Sunday, 31 October 2021
Child sex abuse victims let down by Bradford Council’s CSE stance
A good opinion editorial in the Yorkshire Post following the representations of the three area MPs this week.
THE response of Bradford Council to damning criticism over his handling of CSE cases risks doing a disservice to victims of child sexual exploitation. In rejecting calls from Tory MPs Robbie Moore and Philip Davies for a Rotherham-style inquiry, the council says services are “stretched” and the priority is “front-line protection of children now”.
Yet, while this work now comes under the auspices of Steve Walker after the Leeds City Council director was made Children’s Services Commissioner for Bradford, such a stance neglects the suffering of CSE and grooming victims that Ann Cryer, the then MP for Keighley, was highlighting over 20 years ago.
For clarity: Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley, has been calling on the council to set up an inquiry, similar to the one led by Professor Alexis Jay in Rotherham in 2014, and during a debate on Tuesday evening several Tory MPs backed his campaign.
Home Office Minister Rachel Maclean said councils are responsible for ordering local inquiries and they have a “moral responsibility to do the right thing” and protect innocent children. Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said a local inquiry is not necessary and the council is working to review and improve its response to the sexual exploitation of children.
Mr Moore said the “light and limited” review “reflects only the tip of the iceberg of what has been going on”, when he spoke during the debate in Parliament on Tuesday. He also said a “small minority of largely Pakistani Muslim men” have been abusing chuldren in Bradford “for far too long” and “nothing has really changed” since his Labour predecessor Ann Cryer raised concerns about grooming gangs over 20 years ago. Conservatives Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, and Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, backed calls for an inquiry and accused the council and West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin of failing to take decisive action.
The Yorkshire Post, a good regional newspaper I consult frequently, continues with opinion: Given the suffering that victims still endure, many of whom have suffered in silence for too long, Bradford needs to instigate its own ‘lessons learned’ inquiry. The benefits are significant – it will offer some solace to the abused, help the council shape future policies and, hopefully, give confidence to all victims of sexual violence to come forward.
However this will not occur if Bradford’s chief executive Kersten England and council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, two experienced individuals, do not respond more robustly to the very serious criticisms made against them in the Commons.
And, while it is for Bradford’s three Labour MPs to justify their non-participation, let them – and Bradford Council – be left in no doubt about the strength of Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing’s closing remarks: “That was a powerful debate. The whole House clearly wants action to occur now. It is not often that we are all in such agreement.”
So why won't Bradford Council act? Why won't the area's Labour MPs encourage them to do so? I have my ideas.
Posted on 10/31/2021 8:22 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 31 October 2021
The Illiteracy of Modernism
James Stevens Curl has a cutting yet thoughtful piece in The Critic. He writes:
In the early 1950s the American, Henry Hope Reed (1915-2013), had the temerity to suggest that most contemporary architecture then was fraudulent, empty of intellectual content, ugly, illiterate, and meaningless. Convinced that Classicism embraced an architectural language capable of modern use, he aired his views in The Golden City, courageously published by Doubleday & Company in Garden City, New York, 1959.
Reed argued that an architecture based on a ruthlessly reductionist interplay of ground-plan, construction, and materials — what he called “a form of structural dialectics” — is not an æsthetically viable proposition. Furthermore, he explained why we do not admire or like the overwhelming majority of Modernist buildings we see: as Catesby Leigh observes, in his cogent essay:
“When failure is the rule rather than the exception, the enabling dialectic must be rejected. Modernist architecture emerges in this book as the unsightly remnant of an art that, in cutting itself off from its ancient heritage, has effectively dismembered itself… Iconoclastic, pseudo-scientific architecture purportedly enshrining creative genius became morally correct”.
Reed perceptively saw the new dispensation as a disastrously successful public-relations confidence-trick:
“Originality, the abstract, false progress, fear of the past, and the sense of impermanence have become one, packaged in a wrapping called Modern… The wrapping called Modern … professes not to be a style at all, let alone a fashion. It aspires to perpetuity. What is obviously temporary is made to appear inviolate by means of the label, an… attempt to make fashion immovable, and to transform it into taste, a very different article. Today’s [architects] are under the illusion that they can preserve their hegemony thanks to a name”.
Quite so, and such self-regarding monsters probably never knew of the cutting remark by Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (1821-67) that “Progress” is a “Doctrine of Idlers and Belgians”. Reed soundly denounced the absurdities of mid-twentieth-century Modernism’s “metahistorical pretensions”: since The Golden City first appeared, Modernist architecture has displayed a “pathological stylistic instability”. As Leigh shrewdly points out, “the unending succession of fads or fashions betrays a common trait — an allergy to emulation of the great works of the past”: indeed that fear of the past is a cardinal expression of current cultural dispensations, “in which the Self is the highest reality”.
The United States of America was the first nation in history to rise to world pre-eminence while its public realm experienced inconceivable degradation. All that is truly frightening, for, before America swallowed whole Modernism’s shallowness and totalitarian rigidities, it was producing a great architecture based on Classical principles: one of its finest buildings was the majestic Pennsylvania Station, New York City (1902-11), a masterwork of ennobled architecture, engineering, and organisation that put the dismal products of the Modern Movement to shame.
That was probably why Georg Walter Adolf Gropius (1883-1969) termed it a “monument to a particularly insignificant period in American architectural history … a case of pseudotradition”.
It showed up the shoddiness of much of Modernism to a painful degree, notably the enormous, crass, PanAm Building (1958) with which Gropius’s name will always be associated, as it will be with the disgraceful demolition (1963-5) of Penn Station, a particularly low point in American cultural life. America is the poorer for its loss.
When Reed wrote his great book, he thought the perversity of Modernist architecture would ensure its demise: what he did not realise was how heavily invested were the cultural élites in fallacious notions of creativity, how successfully and completely they have mangled the history of art and architecture, and how complete is their iron grip on key institutions which permits them to batter public opinion and shape its preferences by bullying and vulgar abuse.
. . . Make sure to read the rest here.
Posted on 10/31/2021 8:12 AM by New English Review
Sunday, 31 October 2021
The Case of Alec Baldwin
by Bruce Bawer
Alec Baldwin is a terrific actor. At least I’ve enjoyed him. You may disagree. On the Tina Fey series “30 Rock,” I found him very amusing as the obnoxious network exec—although, come to think of it, I guess that was mostly a case of excellent typecasting. Twenty-five years ago, he was effective as the sinister heavy in “The Juror,” opposite Demi Moore. But hmm . . . I guess that was pretty much typecasting, too. And his legendary performance in “Glengarry Glen Ross” as the loathsomely abusive sales trainer—well, OK. Either he’s a terrific actor or he’s been selected for TV and film roles by some damn fine casting directors.
A few months ago, Baldwin was at the center of a scandal that would have made you or me crawl into a cave to die. For years, on talk shows, he’d described his wife, Hilaria, as Spanish; whenever she was on TV herself, she’d claim, in a distinctly Spanish accent, that she’d first come to the United States at age 19. Then it turned out that her real name is Hilary, that she’s as WASPy as they come, and that she grew up in tony Weston, Massachusetts, with a mother who taught at Harvard Medical School.
In short, they’re both sociopaths. At best.
Baldwin has been through—or, rather, caused—other travails, owing to the fact that he’s a world-class hothead. In 1995, he broke a paparazzo’s nose. In 2011, he was kicked off a plane for refusing to turn off his phone before takeoff. In 2012 and 2013, he made headlines for several scuffles with various photographers. He was arrested in 2014 for getting belligerent with cops—always a good idea—and in 2018 for punching a guy over a Manhattan parking spot. Then there was the time that one of his voicemails, in which he called his 11-year-old daughter a “rude, thoughtless little pig” and said she didn’t have “brains or . . . decency as a human being,” went public.
As repulsive as all this behavior is, none of it has humbled Baldwin in the slightest, or put a dent in his golden reputation with the mainstream media. Along with other insufferable nitwits like Rob Reiner and Barbra Streisand, he’s one of the showbiz Left’s leading holier-than-thou lights, always ready to preach and pontificate—and since his politics put him on the side of the angels, he’s been forgiven repeatedly for his odious behavior. Capping his role as left-wing hero, needless to say, was his regular gig as Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” For his high-profile mockery of the president, the leaders of the Democratic Party would’ve gladly given him a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card, if they’d been able to.
The Left especially loved him because of his hatred for guns. Boy, did he hate guns. Boy, did he hate the Second Amendment. And boy, did he hate gun-owners. He hated them so much that instead of carrying on respectful debates with defenders of gun rights, he always went after them with, well, guns a-blazing.
In 2018, along with Amy Schumer, Patton Oswalt, Jimmy Kimmel, David Hogg, and other celebs, Baldwin helped form the No Rifle Association Initiative (NoRA, get it?) to fight the NRA. In the same year, he tweeted that NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch “doesn’t care how many dead bodies she has to step over.” In 2017, after a Huntington Beach police officer accidentally shot a young man to death during a struggle, Baldwin sneered on Twitter: “I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone.” He also cracked jokes when Dick Cheney shot and wounded a friend in a hunting accident.
How beautiful his righteous passion was! How noble and selfless was his uncompromising devotion to the anti-gun cause!
And then, on October 21, it happened. At the Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico, Alec Baldwin was filming a movie called “Rust.” He was the star and also the producer. It was a small-budget Western about a character named Harland Rust (Baldwin), “who rescues his thirteen-year-old grandson Lucas after he is sentenced to hang for an accidental murder.” While rehearsing a scene set in a church, Baldwin, 63, drew a Colt .45 revolver and fired it, killing the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injuring the director, Joel Souza, 48.
Baldwin doesn’t have to wonder anymore “how it must feel” to kill someone wrongfully.
What made the situation hit home for me in a kind of weird way was the news that Hutchins had grown up in Murmansk. As it happens, the woman who runs the beauty parlor under my apartment in small-town Norway is from Murmansk. It’s a dreary, ice-cold place. No city on earth (with a population of over a quarter million) is further north. What an incredible triumph for Hutchins to have made her way to sunny Tinseltown, where, by all accounts, she was a brilliant camerawoman with a great career ahead of her. And now, through the most incomprehensible turn of events, she was suddenly dead at the hands of a movie star a world away from her Arctic home—leaving behind her husband, Matthew, a lawyer, and their nine-year-old son, Andros, who after being informed of his mother’s death “couldn’t say a word for two days.”
How did this killing happen? In the days since the incident, the story has been endlessly recounted, although many of the details have changed or been confusing. Apparently, the film’s assistant director, David Halls, handed Baldwin the weapon, saying “cold gun,” meaning that it wasn’t loaded—although Halls has since told officials “that he hadn’t thoroughly checked each of the rounds of ammunition.” Since Hutchins’s killing, it has emerged that Halls was fired from a previous movie two years ago “over a mishap with a gun.”
Another person of interest is Hannah Gutierrez Reed, 24, a nepotism hire who despite her youth and inexperience (and an alarming immaturity, to judge by videos she’s posted online) was given the job of being the film’s armorer—i.e., the person in charge of guns on the set—a task generally delegated to someone with firearms expertise, often a former member of the military. Earlier this year, working on a movie in Montana, Reed reportedly failed “to follow basic gun safety protocols” and “discharged weapons without warning,” leading the film’s star, Nicolas Cage, to walk off the production.
