Tuesday, 31 December 2019
Kabalarians at the Gate

by Theodore Dalrymple

There is no lower age limit for political correctness. Give us a child for seven years, the Jesuits of the new orthodoxy might say, and he is ours for life.

In America, a little girl called Rhythm Pacheco, aged nine or ten (reports vary as to her age) refused to do a sum set by her teacher as homework because, allegedly, it violated her highly developed sense of right and wrong. The sum in question asked Rhythm to calculate the difference in the weights given of the heaviest and lightest of three notional girls called Isobel, Irene and Sue. Little Rhythm circled the question and wrote What!!! beneath it as an expression of her outrage. Then she wrote, “This is offensive! Sorry, I won’t right this its rood.” She also wrote a note to her teacher, saying, “I don’t think that math problem was very nice because that’s judging people’s weight.”

Of course her adoring mother and father are reported to have said that they were proud of her for having done so. Her mother said, “Rhythm’s dad and I were extremely proud of Rhythm for listening to her gut instincts and standing up for what is right.” She continued, “Rhythm’s teacher was so responsive and handled the situation with such care. She told her she understands how she would be upset about this and that she didn’t have to write out the answer.”

There must surely be some doubt about the spontaneity of little Rhythm’s response. I doubt whether, at her age, I would, or could, have ringed a question and written What!!! underneath it. But it hardly matters whether it was the girl’s own idea, or whether her mother or father put her up to it; for if it were her own idea, it would demonstrate only how far she had already been indoctrinated, whereas if it were her mother’s idea it would demonstrate only how far her mother was prepared to go in indoctrinating her daughter.

I even wondered whether the story was in fact fake news, made of whole cloth. There was indeed an absurdity to the question as reported, namely that the weights of two of the girls were given in kilograms to three decimal points, whereas the weight of one (the heaviest) was given to no decimal points, as thirty-five kilograms precisely. No one weighs anyone, not even boxers before a fight, to three decimal points of a kilogram, that is to say to the nearest gram. But the absurdity of the question was not what was objected to, it was its alleged deleterious stigmatisation of the fat, although it gave not a hint of adverse judgment. The child had allegedly sniffed out adverse judgment like an Inquisitor sniffing out heresy. 

Even if we were to learn that the story were fake news, it would bring us little comfort because it was plausible enough for us to have believed it. There is little doubt that children, even the most privileged, are being bred up to easy moral outrage about complex and difficult social matters before they can even think, which is why, perhaps, a child of nine or ten can spell correctly the word offensive but not write (or we are willing and able to believe that it can).   

My attention was also caught by the first name of the politically-correct child: Rhythm. This is not a traditional name, though not actually ugly; but her parents have evidently accepted the increasing convention of giving a child an unconventional, and sometimes previously unheard of, name. This is a worldwide, or at least occident-wide, phenomenon. In Brazil, for example, parents in any year give their children one of 150,000 names, most of them completely new, made up like fake news, and in France, 55,000 children are born every year who are given names that are shared by three or fewer children born the same year. This latter is all the more startling because, until 1993, there was an old Napoleonic law (admittedly not rigidly enforced) that constrained parents to choose among 2000 names, mainly those of either saints or classical heroes.

What does the phenomenon of giving children previously unheard-of names signify—assuming that it signifies something? I think it is symptomatic of an egoistic individualism without true individuality, of self-expression without anything to express, which is perhaps one of the consequences of celebrity culture.

I performed an internet search on the words Rhythm as a given name. I soon found the website of a group called the Kabalarians, who believe that the name given to a child determines, or at least contributes greatly, to its path through life, especially in conjunction with the date of birth:

When language is used to attach a name to someone this creates the basis of mind, from which all thoughts and experiences flow. By representing the conscious forces combined in your name as a mathematical formula, one’s specific mental characteristics, strengths and weaknesses can be measured.

It invited readers to inquire about the psychological characteristics and problems of people with various given names. I invented a child called Rhythm of the same age, more or less, as Rhythm Pacheco. This was the result:

The name of Rhythm causes this child to be extremely idealistic and sensitive. She will find it difficult to overcome self-consciousness and to express her deeper thoughts and feelings in a free, natural way. She is too easily hurt and offended, and will often depreciate her own abilities. Because of her lack of confidence and her sensitivity, she will go to great lengths to avoid an issue. True affection, understanding, and love mean a great deal to her, as she is a romantic and emotional youngster. Often she will resort to a dream world when her feelings are hurt. She could be very easily influenced by others, for she will find it difficult to maintain her individuality. This problem could become more predominant during the teenage years. Although there is much that is refined and beautiful about her, the lack of emotional control could bring much unhappiness, repression, misunderstanding and loneliness later in life. Tension could also create fluid and respiratory problems. Because of the sensitivity created by this name, she will find it difficult to cope with the challenges of life. 

There is, in fact, a semi-serious theory of nominative determinism, according to which a name may influence a person’s choice of career: two of the most prominent British neurologists of the first half of the twentieth century, for example, were Henry Head and Russell Brain. A recent Lord Chief Justice of England was called Igor Judge. And surely it must work in a negative direction too: no poet could be called Albert Postlethwaite. However rational one believes oneself, one might also experience a frisson of fear on consulting a doctor called Slaughter—as was called the doctor and popular novelist Frank G. Slaughter.  

When I first went to Africa, I encountered patients whose first names were Clever, Sixpence or Mussolini. The first of these names was presumably an instance of magical thinking, while the second two were chosen merely because the naming parents liked the sound of them. Years later, during the civil war in Liberia, I met a constitutional lawyer called Hitler Coleman, who presumably desired to live his name down by concerning himself with the rule of law.

In the case of little Rhythm, the influence or effect of her name on her life and attitudes, if any, would be difficult to distinguish from that of the parents who gave it her. They are all of a piece. It is very unlikely that she should have developed such hypersensitivity to the surmised or imagined feelings of the fat spontaneously or without ideological assistance. In other words, she was being programmed to grow up as a nice, good, decent censorious person, never to have a thought or an emotion out of place, and willing always fearlessly to defend the latest orthodoxy in concert with hordes of other like-indoctrinated people.

Perhaps the most dispiriting thing about the whole story (which I am now assuming was genuine) was the reaction of the teacher. She caved in or surrendered immediately, prophylactically as it were, as if the child were a proper judge of the matter at issue and she (the teacher) were afraid of what the adoring parents, who were in awe of their own child’s precocious moral sense, would say if she (the teacher) had insisted that the child should do her homework as set. There is no higher authority nowadays than a child.  

First published in Quadrant.

Posted on 12/31/2019 6:31 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Tuesday, 31 December 2019
Ilhan Omar: Her Washington Week In Review

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Ilhan Omar has been much in evidence Dec. 14 to 20 in Washington. During the impeachment hearings, when Congressman Kevin McCarthy, at the podium on December 18, quoted, as an example of the level of discourse to which some of his opponents had sunk, Rashida Tlaib’s call to “impeach the motherf—–,” Omar immediately began, and continued repeatedly, to scream out from the back of the chamber, “Stop it! Stop it!,” even though McCarthy had not repeated the phrase, but gone on to other matters. Apparently Ilhan Omar didn’t think that Congressman McCarthy had a right to remind the American people of the crudity to which Rashida Tlaib routinely sinks, and to protect her BFF, tried to shout down, in the House of Representatives itself, the freedom of speech of a fellow Congressman. McCarthy, of course, was not maligning Tlaib, only quoting her verbatim – but that was enough to spur Ilhan Omar into hysterical action.

In another example of Omar’s making her indelible mark in Washington, she joined 16 other Congressmen in a letter deploring the Trump Administration’s sanctions on Iran as “economic warfare.” But why is that wrong? That’s exactly what those sanctions are meant to be – “economic warfare” – in order to persuade the Iranians to modify their aggressive behavior, across the Middle East (in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon), and to slow down their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Why should the Trump Administration not be heartened by the effectiveness of those sanctions rather than, as Ilhan Omar and her 16 colleagues seem to think, be apologetic for their effect? The Administration’s reimposition of sanctions have reduced Iranian oil sales by 90%, from 2.46 mbd to .26 mbd. This has made it harder for the mullahcracy to continue to support the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon; Hezbollah has had to greatly reduce salaries for its members as a result of Iran’s cutting of aid. Nor can Iran offer its previous level of financial support to the Shi’a militias in Iraq. The Iranian rial has sunk in value; Iran’s GDP has actually decreased, the price of gas has had to be increased to raise government revenues; Iran’s people have suffered – that’s exactly what economic sanctions are intended to do.The letter Ilhan signed claims that the sanctions have increased anti-American feeling in Iran. There is no evidence for this; the popular protests in Iran have been directed solely at the Iranian government itself, for its mismanagement, choice of spending priorities, and corruption. Ilhan Omar and her colleagues apparently want those sanctions, that are working so well, to be dramatically reduced, but they offer nothing to take their place. What alternative way to modify the Islamic Republic’s behavior would Ilhan Omar suggest? How would she prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons? Or keep Iran from its foreign aggression?

The report on the letter Ilhan Omar signed is here:

In a letter issued on Tuesday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the lawmakers wrote that the hefty sanctions the US has imposed on the country was tantamount to “economic warfare.”

The sanctions put in place by this Administration against Iran are nothing less than economic warfare. After years of improving relations between the United States and Iran, the sanctions have devastated that country’s middle class, increased hostility toward the United States, and led to a humanitarian catastrophe. One dire effect has been an entirely preventable shortage of lifesaving medicine.

“This Administration must answer for their attacks on Iranians’ basic human right to affordable medicine,” Rep. Omar said in a statement.

The letter explains that while Iran manufactures 97% of its medicine domestically, the country relies on obtaining the rest through foreign imports.

