“During World War II Hollywood churned out combat pictures and home-front melodramas with the speed and efficiency that characterized so much war-time production. Those movies reflected a consensus that it was also their purpose to promote. The best of them were more than simple propaganda, but they tended to share a sense of clarity and purpose in their narrative structure as well as in their themes.”
So wrote A.O. Scott in a New York Times Arts and Leisure feature on October 28, “A War on Every Screen: New Films Pegged to Iraq and Other Flash Points Are Awash in Ambiguity.” After presenting brief synopses of several recent and forthcoming movies about the Iraq war and terrorism – most of them, to judge by his descriptions, viciously anti-American in theme and content – Scott concludes that they are “ambiguous,” and semi-wistfully contrasts them with films produced during World War II. By “ambiguous” one can only suppose that he means they do not overtly condemn the U.S.
In that sense, they lack the “clarity and purpose” with which most World War II-era produced films were imbued.
Scott does, however, answer some of his own questions, and in the process identifies why, to him, at least, the films are “ambiguous.”
“What is missing in nearly every case is a sense of catharsis or illumination. This is hardly the fault of the filmmakers. Disorientation, ambivalence, a lack of clarity – these are surely part of the collective experience they are trying to examine. How can you bring an individual story to a satisfying conclusion when nobody has any idea what the end of the larger story will look like?”
Much the same could be said about President Bush’s Iraq policy. It is disoriented in its aims, now that it is a certainty that “democracy” will not work in a country whose citizens will continue to vote the straight Islamic ticket. It is ambivalent, measured by a purely emotional criterion. And, the policy lacks clarity, because the “insurgency” will never end if its promoters and paymasters remain untouched by American military might. That is the “larger” story whose resolution no one can as yet predict.
Although Scott’s article rambles on in search of answers, he does make an occasional true observation.
“…[T]he public may well succeed in avoiding them [the films discussed by Scott]….Public indifference…may bolster the ideologically convenient notion that Hollywood is out of touch with the American people, and also the economically convenient idea that people go to the movies to escape the problems of the world rather than to confront them.”
I do not think the idea that Hollywood is out of touch with the American people needs bolstering or that it is “convenient,” unless the term is Scott’s substitute for “logical.” Ever since the mid-1960’s Hollywood has waged a campaign of hate of the U.S. and has left few left-wing or collectivist issues untouched or un-dramatized. Nor is the idea that people go to the movies to be inspired or at least “entertained” an illogical one, either. Both ideas are true.
“What is notable about this new crop of war movies is not their earnestness or their didacticism – traits many of them undoubtedly display – but rather their determination to embrace confusion, complexity, and ambiguity.”
The new crop of movies are that way because it is their makers’ intent to leave American movie-goers confused about the issues, baffled by their “complexity,” and in doubt about any possible resolution. The ambiguity plays an insidious role. It injects doubt into the issues and into the minds of American viewers. That is their earnest, Existentialist, “didactic” method. The ambiguity is not an accident or a consequence of confusion or an attempt to avoid what Scott calls “finger-wagging” and “sloganeering.” The ambiguity is deliberate, and it is indeed the “fault” of the filmmakers.
Although much of Hollywood during World War II was under the thumb of leftists, they did not dare insult the intelligence of the American public or attack their values or patriotism by offering films that were ambiguous about the nature of the enemy or the enormity of the effort required to defeat him. They did not begin to crawl out into the light until after the war.
Today, the enemy, Islamism or Islamofascism, is not identified as an enemy, and if Islamists are hostile to the U.S., according to Hollywood, it is the fault of the U.S. To Hollywood, the Islamists can slaughter thousands, regardless of their religion or politics, and they remain innocent. They were “conditioned” by circumstances and cannot be blamed for their actions, no matter how horrendous or murderous. Only the U.S. is blameworthy, because it is a giant.
If a handful of American soldiers run amok and commit “crimes” against members of what is (in fact) an enemy population, that deserves feature length attention. If innumerable jihadists plot to detonate bombs in New York and Boston, Hollywood will not deign to dramatize it, but ask, instead: Who can blame them?
Every one of the movies Scott discusses is a multi-million dollar instance of agitprop whose purpose is not to instill or uphold moral values, but to subvert and destroy them by instilling guilt in Americans, to make them doubt the value of being Americans. If a modern war movie is not weepy, whiny, or “grieving,” then it is blatantly nihilistic.
Parenthetically, it is a measure of America’s cultural malaise that weeping, grieving and maudlin commiseration have become the especial foci of news reportage, regardless of the tragedy or catastrophe. “Grief” and “suffering” rank just behind “sacrifice” and “selflessness” as touchstones of moral worth. I date the beginning of this sordid element of national self-pitying back to October 1983, when terrorists killed over two hundred Marines and other U.S. servicemen in their Beirut barracks, an assault that President Ronald Reagan failed to answer. As the stream of flag-draped coffins arrived in the U.S., the news media embarked on an orgy of “grief” and “doubt.” Did any one call for retaliation against the responsible terrorist groups or the state that sponsored them and demand that Reagan take action? I don’t recall.
Scott comes close to grasping the connection between the movies whose “ambiguous” purposes he ponders and the nature of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
“We have been told from the start, by both the administration and its critics, that this will be a long, complicated, episodic fight. And so attempts to make sense of it piecemeal and in medias res, in discrete narratives with beginnings and ends, are likely to feel incomplete and unsatisfying.”
He comes close, and might have understood the nature of the conflicts, were he not also a pawn of the filmmakers’ purposes, which is to inculcate doubt, confusion, and disgust. Were he able to delve into more fundamental issues, he might have asked the questions:
Are we there to ensure that no Islamic state ever attacks America again? And if we are, what is the best means of accomplishing that end? Or are we there motivated by some Wilsonian notion of spreading “democracy” as a moral duty, to indulge in what Progressive writer Herbert Croly called the “tonic of a moral adventure”? Is there a vital connection between Bush’s Christian policy of warfighting and why the U.S. will continue to expend blood and treasure in a futile campaign to win the “hearts and minds” of a people who prefer to adhere to a Dark Age morality? Is a code of self-sacrifice one of life or of death?
Finally, he might have asked: If Hollywood had turned out these kinds of movies during World War II, might not the filmmakers have been boycotted by the public, or charged with treason, or, at the very least, tarred and feathered and run out of town?
I do not plan to see any of the movies discussed by A.O. Scott in his article. I know what they are about just by watching the morning newscasts for free. My kinds of war movies are the 1939 Four Feathers, and Glory, Hamburger Hill, Gunga Din, Hell is for Heroes, and many others that, among other things, not the least of which is their cleaner, unambiguous esthetics, inspire me to fight my own battles.
About a link to AEI's site concerning Hirsi Ali's security fund. There is no link as such, but here is info that her contact in Washington sent me. Hope this is enough:
Yael Levin Office of Ayaan Hirsi Ali American Enterprise Institute 202.862.5941 Providing Financial Assistance for Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Security Detail
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch parliamentarian and an outspoken defender of women’s rights in Islamic societies, is at risk from a variety of extremist threats in both Europe and the United States. She has needed constant security protection since her life was originally threatened in 2002. Up until October 1, 2007, this protection was provided by the Dutch government.