Commenting on the killing of Hutchins, a number of film and TV professionals have emphasized that on a properly run set involving weapons, gun safety is the number-one priority, and every gun is passed carefully from hand to hand in accordance with a fixed procedure. At each step, both parties look into the chambers and confirm out loud that there are no bullets in the gun; at each step, it’s dry-fired into the ground once for every chamber, just to ensure that it’s empty. If someone puts the gun down—to go to the bathroom, say—and then comes back and picks it up, he has to go through the whole ritual all over again.
Although some movie guns are essentially toys that can’t even take real bullets, in period Westerns it’s common to use real antique guns—but not live rounds, which, as a rule, are utterly verboten on film sets. Yet Hutchins was apparently killed by a live round. (To be sure, you don’t need real bullets to have a fatal incident. In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum, unaware that even blanks can be deadly at close range, shot one into his temple as a gag and died.) Indeed, police apparently found 500 rounds of ammunition on the film set, “a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and live rounds.” If true, this qualifies as shockingly inappropriate.
That the “Rust” set was not properly run has been testified to by many persons close to the production. Only hours before Baldwin killed Hutchins, seven members of the “Rust” crew walked off the set citing safety and housing concerns. Reportedly, there had been “two accidental weapon discharges” from a gun that was described as containing no live ammunition.
Peggy Lane, an actress and producer who worked with Baldwin on “Will and Grace” and calls him “the nicest guy,” found the news from the “Rust” set “insane,” telling me: “One never rehearses with a real gun. One never points a gun at another person or at the camera. And the first AD never hands the weapon to an actor. That is the armorer’s job.”
On Twitter, actress Kirstie Alley made the same point. “No AD yells ‘COLD GUN.’ The armourer [sic] or prop person is supposed to PERSONALLY show you the gun so you can see it is empty for yourself. Then I dry fire it into the ground. I have NEVER been handed a gun by an AD & I’ve been handed 100 guns & I’ve never heard ‘COLD gun’ in 40 years.”
I’d forgotten that my sister, Carol, whose CV includes production jobs on films like “Death Becomes Her” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” spent several months in the 1990s working on a couple of TV series at the Bonanza Creek Ranch. “I have worked with lots of gunfire and explosions in movies and TV and nothing happened,” she told me the other day on Facebook Messenger, “because we had union behavior on set. Preparation, safety, rules followed. All of that makes a difference. Casual attitude on set is what causes accidents.”
Alas, everyone on the “Rust” set was apparently, as my sister delicately put it, an “asshole.” Though not in the business anymore, she’s still in touch with many people who are, and what she’s heard about this shoot isn’t good.
“There was a lot of stupidity, disregard for safety, confusion, and lax attitude on that set,” she told me. When those six “experienced and trained” crew members walked off the set, it “left the show with raw crew.” Since Baldwin and his fellow producers “likely felt they were losing money,” they “started to move fast, without checking all the steps for safety.”
And the gun? According to what she’s heard from people close to the production, allegedly “the gun was never checked. The gun was left unattended on a cart, the gun was taken on a HUNTING TRIP or used for target practice, the person in charge of taking care of the gun was lax, the AD (my job) called the gun ‘cold’ (meaning it has no ammo in the chambers) without even CHECKING THE CHAMBERS. He handed it to a smug actor who pulled the trigger ON A REHEARSAL. While POINTING AT THE DIRECTOR AND DP.”
Her conclusion: “Too many assholes on one set. Remove any of the assholes from the process and it would not have happened. Film sets like that one are accidents waiting to happen.”
My sister—who, note well, is a progressive Democrat—complained about the widespread effort to pin all or most of the blame for the killing on Halls and/or Reed. “They are really pointing at the AD and the arms person as being culpable,” she wrote. “It seems they are giving a pass to Baldwin, which I don’t understand. They said he will need to be questioned, but he’s already in Vermont with his family. As far as I am concerned, he was holding a weapon and needed to make sure his weapon, or prop, or toy, was SAFE to be playing with. And he should NOT have fired the weapon. PERIOD. Blanks or not. He was apparently just practicing, doing quick draw movements for the shot. He didn’t need to fire it.”
No, he didn’t. But it’s striking that a lot of the same people who hold Donald Trump responsible for the so-called insurrection on January 6—even though he explicitly told his supporters to behave peaceably—are quick to insist on Baldwin’s innocence in the death of Halyna Hutchins.
In doing so, they’re deliberately ignoring a key point: if a crew, whether on a movie set or a construction site or a Navy destroyer, is made up of assholes, always look to the captain or foreman—or, in this case, producer. Dollars to donuts, he’ll turn out to be the biggest asshole of all. He’s the one who sets the tone, who either encourages or permits hasty, slipshod, and unprofessional behavior by his crew or disciplines or fires them for it. It’s the boss man who’s ultimately responsible for chronic recklessness on the job. On “Rust,” the head asshole was Baldwin, the producer. He hired Halls and Reed, or at least approved of their hiring. He had to approve any decision involving guns.
Also—and, ultimately, this is all that really matters—Baldwin was the one who fired the fatal shot. It’s an action that makes absolutely no sense. Purportedly he was preparing to do a scene in which he was supposed to fire his gun in the direction of the camera. But when such scenes are actually filmed, the director and cinematographer, who are otherwise usually behind the camera, always move to another spot for safety’s sake. If Baldwin was just preparing for the scene, there was no reason whatsoever to aim the gun at Hutchins, and no reason to pull the trigger. It doesn’t matter in the slightest whether he thought the gun had been checked. It doesn’t matter what anybody, either the first AD or the armorer, said to him about the gun. According to established on-set gun procedures, he should have treated it as a real gun containing deadly bullets until he, himself, ascertained otherwise.
In short, he should have checked the gun himself, visually. He should then have dry-fired it into the ground, once for each chamber. And even after he’d proven the gun’s emptiness beyond any doubt, he still shouldn’t have aimed it at anybody. And he shouldn’t have pulled the trigger. Never, never, never.
There are several steps there. Alec Baldwin failed all of them. Totally. Ignominiously.
And this is assuming that the notoriously hotheaded star didn’t act in anger.
I’m not a gun expert. Far from it. But I know enough to understand that mature gun owners educate themselves thoroughly about their guns, store them securely, and handle them with the utmost caution—and, when they train their children to be gun owners, they teach them to do all these things, too. Being this kind of responsible gun owner is the very opposite of being an inner-city thug who murders innocent kids in drive-bys. Which is why serious gun owners resent the likes of Alec Baldwin—because his whole take on guns is based on the spurious notion that the alarming statistics on gun deaths in the United States are their fault and not the fault of gang violence by people to whose criminal activities the Left has chosen to blind itself.
It’s hardly a coincidence that Halyna Hutchins was shot to death by the man who is arguably America’s most famous enemy of the Second Amendment. While responsible gun owners treat their guns with respect, Baldwin has no respect either for guns or for their owners. No surprise, then, that unlike any responsible NRA member—but very much like one of those above-mentioned inner-city thugs, who’s grown into adulthood without ever developing the slightest concern for his fellow man—Baldwin, by handling his gun with such contemptuousness, exhibited an arrogant indifference toward its potential deadliness. Which is to say, an arrogant indifference toward the lives of everyone on his film set.
I looked up New Mexico law. It distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter consists of an intentional killing for which there was a mitigating circumstance, which reduces the crime from murder. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, consists of a killing that was unintentional, resulting from either recklessness or criminal negligence.
For example, if a person decided to drive a car blindfolded and ended up in a car accident where passengers were killed, the act would be perceived as reckless since it may be anticipated that death or serious injury would occur from such actions and the person would be charged with voluntary manslaughter. Another example is if the same person, knowing that his car had serious brake problems, allowed another person to drive his car. This may be perceived as a criminally negligent act and the person may be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Some commentators, including experienced prosecutors, have suggested that Baldwin could be charged, at most, with involuntary manslaughter. I’m no legal expert, but it seems to me that not checking a gun for bullets, then aiming it at a person and firing it, is very much analogous to a person driving a car blindfolded. This would make Alec Baldwin guilty, at the very least, of voluntary manslaughter, a third-degree felony punishable by up to six years in prison.
I fear that in these dreadful times when American justice is poisoned by politics, justice will not be done, and Alec Baldwin will walk. I can picture him returning to the talk-show circuit—at first contrite, but soon enough returning to his usual wiseguy mode. And worst of all, I can also picture him audaciously using his own crime—because that’s what it is, a crime—as Exhibit A in his war on guns. He’s enough of a shameless sociopath to twist this whole thing around and wear the mantle not of a killer but of a victim of circumstances whose passion for the anti-gun cause has only been intensified by his terrible experience.
But let’s not give up hope yet. Let’s hope for justice to be done. And if, by some fluke, it is done, let’s hope that the next few summers in New Mexico are very, very hot.
First published in American Greatness.
Posted on 10/31/2021 6:08 AM by Bruce Bawer
Sunday, 31 October 2021
MICHELLE GOLDBERG AND ANGELA MERKEL: SEEKING A MORAL REDEMPTION IN THE WRONG PLACE
by Howard Rotberg
Taking the long view of history (as we surely must) requires us to candidly specify the key events in the culture war by Islamism against the West.
Islamist terrorist acts, now numbering in the hundreds, take place in Europe, Africa, Asia and the U.S., wherever radical Islam is abutting non-Muslim nations. The use of Jihad and loyalty to Sharia law to establish a world-wide Caliphate, seems to me to be the most pressing political and cultural crisis in the modern world.
Accordingly, I wrote the book, The Ideological Path to Submission... and what we can do about it (Mantua Books, 2017), attempting to show how contemporary political, religious and cultural ideologies have contributed to an appeasement, in fact a submission, to Islamism. Whether the problem is mainly confined to Islamism, or radical, jihadist, supremacist, illiberal extremist elements within Islam, or is in fact encouraged both implicitly and explicitly by the religion of Islam, is an important question. In my book, I conceded that a public policy division between proponents of Islam versus Islamism showed the most promise for enabling Muslims to assimilate to Western values and live peaceably alongside Christians, Jews, Hindus and humanitarian secularists. I am not sure whether I still believe that. I do believe the issue, as so framed, necessitates a lot more discussion, without cancel culture censorship on the grounds of supposed Islamophobia.
Previously, I had studied whether an excess of tolerance by western elites to those manifesting an evil ideology or ideologies, had passed into an ideology of what I termed, Tolerism (in my book of the same name). I quoted at length from the work of the great philosopher Karl Popper who, after the Nazi Holocaust, argued that such totalitarian movements created a paradox for philosophical toleration.
Popper wrote: “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them... We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant”.
Lately, such thinking is causing me to reflect on the support by Westerrn left-liberals for Islamism and threats of genocide by Iran, the so-called Palestinians and their terrorist proxies. As a Jew, whose father was slave labor in Auschwitz concentration camp, where his parents and then 8 year old sister were murdered for the “crime” of being Jewish, I am sensitive to those who criticize Jews not so much for what we do but for our essential act of being, which is what Islamists and other antisemitic types embrace. We see how the hatred for the Jew as the people who accepted ethical monotheism at Mount Sinai, has been transferred to Israel the Jewish homeland for being a thorn in the side for those who tolerate evil, be it terrorism against civilians or hatred of women, gays or Christians who seek elementary human rights.
