Sunday, 31 January 2021
Bridgerton and Racism

by Michael Curtis

It is a truth universally acknowledged that general interest in the landed gentry and the aristocratic prosperous property owners of the Regency period, 1790-1820, in Britain has been stimulated by the six major novels written by Jane Austen. These novels, full of irony and humor, are social commentaries on the society when women were dependent on marriage for social standing and economic security, and when in reality women did not have the legal power to sign contracts. Austen was a critic of sentimental and escapist novels, like those of 18th century writers, Samuel Richardson and Laurence Sterne, and was comfortable in the Regency period of fashion and manners familiar from domestic novels.  

The Austen novels touch on and have a number of historical allusions but do not specifically focus on political background such as the political uncertainty while the King George III, afflicted by porphyria-induced madness was incapable of ruling, the continuing war against Napoleon, nor on the basis of the origin of the wealth of the aristocracy, nor on the existence of slavery. British law in 1807 made the slave trade illegal, forbidding British ships or British subjects to trade in enslaved people. Slavery was never legal in Britain; in 1833 slavery was abolished in most British territories.

There were in reality, as many advocates of BLM have proclaimed, extensive links between slavery and British country houses, with citizens being colonial proprietors, investing in slave ships, or members of companies trading in slaves. Jane Austen in her book, Mansfield Park, 1814, did indirectly address the slavery issue by including a key figure, Sir Thomas Bertram, who spent two years in Antigua on business and his financial problems in his West Indies plantation. But when Fanny, the leading figure in the book, asks about the slave trade she gets no answer, just “dead silence.”                        

Though Jane Austen was a writer who often used understatement and whose characters had hidden powerful emotions, she was a feminist who held that men and women were equally endowed with reason and common sense. These views, especially the implication that women are  more forceful and capable than men, are inherent in an extravagant work, the TV eight episode Bridgerton Miniseries, the romance fantasy set in 1813, Austen’s Regency period, of two high society families, the Bridgertons, and the Featheringtons.  

This series is according to Netflix the most watched original series in its steaming service, the most watched Netflix show of all time. It may be considered a refuge and escape from the unwelcome abnormality of life during this Covid-19 pandemic, but it is an engrossing event in itself, a lavish production with colorful sets, gowns, and costumes, with a splendid ethnically diverse multiracial and biracial cast who play characters including handsome sons and beautiful daughters of the two families. The series Bridgerton has surpassed other blockbusters, like Downton Abbey and The Crown, with which it competes for display and use of stately homes, in popularity. 

Bridgerton, originating from a series of romance novels written by the American novelists Julia Quinn, is a fantasy, a light weight nugatory story in a contrived setting, and does not pretend to be an accurate depiction of British history. The production of the story moves fast, with its main focus on an up and down love story with a mixture of modern themes and contemporary sensibility in dealing with race, gender, sexuality, and class. Unlike the usual escapist fantasy its ending is only a partly happy one with a number of difficulties unresolved.   

Bridgerton is a lavish production, with features of unusual arrangements of pop songs composed by contemporary young performers, Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish, episodes of enthusiastic sex, mostly agreeable characters, and an undisclosed person who comments on the proceedings, Lady Whistledown, who issues a scandal sheet, a gossip column, reporting on events and revealing the desires  and ambitions of the characters,  and is superbly voiced incognito by Julia  Andrews.  Using witty one-liners, the production depicts a society in which young women, eager to get married, remain largely ignorant about the realities of sex.

 The theme is the game of courting among the elite, “the ton,” in a world of privilege, opulent houses and gardens, women in gorgeous gowns. The elaborate game is the setting for the competitive marriage market, a seemingly unending series of parties and balls in which women are introduced to eligible young men who later will call on the family home to be examined for their suitability.

The stories of the characters overlap and some have their own particular interest such as the love story of the Bridgerton son Anthony, who is in love with an opera singer from the wrong side of the tracks, the sad story of the secretly pregnant Marina, and the incompetence of Lord Featherington who brings financial disaster. But central is the relationship between Bridgerton daughter Daphne and Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Daphne is sheltered, naive, pretty, clever, a favorite of the Queen who finds her flawless. Hastings is handsome, elegant in his red velvet jacket and elaborate waistcoats, but has mysteriously spent several years of travel abroad, and has a best friend, a black boxer named Will, perhaps introduced to show  the ties of Hastings  to the black working class.   

Since the characters are all members of the social elite, the series ,while respecting gender equality, does not explicitly deal with the real existing class system, but it does implicitly touch on social differences illustrated  by dress, family setting, and behavior. The Bridgertons, the top elite, are portrayed in subtle colors, using Wedgwood Blue; the Featheringtons, nouveau rich and new to the upper class, have louder colors, bright greens and yellow. 

The most dramatic, striking, and controversial aspect of the TV series is the issue of race in two ways: in a mixed cast, black actors, mostly biracial, play prominent roles as aristocrats and as Queen; and the assumption that it is natural that blacks could achieve social power and be part of the elite in a color- blind society. This is true of the highest person, the royal figure, Queen Charlotte, really queen consort since King George III is ill. The character may be based on the real Queen Charlotte, a German princess  of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who is said by some historians to have been of African descent.     

However, what is surprising and disappointing is that racism as a theme is not addressed. Only at one point in the series is the issue  mentioned and even then in an incomplete fashion. The character Lady Danbury, the black mentor of Simon, who is ambitious and determined to rise in society, explains to Hastings, “look at our Queen, at our King, at their marriage. Look at everything it is doing for us, allowing us to become. We were two separate societies, divided by color, until a King fell on love with one of us; love conquers all.”  Yet, this is not a coherent or daring explanation of a solution of the racial problem with its implication that love can overcome racism in satisfactory fashion.

This Bridgerton series is not the first time a theatrical production has featured people of color playing and representing white personalities as if this was natural. In recent years it has been preceded by Hamilton, the revisionist view of the Founding Fathers, by production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and by black actors like Denzel Washington and Adrian Lester playing aristocratic figures. Nevertheless, this a-historical fantasy Bridgerton of wealthy British families is welcome if only to stimulate the present ongoing discussion of the origin of that wealth and the propriety of toppling historic British individuals.


Posted on 01/31/2021 4:44 AM by Michael Curtis
Sunday, 31 January 2021
A Final Word On Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’

by Hugh Fitzgerald

As promised, President Biden by Executive Order has undone what has become universally known as the “Muslim Ban.” This has been reported on as an event that should cause all right-minded people to share in the “joy and relief” of Muslims everywhere.

Here is one of those reports:

Muslim, African and Arab Americans and civil rights advocates are breathing a sigh of relief after President Joe Biden’s long-anticipated reversal of the travel ban, which has separated thousands of families since it was issued in former President Donald Trump’s first week in office.

No families were forcibly separated by the Muslim Travel Ban. It affected people only in one direction: those wishing to travel to the United States. If, say, an individual Muslim was already in the U.S. and members of his family were in one of the handful of countries subject to the ban, that individual could at any time leave the U.S. to rejoin his, or her, family. This is never pointed out, and we are left to imagine the pathos of a scene where American military or police rip Muslim children from their wailing mothers, and families are torn asunder by the fathomless cruelty of the American government. Not at all.

Biden’s fulfillment of his day-one promise to Muslim supporters, which he first announced at a Muslim conference in July, signals “a new direction on immigration law and policy, moving away from the Trump Administration’s draconian policies,” the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said in a statement.

For Ramez Alghazzouli, a Syrian immigrant who had been separated from his wife for a year due to the travel ban, the reversal felt like someone had finally removed the boulder sitting on his chest for years.

Just imagine: he was separated from his wife “for a year.” Those whose relatives have been murdered by terrorists — the travel ban was meant as an anti-terrorist measure, designed to limit, however imperfectly, insufficiently vetted foreigners from entering our country — are separated from them not for a year, but forever. There is a difference.

But he [Ramez Alghazzouli] said Biden’s executive action cannot undo the damage done by the ban, which critics decried as racist, senseless and inhumane.

Critics may have decried the travel ban as “racist” but we really must insist, yet again, that Muslims do not constitute a “race,” no matter how often the word “racism” is trotted out by Defenders of the Faith. Go ahead, criticize Islam; don’t be cowed; such criticism does not make you a “racist.”

Nor is the ban on visitors from seven countries – five of them Muslim-majority — “senseless.” It makes perfect sense, if you are trying to monitor, for reasons of security, those who enter your country. If the government of the country of origin is unable or unwilling to supply sufficient information on its citizens to the American government, then it is reasonable for the Americans to bar visitors from those countries that cannot, or will not, provide such information. The Supreme Court found, in Hawaii v. Trump, the government’s reasons for the ban both compelling and constitutional.

“The ban itself will be reversed but no one can reverse our feelings and emotions and the time we lost while being separated from each other,” said Alghazzouli, who hopes his parents will soon be able to come to the U.S. and meet his baby. He said his mother’s immigrant visa is being held up due to the ban.

The self-pity and sense of entitlement of Ramez Alghazzouli are intolerable. Does he think the American government has no duty to protect its own citizens, by insisting on receiving sufficient information on those who wish to enter the country? But America has some kind of duty to let him, Ramez Alghazzouli, and all his tribe, in because….well, just because.

“It’ll still be part of our life and history,” he said. “The Muslim ban is the nuke that we survived but we are still suffering from its collateral damage.”

A “nuke,” forsooth! Good god. You were separated from your wife, Ramez Aghazzouli, because you chose not to join her abroad, in Turkey, where she lives in perfect security. And you are a business analyst who could conduct that line of work remotely, from anywhere. Is that “travel ban” that got in the way of your plans for one year really akin to a nuclear weapon? If you have a quarrel, surely it is with the Syrian government which refuses to share information on its citizens with the American government.

Let’s stop right here, and go back to the beginning of this story, when the first travel ban was imposed by the Trump Administration on visitors from seven countries.

Executive Order 13769 placed stringent restrictions on travel to the United States for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

In all of these seven Muslim-majority countries on the first version of the list, there has been either state support for terrorism (Iran, Sudan), or civil war (Libya, Syria, Yemen), or both (Iraq, Somalia). However, Iraq was dropped from the list, having apparently satisfied the American government that it was now better able to gather, and share information with it, about Iraqi citizens. Sudan, that had also been on the initial list, because it had been a state supporter of terrorism under the rule of Omar Bashir, was also taken off the list, as Bashir promised to cease such activities. Sudan also had a powerful friend in Washington, the U.A.E. ambassador, who lobbied to have Sudan dropped from the list; it was a way for the U.A.E. to pay Sudan back for having contributed troops to fight the Houthis in Yemen. The Trump administration complied; Sudan was taken off the list.

