Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dr. Irad ben Zvi Treats the Naked Shame of Arab Bigotry

One year and two days ago, I posted the story of my First Encounter with the Beast. Within twenty-four hours that first post was picked up on by several of the big, established blogs. Soon, my newly minted blog was swamped with traffic. By the time I got Site Meter in place three days later the Initial surge of traffic was starting to taper down but I was still seeing a thousand hits per day for a couple of weeks after. The traffic was not just referrals from other blogs. It was coming in from mail clients as people were emailing it around the world via the Internet.

I began this blog by offering it as a public forum in the hope that more people would step forward and tell their own stories. When the stories came too slowly, I began to write up more of my own thoughts. They've been well received and Breath of the Beast has grown.

I have never given up hope of hearing from others, though, because I believe that the sharing of authentic experience Is the most effective way to spread the awareness of the danger that stalks us all. I have been honored to post the first person accounts of five courageous and insightful men and women who have experienced brushes with the multi-headed beast of Caliphate Islam with its terrorism (Erica Sherman), misogyny (Mark Nelson, Jim Glendenning and Phyllis Chesler), and the insipid multiculturalism (Nancy Coppock) that enables it.

Now, just a year into the enterprise, Irad ben Zvi has stepped forward to be the sixth. His is a very serious and subtle account of a few incidents that have made up his beast encounter. It is a unique perspective and his observations are most revealing. Irad ben Zvi is an Israeli physician, working in Chicago. Here is his story:

I have a patient in my medical practice, a very gentle and polite Muslim Egyptian. We became friendly over the years, and he brought in his wife as a new patient. She was a Coptic Christian from a well-to-do family. She had a "liberal" upbringing and she even attended university in Cairo. Before moving to the US, she lived in Gaza and visited Tel-Aviv many times. She told me about her relatives living in London, South America, and the US. She seemed to come from a truly modern, cosmopolitan family. She had a nephew, also a Christian, who moved to Gaza. I asked her if her nephew felt intimidated by the Hamas government in Gaza. She answered that there are only 5,000 Christians in Gaza today, and they have all learned to keep a low profile. When I asked her why her nephew stayed in Gaza despite discrimination against Christians, she replied that he wanted to "fight the Zionists." I asked her why Gazans were still fighting after the Israelis had already left Gaza? She replied that Gazans are defending themselves from the Zionists, who threaten to "shoot every Arab and throw them into the sea!" I told her this is utter nonsense. I reminded her that this quote came from Egyptian president Gamal Nasser in 1967, and originally referred to Arab intentions toward the Jews. I then asked her why the good people of Gaza don't stop the few radical terrorists in their midst from firing rockets into Sderot? She replied that everyone in Gaza supports the rocket attacks. "Why?" I asked incredulously, to which she replied that it was a part of the struggle against the "Zionist occupation." I reminded her that Sderot was over a mile from the border of Gaza and well within the 1949 Armistice Lines that defined the State of Israel until the 1967 War. I also pointed out that Sderot has no military bases, and that the rockets are hurting innocent civilians. She replied melodramatically: "When the people of Gaza look out across the border to Sderot, they see their former homes. They yearn for their land! They just want their homes back!" Her impassioned pleas were worthy of an Oscar®. But this critic doesn't buy such nonsense. Gaza residents would need super-human vision to see their homes from over a mile away, past security barriers and walls. More importantly, if they wanted their homes back so badly, then why are they destroying them with rockets and mortars? Perhaps I was taking her too literally. English is her second language, after all. Perhaps she was speaking metaphorically. So I re-stated the question: "If, for the sake of argument, Sderot was built on the site of a previous Arab village, why then should innocent people living in Sderot today have to suffer for a 60 year old battle they had nothing to do with? If an Arab really had proof of ownership of any land in Israel, then I am certain there are dozens of Israeli lawyers willing to represent them in front of the Israeli Supreme Court. These disputes can be resolved without a single rocket fired." She completely ignored my appeal to judicial conflict resolution, and repeated the hackneyed phrase that "Palestinians are desperate! They have nothing left to loose!" She was clearly unwilling to address the moral implications of terrorism. From her perspective, the displacement of Arabs 60 years ago was a crime that deserves eternal worldwide media attention, and justifies bloody vigilante retribution against innocent bystanders today. In stark contrast, the present-day suffering, displacement, and deaths of completely innocent Israeli civilians is not criminal, and barely deserves acknowledgment in any media reports. If hers was the voice of liberal, educated, and affluent Arabs, then I, too, have felt the breath of the beast.

I eventually told her that I was born in Tel-Aviv, that my father was Ben-Gurion's bodyguard, and that I strongly support preserving Israel as a Jewish state. She was immediately embarrassed for having spoken so ill of Israelis. She realized I had caught her in the act of spreading false propaganda. I had exposed her anti-Semitism. When her husband returned to see me, he brought a box of halvah as a present, and he apologized, not for anything she said specifically, but for her "getting carried away." They both still see me, and they even referred their children as patients. The lesson I learned is that political correctness is not the answer to conflict resolution. Political correctness creates a false veneer of civility that hides deep seated hatred. If the source of the hatred is never addressed, it will never be resolved, especially if the source is misinformation.

I will admit that it doesn't always work out positively. An Iranian patient once visited my office, and, upon learning that I was Israeli, never came back. Yet another Iranian family has returned frequently and brought in their children. I am also friendly with a deeply religious Pakistani family. One of the sons has even taken flying lessons! My family ate at their house. The men and women gathered in separate parts of the house. We watched them pray after the meal, and we even engaged in a lively discussion about Israel. I am certain that I am the only Israeli they have ever met in their lives. Our families still join for social gatherings, and I feel perfectly comfortable in their home. While I would not feel safe visiting Pakistan, here in the United States I feel secure in engaging my would-be enemies in friendly political discussions.

Frank discussions are the most productive. During all my conversations, I never engage in personal attacks, and I never raise my voice. I also never back away from the facts, no matter how inconvenient they may be. By standing my ground, metaphorically speaking, I establish my self dignity. Only then could I confidently extend my hand and affirm my Arab friend's dignity. Middle East debates have the potential of becoming highly emotionally charged. I am cautious in avoiding emotionally labile personalities, in choosing the topic of discussion, and in deciding when to start and stop a discussion. My discussions have also been restricted to individuals with stable careers and at least some Western education.

One consistent observation I made from all of these encounters is that, by gaining the respect of my potential enemies, I could create lasting friendships. I learned that religious Muslims respect Jews who are knowledgeable about Judaism; secular Arabs respect Jews who are knowledgeable about history. Everyone respects a Jew who has a strong sense of his/her own identity, and who doesn't apologize for it. I learned that in Arab culture, rhetoric is a well developed art form. Everything and anything can be used in the service of persuasion, including a combination of facts, fiction, poetry, hyperbole, sweetness, and graphic violence. One moment I may hear a sincere, impassioned plea for Israel to "just give Palestinians a chance to show the goodness in their hearts." Yet, when I point out the inconvenient fact that the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel, I am told not to pay any attention to that, "it is all just rhetoric." I am reminded of the haggling that goes on in the Arab markets, where the cost of a rug can start at $1000, and ends up at $20. But I am quick to point out that Hamas not only uses violent rhetoric, they act on it. Sometimes debates become contests of who can recite the most historical facts. If I get the upper hand, the debate will suddenly morph into recitations about international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. If I successfully rebut these arguments, the discussion swerves into poetic sentimentalism about human rights and dignity. If I counter with the need for Jewish rights and dignity, I may get hit with accusations of Jewish racism. If I counter with Arab racism and point out the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands, the conversation can take yet another turn. It can seem frustrating and futile. I often wonder if anything I am saying has any influence on them. If it is nothing more than a chess match, then all I can hope to accomplish is to gain their respect. It may seem like a lot of work for seemingly little effect, but I do believe it lays a foundation from which one can build. At the very least, I show that I am not afraid to talk face-to-face, and that I care enough to argue.

What have I learned from my Christian patients? Regardless of the denomination, the more devout they are in their faith, the friendlier they are toward me as a Jew, and the more sympathetic they are toward Israel. The most fervent Zionist I know is a Messianic Jew. We get along very well and share many of the same concerns about the world. Yes, he did invite me to worship at his church, but I didn't let that bother me. Instead, I suggested that I give his congregation a presentation about "Israel and the New Anti-Semitism." We're still working out the details. To all my Christian friends, I wish you a Very Merry Christmas! (editor's note: see this post- ) I am truly overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from all of you.
Finally, to my liberal, secular, self-effacing Jewish friends, I wish you luck. You may think you are building cross-cultural bridges. In reality, you are building a house of cards. While you may show deep and abiding respect to your Arab and Muslim friends, they do not respect you. They see you as traitors to your own people. They see you as weak, immoral and unprincipled. The more you give, in your attempt to buy their friendship, the more they will demand from you, and the less they will respect you.

In his accompanying email Irad added:
My feelings towards my Arab and Muslim friends are mixed. I am fully aware that
they can turn against me at any time. But I try to set aside my feelings while
pursuing a more important goal. The only way to learn about a rival is to stay
close to them. I certainly don't work for any government, but I understand how
Israel excels in human intelligence. I instinctively want to learn as much as I
can about them. I want to know what they think about me, and where they get
their information.
Perhaps I can convince them to seek different sources of
information. As far as changing Islam's attitudes toward dhimmi, that will
probably take a few more centuries, so I don't try to argue about such
fundamental problems in the religion. I am convinced that cautious political
engagement is important. My father told me that during all of Israel's wars, the
Israeli government was in constant contact with its enemies, using back
channels. I see the wisdom in that. Unfortunately, I don't see much wisdom in
the current Israeli government. But, in time, they too shall pass.