Recently, we witnessed outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last official visit to Israel where she was warmly greeted and honored. For many years now both Germans and Israelis have emphasized the “special relationship” that Germany has with Israel as a way to atone for the murder of six million Jews by the German Nazis.
I am not sure how anyone can still view Germany as Israel’s friend when it takes an opposing position on the two most important threats Israel faces: how to dealwith Iran on its nuclear threats against Israel and whether to put a Palestinian terror state in Judea and Samaria, mere miles from Israel’s international airport.
I find very few who are willing to say the truth about Germany’s fine words not being matched by its actions. One who does not mince words is Caroline Glick, writing recently in Israel Hayom:
“Since she entered office in 2005, Merkel has assiduously maintained Germany's position as Iran's largest trading partner in Europe. She has opposed sanctions and backed her colleagues as they made light of Iran's human rights violations, its nuclear proliferation and sponsorship of terrorism. She has been an indomitable supporter of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, despite the fact that it provides Iran with an open road to a nuclear arsenal. She was unmoved by voluminous evidence of Iran's bad faith negotiations and systematic, material breaches of the limitations the 2015 deal placed on its nuclear activities.”
Another is Melanie Phillips who discusses European and German financial aid to Israel’s terrorist enemies in “Europe’s Deadly Hypocrisy:”
She says that “the European Union (in which Germany is the largest nation) continues to funnel money to the Palestinians even while they pour out antisemitism and remain committed to eradicating Israel. Their educational materials, for which the EU helps pay, promote hatred of Jews and incitement to murder Israelis and steal their land.
“The EU also enables the Palestinian Authority to pay the families of terrorists for murdering Israelis. Last December, the PA announced that the EU had contributed 54 per cent of the cost of benefits for ‘needy’ families. By so substantially helping provide for the ‘Palestinian needy’ the EU allows the PA to use its own funds in order to pay rewards for terror. The purported wall between welfare assistance and ‘pay-for-slay’ is an illusion. “The EU is also pouring money in to create a de facto Palestinian state, regardless of the Palestinian strategy of using such a state to destroy Israel — and while the EU condemns Israel for “illegally” building homes for Israelis in these disputed territories.”
Phillips also notes that the Palestinian news service Wafa recently reported that Germany had pledged 100 million euros to the Palestinian Authority over the next two years for projects in the Gaza Strip, eastern Jerusalem and Palestinian settlements in “Area C”.
How can the EU and Germany officially be committed to fighting terrorism but support, politically in the UN and financially, the Palestinian Authority - which clearly uses part of the EU financial support to incentivize terrorism and pay pensions to the family of terrorists who kill civilians?
Does Germany think that its “special relationship with Israel requires it to help set up an Islamist terror state pledged in its education system and media to incite its people to murdering another six million Jews, this time in our ancestral home of Israel? Phillips worries that Germany’s pledge of financial support for the Palestinians is “merely an instalment of a 3 billion euro spending plan by 2030 designed to advance the creation of a Palestinian state, with different countries being allocated different areas in which to concentrate their funds.”
Perhaps German cash can assist in the area of brainwashing the Arab youth into giving their lives in the jihadist murder of Jewish children, which is clearly one of the “success stories” of tyrannical Islamism. It is estimated that Nazi Germany killed one million Jewish children; am I politically incorrect to suggest that Germany should be the last country to assist in killing Jewish children?
“Political correctness” in Germany as in the rest of the West inhibits full and thoughtful discussion of the effect of Merkel’s admission of nearly one million young male Syrians from lands where jihadism, Sharia Law, terrorism and hatred of women, Jews and gays are endemic. On New Years’ Eve 2016, some 100 of the recent immigrants, most from places where there is a “culture of rape”, began assaulting hundreds of German young women in Cologne. As has been done in Sweden, the police and politicians actively cover up the nature and extent of the crimes and refuse to consider this as a consequence of immigration from certain lands.
There are too few honest and moral people who have taken up the subject of German and/or European antisemitism. The New York Times’ columnist Michelle Goldberg is surely not one of them. Instead she is one of the so-called “progressives” finding fault only with Israel and seldom, if ever, with any other country, even countries that are tyrannical illiberal abusers of women, children, gays, Jews and Christians, etc.
Michelle Goldberg defines herself as a “secular Jew”.
Ms. Goldberg has produced another in a series of bizarre op-eds meant to appeal to the tolerists among us. In fact, she uses her journalistic pulpit to disabuse readers of any notion that there was a troublesome link between Germany allowing a million young Muslim immigrants, mainly from Islamist Syria (as opposed to traditional non-Islamist Muslim immigrants from Turkey) and the mass sexual assaults in Cologne and other Islamist crimes.
In a review of a pro-Merkel biography by Kati Marton, Goldberg says that concerns by raped women and persecuted Jews, pale in comparison to how she sees the entry of unvetted Syrian young males - “a great political leap, a sudden act of moral heroism.
She quotes leftist German Constanze Stelzenmuller from the Brookings Institution that the admission of Islamists meant that Merkel “turned out to have chosen the absolutely right course for not only Germany but for the world.”
Goldberg is nothing if not audacious. She writes, “Part of the reason that Germans accepted – and in many cases celebrated – Merkel’s decision lies in their countries relationship to its national history. Germany has made reckoning with the Holocaust central to its identity, and many citizens grabbed eagerly at this chance for redemption.”
And so Ms. Goldberg perhaps inadvertently discloses the real reason for anti-Israel behaviour not only from Germans but from progressives everywhere, who in the absence of traditional religion, are grabbing eagerly at a “chance for redemption.”
And so another group seeks to kill Jews as the path for redemption. When that group has already killed six million of us, can we ask The New York Times, which hardly covered the Holocaust, and which hardly covers Islamist antisemitism today, to not encourage world-wide antisemitism. Goldberg quotes Stelzenmuller on the subject of why the Germans, in their admission of Islamists, could so misconstrue their moral task less than eighty years after the Holocaust: “Germans were more than happy – in fact thrilled – to see themselves in the role of humanitarian saviors.”
And there we have it – the clearest and most immoral explanation as to why the Left in America and Europe have embraced intersectionality, and especially antisemitism, cloaked as anti-Israelism. How is it even possible to rationally discuss anything with people who see themselves not only as virtuous, but as humanitarian saviors?”
Merkel and her ilk are not worried about the practical effects of importing rapists and antisemites, they are celebrating their moral heroism, their role as post-Christian humanitarian saviors and their moral courage.
The problem with Goldberg’s nonsense is that she misstates historical fact in her quest to join the next Holocaust, which unlike the first Holocaust, can be more reasonably, in their opinion, be blamed on the Jews, both within Israel and outside of it. And so they endeavour to divide the Jews between Zionist Jews and anti-Zionist Jews, so that self-hating Jews like Peter Beinart and the misguided minions of JStreet and Jewish Voice for Peace can achieve their moral redemption and secular heroism.
The evidence of Muslim antisemitism is, unfortunately for the apologists and appeasers, very clear, despite Goldberg’s lie that “The sense is that there has been comparatively little Islamic extremism or extremist crime resulting from this immigration”.
I recommend the essay by Manfred Gerstenfeld in Jewish News Syndicate, “German intelligence issues taboo-breaking report on Muslim anti-Semitism:”
He states on May 1, 2019: “Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the country’s domestic security agency, recently published a 40-page report titled “Antisemitism in Islamism.” This is the first official publication by a national German body that exposes, in reasonable detail, the anti-Semitism prevalent among parts of the country’s Muslim community. Indeed, no European intelligence agency has ever published a report on Muslim anti-Semitism.”
Dr. Gerstenfeld, is one of the many who now conclude that at least when it comes to antisemitism there is little difference between mainstream Muslims and their Islamist masters. He specializes in Israeli-Western European relations, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and is the author of “The War of a Million Cuts.”
And so Gerstenfeld notes that the report defines Islamism as a form of political extremism that aims to end democracy. Anti-Semitism is one of its essential ideological elements. He says: “The document starts by stating that for historical reasons, and in view of the country’s experience with National Socialism, anti-Semitism was long viewed as being inevitably related to the extreme right. Only gradually has it become clear that right-wing extremists do not hold a monopoly on anti-Semitism in Germany today.”
The fact that Islamists and even less politically active Muslims have extreme anti-Semitic beliefs, has long been the “elephant in the room” and leftists seek to minimize their complicity in the immigration of antisemites by misleadingly categorizing antisemitism as emanating from the Right. This became a huge problem during President Trump’s administration as leftist news media, such as The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN , only could see the “racists’ on the right, when the numbers and influence of extremist views in the Right pales in significance to the Left in mainstream media, the universities and the Democratic Party.
This report is too important to be hidden from the public. The report, as summarized by Gerstenfeld, “states that the arrival of over a million Muslims in Germany between 2014 and 2017 increased the influence of Islamist anti-Semitism in the country. It cites Anti-Defamation League statistics on anti-Semitism among the populations of Middle Eastern and North African states. Turkey—a country from which many Muslims now living in Germany originated—is one of the least anti-Semitic countries on the list, yet even it is “nearly 70 percent” anti-Semitic. The study mentions that many children in these countries are raised on a steady diet of anti-Semitic indoctrination.”
Despite Goldberg’s contention that there is little Islamic extremism resulting from the mass immigrations of 2015, the report notes the uptick in Islamist anti-Semitism, which was really made clear as a result of a demonstration that took place in Berlin in 2017. At that event, demonstrators carried placards demanding that Israel be destroyed, and set an Israeli flag on fire
Goldberg is also contradicted in Gerstenfeld’s disclosure that German Health Minister Jens Spahn remarked that the mass immigration from Muslim countries was the reason for the demonstrations in Germany; and Stephan Harbarth, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU faction in the Bundestag (the German parliament), said, “We have to strongly confront the anti-Semitism of migrants with an Arab background and those from African countries.”
Goldberg has a history of whitewashing the antisemitism inherent in anti-Zionism. She infamously wrote in 2018 that it’s entirely possible to oppose what she calls “Jewish ethno-nationalism” without being a bigot.
It is a new low for her to run interference for German antisemitic pro-Iran, pro-Hamas, leftists and join them in their attempt for a national “redemption”, once again at a horrible cost to the Jews.
Howard Rotberg is the author of The Second Catastrophe: A Novel about a Book and its Author, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed and The Ideological Path to Submission...and what we can do about it. He is president of Mantua Books.
Posted on 10/31/2021 5:35 AM by Howard Rotberg
Saturday, 30 October 2021
The Longest War? Afghanistan?
by Nidra Poller
It’s not a coincidence that the full force of cruel Sharia law bears down on the people of Afghanistan, while the democratic trial of the 13 November 2015 massacre unfolds in a French courtroom. But this concordance is drowned out by the discourse that envelops the Afghanistan withdrawal --the joyful condemnation of Joe Biden and the deafening repetition of unexamined clichés--
“The Americans have ended the longest war in their history.”
What does it mean “to end” a war? It sounds like the cancelation of the second season of a TV series ditched because of bad ratings. “The longest war?” More like a drôle de guerre … this so-called “asymmetrical” conflict. “Twenty years of wasted blood and treasure … for nothing.” “The Americans should finally learn that you can’t bring democracy in the knapsacks of flatfooted soldiers.” Who do they think they are, trying to liberate a country that is benighted to the core? It’s better to turn our backs on the masses and save our humanitarian uplift for the refugees that will swell own raw immigrant population.
