advocacy for” Islam, but advocacy for toleration of all faiths, including Islam. These are different things.
By the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, adopted in 1786 (before his fateful encounter with the Tripolitanian envoy in London), Jefferson intended that religious liberty and political equality would not be exclusively Christian. For Jefferson asserted in his autobiography that his original legislative intent in the Virginia Statute had been “to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan [Muslim], the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” The final version of the Virginia Statute, as adopted, left out this explicit statement; not everyone was prepared to cast the net of toleration that wide.
By including Muslims as future citizens in the 18th century, Jefferson expanded his “universal” legislative scope to include every one of every faith.
Ideas about the nation’s religiously plural character were tested also in Jefferson’s presidential foreign policy with the Islamic powers of North Africa. President Jefferson welcomed the first Muslim ambassador, who hailed from Tunis, to the White House in 1805. Because it was Ramadan, the president moved the state dinner from 3:30 p.m. to be “precisely at sunset,” a recognition of the Tunisian ambassador’s religious beliefs, if not quite America’s first official celebration of Ramadan.
There is a deliberate attempt here to make us believe — it is more explicit in some of Spellberg’s other writings — that Jefferson was somehow recognizing Ramadan, and turning a state dinner into the “first Iftar dinner.” Jefferson was neither recognizing Ramadan nor putting on an Iftar dinner. A little history will help: Sidi Soliman Mellimelli came to Washington as the envoy of the Bey of Tunis. The Americans had blockaded the port of Tunis in order to force the Bey to halt his attacks on American shipping. Mellimelli was sent to make an agreement that would end the blockade. Invited by Jefferson to a dinner at the White House set for 3:30 (dinners were earlier in those pre-Edison days of our existence), he requested that it be held after sundown, in accordance with his Muslim practice, and Jefferson, a courteous man, obliged him. There is no hint that the dinner had changed in any way; no one then called it, or thought of it, as an “Iftar dinner.” Mellimelli himself never described it as an “Iftar dinner.” There is no record of it being anything other than the exact same dinner, the same menu, with wine (no removal of alcohol, as would have been necessary had it been a real Iftar dinner), the only change being that of the three-hour delay until sunset.
Muslims once again provide a litmus test for the civil rights of all U.S. believers. Today, Muslims are fellow citizens and members of Congress, and their legal rights represent an American founding ideal still besieged by fear mongering, precedents [sic] at odds with the best of our ideals of universal religious freedom.
Denise Spellberg alludes to islamocritics who she claims are still “besieging American ideals” with “fear mongering.” It is not, pace Spellberg, “fear mongering” to point out the 109 Qur’anic verses that command Muslims to engage in violent Jihad (such as 2:191-194, 4:89, 8:12, 8: 60, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4), that Muslims are told in those verses to “fight them [the Unbelievers] wherever they are,” to “smite at their necks,” and to “strike terror” in their hearts. It is not “fear mongering” to note that Muslims are taught that they are the “best of peoples” and Unbelievers “the most vile of created beings.” It is not “fear mongering,” but perfectly legitimate, to ask what we are to make of such comments by Muhammad in the Hadith as “war is deceit” and, still more significant, his claim that “I have been made victorious through terror.” And if any “American ideals” are being besieged, it is not that of freedom of religion but rather, that of freedom of speech, at the hands of those who wish, like Spellberg, to impugn and drown out those well-informed islamocritics.
Had Jefferson been aware of Locke’s four criteria for “exemptions” from religious toleration, I suspect he would have been in agreement. But even had he continued to believe that Islam was entitled to toleration, that never meant he approved of the faith. He was horrified by the explanation offered by the Tripolitanian envoy in 1786 for the attacks on Christian shipping; he understood that Islam discouraged free inquiry; he was determined to use force against the Barbary Pirates, which he did as soon as he became President in 1801, for he knew from both his experience, and his study of history, that Muslims would respond, and submit, only to such force. If Islam was, as Spellberg disingenuously insists, early on “part of America’s story,” it was, as Jefferson saw for himself, not a very good part.
And then we found out about the visit of Abu Quatada. And the videos of Abdullah Hakim Quick.
And the sermon, only days before Abedi bought the ticket for the Ariana Grande concert where he murdered 22 music fans (mostly young girls and their mothers), which sounded even to the BBC like a call to jihad. But apparently that was badly translated and nothing to worry about. From the Manchester Evening News
Counter terror police who investigated the contents of a sermon delivered by an Imam at Didsbury mosque say ‘no offences have been committed’. A BBC investigation revealed that imam Mustafa Graf, from Chorlton, referenced ‘jihad’ and ‘mujahideen’ during a speech delivered at the mosque, on Burton Road, in West Didsbury.
However bosses at the mosque said the comments, which were recorded onto a tape, were taken out of context.
Senior investigating officers now say they have determined that ‘no offences have been committed’ following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and after receiving expert advice. (I'd like to know who that was - the CPS's Islamic chaplin?)
Though people may have been concerned at the ‘tone’ of the speech, mosque trustees are committed to dealing with ‘extreme’ behaviours, they said.
In a joint statement, Manchester City Council and Counter Terrorism Policing North West said: “We recognise that mosques have a very important and valuable role to play within our communities and we will always seek to work with trustees to strengthen those community relationships.
The BBC spoke to two Muslim scholars who reported that Mr Graf said: “We ask Allah to grant them mujahideen - our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq - to grant them victory.” It was also claimed he said: “Jihad for the sake of Allah is the source of pride and dignity for this nation.”
...the mosque’s trustees said Mr Graf was highlighting the plight of Syrians after chemical bombings in the country. They said his use of the words ‘jihad’ and ‘mujahideen’ had been misinterpreted. A mosque spokesman said at the time: “Jihad is an Arabic word meaning to struggle or strive for good, and it is often used incorrectly. . . The English translation said something like ‘you must all give to charity’. But instead of translating the full sermon they [the BBC] have translated all the Arabic words around jihad, but left that as it is..."
Mustafa Graf inside what was once Albert Park Methodist Chapel, looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.
The BBC previously rejected claims that they had mistranslated the sermon, which they say was spoken in English.
That is easily confirmed or refuted. It is common to add subtitles in English, even if English is being spoken, if the speaker has a regional accent, or is mumbling. Another Arabic word the BBC might want to look into is taqiyya.
Muslims, China, the Uighur, and the "Strong Horse" Principle
This curious article appeared in our Aussie ABC last month - 23rd December. Apologies for not having brought it before our NER readership sooner. It does not, I think, "date". It has to do with the curious fact that the OIC, generally speaking, has said - and done - remarkably little about the recent very severe crackdown by the non-Islamic totalitarian entity that is modern China, upon the Uighur Muslims who live within China's current boundaries.
But before reproducing it I will first offer three passages from three different authors in three very different eras. The first is from an anonymous editorial in the "North China Herald", of 1867 (written at a time of resurgent jihad waged by Muslims within China). It was unearthed and shared by a commenter at Spencer's Jihadwatch on January 16 2005.
