Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Terrorization of the Defenseless

This post is going to be hard for all of us, but please stay with it for a little while. I know I am taking a chance at alienating some readers by writing about this but I don’t know of any other way of moving the unmoved to see the threat that we all face. The Beast we face trades on our inability to discuss taboo subjects. It has learned to thrive, to breed sedition and perversion in the shade created by the great living tree of respect we in the west have nurtured to shelter the opinions, private lives and religious feelings of individuals. I propose that we need to shine light into the dark recesses they inhabit. We need to expose their abuses no matter how dark. Indeed, the darker they are the more we need to expose them.

If this marks me as a Neo-Con, so be it. I was not always like that; I was once a liberal American Jew who was constitutionally opposed to applying my own beliefs and standards to other people, especially people from other cultures. I felt that my respect for and awe of the “differences” somehow would inoculate me and my people (maybe even all people) from becoming victims of intolerance ever again.

Then I had a brush with the evil that I call The Beast. I told that story in my first post on this blog. That encounter was the first time I felt The Beast’s hot breath on the back of my neck. On that day I began the process of awakening to the threat that is always there. The fright of seeing the threat rise up against my five-year-old daughter in the form of my friend’s little boy, shocked me out of my reverie. I had to face the fact that this threat was a direct result of how the Islamist movement seeks to deform and murder the future through child abuse. Far from having mercy on them for their innocence and helplessness, the Islamists show a kind of unholy opportunism in which they rush to twist and torture that innocence. I had to admit to myself that here is horror beyond my ability to understand, let alone control with my adamant tolerance and acceptance.

Of course, my encounter was only a searing but infinitesimal splatter of molten hate that happened to pop into my life. It was not until I looked back in the direction from which it had come that I caught sight of its source. When first I glimpsed that vast, white hot, creaking, lava flow of blind hatred and dogma that is bearing down on us all I could not take it all in at once. The feeling of dread that filled me was overwhelming. I have not had a single day in the nearly twenty years since then that I have not thought about it.

I know that the direction I am headed in at this point runs against the grain here in The Free World. I know that many of you, if you have gotten this far, are feeling very uncomfortable reading these kinds of things about other people. Most of us studied the classic case of “yellow press” and the Spanish American War in middle school. We all understand how prejudice poisons everything it touches. We have lived through the continuing transformation of the west into the most tolerant and open culture that has ever existed. We continue to face our history, treasure our present and strive to improve our future. We are all taught from the time we first watch Sesame Street that respect for others and tolerance of differences are the cornerstone of being a good person. We know only too well the terrible consequences of this kind of talk. Our education and Judeo-Christian ethos has made a lot of progress in coaxing much of the prejudice and xenophobia out of us. So, it’s natural to feel as though it is simply wrong even to bring these things up. If you are feeling this way, it is understandable but I ask you to bear with me.

As a reasonably well read American with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and a Master of Science in Communications, I was not unaware of some aspects of Muslim culture and the difficulty of understanding and communicating about those differences; but I was still very much under the spell of the moral relativism that rides on the back of multiculturalism. So, when I had my early brush with the Beast, it shocked me. It inspired me to think and write about its cause and meaning. Some of my readers have found an urgent personal meaning in it too. Others have not been interested in or touched by the story though. Many have been offended that I bring it up and try to understand it. If you are one of those, I want to reach you before it is your child facing the death threat, your friend strapped into an airline seat as a terrorist flies the plane into a skyscraper at 500 miles per hour or your daughter being stoned to death in a public park for the crime of having been overpowered and then raped by four men.

These are not things I made up to vilify and demonize all Muslims, they are real things that were really done by some real Muslims because of the teachings of mainstream Muslim culture. You have to pay attention to what they do and where they come from and you have to understand they do it with intent and purpose.

If the relatively small shock that affected my family has no effect on you and the plight of Millions of Muslim women does not do it either, I have to bring up the most dire of all the indictments against Muslim culture and the Arab fundamentalists in particular.

Above and beyond recruiting them as suicide bombers, rock throwers and human shields, dwarfing the dreadful cult of blood and hate they teach them from kindergarten on. There is the pandemic of violence toward and sexual abuse of children in the Islamic World. The Islamic child abuse problem is the most immense and covert tragedy in the modern world. Children are the most abjectly powerless members of any society, so they are also the best test of the inherent goodness or evil of that society. Their cries of pain and despair are easily kept from the outside world so they are at the mercy of those whose responsibility it is to care for them. When they are used for political and ideological purposes it is bad enough- these are expressed publicly so there is at least some moderation by the standards of the larger society (such as they might be). But with physical and sexual abuse there is often an absolute protection for the abuser. The abuse takes place in the confines of the home- the very place that should be the child’s ultimate shelter.
The tragedy of it is that along with the moral and cultural relativism that we in the liberal west often use to excuse and conceal the horror of:
•the continuing human slave trade
•the destruction of Darfour
•the honor killing of women
•the social repression of women
•the intolerance of infidel and non believers
•the inability to engage in the most rudimentary standards of modern discourse
…we also entertain the naïve and mistaken belief (more of a hope) that all people are endowed with the same sense of what is right and wrong. This is one of our most dangerous delusions.

