Tuesday, 31 July 2018
Israel Defines Itself

by Michael Curtis

Palestinian president Abbas stands between PM Haniyeh and senior Fatah leader Dahlan in Gaza

The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Certainly this has been the case with the Palestinian movement, which has been hanging its tears out to dry. The glory of that movement, the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, was to be the destruction of the State of Israel. To take one formulation, the Charter of Hamas, IRM, (Islamic Resistance Movement), states that "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious." Its preamble declares that Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it. There is, it asserts, no solution for the Palestinian people except by Jihad. So called peaceful resolutions are in contradiction to the principles of the IRM. Its neo-peaceful resolution has been instigating three wars, countless rocket and missile attacks, building aggressive tunnels from which to infiltrate Israel, using flaming balloons and kites to set fire to thousands of hectares of Israeli forests, and burning of tires.  

Hope for glory has become displacement of Palestinians, poverty, wars, intifadas, humiliation, Nakba, (catastophe) and lack of development. The glory of Hamas, ruler of the Gaza Strip, has not been been one of political and economic development, but creation of a base from which to attack the State of Israel and its citizens. It comes as no surprise that the neglect by Hamas of the welfare of the inhabitants of Gaza has resulted in the area lacking in gas supply, water desalination and electricity infrastructure.

Unemployment in the Gaza Strip is 44%. Hamas is largely dependent on UNRWA for 252 schools, with 240,000 pupils, and health clinics.

The U.S. has been by far the largest donor to UNRWA, giving $150 million for its regular budget, compared with wealthy Qatar which gives $1 million. President Donald Trump has decided to reduce the U.S. contribution in 2018. The Trump administration indeed questions the validity of UNRWA. Created in December 1949 to deal with the welfare of Palestinian refugees, the organization has perpetuated the refugee problem rather than help solve it. It is dealing with only a small number of  genuine refugees, and with five million of second and third generations of descendents who left or were evicted from their homes after the wars provoked and launched by Arab armies against Israel.

Those who swallow the "fake news", disingenous misinfotmation, that Israel is a land of Jewish exclusivism and an "apartheid " and colonial state that denies the full and equal rights of many of its citizens must be perplexed by recent real news. Those perplexed already could not comprehand why Omar Barghouti, founder first of the Palestinian and then the general campaign to boycott Israel, BDS, defied the acdemic boycott and remained a student at Tel Aviv University, obtaining a MA in philosophy and being a candidate for a PhD degree.

Now the bigots of BDS must be disoriented by the news that in July 2018 an Arab-Israeli woman, Mona Khoury-Kassabri, was appointed dean of the School of Social Work, at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A Christian Arab woman, born of illiterate parents, whose research is about youth violence, she is the first Arab woman to be appointed a dean at the university. Yet she is only one of the Arab-Israelis who have and are occupying high official positions in Israel. In 1999 Abdel Rahman Zuabi was appointed to the Israeli Supreme Court, and in May 2004  Salim Joubran was similarly appointed a justice. Even so, in March 2012  Joubran, in discourteous behavior that would have infuriated President Donald Trump in his attitude towards the Dallas Cowboys, refused to sing the national anthem at the ceremony for the inauguration of the president of the Supreme Court.

Despite the facts, the Palestinians and the bigots of BDS, in their implicit goal of eliminating the State of Israel, still depict Israel as a colonial and apartheid state. "Apartheid" is a term officially adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1973, and defined again in 2002. In that year, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defined apartheid as encompassing inhumane acts such as torture, murder, forcible transfer, persecution of an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious grounds. The Statute condemns acts of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other group.  

Even the most bigoted boycotter will find it difficult to see the appointment of Mona Khoury-Kassabri as an example of any of those unhumane acts. There are no Bantustans, of South African kind, in Israel. Unlike many Middle East countries, Arab-Israeli  women have always been able to vote in elections and participate in political activity. Sanity is required to address the never ending fake news. The existence of Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the archaelogical digs near it do not constitute a threat to the existence of the Al-Aqsa mosque, nor an exhibiton of colonialism. Nor does the accidental dislodging in July 2018 of a large stone from the Western Wall imply a secret attempt by Jew to build a third Mount Moriah.

Nor does the fact that Israel has been medically treating wounted Syrian soldiers and civilians in the Golan Heights and admitting them into Israeli hospitals suggest acts of racial superiority.

Israel is founded on Zionism, a national but not colonial, movement, based on the historic Jewish connection with the land. The concept of "colonialism" is more appropriate to the empires since the 15th century  set up by the powers, Spain, Portugal, Britain, Sweden, France, Russia, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and Ottoman. In all cases there were outstanding crimes, massacres, violence, and subjugation of a population to a foreign political, economic, cultural order.

However, controversy surrounds the Nationality Law  passed 62-55 with 2 abstentions by the Israeli Knesset on July 19, 2018. It states that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish nation, that the State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish nation, in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious, and historical right to national self-determination. The Law declares Hebrew is the national language. Arabic, from being a national language, is explained as having a special status, and the use of the Arabic language will be required in government offices.  The Law, rejecting the allegation that Israeli is a "settler-colonial" state, sees Jewish settlement as a national value.

Though the Law has been criticized as anti-democratic and one that may allow discrimination, it does not infringe on the rights of all as equal citizens of the State of Israel. Indeed, the stress on Hebrew as the official language is similar to that in the French Constitution where article 2 declares that the language of the Republic is French.  Moreover, every road sign in Israel is in both Hebrew and Arabic.

The Law in fact is largely symbolic, arising from the problem that Israel does not have a written constitution. The nature of the system and the existence and maintain of equal rights has to determined from the Basic Laws. The Nationality Law is now one of them. It states the name of the country, Israel, the Star of David on the flag, the  menorah as the state emblem, Hatikvah as the state anthem, and Jerusalem as the capital. The Jewish national movement has expressed iself in clear fashion.

Posted on 07/31/2018 4:20 PM by Michael Curtis
Tuesday, 31 July 2018
Springtime for Snowflakes: “Social Justice” and Its Postmodern Parentage: A Review

Stephen Messenger writes in Areo:

In the fable describing a frog slowly boiled alive, the premise is that a frog suddenly dropped into boiling water will immediately leap out, but a frog placed in tepid water, with the temperature increasing slowly, one degree at a time, will not sense the danger and will be slowly cooked to death. NYU professor Michael Rectenwald is a frog who jumped out of the pot before he was boiled alive. Rectenwald first came to fame when he was outed by NYU’s school newspaper as the previously anonymous @antipcNYUProf. His new book, Springtime for Snowflakes: ‘Social Justice’ and its Postmodern Parentage chronicles the slowly increasing temperature of the water—the ideological climate of elite universities—which nearly killed his academic career.

Taking the metaphor up a level, academia itself can be seen as the frog, and the style of thought that predominates within the institution as the water. Reading Rectenwald’s memoir about the gradual growth of social justice thinking within academia is like watching helplessly as education as we know it is slowly boiled alive. One wonders whether the temperature has increased beyond the point at which the university as an institution can survive. Schools like Evergreen and Mizzou are already in trouble. More will struggle unless this trend is recognized and reversed. And those that do not change and yet survive will continue to constrain inquiry, restrict speech, endanger knowledge-making, and suffocate the collected wisdom of human experience.

Academia is in the midst of an existential crisis. The near total hegemony the left enjoys over its institutions has turned them into tribal communities, in which most people think more or less the same way, and in which there is almost no one left to push back against the questionable orthodoxies that have metastasized there, no one to say, “hold on a minute, there may be another way to interpret this issue.” By voicing his objections in this book, Rectenwald is one of very few who have pushed back. Springtime for Snowflakes suggests that social justice ideology is far more entrenched, its reach far deeper and pervasive, and its impact far more insidious than groups like Heterodox Academy apparently realize.

The few who have pushed back share a common trait, which I will discuss below.

By most indications, Rectenwald’s educational history would seem to make him a prime candidate to become a full-on social justice warrior. Although, because of his mixed cognitive style (the trait shared by those who’ve pushed back, discussed in more detail below), he did not.

After graduating from a Catholic high school, Rectenwald studied pre-med at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. But, even as he was earning good grades and working his way through the pre-med curriculum, the life of the mind—and, in particular, the study of literature—beckoned him like a siren song. Their appeal eventually became too strong for him, and Rectenwald abandoned pre-med to become an apprentice to the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

This was to become a pattern in Rectenwald’s life. After graduating from The University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English Literature, he worked in advertising for nine years. But, upon becoming financially established, Rectenwald decided to abandon this second successful endeavor and return to the life of the mind, eventually earning an M.A. in English Literature from Case Western Reserve, followed by a Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie-Mellon. As he describes it:

The story of my postmodern education begins with a successful escape—from the “prison house” (Frederic Jameson) of corporate America—where I had been consigned for nine years—and into what I took for the last remaining haven of intellectual independence—academia.

Early in his graduate studies, Rectenwald encountered the first signs of the social justice thinking that would engulf academia. Studying under Martha Woodmansee, who practiced  “new historicism,” Rectenwald noted that such an approach

can veer toward an environmental determinism that portrays human beings as hapless objects of circumstance. As for the “genius” of a “great writer,” like Herman Mel­ville for example, it could be cultivated on an ordinary tomato plant, given the right soil and other environmental conditions.

Woodmansee assigned readings like Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and The Culture of Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, by Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer. The latter essay, Rectenwald confesses, “hacked into my head and planted a bug.”

If Adorno and Horkheimer’s essay was a bug, then Rectenwald’s innate cognitive style, with its partially idealist tendency, was a relatively receptive cognitive algorithm. The environment of academia was the operating system that allowed such thinking to run with minimal interruption.

Springtime for Snowflakes is much more than just a memoir of Rectenwald’s experiences at the hands of postmodern inquisitors. It’s a history of postmodern thinking, a survey of the movement’s prominent thinkers, summaries of their main ideas, trenchant analyses of those ideas, a summing up of the movement’s current thinking, and a critique. It describes the intellectual lineage of concepts like cultural appropriation, safe spaces, trigger warnings, and speech as violence. We learn from Rectenwald the thinking behind postmodern concepts such as deconstruction, toxic masculinity, biologism, standpoint epistemology, social constructivism, radical constructivism, transgender theory, etc.

