Repairing the Mothers

My co-contributor Dymphna has written extensively here and at I Could Scream on the plight of Islamic women. With the de facto acceptance of the jurisdiction of sharia over Muslims in such Western countries as Canada and Britain, even those Muslim women currently residing outside the Ummah in the liberal democracies have reason to fear for their rights.

But it is not simply the religion which causes such brutal oppression of women; culture is also a significant factor. Arab culture is the epicenter of the phenomenon; the closer the society is to the Arab heartland, the more brutally it treats its women. Muslim women in Indonesia and Turkey fare much better in that regard than their Arab sisters.

So what is it about Arab culture that causes such repression and degradation of women? Last year, Phyllis Chesler posted a much-discussed article, “The Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Terrorism”. Referring to an upcoming book called Sheik’s New Clothes: the Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Suicide Terrorism, she described conditions among Palestinian Arabs:

      …Kobrin, and her Israeli co-author, counter-terrorism expert Yoram Schweitzer, describe barbarous family and clan dynamics in which children, both boys and girls, are routinely orally and anally raped by male relatives; infant males are sometimes sadistically over-stimulated by being masturbated; boys between the ages of 7-12 are publicly and traumatically circumcised; many girls are clitoridectomized; and women are seen as the source of all shame and dishonor and treated accordingly: very, very badly.
  …Both male and female infants and children are brought up by mothers (who are debased and traumatized women). As such, all children are forever psychologically “contaminated” by the humiliated yet all-powerful mother. Arab and Muslim boys must disassociate themselves from her in spectacularly savage ways. But, on a deep unconscious level, they may also wish to remain merged with the source of contamination — a conflict that suicide bombers both act out and resolve when they manfully kill but also merge their blood eternally with that of their presumably most hated enemies, the Israeli Jews.

With such a culture perpetuating itself generation after generation, how is it possible to hope for any kind of reform in the way women are treated?

Of course, Palestinian culture is the behavioral sink of the Arabs, so that generalizing from it to the Arab world at large may not be advisable. Still, one can assume that a similar process goes on in other Arab countries. How could anyone on the outside ever intervene to introduce change into such a destructive system? Men are just as much the victims of it as the women are, growing up angry, fearful, resentful, and self-pitying, expecting nothing but brutality and intimidation from the world at large, and meting it out themselves when given a chance, particularly to their womenfolk.

But Iraq gives us a glimmer of hope: what women need in order to begin their emancipation is the franchise. Forget for the time being the laws enforcing the hijab, the proportion of women in the universities or the government, and the laws of property and inheritance. When a woman can make her voice heard through her vote, those who get elected will tend to pay attention to her needs. It is impossible to believe that the vast majority of Arab women would not vote to ameliorate their condition in some degree, if ever given the chance.

Bring on the purple fingers.

Hunting Osama: Update

Update: TigerHawk and The Daily Demarche both have posts on this story from the other day.

TigerHawk questions how effective the program could be, while Demarche prints an email from a retired FSO who describes why it would be a practicable application.

First, Tiger Hawk:

      Representative Kirk, of course, makes big claims about how effective matchbooks can be — he cites one arrest as the result of a matchbook reward — but is a single case ten years ago (and probably not involving al Qaeda) proof that the matchbooks work? I would be interested in knowing whether these programs really do work. There is undoubtedly a big memo in a file somewhere in Foggy Bottom with State’s actual assessment, and probably a contradicting memo in another file in Langley. The single ancient anecdote offered by the Sun seems like a frail reed on which to hang Nancy Powell, though.

Then, the email at Demarche:

      … So advertising on match books/boxes is one of the few effective media. In most of the Third World (and the old Second World, the USSR and Warsaw Bloc) there are no free matches, so smokers (lots of males in the Third World smoke) are happy to take free matches…

I was told by people involved in the “turn in a terrorist program” (my name for it, not theirs) that the match box advertisements did produce leads that caused several terrorists to be caught. Knowing the nature of far too many FSOs, Nancy Powell was offended by the manner of the advertising (on match boxes), offended that such advertising might offend some Pakistanis (it certainly would, anything that helped us would offend some of them), and/or just offended by anyone who was helping to fight “GW Bush’s War”. We will not know what was in Powell’s head. We do know the nature of the culture of the State Dept. whereby the ambassador is supreme and all powerful, able to openly disobey orders from Washington, DC (unless the orders are really really important to the Secretary of State)…

As pointed out in the earlier post, it’s hard to find “clean” intelligence programs and this one seems a good example of that. Might it make people mad at us? No more than anything else does. Has it served to improve embassy intelligence morale? Seems so. Does it cost very much? Not as these things go. The materials were already printed, and it takes few personnel to track the responses, at least initially.