This left five Muslim-majority countries, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Iran, along with two non-Muslim countries, North Korea and Venezuela, added to the list, that were subject to the so-called “Muslim ban.” Those who claim, like the Boston Globe correspondent Michael Cohen, that this executive order was “clearly motivated by racism and xenophobia,” are wrong. There was no “racism” involved. Even had the ban covered only Muslim-majority countries, the ban would not have been motivated by “racism.” Distrust and dislike of Islam, and alarm about those who take the Qur’anic comments to heart, do not constitute “racism.” The Qur’an instructs Muslims that they are the “best of peoples” (3:110), while non-Muslims are “the most vile of created beings” (98:6). It further contains more than 100 verses that command Muslims to fight, to kill, to smite at the necks of, to strike terror in the hearts of, Infidels. If we are leery of, and hostile to, those who take those verses as immutable divine writ, that does not make us “racists.” “Racism” is the all-purpose charge, which many are eager to affix to any anti-Islamic sentiment, no matter how justified. And as for another common charge, “xenophobia,” if that travel ban was placed on seven countries, that leaves 186 countries whose citizens — foreigners all — were still allowed to come to the U.S. How does that merit being called “xenophobic”?

Not only was that ban not placed on “seven majority-Muslim countries,” but, as noted above, two Muslim-majority countries originally considered for the ban – Iraq and Sudan — were quickly taken off the list, and two non-Muslim countries added. If the Trump administration’s ban was motivated by anti-Islam animus, as Muslims insist, would dropping Iraq and Sudan from the list have made sense?

When the ban was challenged in the courts, it was upheld by the Supreme Court in Hawaii v. Trump. The majority opinion explained, and found credible, the reason for the ban: “The Proclamation placed entry restrictions on the nationals of eight [Iraq was later removed] foreign states whose systems for managing and sharing information about their nationals the President deemed inadequate.”

The Court found that the travel ban on those seven states was amply justified by reasons of security. None of those journalists and Muslim groups now praising Biden for reversing the ban ever mention the Supreme Court’s decision in Hawaii v. Trump, for if they did, they would have had to explain what led the Court to uphold the ban. Journalists want their audience to think there was no conceivable security justification for the ban; it was prompted, they insist, only by “racism” and “xenophobia.”

But most important of all – and almost never noted – is this fact: there are fifty-seven Muslim-majority countries. Five of them are on the list of countries covered by the first ban. That means fifty-two other Muslim-majority countries remained entirely unaffected by that so-called “Muslim ban.” It would take only a few minutes of searching the Internet and then some simple arithmetic to discover that 95% of the world’s Muslims remained unaffected by the ban. Since this startling statistic completely undermined the claim of a “Muslim ban,” the critics of the ban chose to pass over that figure in silence.

After the first ban, the Trump administration expanded its travel ban to six countries, four of them in Africa — including the region’s largest nation, Nigeria.

The six countries added to the ban were Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania. Nigeria is not Muslim-majority, but split 50-50 between its Christians and Muslims; since the overwhelming majority of Nigerians who come to the U.S. are Christians, it is they who were most affected by the ban. Eritrea has, according to the U.S. government, a slight Christian majority of 50%, and a Muslim minority of 48%; Sudan is 97% Muslim; Kyrgyzstan is 85% Muslim; Tanzania is 35% Muslim; Myanmar is only 4% Muslim. Thus, three of the six countries – Eritrea, Myanmar, and Tanzania — have non-Muslim majorities, and while a fourth, Nigeria, is evenly split between Muslims and Christians, the second ban negatively affected many more Christians because, as noted above, they come in larger numbers to the U.S. Why was Sudan, having been dropped from the first list of “banned” countries, placed back on the second list? Because the promise of Omar Bashir to renounce terrorism was not carried out, and the American government did not want to admit unvetted citizens of countries where terrorism is an accepted weapon.

Few mentioned this second “ban” imposed by the Trump administration, but when they do, they invariably called it the “second Muslim ban.” No one seemed to remember that this second ban included six countries, only two of which were majority-Muslim.

In other words, 6 of the 13 countries covered by the first and second “Muslim bans” were not Muslim-majority. Does the mass media care to correct the record?

One startling example of misplaced enthusiasm for Biden’s move in rescinding Trump’s two executive orders about a travel ban — those non-Muslim “Muslim bans” — came from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (Istanbul), who expressed “delight” at Biden’s “decision to lift the travel bans imposed on 13 nations with predominantly Muslim populations.”

There are two things to notice in this statement. First, the Ecumenical Patriarch, who ought to know what happens to Christians when Muslims invade (after all, what is now Turkey was once entirely Greek; today there are hardly any Greeks left, no more than 4,000 in a sea of 80 million Muslim Turks) expresses his “delight” that the travel bans have been lifted on “13 nations with predominantly Muslim populations.” Why is the Patriarch Bartholomew delighted? Does he think it splendid that more Muslims will be entering and settling down in the United States? Does he not recognize, as the American Supreme Court did, that the ban was justified as a security measure?

Second, he claims that “13 nations with predominantly Muslim populations” will no longer be subject to that ban. How did he arrive at “13 nations”? He simply assumed that all seven of the countries covered by the first ban, and all six of those covered by the second ban, were Muslim countries. Couldn’t he, before issuing this statement, and looking foolish before much of the world, have bothered to inform himself about the six countries that were covered by the two travel bans that are not Muslim-majority? To repeat, these are Venezuela and North Korea, covered by the first ban, and Myanmar, Tanzania, Eritrea and Nigeria, covered by the second. It is intolerable that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople chose to express his “delight” with the rescinding of the bans, out of a feigned solidarity with his “Muslim brothers,” the descendants of those who expelled or killed millions of Orthodox Greeks and Armenians from what is now Turkey. On the subject of Islam, he is even more disturbing than Pope Francis. And it is unforgivable that he has misled tens of millions of the Orthodox, who look to him for guidance, in failing to note that only seven, not 13, Muslim-majority countries, were included in what so many will continue to call the two American “Muslim travel bans.”

What should the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople have done? He should have said nothing at all about the reversal of the bans. He could then have expressed his “delight” solely at the American return to the Paris Climate Accords. His silence on the other matter would have been most eloquent. He’s not free, of course, as the Greek Patriarch in Erdogan’s Turkey, to speak his mind. But he needn’t so cravenly mislead; he need not confuse people; he ought to have done a little homework before spouting off about “13 Muslim-majority nations.” Ideally, he ought to have remained silent.

The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II, by contrast with Patriarch Bartholomew, was not — at least initially — to be cowed. On January 17, he stated in a televised address some unexpected, and welcome, thoughts on Islam. He said that “Islam is not a religion but a political party and pursuit, and its followers are people of war.” He added that “they are people who spread” [i.e. conquer] in that part of his speech devoted to Mehmet the Conqueror, who seized Constantinople on May 29, 1453, putting an end to the Byzantine Empire. Ieronymos II was then raked over the coals for this single explosion of candor. Erdogan was furious; Muslims all over demanded that he issue an apology. After several days of Muslim vituperation, outrage, and ever more hysterical threats, the Archdiocese of Athens issued not an apology but an explanationclaiming he meant only to criticize “the perversion of the Muslim religion itself by extreme fundamentalists, who sow terror and death throughout the Universe.” But no one is fooled. Everyone knows he meant what he originally said about Islam. Including you. Including me.

First published in Jihad Watch.

Posted on 01/31/2021 4:36 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 30 January 2021
Disgraceful treatment of Julie Payette diminishes the governor general’s office

It is an abysmal farce that makes a mockery of Canada's constitutional confusion and obsolescence.

by Conrad Black

Julie Payette 

The fiasco of departed Governor General Julie Payette highlights what has gradually become the terminal absurdity of that office. It is a colonial title and the colonial governors general not only represented the French and British monarchs symbolically but asserted almost absolute authority under the French and ultimate authority under the British until Lord Elgin was sent by the young Queen Victoria to establish responsible government and autonomy in domestic matters for the then so-called United Province of Canada in 1848.

This was the triumph of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Canada’s purposeful participation in the revolutionary movements that swept much of Europe that year, evicting the House of Orleans in France and bringing in Napoleon’s nephew, and ejecting the 39-year chief minister of the Habsburg Empire in Vienna, Metternich. Many of the early Canadian governors were very capable, especially Samuel de Champlain, the founder of New France, and Louis de Frontenac its principal defender against the hostile natives and Americans, and Sir Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester), chief author of the Québec Act and de facto founder of Ontario; they were among the greatest statesmen in Canada’s history.

The governor general continued to be an important official, and the British sent a sequence of distinguished men: Dufferin, Lansdowne, Stanley, and Aberdeen, were all senior British cabinet officials and the first two were Viceroys of India. The Marquess of Lorne was Queen Victoria’s son-in-law, the Duke of Connaught was King George V’s brother and two of the last British nominees to the post were among the most distinguished: the novelist John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, and the allied commander in World War II in North Africa and Italy, who departed Ottawa to become Minister of Defence in Mr. Churchill’s second government, Field Marshal, Viscount Alexander.

The initial Canadian appointees generally maintained this standard: Vincent Massey was a well-regarded minister to Washington and high commissioner in London and trustee of the National and Tate Galleries; Georges Vanier was a distinguished and gallant general and a highly respected ambassador to France. Roland Michener was a much-admired speaker of the House of Commons, Jules Leger was a very capable senior diplomat. Since then the only occupant of the appropriate stature to be the de facto chief of state of the G-7 country Canada has become was the gracious and elegant former speaker of the House and cabinet minister Jeanne Sauve.

Apart from that, the highest protocol position in the country has been shunted between voting groups. The admirable but not particularly exceptional former premier of Manitoba Ed Schreyer was the first whose ancestry was neither British nor French. Ray Hnatyshyn was the first Ukrainian, Romeo LeBlanc the first Acadian, Adrienne Clarkson the first Chinese-Canadian, Michaele Jean the first Haitian-Canadian, but none of them had especially remarkable careers. David Johnston was an earnest bureaucratic careerist specializing in university administration, a good background for a senior public official.

I thought Julie Payette would be excellent, as contemporary and an ex-astronaut, and from my slight acquaintance with her, a charming woman. Obviously it has not worked out, but the manner of her departure further minimizes the credibility and relevance of the viceregal office. She was apparently pushed out because a number of members of the governor general’s staff, with full anonymity, assured a management consulting group engaged by the Privy Council Office to interview them, that there was a “toxic” and oppressive atmosphere among those working closely with the governor general.

The chief of state of this country, other than when the monarch is physically present in Canada, an event which has not occurred for many years, has been pitched out of office because of anonymous complaints against rude and authoritarian management. No allegations have been made of physical abuse or underpayment of salaries or wages. It would be difficult to imagine anything more conducive to reducing the ostensibly highest office in the land to a state of utter fatuity. Roughly analogous figures in some of the world’s other 198 countries, (including Taiwan, Palestine, and the Holy See), have been dispensed with in coups d’état where there was at least a threat of force; but I am confident that no other chief or acting chief of state has been given the high-jump because of the denunciations of their manners by anonymous underlings. None of them was conscripted to do this work; why didn’t they quit if they didn’t like their jobs? Mme. Payette bloodlessly replicates the fate of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, who was sent to the guillotine on the evidence of her Bengali servant Zamor in 1793. He happily followed the tumbril and cheered the execution.