Rectenwald’s grasp of postmodern thinking is wide and deep, which makes his critique all the more devastating. As such, the book constitutes an argument and supporting evidence in favor of the cognitive theory of politics, which in turn is an explanation of the psychology behind the thinking Rectenwald describes.

According to the cognitive theory of politics, the crux of the ideological divide is not what people think, it’s how they think—the cognitive processes from which viewpoints follow. The political left and right are best understood as psychological profiles—ways of thinking—which in turn influence the viewpoints each side tends to hold. In his book, The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization, Arthur Herman identifies the two predominant cognitive styles and traces them through 2,400 years of human history. Plato and Aristotle serve as emblems for them, as the following passage from Herman nicely summarizes:

Despite their differences, Plato and Aristotle agreed on many things. They both stressed the importance of reason as our guide for understanding and shaping the world. Both believed that our physical world is shaped by certain eternal forms that are more real than matter. The difference was that Plato’s forms existed outside matter, whereas Aristotle’s forms were unrealizable without it.

The psychological profile of the political left leans toward Platonic idealism, while the right has a greater tendency toward Aristotelian empiricism. Under the former, everything in the real world is but a pale imitation of its potential ideal being, and it is incumbent upon the enlightened, with their special abilities, to describe the ideal and help others to approach it. Since John Locke, such idealism has involved belief in the blank slate model, in which human thought and behavior are the products of the social environment and can be perfected once the right environmental conditions have been properly established. This is the world of Plato’s Republic and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The political right, on the other hand, gravitates toward Aristotelian empiricism, which operates under the assumption that, while striving to improve the world is desirable, reality places hard limits on what is possible. We risk catastrophe if we do not remain cognizant of these limits.

Academia is nothing if not an idealist environment of mind. In that milieu, Rechtenwald found himself unconstrained by the realities of his early years, during which time he had worked for his father in home remodeling: where walls, ceilings, and floors were often not square, and the material world appeared to conspire against the best intentions of producing a perfectly-constructed kitchen.

The academic environment is naturally attractive to minds like Rectenwald’s, possessing as he did a cognitive operating system partially predisposed toward the Ginsbergian freethinking of Platonic idealism, where the only limit is the imagination:

The allure of postmodern theory’s différance overwrote any impulse I may have had for theoretical closure. If becoming a “theory head,” as it had earlier been called, required a thorough understanding of Marxism and Critical Theory, it also required a more than a passing familiarity with postmodern theory. The latter supplemented one’s tool kit and might provide escape hatches from the “totality,” like Ginsberg’s poetry had done for me previously—a space for “the play of signifiers,” a “ludic” valve for letting off the pressure of systemic steam.

What’s more, freethinking feels good. Psychology Today has summarized multiple studies that suggest that creativity and the feeling that one has gained a new insight feel psychologically rewarding. People on the ideological left tend to score higher on the personality traits of openness to new ideas and novelty-seeking. This can turn the attractiveness of academia and the concomitant endeavor of freethinking into an addiction. People spending years of study to obtain an advanced degree—and then pursue a career within academia—can remind one of lab mice, constantly pushing a lever to receive a never-ending flow of food pellets or drugs.

It’s not difficult to understand how, in the relative peace and prosperity after World War II, the percentage of people within academia who were Platonic (vs. Aristotelian) thinkers would gradually increase. As Charles Murray and Bill Bishop describe in their books, Coming Apart and The Big Sort, human beings have a strong tendency to self-segregate into groups of individuals similar to themselves. The freethinking environment of academia and the cognitive style of Platonic idealism are a match made in heaven.

The flourishing of social justice thinking within academia seems almost inevitable. If academia is a greenhouse, then Platonic thinking is the fertile soil and “Imagine”-like “unconstrained” ideas are the seeds.

The multiple anecdotes in Springtime for Snowflakes, relating Professor Rectenwald’s experiences as he progressed through his academic career, appear like the developmental stages of a plant, from seed to flower. From the historical example of Lysenkoism in the USSR; through the observation of the “willy-nilly” imposition of political desiderata upon literature by literary critics involved in identity politics; to recollections of the Sokal hoax in science studies (in which science itself, like gender, is held to be a social construct and a power center from which to control and oppress others); and so much else, Rectenwald traces the flowering of social justice and his own growing disaffection with the movement. Yet these encounters seem quaint and anachronistic compared with today’s hysterical proclamations that any idea with which one disagrees is tantamount to “hate speech,” that hate speech is literally murder, and that anyone to the right of a social justice warrior is a Nazi.

This book-length compendium of overwhelming anecdotal evidence proves that it’s not what we think—our viewpoints—that divides us, but how we think: the cognitive operating systems from which our viewpoints naturally follow.

Ronald Reagan was famous for his communication style, which bypassed, or did an end-run around, the intellectual gatekeepers of the mainstream media, and spoke directly to the people. Postmodern thought, which is to say the psychological profile of Platonic idealism, performs the same trick, but with different players. Instead of leapfrogging over the intellectual gatekeepers, it jumps past enlightenment norms of reason and evidence and appeals directly to human nature’s base instincts of jealousy, envy, and recrimination. The book exposes the roots of postmodern thinking in self-centered narcissism.

Professor Rectenwald nails the essence of the cognitive style of Platonic idealism in this summary of social justice thinking:

The social and linguistic constructivist claims of social justice ideologues amount to a form of philosophical and social idealism that is enforced with a moral absolutism. Once beliefs are unconstrained by the object world and people can believe anything they like with impunity, a pretense of infallibility becomes almost irresistible, especially when the requisite power is available to support such idealism. In fact, given its willy-nilly determination of truth and reality on the basis of beliefs alone, philosophical and social idealism necessarily becomes dogmatic, authoritarian, anti-rational, and effectively religious. Since it sanctions no push-back from the object world, which it regards with indifference or disdain, it necessarily encounters push-back from the object world and must double-down. Because it usually contains so much nonsense, the social and philosophical idealism of the social justice creed must be established by force, or the threat of force.

There’s a direct unbroken psychological lineage from Platonic idealism; through the Cult of Reason and the Terror of late eighteenth-century century France; to the purgings and cleansings of communism, fascism, and national socialism; and to today’s social justice warriors and their terrorist faction, Antifa.

The overall message of Springtime for Snowflakes is that the situation is far worse than we might think. Springtime for Snowflakes makes it abundantly clear that emotional thinking divorced from the object world is not merely a façade adorning academic life, as Heterodox Academy’s pleas for viewpoint diversity suggest. Rather, it is a virus that has infected the very operating system of academia. Diverse viewpoints are immaterial if everyone is infected with the same virus.

In light of this, many current efforts to bridge the ideological divide and bring civility back to academia and public discourse severely underestimate the depth of the problem. Consequently, the solutions they recommend seem like bringing a squirt gun to a five-alarm blaze.

It has taken decades for the infection to spread; it will likely take equally long for an effective treatment to eradicate it. The education system is going to have to rededicate itself to instilling Enlightenment norms of evidence and reason and conveying an accurate understanding of the realities of human nature at every level of the education system. The requisite knowledge is available. The question is whether academia has the will to heed and disseminate it?

The good news is that there seem to be at least a few people within academia, including Rectenwald, who recognize the problem and are working to correct it. Each of them, by virtue of publicly pushing back against it, have run afoul of the illiberal social justice mob. Among them are Bret Weinstein, Nicholas Christakis, Lindsay Shepherd, and Jordan Peterson.

To the best of my knowledge, each of these figures considers him or herself to be on—or to have been on—the political left. What distinguishes them from the social justice left is their cognitive style. They all show a much stronger tendency toward Aristotelian empiricism than do their social justice inquisitors.

Springtime for Snowflakes could be used as the core text for a course surveying and critiquing postmodern thinking. It is also an accessible volume for any layman who seeks to better understand the cultural trends swirling around us today. At one point, Rectenwald summarizes the social justice subject as follows: “Under the social justice worldview, everyone is locked in an impenetrable identity chrysalis with access to a personal knowledge that no one else can reach.”

As the weeks and months pass, it is becoming increasingly clear that the true wedge that is driving the Coming Apart is not ideology per se, but the contest between the cognitive styles of Platonic idealism and Aristotelian empiricism. Springtime for Snowflakes chronicles the slow, incremental process by which this bug in the software of human thought has gradually infected academia and Western culture at large.

Posted on 07/31/2018 4:07 AM by NER
Monday, 30 July 2018
Act of betrayal: rescued by the Royal Navy from Libyan warzone and evacuated back to Britain - three years before he slaughtered 22 people at a pop concert

Our Judeo--Christian morality regards this as a 'betrayal' but to him, under his code, it was probably an action to delight Allah, and no more than the infidels deserved. From the Daily Mail. 

The Manchester suicide bomber was rescued by the Navy from war-torn Libya three years before his pop concert atrocity, the Mail reveals today.

HMS Enterprise plucked Salman Abedi, then 19, from the Libyan coast and took him to Malta for a flight home to Britain in August 2014.

Last May he set off a bomb in Manchester Arena that killed 22, including seven children. Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem, who is in jail in Tripoli facing trial over the attack, was also rescued by HMS Enterprise.

Abedi was known to the security services and was being monitored at the time of his trip to Libya. However, just one month prior to his rescue, MI5 closed his case as a result of mistaken identity. The presence of the Abedi brothers among the 110 evacuees from Libya in 2014 was confirmed by family friends in Libya. One said: ‘They were sent together by the Royal Navy to Malta.’After being dropped off in Malta, Salman and his 21-year-old brother – the British-born sons of Libyan migrants – flew back to Manchester where they were living at the time.

Salman, who was on a gap year from Manchester College, went on to study business management at Salford University, before dropping out and descending into a fanatical spiral that culminated in last year’s suicide bombing at the age of 22.