In typical Israeli fashion, Irad does not speak directly of his feelings but his story may have even more emotional impact because of this reticence. The doctor-patient relationship is an interesting twist on the Beast Encounter in three dimensions. First, because a physician may have a very personal power over his patients. He can tell them that they "must" eat, behave and even live differently; he evaluates and informs them of the state of their body. By the state of their bodies he knows things about them that they may not even admit to themselves. He sees them naked in body and soul. This power relationship is complicated by the Arab honor-shame culture in which it is considered to be acceptable to lie, dissemble and behave dishonorably unless other people know (and verbalize) that you are guilty of those things. The whole situation is redolent of the Court Jews who, down through the centuries, served Caliphs and Sheiks while being treated as dhimmis.

Irad is no dhimmi. He gives as good as he gets and I'll wager he has more of an effect on his Arab patients than he gives himself credit for. His description of the typical Arab debating sequence of wild accusation and mis-representation of historical fact, cynical argumentation of dubious legalisms, and pathetic appeal to shame and emotion, all with the express aim not of getting to a resolution of the problem but of exhausting the resources and resistance of the opposition rings absolutely true. It strips the cynical honor-shame (anyone interested in a very clear explanation of honor-shame should look here) tactics naked and exposes the hypocrisy of it. His goodwill and open-mindedness is combined with exactly the right amounts of knowledge, realism and self-preservation. If we only had more like him!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Political Correctness- The Fawlty Logic of the Left

This clip is an early instance of liberal political correctness in action. Many years ago, before my first encounter with the beast, I was involved with a very liberal young woman. This was at the time when the Public Television network was just introducing Fawlty Towers to the American audience for the first time. One evening I suggested that we watch it together and was shocked when she said that she hated Fawlty Towers.

In time I came to understand that it was not so much hatred but a powerful identification with Basil Fawlty’s personality that turned her off so violently. The episodes that affected her the most powerfully were the one’s in which Fawlty’s emotional lability, low self-esteem and priggish sense of propriety combined to drive him into outbursts of bizarre behavior.

Basil’s aversive paranoia about giving offense (“Don’t mention the war!”) comes into conflict with his actual feelings and opinions. He has suffered a concussion (note the bandage) earlier in the day which has presumably left him with a Tourette’s Syndrome-like low threshold for expressing his real thoughts. He treats the German tourists with exaggerated (loony) care and is furious when they “insult” him by thinking he is crazy and trying to reason with him.

It is hilarious and it is sad. It is so funny because we all recognize the the conflict. It is sad because it causes so much harm. The Basil Fawlty governments of the west who simply can't force themselves to bring up the subjects of Palestinian bad faith, mis-management and terror as thy keep pouring aid into Palestinian Authority in spite of the proven correlation between that aid and terrorism aimed at innocent Israelis is a perfect example.

Forbidden to talk or even think about "certain" words and ideas that exist nevertheless, one becomes consumed by them, and humiliated by the result. The dishonesty and hypocrisy and unavoidable disasters caused by Political Correctness are most powerful in those whose character is weakest, emotions least stable and spiritual center is most jaded and hollow. It might well be called the Basil Fawlty Complex.

Here is the most interesting aspect of this clip: Basil Fawlty is clearly the loser (or, in the common phrase, “a loser”) in this scene. If the protagonist were a Palestinian, complaining about “the occupation” he would be viewed by most liberal westerners as either noble or, at the very least, understandable. Far more egregious behavior (murder of innocent civilians, warping of an entire generation of Arab children, random rocket attacks, and on and on) has been defined by the Fawlty Left as “resistance”, “understandable” and even “freedom fighting”.

It should come as no surprise that members of the honor-shame culture of Caliphate Islam are subject to this kind of tantrum. This is what honor-shame is all about. They will win the upper hand by any means that they think will work. They are, emotionally labile and see honor as a mere matter of having the upper hand. They are, by definition, The People of the Tantrum.

It is a tragedy, on the other hand, and a loss of civilization that so many westerners have today allowed this kind of honor-shame thinking to supplant rationality, freedom of thought and freedom of speech. We westerners who should have, in our schools and homes, absorbed the great traditions of western enlightenment, and come to value truth, ethics, rationality and morality over personal honor and shame should be able to transcend the tantrum.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Plea for "Merry Christmas"

I am a Jew. I grew up in an observant Jewish home in which we greeted Christmas with a mixture of fascination, respect and irritation. Jackie Mason once said, “I don’t understand something about Christmas; maybe you can explain this to me? Why is it that this time of year you Christian people bring all of the trees inside the house and take all the lights and put then outside”. I have always loved that line. It captured my general feeling of bemusement about the whole Christmas celebration. I didn’t get it.

My feelings were mixed for a variety of reasons. My Dad had a retail store so the weeks leading up to Christmas were always a time of tension and brutally long hours of work. The traffic on the roads, crowds in the stores, and the saturation of television (especially in those pre- cable times) and radio airwaves with programs and music left me very glad to have it over on December 26th.

As a kid, I felt excluded by the whole Christian celebration. I didn’t get it. I found the incessant Christmas music on the radio punishing, the goodwill frenzy unsettling and the talk about Jesus (in whose divinity I was not supposed to believe) uncomfortable.

As a result, I was always just a little unsure of how to respond when some well meaning person would wish me a Merry Christmas. I would feel simultaneous but diametrically opposed urges to
Thank the person and try to summon a convincing Merry Christmas in return
Say,” Thanks Very much but I don’t celebrate Christmas and then deal with the uncomfortable explanations and apologies.
Pretend I did not hear.

I am ashamed to admit it today but I was, at first, pleased when I saw, over the years, the ACLU types began pushing “Merry Christmas” out of the vocabulary of cultural discourse in favor of the more generic “Happy Holidays”.

I’ve grownup, though, and I’ve grown into a new perspective on this whole matter question and, today, when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I have a new response. It’s really simple-

I stop what I am doing
I thank them very sincerely
I wish them a Merry Christmas in return.

Here’s why:

I have come to see quite clearly that even if there are politically correct, multi-cultural, morally relativistic, post modern progressive busybodies who would like us to believe that our Christian friends’ and Neighbors’ spontaneous Christmas wishes are somehow injurious to us and our culture, they are nothing of the kind. A sincere “Merry Christmas is better for you than the blandest, most guarded “Happy Holidays”

You see, the U.S. was founded by Christians. Not just any Christians. The early colonists were both devout and independent. They were fervent Protestants whose purpose in coming here was to leave the Kings, Priests, state religions and archaic laws of the old world behind. They came here to build a country where every man could read scripture for himself and be his own priest, where he could be free to elect political leadership that he could follow gladly. Ultimately, that enterprise gave rise to the constitution and form of government we have today. At two hundred years old it is still the one in the entire world that best honors the individual and guarantees his rights.

It was these fiercely independent Protestants who set the tone for the nation in which we now live. It is important to remember that they were deeply religious people. When Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and the rest decided that there would be no Official Religion in this country they were aiming for Freedom of Religion not Freedom from Religion. They meant the freedom to practice your religion after the dictates of your conscience .

This is why America has become the destination of choice for any one wishing to escape repression or lack of opportunity elsewhere in the world. That's why Jews have gravitated here for two hundred years. But we are in danger of forgetting how this all works and I think this whole Merry Christmas thing is a symptom of that amnesia.

Fortunately, though, Jews do have a collective memory of stories if we just listen to them. My grand father told me stories about life in turn-of-the(last)–century Eastern Europe so I know what he escaped by coming here (not to mention that he was not in Zhitomir, his home town, thirty years later when the Waffen SS slaughtered thirty six thousand Jews there in one day!). I also have a friend who came here from Leningrad in the Seventies. He has told me many stories. Just few months ago, I worked with a client named Miriam who told me how she grew up in newly-born Israel after her family was expelled from Morocco in 1948. Each of these stories and so many others just like them have convinced me that The United States of America, as conceived by her Protestant founders, has been a miracle and a blessing to the entire human race. It has been especially important to the Jewish people.

We Jews are barely over one percent of the population here. We (a lot of us anyway) take pride in our contribution and participation to America’s dynamism. We point with satisfaction to the fact that the founding fathers of this country were inspired and informed by our holy book which they called The Old Testament. Many of them read it in the original Hebrew, something few of us modern Jews can do.

But why do I need to explain this? Why don’t we all understand the centrality of the Protestant ethic to the goodness of America? Partly, it’s because of a lack in the educational program. But it’s also because our media, whose responsibility it should be to make us aware of the important events and issues. But the media is often found to be doing just the opposite.

In the media, America is assailed daily for her imperfections; and if not assailed, then damned by the faintest of praise. The media’s emphasizes the imperfections instead of the achievements- the discords not the harmony. Hasn’t America (and her allies) banished the Taliban to isolated caves and mud huts in remotest Waziristan? Didn’t we free Afghan women to live more normal lives without the threat of torture, rape and summary execution for the crime of being female? Can’t, now, Afghans to grow beards to their own liking, listen to music, laugh in public send their daughters to school and have simple human dignity? Oh, well, yes, the press will whine, but there is still poverty, the occasional bombing and we never caught Osama bin Laden. Well then, have we also not saved thousands of Kurds, and non Baathist Muslims in Iraq from the depredations of Saddam and his two evil sons- people who raped and murdered fifteen year-old girls and put their political enemies (alive and feet-first) into industrial shredding machines just to hear them scream? Perhaps, but our press prefers to talk about a few incompetent American soldiers (who were punished for their stupidity) deriding and humiliating their Iraqi captives at Abu Ghraib and equating that with the horrors of Saddam.