Now a permanent resident of the United States and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Ms. Hirsi Ali must raise her own funds to finance her costly—but necessary—protection. In response to the numerous private citizens who have expressed interest in helping Ms. Hirsi Ali fund her security detail, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust has been established.
The preferred and most immediate way to assist Ms. Hirsi Ali in the financing of her private security protection is through the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust. This private trust fund can accept non-tax deductible donations from within the United States and internationally, and is entirely dedicated to financing Ms. Hirsi Ali’s security.
Checks should be made payable to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust and sent to:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust
Bank of Georgetown
1054 31st Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Trust Tax Identification Number: 75-6826872
Thank you for your interest in assisting Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
For more information please contact: John Matteo (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mackenzie McNaughton (email@example.com), representatives for Ms. Hirsi Ali.
Telephone: 202.457.1600 Wire Transfer information
Account Name: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust Account Number: 1010054748
Bank Name: Bank of Georgetown
Bank Address: 1054 31st Street, N.W., Suite 18 Washington, DC 20007
The case for taxpayer-financed support for the construction of professional sports stadiums is made along the lines that the presence of these stadiums creates economic benefits for the community at large. Never mind that such "economic benefits" comes at the price of denying wealth's producers with the benefits of their hard work—that kind of thinking is typically just so much noise when it comes to government-subsidized stadiums.
Yet there's another aspect to this debacle that is worth noting. When the teams that play in these stadiums actually win their big games, their fans rain outright destruction upon the population. Take for example the all too typical reports on Major League Baseball's World Series "celebrations" in Boston.
Police in riot gear cleared several large crowds gathered around Fenway Park early Monday after the Red Sox won their second World Series title in four years.
Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said 37 arrests were made in the city, mostly for disorderly conduct. No serious injuries were reported.
An unruly crowd flipped a pickup truck to its side near Fenway Park and at least one car fire was reported. Young people sprayed each other with beer and some climbed street signs or utility poles. [Source: AP]
Let's get this right: the home teams win, so let's set a car on fire and mill about like a deranged alcohol-soaked mob. I'm sorry, but this creates about as much economic benefit as smashing a window. And worse, this is a broken window that is shattered because government theft makes it possible to do so. Rome had its bread and circuses to keep its citizens' minds off their troubles, and it seems so do we.
The following letter of mine is in response to a broadcast appeal from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington asking for donations to help pay for Ayaan Hirsi Ali's security protection in Holland, to which this Jihad-targeted woman was forced to return by the Dutch government. Neither President Bush nor the State Department would do anything to help this brave, outspoken, and articulate fighter for freedom. Should any reader wish to contribute to her trust fund, there is enough information in the letter to facilitate a donation. Go to the AEI website for more information about the trust fund and about Hirsi Ali herself.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali American Enterprise Institute 1150 Seventeenth Street N.W. Washington, DC 20036
Dear Hirsi Ali:
Enclosed please find a check made out to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust. An appeal was broadcast via the Harry Binswanger List (remotely and unofficially affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute) with permission to forward it to interested individuals and organizations, which I certainly will do.
I have always been cheered by reading your comments on Islam, and also by your courage and strength when facing hypocrisy, cowardice and betrayal. At the same time, I was angered beyond description when our government refused to make an exception in your case and provide you with security when the Dutch government reneged on its responsibility. I was especially angered when President Bush received the Dalai Lama of Tibet but apparently refused to even acknowledge your existence, never mind offer to intercede on your behalf (even though your life is in danger). I suppose that was because you are an outspoken atheist. It was one mystic of the spirit honoring another mystic of the spirit – a mystic who is in thrall to another species of mystics of muscle (the Chinese government).
I liken your situation to that of Thomas Paine, who came to the American colonies in 1775 and wrote a pamphlet that helped to convince Americans that reconciliation with tyranny was a sure means of political suicide, of seeing their liberties first adulterated, then finally extinguished, that there was no common ground between freedom and force, and that the only practical action the colonists could take was to declare their severance from the Crown.
I could also liken your situation to that of Russian-born immigrant Ayn Rand, the novelist-philosopher, who came to America in the 1920’s to escape the “religion” of Soviet Communism. As Paine argued that there was no reconciliation possible between liberty and tyranny, Rand argued there is no reconciliation possible between reason and faith (and force).
You argued in the Reason interview that for Islam to be defeated, it must be defeated in toto. Muslims who want to live on earth for its own sake, and not just as a transit point to some (unprovable) “paradise,” must repudiate Islam and stop being Muslims. I couldn’t agree more. I have argued for years that Islam cannot be “tamed” or “modified” and still remain Islam. To defeat it, the air must be let out of all its tires, and then the vehicle towed to the junkyard of history.
There the similarities to Rand and Paine end. You came to America to write about the insidious designs of Islamism (or Islamofascism) and what was required to defeat them, but in the end were rebuffed and compelled to return home to a perilous existence. I did not learn of your return in the newspapers here; I had to learn it on the Internet. Well, most American newspapers showed their true colors during the Danish cartoon imbroglio. I cannot recall a single newspaper or TV news item that reported your “deportation,” either.
You are right that America is “in denial” of the threat of Islamism. It is difficult to decide if that denial is a consequence of thoughtless American benevolence or the destructive influence of political correctness and multiculturalism. Since I take ideas seriously, I come down on the side of the latter influence.
I hope AEI has some means of communicating this letter to you. And I hope you will take the time to read my commentaries on Islam and the jihadists on the Rule of Reason sub-site of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Via Gus Van Horn, Scott Powell examines sculptor Giulio Monteverde's Colombo giovinetto (Young Columbus). The portrayal is fascinating, especially as one contemplates the myriad of reasons why a portrayal of that caliber would never be made today.
As years go by the idea of Nobel Prizes for peace and literature becomes more and more lunatic. The criteria by which literature is measured and recognized by the Norwegian Nobel Committee remain unfathomable to an outside but critical observer. This year the Prize for literature went to Doris Lessing, a British author who wrote stories with ever-in-vogue feminist themes.
But the individuals who screen nominees and award the Prizes for literature could just as well as sit on award committees for the Guggenheim or MacArthur Foundations, whose criteria for giving away lots of tax-free money are similarly eclectic, eminently subjective, "socially relevant," and focused on the obscure and banal because they are obscure and banal. The standards of what anymore is judged literarily important have been plummeting as fast as a skydiver in a tangled parachute.
The Nobel Memorial Prize in economics, established in 1968 by the Swedish central bank and conferred by it, has invariably gone to economists who disparage or are ignorant of capitalism, or who are not consistent advocates of it, such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek.
Only the criteria for the Prizes for medicine, chemistry and physics have retained some semblance of objectivity. But that will change, now that science has become increasingly politicized, that is, now that scientific truths are established, not by empirical evidence, but by consensus. And when politics applies those consensus-based, reality defying "truths" to life, the results have been disastrous.
