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:: The Rule of Reason ::

:: Friday, May 27, 2011 ::

Much Ado about Nothing: Fatal Fallacies about “Palestine” 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 9:49 PM

There were many pluses in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress on May 24th, and some critical minuses. It was, however, refreshing to listen to a speech that was not inflated with platitudes and bromides. It was a sincere speech, delivered forthrightly and largely unconcerned with what President Barack Obama might think of it. And it was especially refreshing to see someone publicly lecture Obama on the realities of the Mideast. Unlike some critics of Netanyahu’s speech, I derived much satisfaction from seeing our Dissimulator-in-Chief effectively slapped down for the arrogance of his putative, feigned ignorance of those realities. One can respect the office of president, but not its occupant. And respect for the office is something I am certain Obama wishes to destroy, given his behavior at home and abroad. And he is no friend of Israel.

Judge for yourself. On May 19th Obama said:

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

Only a fool would believe that Israel would be “secure” when its committed enemies are only a stone’s throw away from its major population centers.

It would be fruitless to gainsay Netanyahu’s speech. One cannot envy the Prime Minister for having had to make it. He walks on a political and rhetorical tightrope. Beneath its honesty and sincerity, and to the contrary notwithstanding the numerous standing ovations the speech received, was an undercurrent of trepidation. One could sense it while watching him deliver the speech and by reading between the lines of a transcript of the speech. Will America ask Israel to submit to destruction, to commit suicide? It has been observed by conservative and liberal pundits alike that Obama’s Mideast speech of May 19th was a thinly disguised betrayal of Israel and a communication of an imperative that Israel put itself in fatal jeopardy by going back the “1967 lines.” I am sure this was not lost on Netanyahu. He reminded Obama that those borders are indefensible, and that the idea is a prescription for Israel’s accelerated annihilation.

There were, however, elements in Netanyahu’s speech that do not bode well for the future of Israel. One of them was this statement:

"Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam."

This is the fatal crack in the dam of Netanyahu’s moral certainty and moral certitude. It can only widen and usher in a flood of concessions to the Palestinians and whatever party brokers an agreement between these savages and Israel. One can see that in the text of the speech, in the Prime Minister’s willingness to make “painful compromises” to accommodate the Palestinians. It is tantamount to saying, “Militant Nazism threatens the world. It threatens Nazism.” The statement, as Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch tries to point out, masks the fallacy that Islam is just another religion whose adherents are married to its core tenets and who are responsible for all the mayhem. These are the “extremists.” All other Muslims are blameless. But they are not blameless, no more blameless than Nazi Party members who did not invade European countries or did not herd Jews into gas chambers. All those “passive,” blameless Muslims must share responsibility for the crimes committed in the name of their religion, for it is an ideology of totalitarianism.

The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are vital. But they're not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians. Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.

I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace.

This is not easy for me. I recognize that in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up parts of the Jewish homeland. In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo.

There is no way to negotiate with a tribe of savages who wish to destroy you. Netanyahu’s statements suggest that the Palestinians wish for the same things that Israelis want and have. This is placing a benevolent construct on the intentions of a boa constrictor that is already entwined around one’s leg and is working its way up to one’s torso. I believe he knows better. But to condemn the Palestinians publicly would ensure a violent reaction that could lose what little support Israel has in the United States.

One can understand the pragmatism of such a statement. Netanyahu does not have the luxury of speaking his mind about Islam. He could very well be impeached or brought to trial in Israel itself, as Geert Wilders has been in the Netherlands, for even insinuating that Islam is a nihilist ideology which, among other things, regards Jews and other non-believers as the equivalent of pigs and dogs, the eternal enemies of Islam and Muslims. The pragmatism, however, does not make it right.

Islamic ideology is what it is, and nothing else. Would Netanyahu call the Gazans “moderate” Islamists, but not “extremists”? What does Netanyahu think motivates the “extremists”? He has made no connection between the ideology and the actions it inspires. Not publicly. That is a tragic and dangerous failing.

Not entirely unrelated to Netanyahu’s speech, is this news item from Dutch News:

The public prosecution department on Wednesday called for PVV leader Geert Wilders to be found not guilty of inciting hatred, as it tied up its case against the MP. Prosecutors say Wilders' remarks are critical of Islam which is not the same as inciting hatred against Muslims themselves.

This is good news that should be read with reservations. (And I believe that the outrage expressed by bloggers and others over Wilders' plight has influenced the prosecution to ask for a "not guilty" verdict.) One's reservation should be that there should be no recognized crime such as "hate speech." The notion conflicts with the concept of freedom of speech. "Hate speech" bypasses the legitimate notions of slander and libel, neither of which can incite "violence" against the slandered or libeled. "Hate speech" was invented to gag anyone critical of any group's ideology through fear of prosecution. “Hurt feelings” or “loss of dignity” or “insults” are not evidence of a crime. No force was employed by Wilders. Wilders should never have been charged with anything, because the focus of his remarks was on Islam's ideology, not on individual Muslims, singly or collectively. He has said so many times himself.

Notice, for example, that the liars of the University of East Anglia and their allies, such as Al Gore, have not brought suit against anyone for "hate speech" for having discredited the whole global warming theory and the credibility and reputations of the AGW advocates and conspirators. Wilders has done the same service in the name of truth by excoriating the nature of Islam. While the prosecution’s recommendation is a step in the right direction, the Dutch judiciary and government should discard the whole fallacy of “hate speech.”

“Peace” with the Palestinians is also a fallacy. As Ayn Rand succinctly put it, “In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win.” And the Palestinians are a tribe poisoned by generations of racial and religious hate. It is a population of nihilists, of zeroes. They are ruled by a terrorist organization that has declared Israel illegitimate and a legitimate target for eradication.

Florida congressman Allen West, in his response to Obama’s Mideast speech, made this interesting historical note:

America should never negotiate with the Palestinian Authority- which has aligned itself with Hamas. Palestine is a region, not a people or a modern state. Based upon Roman Emperor Hadrian’s declaration in 73 AD, the original Palestinian people are the Jewish people.

My defense of Israel rests, however, on the fact that it is a productive, Westernized, semi-free nation, and not on its historical antecedents. And the creation of Israel was the sole moral action ever taken by the United Nations.

A reader known only to me as “Jake,” in a posting about my “On Planet Obama” commentary, which also appeared on Capitalism Magazine, provided an excellent précis of Middle East history in the context of the continuing Israeli-Arab conflict. I reprint his entire commentary here because, first, it is educational, and second, it is an instance of clear thinking one will not encounter in the news media or in politics.

The “Palestinians” are a recent invention and a myth propagated to demonize Israel. There is no nation called “Palestine” and there is no such thing as a “Palestinian” people. There never has been such a nation or such a people. “Palestine” simply refers to the state that fanatic Islamists hope will replace Israel, once it is destroyed.

After the Great War [World War I], the British controlled a chunk of land that they dubbed “the Palestine Mandate.” Even though they promised the Zionists a “national home” for Jews on this land; they soon caved to Arab hysteria and gave the Arabs 80% of the land in 1921 (this is modern-day Jordan). What was left of the Mandate had already long been settled by Arabs and Jews. Jews had lived there continuously for 3,700 years. Indeed; there had been no Arabs on this land, ever, until the barbaric Muslim Imperial invasions of the 7th Century. Since the Jews had been living here for thousands of years; there was no reason at all why these Jews could not set up a formal government on their homeland to be recognized by the UN.

In 1948; the Jews were given less than half of the 10% that was left of the Mandate, with the rest going to the Arabs who had also lived on the land that remained. They were given three slivers of indefensible, disconnected land less than 10 miles across. The Arabs were given the ancient Jewish homes of Judea and Samaria, and the UN got control of their holy city of Jerusalem (which was surrounded by Arab land). This tiny nation of literally only 800,000 Jews, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, and with absolutely no natural resources in the barren wasteland of desert that represented 60% of the land it controlled; was now surrounded by declared enemies with a total population exceeding 100 million.