It is an abysmal farce and it makes a mockery of the constitutional confusion and obsolescence that afflicts the Canadian state. The only ceremonious chiefs of state that function well are veritable sovereigns like Queen Elizabeth, the Emperor of Japan, and the monarchs of a number of northern and western European countries. The kings of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Thailand are the most powerful political figures in their countries. Ceremonious presidents as in Germany and Italy tend to be veteran politicians standing in, in those countries for the deposed Hohenzollern and Savoy dynasties. I don’t believe that the hereditary principle will durably work for a non-residential monarchy. Even if the present queen’s successors are as devoted and estimable as she is, the present system is ultimately impractical.

However, it is valuable and should not be jettisoned, because the senior members of the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore are capable of forming an important and reasonably cohesive group of allied countries which between them would have in normal economic times a GDP of $6.5 trillion, the fourth bloc in the world after the United States, the European Union, and China. The senior secular institution in the world, the monarchy of Britain and the Commonwealth, should be adapted to its headship. Such an entity would be timely as both the European Union and the United States are in convulsions, the EU because of institutional strain ultimately resulting from the absence of democratic accountability for the European Union government, and the United States in a crisis of national self-confidence following its overwhelming and bloodless strategic victory in the Cold War, when it’s Soviet rival peacefully disintegrated.

Let us devise a new office combining the prerogatives of a republican president with executive authority as in the United States and France, with the governor general, and the monarch should remain as co-chief of state of Canada with that official. There should be a premier, as in France answering directly to parliament and managing day-to-day governmental affairs as the premier of France does. Canada could revert to calling itself a Dominion, a term coined and uniquely used in governmental terms by Canada (by the distinguished father of Confederation from New Brunswick Samuel L. Tilley), and it could be designated as combining seamlessly the best properties of a republic and a monarchy.

Canada is a unique country, the only transcontinental bicultural parliamentary Confederation in the history of the world, and it should design for itself unique institutions. And we should never again have the ostensible head of the country dumped by a gaggle of grumpy stenographers. Personally I wish Mme. Payette well.

Note: In response to Dr. Harry Rakowski here last week, I have never represented Donald Trump as “one of America’s greatest presidents,” but as a very successful president in policy terms, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that my co-defendants and I should never have been charged; the Doctor’s pious little homily about hubris was piffle.

First published in the National Post.

Posted on 01/30/2021 4:51 AM by Conrad Black
Saturday, 30 January 2021
Leading Turkish Journalist: Trump Undone by Jewish Conspiracy and Coup

by Hugh Fitzgerald

“A Trumpist coup or coup against Trump?,” was the headline to the article by Yusuf Kaplan, a leading Turkish journalist, that appeared in the newpaper Yeni Safak, which is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s house organ, on January 10, 2021.

A brief previous Jihad Watch report on Kaplan’s conspiracy theorizing is here. Kaplan’s column is here.

Joe Biden, who was elected U.S. president with the support of media organizations under Jewish control, and strong Jewish lobbies, spoke to the press upon the chaos and said, “At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault. … I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution by demanding an end to this siege.

“Media organizations under Jewish control”? Where have we heard this kind of thing before? It’s as old as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the forgery by the Czarist police which laid out the plans of Jewish bankers to control the world, but in this latest version, media moguls replace bankers. If Yusuf Kaplan thinks any of the major American networks — NBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox — are Jewish-owned, he hasn’t been doing his homework, for none of them are. Only one of the top dozen newspapers in the country has a Jewish owner — the Sulzbergers of the New York Times. That paper is famous for deliberately bending over backwards to “not be too Jewish” – which is why its coverage of the Nazi persecution and murder of Jews was so insufficient. Laurel Leff reports on this scandalous record in her study Buried By The Times. And the same consideration – not wanting to be “too Jewish” — explains, one suspects, why the New York Times can be reliably counted on, both in its reporting and on its opinion page, to be unsympathetic to Israel. Peter Beinart is their latest hire. ‘Nuff said.

Before anything, this is an uprising against the “deep state” or the “established order,” which is under the control of global lords, with Jewish capital and mentality at its center!

Who are these Jewish “global lords” who control everything? And if they are so all-powerful, why were they unable to prevent the Holocaust? Why were they unable even to find places willing to take inthose who were desperate to flee Nazi-occupied Europe? Indeed, why were those all-powerful Jews unable to rally military support for the Jewish state in 1948-49, when there was an arms embargo imposed on the Jewish state? And why is Israel, which is backed by all-powerful “global lords with Jewish capital and mentality at its center,” been the target of incessant criticism and hostility at the U.N., at both the General Assembly and at the U.N. Human Rights Council, where more resolutions are routinely passed against Israel than are passed against all the other 192 member states put together? Why hasn’t Israel been able to persuade other states, other than the U.S. and Guatemala, to move their embassies to Jerusalem? In short, where are those all-powerful Jewish “global lords” when you need them? Perhaps Yusuf Kaplan can explain.

For Jewish forces, the U.S. is a guinea pig through which they developed and legitimized their hegemony over the world. Jews have been using the U.S. as a guinea pig for almost a century now: there is no such thing as an American public, or an American state…

Again, what “hegemony over the world” does Yusuf Kaplan have in mind? Do “Jewish forces” control the U.N.? NATO? The Arab League? The Organization of Islamic Cooperation? If the Jews have been using the U.S. as a guinea pig “for almost a century,” then why couldn’t they manage even to persuade the American government to bomb the rail tracks to Auschwitz and to the other extermination camps? Asst. Secretary of War John J. McCloy wouldn’t have it; he didn’t want to risk, or at least that is what he claimed, the possible loss of a handful of American planes, in order to potentially save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews. His palpable want of sympathy leaps out of his correspondence with those who requested such bombing raids. Auschwitz lay only a few kilometers from where American planes were already successfully bombing German targets. McCloy apparently was quite unfazed by the “Jewish forces” that Kaplan said controlled the U.S. Equally unfazed by Jewish power was Breckenridge Long, the State Department official who prevented Jewish refugees attempting to flee the Nazis from entering the United States. All through the war, the unprecedented slaughter of Jews throughout Occupied Europe went on, yet those all-powerful Jews could do nothing to stop it. Any thoughts on why that was, Yusuf Kaplan?

The U.S. public is one of the world’s most controlled nations. This became particularly blatant in the elections: The Jew-controlled U.S. media attacked Trump with all its might, mocked Trump with fake news, terribly demonizing him. It might seem like I am supporting Trump! To hell with all American bandits who cause suffering to the oppressed!

Yusuf Kaplan is confusing the U.S., one of the freest nations on earth, with Erdogan’s Turkey, where Recep Tayyip Erdogan has transformed what had been a parliamentary democracy into a presidential despotism, making it “one of the world’s most controlled nations.” Erdogan first exercised power as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014, and since 2014, he has been President. He has changed the laws so that he may be eligible to serve as President until 2028. He has steadily been increasing the power of the executive. He now controls nearly all areas of life with unchecked authority. He has abolished the post of Prime Minister, put the military firmly under civilian – i.e., his — control, given himself the power to draft the budget, to choose judges and many top officials, to dismiss Parliament and call new elections at will, and to appoint the heads of the National Intelligence Agency, the Religious Affairs Directorate, the Central Bank, as well as ambassadors, governors and university rectors. It has been an incredible seizure of power, quiet and relentless.

Erdogan has dismissed tens of thousands of those whom he has accused of supporting Fethullah Gulen and the attempted coup in 2016. These have included lawyers, judges, university rectors, professors, teachers, and military men. Some have been imprisoned; Turkey now has more journalists in jail than any other country. This is the regime that Yusuf Kaplan supports, as one of Erdogan’s loyalists, while claiming that the U.S. is under a tyranny run by a “deep state” of Jewish media moguls. He can’t recognize that he’s a cheerleader for a despotism, while denouncing one of the freest nations on earth for being in the pocket of a Jewish cabal which, all the evidence indicates, does not exist.

The established order in the U.S. invented an ancient voting mechanism that involved voting by mail. One has to be a fool not to think that major fraud may be involved in votes cast by mail. Trump was constantly complaining about this during the election process! The U.S. president was deposed of [sic] by Jewish lords who own the established order!

America is the name of the instrument Jewish capital and power used to enslave the whole world. Jewish capital and power started to exit the U.S.,and moved into China. The U.S. may start disintegrating within the next few years. America may be divided into a few independent states!

So Jews now control America, which in turn “enslave[d] the whole world” on their behalf. Where did America enslave any country, much less the whole world? Did it take over Europe? It can’t even get Europe’s NATO members to pay their fair share of the military alliance’s cost. Did the Americans enslave South America? The Americans can’t get rid of the Castro dynasty in tiny Cuba, can’t manage to rid Venezuela of the dictator Maduro who has finished what Chavez started and completely bankrupted the country.. Do the Americans control Mexico? If they do, why haven’t they simply given the order to halt all immigration into the U.S.? Has the U.S. “enslaved” Putin’s Russia, when it can’t even prevent Russia from seizing Crimea, and part of eastern Ukraine. If the U.S. controlled by Jews, has “enslaved the world” surely it could stop Russian hackers from wreaking havoc on American government and tech companies’ computers? What about China, which is pulling steadily closer to the U.S. economically, and using its massive Belt-and-Road initiative to link countries across Asia to the Mediterranean, tying them ever closer, both economically and politically, to Beijing. It’s unclear why, if the Jewish masters of the U.S. have already “enslaved the world,, they should now have to move to China to do it all over again. But Yusuf Kaplan knows his Jewish conspiracies. Don’t confuse him with facts. His train of thought went off the rails long ago.

The global Jewish power in the U.S. struck [sic] the coup de grâce on Trump shortly before his departure. They first overlooked the raid on Congress by Trump supporters, then gathered masses carrying “Trump is guilty” placards in front of the Capitol building!

Confusion worse confounded. The “raid on Congress,” as Yusuf Kaplan calls it, was dispersed by the Capitol police, the D.C. police, and National Guard. There were no “gathered masses” who subsequently arrived, carrying “Trump is guilty” placards.

The Jewish power and media backing Biden reported the event as a “Trumpist coup attempt.”

One more time, Mr. Kaplan, we must remind you to stop jabbering about “the Jewish media.” None of the major American television networks, and only one of the top dozen newspapers, are owned by Jews. This isn’t very hard to discover – possibly five minutes of searching the Internet should set Yusuf Kaplan straight. But he doesn’t want to spend the time discovering the depths of his own idiocy.

Trump fought to save America from the invasion and oppression of Jewish power. The compromises he made for the Jews was to quell [sic] them. He made such great compromises that the Jews gladly accepted Trump’s compromises, but did not hesitate to put the gun to his head!