It was a "scientific cultural consensus" in Germany that Jews were sub-human parasites who were destroying the country. This was an "Aryan truth" responsible for the Holocaust. Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, a Soviet agronomist and pseudo-geneticist, claimed that acquired characteristics could be inherited in crops (just as the bourgeois had acquired their own irreversible characteristics, requiring their eradication in Soviet Russia). This was a "Soviet truth" that conformed to Marxist ideology and the Party line. It resulted in drastic crop reductions and chronic famine.
When it comes to rewarding accomplishments in the abstract, normative realm, the successive Committees that vet nominees for the Peace Prize have apparently been spinning their judgmental wheels since 1901. In establishing the conditions for awarding this Prize, Alfred Nobel stipulated in his will that it go to the individual who had done "the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace conferences."
The problem is that neither Nobel nor any of his succession of executors of the Peace Prize has ever had any fundamental knowledge of the requirements of "peace." "Fraternity among nations" is possible only if those nations are free nations, nations that feature governments that have at least a nominal respect for individual rights and a judiciary that protects them. Volunteer standing armies may be necessary for those nations as protection from or deterrents against aggressor nations. Peace conferences are not necessary among nations not bent on conquest or territorial expansion, although alliances may be formed between free nations to oppose or fight outlaw, criminal governments that are so inclined.
It is important to note that the Committee that reviews nominees for the Peace Prize is composed of five individuals elected by the Norwegian parliament. Norway is a socialist country, so it is logical that career socialists and collectivists would favor any person or institution that worked for peace for the sake of peace, regardless of kinds of individual accomplishments (as long as they are selfless and altruistic), the nature of a conflict or of the character of the disputing parties. This explains why the Prize has been awarded to an unsavory collection of thugs, criminals, "saints," charlatans, and fools.
In terms of conflict between nations, "peace," to these individuals, as well as to their moral and political ilk ranging from Jimmy Carter to Condoleezza Rice and George Bush, is a Platonic condition to be achieved between antagonistic parties by means of compromise, concession, or even surrender. "Peace" is the "higher" principle to pursue, higher than the principle of a nation's self-preservation in the face of conquest or destruction. Since these individuals regard the desire for self-defense or self-preservation against brute force as a purely "subjective" or selfish motive, the rational and the irrational are placed on the same plane, on which, by their moral criteria, the selfish must always defer to the unselfish.
Thus, for example, to the peaceniks, the desire of Palestinians to swallow chunks of Israel is just as legitimate a cause as Israel wanting to preserve its existence against governments and gangs that wish to dismember it or completely erase it - perhaps even more legitimate, since the Palestinians are stateless, poor and needy, while Israel is a prosperous, relatively free country.
To the peaceniks, the historic circumstances of Israel and the Palestinians are irrelevant. In order to stave off the chimera of violence and war, both parties must be brought to the negotiating table and persuaded to compromise. Bush, Rice and the State Department wish Israel to surrender large sections of its territory to create a Palestinian state, knowing full well, but not conceding it in public, that such a state would merely serve as a launching site for Hamas and Hezbollah to attack and destroy Israel.
But it is Israel that is asked to compromise, while the Palestinians have nothing to compromise but their urge to kill. The peril in which Israel is placed is of no concern to the peaceniks; violence must be avoided at all costs, even at the cost of Israel's existence. The classic instance of pursuing peace for the sake of peace and avoiding violence is Neville Chamberlain's surrender to Hitler in Munich.
All that being said, what has Al Gore's campaign against global warming to do with "peace," vis-à-vis Alfred Nobel's good intentions? In a fairly ludicrous and patently desperate stretch of semantics, Jan Egeland, a Norwegian peace mediator and former U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, offered an explanation. According to an Associated Press release on October 12, the day it was announced that Gore had won the Peace Prize, he said,
"It is a question of war and peace. We're already seeing the first climate wars, in the Sahel belt of Africa."
"He said that nomads and herders are in conflict with farmers," reported the AP item, "because the changing climate has brought drought and a shortage of fertile lands."
Omitted from his account is the fact that the Sahel Crescent, located between the spreading Sahara desert and the wetter tropical regions to the south, has been in drought conditions since the 1960's, and also the fact that billions of dollars in indiscriminately strewn international aid have not improved conditions there one iota. Perhaps in pre-history it got more rainfall than the contemporary, recorded annual averages of between four and eight inches through summer and fall.
Egeland also neglected to mention the increase in population in the Sahel, a population existing in an altruist purgatory made possible by anti-cause and effect international aid. Much of the African continent is on a Western welfare system, and as a Kenyan economist recently explained, conditions will never improve as long as the West keeps sending it aid. This fellow will never be a serious candidate for the Peace Prize. He spoke a truth and pleaded with the West to stop being so "caring."
By awarding Gore the Peace Prize, which he will share with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Nobel Committee revealed itself as being on the same intellectual level - a very, very low and clueless one - as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which earlier this year awarded an Oscar to Gore's propaganda film, An Inconvenient Truth. One can imagine that the Committee members were as impressed by that instance of agitprop as they might have been (and possibly actually were) by Hollywood's past environmental efforts, such as The Day After Tomorrow, Day of the Animals, Frogs, Soylent Green, The Pelican Brief, and Silent Running, to name but a few "let's blame man" eco-disaster films.
Propaganda is not necessarily an evil form of communication. It is an extreme, stylized distillation of concepts to perceptual concretes of a group's position or cause in words, pictures, or both. Its purpose is not to inform men of facts or to educate them, but to alert them to or remind them of an issue. The issue may be genuine or false; that is, it may be governed by facts, falsehoods, or a stew of facts and falsehoods. Political cartoons skirt the definition of propaganda, and an argument could be made that they are a form of propaganda.
Even without a British High Court's ruling this month that An Inconvenient Truth is largely a high-tech tissue of lies and misinformation, and that students shown the film in class must be advised of eleven major "inaccuracies" (a kind term for fabrications) in the film, not only the film but the whole issue of global warming, whether or not it is occurring, and if it is, what is causing it, has been stirring up another kind of "climate war" between believers and skeptics that has gone on for years.
On one side are the believers in anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming, armed with statistics and findings they claim prove man is causing the phenomenon. These have the ear and voice of most of the disaster-and-crisis-obsessed news media. On the other side are climatologists and meteorologists who claim that if global warming is occurring, man has little or nothing to do with it, and they, too, are armed with statistics and findings. They do not have the ear and voice the news media, because they are not posing as oracles of disaster and crises. Some of the latter cannot be justly labeled "skeptics," because they are certain of their findings.
The believers indulge in histrionics and demand that governments impose controls and restrictions on especially industrialized nations to arrest or reverse global warming. The skeptics or "deniers" of anthropogenic global warming, eschewing thespian ambitions, and respecting and relying on human intelligence, simply offer their counter-arguments and positions to anyone who will listen, hoping that reason and truth will win out in the end.