The Arab populace in Israel was almost as large as the Jewish population. The Israelis declared that any Arab who chose to stay in Israel would enjoy equal rights under the law, and decided to make both Arabic and Hebrew their official languages. Due to the industrial and agricultural development the Jews brought about; the Arab population of this land had actually more than tripled from what it was. If the Arabs had been willing to accept more than 90% of the land when they were offered it, there would have been no Middle East conflict.

Instead; the murderous Arab dictatorships of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia, urged on by Yemen; declared war and attacked Israel on the day of its creation. In an astonishing display of courage and heroism on a breathtaking scale; the Israelis swiftly defeated them all without much trouble. Urged on by their political and spiritual leaders, an estimated 472,000 Arabs fled their homes in Israel on their own accord to escape the danger and brutality of the invading Arab armies. The Arab dictators assured them that Israel would be promptly destroyed, and that they could return once all the Jews were dead.

The “Palestinians” who lived in the Arab area of the UN partition never attempted to set up a “Palestinian” state, because the myth of their distinct “Palestinian” nationality had yet to be devised. So Jordan took over the entire West Bank in 1950. There was no call for “ending the occupation.”

The Israelis properly refused to let back in the Arab savages who had left Israel in order to celebrate the hope of its violent destruction. They let any Arab who chose to stay remain, and today those Arab Israelis enjoy far more rights and privileges, and a greater standard of living, than that which any other Arab population anywhere else in the entire Middle East enjoy. This is because Israel is the only free country in the entire Middle East region: All the rest are feudal monarchies, theocratic dungeons, or totalitarian slave states.

More than 600,000 Jews were forcibly evicted from the lands on which they had lived for centuries under threat of torture or murder by the tin-pot Arab strongmen. The Israelis welcomed them all into Israel and today they enjoy a wonderful standard of living in a beautiful and well-developed nation. The unwanted “Palestinian” refugees, urged to leave by their own leaders, were deliberately kept by those same leaders in squalid camps of unspeakable poverty for decades—despite the oil wealth the Arab nations gained by simply stealing Western oil fields and nationalizing them. They did this in order to keep the so-called “Palestinians” desperate and angry enough to be easily indoctrinated with the hatred necessary for future wars against Israel. Naturally; their self-created debased condition was blamed on Israel.

Israel has had to fight five wars in self-defense against the hostile Arab aggressors. Despite having every right to annex the land it seized from the aggressors—as every other nation has done—Israel astonishingly refused to do so, and expressed the hope that the land could be traded for peace. The Arabs, however, remained in a declared state of war against Israel. Given that they were determined to destroy Israel; Israel had no choice but to hold onto some of the land from which the Arabs had launched their previous attacks in order to render itself defensible. The Arabs who denounce this are nothing but criminals protesting the alleged “injustice” of having their guns confiscated by the police.

Israel has offered the Palestinians 95% of their demands and received nothing in return but terrorism. There is nothing Israel could ever do to satisfy the blood-lust of the Palestinians. They want the destruction of Israel more than they want a better life for themselves. They admit as much with pride every time Westerners go to “Palestine” to poll them on their opinions. Israelis who bring fuel and electricity into Gaza are regularly murdered or mutilated by fundamentalist killers. Israel allows sick or injured Palestinians to seek medical treatment in Israel. Hamas poses as Palestinian patients in order to suicide bomb Jewish doctors. While there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Israel who call for “Peace Now” with the Palestinians and speak with passion about their sufferings; there are no notable Palestinian spokesmen who even recognize Jews as human.

In short, knowingly or not, constant and repeated reference to the “Palestinians” represents the reification of a tribe of zeroes, who wish to be something they are not and can never be by murdering those who are something. They are nothing, identityless. They wish to reduce Israel to nothingness. That is Islam. That is nihilism. And pragmatism, compromise, and moral relativism make it possible.

The only true “Palestinians” are the Israelis.

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:: Sunday, May 22, 2011 ::

On Planet Obama 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 8:43 AM

One sometimes wonders what planet President Barack Obama lives on. It must be that mythical doppelganger of Earth that revolves unseen by us on the exact opposite side of the Sun. There, he can address a gathering in the State Department about an incredible vision of an Israel that is peacefully embraced on all sides by a benign Palestinian state whose government and citizens bear no grudge against Israel – an incredible vision of “coexistence” which nonetheless everyone believes is possible. There, in that mythical Palestine, Muslims win most of the Nobel Prizes in science and medicine, and Muslims read accounts of how Muslims discovered America and landed men on the moon.

There, Muslim entrepreneurs invented the Internet and economical ways to irrigate desert land. There, Muslims are close to curing cancer. Gaza is known as the “Haight-Ashbury” of the Middle East, populated by Woodstockian, free-loving, surf-happy hippies. There, Palestinians are noted for their strenuous opposition to the death penalty, and who stiffen indignantly at any suggestion that they would ever accept foreign aid or handouts. There, the Hamas Medical Center in Samaria rivals the Mayo Clinic in cutting edge research. There, the late Yasser Arafat, at his own private expense, operated an “underground railroad” that spirited tens of thousands of Jews, Copts, Christians and apostate former Muslims from religious and political persecution in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iran. There, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem rivals that in Washington, D.C. in size and information.

Fantasy? Please excuse the satire. It is nearly amusing to mock the zeroes of “Palestine” with wondrous achievements and virtues. But, is the vision of the real Barack Obama in his real May 19th speech any less fantastic? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for all to see, in the company of the president, sent Obama to the back of the class in his reply that this vision is not going to happen, because reality will not conform to his vision or his wishes.

What is Obama’s vision of the Middle East?

For one thing, it is the deliberate encirclement of Israel by a Palestinian state. His notion of a contiguous Palestinian state means the linkage of Gaza and the West Bank. Which means that Israel would need to surrender its Mediterranean side, cede all of the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and have a single border – with a Palestinian state and no other. The alternative, after “swaps” probably negotiated by Jimmy Carter, at best would mean a contiguous Palestinian state that would cut Israel in half. Any way one looks at it, it means the dismemberment, strangulation and asphyxiation of Israel. Or death.

The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

The death of Israel has been the goal of the Palestinians for half a century.

Off camera, out of sight, the wolves are licking their chops.

That is the nub of Obama’s speech. All else is patronizing, insincere nonsense. To wit:

The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

Which outcome? The destruction of Israel? Because that is all the “process” can produce.

Like Henry II about the stubborn Thomas Becket, the “international community” is “tired” of the troublesome effort to reconcile good and evil. “Will no one rid us of this troublesome nation?” And, of course, there is Helen Thomas’s solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum: the Jews should go back to a Europe, as it morphs into Eurabia, that is growing more and more inhospitable for Jews.

“Permanent occupation”? To the victor of three wars, all initiated by Israel’s enemies, belongs the land, to be permanently occupied and annexed into the nation because, well, the Arabs, who invaded Israel, lost. And possession of those lands has helped to guarantee Israel’s existence. Tough. Too bad. You initiate force, you risk loss. That is the reality of war.

The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

This is fantasy on LSD. Israel withdrew from Gaza. Result? Thousands of rockets fired into Israel. Tunnels that smuggle arms and terrorists into Gaza. The Israeli withdrawal was a gesture of peace. The Palestinian answer was a “peace” sign composed of an upraised middle finger.

The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people. In the recent protests, we see that talent on display, as people harness technology to move the world. It's no coincidence that one of the leaders of Tahrir Square was an executive for Google. That energy now needs to be channeled, in country after country, so that economic growth can solidify the accomplishments of the street.