The magnitude of this vast tragedy can be glimpsed through the statement of Gert Kapelari a UNICEF ( a stronghold of uncritical support of uncritical support for Arab causes) delegate who was quoted in this 2004 BBC (usually a bastion of multiculturalism) story as saying that the staggering truth of the Arab child abuse problem is not well understood because true numbers are unavailable. Here is how the article put it:
Child protection specialists said the fact that there were no fixed statistics on abuse in the Arab world was shocking, particularly because they know it is widespread.

The number of reported cases is very low, they argued, and that belies the truth about what is really going on.

Gert Kapelari, a delegate for the United Nations children's agency Unicef, said a survey among school children in eight Arab countries showed that the numbers were staggering.

"Where we asked children to what extent they have been victims of abuse or other forms of violence, what comes out of the preliminary findings are really shocking," he said. "We have to conclude that more than half of the children are, in one way or another, victims of violence and even sometimes of severe abuse,"
Now, I know that we are all civilized people here and we would never want to be accused of saying anything bigoted or prejudicial about another culture; but, if Kapelari is anywhere close to accurate in his assessment, the majority of Arab children (and possibly all children in Islamic countries) have much more to fear from his or her own father and uncles than from the licentious western morals, Liberal media, U.S. Marines and Israeli Defense Force that the rage filled mullahs and street protesters blame for everything.

It is not cultural chauvinism on our part to talk about this; it is our duty as human beings. Here, for those who need them, is a link to more details on how the Islamic clergy rationalize and foster this tragedy. The child abuse is not so well acknowledged as the second class status of women in the Islamic World but it is all part of the same terrorization of the defenseless that should illustrate to any but the most suicidally liberal what is in store for the world if Islamofascism should ever get the upper hand. The sickening state of terror and oppression that those children live under mirrors the suffering of their mothers and is a metaphor for the condition of all humankind if their dream of a World-wide Caliphate come into being.
It is also an absolutely reliable predictor of the insanity that, later in life, not only perpetuates the cycle of abuse in its own society but moves them to plan and/or celebrate acts like the callous slaughter of thousands of innocent airline passengers and office workers.

Those in the west who believe the fables that the policies of western countries, the existence of Israel and the presence of the U.S. in Iraq (as we try to stabilize that country after deposing one of the most infamous tyrants of all time) are to blame for the discontents of the Islamists should be forced to work for six months in a pediatric or Gynecological ward in any hospital in the Arab world. That might give them a clearer idea of what it is that torments the present and cripples the future of the Arabs and from whence the wellspring of rage that powers so much of their political and religious life gushes.

We all need to keep in mind that this fleeting moment in the history of the world, when the greatest power on earth is also the champion of the finest and most democratic impulses of the human spirit is the exception not the rule. We must not let this best hope for humanity slip through our fingers by false modesty or self-effacing reluctance. We need to face the danger, understand it and defeat it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It is Way too Small a World!- at least for women in Islam...

Back from Disney!
My boys had a fantastic time and I got some time to think and renew. My primary reaction I is, “What a great country this is!” The place was jammed- you couldn’t stop walking with out having several people pile up behind you. In spite of long lines and fierce competition for places, I didn’t hear an uncivil word spoken all week. This has to be the most courteous and genuinely gracious group of people in the history of the human race!

I did find one thing a bit unnerving though. I refer to the ride “It’s a small world”. I wasn’t put off by the kitsch- I find that entertaining and cute. No, I tolerated that alright. I had, after all, resolved to make an effort to leave behind my usual critical edge and try to see the whole thing through my sons’ eyes.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it’s a Small World it’s a pretty typical Disney ride for the younger kids. You get into a little boat and you are floated along a sort of metaphorical stream that carries you past what seems like dozens of dioramas filled with animatronic figures representing a very broad sampling of world cultures. In each diorama a host of child-like animatronics, dressed in appropriately ethnic garb, serenades you with the tune “It’s a Small World”. In every setting there is some distinctive lilt or syncopation or inflection added to give the song an ethnic flavor. That was OK, I suppose, but then, toward the end of the ride, we came around another one of the bends in that “world river” that ran through all the settlements of the worlds children and we came upon an Arab grouping. There they were, with their veils, turbans and harem pants singing,
“There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small small world”

The thought occurred to me that the problem with multiculturalism might be deeper than I thought. Here we are teaching our kids to unconditionally offer to accept the good will of people who are not even remotely friendly.

