Those Cynical Motoon Imams

Jihad for fun and ProphetThose who followed the Mohammed Cartoon Caper will remember Danish imam Raed Hlayhel. After the Motoons were published last year in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, a carefully staged uproar started in the Danish Muslim community.

Now flash back to Editors Weblog, October 14, 2005:

Yesterday, a group of 16 Muslim organizations demanded the paper to apologize for printing the cartoons, reports Aljazeera. The group said, “The newspaper has with its action deliberately stepped on Islam’s ethical and moral values with the purpose of contempt and ridiculing Muslims’ feelings, their holy sites and their religious symbols”. The Islam bans any depiction of the prophet. Jyllands-Posten, which received several threats after publishing the cartoons, said it would not apologize for the cartoons and cited the freedom of speech, writes The Guardian.

Already last week, Imam Raed Hlayhel criticized the publication. He stated, “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world. We demand an apology!”

It’s not surprising that the more militant Danish Muslims would find democracy “worthless”, is it? After all, it doesn’t advance their Islamist aims or hasten the ascendancy of the Caliphate.

Hlayhel had gained notoriety in Denmark back in 2004 for his assertion that Danish women, with their provocative dress and lascivious manner, were inviting rape.

After the cartoon crisis erupted, Hlayhel went on a tour of the Middle East with the Motoons, adding a few bogus ones of his own for their enhanced inflammatory content. The predictable brouhaha followed, with Western dhimmis falling all over each other to abase themselves before the defenders of the Prophet.

Now Sugiero has this update on Imam Hlayhel:

The following article, containing segments from a Friday Prayer held by imam shaykh Raed Hlayhel March 31, was published in Jyllands-Posten May 20. I’ve found it worth translating, because it shows how the despicable Danish imams took advantage of the cartoon controversy.

Via JP, hattip Polemiken:

“The Muhammed controversy was a sign from Allah and a test for the believers. The whole case has been good for the Muslims because it has revealed the infidels, hypocrites and the arrogants. It has also given us, the Muslims, an opportunity to profile ourselves”, imam shaykh Raed Hlayhel stated during his Friday Prayer.

“Good for the Muslims,” indeed. This Danish imam and his colleagues have played the gullible Western press like a ukelele. Erect the hoops, and we’ll jump through them, one after the other.

And we’re not done with the Motoons yet. Expect them to be dusted off when the Iranian crisis really heats up. Look for spontaneous outpourings of righteous Islamic rage carefully targeted to gain the most leverage over the Europeans when the time comes.

As the Saudi Gazette has pointed out, there is scriptural justification for taking action against the blasphemous cartoonists:

Due to the seriousness of the crime of insulting the prophets, scholars concur with the verdict given by Ibn Hazm in his Muhallâ: It is therefore proven that whoever insults the Prophet (peace be upon him) is an unbeliever and an enemy of Allah. Therefore, it is proven that anyone who blasphemes against Allah, insults an angel, calumniates a prophet or mocks him, or makes fun of the verses of the scripture or the divine legislation is an apostate.

It is as stated in the Qur’ân: And if you ask them, they will surely say we were only conversing and playing. Say, Is it Allah and His verses and His messengers that you were mocking? Make no excuse; you have disbelieved… [Surah al-Tawbah: 65-66]

Theo Van Gogh was murdered. The Danish cartoonists went into hiding. Comedy Central censored South Park’s episode ridiculing Mohammed, citing their fear of Muslim violence.

Is it any wonder the Islamists think they’ve got us on the run?

Beryllium Update

BerylliumIn the last few days I have received quite an education about beryllium, thanks to the distributed intelligence of the internet. After the Swedish anthrax post got linked all over the blogosphere, the comments and emails started coming in.

The latest is an email from a Russian reader, G.O.:

Beryllium oxide powder is extremely deadly.

The killer is beryllium oxide which causes berylliosis — a progressive chronic disease similar to asbestosis but with a very fast incubation period; it usually kills in few weeks. One inhale of beryllium oxide dust is a sure death sentence. No cure.

Before the danger of Be-oxide was recognized, workers involved in the fabrication of Be-ceramic died, also died their families and even pets. In the USSR communal apartments all the occupants of Be-contaminated apartments died. (People brought minute amounts of Be-oxide on their clothes).

Beryllium oxide is a superior ceramic; it has a very high temperature work range — over 3000 degrees Celsius. Most remarkable (and unique): Be-oxide is good a dielectric at very high temperature. Be-oxide is similar to aluminum oxide in mechanical properties and adhesion to the base metal. This is the reason why Be metal is relatively benign – unless it is ground into a powder. Fine Be oxide powder is indestructible and extremely deadly.

So… even though beryllium is not radioactive, it sounds like it might be dangerous in the hands of the terrorists.

Previous beryllium-related posts are here and here.

Interview With Starling David Hunter, PhD

For any of our readers not familiar with the blog, The Business of America is Business, you are in for a pleasant surprise should you decide to visit. Like the experience of potato chips, you won’t be able to stop at just one page. For those who already know Starling David Hunter, I hope this interview with him enhances your understanding of what he is doing and why.

At present, Starling teaches at the American University in Dubai, in the UAE. But his path there was a circuitous one. He began with an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and worked for Boeing and Exxon before going back to Duke to get his PhD in Organizational Theory. From there he went on to teach at MIT’s Sloan’s Master’s programs.

While mulling over the idea of teaching abroad, Starling’s department was one of a group approached by a delegation from the UAE. They were intent on improving the educational system in the Emirates and wanted to engage teachers from top tier colleges to consult on ways to improve. After speaking with one of the delegates, Starling decided to sign on for the job of assisting the UAE’s young people in learning how to assess, analyze, and think critically.

I first “met” Starling in a comment he left on The Belmont Club. Like other of Wretchard’s progeny, after hanging out at the Club, he decided to strike out on his own. And so he has, ending up with his current blog. The experience of reading that first comment – I no longer remember its subject – made me realize that he was an important find. Probably most of us are economically illiterate, and nothing has proved it more vividly than the latest rise in oil prices. It is one thing for private citizens to be ignorant; it is quite another to hear the wrong-headed, downright stupid bloviations and “solutions” emanating from the hallowed halls of our national Congress. That is scary. Starling has become my light in this dark vale of unknowing. When I want to figure out what might be going on, I head over to Biz to see what he might have to say.

You probably know that the title of Starling’s blog comes from a quote of Calvin Coolidge, who was Harding’s vice president and assumed office when Harding died two years after being sworn in. Coolidge’s economic ideas are obviously congenial with Starling’s. On reading him, you see why.

Starling has an easy style, a measured and pleasant tone. Unlike certain of us, he never rants: the consummate teacher. For example, here is his response in the comments to one of the Baron’s posts regarding the obvious bias of National Public Radio:

Now as for the substance of the NPR commentary. Although my research involve the economics of technological innovation, my training is not as an economist. That having been said, I do recognize that economics statistics not placed in a context can be very misleading. Anyone, whether on the left or right can create misleading impressions by what economic indicators they mention and how, as well as by which ones they leave out. What is important to keep in mind is that just as there is no single measure of physical health, there is not single measure of economic health either. The social sciences simply don’t have that degree of precision. Econometric models don’t always do that good of a job predicting and describing the phenomena they consider.

Now as for NPR’s bias, there is not doubt that they do lean left. I’m 42 and have been listening to them regularly since I was 19 and for me their bias is a settled question. Hank noted that NPR appears to work from a script. This they indeed do. Here are some of the ideals that motivate their partisan perspectives:

1)   Capitalism is unjust. It creates winners and losers as evidenced by the unequal distribution of income that it produces.
2)   Business is not, by definition, socially responsible. That is to say, running a business is not in and of itself a responsible thing to do. Providing goods and services that people, keeping people gainfully employed, and paying taxes is not inherently virtuous. It only becomes that when business leaders sign on to various notions of corporate social responsibility.
3)   Private enterprise should exist to serve the needs of the “workers” not the owners and only secondarily customers. That is to say, the profit motive is unseemly and the desire to maximize profits instead of developing people is the closest thing these folks recognize as “sin”. Besides, workers, not managers and “money men” and owners, create all the value.

A few posts from my archives that relate to these topics include: The Road (that ought to be) Less Traveled series about a fawning NYT article on Hugo Chavez’ “21st century Socialism” and Dispatch from a Parallel Universe about the NYT’s coverage of Wal-mart.

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The Interview

How did you end up in Dubai? In the time you’ve been there, what’s your impression? What preconceptions did you have that you’ve since changed?

The UAE has for a few yeas been very interested in upgrading its educational system. They know that they have done poorly in preparing their students to become anything resembling independent thinkers capable of adding to the knowledge economy. One of the ways they have set about offsetting this is to engage top tier US institutions of higher education to consult them on how to improve. One such school was MIT. A few years back a delegation from MIT included my department head and a few other senior colleagues and administrative staff from the business school. They came and visited the Emirates’ universities and spoke with Sheikh Nayhan about a strategic plan for improving colleges and universities. When MIT contingent came here they visited America University of Sharjah. One of the people they met was a beautiful and talent mid-career professional woman by the name of Sheika Lubna al-Qassimi. She was running a software company at the time. Lubna was invited to visit MIT. When she did, an email was sent around asking who wanted to meet with her. I was one of the people who met her that day. We talked and I told her I was soon leaving MIT and considering teaching abroad. She recommend that I check out AU Sharjah and Education City in Qatar. I did and now I am here. Shortly after her visit to MIT, Lubna got appointed to be the UAE Minister of Economy and Planning thereby scuttling all the hopes I had of marrying her! 😉

Class section 1

Related post: Sand and Deliver

Can you say a bit about your students?

In short, I love them. The photos say it all. They are a fine bunch of kids who are like most undergraduates: they are peer conscious, a little unsure of their place in the world, ambitious, needing of guidance and sometime a swift kick in the shorts, eager to learn, surprisingly attractive; multi-lingual, they all speak more than one language and are cosmopolitan to a degree; all have traveled to several countries. They are perhaps more family oriented and prone to show much more deference and respect to their profs than US students do. On the whole they are very eager to learn more about the US and perhaps to travel or study there. Many, however, cannot. For example, one of my best students is from Saudi Arabia and belongs to a very large and well-connected clan. Unfortunately for him, one or two of 19 hijackers carry the same last name, i.e., they belong to that same clan. There is no way this kind can get into the US to study now. Yet, I think he would make a fine student. Instead, he’ll be studying in the UK or Europe.