The Abedi brothers shuttled back and forth between Manchester and Tripoli because their parents – Ramadan and Samia – had returned to Libya.Ramadan is thought to have gone back in time for the 2011 revolution, allegedly fighting against the Gaddafi regime with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

It is not certain whether the two brothers were with their father at the time of the revolution or instead in neighbouring Tunisia.But they were on holiday in Libya in August 2014 when civil war fighting broke out and British officials offered to evacuate UK citizens.

The Royal Navy was tasked with picking them up, along with other British nationals, on a list provided to sailors.

Posted on 07/30/2018 6:04 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 July 2018
The Mosque At Basking Ridge: A Morality Tale? (Part 6)

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The Guardian report continued:

To some people in Basking Ridge, Chaudry’s struggle looked less noble. They saw his battle with the town government as a local political feud, which dated back to his tenure as an elected official, long before he ever proposed the mosque. Chaudry had first run for a seat on the town committee in 2001. After September 11, which hit the commuter town hard, he told the local newspaper: “We are all under attack.” But a Republican party leader called him to suggest it might be better if his campaign signs, which read “Ali Chaudry”, just used his last name. “I said everyone knows who I am,” Chaudry told me. “I’ve never kept it a secret.” He won the election. But he was not universally popular.

The way the local government worked, the office of mayor rotated annually among the elected members of the township committee. In 2004, it was Chaudry’s turn. As the US’s first Pakistani-American mayor, he made a triumphant visit to his homeland, where he met with the foreign minister, and gave interviews in which he hinted that he had ambitions for higher office. But local critics found him arrogant and high-handed. The next time he was up for election, he held on to his committee seat by just 11 votes.

The local Republican party was also in the midst of a schism, and Chaudry and his allies were ultimately driven out by a more conservative faction, which ran on the slogan: “It’s Time To Take Your Town Back.” The bad blood spilled over into the mosque dispute. The most damning evidence produced by the Islamic Society in the course of its lawsuit came from the correspondence of the town’s elected officials, many of whom had formerly served and clashed with Chaudry. They expressed their hostility in raw, racially offensive terms.

No, they didn’t.

A town committee member named John Malay compared Chaudry to a stereotypically shifty native character in the 1930s film ‘The Lives of a Bengal Lancer.” “We [finally] ousted him, whereupon he went to Mecca, got a funny hat and declared himself the imam of a new mosque here in town,” Malay wrote. “Religion trumps even politics as a refuge for scoundrels, I guess.”

And what does John Malay’s crack about Chaudry, who made enemies while in office for being “arrogant and high-handed,” have to do with the mosque vote? Malay was a member of the town committee, not the planning board. And is his comment about Chaudry going to Mecca really an expression of  “hostility in raw, racially offensive terms”? As far as I have been able to discover, no one in Basking Ridge ever made “racially offensive” statements about Chaudry. Some did make unflattering  remarks about verses in the Qur’an, which remarks happened to be true.

The mosque opponents, according to the report in The Guardian, advanced a conspiratorial theory that Chaudry had been “engineering failure” all along, so that he could sue and win millions in damages, as other mosques had done. Why is this a “conspiratorial” theory? Didn’t Chaudry consistently refuse, through 39 hearings, to compromise with the planning board?

“I find it ironic that he served on this council for religious conflict, and what he really was trying to do here – and I don’t think he succeeded in the end, because people see through it – is create a religious conflict,” Carpenter said. “I don’t think what happened is fair to the people of the town, and I think it’s important for other people around the country to know what’s coming their way.”

As the controversy over the mosque moved toward a settlement, the town committee held a series of heated public hearings. Many members of the Islamic Society attended, to show a human face to their neighbours. They always took care to present themselves as model citizens: upscale professionals, and the parents of striving children.

“We are not some strange boogeyman that came out of nowhere,” Yasmine Khalil told me. She was a doctor and a vocal mosque supporter, who had moved to the township from Manhattan a few years before. Khalil said she had been dismayed to see the ugliness infiltrate even a private Facebook group for local mothers, where she had got into commenting wars about Islam. “When I wasn’t just quiet and silent and in the background,” she said, “they took it upon themselves to kick me out.”

At one public meeting, a white-haired man – one of the crustier opposing voices – tripped and fell, and Khalil rushed across the room, thinking he might need medical assistance. He was fine, and the meeting went on. Khalil gave a speech, introducing herself as a mother. “We are your friends, we are your neighbours – I could be your doctor,” Khalil said. “I want my kids to feel like they’re welcomed. I want my kids to feel proud of the people that we have chosen to surround them with.”

The old man she had just rushed to help piped up: “Move to an appropriate place!”

The “old man” is being misleadingly presented as an ingrate (to Ms.Khalil) and a bigot. He is neither. He did not say, as the reporter seems to think he said, “get out of our town” or “we don’t want any mosques,” or “we don’t want your kind.” He meant exactly what he said: Move the mosque to an appropriate place, elsewhere than on the too-small marshy plot on residential Church Street. And that is exactly what other opponents of this particular mosque, to be built on that  particular plot, were saying.

Chaudry said non-Muslims in Basking Ridge would often pull him aside, to quietly confide that they were ashamed about what was happening to the town. He hoped that, at some point, the forces of conciliation would make themselves heard. Instead, the tenor of the debate only grew more hysterical. It reached its climax when a particularly vociferous mosque opponent named Nick Xu, a Chinese-American volunteer for Trump’s campaign, gave a speech claiming that the Islamic Society’s lawsuit was part of a “systematic plot” to wage war through the courts. “If you google ‘Islamic Lawfare’,” he said, “you’re going to see dozens, dozens of these kind of lawsuits.” In response to Xu, a man named James Rickey – a member of one of the town’s old Scots-Irish families – came to his feet, full of righteous contempt. “The tone that has been used here tonight is disgraceful,” Rickey said. “We’re all human beings. We should respect each other.”

It’s a Morality Tale: the vociferous (read: vicious) mosque opponent, Nick Xu, guilty of the primal sin of being a volunteer for Trump (how could anyone stoop so low?), and a bigot himself despite being Chinese-American, told where to get off by James Rickey, a representative of one of the fine “old Scots-Irish families” that are models of rectitude, verily the finest type of true-blue American, who stood up to deplore the “tone” of the Trump-loving enemies of Mr. Chaudry. Of course, few who read the Guardian will bother to do as Nick Xu suggests and google “Islamic Lawfare.” For if they did, they would see many examples of  the same use of the courts by Muslims to ride roughshod over zoning regulations, all while complaining bitterly of  “Islamophobia,” and many of them coming out way ahead not just with the zoning variance they wanted, but with, as well, multi-million dollar settlements for the mosque.

With that, and without debate, the town committee grimly voted to approve the settlement, [that had been reached  between the town and Chaudry’s lawyers] agreeing to reverse the planning board’s rejection, while paying the Islamic Society $3.5m. John Carpenter was the lone dissenter. The townspeople again raised a loud clamour. “We understand your frustration,” the mayor told them. “But this is what we are required to do by federal law.”

A few weeks later, the Islamic Society celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan beneath a white tent set up next to a practice green at the Basking Ridge Country Club. Chaudry addressed the service while standing next to a poster-sized rendering of the mosque. “As many of you know,” he said, “we now have – alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah – a settlement with the township, which calls for us to submit a revised plan, and I am honoured to tell you that at 4.49pm yesterday I received from our engineers the plan that we intend to submit tomorrow, inshallah. Many people thought this was impossible. As Nelson Mandela said once, things seem impossible until they are done.”

Chaudry no longer considered himself a Republican, for obvious reasons, but he was still guarded in his criticism of Trump. All summer, while the president vacationed nearby, a few self-proclaimed members of the resistance would protest on a street corner in Bedminster. Chaudry never participated. Instead, he organised interfaith prayer services, and tried to be a moderating force. When an alleged Islamic State supporter from New Jersey killed eight people with a truck on a Manhattan bike path in October, Chaudry hastened to arrange a reassuring visit of police officials to a mosque near the suspect’s home, which was receiving death threats. Meanwhile, every time Trump tweeted something horrible about Muslims, Chaudry would wearily draw up a public statement. “With him, you can never tell what he’s going to say,” he said.

Chaudry’s tactics, and those of his lawyers, win him — alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah — a complete victory. But here he is, organizing “interfaith prayer services” and trying “to be a moderating force.” “Moderating” force on whom? Logically he would be “moderating” the reactions of his fellow Muslims, who perhaps might exhibit too much satisfaction, even triumphalism, at their victory, which Chaudry, though no doubt feeling the same, nonetheless knew it would be a good idea not to display such feelings too obviously.

While continuing to fight on the legal front

The Thomas More Law Center is continuing to work for several individual opponents of the mosque, who think their free speech rights were impinged on.

Chaudry is now raising funds – much of the settlement went to pay his lawyers, who are in turn donating the money to charity – while also going through the permitting process. He hopes to demolish the house soon, so he can hold a groundbreaking ceremony some time in 2018. One person who won’t be attending is the current town mayor, John Carpenter. He promptly appointed Nick Xu – the “Islamic lawfare” guy – to a pair of township boards.

Chaudry hopes, though, that constructing the mosque will pave the way for reconciliation with those opponents who are willing to listen. “I am a firm believer – perhaps I am more of an optimist than many people – but I feel that in human nature, when something has been done, people are more willing to accept it,” Chaudry said.

This is part of inshallah-fatalism.

“They will find that their fears were baseless.” He has a strong – religious – faith in the notion that differences among people are best overcome through cultural interchange. “Mosques are places where you build those bridges,” he said.

Yes, of course,  mosques are “places where you build those bridges” between different peoples. Just think of all the ways “bridges” can be built between peoples: Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an not to take Jews and Christians as friends. (5:51) They are told in the Qur’an that Muslims are the “best of peoples” (3:110) and Non-Muslims the “most vile of creatures.” (98:6) They are instructed, furthermore, to hold fast to the doctrine of Al-wala’ wa-l-bara’ (Arabic: ?????? ??????? ), which is an Arabic term in Islam meaning ” loyalty and disavowal.” It signifies loving and hating for the sake of Allah. Al-wala’ wa-l-bara’ is referred to as holding fast to all that is pleasing to Allah and withdrawing from and opposing all that is displeasing to Allah, namely the Kuffar.