First, Iran itself makes 97% of all the medicine it needs. That hardly suggests that there is a “humanitarian catastrophe” because of a lack of medicine, unless the remaining 3%, that must be imported, includes medicines that are absolutely critical to the survival of patients, and can be obtained nowhere else. We are not told what those medicines are that need to be imported. Nor is there evidence presented that those imports cannot be obtained from countries other than the U.S., including the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, and China. Ilhan Omar’s letter does not address these other potential sources for these imports. But finally, the main point of the letter – that there is a supposed “humanitarian catastrophe” because of that 3% of Iran’s medicines that the U.S. withholds – is fatally vitiated by the fact that the Department of the Treasury on October 25, 2019 announced a new “humanitarian mechanism” to allow medicine imports into Iran. That didn’t stop Ilhan Omar and her colleagues, nearly two months later, to send their letter to Secretary Mnuchin, ignoring the Treasury’s October 25 announcement. The signatories  didn’t want anyone to be confused with facts. Their minds were made up, that “economic warfare” against Iran is a Bad Thing, and they were willing to continue to complain about the withholding of medicine that, if it had ever occurred, now occurred no longer.

The third event of Ilhan Omar’s Washington week in review didn’t require her presence, but she was indispensable to the story. I am thinking of the proceedings in the divorce court, where Dr. Beth Jordan, the wife of her political consultant and lover Tim Mynett, obtained her final decree. The story is here:

It took all of fifteen minutes, but Rep. Ilhan Omar was slammed as an adulteress in a Washington, DC, divorce court on Dec. 19 as her political consultant/alleged lover formally split from his wife, a report said.

Dr. Beth Jordan accused the Minnesota Democrat of having an affair with her now-ex-husband, political consultant Tim Mynett, during a 16-minute hearing before a judge cut her off, the Daily Mail reported.

“I have a statement to make,” Jordan, 55, said, adding that Mynett “had an affair with Ilhan Omar.”

The allegation was first reported by The Post in August, when Jordan claimed in a divorce filing that Mynett confessed to the affair in a “shocking declaration of love” for Omar in April before ditching his wife.

Mynett, 38, a DC-based political consultant who has worked for Omar’s campaign, laughed and clapped his hands with glee as his left the court on Thursday but was tight-lipped when confronted by media.

So her lover “laughed and clapped his hands with glee.” He left his wife and his child for Ilhan Omar, the outspokenly anti-Israel antisemitic Congresswoman, who famously described 9/11 as a place where “some people did something,” who is in all kinds of trouble with the law for failing to correctly report her campaign contributions, and may or may not have married her brother in order to ensure that he could enter the U.S. and receive student loans.

As for Tim Mynett, his relationship with Omar has been disturbing in every sense. She has paid him, as a political consultant, between January and mid-October of 2019, a “consulting fee” of $310,000. That’s $34,444 a month. He must be a very good consultant. The unusually large amounts he has received from her campaign have raised questions, given Omar’s extramarital affair with him, that remain to be answered.

When Beth Jordan charged Ilhan Omar for being an “adulteress,” it seems not to have fazed Omar. Has she, the great Defender of Islam, forgotten what would happen were she living in a Muslim country such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where the Sharia is fully enforced, and convicted of adultery? One hundred lashes, then death by lapidation. Does she approve? It would be nice if some reporter were to ask her that very question. Consistency is not her strong suit.

There has always been so much going on in Omar’s  busy life.

There’s still the question of her brother, as mentioned above.  Omar is credibly accused of marrying her brother, Nur Said Elmi, in order to commit immigration and student-loan fraud, and even filed fraudulent tax returns. While married to Elmi, she filed a joint return with another man, Ahmed Hirsi, to whom she was not married at the time.

She is also accused of using campaign money not for political purposes, but on personal travel with Tim Mynett. This is still being investigated by the FEC.

She has already been required by the Minnesota Campaign Board to reimburse her own campaign for money she spent on personal matters, including travel and lawyer’s fees, and to pay a fine as well.

There’s much for an intrepid investigative team to look into.

But just now, let’s limit ourselves to summing up Ilhan Omar’s Washington Week in Review.

She’s been accused of being an adulteress by the wife of her lover and “political consultant” Tim Mynett, to whom she has given unusually large sums from her campaign funds. On the floor of the House, she tried to drown out, by shouting “Stop It! Stop It!,” a Congressman trying to be heard – there is no “free speech” as far as Ilhan Omar is concerned — all because he did nothing more than repeat verbatim a crude remark by her ally and fellow Muslim, Rashida Tlaib. Finally, she signed a letter denouncing the Administration for its “economic warfare” against Iran, deploring the very thing that most of us agree has been a smashing success both in curbing Iranian aggression through proxies (Houthis, Hezbollah, Shi’a militias), and in weakening popular support in Iran for the monstrous regime in Tehran. She thus joined in deploring a supposed “humanitarian catastrophe” in Iran because, although that country produces domestically 97% of all the medicines it needs, that remaining 3% was, the letter falsely implied, cannot be obtained except from the U.S. But even if that were true, two months before Omar’s letter was sent, the Treasury had already announced that it was ending all sanctions on medicine for Iran. It was no longer an issue. But what do facts matter when it’s such fun to bash the Administration?

That was Ilhan Omar’s Washington Week In Review. Let’s hope there are not too many more such weeks featuring the deplorable Omar and her cast of characters – those two Somali husbands, one a possible brother, the consultant/ lover who may yet become her third husband – all part of her scandalous entourage. We can’t take too much more of this. Minnesotans, next November, you will be able to right this wrong. Don’t miss the chance. Do your stuff.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 12/31/2019 5:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 31 December 2019
Who Killed Dag Hammarskjold?

by Michael Curtis

Don’t count stars or you might stumble. Someone drops an allegation and down you’ll tumble. 

Amid the turbid ebb and flow of history are inexplicable mysterious deaths, some of them unresolved. Some of the more intriguing of these deaths, occurring in a variety of countries and historical periods are well known, and become the subject of phantasmagorial speculation and fiction. Jimmy Hoffa, head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters disappeared on July 30, 1975 without a trace, except in the Martin Scorsese movie The Irishman. The British princes, 9 and 12 years old, heirs to the throne were sent to and presumably murdered by Richard III in the Tower of London in 1483. The Swedish Prince Minister Olaf Palme was assassinated in a main street in Stockholm in February 1986. The Hollywood actress Natalie Wood was murdered or possibly accidently drowned in November 1981. In the Soviet Union, Sergei Kirov, the head of the Leningrad Communist Party, rival of Stalin, was murdered on December 1, 1934 in the Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg, probably on instructions from Stalin. Probably the most publicized undetected serial killer of all time is Jack the Ripper, active in East London in the 1880s, and still a living legend.  

Responsibility for some deaths appears certain, but may be still disputed: the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963 in Dallas; the murder of the wife of O. J. Simpson; the end on December 5, 1791 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by disease or poisoning; the kidnapping and murder of the son of Charles Lindbergh on May 12, 1932, an event which became the theme of Agatha Christie’s play Murder on the Orient Express.  Malcolm X, African-American nationalist, was presumably killed by rival Black Muslims in New York on February 21, 1965. Six year old Jon Benet Ramsay was found murdered in her home on December 1, 1996. 

Prominent figures are among those whose death remains a mystery. By curious coincidence, they include two brave internationally famous Swedish diplomats whose end still remains unresolved many years after their deaths.

Raoul Wallenberg is an honored figure, a “Righteous” individual, who was the special Swedish envoy to Budapest between July and December 1944. During that time his efforts saved at least 15,000-200,000 Jews in Hungary from being deported and massacred in Nazi extermination camps. On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg was detained by SMERSH, Soviet counter-intelligence, on charges of espionage and disappeared since then. Officially, he was reported to have died in July 1947 while in the Lubyanka prison of the KGB in Moscow. However, some reports were of people who claimed to have seen him at a later date, others that he was liquidated in prison. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was sufficiently puzzled to have a senior KGB official Ivan Serov investigate the issue and find out who ordered Wallenberg’s death. The event, complicated with unsubstantiated allegations both of Wallenberg’s contacts with British intelligence, and his use of the OSS to help Jews and others escape the Nazis, remains unresolved.

It is obvious that no matter how Wallenberg died or who killed him, leaders or agents of the Soviet Union were involved.  More uncertain, however, is whether the Soviet Union or Stalin himself was responsible for the death of Dag Hammarskjold, then 56. At the age of 47 Hammarskjold was elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations by 57-1 on April 7, 1953, the second Secretary-General, and was re-elected unanimously in 1957. President J.F. Kennedy called him “the greatest statesman of our century.” He was awarded posthumously the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961, one of only four people to be honored posthumously by Nobel.

Hammarskjold was killed with 15 others in a DC-6 plane crash on September 18, 1961 as it was approaching Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia during the Congo crisis. One of the passengers, an American Harold Julien, said before dying that there had been an explosion in the plane before it went down. However, the cause of death remains disputed.  

For some time, Hammarskjold at the UN was concerned with conflict and threats of conflict in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and the Arab states. He had joined Canadian Prime Minster Lester Pearson in a resolution of the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 by organizing the UN Emergency Force to resolve the crisis. He also played a role in the 1958 crisis in Lebanon and Jordan. He was responsible in September 1961 for a peace mission to Moise Tshombe, president of Katanga, who had declared himself independent. 

The context of the predicament for Hammarskjold was the activity of foreign mining companies who opposed the full independence of the Congo from Belgian rule. Belgian officers commanded Congolese troops following official independence on 1960. These troops mutinied but the UN refused to assist Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first prime minister. He appealed to the Soviet Union, and Soviet troops helped Katanga province, where most of the mines were located, to secede. The UN Security Council by Resolution 43 ordered Belgian troops to withdraw and installed UN peacekeepers in Katanga to prevent civil war. 