We have fallen for the ideal of multiculturalism without thoroughly understanding what it is or what it requires. Multiculturalism comes with the benign sounding proposition that “society should consist of, or at least allow and include, distinct cultural groups, with equal status”. The trap in multiculturalism is that it offers uncritical acceptance of foreign influences that may be illegal, immoral or injurious to society. It leaves to door open to everything from sickening animal sacrifice rituals to culturally sanctioned beating and murder of women. In doing so we have mistaken the maxim that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” for its evil twin “no opinion is any better than any other”. Now we are faced with a sizable portion of the Islamic world that calls us the “Great Satan” and believes that every single one of us should either believe exactly as they do or be killed. Yes, killed.

So who are these homunculi at Disney World who are lulling us and our children with this lethal lie of one world with a single dream of harmony? They are our wish that we could, by being of sufficiently good will, make them see that our way is better and that they should subscribe to our common dream. They are not about to do that though, and we need to temper our uncritical good will with a real defense against their evil.

Do I think that Disney should change the display to leave the Arab scenes out? Am I advocating that they turn them into a more realistic display where the children are being taught to chant "death to America, death to Jews!"? I am not sure that either is either possible or advisable. There are other things we need to do immediately however.

The first thing we need to do is to rethink our taboo against looking with a critical eye and speaking openly about other cultures and religions. We need to make value judgments on the basis of what we can see.

Consider the words of Ayaan Ali Hirsi, in her acceptance speech when she was given the Martin Luther King International Brotherhood Award, she said: “Human beings are equal; cultures are not.” Hirsi herself is proof of this. Since she fled the Islamic culture in which she was raised and westernized herself she has become one of the most powerful and sincere defenders of Western ideals. She has also earned a death sentence (fatwa) from Islamic clerics for her outspoken opinions.

Hirsi told an interviewer
“Almost nobody in the West wants to understand that Islam's problems are structural. Contemporary Islam hardly exists. Islam stopped thinking in the year 900 and has stood still for more than a thousand years.”
Hirsi’s point of departure is Islam’s treatment of women. Here is another quote from that speech:
“I am being acknowledged here today because CORE wants to take Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream beyond racial inequality. CORE wants to be a platform from where the greatest inequality of our time, perhaps of all time, can be battled.
This is gender inequality: an inequality most obscene, expressed through acts such as mutilation, beatings, rape and murder--and almost all this aggression is justified in the name of culture and creed. Atrocities committed against girls and women in the most intimate setting of all: in the home; by dad or mom; by a brother or a sister; by a husband or his mother. The sort of persecution I talk about is one in which the religious leaders, the politicians, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, all share the staunch belief that girls--that women--are born of a lesser god.

I was born into this culture. And I stress my emphasis on the word “culture”.
When I first came to a Western country, I was astonished to find men who said, "Ladies first"--yes, ladies first. I was amazed because I was born and raised in a culture that put me last because I was born a girl; where I was confined, because of my gender; where all the burden of what is considered good sexual conduct was for me to bear because I am female.”

We must believe her, we must try to use our critical faculties before it’s too late.

Everyday it’s too late for thousands of Muslim women who are mutilated, beaten, raped and murdered.

We also need to look at ourselves differently. Hirsi can help us get started there too. Instead of exclusive focus on negatives and shortcomings we need to recognize that we are the world’s best hope. Hirsi puts it this way:

A culture that celebrates femininity is not equal to a culture that trims the genitals of her girls.
A culture that holds the door open to her women is not equal to one that confines them behind walls and veils.
A culture that spends millions on saving a baby girl’s life is not equal to a one that uses its first encounter with natal technology to undertake mass abortion simply because baby girls are not welcome.
A culture with courts that punish a husband for forcing his wife to have sex with him is not equal to a culture with a tribunal that decrees a young woman be gang-raped for talking to a boy of an allegedly higher caste.
A culture that encourages dating between young men and young women is not equal to a culture that flogs or stones a girl for falling in love.
A culture where monogamy is an aspiration is not equal to a culture where a man can lawfully have four wives all at once.
A culture that protects women’s rights by law is not equal to a culture that denies women their alimony and half their inheritance.
A culture that insists on holding open a position for women in its Supreme Court is not equal to a culture that declares that the testimony of a woman is worth half of that of a man.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of racial equality has become a reality for some and remains a dream for many. It has become a reality for the few people privileged enough to live in this culture that values the human individual regardless of race or gender. It is this culture that provides me with the vocabulary, the legal tools, the material resources, the platforms, and most of all, the opportunity to meet like minded individuals who will stand for the rights of those fellow girls and women who haven’t been as lucky as me or you.