In one post, when you were discussing juvenile delinquents you made the point that some of those in Dubai who work with them feel that too much affluence can lead to aimlessness and delinquency. So you’re saying the opposite here of the Leftist mantra: “poverty is the root of all social evil.” Can you comment on the downside of affluence where you are?

There is this idea that too much unearned wealth leads to a certain lack of motivation to achieve more so than dissolute behavior. See this article from the Gulf News for an example of what I mean.

In short, the story says that “locals” , i.e. Emirati citizens, prefer work in the public sector. In the private sector, you see, they do things like make people work 8AM-5PM!

The private sector is preferred by the non-local Arabs and Muslims who are not entitled to the generous state benefits given by the Emirates to its citizens. Only about 15 percent of the population here are citizens.

The women are extraordinarily graceful, considerate, and attractive. The men are also well mannered and respectful. I find myself very comfortable in their presence and, since I like talking about religion, we always have plenty to talk about.

One other thing about the corrupting effects of unearned wealth bears mentioning: If an expat wants to start a business in the UAE, they have to have a local partner. People can start signing on to those at age 16. It is said that many boys in well-connected families start signing up for these deals and drop out of high school and live well on their partnership revenues, driving their fast cars and sometimes partying with fast women. Still, there is a wonderful part about all this: there is a lot of capital here and not as many ideas. If you have a good idea for a business, getting funding is not hard.

How do your students differ from those you had in the US? Or do they?

Class section 1

There are three major groups of students. Locals or Emirati citizens, Arab expat who are not citizens, and Asian expats, e.g. Indian, Pakistanis. There are also small numbers of Africans, Europeans, Chinese, Russians, and other non-Arab Muslims. It’s hard to generalize about them beyond the fact that they are more respectful, a little less comfortable with discursive modes of teaching (they prefer to be lectured to rather than talked with), very eager to learn and very unaware of the subtleties of American culture, politics, and life. Many have traveled there on vacation but only a few have spent any real time there. Virtually all would like to go. A few were studying in the US at the time of 9/11 and their parents made them return, especially the Saudis. These students all recognize that Osama ruined their chances for any further study in the US.

Do you think business is a key to transformation in the Middle East? It doesn’t appear to have a significant middle class — at least that’s how it appears from here. How can that change?

Absolutely I do think so. While I take issue with Tammy Bruce’s assertion that the UAE is an Islamist government, she is on to something. All of the Muslim and Arab governments in the world are caught between two forces. Modernity and radical Islamists. As I see it, there is a battle between those who want to provide a way to integrate their nations in the world economy and those who want to pull back from it until such time as they can figure out how to dominate it. The modernizers recognize that wise investment of oil revenues- while they still last- is the key not only to prosperity, but to marginalizing the Islamists. If they can build something resembling a modern economy, i.e., one not dependent just on income from one source, they have a chance to create conditions where the Islamists have less opportunity to mess it all up. As for those countries without oil and large Islamists populations, e.g. Egypt, I see very little future for them in the near term.

Does Dubai itself encourage small businesses and entrepreneurs?

Yes, they do. But as I mentioned before, there is a “tax” you have to pay, i.e., you have to take on a local partner.

Is there a lot of state regulation?

There are a lot of anti-capitalist rules here. In particular there are state granted monopolies on many staple items. Certain families were granted in some cases the sole right to sell certain products. It was only last fall that there was a decision to break these monopolies. From The Gulf News last October:

The UAE Cabinet on Monday issued a decision breaking the monopoly of agents who have exclusive agency rights to import basic foods. The decision allows traders to directly import 14 staples including milk powder and condensed milk, canned and frozen vegetables, poultry, edible oil, rice and wheat, fish products, meat and meat products, tea, coffee, sugar, all types of cheese, pasta, baby formula and nappies.

You can imagine that these monopolies prevent there from being competition in certain arenas and probably stifle innovation in others by raising the cost of doing business. It is good that these regulations go by the wayside.

From what I read, the government is part of every large corporation. Is that true all the way down?

That part I am not sure about. I don’t think they have a stake in the corner grocery or the local Indian vegetarian restaurant. That would require too much oversight and monitoring. That’s why it has been outsourced to locals, I think.

What’s your impression of where the US may have gone wrong in the DPW deal?

I wrote about it here: Live Blogging CNN, and here: The Unions, The Senators, and the Ports, plus The Unions, The Senators, and the Ports, Part II

In short, somebody neglected to note how badly the long shore unions want into the national security arena. There were some mistakes made over here by the UAE officials too. As I wrote in one post:

Far from being a “business deal” that got politicized”, this was something far more significant: it was a perfect storm of interests and issues and institutions. It was a confluence of forces man, rather than nature, that created a political firestorm rather than a hurricane or nor’easter. It was storm in which the strangest of political bedfellows found common ground and security in homeland security while those at sea found, quite literally, no port safe.

What do you think the blowback will be in the Middle East in general and Dubai in particular re this incident?

Two months ago, I thought a lot. Now, I am not so sure. The way to tell is with the next big purchase of jet airliners. If the UAE airlines start buying more Airbus and less Boeing, you know they are angry. Still, I think they’ll take it in stride. My students were quite offended by it all because many of the political cartoons showing the Emirates, and thus them, in league with OBL was hurtful. Still, if they had stood up a few weeks earlier for the free speech rights of the Danes, I think it would have turned out better for DPW.

You state that your interests are in “the economics of technological innovation.” How do you separate that part (the economics of tech progress) from its cultural impact?

Starling and studentsMy interests are limited to a very narrow subset of questions that fall under the questions “economics of technical progress”. I look at the consequences on firm performance and organization structure from the adoption of information technology. My focus in my thesis was on the retail sector. Now I also investigate quality measure of software and business process patents. I have a paper with a co-author coming out soon in The Berkeley Journal of Law and Technology. It’s very good to read it you have trouble getting to sleep one night.

Which economists do you respect?

Mostly the classical liberal economists. This I have come to realize only lately, however. My training is not in economics but in management and organization theory. Among those I most admire are Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell.

What would you call your own economic philosophy?

In short, markets over hierarchies. That is to say, market-based mechanism should be used wherever possible. Markets are not perfect. There are some areas where they are not appropriate. Still, I favor them more than centralized, government-mandates and controlled arrangements.

I noticed you mention being from Savannah and that it has the largest Irish concentration. Having been to the St. Patrick’s Day parade there (and spent some time at Tybee Beach in my youth), I was aware of that (besides, Flannery O’Connor talks about it somewhere). How young were you when you left? You also mention in passing that your ancestry is Irish (as is mine, obviously). Should we call you Black Irish? Are you familiar with the term? “Hunter” isn’t an Irish name — is this a maternal link? BTW, did you know that Ireland and the Middle East have been said to bear some cultural similarities? As in “tribal” and “suspicious”?

My father’s family is from Savannah. I didn’t grow up there. I grew up in Seattle, Denver, and Phoenix. The Irish blood comes from the fact that my father’s grandfather was Irish. His last name was Innis. He did not raise my grandfather after age 10 or 11 and when My grandfather went back to his people, they renamed him “Hunter”.

I can’t find the post you did on Larry Summers and his tribulations. I remember thinking I’d not seen the conflict described as well anywhere else. Can you offer some quotes from that post or give me a link?

I think I put this on my “Rhetorical Flourishes” blog: Miss Understanding Larry Summers. I hardly write there anymore.

Yes, now I remember it. You really hit the nail on the head in your explanation of what the social sciences do. You said:

I think a big part of the reason Prof. Hopkins was so disgusted by Summers’ remarks is that failed to grasp the fact that there are empirical ways to test the hypotheses that Summers proposed. And given that Summers was arguably the most accomplished economist of his generation (if memory serves me correctly he got tenured at Harvard at age 28, directly out of grad school. That’s equivalent of going pro straight out of high school and then getting league MVP in your rookie year) it’s not hard to imagine that he could easily talk past or over the head of some of any audience.

Hopkins, smart woman that she undoubtedly is, thought that she didn’t have to provide any counter-factual evidence. For her, and others like her, she is the only evidence needed. She’s a woman and a highly capable scientist. In her line of work, one compelling counter-factual piece of evidence is often sufficient to disprove a theory or hypothesis. Thus, the mere suggestion that women might have a lower aptitude for math and science is tantamount to an attack on the very fiber of her being. It flies in the face of every standard of fairness and decency. Moreover, the mere mention of such ideas could serve to discourage a generation of young women, already in the minority, from pursuing careers in science.

This is not, I think, the message Summers, a social scientist, meant to convey.

The more I read your blog, the more I realize I don’t know. Most of us are economically illiterate. Do you have any concrete suggestions for changing that condition? Specific books, blogs, people, that seem to know what is going on and can explain it clearly?

I wish I knew more myself. What I know I picked up by way of hanging around MIT and listening to seminars. My reading in the area is pretty limited. One thing I would say is that there is economics the discipline and economics the approach to understanding. Many of the methods economists use and the assumptions they make are familiar to me and thus I have some rudimentary understanding of what they talk about. The Economics Round table blog might be a good start, as would Café Hayek, the freakanomics blog, the “Conspiracy to keep you poor and stupid” blog, and a few others like Larry Kudlow and Thomas Sowell’s columns on Townhall.

Economics Roundtable
Café Hayek
The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid
Larry Kudlow
Thomas Sowell
Also good is the weekly Carnival of the Capitalists
And The Carnival of Business
Finally, Tech Central Station has excellent reporting as do The Wall Street Journal and The Economist.

If you could change one thing about the US today, what would it be? (I vacillate between a radical change in the tax code and a radical downsizing of the government, beginning with the Department of Education. Just sayin’…)

I have to go for the flat tax. I almost took a teaching job in Hong Kong in 2000. There they have a flat tax of 15%. I thought, if the ChiComs can have a flat tax, why can’t we? The number would be less than 20%. My concern is, though, that optimizing one part of a system could throw the rest out of whack.

Do you have a motto you live by?

I am a human being. As such I don’t define myself by my race, wealth, politics, role, etc.

What person had the most influence in your life?

My father, an Army officer who fought in Vietnam and aspiring politician who died in 1972, and my step-father, a business school professor who is now, in his retirement, a pastor. In a day and age where many black kids grew up without fathers, I was lucky to have two. I thinks this means my mom is a good woman! 😉

And, of course, “why do you blog?”