"If politeness and ceremony be observed toward Mohammedans, they imagine that they are feared, and become arrogant; but in showing severity and rudeness, they are impressed with fear and respect, and they are supple and manageable."
The second is from John Quincy Adams' essays on the Russo-Turkish War and the Greek War of Independence, published in 1829, in The American Annual Register for the Years 1827-8-9, Vol 29, pages 267-402. On page 274 Adams wrote - "...As the essential principle of his [Mohammed's] faith is the subjugation of others by the sword; it is only by force, that his false doctrines can be dispelled, and his power annihilated". One must remember that these are the words of John Quincy Adams. He would not have uttered them casually or lightly; this is not a conclusion that he would have reached without long and careful thought.
The third is from psychologist M Scott Peck, in his useful little book "People of the Lie" which discusses the subject of human evil. After describing a case that he encountered early in his career as a counsellor, he writes, in the second chapter, "Toward a Psychology of Evil", "As I review the case of Bobby and his parents after a span of twenty years, I doubt that I would today, with all my additional experience, handle the case much differently. I would still envision it as my initial task to rescue Bobby from his parents [who were grossly abusive, and well on the way to bringing about the death of their teenaged son - CM] and I would still resort, as I did then, to the use of temporal power to accomplish that task. I have learned nothing in twenty years that would suggest that evil people [and by evil people he means EVIL people - CM] can be rapidly influenced by any means other than raw power. They do not respond, at least in the short run, to either gentle kindness or any form of spiritual persuasion with which I am familiar."
And so, with those passages in mind, to the article, written by one "Tasha Wibawa".
"Why Muslim Nations Remain Silent as China Sends Ethnic Minorities [sic: Muslims - CM] to Re-Education Camps.
"Beijing's crackdown on its ethnic Muslim-minority Uyghurs has been met with international condemnation, however, some very significant voices have remained silent - those of Muslim nations.
"The United Nations estimates that up to 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other minorities have allegedly been detained in China's far-western Xinjiang province since 2017.
"Experts say Muslim nations are keeping quiet due to China's economic and political clout as well as foreign policy considerations.
In other words - it's the "strong horse" principle. There is a lesson here for the rest of the non-Islamic world, for nations that are not totalitarian despotisms like communist China. The lesson is that if we act like the strong horse - which, collectively and in many cases individually, we are - and cease from flattering, fawning, appeasing, enabling, conciliating and generally behaving like suckers - the Ummah will knuckle under. I'm not saying we have to do as China is doing; but we do need to grasp that a show of strength, so long as it is "followed through", will cause the Ummah to pull in its horns. - CM
"China policy expert Michael Clarke, from the Australian National University, told the ABC that China's economic power, and the fear of retaliation, was a big factor in Muslm politics.
And why is that, Mr Clarke? What is it about Islam, that leads Muslims to behave like this? - CM
"You're dealing with one of the most powerful nations in the world", Dr Clarke said.
"It's ultimately a very unfortunate situation the Uyghur people find themselves in."
Oh, those poor Uyghur muslims! One must, however, in the light of books such as Spencer's recent History of Jihad, or Ibn Warraq's "The Islam in Islamic Terrorism", coldly and calmly eflect on what would happen, sooner or later, if the Chinese gave the Uyghur Muslims their own state. Suppose that they - which will never happen, but let's just imagine it for a moment - told the Uyghur, "Fine, you can secede and have all of Sinkiang as a Uyghur Islamic State of Sinkiang; total independence, yet another Muslim nation". Would the border between an Islamic Sinkiang and the Infidel communist Han Empire be a peaceful one.. from the Muslim side ... in the long term? Or would not the Muslims simply pocket their latest territorial gain and bide their time, waiting and preparing, watching like hawks for signs of weakness in their Infidel neighbour? Would not Jihad , waged by one means or another, resume, the instant the Muslims thought it likely to succeed? Because whereas groups like the Tibetans really do just want their own country, the Uyghur being Muslims are a subset or outpost of the Ummah, or Mohammedan Mob, which sees itself as the rightful ruler of the whole wide world, and obliged to wage war in perpetuity until every inch of the planet is subject to Islam, and Muslims rule, absolutely. - CM
'In contrast, countries including Australia and the United States have publicly denounced Beijing's actions in the region.
Whilst remaining shamefully silent about Beijing's increasingly-severe harassment and persecution of many of the peaceful and inoffensive Chinese Christians. - CM
"The Turkic-speaking ethnic minorities (the Turkic-speaking Muslims - CM) have been detained in "re-education" camps and subjected to political indoctrination, including being forced to learn a different language and give up their faith.
One must bear in mind, grimly, however, that in these Muslim victims of Chinese totalitarian repression belong to an equally ferociously totalitarian imperial system - Islam, religion of blood and war - whose adherents, throughout its entire history, whenever they have had the power to do so, have treated subjugated non-Islamic indigenous minorities with hideous cruelty, up to and including forced renunciation of their ancestral faiths and the forced abandonment of their mother tongues (Islamisation meant Arabisation in a large swath of the lands conquered by Islam, notably in Egypt where the Coptic tongue was actively stamped out by the Muslims, by means of gross cruelties such as the cutting out of tongues). - CM
'Recent research reveals that the 28 detention facilities have expanded by more than 2 million square metres since the beginning of last year, and detainees have ben forced to sew clothes for export to a US sportswear company.
'A deafening silence'.
'Governments of Muslim-majority nations including Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia (the last-named being, as we are told ad nauseam, "the world's most populous Muslim nation" - CM) have avoided raising the matter publicly.
"Pakistan has gone even further by defending China, saying that the reporting on the Uyghurs' situation has been "sensationalised" by Western media.
"While the Indonesian government has remained alrgely quiet on the topic, it finally raised the issue of the camps this week, after growing internal pressure from Islamic groups and amid increased media coverage.
One may note, by the by, that the very same techniques used by totalitarian China to repress both the Tibetan Buddhists and the thoroughly-dangerous Muslim regions - forced reeducation/ indoctrination and general repression of the subjugated populations, combined with demographic 'swamping' by mass migration of Han Chinese into previously non-Han regions - are very similar to those historically used not only by Indonesia to Islamise and to overwhelm the indigenous non-Muslims of previously non-Islamic regions such as the Moluccas and West Papua but also by many other Islamic entities both past and present, when seeking to expand their territorial reach and islamise subjugated regions and populations. - CM
"Of course, we reject or [want to] prevent any human rights violations", Jusuf Kalla, Vice-President of Indonesia, told local journaists on Monday. "However, we don't want to intervene in the domestic affairs of another country", he said.