The Americans had to leave. They should have left a long time ago, because it was useless. But they mustn’t abandon those freedom-loving Afghans … in love with freedom that came out of nowhere during the two decades of useless American presence. Women with their heads uncovered that never experienced Taliban style sharia--sequestration, lapidation, mutilation, rape, execution? The Americans, that deserve no credit for their liberation, are honor bound to get them out, down to the last doe-eyed damsel.
I ask you how it is possible to capitulate and still maintain the power to pack up your arms, matériel, nationals and loyal locals, and fly out with your head high? What’s this idea of a mutually respected withdrawal, like handing over the keys to the new administration in a Western style democracy? This illusion that a competent president, instead of the unanimously derided Biden, would have known how to dictate his conditions to the Taliban? Maybe that’s what’s meant by “ending “a war: you write the last chapter, the actors walk on to the set, the camera rolls, the reels are packed up and sent for editing where it’s all smoothed out and tightened up. With a good director, America and, by extension, the West would not have been humiliated. Surrender would have played out like victory. Tough luck. It was chaos. An unforgiveable mess.
“Of course, they had to leave. But not that way.”
There’s the reality of power acquired by action-- the rescue operations. The surprising discovery, in the heart of the debacle, of strong bonds of friendship between Americans that served in Afghanistan and their local comrades. Individually, in groups and associations, with or without US government help, they scramble heroically to save their buddies. Coalition troops with their backs to the wall, disarmed by capitulation, risked their lives, and 13 lost theirs, to help more than 120,000 people flee an Islamic dictatorship.
Then there’s the reality of surrender in black & white: the February 2020 Doha Agreement , the formal handover of power to the Taliban, far more serious than the August debacle followed in real time by the medias It’s easy to criticize a hasty airlift of unprecedented scope … what about the style and the essence of an agreement drafted in cold blood that reads like a note scribbled by a loser with Mafia racketeers breathing down his neck? “Agreement for Bringing Peace in Afghanistan / Between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States of America as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America” This is not a garbled transcription, it’s the title of the agreement. And the whole bit about the unrecognized Islamic Emirate is endlessly repeated in the 3 ¼- page document signed on “February 20, 2020/ which corresponds to Rajab 5, 1441 on the Hijri Lunar calendar and to Hoot 10, 1398 on the Hijri Solar calendar.”
The United States is committed, for itself and its allies, to cease combat, withdraw troops, evacuate bases, liberate prisoners, and lift sanctions … at dates specified according to the two Hjri calendars. The Agreement ends on a vision of harmony (Part 3, paragraph 2): “The United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States of America as a state and is known as the Taliban seek positive relations with each other and expect that the relations [with] the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government…will be positive. “
Two-state solution: the caliphate / dar al harb
In fact, it’s not the sloppy withdrawal that hurts; it’s the defeat of Western powers, with America in the lead, at the hands of the jihadists. That’s what is at stake. That’s ”the longest war.” Jihad. And it doesn’t end with the retreat from Afghanistan.
What is the difference between the Doha Agreement, the JCPOA, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, indirect negotiations with Hamas, the problem of quartiers sensibles [touchy neighborhoods]? Betray our Kurdish allies in Syria, withdraw from Gaza, implicitly recognize the jihadis, make concessions, swap prisoners, close our eyes, take the blows, count on Qatar and Pakistan to intercede between us and the Taliban and count on the Taliban to fight the local Daech chapter… isn’t that the forever war? And where do we go to refuse it?
President Biden outlined his strategy against “terrorism.” The retreat from Afghanistan marks the end of large-scale military operations. The threat, he said, has metastasized. We cannot concentrate our forces in a single country, a single region. From here on in, we will make pinpoint “over the horizon” operations. It’s true. The kind of war that pits army against army on the battlefield is old fashioned. Citizens of democracies don’t want it anymore and the enemy prefers to conquer territory with “terrorist” attacks against civilians and civilianized soldiers.
Israel, the exception
Except that there’s one democracy that doesn’t have the luxury of ending the longest war, a war as long as its existence as an independent nation and long before that. What Israeli family, people like you and me, has not been tragically touched by war and how many sleepless nights, days of endless anxiety, terrifying telephone rings do they endure? How many parents, relieved when their last soldier child is discharged, turn around and find themselves praying for the safety of their grandchildren, in this citizen’s army of a country whose survival depends on the willingness to serve? Israel, threatened on all sides, obliged to defend itself militarily and then accused of using excessive force. Israel, on the front lines of the longest war in the history of the civilized world: jihad.
The botched, misfired, humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, (what would they say about D-Day?), is one in a long series of humbling retreats on all levels, domestic and international, of our democracies. For lack of a strategy to combat 21st century jihad, we sludge through muddy rhetoric. We miss the target. Our power spins in the void. And it’s not because we’re spineless dummies. We are faced with a monumental, immense, extraordinary, existential challenge.
This is why, and not to show that they love Jews and are sorry for the Shoah, the free world would do well to reconsider the place attributed to the State of Israel in the configuration of its values and its strength.
[It is impossible to judge the chaotic August 2021 retreat from Afghanistan without taking into account the strategy that led up to it. John Bolton covers this in precise detail in Chapter 13 of The Room Where it Happened. “From the Afghanistan Counterterrorism Mission to the Camp David Near Miss” / pp. 381-399, summarized below:]
Early 2019: Bolton and his colleagues agree on the mission in Afghanistan: prevent the resurgence of ISIS and Al Qaida, keep a sharp eye on the Iranian and Pakistani nuclear programs, and try to get the president to make decisions and stick to them. Trump wants to pull out the troops and leave Afghanistan to its demons. He likes to say that the war in Afghanistan cost more than rebuilding the twin towers … the 3,000 dead on 9/11 count for nothing. Then Bolton learns from his longtime friend Zalmay Khalizad that Pompeo doesn’t want them talking to each other because it interferes with his management of the Afghan dossier. Khalizad starts negotiating with the Taliban in July. Bolton and his colleagues in the Defense Department object. Pompeo, furious, tells them to butt out. Khalizad, he says, has a free hand.
Trump keeps mixing up President Ghani with his predecessor Kharzai. CNN airs leaked information on the talks, Trump says they’re scumbags and should be put before the firing squad. He keeps coming back to his idea that the DOJ should arrest journalists, throw them in jail, and force them to reveal their sources.
Trump, distracted as usual during consultations, suddenly blurts out: “I want to pull out … pull out of everywhere.” And he slides into the riff about how it all too costs too much, we have to pull out of NATO, what are we doing in Africa, why are we throwing away money on Ukraine, we have to stop the war games in South Korea. Here’s how he wants to handle the Afghan problem: “We’ll pull out and we’ll announce that if they do anything bad, we’ll blow their fucking country into a million pieces.” Pompeo keeps his hand close to his chest. And lets the Taliban dictate their conditions.
Trump and his advisers confer via videoconference. Trump says he understands what the Taliban want. They just want to get their land back. He keeps confusing Ghani and Kharzai and their respective personal fortunes. One after the other, the advisers give in to pressure. Even Esper, because the deal is “condition based.” Bolton knows the Taliban won’t respect any conditions.
Then Trump decides to invite the Taliban to Washington! Dazzled by the good press he expects from the “show,” he can’t wait to inform the media. It’s fantastic. The Taliban can’t wait to talk to him, they really want to make peace, it’s going to be another one of his fantastic deals. Bolton says to himself: only Trump can think an American president should meet with those thugs.
The staff tries its best to organize the encounter. But how? Trump tells them to go easy on the security because he doesn’t want to insult the Taliban’s dignity. The meeting is scheduled for the 8th of September, 3 days before the anniversary of the worst attack ever perpetrated on American soil… carried out with the help of the Taliban. Then the news hits the wires: Another attack in Kabul, ten dead including one American. Once again, a big operation ends in tweets. The president scolds the Taliban for spoiling it all. And, in the process, he reveals his disgraceful plan to invite them to Camp David.
Trump’s goal was to bring the troop level down to zero by October (before the elections). He ignored recommendations from his advisers that wanted to maintain a sturdy counter-terrorism presence even if the troops pulled out. Bolton’s idea was to draw down to 8,600 American troops, plus the allied forces, and wait it out, without a deal with the Taliban. They could repeat “conditions based” all they wanted. The truth was that America was pulling out. When the deal was announced [after he had left the administration], Bolton tweeted: “This is an Obama style deal. Legitimizing the Taliban sends the wrong signals to Isis and Al Qaida terrorists, and all of America’s enemies.”
Bolton writes: after I resigned, the administration resumed talks with the Taliban, compounding the mistake of the retreat from Syria, and concluding with an agreement almost identical to the one drafted before the attack in Kabul. It didn’t keep Trump from declaring to the media, a few hours after my resignation (that he claimed was a dismissal): “He had his chance, he didn’t do it.” Trump will be responsible for the consequences of the retreat from Afghanistan. They might not be fully apparent until after he leaves office, but he alone is responsible, politically and militarily, for this strategy and what follows.
§ Author’s translation of the original French article published by Menora https://www.menora.info/afghanistan-la-guerre-la-plus-longue/
Posted on 10/30/2021 3:16 PM by Nidra Poller
Saturday, 30 October 2021
OUCH! EASY RIDING
by Reg Green
I've just had first-hand experience of why subsidies, once given, become accepted as such a fundamental right that they are nearly impossible to take away.
A broken ankle has made driving impossible for me, so on my wife has fallen the burden of getting me to the doctors' appointments, blood drawings and physio-therapy sessions that dog geriatrics like me.
But she, dear lady, is also the costumer for an opera company and, as I've seen, the pressure in putting on a show is even more intense than writing to a deadline. Adding my needs on top of hers, as another performance nears, is agonizing.
No surprise then that I heard church bells ringing when I discovered that our small town had started free door-to-door rides for old folks. What a boon -- though I dread to think what it is costing all local taxpayers to service a minute percentage of the total in such a grand way -- and I'd certainly vote against it for all but the poor if a referendum were held.
But, of course, now that it is here, only a saint would refuse something so desirable and I use it regularly.
Even so, one day this week, when the driver was running late and then, instead of going directly to my phlebotomist, made a time-consuming detour to pick up another old codger, I found myself thinking, "Can't they do better than this?"
Posted on 10/30/2021 1:02 AM by Reg Green
Friday, 29 October 2021
You Must Remember This: Petain and Vichy
by Michael Curtis
As time goes by, there is a consensus that Casablanca, the story of the cynical hard drinking American expatriate night club owner choosing between his love for a woman or helping her and her husband, a resistance hero escape from the town of Casablanca, a complex town controlled by the Vichy state under Nazi occupation, is one of the greatest films of all time. Its characters, dialogue, theme song, have become iconic. We’ll always have Casablanca. It is a film of moral ambiguity, that can be seen either as a theme of love and sacrifice, or as a political allegory about resistance against Nazism.