First published in Jihad Watch.

Posted on 07/30/2018 8:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 29 July 2018
Springtime for Snowflakes I

Douglas Texter writes in his Higher Education Blog.

In Springtime for Snowflakes, Michael Rectenwald delivers an intellectual memoir and a denunciation of the current SJW culture obtaining at colleges and universities across the United States and Great Britain. He also unpacks how the left became so toxic in the United States. 
In addition, Rectenwald answers a question I’ve always had: how does an English professor become oppositional to a discipline that is itself highly oppositional?  While Rectenwald is typical of English professors in some ways, he’s very different in others.
First, I don’t think he comes from huge amounts of family money. One of the dirty secrets of the academy is that a lot of humanities professors come from huge family fortunes. Indeed, my own dissertation advisor at the University of Minnesota was the daughter of a Cincinnati department store magnate. She was financially independent. This independence seems to open up a lot of people to a lot of nutty ideas. They play at being activists because activism for some people is just a fun game.
Second, Rectenwald, before graduate school, worked outside of the academy. I did as well. When you work in corporate land, you bring a different set of skills and experiences to your work in the academy. Most Ph.D.s haven’t worked outside of the academy. You can tell. They think that it’s normal to deliver a Foucualdian analysis of just about everything.
Third, Rectenwald is a pretty good writer, and he has known personally other very good writers, including  Ginsberg. Most English professors are terrible writers, filling their work with fashionable jargon. They produce and inscribe, liminally, of course, recursive hegemonic discourse. See what I just did? This kind of writing can make your head ache and your eyes tear. While Rectenwald certainly can produce scholarly discourse, he’s a cogent writer.
Fourth, Rectenwald is Catholic. Or at least he went to Catholic school. What difference does his religious affiliation make? A whole lot of difference. Because he was raised inside a meta-narrative, he’s ok with making truth claims. And making such claims is exactly what postmodernists are terrified of doing. They don’t believe in capital-T truth. They believe all truth (including biological truth) is socially constructed.  Nothing is ever wrong because nothing was ever right in the first place. 
We’ll talk more about that problem next week. 
Finally, Rectenwald comes from Western Pennsylvania. So do I. When you grow up around poverty, the real poverty of areas of the country that have dying factories and landscapes destroyed by strip mine coal companies, you understand that activism used to be about fighting for living wages in Carnegie’s steel mills, struggling for safety measures on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and striving to ensure that old employees can retire with dignity. All of that kind of activism is gone. That activism was based on a notion of class struggle, of the absolute dignity of human beings. Today’s activism is based on trendy notions of sexual identity and, often, the protection of upper-middle class values and the creation of safe spaces and trigger warnings.
Now that we know a little bit about his background, next week, we’ll talk about his explication of social justice warrior culture.
Posted on 07/29/2018 6:51 AM by NER
Saturday, 28 July 2018
What Is A Soccer Player Worth?

by Theodore Dalrymple

I surmise that the authors of Is Football Going to Explode? have been, like many of us, viscerally disgusted by the vast salaries paid to star footballers, and that this disgust was the most important motive force that impelled them to write their book. But, of course, their motive does not affect the validity of their arguments.

They start with the emblematic transfer of the services of a young Brazilian footballer, Neymar, to Paris Saint Germain for approximately $250,000,000. They not unnaturally ask what can possibly justify this enormous sum. The answer that this is the price that the market will bear does not satisfy them.

Instead, they turn to what might be called — if he were a tool rather than a human being — the use-value of Neymar, and here the matter becomes inextricably complicated.

The average salary of a footballer in the league in which Neymar is to play is about $600,000 a year: enviable from the point of view of 99 per cent of the population, but not pharaonic. (Incidentally, the French league is the lowest-paying of any of the five big European leagues, the others being the English, Spanish, German and Italian). Can Neymar really be 50 times better and more valuable or better, the authors ask, than the average league player? If he were, surely he alone could replace a whole team, indeed several whole teams.

Since this is clearly absurd, the price of his services cannot possibly bear any relation to their use-value — as the authors imply that in a rational world they would, could, or should. But how is the use-value of a footballer to be assessed, assuming that his use-value lies in procuring for his team as many victories as possible? Can there be any better or more accurate method of assessment than that of an experienced coach who says, “This is just the man I need for my team”? At best, the use-value of a footballer can be no more than an educated but hazardous and gestalt-type guess. The situation is complicated by the fact that it is not in the long-term interests of any club to win every match, because were it to do so the competition itself would lose interest, since the winner would always be known in advance and the supremely successful team’s victories would have no element of excitement.

What of Neymar’s purely commercial value to PSG? This is very difficult to assess. When he signed for the team, according to the authors, PSG sold 20,000 extra “official” PSG shirts with his name on them within three days although, even at a profit to the club of $20 apiece, this would bring in less than half of one per cent of what they had spent on him. Presumably the sales of such shirts would fall off as the novelty also wore off; but when Neymar signed for the club, PSG immediately had more followers on the social media than anyone or anything else in France.

The authors mistake the justification that economic liberals would provide for the high price paid for Neymar’s services. According to the authors:

Idolaters of the market and of liberalism justify inequalities by talent, by competition. “If he costs a lot, it’s because he’s good,” or “If he he’s well paid, it’s because he brings in a lot.”

On the contrary, I think economic liberals (whether they be right or wrong in wider sense) would say that the high price was paid for Neymar’s services was because someone thought they were worth the price, and this is so whether or not the person paying the price — the Qatari royal family, in effect — wanted or expected to make a profit from the deal. The monetary value of something is the price people, wisely or unwisely, are prepared to pay for it.

The authors hanker after our old friend, the just price, which we all instinctively think must be the correct price—the just price for my services being always a little more than anyone is willing to pay for them. The obvious problem with the just price is that someone all-wise and disinterested has to set it, and even so his scale of values may not meet with universal approval, in fact is almost certain not to do so. The just price requires the philosopher-king, and we all know where philosopher-kings lead.

The authors point out deformations in the scale of footballers’ remuneration (here they take correlation, as most of us do, for causation). Footballers are paid more if they are good-looking, though good looks have, or should have, nothing whatever to do with the ability to kick a ball about with great skill. Furthermore, players who play extremely well some days and not so well on others are better paid than those who are dependably good, but never as good as the undependable players at their best. This is because they get themselves talked about more, as do players with colourful personal lives. An uxorious man who leads the quiet life of a successful haute-bourgeois is no use to gossip columnists.

Here, I think, we come to the nub of the matter. Though they cannot admit it, what the authors are appalled by is the general culture of which football is now so large a part. (Such newspapers in Britain as the Times and the Guardian, which are at the higher end of the intellectual range, devote more space to football than to all foreign affairs.) If they would but admit it, they are horrified at the sheer idiocy and bad taste of 20,000 morons who are prepared to shell out good money for shirts with Neymar’s name printed on it, and who find Neymar himself so fascinating, though it is unlikely that he is exceptional in anything other than his ability to kick a football with consummate skill, that they are prepared to spend their spare time reading about him. Human fatuity can go no further.

Disdain is a dangerous sentiment and one has to control it, though not by erecting complex theories to disguise it even from oneself. However, the authors’ book, though I disagree with quite a lot of it, is a valuable one. The authors, rightly, take the cause of football as a microcosm and confirm what the late manager of the Liverpool Football Club in its salad days, said: Football is not a matter of life and death, it’s far more important than that.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

Posted on 07/28/2018 7:20 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Saturday, 28 July 2018
The Mosque At Basking Ridge: A Morality Tale? (Part 5)

by Hugh Fitzgerald

In Basking Ridge, New Jersey, the planning board several years ago rejected the local lslamic Society’s building plan for a new mosque. Among the objections were that the mosque’s visitors had been undercounted by 50%, that the parking lot attached to the mosque was too small for those visitors, that the mosque would be in the middle of a residential area, and those coming for the daily prayers would cause noise and commotion beginning before sunrise and ending after sunset. The board held a total of 39 hearings, at which the Islamic Society was given every chance to make changes to its plan, to downsize or otherwise modify it, in order to win approval. It never did so. Instead, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, who was the moving force behind the mosque proposal, took the planning board to court, claiming their decision was motivated by anti-Islamic prejudice.

Then Chaudry was joined by the Obama administration’s lawyers:

In 2016, the US Justice Department filed its own lawsuit, claiming that the local planning board violated the Islamic Society’s rights in rejecting its building plan…The federal government’s intervention had a radicalising effect in Liberty Corner. The neighbourhood’s enemy was no longer a pushy former mayor; it was President Obama. Then, as if a Justice Department investigation wasn’t intrusive enough, private citizens started receiving knocks on their doors from people carrying subpoenas, seeking to probe their email and social media accounts. The Islamic Society’s lawyers – members of a prestigious Manhattan firm that was working pro-bono – wanted to prove that Caratzola was really the commenter “LC”, and that she and her allies were communicating their true attitudes to each other – and to their elected leaders – outside of the public meetings.

Understandably, though, the private citizens felt threatened by the intrusion. Their complaints attracted the attention of the Thomas More Law Center, which intervened on the behalf of residents seeking to quash the subpoenas, claiming that the demand would have a chilling effect on free speech. On its website, the Law Center decried the “outrageous unconstitutional intimidation”, alongside a heroic photo of Caratzola standing in front of an American flag. “Lori Caratzola,” the caption read. “Persecuted for opposing the mosque.”

On 31 December 2016, a federal judge issued a preliminary decision in the Basking Ridge case, finding that the planning board had exercised “unbridled and unconstitutional discretion” in requiring the mosque to have more parking than other houses of worship. Though the case was far from over, it was clear that the law favoured Chaudry. The victory rang hollow, though. Trump had just been elected president, giving a jarring rebuke to liberal values, and placing Muslim-Americans like Chaudry in a newly precarious position.

The constant invocation of Trump, preposterously painted as a menace to innocent Muslims, is absurd. How has Trump’s presidency placed Muslims like Chaudry “in a newly precarious position”?

