Signs, Portents…and Squirrels: Our Times: At Once, Dire and Inane

portentsAs I write the date is 27 February, 2015.

If one needed any proof that the United States, and a good deal of the rest of the world has simply abandoned any pretense of being serious, the top stories of today and a few days prior are convincing proof.

JohnLast night, the story broke that “Jihadi” John, the masked killer of at least five in Iraq and or Syria had been identified. Along with this came a presser by CAGE, a “human rights” organization in the UK, which attempted to blame the nation’s security services for “radicalizing” Mohammed Emwazi, who

Cage

Cage directer Asim Qureshi in a diptych with the “beautiful young man” who went on to practice halal butchery on humans. Qureshi’s zabiba(prayer bump) should be a dead giveaway that he’s just another of the lying Islamic shills to whom Westerners give so much credence. The Qureshi were the tribe of the “Prophet” Muhammad, and half the swinging dicks in Muhammad land claim to be descended from them.  Liars all.

turned out to be a degreed computer programmer raised in comfortable circumstances. A week before, the Obama administration had re-floated the idea that “violent extremists” are fueled by poverty and exclusion, a moronic, Marxist inspired, and easily debunked trope that has been around since Dubya.

 

Since I was a child, I've loved antiquity.  However, I remember many of my classmates hating those museum field trips.  This, though, is a bit much

Since I was a child, I’ve loved antiquity. However, I remember many of my classmates hating those museum field trips. This, though, is a bit much

ISIS took a break from releasing snuff films to putting out a video of the lads having a blast smashing statues from Ancient Assyria.

blogger

Nothing to do with Islam, of course. Bangladeshi-American atheist blogger Avijit Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, who survived, but lost a finger.

In Dhaka, a Bangladeshi atheist blogger, who also held American citizenship, was hacked to death on the street, with his wife also attacked but surviving. While the White house had nothing to say, a reporter did manage to coax a statement out of Jen Psaki, who was careful to note that at this point the attackers’ motive is unknown.

U.S. State Department spokesbimbo, Jen Psaki.  While lacking empirical evidence, I'd say she's a genuine ginger, and I bet those hooters are real as well, unlike anything that comes out of her mouth.

U.S. State Department spokes-bimbo, Jen Psaki. While lacking empirical evidence, I’d say she’s a genuine ginger, and I bet those hooters are real as well, unlike anything that comes out of her mouth.

The United States government, with zombie FDR nodding approval, decided to regulate the internet under a statute written in 1933. All data packets are equal. Down the road, some will be more equal than others. On the BBC, of all places, a commenter shook his head and said the US government has decided it wants the internet or free. Someone on state owned British media gets economics better than Mr. Obama.

In the same category of unaccountable Federal agencies we have the BATF talking about banning ammunition for the AR-15, a big scary looking rifle that anti-gun legislators have been unable to touch. It’s basically a .22, well .223.

A gang of Uzbeks from Brooklyn are

indicted on terrorism charges. What would Adam Yauch say?

In the United States Congress, the Republican majority, in its strongest position since the 1920s decides that funding DHS, the security super agency that has yet to catch a terrorist, is more important than keeping its promise to the electorate to fight and defund the President’s unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The president and functionaries of the regime, I’m sorry, government, natter on about “Climate Change,” (Nee Global Warming; isn’t it nice to see her all grown up?) as a foot of snow falls in Alabama. Winter Storm

In other times, people looked to the heavens for signs and portents of evil days to come.

My necromancer didn’t return my texts.

 

We have the United Sates, guarantor of the peace for some seven decades, in a constitutional crisis, a centuries old civilization conflict bathing vast areas in blood, the ancient nations of Europe suborned by Islamic fifth columns, and much more than I need go into here.

What is to come?

I have no idea, the best minds of our time are trying to determine the color of THE DRESS.

What color is this dress? Beats me.  It's  an internet thing.

What color is this dress? Beats me. It’s an internet thing.

What color is it?

Ask the llamas.

A Mexican guy driving by uses a lariat to lasso a llama.  All these words are Spanish. What the hell, I like Mexicans, and I'll sure take them over Muslims.

A Mexican guy driving by uses a lariat to lasso a llama. All these words are Spanish. What the hell, I like Mexicans, and I’ll sure take them over Muslims.

The Iconography of Terror: How ISIS Taps into Our Fears

For some time, I have been convinced that ISIS is tapping in to Western fears, using an intimate knowledge of our history, art and myth to stir night terrors for an entire civilization.

ISISSquadThis first occurred to me when I saw this picture, which I and many compared to the einsatzgrupen on the Eastern Front. The helpless victims with their backs to death, the collective nature of the method of of executions so all the killer share equally in the act tie the two scenes  together across time.

Gruppen                                                                 Contrast this to Goya’s rendering of a similar scene. The Spaniards in this painting will all surely die, but they face their killers and defy them. They have not been robbed of all agency. They die, but we know others will live. Beyond the horror is hope. It is if Goya could look across more than a century and see liberty arise from a sea of corpses. Whereas, the equally iconic picture of the the German killers presents no hope, only hopelessness, and shame at that helplessness. We have long thought -or hoped – that Goya’s was, in the end, the clearer vision.

"Third of May"  Francisco Goya.  Napoleon's troops shoot civilians. An archetype for countless atrocities over the next century and a half.

“Third of May” Francisco Goya. Napoleon’s troops shoot civilians. An archetype for countless atrocities over the next century and a half.

ISIS has been described as “sophisticated” in their media output, but the latest from Libya, is in my view, brilliant. Lets have a look at this still from the video of the mass murder of 21 Copts on a Libya shore.

LONSHOTBEACCH

21 Copts murdered. New reports of 21 captives held in cages. A reference to a 21 gun salute? I wouldn’t put it past this bunch.

First we see a line of obviously cowed, despairing men in orange jumpsuits, each escorted by a masked figure who towers above his captive. The use of orange jump suits in beheading videos goes back to at least Nick Berg, and is in part a riposte for the humiliations visited to some prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Beyond that, it is a mockery of our Western notions of justice. Unlike western prisoners, like those you sometimes see out clearing verges along highways, these men will have no lawyers, no work release, no parole. Only death. And this is as decreed in a multitude of Islamic sources. Allah’s law prevails, and the statutes of Pharaoh, Caesar and Parliament are as nothing. Note how the line recedes form the foreground into the distance. No matter how many  “Crusaders” there are, there is a limitless supply of executioners. The setting along the shore is no accident. The shore in question is the southern Mediterranean, a Latin term meaning at the center of the earth, the sea that bound the Roman world together, Mare Nostrum, Our Sea. A sea that Islam cleft in twain for more than a millennium. This is to let us know that the sea is ours no longer, and will once again be theirs.

A shore is the limit of the human inhabited earth, a dead end.  There are no waiting ships, and no escape. Only a brooding sky over an iron sea. A storm is coming.

axeman It is the back cloaked figures who tap most deeply in to our subconscious. The axeman is a familiar archetype. For how many centuries did Europeans live under rulers who could at a whim, send their subjects to the block, where a masked man in black would send them to eternity? In fact, beheading was reserved for the nobility, while the common man was more likely to go via the rope. Certainly, the hangman’s noose, remains a symbol of death, while the hangman is remembered in folklore, but who we see in our nightmares, is the axeman, perhaps because he figured in the last moments of so many famous historical figures. ISIS and others use knives, not axes. This is the tool of halal slaughter, a clear message that the victims are as beasts.

grey

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. Paul de la Roche, 1834

In this painting of the execution of Lady Jane Gray one sees a similar sort of obscene intimacy as that in the lSIS Libyan video, where the executioners each guide their victims with a hand on the shoulder. They proceed in step, both part of the choreography.( Surely this was rehearsed.) While I’m not a cinematography nerd, as a long time consumer of horror movies, the technique in the ISIS short seems familiar. There are a couple of tricks I’m sure I’ve seen in the kind of second tier scare flicks you see on Thirll TV.