The only technology I am aware of that Muslims are harnessing is the technology of murder, massacre and war, and it has moved the world from one of relative safety to one of unknown, unpredictable peril, in America, and abroad. As for that Google executive who was a “leader” of Tahir Square, has he apologized to Lara Logan for the assault on her by pro- and anti-Mubarak Muslims? Guess not. Rape and brutality are the Arab way. Or the islamic way. It is written.

For just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of individual opportunity, successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-based prosperity.

Obama is right to use the term “democratic.” Democracy means mob rule by a majority. The majorities in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria are Muslim. Muslims, like Obama, have no conception of individual rights, or of freedom of speech. They will vote the straight Islamic ticket drawn up by Hamas, Fatah, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is the height of venality for Obama to speak of “individual opportunity” and “broad-based prosperity” when he is doing his damnedest to eradicate those things in the United States. Anything Obama has ever said or will ever say about “prosperity” and “inalienable rights” and “the rule of law” is glitter-dusted excelsior concealing his main point, like the stuff that swaddled the bogus Maltese Falcon. In this instance, his main point is to assign Israel the impossible task of playing Huggy Bear and kiss-kiss with Hamas, Fatah, and any random Palestinian without getting a chiv sunk into its back. The liberal media and all others who blatantly wish Israel would just submit to Islam or be so good as to drop dead will natter on endlessly about the feasibility of Obama’s proposals. They have been doing it for years.

Our itinerant Kenyan is not satisfied with Mau-Mauing his own country with spending policies that ensure its decline and bankruptcy. No objective appraisal of his Middle East plan can ignore the fact that it is not merely suicidal, but is eminently impractical even by the Huggy Bear “ideals” of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is a prescription for homicide.

The “peace” sought by the Palestinians is the “peace” preached by Islam: the “peace” of conquest and subjugation. When all the world is under a global caliphate, there will be “peace.”

And not only does Obama expect Israel to “negotiate” itself into oblivion, but he will force the American taxpayer to subsidize the process. It is not pathetic enough that the U.S. is training the Palestinian Authority’s “police.” Is this not tantamount to cooperating with Hamas and Fatah? Is it not a dereliction of office that we will “sell” the Saudis billions in modern fighter jets while they goose us at the gas pumps? No, we must help Israel’s enemies by pouring money into their corrupt coffers.

[W]e do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation….[W]e're working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC [Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. agency, a counterpart of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region. And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe….

Briefly, the “stimulus” goes international, and the results will be similar to what they have been here in the U.S. Much of that money will go to projects other than “peaceful” ones, funneled and laundered to further promote the arming and enabling of Israel’s enemies. Bet on it. That “charity” will make the Holy Land Foundation case look like an episode of Three Card Monte.

Treachery, thy name is Obama.

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:: Saturday, May 14, 2011 ::

Geert Wilders Speaks Without Fear in Tennessee 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 11:38 AM

Instead of a comment on Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician being tried in The Netherlands for the “crime” of “hate speech,” it would be appropriate for him to speak for himself – in Tennessee. His references to the peril in which Christians have been placed by multiculturalism and political correctness apply equally to all non-Muslims, including Objectivists and atheists. His assertion that “our values” are based on the “Judeo-Christian heritage,” of course, we can disagree with. But in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Pakistan, such a statement would be a literal death sentence, carried out by the regime or by the mob, without the pretense of a trial.

And, where, oh, where, is the American politician capable of such foresight and imbued with such courage?

The text is taken from an item from Jihad Watch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geert Wilders: A Warning to America
Speech of Geert Wilders, Cornerstone Church, Nashville, 12 May 2011

Dear friends from Tennessee: I am very happy to be in your midst today. I am happy and proud to be in this impressive church.

My friends, I am here to speak words of truth and freedom.

Do you know why America is in a better state than Europe? Because you enjoy more freedom than Europeans.

And do you know why Americans enjoy more freedom than Europeans? Because you are still allowed to tell the truth.

In Europe and Canada people are dragged to court for telling the truth about Islam.

I, too, have been dragged to court. I am an elected member of the house of representatives in the Netherlands. I am currently standing in court like a common criminal for saying that Islam is a dangerous totalitarian ideology rather than a religion.

The court case is still pending, but I risk a jail sentence of 16 months.

Last week, my friend Lars Hedegaard, a journalist from Denmark, was fined because in a private conservation, which was recorded without his knowing, he had criticized the way women are treated in Islamic societies.

Recently, another friend, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a human rights activist from Austria, was fined because she had criticized Islam’s founder Muhammad. She had said that Muhammad was a pedophile because he had married a 6-year old girl and raped her when she was 9.

Unfortunately, there are many similar cases.

I am especially happy to be in your midst because here I can say what I want to say without having to fear that I will be dragged to court upon leaving this church.
My dear American friends, you cannot imagine how we envy your First Amendment. The day when America follows the example of Europe and Canada and introduces so-called “hate speech crimes” which is only used to punish people who are critical of Islam, that day America will have lost its freedom.

My friends, let us hope that this never happens.

Last week, we celebrated Liberation Day in the Netherlands. We celebrated the liberation from the Nazi occupation in 1945. Many American soldiers, including many young Tennesseans, played a decisive role in the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi tyranny. We are immensely grateful for that. Young Americans gave their lives so that the Dutch might be free. I assure you: The Dutch people will never forget this.

Unfortunately, however, the Europe which your fathers and grandfathers fought and died for is not the Europe we are living in today.

I travel the world to tell people what Europe has become. I wish I could take you all on a visit to my country and show you what Europe has become. It has changed beyond recognition as a result of mass immigration. And not just any mass immigration, but mass immigration driven by the dangerous force of Islam.

My friends, I am sorry. I am here today with an unpleasant message. I am here with a warning. I am here with a battle cry: “Wake up, Christians of Tennessee. Islam is at your gate.” Do not make the mistake which Europe made. Do not allow Islam to gain a foothold here.

Islam is dangerous. Islam wants to establish a state on earth, ruled by Islamic Sharia law. Islam aims for the submission, whether by persuasion, intimidation or violence, of all non-Muslims, including Christians.
The results can be seen in Europe.

Islam is an ideology of conquest. It uses two methods to achieve this goal: the first method is the sword. Do you know what figures on the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country where Christian churches are banned and Christians are not even allowed to wear a tiny crucifix? There is a huge sword on that flag, just below the Islamic creed. The message is clear. Without the sword Islam would not have been able to spread its creed.

The second method is immigration. Islam’s founder Muhammad himself taught his followers how to conquer through immigration when they moved from Mecca to Medina. This phenomenon of conquest through immigration is called al-Hijra. My learned friend Sam Solomon has written a perfect book about it.

I had a copy of Sam’s book [Modern Day Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration, By Sam Solomon and Elias Al Maqdisi, ANM Publishers, 2009} sent to all the members of the Dutch Parliament. But most of them are worse than Saint-Thomas in the Bible. Thomas did not believe what he had not seen. Most politicians refuse to believe the things they see before their very eyes.
In Europe we have been experiencing al-Hijra for over 30 years now. Many of our cities have changed beyond recognition. “In each one of our cities” wrote the well-known Italian author Oriana Fallaci shortly before her death in 2006, “there is a second city, a state within the state, a government within the government. A Muslim city, a city ruled by the Koran.” – end of quote.

How did the Europeans get into this situation? It is partly our own fault because we have foolishly adopted the concept of cultural relativism, which manifests itself in the ideology of multiculturalism.

Cultural relativism advocates that all cultures are equal. However, cultures wither away and die if people no longer believe that its values are better than those of another culture.

Islam is spreading like wildfire wherever people lack the guts to say that their values are better than the Islamic values.

Islam is spreading like wildfire because the Koran explicitly tells Muslims that they are “the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind” and that non-Muslims are “the worst of creatures.”