I am one Jew who is all for the kind of spirit and strength of character that gets expressed at this time of year by wishing each other “Merry Christmas”. I’ll certainly take it over Allah HuAkbar. Give me Peace on Earth” and “Good Will Toward Men” over “Eternal Jihad” and “Dhimmi Status for Infidels” anytime.

If we do anything this holiday season, we need to loosen up and get a perspective on this “Merry Christmas” thing. It is not the people who say “Merry Christmas” and mean it that we need to be discouraging in America at this time. It is the people who find something wrong and suspect in the energy, enthusiasm and good-will that animates that “Merry Christmas” that we need to discourage.

The secular, morally blind, multi-cultural, Progressive ignoramuses who dare to equate the fully investigated, litigated, redressed and punished mistakes of a few misguided soldiers Abu Grhaib and Haditha with the bloody reign of terror under Saddam Hussein display their ignorance twice- First, because and find no moral difference are the same moral idiots who make excuses for the thousands of rockets a day that are being intentionally fired at the civilian population of Israel, rockets loaded with explosives, ball bearings and nails so as to injure and maim indiscriminately but still insist that any attempt to hunt down and stop the terrorists responsible for these rockets is equivalent or even worse.

The choice is between warm hearted friends with morals and ethics and heartless enemies with no moral compass who think they can rationalize almost anything with reasonable sounding, non-judgmental sophistry. Do you need a moment to think about that?

By saying “Merry Christmas” in public we are not agreeing that Jesus was the son of God, we are just acknowledging that some very good people believe it. When we say it, that does not constitute accepting Jesus as our personal savior; it does show his followers that we see them as fellow countrymen, friends and brothers-in-arms in the defense of the highest ideals of our civil society. What is the problem with that?

The first four words of this essay “I am a Jew”, are exactly the words that Daniel Pearl was forced to say on camera just before he was pinned down and his head was sawn off. I'd like you to try a little thought experiment simulating a better world here- Pretend that the next sentence that I write followed that first one and I had no need for the rest of the explanation in between...
"Have a Merry Christmas"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Are Liberals Less Liberal As Media Consumers?

Here’s something we need to investigate further. While researching a major post on Political Correctness, I have run across a study on the web site of the Pew Research for the People and the Press. This study, “sorts voters into homogeneous groups based on values, political beliefs, and party affiliation.” It then looks at various aspects of their behavior and, using survey results. presents statistical evidence and analysis. It’s a big study with a lot of interesting ideas threaded through it. I was enjoying reading through it and was thoroughly sidetracked for a day or so as I read it. One thing jumped out at me and I wanted to pass it on. Second Draft needs to take a hard look at this.

It is not specifically referred to in the written analysis of the article but there is a glaring (and I do mean red, purple and throbbing) anomaly in the data presented. On page 73 of the report, there is a table entitled “Typology Groups and Media Use”. This chart looks at the kinds of media that each political type relies on for their information. It immediately jumped out at me that the largest single political type had the smallest average use of television as an information source. This was no small artifact. The Liberal typology was almost 40% (37.54, to be exact) larger than the next largest group (Conservative Democrats) and their television usage was nearly 20 % (17.55%) lower than the next lowest group (Upbeats).

I decided to drill down into the numbers. Now, this is a little suspect because the numbers are already averaged out and it is not clear how some of them were derived from the research (for example it is not clear whether the break down of the television numbers into categories like network, local, CNN, etc…, reflect some sort of break down of anwers that were asked independently or is the television average was derived from aggregated usage numbers for all categories). But if the numbers are good to begin with, then my manipulations should not be too far out on a statistical limb.

I totaled up the percentages for each of the media cited as main sources of information by each political type. This should give a rough measure of how broad a range of information sources the average subject in each group is accustomed to using.

Here are the numbers I came up with:

Social Conservatives 269
Pro-Government Conservatives 264
Conservative Democrats 262
Upbeats 256
Disadvantaged Democrats 256
Enterprisers 253
Bystanders 242
Disaffecteds 239
Liberals 230

It may have meaning or not (certainly there are methodological questions that would have to be addressed) but the numbers are tantalizing. According to these numbers, Liberals are at the very bottom of the scale for media variety. This implies that, as a group, they tend to draw on a thinner variety of information sources.

On the other hand, the largest conservative typology (Social Conservatives) has a media variety index that is almost 20% (16.955) higher than that of the liberals.

It is also interesting that Liberals rank highest for Internet usage. Anyone reading this post knows very well that, between search engines and link sharing with friends and colleagues, when you read and explore on the internet you are mainly pursuing sources that you agree with.

So, it makes me wonder if what many of us think might be provable; that conservatives tend to look at more possibilities before making up their minds and liberals tend to stick their index fingers into their ears and shout “La, La, La, La” when they come up against information that does not confirm their preconceived ideas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Enderlin's Ocean of Blood- Why the Second Draft is Important

Charles Enderlin is adrift in a rising ocean of blood. He is either so arrogant or so blinded by his fear that he is helpless to do what needs to be done to stem the tide. It is a tragedy of Biblical scale. When it all started, he was riding an exhilarating wave. (Backgound: here, here and here)

In October of 2000 he had what must have been a dream job. He was the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for France2. He got to live in one of the great, cosmopolitan, civilized cities of the world and report daily on a simmering, dangerous, richly symbolic conflict at the cutting edge between civilization and chaos. There was always a story. Because he lived and worked in Jerusalem there was never any censorship or physical threat or even any physical discomfort. He had Palestinian stringers who fed him footage and information from the unsafe and difficult areas so he could sit in Jerusalem, edit film in his fuzzy robe and slippers and be a war correspondent.

I am guessing that he just got too sloppy and arrogant to see how he was being used by his trusted Palestinian sidekick Talal Abu Rahma. Rahma knew the boss wasn’t disposed to check up on his work as long as he delivered serviceable goods and he gave him a juicy scoop once in a while. One day, Rahma overplayed the deal and Enderlin was setup for a fall. The rest of the story boils down to what Enderlin knew, when he knew it and whether or not he would take responsibility for it.

His now controversial report on the alleged shooting of a twelve year old boy named Muhammed al Durah at Netzarim Junction in Gaza vaulted him to the top of the jounalistic world. He had “scooped” everyone and had presented a perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict that had been hinted at by the media and longed for by the liberal and leftists in the dank guilt-ridden recesses of the west- especially Europe. It quickly became apparent that although it had never actually been seen or proven, there was a large and willing potion of the audience that readily took to the image of the Israelis as oppressors and thugs. The film and Enderlin’s presentation of it would, if true, have been proof of murderous brutality by the Israeli army. Enderlin reported that they killed the boy in cold blood. Looking at the report footage now, with the knowledge and background that has come to light it is hard to believe that such ambiguous and poorly staged stuff could have caught the imagination of the world the way it did. But, then, you had the voice of Charles Enderlin telling you what to believe about it in your ear and it is always dangerous to underestimate the size and explosivity of the subterranean lake of anti-Semitic blood-libel that seems to bubble and churn beneath the entire world’s population.

Enderlin’s report and the image it presented roiled that stygian lake from its dormancy. The news media picked it up and propagated it. He suddenly found himself riding a tidal wave of notoriety and recognition. Behaving more like a propagandist than a journalist, he arraigned for his scoop footage to be distributed to any other media outlet that would carry it- free of charge. Usually other media are made to pay dearly for hot items like this, but Charles “Scoopy” Enderlin was in full self-promotion mode.

Still, when questions came up about the sad but oddly bloodless video footage Charles the Delicate, demurred. he refused to back up his report with more proof. Oh, he had more proof, he said, he just didn’t want to bruise our sensitivities. He did it for our own good.

A little more than three weeks after the incident, when some ungrateful defenders of Israel began asking questions and casting doubt on your story and you let it out- (not the actual proof mind you, that might have been too much for us) you told Telerama magazine:

“I cut the images of the child's agony (death throes), they were unbearable. The story was told, the news delivered. It would not have added anything more...”

What a hero he wanted to seem. Not only did he have the goods on the Israelis, he was so very cultivated and civilized about it. Even the Israelis were afraid to call his bluff. What if he did have heart-rending footage of the child’s death throes? They recoiled in horror. Rather than risk even more heart breaking images coming to light, the Israelis pulled back and left it alone.

But a nagging doubt still tormented some of us. Landes, Karsenty, Poller, Gross and others- those with enough faith in what their eyes could see, and enough experience with the Leftist media and its toadying up to the Palestinian propaganda machine to see that it was a bluff and, just as in a poker game, if a bluff is not called, the bluffer wins all.

From the isolation and security of his Jerusalem studio, which he never actually left to investigate this story himself, he had pronounced the boy dead, even as we can see him peeking out from under his arm looking for all the world like a kid who might just be tired of play-acting. It was as if he were saying, “Is it ok to get up? I’m tired of this. I’d like to go home now.”