Think about it this way: matchbooks are a measured, low-tech, low-cost and even amusing response to bin Laden’s machinations.

Source Documents

Dan, from riehlworldview has a link to an anti-war site which claims to post reports from Iraqi “resistance” fighters:

      Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Friday, 25 March 2005
Translated and/or compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr, member editorial board
The Free Arab Voice.

Friday, 25 March 2005.
Al-Anbar Province.

Intermittent fighting took place in the northern neighborhoods al-Jawlan and the area of the sheep market in al-Fallujah, 60km west of Baghdad on Thursday between Iraqi Resistance fighters and US and Iraqi puppet troops. A captain in the puppet so-called “Iraqi national guard” told Mafkarat al-Islam that the fighting left seven US troops dead and 11 more wounded, and it killed nine Iraqi puppet soldiers and wounded five more of their number.

The captain said that four Resistance fighters were martyred in the battles.

The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam met an administrative official in the city police who told him, “it is quite impossible to accept the theory that Resistance fighters have come into the city, because 90 percent of the people of al-Fallujah are members of the Resistance. So if we wanted to control the city completely, we would have to expel all the population or wipe all of them out, and that’s fundamentally impossible and irrational.” The correspondent reported that on Friday security measures were tightened at the entrances and exits from al-Fallujah.

Given the level of veracity of the other pages on the site, this is recommended purely for entertainment value. For even more enjoyment, read Dan’s riff on the report:

      On this glorious night we engaged the despotic forces of Satan Bush using the new Russian made night vision goggles smuggled in by our friends in Syria. Unfortunately, in what is sure to be found out as a Jew plot, the Russians, they did not so much tell our Syrian brothers that the little black lens caps to keep out the demon sand were to be removed before the battle.

Praise Allah, my brothers, it was a glorious night for we have gained many new martyrs in our illustrious cause. We looked right into the eyes of the American devil, well, we did not quite look into his eyes, as we were unable to see too very much, what with those damnable Russian Jew lens caps on. But still praise be to the troops of Al-Hadithah now all become martyrs.

Here’s the rest. As the author might say, we implore you, read the whole thing.

Hunting Osama…or not

Just shows you what a determined Congressman can do.

Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, was on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan in January, 2004. Rep. Kirk is an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve, so while there he sought out information from embassy intelligence on the progress of the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

In particular, Kirk asked about using matchbooks printed up in the local languages — – and presumably offering rewards. As evidence he cited the capture of the terrorist who opened fire on CIA employees in Langley, VA in 1993. Mir Amal Kansi was arrested two years later in Pakistan, based on a lead provided by someone who read the matchbook cover offering $5 million dollars for his capture.

Embassy officials told Rep. Kirk that such materials were available but that they’d been impounded by the previous ambassador and the current one, Nancy Powell, had refused to re-activate the program, called “Rewards for Justice,” despite its proven record in other areas. When Rep Kirk approached Ambassador Powell, he was effectively rebuffed.

Not a good move. Ambassador Powell is a career diplomat in the State Department and Rep. Kirk is a member the subcommittee that funds State. In February, he met with members of Congress and with the Speaker of the House. He began to bring up the subject with White House officials. In July, he was a guest on Air Force One during the campaign in Illinois.

By November, Ambassador Powell had been replaced. “Rewards for Justice” is back in working order.

The American Embassy in Islamabad now boasts a 24-hour call center to receive tips. The center is manned by two locals, both of whom speak the three major languages of Pakistan, and supervised by a Diplomatic Security officer. Embassy staff recently launched a 12-week radio and television campaign alerting residents that, in the words of one 30-second Urdu-language radio spot, they “may be eligible for a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to the arrest of known international terrorists.” About 25 calls were received in February 2005, the center’s first full month of operation.

Under legislation co-sponsored by Mr. Kirk and signed by Mr. Bush in December 2004, the top reward for information leading to the capture of Mr. bin Laden has been raised to $50 million from $25 million. The Rewards for Justice program has also been extensively retuned. Embassies are now required to conduct focus groups of locals to discover precisely which radio stations they tune in to and which newspapers they read. Based on those reports, the American Embassy in Pakistan is now broadcasting advertisements on the radio programs most closely followed by the residents of Waziristan, a mountainous region of Pakistan that is believed to be a haven for Al Qaeda.