They do not think any action need be taken by either governments or panicked citizens. Indeed, they contend that any drastic, fiat actions taken by governments would result in an infinitesimal reduction in "greenhouse gases," hardly measurable and certainly not worth the likely trillions of dollars such totalitarian measures would cause in lost production and standards of living. (As an illustration of the pathetic, impressionable ignorance rampant in the media, Roger Ebert, the movie critic, when he came home from first seeing An Inconvenient Truth, immediately turned off all his lights. One could say that he remains "in the dark.")
Needless to say, the skeptics and deniers do not get much press, friendly or unfriendly. What they have to say, which is the truth, is not what politicians and the media want to hear. (This is another instance of how "science" can be politicized.) The number of "skeptics" and "deniers" is unknown, chiefly because of the "climate of fear" that exists. Too many climatologists and scientists in related fields are afraid to buck the "truth" and perhaps lose their grants, jobs, or careers.
One meteorologist who is not afraid is Dr. William Gray, retired, famous for his hurricane forecasts, who addressed an audience of 300 at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte recently. The Courier Mail of October 13 ("Gore's climate theory savaged") reported that
"Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicized, said instead that a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures - related to the amount of salt in ocean water - is responsible for global warming that he acknowledges has taken place....However, he said, that same cycle means a period of global cooling will begin soon and last for several years."
Countering another of Gore's assertions, that man-caused global warming has caused an increase in hurricanes, the article reported that Gray "cited statistics, showing there were 101 hurricanes from 1900-1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared to 83 from 1957-2006, when the earth warmed."
"'The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures,' Gray said. He said his beliefs have made him an outsider in popular science.
"'It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong,'" said Gray. 'But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants.'"
He cares about the truth, and alluded in his talk to self-censorship by extortion and a fraternity of cowards.
Before Gore's covinous movie won either an Oscar or a Peace Prize, Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow in Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in September 2006 took the film apart nearly frame by frame, assertion by assertion. Among a multitude of things, he points out that Gore:
"Calls carbon dioxide [CO2] the 'most important greenhouse gas.' Water vapor is the leading contributor to the greenhouse effect."
"Claims that Venus is too hot and Mars too cold to support life due to differences in atmospheric CO2 concentrations (they are nearly identical), rather than differences in atmospheric densities and distances from the Sun (huge)."
"Claims that global warming is drying out soils all over the world, whereas pan evaporation studies (which measure the rate of evaporation from open pans of water) indicate that, in general, the Earth's surface is becoming wetter."
"Blames global warming for pine beetle infestations that likely have more to do with increased forest density [as a consequence of environmentalist policies, "Woodman, spare that tree! It has rights!"] and plain old mismanagement [again, management dominated in the forestry and national park bureaucracies by environmentalist policies]."
"Blames global warming for a 'mass extinction crisis' that is not, in fact, occurring."
"Claims that sea level rise could be many times larger and more rapid 'depending on the choices we make or do not make now' concerning global warming. Not so. The most aggressive choice America could make now would be to join Europe in implementing the Kyoto Protocol. Assuming the science underpinning Kyoto is correct [or objectively validated], the treaty would avert only 1 cm of sea level rise by 2050 and 2.5 cm by 2100."
"Claims that the European Union's emission trading system [linked to Kyoto] is working 'effectively.' In fact, the ETS is not reducing emissions, [it] will transfer an estimated £1.5 billion from British firms to competitors in countries with weaker controls, [it] has enabled oil companies to profit at the expense of hospitals and schools, and [it] has been an administrative nightmare for small firms." [Britain is a "have," and so is guilty and must be punished; competitors and "have not" countries are needy, and must be rewarded with being let off the totalitarian hook. Imagine the consequences in the U.S. if it ever becomes party to the looters' philosophy of the Kyoto Protocol.]
These are seven of the ninety-three points that Lewis raises and discusses in his paper, which is nothing less than a complete shredding of Gore's thesis (square brackets contain my observations). His paper, "A Skeptic's Guide to An Inconvenient Truth," may be read in its entirety at the CEI's site here.
For the report on the British High Court's ruling on Gore's movie, visit here.
For what one CNN weather forecaster has to say about the movie, visit here.
And as a counter Power Point Presentation about the Earth, climate, and the hoax of anthropogenic global warming (Gore's original production was a slide show), visit here. If Marlo Lewis's paper shreds Gore's thesis, this ten-minute presentation further reduces it to atoms.
The Courier Mail article on Dr. William Gray's stand against psuedo-science, which is the least unbiased report I could find, can be read here. It is significant that this report appears in an Australian newspaper, not a cowed American one. But then most American papers were afraid to reprint the Danish Mohammad cartoons, out of "respect" for the religion. Well, a lot of people "respected" Al Capone, Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin, and it wasn't from love.
It is interesting to note that it was Hollywood that made Gore's movie possible, and not any special marketing savvy of the former vice-president's. (At least he hasn't claimed any.) According to a Los Angeles Times article of October 13, "Even better than an Oscar,"
"Hollywood has been credited for playing a major role in the efforts that led to Gore's [Peace Prize] award Friday." Laurie David, apparently a power behind putting Gore on a studio blue screen, "saw Gore's slide show on global warming at a private Los Angeles presentation in 2004. She immediately asked Pulp Fiction producer Lawrence Bender to get involved. They approached Burns [Scott Burns, a producer of An Inconvenient Truth] and director Davis Guggenheim, then set up a pitch session with Gore at a hotel in San Francisco in spring 2005....Participant Productions - founded by EBay pioneer Jeff Skoll - came onboard with financing, and Guggenheim immediately went to work.....John Lesher, the newly installed head of Paramount Pictures' specialty film division, made the documentary one of his first purchases."
That figures. Leave it to West Coast, anti-American lefties to help a failed politician perpetrate a fraud, a big lie. It is also noteworthy that Laurie David immediately contacted Bender, producer of Quentin Tarantino's 1994 Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction, an episodic collection of stories about Los Angeles low-life criminals. Who better, she must have thought, to help pull off a celluloid non sequitur?
In "The Worm and the Spider," a review I wrote of Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction for the May 1995 Intellectual Activist (and which also appeared in the April 9, 1995 Las Vegas Review-Journal), I noted Bender's (and director Tarantino's) contempt for plot and logic, and his penchant for mindless violence, mayhem, and obscenities. It is a short cinematic journey, in terms of man-hating "art," from depicting the nihilism of brutes to the nihilism of environmentalism.
From one perspective, one cannot help but view Gore's An Inconvenient Truth as his vengeance for having lost the 2000 election to George W. Bush. Perhaps he wishes to punish America and Americans for having denied him the White House, from which he could have more easily imposed his (not our, what's this "we" business?) environmentalist "choices" without having to resort to a slide show.
From a more fundamental perspective, however, environmentalism, which has become a no-questions-permissible secular religion (and the last graspable straw of the left wing), is Gore's Allah, to which he is urging everyone to bow - or else.