Blogging for me is liberating. I had much trouble writing in an academic style. I could do the analytics but the style didn’t fit me. You can see from recent teaching notes that I posted this week on my blog, that I have actually been writing in the blogging style for years. I just never knew what to do with the notes and similar insights. I had grown accustomed to mulling these things over in my head but not recording them. Now I am. Also, I should admit that Wretchard is one of the big reasons why I blog. I never mentioned this to him or in the comments of his blog, but after I read that first post by him, I thought… I should do something like this. Not that I expected to do it as well, but I thought I should try. It was the first blog I think I started reading on a regular basis.

You might find it interesting to know that I rarely read business blogs. Most of my time is spent reading political blogs and applying that kind of analytical perspective to business issues.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do an interview with me. Let me know if anything needs clarifying.

Thank you, Starling. You are certainly very clear. I guess that’s what makes a good teacher. Your students are fortunate.

The New York Times and Sweden: The Dark Side of Paradise

The Fjordman Report
The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.

Walter DurantyRobert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch have a nickname for newspaper the New York Times, which they prefer to call “the New Duranty Times” owing to what they perceive as its poor coverage of the global Islamic jihad. The name, of course, comes from Walter Duranty, former Pulitzer Prize winner and Moscow correspondent for The New York Times in the 1930s. Duranty repeatedly denied the existence of a Ukrainian famine in 1932–33. In an article in NYT, August 24 1933, he claimed “any report of a famine is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda,” while millions of people were dying. According to Spencer and Fitzgerald, this spirit of denial seems to be alive and well at the NYT 70 years later.

In the New York Times May 10, 2006, Alan Cowell wrote an article from Sweden entitled “An Economy With Safety Features, Sort of Like a Volvo.” Now, in all fairness, Mr. Cowell does mention potential problems in Sweden, not the least that massive immigration is rapidly changing what was once a very ethnically homogeneous nation state. “Up to 10 years ago it was very homogeneous as a country. Everything was very alike. Up until then all Swedes looked the same; almost thought the same. Because we are all so equal, we can share the pain of the problems.” However, at the same time Cowell indicates that Scandinavia may need even more immigration to finance its welfare state, and quotes a report by the European Policy Center, a research institute in Brussels, saying that “Scandinavia’s “negative approach towards immigration” might “represent the biggest threat to the long-term survival” of the Nordic model, since Scandinavian economies need “a constant flux of foreign talent and workers in general.” Still, despite these objections, Cowell concludes that “the economy prospers — even though taxes here remain high and big government administers cradle-to-grave social programs that absorb more than half of the national output” and that “compared with some other parts of Europe, there is still some optimism here.” This is sloppy journalism. If Cowell had done anything more than scratching the surface, he would have found that Europe is in the midst of massive waves of Muslim immigration that are in the process of transforming the continent into a post-Western entity some call “Eurabia.” Sweden is one of the leading countries in this process, quite possibly the worst of them all, and yet freedom of speech in debating these topics in public has become de facto so curtailed that one could question whether Sweden in 2006 is still a functioning democracy.

Cowell states that “Sweden’s official unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, many economists say, is distorted by the omission of people in government-financed retraining programs. The labor unions calculate the real figure at closer to 8 percent.” In fact, some Swedes believe that the real unemployment rate may be three times as big as even this higher estimate. Hans Karlsson, a leftwing heavyweight, concluded that true unemployment was more in the ballpark of 20-25%, not 5% as the government was claiming. Even the official numbers show that the Swedish economic model is in serious trouble. Young adults born in the 1980’s have an appreciably lower standard of living in Sweden than older generations. We can already see some major cracks in the Swedish welfare state. Sweden is struggling to pay the bills for the tens of thousands of workers on long-term disability and an expanding group of young people leaving the workforce altogether on so-called “early retirement.” 500,000 people are on early retirement in Sweden today, 68,000 of whom are between the ages of 20 and 40. “If the sick-leave levels in Sweden really were an indicator of how sick we are, we would be facing a plague here,” as one commentator put it.

High unemployment in Sweden will be tackled by creating more public sector jobs, even if that means breaking the government’s spending limits. That was the message from Göran Persson, Swedish Social Democratic prime minister. The jobs will be targeted mainly at young people and the long-term unemployed. They will be given jobs in government agencies, mainly doing desk jobs or looking after old people. Proposals that were highlighted by Persson included using the long-term unemployed to “help old people to hang curtains.”

Johnny Munkhammar of Timbro, a free market think-tank of Swedish Enterprise, explains that the Scandinavian model is not all it’s cracked up to be. Sweden had the second highest growth rate in the world from 1890 to 1950, but since the tax rate rose from 20 % in 1950 to 50 % in 1980 it had fallen behind. For example, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Sweden was the fourth richest country per capita in the world in 1970 whereas now it is down to number 14, and falling. Maybe the welfare state only seemed to be a success in Scandinavia because these nations had been dynamic capitalist countries prior to this, ethnically homogeneous and based upon a Protestant work ethic. While this legacy kept the welfare system afloat for some time, it is now rapidly being eroded.

More immigrants should be allowed into Sweden in order to safeguard the welfare system. That’s the view of Pär Nuder, Sweden’s finance minister. However, in reality estimates indicate that immigration costs Sweden at least 40 to 50 billion Swedish kroner every year, probably several hundred billions, and has greatly contributed to bringing the Swedish welfare state to the brink of bankruptcy. An estimated cost of immigration of 225 billion Swedish kroner in 2004, which is not unlikely, would equal 17.5% of Sweden’s tax income that year, a heavy burden in a country where the overall tax burden between 1990 and 2005 on average was 61%, almost one and a half times the OECD average.

In neighboring Denmark, right-wing politicians are already debating the threat of a spillover of immigrant “welfare tourists,” should the Swedish system collapse. At the same time, statistics indicate that native Scandinavians will become a minority in their own countries within a couple of generations, if the current immigration trends continue. One thousand years ago Scandinavians were the barbarians of Europe, spreading fear and extracting “Danegeld” from their more civilized neighbors. In the 21st century Scandinavians are peaceful and soft-spoken, and the roles seem to have been reversed with certain newly arrived immigrants. While their political elites insist that immigration is “good for the economy,” Scandinavians are in reality funding their own colonization. Although the cost of welfare is significant, it pales in comparison to the price paid through rapidly declining social harmony and increasing insecurity caused by Muslim immigration. Some of the increase in insecurity is due to the rise of mafia groups and organized crime, but most is mainly due to terror threats and intimidation of critics of Islam and Muslim immigration.

Children in the Swedish city of Gothenburg are to become the first in the world to be given the vote in a referendum. Two official referenda will be held in which only children between 5 and 12 will be eligible to vote. The results of the polls will decide two local issues – the appearance of a new tram and the design of a new library card. A country that even gives the vote to 5-year-old children must be a model of democracy, right? Well, not necessarily, if the political elites treat the rest of the population as children, too. Jens Orback, Democracy Minister in the Social Democratic government, is worried about people who threaten and harass politicians and want these to face tougher penalties. Nearly three out of four Riksdag (parliament) deputies say that they have been subjected to harassment, threats or violence because of their positions. For elected representatives in local government the figure was around one in three. The minister blamed threats and violence against elected representatives “on the public’s lack of faith in politicians.”

But if Sweden is such a paradise, why are so many people angry with their politicians? Perhaps there is something going on beneath the surface? Maybe ordinary citizens feel that the political elites don’t want to deal with the issues they care about? Sweden is a semi-totalitarian country. It’s all about façade. On the surface, Sweden is a tolerant nation and peaceful democracy. In reality, there is massive media censorship by a closed elite that is scared of having a debate about immigration. Opinion polls have revealed that two out of three Swedes doubt whether Islam can be combined with Swedish society, and a very significant proportion of the population have for years wanted more limitations on immigration. Yet not one party represented in the Swedish Parliament is genuinely critical of the Multicultural society or the current immigration policies. The Swedish elite congratulate themselves that they have managed to keep “xenophobic” parties from gaining a foothold while the country is sinking underneath their feet.

Mosque in MalmöJonathan Friedman is a New York Jew, now living with his Swedish wife in the southern Swedish city of Malmö where he teaches socio-anthropology. According to him, “no debate about immigration policies is possible, the subject is simply avoided. Sweden has such a close connection between the various powerful groups, politicians, journalists, etc. The political class is closed, isolated.”

Two Swedish girls were sent home from school for wearing sweaters showing a tiny Swedish flag. The headmaster was concerned that this might be deemed offensive by some immigrants. Helle Klein, political editor of the newspaper Aftonbladet, boasts: “If the debate is going to be about whether there are problems with immigrants, we don’t want it.” Hans Bergström, former editor-in-chief of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, worries that Sweden has become “a one-party state.” According to Friedman, the elites are nervous and worried to see their power slip away. And therefore they want to silence critics, as for instance the Sweden Democrats, a small rightist party outside parliament opposed to immigration. “It is a completely legal party, they just aren’t allowed to speak. It is absurdly undemocratic. They are marginalised. They are isolated and ridiculed. . . . and then they are called undemocratic.

In reality, the basis of democracy has been completely turned on its head. It is said: ‘democracy is a certain way of thinking, a specific set of opinions, and if you do not share them, then you aren’t democratic, and then we condemn you and you ought to be eliminated. The People? That is not democratic. We the Elite, we are democracy.’ It is grotesque and it certainly has nothing to do with democracy, more like a kind of moral dictatorship.”

Sweden DemocratsBefore the national elections in the fall of 2006, members of all the established parties, including the so-called right-wing opposition, are cooperating in efforts to boycott any collaboration with the Sweden Democrats or other “xenophobic” parties after the elections. This is widely applauded by the Swedish media establishment. The majority of headmasters in Stockholm’s high schools want to block the Sweden Democrats from participating in pre-election debates at their schools because they disagree with their “perspective on humanity.” Party members can seldom hold meetings without being hassled by political hooligans, who make noise, destroy equipment or even resort to violence. Violent assaults and life threatening attacks against members of the Sweden Democrats, by Muslims or “anti-Fascists,” have taken place many times, but are rarely mentioned in the media. No dissent is tolerated in Sweden.