It is within this culture that it pays to fight for equality.
Unfortunately, it is this culture that is under threat today. Many of those born into it take it for granted--or worse, apologize for it.

So dear men and women of colour, and dear women of all colour: Let’s join together to protect this culture of life, this culture of liberty, this culture of "ladies first."

As a first step, lets stop apologizing. Then we can begin working on a firmer grasp on reality.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm going to Disney World

Dear Readers,
I'ts school vacation and I'm off to take the two youngest Ben Yaacovs to Disney. I will try to check in every day and moderate comments but Mrs Ben Yaacov will be tapping her beautifully pedicured toes when I do. I'll be back at my word catapult on the 26th. In the mean time, I put the post below this one up on Saturday Morning- There is more to come on that subject but early reaction has been off to a brisk start-
My thanks, to my friend Discerning Texan who has already linked to it with a nice comment.

Don't Just Stand There, Dhimmi, Humiliate Me!

When the Imam Husham Al-Husainy appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show he burst into a explosive rage when Hannity respectfully but insistently tried to get him to answer a couple of simple questions about his political views. Don’t take my word for this, here it is from Little Green Footballs.

I do not bring this incident up here for any political hay that might be made from the fact that the remarks the Imam is being questioned about here were made as part of a “prayer” he offered at the Democratic National Convention. That has been done to death already. I want to point it out because it is a very valuable opportunity to learn something basic about the Islamist rage in the Arab Street that we hear so much about.

Toward the end of his tirade the Imam accuses Hannity of humiliating him. I found this very interesting and provocative. In western terms we might have accused someone of attempting to humiliate us but if we are convinced we are right and prepared to reason our case and present facts, we would never jump to humiliation voluntarily. We would also, I think, take humiliation, once established, as a sign that we have been shown to be wrong or venal in some way, albeit unkindly.

Truth is, it is uncannily easy for Hannity to Humiliate him. The Imam is simply unwilling to speak directly to Hannity’s questions. Instead of telling Hannity and the world that he simply won’t answer the questions, he attempts a long, abusive counterattack that features intimidation, religious condemnation and what can only be termed “damnation to Hell”. Why, I want to ask, is the Imam so extraordinarily quick to take on the mantle of humiliation and what can he hope to accomplished by it?

Humiliation is the key to understanding the Islamist Jihad. They are always humiliated because they invite it. Actually, they insist on it. Just listen to the way the conversation goes between Hannity and the Imam. When Hannity asks him direct questions about his own words the Imam launches tirade after meaningless tirade until he is so embarrassed and exhausted that he has no choice but to hang up and get himself out of the situation.

This man, who claims to know the words and mind of God, can’t even acknowledge his own words let alone explain them. He is so unused to being questioned or having to explain the nonsense he talks, that he becomes outraged in the event. These Imams are not religious leaders as we know them in this century, rather, they evoke dark centuries past. Each of them is a small Torquemada who would condemn you to death and damnation at the drop of a hat.

Just as any other fascist (see Islamofascism post below) would, Imam Husham felt compelled to utter the standard, irrational, central mythos of his movement. It is a circular argument, they hate us because they say we humiliate them while they insist on humiliating themselves. In the true fascist style they dare us to help them humiliate themselves by holding fast to obviously idiotic beliefs and positions- one of which is that we are the ones who humiliate them.

How easy it is to humiliate the average Islamist! A beautiful woman walking down the street in a modest dress but with no burkha to cover her humiliates him. If his sister were to so much as say one word to an unrelated male; he is humiliated. If Danish cartoonists draw cartoons poking fun at The Prophet; he is not just outraged, angry or hurt, he is humiliated. It is so easy for us to humiliate them because they are using us as a scapegoat for their personal shamefacedness. This is a shame that is drawn from a different, unspeakable place in their culture. It is clear to me that they are only using the interaction between us and them to express that deep, permanent humiliation that precedes any thought of or interaction with us. That is a deep wound indeed. I am working on another post that will begin to explore the evidence for that wound.

Christians and Jews are especial targets for scapegoating because, as the Imam points out several times, we are all Abrahamic peoples. That makes us theological cousins. The Islamists remember better than we do that for centuries we were their dhimmis, (not quite slaves but not free men and women either). They held the sword over our heads and called us apes, pigs, monkeys and dogs to our faces. Now, the west is ascendant. The U.S. is the lone superpower and Israel is the most successful, freest and most powerful country in that region.