Islam is spreading like wildfire everywhere in the West where political, academic, cultural and media elites lack the guts to proudly proclaim, as I believe we all should proclaim:

Our Judeo-Christian Western culture is far better and far superior to the Islamic culture. We must be proud to say so!

Multiculturalism is a disaster. Almost everyone acknowledges this today, but few dare say why. Let me tell you why: Multiculturalism made us tolerate the intolerant, and now intolerance is annihilating tolerance.

We should, in the name of tolerance, claim the right not to tolerate the intolerant. Let us no longer be afraid and politically correct, let us be brave and bold. Let us tell the truth about Islam.

Before I continue I want to make clear that I do not have a problem with people. I always make a distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam.

Indeed, I have no problems with Muslims, but I do have a problem with the totalitarian Islamic ideology of hate and violence. The fact that there are many so-called moderate Muslims, does not imply that there exists a moderate Islam. A moderate Islam does not exist and will never exist.

And because there is no such thing as a moderate Islam, the Islamazation of our free Western societies is an enormous danger.

Only two weeks ago, the British press revealed how the so-called “London Taliban” is threatening to kill women who do not wear veils in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

In some neighborhoods Islamic regulations are already being enforced, also on non-Muslims. Women’s rights are being trampled. We are confronted with headscarves and burqa’s, polygamy, female genital mutilation, honor-killings where men murder their wives, daughters or sisters because they do not behave in accordance with Islamic rules.

Polls show that the influence of those Muslims who live according to Islam’s aggressive requirements is growing, especially among young people.

Among 15-year-old German Muslims, 40 percent consider Islam more important than democracy.

Among Muslim university students in Britain, 40 percent support Sharia. One in three of those students considers it legitimate to kill in the name of Islam.

Christians are asked to follow the example of Jesus. Muslims are ordered to follow the example of Muhammad. That is why Islam is dangerous. While Christianity preaches love, Islam preached hatred and practices violence. Hatred and violence for everyone who is not a Muslim.

Muhammad personally participated in the ethnic cleansing of Medina, where half the population once was Jewish. Muhammad helped to chop off their heads. On his deathbed, he ordered his followers to cleanse Arabia of all Jews and Christians.

To this very day, Christian symbols are prohibited in Saudi-Arabia. If you wear a cross in Saudi Arabia, they sent you to jail.

And now, Europe is beginning to look like Arabia.

Just today, a poll revealed that in Brussels, the capital of the European Union, half the Islamic youths are anti-Semitic. It is dangerous for Jews to walk the streets in Brussels.

If you wear a cross or a kippah in certain urban areas in Europe today, you risk being beaten up. In the capital of my own country, Amsterdam, a tram driver was forced to remove his crucifix from sight, while his Muslim colleagues are allowed to wear the veil.

In June 2008, the Christian church authorities in the Danish town of Arhus decided to pay so-called “protection money” to Islamic so-called “security guards” who assure that church goers are not harassed by Islamic youths.

On March 31st, 2010, Muslims entered the Roman Catholic cathedral of Cordoba, Spain, and attacked the guards with knives. They claimed the cathedral was theirs.

Last month, the bishops of Sweden sent out a letter to priests advising them to avoid converting asylum seekers from Islamic countries to Christianity, because the converts would risk losing their lives.

In the Netherlands, the city authorities in Amsterdam register polygamous marriages. The authorities in Rotterdam serve only halal meals in municipal cafeterias.

Theaters provide separate seats for women who are not allowed to sit next to men. Municipal swimming pools have separate swimming hours for men and women, Muslim lawyers do not have to stand when the judges enter court rooms.

Meanwhile Jews are no longer safe on our streets. In Amsterdam, the city of Anne Frank, Jews are again being harassed in the streets. Even political leaders acknowledged that life has become unsafe for Jews in Holland. Do you know what they said? They advised Jews to emigrate. Jews are already running for Israel. But I say: Jews must not leave, violent Muslims must leave!

What is needed, my friends, is a spirit of resistance.

I repeat: What we need is a spirit of resistance.

Why? Because resistance to evil is our moral duty. This resistance begins with expressing our solidarity to Christians, Jews, indeed, to all people worldwide, who are the victims of Islam. There are millions of them.

We can see what Islam has in store for us if we watch the fate of the Christians in the Islamic world, such as the Copts in Egypt, the Maronites in Lebanon, the Assyrians in Iraq, and Christians elsewhere.

Almost every day, churches are arsoned and Christians are assassinated in Islamic countries.

In a report on the persecution of Christians in the world, Archbishop Twal of Jerusalem, wrote recently– I quote: “In the Middle East to be Christian means accepting that you must make a great sacrifice. All too often and in many places, Christians suffer various threats. On some occasions, their homes and churches are burnt, and people are killed. How many atrocities must we endure before somebody somewhere comes to our aid?” – end of quote.

Indeed, how many atrocities before we come to their aid?

Rivers of tears are flowing from the Middle East, where there is only one safe haven for Christians. You know where that is. The only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe is Israel.

That is why Israel deserves our support. Israel is a safe haven for everyone, whatever their belief and opinions. Israel is a beacon of light in a region of total darkness. Israel is fighting our fight.

The jihad against Israel is a jihad against all of us. If Israel falls, we, too, will feel the consequences. If Jerusalem falls, Athens, Rome, Amsterdam and Nashville will fall. Therefore, we all are Israel. We should always support Israel!
Today, we are confronted with political unrest in the Arab countries. The Arab peoples long for freedom. However, the ideology and culture of Islam is so deeply entrenched in these countries that real freedom is simply impossible as long as Islam remains dominant.

A recent poll in post-revolution Egypt found that 85 percent of Egyptians are convinced that Islam’s influence on politics is good, 82 percent believe that adulterers should be stoned, 84 percent want the death penalty for apostates. The press refers to the events in the Arab world today as the Arab spring. I call it the Arab winter.

Islam and freedom, Islam and democracy are not compatible.

The death of Osama bin Laden last week was a victory for the free world, but we will be confronted with Islamic terrorism as long as Islam exists, because Islam’s founder Muhammad himself was a terrorist, worse than Bin Laden.

And here is another truth: The rise of Islam means the rise of Sharia law in our judicial systems. In Europe we already have Sharia wills, Sharia schools, Sharia banks. Britain even has Sharia courts.

In my own country, the Netherlands, Sharia is being applied by the courts in cases relating to divorce, child custody, inheritance, and property ownership. Women are always the victims of this because Sharia discriminates women.

This is a disgrace. This is not the way we should treat women.

My friends, I told you that we have just remembered Liberation Day to commemorate the young Americans and all the heroes who offered their lives to free the Netherlands from Nazi tyranny. It would be an insult to them if we Europeans would give up that precious freedom for another totalitarian ideology called Islam.

That is the goal for which my party and I work day after day. And we are having success.

In the Netherlands, we are successfully starting to roll back Islam. The current Dutch government is a minority government which can only survive with the backing of my party, the Party for Freedom.

We have 24 seats of the 150 seats in parliament and we support the government, in return for measures to prohibit certain aspects of Sharia law.

We have achieved that the Netherlands will soon ban the burka and the niqaab.

We will also restrict immigration from non-Western countries by up to 50% in the next four years. We are not going to allow Islam to steal our country from us. It was the land of our fathers, it is our land now, our values are based on Christianity, Judaism and Humanism and we will pass this on to our children with all the freedoms that the previous generations have fought for.

Let those who want to rob us from our freedoms, stay in their own countries. We do not need them. If you want to wear a burqa, stay in Saudi-Arabia. If you want four wives, stay in Iran. If you want to live in a country where the Islamic ideology is dominant, stay in Pakistan, if you don’t want to assimilate in our society, stay in Somalia. But don’t come over here.