In one such attack, which extreme Leftists were later openly bragging about on the Internet, around 30 members of the Sweden Democrats were attending a private party outside the town of Växjö. “To clearly demonstrate that the Sweden Democrats are not welcome in our area, about 20 anti-Fascists chose to attack the party.” “The Sweden Democrats were attacked with knives, axes, iron bars and other weapons. After that, their cars were destroyed.” The brave Leftists then smashed the windows and threw tear gas into the building, forcing people outside, where they were again attacked and beaten with iron bars and axes. Several of the people were hospitalized after the attack. This was a peaceful, private party by unarmed members of a perfectly legal political party that just happens to be critical of the country’s immigration policies. These brave Leftists or “anti-Fascists” do, for some curious reason, seem to behave pretty much like, well, Fascists, a bit like the Brown Shirts in the 1930s, physically assaulting political opponents to silence them. In another incident in Stockholm, members of the Sweden Democrats handing out leaflets for the party were attacked by a group of extreme Leftists, who started beating and kicking them. One of them got tear gas sprayed in his face. According to Oscar Sjöstedt from the Sweden Democrats in Stockholm, this was the third tear gas attack against them in a few months.

Seemingly encouraged by the silence over these attacks from the police and the political establishment, who seem in no rush to stop these assaults on troublesome political opponents, the extreme Leftists have recently stepped up their attacks to also include mainstream parties represented in parliament. Two windows were smashed at the Centre Party’s offices in Stockholm. Several of the Centre Party’s offices around the country have been vandalised. A party representative said that they suspected that the attacks were in protest against the party’s proposal for special labour agreements for newly employed young people. Similar attacks have been carried out elsewhere. On the Internet and at demonstrations, a ‘faction of the Invisible Party’, a group said to be extreme left anarchists, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Lars OhlyWhile critics of immigration are demonized in Sweden, Communists are much more accepted. The Left Party is a support party for the current Swedish Social Democratic government, whose party does not hold a majority in parliament by itself. Leader of the Left Party, Lars Ohly, has called himself a Communist after he was elected party leader. In 1999, a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he stated that: “I stand for a modern Leninism based on class struggle.” He has also said that “we must never accept a conception of democracy elevated far above the class struggle.” Senior party members had close contact with the repressive regimes in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. In Sweden, it is OK to openly support an ideology that killed 100 million people during the 20th century and enslaved millions more, but “undemocratic” to call for limitations in Muslim immigration.

The website “The Local”, a good source of Swedish news translated to English, notes that it looks increasingly likely that any government led by the Social Democrats will also include the Left Party in a formal coalition after this fall. Apart from quoting approvingly from Marx’s Communist Manifesto, “the party’s economic policy document contains such gems as a six hour working day, renationalization of previously state-owned companies, and policies for large companies to be taken over by workers or the state.” For the past two parliaments, the Social Democrats have ruled with support from the Greens and the Left Party, but neither party has been given a formal place in government. Soon, Sweden “could have cabinet ministers arguing for large tax increases in a country which already has one of the world’s highest tax burdens. Alternatively, they could be demanding nationalization of industry in a country where the state already owns mining companies, mortgage lenders, drinks makers, pharmacies and betting companies.” The leader of the Left Party is putting his foot down before national elections this September. If the Left Party doesn’t get a ministerial post, Lars Ohly told newspaper Dagens Nyheter his party might not support a Social Democrat-led minority government.

Swedish blog the Stockholm Spectator comments on the strong support for these “reformed” Communists among Swedish journalists, documented by opinion polls: “Unlike the American media landscape, where accusations of bias are routinely leveled and ritually denied, it isn’t uncommon in Sweden to admit that coverage is lop-sided. Left-wing journalist Jan Guillo, responding to a study showing a disproportionate amount of Left Party (former Communist party) voters in Stockholm newsrooms, admitted that “The statistics are true…There is a definite overrepresentation of leftists in the media world.” The same Guillo has also bragged about the fact that unlike Scandinavian neighbors Norway and Denmark, Sweden doesn’t have a significant political party critical of Muslim immigration. This is, according to him, because Swedish intellectuals have stuck together to prevent this from happening. “Swedish Radio correspondent Ceclia Udden who, when accused of systematic bias in covering the American election, blithely agreed with her critics and expressed bewilderment as to why anyone would be bothered by such trivialities. “On such issues as the US right and Israel…there was a Swedish…consensus, and any reporting had to be based on that,” she said.”

Ethnologist Maria Bäckman, in her study “Whiteness and gender,” has followed a group of Swedish girls in the suburb of Rinkeby outside Stockholm, where native Swedes have been turned into a tiny minority of the inhabitants due to rapid immigration. The subjects of the study were “teenage girls, living in the suburbs, who are identified both by themselves and by others as Swedish. But they are Swedes living in what is usually called an immigrant suburb. Thus they are seen as different.” “They may encounter prejudices such as the idea that Swedish girls act and dress in a sexually provocative way or that blonde girls are easy.” Bäckman relates that several of the girls she interviewed stated that they had dyed their hair to avoid unwanted attention and sexual harassment. They experienced that being blonde involves old men staring at you, cars honking their horns and boys calling you “whore.” We thus have a situation where being blonde in certain areas of Sweden means being a target of harassment. The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten visited Rinkeby to find out if the rumors were true. They spent several hours there, in a suburb of the Swedish capital, without finding a single blonde, Swedish girl. Almost all the inhabitants there are of immigrant background. Virtually none of them referred to themselves as Swedish, they usually said they came from somewhere else. Many of them also asked the journalists questions about Swedes, to hear what they are like. They thought Swedes were idiots, but they hardly ever met any of them.

A report from organization Save the Children tells of how being a young Swedish girl today means feeling unsafe. The girls are scared of being raped, a possibility that appears very real to them. Many girls are planning how to go home at night, how to pretend to be talking on the mobile phone, how to keep their keys in their hand to defend themselves or how to simply run all the way home. Both the fear and the choice of strategies indicate that many girls feel genuinely unsafe outdoors during certain hours of the day. The fear is well founded. A striking number of girls have experienced harassment from boys or men. Most frequently, the harassment comes from boys of the same age as the girls. Being called “whore” has become so common in some schools that several of the girls say the teachers no longer react to this.

TenstaTensta is a suburb in northern Stockholm with a very high concentration of immigrants. Nalin Pekgul, a member of parliament between 1994 and 2002, recently left Tensta because she thought it had become too unsafe. “I understood then that many are wearing bulletproof vests here. What has happened here, I wondered. Is this Tensta?” Pekgul, who is a Muslim herself, has also noted that fundamentalistic variants of Islam are growing stronger in Tensta. Her children come home and wonder why their mother doesn’t wear a hijab or why their family don’t go to the mosque. “I don’t like it when my son comes home and says that ‘Mom, we Muslims don’t lie, but Christians do, because they don’t have God.’ He hasn’t got that from us,” she says. Actress Ylva Törnlund has visited several schools in Tensta, and was alarmed by the harsh atmosphere she discovered there. “The attitudes we meet in the schools are frightening. One boy talked about how girls should be f**ked to pieces until they bleed,” Törnlund said. She decided to visit the area after a rape that took place in a public bath nearby in broad daylight. A 17-year-old girl was raped, and none of the other guests did anything to stop this. The girl was first approached by a 16-year-old boy. He and his friends followed her as she walked away into a grotto, and inside the grotto he got her blocked in the corner, ripped off her bikini and raped her, while his friend held her firm.

It is not as wrong raping a Swedish girl as raping an Arab girl,” says Hamid, in an interview about another gang rape involving a Swedish girl and immigrant perps. “The Swedish girl gets a lot of help afterwards, and she had probably f**ked before, anyway. But the Arab girl will get problems with her family. For her, being raped is a source of shame. It is important that she retains her virginity until she marries.”“It is far too easy to get a Swedish whore…… girl, I mean;” says Hamid, and laughs over his own choice of words. “Many immigrant boys have Swedish girlfriends when they are teenagers. But when they get married, they get a proper woman from their own culture who has never been with a boy. That’s what I am going to do. I don’t have too much respect for Swedish girls. I guess you can say they get f**ked to pieces.” The number of rape charges in Sweden has quadrupled in just above twenty years. Rape cases involving children under the age of 15 are six times as common today as they were a generation ago. Resident aliens from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia dominate the group of rape suspects. Lawyer Ann Christine Hjelm, who has investigated violent crimes in one court, found that 85 per cent of the convicted rapists were born on foreign soil or by foreign parents.

The official explanation given by Swedish authorities to this increase is that much of it is a “technical” increase due to the fact that more victims of rape now report this crime to the police. There is not a hint of evidence for this explanation. On the contrary, intimidation of people reporting any kind of crime to the police has rapidly worsened in Sweden during the same time period. Threats against witnesses in Swedish court cases quadrupled between 2000 and 2003 alone. Besides, there is a lack of trust among the general public in the efficiency of their police force. Street violence of all kinds is soaring on a national level. Private security companies are in great demand in major Swedish cities, as a serious lack of police to combat rising crime has made many citizens tired of being robbed. The number of reported cases of physical abuse/assault in Stockholm has tripled in three decades. The number of people under the age of 18 who are serving sentences in juvenile detention centres has risen sharply over the last five years. Gangs of 14- and 15-year-olds raping and robbing is now common in many Stockholm suburbs. Mafia networks demanding protecting money from private businesses are increasingly common. Organized crime is no longer just a problem in the major cities. It has now spread throughout most of Sweden. At the same time, the underfunded and undermanned Swedish police officers feel “unmotivated” to fight crime, according to a study made by police researcher Stefan Holgersson, who interviewed 2000 Swedish police officers.

One person who seems to have a better grasp than Mr. Cowell of what’s happening with Muslim immigration in Sweden and Europe is Christopher Caldwell, who has written several articles about the topic, including one in the New York Times in February 2006 called “Islam on the Outskirts of the Welfare State.” Visting the Stockholm immigrant suburb of Rinkeby, Caldwell asked whether something like the French riots of the fall of 2005, with burning cars and rampaging gangs, could happen in Sweden. “Absolutely,” said one lanky boy near the window. “People burn cars here all the time. Not because they’re angry — because they think it’s fun.” In January, former Swedish MP Nalin Pekgul had a public discussion with the French feminist Fadela Amara about changes in France. “Whenever she talked about France,” Pekgul recalls, “it sounded like we were undergoing the same changes France did, only 10 years behind. It was the first time I had thought: I’m going to have to leave. It’s not going to get better.” Caldwell also noted, while mentioning the fact that immigrants still tend to marry someone from their original homeland, that in Sweden, unlike Denmark, “public discussion of this kind of endogamy is muted, although Swedes complain in private that it slows integration and unacceptably widens the number of potential new immigrants. “It’s nothing you can talk about,” says one educator at a Million Program school. “In general, we despise the Danes for raising this.” The rise of a right-wing anti-immigrant party, along the lines of the Danish People’s Party, appears unlikely in Sweden.”