They still call us apes, pigs, monkeys and dogs but not to our faces any more. They only dare do that in Arabic when they think we aren’t listening. They are perfectly capable of lording it over us again if we let them. This rare moment in time in which we live, when might is also on the side of the right must not be frittered away. The Islamic population bomb and the Islamic nuclear bomb must be defused while we have the opportunity.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Recipe for Survival: An American Brain and A Russian Heart

In 1976 the American Nazi Party requested the right to hold a parade in Skokie Illinois. Skokie was not just any town; several thousand concentration camp survivors had settled there after WWII. The Nazi march seemed to them to be a direct threat and a painful reminder of the slaughter of their loved ones and their own suffering and brush with death. When the Nazis went to court to challenge the denial, the ACLU went with them. I recall my grandfather making a remark at a family gathering that the Nazis should not be allowed to show their faces in public and that the ACLU lawyers should be disbarred for helping them.

I recall with a great deal of unease and shame how I, full of liberal sophistication, undertook to educate my grandfather on the fine points of the first amendment. My grandfather was not a holocaust survivor in the exact definition. He left Ukraine and came here to America thirty years before Hitler invaded Poland, but the memory of the Cossacks, the Tsar’s army, the Bolshevik police and the friends and relatives that stayed behind and were probably killed in his hometown of Zhitomer were always with him. He had, at sixteen years old, struck out alone, on foot, across the rolling hills of what is now Ukraine to become a citizen of a country he could only imagine. His dreams, his determination and his faith in the God of Abraham carried him. In one city on the way, he thought he remembered that it happened in Lublin, He remembered having witnessed a Cossack raid. He remembered hiding in a basement. At one point he looked out the high street level window just as a man’s head, severed by a saber blow rolled up and stopped right before his eyes. He was not a holocaust survivor but he was no stranger to the beast either.

I reflect on my hubris from my present vantage point and I see what a self-important ass I was; and I see that the scene I had played out with my Papa Joe was a perfect replica of the Skokie fracas in exquisite miniature. There I was, two generations and a secular, liberal college education removed from the man who saved the gene pool that had given me life and I was presuming to lecture him about what makes this country great.

I was, that night, very secure and smug in my knowledge that I was, as was the ACLU, standing up for the essential freedoms of speech, assembly and belief that are at the very core of our great country. I was, I felt, standing for the rule of law against (God forgive me for my hubris) a passionate but misguided and unsophisticated man who simply did not understand how sacred the principals we were discussing and how slippery the slope on which he was treading.

I remember my grandfather’s frustration as I persisted in explaining the rights of free speech and assembly. He was angry in a way that I had never imagined he could be. He called me an idiot and told me that I knew nothing. I remember too the regret I felt for getting the whole ugly thing started in the first place. Most of all, I remember knowing that, even though I could prove that I was right logically, that I was deeply and ignorantly wrong.

So too was the ACLU, very sure of its ground in presuming to compel the residents of Skokie to allow the American Nazi party come to their city and parade in front of them. It has taken me almost thirty years to comprehend how wrong we were and why.
Much of the transformation in my thinking has come about through my association with what, for lack of a more precise term, I will call the Russian Jews. This is not a very accurate term but it is what they call themselves and since the fact that a large number of them are not precisely Russian (just Russian speaking- from the former Soviet Union) and many of them have lived here in the U.S. for more than twenty years makes no difference to them, I don’t feel it ought to matter much to me either.

I am a Boston area Jew who grew up (I’m now 57 years old) in a prosperous suburb; but I also consider myself a Russian Jew. I find that politically and emotionally I have more in common with the Russian Jewish community than with most of the rest of the community I live in. I still live in the same city I grew up in and most of the Jews here in my safe little suburb have intentionally distanced themselves from the knowledge that most of our grandparents and great grandparents were also Eastern European Jews. Many of us are assimilated, liberal and vaguely embarrassed by those more recently arrived neighbors who speak in the patois of our grandparents and see the world and other people in a more Manichean way. Those homogenized liberal Jews irritate me- partly because they are trying so hard to be unassailably lovable and “truly” American and partly because they remind me of what an ass I was to my Russian grandfather that night so long ago.