“It’s a sideshow of a sideshow,” complained the British general in Cairo at the beginning of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, describing the campaign against the Turks and Germans in the Mideast during World War I. As history notes, the resolution of that sideshow by Western powers spawned greater problems for them in later decades, with the British and French creating the artificial regimes of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
Kuwait had been a British protectorate since 1899, while Saudi Arabia is a consequence of Wahhabist campaigns of conquest since the 18th century. The seven members of the United Arab Emirates were also sired by Western political expediency.
Of course, these are all Islamic countries, and some have gone beyond looking the gift horse in the mouth by either demanding submission of the West or calling for its defeat and eradication. Others, such as the UAE are too busy fleecing the West in enormous and extortionate wealth transfers via petrodollars to bother with a jihadist campaign of conquest, though there is plenty of evidence they are passive enablers of it.
The “sideshow” discussed here is an action of Congress that would greatly expand the welfare state. According to a Los Angeles Times article of October 7, “President says he’d compromise on insurance,” the congressional bill “would spend $60 billion over five years to expand health coverage for children of the working poor and middle-class, and it would pay for it with higher tobacco taxes.”
The article reports that President Bush’s “long-promised veto Wednesday set off an ideological battle about who holds responsibility for extending health-care benefits to uninsured children: the government or the private sector.
“Bush has offered $30 billion, a 20 percent increase over current levels but not enough to maintain the existing enrollment in what is known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program [SCHIP], budget analysts say.
“The program is managed by states within federal guidelines and serves about 6 million children. An estimated 9 million children remain uninsured in the U.S., and the number has been rising as employers cut back coverages.”
Let’s subject this reporting to some rational analysis.
The “ideological battle” is a phony one. Both Republicans and Democrats subscribe to the idea that the government has a “responsibility” to ensure that all children and adults have health care. The Republicans are for only a “little bit” of coercion as a moral imperative; the Democrats are more consistent, wanting to enact a coercive program that would entrap everyone, with no spending limits at all. Most Democrats and Republicans never learn that, in politics, an innocuous amount of force is always an overture to wholesale force. The shrewder ones do know.
The “private sector” mentioned in the article is already heavily regulated and subsidized. One would have thought that it was the “responsibility” of children’s parents – the unnamed portion of that “private sector” – to take care of their children, and not a federal or state Nurse Ratched. But rarely do parents enter the picture of national health proposals (except as tax cows).
As evidence of the Republicans’ ignorance of what a “little bit” of coercion logically entails, consider the nature of Bush’s “ideological” opposition to the congressional bill, as reported by the Los Angeles Times:
“He continued to describe the measure that he vetoed as ‘deeply flawed,’ contending that the plan was ‘an incremental step toward their [the Democrats’] goal of government-run health care for every American,’ which he believes is ‘the wrong direction for our country.’”
Which direction is that? Bush did not say. He dared not say.
What he meant was socialized medicine, a term rarely employed by most politicians today. I can recall Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani using it once, perhaps twice. Bush, however, did not want to accuse the Democrats of advocating it. After all, if he is willing to compromise with the bill’s proponents and supporters, calling them closet socialists wouldn’t make negotiations easy, and he doesn’t want to appear to be against health care for children, not the advocate of “No Child Left Behind. ”
And the Democrats do not want to alert Americans that this is exactly what they have in mind. So the term has been swept under the thick rug of populist rhetoric. How childish of these adults to believe that if one doesn’t name a thing, it can’t exist, that it isn’t what one means, that it can’t be or won’t ever be.
One of the bill’s interesting provisions is that it would discourage states from “enrolling children in families that earn more than $60,000 a year.” Do the bill’s authors believe that a household income of $60,000 a year puts the earner in the same income bracket with Bill Gates or George Soros? Do they mean $60,000 before or after taxes, not including all the hidden and direct sales and excise taxes that the average household pays day in and day out? In 1910, $60,000 might have been a small fortune (and it would have been in genuine, non-inflatable gold and silver, no less); to consider $60,000 in fiat, paper money a fortune is too laughable an idea to even dwell on.
It is especially laughable when one knows that every Congressman and Senator pulls in far, far more than $60,000 a year, without performing a single day of productive, wealth-producing labor. Who came up with the arbitrary $60,000 figure? Ted Kennedy, living off his family’s ill-gotten fortune and who has voted for and supported every piece of anti-American welfare legislation in his long and disreputable career? John Edwards, the glorified ambulance chaser who made his millions in medical malpractice suits? Multi-millionaire Hillary Clinton, whose transparent duplicity and power-lust are driving her political campaign?
Another interesting provision of the bill is that it would “boost tobacco taxes, raising the levy on cigarettes by 61 cents to $1 a pack.”
Remember the big tobacco industry “master agreement” of yore? It was supposed to fill state coffers so states could combat alleged tobacco-related illnesses and browbeat children and adults about the dangers of smoking. The tobacco industry is still coughing up billions, but all that money shortly was consumed by other state priorities and is still going to programs and pork barrels of the legislators’ eclectic choosings. Practically the only anti-tobacco ads one sees on television now are produced and paid for by Philip Morris.
On October 2, the Ayn Rand Institute published an Op-Ed by Don Watkins, “Anti-Smoking Paternalism: A Cancer on American Liberty.” It is worth quoting its opening paragraph:
“Across the country, state and local governments are banning smoking on private property, including bars, restaurants, and office buildings. This is just the latest step in the government’s war on smoking – a coercive campaign that includes massive taxes on cigarettes, advertising bans, and endless multi-billion lawsuits against tobacco companies. This war is infecting America with a political disease far worse than any health risk caused by smoking; it is destroying our freedom to make our own judgments and choices.”
Mr. Watkins can be forgiven for overlooking recent smoking bans in cars with kids as passengers and even outside one’s own home. Also worth mentioning are the fines and/or jail time some localities impose on adults for buying cigarettes for teens working “undercover” for cops. It's hard to keep up with the avalanche of controls at every level of government.
The subject of raising the tobacco tax merits more examination. About 70% of the price of any pack of cigarettes represents a combined levy of federal, state and local taxes, just as about 60% of the price of a gallon of gas represents mostly federal tax. But one of the alleged purposes of the “sin tax” on especially cigarettes is to discourage smokers from smoking, and coerce them into living “healthier” lives. This is presumably to enable them to better and more efficiently fund the welfare state; which means: living for the state. The contradictory conflict in ends should be obvious here – call it statist schizophrenia – that a dramatic rise in the cigarette tax is supposed to both fund either the Democrats’ $60 billion expansion of the welfare state or Bush’s $30 billion version, and also help stamp out smoking.
Hypothetically speaking, if the anti-smoking campaign is successful in stamping out smoking, with the consequence that the tax generates little or no tobacco revenue to the government, what do the health care bill’s supporters think will fund this five-year program? Where will the money come from?
One errs when one thinks that legislators think beyond a certain effect. But behind such pernicious, liberty-destroying legislation is their knowledge that there are plenty of other “sins” being committed by the population that can be taxed. Foods loaded with trans-fats. Gas. The Internet. Telephone usage. The possibilities are endless.