The CIA then assassinated Lumumba and installed in his place Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Congo/Zaire 1965-1997. 

The UN Security Council in Resolution 161 called for withdrawal of all foreign advisers, and authorized the UN to take all necessary measures to prevent civil war, including supplying armed troops to protect the Congolese government. It was however evident that the UN troops were inadequate to control the situation. Therefore, Hammarskjold set out for Northern Rhodesia to try to get a cease fire with acting president Moise Tshombe. 

So who killed Hammarskjold and why? Many alternatives have been offered, and the setting is one of fake news and misinformation. In 1962 a Rhodesian commission of inquiry concluded that pilot error was responsible, a mistake in judging the height of the forest tree line. A subsequent UN inquiry was inconclusive, about whether Hammarskjold died as a result of an accident or foul play. Others held that the plane was shot down by a CIA contractor, or by U.S. troops, or by foreign agents, or by mining interests that supported Katangas’s secession, or by a South African mercenary named Swanepoel. A documentary of 2019 alleges that Hammarskjold was killed by a Belgian pilot.

On December 27, 2019 the UN General Assembly approved a resolution for further investigation of the death of Hammarskjold. A Tanzanian judge, Mohammed Othman, was appointed by the UN in 2017 and reported, without reaching any definite conclusion, that it appeared plausible that an external attack or threat may have been a cause of the plane crash, whether by direct attack, of by momentary distraction of the pilots. He accused South Africa, the U.S. and the UK of withholding important undisclosed information of his death. He urged those states to release them. Judge Othman has been reappointed, and a large number of states want to continue the investigation.

One hopes Othman will find whether President Harry Truman was correct when on September 19, 1961 he said, “Hammarskjold was at the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said, “when they killed him.” Whatever Othman’s report, Hammarskjold was a martyr for peace. 

Posted on 12/31/2019 4:15 AM by Michael Curtis
Tuesday, 31 December 2019
The NYC Attacks Against Jews: What to Do

by Gary Fouse

The latest multiple stabbing at a rabbi's home in New York City during Hanukkah celebrations is just the latest in spate of anti-Semitic attacks that have hit the city in the past couple of weeks (not to  mention the deadly attack in nearby Jersey City). Police have a man in custody in this attack and like virtually all of the previous incidents in the past couple of weeks, the suspect is African-American. Yet, New York's feckless mayor, Bill De Blasio, still blames it all on white racism. But what can we expect from an anti-police mayor like De Blasio, who is morally and intellectually bankrupt?

I don't say this to attack black people as all being anti-Semites, which they are not. I say it to make a couple of points: First, there is a strain of anti-Semitism that runs through our black communities just as it runs through our white communities. Jews are being attacked from all sides now. Just as always, Jew hatred cuts across all racial and religious boundaries.

My second point is that now that Jew hatred has exploded even in America, there is a tendency even among many Jews themselves, depending on their philosophical and political leanings, to point the finger of blame solely at the right, that is, white racists, white nationalists, and especially unfairly-President Trump and his supporters. In fact, if anything, it is President Trump who is leading the way and setting the example when it comes to fighting back against anti-Semitism. I concede that white nationalism is growing, and that includes a increase in anti-Semitism. But to deny or ignore the fact that blacks have carried out virtually all of the recent hate crimes against Jews in New York City is to turn truth on its head and delay the necessary response. That response must come from the police and leaders of the City and State as well as the leaders within the black community itself.

To what extent these attacks are linked to the decades-long campaign of hate and toxic speech directed at Jews by the Nation of Islam and its odious leader, Louis Farrakhan, I don't know, but I have my suspicions. In addition, I ask myself what role the decades- long campaign against Israel on our college campuses plays a role-now that the campus problem has metastasized into the community as a whole. Again, I have my suspicions. After all, New York's Columbia University has been a prime offender for years. I will not mince words: The pro-Palestinian forces on our campuses, as well as certain parts of the Islamic community, share much of the blame. The point is that if we are going to discuss white anti-Semitism from the right, which we should, we must also discuss anti-Semitism from the left, the black community, and the Islamic community.

It is time that our leaders, be they political, religious, or otherwise, stand up and condemn anti-Semitism. But words are not enough. They will not help the next Jewish man or woman who gets beaten up on the streets of New York or some other city or campus. I strongly urge Jews to take advantage of their  2nd Amendment right to defend themselves in a lawful manner. I also urge them to teach their children to fight back. Meet each insult with a counter-insult (aimed at the offender's person, not ethnic group). Meet each shove with a shove back. Meet each punch with a punch back. I was never a fan of Irv Rubin and his Jewish Defense League, but right now, the Jewish community needs some form of the JDL. Consider this: New York's new bail law, which goes into effect in January, will be turning these suspects back on the street as fast as the cops can fingerprint and photograph them.

Enough is enough: We may not be able to control Jew hatred in the Middle East, and we may not be able to control Jew hatred in Europe. We can fight back here at home. America has traditionally been a safe refuge for Jews, and it must remain so. These attacks, be they in New York or any other American town, must be punished to the full extent of the law. In addition, the decent forces in our society must stand loud and clear with our Jewish neighbors. Every politician, every police chief, and every religious leader needs to speak out now.

Posted on 12/31/2019 3:57 AM by Gary Fouse
Monday, 30 December 2019
Suspect in St Petersburg New Year terrorist plot ‘pledged allegiance to Isis’

From The Times and Bloomberg

Russia’s FSB spy agency says a terrorism suspect who is believed to have planned an attack on civilians in St Petersburg had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

The FSB released a video which it said it had seized in the suspects’ apartment. It allegedly shows one of them swearing a vow to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Isis leader who was killed by US forces in October.

The man in the video wore a mask with only his eyes showing. He spoke in Arabic with a Russian accent, reports said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank him for intelligence that helped prevent terrorist acts as the country prepares to celebrate the New Year’s holidays.

While the Kremlin didn’t provide any details in its statement, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, said it arrested two people in St. Petersburg who were planning attacks during the holidays based on information from the U.S.

This is the fourth straight year the FSB has announced that it interrupted terrorist attacks planned to disrupt the New Year’s holidays, which last through the first week of January in Russia,

Footage published by Russian media showed FSB officers detaining two men in a wintry street and the stairwell of an apartment building on December 27. The team is believed to have confiscated a box of gun cartridges, knives and cable. An operative also showed a camera, a black item of clothing, a black cap and a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses in a pouch — presumably a disguise.

The FSB said the two men had been caught with evidence that they were preparing an attack and had confessed, but gave no further details. A criminal investigation was opened on a charge of terrorism. Neither of the suspects was named. Both are Russian citizens.

One has now been named by TASS news agency

A district court in St. Petersburg has sanctioned the arrest of one of the two Russian nationals, Georgy Chernyshev, who were detained on Sunday for plotting terror attacks during the New Year holidays, the press service of the St. Petersburg courts said on Monday.

The Dzerzhinsky district court’s session was held behind closed doors.

Chernyshev was charged with participation in terrorist activity (part 2, article 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code). The man’s defense lawyers asked the court to place him under house arrest but the court rules to place him in custody till February 29, 2020.

Apart from that, the court plans to impose a pre-trial restraint on the other suspect.


Posted on 12/30/2019 11:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 December 2019
Met police arrest five suspects on suspicion of organising terror offences

From the Express, ITV News and the Manchester Evening News. 

In a joint nationwide operation, forced from the Counter Terrorism Command, Counter Terrorism Policing North West (CTPNW) unit and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) CTP arrested the five men today. According to the police, the five men were arrested on Monday morning at addresses in north London, Manchester and Peterborough. 

In a statement from the Met Police they said: "A 21-year-old man [A] was arrested in Manchester on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism under Section 40(1)(b) Terrorism Act (TACT) 2000.

"A 19-year-old man [B] was arrested in Peterborough and two men [D – 23yrs; E – 22yrs] were arrested in north London on suspicion of the same offence.

"A 19-year-old man [C] was also arrested in Peterborough on suspicion of encouraging terrorism, under section 1 of TACT 2000. This arrest was made under PACE."

The police also stated the arrested were not made into a supposed threat on New Year's Eve. 

The Express says :- the operation was made in relation to the attack on Fishmongers' Hall in London last month.  ITV News and the MEN say the opposite :- The raids in Manchester, Peterborough and north London were part of a pre-planned operation and were not linked to either the London Bridge terror attack last month or New Year’s Eve, the Metropolitan Police said.

Officers continue to search addresses in each area. The force added there is not believed to be any imminent threat to the public.

On Saturday another man was arrested and taken into custody in East London - no suggestion (yet) of any connections. From the Waltham Forest Guardian

A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command arrested the man on Saturday, December 28 in east London for terrorism offences. He was arrested at a residential address in east London on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism under Section 40 (1) (b) Terrorism Act 2000.

He was detained and taken to a south London police station. He remains in police custody and under terror laws can be held until January 4.

As part of the investigation, officers are also carrying out a search at the east London address.


Posted on 12/30/2019 8:59 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 December 2019
Thoughts on the Extraordinary NHS Delusion

by Theodore Dalrymple

In politics, myth is at least as important as reality, and sometimes more important. In England, as Nigel Lawson, Mrs. Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, once put it, the National Health Service is the closest thing we have to a religion. He did not mean this as a compliment either to the country or to the service, but his apothegm has since had its valency reversed. For example, the headline to an article in the Guardian by its praise-singer of government expenditure in all its forms except, perhaps, of that on law and order, Polly Toynbee, was headed The NHS is our religion: it’s the only thing that saves it from the Tories. The assumption, of course, is that it ought to be saved and that any doubt about its virtues is heresy.