Meanwhile, the Islamization of Sweden is proceeding apace. In the spring of 2006, Sweden’s largest Muslim organisation demanded in a letter, signed by its leader Mahmoud Aldebe, that Sweden introduce separate laws for Muslims. The proposals included allowing imams into state (public) schools to give Muslim children separate lessons in Islam and their parents’ native languages. The letter also said that boys and girls should have separate swimming lessons and that divorces between Muslims should be approved by an imam. The letter was a list running over several pages with aggressive demands for just about everything; separate family laws for Muslims, regulating marriage and divorce, that public schools should employ imams to teach homogeneous classes of Muslims children in their religion and the language of their original homeland, and a “mosque in every municipality to be built through interest-free loans made available by the local municipalities.” This to “demonstrate “Islam’s right to exist in Sweden” and to “heighten the status of and respect towards Muslims.” Sweden’s Equality Minister Jens Orback called the proposals “completely unacceptable.”

That sounds encouraging. However, it looks increasingly as if the election in September will be a very close race, and the Leftist parties will be dependent upon the support of immigrants, who tend to vote for Leftist parties all over Europe, to remain in power. As Nima Sanandaji points out in FrontPage Magazine, “Swedish public television exposed that the leading Social Democratic party had started fishing for votes with the help of radical Muslim clergies.” For several years the Christian wing of the Social Democratic party, called The Brotherhood, has been working with the influential Muslim leader Mahmoud Aldebe, president of Sweden’s Muslim Association. Already in 1999, Aldebe proposed that sharia, Islamic law, should be introduced in Sweden. After an honor killing of a Kurdish girl in 2003, Aldebe did not condemn the murderers. Aldebe sees the entire debate regarding honor-related murders as an attack against the Islamic religion and claims in a letter that a public debate regarding these acts of murder risks “encourag[ing] immigrant girls to revolt against the tradition of the families and their religious values.” After the last election in 2002, Sweden’s Muslim Association sent a congratulation letter to the re-elected Social Democratic Prime minister Göran Persson, congratulating him on his victory and hoping that Persson would work for implementing some of the demands of the Association in the future. The Muslim Brotherhood has earlier stated that for them, “Sweden is in many ways an ideal country, [and it] shares the ideals of the [Swedish] Social Democrats in their view of the welfare society. Leading figures in Muslim congregations are also active within the Social Democratic [Party], and have very good relations with Sweden’s Christian Social Democrats. “The Social Democrats have, in turn, and perhaps as thanks for the support they receive from the mosque leadership, shown a tendency to shy away from the fact that there is extremism in some of our mosques. This has given the Muslim Brotherhood the freedom to force its ideology upon [the mosque’s worshippers].”

During the spring of 2006, by granting a visa to Hamas “refugee minister” Atef Edwane, Sweden enabled the terrorist representative to visit any other European country who had signed the Schengen Accord. Atef Edwane visited Norway and Germany as part of a European tour, despite a European Union policy of no contact with the radical movement. As sensible Swedish blogger Dick Erixon pointed out, it seems as if the Social Democratic Swedish government are more willing to be dealing with Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas than with the Sweden Democrats or native Swedes wanting to limit Muslim immigration. At the same time, PM Göran Persson stated that “the government made an error when it allowed the Swedish Air Force to undertake exercises together with Israel.” The Air Force took part in exercises with Israel in 2005 in Canada. Sweden also decided to withdraw from an international air force exercise to be held in Italy in May 2006, after learning that units from the Israeli air force would participate. After the Hamas visa story, Israeli authorities called Sweden “the most anti-Israeli country in Europe,” which in the Eurabia of 2006 is quite an achievement. Sweden is a neutral country, and its concept of “neutrality” has in the past frequenly implied appeasing the anti-democratic forces of the day. In a process we might label “Swedish jumping,” Sweden appeased the Nazis in the 1930s and later the Communists and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sticking to form, it is appeasing the Islamic world now.

Earlier in 2006, Swedish Chancellor of Justice Mr Göran Lambertz decided to discontinue his department’s pre-trial investigation into the Grand Mosque of Stockholm, where audio cassettes with highly inflammatory anti-Semitic content were being sold. After Swedish radio programme Dagens Eko unveiled the contents of the cassettes in November 2005, a charge of racial incitement was filed. The Swedish Chancellor of Justice responded by closing the pre-trial investigation on the grounds that “the lecture did admittedly feature statements that are highly degrading to Jews (among other things, they are consistently referred to as the brothers of apes and pigs)” but pointing out that such statements “should be judged differently – and therefore be regarded as permissible – because they were used by one side in an ongoing and far-reaching conflict where calls to arms and insults are part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict.” In Sweden, an anti-Semitic crime is reported to the police once every three days. The Jewish congregations in major cities Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö are forced to spend up to 25 percent of their membership fees on security and hired guards. And most of these hate crimes are perpetrated by Muslims. There are reports of Swedish Jews who have signed up for service in the Israeli Defence Forces to escape harassment and persecution in Sweden. Even some non-Jews from Sweden say they feel “liberated” when they go to Israel. In Israel, you know who the country’s enemies are, and you are prepared to fight for your country and for your convictions. It is hard to overstate the extent to which Sweden is a politically repressed nation, thanks to self-proclaimed guardians of the Multicultural Truth. Swedish historian of religion Matthias Gardell claims that Islamophobia is perhaps the greatest threat to democracy in the Western world today. Swedish writer and leftist intellectual Jan Guillou has stated that the rhetoric employed by the Nazis against Jews is now used to target Muslims.

In a Sociological survey entitled “Vi krigar mot svenskarna” (“We’re waging a war against the Swedes”), young immigrants in the troubled city of Malmö have been interviewed about why they are involved in crime. Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, and set to become the first major Scandinavian city with a Muslim majority within a decade or two, has got nine times as many reported robberies per capita as Copenhagen, Denmark. The wave of robberies the city has witnessed is part of a “war against Swedes.” This is the explanation given by young robbers with immigrant background on why they are only robbing native Swedes, in interviews with Petra Åkesson. “I read a report about young robbers in Stockholm and Malmö and wanted to know why they are robbing other youths. It usually doesn’t involve a lot of money,” she says. She interviewed boys between 15 and 17 years old, both individually and in groups. Almost 90% of all robberies that are reported to the police were committed by gangs, not individuals. “When we are in the city and robbing, we are waging a war, waging a war against the Swedes.” This argument was repeated several times. “Power for me means that Swedes shall look at me, lie down on the ground and kiss my feet.” The boys explain, laughingly, that “there is a thrilling sensation in your body when you’re robbing, you feel satisfied and happy, it feels as if you’ve succeeded, it simply feels good.” “It’s so easy to rob Swedes, so easy.” “We rob every single day, as much as we want to, whenever we want to.” The immigrant youth view Swedes as stupid and cowardly: “The Swedes don’t do anything, they just give us the stuff. They’re so wimpy.” The young robbers don’t plan their crimes: “No, we just see some Swedes that look rich or have nice mobile phones and then we rob them.”

A high school teacher in Malmö discovered that about a dozen Arab students were laughing and shouting “Allahu Akbar!” while watching a DVD of infidel hostages being beheaded in Iraq. The headmaster didn’t think the incident was such a big deal.

Arson in SwedenAt least 139 schools in Sweden suffered arson attacks during 2002 alone. Björn Vinberg from the fire department in Kroksbäck in the Malmö area says it’s humiliating and degrading to put out fires again and again in the same immigrant areas, with school kids laughing at them and lighting a new one just afterwards. His colleagues have been to the same place no less than twenty times, all totally unnecessary. In the spring of 2006, a section of a school in Malmö was decided to be closed, due to “lack of security, vandalism and poor study results”. The school had been vandalised several times and in January part of it was damaged in an arson attack. “It’s the first time a school in Sweden has been closed because it is too rowdy,” said Jan Björklund, who saw the decision as giving in to discipline problems.

While this was going on, the number one priority for the political class in Sweden seemed to be demonizing neighboring Denmark for “xenophobia” and a “brutal” debate about Muslim immigration. During the Jihad riots in France in the fall of 2005, Sweden’s Social Democratic Prime Minister Göran Persson criticised the way the French government handled the unrest in the country. “It feels like a very hard and confrontational approach.” Persson also rejected the idea of more local police as a “first step” in Sweden. “I don’t believe that’s the way we would choose in Sweden. To start sending out signals about strengthening the police is to break with the political line we have chosen to follow,” he said. Meanwhile, as their authorities have largely abandoned their third largest city to creeping anarchy, there is open talk among the native Swedes still remaining in Malmö of forming vigilante groups, armed with baseball bats and concern for their children’s safety. At the same time, Muslim immigration to the country is not just continuing, but growing. Sweden’s population was growing faster in 2006 than at any time during the last twelve years. Statistics Sweden calculated that immigration increased by almost 85% compared with the first quarter the previous year. Most of these people came from Muslim countries such as Iraq, Somalia and Bosnia Herzegovinia.

What happened to the famous Swedish nanny state, you say? Don’t Swedes pay the highest tax rates in the world? Yes, they do. But tens of billions of kroner, some say several hundred billions, are being spent every year on propping up rapidly growing communities of Muslim immigrants. Sweden has become the entire world’s welfare office, because the political elites have decided that massive Muslim immigration is “good for the economy.” Pretty soon, Sweden could have an “army” of just 5000 men. That’s five thousand troops to defend a nation that is geographically more than three times the size of England. And it may take up to a year to assemble all of them, provided they are not on peacekeeping missions abroad. That Sweden could soon need a little peacekeeping at home seems to escape the establishment. In 2006, the celebrated Swedish welfare state has become the world’s largest pyramid scheme, an Enron with a national flag. Just as the country was in the midst of the worst crime wave in modern Scandinavian history, with a desperately underfunded police force, the Swedish Social Democrats announced that cheaper public dental care would be a major issue in the election campaigns. There could hardly be a better symbol of Europe’s love affair with the welfare state and “social security” in an age where physical security is rapidly disappearing through runaway Muslim immigration. “Eurabia: You may get your teeth kicked in, but at least you have cheap dental care” could become the slogan for the entire continent. The Swedish elites, especially the Socialists who are supposed to represent “the people,” seem to care little for the well-being of their own citizens, and much more for clinging on to power and polishing their image abroad. As Jonathan Friedman, professor of social anthropology at the University of Lund outside Malmö puts it: “In Sweden, it’s almost as if the state has sided with the immigrants against the Swedish working class.”