'The statement is in stark contrast to the stance of Indonesia on other Muslim issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict[sic: the Muslim jihad against Israel, waged by the so-called "Palestinian" Arab Muslims - CM], and the plight [it is always the plight - the "plight of the poor Palestinians", the "plight of the poor Uyghur", the "plight of the poor Rohingya", and they always claim to be 'the most (or, one of the most) persecuted people on earth" - ed] of the ethnic-minority Rohingya (sic: of the so-called "Rohingya" ethnically-Bengali Muslims - ed) in Myanmar.
'Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Malaysia and others have also repeatedly condemned the persecution of Rohingya Muslims (but only of the Muslims; they couldn't care less about the Bama majority's equally cruel or even more cruel repression of the non-Bama Christian populations, the Karen and Chin - CM) and Israel's treatment of Palestinians (sic: Israel's self-defence against the would-be-genocidal JIhad waged by local Arab Muslims in and around Israel - CM).
In other words: if they think you're too strong to mess with, if they fear that they may cop a dose of "Bedonebyasyoudid" or perhaps "Bedonebyasyoudo", the Muslims will put up and shut up; whereas if they think you are "weak" they will attack. - CM
'An economy 180 times bigger.
"Dr Clarke said China's economy is 180 times bigger than that of a country such as Myanmar (and how much bigger is China's economy than that of the non-oil Islamic entities, also? - CM) making the latter a far safer target for criticism.
"In Myanmar, you're dealing with a much weaker regional state, which is much more open to pressure and international criticism", he said.
"Chinese investment and contracts in the Middle East and North Africa from 2005 until this year amount to 144.8 billion dollars (in Australian dollars; this article was published in Australia - CM).
I wonder how that compares to the amount invested by China in other regions - the Pacific, South and Central America, the mostly-non-Islamic portions of Africa, and in Australia and Europe? It might be interesting to see those figures in a table, for purposes of comparison. - CM
'In Malaysia and Indonesia, it is $121.6 billion over the same period, according to think-tank American Enterprise Institute.
"Beijing has heavily invested in state-owned oil and gas industries in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and promises continued investments across Asia, Africa, and the Middle EAst, with its Belt and Road initiative.
Chinese totalitarian communist imperialism collides with totalitarian Muslim imperialism.....the grim legacy of Chairman Mao comes up against the grim legacy of 'prophet' Mohammed... we do live in interesting times, alas. - CM
"It [seems] to act as a brake on any of those states from openly criticising Beijing", Dr Clarke said.
Hm. And perhaps the jihad-of-the-petrodollar-bribe is what has restrained far too many free western nations - who should have had more integrity and courage than to be thus corrupted - from openly criticising, say, the gross human rights abuses routinely practised by the likes of Saudi Arabia and Iran... or by Islamic Indonesia, and Islamic Turkey, and so on, and so forth. - CM
'Beijing's treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim groups has not deterred Muslim tourists from travelling to China.
'Muslim travellers spent more than $US 8 billion (11.3 billion [in Aussie dollars - CM]) in China this year, a figure that is expected to increase by $US 1 billion ($1.4 billion) annually, according to a recent report from market research company Salam Standard.
"China's non-intervention stance pays off.
"Beijing's policy of "non-intervention" whereby it avoids becoming involved in the domestic affairs of other nations (really? are we supposed to now forget all those articles recently published by the ABC about Chinese government infiltration and subversion of the Academy in western countries - a tactic also being deployed, on the grand scale, by OIC nations, and its deployment of 'soft power' to attempt to influence politics and politicians, in Australia? and its attempts to weaponise the Chinese diaspora, within countries such as Australia? - CM) has long been a key part of its foreign policy agenda.
'But analysts say it is now paying off with Muslim countries reciprocating the favour.
There are other ways that one could read that situation. But the simplest and most obvious is this: Muslims are taught to be bullies, and bullies tend to buckle when confronted with bullies bigger than themselves. - CM
"China has gone as so far to repeatedly abstain from votes or use its veto power in UN security council meetings, on many international interventions, such as proposed sanctions in Syria and Myanmar.
"Many [Muslim] nations have their own internal issues whether it's religious or ethnic minorities.. so they are very loathe to criticise Beijing for its handling of its own problems (sic - CM) given they have their own problems (sic: would one describe the Copts, say, as a "problem" for Egypt? the Christians and Hindus as a "problem" for Pakistan? only if one has internalised a Muslim view of the world - CM) to deal with", Dr Clarke said.
This case can be made for Turkey, which has spoken out against China on Xinjiang - a move Beijing has not forgotten.
'Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the events in the restive (sic: potentially jihad-wracked - CM) province as "a kind of genocide", while Turkey also provided asylum for Uyghurs fleeing the region.
'Beijing had extended an offer of support during this year's economic crisis in Turkey, on the provision that Ankara didn't release any "irresponsible remarks" related to Uyghurs or ethnic (sic: this is less about ethnicity than about ideology - CM) in Xinjiang - and no comments on the matter have been publicly made since.
'Unfortunately, it all comes down to the calculation of [whether] it's of any benefit to us and our relationships with others more broadly", Dr Clarke said...
In other words, when push comes to shove, with the Ummah, expediency rules. The "strong horse' is respected. Memo to western - and many non-western non-Islamic countries: we don't have to emulate totalitarian China. But in dealing with the Ummah or Mohammedan Mob there are many, many ways - without resorting to Chinese methods of forced 're-education' and gulags - that we can, and should be conducting ourselves as the "strong horse" that we in fact are. Beginning by putting a stop to Muslim immigration, and expelling non-citizen Muslims (first of all, those who have got in under false pretences, and/ or who have after admission to the country run up criminal records as long as your arm, or who are already on the ever-lengthening 'watch-list" of persons feared to be likely to engage in acts of jihad terror., or who are openly inciting to acts of jihad terror. We should impose these measures without explanations or apologies; and when the ummah howls and throws tantrums, we should stand our ground. Many infidel nations are very strong; and in combination, if we were prepared to stick together and present a united front over against the jihad, we would be stronger still. - CM
Pakistan's top court on Tuesday morning dismissed a petition against Asia Bibi's acquittal last year, apparently leaving her free to leave the country and seek asylum abroad. She has since been in protective custody but has been offered asylum in Canada and is expected to fly out of Pakistan within hours to join her children there.
The decision by a three-man bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa ends a 10-year-ordeal. . . At the climax of a case of that has gripped and divided Pakistan, the court ruled there was no cause to reverse her acquittal in October,
The country is braced for fresh protests, however, with religious conservatives vowing to bring it to a standstill to stop her leaving.
...her acquittal sparked three days of protests by the hardline religious Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party. As roads were blocked, schools closed and commerce disrupted, the government reached a deal saying it would allow a petition to review the decision and keep Mrs Bibi in the country. Following the protests police arrested radical clerics Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Mohammad Afzal Qadri, both leaders of the Tehreekk-e-Labbaik Party and they remain in custody. The TLP said on Monday it would not accept the release of Mrs Bibi and told supporters to prepare for more protests, but the detention of its leaders may rein in the anger.