On a chilly Friday in April last year, still early in Trump’s presidency, I helped Chaudry as he performed his weekly ritual, carrying items from the garage of the old house in Liberty Corner to his gold Toyota SUV. In went eight rolled-up prayer rugs, then the plastic donation boxes, the folding music stand that serves as a lectern, the sound system, the digital clock, which was synchronised with Mecca, and four decorative mats, which Chaudry uses to slightly sanctify the drab walls of the community centre that the Islamic Society currently uses for its Jummah service. When the SUV, known as the “Mosque Mobile”, was full, Chaudry would drive it across town for prayers. “I’m just overwhelmed with everything that is going on,” he said as we got in the car. For the past few months, Trump had been fighting to impose his ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations, sparking court confrontations and massive protests.

Trump’s name is invoked twice here by the reporter to suggest that sinister anti-Muslim forces have been abroad in the land, and that they somehow conspired to block the mosque at Basking Ridge. But it was Mr. Chaudry who sought a zoning variance, who refused, during 39 public hearings, to accept suggestions from the planning board members as to possible compromises, and who received the services of a powerful law firm — working pro bono — who tried to paint his opponents purely as “Islamophobes.”

Despite Trump’s election, Chaudry still retained his hope for justice, at least for his congregation. The case was now in the courts, which meant the Justice Department couldn’t easily abandon it. The town’s government, facing an almost certain legal defeat, was under pressure from its insurance company to settle its lawsuit with the Islamic Society quickly, before a trial.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2017, negotiations dragged on over a settlement, which would include a large damages payment to the Islamic Society. I attended endless meetings of the township’s elected committee, at which angry citizens would demand information from stone-faced board members, inveighing against the settlement in increasingly apocalyptic terms. Chaudry attended with other members of the Islamic Society. He sat in the front row but said nothing, keeping his head down and scribbling in a pad, showing no emotion even in the face of incendiary provocations.

The opponents were a surprisingly diverse lot. There were some old-money Protestants, who complained that the hubbub would bother their horses. But some of the most emotional speakers were new residents, many of them immigrants from south and east Asia. At one meeting, one of the Islamic Society’s closest neighbours, a medical professional from India who was building a large house directly behind the mosque plot, stood up and addressed the Muslims in the audience directly.

“If you are somehow able to get a mosque built, you will create a divide which you will not be able to bridge,” he said. “On the other hand, if the site would move to another appropriate location, you will earn our respect, and you will truly earn the right to build a mosque in this town. What is it that you want, to just build a mosque, or set an example for the whole country?”

Are these the words of someone who is against a mosque? No. They are the words of someone who is against a mosque being built in this particular spot, in a residential area, on a plot of land deemed too small for the likely number of cars that would be driven by worshippers, and not just on Fridays but every day, and not just in the middle of the day but very early, before sunrise, and very late, after sunset, as many Muslims would come for at least some of their five daily prayers.

“It wouldn’t be fair to say, though, that everyone who spoke against the mosque was religiously motivated. Many, if not most, of the adversaries appeared to be genuinely impassioned in their opposition to development in Liberty Corner. “Sure, there’s a 5% lunatic fringe,” Paul Zubulake told me one evening while sitting on a bench outside the town hall, waiting for yet another meeting to begin. But he said that for him, and many others, religion was beside the point: “It’s about our quality of life. It’s going to destroy our community.”

To show me what he loved about Liberty Corner, Zubalake invited me to visit his home, a few doors down from the Islamic Society property. When I arrived, on a rainy Memorial Day in late May, a soggy town parade was making its way down the main thoroughfare, Church Street. As Zubulake was introducing me to his family – explaining that his son has autism, and they had moved to the area for his schooling – he spotted the mayor marching by with other members of the township committee. He dashed down to the roadside and shouted: “There’s still time!” [to stop the mosque.]

The politicians frowned and kept marching down Church Street. “I just want them to know how pissed off I am,” Zubulake said.

Chaudry, meanwhile, had organised a contingent from the Islamic Society to march in the Memorial Day parade. They met in front of the house, next to a sign that Chaudry had staked in the yard, reading: “Proud to Be An American.” Whether by chance or intention, the parade’s organisers had put the Islamic Society at the very rear, right behind another marginalised group, the local Democrats. Chaudry coaxed the children who were marching with the Islamic Society’s banner to stay in a tight formation. “Good morning!” he called from beneath a big black umbrella, waving an American flag with his free hand. The parade route ended at a war memorial, where Chaudry left a wreath with a mosque insignia.

“My advice to the community has always been that this is not the time to hide,” Chard told me later. “You have to be out there, fighting for your rights.”

The “local Democrats” are not a “marginalized group.” Remember: Basking Ridge went for Hillary Clinton. But nothing will stop this reporter from finding hints of anti-Muslim feeling when there is none.

And “fighting for your rights” is fine, but Chaudry has been “out there” fighting not for his legitimate rights but demanding his mosque project be given preferential treatment by the planning board. And his lawyers have been keen to deprive his opponents of exercising their free speech rights, by depicting them as bigots. Fortunately, not all were silenced.

Posted on 07/28/2018 7:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 28 July 2018
The Hadith of Hate: There Is Only One Context

by Gary Fouse

"Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews."

From the Middle East to Europe to the US to Canada  and elsewhere, the above hadith (the reported sayings of the Prophet Mohammad) is recited with regularity in many mosques by imams in their sermons. It is even quoted in the Hamas charter. Just in the past few days, an imam in the Norrebro mosque (Copenhagen, Denmark) was actually charged by Danish authorities for citing it in a sermon. It has been attributed to Hatem Bazian, an activist Muslim professor at UC Berkeley and a dedicated foe of Israel. It has been recited in mosques in Raleigh, North Carolina and Houston, Texas in the wake of President Trump's announcement that he would move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In 2016, an imam recited it in a Montreal mosque. Just last month, a report surfaced of an imam in Toulouse, France reciting it. These are just a few examples. In addition, there have been many other incidents of imams in the West using similar language to condemn Jews and pray for their death.

In 2009, I attended an interfaith event at Chapman University in Orange County and had a chance to ask an imam about this hadith. The answer I got was downright misleading if not an out and out lie.

While it is true that Islamic scholars continually study hadiths to determine how reliable they are, this particular hadith is considered valid by the leading schools of Islamic thought. Here is an "explanation" of the hadith from an Islamic source. It puts the blame on the Jews, but provides insight into the idea of dhimmitude, whereby non-Muslims can live under Muslim protection as long as they submit and live as second class citizens.

(Those Jews who do not live up to the "covenant" can always hide behind rocks and trees.)

There is no sugar coating this hadith. There is only one context. When reportedly spoken by Mohammad 1400 years ago, it meant, "Kill the Jews". When it is spoken today, it means, "Kill the Jews". To bring up some treaty that Jews broke (in the Arabian Peninsula) in Mohammad's time and apply it to modern times everywhere is twisted and illogical thinking. To recite it as part of a sermon in a mosque (or anywhere else) is simply inciting hate and violence. It is bad enough when we hear about it coming out of the Middle East; it is much worse when it comes out of Western mosques.

Posted on 07/28/2018 5:00 AM by Gary Fouse
Friday, 27 July 2018
Springtime for Snowflakes

A professor’s memoir of the closing of the American mind.

by Marc Tapson in Frontpage.

In the fall of 2016, New York University professor Michael Rectenwald created an anonymous Twitter account to critique the alarming spread across campuses of an “anti-education and anti-intellectual” social justice ideology. Before long he was outed as the man behind the controversial @antipcnyuprof account, and despite being a leftist himself, became the target of shunning and harassment from his colleagues and the NYU administration. But instead of caving in to the campus totalitarians as so many academics do, Rectenwald declared himself done with the Left, and though still not a conservative, began appearing often in right-wing media to defend free speech and academic freedom, and to expose the “bilious animosity and unrestrained cruelty” he endured from his former compatriots.

I previously interviewed Prof. Rectenwald for FrontPage Mag here back in January. At the close of that interview he mentioned a book he was working on about the experience, and it is now available in paperback and on Kindle: Springtime for Snowflakes: Social Justice and its Postmodern Parentage. Short but dense with insights about postmodern theory, social justice ideology, and academic conformity, the book is a must-read for understanding the intellectual collapse of the American university under the weight of a totalitarian ideology.

Rectenwald begins the book by relating his experience of “becoming deplorable” and being pushed toward political apostasy, which forced him to reexamine the herd with which he had formerly run. “I didn’t leave the left,” he writes. “The left left me” – echoing Ronald Reagan’s famous declaration, “I didn't leave the Democratic party. The Democratic Party left me.” “In trying to correct me,” Rectenwald writes about his fellow academics, “they did indeed correct me – but not as they’d hoped. They corrected my vision by forcibly dislodging the scales of their ideology from my eyes.” He realized that the “institutions of North American higher education have taken a hairpin turn, and a wrong turn at that. They have surrendered moral and political authority to some of the most virulent, self-righteous, and authoritarian activists among the contemporary left.”

This wasn’t his first exposure to the wrongheaded rigidity of these conformists. A 2015 incident in which Rectenwald argued against the hiring of an unqualified candidate for a full-time writing position at NYU was his rude introduction to the hypocrisy of the left’s pro-diversity claims. The candidate in question happened to be a black female, and thus Rectenwald’s judgment of her incompetence (“The candidate cannot write” he dared to point out to the other hiring committee members) drew vehement fire and he was overruled. Not opposed to the notion of diversity itself, Rectenwald nonetheless felt strongly that “[n]othing is more essentialist or constraining than diversity understood strictly in terms of identity,” and that “[r]esorting to blatant tokenism in hiring and promotion jeopardizes the integrity of higher education and also undermines the objectives that diversity initiatives aim to promote.” Such a commonsense approach was bound to set him in opposition to his peers, as was this heresy: “[I]f we want to foster real diversity in higher education, we had better consider not only diversity of identity but also diversity of thought and perspective” – not exactly a position eagerly embraced in today’s institutions of formerly higher learning.