Meanwhile, if Enderlin had looked down, he would have noticed that the wave he was riding was actually a tsunami of blood. It crashed over the Middle East, inundating it in rage and violence. It has continued to continuously circle the globe, splashing gore wherever it touches

The wave washed over those two off duty Israeli reservists who took a wrong turn, got lost in the west bank and were murdered in Ramallah two weeks after the initial broadcast report aired. More accurately, they were torn limb from bloody limb by an enraged crowd in Ramallah as they chanted the name al Durah over and over. Enderlin might might want us to believe that the savagery in Ramallah might have been worse that day had those “death throes” he used as emotional blackmail been shown. I don’t know how.

In an insensate, vengeful rage they stormed the police station (the police stood by and watched). They beat, stabbed and mutilated the men. They threw them out of a second story window. They pummeled them and mangled them. Finally, they took their internal organs out of their bodies, held them aloft and paraded around with them. I watched that video.

All the while, Monsieur Enderlin was posing as the moderate and even slightly charitable correspondent. He seemed to expect us to thank him for holding back the footage that he claimed to be “really” inflammatory. He had the advantage and no one was able to mount a formidable enough challenge to force his deception into the open. His bosses at France2 backed him completely. So he was able to masquerade as good man who was simply too honest to not tell his compelling story- even if it meant he “had to make the sacrifice” of becoming world renowned in the process. Poor Monsieur Enderlin, thank you for taking the trouble to spare a forlorn world the horror of the truth about Muhammad al Durah’s death- this was so much better.

The wave of blood made it to the US a year later. On September 11, 2001 we here in America watched thousands of our fellow citizens incinerated in airplanes, leaping to their deaths to escape flames in their offices and crushed to a fine powdery dust by collapsing concrete. Afterward we heard Osama bin Laden cite the name of al Durah in righteous indignation in his demonic screed of justification.

Two years later Daniel Pearl was lost under the wave when the name and image of al Durah was used (as incitement and justification) in the video that gruesomely depicted the death by beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter after he was forced to kneel and “confess” to being Jewish. Ask yourself why this blatantly anti-Semitic atrocity inspired some much less horror in the west than the faked death of Muhammad al Durah and you are forced to confront the fact that the people who were harmed the most by this whole sordid affair are the ones who see themselves as the victors of its aftermath.

The greatest harm caused by the wave was done where it first came ashore among the Palestinian people and the larger Islamic world beyond them. Now this one is overlooked very easily because, as he himself has implied, the Arabs and Islamists are held to a very low standard of behavior and comportment- especially by him and most of the rest of the mainstream media. In a stunning example of the pernicious effects of multiculturalism he and others in the employ of France2 have dismissed the staging and fraud exposed bye ven the most superficial analysis of the outtake footage that we have seen that day as just an aspect of “their (the Palestinian) culture”. The Arabs’ atrocious behavior has been excused as “cultural” and been consistently rewarded and reinforced by people like Enderlin that they have become “The People of the Tantrum”.

There was never any doubt that the story about al Durah served as an accelerant to the flames of Islamic inferiority and rage, Enderlin played a leading role in keeping them locked in the dungeon of resentment, intolerance and xenophobia. He gave them a tangible reason to stay enraged and aggressive and he allowed them to let their imaginations run riot on the idea that was even more distressing footage that they had not seen..

From Enderlin’s point of view, what was the downside, really? Even if his report had been truthful, even if he were dealing with us honestly about his reasons for hiding the footage, even if he had fully come forward with all of the rushes, it could hardly have made things worse than they have turned out. It made for a nice steady news cycle; the rage and violence produced as many incidents as he cared to cover, and his part in the fraud (whether as a willing tool or an unwitting useful idiot) gave him a nice cozy access relationship to the newsmakers.

But Last week, when Charles Enderlin showed up in court with nine minutes less video than he had been ordered to appear with, it was clear that he now had dropped the pretense that he had additional and more damning footage. He is now officially not riding the wave any longer; he is in danger of being pulled under by it. His arrogance when he informed the court that the footage that he did not bring either “didn’t concern that day” or “were irrelevant” actually drew laughs from the courtroom. His equally laughable narrations that went along with the actual screening were just as ridiculous.

Perhaps it is just “his culture” (as he would say of the Arabs) as a high priest of media that makes him believe that he can tell the rest of the world what is of concern and what is not relevant but I suspect (and hope) that the judge will want to be the one making that call in her courtroom.

But that is a legal question and subject to the arcane French laws that allowed Enderlin to win the first case against Karsenty without proving that he (Enderlin) had not known that the report he aired on the incident at Netzarim was based on inaccurate information. The way the law is written made it possible for Enderlin to take Karsenty to court and accuse him of libel without having to prove that Karsenty was wrong in what he had said. Thus the French court was at its own discretion on how hard to look at Enderlin. In this second trial, the court has decided that the plausibility of Karsenty’s original assessment of Enderlin’s work should be considered and that is why Enderlin was finally ordered to produce the video.

As of this past Wednesday, the question is now no longer whether Charles Enderlin is a liar or not, the question is only when, if ever, does he tell the truth and how much of the truth does he tell? Was he lying before he was forced to the courtroom or is he lying now? Really, it makes little difference. What matters is that he must lose his license to misinform the public and he must lose it now!

The management at France2 that gave him a platform to misrepresent and then helped him lie and cover-up should be sacked also. Given that France2 is a government agency, the involvement and motives of the French government (at least pre-Sarkosy) must be questioned.

Beyond the tragedy and the necessary punishment of Enderlin and France2 there are still greater and more perplexing unanswered questions. Why did the world so eagerly embrace the al Durah affair as a new reason to fear and hate “The Jews” (as embodied by Israel). Why were so many people and governments so easily sucked in by this transparent jape of a “news” story while the great and stinking atrocities of our times, the slaughter of innocents in suicide attacks, are shrugged and clucked at? Why, even now, though it is has been on shaky ground since 2004 when Enderlin publicly retrenched to the position that the boy was “killed in a crossfire” instead of intentionally by Israelis will the stain not go away? Why has none of the courtroom drama of last week gained any attention from the Western media? Here is a now proven lie, told in arrogance and perpetuated without conscience that has cause a tidal wave of blood. Who will answer for it?

The sad truth is that no one can stop a Tsunami. Once the propagation of the Icon began, there was no holding it back. Only honesty, fact checking and, most important, safeguards against allowing the power of the media to be manipulated by the likes of Talal Abu Rahma who has publicly stated that his professional mission has more to do with his tribal loyalties than with ethical journalism. Accepting an award in Morocco in 2001 for his work, he told a reporter: "I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people." In other words, Enderlin made himself a dupe to a propagandist from a culture that views journalism as an extension of war- by other means.

It is not enough for us to respond to these media induced tragedies. Once they have the force of a tidal wave, terrible harm is done before we can even open our mouths to speak. We have to identify and contain the irresponsible, undisciplined and dishonest practices (e.g. unholy alliances between hostile government propaganda agents and our all-too-willing media) before they can create devastating images that get a life of their own. That is why Second Draft is important. We are dedicated to identifying and documenting past cases, and speeding up the process whereby we identify and challenge new cases.

Richard Landes is on his way home from Paris as I post this. Landes has played a key role in the unraveling of Enderlin’s defenses and now that Chirac is not in power to give him the influential testimony of a serving president and if Judge Trébucq believes her eyes instead of Enderlin’s narration, the case should be decided against him. Richard’s dedication to not just correct the lie of al Durah but to learn from it and plan for the prevention of the next variation that may arise is a critical development in the battle for truly free, honest and responsible media.

In the coming months we at Second Draft will be announcing a number of key initiatives to further Richard’s work but for now I’d like to congratulate my friend and to express the hope that all of the hard work that has brought us to the point of at least a symbolic victory on al Durah, and all of the blood spilled in the name of the phony martyr might never have to happen again (or, at least be decreased) if we do our job well.

Welcome to our new visitors! Thanks to all our referrers! Here is a friendly reminder frome the Friendly Reminder Department (sub-division of the Department of Redundancy Department):
Feel free to support our work with a click on the Donation Button over there on the left hand side of the screen or with a check to:
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Outrage in Paris! The Ghost of Rose Mary Woods Stalks the Court Room

Important news just in from the courtroom in Paris- Enderlin and France2 showed up in court with a “Rose Mary Woods” version of the Rushes today. For those of you who are too young to remember, Rose Mary was Richard Nixon’s private secretary who, as a last ditch effort to postpone the sinking of the Nixon presidency, allowed her name to become synonymous with pathetic fakery and obvious deceit. Where Ms Woods was a loyal pawn, however, Enderlin has proven himself to be something much, much worse. This deletion must be construed as an explicit admission of guilt, as well as commission of (what in American courts would be) fraud, perjury and evidence tampering. Richard will have more on Augean Stables and I will have more tonight.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Debunking the Priesthood of Journalism

I often email my posts to a list of fellow bloggers and assorted friends of Breath of the Beast (If you want to be included let me know). Although the number of comments that my latest post has received was pretty average, the message that I sent out about it stirred up more return traffic than any other email I have ever sent out. The debate has been lively and stimulating. It has prompted me to define the scope of the awards more tightly and to rename them.

I had already had second thoughts about the original name but then I got messages from Pamela at Atlas Shrugged, (Voice of) Jackalope, Jewish Odysseus and Jeremayakovka all of whom I admire. The give and take over dozens of emails that flew back and forth forced me to the conclusion that, as satisfying as it is to call these idiots idiots, many of the people whose attention we most want to attract are repelled by that kind of harsh language. It would be much more productive to use language (especially in our headlines) that will help us to sell our position to the unconvinced folks who might be listening to the pernicious high priests of journalism only because they are the only source of information they trust. Trust is really the issue.