However, this brilliant film has a flaw. In one scene the camera focuses on the prefecture of the corrupt chief of police on the wall of which is the motto of the French Third Republic, “liberty, equality, fraternity,” inherited from the 1789 French revolution. But the Third Republic had been ended in May 1940, and its motto had been officially replaced by the slogan, “work, family, homeland,” of the new French State, popularly known as Vichy. The differences between the two mottos are still pertinent in French politics and culture today.
Some political and cultural problems are easy to solve, even if costly. Scotland recently spent seven months of research and $162,000 to create a new slogan that would increase tourism. It finally came up with a banal slogan, “Welcome to Scotland.” There is no easy solution for France which has been and remains a sharply divided society still confronting its history of the World War II years, the defeat of the French army by the Germans in June 1940, the end of the Third Republic and its replacement by the French State headed by 84 year old Marshall Philippe Petain, regarded as a hero of Verdun in World War I, located in Vichy, a spa in the Auvergne.
The Vichy régime participated in persecution and discrimination of the Jewish population, by aryanisation of property, propaganda, antisemitic ideology, anti-Jewish legislation, roundups, deportation to death and concentration camps. In view of this antisemitic attitude, it is a paradox that after the War, 75% of the Jewish population in France remained alive, the result of complex religious, cultural, and international factors. This can be compared to extermination of 80% of Jews in the Netherlands, and 45% in Belgium.
Nevertheless, 75,721 Jews were deported from France, and fewer than 2,000 survived. Persecution was extensive. Jews were banned from professions, civil service, journalism, business, entertainment, refugee Jews were held in concentration camps under French control, antisemitic legislation affected all Jews, and the tragedy of Vel d’Hiv occurred. French police carried out the first mass arrests of Jews in Paris in May 1941, and the first French deportation train left on March 12, 1942. The most infamous event, the roundup by French gendarmes, using batons and hoses, of 13,000 Jews took place on July 16-17, 1942 when the victims were taken to the Vel d’Hiv indoor bi-cycling stadium in Paris before being deported to Nazi camps. They included 7916 women, 1129 men and 4115 children.
By the so- called National Revolution, France would be rescued from the decadent Third Republic, and returned to purer values. The controversy continues. Was France guilty of contributing to the Holocaust, and who was responsible? First, were collaborators and sympathizers with the Nazis only a minority of the population and was Petain the “shield,” protecting France and the French people as much as it could within the country, while General de Gaulle abroad was the “sword.” A second defense was that Vichy could do little while the Germans occupiers were responsible. A third point is that Vichy tried to protect French national Jews by collaborating in the persecution, the deportation and ultimately extermination of foreign Jews in France.
Vichy had its defenders and supporters, past and present, including intellectuals. politicians, and officials, as well as outright right wing antisemites. Among the most prominent were Charles Maurras, for whom Vichy was a “divine surprise,” Rene Bousquet, Jean Leguay, Maurice Papon, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Robert Brasillach, Lucien Rebatet, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine, the acclaimed literary figure whose work, Journey to the End of the Night, published in 1932 became a classic, but the author of virulently antisemitic tracts.
It was long argued the Vichy regime had not been responsible for the antisemitic events. The first admission that this was untrue and that the French State had been complicit in the Holocaust was made by President Jacques Chirac in 1995, and more recently was reiterated by President Emmanuel Macron at a ceremony at the Vel d’ Hiv site when he denounced the French state role in the event and more generally the 75,000 Jews deported from France to Nazi camps. Vel d’Hiv was indeed organized by the French. Not a single German was involved. Macron argued that it is convenient to see the Vichy regime as “born of nothingness, returned to nothingness, yes, it is convenient, but it is false. We cannot build pride upon a lie. It was indeed France that organized the round up, the deportation, and thus, for almost all, death.”
It is surprising that the argument to defend the Vichy regime and to hold that Vichy sacrificed foreign Jews to protect French Jews has emerged in recent months. Eric Zemmour is a 63-year-old Jewish TV personality and author, who is believed to be testing the waters for candidacy for the Presidential election in 2022. Zemmour, whose parents were immigrant Berber Jews from Algeria, does not deny the Holocaust but either sincerely or to gain support of the right wing vote that normally goes to Marine Le Pen, makes an argument that is likely to appeal to nationalist and racist elements in French society. It is that Marshal Philippe Petain attempted to protect French Jews from the Nazis by collaborating in the round up, deportation and death of foreign Jews. Though Petain was a bitter antisemite, Zemmour does not see him as a criminal racist or a supporter of the Final Solution. Zemmour argues that Vichy has been misunderstood and misrepresented: there is a difference between morality and political efficiency. Vichy, he says, saved some French Jews.
Zemmour is not immune from controversy. In his 2014 book, The French Suicide, he wrote that France is in decline, and that its traditional values are being replaced by gender equality, race, gay rights, and immigration. Zemmour says his ideas have support, but people are afraid to speak out lest they be called racist or homophobic. Guilt over Vichy, he argues, lies at the very heart of French self-loathing, even today.
France is indeed still confronting its history about Vichy, a collaborationist regime while France technically was at war with Germany. The illusion of legitimacy created by Vichy was helpful to Germany since it delayed the need to send troops to Southern France which at first was unoccupied and administered by the Vichy regime since the Germans did not have sufficient forces to occupy all of France.
How guilty was Petain? It was Petain on June 17, 1940 who declared that France was seeking an armistice with Germany, and who shook hands with Adolf Hitler in Montoire on October 24, 1940. Was he a semi senile figurehead, manipulated into being the Head of State of Vichy or was he an active antisemite, a willing collaborator? More broadly was wartime France largely a victim of Nazi occupation, with only a relatively small number of collaborators or was it an instrument of the Final Solution?
Already in a book published in 1946, the former Vichy foreign minister Paul Baudouin, wrote of Petain’s “severe” approach to the Jews, and that it was Petain not Pierre Laval, usually seen as the villain, who called for harsher actions against Jews. In October 2010 the draft of a significant memo, annotated by Petain was made public for the first time. A copy of the original October 3 1940 text of the fervent antisemitic legislation reveals that Petain completely redrafted the memo to make it even harsher according to Serge Klarsfeld, internationally known, with his wife Beate, for anti-Nazi activities. Jews were barred completely from jobs in education and the law, and prevented from running for public office.
The typewritten document had handwritten additions that toughen the law, expanding proposed bans on public positions for all Jews, national as well as foreign, not simply foreign Jews, widening the exclusion of Jews from society and public sector jobs, and defining Jews on the basis of social criteria. What is crucial is that the statute was adopted without any pressure from the Germans; it was a wholly indigenous statute.
Whatever his political ambitions, Eric Zemmour should think again. Vichy was antisemitic, it enforced German antisemitic ordinances, upheld persecution of Jews and it sent 75,000 Jews to their death. Petain was not the shield of France. Humphrey Bogart would not greet Petain with “Here’s looking at you, Marshall.”
Posted on 10/29/2021 4:35 PM by Michael Curtis
Friday, 29 October 2021
What my mother taught me about charity
by Matthew Hausman
The commandments regarding charity are set forth in the Torah and elucidated in the Talmud. In Tractate Baba Batra (9b), Rav Yitzhak said: “Anyone who gives a coin to a poor person receives six blessings, and whoever consoles him with words of comfort and encouragement receives eleven blessings.”
And Tractate Brachot (58b) relates how Rav Chana always kept his hand in his pocket so as not to embarrass the poor by visibly reaching in when giving alms.
For many, charity is the embodiment of Torah values and service and is thus considered innately Jewish. The humanitarian impulse was so ingrained over the generations that Jews became known for donating more than any other ethnic or religious group.
But somewhere along the line charity became conflated with politics and giving patterns began to reflect ideologies that often diverged from normative Jewish tradition. As many Jews became secular and liberal, they began to eschew Jewish philanthropy and instead support political causes and institutions. In many households, charitable giving went to organizations advocating partisan ideals and progressive politics rather than traditional cultural and educational endeavors. Perhaps not coincidentally, support for religious institutions and Israel seemed to drop off as observance and affiliation declined.
Those who look to these trends for direction have forgotten the Jewish concept of charity or never learned it at all.
The Hebrew word for charity, “tzedakah,” derives from the word “tzedek,” which means “righteousness.” The word root implies more than simply donating to the needy – though that is certainly important – and has nothing to do with supporting political ideologies, particularly when they contravene Jewish law and tradition.
As expounded by the Rambam (Maimonides), one of the highest levels of tzedakah is to give anonymously so that neither giver nor recipient knows the other. This preserves human dignity while assisting those in need and fulfilling the Jews’ obligation to participate in G-d’s ongoing act of creation by infusing the mundane world with holiness. Dignity is paramount even when anonymity is impossible.
I reflected on this recently as my mother’s tenth yahrzeit approached...
CONTINUE READING https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/315941
Posted on 10/29/2021 5:51 AM by Matthew Hausman
Friday, 29 October 2021
Three Islamist terrorists who plotted to behead a British soldier, bomb a shopping centre and join ISIS after being inspired by hate preacher Anjem Choudary could walk free after being referred for parole
A trio of jailed Islamist terrorists could soon be walking the streets again after being referred to the Parole Board, Mail Online can reveal. All three are disciples of hate preacher Anjem Choudary, who has inspired dozens of convicted terrorists and 15 plots over two decades.
The terrorists applying for release include one who plotted to behead a British soldier and another who planned bombing atrocities at major shopping centres.
One of the three men due to be considered for release is Parviz Khan, 50, the ringleader of a gang who plotted to kidnap and behead a British soldier. He was given a life sentence in 2007 and told he would serve a minimum of 14 years imprisonment, which he has served. I hope he remains in prison but I'm not holding my breath. The Judge said he is a very dangerous man.
Another Choudary disciple who plotted to bomb British shopping centres also close to freedom is Jawad Akbar, 36, from Crawley, West Sussex. He was jailed for life in 2007 for planning fertiliser bomb atrocities at shopping malls, including Bluewater in Kent, at nightclubs and in Britain's domestic gas network. Akbar’s Parole Board case is likely to be heard before Christmas.
Zakariya Ashiq, 26, from Coventry, was found guilty on two counts of preparing acts of terrorism in 2015. His extremist sympathies were also exposed in WhatsApp messages. In one he wrote: ‘There is no life, there's no life without jihad.’ The court heard he was a ‘Walter Mitty’ character and was sentenced to six years jail. He was since released on licence but has now been recalled to jail and awaits a review by the Parole Board.
Left to right Parviz Khan, Jawad Akbar, Zakariya Ashiq,
A Parole Board spokesperson confirmed the cases of all three had been referred to them and each prisoner will now go before the parole board to bid for freedom.
Last night Chris Phillips, the UK’s former counter terror lead, warned: ‘Choudary remains a very dangerous individual.’
Last week reports claimed Choudary had blasted social media firms for not protecting him from death threats after years cheerleading for jihad.
Posted on 10/29/2021 3:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 28 October 2021
Fear and Loathing at Oberlin
by Bruce Bawer
A pleasing Land of Drowsyhed it was:
Of Dreams that wave before the half-shut Eye;
And of gay Castles in the Clouds that pass,
For ever flushing round a Summer-Sky:
There eke the soft Delights, that witchingly
Instil a wanton Sweetness through the Breast,
And the calm of Pleasures always hover'd nigh;
But whate'er smack'd of Noyance, or Unrest,
Was far far off expell'd from this delicious Nest.