We are also going to strip criminals who have a double nationality – for instance Dutch and Moroccan, and who repeatedly commit serious crimes, of their Dutch nationality. We will send them packing, back to their homeland.

My friends, what the Party for Freedom has achieved, shows that it can be done. We can fight the Islamazation of our societies.

Dear friends, here is my warning. Make no mistake: Islam is also coming for America. In fact, it is already here. America is facing a stealth jihad, the Islamic attempt to introduce Sharia law bit by bit. Last March, a judge in Tampa, Florida, ruled that a lawsuit against a mosque and involving the control of 2.4 million dollars, should proceed under Islamic law.

My friends, be aware that this is only the beginning. This is also how it started in Europe. If things continue like this, you will soon have the same problems as we are currently facing.

Leaders who talk about immigration without mentioning Islam are blind. They ignore the most important problem Europe and America are facing. I have a message for them: it’s Islam stupid!

My friends, fortunately, not all politicians are irresponsible. Here, in Tennessee, brave politicians want to pass legislation which gives the state the power to declare organisations as terrorist groups and allowing material supporters of terrorism to be prosecuted. I applaud them for that. They are true heroes.

Yesterday and today, I met some of those brave legislators. They told me that Tennessee in particular is a target of Islam. Help them win their battle.

They need your support.

While Tennessee is in the frontline, similar legislative initiatives are also being taken in the states of Oklahoma, Wyoming, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Missouri, Arizona, Indiana. It is encouraging to see that so many politicians are willing to resist Islam.

This gives us hope and courage. I am not a pessimist. We can still turn the tide – even in Europe – if we act today.

There are five things which we must do.

First, we must defend freedom of speech.

Freedom is the source of human creativity and development. People and nations wither away without the freedom to question what is presented to them as the truth.

Without freedom of speech we risk becoming slaves. Frederick Douglass, the 19th century black American politician, the son of a slave, said – I quote – “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”

I have already told you about my court case. This legal charade will not, however, prevent me from saying the truth. Never. I will speak out, even if they drag me before 500 courts and threaten to jail me for a thousand years.

The fact that we are being treated as criminals for telling the truth must not deter us. We are doomed if we remain silent or let ourselves be silenced. Let us not forget, this is our first and most important obligation: defend the right to speak the truth.

Second, we must end cultural relativism and political correctness. We must repeat it over and over again, especially to our children: Our Western culture based on Christianity and Judaism is superior to the Islamic culture. Our laws are superior to Sharia. Our Judeo-Christian values are better than Islam’s totalitarian rules.

And because they are superior and better, we must defend them. We must fight for our own identity, or else we will lose it. We need to be warriors for the good, because the good is worth fighting for. Neutrality in the face of evil is evil.

Third, we must stop the Islamazation of our countries. More Islam means less freedom. There is enough Islam in the West already. We must stop immigration from non-Western countries, which are mostly Islamic countries. We must expel criminal immigrants. We must forbid the construction of new hate palaces called mosques.

We must also close down all Islamic schools because educating children in a spirit of hate is one of the worst things imaginable. We must introduce anti-Sharia legislation everywhere in the free world. Enough is enough.

Fourth, we must take pride in our nations again. We must cherish and preserve the culture and identity of our country. Preserving our own culture and identity is the best antidote against Islamazation.

And fifth, last but certainly not least, we must elect wise and courageous leaders who are brave enough to address the problems which are facing us, including the threat of Islam.

Politicians who have the courage to speak the truth about Islam.

Politicians who dare to denounce the devastating results of the multicultural society.

Politicians who – without political correctness – say: enough is enough.

You and I, Americans and Europeans, we belong to a common Western culture. We share the ideas and ideals of our common Judeo-Christian heritage. In order to pass this heritage on to our children and grandchildren, we must stand together, side by side, in our struggle against Islamic barbarism.

That, my friends, is why I am here. I am here to forge an alliance. Our international freedom alliance. We must stand together for the Judeo-Christian West.

We will not allow Islam to overrun Israel and Europe, the cradle of the judeo-Christian civilization.

My friends, we will stand together.

We will stand firm.

We will not submit. Never. Not in Israel, not in Europe, not in America. Nowhere.

We will survive.

We will stop Islam.

We will defend our freedoms.

We will remain free.

Thank you.

:: Permalink | 7 Comments ::

 

:: Friday, May 13, 2011 ::

Atlas Shrugged, Part I: A Cinematic Go-Cart 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 4:13 PM

You are standing in a gallery with another critic before two paintings hung side by side, one by William-Adolphe Bouguereau and one by Pablo Picasso. Let us say they are Bouguereau’s Idylle (1851), and Picasso’s La Vie (1903). You both agree that the Bouguereau is a fine painting, depicting two lovers in a classical setting, the young man seated on the ground, looking up with adoration at the young woman. His hands clasp her legs possessively; she glances down at him in worship. Their glances are obviously fixed on each other. Everything in the painting works because the colors, the anatomy, the composition, the theme are integrated. You can enjoy the painting, even be inspired by it, and want to own it, without having to analyze it. Your introspection gives it a “10.” You accept it as a completed entity, without the necessity of dissecting its attributes. You explain in detail these virtues to the other critic, but he merely grunts in agreement.

The Picasso painting is a “Blue Period” monochrome that initially is repulsive, and on inspection is depressing. Aside from the annoying blue, the figures in it are anatomically impossible, none of figures or the four groups is thematically connected to any of the others, and the malevolence of the picture telegraphs itself from across the gallery. The whole work seems to be an arbitrary jumble of random figures that just happen to be on the same canvas. The composition is erratic and happenstance. Its theme is the futility of existence. The figures could just as well be inanimate objects or a menagerie of zoo animals. It doesn’t matter.

You state that La Vie is not merely bad, incompetently done art; it was perhaps deliberately intended to be such. The other critic defends the painting with some emotion, claiming that while there are flaws in the anatomy and composition, and other lapses and errors one might object to on mere technical grounds, they aren’t important, and so one really had no justification to judge the painting so negatively. The figures are recognizable, and there seems to be a theme, though he cannot quite put his finger on it, but denies it is the futility of existence. And how would we know that Picasso was an incompetent artist with nothing of value to say? Besides, he says, if this painting were by chance seen by someone uneducated in art, he might move on to appreciate the Bouguereau.

You walk away, shaking your head. You don’t know what else to say to the other critic, but you sense that whatever else you said, would be taken as offensive.

That is the situation I find myself in regarding John Aglialoro’s film, “Atlas Shrugged, Part I.”

The rebranding of that movie as a defensible work of art by writers who form an ad hoc but wishful consensus to give a disastrous cinematic rendition of Ayn Rand’s monumental novel, Atlas Shrugged, a passing mark has produced some curious reviews. That rebranding calls into question not only the critical skills of those writers, but their understanding of and dedication to reason and Romantic art. The latest of these defenses is C.A. Wolski’s review of the movie in the Spring edition of The Objective Standard.

This rebuttal is by no means exhaustive. Readers of this blog know what I think of the movie. There are numerous assertions in Wolski’s article that need correction, and this rebuttal will focus only on the most flagrantly egregious ones. But while I wish the movie to fade into the periphery of my concerns – there are, after all, more pressing battles to fight – my esteem for Rand’s novel is too high and too personal to allow his article to stand unanswered.

I could have begun instead with a comparison of the Atlas movie with another that I used in my previous commentary, “Judgment at Nuremberg.” But I decided that a comparison of two paintings and two judgments of them would more simply dramatize the issue. Comparing “Judgment at Nuremberg” with the Atlas movie would be like using a flamethrower to extinguish a nest of termites. Hardly fair.