A friend of mine had recently recommended to me. He told me to be sure and see the text of the speech that Tony Snow, the former White House Press Secretary delivered as he accepted the Freedom of Speech Award from The Media Institute at their Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 2007. The speech is long but nearly revolutionary in its impact. Its well worth reading in its entirety (Find it here.) and it deserves a much wider distribution than it has had to this point. I’d like to take some choice bits of it out here because they highlight the importance of having the right name and focus for this award.

Snow began his speech with a startling premise.

“We also hear that the First Amendment is under siege. I think that’s true. I don’t believe anyone here would disagree with the proposition that the quality of public discourse isn’t what it once was or that it presently achieves levels of excellence and depth that it desperately needs to reach.
Yet, while it may be tempting to blame the usual suspects — the government, interest groups, angry factionalists — those forces frequently have always tried to restrict the free flow of ideas, and they always have failed.
They’re not the culprits here. Instead, there’s a new and unexpected menace on the block:
The media.”

Those are fighting words for certain. But this guy is no pugnacious ideologue, he is not a professioal media critic nor does he show any signs of having been embittered by his year and a half long skirmish with the press as White house Press Secretary. In fact, he makes a convincing and passionate case that he loves and respects the press. Snow, in a good natured, understated and understanding way, goes out of his way to explain that the Mainstream Media have already painted themselves into a very tight corner.

“… members of the mainstream press are scratching their heads and asking, “What’s going on here?” Why are the nation’s newspapers hemorrhaging readers? Why are the television networks losing viewers? Why has cable news suddenly hit still water? What is going on? Don’t Americans care about the news?

Well, of course they do: The problem is, they don’t think they’re getting news — and they’re right. Three factors explain the sudden crisis facing once-mighty keepers of the First Amendment flame.”

It is interesting that Snow uses the image of keepers of the flame”. This concept of a priestly trust goes back beyond the beginning of recorded history. I am going to return to priesthood soon so remember it.

“The Roper Organization conducted a poll after the 1992 election and discovered that 93 percent of Washington political reporters voted for Bill Clinton. Only 2 percent identified themselves as “conservative.

Subsequent surveys have indicated a similar spread in party affiliation, which makes the Washington Press Corps the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the nation.”

It’s no wonder that the media do not express the views and represent the aspirations of the rest of the country. They only talk with each other and there is no one there to tell them they might be missing something. Snow characterizes the resulting spiral of self-sustaining insularity as:
“… sheer smugness. Reporters and editors for three decades have sneered at accusations of bias, as if the claim were novel — it is not — unthinkable — it is not — or false — which it also is not.
The major media organs in this country have become purveyors of conventional wisdom
— generally, conventional liberal wisdom.”

The unreality of this lopsided distribution of political belief is striking. After all, President Bush has prevailed ( if only narrowly) in two hotly contested presidential races and the Senate and Congress are almost evenly split between Republican and Democrat. Even so, the left (only because they have such a dominant representation in the media) enjoys the pleasure of striking a condescending attitude toward those whose ideas and beliefs do not have the constant reinforcement and validation of a media that is constitutionally unable to provide fair reporting of the ideas and aspirations of half of the nation. It is even fair to ask, “How do the conservatives and centrists maintain the level of popular support, the integrity of ideology and the morale to win elections in the face of such a disadvantage in the Public Relations Wars?” If the media were not so skewed, so sure that they are right, if they treated conservative ideas with a modicum of respect how would that affect the political balance of the nation?

Because the only voice heard in the mainstream media is a left-leaning one, it has become acceptable for otherwise intelligent people to speculate on whether the last two elections were stolen. I have heard ostensibly reasonable people discuss the idea that there is a real possibility that the Bush administration is trying to, in some unspecified way, silence anyone who opposes him, render the democratic process inoperative, throttle the press and metamorphose into the far left fantasy of him as BusHitler. Snow continues: point out that the only thing resembling a group with a monolithic ideological and unity or purpose that even remotely resembles a fascist system is the media itself.

I agree with Tony Snow that the Mainstream Media is a sort of priesthood. But where they once held the bright virile flame of freedom of speech as their sacred trust, most of them are far more interested in keeping and nurturing the sickly shimmer of “progressive leftist ideology.

Every priesthood has some “barrier” or qualification by which it attempts to set itself above “ordinary people”. Some are more justifiable than others. Lawyers, Psychologists and Physicians, for example, have their ordeal by education and their professional oaths that make them priests of their professions. The Catholic priesthood, of course have the direction of the infallible Pope and the (for most people) inconceivable sacrifice of celibacy.

The journalistic priesthood’s qualifying barrier has less to do with education or behavior. It is a modern mythology that was created on the bones of a few true heroes, people like (e.g. Ernie Pyle, Robert Capa, Stephen Crane and Dickie Chapelle) who risked everything to bring back real stories from dangerous places and cataclysmic events. In recent times that mantle has been expropriated by undeserving media whores (e.g. Charles Enderlin, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Christiane Amanpour) who stay in safe compounds and toady up to the terror factions to by their own security and to secure access to tainted information.

Films like The Killing Fields, All the Presidents Men and The Year of Living Dangerously pandered to this myth and have helped turn it into the basis of a false priesthood. Most people today will not question the priestly dedication of truth and fairness to which most journalists pretend. They may, as old-time Catholics did, know in their hearts that the priest is just a human being like them, but the mythos of the priesthood keeps them from questioning them.

The primary control on questioning the media is their use of political correctness. Snow describes it this way:

“But smugness isn’t the only threat to the First Amendment. Political correctness also stands in the way. It routinely imposes the kind of censorship journalists ought to hate most — prior restraint. It forbids the mere contemplation or acknowledgment of views that ruffle the feathers of self-appointed arbiters of the acceptable. These grandees usually find some kindly explanation for their banning of forbidden topics and thoughts — the communications in question hurt people’s feelings, invoke stereotypes, that sort of thing. But let’s be clear: the First Amendment didn’t create allowances for censors.

The Constitution’s authors would have grasped the utter frivolity of political correctness. It isn’t necessary. American society has a wonderful record of rejecting demagogues and verbal exhibitionists, without prodding or intervention from self-appointed scolds. The votaries of hatred and division occasionally have their day, but never for long. Americans have little patience for tub-thumping maniacs, and they reject demagogues with regular and ruthless efficiency.”

The more difficult the barrier, the more unassailable the status of the priesthood but the greater the loss of trust will be if the public perceives a betrayal; this is why, in the case of the Catholic priesthood, it was not so much the sexual abuse and the callous and unsympathetic treatment of the victims by the church hierarchy to damage the Catholic priesthood. It was the transgression (by a relatively few priests) of their most forbidding priestly qualification- and then they did not police themselves convincingly.

Although I am Jewish, I share family ties with many Catholics and I have seen, through the eyes of people I love, how the greatest, most benevolent and most unassailable priesthood in the history of mankind, a priesthood that was once beyond any kind of questioning used that position of power to protect members of their own caste who hurt ordinary people. The Catholic priesthood is now all but totally discredited by its own arrogance of power.

This is exactly why the al Durah affair is so important. My friend and mentor Richard Landes flew to Paris yesterday to confront the egregious journalist Charles Enderlin and his Employer France2. Richard has pursued Enderlin and France2 for seven years because they are guilty of the very same kind of transgression of “priestly vows and responsibility” that brought the Catholic hierarchy so low. The al Durah affair and Enderlin exposes the way in which the mainstream media has betrayed our trust and the sacred flame the are supposed to keep for us. They reported an event that they did not substantiate. When doubts were raised about it they prevaricated and concealed evidence. Even when they saw the terrible damage (the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Ramallah lynchings, Osama bin Laden’s use of it to rationalize 9/11 and a million other acts of riotous violence, retribution and hatred) that their blood libel had caused, they have refused to cooperate in helping to repair that damage.

The suffering of the sexual abuse victims against the background of the uncaring, self-protection of The Church Hierarchy ultimately turned the tide against The Piesthood in the sex abuse cases and is that same asymmetry that will have to carry the day in our fight for an honest media.

Tony Snow ended his speech with this:

“There’s an old boast in the business — that the job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable — with good pay, job security, and access to movers and shakers all around the world.”

Not only are the mainstream media “the comfortable” they are increasingly afflicting the afflicted as they use their priestly power to:

1. Blacken the reputation of Israel and weaken her position against those who will not be satisfied until she is destroyed.

2. Increase the suffering of all Muslim people by pimping out the news for the professional terrorist groups that have gained ascendancy in the world of Islamic politics since the 1960’s when the Western mainstream media proclaimed and supported Arafat as the Palestinian national leader

3. Continue to deny any distinction (or even difference in value) between the Caliphate fascist death cult of Islamism and Western Civilization.

For that reason, I am going to rename these awards the Charles Enderlin Prize for Pernicious Journalism - “The Chuckies” for short!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Useful Media Idiot of the Week Award

If I didn’t believe that I was doing something important, you could not pay me enough to read and think about treacle like this. No wonder papers like The Globe and The Times are shedding readers faster than Jake, my Labrador, is shedding fur.

The Boston Globe web site has a Reuters article that appeared in the Boston Globe newspaper a few days ago entitled Rice seeks Mideast peace deal while Bush in Office under the byline of one Sue Pleming.