The myth is very simple. Before the establishment of the NHS in 1948, there was little health care to speak of for the poor in England. After its establishment, healthcare was universal, of high quality and free at the point of use. This led to a kind of egalitarian paradise where healthcare is concerned, preferable to anything else on the face of the earth. The NHS was and remains the envy of the world.

A large proportion of the population has been persuaded of the truth of this myth, presumably by assiduous and insidious propaganda, such that the NHS is now a sacred cow which no politician dares slaughter. The myth is believed as an orthodox Muslim believes in the sacred nature of the Koran. For example, last week I was in my local public library, in the room set aside for local history in which I was doing a little research. A poetry group happened to meet there while I was working and I listened to its conversation. At first, the members – average age 75, I should guess – swore they would not mention the forthcoming general election, but before long they abandoned their resolve. The NHS was their main concern. ‘Will it be safe?’ one of them asked. ‘It’s the thing nearest our hearts,’ said another.

Perhaps I should make my position on the NHS clear from the outset: it is neither as catastrophically bad as is sometimes alleged, but neither is it as miraculously good as its religionists claim. It is mediocre at best and an unworthy object of the uncritical praise bestowed upon it by its worshippers, that is to say the majority of the British population.

A brief survey of reality demonstrates that a myth has been swallowed whole. I will mention only a few salient facts. When the NHS was introduced, life expectancy in France was two and a half years lower than in Britain. It is now a year higher. The life expectancy in Spain was six years lower in 1948 than in Britain, and is now nearly two years higher. In other words, in both these countries life expectancy has advanced more than in Britain during the existence of the NHS, in Spain’s case by as much as eight years. Nor did the rise in life expectancy in Britain accelerate after the establishment of the NHS.

To be sure, life expectancy is determined by much more than the healthcare system alone. Nevertheless, these figures are hardly consistent with the untouchable holiness of the NHS. And there are other statistics which are likewise inconsistent with it. Survival rates after heart attack are lower in England than in other European countries, and less good treatment is one of the reasons for this. The same is true of cancer survival rates, which are the lowest in western Europe.

Nor is the NHS egalitarian in its effects, as its justification as a sacred institution would lead us to suppose that it would be. On the contrary, the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest sections of the population, which had been more or less steady for decades, began to increase very shortly after the establishment of the service. Moreover, the difference accelerated when expenditure on the service was greatly increased, so that the difference is now twice what it was in 1948. In Scotland, where spending on the NHS has been consistently higher than in England, results have been consistently worse.

Again, it must be emphasized that factors other than healthcare can, and to some extent do, explain all the above. But that is not the point. All that I am trying to show is that the NHS is far from the miracle-working organisation that the population supposes it to be, a supposition that effectively paralyses all thought. On the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of the NHS, there was an orgy of self-congratulation about it (the fatuous opening tableau of the London Olympics in 2012 celebrated the NHS uncritically also), yet a healthcare charity that is ideologically-favourable to the NHS, the Nuffield Trust, had this, to say inter alia:

The UK’s NHS performs worse than the average in the treatment of eight out of the 12 most common causes of death, including deaths within 30 days of having a heart attack and within five years of being diagnosed with breast cancer, rectal cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer, despite narrowing the gap in recent years. It is the third-poorest performer compared to the 18 developed countries on the overall rate at which people die when successful medical care could have saved their lives…

Again, my concern is not to condemn the NHS out of hand, but rather to show that the religious veneration in which it is held by the population is an extraordinary political phenomenon, a superstition that would be worthy of a chapter in an updated version of Charles Mackay’s great book of 1841, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The disjunction between myth and reality should surely be of interest to political scientists and philosophers.

I have no personal axe to grind or complaint to make against the NHS until now: except, perhaps, that, as I have reached the age at which I am likely to need healthcare, I know that the NHS will treat me as a pauper, not in the sense that I am poor, but in the sense that I must accept what I am given and receive it uncomplainingly with a sense of gratitude for the charity disbursed to me, irrespective of its quality. That the British – freeborn Englishmen – have so willingly acceded to their own pauperisation in the name of equality and security (what they receive may not be the best, but they can at least be assured that they will receive something), and in the process suppressed their own critical faculties, is a fascinating, if minor, episode in human political evolution. The NHS also raises interesting questions of political philosophy: if a population is deeply attached to an institution that in the objective sense fails them, should one attempt to change or abolish it? Should one raise their level of discontent to the point when they demand fundamental change, especially in circumstances in which fundamental change can do harm as well as good?

First published in Library of Law and Liberty

Posted on 12/30/2019 5:28 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Monday, 30 December 2019
I’ll Have What They’re Having, Or, How Do the Israelis Do It?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

I recently spent some time at www.MEMRI.org, where Arabs, Iranians and Turks can be seen, and transcripts of their harangues read, denouncing Israel for many terrible things. Let’s see now, what were they? Oh yes: the Zionist state is denounced for plotting to create a Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates. And for its masterminding of the 9/11 attacks. And for its creation of the Islamic State. And for its creating the Muslim Brotherhood. And for its cold-blooded murder of thousands of Palestinian children, whose blood is used in Jewish rituals. And for its lending support to Bashar Assad so that he could crush his opposition. And for giving weapons to his opposition so they could crush Bashar Assad. And for sending weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. And for sending weapons to the Saudis to use fighting the Houthis in Yemen. And for its support of Saddam Hussein, in order to weaken Iran. And for its support of Fethulleh Gülen, in order to weaken Turkey. And for its support of the Kurds in order to weaken Turkey, and for its support of the Armenian genocide lie in order to weaken Turkey. And for its support of the Nazis in the 1930s so that more Jews would flee to Palestine. And for its role in the international slave trade. And for its role in the cocaine and heroin trade. And last but certainly not least, for its role spreading pornography to millions of innocent young Arab men. I learned too, that Qaddafi’s mother was Jewish, that El-Sisi’s mother was Jewish, that the Saudi royals were of Jewish descent, too. And so on and so crazily forth.

I began to wonder whether, with all this nonstop wickedness, the Israelis had time for anything else. I went to www.algemeiner.com to find out. Here’s a sample – just the headlines — of what I found:

A Silicon Chip Developed in Israel Powers Cisco’s New Router Series

Israel’s Government to Fund a Folding Electric Vehicle and Hydrogen Gas Stations

Intel Confirms $2 Billion Acquisition of Israel’s Habana Labs

Israel and Montenegro Sign First Major Defense Contract

As European Defense Budgets Rise, Israel Showcases Its Cutting-Edge Military Technology in France

Israel’s ‘Silicon Wadi’: Samsung Pays Tens of Millions for Israeli Internet Streaming Company Boxee

Israeli Drones to Be Used to Aid Brazilian Agriculture After Multi-Million Dollar Deal

Lithuanian Military to Equip Armored Vehicles With Advanced Israeli Weapons Technology

Report: Israel Hacked ISIS Computers, Discovered Threat Posed by Laptop Bombs to Planes

Proofpoint to Acquire Israeli-Founded Cybersecurity Company ObserveIT for $225 Million

Israeli Cybersecurity Company Checkmarx Wins U.S. Navy Contract

Israeli App Viber Acquired by Japanese Internet Giant for $900 Million

Israel Signs Deal to Provide Czech Republic With Missile Defense Technology

Israeli Startups Raise Around $900 Million in November

Manufacturing Giant ZF Partners With Israeli Startups Cognata, OptimalPlus

Israeli Startups Raise Over $1 Billion in September

Feeling Trashy: These 10 Israeli Startups Aim to Reduce Food Waste

Swiss Post, Israel Post Select Six Israeli Startups for Potential Partnerships

South Korean Food Conglomerate Lotte to Scout for Israeli Startups

Shenzhen-Listed Chengdu Wintrue to Scout for Israeli Agritech Startups

Swiss Accelerator Kickstart Selects Three Cybersecurity Israeli Startups for Fourth Cohort

CVC to Pay $450 Million for a 25 Percent Stake in Israeli Web and Mobile Monetization Company IronSource

FDA Approves Israeli Device That Extracts Medical Results Based Off Drop of Blood

NATO Recognizes Israel as Key Medical-Assistance Partner as it Seeks to Expand Cooperation

Medtronic to Buy Israeli Catheter Developer AV Medical for $30 Million

Israeli Medical Aesthetic Device Manufacturer InMode Raises $70 Million on Nasdaq IPO

Mayo Clinic and Israeli Health Companies to Create New Medical Technologies

Successful Heart Surgery Using Sound Waves Takes Place for First Time in Israel

Israeli Researchers Succeed in 3-D Printing an Artificial Heart

Israeli Company’s Wireless Heart Pump Technology Implanted in a Patient for the First Time

Israeli Study May Provide Hope for Some Pancreatic Cancer Patients

Korea’s BioLeaders To Invest $10 Million in Israel’s Weizmann Institute Anti-Cancer Therapy

Israeli Scientists Discover Encouraging Anti-Cancer Properties of Desert Plant

Israeli Company Creates Successful Blood Test for Lung Cancer

Israeli Startup Develops Breakthrough In Radiation Cancer Therapy

Israeli-Developed Breakthrough Cancer Drug Receives FDA Approval

Revolutionary Made-in-Israel Prostate Cancer Drug on Market in Mexico, Undergoing Advanced Trials in Europe

Israel-Headquartered RedHill Receives FDA Approval for H. Pylori Gastric Drug

I know the Zionists were not to be trusted, as I had read at www.MEMRI.org, so it was no surprise to discover that the Israelis, in order to disguise their deep malevolence, have been treating Arab children with heart defects. “War is deceit.” It’s in the Talmud.