The book is a memoir and thus, of course, details the author’s personal intellectual journey, but the heart of Springtime for Snowflakes, of course, is, as its subtitle states, an exploration of the roots of the social justice movement in the postmodern theory that migrated from France and took firm hold in academic circles – an influential wave Rectenwald finds analogous to the British pop music invasion of the 1960s. “How did the social justice creed gain dominance in academia? How and why was it made official policy in most colleges and universities in North America? Where did this social justice movement come from and how has it managed to permeate the broader culture and contend for domination?” These are the questions this succinct book answers with originality and the insights that likely could come only from an insider’s perspective.

But Springtime for Snowflakes is no mere dry, academic musing on the currents of leftist thought. it is unexpectedly entertaining as well as enlightening – for example, in the chapter on his literary internship with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Rectenwald’s interaction with Ginsberg’s friend, famed Naked Lunch novelist William S. Burroughs, Jr., “the most conspicuous casualty of the Beat generation,” is riveting. An aspiring poet himself, Rectenwald was dubbed “the glorious mystic from Pittsburgh” by Ginsberg, who was one of the key figures in the counterculture movement that prefigured postmodernism. And yet Rectenwald believes that even the “Howl” poet Ginsberg would be appalled by the social justice left’s “censorious, censoring, and prohibitionist proclivities.”

The book ends with appendices in which Rectenwald, very active on social media, has collected many of his best Facebook and Twitter entries. A sampling of tweets:

Michael Rectenwald @antipcnyuprof Mar 17

Close your eyes and imagine a world full of self-replicating little Stalins. Now open your eyes. You live in that world. It’s called “social justice” & the little Stalins are SJWs = Stalin, Just Weirder.

Michael Rectenwald @antipcnyuprof Feb 19

@TuckerCarlson poins to the real authoritarian threat today and it’s not coming from Trump. It’s coming from the very people who call Trump authoritarian. The left is the authoritarian threat today.

Michael Rectenwald @antipcnyuprof Feb 4

Under the rhetorical veneer of egalitarianism spouted by the left, totalitarian impulses and utterly insane irrationality lurk.

Michael Rectenwald @antipcnyuprof 16 May 2017

The shaming techniques that the Left engages in – callout culture, self-criticism, privilege checking – all have Maoism as their provenance.

Michael Rectenwald @antipcnyuprof 15 May 2017

We are now dealing with a lunatic cult of vast proportions. It’s like Heaven’s Gate, only without the Nikes.

And most succinctly and bluntly, from Facebook on March 6, 2018: “North American higher education is a shit hole.”

Indeed, and after reading Michael Rectenwald’s Springtime for Snowflakes you will have a better grasp of why this is and how it came about. But if more academics find the courage to demonstrate an honest, fiercely independent intellect like the author’s, then perhaps higher education in North America could begin to be salvaged.

Posted on 07/27/2018 10:12 AM by NER
Thursday, 26 July 2018
Whither The NFL: Will Colin Kaepernick Bring Them To Their Knees?

by Marc Epstein

On August 14, 2016 quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated on the team bench during the playing of the national anthem at a pre-season game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. He stated that it was to protest the treatment of minorities.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

His protests weren’t noticed until he started the August 26th game. Kaepernick soon graduated to kneeling instead of just sitting out the Star Spangled banner in subsequent games. It wasn’t long before Kaepernick inserted his protests into the presidential campaign.

In a lengthy interview with sports reporters that appeared in the Mercury News, Kaepernick expanded his critique of American society, turning his attention to the upcoming election. He was asked if his protest was timed to the election.

-KAEPERNICK: Once again, it wasn’t a timing thing. It wasn’t something that was planned.

But I think the two presidential candidates that we currently have also represent the issue that we have in this country right now.

-Q: Do you want to expound on that?

-KAEPERNICK: I mean, you have Hillary who’s called black teens or black kids super-predators.

You have Donald Trump who’s openly racist

Donald Trump, arguably one of the most remarkable catalytic agents in American political history, joined the issue and made it into one of the subtexts of his campaign and his presidency. If Kaepernick wanted a culture war Trump would be glad to oblige.

“I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think it’s a terrible thing,” “And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen.”

After the first Presidential debate in September, Kaepernick demonstrated that he had no intention of steering clear of the issue and resuming his football career; "Both [Trump and Clinton] are proven liars, and it almost seems like they're trying to debate who is less racist, and at this point, …”

Was Kaepernick simply the NFL’s iteration of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, or was it a blossoming of a well-cultivated ideology of grievance nurtured by Barack Obama over the course of his eight-year presidency?

By happenstance, Kaepernick turns out to be a mirror image of Barrack Obama. Both were born of an interracial union and raised in white middle class households. The inner city black experience played no part in their upbringing.

But that didn’t prevent them from identifying with what they perceived to be the existential threat facing black Americans today. Neither was their upbringing an impediment to leading the cause of social justice, restorative justice, and Black lives matter.

In a “60 Minutes” interview in 2007, Steve Kroft asked Michelle Obama if she feared that a black presidential candidate faced a greater threat because of his race. Her response foreshadowed a sentiment that would become part of Obama’s legacy and public policy during his two terms.

“I don’t lose sleep about it,” “Because the realities are, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station”—

In the course of the interview that appeared in the Mercury News a decade later, Kaepernick was asked, “Do you personally feel oppressed?”

His response echoes Michelle Obama. 

“There have been situations where I feel like I’ve been ill-treated, yes. But this stand wasn’t for me. This stand wasn’t because I feel like I’m being put down in any kind of way.”

Within weeks the kneeling protests had spread throughout the league. But unlike the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” displays of 2014 when a grand jury failed to indict Officer Daren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, the national anthem kneeling protests took on a life of their own.

President Obama soon came to Kaepernick’s defense,

"I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing," Obama said. "I also want people to think about the pain he may be expressing about somebody who's lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”

It is the message Obama had honed after the Henry Louis Gates contretemps on involving the Cambridge police.

"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that [Gates case]. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact." (ABC NEWS)

And repeated in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and Ferguson riots. 

“At the same time, though, Obama said the separate Justice Department report this week about widespread racism within the Ferguson police department – and specific practices that singled out African Americans, like arresting them disproportionately and using unreasonable force – proved that Ferguson residents had valid complaints about the police force.”

“Obama urged the crowd not to let the Ferguson report make them hostile toward police officers around the country. ‘I don’t think that what happened in Ferguson was typical,’ he said. Most police officers, he said, ‘have a really hard and dangerous job, and they do it well … I strongly believe that.’“ (POLITICO) 

The explosion of the “hands up don’t” myth by an exhaustive state and Federal investigation involving a small army of DOJ and FBI officials did nothing to change the white privilege trope Obama had enshrined to large swaths of his constituency. 

Not to be outdone, Donald Trump articulated a contrarian view. He told a rally in Alabama that those demonstrating against the flag should be fired.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!’

 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall called Trumps remarks divisive. “…Comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

Subsequently, there were major declines in NFL attendance and TV ratings. By November of 2017, NFL owners attempted to assuage their players by locking arms during the playing of the anthem. They proposed a $90 million donation to social justice causes that was met with skepticism by activist players who called it a charade. The terms were finalized with the Players Coalition in May.

But the waters are still roiling. President Trump cancelled the traditional Super Bowl victor’s visit to the White House when it was learned that most of the Philadelphia Eagles would not be coming.

At about the same time Trump, who has demonstrated time and again his willingness to call someone’s bluff, adroitly asked NFL players to provide him a list of people they thought had been unfairly incarcerated by the criminal justice system. He had just commuted the life sentence for first-time offender Alice Marie Johnson, a 63 year-old grandmother, at the urging of Kim Kardashian. She is black.

At a nationally televised political rally held in Montana, on July 5th, Trump attacked the NFL’s new regulation that allowed protesting players to sit out the pledge in the locker room.  “Just go into the locker room. I think in many respects that’s worse. Isn’t that worse than having them not standing?”

The NFL players association, not to be outdone, filed a grievance against the owners on July 10th, claiming that the new regulation violates the rights of the players.

“The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights,”

The NFL finds is caught in a perfect storm. Fan loyalty has been frayed not only by politics, but also by new technologies, “cord cutting,” and fantasy football that make every participant an owner of their own fantasy team, while severing their connection to the home team.

A political agenda that posits that multi-million dollar salaried football players are little more than plantation worker’s, who leave the game with permanent brain damage, while their billionaire owner-masters live happily ever after, has added more fuel to the social justice protests. Three quarters of the players may be black, but that can’t be said of the owners.

Burgess Owens, a black ten-year veteran of the NFL believes that all of these problems can be laid at the door of the Democrats. Owens, a Mormon, and father of six, has been outspoken in his belief that the disintegration of the black family is the root cause of player’s discontents.

 "We are dealing with an ideology that first of all bans God, has destroyed the black family in the '70s which we led the country in terms of the strength of our family unit,

"We have come to the point because of liberalism, because of what Democratic policies do, 70% of black men do not stay around. They don't have these parents and these fathers to tell them what they should be proud of and how they should stand up for this process," the former New York Jet said.

When all is said and done Burgess Owens insights help explain the lack of sympathy displayed by a public that has lost patience with the player’s tantrums.

We anxiously await this season’s opening kick-off.

Posted on 07/26/2018 11:40 AM by Marc Epstein
Thursday, 26 July 2018
The Mosque At Basking Ridge: A Morality Tale? (Part 4)

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The Guardian report continued:

Around the time the hearings began, some residents received an anonymous piece of mail. Inside was a letter entitled “Meet Your New Neighbor”, and a CD containing a recording of a radio interview in which Chaudry had offered some mildly nuanced opinions on Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah. “Here in Basking Ridge, on the surface, we see the serene, grinning academic Ali Chaudry, always willing to help us better understand the version of Islam he wants us to know,” the letter read. “Scratch the surface a little and an uglier picture emerges.”

The author of the letter… cited the term taqiyya, an obscure theological concept that Islamophobes often twist to suggest that Muslims are encouraged to lie about the true nature of their violent beliefs.

“So, welcome to the neighbourhood, Ali,” the letter concluded. “Let’s ask Ali about those Koranic verses regarding Jews and Christians in your Koran. Why are so many terroristic acts propagated by Muslims? Is it something they are taught in your mosques and at home? And what will you teach in your new Liberty Corner mosque? You wouldn’t lie to us, would you? Taqiyya is wrong, right?”