Ambassador Powell is back at Foggy Bottom and unavailable for comment. Osama bin Laden is still at large. Do you think he remembers her in his daily prayers? If he turns up on the coinage of another domestic terror attack, should someone invite the former ambassador in for a chat?

(Thanks to JihadWatch)

Who Decides?

The ongoing controversy over the fate of Terri Schiavo has highlighted a prominent feature of cultural life in America: the central role of the judiciary in contentious matters. Terri’s husband says she would want the tube which keeps her alive removed; her parents say she would not.

Who decides?

In this particular case, a single Florida circuit court judge has decided that Terri would have indeed wanted to die, and so she will die. All the arguing and wrangling and evidence and medical testimony have been channeled through the single narrow gateway of a particular judge in these particular circumstances. Regardless of one’s position in the debate, it is unsettling that a single judicial official can hold in his hands the fate of a disabled and voiceless young woman who has committed no crime.

This is not the only instance in which matters of great import have been decided by a handful of judges or justices. When Congress passed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, cynical Republican legislators voted for it, and President Bush signed it, with the understanding that parts of it were unconstitutional and the expectation that the Supreme Court would overturn it.

Who decided?

The Supreme Court decided, or, in this particular case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor decided, since she was the “swing justice” casting the deciding vote. Congress and the President ceded decision-making authority to a single person, who arguably acted against the provisions of the First Amendment. Whether by ignorance, indifference, or calculation, the Executive and Legislative members of our government failed to carry out their oaths to uphold faithfully the provisions of the United States Constitution.

Then there is the ongoing issue of gay marriage. State by state gay rights activists are pushing to have gay marriage mandated by the courts, and laws against it overturned. People in favor of gay marriage say that it is only fair; those opposed say that it goes against all tradition and threatens the institution of marriage. Religious people cite scripture or the words of Christ to support one side or the other of the argument.

Who decides?

Four out of seven justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that the Commonwealth, in order to give gay couples equal rights, must allow them to marry. California seems to be following suit.

Regardless of which side one is on in this issue, how is it possible to read in the Constitution a right for two people of the same sex to wed? The Constitution makes no mention of it. Until about 1970 the idea would have been laughable, and never seriously considered. If times have changed, the people of the country, acting through their elected representatives, could choose to pass new laws allowing gay marriage. Yet it is a handful of justices, acting against the popular will, who decide.

The Constitution does nor mention automobiles or drivers’ licenses; yet the Commonwealth of Virginia, through its legislature, has decided to require that anyone who wishes to drive a car have a valid driver’s license. I think that is unfair and discriminatory against me: can a judge decide that I do in fact have the right to drive a car without a license, regardless of the law?

Who decides?

On issue after issue — the execution of minors, affirmative action, school busing, even the raising of taxes to achieve certain goals — the same process has evolved: a judge or panel of judges makes the decision. Our elected representatives are perhaps afraid of the adverse publicity (since the mainstream media support the same agenda as the judiciary) and do nothing to halt the process. A few well-timed impeachments might do wonders to focus the judicial mind, but such is unlikely to occur.

As ShrinkWrapped says:

     We also need something greater than ourselves to anchor our morality; otherwise morality is just opinion. In our secular world, we have had the tremendous advantage of some rather brilliant men who put to paper, over 200 years ago, a set of principles which have served to protect the kinds of personal freedoms that have never been seen before for so many for so long. If we replace our reliance on the words they left us and instead rely on what we want the words to mean, we are endangering our freedoms, almost always with the best of intentions. When Justice Kennedy writes that his recent decision on executing minors (a decision I agree with, by the way) is in part based on the opinions of the international (ie EU) elite, I see us moving into dangerous territory. We need Supreme Court Justices who are humble men, who do not see things in the words that are not there. If our freedoms depend on the opinions of nine fallible individuals, I would prefer to rely on individuals who recognize how little we really know, even about ourselves, and how little we really can know. We should be extraordinarily careful of altering something which has worked well, if not perfectly, for over 200 years.

The rule of law depends on the existence of a permanent law whose meaning is clear to everyone. When the law means whatever Justice Blowhard says it means, then, in the immortal words of Mr. Bumble, “The Law is a ass.”

As we approach Easter, it would be worthwhile to remember Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands and declined to decide Christ’s fate. Even so, somehow the nails were driven in, the gibbet was raised, and the Son of Man was slain.

Who decides?