Where to start? It would be appropriate to begin with Wolski’s companion article in The Objective Standard, “Atlas Shrugged’s Long Journey to the Silver Screen,” which is an account of all the attempts to produce a feasible script of the novel, including Rand’s own attempts. In that respect, it is an informative article. But, in a boxed sidebar in the article, “Adapting Atlas: Ayn Rand’s Own Approach,” Wolski writes that Rand made changes in the novel’s dialogue and events, and omitted and created new material. For example, he notes:

Rand also introduces the idea of extensive television news coverage—absent in the novel—reporting on the country’s rejection of Rearden Metal and visually depicting the collapse of industry. Where necessary, she wrote new dialogue that presented the theme more overtly, for instance changing the opening by adding new lines that explained the meaning of the giant calendar and that featured the bum telling Eddie, who expresses unease about it, “your days are numbered.”

Wolski cites other changes Rand made in especially her last script. He feels it necessary to crack the knuckles of those who would object to such changes by suggesting that even “purists” would not like the changes she made. But the sidebar’s function is an obvious attempt to excuse Aglialoro’s butchered version of the story by insinuating that the “text” is not sacred, and that Rand “did not hesitate to change or add details, incidents, and characters to dramatically and visually illustrate the theme of the novel.” In between the lines one can read, “See? Even Rand did this, that, and the other to her own story, so there’s no reason to score Aglialoro for all the changes he made, etc….” Its purpose is to fend off or answer fundamental criticism of Aglialoro’s script by equating his errors with her changes.

But Aglialoro is not Rand, and Atlas Shrugged was not his work to improve on. His and Brian Patrick O’Toole’s script simply assembled body parts from the novel (and perhaps even from Rand’s own script) to patch together a Frankenstein-like creature. Or, if you will, they ripped planks from the novel to fashion a creaky cinematic go-cart, held together by glue, equipped with discarded lawnmower wheels, with no motor, and a Bobble Head of Rand as a hood ornament, with “Atlas Shrugged” painted on the sides should no one recognize the Bobble Head.

Wolski’s featured review is basically an example of that rare literary form, an encomium-cum-apology. It is an overture to the “Long Journey” article. Effusive praise is tempered with extraneous reservations and qualifications, extraneous because he sanctions the movie.

Atlas Shrugged: Part I, the first in a planned trilogy, should, for the most part, please the novel’s patient fans. Fortuitously following a blueprint similar to one outlined by Rand in the 1970s (see “Adapting Atlas: Ayn Rand’s Own Approach,” p. 38), the film covers the first third of the story.

“Adapting Atlas: Ayn Rand’s Own Approach” is a boxed sidebar within the second article. The “blueprint,” however, was possibly pilfered from Rand’s script or others’ scripts. And throughout the article Wolski feels obliged to repeatedly assure readers that viewers will be pleased “for the most part,” and that, “generally speaking,” the movie is true to the novel. Those who are not pleased can be dismissed as impractical and unrealistic.

The film substantially delivers these parts. Each plot point is there, as is much of Rand’s dialogue sans most of the overt expressions of her philosophic viewpoint, which first-time feature director Paul Johansson does his best to illustrate instead through the actions of the characters and the events of the plot. For the most part, the script stays true to the novel while updating it in ways that do not blunt the power of Rand’s theme—no small feat.

The film delivers those parts but in a severely damaged condition. Not all the plot points from the novel are there, either, because many of those points lie in either characterization and/or dialogue. Most of Rand’s dialogue is missing, not “watered down” as Wolski asserts later in his article, and the characterizations of what characters do survive the transition from the novel are so tamely naturalistic that no plot points can be attributed to them. No, the movie does not stay “true” to the novel, and it is “updated” in ways that do not merely “blunt” the power of Rand’s theme (the role of the mind in man’s existence, which Wolski does not mention), but smashes it to pieces. No small feat, indeed.

Screenwriters John Aglialoro (who also produced the film) and Brian Patrick O’Toole solve the problem admirably by setting the film five years in the future, at a time when the Middle East is in crisis and America is on the brink of economic and social collapse. With truck and air transport crippled due to Middle East oil shortages, the burden of shipping and transportation returns to rail lines. The opening montage quickly and ingeniously establishes this new context—which is radically different than [sic] that of the novel—and provides those familiar with the source material with an indication of the script’s narrative efficiency.

Aglialoro and O’Toole solved the problem of staying “true” to the novel by lifting Rand’s story out of its essential timeliness and timelessness by setting it in the near future, and thereby not being “true.” Gone is the cigarette-themed subplot (Hollywood is now anti-smoking) and in come the cell phones, the Middle East, and other recognizable “now” elements. The opening montage is something which, according to Wolski in his “Long Journey” article, Rand wrote herself, or rather incorporated in one of her scripts, the role of television news.

If there was any ingenuity, it was Rand’s, not Aglialoro’s or O’Toole’s. Wolski writes that “those familiar with the source material” will appreciate the script’s “narrative efficiency.” What “efficiency”? Is the term a euphemism for “economy”? I am intimately familiar with the novel (a.k.a. “source material”) and I was completely baffled, not only by the banal characterizations and liberties taken with the story, but also by the illogical sequence of events in the movie.

A brief word about the movie’s casting: Wolski praises some actors for their performances, and frowns on others. But, it would be unfair to fault most of the cast of “Atlas Shrugged, Part I” for their skewed or under-performances. They were given roles they did not comprehend and apparently given little time to absorb them. Not that it would have mattered had they the time; the script is a mess. One wonders if any of them had even read the novel. Taylor Schilling is no Barbara Stanwyck, and Grant Bowler is no William Holden. Stanwyck and Holden would have made a far more effective and credible Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, even if they had not completely absorbed the characters. Very few television-trained actors – and that is what most of the cast seems to be – successfully make the transition from formula-driven TV scripts, directors, and sets to the big screen, regardless of the quality of the film. Invariably, they bring their television-honed skills and habits with them, and not to their profit.

The same may be said about directors. One of the original formats for a production of Atlas Shrugged was a TV miniseries. Such a production would have required the producer, director and screenwriter to think "outside the box" of formulaic TV production. Paul Johannsson, TV director, did not. I agree with Wolski when he describes Johansson’s portrayal of John Galt as “ham-fisted” and that his scenes look tacked on. But he does not mention that introducing Galt in the beginning destroyed the mystery present in the novel but not in the movie. Rand once related the maxim about stage plays that if one introduces a gun in the first act, it had better go off by the third. In the movie, the gun goes off in the very beginning, the trigger pulled by the “antagonist” who announces his reasons.

I do not know if Johansson was assigned the role of Galt by Aglialoro, or if he insisted on the part aside from directing the movie. But someone, at some time, insisted that, like Gus Webb in The Fountainhead, he had a right to express his own “individuality” on Rand’s work. That seems to have been the standard operating procedure throughout the whole movie.

Of course, there are successful exceptions to the rule that novels cannot be faithfully transferred to the small screen, too many to cite here. A production of Atlas Shrugged could work in the television medium. It could work – if the skill and talent existed in Hollywood.

Although some fans of the novel might balk at such departures from the text, they serve to quickly establish the primary storyline of the film: Great producers, such as Mulligan, are disappearing for no apparent reason when the country is most in need of their ability. Apart from these substantial alterations, Aglialoro and O’Toole generally stick with the overall arc of the first part of the novel, paring away its narrative scope and streamlining the story to its essence.

Yes, the “primary storyline” is established – on crutches, after a hit-and-run – but if Galt is introduced in the beginning persuading producers to quit and vanish, where is the “no apparent reason”? It is made “apparent” in the beginning. Scratch the suspense so skillfully created by Rand in the novel. And that suspense is just one element of the “primary storyline” that was efficiently hacked away by Aglialoro and O’Toole. Their paring knife was an ax.