Last week Jewish Odysseus left a comment on my blog http://breathofthebeast.blogspot.com/ . On his site I found a reference to a story entitled Tatiana Menaker: Russian Jews, American Jews, and Traifn Bleet. Here is a snippet of Tatiana’s piece:

I was raised and lived until the age of 20 in the dirty communal apartment in Leningrad where eight families fought for a place in the kitchen, waited in line for the only toilet, and where people were forced to live, deprived of any privacy, with disgusting strangers as with close relatives, and watched those strangers’ lives. It was the best life lesson I ever had.
A few of my girlfriends, who had the luxury of living in apartments of their own, never learned how low human beings could fall. They never saw husbands beating their wives’ heads against the tiled stoves and hot radiators, they never saw men having sex with their neighbors’ wives while husbands slept dead drunk, they never saw families where people were stealing from each other, informing on each other to the police and sending each other to prison, and 20 year olds drowning in bathtubs from too much vodka.
My delusional girlfriends expected people to be good to them and to each other as their own loving mothers and grandmas. They were as delusional about people as Mr. Ruby and majority of American Jews are delusional about Palestinians and Muslims. They never lived among barbarians and never dealt with their cruelty. Russian Jews did. And we know that barbarians respect nothing besides force and cruelty much worse than their own.
Read the rest here.

When I followed the link back to the source blog, I was surprised that it was written by a Russian Jew no more than five miles from where I sit typing this.

Among the comments posted under Tatiana’s story there runs common thread, an implied consensus, if you will, that Russian Jews see the world more clearly than the Assimilated American Jews that I grew up with. This is completely true. Assimilated American Jews have no true feeling for what savagery and hardship exist in the world outside America. This is not their fault- they have never felt the Breath of the Beast on their backs.

They are also incapable of facing the one true fact about being Jewish out side of Israel. They are emotionally unable to face the knowledge that as Jews it is always possible (however remotely) that even though today they are privileged Americans, one day there might come a time when the privilege will be swept away and they will find that their finely honed knowledge of America’s Civil Laws and culture is no protection against the cold hard reality that exists in most of the rest of the world. The most frightening and ominous phrase in the Torah comes near the beginning of Exodus “V’yakham melech hadash al Mitzrahim asher loh yodah et yosef” which means, “And there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph” Things can change as quickly as that. The current threat is the Islamofascist wish to institute a world-wide caliphate and Shari'a law in the thirties it was the German American Bund. It is always there.

Russians feel that knowledge in the core of their beings. No one who has not in some way suffered the way they did in their own lifetime can possibly understand this well enough to have the strength to face this awful truth. Most of us Assimilated American Jews subconsciously choose not see through the veneer of civil society to the chaos, cruelty and fear that can lie behind it. We may know its there but have a great emotional need to ignore it.

Among Assimilated American Jews it is only those of us who have had some combination of harsh life experiences, closeness with the Russian community, and, most of all, the rare first hand encounter with the The Beast who can see that it is more dangerous to remain ignorant and passive in the face of the threats than to face them and deal with them.

Back in 1976 when the ACLU and I had assumed the mantle of “protector of the constitution” and, each in our own way, committed ourselves to the single-minded dedication to the minute letter of the first amendment we were guilty of a “foolish consistency”. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines”. I would add over-educated prigs a group to which I hope I have tendered my resignation for good.
. Don’t misunderstand me, its not that I’ve in any way changed my mind about the essential sanctity of free speech. The distinction I have learned to draw may be subtle but it is also very important.

Here is the problem: I agree that the Nazis are entitled by our constitution to assemble and speak, but to require our government to countenance such activity with no way of protecting the welfare of other citizens is unconscionable. When we enforce the right of free speech without regard to the effect of that speech on others we are in danger of allowing the active harassment, sedition and defamation. The holocaust survivors are one example of a group of people that deserve to be protected.

The families of fallen soldiers whose funerals have been disrupted by anti-war demonstrations are another, more current one example. This wholly nasty and heartless tactic has been adopted by the anti-way movement, in which they seek out the funerals of soldiers who were killed in action and picket them with the express purpose of causing the maximum anguish to the grieving family. They apparently feel that this will amplify the media coverage they receive.

As laws have been passed specifically to prevent this kind of activity, the ACLU has risen on its haunches and filed lawsuits to limit the effectiveness of the laws. Here is part of a press release issued by the Eastern Missouri ACLU division about one of these suits.
“Free speech and the right to protest peacefully extend to all Americans, even if their messages are unpopular and distasteful,” said Brenda Jones, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. “The government cannot pick and choose whose rights it is going to honor. Laws that restrict first amendment rights never harm only one group; they pave the way for restrictions on the right to dissent for all groups.”

These are the same noble sounding justifications I might have used in contradicting my grandfather so many years ago; but I am afraid I am not so willing to hold my nose in support of the rights of the criminally cruel and deranged. Let them have their rights to speech by why allow them seek out and persecute grieving families of young heroes? They can protest any where they want to- why not just keep them out of ear-shot and sight line of the bereaved.