A Good Friday Contemplation

The stores are full of people buying Easter candy, grass and baskets.

The shelves are full of chocolate bunnies and fluffy lambs.

People are coloring Easter eggs and sending cards.

Choirs are rehearsing Resurrection music.

Altars are bare, waiting for Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, Ms. Schiavo is dying. The consensus on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is divided and vitriolic. How it “should” come out depends on where you stand vis-à-vis the law, Ms. Schiavo’s intent, or perhaps a consideration for what is “best” for all concerned.

At ShrinkWrapped the doctor asks where our empathy has gone. He questions whether or not we’re so narcissistic that we have lost all fellow feeling

     Without knowing what is going on in Terri Schiavo’s mind, we are left with the next best thing, our empathy. Imagine yourself being compelled to starve to death. If you were guaranteed you would feel no suffering, would you agree to this? If you were told there was a 10% chance you would experience all the pain and suffering of starvation and dehydration and then die, likely after first having seizures, would you accept that risk? 25%? 75%? We have no idea what she is experiencing and no way to find out.

Here is something to think about for this Good Friday: Ms. Schiavo is not going to die of starvation. She is going to die of thirst.

Weep not for her — weep for your children. They will inherit the world she is slowly, slowly leaving.

Nation-Building Marches On

On March 23rd, the Afghan National Military Academy re-opened its doors to the first class of 109 cadets.

     Afghanistan’s institutional rebuilding will take another step forward when the country’s first military academy is officially opened in the capital on Tuesday.

The academy, located on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, stems from the country’s first military school set up by King Nadir Shah in the 1920s.

The school fell into disuse after the Moslem mujahideen captured Kabul in April 1992. Troops loyal to the then president Burhanuddin Rabbani and the assassinated commander Ahmed Shah Masoud occupied the facility until the radical Taleban swept them from the capital.

“From now on, all military educational institutions will operate under the supervision of this academy,” {said} General Zahir Azemi, spokesman for the defence ministry.

At the behest of the Afghani military, the school is modeled on the United States Military Academy, and staff from West Point have taken turns deploying to Afghanistan in order to help establish curriculum and recruitment. They worked closely with the Afghanis to create a curriculum that conformed with Afghan’s culture.

     “Our environments are different. Planners considered all cultural aspects and did not impose anything on us,” Academy Superintendent Maj. Gen. Mohammed Sharif said. “While the academy will be similar to West Point, it will not be the same.”

The winnowing process began with more than 350 candidates, eventually identifying 120 for basic training. Now 109 have entered the first class, their goal to graduate with degrees in engineering. The curriculum focuses on engineering, because “our country is war struck and devastated,” said Sharif. “We are in the process of rehabilitating it. We need more engineers because we need reconstruction.”

Obviously, the competition to enter the new academy is fierce. So is the commitment: cadets have to agree to serve for twenty-five years after graduation. In Afghanistan, for many, this is not a sacrifice.

     “It is my country,” said Afghan Sgt. 1st. Class Ghazi Ahmad, a platoon sergeant from Paktia province, as if puzzled by the question about why he would serve at the academy. If he did not serve his country, then who would, he asked.

Sounds like many of the US forces when asked the same question.

(thanks to Winds of Change)

UNnatural and UNnecessary

In yesterday’s Belmont Club comments (on a
post concerning Kofi Annan’s recent proposals for UN reform), a conversation arose among a group of committed UN-skeptics:

   SANGELL: Yes, modernize the Security Council. Give the seat France currently has to the EU. Award a permanent veto bearing seat to India and Japan. Let the other large nations ( my criterion population over 100 million, GDP of 1 trillion) have rotating full membership. Let the small General Assembly nations vote for one member to represent them on a rotating basis.
   Baron Bodissey: Sangell — I think that’s rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The UN is compromised in its core functions. Wretchard is right: the UN can only give the patina of legitimacy to what the great powers agree among themselves to do. And when they can’t agree, one or more will do it anyway. The UN is a diabetic monster sucking out the sugar from the American taxpayer.
   SANGELL: Agreed Mr. Bodissey, the UN is a monstrous organization but it isn’t going to be dissolved so we have to deal with it ( or do we?) My point was by supporting the removal of an exclusive French seat in favor of a UN seat we play a little mischief with ‘Old Europe’ and by including Japan and India, which the Bush team already support, we do ourselves no harm and force Japan to take a more direct role in world affairs.