Yet despite of all of this, Alan Cowell writes in the New York Times that Sweden is full of “safety features, sort of like a Volvo.” Why didn’t he also ask some of the political dissidents about the state of the country, such as Ulf Nilson, challenging censorship through his essays at the Expressen newspaper, Jan Milld of the website Blågula frågor or Danish blogger Steen writing at Snaphanen, with great coverage of developments in Sweden? The reality is that the “Swedish model” in 2006 no longer refers to a stable and peaceful state with an advanced economy, but increasingly to a Eurabian horror story of utopian Multiculturalism, Socialist mismanagement and runaway immigration. The strains caused by immigration are now so large that unless something serious is done about this, pretty soon Sweden will face the same kind of riots we have recently seen in France, and will approach the point of permanent ethnic and religious strife.

Swedish politicians and media need to put the well-being of their sons and daughters above that of Political Correctness and their own Multicultural, ideological vanity, and it is shocking that they actually need to be reminded of this. It is an international embarrassment to Sweden as a nation that Swedes travel around the world to lecture about women’s rights, and at the same time their own young women are finding that their most basic rights, such as being able to go outside wearing normal clothes without being harassed, are slipping away. Unless Swedish authorities are able to provide basic security to a population that pays some of the highest tax rates in the world, the cabinet of Prime Minister Göran Persson should publicly admit its inadequacy and resign from office. At the very least, it should be honest enough to tell Swedish citizens that they must provide security for themselves, and stop making it difficult for people to do this.

The Swedish general elections are just a few months away, and this time, Muslim immigration needs to be raised to the very top of the public agenda. Failing to do so now could have potentially disastrous consequences later. Time is running out, both for Sweden and for much of Western Europe.

The New Year Comes With Bombs

Seventh in an occasional series on the poetry of Louis MacNeice
Bombed bus, London, 1940

As 1939 drew to a close, the “Phony War” was about halfway over, although people at the time had no way to know that. All they knew was that catastrophe would eventually arrive; after Hitler and Stalin cracked the last of Poland’s bones and sucked out all the marrow, the attention of the Nazis would perforce turn westwards, and doom would surely come.

Except for those few in Britain who believed that letting the great dictators divide up the Continent would spare the British Empire from a similar fate, appeasement was no longer an option. Hitler had made his intention clear, and another Great War was about to begin.

Louis MacNeice’s greatest poem, “Autumn Journal”, was written during this late 1939 twilight. Part XXIV is the conclusion, in which the poet turns from all his other themes to face grimly what is to come.

From “Autumn Journal” (Part XXIV)
By Louis MacNeice

Sleep serene, avoid the backward
     Glance; go forward, dreams, and do not halt
(Behind you in the desert stands a token
     Of doubt — a pillar of salt).
Sleep, the past, and wake, the future,
     And walk out promptly through the open door;
But you, my coward doubts, may go on sleeping,
     You need not wake again — not any more.
The New Year comes with bombs, it is too late
     To dose the dead with honourable intentions:
If you have honour to spare, employ it on the living;
     The dead are dead as Nineteen-Thirty-Eight.
Sleep to the noise of running water
     To-morrow to be crossed, however deep;
This is no river of the dead or Lethe,
     To-night we sleep
On the banks of Rubicon — the die is cast;
     There will be time to audit
The accounts later, there will be sunlight later
     And the equation will come out at last.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

It’s no secret that Gates of Vienna considers our present time to be a reprise of the late 1930s. Doom is coming, but when?

We’re somewhere between the Anschluss and Dunkirk, but where, exactly?

When the Wehrmacht entered Austria in 1938, and all the Deutschesvolk were united for the first time ever, the shape of things to come became clear. From our vantage point, the events from then until the catastrophe at Dunkirk unfolded in a natural and inevitable sequence: the appeasement at Munich, Kristallnacht, the abrogation of Munich when the Germans overran Czechoslovakia, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the invasion of Poland, the Phony War, the Nazi occupation of Denmark and Norway, and, finally, the fall of France. Once that desperate fleet of little boats carried the British Expeditionary Force back to England, the “real” war finally began.

But in 1938 all this hadn’t seemed inevitable. Dire times were definitely ahead, particularly for the Jews and Eastern Europe, but… surely there was a way that Britain could be spared? Give Herr Hitler what he wants, and we will have peace, right?

That’s what appeasement is all about. That’s why the Europeans — whose lessons of history seem to have been neglected of late — offer Iran a light water reactor, trade concessions, jumbo jets, the kitchen sink, and anything else they can think of, desperately trying to obtain peace in our time. That’s why our State Department considers talking to the mullahs, and Hamas, and any other blood-drenched terrorist group that happens into our field of view. Make enough concessions, throw them a bone or two, and maybe they’ll leave us alone and settle for the Jews and the Hindus and the Sikhs and the Buddhists…

And, just as in 1938, the intelligent and resourceful people of Europe are fleeing to the United States. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the first, Flemming Rose may well be next, and then who? Paul Belien? Anyone else who speaks out publicly against the smelly little orthodoxies of our time?

To make matters worse, we have institutionalized appeasement in the form of the United Nations. We’ve created and funded an entire army of bureaucratic appeasers, a myriad faceless clones of Chamberlain and Daladier, people whose careers and corrupt livelihoods depend on placating and befriending and cosseting and flattering the most appalling tyrants and mass murderers. All pretense of deterring aggression is gone, and we are left with the pursuit of peace at any price, a “peace” which means that anyone except the Western democracies may engage in plunder and slaughter as they see fit, while the U.N. expresses “grave concern”.

Our catastrophe isn’t here yet — we have yet to experience our Dunkirk — but we are coming up on 1940 awfully quickly.

Wretchard has placed us in the Phony War, but I don’t think we’re there yet. In order to be in the Phony War, we’d have to have given up all the illusions of appeasement, and fatalistically accepted the coming cataclysm.

That definitely hasn’t happened yet. That’s why we let Hamas govern Palestine, and help fund it. That’s why we’re going to watch helplessly while the mullahs get the bomb. That’s why we can’t do anything about the Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia and the Salafists in Pakistan. We have this quaint notion that somehow we might be spared the shape of things to come.

But we won’t. Our Dunkirk will arrive, and the little boats will haul our remnant across the water. What form will the disaster take? The detonation of the mullahs’ first nuclear weapon? The incineration of Tel Aviv? A container of biotoxins slipped through our laughable port security or over our southern border, and unleashed in a major city?

Our Rubicon is coming. It is too late to dose the dead with honorable intentions.

Quick, Flush the Stash!

Boarding a frigateCalling all you old hippies: remember the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers? I’m thinking specifically of the oft-repeated situation in which the pigs are banging on the door while Fat Freddy, Phineas, and Freewheelin’ Franklin are scurrying madly around the apartment, gathering up bushels of dope to dump in the toilet while screaming, “Flush the stash! Flush the stash!”

Well, that’s the situation that our nation’s ports may find themselves in, with the Coast Guard filling in for the pigs, and Al Qaeda playing the Freak Brothers. Picture the containers going over the side of the ship while someone yells “Dump the nukes! Dump the nukes!” In Arabic, of course.

According to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times (registration required):

Coast Guard Sometimes Gives Heads-Up on Search

WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard said Saturday that in situations where the likelihood of security threats is considered low, it sometimes alerts captains of arriving ships of an impending search.

The practice is meant to reduce delays and the expense of paying workers to wait unnecessarily to unload cargo, it said.

OK, we’ll only tip them off to the search when the likelihood of an attack is considered low. But wasn’t the threat level considered low on the morning of September 11th, 2001?

The very nature of this war is that surprise is of the essence, and I don’t need the 9-11 Commission to tell me that our intelligence agencies won’t always have advance notice of what Osama and his buddies are planning for us.

But leave that aside for now. The article goes on:

Officials discounted the notion that every search must be a surprise to be effective.

“Sometimes we will board low-priority ships,” said Coast Guard Lt. Tony Migliorini, a spokesman for the Los Angeles-Long Beach sector. “We are trying to assist them. It does not hamper our security mission because we will be able to search where we need to search, regardless.”

“Twenty-four hours is the maximum amount of warning that we give. Sometimes we give them just a few minutes. Sometimes it’s a few hours. This has been our process since 9/11,” Migliorini said.

If this is the post-9/11 process, what must it have been like on September 10th? How much chance is there of any given cargo ship being given a true surprise inspection? To go further, what is the probability of any container being inspected at all?

Some estimates say that as little as 3% of the containers entering our ports get inspected. But let’s be generous, and assume that it’s 6%. That means that all you have to do is ship three of the same thing (nuke, dirty bomb, biotoxin, whatever) simultaneously through three different ports, and you have a 99.978% chance of getting one through successfully.

And that’s if you don’t get tipped off in advance about a search.

The bureaucrat-speak coming from the Coast Guard is not all that reassuring:

“The mission objective of each foreign vessel examination or boarding is carefully measured to accomplish an achievable end. This mission objective might be enhanced by the withholding of information from ship management or by the sharing of information with ship management,” Cmdr. Paul D. Thorne, chief of the Coast Guard’s Foreign and Offshore Vessels Division, said in a statement Saturday.

When the official response is larded with so many make-your-eyelids-heavy obfuscations, you know we’re entering CYA zone.

Let’s imagine what a clear, honest response would be like:

“Sometimes when it’s expedient for me to do so, under the pressure of influential commercial shipping companies and their friends in Congress, I tip a ship’s captain off to a coming search. It’s no big deal; it’s standard operating procedure.”

There, wasn’t that refreshing?

“The discretion of information-sharing is largely, but not solely, within the hands of the captain of the port and may not present a uniformity on a national scale,” he said.

In other words, “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

Federal officials responsible for port security have long sought to develop systems for focusing on likely threats and identifying shippers that appear to pose relatively low threats. They have also acknowledged that it is not feasible to disrupt the transportation system on which major segments of the U.S. economy depend. [emphasis added]

Now, there’s the rub. It’s in the same general general category as appeasing the mullahs to try to keep the price of oil from going any higher.

The smooth operation of the national and world economies is an absolute good, and above all, a political necessity for those holding elected and appointed office.

It’s not a question of whether our leaders know the right thing to do. It’s not a question of whether they want to do the right thing.

The question is, If I do the right thing, will I ever be able to win another election?