But no, Brenda Jones feels she must lecture “the government” about picking and choosing.

Of course, when you are used to lecturing people, sometimes you’re just so busy waggling your finger and pontificating that you forget to apply the same standard to yourself. This past May an article By Steohanie Strom in the New York Times exposed a clear example of hypocrisy on this point by the ACLU. Here is a snip,

The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization's policies and internal administration.
"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals.
"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state.
Given the organization's longtime commitment to defending free speech, some former board members were shocked by the proposals.

Apparently, the ACLU, which is always demanding total transparency from all governmental branches, and major corporations, is not so convinced that transparency looks so good on them. Freedom of speech, you see, is still the most important thing in the world to them when it comes to encouraging the sadistic tormenting of families that just want to be left in peace to bury their dead. But if it interferes with “public support and fund-raising” for the ones who enable the heartless bastards- oh, well, that’s got to stopped.

The ACLU is terribly politically correct. They allow no exceptions to their rules, and their rules say that no one may be spared the responsibility of total free speech. They’ll sacrifice anyone’s dignity and peace of mind for their idea of the way things should be- anyone else’s that is. Just don’t ask them to pay that price themselves. As politically incorrect as they are, I don’t know a single Russian Jew who would support act that way. They have seen the face of the beast and to them it looks a lot like the ACLU.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Is There Such a Thing as Islamofascism?

Islamofascism is a controversial term. Much of that controversy stems from the confusion that exists about the actual meaning of the word that is the back end of the term- fascism. I have been wondering about the term myself. To avoid any misunderstanding I have generally used the term Islamisism for the brand of radical islam that seeks our demise and referred to its proponents as Islamists. I ran across an old article in a New Yorker magazine recently that may change my practice on this score. In the article entitled The Devils Disciples, Can you Force People to Love Freedom? Louis Menand was reviewing a pair of books dealing with totalitarianism and terror. He wrote:
“One writer who identified terror as the essence of totalitarianism was Hannah Arendt. Arendt started writing “The Origins of Totalitarianism” in 1945, the year Nazi Germany was defeated. …, Arendt was a philosopher. She was interested in the politics of totalitarianism, but she was also interested in the metaphysics, in totalitarianism as a mode of being in the world. Terror, she argued, may be experienced as arbitrary, but it is not arbitrary and it is not lawless. Every despot exercises power arbitrarily; all dictators are outside the law. The distinctive feature of totalitarian societies is that everyone, including (in theory, anyway) the dictator, can be sacrificed in the name of a superhuman law, a law of nature or a law of history.
…or a religious dogma. I recognized this arbitrary nature of terror immediately. I have seen its foot prints in visits to Babi Yar and the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem I watched it crash into the North Tower and slaughter Daniel Pearl on the Internet. All of these events have their own unspeakable individual character but they all share the lunatic devaluation of human life that is born of a totalitarian belief system. I have also have had to face the hard fact that a five-year old boy could in a matter-of-fact way explain to my five-year-old daughter that because she is Jewish he really ought to kill her. Menand continues quoting Arendt:
“Totalitarianism strives not toward despotic rule over men but toward a system in which men are superfluous,” she said. In Nazism, everyone is subordinate to the race war; in Bolshevism, to the class struggle. Man-made laws and political institutions are temporary shelters for vested interests, to be flattened by the winds of destiny. And the winds never cease. Hitler did not talk in terms of his own lifetime. He talked in terms of “the next thousand years.”
Here was the answer to the questions that had burrowed into my consciousness and had been living a parasitic existence in me ever since that night twenty years earlier. The Islamist version of utopia is the total abnegation of the human soul in submission to a literal and dogmatic reading on the Koran. It presumes that a perfect world would have no place for Jews, Christians or any other kind of believer. It even excludes other Moslems who interpret the Koran in less fundamentalist ways.