Today’s verdict will be a relief for Imran Khan, the prime minister, who has been accused of betrayal by both sides in recent weeks, but can now point to the judicial process being allowed to run its course.
“Today is a momentous day for all who raised their voice against the blasphemy law and religious oppression,” Joseph Nadeem, a family friend, told The Times after the verdict. “It was a long battle of both nerves and emotions. The most difficult part was her children asking their father when their mum will return. I applaud the bravery of the judges who declared Asia innocent.”
Ms Bibi’s children have already fled Pakistan for Canada, while her husband, Ashiq Masih, has remained with her in Islamabad. Her eventual destination remained a closely guarded secret for weeks because western governments feared their diplomats in Pakistan could be targeted by extremists.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "Today is a day of rejoicing, come what may in the aftermath of this decision. Asia Bibi has always been innocent and it is a blight on Pakistan that it took almost ten years to come to this decision to free her."
For an outsider with no particular emotional involvement, the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, nominated to the United States Supreme Court, were an absorbing gladiatorial soap opera—a well-written soap opera, insofar as it contained so many subplots and suggested so many irresolvable practical and moral ambiguities. For those inclined to political philosophy, the hearings also raised questions about the separation of powers in a polity in which sharply divided, deeply partisan politicians appoint judges. During my career as a psychiatrist, I had prepared many court reports in both criminal and civil cases, and I could not help but regard the hearings as a civil action: Blasey Ford v. Kavanaugh. Ah, how I should love to have been retained to produce reports on one or the other, or on both, of the principals!
The hearings were not a trial in the strictest sense, being more of a public job interview (as we often heard them described). All the same, they resembled a trial in some respects—a trial with distinctly Kafkaesque, or even Alice in Wonderland–like, qualities. Almost all of the senators—the “judges” in this case—had clearly made up their minds beforehand, without reference to the evidence. They appeared strictly to adhere to the glorious juridical principle “Sentence first—verdict afterward!” The hearings were, in effect, an elaborate political charade.
Was it certain that, if the allegations against Kavanaugh were true, they would or should automatically disqualify him from the position, assuming that no other true allegations against him emerged? My wife, once a feminist, thought not: an isolated indiscretion—or even a crime—at the age of 17, such as Kavanaugh had allegedly committed, should not be held against him forever. But if such an allegation, if true, did disqualify him, what was the standard of proof needed to substantiate it? Beyond reasonable doubt? On the balance of probabilities? On the merest whiff of suspicion, on the assumption that there is often no smoke without fire? These questions were left unanswered because they went unasked.
What was obvious was the polarization of opinion, not only among the de facto judges but, perhaps to an even greater extent, among the general public, in which there appeared to be an alarming number of Mesdames Defarges doing their knitting at the base of the scaffold. Most sinister was the call to believe the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford ex officio, just because she was a woman and self-proclaimed victim. The jurisprudential consequences of believing people merely because of the category into which they fall are obvious; but the radical feminists failed also to notice how auto-dehumanizing and demeaning to their own sex was the demand to believe a woman qua woman, inasmuch as the capacity to lie, dissemble, exaggerate, fantasize, and remember wrongly is inseparable from being fully human. And in the hearings, before Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh made their statements, the women disrupting the proceedings by screaming brought to mind Andrei Vyshinsky and Roland Freisler at slightly higher vocal pitch. Due process, or process of any kind other than denunciation, seemed to have no role in their conception of justice.
Curiously, the two sides claimed that the same facts lent support to their cause. Thus, Blasey Ford’s inability to recall so much of what had happened on the night in question, when Kavanaugh purportedly assaulted her, was taken by her supporters as evidence of her truthfulness and probity, inasmuch as she did not pretend to remember what she had forgotten, and fill in the gaps with lurid concoction. I couldn’t help but recall a passage from the trial scene in Alice in Wonderland, in which the king acts as judge and Alice as a witness:
“What do you know about this business?” the King said to Alice.
“Nothing,” said Alice.
“Nothing whatever?” persisted the King.
Nothing whatever,” said Alice.
“That’s very important,” the King said, turning to the jury.
They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted: “Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course,” he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.
“Unimportant, of course, I meant,” the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, “important—unimportant— unimportant—important—” as if he were trying which word sounded best.
Some of the jury wrote it down “important,” and some “unimportant.”
My impression of Blasey Ford was that she was not simply and straightforwardly a liar. Impressions are important, which is why witnesses in trials must appear in person wherever possible: for the judge and jury must not only know what a witness has to say but also be able to see and hear how he says it. Impressions by themselves are not evidence, however; they may mislead, and I have known persons—to whom one would have entrusted one’s life, so honest did they appear—who have nonetheless lied through their teeth; I have also known the shiftiest of characters to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. I wish I could say, with Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest, that my first impressions of people were never wrong, but after a lifetime of interviewing victims, perpetrators, plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, lawyers, and others, I regret to report that my first impressions are as frequently mistaken as anyone else’s, and almost as often as when I started out in life.
Against Blasey Ford it was sometimes argued that, since she emerged from Palo Alto University, an intellectual, cultural, and emotional environment that sacralizes victimization in its belief in the overwhelming importance of sexual harassment and abuse, and where the cause of militant feminism is deemed more important than truth itself, one may presume that she had an ax to grind. That she revealed nothing of the alleged assault to anyone for so many years was also held against her. Her presumed ulterior motive and her delay in coming forward supposedly cast doubt on the trustworthiness of her testimony.
I think that this is in error. I remember a case in which a 72-year-old man was accused by his sister of sexual abuse more than a half-century earlier. It was clear to me that her motive in making accusations so late in the day was to get hold of his life savings; and she alleged many consequences of his abuse that were either implausible or unprovable, the better to inflate her claims. Nevertheless, as the man eventually admitted, her account of the abuse was essentially true. The ulterior motive of an allegation does not by itself disprove it.
Yet aspects of Blasey Ford’s case were disturbing. I have spoken to numerous plaintiffs who alleged that some traumatic experience affected their ability to leave the house, travel far, and so on: and yet, when I examined their medical notes, I discovered, for example, that they had been immunized as a preliminary to going on holiday, often on their own, to places such as Brazil or South Africa—not the first destinations of the nervous. Of course, I have also seen people who seemed genuinely to have been frightened into a kind of agoraphobia: for example, a middle-aged woman, who, as a shop worker, was nearly strangled to death by one of three young thieves, the other two, analogous to Blasey Ford’s purported experience, laughing the while. One would hardly have to be a psychologist, only a human being, to understand why my patient ventured out of her home as infrequently as possible afterward, and why she did not return to serving in the shop—all the more so because the criminal-justice system failed utterly, in its now-customary fashion, to take the crime seriously, even though (for once) the perpetrator was apprehended.