In many ways the article is standard Reuters fare which is to say that Ms Pleming seems to go to great lengths to give the appearance that she is providing real information while she is actually carefully observing the Political Correctness Protocol by not saying anything about one side of the conflict that she would not say against the other. Since the Palestinian side wants to destroy Israel and is in the throes of a violent civil war and the Israelis only want to be allowed to live in peace, it makes for some foggy prose and some even more opaque logic. Just look at this couplet of sentence/paragraphs in which the concerns and positions of the Israelis are compared and presented as equivalent to those of the Palestinians. This is a gem of moral relativity.

“In an indication of difficulties ahead, Israel has also put the Palestinians on notice it would not implement an agreement until its security concerns, spelled out in a U.S.-backed peace "road map" formulated in 2003, were met.

The Palestinians have called on Israel to meet its commitments under that blueprint and halt settlement expansion and uproot outposts established in the occupied West Bank without Israeli government permission.”

Of course, the resolute refusal to face up to the hardest truths in the situation only serves the purposes of the worst element. This comparison almost sounds even-handed unless you happen to recall that Israel had already either fulfilled or made a sincere commitment to a majority of the requirements of the “road map” including ceding military and civil control of large portions of what was to become the Palestinian State, before the Palestinians froze the process with the latest intifada. Israel recognized the PA government, endorsed the “two state” solution and pulled out of Gaza altogether. Israel has made a practice of exhibiting remarkable (some say irresponsible) restraint in the face of a steady toll of death, injury and terror as an unrelenting stream of rockets and suicide bombers continue to be launched on Israel, and Abbas still can’t seem to bring himself to recognize the reality of Israel. It is, after all, a Jewish state.

Then again, the politics of access journalism means that she has to avoid saying anything that might damage her ability to get information from the government controlled and censored Palestinian News service. While Israel maintains a free media and allows any news organization equal access in Israel, Pleming knows that she would not have access to information or photos like this one with the story (note the credits: …picture released by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO). …, (REUTERS/Omar Rashidi/PPO/Handout)) if she didn’t represent the Palestinian view they way they want it.

Condoleezza Rice and "The Palestinian Martin Luther King" Mahmoud Abbas

The Israelis, of course, will not punish her (or even make her or her employer the least bit uncomfortable) for her choice. She knows that and so does her boss at Reuters. It makes it easy to choose who to offend when the Palestinians even kidnap and kill reporters they consider their active supporters.

But let that go. That is Garden variety propaganda that can be seen for what it is and debated. It pales alongside this single sentence.

“Bush, who proposed the gathering, is searching for a better legacy than the invasion of Iraq and its chaotic aftermath.”

It may seem innocuous at first glance but this is important. This is press hubris and fictionalizing in its most naked form. It betrays the total lack of discipline that is endemic to a media that is so smug and self-important that it feels empowered to read thoughts into President Bush’s mind without even the pretense of attribution or qualification. Does the author say “some sources speculate…” or “It is thought…” or even “It is my theory that…”? No, She states this pure fabrication as if it were something that everyone knows and acknowledges.

The implication, of course is that President Bush thinks Iraq is a failure ad a lost cause and is trying to cover for “his mistake”. A fair presentation would at least acknowledge that President Bush has been able to point to remarkable progress in Iraq in the past few months and has never said that he feels his legacy to be sullied by Iraq. The implication is pure propaganda and has no place in an honest media.

Now set it alongside of the resolute refusal to see that the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state means that they do not accept its right to exist. How does Sue Pleming penetrate so cynically and deeply into the mind of President Bush while remaining so absolutely blind, so intentionally ignorant about what the Palestinians are happy to tell her right to her face?

Obviously the face is unwilling to hear and understand.

I am at pains to expose this little sentence from a relatively insignificant article not because it is in any way earthshaking but, precisely because is so insignificant as to be both barely noticeable and powerfully subliminal in its effect. The smugness it represents, the Politically Correct instinct to make information that does not conform to the model of reality that must be defended are the most insidious and deadly sins of the media. The bland and inert Trojan Horse of an article in which they are wrapped only make them a more deadly.

We are accepting your opinions and nominations for a Lifetime Acheivement Awards post - There will be catagories and commentary. Either add a comment below with your thoughts or email [yaacovbenmoshe(at)comcast(dot)net] me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Join the Fight for an Honest Media

Sorry I’ve been away.
It’s been nearly three weeks since my father’s passing and I am beginning to rub my eyes and take notice of the world again. Those of you have read my last post will have an idea of how profoundly I have felt this loss. The truth is that for the past three weeks I have been unable (with the exception of that obit/eulogy immediately below this) to write. This has not been so much a paralysis as a respite. There is certainly sadness and pain but there is no depression or despair- it’s just that a rather devastating hole has been torn in my life and I have had to retreat and reflect for a while.

That’s done.
My pause for reflection has renewed my energy, reinforced my courage to continue and confirmed my confidence in what I am doing.

I’m back.
Not only that, I have big news. I have alluded in past posts to an announcement that I would soon be making. Here it is:

The announcement.
I have, over the past four months or so, been talking about forming a new non-profit organization with a fellow blogger whom I admire immensely. Richard Landes of Augean Stables and Second Draft. Richard is not only a blogger, he is also an associate professor of history at Boston University. We began working together in earnest when I helped him pull together the petition initiative to support Philipe Karsenty. Karsenty was found guilty of libeling France2 and Charles Enderlin by pointing out that the televised report of what Enderlin claimed to be the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al Durah by Israeli gunfire really appeared to have been a staged scene in which nobody died.

Rather than admit that his report, which slandered the Jewish state and provoked a wave of violence, anti-Semitism and terror that is still propagating today, was either a grotesque mistake or an obvious fake, Enderlin and France2 sued Kasenty.

Landes, has, for the last four years, (Summary of activity is here) been a lone and courageous voice in exposing this blood libel and showing how destructive and pervasive the sort of manipulation of a compliant mass media by anti-western and anti-Semitic Islamists it represents is. Even more importantly, he has been able, in a scholarly and non-politicized way, to show that one of the best defenses for Israel, The United States of America and (by extension) Western Civilization lies in first isolating and inoculating against the pernicious auto-immune disease that the western media has come to be.

The outline of our partnership was already well defined before my father began his last steep decline five weeks ago. We will be combining our efforts under the banner of a new non-profit organization which is now filed for under the U.S. tax code. The name of our new organization, Second Draft (shared by one of Landes’ pre-established websites) plays upon the adage that “journalism is the first draft of history”. Second Draft will undertake to study the media, its behavior and its power. We take an entirely new approach to producing our second draft of history. We will go deeper than the usual correction of individual inaccuracies and sorting out the bias in various of stories. Our ultimate goal will be to use certain key dossiers (like the one already compiled on the al Durah affair) that at once illuminate a particular case, but at the same time permit an exploration of the key reasons for our media's vulnerability to manipulation and its reflexively anti-Western tenor. We aim to provide not just analysis but a new strategy for combating the ways in which the Western media gets exploited by the information warfare of the weaker side in the asymmetrical warfare between Western Civilization and its enemies: The global Jihad of Caliphate Islam, the infantile nihilism of the radical left, the ignorant neo-Nazi white supremacists and any other unsavory, regressive ideology that seems to need their sympathy and “tolerance”.

Permit me give you an analogy that comes out of my recent contemplations. As I mentioned below, my dad was a shipboard radio operator during WWII. His telegraph key was the conduit for the information that animated his whole ship and kept it safe within the convoy. He had to be careful that the information he decoded from his telegraph key was both accurate and complete and that the source of it was authentic and secure. If an enemy had been able to infiltrate bad information, or even to limit the use of some important information, it would have been very dangerous indeed.

Until very recently, our mass media have, like that old telegraph operator with his trusty key on the ship, been our only source of information about the world. If he were to decide not to decode and pass on warnings of a submarine wolf pack operating nearby because that would be bad for morale (as the msm did by not reporting on the the threat of Islamic extremists- until 09/11 ) or fail to inform the captain of a planned convoy maneuver because he didn’t think it was important (as the mainstream often does when they use euphemisms like “youth” or “structured groups” when they have to report about Muslim Violence); or if he decided to make up reports about things that never happened because he felt sure that such manipulations were so true to life that even if they are not true they are an accurate representation of things that happen “all the time” (which is exactly what Enderlin and his supporters have said about the al Durah affair. The internet (especially, the “blogosphere”) has begun to eat away at the hegemony of the main stream media. Through the blogosphere, many critical omissions and misrepresentations have been exposed.

Richard Landes recognized the power of the blogosphere to transform the scene when, after a year of fruitlessly knocking at the door of the MSM with material on Pallywood and the al Durah affair, he witnessed Rathergate, that "Gutenberg moment" when a new medium of communication crashed the party despite the efforts of the older media, gate keepers of the public sphere.

Landes’ work on the al Durah affair has exposed a critical flaw in the information pipeline. It has become obvious that much of the mainstream media is subject to either not reporting aspects of the world that they find politically incorrect or accepting bad information uncritically or passing it along to an unsuspecting public as “News”.

In a ground-breaking book on the media’s ignoble role in the tragedy of the Yugoslavia, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting, Peter Brock quoted a long section of an article from The New Republic in which Tom Rosenstiel pointed out that the major news outlets and agencies (with CNN leading the way) have reduced their correspondents and staffs to such a degree that in order to find enough content to fill the existing news paper, glossy magazine stock and broadcast time, they resort to buying prepackaged reports. This means that much of the information we wind up with is public relations materials and propaganda that have been supplied to our networks by national news agencies from around the world that are really nothing more than extensions of the foreign ministries of the governments many of which are often very hostile to U.S. and Western interests.