Open on an empty beach. Which quickly rushes up to the viewer, then back again, a kind of whiplash view accompanied by  reptilian chattering. Same again, but the line of men is now on the beach. Again, and the beach is empty. Then the men return and the narrative becomes more conventional There is a declaration, the usual tale of victimization and retributive aggression.

See Video: ISIS executes 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya

We are given time to learn their faces, so that we will recognize them in death.

The camera lingers briefly over each face that we will remember them. When the moment comes, the men are shoved on to the sand in a wave action beginning at the far end of the line. Continuity disappears. There is a brief montage of violence, blood, body parts ,screams and exultant shouts. I have seen this before. The violence is such that we comprehend its nature, but so brief that a gag reflex isn’t triggered.  The dialogue may well sound better in Arabic and perhaps a more competent translator might have given it greater power. Nevertheless, it bares examination as some of it has been much in the news.

The beheaded Copts are referred to as Crusaders, which may be read as any Christian in Muslim lands. In this instance,and many others, pundits have referred to the enduring wounds of the Crusades, which is utterly nonsensical. Islam won the Crusades and they were of little import until anti-Catholic historians made much of them and their victimization of idealism Islamic societies, beginning with Edward Gibbon. Another Edward, Edward Said, was notable among many others in the last century who recast the Crusades as the first assault of Western Colonialism upon non-Western peoples.

Equally laughable is the speculation of some that the Jihadi pointing his knife towards Rome is an attempt to enlist Libyan nationalists resentful of Italian domination. The Italians have been gone from Libya since Montgomery kicked them out in 1943. Indeed, the knife wielder makes a point of his geographic proximity to today’s Rome, but Islam has a long history with both the city,and the idea of Rome. Islam arose in th 7th Century decades after the official end of the Western empire, but the City of Constantine, the New Rome, endured until 1453. Beyond, the city, Rum, the polity, and Rumi, the people were for Islam the entire West.

The speaker says that they will take Rome, and Jesus will return to “overthrow the cross.” This demented eschatology is orthodox in Islam. In 1984, Orwell` posited an end to history in which a boot stamped a human face, forever. With Islam, it is a knife to a human neck.

This short film thus uses Western mass communication techniques to at once feed on our ancient terrors and to rally Islam to an interrupted conquest, with the aid of anti-colonial Marxist derived tropes perpetuated by the West itself.

Brilliant.

Koran 3.151

Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!seventhSeal

Encounters With Islam: Half a Century of Connection, and a Final Separation (Part 2: 1961-65)

(Read Part One here)

We landed in Talang Betutu Airport, Palembang, South Sumatra, on a fine day. Scatter ranks of towering cumulo-nimbus at the edge of a cobalt sky promised rain later on. A company van took us to the ferry where we would cross the Musi River to Sungai Gerong, the refinery site. We made our way along a barely macadam-ed road, threading our way through pedestrians, bicyclists and bullock carts. Rice fields stretched out the horizon either side. In the small ramshackle villages now and then, the onion dome of a mosque, fabricated from sheet metal, blazed reflected sunlight. I noted to myself that just has I had seen other exotic sights on the way out – The Buddha of Kamakura, a water buffalo, the fantastic entwined idols at a Hindu temple in Singapore –  now I was seeing mosques. It gave me a small glow of satisfaction to add one more sight to my globetrotter resume.

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Supri, our housekeeper. Her dress is typical of Indonesian Muslim women at the time. Photo: Thomas J. Strei

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Wayang Golek, ca 1965. The performers are Muslim, the puppets and stories, Hindu. Photo: Thomas J. Strei

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Traditional Malay wedding, Palembang, ca. 1964. The groom may be dressed up as Ibn Saud, but the floral tributes come from Hindu tradition. Photo: Thomas J. Strei

My father worked there for more than five years. Islam was present, but barely more than background noise. I went to seventh and eighth grade there, and returned for two summers while away at boarding school. Looking back, admittedly from a post 9/11 vantage, it is astonishing how little Islam, in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, touched our lives. When it did, it was simply one more exotic attribute of our surroundings, and could at times be amusing.  I remember one cook, terrified of coming in contact with pork, attempting to open a can of Spam holding it with a pair of pliers, and working the key with another. She herself wore her hair uncovered,and dressed in a kebaya, a lacy blouse with a fair amount of cleavage, and a sarong, which while concealing flesh, emphasized curves. . The household staff came from Central Java, and while nominally Muslim, were really adherents of traditional Javanese beliefs, a mixture of vestigial Hinduism and mystical practices. Most seemed to pray only in the evening.  If they performed all the five daily prayers, they did so discreetly. Never was one absent for religious observance. I can remember the butler taking his leave, saying he wished to “sembhayang,” an Indonesian word derived from the Sanskrit for meditation, but meaning any one of the five mandatory prayers. Today, Indonesian Muslims use the Arabicc, salaat.

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1965. At the time only haji wore these caps, but many non haji do now as a sign of piety. Photo: Thomas J. Strei

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Pilgrim ship, Musi River, ca. 1964. Photo: Thomas J. Strei

The exoticism was there. My father had pictures of a wedding where the groom rides in an open car dressed as a Hijazi prince, and older men, hajis, with skull caps. He took those shots because even there in that land of Islam, at that time those people stood out. President Obama famously said that there is nothing so lovely as the evening Muslim call to prayer. There was no mosque our compound, but on evenings, people gathered along the riverside at sunset, and from across the river from the village on the other bank, came that cal, and it was indeed lovely. Every year, around a month before the annual haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, a fleet of passenger ships would arrive and stand off for days as they waited for the faithful from the hinterlands to board.  Then they sailed, and may weeks later returned.  The markets filled with dates and Arab spices for a while. Muslim boys are circumcised around age thirteen, and the expatriate employers of Javanese domestic workers customarily would pay for the ceremony. The imam flashed his his blade, and Koranic recital was very brief. Then all night long, shadow puppet plays, the Javanese Wayang Kulit, based on ancient Hindu epics, enthralled the crowd.

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Fully veiled women, Aden 1963. Photo: Thomas J. Strei

After two years in Indonesia it was time for home leave, and we went to Europe by sea. The ship touched at Aden, still a British crown colony, albeit tottering as rebels attacked the outskirts of town, but we were assured it was safe in the center city. This was a heat unlike any  I had felt since living in the Mojave as a small boy. The streets were bustling with British soldiers, Indians, Arabs, and Europeans. And then I started to notice them: Women completely draped in black, even their eyes covered by dark gauzy stuff. Wow! I didn’t think of Islam, or misogyny, but only that once again I was thrilled at seeing something I had only known from geography books.

Two years later, while at school, in 1965, and shortly before my parents left Sungai Gerong in 1965,  I read with great interest my mother’s account of how the events that overthrew Indonesian strong man Sukarno reverberated in our oil town. There were rumors of death lists drawn up by the communists, and pits in the waste ground beyond the perimeter fence, ready for the Reds’ victims. In the event it was the communists who lost, and the whole series of events is still debated. What my mother did see with her own eyes, out walking the dog, was groups of Indonesian men, prominent in the company, dressed as if going to the mosque – checkered sarongs and the black felt caps called songkok, converging at the home of one high level company official, on a number of nights, some weeks before the coup/counter coup. Among them were men who had privately expressed their anti-communist and pro-American views to her and my father, even as they denounced them in public. She speculated that they were organizing resistance. Mom was convinced of the Communists’ guilt. The Army “martyrs,” (generals and a lieutenant who were first kidnapped, and then killed, it was said by the women’s cadre – had according to the official account, their genitals hacked off and placed in their mouths. “Muslims don’t do such things,” she wrote. I do not know on what she based this belief, but it did reflect her generally good opinion of Muslims, one that I shared for many years.

My mother died in 2008, some years before jihadi beheading and torture videos were so widely available on the Internet. Our geopolitical view -that Muslims would be valuable allies in the struggle with communism – was something that had long had a place in diplomatic and intelligence circles in Washington, and would see its fullest implementation in Afghanistan.