No doubt, a continuum exists between these two types—between, that is, those whose alleged symptoms are inconsistent and not clearly related to the alleged cause, and those whose symptoms are consistent and obviously the consequence of what they have endured. Nature does not slice populations into neat categories for us, and there must be intermediate cases. But Blasey Ford’s supposed fear of flying, which delayed her testimony, clearly resembles the first scenario more than the second. Because of the human mind’s capacity to believe six impossible things before breakfast—again, Alice, this time in Through the Looking Glass, illuminates the case—Blasey Ford may genuinely believe that she suffers from fear of flying, when actually what she feared more was her disagreeable destination: speaking before the Senate.
In any proper investigation of her case, if she were engaged on a civil suit, her life history would need to be investigated in far greater detail than was possible for the Senate hearings to do. People often ascribe long-term consequences to traumatic events—especially those about which they are litigating—by forgetting or downplaying other things that have happened to them. They seek coherence and meaning in their lives; and their memories, or what they think are their memories, often serve the search for meaning. This is all the more the case when some advantage accrues to attributing effects to causes, and the supposed causative link grows stronger as the supposed cause is rehearsed over and over in the mind.
Blasey Ford’s further claim of a link between installing a double front door to her home—to help keep her safe—and the alleged assault that took place decades earlier could not be taken at face value and, indeed, didn’t even meet a loose criterion of plausibility. Had nothing happened to her in the intervening period to cause her anxiety? Was she chronically nervous, even before Kavanaugh’s alleged attack? She herself said—on this occasion, plausibly—that recalling the incident made her feel worse. The magnitude of whatever happened—if anything did happen—may have grown with the recollection of it. This being so, psychotherapy might easily have made her worse and could even be the proximate cause of her installing double doors, surely a highly irrational thing to have done. It is not unknown for psychotherapists to put ideas into people’s heads and provoke all kinds of symptoms that they did not have before.
Identification evidence is never, or at least ought never to be, sufficient to convict anyone of anything. “He lies like an eyewitness,” goes an old Russian saying, and misidentification is common in both directions. Victims sometimes fail to recognize their assailant and sometimes recognize someone as their assailant who was not. This does not mean that identification is never of any value, or that no one ever recognizes an assailant correctly, but in Blasey Ford’s case, her identification of Kavanaugh was the only evidence against him; such corroborative evidence as she claimed was refuted.
The vagaries of her memory also struck me as suspect. They were a mirror image of the vagaries of the memories of many murderers whom I have examined. These murderers remember everything with great clarity until moments before they kill: “And the next thing I knew, doctor, was that she was lying there, not breathing.” As Louis Althusser, the French Marxist philosopher who killed his wife, wrote in his memoir (for once in his life, doing so succinctly), J’ai etranglé Hélène! After these murderers “discover” the dead body, their memory soon returns to normal: they remember perfectly putting the body into the car afterward, or whatever it is that they did with it.
Different theories have arisen as to the cause of this type of circumscribed amnesia. One is that it is dissimulation, plain and simple; another is that the level of arousal at the time is so great that memories cannot be made in the brain. Perpetrators often suppose that amnesia for the events in question lessens their moral, and even legal, responsibility; but strangely, they often also claim to recover their memories when it comes time for parole, acknowledgment of their crime being a precondition of the granting of parole. But by then, it is possible that what they have been told or read about their actions may appear to them indistinguishable from memory. Or they might have been lying from the first.
With Blasey Ford, the memory loss is the reverse. She can remember the traumatic events, but almost nothing of the circumstances in which they took place. The events were like a terrifying flash of lightning in a darkened landscape. I have examined many people who have had traumatic experiences, many worse than hers, in fact, and have never encountered this pattern of amnesia, which—whether it explains her particular case or not—would be a convenient one for an accuser lacking corroboratory evidence. A colleague of mine, of much greater experience than I, has not encountered this pattern of amnesia, either. This is not to say that it is impossible—no one has experience of everything, and there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in anyone’s philosophy—but, in my estimation, it makes it less likely to be real in any straightforward way.
The phenomenon of islands or islets of memory exists, of course—for example, in states of intoxication and, indeed, in normal recollection. People who can remember everything are few and not especially fortunate. But islands or islets of memory do not usually arrange themselves so conveniently, in such a way as to promote or refute a case. Blasey Ford says that she was not intoxicated, having had a beer or two—certainly not enough to cause amnesia. Even the amnesia that inevitably comes with the passage of time is not so cooperative with our later needs.
Assuming that Blasey Ford believed what she was saying, it is most likely, in my view, that, without realizing it, she was mistaking the content of her mind for memory. It is easily done, and most of us do it at some time or other.
Yet I did not find Brett Kavanaugh to be quite as impressive as many did who sided with him, and who (it seemed) were determined to find him impressive, come what might. My first objection to his performance was almost an aesthetic one. I thought his reference to his ten-year-old daughter who supposedly prayed for Blasey Ford was, at best, in bad taste, being a kind of religious kitsch—actually religiose rather than religious; and, at worst, emotionally exploitative of a child, like having a child at a political rally with a banner calling for something or other that the child cannot possibly understand. Children should not be instrumentalized in this way.
Kavanaugh’s anger, however justified on the assumption of his innocence, was unjudicial. After his outburst against them, could he expect Democrats (who, after all, were more numerous than Republicans in the last election) to have faith in his future impartiality toward them? In fact, I believe a man of his standing and ability is fully capable of recovering his equilibrium, but I would not be surprised if others did not share my faith.
Of course, he was in an extremely difficult position, and if he had reacted coolly, he might have been accused of arrogance, disdain, condescension, or intellectual hauteur. But if he had been calm and collected, rather than angry and rancorous, is it likely that those who ultimately voted to confirm him would not have done so? Besides, a judge ought to act judicially, however it plays with an audience, and if he loses his advancement or preferment in doing so, so be it.
If I were preparing a medical report, I would have wanted to go more deeply into his history of drinking. On his own admission, he did things when young that make him cringe today—as I suppose most of us did. But he was known as a heavy drinker, and Blasey Ford said that he was very drunk at the material time. Did he suffer from alcoholic blackouts—something he denied—and, if so, how frequently? In youths who drink heavily, these are common. In Britain, where excessive drinking by the young thankfully seems to be declining, I often used to hear them extol the glorious time they had had the night before, because they could remember nothing about it.
I had a number of patients, accused of criminal acts committed while drunk, who denied doing them, though they could remember nothing of the time in question. They said that they did not do them because they were the kind of thing that they did not do: but that was to assume an answer to the very question being asked. This is not to say that Kavanaugh had such blackouts, but if proper questioning or investigation showed that he did, it would reduce the force or evidential value of his categorical denials.
Still, Kavanaugh was in the impossible position of trying to prove a negative, when the only way of doing so would have been to establish conclusively that he spent the entire period in, say, the Amazon jungle. The allegations against him did not meet the civil, much less the criminal, standard of proof; and if everyone seeking high office had to prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt of any accusation leveled by anyone against him, we should soon have no holders, or even seekers, of high office.