Here’s the smallest of samples:

Iraqi Man Granted Entry to Israel to Be With Infant Son Battling Life-Threatening Heart Defect

Israeli Doctors Save Life of 4-Year-Old Syrian Girl

Syrian Refugee Mother Thanks Israeli Doctors After They Save Young Child With Heart Defect

While the Israelis keep boasting about their so-called “breakthroughs” in medicine, let’s not forget that the Muslim world has its own advances in the medical field:

Sisters From Gaza Accused of Smuggling Explosives Into Israel Disguised as Cancer Medicine

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Calls for New Palestinian Intifada Against ‘Cancerous Tumor’ Israel

Islamic Cleric Favored by PA President Abbas: Israel Waging War on Muslims With Drugs and ‘Sex Mania’

Yet there’s a still small voice inside me that asks: I wonder if I could have whatever the Israelis are having? Just on the off-chance, you know, that there might be something to it.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 12/30/2019 5:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 December 2019
Marginalizing Nature

by Theodore Dalrymple

The Journal of Medical Ethics recently had a paper with the title “Transwomen in elite sport: scientific and ethical considerations.” Interestingly, my computer, which underlines in red words that I misspell, did not do so when I entered transwomen, which I suppose means that the word is as bona fide a word of the English language as, say, goldfinch or skylark.

Of course, the flexibility and adaptability of the English language is one of its glories. The ethical (and no doubt soon to be legal) problems referred to in the title of this paper arise when men who have had themselves changed into simulacra of women compete in women’s sport and benefit from residual male strength, such that they are able to win matches or tournaments in an unfair fashion.

The problem of the definition of womanhood in sport is not entirely new. I remember from my youth the problem of the Press sisters, the champion Soviet women athletes who won Olympic medals but were strongly suspected of not being women at all. To win medals at the Olympics and other world championships was regarded at the time as evidence of the superiority of one ideological system over another, surely one of the most fatuous notions ever to strike Mankind; but so it was, and totalitarian regimes were particularly ruthless and unscrupulous in the production of champions at all costs. In the days preceding the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the now-defunct magazine, Punch, ran a cartoon showing the sex-test of an athlete in Moscow. An inspector is looking at a female athlete trying to change a tractor-tire. “You’re not a woman,” he says. “A real woman would have changed that tire by now.” Such a joke would now probably arouse protests worldwide, because people so enjoy their outrage.

The problem alluded to in this paper is, of course, the consequence of a fiction, namely that a man who claims to have changed sex actually has changed sex, and is now what used to be called the opposite sex. But when a man who claims to have become a woman competes in women’s athletic competitions, he often retains an advantage derived from the sex of his birth. Women competitors complain that this is unfair, and it is difficult not to agree with them.

When it deals with the science of the question—for example, the effect of testosterone levels on athletic performance—the paper is measured and fair. But as soon as it comes to purely ethical problems, the authors give the impression of being frightened of being declared heretics by an unseen but clearly present Inquisition. They begin to write in a new langue de bois, that special kind of language utilised in totalitarian dictatorships (we seem to live increasingly in a world of various micro-totalitarianisms). It ends:

We conclude that it is important to both extend and celebrate diversity, while maintaining fairness for cis-women in sport. To be simultaneously inclusive and fair at the elite level the male/female binary must be discarded in favour of a more nuanced approach. We conclude that the gender binary in sport has perhaps had its day.

Man being both a problem-creating and solving creature, there is, of course, a very simple way to resolve this situation: namely that men who change to simulacra of women should compete, if they must, with others who have done the same. The demand that they should suffer no consequences that they neither like nor want from the choices they have made is an unreasonable one, as unreasonable as it would be for me to demand that people should listen to me playing the piano though I have no musical ability. Thomas Sowell has drawn attention to the intellectual absurdity and deleterious practical consequences of the modern search for what he calls “cosmic justice.”

The new Prometheanism, that we cannot accept any limits that nature imposes on us, is a manifestation of an inflamed egotism which remembers only the first half of the paired lines of Alexander Pope’s brilliantly compressed summary of the human condition in his Essay on Man:

Created half to rise, and half to fall;

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:

The Glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

We increasingly think that we live in an existential supermarket in which we pick from the shelf of limitless possibilities whatever we want to be. We forget that limitation is not incompatible with infinity; for example, that our language has a grammar that excludes certain forms of words, without in any way limiting the infinite number of meanings that we can express. Indeed, such limitation is a precondition of our freedom, for otherwise nothing that we said would be comprehensible to anybody else.

What one sees in the paper is the way in which, increasingly, the marginal in modern thought becomes central and the central marginal. This is the consequence of what Aristotle warned against, namely the investment of words with more precision than they can properly bear. For example, you deny that there are tall or short men in the world because height is on a continuum and there is no cut-off point between tall and not tall. True, there must be a tallest man in the world, but the next tallest man is probably only a fraction of an inch shorter, and in a world of several billion people there are people of every conceivable height between tallest and shortest. Thus there are no tall and short men.

There are various forms of biological intersex, but this does not mean that, in the great majority of cases, the human race is not easily categorised as either male or female. To accept the idea of normality—or, as the paper puts it with characteristically judgmental non-judgmentalism, normativity—is neither to reprehend those who are abnormal, nor to treat them badly. Moreover, tails should not wag dogs, as increasingly we seem to allow them to do, congratulating ourselves thereupon for our unprecedented degree of enlightenment.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

Posted on 12/29/2019 7:03 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Sunday, 29 December 2019
A Big Muslim Mess In Kuala Lumpur

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The well-known antisemite and Holocaust-denier Mahathir Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia, along with the heads of Turkey, the inimitable Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, thought it might be a good idea if the 56 Muslim-majority states met to discuss problems within the Umma, the Community of  Muslim Believers. From the get-go, things did not go as planned. The story is here:

Leaders and senior representatives from some 20 Muslim nations gathered in the Malaysian capital on Wednesday to discuss issues agitating Muslims globally at a summit Saudi Arabia decided to snub, and which Pakistan ducked out of attending.

No agenda for the Kuala Lumpur Summit has been released, but it could address disputes in Kashmir and the Middle East, the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, mounting outrage over China’s camps for Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and how to counter the spread of Islamophobia in the world.

About Kashmir, what is there to discuss? The vote will be unanimous, to condemn India for daring to make Kashmir again a place where Hindus – hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri pandits in recent years  had fled the territory to avoid persecution, and even murder, by its Muslims – could, with the Indian army in place, live in relative safety.

About Syria, the lineup will be predictable: Iran will side with the Assad regime (did Assad bother to send a delegation, or is he too tied up with the war at home not yet fully won?), but none of the Sunni states – that means all the other Muslim countries – will do so. And nothing will have been accomplished in Kuala Lumpur to bring that war finally to its end, nor will anything be done about the return and resettlement of Syrian refugees.

As to Yemen, it will be not quite the same story, for it is not only Iran that support the Houthis, but also Sunni Qatar. That is for one reason only:  Qatar supports those fighting its main enemy, Saudi Arabia, and the Houthis, though Shi’a, fit that bill.

The summit describes itself as “an international platform for Muslim leaders, intellectuals and scholars from around the world to discuss and exchange ideas about the issues revolving in the Muslim world”.

The four-day event, which is being hosted by Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s ninety-four-year old prime minister, wraps up on Saturday.

The event is already a bust. Fifty-six countries were invited; only twenty bothered to send a delegation, and many of them were headed not by heads of state, but by officials lower down on the political totem pole. Most embarrassing was the pullout of Pakistan, which had been one of three original promoters – along with Malaysia and Turkey – of the event. The Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, was “summoned” to Riyadh and read the riot act by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; Khan immediately pulled out of the Kuala Lumpur meeting himself – he may be sending his foreign minister — even though he had been one of its three promoters. He doesn’t dare cross the Saudis, whose financial support Pakistan desperately needs.

Mahathir, who is the world’s oldest premier and will be addressing the summit, is considered to have modernised Malaysia’s education system and made the country a model for economic development in Asia.

If Malaysia is a “model for economic development,” that is due to its non-Muslim Chinese and Hindu minorities, not the Muslim Malays. The Malays benefit from their industry and enterprise because of the “bumiputra” system, a kind of affirmative action that guarantees the Malays a certain number of university seats, sets aside scholarship money for Malays, requires that 30% equity in many enterprises be made available to Malays at preferential rates, and even provides them with lower cost loans for housing than are provided to non-Malays. It is the Chinese who above all are responsible for the economic advances in the country, but this, of course, cannot be openly discussed in Malaysia.

But the veteran politician has been accused of antisemitism after he described Jews as “hook-nosed,” claimed that they “rule the world by proxy” and questioned the number of people killed in the Holocaust.

At a welcome dinner for the guests, Mahathir said the summit would aim to “do something” to improve the lives of Muslims and overcome Islamophobia.

“We need to find a way to address our shortcomings, our dependency on non-Muslims to protect ourselves against the enemies of Islam,” said Mahathir.

What if the “shortcomings” of Muslims are a result of Islam itself? What if the emphasis on authority in Islam, and the discouraging of free and skeptical inquiry, makes it harder for Muslims to acquire habits of thought that make achievements in science and technology possible? What if the fatalism of Islam – the belief that Allah decides everything according to his whim – dampens the desire to work hard, for in the end Allah will give, or take away, whatever he wishes.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who along with Mahathir and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been a prime mover behind the summit, made a belated decision to skip the meeting.

In what will be seen as a deeply humiliating episode, Middle East Eye reported on Tuesday that Khan had taken the decision after being summoned to Riyadh for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Imran Khan has two masters: the Saudis, and the Chinese. His country needs aid from the first, and investment from the second. He has pulled out of the Kuala Lumpur meeting, humiliatingly, in order not to the Saudi Crown Prince, and has refused to criticize the “re-education camps” for the Uighurs, so as not to cross the implacable Chinese.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani, whose countries have tense relations with Saudi Arabia, are also attending, Reuters news agency reported.