End Part Two

SOS Kerry In Paris: The Mendacity of Ahistoricity: Without History, Truth Dies

lurch

Lurch trots out his prep school French(Which must be pretty shitty because I can understand it.) to talk about liberty and stuff, with no mention of Islam.

Speaking of the lethal Islamist attack on the French satirical newspaper, #CharlieHebdo, John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, said this:

“No country knows better than France that freedom has a price, because France gave birth to democracy itself.”

Good Lord.

I was immediately moved to send the SOS a tweet, which I can’t find, but briefly mentioned some sorry aspects of the painful French journey towards democracy, and concluded with “You fucking moron.”.

Intemperate, I admit, but accurate.

Pericles

Pericles giving funeral oration for the dead of the Peloponnesian War. He spoke in the Agora, the political heart of Athens. I first learned about Ancient Greece and Rome somewhere in 4th through 6th grade, and in greater detail in high school.

No one country gave birth to democracy and it would be a fair point to say that it is still evolving. However, it is, or was, common knowledge, that the earliest instances of some form of self rule were in the Classical world, first in the city States of Ancient Greece, and later, the Roman Republic.

While the Middle Ages saw the evolution of parliaments and assemblies, and oligarchic republics in Italy, the foremost of which was Venice, democracy with universal male suffrage did not appear until the Nineteenth Century.

France was significantly late to the party.

The American Declaration of Independence came in 1776 as we all know( Well, maybe not) and the French revolution in 1789, marked by the storming of the nearly empty Bastille and the slaughter of its jailors at the hands of a mob..

marat

The Death of Marat, killed by Charlotte Corday, avenging the mass slaughter of the Girondistes. Say what?  Never mind, the revolution always eats its own.

Thereafter followed factional fighting and various massacres conducted in the name of a National Assembly, the members of which were elected by no one. Danton, Marat, Robespierre: these names were and should still be by words for cold blooded revolutionary ferocity.

A National plebiscite with universal male suffrage for all workers (Thus, the aristocrats, and those living on investments were excluded) established the First Republic in 1792.

head

Executioner displaying the head of Louis XVI.   Many more were to follow.

Terreur_Noyades_Nantes

“The Bath of Nantes” in which Christian Royalists, men women and children, were loaded on leaky barges. Those that could swim were shot as they made for shore. The operation was supervised by “Committees of the Revolution.” Sound familiar?

1793-4 saw the Reign of Terror, in which first aristocrats including the royals went to the guillotine for the crime of being who they were. Ordinary people soon became implicated as counter revolutionaries, and thousands died at hands of the executioners

Those today who cringe at the horrors carried out by ISIS should remember that the French revolution saw bleeding heads held up before baying mobs lusting for more.

 

Then of course came Napoleon, followed by a restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, who were in turn overthrown by the House Of Orleans, and a second Empire ruled by a nephew of Napoleon’s. He had been President of the Second Republic established in 1848, but by 1851, he’d decided he’d rather be emperor.  The Germans captured him in the Franco- Prussian War. Now we are in 1870 and the Establishment of the Third Republic, which lasted until 1940.

Communards

Dead Communards, 1871. Revolutionary socialists took over Paris for a bit. Didn’t end well for them.

All along, plenty of turmoil, street fighting, and general confusion. If you just skimmed this part, I don’t blame you.

In the war time hiatus, France managed to demonstrate its commitment to liberte, egalite, and fraternite by assisting quite ably in the deportation of the majority its Jews to the east and their deaths.

De-Gaulle-in-Algiers_1958

General de Gaulle in Algiers 1958. Subsequently, he opened the way for Algerian Independence, to this day seen as a betrayal by aging irredentists.

The post war Fourth Republic lasted until 1958, when it was ended with the accession of General De Gaulle to the Presidency. While ostensibly not an actual military coup in Metropolitan France, the change was forced by the threat of armed force, after a coup in Algeria, and seizure of the Island of Corsica by French paratroops based in Algeria.

So far, the Fifth Republic has endured, so maybe the French have finally gotten it right.

Mohawks

During the American Revolution, the Iroquois Federation split over whether to support one side o the other, or just stay out. Here, Mohawks join Loyalists in battle against Continental regulars.

The American Revolution saw some vicious conflict, particularly where irregular forces were engaged, notably in Western New York and the Carolinas. After the war royalist sympathizers were forced to leave, not by government order, but by an impossible social situation. Most poignant of all, black slaves who saw no point in supporting a Revolution in which many of the principals were slaveholders, were in some cases re-enslaved, in others found themselves in Canada, or even Sierra Leone.

Nevertheless, after a steady expansion of the franchise and movement towards direct elections, the United States today lives under the original constitution of 1783, albeit much amended. Since 1789, nicely coincident with the French Revolution, the United States has continuously enjoyed peaceful transfers of power.

That a high official of the United States would in a foreign capital, ignore this history, for reasons I cannot fathom, is both disgusting and dismaying. Mr. Kerry is of an age and education, I am certain, long ago as it may have been since he studied history, that he knows these facts.

Our leaders in the West have no compunction in twisting and ignoring history in pursuit of their agendas. The perennial portrayal of the Islamic world as a passive victim, with no reference to the conquests that formed it, is a prime example of ahistoricity in support of power and manipulation.

Parisnazis

Should France surrender to Islam, I doubt things will be quite so relaxed.

Mr. Kerry’s Paris remarks are further proof that ruling elites, confident in the collaboration of the,the media, and the ignorance of deliberately mis-educated electorates, will continue to distort the past in service  of the future they envision for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encounters With Islam: Half a Century of Connection, and a Final Separation (Part 1: 1949-1961)

SaracenCastleThe Crusaders in their heavy mail at first paid little attention to the arrows that struck and wounded them lightly. The Arabs stood a good ways off and their shafts were half spent when they struck.

The Europeans dismounted and formed a shield wall, waiting for the Arab onslaught.

Which never came. Just the unending flights of arrows. Of so many, some did strike vital areas, and heat and cumulative bleeding brought other men down. Maddened, some charged, and then the Arabs came and struck some down, wheeled and stood off again.

The sally was over, and the siege would not end today. As the Franks retreated to their castle they were followed by the ululating war cry La illalah ilahi”

There is no god but Allah.

Then my mother called me for dinner.

UrbanII-220x300I put the solders and castle away. After dinner there would be homework, but I didn’t mind. In Catholic school we were studying the Crusades. We had just received our first issue of a Catholic magazine for juveniles, called “Crusade” and on its cover was Pope Urban, blessing kneeling knights as they took the cross.

We were to learn and celebrate the achievements of these warriors of Christ, but I had a secret. I was drawn to the bearded men in white robes, with their curved swords and exotic war cry. I was nine, and all I knew of Islam is that it had been at war with the Church, my church, the one I had been born into. The history book showed their sweep across the Near East and Africa and up into Spain and even beyond in the name of their god Allah, and their Prophet Mohammed.

In Geography there were pictures of some famous Islamic structures, the Taj Mahal, and the Hagia Sophia, which we learned had first been a great Church with minarets added later. Camels, goats, and women covered from head to foot. In school,the followers of Islam were called Mohammedans, and I cannot now remember when I first encountered the terms “Islam” and “Muslim.” I was a great reader and much interested in knights and armor. Old books with rotogravure illustrations taught me about Richard Coeur d’Lion, but also Saladdin and the just Caliph, Haroun al-Rashid, walking his city incognito in the night.Henty

At the movies there was “the Seven Voyages of Sinbad,” with a cute princess, a roc,and a caliph, and on the black and white television. “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and old Sabu movies, all with men in robes and turbans, and sometimes,not very well veiled women with excitingly bare midriffs and transparent harem pants,  but I don’t remember anyone mentioning Allah. 220px-Seventh_voyage_of_sinbad

An old ship mate of my father’s had worked in Saudi Arabia for a while, and he showed us slides of the dusty streets and veiled women, and close ups of comically grinning camels. I had no idea why their women were veiled ,but I do remember one excellent shot of a crowd at an Aramaco(Arabian American Oil Company, now wholly Saudi government owned) night ball game. Women in the back, all in black, boys in checkered headdresses in front, drinking Pepsi.