I have no idea what Yusuf Kaplan, who is terminally confused, is referring to in his summary. Trump “fought to save America from the invasion and oppression of Jewish power”?

Mr. Kaplan, please provide us with some evidence for this curious remark. We’ll wait right here for it.

Trump has a Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been one of his closest advisors. His daughter Ivanka underwent a conversion to Orthodox Judaism before marrying Kushner. Trump’s three Kushner grandchildren are Jewish. Contrary to Yusuf Kaplan’s dreamy misinformation, Trump has been the most pro-Israel President in history. Unlike his pusillanimous predecessors, he did not seek a waiver from, but chose to implement, the Jerusalem Embassy Act that had been passed in 1995. He moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. His Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, stated that the “settlements” in the West Bank did not violate international law. Trump ended American funding for the corrupt UNRWA, with its schoolbooks still inculcating – despite repeated promises to remove offensive material — antisemitic hate. He ended American aid to the PA, because of its Pay-For-Slay program. His Administration worked for years on the Peace-To-Prosperity Plan that would have left Israel with 30% of the West Bank, including the all-important Jordan Valley, so necessary for the Jewish state’s defense, and the five largest settlement blocs.

Yet this Yeni Safak writer — Yusuf Kaplan — wants us to believe that a Jewish conspiracy has brought Trump down, as a kind of practice run for taking over the whole world, but this time using China as its sinister instrument. I look forward to Kaplan’s comments on how the Jews will “take over” China now that America is, according to Kaplan, falling apart and may even split into several independent states. Perhaps he can get out a special edition of Yeni Safak just as the Chinese army, under orders from a cabal of .Jewish moguls sitting in their secret bunker in Jerusalem, comes marching into Istanbul.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 01/30/2021 4:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 29 January 2021
Phyllis Chesler interviewed by the Writer's Block
Posted on 01/29/2021 6:17 AM by New English Review Press
Friday, 29 January 2021
The Trump-Impeachment Farce

The Democrats’ late hit will only end up costing them.

by Conrad Black

The Democratic congressional leadership is determined to proceed with the impeachment and trial of former President Trump. This does not bode well for the possibilities of good government from the Democrats in the next 18 months, before the campaigning begins for the midterm elections, because this impeachment must stand as the stupidest legislative initiative in the entire history of the United States of America.

All readers will be aware that that the preceding sentence is an extraordinary superlative for which there is fierce competition, yet it seems well justified. This impeachment ignored all precedent and prior practice, which required the presentation of evidence, witnesses, and a full right to reply and call and question witnesses by the accused. There was none of that in this case; in fact, there was no due process whatsoever; it was a sham and an outrage that would not be tolerated in any court in the United States at any time, not excluding courts that have acquitted those accused of lynching or courts that upheld blacklists, or even the colonial courts that purported to identify witches. The impeachment was jammed through the House of Representatives on an almost entirely partisan vote, with 10 Republicans voting with the Democrats in the heat of the Never Trump post-election revival, but 197 Republicans voting against the charge. It is recognized that presidential impeachments, to be successful, must be substantially bipartisan and not simply the party out of the White House imposing its congressional majority to get to the Senate and fail there, as happened with President Clinton and President Trump last year. That is what occurred here, and that is why the only presidential-impeachment process in history that had any chance of succeeding was that against President Nixon in 1974, when he suffered substantial defections from his own party and, patriotic traditionalist as he was, and although there remains no conclusive evidence that he committed a crime, acknowledged that he had made serious mistakes and spared the country the embarrassment of an impeachment trial by resigning.

The single count in this case is attempted incitement of an insurrection. Anyone who wishes to can hear President Trump’s remarks on January 6 to approximately 300,000 of his supporters, aggrieved at what they thought with some reason was a stolen election, at the failure of the judiciary and particularly the Supreme Court, and at the failure of Congress to do anything but rubber-stamp what they thought to be a tainted result. At no point in his lengthy remarks did Trump urge violence. He shared the anger of his followers but he urged them to behave “peacefully and patriotically to be sure your voices are heard.” All experts on incitement cases who have commented agree that incitement cannot legally be sustained here. The same is true for insurrection, which is defined both legally and in common usage as the attempted violent overthrow of legitimate authority, particularly a government. Even the vandals and hooligans who gained entry to the United States Capitol showed no signs of trying to overthrow the government; they wished only to insult the legislators of the country. All polls indicate that this is a sentiment shared by the overwhelming majority of Americans, and that very few Americans, the former president decidedly not among them, would condone violence in the expression of that sentiment.

Thus the Congress, with all the sobriety and majesty it frequently swaddles itself in at the least opportunity, will consider an illegally formulated accusation of an offense that did not occur, seeking an end the accused did not wish, in order to remove the accused from an office that he does not hold. All of those responsible for this asinine charade are themselves in contempt of Congress. They are, to use their own favored parlance, inciting universal contempt for the Congress whose dignity it is their duty to uphold. Of course most Americans are appalled at the spectacle of vandals and thugs and camp-followers pouring through the halls of Congress. But many also felt the spectacle of members of Congress hiding under their desks in what appeared to be tinfoil fire-resistant hats, prior to a lengthy sojourn in the congressional bomb shelter, was somewhat indicative of their general performance.

That impression will not be diluted by any attempt from the Democrats to treat this impeachment seriously. On Inauguration Day, prominent members of both parties in both houses cooed and flattered each other and celebrated the elevation of two former senators to national office. Several of them mentioned, with feigned emotion and glowing satisfaction, jubilantly echoed by the Trump-hating hallelujah chorus of the national political media, the solemn and immutable rite of passage of American government celebrated when a new president and vice president are inducted into office. This is a fairly routine event in about 75 countries in the world.

But to many, the self-satisfied backslapping that went on immediately after the inauguration in the capital had the character of the gathering of a large number of decayed and complacent political placeholders who have been splashing in the public trough for too long and were celebrating the departure of the only person who has shaken their complacency in their lifetimes. Survival deserves respect but the disingenuousness of years can be tiresome. Strident Democrat Juan Williams of Fox News wept at the swearing-in of Kamala Harris; so, doubtless, did many others, but not for the same reason. Strident Trump-hater Chris Wallace, also of Fox, said Biden’s was the best inaugural address in 60 years — it was a pastiche of syntactically challenged but benign platitudes, but what Wallace really meant was that he hated Trump so much and so obviously, he was prepared to confer that honor on “Jack and Jill Went up the Hill.”

Trump’s policies were ratified in the congressional and state elections and his control of the Republican Party is confirmed by all polls and by events such as the censure by Arizona Republicans of John McCain’s widow. The former president has subtly imparted that after what he has done to strengthen the Republican base, and the offices his party gained across the country, if he is betrayed now by his internecine enemies, he will wreak an awful vengeance on them. They would deserve no less.

This is where President Biden, at no loss to himself, could make his claims of seeking reconciliation and unity much more believable than his flurry of radical executive orders suggests, by silently killing this fatuous impeachment. There is no chance that 17 Republican senators are going to defect in order to bar the ex-president from running for office again, so Biden, who won’t be running again, has nothing to lose. And there is still a chance that others will regain their senses. Some 45 Republican senators voted not to hear the case, so the chances of conviction are approximately zero. The chief justice, no Rock of Gibraltar when political controversy is about, has passed on the trial, and ancient liberal Democratic wheelhorse Patrick Leahy has replaced him, which probably completes the collapse of the constitutionality of this farce. If there is a charge to be made against Trump, it should be in the courts (and in D.C., with its entirely Democratic juries, there could be a chance of conviction, though it would be overturned on appeal). The Democrats would be smarter to try that — Trump got 5 percent of the D.C. vote. The only precedent on this issue was that the impeachment counts against Mr. Nixon died when he left office and the matters were subsequently taken up in routine prosecutions, but were not heard, as Nixon was pardoned by President Ford.

There is not a scintilla of evidence that President Trump broke any laws, and by demonstrating their inability to break their addiction to Trump-hate as a substitute for policy, government, or even politics, the Democrats are running the risk of severely embarrassing themselves. They managed, with the connivance of almost all the media and the totalitarian dictators of the social media, and most of Wall Street and the most egregious skullduggery in American presidential election history, to evict their nemesis from the White House. If they continue to pursue him, they will regret it.

First published in National Review. 

Posted on 01/29/2021 4:53 AM by Conrad Black
Friday, 29 January 2021
Trump’s Curious Pro-Islamist Legacy

by Sam Westrop

The last four years have been extremely lucrative for American Islamists. Despite the former President’s rhetoric and pledges on the subject of “radical Islam,” and the loud accusations proclaimed of his administration’s ostensible anti-Muslim bias, more federal money was in fact handed out to domestic Islamic organizations than under any previous administration, even discounting COVID relief grants and loans. Meanwhile, not a single domestic reformist Muslim organization received any support at all.

Trump’s federal government gave out, on average, almost three times as much cash to American Islamic organizations per year as it did under Obama. Even if some are convinced that the government should ever be in the business of funding or subsidizing religious organizations of any faith, we can at least all oppose funding that ends up in the pockets of extremists - particularly those with overt ties to terrorist movements.

Consistently, under both the past two administrations, according to the federal government’s own data, from of the $63.5 million of federal monies given to domestic Islamic groups since 2009, $37.6 million has gone to groups with some degree of Islamist influence. In just four years, the Trump administration was responsible for over $26 million of that total sum. In other words, under Trump, America has served as a leading state sponsor of nonviolent Islamism.

As I have previously noted, over $1 million of this sum in 2020 was given under the Small Business Administration’s notoriously mismanaged COVID relief grant and loan schemes, ending up in the pockets of to some extremely dangerous theocrats. Recipients included organizations such as Khatme Nubuwwat, a violent South Asian Sunni Islamist movement dedicated to the violent eradication of the much-persecuted, minority Ahmadiyyah Muslim sect. In 2017, the very same Khatme Nubuwwat Center in Virginia that received federal monies organized a conference at which speakers encouraged the use of violence against Ahmadi Muslims and discussed their hopes for following Pakistan’s lead and criminalizing the Ahmadiyyah faith in the West.

Other beneficiaries of federal largesse included anti-Hindu organizations such as the Indian American Muslim Council, which has previously been linked to SIMI (a banned terrorist organization in India); the U.S. branch of Dawat-e-Islami, a radical Barelvi organization; as well as charities that appear closely tied to Hamas and are run by former Taliban fundraisers, such as the Texas-based Baitulmaal.

But COVID funding does not explain the enormous increase in funding under Trump. In fact, COVID relief grants only accounted for 1/25th of taxpayers’ monies given out in 2020 to domestic Islamic organizations.

After careful analysis of every single recipient of federal funds, the Middle East Forum has found that a clear majority of all federal monies handed out to Islamic organizations went to Islamist-linked or Islamist-controlled organizations. In contrast to the COVID funding, these other federal grants were not handed out blindly; instead, every recipient organization was subject to review.