As the UN now stands the larger and more cumbersome we can make the machinery of the UN the less likely it will be used against us. which is the direction many in Europe would like to take it. Having India and Japan on the SC weakens that possibility

   Annoy Mouse: Diplomacy is war by other means: If we were to “pull out” of the UN, you could expect the formation of another League of Nations, perhaps the EU, China, and Russia. I wouldn’t put it past Schroeder and Chirac to do just that. We wouldn’t even be privy to their deliberations or more likely we’d be the brunt of their findings. This could, probably would create serious consequences for our policies abroad, our trade relations, and it would probably create a greater rift between the Blue-Red states internally. Even moderates might fear that the US is “going it alone” or at least being barred from its’ proper seat at the big global table. I think the EU would get a sadistic kick out of this. Most people I know think Political Correctness is a bunch of hooey, but you can be damn sure that they will play the semantics game to ensure that they will not be consumed by the ravages of the PC police at school, work, and at home. So feign a little obeisance, do the UN turkey dance, talk the drivel. It doesn’t cost that much and in the end it does more than nothing…it keeps worse things from happening.

Upon further reflection, this topic cries out for a longer response.

The League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, were created in the aftermath of the Great War in reaction to its horrors: Nothing like that must ever happen again. An idealistic vision was born, midwifed by Woodrow Wilson, as well-meaning members of the educated elites visualized a world without war, in which conflicts were mediated and short-circuited by an international deliberative body.

The League of Nations, of course, failed to prevent another and even greater conflagration just over twenty years after the first. The United Nations arose from the formal alliance of the victorious powers in World War II, expanding after the war to become the bureaucratic entity we all know and love today.

Neither organization ever proved empirically to have any utility in preventing armed conflict between and among nation-states. The League was a signal failure, and the two successes of the UN (Korea, Gulf War I) can be attributed to serendipity — the Soviet Union was unable to interfere in both cases. The failures notched on the UN’s belt are numerous: Vietnam, Sino-Indian wars, Arab-Israeli wars, Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war, Somalia, Rwanda, and now Darfur.

In the years since Hitler drank the hemlock in the Göttedämmerung of his bunker, the keeping of what peace there has been can be attributed to two primary causes: the atomic bomb, and the armed might of the United States.

The UN has provided cover for what the great powers have wanted to do anyway, or for their inaction when they want to do nothing. Acting in their several interests, they consult among themselves, and when a consensus is reached, the Security Council passes the appropriate resolution. When consensus is not reached, various combinations of the great powers act anyway, according to their interests and consulting with one another through the usual channels.

What Annoy Mouse describes is quite plausible, but such doings went on before the UN, have gone on during its tenure, and would continue after its demise. The interests of nations will be acted upon, UN or no UN.

The armed might of the United States continues to be the primary regulator of the process. Now that it is the sole great power, the lesser powers tend to collude in order to thwart and circumvent it. But, arguably, the UN is the collective exemplar of such obstruction — it gives the patina of legitimacy to a process whose main goal is to bring down the United States, becoming, in effect, a League of Ankle-Biters.

Make no mistake: the necessity of kowtowing to the UN charade has its deadly consequences. By delaying for six months what Britain and the US would have done anyway, the farcical run-up to the Iraq war in the UN telegraphed to Saddam exactly what he was to expect, allowing him to arrange for the insurgency and move his banned weapons to their caves in Syria or the Bekaa Valley. It also guaranteed that Turkey would get cold feet and deny the 4th Infantry passage through its territory.

How many more Iraqis were blown up because of all this high-minded folderol? How many innocent civilians were beheaded? How many more US Marines lay dead in the back alleys of Fallujah, all in order that Emperor Kofi could give the thumbs-down to the removal of a tyrant?

First do no harm. The UN fails the Hippocratic test.

A Bureaucrat’s Dram… I mean Dream

In his inimitable style, Wretchard is having his way with Mr. Annan’s new ideas re the reform of the United Nations (that first typed itself as the “Unintended Nations.” There is much to be said for observing slips of the pen/keyboard).

we find that Annan has themed his proposals in almost concious competition with those of the Bush Administration. His report subtitle is “In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all”. Superficially, it is an “alternative” agenda towards these same goals, atttainable in the kinder, gentler way that so characterizes the ‘World Body’.