HalliburtonArabia

Richard Halliburton with Abdul Aziz, first king of Saudi Arabia.

This then was what I knew of Islam, which we knew as Mohammedanism, as I played at Crusaders versus Saracens: it was sort of a heresy, its warriors had conquered great swathes of the wold, starting from Arabia, and the lands of Islam looked quite exotic, the kinds of places I’d like to explore, like Richard Halliburton, celebrity explorer and writer of the 20s and and 30s, who swam the Hellespont with the minarets of Constantinople behind him, and met the King of Arabia. Islam seemed largely for and of Arabs, although I knew the Turks were in there somewhere.

Then, in 1961, my father was transferred to Sumatra along with all of us. I read up in the library.  Islam was the religion of the great majority of Indonesians, I found, and took up some basics: they had no Trinity.  Muslims prayed five times a day,( and I found that particularly awful, as I hated church and did not enjoy good night prayers. My mother’s occasional spurts of piety sometime resulted in family rosaries that seemed interminable), and revered Jesus as only a prophet, didn’t eat pork, or drink alcohol, and went on pilgrimage to Mecca, that forbidden city Halliburton had tried to visit.Halliburtonturban

In May 1961, we boarded a plane, then a ship, then more planes, and one bright, equatorial day, my encounter with Islam began.

(Read Part Two here)

Refuting the Borg: Arguing With Leftists about Islam.

Perhaps you’ve had this experience: You’re discussing historical events or the issues of the day with a liberal or left friend, and suddenly he seizes up. His eyes glaze over, lids droop, and out comes something like,

“Republicans are racists!”

“The science is settled!”

And the show stoppers:

“Sarah Palin!” “Bush!”

They seem to derive the same comfort from this as might a Buddhist chanting the Lotus Sutra. And while you may observe this in a wide range of settings, with men and women of different ages and skin tones, there is a remarkable consistency, down to vocabulary and syntax, in these ejaculations.

borgThis is the voice of the left-progressive- liberal Borg.

On no other issue is the assimilation of these once (perhaps) individual minds into a collective voice more complete than it is in matters pertaining to Islam. More than once I’ve startled friends and acquaintances by pre-echoing what I knew was about to come out of their mouths.

What with beheadings and jihad in the news, I thought I’d provide a public service for those of you who may not have been as aware of the, ahem, problematic nature of Islam, as I have for so long, but are savvy enough to know that whatever liberals in government, academia and the media say about Islam, it has to be a crock.

Islamophobia!

This one is really worthy of no more than an eye roll and gag mime. A phobia is an irrational fear. Any thinking person will know that there are, at the very least, currenst within the Islamic world that are cause for concern.

The term itself was invented by operatives of the Islamic Circle of North America, a Muslim Brotherhood front group, in a quite clever piggyback on the success of “homophobia,” which –given Islam’s attitude towards homosexuality – is worth an ironic giggle.

Racism!

This is the standard condemnation– and, in Europe legally sanctioned to the point of trial, fines and incarceration – of criticism of Islam. It hasn’t gone that far in the U.S. yet, but racists are bad people who leave comments on Stormfront. You wouldn’t want to be one of them, would you?

But, you might ask, Islam is a religion, so what has it got to do with it?. This is another example of leftist induction based on an irrelevant truth. While there are many Muslims, particularly in the Caucasus and former Ottoman territories who would not look any different from the average white Mid-westerners, the majority of them are of non-European stock.

But, so what? Ronald Reagan might have been accused of being a war monger, and mindless anti-communist, a Soviet Union hater, but he wasn’t called anti Russian.

And, secondarily, in the leftist mind, people who don’t like Islam tend to be Republicans, fundamentalist Christians, Reich Wingers, and other undesirables who especially dislike President Obama, and are, therefore, racist.

 The Inquisition!

The burning of heretics at the stake is not a Catholic monopoly

640px-Templars_Burning

The burning of heretics seems to have become standard around the8th Century in Eastern and Western Christianity, as well as Islam, but the Inquisition reached its apogee in the High Middle Ages. Here,Knights Templar burned in 1314.

In the earliest days of Islam, during the 7th Century Ridda Wars in Arabia following Mohammed’s death the Caliph Abu Bakar burned many apostates. Death by fire for apostates and heretics were reported among the Ottomans and in the Barbary States well into the 18th Century

The 9th Century Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun instituted an inquisition to punish and at times execute those who contested the eternal and uncreated nature of the Koran. The most prominent victim was Mansur al-Hallaj, Persian born Sufi mystic, who was slowly chopped to bits, and his remains then burned in Baghdad in 922.

all hallaj

The execution of al-Hallaj

One can get into a numbers game, but this is fruitless and irrelevant as it is striking that death for apostasy remains uncontested in Islamic jurisprudence, and is applied under the legal codes of a number of Muslim countries today – most prominently, Saudi Arabia.

 

“What about the Crusades?”

Yeah, what about them?

The proximate cause, was, as any Catholic school child, at least, learned in the 50s, was the Seljuk Turks cutting off pilgrimage routes to the Holy land, as well as robbing and murdering pilgrims and local Christians.

The greater cause was Islamic imperialism. One again, going back to my 50s classroom, I remember the history book, the arrows advancing from Arabia across the Middle East and North Africa and into Spain and beyond.

Tours, Charles Martel. Roland at Roncesvalles. Ok, Roland was actually fighting Basques, not Muslims, as the legend has it, and Tours was not a decisive as I was taught, but Islamic forces did reach Central France in the 8th Century and were in the end turned back.

The Near East and North Africa once were Christian, and Greek, Latin and Syriac speaking. Now that vast area is primarily Muslim and Arabic speaking. The Crusaders may then be seen as a belated response to Muslim aggression against the disordered post-Roman West.

martel

Charles Martel, ” The Hammer,” whacking Saracens at Tours(Or maybe Poitiers, not exactly clear),732.

The Wars of the Crescent preceded the wars of the Cross by centuries.

 

Religious inspired terrorism isn’t just a Muslim thing. What about Timothy McVeigh, The IRA and abortion clinic bombings?

While you might not get all these in one sentence, you probably will in a single session as you bat them down one by one. There is more than one thing going on here.

First, is the old moral equivalence game. We saw this back in the Cold War. Segregation and lynching in the American South, for example, while perhaps not equivalent to the Gulag, showed that at heart we were no better.

This is a rhetorical trick which leftists think is pretty slick, but which merely exposes the poverty of their reasoning. State a truth so general as to be useless as a reference point, but which, in the leftist mind, is all encompassing and subsumes your argument to theirs.

If a guy smacks his wife and lays her flat, do we respond by saying, ”Everybody gets angry?”

Next there is the leftist’s habit in argumentation of spitting out isolated snippets of fact, which in his mind, are signifiers of entire narratives that are, in his world, given, and need not, indeed should not be questioned. These isolated facts are almost always irrelevant or outdated.

The last abortion clinic bombing in the United States was in 1998.

More than ten years later, the last fatality I could find was the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. His killer is serving life with no parole for at least 50 years. Worldwide, total fatalities in anti-abortion violence, to date fall far short of the average market bombing in Baghdad.

Anti abortion violence is also an example of the Left’s love of weak, or more often, entirely faulty syllogism. These embedded causal chains are the mortar that holds the Left world view together.

This one is about as strong as it gets, which is not much.

There is no doubt that anti-abortion violence has a religious dimension. While there are secularists and even atheists uneasy with abortion (I recommend reading Christopher Hitchens on this), opposition   comes largely from believers, with the Catholic Church in the van.