The largest single grant given to a domestic Islamic organization under the Trump presidency was $8.8 million handed out to the charitable arm of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) – a major branch of the violent South Asian movement Jamaat-e-Islami, according to John Hopkins academic Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr.

Writing in National Review in 2017, I revealed that ICNA’s sister organization, Helping Hand for Relief and Development (with which it shares staff and officials) was openly collaborating with the designated Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2019, a Congressional Resolution picked up on this fact and called on the U.S. government to ban all funding to the network.

Two branches of the Muslim American Society (MAS) received a total of $220,000 from the taxpayer. Named by federal prosecutors as the “overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States," MAS was designated by the United Arab Emirates in 2014 as a terrorist organization. In 2019, MAS’s Philadelphia branch made national news after it hosted an event at which children sang about torturing and beheading Jews. (Incidentally, that same branch received an additional $3,000 of COVID relief from the federal government.)

In 2019, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) received $100,000 from the Department of Homeland Security, as part of a $4.5 million “non-profit security program.” CAIR was blacklisted by the Justice Department in 2009 because of its close involvement with the Holy Land Foundation, a major terrorist financing organization. Despite its reputation as a civil rights group, today, CAIR officials continue to promote violently anti-American and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

The prominent Virginia mosque, Dar Al-Hijrah, also received $100,000 from Trump’s DHS under the same security program. With a long history as a base for both hardline Salafi and Hamas activists, the mosque’s most famous graduate is its former imam, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who became leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, before his death in a 2011 U.S. drone strike. The mosque has not moderated: its current imam, Shaker Elsayed, is an unrepentant anti-Semite, an apologist for the terrorist group Hamas, and has defended barbaric practices such as female genital mutilation.

Another mosque, the Islamic Center of Passaic County, received a federal grant worth over $31,000 in 2017, despite the fact that its imam Mohammad Qatanani, is accused by federal law enforcement of involvement with the terrorist group Hamas.

From 2017 to 2018, the Department of Agriculture gave almost $800,000 to the Islamic Institute of Knowledge, a mosque founded by a disciple of a senior Hezbollah cleric, and which runs events praising Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Indeed, spending by the Department of Agriculture – mostly, for some reason, school lunch programs – account for a great deal of the funding. Between 2017 and 2020, the Department also gave out over two dozen grants through such programs, totaling $9.7 million, to the Islamic Center of Detroit, a mosque with a long history of giving platforms to some of America’s most hardline Salafi clerics.

In Missouri, the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, received almost $900,000 under the Trump administration, despite its long history as a key center for radical activity. A school closely affiliated with the mosque, the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, received an additional $330,000. With officials and teachers openly linked to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the school’s graduates have included Mohamed Soltan, who was imprisoned in Egypt from 2013 to 2015 for his involvement with the short-lived, extremist Morsi regime.

Another school, the Miftaahul Uloom Academy in New Jersey, received over $68,000. Its Islamic studies teacher, Wesley Lebron, is a prominent Islamist activist who has promoted videos claiming that “Jews did 9/11” and warns Muslims to “not become like the Jews.” Meanwhile, the FEC handed over $4,000 to the American Youth Academy, which was originally founded (under a different name) by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist Sami Al-Arian. The school’s extremism, even without Al-Arian, has persisted. A regular guest speaker at Academy events is Kifah Mustapha, a radical imam whom federal prosecutors previously exposed as a overt support of the terrorist group Hamas.

The list goes on – in fact, we have barely scratched the surface. All this raw data can be found in the federal government’s own dataset.  

Radical organizations with long-held ties to extremism use government funding not just to line their own pockets, but to enhance their leadership over American Muslims and legitimize their place in American life. Indeed, European leaders have declared in their own reviews of counter-extremism policies that there are few better ways for Islamists to hijack Muslim communities, and sideline moderates, than by securing government backing.

And the Trump administration was certainly willing to offer such backing. Over the administration’s four years, federal agencies handed out over 400 grants (along with a couple of contracts and loans) worth $39 million to over 260 Islamic organizations without any apparent thought to the ideological implications of handing over such enormous sums.

That two thirds of this, $26 million, ended up in the coffers of Islamist organizations is only slightly different, proportionally, to the behavior of the Obama administration, which gave out, over eight years, a total of just $24.4 million to American Islamic organizations, of which just under half, $11.5 million, benefited Islamist organizations. Despite its own troubling domestic funding arrangements, and its well-documented sympathy for Islamist movements overseas, at least the Obama administration, in contrast with Trump, also funded one domestic reformist, counter-Islamist group, the American Islamic Congress.

Meanwhile, funding to international Islamist groups (not included in the figures above) remained as high under the Trump administration as under Obama. For example, branches of the international charitable franchise, Islamic Relief, received, from 2018 to 2019, over $1.1 million from the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development.

These grants were provided despite European allies drastically cutting backing funding for the franchise, in light of growing evidence of the charity’s close links with the Muslim Brotherhood and its officials violent anti-Semitism and support for terrorist groups.

In fact, Islamic Relief’s extremism has become so well-established, in fact, that in December 2020, the same State Department that has handed over so much taxpayers’ money published a statement noting the glorification of terror and extremism of senior Islamic Relief officials, and condemning the “well-documented record of anti-Semitic attitudes and remarks made by the senior leadership of Islamic Relief Worldwide.”

So what explains the fact that America’s most “anti-Muslim” President ended up being Islamist organizations’ most generous patron? Most, I suppose, would point to ignorance; others, perhaps, to unrestrained civil servants dwelling more happily than ever in a swamp that, today, remains markedly undrained. Certainly, few could come up with serious ideological basis for the administration’s apparent support for American Islamists.

The actual reasoning is perhaps more pathetic: the Trump administration never really cared and lacked the patience ever to understand. The White House made no effort at all to fulfil Trump’s early pledges to establish a Commission on Radical Islam, work with reformist Muslims or have the “support networks for Radical Islam stripped out and removed one by one.” The administration’s counter-terrorism plan, meanwhile, appeared mostly copy and pasted from previous documents.

With a lack of a coherent anti-Islamist policy – as I noted last year in an essay on the subject – the Trump administration’s dalliance with domestic Islamism was not just limited to financial support. For the last four years, administration officials have been happy to embrace and play host to officials of some of the above-mentioned Islamist groups, including the anti-Jewish, terror-tied Islamic Relief franchise – undoubtedly aware that the White House was hardly likely to pay any attention to such friendships.

In fact, just six months ago, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published two videos praising the work and partnership of both Islamic Relief and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), despite ongoing federal investigations into ICNA officials’ ties to terrorism and the growing global condemnation of Islamic Relief.

The Trump administration was far too feckless ever to be a serious counter-Islamist force. For Islamists such as CAIR, Islamic Relief and their allies, the Trump presidency paradoxically afforded these extremists both the opportunity to join the progressivist fight and protest Trump loudly in front of the cameras, while simultaneously benefitting from federal largesse and administration naivety behind closed doors. In many ways, the Trump administration has been the perfect Islamist patron.


Sam Westrop is director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum

Posted on 01/29/2021 4:28 AM by Sam Westrop
Friday, 29 January 2021
Sarah Silverman, Dozy Bint

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Sarah Silverman is a stand-up comic who makes much, in her routines, of being Jewish. It’s part of, it’s a major part of, it’s far too much a part of, her shtick; what isn’t about being Jewish is about sex. I find her treatment of both topics distinctly unfunny. She is critical of Israel in an offhand, careless sort of way; she repeats what she’s heard elsewhere, without looking into the matter herself. Lots of people she knows “support BDS” (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) so, in her ditzy way, she does, too. She does not understand the real intent of that sinister movement. And she knows nothing, it is clear, about the history and travails of modern Israel. A report on her latest podcast vaporings about Israel and BDS is here: “Jewish Comedian Sarah Silverman Explains Why She’s ‘Not Against BDS,’ Accuses Israel of Occupation in New Podcast Episode,” by Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner, January 11, 2021:

Sarah Silverman supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as long as it protests Israel’s government and its “occupation,” and not the country’s citizens, she said Thursday.

During the Jan. 7 episode of “The Sarah Silverman Podcast,” the show’s host, 50, told her listeners, “I’m fine with BDS, as long as it’s clear that you are boycotting a government and not a people. When that line gets muddy, that’s when it’s a little scary as a Jew.”

But if the Israelis overwhelmingly support the building of settlements in Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. the West Bank), and they do, believing them to be built on land that belongs to Israel as a matter of international law (see the Palestine Mandate, especially Articles 4 and 6, and the Mandate maps), and recognize that those settlements – a half-million Israelis now live in them – help solidify Israel’s hold on territory that both belongs to it by right and, at least in part, is necessary for the nation’s defense. Those who “boycott the government” are, pace Silverman, also boycotting the majority of Israelis who support the settlement policies of successive governments, including the present one.

Silverman, who lists her Twitter location as the “state of Palestine,” [now that’s not exactly a good sign] then citied the boycott movement against the South African apartheid in the 1980s, saying, “I think divesting from South Africa made a real difference in ending apartheid. I’m not against BDS. I’m against ‘Jews are pro-occupation.’ It’s absurd. Not all Jews are for the occupation.”

In the context of discussing the “boycott” of Israel that Silverman supports, to mention the boycott movement against South African apartheid is to obliquely suggest that Israel itself may practice apartheid. This is flatly untrue. In Israel, Arabs serve in the Knesset, sit on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors for their country. Jews and Arabs study in the same universities, work in factories and offices together, are treated in, and provide care in, the same hospitals, play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras. The only difference is that Israeli Arabs may serve in the IDF if they so wish, but unlike Jews, they are not required to do so.

As for BDS, it is not the innocent movement that Silverman imagines it to be. Its co-founder and leader, Omar Barghouti, has openly declared that he works for the dismemberment of the Jewish state, to be replaced by an Arab-run “Palestine.” His words: “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” Silverman ought to read what critics of BDS have to say about the group. David Schwimmenthal of the American Jewish Congress, for example, has these observations:

The German Bundestag, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and former British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt are among a growing number of political players to recognize the BDS movement’s bigoted nature.

And yet, not everybody seems to understand that when the world’s only Jewish state is singled out for de-legitimisation and worse, we are dealing with the latest mutation of the world’s perhaps oldest hatred.

Some of the difficulties of recognising BDS for what it really is stem from the fact that the movement has been skillful in obscuring its motivations and intentions behind the misuse of human rights language and the distortion of such lofty concepts as “justice” and “peace.”

But their ultimate goal is far from a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution. Occasionally, they drop their mask and admit that their real objective is the end of Israel as we know it: “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine,” BDS co-founder and leader Omar Barghouti freely admits.