Central to our reasons for starting Second Draft is a belief that even if a totally objective media is impossible, an honest media that will:

1. report as accurately and relevantly as possible
2. reveal sources
3. check facts
4. be open about their biases and prejudices,
is the only acceptable source of information for a free society.

It is not enough to “keep the media honest” by reacting to abuses we also have to raise the awareness and sharpen the powers of discrimination in the public. We have great plans to do both of these things. We’ll be running conferences, making more films and creating some exciting web initiatives.

As soon as we are up and running I'll be leaving my "day job" and moving to Second Draft full time. Through it all I'll still be posting here on Breath of the Beast- we are commited to our "web roots".

The blogosphere is a new and valuable way to keep a running monitor on how well the media supports all of these requirements. It has awakened millions to the problem and the awakening is spreading.

The Awakening
This awakening reminds me of a dream I have had a couple of times in the past year.
In the dream I am walking alone, as night is beginning to fall, in a tropical forest. A feeling of disembodied dread fills me as I shoulder my way through a profusion of underbrush under a high canopy of palms. The sun is low in the sky still and the evening air is still bright- but just beginning to lose the daytime heat.. As I come to a break in a wall of vegetation, I see that I am on the edge of someone’s manicured backyard. There are two chaises lounge lawn chairs side by side with a man sleeping on one and a woman on the other. My feelings of foreboding continue to build.

As I watch, they begin to stir and rub their eyes. They look around with a vague air of alarm. Suddenly he points to the horizon. There is a great fire raging just over the horizon. It has made no noise and the heat from it was easy enough to ignore during the tropical day. You would never know it was there if you didn’t look right at it. Its glow suffuses that quarter of the sky with an angry red glow and a great plume of black smoke is rising above it.

The riots in the streets of Europe, the bloodthirsty beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Beslan massacre, the constant bombardment of Israel by Arab and Iranian client terror groups, the Iranian atomic threat, and, of course, 9/11 have merely been a silent fire just over the horizon for most of us, not because it is harmless but because the media has not been doing an honest job of informing us of the common aspects of those crimes. An honest media, one that may not be totally objective but will yet be honest enough to acknowledge that fact and apply and maintain a strict discipline over its own subjectivity.

Second Draft is in its infancy, we have secured a small start-up stake of funding but we need all the help you can spare for this crucial effort. If you would like to help us with your donation (we have filed for tax-free status!), you can click on the donation page here at Breath of the Beast or send a check to:
Second Draft
P.O. Box 590591
Newton Centre, MA 02459
All gifts will be gratefully acknowledged.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In Honor of a Great Dead White Man

I have been away from my regular blogging routine for a while. There have been a combination of extreme distractions that have contributed to my absence and I hope that my friends and readers will understand once I explain. The explanation will be in two parts. Next week I will be announcing a major new initiative that has been in the works since the beginning of the summer and has absorbed a great deal of my time and energy over the past two months but first I need to speak about a rather more personal event which has occupied me entirely for the past two weeks.

I have lost my first and greatest hero this past week. Moshe Mendel ben David, my father passed into eternal rest on Thursday October 11 after 91 years of life. His last six months were difficult and the last two weeks were a severe ordeal for him and for all of us who loved him.

He was the one who taught me by his example every thing I have been trying to express in this blog (and so much more). To me, he is the paragon of everything that we are in danger of losing if we let Western Civilization succumb to the forces of Multiculturalism and moral relativism.

As a boy, music and baseball competed for his attention. His excellence at both, along with the quick wit and loving nature that would be his hallmarks all his life, was an inspiration to many others. In fact, a group of friends, alumni of the summer camp they all attended together endowed an award for presentation to the “most improved baseball player” of each summer season. Throughout his life, one of his great pleasures was to return to that place in Maine at the end of a summer and meet the young men who won that summer’s award.

He was a graduate of a well known public high school where his love of music briefly made him a band-mate of the late Leonard Bernstein. He went on to study engineering and, with the outbreak of World War II, worked at the Quincy shipyard in a draft-deferred, war-essential job. It was not long, though, before he felt as though he was not doing enough for the war effort and felt compelled to leave the shelter of that job and put himself in harm’s way. He was never a violent or angry man and I suppose he could not picture himself intentionally killing other human beings. He solved the conundrum by enlisting in the branch of the armed services that, by virtue of being essentially “sitting ducks” for submarines, aircraft, battleships and shore batteries sustained the highest casualty toll of the war, the Merchant Marine Service. He served then as he lived his whole life- with unassuming courage, good humor and quiet loyalty. He spent the balance of the war as the chief radio operator on various liberty ships. He sailed to all three major theaters of the war. Among his ports of call were Casablanca, London, Antwerp and Manila.

After the war he ran the plumbing supply company that had been founded by his father. His father died in 1950 leaving Moshe Mendel with the responsibility of taking care of his mother. Unfortunately, malfeasance by other family members soon put him in the awkward position of having to choose between exposing them to legal prosecution or loosing the financial inheritance that would enable him to support his mother in her old age. After several years of struggling to force the others to act responsibly, he negotiated the sale of his interest in the company, taking a loss for his own share but preserving as much as his mother’s resources as possible. In 1958, he opened a small retail store.

The little store was no powerhouse at first. It evolved however as my dad listened to the changing needs of his customers. Under his innovative leadership, and the steady financial management of my mother it changed and grew. Business trends, home fashions, and the economy evolved over the next twenty years and thanks to his ability to hear what people were saying and to anticipate their needs he built a good solid business.

He survived lung cancer in 1980 with that same sweet, self-effacing sense of humor. His doctors pointed to his attitude, sense of humor and love of life as the reasons for his complete recovery.

In the late seventies his company was positioned as an industry leader when high-priced and suddenly scarce home heating oil during the oil embargos and rapid price increases that followed turned his business into a “hot” business. In the ensuing wood-burning boom, his company was known, not only as an industry leader, but as a dependable and honest company in a business that had attracted too many inexperienced entrepreneurs and unprincipled opportunists.

When our family sold the business at the end of the 1990’s my dad retired to Cape Cod where he was able to concentrate on the things he loves the most- his wife and family first of all, and the hundreds of friends they had accumulated and, of course, his music.

His was a good and honorable life. I was used to seeing the eyes of people light up when they realized I was his son. When I was younger, more self-centered and insecure than I am today I was even, at times, irritated at the number of people who would seek me out in social gatherings and business functions expressly to tell me what a great guy my dad was and how much they love him. At the funeral I was pleasantly surprised at how many people showed up for the funeral of a 91 year-old man. After all, most of his old friends have either predeceased him or are so frail they could not make the trip.

As I thought about his life, I tried to put my finger on what it was that made Moshe Mendel ben David such a special and beloved man. He was possessed of great physical and mental gifts. He had a strong and virile body- He often told us how he had unloaded whole railroad cars of cast iron pipe by hand and even up to the end he was still opening all of the mayonnaise jars and ketchup bottles with his bare hands. He had marvelous coordination and sense of rhythm that made him a fine athlete and a superlative musician. He was also a suavely handsome man. We’ve been looking at a lot of old pictures in the last few weeks; he had movie star looks when he was young.

In addition to the physical prowess and the mental acuity he also had a rare and beautiful sense of humor. Through all of the challenges of his long and eventful life, the great constants were his love of life, respect for other people and his razor-sharp wit. He was a comedian with a difference- he never had a laugh at anyone else’s expense. In a world where it is all too easy to find someone who will laugh at you, my dad would find a way to laugh with you- to make you laugh too.

He welcomed everything and everyone that came his way. It was a key to most of his successes. Uncle Heschel ben Yossel, who worked with dad for many years used to get frustrated with dad when he kept on taking on new lines of merchandise and new kinds of products. Harry would say to him (as only Harry could), “Manley you’re lucky you were born a man. If you were a woman you’d have wound up with twenty kids. You just can’t say no to a salesman”

But his was never a totally indiscriminate openness. He always seemed to have a knack of making the right choice for all the right reasons. No salesman ever left his presence feeling that he had not had a fair hearing gotten the best opportunity he could have had. My dad understood that they were trying to make a living and wanted to treat them fairly while making the best living he could for his own family. In the end he knew that by having good relations with the people who were the source of new ideas and improved products that he would make friends and always be ahead of the curve in his business.

It was through trying so many new things out that the business grew and changed with the times. It was also the way in which his mind stayed nimble and deepened in sight throughout his ninety-one years. His enthusiasm, his curiosity, his sense of humor and his openness were remarkable- and they were really just the gateway to understanding the greatness that was inside him.

I think his greatest gift was that even though he always knew that life can be hard and even cruel, he never lost sight of the fact that it is always wonderful and miraculous at the same time. He dwelt upon his joys- his loving marriage to the woman he once told me was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, the sons and daughters-in law who loved and honored him, the adoring grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends, the successful business he built from nothing. To him life- all of it- was always a miracle.

If the life of a man who was, all at the same time
1. mystically devoted to the beauty and grandeur of the universe around him
2. beloved by everyone (friends, competitors, associates- you name it)
3. and at the same time, able to discriminate and make the hard, realistic choices along the path to success and (if not vast wealth) a very comfortable living and retirement
seems an unattainable ideal then you never met my dad.