I have always felt (although until recently I had no idea why) personally offended when in the wake of 9/11 so many seemed to be asking “why do they hate us?” in such an anguished way. It seemed to me that this very question contained an excuse for the barbarity of the terrorists. There are quite a few purportedly moderate spokespeople for the Islamist point of view who talk about anger and rage in the Moslem world as if it is a reasonable justification for the barbarities visited on the world by Islamic terrorists. I do not doubt that many in the Moslem world feel anger and rage, what I question is its provenance.
Menand goes on:
The mysterious part of totalitarianism’s appeal—and here we return to the Problem of the Loyal Henchmen—is that its official ideology can be, and usually is, absurd on its face, and known to be absurd by the leaders who preach it. This is because the mob is made up of cynics; for them, everything is a lie anyway. And the masses’ hostility is free-floating. It has no concrete object: the masses are hostile to life as it is. The more extreme and outrageous the totalitarian ideology, therefore, and the more devoid of practical political sense, the more ineluctable its appeal. Totalitarian rule, Arendt argued, is predicated on the assumption that proving that a thing is true is less effective than acting as though it were true. The Nazis did not invite a discussion of the merits of anti-Semitism; they simply acted out its consequences. This is why documents like the memorandums for which Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” continued to be believed even after they had been exposed as forgeries, and why the Moscow Trials were defended even by people who knew that the “confessions” were fraudulent. It’s why some of the defendants in those trials went uncomplainingly to be executed for crimes they had not committed.
The idea that the anger and disenfranchisement of the “Arab street” is in some way a comprehensible rationale for the callous barbarity of the attack on innocent civilians is an offense to humanity. Ironically, the very enormity of the crimes they commit and the wildness of the pretext they do it under, are taken by those who do not understand the game they are playing as proof of the authenticity (even righteousness) of what they do.

The rage, when looked at honestly, is nothing more than that same invincible, fervent stupidity that filled the air at the nazi rallies in Munich or that propelled the Bolshevik protesters into the streets of Moscow. This wild arousal state crowds out reason and hope. It pumps up its own excitation and then demands revenge on the world for the distress it has caused itself. Daniel Pearl’s death tape is the perfect illustration of the end result. It is actually mostly propaganda and screed. It is an obscene blend of lies, fabrications and outrageous distortions. It intimidates by showing Daniel Pearl being forced to “admit” to being a Jew and making him dwell on his Jewishness. Then at the end, after his head is hacked off and held up as a trophy, a threat scrolls onto the screen. This will be repeated “again and again” it promises. That phrase, “again and again” forms a mocking echo to the Israeli Slogan “never again”.

In much the same way that Hitler told the world what he had planned in Mein Kampf the Islamofascists are being very honest with us.

Even if you choose to ignore (as many do) their continuous intentional murder of innocent children in Israel and other non-Moslem countries (Beslan, passengers on jetliners, hotel guests in Kenya and Bali, Christians at prayer in Pakistan, the trains in Madrid etc.) you must look at what they do with their own children and tell me how a society that allows babies to be used as a cover for smuggled explosives, encourages 14 year olds to blow themselves up in crowds of innocent bystanders and takes the body of a an infant who died of natural causes way from its grieving parents so that it can be posed as the victim of an Israeli bombing raid, can be anything other that the prototype of a fascist, totalitarian terror society. The actions of Islamofascist terrorists speak to a total break down of ethical values and a perfect paradigm for what Arendt was talking about when she wrote, “The distinctive feature of totalitarian societies is that everyone, including (in theory, anyway) the dictator, can be sacrificed in the name of a superhuman law, a law of nature or a law of history…,” This, to me is the best, most complete explanation I have yet heard of the state of mind in which a society seduces its children to become suicide bombers .

They are spreading the infection of hatred and bigotry in their media. They are teaching sectarian murder in their schools- not just colleges and high schools but in kindergartens and elementary schools. The obscenity of pictures we see with toddlers dressed up in suicide belts and seven-year-olds with Kalashnikovs surpass child abuse. The glee with which they feed their own children into the terror machine is a crime against humanity.

Now I understood better how a child like my neighbor Amir could have nice parents like Hamid and Haideh and still be carrying such a bloody idea in his little heart. I also see better than I ever could have before how easily Daniel Pearl , Leon Klinghoffer the wheel chair bound tourist shot to death and dumped overboard from the Achille Lauro, Israeli Olympic athletes, schoolchildren on a Jerusalem bus, three thousand office workers, airline passengers pilots, stewardesses and pentagon staff, or even my own daughter (or yours)can become a victim.
It all reminds me of the scene in the movie Goldfinger in which, James Bond is tied to the table and the laser beam is working its way through the steel deck of the table and heading straight for his groin. Bond in an uncharacteristic nervous moment looked up at the villain and said.” I won’t talk” Goldfinger says, “Don’t”. Bond then asks, “Do you expect me to talk?” To which Goldfinger smiles and says, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” and leaves.

There should be no reason for anyone in the west to have to ask Al Qeada, Hamas or Hizbolla, “What do you expect of us? The answer will be the same. They would like to distract us by encouraging us to worry about why they hate us- If we want to survive we have to focus on what we can do to thwart their intentions.

For Israel, the spurious arguments about precedence in the land in the post World War II period and the purported Israeli atrocities are absurd on their face. They are equivalent to the latest editions of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion published in Saudi Arabia. They are the nonsensical prattling of the totalitarian Beast. Those who listen to its chatter are deaf to the sound of its breath behind them.