The religious horror at abortion comes from scriptural injunction against the taking of life. This also precludes the killing of an abortionist. Thus, we have a religiously inspired motivation for this violence, without any basis in religion.

Islam, starting with its (in)famous Verse of the Sword, has no such scruples in employing homicide in its advancement.

Unless you’ve been in such talks, a Lefty shouting “Timothy McVeigh!” in defense of Islam, might seem like a bit of Tourette’s, but is in fact an example of deductive absurdity that underlies much of their thinking.

mcveigh

Murderer Timothy McVeigh: Bright, misguided, and a decent prose stylist, but not at all concerned with religion.

 Here’s how it works: McVeigh blew up that federal building, because he didn’t like big government. People who don’t like big government, such as the Tea Party, believe in God. So, Timothy McVeigh bombed for God, just as Muslims do for Allah, when they are not bombing because of poverty or imperialism, that is.

That baptized, but non practicing as an adult, Roman Catholic McVeigh was a self professed agnostic to the day before his death, who only a few hours before the needle, decided to make Pascal’s wager and took the last rites, is something that evades the Left.

Then there is the IRA. It works the same way here. The IRA bombed and killed on behalf of Northern Ireland’s Catholic majority, so clearly they must have been motivated by religion. The Provos, the most extreme of the bunch, were basically Trotskyites with brogues, but somehow that doesn’t signify. Much as in the conflict between Serbs and Croats, religion in Northern Ireland defines ethnicity between groups who are otherwise identical in appearance and language, and the IRA had no interest in imposing Catholicism on anyone, least of all themselves, as they would have to rise early on Sundays after a night at the pub.

There’s a lot of bad stuff in the bible, too.

This comes up when you quote the Koran and relate it present day Islamic violence.

Indeed, Ecclesiastes is a byword for cruel punishment, particularly for moral transgressions. However, you won’t find its strictures in the civil code of Israel.

The genocides conducted by the Hebrews as they occupied Canaan are a favorite of the moral equivalence crowd. These slaughters are pretty gruesome, and too numerous to go into here. However, one reading other chronicles of Middle East peoples such the Hittites and Assyrians will be struck by the similarities. Islam has been largely consistent in offering the option of conversion over death, whereas the Israelites seemed to have had little interest in increasing the number of Jews. Ancient Israel had an expansionist phase, but located between other massive powers as it was, never got very far. Nor is there a consistent imperative to spread Yahweh’s religion to the ends of the earth.

victory-of-joshua-over-the-amorites-5046

Joshua fighting the Amorites, Nicholas Poussin. 17th Century. Why people tend to lose their clothes in these kinds of paintings isn’t clear,but hey, it’s French.

So, overall, pretty much a wash.

As to the leading characters of the Old Testament, even the best are flawed. We are told to admire David’s bravery and love of the Lord, but not encouraged to steal other men’s wives as he did Bathsheba.

In Islam, though, Mohammed, “al-Ihsan(the Perfect One) is held up as a model for all Muslims in every aspect of his character and deeds. Conquests, enslavement of non Muslims, and their killing, rape and plunder, may thus still be admirable ends to Muslims, as they were for Islam’s founder.

Those looking for equivalence in the Bible to Islam, focus on the Old Testament, the Hebrew
Torah, because the new Christian dispensation is of no use to them at all. Jesus had some hard words for sinners, but killed none, nor asked that others do so.

Israel is the problem.

This one introduces positions that range from the end of Israel to a “fair” deal for the Palestinians. Again, refer to the history of jihad. And not to go all wonky, but Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the font of the modern Jihad, acted in response to the Kemalist abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924, when the ink on the Balfour Declaration was barely dry.

If we didn’t bomb and invade Muslim countries they wouldn’t dislike us so much.

blackhawk

Black Hawk Down, Mogadishu, Somalia, 1993.

I certainly agree that this is waste of lives and money, but it is curious to note that, since the Viet Nam War, aside from Grenada and Panama, every American military intervention abroad has involved Muslims, and aside from the Balkans, where Orthodox Serbia was the enemy, the U.S. has been defending one bunch of Muslims from another.

 

Radical Muslims are a tiny minority

Here we are getting into area where the Borg speaker rather than deflecting from Islam, purports to know something about it. As usual, his facts are irrelevant or distorted.

So, how tiny is tiny? Surveys of opinion, in both of Muslim countries and in Muslim populations in the West, consistently show very large numbers supporting sharia law, jihad, suicide bombers, Hamas and Hezbollah, and the destruction of Israel. These figures rise and fall and vary from place to place, but in the aggregate amount to hundreds of millions of Muslims. Pew Research reports regularly on these issues.

There is also, again, the matter of thirteen centuries of jihad in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Islam is a religion of Peace. “Islam” itself means peace.

While the word is derived in Arabic from the same root of that for the word for peace, Islam means submission. In the Islamic view a peaceful world will arise when the entire globe submits to Islam. Islamic geopolitics sees the world divided in twain: Dar ul Islam, the house of Peace, has already submitted. Dar ul Harb, the house of War –that’s us – has not.

It is also important to note that while Islam is seen as, and sees itself as a universal religion, the Koran says that it was revealed in Arabic, to the Arabs as they ”… are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.”

Radical Muslims misunderstand their religion.

This is something the Borg talker will repeat when they hear explanations of Islamic violence from Muslims.  So what is it exactly that they misunderstand? Ask for citations from Islamic scripture, and classical Muslim commentators.

Note also that there are many Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists who engage in worship, but are weak in, or even largely ignorant of their respective theologies, but there doesn’t seem to be a problem with them and religiously inspired violence.

Conclusion

There is probably more, but I’ll stop here. Writing this has been almost as wearying as arguing with leftists. I don’t at all care for Islam, but there is an injunction against “arguing with fools” in Islamic law. I kind of get that, but persist.

Looking back at these pages, I see that a few leftie discourse markers have inspired me to write more than a couple of thousand words in rebuttal. Behind these words are entire libraries and disciplines, which I have barely plumbed.

I persist because I’m interested. Practically speaking, these points likely won’t change any Leftists’ minds, but they might just shut them up. That’s why I haven’t included much in the way of links.  I’ve done my research. Let the lefties support their own assertions, with their own research.

They won’t, of course. But, hey, whatever.

Then, if your friends are like mine, you can put it aside, have a few drinks, and enjoy the fruits of the civilization bequeathed to us by fighters such as Charles Martel, one in which I and my friends can hoist a craft beer, and agree to disagree.

Without beheading anyone.

The Familiar Barbarism of ISIS

I write this as President Obama takes questions in Estonia. He just referred to ISIS’ “barbaric and empty vision.”  Barbaric it surely is, but far from empty.

As usual, he makes no mention of the Islamic roots of this world view, and notes that its primary victims are Muslims.  He never will state the truth that Islam began as, and has largely been, a religion of war and conquest.  And thus, it is supremely pragmatic and reflects truths about human nature that we would prefer to forget.

Earlier today, I watched Megyn Kelly of Fox News speak with Maajid Nawaz, former Islamic terrorist, and now a Liberal Democratic candidate for the British Parliament.   She said that ISIS appeared to be psychopaths.  Nawaz quite rightly told her that this is not the case. These fighters make war on behalf of their ideology, he said.

That ideology is again, Islam, which is, as it has always been, about conquest and power, and one might consider that this, the third transnational ideology to afflict the modern world, as did its predecessors, simply codifies the truth behind most of human history.

The strong will terrorize the weak, both to achieve their ends, and for the sheer joy of it.

In this the civilized state and its barbarian enemies can be quite the same.  Consider the Assyrians
Ashurbanipal, in his reduction of Elam, one of his many campaigns:

“According to his inscription, he killed the Elamite king Teumann and his son with his own sword: ‘With the encouragement of Assur, I killed them; I cut off their heads in front of each other.” He then brought the heads back to Nineveh where he hung them in his garden as decoration.”The destruction of Susa in the land of Elam 652 BCE

 “The rest of those living I destroyed…and their carved-up bodies I fed to dogs, to pigs, to wolves, to eagles, to birds of the heavens, to fishes of the deep.”