The welfare of children has often served as a Trojan horse for legislation that eventually is extended to cover adults, from child labor laws to minimum wage laws to medical care for the elderly. Children are viewed by most politicians and advocates of paternalistic and collectivist legislation as helpless in an adult world. But, as Don Watkins points out in his Op-Ed, it is only a matter of time before the government views adults as unprotected, helpless and ignorant, as well, needing the velvet-lined mailed fist of government to oversee their welfare.
“To the extent the anti-smoking movement succeeds in wielding the power of government coercion to impose on Americans its blanket opposition to smoking, it is entrenching paternalism: the view that individuals are incompetent to run their own lives, and thus require a nanny-state to control every aspect of those lives.”
Sideshows such as the proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program have a tendency to become three-ring circuses, featuring the looted in one ring, the loot’s recipients in another, and in the middle a master of ceremonies wielding a whip, barking platitudes about sacrifice and the public good.
Give the man a microphone and he'll talk about anything. For 76 minutes, President Bush prowled the stage Wednesday in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, giving a speech and answering questions about everything from his opposition to tax increases to his veto of a bill to expand children's health insurance.
But he covered a lot of other ground, too.
Bush gave an intriguing description about what happens when businesses expand, as was the case here at a company run by a woman.
"You know, when you give a man more money in his pocket ? in this case, a woman ? more money in her pocket to expand a business, they build new buildings. And when somebody builds a new building, somebody has got to come and build the building.
"And when the building expanded, it prevented (sic) additional opportunities for people to work. Tax cuts matter. I'm going to spend some time talking about it," the president said.
He offered a pointed description of his job.
"My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions," the president said.
He elaborated on that point later.
"I delegate to good people. I always tell Condi Rice, `I want to remind you, Madam Secretary, who has the Ph.D. and who was the C student. And I want to remind you who the adviser is and who the president is.'
"I got a lot of Ph.D.-types and smart people around me who come into the Oval Office and say, `Mr. President, here's what's on my mind.' And I listen carefully to their advice. But having gathered the device (sic), I decide, you know, I say, `This is what we're going to do.' And it's `Yes, sir, Mr. President.' And then we get after it, implement policy."
Bush, known for his impatience when fellow leaders rattle on, acknowledged he was doing the same himself in his opening remarks.
"I'll be glad to answer some questions from you if you got any," he said. "If not, I can keep on blowing hot air until the time runs out."
If you want to measure the progressive success of what the Muslim Brotherhood calls in its manifesto “Civilization Jihad” (or what Steven Emerson or Robert Spencer would call “cultural jihad”), one need look no further than the front page of The Washington Times of October 3rd. At the bottom is the headline, “Pentagon observes Muslim holy month,” accompanied by a color photograph of several people, some in uniform, others not, bowing east to Mecca. Up front are all the shoeless men; far in the rear, women in hijibs and caftans.
“Navy imam Chaplain Abuhena M. Saifulisam lifted his voice to God as he called to prayer more than 100 Department of Defense employees Monday at a celebration of Ramadan at the Pentagon.
“’God is most great,’ sang the lieutenant commander and Islamic leader, in Arabic, as iftar – the end of the daily fast – began.”
Isn’t that what Mohammad Atta and his fellow kamikaze “warriors” yelled as they flew their hijacked planes into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and a Pennsylvania field on 9/11? So, the religion that was “hijacked,” according to President Bush, has penetrated the Pentagon again.
“As the Pentagon celebrated Ramadan, the White House is in preparations for an iftar feast tomorrow, said Lt. Commander Saifulislam, who will be participating at the White House events.
“’President and Mrs. Bush host an iftar dinner every year because they want people around the world to know how much they respect Islam and the many Muslims living in the U.S. who are free to worship as they want, and are an integral part of our society,’ said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.”
Consider the “war against terrorism” lost then. After all, President Bush not only “respects” Islam, the born-again Christian also hears God speaking to him.
“’We live in a great nation,’ said master of ceremonies Lt. Col. Timothy Oldenburg, a Muslim. ‘Yes, it is our First Amendment right to do that – to practice our religion the way we feel, to worship God and to come to the Pentagon and celebrate Ramadan.’”
Timothy Oldenburg? He must be a convert who “embraced” the creed. Does he have a secret Arabic-style name? Most Western Islamic converts usually adopt one. A photo of him also accompanies The Washington Times article. It shows a beardless, smiling face, bland except for glassy eyes sparkling with flinty, defensive sanctimony. Why is demonstrating his obeisance to Allah in the Pentagon so important to him? Aren’t taxpayers’ dollars already being wasted in the “war on terror”? Must they also subsidize multi-denominational chapels and a wayside mosque, as well?
If Sharia law gains legal ground as a legitimate moral code and begins to insinuate itself into American civil law – as various American Muslim groups are working to do – of what value will be the First Amendment?
Once upon a time, there was a separation of church and state. Doubtless in less religion-conscious times, Pentagon employees practiced their “faith” elsewhere, that is, outside the Pentagon. I have not been to the Pentagon, but there were and probably still are multi-denominational “chapels” throughout the maze, but before 9/11, not one Muslim prayer room, outfitted with prayer rugs and whatever other paraphernalia Muslims need to do the Holy Hokey-Pokey.
If the establishment of Muslim prayer rooms in the Pentagon post-dates 9/11, it must be a consequence of President Bush’s “outreach” policy to the moderate Borg.
Here is the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to freely assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
It could be argued that the taxpayer subsidy of the means with which Oldenburg and his fellow Muslims can freely exercise their Islamic Druidism in the Pentagon constitutes a de facto establishment of religion. The same argument can be made against the Christian chapels. If they want to freely assemble to freely exercise their various ghost-worshipping delusions, they can do it elsewhere, not on property taxpayers are maintaining with their confiscated dollars.
(Coincidentally, when I was in the Air Force, I questioned the propriety of churches on military bases.)
“’We do all we can to help meet the religious needs of our soldiers,’ said Deputy Pentagon Chaplain Army Maj. Alan Pomaville, a Christian, who attended the iftar alongside the Muslim chaplains. ‘The leadership in the [Defense Department] wants to care for the body of the whole soldier.’”
But, apparently, not care enough to win a war. Not even the wrong one.
“The Navy’s chief of chaplains, Rear Adm. Robert F. Burt, reminded those attending the ceremony that American men and women, regardless of their religious background, should be honored because all ‘are willing to put their uniform on and lay down their life for this country.’” [Sic]
The egregious grammar aside, what is the rear admiral’s point? Should it make a difference to anyone whether these soldiers are Methodists, Muslims, Catholics, or members of some other sect of ghost-worshipers?
“Lt. Cmdr. Saifulislam said he has presided over funerals of young Muslims service members who have given their lives in the fight against terrorism.” Did he mention they were killed by fellow Muslims? No.
“The first Muslim U.S. congressman – Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat – also attended the iftar, along with Imam Sheik Rashid Lamptey, executive director of the Muslim Association of Virginia….
“As the night’s festivities concluded, Lt. Col. Oldenburg presented Sheik Lamptey with an American flag that flew over the Pentagon on September 7.”