It is a comfort to me and a lesson I’ll try not to forget that even when I couldn’t see it, Moshe Mendel ben David could see the miracle in me. We are all miracles- it’s just that some of us that know it and show it more than others. My Dad was a quiet, wise, steady, sweet, funny, ninety-one year long miracle. None of us at that funeral wanted to say goodbye but everyone whose life he ever touched wanted to thank him for pointing out the miracles we might have missed otherwise.

I left his funeral rededicated to his memory and rejuvenated in my purpose.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bollinger, Corrigan and Peachfuzz: A Lesson in Navigation

Columbia University’s invitation, uninvitation, reinvitation absurd appearance of Ahmadinejad, and the show of refreshing but futile hostility toward him by Lee Bollinger the president of the university, has now passed into history. I've been trying to give my thoughts shape for a few days now. The whole thing was so ill considered from the beginning and has come to such a chaotic and inconclusive end that I was originally going to call this post The Ghost of “Wrong Way” Corrigan, as a reference to the epic reversals of direction and Lee Bollinger’s blind launch into a foggy night and his journey in a direction opposite to his intention. But then I read about the original “wrong way” guy, Douglas Corrigan, and I realized that the comparison was invalid.
Douglas Wrong Way Corrigan
Thanks to Wikipedia I learned that it was most likely that Mr. Corrigan had gone exactly where he had intended to go. Corrigan, it seems, had been an accomplished flyer, aviation mechanic and navigator on that foggy day that he took off from New York city headed for California and wound up a few dozen hours later in Ireland. Although he never admitted it publicly, the probable real story was that there was no chance that his diversion was an accident. In fact, he was one of the crew who had helped prepare Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis for the flight to Paris. It seems that Corrigan had applied for permission to make a trans-Atlantic flight and been denied. So, although to end of his life he never admitted it, most knowledgable observers are of the opinion that when he left New York with a flight plan for California and ended up in Ireland, he was just doing what he wanted to do and daring anyone to punish him.

Columbia University President, Lee Bollinger
I was pretty surprised that Lee Bollinger put on a good account of his promised “sharp remarks” when he addressed them to Ahmadinejad this past Monday afternoon. Having heard his address at this past spring’s graduation ceremonies, I was expecting something far more equivocal. It is not news to me that his guy can thread the ideological needle. He is smart and he is good at what he does. I just didn’t expect hat he would come out as strongly.

I have to confess that when he began his remarks to the Iranian President by saying, “Today, I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for,” I was initially impressed and relieved. As I listened, though, it dawned on me that, satisfying as it was to have the well, spoken and charismatic Bollinger give this tin-pot despot a tongue lashing was, as I had myself predicted, not a victory at all.

Much of our earliest and most basic childhood training as westerners teaches that when confronted with the facts and made to listen to them presented, appropriately, cogently and forcefully, it is not possible to deny them. The primacy of ideas, compassion, logic and fair play in our childhood indoctrination is so powerful and pervasive we cannot conceive of another way to experience the world. Thus we believe that all we have to do is find the right way of communicating and any human being is bound to see things the way we do.

I was twelve years old in October of 1960 when Nikita Khrushchev appeared at the UN and became so enraged in the debate that he took off one of his shoes and pounded it on the desk in front of him while he harangued that august assembly. This outburst was very disturbing to children in suburban American. It wasn’t so much the nuclear threat and the ominous cold war rhetoric, it was the spectacle of an adult behaving in ways that we were so thoroughly conditioned to think of as unthinkable for anyone over the age of three that disrupted our sense of what makes the world predictable and safe. I recall vividly, that one day while discussing the incident in class, one of my classmates (one of those pretty, well-dressed little girls with nice manners, I think her name was Deborah) raised her hand and said, “Well, I am going to write him (Khrushchev) a letter and tell him that he should be ashamed of himself”. The invincible confidence of a twelve-year-old girl in her ability to correct and persuade a frothing zealot is sweet and endearing; when you find the same self-absorbed, quixotic confidence in the president of one of the World’s great institutions of learning, it’s not so cute.

Bollinger, like most of the rest of the academic elite, reacts to the Islamist threat with much the same visceral sense of disorientation and threat that had my little classmate Deborah in 6th grade so worked up. In fact, the Caliphate fanaticism of people like Ahmadinejad is so disruptive to the western psyche and world view, that when we come up against a true fanatic like Ahmadinejad, those of us who do not understand that not all human beings have the same training, are unable to cope with the disorientation. This is why otherwise highly intelligent and accomplished people like Bollinger become such easily manipulated dupes; and he stepped right into full “dupe-hood” in the instant that he began addressing Ahmadinejad. Like much of the left, Bollinger is subject to extreme anxiety about the emotions and reasons of those who are self-proclaimed enemies of the west. He says to Ahmadinejad accusingly, “Do you plan on wiping us off the map, too?”

He asks a litany of plaintive “whys”-
Why have women, members of the Baha'i faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?

Why in a letter last week to the secretary general of the U.N. did Akbar Gangi, Iran's leading political dissident, and over 300 public intellectuals, writers and Nobel Laureates express such grave concern that your inflamed dispute with the West is distracting the world's attention from the intolerable conditions your regime has created within Iran? In particular, the use of the Press Law to ban writers for criticizing the ruling system.

Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?
Why do you support well-documented terrorist organizations that continue to strike at peace and democracy in the Middle East, destroying lives and civil society in the region?

Can you tell them and us why Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq by arming Shi'a militia targeting and killing U.S. troops?

Anyone who has followed Ahmadinejad’s career and speeches already knows the answers to those questions. He has told the world what he believes but very few have listened to him. He is a Caliphate Muslim who believes the advent of the Mahdi is imminent. His vision of the Mahdi is apocalyptical and involves the slaughter and subjugation of all non-believers. He sees himself as a catalyst, or even, an instigator of this process. Bollinger didn’t break any new ground. He didn’t challenge Ahmadinejad’s religious mania. He just indulged the perennial leftist preoccupation with “Why do they hate us?”

They (the left) find Islamist rage, lying, prevarication and violence so unsettling to their infantile sense of what makes the world safe that their first priority is to attempt to regain some feeling of safety and control. Under such stress, people are often reduced to infantile and irrational behavior (why do you hate us? , but why, why?).

Bollinger eventually even tempered his strongest words, as when he said “Let's, then, be clear at the beginning, Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” He's not calling him a petty and cruel dictator, he's just saying he resembles one. It is as if he is begging Ahmadinejad to explain the unexplainable or to recant his fanaticism on the spot and exchange ideas rationally. It was pathetic really, here is his closing line, “I am only a professor, who is also a university president, and today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better”. As I wrote before the event, it would have been better not to have put himself, Columbia and the rest of Western Civilization in that position.

He even alluded to the pernicious defense mechanism of “excessive self criticism” which many leftists indulge in when he said “We at this university have not been shy to protest and challenge the failures of our own government to live by these values; and we won't be shy in criticizing yours.” In order to feel safer in the face of the rage and hatred that they can’t explain, they make believe that it’s the “grown-ups who have to work for a living- President Bush (Bushitler), “The Multinational Corporations and Israel who are the sources of the world’s evil. It seems easier to blame them because, deep down, the lefist knows that they will not harm or scare them in any way. They are under control and subject to the same Western mores that make our society egalitarian and safe. No Columbia has never been “shy to protest and challenge the failures of our own government” why should they be? They are much safer to tweak than the murderous, hair-trigger fanatics and their beliefs which are actually the problem.

Here is a note to the rest of us: “Don’t ever look to a leftist for a positive and competent counter-attack on our enemies. Because even when they get a lot of the rhetoric right, their moral compass is so out of kilter that they fail to make the key connections. Bollinger, so far as I can tell, is as good as it gets as far as intellect and moral compass left of the center but he still strikes the primary chords of all leftist dealings with the Caliphate/Mahdi movement, “I don’t feel safe, you’re frightening me, please tell me (or at least let me believe) you are rational and have reasonable goals.” They never touch on the fact that it is a religious and a cultural hatred that is directed at us- simply because we are what we are and believe what we believe.

I'm with him on one thing, I too wish Bollinger could have done a better job. He went up against a guy who didn’t care about his ideas, his sincerity and the sharpness of his remarks. He was a great tidal wave of liberal Western Indignation but he broke on his guests fanatic, megalomaniacal will. Ahmadinejad absorbed Bollinger’s best shot and still took away exactly what he had wanted to gain from the occasion. He got to sneer in the hallowed halls of the Dhimmi, he gets to go home with the bragging rights of having counted coup on the sincere, deluded infidels of New York City.

No, President Bollinger Bollinger did not come off looking like the educator who will raise up the next generation of leaders for Democracy, he didn’t even come off as anything that might be compared to the iconoclastic, intrepid and capable Wrong Way Corrigan.

No, if anything he was more to be compared with Captain Peter "Wrong Way" Peachfuzz the world’s worst sailor from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show.

Captain Peter Peachfuzz

Bollinger, in this case, seems to have no idea which end is up. Because he will not ask the right questions, he is like a navigator who refuses to read his compass. He sets out in a direction with the best of intentions and ends up thwarting those very intentions. Like a haunting living version of Captain Peachfuzz, he is a man with a big beautiful ship who cannot bring himself to steer it properly. It brings to mind an eerie Nostradamus-like echo of Captain Peachfuzz’s last voyage. The redoubtable Peachfuzz ended his sailing career by smashing his ship head-on into Lower Manhattan, cleaving into the island, and lodging on Wall Street in the very shadow of what, forty years later would become Ground Zero.