Since important issues are decided by shrill demagoguery, by the dumbed-down, simplified, and agenda-ridden way the mainstream media portray our national security, there is no easy solution to this problem. If you add the powerful influence of commercial interests, doing the right thing becomes a near-impossibilty. Money will always play a major deciding role in policy.

“There is a great relationship between industry and the Coast Guard,” said Daniel Tremper, a Coast Guard spokesman in Washington.

I’ll bet there is.

Maybe we should have listened to Freewheelin’ Franklin after all:

Freewheelin’ Franklin


Africans in the Canary Islands

They’re rioting in Africa,
They’re starving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida,
And Texas needs rain
The whole world is festering
With unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans,
The Germans hate the Poles;
Italians hate Yugoslavs,
South Africans hate the Dutch,
And I don’t like anybody very much…

Plus ça change, hmm? In the almost fifty years since the Kingston Trio toured with that song (which ends in nuclear destruction), things haven’t changed very much. And yet that world is so lost, so absolutely gone that it’s hard for anyone who didn’t live through the innocence-tied-to-fear world view to understand the times.

Self-hatred had not become endemic, though there were pockets of the virus, particularly in France with its admiration of Sartre’s nihilism. The men who fought World War II still ran things, and they had firm ideas about The Enemy and what needed to be done to contain him. Eisenhower, not an intellectual, warned of the military-industrial complex and didn’t know of the nascent rise of academic mandarins, bent on the destruction of anything un-ironic, and sworn to relativism as an over-arching world view.

America still stood firmly with Israel; the quislings had not yet risen to power. In fact, many of them hadn’t made it to college yet. Mario Savio was unknown.

What was present in our country, and what remains a threat because its spidery fingers have spun such a wide-cast web, was the Communist Party. Now they are draped in ANSWER’s clothing, trying to drum up dissension among illegal immigrants. They are behind much of the wacko, extremist Greenie anti-global, anti-capitalist, and virulently anti-American nihilism. Still as statist as ever, still as dystopian, and still as attractive to the pseudo-intellectuals that swig off the government teat in their academic villages. They are far more tied to their form of the dole as any welfare mother ever was.

They love victims because they love projection. At some level, they must understand what losers they are and thus align themselves with anything or anyone remotely resembling A Victim. Being Americans, though, they have that peculiarly American characteristic: they want to fix it. So they try — with hyper-correct language, with special handicap scores for the handicapped, with vitriol for all the abled who are so pitilessly going about their daily business. Attention must be paid! And paid. And paid. And paid. And then we’ll have a conference and many, many studies all of which will show that the agenda they carried into the quest is the agenda they bring back to us. Amazing, no? Whole industries have grown up around Victims…and those who love them. Not to mention those who hate them — now a thought crime — and those who feed off them. Jesse Jackson is a vampire. A Victim Vampire.

But it gets old. In fact, it’s rapidly ageing and compassion is disappearing in scattered spots around the world. Not here yet, but Europe is always in the vanguard of new intellectual ideas, right?

The first example comes from one of yesterday’s Little Green Footballs’ posts. This one concerns a recent poll in Germany which demonstrates a growing mistrust of Islam:

In spite of official attempts to promote dialog among religions, distrust of Islam continues to grow, with 60 percent of Germans expecting tension between traditional German society and immigrants from Muslim countries, according to an Allensbach study commissioned by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

“Germans are increasingly of the opinion that a lasting, peaceful coexistence with the Islamic world will not be possible,” the researchers said in the survey, released Wednesday.

Some 56 percent of Germans said they believed a “clash of cultures” already exists, partly a result of recent incidents that received a large amount of media attention, according to the survey’s authors Elisabeth Noelle and Thomas Petersen.

This isn’t news, exactly. The Germans, like many European natives, distrust other cultures generally. That they would distrust the Muslims among them only makes sense, given their history of treatment of the foreign workers they invited in to do the dirty work when times were good, while limiting their access to citizenship or other jobs.

Notice, though that the “clash of cultures” is partly due to media attention to the problem. Not the actual mayhem and murder that caused the media reports in the first place, but the reports themselves:

The case of a Berlin “honor killing,” a quarrel over two Bonn students who wore burkas to school and discussions concerning increasing schoolyard violence among immigrant children have all made headlines in the German press recently.

“In view of the diffuse feeling of being under threat, and the suspected intolerance of Islam, the readiness of Germans to show tolerance to the Muslim faith is sinking,” Noelle and Petersen wrote.

Do you get the feeling it’s not the Islamists’ behavior that leads to fear, but rather the media reports about it? Well, the all powerful media managed to produce this statistic:

When asked what they associate with the word “Islam,” 91 percent of respondents connected the religion to the discrimination of women, and 61 percent called Islam “undemocratic.” Eight percent of Germans associated “peacefulness” with Islam.

The Germans are even willing to abridge religious freedom to contain the Islamists, or better yet, to encourage them to live elsewhere:

About 40 percent of Germans queried were willing to limit the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion if constricting the practice of the Muslim religion would lead to fewer violent Muslims choosing to live in Germany. Over half of those who took part, 56 percent, agreed with the statement, “If some Muslim countries forbid building churches, then it should be forbidden to build mosques here.”

Meanwhile, Spain is ratcheting up its own efforts to contain the strangers currently overwhelming some of their territories. A reader sends this report from Breitbart:

Spain has put the last touches to initiatives, including a strengthened presence in Africa, to try to stem the swelling tide of immigrants from the continent heading for its shores.

The government’s plan was agreed as it was announced that a total of 656 African illegal immigrants had arrived in Spain’s Canary Islands in the space of 24 hours.

In Madrid Deputy Prime Minister Maria-Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said after a cabinet meeting she would be going to Brussels next week to discuss the issue with, among others, European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.
She said that “more Europe” had to be one of the weapons in the battle against would-be illegal immigration.

An “Africa plan” was to be implemented within the space of 48 hours, said de la Vega. The headquarters will be in the Senegalese capital Dakar, under the supervision of a specially appointed ambassador, Miguel Angel Mazarambroz.
His staff will cover the west African states Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Senegal.

The Spanish official said embassies would be opened in Mali and Cape Verde and the mission in Sudan would be reopened to reinforce Spain’s diplomatic presence in sub-Saharan Africa, at present limited to embassies in eight states (Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal).

The scale of the problem is illustrated by figures showing that with well over 1,000 arrivals in the Canary Islands this week alone, the total for the year to date is now 7,384. That compared with 4,751 for the whole of last year and 8,500 in 2004.

According to the Red Cross, hundreds of would-be immigrants have drowned in seas off Spain since the end of last year. Many travel in overcrowded makeshift boats not suited to the high seas.

Red Cross workers on the Canaries say they are overwhelmed with the “avalanche” of people arriving every day, many of whom are in need of immediate medical treatment.

In all, around 2,400 immigrants without papers are awaiting processing in the archipelago.

The Canary Islands, Spanish territory and therefore part of the European Union, have been targeted by would-be immigrants since passage became more difficult from Morocco to Europe via the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the scene last year of violent attempts by would-be immigrants to storm them. Sixteen people died in the incidents after which prospective immigrants were rounded up and dumped in the desert. Since then security measures have been tightened on both sides of the Mediterranean.

We reported this last October, when Spain began to beat back the immigrants:

Spain plans to build a third high-security fence between its enclave Melilla and Morocco as an added measure to keep out immigrants who have repeatedly stormed the barriers in recent weeks, Interior Ministry delegate Jose Fernandez Chacon said Tuesday.

Seems like the great unwashed and unwanted hordes, desperate for work, are risking death and dismemberment:

Hundreds of poor sub-Saharan African immigrants gathered in northern Morocco have stormed the fences repeatedly over the past two weeks in a bid to enter Europe. Five immigrants were killed in a similar charge last week at Ceuta, Spain’s other enclave on the northern Moroccan coast. Both city enclaves already have twin 3-meter (10-foot) razor fences around their perimeters.

Does Europe think the hordes can be contained? Do we? Is dumping the unwashed unwanted in the desert a solution?

What is to be done to prevent the Islamist meltdown in Europe? And what is to be done about the Mexican surge into the Southwest United States? Does Spain see this beating back the desperate as a solution or merely a holding action?

How are we different? Or are we?

As Thomas Merton said, there are no innocent bystanders. Helpless ones, like you and me, perhaps…

The Dying Fall

Sixth in an occasional series on the poetry of Louis MacNeice
Anti-aircraft battery in Southwark Park, London, 1939

One of Louis MacNeice’s most powerful and enduring works is “Autumn Journal”, a long poem of twenty-four sections. It was written in the fall of 1939 during the “Phony War”, the period after Britain and France declared war against Germany, but before the serious fighting began.

Hyde Park, London, 1939Gloom and foreboding were the order of the day in Britain. Everyone knew that terrible events were coming, but not just yet. While their governments prepared for war, people in Britain went about their normal affairs. The autumn of 1939 was the last time of normalcy that Western Europe would know.

Memories of the Great War were only two decades old, and the quality of Hitler’s war machine was well known, so a huge cataclysm was expected. A hint of this context is contained in the third and fourth lines of the excerpt below: the “raw clay trenches” that disfigured parkland throughout London were hastily excavated bomb shelters for the expected air raids, and anti-aircraft batteries could be seen throughout London. The Spanish Civil War, just recently ended, had demonstrated the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe, and Britain anticipated a horrific air war.

But in this excerpt MacNeice, who lectured in Greek at the University of London, takes a detour to the distant past, looking at the ancient world through the fatalistic lens of 1939.