Explaining its decision to stay away, Saudi Arabia said the summit was the wrong forum for matters of importance to the world’s 1.75bn Muslims, though some analysts suspected the kingdom feared being diplomatically isolated by regional rivals Iran, Qatar and Turkey.

Saudi state news agency SPA reported that on a call with Mahathir on Tuesday, Saudi King Salman reaffirmed that such issues should be discussed through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

A Saudi source told Reuters that Saudi Arabia was invited but would only attend if the meeting was held under the auspices of the OIC, which is headquartered in Jeddah.

The Saudis want to hold such meetings on their home turf.  That means the O.I.C., in which the Saudis have managed so far to control agendas, and to keep Iran isolated. The Kuala Lumpur meeting was arranged without their agreement, and the presence of Saudi Arabia’s two main enemies, Iran and Qatar, which are both sending their heads of state, naturally alarms them.

“They are very concerned about it,” the source said of the summit, declining to be named as he was not authorised to talk to media.

The Saudi government’s centre for international communication did not respond to a request for comment.

The absence of Saudi Arabia, whose king holds the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina, clearly demonstrates some of the current divisions in the Muslim world.

“The issue is that you’ve got blocs,” said James Dorsey, a senior fellow at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Middle East Institute in Singapore.

“You’ve got a Saudi-UAE bloc, Turkey-Qatari bloc, and Pakistan in the middle trying to hedge their bets.”

The Muslims like to think of their Umma as one community, but in fact the Muslim world is more riven by conflict today than any other grouping of people. It’s a conflict between Sunnis and Shi’a, between Arab and non-Arab Muslims, between supporters and enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood, between despots and democrats, between promoters of the Arab Spring and its detractors.

Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, will be represented by Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin, a cleric overseeing the country’s fight against radicalisation and terrorism.

Even as delegations were arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian officials were unable to provide a final list of who would be attending.

Mahathir’s office said that invitations had been sent to all 56 OIC member states, but officials said only about 20 were sending delegations, and fewer would be led by heads of state.

An embarrassing fiasco, even before it begins, with little more than a third of those countries  invited actually sending delegations, and fewer still sending their heads of state.

Defending the summit, Mahathir’s office issued a statement saying there was no intention to create a “new bloc as alluded to by some of its critics”.

“In addition, the summit is not a platform to discuss about religion or religious affairs but specifically to address the state of affairs of the Muslim Ummah,” it said, using the Arabic term for community.

Speaking to Reuters last week, Mahathir expressed frustration with the OIC’s inability to forge a united front and act decisively.

During that interview, the Malaysian leader also raised the possibility that the mistreatment of Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang would be discussed.

Beijing describes the camps where Uighur Muslims are being held as “vocational training centres,” while critics say they are mass internment camps.

There will be nothing to come out of this summit that will be any better than the O.I.C. at “forging a united front” to “act decisively.” Iran will denounce, yet again, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., Turkey will rage at the Kurds, Qatar will support Iran and vilify Saudi Arabia, and so on. As for problems facing Muslims, surely the worst is the persecution of the Uighurs by China, where up to three million Muslims are now in “re-education camps.” Twenty-two Western states, all non-Muslim, have not hesitated to protest this state of affairs, while only Turkey, among Muslim states, has so far dared to criticize China. The other Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,, depend on China for investments and have publicly supported the treatment of the Uighurs as benign. The demands will come from Turkey for others to join in its criticism of China – to which the Chinese have angrily responded – but out of economic considerations, there will be few takers, and the impotence of the Umma to help its fellow Muslims in Xinjiang will be on embarrassing display.

As for the Muslim Rohingya, another issue sure to be brought up in Kuala Lumpur, all the protests and O.I.C. meetings have not caused the Buddhists in Burma to relent, and take back back those who fled, people whom they consider to have been uninvited migrants from what is now called Bangladesh. Previous expressions of Muslim support for the Rohingya have accomplished nothing; nor with this meeting in Malaysia. Unless a military force of Muslims is prepared to escort them back to Myanmar, and remain to protect them – an impossible scenario — the Rohingya will remain in Bangladesh. This will be yet another display of impotence.

Then there is the issue of “islamophobia.” It becomes ever harder to make this charge plausible. As all sensible people know, that word was invented in order to undermine legitimate islamocritics; they are slandered as “islamophobes.” But the word will be everywhere in the meeting halls, as a constant complaint among the delegates in Kuala Lumpur. No one will point out that, after all, tens of millions of Muslims have been admitted into the midst of Europe. Nor will any one note that those Muslim migrants have had, in the generous welfare states of Western Europe, every conceivable benefit lavished upon them: free or highly subsidized housing, free medical care, free education, unemployment benefits, and family allowances. And it has been not Muslims, but two dozen non-Muslim countries that have protested China’s mistreatment of the Uighurs. The West has not hesitated, either, to criticize Myanmar for its treatment of the Rohyingya. What examples of “islamophobia” in the West can be adduced? Any reprisal killings after Muslim terror attacks? Mass roundups? Expulsions? Nothing of the sort. Didn’t NATO bomb the Serbs to rescue the Muslim Bosnians? Didn’t the United States spend several trillion dollars to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban, who have made life so miserable for ordinary Afghan Muslims? Didn’t the Americans spend another few trillion dollars in Iraq, to rid the country of a ruthless dictator, and to bring a semblance of democratic government to people who had never experienced it? How do those facts square with the charge of “Islamophobia”?

At the Kuala Lumpur meeting, the display by the representatives of the Umma — the one-third of it that bothers to send delegates at all — will be one of rancor, mutual vilification, cries of victimization, and impotent rage. For that reason, a those of us who are Unbelievers should welcome this “international platform,” and wish that the world’s Muslims hold many, many more.

First published in Jihad Watch. 

Posted on 12/29/2019 6:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 December 2019
Table Talk: 1

by James Como

* Why are healthy symbols, some happily traditional others hallowed, yielded so easily to the fanatics?  The okay symbol (thumb and forefinger making an O, the other three fingers raised) and the Betsy Ross flag are now verboten.  Why?  Because some lunatics have adopted them?  And so we are told we may not use them (by Colin Kaepernick, no less)?  Shall we yield every symbol to the crazies simply because they take them as theirs, or because self-appointed avatars of social justice nix them?  What’s next?

* Should we continue to wait for two particular prosecutions, as we do for O.J to track down the real killer?  I’m thinking of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.  The first pursued and subdued the man who eventually shot him.  The second, a huge thug, who was, in spite of a warning, approaching a policeman whose gun he had already tried to grab.  In both cases we were promised either civil or federal suits, including by the then-Attorney General Eric Holder.  But we have no suits, and for the obvious reason: both dead men invited their own deaths.  In the case of Brown, all the original claims – most notoriously “hands up, don’t shoot” – were entirely discredited, largely by black onlookers.  And yet . . . and yet . . . both Kamela Harris and Elizabeth Warren referred to Brown as ‘murdered’.  Have you no shame, ladies, have you no shame?

* How long before the DSM includes the diagnosis of political incorrectness as a species of Tourette’s: Compulsive Obstinacy Independence Trauma.

* How long before we have Antifa Re-Education Centers, with group therapy for those suffering from COIT, ‘facilitated’ by a person who has been victimized when her safe space was violated by use of the wrong pronoun?

* What do we make of the two goomba Cuomos (can a family have two Fredos?) and De Niro “Fuck Trump,” then, overcome by a fit of creativity, a second “fuck Trump,” (as well as a VM rant that has gotten him sued)?  Models of Italian-American manhood?

* In light of Roman Polanski’s upcoming movie, what do we make of Her Majesty Queen Meryl?  She called Harvey Weinstein “god” and gave a standing ovation to Roman Polanski, who drugged and anally raped at least one fourteen-year-old girl.

* Empires have gotten a bad rap, in most cases deservedly.  Rome got it right for about three hundred years, a good run; here and there the Brits got it very right, but only here and there.  The Incas did not last long: the culture was a hive, really, and the resentment of conquered tribes contributed mightily to their downfall.  The European colonial empires – German, Italian, Portugese, Spanish – were largely shameful.  Yugoslavia, though, a sort of empire, worked for a spell but could not significantly outlast its strongman.  The Ottomans had their day, as did the Mongols: yet, what’s to show for that?  But the Holy Romans and Austro-Hungarians did yeoman work, both in building and preserving Western Civilization.  And then there were the Soviets: the nail in the coffin of empire.  Or was it?  Maybe we are in the age of crypto-empires, for what else does the EU aspire to, however covertly?  True, without the Brits they are back to a contiguous land mass, but overseas colonies never were essential to empire status.  The Chinese are imperialists without the name, and Iran is certainly giving it a good shot.  Don’t giant corporations (e.g. Google) deserve a look?  I say if they’ve got the game they get the name and so are re-defined, re-considered and re-assessed.

Some Questions I’d Like to Be Asked . . .

Exactly why do you so dislike movements of all kinds?

Have you ever thought your brand of individualism is dangerously extreme?

How in the world can you claim that the original King Kong is the greatest movie ever   
Can you explain your inclusion of Angelica Huston, let alone Vanessa Redgrave, on 
     your list of screen goddesses?

Really?  Mickey Mantle over Willie Mays?

Just how miserable were the James Weldon Johnson Housing Projects in Harlem?

Not having voted for Trump in 2016, how can you realistically consider voting for him
     in 2020?

Are you Islamophobic?

Is there any way you can deny being a beneficiary of White Privilege?

Are you serious, in calculating Reparations for African Americans, that the they owe
     the country money?

Ali not in the top ten boxers of all time?