BDS claims that it advocates for only non-violent steps, most importantly the “return” of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees into Israel proper. But let’s not be confused. First, the end result of such a policy would be the same–the dissolution of the world’s only Jewish state. And second, anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the Middle East knows that if the BDS movement’s dream ever came true, it would quickly turn into a nightmare for the Jewish population. In a majority Palestinian state–which given current societal trends would most likely be under an Islamist leadership such as Hamas–the fate of the Jews would be anything but peaceful. This is a region where minorities are either massacred, oppressed or driven out. Those who therefore claim that Jews could live in security and dignity in a majority Palestinian state are just hiding their cynical intentions behind fanciful language of so-called justice.

The question whether BDS or anti-Zionism is antisemitic is doubly absurd. How could the call for the dismantling of the world’s only Jewish state not be antisemitic? And second, even if one could create some artificial distinction between denying Jewish individual rights (antisemitic) and rejecting their collective rights (supposedly kosher), we are still talking about politicide. BDS ultimately seeks the de-facto dismemberment of a UN Member State. Irrespective of whether that state in question is Jewish or say, Irish, to call for its end cannot possibly be considered a “legitimate political position.”

That should provide a salutary corrective for Sarah Silverman, with her dreamy misinformation about BDS, and make her think again about lending her support to that movement.

She noted that there are “myriad” Jewish-led organizations that “fight the occupation everyday” and said, “I hope for a peaceful end to [the] occupation. Unfortunately, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, also have to want an end to the occupation … It ain’t just Israel that benefits from the occupation in various ways. And that seems to be a well kept secret.”

So there are many Jewish organizations that “fight the occupation every day.” Yes, of course there are: J Street, Jewish Voices for Peace, and so on and so dismally forth. But being “Jewish” does not exempt them from charges of ignorance, illogical, bad faith. There are far more Jewish organizations whose members know the history of modern Israel, recognize the sinister nature of the BDS movement, and reject the impermissible use of that loaded word “occupation” and fight BDS and its willing collaborators, like ditzy Sarah Silverman, every day.

When Silverman uses the word “occupation” she reveals that she has no understanding of modern Israel’s history. Its founding document is the League of Nation’s Mandate for Palestine (1922). In that document, the international community of that time recognized that the Jews, just like the Arabs, deserved to have a state of their own. Lands that were formerly part of the Ottoman Empire were assigned by the League of Nations to different mandates, by which the Mandatory Authority would prepare their peoples for statehood. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and (somewhat more complicatedly) Jordan, all became, under the guidance of French and British Mandatories, independent states. The Mandate for Palestine was set up for the sole purpose of creating the Jewish National Home, which would then become the Jewish state of Israel. The Mandatory for Palestine, Great Britain, was to “facilitate Jewish immigration” and “encourage…close settlement by Jews on the land.” (Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine). Which land, Sarah Silverman might ask? Oh, the land that was set aside for the Palestine Mandate. That territory extended from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. That was all supposed to be included in the Jewish National Home. But after the 1948-1949 war, large parts of Judea and Samaria were held by the Jordanians, who continued to hold that land until the Six-Day War in 1967. Jordan was never more than the “military occupier” of the West Bank. When Israel won the territory in 1967, it could at long last exercise its right under international law (the Mandates system was a recognized part of international law) and take lawful possession of the West Bank.There was no Jewish “occupation” of land that had always been assigned to the Jewish National Home.

It would not take more than a few hours for Sarah Silverman to read, and make sense of, a half-dozen of the most devastating critiques of the BDS, its unsavory aims and methods, in attempting – “peacefully” — to snuff out the life of the one Jewish stare. The BDS movement has failed to make a dent in Israel’s economy, which goes from strength to strength, but it has won another victory. It has helped to blacken the image of Israel and of Jews, so grotesquely depicted as persecutors of the Palestinians, and “stealers of their land.” Reading those detailed criticisms of the BDS Movement would constitute Homework Assignment #1 for Sarah Silverman.

Homework Assignment #2 should be equally enlightening for Ms. Silverman. She should study the history of modern Israel, beginning with the First Zionist Congress of 1897. Then she might study the early Zionists who arrived in Ottoman Palestine, where they bought land, often at greatly inflated prices, from absentee landlords in Beirut and Constantinople.. It’s important for Silverman to understand that the Zionist settlers did not seize, but always paid for land, often at very high prices. In 1941, Jews were paying as much for scarcely arable land in Mandatory Palestine as was then being asked for the richest farmland in the world, in Iowa.

Sarah should then study — this above all else — the Mandate for Palestine, especially the Preamble, and Articles 4 and 6 that called for the holder of the Mandate, Great Britain, to “facilitate Jewish immigration” and “encourage close settlement by Jews on the land.” She should also understand that the Arabs acquired four independent nations – Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan – through the Mandates system. The Arab people are more richly endowed with states (there are now 22 of them, possessing more than five million square miles of land) than any other people on earth. Meanwhile tiny Israel – scarcely visible on world maps — consists of only 8,500 square miles, or about 1/600 the land area that the Arabs possess. Study, Sarah, that map of Mandatory Palestine, and compare it to a map of the entire Arab world. And while Israel, until just a few years ago, had no natural resources to speak of – now it has discovered undersea natural gas fields – the 22 Arab states have been, and remain, collectively more richly endowed with fossil fuels than any place on earth. The Arab oil states have already received, since 1973 alone, some 30 trillion dollars from the sale of oil and gas, in what must surely be the greatest transfer of wealth in human history. All this constitutes Homework Assignment #2.

Homework Assignment #3 for Sarah Silverman is about refugees. She should find out – she surely does not know – the conditions under which Arabs left Mandatory Palestine, and then Israel, just before and during the 1948 war. Is she aware of how many were urged to leave by Arabs broadcasting from abroad, who assured the Arabs in Palestine that they should leave, get out of the way of the invading Arab armies and when the fighting ended, as it soon would, with an Arab victory, those Arabs who had left could then return to their homes and also seize whatever land and property the massacred or fleeing Jews would have left behind. In this atmosphere, approximately 700,000 Arabs left, only to discover later that the five Arab armies that had attacked the nascent Jewish state had not been victorious.

Silverman should find out about the efforts by some Jews, including Shabtai Levy, the Mayor of Haifa, to convince Arabs in 1948 not to flee. Then she should investigate that too-rarely discussed other group of refugees – the 900,000 Jews who were forced to flee Arab lands in the wake of the 1948 war, leaving behind many billions of dollars in abandoned property. Let Silverman learn when, and why, both the Arabs in Israel, and the “Arab refugees”elsewhere began – after the Six-Day War – to be referred to quite deliberately as the “Palestinian people.” Hint: Sarah, start by googling “Zuheir Mohsen” and “Palestinian people” for more. You’re welcome.

Homework Assignment #4: Sarah Silverman should be asked to do a little research, to see if she can discover why, out of all the hundreds of millions of refugees created around the world since World War II, it is that only one group – the Arabs of Palestine – have been allowed to pass on to their progeny, as an inherited trait , their status as “refugees,” thus making the roll of refugees entitled to UN economic and political support ever-lengthening. We now must endure the spectacle of the great-grandchildren of Arabs who left Palestine in 1948, who are considered to be, and receive generous benefits as, “Palestinian refugees.” There is no end to this.

On Saturday, Silverman shared on Instagram a short clip of her talking about Israel and the BDS movement from the Jan. 7 podcast episode. In the episode she also said “I agree 100 percent that criticizing Israel is not antisemitism” and claimed that “people like their Jews suffering.”

She agrees “100 percent that criticizing Israel is not antisemitism” is idiotic. It depends on the nature of the criticism. Is it rooted in fact, or does it consist of sinister maligning of the Jewish state and, by extension, of Jews. A great deal of criticism of Israel is antisemitic. See the remarks on Israel by Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Louis Farrakhan, Jimmy Carter, Mahmoud Abbas, Khaled Meshaal, Ayatollah Khamenei. See what Omar Barghouti, who leads the BDS movement that Sarah Silverman has no quarrel with, has to say about Israel’s right to exist (Hint: it has no such right). Silverman ought to have said something else: “Criticism of Israel is not always antisemitic. But let’s not be deaf and blind – it very often is.”

This is serious, Sarah Silverman. You have, I gather, a large following.They listen to you. They know you are Jewish, and if you support BDS that movement must be okay. If you want to talk about Israel, Sarah, get your facts straight. You know: see above. The Mandate for Palestine. Read it. Study those Mandate maps. Find out when and why Judea and Samaria became the “West Bank.” Find out when the Arabs who left or stayed in “Palestine” in 1948-49 were renamed, nearly 20 years later, “the Palestinian people.” Learn why the “Palestinian refugees” are treated differently from every other group of refugees. Just complete the homework assignments that have been given to you above. They will open your eyes. You have some free time, while sheltering in place.

Sarah, perhaps you’ve heard the remark “Whereof we do not know, thereof we should not speak.” The man who said that wasn’t a stand-up comic but still, it’s a remark worth heeding. Try, Sarah. Please. Try to take it in.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 01/29/2021 4:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 28 January 2021
Pakistan's top court orders immediate release of UK-born jihadi involved in murder of Daniel Pearl

From the Telegraph

The Home Office should cancel the citizenship of a UK-born militant acquitted in Pakistan of killing an American reporter, to prevent his return to Britain, a think tank has said.

Pakistan's supreme court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh after dismissing appeals to reinstate his conviction for killing Daniel Pearl.

The family of the Wall Street Journal bureau chief decried the decision as a travesty and the ruling is expected to be condemned by Washington.

Sheikh spent 18 years on death row after being convicted of the murder of Mr Pearl, until Sindh High Court last year quashed his conviction because of discrepancies in the original prosecution case.

Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society foreign policy think tank, said: “Sheikh is amongst the most dangerous terrorist militants anywhere across the world - so many global plots had a link to him. As a British citizen with ties to Wanstead, Sheikh has, of now, the right to board a plan straight to London where he can continue his lifelong crusade. The Home Secretary must immediately strip Sheikh of his citizenship.  The consequences of allowing this man to return to the UK are too dangerous to contemplate.”

I know Wanstead. It used to be a nice class district one side on the edge of Epping Forest the other against the Jewish East End diaspora of Gants Hill, where the working class districts of East London/Essex became suburban Essex.  I gather it isn't quite so desirable these days. But where is?

A three-judge bench upheld the acquittal of Sheikh and three accomplices, ordering them to be released “forthwith”.

Mr Pearl was kidnapped and then beheaded while reporting in Karachi on militant networks in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The reporter had been investigating the link between Pakistani militants and Richard Reid, dubbed the "Shoe Bomber" after trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes. Sheikh's trial heard he had been in contact with Mr Pearl and promised to introduce the reporter to a religious leader in Karachi. Mr Pearl was instead kidnapped at a rendezvous outside a restaurant and held in a compound on the city's outskirts. 

Sheikh was born in the UK and went to a private school before studying at the London School of Economics where he is believed to have become radicalised. He later went to South Asia and linked up with Pakistani militant groups. He was jailed in India in 1994 for helping to kidnap three Britons and an American in India and five years later released as part of a hostage swap with Pakistani militants who had hijacked an Indian airliner.