So what, if any, are the lessons of this sordid—if, for an outsider, salaciously absorbing—business? First, that we live in curious times, in which unbridled licentiousness and fanatical censoriousness coexist in a dialectical relationship of what one might call hostile dependence. Second, it has revealed to what extent we now think tribally, confirmation bias being our main method of reaching conclusions. Third, that if we continue down the path that the Kavanaugh hearings opened up, it will not be the unexamined life alone that will not be worth living, but the examined one, also.
Tom Brokaw, who used to be a big shot at NBC, is now on his apology tour for stating that Hispanics "should work harder at assimilation". He is afraid that his remarks were offensive to Hispanics, and he is walking around in the traditional sack cloth and ashes.
However, if Brokaw offended some Hispanics, he also offended others by saying that white Americans had hangups about having brown grandchildren, a reference to mixed marriages (which are a by-product of assimilation).
I would like to address both statements, having grown up in Southern California among Hispanics and being married to a Mexican woman with whom we have produced two grown children and three grandchildren.
First of all, who is Brokaw talking about who don't want to have brown grandchildren? He isn't talking about anybody in my family, certainly not my mother, who loved my wife as the daughter she never had. Our two children have never had any issues or problems being half-Mexican in origin. I recognize that there are a few KKK types out there who might have those feelings, but they don't represent more than a small fringe. The fact is that intermarriage between whites and Hispanics is quite common in the US as are other forms of intermarriage (white/black, white/Asian etc.) Culture clashes are generally not a major problem among couples who have intermarried since they have made a conscious choice to put those things aside. Ironically, this portion of Brokaw's commentary is being ignored by the media since they don't consider that as being offensive just a statement of fact (which it isn't).
As to his comments about assimilation, it should be asked which Hispanics he is talking about. Brokaw has spent enough time in California to know better. When he was a young journalist, he used to give the local news on one of the Los Angeles stations. I know because I used to watch him. I really don't think there is a problem of assimilation with Hispanics who are US-born or even naturalized citizens. Hispanics who are US citizens have no problems speaking English. I should add that I am much more familiar with the Mexican-American community of the Southwest than I am with Cuban-Americans in Florida or Puerto Ricans in New York, but it is my belief that the assimilation problems and the English language problems exist chiefly within the illegal alien communities. It is those children who land in elementary school having no English ability.
This kind of thinking is typical of those who lump illegal migrants together with Hispanic-Americans as being the same. For example, we have a situation where people are crossing the border illegally who are by definition poor. How convenient to lump them together with US-born Mexican-Americans when you want to make the case that income levels are lower for Hispanics, hence, that proves discrimination.
I don't think Brokaw is racist towards Hispanics at all. The man is getting up there in years and simply misspoke or worded his words wrongly at least as far as the assimilation angle was concerned. He apparently believes that immigrants should assimilate, and I agree with him on that. He should not confuse illegal migrants with established Hispanics who are, in fact, assimilated, educated and fully able to speak English. By the third generation, English is the native language and eventually, Spanish language capability dwindles. Intermarriage and inter-racial babies are simply one part of assimilation. Over the long term, they will help Americans put our ethnic differences aside
I have a greater objection with his categorizing white people as fearing brown grandchildren. That is absurd. I would advise Brokaw to make his peace with whomever he thinks he has offended and make his retirement full-time. In other words, it's over, Tom.
Telling the truth about Israel is a new Catch-22 situation
If you tell the truth about Israel or Islam, you will be boycotted by the mainstream/left-stream media, no matter who you are.
by Phyllis Chesler
Earlier this month, I wrote a piece about why I would not be marching in any of the Women’s Marches. That piece went viral.
For the first time in fifteen years, some left feminists linked to it and wrote that I had made important points that had never been made before. Some even said that they would not be marching. Others said that given where I publish, that nothing I write should be read. What I say does not matter because I am not publishing in purely feminist and completely left-wing venues.
Funny they should say that.
I had originally chosen a feminist website for this piece and the editor and I worked very, very hard on it. She demanded more and more links, and did very fine line editing. I was impressed—although I was hard pressed given that she lived in a far-off time zone and is half my age. Thus, she had me working ‘round midnight or later for two or three nights. But she helped strengthen the piece. And then—there was an odd radio silence which lasted for 24 hours.
The clock was ticking. The March was two days away. I heard from her again at 11:30pm my time. Suddenly, there were two issues still to be resolved. One concerned my being more balanced, more fair, in terms of the March Leadership. The second issue? “The focus on anti-Semitism strays from the initial thesis and pitch, so it’s been hard to work that in because it doesn’t support the main argument you introduce, which is that the march is not radical or part of the global women’s liberation movement....This means that the piece ends up seeming unfocused and isn’t able to make a strong argument. We can’t publish something that is not up to standard in terms of journalistic protocol and in terms of the quality of argumentation and focus we try to stick to in the articles we publish.”
My bringing in the Jewish Question failed her test of journalism at it’s finest.
Did she wait until the last minute to raise this as an issue in the hope that I’d fold, sacrifice the “focus on anti-Semitism” because it was nearly midnight on January 17th-18th? Had she consulted her donors or advisors and been warned that the piece was radical enough and that bringing in Israel and the Jewish question would only endanger her reputation and harm the site?
I’m not sure. But there is a lot of overwrought and over-righteous sensitivity, as well as ignorance based on disinformation among genuine feminists when it come to Jew hatred. For example, a few months back, I was being interviewed by another feminist editor about my new book “A Politically Incorrect Feminist”. After a good conversation which lasted more than an hour, she suddenly said: “But now I must ask you to explain or justify why you are a Zionist.” Said I: “But I don’t write about that in this book.” Said she: “But it’s important, we need to know.”
No matter what else I may be talking about, this kind of Kafkaesque interrogation has become my lot. My reputation always precedes me.
So, what did I do? Of course, I pulled the piece about the Women’s March leadership away from the feminist website and sent it to Israel National News and, within hours, my editor there published it. Now, feminists could say that because I published at a conservative and pro-Israel venue, they no longer had to read my words. Indeed, someone challenged me about this on Facebook. I responded that the New York Times no longer publishes my work. People were shocked, just shocked.
Back in 2004, I wrote a piece about what I called “gender cleansing” in the Sudan. This was how I characterized the repeated public gang-rapes of girls and women by the Janjaweed. A high profile feminist said that she could not read it because I’d published it at a conservative venue: Frontpage magazine.
Here’s a new kind of Catch-22. If you tell the truth about Israel or Islam, you will be boycotted by the mainstream/left-stream media. The conservative media will welcome you but, by definition, you will either not be read by so-called “progressives” and/or will be blamed for having deserted the politically correct venues.
For love of Truth and for love of Zion, I will continue to publish here, there, anywhere, everywhere.