Doubtless the sheik will use it as a prayer rug, first having a humble Muslim seamstress alter it to replace the 50 stars in the blue canton with a big white crescent on a green canton (Saudi colors).
“’It is not a choice for us to know each other,’ said Lt. Cmdr. Saifulislam regarding the diversity in the U.S. and military. ‘It is a necessity for us to know each other.’”
I must agree, but with the proviso that I like to know my enemy. All things are not bright and beautiful, least of all Islam.
Speaking of Virginia, there was a minor flap over Governor Timothy Kaine’s appointment of a Muslim, Dr. Esam Omeish, a northern Virginia surgeon and president of the Muslim American Society, to the Virginia Commission on Immigration. When someone reminded the governor that MAS is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the mother of all Islamic jihadist organizations, Omeish was asked to resign from the appointment.
Omeish claimed that he was forced out as a result of a “right wing” smear campaign and “Islamophobia.” But, he “smeared” himself when excerpts of his speeches, which called for violent jihad – the “jihad way” – against Israel in support of the Palestinians, appeared on YouTube, and were communicated to Governor Kaine and widely publicized.
In an Associated Press article in the Daily Press (Newport News, Va) of September 29, “Right-wing campaign blamed for ouster,” Omeish is reported to have said at a September 28 press conference that his use of the term “jihad” was misinterpreted. “’It is not a call for violence. We never condone terrorists,’ Omeish said of his speeches on behalf of the Palestinians. ‘We have been very clear from the beginning. It is the same every time we speak. It’s consistent based on our beliefs.’”
This man is blessed with the “gift of tongues.”
“Jihad,” insists Omeish and his brethren, merely means a personal “struggle.” But, a “struggle” against what? Reason? Freedom? Being Westernized? Succumbing to the liberty of smoking, eating, drinking, ogling beautiful girls, and chewing gum during Ramadan? It’s a “spiritual” struggle, they claim. Well, Atta and his fellow zombies won their “spiritual struggle” and attained a complete state of self-annihilation, together with the annihilation of 3,000 people.
That is “the jihad way” in its most personal, essential, and fundamental meaning.
No, activist Muslims never “condone terrorists,” not publicly. That is part and parcel of their Janus-like practice of taqiya, or Mohammad-sanctioned dissimilation for the infidels and the dhimmis, current and future. Among themselves, and in mosques, their rhetoric is fiery and more to the point. He is right that what he said in his speeches is “consistent” with his beliefs. Orwell had a term for that kind of consistency: doublethink.
“Some anti-terror groups [read Steve Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, God forbid they get the free publicity that “moderate” Muslims get],” goes the AP article, “have for years been critical of the Muslim American Society, alleging that it is essentially a front group for Islamic radicals and citing links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a popular movement in the Muslim world that advocates the formation of Islamic governments in the Middle East.”
This piece of news must take the award for disingenuous “reporting.” The “alleged” links have been thoroughly documented by Emerson, Pipes, Spencer, Wafa Sultan, and others. And, the Brotherhood advocates not only forming Islamic governments in the Middle East, but in the West, as well.
Again, from the Muslim Brotherhood’s manifesto:
“The Ikhwan [invaders, the Borg, the Orcs, fifth columnists, what have you] must understand that all their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ their miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all religions.”
Apparently, when discussing the “alleged” links to such a program of conquest, the reporter didn’t want to “go there.” Congress doesn’t need to abridge freedom of speech or the press, not when most of the press abridges its own freedom in the name of political correctness [otherwise called self-censorship] and reports only the news that fits a multicultural mantra. To report the “alleged” facts might upset CAIR, MAS, Oldenburg and Omeish. Not to mention the Saudis, the Taliban, Ahmadinejad, and the Brotherhood itself. The reporting of the facts about the Brotherhood they would all characterize as “Islamophobia.”
The Washington Times of October 3 also carried a long commentary by Cal Thomas on Omeish’s resignation, “The Jihad Way.” While Thomas makes many of the same points that are made here, he errs when he employs the terms “extremist,” “radical” and “moderate” when describing Muslims who are in the public eye (and not the poor saps who run the local 7/11 or Citgo station). Apparently he doesn’t get it either, that Islam is neither “radical” nor “extremist,” that it is what it is, a political-theological ideology of conquest and reverse assimilation which the rank-and-file lack either the brains or spine to repudiate. His “heart” is in the right place – he sees the danger of taking creatures like Omeish for their word – but his mind is elsewhere.
“Former Pakistani President Benazir Bhutto, a moderate Muslim, was in Washington last week. I asked her how concerned the United States should be, especially when we see and hear radical talk from people such as Dr. Omeish.
“Speaking of the radicals, she told me ‘They are infiltrating [the United States and England]. What I am hearing is that they are now wanting to buy people off [and] plant people in intelligence and the military….’” After reminiscing about how “moderate” Islam was when she was a girl, she added that the “West is losing the war against radicals.”
Buying people off with Saudi and United Arab Emirates petrodollars, and planting people in the Pentagon? Unthinkable! What a slanderous thought!
I have said it before many times: Excise the fundamentals from the fundamentalist nature of the creed, and there would be no Islam, radical, extremist, moderate, or otherwise.
In the meantime, Hirsi Ali, the Dutch member of parliament who repudiated Islam, fled the Netherlands for the U.S., and was hired by the American Enterprise Institute, has been forced to return to the land of Dutch dhimmis because while the U.S. issued her a green card for permanent residency, it shortly afterwards refused to offer her protection from Islamic assassins for “legal reasons.” Up to now, the Dutch government had paid for that protection, and now is withdrawing it. According to DutchNews.nl of October 3, she will continue her work with the AEI from a secret address. That is, from hiding.
Her implicit expulsion doubtless was a coordinated effort of the State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, not a part of Bush’s “outreach” policy. After all, if she were allowed to stay, that might have offended “moderate” Muslims. One supposes that Emma Lazarus’s inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty can’t apply to Hirsi Ali.
Yes, we will allow countless semi-literate, politically clueless, tribalist Mexicans into the country (and not utter a word to them about how and why the country was founded, that would be “racist” or “cultural imperialism”), but not welcome anyone with brains, principles, character and courage.
By the way, October 12 will be a red-letter day for the U.S. It marks two holidays, neither of them American: Eid al Fitr, the end of Ramadan, and Dia de la Raza, or the Mexican “Day of the Race.”
The continuing debate over John Lewis' speech at GMU
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 10:12 AM
It seems that the fallout from John Lewis' talk at George Mason continues to settle judging by some recent letters-to-the-editor printed in the campus newspaper. In this one, the writer alleges that the charges that Lewis' talk was disrupted by pro-Iranian sympathizers are overblown on the grounds that the only person ejected from the event by police was a Lewis supporter. Unfortunately for this claim, the person who was removed tells a far different story of his ejection in a letter his submitted to the student paper but was never published. I include the letter below:
I am writing with respect to your coverage of Dr. John Lewis' April 24 talk at your University. John Grimsley's article in the Broadside Online of May 4, 2007, titled "No Substitute for Conflict - 'Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism' Met with Protest" refers.