(Speaking of “streamlining,” I strongly suspected that I would not like this movie when I first saw the “Part I” poster, before I saw the trailers and the movie itself. When there are so many great renderings of Atlas holding up the world available, why did whoever was responsible for the artwork decide that some faceless, androgynous, elastic human figure in yellow, holding up what looks like a congealed drop of butterscotch pudding, would be a great logo for the movie? One of the blogs that carried my first review of the movie used an interesting illustration which might have better suited the movie. But the chosen poster for it is a perfect signature for the movie and the esthetics of those who made it.)

Less attention is given to subplots and to the development of secondary characters. For instance, Francisco d’Anconia (Jsu Garcia) comes across as a complete lout in Part I because the film lacks those great moments in which Rand provides intriguing clues that he may be more than he at first appears. The script also excises all of the flashbacks found in the novel, so we do not learn about the childhood relationship between Dagny, Francisco, and Dagny’s assistant, Eddie Willers.

I agree with Wolski that “lout” best describes the movie’s Francisco d’Anconia. However, in the novel, he is not a “secondary” character, but a crucial, integrated ingredient in the story. His relationships with Dagny and later with Hank Rearden are plot points lopped off because, while the screenwriters did not know what to do with him or them, they dared not “excise” him from the story. But if Aglialoro and O’Toole regarded him as “secondary,” why introduce the lout at all? Qua the movie’s careening storyline, he contributes nothing to it, except to bewilder anyone not familiar with the novel, who will be futilely “intrigued.” His introduction simply clutters up an unkempt script that boasts no continuity. And it would be pointless to dwell here on the novel’s portrayal of Francisco and the movie’s. If Rand were able to see what Aglialoro and O’Toole did to just Francisco, she would subject them to a tongue-lashing that would leave them cowering and whimpering in a corner.

Particular praise should go to stars Taylor Schilling (Dagny) and Grant Bowler (Rearden). The film is a showcase for them, and they execute their parts almost perfectly….But the film really sings when Bowler and Schilling share the screen. Their relationships—both business and, later, romantic—are intense and believable. They interact with easy give-and-take, and have a powerful chemistry that is exploited to good effect. In the scene in which they discover the abandoned static electricity motor, their reaction is highly charged—almost romantic. These are characters who love technology, discovery, and production, and when they find the motor together their joy is palpable.

This assertion is plain make-believe. The relationship of the movie’s Rearden and Dagny is of the banal soap-opera level, and plods along with no rhyme or reason. They “interact” easily because there is no conflict between them or in themselves that could be said to be “palpable” and which could have made their scenes together “sing.” What Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler are truly ‘showcasing” are the unchallenging limits of their TV-honed acting abilities. This is no fault of their own, as I mention above. Roark, in The Fountainhead, acknowledges his error in placing too great a burden on Keating’s shoulders for him to guarantee the integrity of the design of Cortlandt Homes. Schilling, Bowler, and some of the other actors in the movie, were similarly over-burdened. It is Aglialoro’s fault for casting them in those roles.

Wolski complains in his article that in many spots the movie lacks “dramatic energy.” However, the whole movie lacks it because no attempt was made to infuse it with the power of a moral conflict, which its makers either “pared” from the story or did not grasp enough to even inadvertently suggest it. There is no philosophical undercurrent present in the movie as there is in the novel, and the few anti-government and “this is mine” statements uttered by the Dagny, Rearden and other characters hove to a libertarian mantra.

So lacking in “dramatic energy” is the movie that one correspondent remarked to me, about the bracelet/necklace exchange scene between Lillian and Dagny, that she thought “Dagny was going to point out that her diamond necklace matched Lillian's earrings.” Me? I had expected some intense acting between the actresses, of a caliber that would have left me rooting for Dagny. Instead, they may as well have been discussing fashion accessories. That scene could have been effective, even without much of a context having been established, and a viewer might have been intrigued why Dagny insisted on the trade. In the movie, Rearden intervenes as though he were dousing a minor spat, and Dagny walks off with no “dramatic energy” being exchanged between her and Rearden – as happens in the novel – and so there is no plausible basis established for their ensuing romance.

Finally, and incredibly, Wolski writes:

But Atlas Shrugged: Part I is not the novel and it does not pretend to be. It is a fairly competently made, credible adaptation of one of the most complex novels ever written. Even with its flaws, the film is enjoyable and has wonderful moments, including some in which it captures the power of the novel—such as the party during which Dagny gets the Rearden Metal bracelet….Those unfamiliar with the story will probably enjoy the movie as well and may find their curiosity sufficiently piqued to read the book. If so, they will be even more richly rewarded.


Those who are “sufficiently piqued” by the movie to read the novel should, once they are deep into it, ask themselves: What in hell did they do to the story?

Wolski, however, claims that the movie is not the novel. But, it certainly does pretend to be. If it is not the novel, then what is the movie? Why the title? Is it a “pretend” title? In connection with what? Another novel that also bears the title, Atlas Shrugged? One wonders about such sleights-of-mind that could discuss how a movie is like and is not like a novel, then state that the movie is not the novel, and then conclude this was a “fairly competently made, credible adaptation.” Of what? What, then, was the subject of the review? Does Wolski expect others to also perceive and blank out at the same time? If so, that is not a prescription for sanity or honesty.

What was the review about? It was about a cinematic go-cart being promoted as a powerful vehicle for “change,” except that it lacks the energy of a motor. Or, one could say it was about an esthetics-starved and conflict-deficient hybrid car that looks suspiciously like a child’s “Big Wheel.”

:: Permalink | 6 Comments ::

 

:: Saturday, May 07, 2011 ::

Judgment at Amsterdam 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 3:02 PM

One of the most riveting dramas on the subject of moral judgment is Stanley Kramer’s “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), in which Spencer Tracy, as Dan Haywood, the presiding American judge of a tribunal called to try four Nazi judges, is subjected to the corrosive, moral relativist arguments of the defense and the ambivalent, pragmatic policies of some of his American colleagues. In fact, there is virtually no quarter from which Haywood’s judgment and moral rectitude are not assailed, openly, and subtly. He encounters an ad hoc conspiracy to make him doubt his right and ability to judge anyone.

Haywood’s chief conflict is with himself. He states in the beginning, in a conversation with his excuse-making servants, that he merely wants to understand why Germans allowed things to happen. Tracy underplays the internal and external conflicts and his character, almost to a fault. But his character remains resolute throughout the film. During the trial, he is often at odds with the American prosecutor, Colonel Tad Lawson (Richard Widmark), overruling Lawson’s objections to his opponent’s questionable tactics and procedures.

One of the Nazi judges is the enigmatic Dr. Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster), who at first refuses to recognize the tribunal as a legitimate judicial body, but who in the end professes admiration for Haywood.

The beautiful, cultivated, but embittered Mrs. Bertholt (Marlene Dietrich), widow of a German general executed for war crimes, plies her charms on Haywood, feigning friendship and sympathy with the man she wishes to persuade that it was not the German people or their culture that was responsible for the Holocaust, but the circumstances of the time and the need to survive Hitler. She claims that she and her husband hated Hitler, as did many other educated, high-ranking Germans. She is a siren song of victimhood.

Janning’s fiery defense counsel, Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell), attempts to persuade Haywood and the two other tribunal judges that guilt for the war and the atrocities committed by the Nazis must be shared by the whole world, because it permitted the crimes to be committed. He also blames Nazi “extremists” for the crimes, and not their ideology, and that if the four judges on trial are guilty of anything, it was of patriotism for their country. They did, he argues, observe and enforce German law, and it was no business of others to judge that law. He does everything he can to discredit the character and testimony of witnesses against the judges. His principal conflict, however, is not with the court, but with his client, Ernst Janning. (Schell’s performance is a tour de force.)

Haywood’s senator and an American general urge Haywood to go easy on the German judges, for a harsh sentencing would alienate other Germans, whose help the Allies might need to oppose Soviet designs in Eastern Europe. The Soviets have moved into Czechoslovakia and sealed off West Berlin. They also argue that the main trials are over, the worst Nazis have been sentenced to death or have been imprisoned, and that no one is interested in the trials now.