Partisan hackery in our intelligence agencies is a much greater threat to democracy than any purported ‘collusion.’
by Conrad Black
The New York Times story last weekend, that senior FBI personnel took it upon themselves two years ago to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether the president of the U.S. was a Russian agent, reveals again both the putschist institutional megalomania of the Comey FBI and the national political media’s addiction to defamation of the president — that is, the willful intent to defame him. The Steele dossier, commissioned by Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, a pastiche of lies, invented smut, and wild surmises, was used by the FBI as the basis for its rogue unconstitutionality, even though at least some senior Justice Department officials knew the dossier was just mud-slinging propaganda from the defeated party. The rejected candidate, Hillary Clinton, cited the dossier as evidence of her opponent’s “treason” (which now is deemed to occur in the U.S. only in war or equivalent conditions of international hostility), which cost her the election, and a few weeks after her book about the election emerged and the Steele dossier was exposed, Mrs. Clinton blandly changed her description of it from the credible effort of a retired British intelligence officer to “campaign information” but pretended its probative value was intact.
The moral of the story is that the intelligence and investigative agencies were compromised in their partisanship and illegally attempted to influence and then undo the 2016 election. There is no evidence that the Russian government did much beyond ineffectual social-media advertising debunking the U.S. generally, to no quantifiable effect on the outcome. What the CIA, DNI, and FBI and some in the Justice Department did, by contrast, was illegal and dangerous, and the incoming attorney general and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman (William Barr and Lindsey Graham, respectively) are refreshing in their expression of determination to get to the bottom of it. The gelatinous sanctimony of incoming Democratic House committee chairmen that they will continue to explore impeachable offenses by the president is so fatuous and repetitive it is becoming hard even for the unctuous babbling heads at CNN and MSNBC to work up much appetite for another round of the Russian collusion fable.
Thomas Jefferson has received insufficient credit for founding West Point, which was designed to give, and has given, the Army a nonpolitical officer corps. Three presidents graduated from the U.S. military academies: U. S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower from West Point, and Jimmy Carter from the Naval Academy at Annapolis. None of them dabbled improperly in politics while in the armed forces. Intelligence and police services have never claimed to have the same quality of professional dedication, and the nature of their work requires the agents and staff to dirty their hands at times, but there is no excuse for the antics of the directors of national and central intelligence and the FBI in the months before and after the 2016 election. The only one of them to be sent to a grand jury, so far as is publicly known, is Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI, but at least a dozen other senior officials and Mrs. Clinton and some of her principal campaign personnel all appear to have lied under oath, misled federal officials, or engaged in other illegal conduct. As I have written since the midterm elections, more important than congressmen Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler pretending from the committee chairs they have just ascended to find new evidence on the Russian canard will be a functioning attorney general and a judiciary committee that is not hobbled by a coalition of Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans.
The results to be hoped for are that the intelligence services and FBI take on board an absolute and permanent requirement to avoid this sort of partisan manipulation again, and that the whole federal political system finally learns the dangers of criminalizing policy differences. Ideally, there would be an authoritative retroactive conclusion that no articles of impeachment should ever have been voted against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, or Bill Clinton, and certainly nothing has come to light to justify consideration of such measures now, after more than two years of intensive and very partisan investigation in a febrile hunt to do just that.
It would be a more satisfactory time in American political discourse if the intellectual right were in less disarray and were not largely still floundering about in search of a delusional third way between Democratic socialist stupidity, passivism in the world, and ecological horror fantasies on one side, and the lack of gentility and other stylistic infelicities of the Trump administration. It is a little like those in the 20th century who sought an alternative to capitalism and socialism, from G. K. Chesterton to Jacques Rueff. I will not mention any of my conservative intellectual friends who are simply not rational about Trump and have elected to be a clangorous and irrelevant gang of misanthropes, now reduced to lofty disparagements of Trump’s character. I believe some of them have mistaken spitefulness and snobbery for moral indignation, and their own miscalculations for Olympian serenity, but I rarely claim the right to impute motives to others, and mind-reading is usually odious as well as fraudulent. When Trump has gone, it will be easier to see and accept the good he will have wrought.
And Trump supporters are not immune from criticism. I must express my disappointment with radio and television commentator Mark Levin. I have never met Mark Levin but have generally liked him as a television personality who started as an anti-Democratic Never Trumper and has generally got on board as an administration supporter, putting questions of policy ahead of reservations about Trump’s foibles. He is, however, unrigorous in his denigration of the “Democrat party,” a cultural slur he should know to avoid, and purports to find a softness on Communism throughout its modern history. Levin’s frequent return to the shameful and underpublicized dalliance of Teddy Kennedy with the Reagan-era Soviet leadership is a public service. But it has no relationship to the conduct of President Kennedy at any stage, and Robert Kennedy was a happy member of Joseph R. McCarthy’s staff: and Joseph P. Kennedy, who made the money for all of them and bought the early elections, was so afraid of Communism, he was notoriously on the borderline of being a Nazi sympathizer.
But Levin’s most objectionable gambit is the false and hackneyed claim that Franklin D. Roosevelt was gulled by Stalin. In the summer of 1940, Germany, Italy, Japan, and France were all in the hands of dictators hostile to the British and Americans. Five years later, those countries were all in the hands of the Western Allies and on the way to being prosperous, democratic allies. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the chief architect of this transformation, while Stalin, Hitler’s 1939 ally, absorbed 95 per cent of the casualties and 99 per cent of the physical damage among the Big Three in subduing the Nazis. Contrary to the Levin theory, former Communist spy Alger Hiss did not advise Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference; they never spoke there, and his only comment at Yalta was to oppose giving the USSR extra votes for Ukraine and Belarus at the United Nations. All of the official records of the conference and all of the memoirs of the participants are now available, and there was no inappropriate comment by Roosevelt to or about Stalin. The one Levin regularly produces about FDR trusting Stalin is an unsubstantiated sour-grapes invention of William Bullitt after Roosevelt had terminated his career because of Bullitt’s hounding of under secretary of State Sumner Welles over a homosexual incident.
At Yalta, Stalin pledged absolute freedom for the countries of Eastern Europe, and Roosevelt withheld all of the $6.5 billion aid plan he had promised Stalin because of Soviet violations of its Yalta commitments. The Joint Chiefs and Pacific Theater commanders (MacArthur and Nimitz) wanted Russia to take its share of the anticipated million casualties in subduing the Japanese home islands, and Roosevelt did not want to upset relations with Stalin until he knew if the atomic bomb would work. It was tested three months after Roosevelt died. The Yalta myth is another evil canard, like the Russian-collusion fraud, with less excuse, because it is now (as Al Gore might say), settled history. I refer Levin to any one of many serious analyses of the matter, including the relevant section of my life of Roosevelt. The entire strategic team that put in place the institutions and containment policy that won the Cold War were Roosevelt’s chosen personnel: Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur, Acheson, McCloy, Kennan, and Bohlen.