Mr. Grimsley wrote: "One audience member was kicked out over a dispute with another person."
This "dispute" was far more substantive than is suggested by the write-up. I am the person who was asked to leave, and my eviction by the school authorities was absolutely unjustified.
I am not a student at GMU but a visitor: a 33-year-old software engineer who attended the event in order to hear Dr. Lewis speak. I was seated at the back of the room before the talk began and moved to the front only because the unruly "protesters" were obscuring the vision and hearing of the rest of us in the audience. In my new seat, I happened to be in the second row, behind some of the College Republicans, and four seats to the right of three individuals who were noticeably antagonistic towards Dr. Lewis' remarks.
In the very tense and inhospitable atmosphere engendered by the "protesters," I asked a young woman two seats away from me why the (University) policemen present couldn't remove the "protesters," since they were so disruptive and obviously did not want to listen to the lecture. As she nodded in agreement, the antagonistic individuals to my left chorused, unsolicited, "Free speech!" My response was to ignore them, softly noting under my breath, "Not in here," for I am well aware that one cannot invoke free speech out of context. To invoke free speech on behalf of these "protesters" would be akin to doing so on behalf of a person who shouts "Fire!" in a crowded theatre for no reason.
As soon as I turned away from them, these individuals got up from their seats and went towards the back of the hall. Since I did not turn my head completely, I do not know what transpired there.
They returned about fifteen minutes later and proceeded to seat themselves *directly* around me. There was a large, heavily-bearded man in a suit behind me in the third row; another man in glasses in a longish shirt to my left; and a third fellow next to the large man behind me. The bespectacled fellow made menacing faces at me as he sat down. In the near-riot atmosphere, I wondered about my physical safety.
During the talk, which I found powerful in its identification of many truths, I and others stood up several times to applaud Dr. Lewis.
The lecture ended, and the question-and-answer period began. Two lines were formed on the floor, to the left and right of the stage, upon which the speaker, Dr. Lewis, stood. The heavily-bearded individual behind me stood up and joined the line on my left in order to ask a question. When his turn came, he identified himself as a Moslem and posed his questions. Dr. Lewis responded to his questions. The next person in line, a woman, asked her questions. While Dr. Lewis was delivering his answers to those questions, the heavily-bearded fellow, who was now back in his seat behind me, began to shout objections at Dr. Lewis' remarks. This effectively drowned out the speaker, especially for me, as I was so closely seated to the objector.
Acting on the assurances made by the leading university official present [the Director of Student Life for Multicultural Affairs, if I recall correctly] that disrupters would be warned and removed, I asked the man behind me to join the line if he wished to ask another question. When he bluntly refused, I warned that I would ask the authorities to remove him. In a most histrionic manner, he stood up violently and exclaimed, "Is that a threat?!!" This had the effect of drawing attention to both of us, especially as his bearing and tone implied that I had threatened him physically. As one security officer (male, dark-haired, medium-build) approached, I told him and all who cared to listen that I had not threatened my accuser in the way he had suggested. I then repeated what I had said to my accuser. The officer politely told me he would like to have a word with me by one of the lines formed near the stage. Because of my respect for the law and for lawful conduct, I stood up and followed the officer.
When we got to the stage, I stood there quietly, waiting for a calm investigation, as befits proper law-enforcement, to commence. One of the other security officers (bald, medium build), walking towards the doors, signaled to the man who had asked me to stand up. The dark-haired officer then asked me to walk out of the room with him. I asked him why. Gesturing toward the stage where the Director stood, he said a university official had asked that I be escorted out.
Not wishing to cause any commotion, I walked out, hoping to state my case more easily once in the lobby. To my amazement, I was accused of threatening to "break [my accuser’s] neck"!!
Did my accuser allege this, I asked? No, said the bald officer, who then maintained that *he* had heard me threaten my accuser. This lie was delivered with a straight face – without any moral compunction. I maintained my innocence, over which he bluntly ordered me to leave. I left quietly, stating "for the record" that his charges were false.
The above is my honest recollection of that evening’s events.
One can see that, in spite of my total, civilized co-operation, no benefit of the doubt was accorded me. I was judged without any hearing whatsoever. It is a mystery how the officer who said he had heard me could have done so, since no officer was seated in the audience and since even people seated two or three seats away from me have reportedly said they did not know anything was going on until my accuser raised his voice. Yet, the disruptive "protesters," who seemed on the verge of effecting bodily harm on the speaker, were allowed to operate freely.
It is a terrible shame that this injustice could have taken place at George Mason University, or at any American university for that matter. As an immigrant to the United States, I hold this country in the highest esteem, as the nation which symbolizes the very best of Western Civilization: the unimpeded use of man’s reason to seek truth by analyzing the facts of reality. American universities are the bastions of free inquiry, and American law and law-enforcement are centered on the protection of this inalienable individual right.
These university policemen did not seek to gather, much less analyze, the facts of a narrow situation such as occurred inside Johnson Cinema that Monday. They did not even attempt to question witnesses or bother to have my accuser repeat his charges to my face in the lobby. Civility was met with force, while the mob mentality prevailed.
If this is how George Mason University protects the rights of the individual, one can only wonder about the safety of its members.
I find it deeply disturbing that Mr. Ogunshola was ejected from the Lewis talk under such circumstances, particularly when the people who were actually disrupting the talk were allowed to stay and continue with their disruption. I hope that the Mason community continues with its soul-searching over the importance of free speech and intellectual freedom on campus, and resolves to never surrender that freedom again.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who is disappointed to hear that Cox and Forkum have decided to stop producing editorial cartoons. Alan Forkum offers his rationale here and one can hardly disagree with his reasoning. Nevertheless, this creative duo will be deeply missed.
As someone who grew up as a boy reading editorial cartoons in the Buffalo News, I recall how I used to eagerly flip to the editorial pages when the news truck dropped of the papers that I would deliver on my paper route. Invariability, the wry wisdom offered by Tom Toles or Oliphant would strike to the heart of the matter and reveal the hypocrisy of whomever was being lampooned. Yet as I grew up intellectually and came to agree with Objectivism, I found that most editorial cartoons seemed to do little more than serve as a mouthpiece for the shrill and America-hating left. Over time, I simply gave up on what had once been a special passion of mine.
Thankfully, that editorial drought changed when Cox and Forkum arrived upon the cartooning scene. For the first time in my adult life, there were editorial cartoons that defended my values—and did so with intelligence and aplomb. In the time that the pair were active, Cox and Forkum's cartoons served as a brilliant and wholly original beacon of light in the dull gray world of American politics. They heaped criticism on those who deserved it. They stood up and fought for the good like few others. They, like their ubiquitous Uncle Sam character, beat the drum of freedom and American pride with a sharp mind and an obvious glad heart.
So I thank Cox and Forkum for their insight and creativity. Since at least part of their reasons for shutting down are financial, I'd be the first to acknowledge that they gave more than they got back, and I'm saddened to see it. They were simply the best political cartoonists in America and in their absence they will be missed.