Why do you no longer call yourself a Conservative?

How many mulligans in life do you wish you had?  Single-, double-, triple-digits?

Why do you despise Sinatra, especially his “My Way” (what you call “the worst song
     ever written”)?

Can you defend The Mills Brothers as “the greatest singing group of all time”?

Shane and Heaven Knows Mr. Allison were influential in “teaching the essence of manhood”: are you nuts?
So few people, even among the educated, care about rhetoric (except as a threat): how can you defend it as “the spine of human activity”?

What are the origins of the Catholic pedophilia scandal?

Why do gangsters like Capone and Gotti not embarrass you as an Italian-American?

What do you make of the vast differences of dimensions, say, between the nano-world
     of sub-particles and the cosmos? or the six numbers that, in their absolute exacti-
     tude, hold the cosmos together? or the absence of significant divergences of charac-
     ter in the animal kingdom, compared to us?
Can you explain your fascination with Best lists (e.g. TV sitcoms, boxers, actors
     and actresses, movies, beautiful [women, cities, buildings] in any terms other than
     mental illness?

Do you have a favorite fallacy?

What five words or phrases drive you the craziest?

How, exactly, did The Phil Silvers Show, Leave it to Beaver, and The Rifleman “save” your

Would you ever join a public demonstration or protest?

Do you see the Mainstream Press making a comeback, now that they’ve sold their    
     birthright for a pot of message?
So you take seriously the Goliard poets (who?) and, as a  literary critic and historian,
     . . . Ezra Pound?
How many more knuckleheaded questions will you subject us to – those of us, that
     is, who have hung in this far?
Posted on 12/29/2019 4:42 AM by James Como
Sunday, 29 December 2019
Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders holds Muhammad cartoon contest

Is Geert Wilders really "far right"? Or just not far wrong? This is from Deutsche Welle, reporting on the result of the contest; most other newspapers are a few hours earlier reporting on the intention to hold the contest. 

Geert Wilders revived a controversial Prophet Mohammad cartoon competition. In a post on Twitter late on Saturday, Wilders called on people to send in their Mohammad cartoons

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders announced on Sunday what he called the winner of a contest for caricaturing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, more than a year after he shelved a similar event due to the fear of a violent backlash.

The image Wilders called the "winner" was a dark image of a bearded man with a wrinkled brow wearing a black turban and black shirt.

"Freedom of speech must prevail over violence and Islamic fatwas," said Wilders, who heads the largest opposition party in the Dutch parliament.

In August last year, Wilders canceled a similar contest after Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man who had threatened to kill him over his anti-Islam stance.

Wilder's previous plan to hold the Muhammad cartoon contest prompted huge demonstrations in some Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan. After he announced the plan to hold the competition last year, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Labbaik Islamist party, issued a fatwa (religious edict) against Wilders.

In a tweet on Saturday, Wilders said it was unfortunate that Rizvi was not arrested in Pakistan for issuing fatwas against him.


Posted on 12/29/2019 3:24 AM by NER
Saturday, 28 December 2019
Prince Charles Will Visit Israel and the “Occupied” Palestinian Territories

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Prince Charles has accepted an invitation to take part in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in January. That’s all well and good. But what wasn’t well and good was the British government’s announcement that his itinerary will include a visit to what is described as “occupied” Palestinian territories.

The story is here.

Britain’s Prince Charles has accepted an invitation by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to take part in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in January.

The event, titled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Anti-Semitism,” is a joint project by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and Yad Vashem. Scheduled for Jan. 23, 2020, it will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and make a clear statement that antisemitism has no place in global society.

Rivlin said that the upcoming forum will be taking place at a “very important historical moment … with the voices of Holocaust denial and antisemitism once again rising.”

He added that no quarter would be given to any individuals, organizations, politicians or heads of state who “falsified the truth” or tried to ensure that the Holocaust was forgotten.

There is one politician, and would-be “head of state,” who has been especially vile in his “falsifying the truth” and trying “to ensure that the Holocaust was forgotten.” That person is Mahmoud Abbas, whom Prince Charles will also be visiting in what his government calls “occupied Palestinian territories.” The Prince would do well, before he meets with Abbas, and possibly is taken in by his well-honed no-one-here-but-us-accountants routine, to find out about the Palestinian leader’s’ doctoral dissertation for the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies, in which he claimed that fewer than one million Jews died in the Holocaust, and even insisted that the Zionists and Nazis had been in cahoots. That should provide a salutary shock for Prince Charles, and if it does not change his mind about meeting Abbas – it would be hard to back out now — at least the Prince, no longer unaware of Abbas’ unsavory beliefs, will not stoop to praise him. Prince Charles might also be informed about other aspects of Mahmoud Abbas. There are the antisemitic schoolbooks, and the shows on Palestinian television where children waving pretend guns or real knives promise to “kill the Jews” — all part of the PA under Mahmoud Abbas. The Prince might also find out that Abbas and his two sons have amassed a fortune of $400 million, by diverting aid money to themselves. He would learn that Mahmoud Abbas, having been elected to a four-year term in 2005, has remained in office without elections since then, for fifteen more years of grand theft.

British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan said he was pleased that the prince had accepted Rivlin’s invitation and that on his upcoming visit would “see a bit more of Israel.”

The United Kingdom also revealed that the prince’s itinerary will include a visit to the “occupied” Palestinian territories, where he will be a guest of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Prince Charles last visited Jerusalem in 2016 to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. He also represented the queen at the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin.

The Prince should find out at the “Fighting Antisemitism” event in Jerusalem about today’s chief carriers of the disease in the West – that is, the tens of millions of Muslims who now live in Western Europe and North America. Will he learn about the murderous attacks on Jews by Muslims in Paris, Toulouse, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin? Will he learn about the murders of Ilan Halimi, Sara Halimi, Mireille Knoll, Rabbi Sandler and his children, and so many others? Will he find out that the source of this Islamic antisemitism is the Qur’an itself? For the Qur’an describes Jews – as  Robert Spencer’s helpful compilation makes clear – as “inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.” If he finds this out, surely he will refrain from praising Mahmoud Abbas, but offer at the end of their meeting only a tellingly curt “goodbye.” It would be terrible for his own standing were Prince Charles  to attend the “Fighting Antisemitism” event and then find himself, just days later, out of ignorance praising someone who happens to be one of the world’s most virulent antisemites.

There is a second matter, too, that needs to be addressed. The British government has described Prince Charles as including in his itinerary “occupied Palestinian territories.” The Prince needs to find out why that description is both offensive and wrong. The British held the Mandate for Palestine, and they certainly should know why it is inaccurate to call the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) “occupied Palestinian territories.” Prince Charles has a month to study up on the Mandate before his Israel trip. That’s plenty of time for him to discover that all the territory from the Golan in the north to Beersheva in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, was assigned under the Mandate to become the future Jewish National Home, which then become the State of Israel. When the 1949 Arab-Israeli war ended, Jordan held the territory it renamed “the West Bank” — a toponym meant to efface “Judea and Samaria,” which were too Jewish for the Jordanian Arabs to stomach. Jordan had no legal claim to the West Bank; it was the military occupier of land that belonged to the Jewish state. With its victory in the Six-Day War, Israel was finally in a position to enforce its pre-existing legal claim to what from 1948 to 1967 had been “occupied Jewish land.”

Prince Charles can ignore what the Foreign Office Arabists, the BBC, and admirers of Jeremy Corbyn want him to say, and instead carefully offer another formulation. He can refer simply to “the territories,” dropping both of those incorrect and tendentious adjectives — “occupied” and “Palestinian” – from their description. Or better yet, he could avoid referring altogether to those territories, and merely specify the city being visited, as in “I will visit, I am now visiting, I paid a visit to, Ramallah.” Abbas and his “Palestinians” will pick up on this and be furious, but what can they do? Denounce Prince Charles, which would only bring more attention to his deliberate phrasing that so offends them? And the Prince, who in recent years has shown himself to be a genuine friend of British Jewry, will have done more, by saying less, to undermine and correct that noxious phrase “occupied Palestinian territories.”

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 12/28/2019 5:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 27 December 2019
A Matter of Truth

by Theodore Dalrymple

The comedian Ricky Gervais has committed heresy by mocking a modern (and very recent) orthodoxy of the right-thinking intellectual: that a man who takes hormones, has surgery, and behaves like a woman actually is a woman in all respects, no different from women born female.

In support of a statement by J. K. Rowling, the famous children’s author (and by no means social conservative), that a transgender woman is not a woman—she was expressing support for a woman dismissed by a think tank for holding such a view—Gervais posted a witty tweet in which he mocked not only the opposing orthodoxy but, by implication, the underlying philosophy of so much current thought about social problems: that differences in outcomes between groups are explicable only and completely by such factors as prejudice and discrimination. He wrote:

These awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life. They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough.

As a result of this tweet, he has been widely condemned as being transphobic—a term implying an irrational fear but used to condemn a person for advocating or supporting bad, aggressive, or even violent conduct toward transsexuals, as if Rowling and Gervais were inciting people to seek out transsexuals and beat them up in the street. This is clearly not the case. Users of the term make no proper distinction between two questions: the nature of transsexuals and how people should behave toward them. A question of truth—whether a transsexual woman is in no respect inherently different from a biological female—is transformed into a question of loyalty to a new doctrine, nonacceptance of which in its totality being taken by the right-thinking as a mark of bad or evil character and intent, such that he or she who fails to accept it should be excommunicated by all decent people, discriminated against, and denied employment.