“Superficial” is the key word there. Simply based on its past record the least likely mechanism for “human rights for all” is the Untied Nations. As Wretchard says, the place is a bureaucrat’s dream:

It was a dictum in Field Marshal Zhukov’s Army that a good commander never reinforced failure only success. It is a maxim of the United Nations that progress is achieved by doing everything that never worked all over again. Probably nowhere is the bankruptcy of Annan’s vision (and I use that word consciously) more evident than in Paragraph 29, where he lays out the UN vision for a better world. It is a laundry list of all the special interest ‘development’ goals the UN has acquired over the years where problems of different orders of magnitude and positions in the chain of causality are jumbled together; a bureaucrat’s dream and a human being’s nightmare.

The ghost of Max Weber is stalking the halls. He is smiling.

The New Kristallnacht Redux

An article in today’s “Inside Higher Ed” describes an alarming, but sickeningly familiar, phenomenon:

      Hate Group Casts a Wider Net

A few weeks ago, participants on an anti-Semitic Web site became angry when a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles refused to participate in an exchange of e-mail messages.

The professor was Jewish, and the Web site responded by placing photographs of and biographic material about UCLA professors and anti-Semitic diatribes online. In recent days, the Web site – Vanguard News Network – has expanded its campaign, which it says is designed to draw attention to the high percentage of Jewish professors on law schools’ faculties.

The Web site is now publishing a variety of information – photographs, results of Google searches, phone numbers – of faculty members who are Jewish (or have Jewish-sounding names) at leading law schools all over the United States.

Among the institutions who have faculty members discussed by name on the Web site are Georgetown, Harvard, New York, Stanford and Yale Universities; and the Universities of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Most of the comments attack Jewish faculty members at law schools, with a theme being that they make up a larger share of law school faculties than do Jews in the U.S. population, and that this over-representation signifies Jewish control of American society.

The link to VNN is omitted, in order to avoid increasing their linkbase on the web.

The same characteristic of the Jews which has been celebrated here is used against them by the VNN. Those wily Jews! Staying a few extra years in grad school to increase their representation in the professions. Using their ill-gotten lucre to pay for a law-school degree so that they can control our judiciary. Working long hours for low pay to indoctrinate our vulnerable young women with their dangerous cant. How much more can white Christians take?

A quick look at their site — and a brief exposure is the most that a person can tolerate — reveals juicy tidbits such as this one, concerning a professor at UVA (professor’s name and offensive terms are redacted):

      …Before entering academia, [the professor] served as a legal counselor with the Washington Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.(I WONDER IF SHE CHARTERED AIRCRAFT TO FLY WHITE GIRL RAPING SOMALI N***ERS INTO THE DAKOTAS AND MINNESOTA?) She spent 1997-99 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she was director of the International Human Rights Law Group’s Bosnia program for 14 months. The program’s work included a report on women’s human rights and development of a training program on employment discrimination. Before joining the Law Group, [the professor] served as an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) liaison officer to the Human Rights Coordination Centre of the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

…Between 1981 and 1993, she led regular delegations of U.S. citizens on study tours of the Middle East, and spent a sabbatical year (1989-1990) in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

With dismaying irony, the contributor cites activities which should endear the professor to his Jew-hating heart — she has been involved in the UN and travelled to Israel in order to provide aid and comfort to the enemies of Jews! Surely this would endear her to his Aryan heart…? But race trumps everything.

Another entry is straightforward and traditional, with its frisson of implied miscegenation:


So the lesser mongrel races are colluding against the purity of their white betters.

It is difficult to do anything other than gape slack-jawed at this hackneyed hate, in all its banality. Does nothing ever change?

An ominous novelty is a headline appended to many of the entries on the VNN site: White Racists Seek To Ally With Middle Eastern Wahabists Against The Jew. So, following in the footsteps of the führer, the neo-Nazis are assembling the Arab auxiliaries…

The Jews of the world would do well to realize that it does not serve their own best interests to lie down in front of tanks in the West Bank or chant “No blood for oil!” on the streets of Ann Arbor.

Repeat after me: Never again.

Ringing in the Changes II

The two elements of change

In an elegant little book from the 1970’s, the late psychiatrist Allen Wheelis says about change that it has two parameters: attitude and environment, or, rather, he says attitude or environment. Change in one produces change in the other. While it doesn’t seem possible to add to his list, the particulars of each can be elucidated to underline his point.

Begin with environment. The Middle East is as good an example as any of a milieu that could reasonably have been asserted not to be capable of much change. In fact, it has been proposed that change would not be a good idea. While the Middle East didn’t have much else going for it, at least it was stable. Why introduce change and upset the balance of a poverty-stricken, despot-ridden, sand-blasted anteroom to Hell? Why disturb the Arab Street and bring down its wrath upon the West?

Why indeed.