American political discourse is never going to be the intelligent and civilized exchange it occasionally has been if, in contemporary matters as in the treatment of recent history, ostensibly serious people throw haymakers of blistering falsity: lies. Donald Trump is far from the suave trilingual aristocrat that Franklin D. Roosevelt was, but they are both and equally entitled not to be falsely accused of using their position to betray America to its rivals and enemies. It is difficult, in the one case as in the other, to take seriously, or even with tolerance, anyone who routinely makes such specious accusations.
Let’s talk of court news, who loses and who wins, who’s in and who’s out. The contest over who is the legitimate, the rightful ruler, who should exercise power, is endless, not simply a question of ignorant persons or armies clashing by night on a darkening plain. The issue is pertinent in the world of business in assessing the balance of power, a balance which varies from company to company, between individuals, one of whom is chair of the board of directors and the other who is CEO, the senior decision maker. The chair, who may also be the CEO, oversees the decisions of the CEO but does not usually take part in management unless he is also the CEO.
The rivalry for power and status is central in the theater of politics. Perhaps the most amusing, and certainly the least serious, contest for position is in France where the death in January 2019 of the Duke of Orleans reminds us there are three pretenders to the non-existent title King of France: the new Duke of Orleans, “Henri VII,” descended from Louis Philippe, 1830-48; Louis Bourbon, “Louis XX;” and Jean-Christophe Napoleon, a banker who studied at Harvard who is the great-great-great-great nephew of the Emperor.
National and international issues concerning exercise and control of power are pertinent for politics in the contemporary U.S. in which, as in all democratic systems, there is friction and differences between the executive and legislative branches of government. This friction was shown in striking fashion in the UK on the issue of Brexit when Prime Minister Theresa May, in a crucial vote in the House of Commons, was defeated 432-202, the largest defeat for a ruling party. This could and perhaps should have led to her resignation as PM. However, she survived a conservative leadership vote, and is able, at least for the present, to continue as PM. She was fortunate to survive a defeat by the legislature.
Though in the U.S. there is no exact counterpart of the British relationship of executive and legislature, the issue of the exact extent of presidential power, and limits on it by other constituent parts of the political system is always present. This issue is at the heart of the present rivalry between President Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives. In a sense the rivalry, the result of divided government, is reminiscent of the constitutional debate over the relative powers of the executive and legislature between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Both favored a strong executive, but with different emphasis. Hamilton argued the primary objects of society are security of property and public safety. Madison, especially in Federalist 51 of February 6, 1788, called for a system of checks and balances to keep the constituent parts of government in their “proper places.”
The struggle between the current head of the U.S. executive and the leader of one of the branches of the legislature, individuals with widely differing ideologies, involved not simply conflicting strong personalities, but the dominance of political power. The issue itself was relatively simple. President Trump was willing to shut down the government if Pelosi and Congress did not approve his demand for funding the southern border wall. He did so but was forced to retreat on January 25, 2019 when he agreed to a short-term funding bill. The federal government would be reopened for three weeks, until February 15, 2019, with financial relief for 800,000 federal workers, who had gone without pay checks, but without any funding for the border wall for which Trump has asked $5.7 billion. Pelosi declared that this compromise would not include money for a border wall, which she has called “immoral,” though somewhat vaguely said she might support additional money for technology and increased police patrols.
The crucial factor in the outcome is that Speaker Pelosi had disinvited the President from delivering the State of the Union Address in the House while the government remained closed. Trump could not overcome her action because both legislative chambers must pass resolutions inviting the president to appear before Congress.
It is premature for one side to declare victory in an ongoing battle. Trump has refused to admit defeat, but Pelosi and Democrats can claim success in getting the reopening of the government without providing any money for the wall. The event can be considered a first battle in a continuing war in which Pelosi and the House has won at least the first round. However, Trump, with presidential power, is still considering declaring a national emergency to build a wall. He could move funds from military construction projects to the border, or try to get agreement on security and immigration issues and on legal status for Dreamer immigrants. The essential existing problem is whether the two sides are locked in an intractable showdown over the border wall, or whether this is largely a rationalization of an episode in the struggle for political power.
A similar struggle for power going on abroad has involved the Trump administration, the test of will in Venezuela between two individuals claiming to be president of the country. Nicolas Maduro became president for the first time in April 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez, with a 1.6% majority. There is general agreement he stole the presidential election on May 20, 2018, claiming 68% of the vote. He declared he would be sworn in for this second term on January 10, 2019.
However, 35 year-old Juan Guaidó who had become on January 5, 2019 the newly chosen president of the National Assembly, challenged Maduro. On January 23, 2019 Guaidótook a self-administered oath of office and proclaimed himself the rightful interim president. According to the constitution a vacancy in the presidency is filled by the head of the National Assembly, NA, until new elections are called.
Donald Trump has declared Venezuela as one of his most important priorities. The U.S. administration, which argues that the NA is the only legitimate democratic body in the country, recognized Guaidó as president, noting that the citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. So did 17 Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, and Columbia, as well as Canada. The Lima Group of 14, with Mexico abstaining, already had called Maduro illegitimate.
Nicolas Maduro is supported by leftist countries, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Turley, and, after hesitation, Mexico since Andreas Obrador became president on December 1, 2018. Most important, Maduro is also supported by the Venezuela military, under the defense minister General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, that swore allegiance to Maduro.
The situation has led to violence across the country, and fear of more, as well as international disagreement. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, has declared that in addition to supporting Guaidóthe U.S. was ready to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela. In response, Maduro ordered U.S. embassy staff to leave the country, and decided to close Venezuelan embassy and consulates in the U.S.
Political lines, national and international, are drawn, in an atmosphere that is incendiary. Maduro is supported by Russia, China, Cuba, and Turkey, as well as the military authorities. Russia which has warned the U.S. not to intervene, has sent some aircraft to Venezuela, including two Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers that fly more than 6,000 miles, and has given more than $10 billion in financial assistance, and has sold $ 11 billion in arms exports. China, more moderate in support of Maduro, has supported him politically, and given loans of billions, some estimates are $55 billion.
What is important is that the U.S. cannot be charged with colonialism or with interest in Venezuelan oil, gas, or gold. Trump did not act unilaterally but consulted Latin American and other governments, and later the UN Security Council, before acting. This intervention in foreign disputes can be seen as the latest implementation of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 with its implication of U.S. special responsibility for the American hemisphere. Interestingly, political opponents of Trump, like Senator Richard Durbin and Rep. Adam Schiff have agreed with his policy on this issue, as has Senator Rubio who points out the link of Maduro with Cuba.
The stalemate has to be ended. Much will depend on the actions of the local military forces in which there are signs of discontent, such as the defection of the country’s chief military envoy to the U.S., and on who in Venezuela controls oil supply and state owned enterprises. Much of the game in the country may be on the streets but it also depends to some extent on international intentions. President Trump is not committed to upholding human rights throughout the world but in this case of Venezuela he has chosen the rightful head of government, and has not ruled out further action.