.

Then the Romans, those master engineers and lawgivers, the second element in the hyphenated classical heritage to which we credit the Renaissance and later, the Enlightenment, from the viewpoint of Calgacus, a Caledonian chief, as reported by Tacitus:

“To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”

The incessant dynastic wars of the middle ages, the Wars of Religion, and the Thirty Years War.

And then, The Enlightenment, which  gave rise to what we take as a self evident principle, that humans have natural rights, which they should not need to defend, but enjoy peacefully, simply because they are humans.

The Western European wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, and even the Great War, saw civilians excluded from much of the violence, as never before. Cities were occupied, sometimes destroyed, but not sacked

The second European War reversed this, with civilians targeted and brutalized in spectacular numbers,  often with an up close and personal cruelty that was the equal of any in the ancient world.

And we come to James Foley, Sotloff, and many others, before, and to come.

We are shocked because this does not happen in our world.  Such things are confined to the forests and deserts of faraway lands where languages and customs are so different as to be unfathomable.
Yet ,Islam is quite straightforward:

“Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

Qur’an 2:256 al-Saif

Yet the futile search for “why” continues, misdirected by our own natures.  

We refuse to understand that Islam’s resurgence, like the Holocaust and the Stalinist butchery, should tell us that barbarism, as we call it, has been the normal state of humanity.  In the years just before August 1914, European civilization reigned supreme, and progress, both in the metropolitan countries and their colonies was thought to be unstoppable.  Science, comfort, hygiene, and material well being would only continue to improve the lot of humanity.

The horrors that followed need not be outlined here, but following the two European catastrophes and the long tensions of the Cold War we found ourselves once again in the light of optimism. Technology and commerce were – and are – well on the way to bringing most of the world out of poverty.
Yet  in these same decades, the darkness that is Islam gathered strength.  It is easy to forget that the Middle East, benighted as it seems, and eternally embroiled in its hatred of Israel, had, or at least its elites had, not so long ago, embraced modernism, albeit often in their own forms of socialism and nationalism.

Nasser_and_Tahia_wedding

Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdul Nasser and bride Tahia, 1944

Retrogression is never impossible, and has in history often been unstoppable.  The liberal humane and democratic life we treasure, in its varying forms in Europe, North America, Australasia and much of Asia is not the inevitable pinnacle of human progress.  It needs to be understood as precious, and delicate.  And therein is the contradiction.  Comfortable civilizations have arisen before and been shattered as that very comfort fails in the face of the basic human lust for power and domination. The barbarian may sweep in on horseback, or through an electoral victory.

President Obama and his Secretary of State have both referred to ISIS crimes as barbaric, and its outlook nihilist. This is an easy tag to throw around, much as the left enjoys the epithet “fascist,” and it is equally meaningless in this context.

ni·hil·ism
ˈnīəˌlizəm,ˈnē-/
noun
noun: nihilism

the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.

Robert Zaretsky and David Mikics, writing in the Boston Globe on August 31, 2014, I think, correctly argue that, if anyone is nihilist, it is the post religious, post national West.  ISIS certainly cites its religious and moral principles, amply grounded in the Islamic canon.  However, Zaretsky and Mikics might have gone further.

The barbarian could not be more alive.  He knows that life has meaning:  conquest, plunder, and power. Just as the café habitué with his copy of “Being or Nothingness,” cannot understand this, the barbarian could not for a moment understand the intellectual’s search for meaning.

Nor would he want to.  He would simply relieve the searcher of his valuables, woman, and perhaps his head.

The west and its civilizational allies are still in denial.  The civilized man simply cannot understand the appeal of barbarism. We cannot prevail until we acknowledge that it is not ISIS that is aberrant, but we. Should we finally marshal our material and spiritual forces, and defeat Islam, the peace will not be eternal.

The barbarian is always at the gate, without, and within.   

DACA: Dreams Deferred, But Not For Long

Perhaps as a prelude to the “Border Surge” President Obama recently honored some “Dreamers” who have, in his estimation, made good. These are young people who have achieved semi legal status under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival). This was the President’s response to the longstanding failure to pass of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, known as the Dream Act, which would allow a “pathway to citizenship” to illegal arrivals who graduate US high schools, or have served in the military. The bill, in one form or another, has been kicking around since 2001.

Rather than go into the many controversies surrounding this and the ongoing “Border Crisis,” I would like to look at the “Dreamers” Mr. Obama chose to honor, and the venue in which he did so.  Instead of standing in the Rose Garden with young people who are working two jobs while going to community college, running a small business, becoming firefighters or cops, the president honored a group of activists, some already deployed, others in preparation, as they work towards “social change,” change, in this case, meaning many more like themselves.

What’s wrong with social change, one might ask. After all, in The U.S. we have seen massive social change in the last few decades, with Black Americans taking their rightful place as full citizens, women free to work and compete with men in the marketplace, Gays no longer harassed and entrapped by law enforcement, and much more.

Change is good, right?

Google that phrase and you get 813,000,000 his in 31 seconds.

It is a very popular phrase, and like most such bromides, is at best fatuous, and at worst, dangerous. There were more than a few people in 1917 who did not appreciate the change in Russia, and seven decades of terror and misery proved them to be quite right. France still celebrates the massive change of 1789, but prefers not to speak to the century of instability that followed.

And those mercury laden ”green” light bulbs we are forced to use instead of the venerable incandescent, really, really suck. Government enforced social change has a sorry history.

What of the end of slavery, votes for women, and the Civil Rights movement, one might ask?

I would posit that these laws lagged the actual change, merely codifying what had occurred, and reflected the moral consensus at the time. Today’s activist governments, working with a network of academics, donors, and various non state actors, work to force social change into the consensus direction of this informal coalition, and that is towards centralization, multiculturalism, and collective action. In working towards these ends they will push policies clearly unwanted by the public. Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or Amnesty, is one such, and those honored by the President are to a greater or lesser extent, all involved in advancing this unprecedented legal, social, and demographic change.

The White House’s Champions of Change program shows up as a blog on the main White house page, and I find no entries before 2011. I was unable to determine how it is funded or staffed, nor how winners are selected.

Comprising the ten DACA awardees are 5 Mexican nationals, and one each from Colombia, India, Morocco and the Philippines. This spread is close to the immigration demographics cited in a January 2013 Pew Research report, which has total immigration since the 1965 reform, as 50% Hispanic, and 30% Asian.

Among the ten are an immigration lawyer, students in social studies, as well as a biology major and two others who aspire to medicine. There is one business major, and no engineering or technical majors.  Let’s have a look at our DACA Dreamers. I order them roughly as to my estimate of how heavy hitters they might become in the social change industry.

Sarahi Espinoza

Sarahi Espinoza

Sarahi Espinoza (Mexico), a former drop out, goes to community college, and works with the Girl Scouts of America to encourage youth to complete their educations. Her LinkedIn profile shows her as a member of the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley. Ms Espinoza, a very attractive young woman, has a web page she calls sarahtv. It’s a bit ragged and seems aimed towards qualifying as an extra-curricular for college education, and maybe raising a little cash.

Hector Salamanca

      Hector Salamanca

Hector Salamanca Arroz (Mexico)  “…has committed himself to service and advocacy to create social change.”  He is majoring in law, politics and society at Drake University where he was the recipient of a LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) scholarship. Hector aims to be an immigration lawyer.

Rhustie Macelo Valdizino(Phillipines) “…is an active member and core leader at RAISE

rhustie_valdizno

Rhustie MarceloValdizno

(Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast). A community college student, major unstated,e hopes ne day to be doctor. This is the lightest resume here, but Rustie is gay, which may have put him over the bar.