The crowbar that G.W. Bush inserted into the apparatus of history has changed that environment irrevocably. Do things still blow up? Do people still die unfairly and before their time, in cruel and useless ways? Yes and Yes. But they were doing that before Bush arrived and they were dying in much larger and more predictable numbers. Now that he and his men have marched through in army boots, let’s tick off the changes their journey has wrought in the environment of several countries.

Starting with the first quagmire,

a. Afghanistan. The Taliban is gone, or gone enough for government purposes. The rest is the long, slow process of putting the million tiny pieces of the puzzle into order. Poppies? You were hoping for zero-tolerance for drugs? Is that your litmus test of success? How about the freedom to sing again, people digging up their buried radios, sending their little girls to school? Women appointed to high office? The rest will come with time. Umm.. those of you in the back, how about humming a few bars of “give peace a chance?”

b. Iraq, or Quagmire #2. 1,500 dead American soldiers and 25,000,000 free Iraqis. On the spectrum between harm and good where should the present situation in Iraq lie? It depends on where you stand — or even more crucially, what platform you were standing on when this train departed. Some of the doubters are coming around. Most of the Iraqis are, too. There has been a sharp decrease in ‘insurgent’ (read ‘outside agitators’) activity. Iraqi police recruits are blown up and the next day there are even more standing in the same place. And now the EU is moving in to train the judiciary. Surely if the EU and the UN are in town, the new environment is safer.

c. Most of the wagers for the next environmental change are on Lebanon. Liberty brought to you by a bloody (and bloody stupid) assassination, which the UN is now set to blame on Syria. Even Hizbollah came to pay its respects at the martyr’s tomb. Meanwhile, it looks as though Syria is on its way home while the Lebanese decide on their next elections.

d. So whither Syria? Or, “wither Syria,” as the case may be. Or Palestine? Or Iran? Wherever they are headed, it is not back to the status quo ante. That road is closed, the entrance guarded by the fierce cherubim of history.

The environment of the Middle East will never be the same, and that is change, change for the good. GW Bush doesn’t much care who gets the credit, which is fortunate. A president whose focus is liberty rather than his ‘legacy’ is a man willing to risk change for the sake of freedom.

Meanwhile, how about the other element of change? Attitudes seem to be evolving at a rapid clip.

When I came to Lebanon two weeks ago, I watched with awe, and at times envy, as the Lebanese took to the streets striving to recapture the freedom they were robbed of for so long. Their efforts represented to me an epic struggle against the impotence of the Arab world and a condemnation of the failings not only of the Lebanese leadership but that of the Arab world in its entirety.

On my way to a demonstration commemorating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, I saw Egyptians enthusiastically making their way to Martyrs’ Square, where the opposition rallies have been held, all too eager to participate in solidarity with the Lebanese people, but also perhaps out of frustration with the status quo at home.

The winds of change in Lebanon are not necessarily the result of Iraqis and Palestinians going to the polls, or because of U.S. President George W. Bush’s manifesto of spreading freedom and democracy in the region. All these variables, while certainly interlinked, are not the overarching causes for the unfolding events. Instead, change is in the air because of a thirst to live a democratic life with dignity, to speak freely, and above all to repudiate the ominous and abhorrent conditions Arabs have lived under since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

He’s right. It’s the “thirst to live a democratic life with dignity” that is driving this change in attitude.

Imagine having lived in the desert for a long, long time, dreaming of water. Imagine a well being drilled right in your own courtyard.

Ringing In The Changes I

The Elevator Operators

The seal which once separated the elite from the rest of us has been irreparably broken. When the moat was crossed and the castle gates breached, in rushed not just hordes of the unwashed, but also the fresh air of information and events — good, bad and indifferent — more information than any one person or group could manage or contain.

Information driven by technology has been atomized and dispersed: it is carried by the wind through the all-pervasive cell phone, 24/7 broadcasting, and the ethereal net. No one who wants to know (and many who do not) is any longer beyond the reach of “events,” however the news is defined. With each new upgrade in communication gadgetry, and with a geometric increase in the gadgets themselves, comes a corresponding decrease in the cost of dispersing information. The old guard sneers about the new democratization of knowledge, calling it degraded; the young Turks don’t hear — they’re listening with headphones in place.

It is now impossible to build a wall high enough to keep out what is carried in on the air. Egypt, which had to await Napoleon’s intrusion in 1798 to get Gutenberg’s invention, grows restive in this new atmosphere. Iran refused to let a printing press into the country until the end of the 19th century; with cell phones and bloggers all over the country, it is now reaping the whirlwind. Gutenberg’s ghost is dancing in dust devils swirling in the streets of Tehran.