Posted on 01/28/2021 1:39 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 28 January 2021
Biden’s Keystone Shutdown Damages an Alliance, Boosts Unemployment, Raises Energy Prices

by Conrad Black

As a number of commentators who have generally praised the conciliatory tone of President Joe Biden’s inaugural address have remarked, there were some inconsistencies in the espoused goals.

Most alarming was his promise of the pursuit of unity, while decrying the existence within the United States of a large number of racists and various classes of sociopaths. This incites the inference that the unity he seeks to achieve will be by the subjugation of those with whom he disagrees, which isn’t in the nature or the declared national purposes of the United States.

Thus the goal of full employment, which was achieved by President Donald Trump but has been shattered by the shutdowns most vocally demanded by the Democrats in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is again endorsed as a goal on the same day that the president halted the Keystone XL pipeline and all oil and natural gas exploration and production on federal lands, thus throwing more than 20,000 people out of work.

Shutting down Keystone XL also flies in the face of the announced goal of rebuilding alliances. The United States has no closer ally, geographically or otherwise, than Canada, and indeed, it requires a skilled dialectician to distinguish, by listening to them, an American from a northern state and an English-speaking Canadian.

In stopping the pipeline, Biden not only assured the layoff of the 11,000 American workers on the project, but also, with his other actions, a reversion of the United States into the category of energy importers, inevitably to some extent from unreliable countries, and higher energy costs for Americans.

Breaking Faith

He’s also breaking faith with America’s closest neighbor, largest trading partner, and longest-standing ally. In 1938 and 1940, it was agreed that Canada would take every possible measure to ensure that there could be no attack upon the United States through Canadian airspace or Canadian waters and the United States undertook to come to Canada’s defense if it were attacked. This was the first such arrangement either country had made.

They fought side-by-side in Italy and at D-Day and across Europe in World War II; Canada was a founding member of the United Nations and of NATO and gave aid to Western Europe in amounts proportionate to the United States through the Marshall Plan. It was one of the first powers to respond in support of the American position in the Korean War and Gulf War. It abstained from the Vietnam War and the Iraq War but there are few Americans today who would reproach it for that.

Shutting down construction of Keystone XL will cause the loss of more than 40,000 jobs in Canada, which is the equivalent of approximately 320,000 jobs in the United States. The Keystone XL pipeline itself will be emission-neutral when and if it opens in 2023, unlike the rail, road, and river traffic that would attempt to move some of the same oil at greater cost and much greater environmental danger.

This is an insane initiative. It is negative for the American environment, for U.S. energy costs, for the strategic and financial interests of the United States, and it’s a severe provocation of the country’s closest ally and largest trading partner.

They haven’t exchanged a shot in anger since 1815. This isn’t how alliances are rebuilt and the response in Canada is exactly as it would be in the United States if the roles were reversed. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long been friendly with Biden, and the Canadian government and the Canadian media left no one in any doubt that they favored the election of Biden just as fervently as the American media did in their almost unanimous and vehement partisanship.

Canada Will Respond

The world will take note of how this administration treats its closest ally, and Canada will be obliged to respond to it. It need hardly be emphasized that the correlation of forces between the two countries is one-sided.

TC Energy, which is building the pipeline, promises that all jobs will be unionized and has made a generous allocation as well as environmental reassurances to indigenous groups. There is already extensive agitation in Canada to impose tariffs on selected U.S. oil-based products.

That would increase some costs to Canadians but would also provide a modest spur to the Canadian oil industry, which if the termination of Keystone XL isn’t revisited, will be in a very beleaguered condition. There is also discussion in Canada of retaliating in areas where the United States is more vulnerable, in particular digital services. This could be a serious inconvenience to the United States.

This thunderbolt lands on Canada at a time when its relations with China have been reduced to a very fragile and snappish condition by Canada detaining on a U.S. extradition request Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. The Canadians could easily have failed to detain her, fumbled, warned her, or otherwise insured that she slipped away.

But instead, they stood by an extradition treaty (which doesn’t serve Canada’s interests). And Canada is now being rewarded for incurring the economic and political wrath of America’s only rival in the world by this apparently mindless Keystone XL shutdown, a tokenistic gesture to the U.S. environmental lobby that has no possible complaint against this project and seems not to have given a thought to its consequences.

Biden is spouting the same nonsense that Obama did about green jobs, as transportation secretary-designate Pete Buttigieg did last week. Readers will remember the Obama administration’s $528 million boondoggle on solar power converter Solyndra.

Reversal Possible

If the Biden administration wishes to rethink this action, it can easily and without embarrassment resurrect Keystone XL within the framework of a continent-wide, ecologically sound energy policy. If such an alternative were pursued, an excellent arrangement is available, and neither country would emerge from it with any embarrassment at all.

But whatever Canadians think of it, surely Americans also will wish to know if this is the level of prudent consideration that the new administration is giving to important initiatives that will affect U.S. employment, energy prices, and close relations with allied countries.

It has the appearance of internal agitation from the Sanders–Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal claque persuading the president that this is a relatively painless way to virtue signal ecologically. It’s nothing of the kind; it is a stupid idea of questionable international legality (given the arrangements between the two countries), runs contrary to the United States’ strategic interest in every respect, and justifies profound disconcertion about the new administration’s capacity for informed decision-making.

And it dilutes the very favorable impression Secretary of State Antony Blinken made in his confirmation appearances at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.

First published in the Epoch Times.

Posted on 01/28/2021 6:35 AM by Conrad Black
Thursday, 28 January 2021
Racial Equity, Equality, and the Bureaucrats’ Charter

by Theodore Dalrymple

Reading one of the first new presidential executive orders—titled “Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government”—was for me a depressing experience.

Even the term “racial equity” sent shivers up my spine; it’s reminiscent of the terms “Jewish science” and “bourgeois morality,” as used by the Nazis and the Bolsheviks, respectively.

The order begins with the words, “Equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy.” This at best is a half-truth depending very much on the meaning attached to the concept of equality of opportunity.

If it means that no individual is to be denied freedom under the law because of his social origins, all well and good. Not many people nowadays could be found to deny the desirability of this principle, though it was in fact denied within living memory.

But if by equality of opportunity is meant equality of outcome between distinguishable groups of human beings, no more dictatorial or totalitarian principle could well be enunciated: for the fact is that different groups have, in aggregate, different ambitions, aims, traditions, and capacities.

To ensure equality of outcome of groups (measured, say, by household income) would require endless and very intrusive government interference with the lives of all citizens; it would also be incompatible with the social and cultural diversity that the very same sentence goes on to claim to be one of the America’s greatest strengths.

Such diversity is by itself incompatible with equality of outcome, but not with a legal equality of opportunity in the first sense.

I don’t claim any originality for these observations. On the contrary, they are obvious and have been made many times, but it’s precisely the necessity to repeat them that is depressing, for it indicates that policy is likely to be made on the basis of slogans rather than on real thought, which confronts the complexities of life.

I have space only to pick out a few of the defects of the order. There is, for example, the repeated implication that inequality is by itself evidence of inequity: the two words are used as if they meant the same thing.

Of course, inequality of outcome could be a result of inequity: but on the other hand, there could be no greater injustice than equality of outcome, if by justice it’s meant that people get what they deserve.

In short, the order is a symptom of what Thomas Sowell called “the search for cosmic justice,” the demand that existence be made fair in every respect, a search that, if taken seriously, can lead only to a totalitarian hell.

The term “people of color” appears in the order, as if all people who aren’t of European descent have something in common transcending all other differences between them. This is revealing, for the only thing they can possibly have in common is that they are oppressed by those people of European descent from whom they are distinguished.

This isn’t only obvious nonsense, but is a deeply racialized view of the world. Indians and Chinese, among others, have prospered mightily in America, and on average are probably richer than their supposed oppressors. They are overrepresented in prestigious science faculties.

If “racial equity” were taken to mean equality of outcome between groups, the Indians and Chinese would stand to lose rather than to gain: as, of course, would the Jews. One could therefore make out a case that the order was anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent.

It’s perfectly obvious that the effect, if not the intent, of the order is to build an electoral clientele, for the victims of the supposed inequities of American society whose condition is allegedly to be improved by it are the majority of the population.

By the time you have added the women to the male homosexuals (the lesbians having already been accounted among the women), the male blacks, Asians, Latinos, native peoples, dwellers in poor rural areas, and handicapped in one way or another, including no doubt by their own character, you have considerably more than half the population: and provided you can get them to vote for you, who so generously sympathize with their plight as the “underserved,” and offer them advantages in recompense, you can maintain yourself, or your party, in power forever.

This is certain, because the utterly fair world in which everyone is born equally handsome and equally clever, and in which uniformity of outcome will therefore result, is impossible of achievement. Unfairness is the goose that lays the golden political egg.

Of course, it isn’t impossible for a small minority in a society to oppress a large majority, and perhaps this has been the fate of most of mankind throughout most of its recorded history.

But is this really true of America today? Besides, it has to be remembered that justice and equity, while very important, are not all-important.

A society in which no one had any opportunity at all would be equal and perhaps even equitable: but no one would want to live in such a society. An average military dictatorship would be far preferable.

The order is also a bureaucrats’ charter (the bureaucrats being another large electoral clientele). The very language in which it’s written is the purest bureaucratese: “The role of the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC) is to coordinate the formulation and implementation of my Administration’s domestic policy objectives.”

Coordinate your formulation! Formulate your coordination! Implement your coordination of your formulation! Coordinate your implementation of your formulation! Implement your formulation of your coordination!

I foresee many urgent meetings over breakfast, many hundreds of pages of documents, much scurrying to and fro, despite which riots will occur.

The person who wrote the following paragraph of the order has obviously been granted far too much opportunity: “The Director of the O[ffice] of M[anagement] and B[udget] shall, in coordination with the head of agencies, study strategies, consistent with applicable law, for allocating Federal resources in a manner than increases investment in underserved communities, as well as individuals from those communities.”

Note how expenditure is here conterminous with investment. Most alarming, however, are the words “as well as individuals from those communities”: for on any possible interpretation of such terrible syntax, they imply powers of political patronage.

The rule of the philosopher-king will end, and very quickly, in the rule of the pettifogging bureaucrat king.

First published in the Epoch Times.

Posted on 01/28/2021 6:04 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 28 January 2021
An Arab Israeli Asks ‘What Apartheid’?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Yoseph Haddad is an Arab Israeli who is fed up with being told he lives under an “apartheid” regime. He recently expressed his particular anger with B’Tselem, a left-wing Israei NGO that spreads this baseless claim of Israel “apartheid” around the world. He takes the NGO eloquently to task here: “What apartheid?,” by Yoseph Haddad, Israel Hayom, January 17, 2021. There is a Jihad Watch report on B’Tselem’s claims here. Haddad writes:

Last week, I woke up one morning in my Nazareth home and was astonished to discover I was living under a racist apartheid regime whose only purpose is “the promotion and perpetuation of the superiority of one group of people – the Jews.” I rubbed my eyes, read the story in greater depth, and calmed down as soon as I realized the reports were based on yet another report by the left-wing NGO B’Tselem.