From “Autumn Journal” (Part IX)
By Louis MacNeice

October comes with rain whipping around the ankles
     In waves of white at night
And filling the raw clay trenches (the parks of London
     Are a nasty sight).
In a week I return to work, lecturing, coaching,
     As impresario of the Ancient Greeks
Who wore the chiton and lived on fish and olives
     And talked philosophy or smut in cliques;
Who believed in youth and did not gloze the unpleasant
     Consequences of age;
What is life, one said, or what is pleasant
     Once you have turned the page
Of love? The days grow worse, the dice are loaded
     Against the living man who pays in tears for breath;
Never to be born was the best, call no man happy
     This side death.
Conscious — long before Engels — of necessity
     And therein free
They plotted out their life with truism and humour
     Between the jealous heaven and the callous sea.
And Pindar sang the garland of wild olive
     And Alcibiades lived from hand to mouth
Double-crossing Athens, Persia, Sparta,
     And many died in the city of plague, and many of drouth
In Sicilian quarries, and many by the spear and arrow
     And many more who told their lies too late
Caught in the eternal factions and reactions
     Of the city-state.
And free speech shivered on the pikes of Macedonia
     And later on the swords of Rome
And Athens became a mere university city
     And the goddess born of the foam
Became the kept hetæra, heroine of Menander,
     And the philosopher narrowed his focus, confined
His efforts to putting his own soul in order
     And keeping a quiet mind.
And for a thousand years they went on talking,
     Making such apt remarks,
A race no longer of heroes but of professors
     And crooked business men and secretaries and clerks,
Who turned out dapper little elegiac verses
     On the ironies of fate, the transience of all
Affections, carefully shunning an over-statement
     But working the dying fall.
The Glory that was Greece: put it in a syllabus, grade it
     Page by page
To train the mind or even to point a moral
     For the present age:
Models of logic and lucidity, dignity, sanity,
     The golden mean between opposing ills
Though there were exceptions of course but
                    only exceptions
     The bloody Bacchanals on the Thracian hills.
So the humanist in his room with Jacobean panels
     Chewing his pipe and looking on a lazy quad
Chops the Ancient World to turn a sermon
     To the greater glory of God.
But I can do nothing so useful or so simple;
     These dead are dead
And when I should remember the paragons of Hellas
     I think instead
Of the crooks, the adventurers, the opportunists,
     The careless athletes and the fancy boys,
The hair-splitters, the pedants, the hard-boiled sceptics
     And the Agora and the noise
Of the demagogues and the quacks; and the women pouring
     Libations over graves
And the trimmers at Delphi and the dummies at Sparta
                    and lastly
     I think of the slaves.
And how one can imagine oneself among them
     I do not know;
It was all so unimaginably different
     And all so long ago.

Notice the gratuitous appearance of Engels midway through this excerpt. It was virtually impossible for any British literary work of the 1930s to avoid some mention of Socialism; it was the air of the times, and everybody breathed it.

But the poet has carefully avoided “presentism” in his depiction of the Greeks. In evoking antiquity, he has brought it to our understanding while at the same time demonstrating its inescapable otherness.

And so it is with 1939. Though it is scarcely two generations back, and many people now alive remember it still…

It was all so unimaginably different, and all so long ago.

Swedish Anthrax and Radioactive Beryllium

BerylliumYesterday’s post about the illicit attempt to obtain Swedish anthrax cultures referred also to the theft of a ton of beryllium in Sweden. The article also noted that beryllium is “radioactive”, and this latter assertion provoked some discussion in the comments.

First was Chuck, who said:

Beryllium isn’t radioactive but it does have health effects:

Beryllium causes lung and skin disease in two to 10 percent of exposed workers. Occupational exposure most often occurs in mining, extraction, and in the processing of alloy metals containing beryllium. The adverse health effects of beryllium exposure are caused by the body’s immune system reacting with the metal, resulting in an allergic-type response…

It is commercially available and is used in optics, x-ray equipment, nozzles, springs, and so on. It’s low atomic mass makes it useful for slowing down neutrons but that is hardly all it is used for. Remember, reporters hardly ever know squat about anything and can’t be bothered to do research, so treat the information in news reports with skepticism.

Then a4g responded:


I defer to anyone who actually knows what forms of beryllium are commercially available (and referred to in the referenced story), but I do know that there are quite a few isotopes of Be that are radioactive, most being very short lived, but 10Be having a half-life of 1,520,000 years.

Who knows, that might actually be long enough for the 12th Imam to finally show up.

He also pointed us to a very useful website, WebElements, which has a wealth of information about beryllium.

Finally there was Conservative Mutant, who works in biomedical research and has some expertise on the topic:

For these purposes, beryllium is distinctly not radioactive. Be-10 is formed by cosmic rays; there’s no way anyone would accumulate a ton of it. (BTW, the original Swedish article also says “beryllium”.) A major beryllium theft in 1993 (the beryllium turned out to be contaminated with a small quantity of HEU, although the thieves were apparently not aware of this) seems to have been connected with the Russian Mafia, probably for shipment to North Korea. (Beryllium is an excellent neutron reflector.)

Another source (William Potter, “Potter/Ewe11 Notes from Kurchatov/Semipalatinsk Conference and Excursions.”) says that “In 1995, 450 tons of beryllium was diverted and exported from the Ulba Metallurgy Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. Fifty tons of that material was sent to the port of Goteborg in Sweden, where it remains to this day.”

Ulba is the second-largest producer of beryllium in the world; presumably they’re also the source of the beryllium in the incident described by Jylands Post, which occurred in December 1995, while the beryllium was in transit from Russia to the U.S. via Stockholm.

Newsbeat1 sent us a link to an English-language article in The Local, which confirmed the essential facts as translated from the Jyllands-Post article. It did not however, refer to the theft of the beryllium.

Fortunately, Gates of Vienna has a resident chemical expert, namely the future Baron Bodissey, who just finished his junior year as a chemistry major at a respected Virginia institution of higher learning. He confirmed what Chuck and the Mutant were saying: the accumulation of any significant quantities of radioactive beryllium is highly unlikely. The atomic weight of beryllium is 9.012182, which means that only a very small portion of any quantity of beryllium would be radioactive, since the non-radioactive isotope of beryllium is 9Be. In that small portion of radioactive beryllium would be six isotopes, only one of which, 10Be, has a significant half-life (1.5 million years).

I think it’s safe to say that the newspaper reporter got his facts muddled. When he said that “a ton of beryllium was stolen… Beryllium is a radioactive material,” he should have said, “A ton of beryllium was stolen, a tiny portion of which may have been radioactive.” Typical MSM reportage — play fast and loose with the facts, with an emphasis on scare-mongering.

As Dymphna has recently pointed out, that’s where the blogosphere runs rings around the traditional media. Spurious “facts” are quickly outed and corrected by the distributed intelligence of our readers. Nice work, guys!

However, it does look like someone in Jordan tried to mail-order some Swedish anthrax. So far, that particular alarming fact still remains.

The Poetry of Louis MacNeice

Louis MacNeiceSome of our readers (I can’t remember who they are!) requested sidebar links to my Louis Macneice posts, so I’ve added them to the template. Just scroll down past the “Important Posts” links and “The Poetry of War” links, and you’ll see them.

I’ll be posting some more of MacNeice’s work when I get the chance. The poems I have in mind are not available yet online, so I’ll have to scan them in…

Someone in Jordan Wants to Buy Swedish Anthrax

Reader Zonka has kindly sent a translation of an article from today’s Jyllands-Posten:

Attempted theft of anthrax from Swedish University

Anthrax bacteriaPersons from the Middle-East have attempted to con the University of Gothenburg (Göteborg Universitet) out of anthrax bacteria, at least twice, says the Swedish Defense.

The method was to order the bacteria under the pretext of being scientists, and it almost succeeded, says a not yet released report from the Swedish “Crisis Readiness Authority”

“There was an order, from Amman I believe, the bacteria was to be sent to a post box,” says Björn Sandström, analysts at the “Total Defense Research Institute” (Totalförsvarets Forskningsinstitut) at Gothenburg University to the newspaper Daily Medicin’s Swedish Edition.

It is not the first time that an attempt has been made to get the Research Institute to hand over anthrax. Shortly after 9/11 a similar attempt was experienced.

The report also shows that there since 1990 have been several cases where material that can be used for weapons of mass destruction have disappeared or have been stolen within Sweden.

As an example a ton of beryllium was stolen in 1995 close to Stockholm’s International Airport, Arlanda. Beryllium is a radioactive material, that among other things can be used to increase the yield of nuclear weapons.

Anyone getting nervous yet?

Well Duh, Durbin

The vote to build the fence passed in the Senate today: They voted 83-16 in favor of construction of the fence and 500 miles of vehicle barriers.

But lest you think it went unremarked, here is Senator Dick Durbin’s thoughts on the matter:

He said if the proposal passed, “our relationship with Mexico would come down to a barrier between our two countries.”

Make that Senator Dick “Duh” Durbin. Reducing our contact with Mexico to a fence means that El Presidente will know we have a spine. And he may have to clean up his act instead of living off the remittances of poor Mexicans. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Yeah! Let’s get moving on reducing our relationship with Mexico to a fence. A wall of iron topped off with spikes and barbed wire.

Let Us Make Them All Welcome

Welcome Instapundit Readers!

While you’re here, take a look at some of Fjordman’s essays on the sidebar (he tells us another one is due shortly). And if you’re an ageing hippy, see the Baron’s top post, Quick, Flush the Stash!. It’s about how “safe” we are when the Coast Guard’s SOP seems to be to give plenty of warning to incoming cargo ships that they’ll be inspected.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the beginnings of what could be another sea change for Europe. Remember the 1930’s when so many of Europe’s intelligentsia came to America to escape Fascism? Albert Einstein was one; Karen Horney was another. Our intellectual ranks and our universities were enriched as Europe’s totalitarian rumblings caused the educated ranks to flee to safer shores.

It seems to be happening again. In addition to Hirsi Ali’s imminent departure from the Netherlands, there is a growing feeling that Europe is not safe for those who dissent even a little from the received wisdom of the bureaucratic state, or dare to confront the Muslim taqiyya so prevalent there:

Across Europe, dozens of people are now in hiding or under police protection because of threats from Muslim extremists. Dutch police say politicians reported 121 death threats last year. The number this year will likely be much higher. Geert Wilders, a right-wing member of parliament who also lives in a high-security apartment owned by the state, says he has received 120 menacing emails and letters since January. One of the latest reads: “Oh you cursed infidel! Don’t think you are safe from our mighty organization….It is our wish to kill you by decapitation. Your infidel blood will flow freely on cursed Dutch streets!”


In Germany, several researchers, journalists and members of Parliament receive police protection because of threats by radical Muslims. Hans-Peter Raddatz, an Islamic-studies expert under police protection, recently moved to the U.S.

Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, is also mulling a move to America, at the urging of friends and security contacts. He set off a global storm by publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Twelve Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures are staying out of public for fear of attack.

The article doesn’t mention Paul Belien’s predicament at Brussels Journal. Belgian authorities say he should be tried and jailed for his writings, claiming he inflamed some off-the-wall adolescent to go on a shooting rampage.

Do you really think this kid was reading an online news journal? No, I don’t either. But they have to have someone to blame, just as the Dutch have scapegoated Hirsi Ali.

Well, let’s make them all welcome, shall we? Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave — despite the ACLU attempts to the contrary — they would be kindred souls and we would be enriched by having them here.

Hat tip: LGF commenterAbu Maven