Never before have so many had access to so much information. Formerly dispensed in packets, as though too much at once would purge the body politic of all sense, the news is taken in great draughts, crowds are giddy with euphoria. The gatekeepers, those dispensers of what ought be known — whether the MSM, the mandarins in academe and government, or the American Medical Association — are faced with the loss of security in this tumult. To a large extent, everyone can now do for themselves what they formerly had to wait upon for the “experts.”

It is to be expected that drastic changes in their standing and fortune cause howls and disbelief among the elites as the storm descends. Some have been swept overboard, some carried out to sea, some cling to life rafts as they drift over the horizon. Will there be anyone left?

Yes, indeed. But it’s all open to question, to second (and third and fourth) opinions, to suspicion about motives and agendas. Those who understand will adapt; their changes will be seen as humility. Some few will find the integrity and grace to transcend their former limits.

Translation: don’t write off Hillary Clinton based on what she said before the Iraqi elections. Pay attention only to what she says from this point forward. But pay meticulous attention nonetheless. Much more scrutiny is required than would be the case for someone with an established reputation for being able to spot the small ship on the edge of vision. Let her get her sea legs before deciding what she can do.

Meanwhile, what do you think happened to all the elevator operators?

The Gates Are Moving Closer

The Counterterrorism Blog has a disturbing report. In early March, An American official with the Transportation Safety Board was in Mexico to inspect the security of Mexican airports. During his visit he was beaten. By Mexican police.

This official…left his hotel room in Tijuana, Mexico on Friday evening and crossed the street to buy his daughter a gift. While returning from the gift shop he was accosted by two Mexican police officers. They pulled the U.S.Federal agent into an alley and beat him while demanding $1,000.

The man’s attempts to get away not only failed, his efforts landed him in jail until he was rescued the next day by the US Embassy. After his release he was returned to the US under the protection of an armed convoy.

Beside the emotional trauma inflicted on him by greedy,corrupt Mexican police officers, the U.S. agent suffered serious nerve damage to his hands. To make matters worse he faces possible retaliation from his own Government. Instead of lodging a forceful protest with the Mexican Government,the U.S. State Department is trying to keep the matter quiet. TSA, rather than stand up for its people, is blaming the Agent who was so viciously attacked for causing the incident “because he left his hotel room after dinner”.

This is not the first incident with US citizens in Mexico. As Larry Johnson points out, the White House and the State Department have responded with “deafening silence.” Not so much as the courtesy of a public warning to anyone traveling to Mexico.

America deserves better treatment from its leaders.

Terrorism exists at many levels and many intensities. Obviously, as lawlessness is increasingly accepted at the borders, it follows that American citizens abroad are also increasingly at risk. They are simply aspects of the same perception that the US tolerates unruly, anarchic behavior directed at its citizens and its boundaries. As long as this situation continues, expect foreign travel to become less pleasant and more perilous.

While the President turns a blind eye to the near events, The Gates are moving closer.

Soon, if government does not protect its people, vigilance driven by extremity will become an individual matter.


Update: Apologies are in order regarding the statements above concerning the State Department’s lack of warnings to Americans traveling in Mexico. According to USA Today,

On Jan. 21 the department cautioned Americans about the Matamoros area. Five days later, it broadened the announcement to cover the entire border with Mexico.

See comments below.

What Is a Life Worth?

photo credit: http://www.middle-east-online.comSo her story is not unusual after all: two million Asian maids are subjected to physical abuse, beating, sexual harassment, rape in Gulf states. Some of them die as a result.

The record of abuse, Sharia court “justice” and the practice of dhimmitude is flourishing in the Middle East. Even in cases of compensation for accidental death or murder, there is the heavy, cruel hand of Mohammed. In Saudi Arabia for example, what the heirs receive is determined according to religion first, and then to gender.

  • The families of Muslim men receive the “full compensation amount, which is 100,000 riyals (almost $27,000.00).
  • Christian and Jewish males are worth about half that.
  • Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, etc., — so-called “polytheistic” religions — are only one-sixteenth as valuable as Muslims
  • And of course, the women in each category above are worth half the amount in the twisted calculus of Islam.

These are the people who gave us the zero and algebra. It’s time to thank them and move along. Especially if you’re a Buddhist woman in Saudi Arabia: you’re “worth” US$843.75.

More or less.