Dayana Torres

Dayana Elvira Torres

It’s not clear what Dayana Elvira Torres(Colombia) is studying, but she is head of the Mason Dreamers at George Mason University, and has considerable lobbying experience in the immigration field for one so young. She is a recipient of a National Hispanic Recognition Scholarship from the College Board. That’s a new one on me. Do they also have scholarships for Asian geeks?

One of these Dreamers, Anahi Mendoza(Mexico) made the Ivy League, where she is

anahi_mendoza_0

Anahi Mendoza

“..rising senior” at Harvard. Ms. Mendoza is majoring in Social Studies, with a focus on U.S. Immigration Policy and Social Change. I thought Social studies was the dumbed down combination version of what used to be Geography and History, which is bad enough, but at Harvard it looks to be something far worse.

While she is active in “immigrant” causes, Pratishth Khanna(India) has mapped out a clear plan to achieve a medical degree. Miss Khanna may be focusing on her career, but she too is an asset in the “immigrants’ rights” movement. Here she is in an interview posted on the website of SAALT (South Asia Americans Leading Together)  is committed to social justice.

If you could ask one question of President Obama, what would it be?

I would tell him my story and ask if his was just as hard. I would ask for his advice, given that he is an African American man, I am an undocumented immigrant, and we have both faced serious civil rights challenges. I would want to know how he overcame his challenges and what advice he has for me.

This is just too perfect. If there is any evidence of the president working hard, it hasn’t been

Pratishtha_Khanna

Pratishtha_Khanna

forthcoming. Mr. Obama had family issues, but he has had a comfortable upbringing. The President grew to manhood after all the major Civil rights legislation passed, and flourished in an era of racial opportunities, if not outright preferences. Ms Khanna take her victim hood a step higher for, while Mr Obama in her view achieves victim status by membership in a group that did once suffer oppression, she sees her civil rights having been violated as a consequence of her status, which is in violation of immigration law. Her rights have been violated in that she has not been afforded the full rights that her status by law denies her. While this aspiring medical student is surely harmless, her position is logically no different than a felon, being been stripped of his civil rights, complaining that his rights had been violated.

As is SAALT ,  Mi Familia Vota is part of the social justice nexus.  “…Mi Familia Vota is a national organization working to unite the Latino community and its allies to ensure social and economic justice through increased civic participation.”

Steven Arteaga

Steven Arteaga

Both Stephen Arteaga (Mexico) and Ana Zaragoza (Mexico) are associated with Mi Familia Vota. Arteaga, who mentions no education plans, works there apparently full time, and Zaragoza part time or volunteer as she pursues a degree in Business Studies( Everything is “Studies” these days.). The organization is partnered with many Latino business and advocacy groups, including media powerhouse Univison, The National Council of La Raza, and the venerable LULAC, founded in 1929, and once known for its assimilationist outlook. All work towards open borders, which they see as essential to achieving “social” and “economic” justice.” Michele Malkin has extensively documented Vota Mi Familia’s connection with the hard left and thuggish SEIU.

Ana Zaragoza

Ana Zaragoza

While claiming to be a non partisan 501(c) group, the organization ‘s efforts will benefit only one political party, as this article in the Latino Times explains.

So far, we‘ve seen young people involved with social change, and most planning to make it part of their working lives. Now we move on to someone who has firmly grasped the first rung of the ladder that one day may take her to the heights of the social change economic justice academic/NGO/governmental complex.

Esther Yu Hsi Lee(Taiwan) has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Middle East

Esther Yu Hsi Lee

Esther Yu Hsi Lee

Studies. Now there are a lot of crazies over there, but one suspects that Ms Lee is well aware that credentialed Islamophilia is highly valued among NGOs and the permanent bureaucracy. She also has Master’s psychology and now works as an Immigration Reporter for ThinkProgress, in Washington D.C. Working for one of the foremost Soros funded online presences, Ms Yee is on her way, proof that East Asians can succeed without studying a lot of science and math.

Next comes a gentleman who is the farthest advanced of those dreamers. Kamal Essaheb(Morrocco) Is an immigration lawyer for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). Son of a taxi driver, Mr. Esaheb graduate from Fordham and was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law. You can be sure that when social change activists speak of the public interest, they don’t mean taxpayers.

When still a law student, as a consequence of the post 9/11 registration, Esaheb had a run in with Immigration. This was somehow resolved, and the young lawyer has since prospered. He married Megan Horn this year on May 14. They were joined in a Muslim ceremony at Manhattan’s Islamic Cultural Center. Shariah law does not require that a woman convert to Islam when marrying a Muslim, unlike the reverse, but it is common and one wonders if Essaheb has effected another small bit of social change here.

Ms Horn, a graduate of Connecticut Wesleyan, and a also a Fordham Law graduate works at a Washington non profit, Farmworker Justice, as a lawyer and policy analyst.

“The bride’s father is a professor of technical communications at Clarkson University in

Kamal Essaheb

Kamal Essaheb

Potsdam. Her mother is a professor of global studies at St. Lawrence University in Canton” There’s that “studies” word again, and “technical communications” sounds a bit highfaluting, and may be just business writing.

In addition to earning the appropriate credentials, and working in an approved field, Kamal Essaheb has now married into the New Class.

So what, you might say? You’re just miffed that the other side is well organized and smarter than your side. And after all, the Ddemocrats have always done well with immigrants, who in time largely moved out of their urban enclaves and into the middle class.

The difference is, this same party and the left academics and activists that now control it have long worked towards, and greatly succeeded in eliminating the notion of assimilation into traditional American culture and society. Rather, they work to enlist these new arrivals in their assault on what where once commonly held notions of Americanism, in the name of both the superior authenticity of non-Anglo societies, and the enumerated – and thus, restricted – rights of collective egalitarianism, as granted by the ruling class.

What will emerge from this is not yet clear, but it will be a far more hierarchal and oligarchic society, and the great mass of immigrants who do not achieve the status of white House dreamers, are those least likely to benefit from it.

Let’s Play…Global Strategic Realignment!

 

wargameUnlike the computer simulation in 1983’s “War Games,” this is a board game, a combination of Risk and Monopoly.  In Risk early and bold moves are essential.  A firm grasp of strategy wins every time; the dice won’t bail you out, unless you’re evenly matched.( I’ve lost every game of Risk I’ve ever played, so why should you read this?)The same is somewhat true with Monopoly, but a bad card early on can set you back hopelessly, or derail what looked to be a winning surge.
It’s pretty clear that the U.S. is distracted, or perhaps largely indifferent to what is going on around the globe.  That goes for the current administration; as to the country’s intelligence services, who knows?

pivot

This nifty 33 page Congressional Research Service position page turned out to e a waste of time as President Obama pivoted somewhere else.

Late in 2011, the Administration announced a strategic realignment, or an intensified focus (accounts vary) de-emphasizing the Middle East and looking to the Pacific. With China continuing to make ir-redentist territorial claims, and given the chronic instability in the Middle East, and its lack of economic significance outside the energy sector, this made a good deal of sense, especially with a background of rising gas and oil production in North America, and great potential elsewhere.

Buttressing such a strategic would require a strong naval and air presence in the region, and a commitment to maximize North American energy production. We’ve seen the opposite.  The indefinite Keystone  XL Pipeline delay, slow permitting for exploration on Federal lands, and crippling EPA regulations on the use of coal for power generation, it’s clear the Obama  Administration, at best, simply does not understand correlation, or worse, suffers from crippling cognitive dissonance. In what the New York Post calls “Obama’s Incredible Shrinking Pacific Pivot,” the President instead places his faith in adherence to international norms.

As to U.S. Naval strength. expert debates rage, and are beyond the non-specialist – this one, at least, but one does get the sense the U.S. is still more than capable. However, the administration seems to have given the Navy little attention, other than the installation of gender neutral heads, and arranging for some of  the fleet to be fueled on algae, at substantial cost.

.
Like so many of Mr. Obama’s pivots, from jobs, to immigration, to gay whatever, and back again, the Pacific pivot in the end is reduced to no more than an interpretative dance move depicting a world that exists only in the CIC’s imagination.