- James Thomson, The Castle of Indolence
You don’t hear a heck of a lot about Oberlin College, the liberal arts college in Ohio, but on Wednesday Hugh Fitzgerald wrote here about an esteemed member of its faculty, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who has enjoyed the unanimous support of Oberlin’s top administrators. Mahallati, reported Fitzgerald, served as Iran’s ambassador to the UN in the late 1980s, where, among other things, he promoted “genocidal antisemitism,” denounced the Baha’i people (hundreds of whom “have been executed or murdered” in Iran), and helped cover up the mass execution of political prisoners. At Oberlin, he teaches Religion, Islamic Studies, and Middle East and North African Studies.
This wasn’t Oberlin’s first time in the spotlight this month. A couple of weeks ago the college got a good deal of social-media attention after Peter Fray-Witzer, one of its 3,000-odd students, took to the Oberlin Review to pen an ardent j’accuse. You see, an e-mail had gone out from Josh Matos, “the area coordinator for Multicultural and Identity-Based Communities,” informing students that radiator installations were scheduled to take place in the “Women and Trans Collective,” a dorm in which Fray-Witzer resides. Being “very averse to people entering my personal space,” especially when those people are “strangers” and “cisgender men,” Fray-Witzer was rendered “angry, scared, and confused” by the news of this unwanted intrusion, which would damage the “feeling of safety and protection” ordinarily provided by the Collective. Why, asked Fray-Witzer, couldn’t the installation have been scheduled during the summer?
Three score and seven years ago, men Fray-Witzer’s age stormed the beaches of Normandy. Now this. American colleges once taught young people to deal with challenging ideas and experiences. Now the most expensive of them - Oberlin is America’s 11th costliest college, beating Yale at #18 and Stanford at #50 - are padded playpens where their pampered students, the presumed leaders of tomorrow (is Fray-Witzer, by any chance, the child of Harvard law professor Sharon Fray-Witzer?) expect to be protected from the slightest hint of distress. And when they graduate they become - well, they become those totalitarian tenderfoots who were protesting Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special outside of Netflix the other day.
No wonder Fray-Witzer’s tantrum went viral. “Ponder the rotted roots of an ideology,” commented Glenn Greenwald, “that convinces highly privileged and wealthy students at elite colleges that the guys who come to fix their radiators are their oppressors, and that the ones whose family is paying $80k/year are the oppressed.”
I’ve never been to Oberlin, but the campus looks beautiful in photographs, with lovely old buildings and leafy grounds. Is Fray-Witzer, this sensitive flower, an outlier there? In search of an answer, I looked through recent copies of the Oberlin Review. The impression I got was of a college absolutely overrun by spoiled whippersnappers who do nothing but whine about the Eden into which they’ve been undeservedly plopped. In one article, Eric Schank pillories the school administrators for failing to recycle and eliminate the use of plastic. (To his credit, he does spell “minuscule” correctly.) In another, Elizabeth Aduwo gripes that “a lot of white writers...write as if people of color don’t exist….They create worlds without race or, better yet, worlds where the only race is white.” (Of course, the equally PC flip side of this complaint is that when whites write about blacks they’re engaging in “cultural appropriation” and purporting to depict lives about which they actually know nothing.) In still another article, Aishwarya Krishnaswamp grumbles about how international students such as herself are treated at Oberlin:
When international students first arrive on campus, we are invited to an orientation to be more “American,” covering topics like tipping culture, politeness, double-meanings, and whatnot. While I appreciate the intention to make us feel more comfortable, I’m perplexed by the lack of an analogous orientation for domestic students on how to treat students from a different country. While I’m here to adapt, there is a delicate balance between adaptation and assimilation.
(Of course, if the college hadn’t offered the orientation, she’d probably be bellyaching about that.)
And Reginald Goudeau wailed about not having been paid on time for his gig as a Review columnist. Paid! To write for a college newspaper! A million years ago, I wrote for my own college newspaper, and if anybody had handed me money for it I’d have fallen into a dead faint. Among the columns for which Goudeau expected a paycheck were rants about Oberlin’s allegedly inadequate mental-health resources, about “how little this school listens to Black students,” about how Oberlin’s COVID policies disproportionately harm “Black and POC individuals,” about the commodification of Juneteenth, and about “the intersectional oppression of racism and misogyny” experienced by black women at Oberlin. Reading Goudeau’s repeated complaints about racism and overwork, I couldn’t help thinking of the accounts by Heather MacDonald (in The Diversity Delusion) and Kenny Xu (in AInconvenient Minority) of the frustrations experienced by underqualified black students who get into highly selective colleges because of affirmative action, and who’d have been better off at less selective institutions.
To be sure, in comparison with many a major research university, a liberal-arts college like Oberlin tends to be awash in easy-A courses in “soft” subjects. Yes, you can pursue studies in biology or chemistry or math, if you insist, but you can also spend four years bouncing from one course to another with titles like “Actors, Stars, and the World Stage,” “Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender Identities,” “Queer Poetry,” “Queer Gestures - Dance and Performance,” and even “Chinese Queer Cinema.”
While the boys and girls at the Oberlin Review have found things to nag about all over campus, they seem not to have been overly worked up about Professor Mahallati’s poisonous rhetoric about Jews and Baha’i or his past employment by a regime that executed gays and apostates. Yes, they printed a critique of Mahallati by an Iranian refugee, but framed it as “part of a broader conversation about allegations” against him; when the Oberlin poohbahs “cleared” Mahallati of those allegations, the Review article included a generous comment by Geology chair Amanda Schmidt, a Baha’i believer, who said that she’d gotten along with Mahallati very well and gushed that “the role of individuals is to love all people for the sake of God. Because if we look at individuals and try to love them for themselves … we’ll become disappointed in them, but if we love them for the sake of God, then we will see God reflected in all human beings.”
But back to Peter Fray-Witzer. After his (?) cri de coeur made Oberlin a worldwide byword for spoiled brattery, the Review published an article, signed by several students, that seemed to be responding to the clamor. Acknowledging that there may well be truth in the claim that “Obies” (as they call themselves) enjoy “immense privilege” and that Oberlin instills in them “an ultra-liberal ideology so detached from the ‘real world’ that students emerge too sensitive to function in normal society,” the authors suggested that “although Oberlin does not reflect the real world, it remains a better model for a just and equitable society than the one we currently live in” and that “there is something powerful in our college’s objective to be a safe space for anyone who asks for it.”
Sorry, kids, but no. It’s a hilarious mark of your utter insularity that you think your idyllic little oasis of luxury and entitlement, of absurd cosseting and coddling - with its safe spaces and “Women and Trans Collectives” and “area coordinators for Multicultural and Identity-Based Communities” - is any kind of model for an “equitable society.” Do you think that those radiator installers whom Fray-Witzer was complaining about think you’ve got something “equitable” going on there? Your parents pay $80,000 a year for you to attend Oberlin - $30,000 more than the average household income in Lorain County, where the campus is situated. Given the length of the academic year, that comes to something over $300 a night. For that kind of dough, you can book a room long-term at Claridge’s in London or the Adlon in Berlin.
Also, just how do you reconcile your view of Oberlin as a “better model” with its readiness to shelter a preacher of genocide?
I hate to break it to you, kids, but your college, like dozens of other such pricey, adorable places (Williams, Wesleyan, Amherst, Reed, etc.), is a Cloud Cuckoo Land kept afloat on a massive cloud of your parents’ cash, and if you don’t realize just how much of a utopia it is - a gated community for the young and entitled and hopelessly narcissistic, who are repeatedly told that they’re virtuous and egalitarian - it’s because you’ve lived your whole lives in a bubble of affluence and have yet to step out of it. The day you do step out of it, and not a day earlier, will be - if you’re lucky - the day on which your real education begins. My hope for all of you is that you’ll end up learning to do something useful (radiator installation?), and that you’ll learn enough to recognize your alma mater as a castle of indolence - and of, yes, indoctrination into a set of ideas, by turns preposterous and just plain evil, that have no connection whatsoever to objective reality or basic moral decency.
First published in Frontpage.
Posted on 10/28/2021 8:55 AM by Bruce Bawer
Thursday, 28 October 2021
America’s Crime Reporters Often Seek an Audience Through Sensationalism
by Conrad Black
It is impossible that I am the only person or even in a small minority of random television viewers who finds Nancy Grace’s supposed analyses of crimes deeply unjust and offensive.
I am only an occasional viewer, but without a single exception over many years I’ve found that her technique is to sensationalize whatever aspects of an unfolding crime investigation are known and to attempt to direct viewers towards a conclusion long in advance of a judicial determination of the issues involved.
The sixth amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights promises an impartial jury, but Ms. Grace’s techniques for informing her viewers of the facts in the cases that she presents are clearly designed to generate pressure for a guilty finding of whomever is being portrayed.
On Sunday, Oct. 24, Grace was discussing the latest developments in the Gabby Petito homicide case, which has affected the sensibilities of millions of people.
Most readers will be aware that this attractive and apparently charming and likable young lady went on a transcontinental road trip in her panel truck with her fiancé Brian Laundrie. She was eventually reported as missing and Laundrie returned the panel truck to his fiancée’s parents and disappeared.
His car was retrieved from the parking lot adjacent to a natural habitat in a Florida environmental park that he had often frequented, which was infested with dangerous snakes, alligators, venomous spiders and other potentially inhospitable creatures.
Laundrie was at first identified as a party of interest in what was a missing person case until Petito’s corpse was discovered in a national park in Wyoming and the local coroner determined that she was a homicide victim and had been strangled.
The national media from the outset strenuously implied that Laundrie was the murderer although he had not been declared as a homicide suspect. The facts known to the public and the media, though they incited suspicion of Laundrie, stopped well short of evidence adequately conclusive to imply that he had murdered his fiancée.
Evidence was adduced to the media that the two had quarreled and that the park police that had stopped the couple and even counseled Petito to reconsider her matrimonial plans. By the evening of Oct. 24, it was known and well publicized that Laundrie had himself been discovered in the wilds of the Florida park where, dead and his corpse partially decomposed, including the severance and disappearance of half of his skull.
The coroner in the Laundrie case had sought forensic dental analysis to confirm the identity of the deceased and Nancy Grace assembled a group of television guests knowledgeable about different aspects of this fact situation for the apparent purpose of reprimanding the local coroner for seeking dental evidence ahead of DNA evidence.
This opinion was advanced with the usual strident and acoustically irritating overconfidence of Grace, and was presented in a way designed to arouse the maximum possible doubt about the competence and even the motives of the coroner.
As of now, there is no reason to doubt that the dental evidence will provide the information that the coroner was seeking, and it can in any case be supplemented or contradicted by DNA evidence. Local coroners are not answerable to national, sensationalist television crime reporters and are in any case entitled to the benefit of the assumption that they execute their offices competently unless there is some serious reason to believe otherwise.
Since this coroner, along with other officials involved, prudently refrained from comment on matters that had not been proved, he is entitled to go about his business without in effect being pilloried by Grace or anyone else as either an outright boob or the author of some a sinister cover-up of material evidence.
Having squeezed out all the negative imputations she could about the benighted Laundrie coroner, Grace turned her fierce attention upon Laundrie’s parents. News-film was shown of them apparently discussing the evidence of their son’s death with a police detective and Grace inquired of one of her guests if they did not appear to be unusually and suspiciously calm and unruffled by the apparent discovery of the corpse of their son.