The problem is that this report has spread like wildfire around the world, and the propaganda is working. B’Tselem, which presents itself as a human-rights organization, is in fact known as an organization with a clear political stance that is in contrast to Israel’s position. As it turns out, people have no boundaries. How dare they say that I, an Arab Israeli who served along with Jewish soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and managed hundreds of Jewish employees, live under an apartheid regime?

How can anyone say our society is living under an apartheid regime when among us you will find doctors, judges, and even lawmakers? How can you say Samer Haj-Yehia lives in an apartheid regime when he is the head of the biggest bank in Israel? B’Tselem has already broken the record for hypocrisy, but to compare Israel to an apartheid regime for its racial laws is not only a distorted lie but an insult to all those South Africans who actually lived through apartheid. It is contempt for and cynical exploitation of the concept.

I am not here to claim that everything in Israel is perfect. Some things need to be fixed, and how. But show me a country where everything is perfect….

When B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad, who is Jewish, decides that I, my Arab family, and my Arab friends are all living under an apartheid regime, he and his organizations are basically telling us they see us as second-class citizens. B’Tselem, don’t push your agendas at our expense….

This is an eloquent response by an Israeli Arab who hits back at B’Tselem, furious at its falsehoods, not only by denying its charge that Israel is an “apartheid” state, but offering his own story, as someone who both served in the IDF, and as a civilian directed “hundreds of Jewish employees,” as counter-evidence to B’Tselem’s preposterous claims. And he hits back where it hurts at B’Tselem, an organization of far-left Israelis whose reason for being is to undermine their own country’s image, by noting how the group manages to exploit and diminish real examples of “apartheid” for, as Yoseph Haddad says, “to compare Israel to an apartheid regime for its racial laws is not only a distorted lie but an insult to all those South Africans who actually lived through apartheid. It is contempt for and cynical exploitation of the concept.”

He mentions that there are Arab “doctors, judges, even lawmakers” in Israel. He might have added that those Arab “doctors” include specialists who run departments at Israeli hospitals and work side-by-side with Jewish colleagues, as their equals. He could have noted that those Arab “lawmakers” include members of the Arab Joint List, which is the third largest political bloc in the Knesset. He could have observed that Arab Israelis are not just “judges” at the municipal level, but sit on Israel’s Supreme Court. He could have said that Israeli Arabs are sent abroad as ambassadors for their country. There is complete legal equality of Arab and Jew in Israel. In only one thing do they differ, and it is to the Arabs’ advantage. Israeli Arabs, unlike Israeli Jews, are not required to serve in the IDF, though they may – like Yoseph Haddad – do so if they wish. There are Arab majors and lieutenant colonels though, as yet, no Arab generals, but that’s only a matter of time. And as Haddad notes, there is no glass ceiling for Arab Israelis in business, either: the head of Israel’s largest bank – Bank Leumi — is an Arab.

B’Tselem, take note. Don’t force Mr. Haddad to hold you up for ridicule yet again.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 01/28/2021 4:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Tajik IS cell member in Germany jailed for 7 years

From Deutsche Welle

A German court on Tuesday sentenced a man to seven years in prison over plans to to shoot dead a critic of Islam as part of an "Islamic State" (IS) terror cell.

Summing up the four-month trial, a Düsseldorf court spokesman said the 31-year-old man living in Wuppertal had formed an IS cell with other Tajiks also living in Germany's western Ruhr District. 

The accused, known as Ravsan B., had later handed a functioning semi-automatic pistol over to another cell member for use in a planned attack that was foiled through police investigations, said the spokesman. His full name was not published because of German privacy laws.

The court also found that he with others — motivated by jihadi radicalism —  had planned a contract murder in Albania in 2019 to earn funds for the IS movement.

That attack, however, was not carried out because at the last moment doubts emerged about the identity of the intended victim, 

The court also found that Ravsan B. had participated in a transfer of money to Syria.

His defense lawyers did not plead on the length of jailing, but had tried to cast doubt on several key points of the prosecutors' submissions.

Posted on 01/27/2021 8:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Professor David K. Clements Responds to New Mexico State University President

This thoughtful professor makes an excellent case. Those claiming "no evidence" of election fraud haven't looked into it. He also goes through tapes of the riots on Capitol Hill which cast doubt on the official narrative..(hat tip: Michael Rectenwald)

Posted on 01/27/2021 7:48 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Shakespeare in Washington D.C.

by Michael Curtis

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Macbeth

In a popular parlor game, all the presidents in the U.S. are placed in ranks for entertainment or competitive conversation. More seriously, since its inception in 1982 the Sienna College Research Institute has provided surveys by academic historians and political scientists, of presidential ranking based on twenty categories, that include imagination, integrity, executive ability, leadership, communication, ability to comprise, relations with Congress, and foreign policy accomplishments. In its most recent published survey, in 2018, it ranked as top    persons, Washington, FDR, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Jefferson (Mount Rushmore plus FDR). At the bottom were Andrew Johnson, Buchanan, Harding, Pierce, and Donald Trump.

All polls show that Donald Trump, in spite of the fact that more than 74 million voted for him at the presidential election, left office with low approval rating, though throughout his presidency his ratings remained within a 9 point range and his median approval rating was 44 %. Ranking leaders Is a subjective enterprise. It is important that meaningfulness in ratings of an individual should be based on two factors: performance over a period, not on a single event or day; and comparisons with others who held the office. One comparison could be with George W. Bush whose ratings during his period in office ranged by 62 points. However, Trump’s ratings dropped severely in his last weeks in office.

Two questions can be raised. The first is whether this decline represents a real shift in public opinion, or whether it is due to a difference in the sample of people surveyed previously. The second is whether the utterances of Trump can now be seen as “bullshit.” The concept of bullshit has become part of the currency of politics as the result of an essay by Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt who explained the difference between a lie and bullshit. A lie has a connection with the truth, to overcome it. Bullshit does not care about the truth, or the difference between the truth and false statements. Lying is a conscious act of deception. Bullshit is intended to persuade without regard for the truth.

How should we rate or evaluate those who have held high office? Fiction might help provide an answer in discussion of relevant factors that might explain behavior. For example, Is Hamlet really mad or, like contemporary politicians, guilty of bullshit? The purpose of playacting or using political rhetoric is to suit the action to the word, the word to the action, to hold as it were the mirror up to nature. There are actions that  persons in Washington, D.C. might take, but does those individuals also have genuine feelings, do they have that  “within which passes show.” 

Since the plays of Aristophanes, fiction has portrayed and provided commentaries of political events and personalities. Throughout the centuries, gifted writers, whether Alessandro Manzoni, Joseph Conrad, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Upton Sinclair, Solzhenitsyn, Stendhal, V.S. Naipaul have provided insights into the behavior of those in the political arena. None is more remarkable than Shakespeare whose plays raise all the issues, war, peace, religion and politics, legitimacy of rulers, law and order, deposition of rulers, and most strikingly the nature of good and bad rule. Shakespeare of course was not a political philosopher on the lines of Hobbes or Locke, but his discussions of various kinds of human political types and character and variety of customs, beliefs and regimes is incomparable for understanding politics in the U.S. today. Sometimes in a single line Shakespeare explains character, as with Horatio who alluding to Brutus and Cassius indicates his loyalty to Hamlet by his remark, “I am more an antique Roman than Dane.”  His work can be used for Washington today.

Shakespeare is valuable in trying to understand that politics is necessary, even though incompatible with other values. First, there is the need for law and order. The heavens themselves, the planets, observe degree, priority and place, and when that degree is shaken which is the ladder to all high designs, then the enterprise is sick. Discord follows in power, power into will, will into appetite. Maintaining the system is important; removing the ruler will bring disorder, horror, fear, and mutiny. It will be the woefulest division that ever fell upon this earth.

Political institutions and processes, as political scientist Fred Greenstein argued, operate through human agency. It would be remarkable if they were not influenced by the properties that distinguish one individual from another, concerning issues such as ambition, self-assurance, personality, adherence to tradition, impulsiveness, calm, or lack of discipline. Like the players on the Washington stage, the Shakespeare rulers differ in their justifications of their right to rule. No one today can believe they have a Divine right to rule, or is an anointed ruler, but they provide justifications. They differ in interests and capacities, though all are ambitious, which may lead to glory or to tragedy. The latter is true of Macbeth who had no spur to urge him on but only vaulting ambition, an allusion to a horse leaping over an obstacle.  

I dare do all that may become a man, who dares no more is none. But because of the defaults in his character, his ambition and drive for power leads to his destruction. Similarly, the plotting of Claudius who explains his murder of Hamlet’s father, by “mine own ambition and my queen,” leads to his grave.

The rulers differ in their strength, weakness, and ability. Among the strong figures are Richard III who delights in his power. I am determined to prove a villain, as I am subtle, false, and treacherous. Why I can smile and murder while I smile, and wet my cheeks with artificial tears and frame my face for all occasions. Bolingbroke in Richard II returned from exile to gain the throne, to clean his version of the swamp, weeding and plucking out the caterpillars of the commonwealth, King Richard’s supporters.  

Another strong personality is Henry V, a charismatic figure, full of valor and kindness, whose soldiers plucked comfort from his looks. He was a great leader who connected and moved his subjects. He roused them, we few we happy few, we band of brothers. Old men forget yet they will remember what feats they did at the battle of Agincourt.

Other rulers are weak. Richard II had lost the support of his followers, and surrendered his crown without a serious fight. Like rulers past and present, he found that  everyone who flatters you is no friend in misery. He becomes bereft of friends. Words are easy like the wind, faithful friends are hard to find. He knew and had been warned, a thousand flatterers sit within thy throne, whose compass is no bigger than thy head. The crown had allowed him a breath, a little scene, to monarchize, be feared, and kill with looks, infusing him with self and vain conceit, but he realized  that within the hollow crown, that rounds the mortal temples of a king, rulers were murdered. Richard gives up. You have misunderstood me all this time I live with bread like you. How can you say to me I am a king?

Rulers lose power and are disillusioned. Nowhere is this more poignant than in the case of King Lear who did not truly understand relationships with people, especially those of two of his daughters who betray him. Sadly, he realizes how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child. Lear is the best example for D.C. of three factors. One was the impulsive, senseless act of giving away his power, leaving him a poor, powerless, weak, and despised old man. A second is the need to know the difference between true feelings and flattery of politicians and associates. A third is the symbolism of the storm in the center of the play. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks. The storm echoes Lear’s confusion and represents difficulties and problems which have an impact on behavior. Lear is aware of the power of nature and of his own frailty, and appears to cultivate a sense of humanity.

It is not too much to hope that this sense of humanity is present in Washington today.

Posted on 01/27/2021 5:06 AM by Michael Curtis
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