‘Taqiyya” is, in Islam, the religiously-sanctioned deception by which a Believer can protect himself or his faith from persecution. It is permissible to lie both about your own beliefs, and about what Islam teaches. It was practiced by some of Muhammad’s Companions, then taken up mainly by Shi’a trying to avoid persecution by Sunnis, but it has long been used by Sunnis as well. Taqiyya is not, as the Guardian writer seems to think, “an obscure theological concept that Islamophobes often twist to suggest that Muslims are encouraged to lie about the true nature of their violent beliefs.” Far from being obscure, it is probably the best-known of the defenses used by Muslims, and no “twist” is needed from “Islamophobes” to suggest that “Muslims are encouraged to lie about the true nature of their violent beliefs” — that’s exactly what taqiyya, well known to all Muslims, is about, sanctioning (and encouraging) Muslims to lie precisely “about the true nature of their violent beliefs.” The reporter needs to do a little more investigation into the widespread use, over time and across space, of “taqiyya,” and the lies it sanctions.

And why is the question asked “about those Koranic verses regarding Jews and Christians” not legitimate? Shouldn’t Mr. Chaudry be asked about the 109 verses in the Qur’an that command Muslims to wage Jihad against Jews and Christians, or not to take them “as friends,” or the verse that describes them — and all non-Muslims — as “the most vile of creatures”?

Just as the author of the letter accused Muslims of deception, the Islamic Society, in its lawsuit, alleged that many of the neighbours were presenting a false front, using preservationist sentiment to disguise their real, less respectable fears. “The key thing to remember,” said Adeel Mangi, an attorney for the Islamic Society, “is that these complaints are commonly used as a smokescreen.”

The Basking Ridge case is about real complaints about violations of zoning rules. They are not made up to be a “smokescreen” for anti-Islam views. Several of the people most involved were former supporters of Mr. Chaudry; the community was proud that he was a Pakistani-American and their neighbor. It was he who started to turn the zoning complaint into a “religious dispute.” The proposed mosque was to be built on a residential street. There was the disproportionate size of the proposed mosque for the plot on which it was to be built. There was the problem of not having enough parking spaces. There was the matter of a deliberate undercounting by Mr. Chaudry of the likely number of worshippers. There was the fear of noise and commotion, seven days a week, from before sunrise to after sunset, by visitors intent on reciting their five daily prayers. None of that had to do with religion.

Sure enough, the transcripts of the dozens of hearings [39] held by the town’s planning board, which run to nearly 7,000 pages, contain no mention of sharia, the Muslim Brotherhood or other rightwing hobgoblins. Most residents swore that religion had nothing to do with their opposition. But the Islamic society’s lawyers suspected – and would later allege in court – that their opponents were showing another face when they talked to each other on the internet.

In December 2015, a few days after a Muslim husband and wife killed 14 people in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, and shortly before candidate Donald Trump proposed a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration, the town’s planning board voted to reject the mosque.

So what? Either the planning board had valid reasons — the size of both the mosque and its parking lot, the before-sunrise to after-sunset noise and commotion of visitors on a residential street — to turn down the application, or they did not. It is admitted that there is no mention of sharia or the Muslim Brotherhood, nothing about Islam at all, in the 7,000 pages of transcripts. There is no evidence of anyone on the planning board making any anti-Islam remarks on private e-mails. There is no evidence that the zoning decision was influenced by the San Bernardino shootings, which are mentioned to unfairly suggest a post hoc, ergo propter hoc connection. And the only reason for the reporter to bring in Donald Trump is to hint absurdly at some kind of link between anti-Muslim remarks made by Trump after the zoning board’s decision, and the decision itself. But how could the planning board have been influenced by Trump’s remark made after the board had made its decision? Or is the Guardian reporter simply trying to paint a picture of an anti-Muslim atmosphere abroad generally in the land? Is he suggesting that anger over the San Bernardino shootings in 2015 influenced the planning board that had been raising objections since 2012?

At Caratzola’s urging, the town government also adopted a new ordinance that raised the minimum size of the plot required to build any new house of worship – which would effectively prevent the Islamic Society from building on its own site in the future. The Islamic Society quickly filed a lawsuit against the township, alleging the opposition was a “well-funded machine” that was “substantially grounded in anti-Muslim animus.”

The lawsuit particularly highlighted Caratzola’s role as a ringleader of the opposition. In a letter to a local newspaper, she accused the Islamic Society of “slander” – and invoked the concept of taqiyya to suggest that Chaudry’s mosque proposal was not what it seemed. “Many people and groups in the Muslim community,” she wrote, “are trying to quash what we so fervently cherish in America – the freedom of speech.”

Since the mosque application had been objected to in part because of the inadequate size of the building plot, given the real number of expected worshippers arriving in their cars (as determined, in part, by Lori Caratzola’s inspired surveillance of those arriving at the existing prayer hall), it is likely the new ordinance was adopted to make clear the minimum size of any plot of land required for a house of worship, where before there had been some ambiguity. For example, the minimum plot size might now be determined, based on the expected number of worshippers, and the parking spaces they would need.

The Guardian:

The Islamic Society also claimed it had the constitution on its side – specifically, the first-amendment protection of the freedoms of religion and assembly. And Chaudry could call upon a powerful ally: Barack Obama. Under his administration, the Justice Department intervened on behalf of Muslims in many mosque disputes, including a highly publicised case in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the construction of a mosque was opposed with lawsuits, protests and an arson attack. It was able to rely on a powerful legal tool: a law, originally passed with bipartisan support in 2000, that specifically bans local governments from discriminating against religious organisations when it comes to land use.”

The enforcement policy “reflected the fact that Islamophobia is a real problem across America”, said Tom Perez, who handled the Murfreesboro case as a director of the Civil Rights Division. (He is currently chairman of the Democratic National Committee.) “I think as you see the proliferation of social media, the world has gotten smaller,” Perez told me. “People who harbour these extreme views have a virtual platform to spread their hate.”

“Islamophobia” is not a “real problem across America”? What is a real problem is the name-calling by such uninformed people as Tom Perez, and their contemptuous dismissal of all intelligent and text-based (Qur’an, Hadith, Sira) criticism of Islam as  “Islamophobia.” What exactly are the “extreme views” he worries about? Is it “extreme” to point out the 109 verses in the Qur’an that command warfare against the Infidels (as in 9:5 and 9:29)? Is it “extreme” to note the verses calling on Muslims to “strike terror” in the hearts of Infidels (as in 8:12 and 8:60)? Is it “extreme” to let people know that in the Qur’an Muslims are called the “best of peoples” (3:110) and Infidels called the “most vile of creatures” (98:6)? Isn’t it “extreme,” rather, to believe in all of those verses as coming from Allah, as mainstream Muslims do? Tom Perez says that “People who harbour these extreme views have a virtual platform to spread their hate.” The sentiment fittingly applies not to critics of Islam, who are often silenced when charged with Islamophobia, but to Muslims themselves, whose “extremism” is merely part of mainstream Islam.

First published in Jihad Watch.

Posted on 07/26/2018 7:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 25 July 2018
Political Cover Up: A Tale of Two Cities

by Michael Curtis

Charles de Gaulle

Exact interpretation of the utterances of President Donald Trump, the American Sphinz, is a precarious occupation, one that even the Oracle of Delphi might find too difficult. One can expect differences of opinion on whether Trump believes the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 presidential election or whether he accepts the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia did interfere in the election, Yet the comment in a tweet by former CIA Director John Brennan on July 16, 2018 about Trump's press conference in Helsinski goes far beyond rational criticism: "It rises to, and exceeds, the threshhold of 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' It is nothing short of treason."

As though he was expecting civil war, Brennan encouraged Americans to rally against Trump to keep the country "strong and safe." The reasonable position is that, even accepting that Trump's performance was poor, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had the upper hand, treason doth never prosper, if it prospers none dare call it treason.

Some questions on presidential or official government behavior are in order. Why did the president not inform judicial authorities about improper and illegal behavior by an associate on his behalf? Why did he not immediately refer the case to prosecutors as public officials are supposed to do? For forty years, questions have been asked concerning the clandestine and illegal activities of five men who broke into the headquarters of the DNC in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972. More politically important than the crime was the cover up by President Richard Nixon and his administration.

Watergate may be the lodestar of cover ups, to conceal or not acknowledge the regrettable behavior, but it was not the first or the last, nor confined to the U.S. French military authorities who disgraced themselves and the French Republic in 1894 by planting forged documents in the file of Alfred Dreyfus to suggest he was a spy and had committed treason. Cover ups were central in the Harding Teapot Dome scandal in 1922, and were in the Soviet Union when Mikhail Gorbachev waited three weeks before revealing the malfunction in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine in April 1986. British Cabinet ministers in 1964 refused to tell the Prime Minister Alex Douglas-Home that Anthony Blunt, the surveyor of the Queen's pictures, had confessed to supplying the KGB with thousands of documents while working for MI5 during World War II.

Is it the same old story in Washington D.C. and Paris? Now there is a controversy over a cover up, or attempted cover up, concerning another leader, French President Emmanuel Macron and his administration. This is "Benallagate," a chain of attempted French cover ups. The affair is particularly paradoxical because Macron has called for transparency and integrity in the nation's highest office to ensure a Republic of responsibility.  It is the first scandal to affect Macron, accused of maneuvers to cover up information about a felony by a member of his security team.

This new, ongoing scandal concerns the behavior of 26 year old Alexandre Benalla, a member of the French security service, head of the detail in 2017, and bodyguard of Macron. Benalla, a kind of French Rambo, was trained as a gendarme in 2009 but left the service several years later. He did play a role in security arrangements during Macron's 2017 presidential campaign.

It is sill unclear whether Benalla was officially authorized to attend and observe law enforcement at the May Day, May 1, demonstration by labor unions on a Left Bank street in Paris. However, he acted as a policeman, wearing a police helmet with visor, and an official police armband, the attire of riot police, while dressed in casual clothes, not police uniform. Unfortunately, besides the peaceful unionists, there were 1,200 Black Bloc protestors, individuals who wore black clothing and ski masks to conceal their identity. They attacked the police and property, smashing shop windows. Benalla responded. Two videos showed he had beaten two people, pulling and dragging a woman, and hitting a man who fell to the ground several times. At the very least, Benalla had exceeded any official authorization to act, and disrespected the rule of law.