Haywood’s fellow judges waffle on the issue, wanting to resort to case law and legal precedent to decide a verdict against the German judges. They are oblivious or indifferent to the overall moral issue that Haywood struggles to grasp.

In a climactic scene, Janning rises from the dock and stops Rolfe from employing the same hectoring technique on a helpless victim on the witness stand (played by Judy Garland) that Nazi prosecutors used in courts, and delivers an impassioned confession of guilt for his actions during the Nazi era. He damns himself as well as the three other judges in the dock who had served under him. The prosecutor and the audience are stunned. Even Haywood seems to be moved by the confession.

The tribunal (with one dissension) finds all four judges guilty and sentences them to life imprisonment. As Haywood calls the names of the defendants, his most merciless pronouncement is reserved for Janning. This, too, stuns the court. They had expected him to “go easy” on Janning. Mrs. Bertholt, in the audience, drops her headphone in defeat.

But in the final scene, in Janning’s prison cell, the most dramatic argument is stated to conclude a practically flawless film. Janning requests that Haywood see him before he leaves for America, ostensively to give the American a record of his cases. Then he praises Haywood for his judgment.

“If it means anything to you, you have the respect of at least one of the men you convicted. By all that is right in the world, your verdict was a just one.”

Haywood answers:

“Thank you. What you said in the courtroom, needed to be said.”

Janning then pleads:

“Judge Haywood….The reason I asked you to come…those people…those millions of people….I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it. You must believe it!”

Haywood stares coldly at Janning. His next words are pitiless.

“Herr Janning…It came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.”

Janning is crestfallen. His last attempt at forgiveness has failed in the face of uncompromising justice. Haywood will not grant him the solace of moral relativism.

Imagine the anticlimax had Haywood answered, I understand. That answer would have been in conformance with the predominant morality which claims that compassion, mercy, and pity are cardinal virtues, and that actual justice – in this instance, holding an individual responsible for his actions – was cruel, arbitrary, and inhuman. It would have negated everything that had preceded that scene, leaving everyone in the audience wondering about the purpose of the story.

Those two simple words would have sanctioned Janning’s crimes, relieving him of the responsibility for his actions, allowing him to believe that his actions were necessary for his and his country’s survival. They would have left him feeling blameless. Those two simple words would have validated Counselor Rolfe’s charge that everyone and no one was responsible for the deaths of millions at the hands of the Nazis, and that the killers and the judges who sent the victims to their fates were not at fault.

Everyone was a “victim.” They couldn’t help it.

Had the director and screenwriter subscribed to that morality, “Judgment at Nuremberg” would never have been made. Some residual commitment to reason, some knowledge of the proper moral position, made such a movie possible. But the residue and knowledge are gone today, eclipsed, among other things, by subjectivism and the moral relativism that assailed Haywood. As Barack Obama wishes to erase America’s exceptionalism, so do her other enemies, foreign and domestic.

(Compare the conduct of the Nuremberg trial in this movie with the trial scene in “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” [2005]. It will give one a flavor of how Nazi trials were conducted when individuals had earned the wrath of a totalitarian state.)

Half a century later, there are no Judge Haywoods in any judicial system, American or European. In fact, today it is Judge Haywood who is in the dock. His name is Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician accused by the state of the “crime” of hate speech. He is being tried by a panel of judges who have said to Islam, to Muslims, “I understand.”

The parallels between Wilders’ predicament and Haywood’s are eerie. Wilders is on trial for making a moral judgment about Islam, a political/theocratic, totalitarian ideology similar in numerous respects to Nazism, which was implicitly on trial in Nuremberg. He has called for a halt to Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, called for a ban of the burka, called for a halt to Sharia, for a halt to the Islamazation of his country, has likened the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and has warned that Islam is hostile and a peril to Western civilization. Leftist and Muslim organizations brought suit against him, charging him with “hate speech,” insulting Muslims, and with inciting violence and discrimination against them, even though no violence or discrimination ever occurred as a result of his remarks.

What this amounts to is a political trial of Wilders, a highly popular Dutch political figure because of his populist stands including such issues as banning burkas and fining Muslim women who don such Sharia compliant attire in public, as well as banning Muslim immigration to the Netherlands. Make no mistake about it, the trial is a thinly disguised attempt to convict and imprison Wilders on Islamic Sharia compliant charges of blasphemy.

As in other European countries, the Netherlands has laws that forbid “hate speech” against any religious or ethnic minority. The definitions and enforcement of those laws are broad but vague enough to encompass virtually any utterance or action. Practically the only group that takes advantage of those laws is the Muslim one. In Britain, a veteran was arrested, jailed and fined for burning a Koran in a private video in protest of Muslims burning poppies on Remembrance Day. In Austria, a man was fined for yodeling near a mosque where prayers were being held. In Norway, an Islamic expert was found guilty of “racism” for discussing the Muslim problem of the rape of Muslim girls by Muslim men.

The late Oriana Fallaci remarked:

Europe is no longer Europe, it is Eurabia, a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense.

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, another Austrian targeted for punishment, was charged with a “hate crime” for criticizing Islam. She agrees with Wilders about the core, fundamental nature of Islam;

"I've read the Koran. I've studied the books from both sides -- the pro and the con. And I can tell you from what I've studied -- Islam is a political ideology disguised as a religion."

And in the United States, Sharia-defined blasphemy steadily corrodes the concept of freedom of speech, secular law and the nominally secular foundations of our judiciary, from Terry Jones being jailed and fined for merely indicating a desire to protest Islam near the Dearborn, Michigan mosque to anyone burning a Koran in any venue, public or private, to the raw fear of and studied deference to Islam and Muslims in the mainstream media.

Ideally, the U.S. Navy should have dipped the body of Osama bin Laden in a vat of bacon grease, making sure there was a trailing pack of sharks in the Arabian Sea poised to feed on the cadaver before it was unceremoniously heaved overboard, sans washing, winding sheet, and prayers. But our military has submitted to the acolytes of the ideology that is making war on us (Islam meaning, after all, submission), in war and in peace. Some Muslim critics are almost right in asserting that bin Laden wielded such a mystical power over our military that it observed Muslim burial rituals. Rather, it is an unreasoning fear of Islam, nearly a superstition, and the politically correct behavior of not “offending” or “insulting” Muslims lest they indulge in another “day of rage” and run amok.

Imagine, if you will, that the U.S. was able to recover Hitler’s body from the Berlin bunker in April 1945. Would our government have mandated a burial in conformance with German tradition and with full honors accorded a head of state, including a casket draped with the Nazi flag? Perhaps with a warhorse with cavalry boots suspended backwards from the saddle? No. But the seeds of such a spectacle were already in existence. They merely took decades to sprout.

Our policies have degenerated to the one that urged Judge Haywood to “go easy” on the Nazi judges, because otherwise a harsh sentence would have offended the Germans. (We “needed” them? Germany was a defeated, occupied country.) Under the mutually complementary policy of pragmatism and moral relativism, truth is subjective and irrelevant, an individual’s integrity and commitment to the truth are secondary in the face of others’ needs – in this instance the pseudo-self-esteem of mindless manqués who bow to a rock and swear fealty to a psychotic deity – and respect for the speech rights of those who would employ them can be sacrificed to those who do not respect them.

Our policies should – and must – adopt the cold, pitiless stare of Judge Haywood when Islamists plead victimhood and disclaim responsibility for their ideology and actions. That is what it should come to. That would be the soul-killing justice Islam has earned over its fourteen century history.

It will require the courage and moral certainty of a man who indeed understands, and not believes. The courage and moral certainty of a man like Geert Wilders.

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