When this guest, who was allegedly an expert in relevant behavioral matters, failed to swell the desired chorus of condemnation of Laundrie’s parents, Graces eyes widened and her cheeks filled out as she admonished her guest: ”I want something more from you.”
He declined to be baited into accusations of insufficient grief against the parents, and she had to be satisfied with what she had.
In fairness, another guest pointed out that at this stage it was not certain that the body that had been found was that of their son, so it must be said that at least Grace allowed this evidence to come in. But viewers were left to wonder what she imagined was the useful purpose in chastising before a national television audience the apparent initial response of a couple whose son’s decomposed corpse had just been discovered.
The general supposition of the media has been that Laundrie repented of the murder of his fiancée and committed suicide in a way that enabled his lifeless body to be torn apart by the creatures that lurked in the habitat that he well knew.
One of Grace’s guests was an authority on the wildlife of this part of Florida and confirmed that an alligator could crush a human skull with its jaw. At this point, we don’t actually know that Laundrie killed his fiancée and we don’t know that he committed suicide and almost all that we do know is that they are both dead.
This was a shabby and grotesque effort to sensationalize as egregiously as possible the tragic death of two young people, and to incite horrible visions in the minds of millions of people of venomous and savage animals rending a human corpse.
Every time I have seen Nancy Grace present one of her crime analyses she has deliberately attempted to poison the wells for any jury pool that might eventually be assembled to consider the facts that she was investigating.
She never seriously presents alternative scenarios and I’ve often listened slack-jawed as she demanded to know why one or another suspect in the case was not yet in custody. She never hesitates to assume that she knows better than the local investigators when the threshold of adequate evidence of wrongdoing has been crossed and a charge should be laid.
And with Grace the story is more frequently her supposed detection of slack, wimpish, or even corrupt conduct by local police and coroners rather than the crime under investigation.
American criminal law is a national disgrace and embarrassment without any help from sensationalist blowhards like Grace.
The corruption of the plea-bargain system, the absence of any sanction on prosecutors for extorting or suborning evidence or withholding evidence that they know to be exculpatory has resulted in the highest per capita incarceration rates of any country in the world, five times as large a percentage of the world’s imprisoned people as the percentage that the United States represents of the world’s population.
This is what Grace should be raving and shrieking and haranguing her viewers about—the frequently exercised ability of America’s prosecutors to abuse their positions. The fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments of the Constitution assure a grand jury as some assurance against capricious prosecution, due process, no seizure of property without just compensation, prompt justice, an impartial jury, and reasonable bail, most of which are in fact rarely enjoyed by any accused in federal cases today.
Grace and other crime reporters are like Charles Dickens’ hideous tricoteuses, horrid women knitting fiendishly in the shadow of the French Revolutionary guillotine, reveling in the delicious spectacle of public executions.
The answer to America’s skyrocketing crime rates is more and better trained police and a disincentive to prosecutors’ confected false convictions. And media that ceases to whip up public demand for such convictions but rather demands the protections of the Bill of Rights. Grace and her ilk are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
First published in the Epoch Times.
Posted on 10/28/2021 7:02 AM by Conrad Black
Thursday, 28 October 2021
Is the war on 'misinformation' a battle for truth, or for the turf?
by Lev Tsitrin
To judge by the greatly intensified scrutiny of Facebook's protocols that allow people to "like" (and, by "liking," to further disseminate) the posts that the mainstream media thinks should not be part of the public discourse, we are in the midst of a media war. Ostensibly, it is a war against "misinformation" in which the likes of The New York Times or NPR proudly champion fairness and truth in reporting, while the fringe lunatics of the internet foist on the public conspiracy theories and deceive it with facts that aren't facts. In other words, one is lead to believe that we are witnessing a battle for truth between the good guys of the legacy media, and the villains of the internet.
And yet, a quick glance at history, both distant and recent, paints a very different picture: history puts a huge question mark over media's allegiance to factual truth of what it reports. In fact, The New York Times is a textbook example of brazen disregard for the truth. More than once, it misrepresented it, both by omission, and by commission. The Holocaust, not covered because the papers' Jewish owner did not wish to appear provincially parochial by focusing on what he saw as a mere tribal issue, is of course one glaring example. Another one was the absence of coverage (and in fact, the paper's actual denial) of the massive post-collectivization starvation accompanied by instances of cannibalism in the Soviet Union of 1930s, in which millions perished. And just recently, I contacted the paper asking it to report the deceptive judicial practice of adjudicating judges' own argument instead of that of the parties (for which the parties pay their lawyers lots of money) so as to decide the case the way judges want to, not he way they have to, in clear-cut violation of "due process of the law" which forbids a judge to act as a party to the case. Even pointing out that when sued for fraud, judges defend themselves with a self-given, in Pierson v Ray, right to act from the bench "maliciously and corruptly" does not move the legacy media to report as sensationally bizarre the fact that one of three branches of US government thinks it is fine for it to be malicious and corrupt (though when it comes to the executive branch, i.e. Trump, the gloves are off, journalists salivating at the prospect of catching him "obstructing justice." As to the federal judges doing it routinely, right from the bench -- who cares?). And of course, The New York Times violates truth by commission, too. We have, as the great legal monument to that fact, the landmark case of New York Times v Sullivan, brought by someone who caught the "paper of record" in an out-and-out lie, but the Supreme Court sided with the presumably truth-seeking The New York Times' argument that a lie by the press should not be punishable, but should be treated as protected speech instead.
So clearly, when the likes of the The New York Times bemoan the "misinformation," it is not the false reporting that they deplore, since they practice it themselves. One rather suspects that they are aggrieved by intrusion into what used to be their own turf by the competing forces and organizations, drastically altering the long-established ways of monetizing it.
Clearly, the contents with which, per the legacy media, the internet's intruders contaminate public discourse, was not generated by The New York Times and their ilk, and its advertising revenue flow into someone else's pocket. What to do? How to get rid of the competition? Well, one way of accomplishing it is to declare competitors illegitimate. Spread the word that the internet sites feed "misinformation" -- a nasty word that implies dishonesty and lies, and while smearing the internet companies, ignore the legacy media's own dishonesty, and you are all set. Dipped in the pitch of accusations of lying, the intruders will not look well to the public, and it will return into the fold of the legacy media, bringing its money back. Mission accomplished.
This strategy is as old as competition itself. A friend of mine insisted recently that I read the works of an emigre writer, Sergei Dovlatov who came to the US in 1970es, and described in his writings both his Soviet experiences as a dissident writer, and the life in America for the new arrivals from the Soviet Union like himself. He is indeed pretty good; one of his autobiographical novellas titled "The [Writer's] Craft" features a story of several emigre literati who, finding no venue for expressing their literary talents (and for making a living, for that matter), decided to start their own weekly, adding one other voice to the Russian emigre community dominated by a single daily paper. They quickly discover that the long-established mastodon, built on stilted, pre-revolutionary thinking, style, and vocabulary, does not like the pesky newcomer that features brisk, slang-sprayed stories of modern life. And it is not just about the purity of style, either; it is about being a competing business. The established paper presses the advertisers to not advertise in the new weekly, causing the newcomers to lose revenue; it even refuses to place the advertisements for the newly-established weekly in its own pages. In brief, it pretends they do not exist. Yet somehow, the new weekly manages to stay afloat, buoyed by the public that appreciates the fresh talent of its authors. Than finally, the mastodon addresses the newcomer head-on, publishing on its pages an abusive and dismissive screed that accuses the new weekly of beaching all Russian traditions, cultural, political, and literary and -- in essence -- of being the organ of "misinformation." Dovlatov than quotes the rebuttal he published, which boils down to "your real issue is, that we exist."
That sums up, in a nutshell, the problem of competition. The only way to deal with it, is to suppress it. Fling all the dirt you have at the competitor, and see what sticks. History repeats itself: whether it is a Russian daily discovering a newly-appeared weekly that would draw away readership and advertising revenue, or The New York Times and others of its ilk who were kings of the media mountain, but are now discovering that the internet allows people who were silenced before, to tell their own stories which find an audience -- they all need to find a way to wrest their influence back. And here, the charge of "misinformation" comes handy. It seems both high-minded, and is deadly -- and so, it is used liberally to squash the competitor, under the guise of championing the truth -- though in truth, those legacy companies are not really concerned for it.
What they are really concerned about, is the loss of the turf to the newcomers. This is what scares them. And it is this, that the whole "misinformation" brouhaha is all about. It is not about the factual accuracy of information the reader gets. It is about who feeds the reader the information -- and who will get the resulting advertising revenue in return.
And how about the truth? Well, the history of The New York Times speaks for itself: the truth does not really matter in reporting; what matters is that the competitors' reports not be noticed. Control of the media turf is everything. This attained, what else matters? And if the hypocritical charges of "misinformation" can help, why not fling them around?
Posted on 10/28/2021 5:32 AM by Lev Tsitrin
Wednesday, 27 October 2021
America Gone Mad
A report from abroad: Knowledgeable British and Europeans not only do not think America is back, they think it has gone mad.
by Conrad Black
After three weeks in Europe and extensive discussions with dozens of well-informed and highly placed individuals from most of the principal Western European countries, including leading members of the British government, I have the unpleasant duty of reporting complete incomprehension and incredulity at what Joe Biden and his collaborators encapsulate in the peppy but misleading phrase, “We’re back.”
As one eminent elected British government official put it, “They are not back in any conventional sense of that word. We have worked closely with the Americans for many decades and we have never seen such a shambles of incompetent administration, diplomatic incoherence, and complete military ineptitude as we have seen in these nine months. We were startled by Trump, but he clearly knew what he was doing, whatever we or anyone else thought about it. This is just a disintegration of the authority of a great nation for no apparent reason.”
From the European perspective, American leadership of the West has produced excellent results and very few unpleasant surprises since the United States stepped into that role under Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II. At that time, the entire future of Western civilization rested essentially upon the shoulders of just two men, Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, and it was the epochal good fortune of all of us that they were more than equal to their great task. The level of acuity and success of the subsequent administrations, as the competence of government of any nation must, has fluctuated. But the emphasis was on continuity, and the containment policy elaborated in the Truman Administration was generally followed through to the great bloodless victory of the West, as the Soviet Union crumbled and international Communism as we had known it evaporated.
No one could foresee that, just 30 years after the hammer-and-sickle was hauled down over the Kremlin and Russia reverted to the European borders that it had held when it was only the Grand Duchy of Muscovy 400 years ago, the international Left would have taken over the conservation and ecology bandwagon and manipulated the leading capitalist countries into a savage assault on their own economies to reduce carbon emissions. No one could have anticipated that some African Americans would have celebrated their emancipation and the elevation of an African American president by lionizing antiwhite extremists and producing policing policies that have facilitated a vertiginous spike in violent crime in America.
Even two years ago no one could have foreseen that the Chinese would inadvertently release a virus which the entire Western world would obligingly respond to by shutting down almost their entire economy for a year and increasing the money supply by 30 percent—producing an economic upheaval that will linger for a long time. And there is no precedent for the completely avoidable and shaming debacle of the American defection from its own alliance and helter-skelter flight from Afghanistan, leaving thousands of desperate people of many nationalities who had relied upon the United States, to fend for themselves against the new terrorist regime that seized power there (and $85 billion of U.S. military hardware along with it).