Here the question is not whether Rowling and Gervais are right, though most people would think that they are right, albeit that they would also increasingly fear to acknowledge it in public (a mark of creeping totalitarianism, incidentally). The question is, rather, whether they had the right to say what they did as part of the normal give and take of public debate. The reaction to what they said—the veteran feminist, Germain Greer, was another object of such aggressive recrimination for having said something similar—suggests that pressure groups’ attachment to freedom of speech is very weak. They prefer issuing fatwas.

A textbook of pharmacology that I used as a student suggested a natural history of a newly discovered drug. First it was hailed as a miracle-cure; then, as its side-effects were described, it was reprehended as deadly poison; finally, it was found to be useful in some cases.

Increasingly in our times, social ideas seem to go through analogous, but different, stages. First, they are too absurd to be entertained; then they are promoted and propagandized; finally, they are made obligatory articles of faith. The cycle seems to have a built-in accelerator. But it remains true, as Bishop Butler had it, that “everything is what it is and not another thing.”

First published in City Journal.

Posted on 12/27/2019 7:34 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Friday, 27 December 2019
India Offers Refuge to Real Refugees, and is Savaged for It

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The story is here:

India’s parliament has passed a bill that would give Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries — but not if they are Muslim.

The controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) would fast-track citizenship for religious minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Opposition parties say the proposed law is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion and would further marginalize India’s 200-million strong Muslim community.

The proposed law is about refugees. It does not “base citizenship” on a person’s religion but offers a fast-track to citizenship to those refugees who have faced religious persecution; these refugees are non-Muslims who fled  humiliation, persecution, kidnappings, forced conversions, forced marriages, and even murder, at the hands of the Muslim majorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Muslim Indians are being treated no differently from Hindu Indians; they all have the same rights as citizens, and this law does not “marginalize” 200 million Indian Muslims in any way.

The government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the bill seeks to protect religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries.

That’s exactly right: the law does nothing more sinister than fast-track refugees who fled from religious persecution in India’s immediate neighbors. The law is supported by the BJP, which the mainstream media outside of India has long consigned to the outer darkness for daring to stand up for Hindu rights, in a country where 70-80 million Hindus were killed by Muslims. Mention the BJP and all right-thinking people are supposed to  automatically reject whatever the party supports. It’s not just Hindus whom the BJP is helping with this law, however, but also the Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian refugees who benefit equally; those who attack the law as promoting “Hindu supremacism” are ignoring all these other refugees. The law does not discriminate except in the most commonsensical way: the victimizer should not receive the same preferential treatment as the victims.

It cleared the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of parliament where the BJP lacks a clear majority, on Wednesday (December 10) with 125 votes in favor and 105 against.

The day before, lawmakers approved the bill 311-80 in the lower house of parliament — the Lok Sabha — which is dominated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.

The bill will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

“I think it is, without exaggeration, probably the most dangerous piece of legislation that we’ve had because it amounts to truly destroying the very character of the Indian state and the constitution,” Harsh Mander, an Indian human rights activist and author, told CNN.

Mander said the very nature of the Indian constitution is that it is based on secular values.

This hysteria is unwarranted. The Indian state has not been “destroyed” by this law. Its citizens, whatever their religion, remain equal before the law. Free elections are still being held. India remains a government of laws. The secular constitution has not been amended, much less jettisoned. Human rights for all Indian citizens remain equally enforced – as they are not enforced in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, countries where all non-Muslims live in fear of persecution, and far worse.

“Central to the idea was that your religious identity would be irrelevant to your belonging, and it’s that which is being turned on its head. It’s extremely worrying,” he said.

But that is exactly the point: the Indians know that religious identity in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan determines everything. Non-Muslims in these three countries have been humiliated, persecuted, and killed for not being Muslims. Hindu, Sikh, and Christian girls have been kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam, and married off to Muslim men. Hindus and Christians have been murdered in Pakistan and Bangladesh; Buddhists have been killed in Bangladesh.

India decided not to any longer simply be a mute witness to this torment and with this new law has  decided to allow these persecuted minorities, who have fled to India, to be given a fast-track to citizenship. Critics say this is discrimination against Muslims. Why are they not included in this program? But the answer is obvious: no Muslims are being persecuted, kidnapped, forcibly converted, or killed in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan. India is offering a rapid road to citizenship for those refugees — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian refugees — who suffer from persecution by Muslims. The law is sensibly meant to cover only those refugees coming from India’s immediate neighbors – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh — it would not cover, for example, Christian refugees fleeing mistreatment in Egypt, Iraq,  or Iran.

What “international law” is violated when fast-track citizenship is made available to those refugees who have been persecuted because of their religion? Do those protesting this law disagree that these non-Muslims have been persecuted, forcibly converted, even killed, by Muslims in their country of origin? Why should the victimizers receive the same benefits as those they have victimized? India cannot take in the persecutors and persecuted alike.

Modi celebrated the bill’s passing on Twitter. “A landmark day for India and our nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood!” he wrote. “This bill will alleviate the suffering of many who faced persecution for years.”

The bill’s passage has drawn widespread opposition and protests, especially in the northeastern states.

Many indigenous groups there fear that giving citizenship to large numbers of immigrants, who came over the porous border with Bangladesh following independence in 1971, would change the unique ethnic make-up of the region and their way of life, regardless of religion.

The discontent is in Assam State, where the Assamese, three-quarters of whom are Hindus, do not want to be overwhelmed by ethnic Bengalis, whatever their religion. But only those non-Muslims who arrived before the declaration of Bangladesh’s independence in 1971 would qualify for this citizenship, not the nearly two million who left Bangladesh after that date. The Assamese are needlessly alarmed about being swamped by non-Assamese.

Critics of the bill say it is another example of how Modi and his BJP party have pushed an agenda of Hindu nationalism onto secular India, a country of 1.3 billion people, at the expense of the Muslim  population.

How is rescuing Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Buddhists – along with Hindus — an example of “Hindu nationalism”? Modi’s party might have declared that it would fast-track only Hindu refugees, claiming – accurately – that Hindus are by far both the most numerous, and the most persecuted, of the religious minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. But it did not do so; this law does not reflect “Hindu nationalism.”

The BJP, which was re-elected in May, has its roots in India’s Hindu right-wing movement, many followers of which see India as a Hindu nation.

In November, India’s top court gave Hindus permission to build a temple on a disputed centuries-old holy site, which holds significance for both Hindus and Muslims. The ruling on the Ayodhya site was seen as a blow to Muslims and came at a time when Muslims increasingly see themselves as second-class citizens.

It was Muslims who destroyed the original ancient Hindu temple at Ayodhya, and used its ruins to build, right on top of where the temple had been, the Babri Mosque in 1527. Though thousands of Hindu temples in India were destroyed by the Muslim conquerors, the one at Ayodhya had been especially revered, for it was built on the very spot where the Hindu deity Rama was believed to have been born. The building of the mosque on the ruins of the temple was a symbol of Muslim triumphalism. Hindus who destroyed the Babri Mosque in 1992, in order to rebuild the Hindu temple that had once stood there, were only taking back the site that meant so much to them, but that for Muslims had no religious significance in Islam but, rather, possessed a political meaning as the symbol of Islam’s victory over Hinduism.

In 2018, India’s Home Minister Amit Shah said Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers from Bangladesh were “termites” and promised to rid the nation of them.

The government maintains the bill is about protecting religious minorities who fled to India to avoid persecution by allowing them to become citizens.

Isn’t that exactly what the bill is intended to do – giving citizenship to those who, as religious minorities in three Muslim neighboring countries, fled persecution. What better way to ensure they will never be returned to their countries of origin?

Shah said in a tweet that the bill “will allow India to open its doors to minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are facing religious persecution.”

It is well known that those minorities who chose to make Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan their home had to constantly live in the fear of extinction,” Shah said. “This amended legislation by Modi government will allow India to extend them dignity and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.”

Modi tweeted that the bill, “is in line with India’s centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values.”

“The bill uses the language of refuge and sanctuary, but discriminates on religious grounds in violation of international law,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

What “international law” is violated when fast-track citizenship is made available to those refugees who have been persecuted because of their religion? When Jewish refugees were favored for resettlement in the U.S. after World War II, did that “discriminate on religious groups in violation of international law” or did that practice reflect the understanding that Jews had been especially ill-treated, and those who had survived the Holocaust deserved special consideration? Who would have called that policy a “violation of international law”?

Addressing parliament on December 9, Shah said that Muslims “will not benefit from this amendment because they have not been persecuted on the basis of religion.”

Speaking to the Rajya Sabha on December 10, he added: “Who are you worried about? Should we make the Muslims coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan citizens of the country? What do you want — that we give every Muslim coming from any anywhere in the world citizenship? … The country cannot function this way.”

The government run by Modi is keenly aware of the country’s history – that is, the centuries of Muslim rule, when 70-80 million Hindus were killed. It knows, too, that while the percentage of the Hindu population in Pakistan has decreased from 24% in 1947 to 1.8% today,  and in Bangladesh decreased from 22% in 1947 to 8.5% today, in India the percentage of the population that is Muslim has steadily increased from 9.8% just after Partition to 14.2% today. These figures tell us a good deal about how Muslims have thrived, while non-Muslims have suffered, in the subcontinent.

The new Indian law should be applauded; it does not “marginalize” 200 million Indian Muslims; it does not violate “international law” or “overturn” the Indian Constitution, as its opponents excitedly claim. It does exactly one thing: the law provides a fast-track for citizenship to all those who have suffered persecution, as non-Muslims, in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It sensibly refuses to confer the same benefits on the Muslim victimizers as on their non-Muslim victims. In not backing down, Narendra Modi has proved that he is a stout protector of the persecuted, but not vengeful against their Muslim persecutors. Nor has he done anything to harm Indian Muslims. In history-haunted India, where the memory of those 70-80 million murdered Hindus vividly remains, what more can one ask?

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 12/27/2019 7:14 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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