Now, let’s game this.

senkaku

Some of the Senkaku Islands, near Taiwan, in the South China Sea. Picturesque, but it’s about oil and gas.

An administration distracted by midterm elections, border chaos, and perhaps new revelations in ongoing scandals, and fresh ones yet to surface, presents an opening to China, who grab the Spratlys, and if they are feeling particularly bold, the Senkakus.  With Japan moving to a more robust defense doctrine, and the weakest U.S. posture since before the Second World War there will never be a better chance.

Japan and China fight a short naval conflict, with both taking losses, but neither fully committing.  War with China is not an option for the Japanese, who retire with honor intact. VietNam and the Philippines  are chased from the Spratlys.

One of the man atolls in he Spratlys.  Claimed by pretty much everyone around the South China Sea, but china is the big dog

One of the many atolls in the Spratlys. Claimed by pretty much everyone around the South China Sea, but china is the big dog

The U.S. tut tuts like a worried grandmother surrounded by squabbling grandchildren, but it is apparent  American security promises are worthless.  India, which has been in a naval race with China, its navy, offers strategic guarantees to Southeast Asian nations, and acquires bases, with a forward position in the Philippines.  Australia, after initial reluctance, realizes it is far from any other allies, and joins India, in combined naval operations, and provides basing rights.

Does China then make its play for Taiwan?  Amphibious invasions are expensive, bloody, and highly risky affairs. Beijing strikes a deal with Taipei for autonomy within the PRC in return for withdrawal of U.S. forces from the island.

Japan builds a nuclear deterrent, and announces its deployment.  Tokyo abrogates the U.S. Japan security treaty and U. S. forces withdraw.

Where is Europe in all this?  Busy dealing with the rising chaos as migrants pour in, spurred by violence and disruption in the Middle East and Africa as world tensions and currency crises buffet already fragile economies. Nationalist governments rise in Britain, and in newer EU members from the former East Bloc.  Germany is happy to be Moscow’s banker as Russia and China form an entente cordiale.  The U.S. fades from the world scene, as two far lesser powers divide most of Eurasia and dominate its maritime periphery.

frigate

Indian Shivalik class Frigate

India waits, and is riven by dissension over the massive cost of its new hemispheric defense posture.

One of the man atolls in he Spratlys.  Claimed by pretty much everyone around the South China Sea, but china is the big dog

One of the many atolls in the Spratlys. Claimed by pretty much everyone around the South China Sea, but China is the big dog

Latin America continues to be Latin America, with weak institutions and unbalanced economies.  In the South, Brazil dominates, while to the North, the United States, Mexico and Central America are joined in a de facto Anschluss driven not by American power, but migration northwards. Canada realizes that its southern neighbor is lost, and plays itself between China and the Anglosphere as best it can.

In my scenario, China is the precipitating actor. One asks immediately, why would they do it? Are some small scraps of territory and national honor worth the enormous risk?  I have no idea what competing factions within the PRC, in both the party and the military, might militate for or against such aggressive action.

In the light of rational thought, it seems insane.  First it requires absolute confidence that the current administration in Washington would not meet its commitments; next, that the Chinese economy could weather the economic disruption sure to follow its action.  And, as Messrs Obama and Kerry indignantly point out, this is the 21st Century, as they protest Putin’s 20th Century moves in the Ukraine.  Meanwhile, ISIS has has gone all 19th Century in setting up their Islamic state,  and different to the Sudan back then, there is no Kitchener to set things right; not even a Gordon, for that matter.

As we approach the centenary of the Guns of August, it is wise to reflect on how often before, leaders have miscalculated, and to recall the catastrophes that followed.

Now, play the game yourself!

Your wild cards are: Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea.

Between Iraq and a Hard Place: In Which I Bail the President Out From His Bad Middle East Optics

ISIS-truck-convoy-Anbar-Province

ISIS column in Anbar Province, Iraq.

After an early enthusiasm for the Viet Nam war, other than Grenada, I have not supported any American intervention overseas in my lifetime. So for once, I find myself in agreement with the 44th president.

Mr. Obama has some bad optics with the ISIS assault in Iraq. Sure, it wasn’t his war, but his Vice President did say this in 2010:

(Iraq )”could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.”

The rout of the Baghdad government from large parts of the country looks bad, and calling it Bush’s war will resonate with the faithful, but others are a bit jaded with the” Bush did it” excuse six years in.. No matter who may be seen to “own” Iraq politically, the ISIS advances represent at the very least, a massive intelligence failure – or perhaps failure to act on intelligence. Coming so soon after the Crimea takeover, it just looks like crap.

As senator, Obama did not vote for Iraq, and rather than his frequent custom of listing himself “present,” voted against it. Others in his party cannot say the same. Mrs. Clinton was in, and both her husband and his VP, Al Gore, are on record long before the war, pointing to the danger posed by Saddam. Many other Democrats joined in the war vote, including the current Secretary of State, John Kerry.

nissan

Shiite militia parade, Baghdad, June 20, 2014. Despite the Nissan in the lead, from the headlights, it looks like Toyota has the conflict sewed up,truck-wise.

So how can Mr. Obama clear up his Iraq optics?

Embrace the Iraq war, and then kiss it goodbye.

Here, Barrack, let me show you how to do it.

“Good evening.

My fellow Americans, I am asking for your time this evening to speak on the recent and ongoing events in Iraq. This country has cast a long shadow on American politics and foreign policy, across administrations and parties, long before I became President.

Mehdi Army Women loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a parade in Najaf

These Shia ladies are on our side, sort of.  In Syria and Lebanon, their veiled sisters are on the other side. Got it?  I don’t. Did American really think it could handle this place?  What were we thinking?

It is no secret that I voted against the Iraq War as Senator and ran against it when I first campaigned for the office of President. I promised an end to ur role in the conflict, and I kept that promise. As President I have learned much, and I have come to know this about America’s role in Iraq.

The men and women, in both parties, who voted for, and worked towards the ouster of Saddam, l believe, especially in view of Iraq’s present agony, were wrong.

But they were not, and are not, selfish or evil. There was no war for oil. Those who supported the war policy had two things in mind:

The national security of the United States, and, along with a hatred of Saddam’s tyranny, a sincere wish that Iraq be stable and free, and in time, lead the region out of its sad history of conflict and deprivation.

They should not be vilified for misplaced hope.

I, they, and all Americans honor the courage and sacrifice of the many thousands of our forces who served, died, and were maimed in Iraq. We also recognize the contributions of our civilians there, the diplomats, engineers and technicians, doctors and nurses, educators, and the whole range of specialists who worked to bring Iraq back from ruin.

In 2010, when we finally withdrew our forces it seemed we had succeeded.

That we have not is not the fault of any administration. America expended massive amounts of her treasure and expertise, and above all, the precious lives of our best and brightest young people, to give the Iraqi people a chance at a future of freedom and progress.

We are deeply saddened that ancient hatreds should make this unlikely for the foreseeable future.

But we have done enough, and can do no more. Nor would we if we could.

Self reliance is a core American value. While we cannot instill such a value where it is not, we understand that it must exist for any nation to succeed.

Therefore, while I will take such action as may be necessary to our immediate security needs, and may provide assistance where it can be used efficiently and honestly, the United States under my administration will not intervene in Iraq. Our time in Afghanistan is also coming to an end, and I hope profoundly hope that our friends there will look to Iraq and resolve to do better.

That so grand an undertaking has failed is a tragedy, but I urge you all tonight and in the days to come, to look back upon this chapter in our history as one of many times when America has given much, in return for little.

God Bless America

God bless our veterans

Thank you, and good night.”

 

C’mon, Mr. President. I guarantee you a 5% overnight bounce in the polls.

But for Barrack Obama to make such a statement would require both humility and magnanimity, two qualities in which he is signally lacking.

Not a chance.