Why was he not immediately brought to justice for his violent actions? The Minister for Interior Gerard Collomb claims that after being told of the incident he informed Macron on May 2, a day after the incident, of the issue. However, though Benalla's superiors at the Elysee Palace were  responsible for reporting his actions, it was also the duty of Collomb to inform the legal authorities. Article 40 of the Penal Code, approved in March 1994, states that any constituted authority or public official who learns of a felony, or misdemeanor is obliged to notify and transmit information and relevant documents to a district prosecutor. Collomb did not do so, saying it was up to the president to respond.

However, Benalla was suspended by the president's office for two weeks without pay, given a official warning and demoted. Yet, this was a weak sanction. He continued in the security system, attending the burial of Simone Veil at the Pantheon, taking part on July 14 in welcoming home France's successful soccer team in the World Cup, and was present at Macron's summer home. Benalla was only fired on July 20, 2018.

Macron, glorying in the French football victory, at first limited his comments to "shocking and unacceptable." It took over two months, and only after videos of Benalla's actions were published by Le Monde, for the government to inform prosecutors of the incident, an indication of clear damage control.

On July 22, 2018 Benalla was formally charged with and is being imvestigated for gang violence and impersonating a police officer, but the puzzle over the actions of the Macron administration remains. Particularly striking was that Benalla, after the incident, was allocated an expensive apartment in a fashionable part of Paris, Quai Branly, in a place reserved for presidential staff, and given a car and chauffeur.

This decision, inconveniently, evokes the memory of the double life and peccadillos of the former President Francois Mitterand. Though married for 50 years to a wife with whom he had three children, he also for many years had an intimate relationship 1981-95 with an art historian Anne Pingeot, a woman 27 years younger than himself, and with whom he fathered a daughter. He spent evenings with Pingeot in her residence in the same complex in Branly as that given to Benalla.

Other French presidents, de Gaulle, Pompodou, Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande, have had problems with misdemeanors or worse. Under President Charles de Gaulle, the Civic Action Service, SAC, a parallel police service answering directly to the president, was created in 1960 by Jacques Foccart, de Gaulle's advisor on African affairs, engaged in a policy of order, and protection against terrorists. But it was associated with underworld groups, and acted in covert, sometimes brutal and illegal acts, including assaults, illegal drug traffacking, bombings, robberies, and assassinations. The SAC was dissolved in 1981 after a multiple murder affair, the result of internal rivalries. Part of this story is presented in the 1973 film The Day of the Jackal, dealing with the failed attempt to asassinate de Gaulle.

President Georges Pompidou's administration was responsible for installing recording devices in offices of the critical, satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine. In similar fashion, Francois Mitterand's officials installed a secret cell supposedly for anti-terrorist purposes in the Elysee Palace itself, but really to prevent his unorthodox private life being revealed. About 3,000 conversations were recorded by this secret group, and a number of literary, cultural, and political personalities were secretly put under surveillance.

These presidents were not punished nor were others. Jacques Chirac was involved in secret financing of his political party, Rally for the Republic, and giving jobs in city hall to party members. Nicholas Sarkozy was accused, perhaps unjustly, of supervising attempts to spy on investigating journalists, but he did accept 50 million euros, illegal campaign funds, from Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi.

It is gratifying, if not the end of the matter, that President Macron on July 24, 2018 said that he and he alone was responsible for this affair, and others should not be blamed. He was the one who had trusted Benalla as a campaign supporter and loyal employee. 

The open question is whether this incident is much ado about nothing. The Macron administration did not engage in any intimidation or threats, and all incriminatory evidence is available. Benalla deserves punishment. At the same time political opportunism and effort to maintain the dignity of the French presidency can explain, but not justify, attempts at a cover up. Yet, the French judicial system might rest content with the thought that an exemplary Republic does not imply making no mistakes.

Posted on 07/25/2018 11:02 AM by Michael Curtis
Wednesday, 25 July 2018
ISIS claims responsibility for (nothing to do with Islam) Toronto shooting

Al Arabiya:

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a shooting in Toronto on Sunday that killed two people and wounded 13, the group's AMAQ news agency said on Wednesday.

The attacker “was a soldier of the ISIS and carried out the attack in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition countries,” a statement by the group said.

The group did not provide further detail or evidence for its claim.

Posted on 07/25/2018 10:36 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 25 July 2018
Danish imam charged over call to kill Jews

From the Danish edition of The Local Photograph from MEMRI, via the Times of Israel

Danish prosecutors on Tuesday charged an imam with calling for the killing of Jews in the first case of its kind in the Nordic nation. Imam Mundhir Abdallah, who preaches in the Copenhagen neighbourhood of Nørrebro at the Masjid Al-Faruq mosque, which media have linked to radical Islam, is accused of citing a hadith or koranic narrative calling for Muslims to rise up against Jews.

"Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them," Abdallah said in a Facebook and YouTube video post in March.

...public prosecutor Eva Rønne said..."it's legal to quote religious books like the Koran and the Bible, but that inciting or welcoming the killings of people could be punishable by up to three years in prison. It has always been illegal to accept killings of a certain group of people, but it's new for us to target hate preachers,"

The case will be brought before the Copenhagen district court but no trial date has been set, the prosecution said. Abdallah could face up to three years in prison if convicted under the hate speech law,

Minister of immigration and integration, Inger Støjberg, who has been outspoken against Islamic practises in Denmark, has described the imam's address as "horrible, anti-democratic and abominable".

According to broadcaster DR, Omar al-Hussein, who was behind a series of shootings at a free-speech conference and a Jewish synagogue in Copenhagen in February 2015 which left two people dead, had visited the mosque the day before going on the rampage.


Posted on 07/25/2018 7:30 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 25 July 2018
Labour MP Sarah Champion has been given beefed-up security after publicly condemning Asian child abuse gangs

From the Sun and The Times

A LABOUR MP who condemned Asian child abuse gangs has been given boosted security amid fears she is being targeted by Muslim and hard-left opponents.

Sarah Champion received death threats after warning in The Sun last year of “a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls” in her Rotherham constituency. Ms Champion was forced to step down as shadow women and equalities minister in the wake of the article...

Her comments triggered a major backlash from far left activists and Pakistani community groups in her constituency. They accused her of "industrial-scale racism" for pointing out that the sexual predators had a common "ethnic heritage".

Allies of Ms Champion have claimed they are trying to ruin her reputation in a bid to force her out of Parliament and replace her with a Muslim member of the local council.

In correspondence seen by The Times the ex-deputy leader of Rotherham Council described her as an "ogre". Jahangir Akhtar warned: "If Labour wants to keep her seat, they need to get rid of her pretty quick."

The newspaper reports that a leading figure of the local hard-left Momentum group Taiba Yasseen is being lined up to replace Ms Champion if she quits. She is seeking a Westminster seat and has publicly condemned Ms Champion for “betraying an entire ethnic group”. Ms Yasseen, 43, was dropped from the Rotherham cabinet in May for reasons the party has declined to reveal, but supporters of Ms Champion say that the decision was prompted by concerns that she was trying to discredit the MP.

The criticism of Ms Champion has been orchestrated by a local racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire, whose main donor is the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust 

The charity’s leader has accused the MP of “industrial-scale racism” and “inciting and inviting hatred against minorities”. One of its leading figures is a radical academic, Waqas Tufail, whose research speciality is Islamophobia and the “racialisation of crime”. Recent tweets by Dr Tufail, who accused Ms Champion of “promoting racism”, congratulated the new Duchess of Sussex on “joining the institution that epitomises white supremacy”. He also mocked the England football team during the World Cup, describing its three lions emblem as a colonial legacy that would more appropriately be of “three hedgehogs”.

Since 2008 Just Yorkshire has received more than £550,000 from the Joseph Rowntree trust, which has also given £230,000 to The Monitoring Group (TMG), a London racial justice charity with which Just is associated. TMG says its formation was “inspired by” the US Black Panther movement.

In March Just Yorkshire published a report on Ms Champion that it said was commissioned by a “grassroots partnership” of activists and organisations including the Rotherham Taxi Association and the Rotherham Council of Mosques.  Just Yorkshire, has not explained how it selected the 165 people who completed its online survey.

Co-authored by Nadeem Murtuja, the chairman and acting director of Just Yorkshire, it said that British Pakistanis felt “scapegoated, dehumanised and potentially criminalised” by their MP, who had “crossed a point of no return”. Its foreword accused her of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and acting like a “neo-fascist murderer”.

Mr Murtuja is a Labour supporter but said any suggestion that his charity was part of a plot against Ms Champion was “completely wide of the mark”. He said Ms Yasseen was the victim of a “racially motivated witch hunt”, adding: “This is a community that has felt under siege and we wanted to make sure its voice was properly heard..."

Among (her) opponents are Labour members in Rotherham who were less than enthralled by Ms Champion’s selection as the party’s candidate six years ago. The NEC was said to have wanted as its candidate a “clean skin” untainted by growing concerns about the council’s longstanding failure to tackle sex-grooming crimes. She was chosen as Labour’s candidate by the party’s national executive committee at a selection meeting at which there was a mass walkout by supporters of Mahroof Hussain, a local councillor. 

The protest walkout was orchestrated by the local authority’s deputy leader, Jahangir Akhtar. He stood down in 2013 when The Times revealed his role in brokering a deal under which a violent abuser to whom he was related, Arshid Hussain, agreed to hand over a missing 14-year-old girl to police at a petrol station.Hussain did so after receiving an assurance that he would not be prosecuted. At a 2016 trial, Hussain and two of his brothers were given sentences of up to 35 years for multiple sex offences against girls including the child in the petrol station handover.

The Joseph Rowntree trust declined to comment. It is not suggested that the death threats came from anyone who is seeking to force the MP to stand down.

Posted on 07/25/2018 6:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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