No one could have foreseen that the egregious chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley—who appears to have been stuffed into his over-decorated tunic and bears more evidences of military distinction than victorious five-star combat generals George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, and Dwight D. Eisenhower combined—would promise his Chinese analogue that he would warn him if President Trump intended to attack China, that he agreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that his commander-in-chief (Trump) was insane, that he would proudly help institute “diversity, equity, and inclusion” lessons in the Armed Forces, and that he would inform a congressional committee while under oath that he had warned Biden about the dangers of his Afghan policy (warnings the president professes not to have received). We have now also learned that despite President Trump’s hugely expensive renovation of the American military, it now has no answer to Chinese and Russian hypersonic weapons.
Milley and the rest of his over-promoted cabal were too busy politicizing their apolitical offices and confusing the ranks with their historical revisionism to assure the comprehensive defense of the United States, consult normally with allies serving at American request in the mission in Afghanistan, or to demand a sane evacuation plan when the commander-in-chief determined to scuttle the 20-year Afghan deployment.
Flummoxed by Biden
Various well-informed British and Europeans told me that they found a variety of utterances by Joe Biden and his spokespeople grievously inappropriate or absurd. Most upsetting were Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ po-faced assurance that “the border is closed” while on the other half of the split-screen people were simultaneously wading or walking into the country illegally; climate czar John Kerry importuning the Chinese government to decelerate their pell-mell commissioning of new coal-fired power plants; Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s fatuous lamentation about the “lack of diversity” in the new Taliban government in Afghanistan; and White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s assertion that the administration “welcomed the competition” of Russia’s hypersonic nuclear-tipped missiles. The Internet assures a very widespread transmission of such howlers and the next time Biden or Blinken lay the egg about America being “back” and trusted, the Washington Post should dedicate its entire front page to Pinocchio.
The British and Europeans have always worried about the Americans, largely out of envy and continental vanity which produced disbelief that any other country could perform the role of the world’s leading power more effectively than Britain and the other major European countries had done. They feared that Harry Truman was a rube, Dwight Eisenhower an aging golfer, that JFK and Clinton and Obama were too inexperienced, that LBJ knew nothing of the world, that Nixon was devious, Ford and Carter were not up to it, Reagan was a mere actor, the Bushes were too inarticulate, and that Trump was completely infeasible. They warmed to most of those men, (except Trump, though he is recognized as uncategorizable and inexplicably formidable), but they are completely flummoxed by Biden.
For three years ending in 2019, Britain had a prime minister who professed to be enacting the wishes of the narrow public majority in favor of withdrawing from the European Union by continuing in that Union and pretending to secede: Theresa May was articulate and diligent but when the plausibility of trying to reconcile contradictory options became clear, she was advised that her support had vanished and she left the prime minister’s office as if fired from a cannon. The thought of the most successful alliance in history being “led” for three more years by an American president whose round-the-clock gaffes are not protected in Europe as Biden is in the United States by a totalitarian social media platform cartel and terminally biased national political media is a subject of profound and general disconcertion.
Despite my substantial agreement with their concerns, I vigorously attempted to defend the American interest. The best I could do was to remind them that the United States was the most successful country in history and always worked out its problems and that even after three more years of this ramshackle defeatism, a nation as great as America could quickly be restored to its traditional confidence and solidity. I was not entirely persuasive: my knowledgeable British and European friends not only do not think America is back, they think it has gone mad.
First published in American Greatness.
Posted on 10/27/2021 3:22 PM by Conrad Black
Wednesday, 27 October 2021
Navigating the Culture Wars: the anti-Woke Rebellion
by Michael Curtis
What the world needs now is more sound judgment, it’s the only thing there’s too little of, not just for me, but for everyone.
It is dispiriting that the virus of negative depictions of past history, peoples and cultures continues, often in incomprehensible fashion, in this era of identity politics. Too many political and cultural institutions are stampeding to gratify an articulate minority. The virus is mutating in increasing quarters and in spite of evidence that should negate it. False depictions abound. Mrs. O’Leary’s cow did not start the Great Chicago fire in 1871. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not free all the slaves in the U.S. Charles Darwin did not travel to the Galapagos Islands for colonialist reasons. Dr. Seuss did not produce books for harmful content or to glorify racism. The goblins in Harry Potter are not intended as antisemitic portraits. Chess is not a racist game because white goes first. Marie Antoinette never said, “let them eat cake.” Columbus never discovered North America. Charles Lindbergh was not the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic. The mutating intellectual virus should be treated with appropriate vaccines of common sense and judgment.
Historical accounts should be nuanced and flexible rather than categorical. Navigation and mediation for sound interpretation are now essential in the tension between warring concepts and interpretations of culture and history. Consider the case of Thomas Jefferson, a recognized owner of 600 slaves, whose statue is, by a vote in October 2021, to be removed from the Council Chamber in City Hall in New York City. Yet, among his admirable qualities, now often minimized, Jefferson not only championed religious liberty in Virginia, but also, according to Jonathan D. Sarna, specifically championed the religious rights of Jews. To honor him, a 19th century Jewish naval hero, Uriah P. Levy donated the funds, contracting and paying for two statues of him, one for Congress where it stands, and the other for New York.
Political and cultural institutions are now navigating the cultural war, particularly on this issue of how to deal with objects and activities deemed by some to be offensive and linked to slavery, racism, colonialism, or sexism. One example at the moment is the tension at the Geffrye Museum, renamed ion 2019 the Museum of the Home, in East London. BLM groups and others have campaigned for the removal of a statue of Sir Robert Geffrye, the benefactor of the museum. He was involved in the Atlantic slave-trade, even part owner of a slave ship, and was involved in tobacco plantations and slave labor. The dilemma is that his funds were used to finance the original buildings, almshouses, on which the museum sits. The museum said it will “retain and explain” its decision on the statue, to place it in its proper context while addressing the past with honesty. At the moment, Geffrye still stands.
It is welcome sign that in Britain a new report for the think-tank Policy Exchange has been issued containing a series of principles to help institutions navigate the different demands, and criticizing the alerting of history through tearing down of statues, renaming of streets, and changing of school curriculum without a rigorous and non-partisan approach or significant relevant explanation. No external body, whether pressure group, external commission, minority action, or government body should have on its own the final authority over whether to rename or remove historical artefacts unless it has overwhelming support and is based on fact, not feelings.
The report was written by Trevor Phillips, well known British broadcaster and public activist, born in London of parents who had emigrated from British Guinea. It warned of the growing trend to alter public history and heritage without due process. It is an important and thoughtful addition to the controversy about interpretation of history. Too many institutions are stampeding to please an aggressive, vocal minority on the interpretation of history. Decisions on this issue, whether it is on the removal of a public statue or the naming of an object, should take into account different views but should not be unduly influenced by shifts in public sentiment or taste, or by noisy and aggressive minority pressure. Instead, they should follow due process, the law, and pay attention to the concerns of the majority, including museum visitors, the taxpayer, and other stake holders.
It is notable that the Phillips report has been supported by the heads of three of Britain’s major museums, the Victoria and Albert, the Science Museum, and the Museum of Home. Central to its practical and sensible recommendations is the argument that those making decisions give too much attention to pressure groups and activists, and should pay more regard to the views and sentiments of those who support them, including donors, members, volunteers, taxpayers, and alumni of schools and universities. Choices over interpreting or re-interpreting the past should be fully transparent.
Equally significant is the action in October 2021 of the City of London Corporation, the body overseeing the Square Mile financial center in the capital, the municipal governing body that includes the Lord Mayor of London and officials. In January 2021, the statues of two merchants and politicians, William Beckford and Sir John Cass, were due, because of their links to the transatlantic slave trade, to be removed from the Guildhall in London. The Guildhall is the ceremonial and administrative center of the City of London. This decision was made in the wake of BLM protests, with the argument that this action would be part of its policy towards an inclusive and diverse City. Beckford had acquired wealth from plantations in Jamaica and held 1,200 African slaves, and was twice Lord Mayor of London in the late 1700s. Cass was a 17th century merchant, MP, and philanthropist, who was active in the Royal African Company and dealt with slave agents in Africa and the Caribbean. The name of Cass had already been removed from the title of the City University business school.
However, the working group of the Guildhall decided to keep the statues on display together with contextual information about the links of the two men to slavery. This is a stance of “retain and explain.” The past should be addressed with honesty, not to bury or erase history, but to place it in its proper context. The Guildhall now argues that it cannot be blind to the fact that the history of the City of London is inextricably linked to slavery which is a “stain on our past, and shockingly remains a feature of life today in many parts of the world,” but it has made a sensible, proportionate, response to a sensitive issue.
It is evident that both official and non-official organizations have been responding too readily to noisy and aggressive minorities. It is time for them to be made aware that if they go too woke, they risk going broke.
Posted on 10/27/2021 6:40 AM by Michael Curtis
Monday, 25 October 2021
German Islamic State woman gets 10 years for war crime death of Yazidi girl
From the Times of Israel
MUNICH (AFP) — A Munich court on Monday sentenced a German woman who joined the Islamic State group to 10 years in prison over the war crime of letting a five-year-old Yazidi “slave” girl die of thirst in the sun.
Presiding judge Reinhold Baier of the superior regional court in the southern German city handed down the verdict to Jennifer Wenisch, 30, in one of the first convictions anywhere in the world related to the Islamic State group’s persecution of the Yazidi community.
Wenisch was found guilty of “two crimes against humanity in the form of enslavement,” as well as aiding and abetting the girl’s killing by failing to offer help, and membership of a terrorist organization.
Wenisch and her IS husband “purchased” a Yazidi woman and child as household “slaves,” whom they held captive while living in then IS-occupied Mosul, Iraq, in 2015, the court found.
“After the girl fell ill and wet her mattress, the husband of the accused chained her up outside as punishment and let the child die an agonizing death of thirst in the scorching heat,” prosecutors said during the trial. “The accused allowed her husband to do so and did nothing to save the girl.”
Wenisch’s husband, Taha al-Jumailly, is also facing trial in separate proceedings in Frankfurt, where the verdict is due in late November.
Identified only by her first name Nora, the Yazidi girl’s mother has repeatedly testified in both Munich and Frankfurt about the torment visited on her child.
The defense had claimed the mother’s testimony is untrustworthy and said there was no proof that the girl, who was taken to hospital after the incident, actually died. When asked during the trial about her failure to save the girl, Wenisch said she was “afraid” that her husband would “push her or lock her up.”
At the close of the trial, according to the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, she claimed she was being “made an example of for everything that has happened under IS.”
Wenisch converted to Islam in 2013 and traveled the following year via Turkey and Syria to Iraq where she joined IS. Recruited in mid-2015 to the group’s self-styled hisbah morality police, she patrolled city parks in IS-occupied Fallujah and Mosul. Armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol and an explosives vest, her task was to ensure strict IS rules on dress code, public behavior and bans on alcohol and tobacco.
Wenisch’s trial, which began in April 2019, is one of the first examples of court proceedings over the Islamic State group’s brutal treatment of Yazidis.
Posted on 10/25/2021 1:25 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax