Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lara Logan and the Drooling Beast

“…I know the kind of terror it is….Listen, what’s the most horrible experience you can imagine? To me – it’s being left, unarmed, in a sealed cell with a drooling beast of prey or a maniac who’s had some disease that’s eaten his brain out. You’d have nothing then but your voice – your voice and your thought. You’d scream to that creature why it should not touch you, you’d have the most eloquent words, the unanswerable words, you’d become the vessel of the absolute truth. And you’d see living eyes watching you and you’d know that the thing can’t hear you, that it can’t be reached, not reached, not in any way, yet it’s breathing and moving there before you with a purpose of its own. That’s horror. Well, that’s what’s hanging over the world, prowling somewhere through mankind, that same thing, something closed, mindless, utterly wanton, but something with an aim and a cunning of its own….”
–Steve Mallory to Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.*

In the aftermath of the abduction, rape and beating of Lara Logan, CBS foreign correspondent, in Cairo on February 11th during the “celebrations” in Tahrir Square over the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as head of Egypt’s government, the news media and the web have been buzzing with accounts and recollections of how dangerous it is for especially women journalists to cover events in so-called “hot spots.”

Note that I do not stress that she and her camera crew were surrounded by a “dangerous element” of two hundred men in a crowd of tens of thousands of Muslims. That whole crowd in the whole square was the “dangerous element.” Note also that I do not stress that she was somehow, inexplicably “separated” from her crew and bodyguards. Physically, yes, she was “separated,” but what does that mean in the context of what happened to her? Any kidnapping requires that the victim be “separated” from home, family, friends, and safety.

She was separated with malice aforethought. Muslims consciously interposed themselves between her and her bodyguards and crew. She was blond, unscarved, unveiled, distinctly non-Muslim, dressed to the nines to conduct an interview later that night with an Egyptian official. In short, she was Western. Too late, to judge by the look on her face in the CBS-released photograph, did she realize the foolhardiness of wading into a crowd of maddened Muslim men celebrating their vaunted omnipotence.

It may have been that the men who raped and beat her were pro-Mubarak Muslims, angry at Western journalists for precipitating the downfall of their man.

But, regardless of the attackers’ political persuasion, she was an infidel, and a natural, inevitable target. And as they assaulted her, they shouted “Jew! Jew!” in conformance with the common fairy tale in Egypt that Israelis were behind Mubarak’s capitulation. However, they could have just as well believed that she had spit in Mubarak’s face, or hailed Islam as the end-all and be-all of human existence, and it would not have mattered. She was a value – to herself, to others – and had to be defiled and destroyed. She was the good, and Islam is all about hating and destroying the good for being the good.

What happened to Lara Logan in Cairo was Islam-by-the-book, the book being the Koran. Like many stonings and beheadings in that Islamic hell-hole, the whole thing was probably recorded on video by participating Egyptian men, but that near-snuff video will not surface in the West.

I read Don Kaplan’s account of the incident, in The New York Post, and offered him these thoughts:

See this report from the LA Times on a CNN-altered photograph of her “moments” before the attack. My questions are: Who took the photo? One of her crew? And did this person have time to take subsequent pictures? Was it taken with a cell phone, or a regular professional camera? Has CBS, which released the original photo to the AP, any other photos that would record and shed light on what happened in the next few moments? Why isn’t there a photo credit? Where did the “200” figure for the crowd come from? Whose estimate was it? Who were the twenty women who rescued Logan and escorted her back to her hotel/crew?

Is the mob in the background pro-Mubarak or anti-Mubarak? They don’t look angry enough to be pro-Mubarak, who’s just stepped down, and not jubilant enough to be anti-. It hasn’t been specified whose mob it was. The one Egyptian in the background to the right of Logan’s head looks like he’s mugging for the press. If so, would he really want the crew to escape unharmed with an incriminating photo if he planned to take part in the assault?

Hypothesis: Because Logan and her crew were arrested by the military a week earlier, detained overnight, and kicked out of the country, was this the military’s punishment for her and the crew having returned to Cairo – that is, was it a set-up to drive home the point that she wasn’t welcome?

Forgive the questions, it's the Call Northside 777 in me, but the LA Times report just underscores my suspicion that there is more behind the Logan photo than meets the eye. I don’t doubt that Logan was attacked and beaten. What I wonder about is why CBS is being so circumspect about it. Could it be that CBS doesn’t want to indict Muslims, or hold Islamic diktats responsible? I mean, who raped and beat Logan? Chinese? Patagonians? What men of what religious/ethnic group are noted for brutalizing Muslim women as a matter of religious belief, and defiling Western women, as a sign of actual or imminent Islamic conquest, in their own countries (e.g., Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Britain, etc.), and whose responsibility for the attacks is veiled by the press in super-sensitive, politically correct language that hides their identities?

To date, Mr. Kaplan and his associates have not acknowledged or replied to my queries. I believe these to be legitimate journalistic questions worthy of some cogitation and investigation.

Richard Cohen of The Washington Post made this important observation about the “frenzy” of the night of February 11th in Cairo. Castigating CBS for having withheld news of Logan’s assault, he noted:
As I'm sure even Logan would admit, the sexual assault of woman by a mob in the middle of a public square is a story. It is particularly a story because the crowd in Tahrir Square was almost invariably characterized as friendly and out for nothing but democracy. In fact, some of the television correspondents acted as if they were reporting from Times Square on New Year's Eve, stopping only at putting on a party hat. In those circumstances, a mass [sic] the sexual assault in what amounted to the nighttime version of broad daylight is certainly worth reporting.

“Times Square on New Year’s Eve” was precisely how most Western news media portrayed the roiling, emotional, mass-man chaos in Tahrir Square. In fact, I would disagree with anyone who claimed that the events in Egypt the last three weeks had anything to do with a legitimate “revolution.” This is an Islamic country, and its citizens are simply demonstrating for a kinder master, more jobs, better medical care, and the like. This was and is not a “revolution” founded on ideas. It was a clamoring for regime change. That is all.

But even Cohen does not grasp the significance of not only the attack on Logan, but the nature of the “celebration.”
Still, the assault and its undertones of pogromist anti-Semitism (Logan is not Jewish) is very troubling and, at the very least, suggests that not everyone in Tahrir Square that night had democracy on their mind.

Yes, every Muslim in Tahrir Square had democracy on his mind. Democracy means mob rule. Democracy, by definition, turns men into criminals. And the attack on Logan was democracy in action. Her attackers wanted a piece of her, and to destroy her, too. That is the Muslim way. The Koran sanctioned it.

On the other side of the critical scale is Debbie Schlussel, who grasps the nature of Islam but whose recent column on Lara Logan’s ordeal was callous beyond decency. She “gets it” but does not “get it.” She allowed her emotions to dictate what she wished to say, and in doing so robbed herself of credibility. She was more interested in venting her anger (and rightfully) at the Western left that has given Islam a free pass in the name of non-judgmental multiculturalism. Lara Logan was of the Western left. Schlussel ended one post about Logan with this unbecoming rant:
This never happened to her or any other mainstream media reporter when Mubarak was allowed to treat his country of savages in the only way they can be controlled. Now that’s all gone. How fitting that Lara Logan was “liberated” by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the “liberation.” Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara!

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal surveyed the left’s treatment of the attack on Logan. Of course, the left hates America as much as any Muslim Brotherhood member or rank-and-file “Death to America” Muslim sign carrier. So it is no paradox that the left would sidle up to Islam in an unlikely alliance. They are ideological and philosophical birds of a feather. No mystery there.

Taranto points up the leftist blinders worn by the MSM and even its hostility towards anyone who questions the legitimacy of the Egyptian “revolution.” Among other instances of leftist ideological binge-drinking, he reports on the Bill Maher-level Twitter comments by left-wing journalist Nir Rosen, an academic at New York University (subsequently fired from his cushy “fellowship” at the school’s Center on Law and Security). Earlier on, however, he poses this conundrum:
The lack of specific detail is completely understandable, as CBS is caught in a conflict between the imperatives of reporting the news and protecting its employee's personal dignity. But it does leave one having to read between the lines to judge the crime's seriousness.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the assault "lasted for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, said a person familiar with the matter, who added that it was 'not a rape.' " Whatever it was or was not, the New York Post reports that "most network higher-ups didn't even know how brutal the sexual assault was until a few minutes before the statement went out."

One major trouble I have with the story, a trouble cited by Taranto, is that there are no specifics about the assault. The CBS statement is cautionary and vague, so much so that it leaves one doubting whether or not a criminally-defined “sexual assault” occurred at all. In today’s politically correct environment, my calling Senator Barbara Boxer “Ma’am” or Nancy Pelosi a “Botox bimbo” could be deemed “sexual assault.” Was she raped and beaten, or simply beaten by the thugs?

We have only an allegation by CBS, which, as Taranto writes, leaves us “reading between the lines,” one way or another. We have only that one photo of Logan surrounded by Egyptians, and nothing else but the assertion of CBS and Logan later stating that she wants to go back to work. Another New York Post article mentions that Logan suffered “internal injuries.” Again, “internal injuries” merely connotes, but does not denote, leaving one “reading between the lines.”

Having watched videos of the beheading and stoning of Muslim women, and sexual assaults on them – two of them filmed in Cairo – I do not doubt the bestial capacity of Muslim men to have subjected Logan to rape and beating in public.

Carolyn Glick, in a lengthy article in The Jerusalem Post, discusses the double standards of the MSM, and poses the paradox of the news media condemning Nir Rosen’s “mirthful” remarks about Lara Logan’s ordeal in Tahrir Square and its otherwise oblivious disregard for the nature of Islam and its hostility towards women. She puts her finger on the source of the paradox: “identity politics.”
Identity politics revolve around the narrative of victimization. For adherents to identity politics, the victim is not a person, but a member of a privileged victim group. That is, the status of victimhood is not determined by facts, but by membership in an identity group. Stories about victims are not dictated by facts. Victim stories are tailored to fit the victim. Facts, values, and individual responsibility are all irrelevant.

In light of this, a person’s membership in specific victim groups is far more important than his behavior. And there is a clear pecking order of victimhood in identity politics.

Anti-American Third World national, religious and ethnic groups are at the top of the victim food chain. They out-victim everyone else.

After them come the Western victims: Racial minorities, women, homosexuals, children and animals.

Israelis, Jews, Americans, white males and rich people are the predetermined perpetrators. No matter how badly they are victimized, brave reporters will go to heroic lengths to ignore, underplay or explain away their suffering.

All this is true. But “identity politics” is strictly a Saul Alinsky-inculcated state of mind, a collectivist tactic to achieve political power and/or to commit legalized felonies against the targeted and isolated in the name of “democracy.” Glick notes that Nir Rosen mocked Logan because she was “insufficiently anti-American.” Glick further observes:
When members of Western victim groups are attacked by Third World victims, the story can be reported, but with as little mention of the identity of the victim-perpetrator as possible. So it was with the coverage of Logan and the rest of the foreign reporters assaulted in Egypt. They were attacked by invisible attackers with no identities, no barbaric values, no moral responsibility, and no criminal culpability. CBS went so far as to blur the faces of the men who surrounded Logan in the moments before she was attacked. [Which claim raises the question: Who was responsible for the altered photo: CNN or CBS?]

What happened to Lara Logan was Islam unleashed. That was the “religion of peace” glorying in its power to violate, defile and destroy. That was Islam at its giddy height. Islam’s doctrines eat out the brains of its adherents, or attract people who wish to surrender their minds. That is the essence of Islam, experienced by Lara Logan in the most personal and violent way. That is what Islam has in store for the West.

Islam is a system of nihilism. It is a drooling beast.

I hope Lara Logan ends her ideological predisposition to Islam and things Muslim, or that someone tells her: That’s the essence of Islam for you, that is what you have been promoting and rationalizing. But If, after what it did to you, you continue to romanticize it, then fare-thee-well.

And then there is Washington D.C., and the drooling beasts and the “dangerous elements” in the White House and Congress who wish to defile and destroy this country for the same nihilistic reasons. But, that is another story.

*The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. New York: 1943. Charter Books/Bobbs-Merrill, 1962.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Islam + Democracy = Islam

In a February 9th interview of Middle East expert Daniel Pipes by Yosef Rapaport, “Analyzing the Turmoil (in Egypt),” Pipes reveals that while he has an intimate and comprehensive knowledge of Islam and Mideast history and affairs, he is sadly and dangerously ignorant of political philosophy. Pipes’ blog site also carries commentaries by guest columnists who echo his fallacies. In this interview, Pipes offers his views on the prospects of Egypt becoming a “democracy.”

One can appreciate Pipes’ assessment of Egypt and the “regime change” there, and certainly respect his appraisal of Islam and the Mideast, but I shudder every time I encounter an otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable person employing the term “democracy” so carelessly. It is as though Pipes (and many, many others) had never read what the American Founders and Framers had to say about “democracy.” They feared and loathed democracy. Democracy, they saw in history, was always an overture to tyranny of one kind or another. Democracy was and remains mob rule. The purpose of the Founders and Framers was to establish an individual rights-protecting republic, one that would be proof against the whims and fashions of mobs, majorities, and power-seeking politicians.

Democracy, for example, is a state or local government banning smoking in private restaurants and bars, because some group with political pull wanted it that way; or Obama patronizing millions of people who want lower health-care costs and endorsing socialized medicine legislation; or state or municipal governments banning plastic (or paper) bags in supermarkets to curry favor with environmentalists. The instances of “democracy” in action are legion, and they all depend on the employment of government force and the diminishment of individual rights.

Democracy is not just about “free elections.” What would people vote for in these elections? What would be legitimate issues that could be voted on, and what would not be legitimate issues? Democracy makes no distinctions between these things. Regarding “democracy” a kind of stable political environment that sort of promotes freedom and does not require armies of police to regulate it – such as in the U.S. – is a rather sloppy concept of “good” government. Democracy cannot be equated with limited government. Democracy means unlimited government.

But “free elections” in a politically backward country such as Egypt usually means the last election, replaced with farces such as the “free elections” in Iran. The only country in the Mideast that has “free elections” is Israel.

In his interview, Pipes makes a distinction between Islam and Islamism. But what is Islamism but taking Islam’s most belligerent or noxious tenets seriously and acting on them? Islam is a totalitarian ideology, pure and simple. This is aside from its primitive, tribalist character. Islam is already a form of “democracy.” The majority of Muslims want it, and wish to conform to Sharia law, to worship Allah, honor Mohammad, demand respect, etc. What could be more democratic than that? Pipes would seem to second that evaluation. When asked about the role of “dignity” and “humiliation” in Muslim and Arab culture, he answered:
They're very important. Islam imbues Muslims with a profound sense of superiority to non-Muslims, and an assumption that the natural order has Muslims ruling non- Muslims. In the modern era, that has hardly been the case, especially a century ago when so many Muslims fell under European rule.

Given his inadvertently damning estimate of Muslims and their world view, one would think he would ascribe the cause of such an inbred pathology to Islam. But he stops short and holds Islam blameless.

Rapaport asked Pipes to compare Egypt with Turkey, “that has a basis in secularism, but a religious party rules it right now. Is there any way Islamism can coexist with democracy? Is there any model for that, in your view?”
Islam is compatible with democracy but Islamism is not. It's like asking, are fascism and communism compatible with democracy? No. Islamism is inherently antidemocratic. It demands that the sovereignty of G-d trumps the sovereignty of the popular will; that the Sharia be applied, no matter what people think; that Muslims have a superior status to non-Muslims; that men enjoy superiority over women; and that violent jihad is a legitimate means of spreading Islam. These are the profoundly anti-democratic qualities of Islamism.

Compare Pipes’ answer with Amil Imani’s evaluation of Islam in his February 14th article, “Is ‘Islamofascim’ a Slur?”
Political Ideology: Islam is and has always been political, in the form of Imamate, Caliphate or by proxy where Islam through religious divines controlled the state. Saudi Arabia, for instance, does not even have a constitution. The Quran is the constitution. The country has a king. Yet, the king is the supreme enforcer of the laws dictated by Islam.

In another Islamic country, Iran, where the mullahs rule, the constitution is squarely based on the Quran. Many laws are strictly drawn from the Shariah. The mosque is the state and no other competing political ideology is permitted.

It is apparent that Pipes repeats the same error as President George W. Bush, who alleged that Islam is a “peaceful” religion “hijacked” by “extremists.” He sees Islam as a potentially benign creed that must undergo arduous and time-consuming reformation (just as the Christian church underwent centuries of reformation), and Islamism, whose violent nature he asserts but which he cannot account for without repudiating Islam altogether. It is either/or. Pipes attempts to occupy a middle ground.

(It is interesting to note that, according to Imani, Mohammad even stole the name of one of the Meccan idols he ordered destroyed when he “converted” the town: Allah. This may have been a corruption, deliberate or not, of the name of another Abrahamic deity, Jehovah, or variations on that name. Imani’s otherwise informative article is soured with an adulatory position on George W. Bush.)

However, most Muslims, like most Christians (and Jews), develop a kind of schizoid ethics when it comes to practicing the creed. They, too, compartmentalize the “truths” to be found in the scriptures and keep them segregated from what thoughts and actions are required in everyday life. Christians, if they attempted to live according to the morality of selflessness and self-sacrifice, which are central tenets of their creed, would be deceased from suicide in a matter of weeks. Muslims, if they attempted to practice literally the central tenets of their creed, would become rampaging hordes and card-carrying Islamo-Nazis.

Similarly, Pipes and other anti-Islamist observers make no distinction between “democracy” and a government that protects individual rights, between one that recognizes no rights and one that does and so promotes the expansion and enjoyment of freedom.

Islam is certainly compatible with democracy – a democracy of, by, and for Muslims only. All others would be at the bottom of the political ladder, paying jizya to the Muslim collective/majority. Islam will not tolerate a “pluralistic” political system. Islam cannot be “modernized.” Neither can Christianity be “modernized,” only kept divorced from the political life of a nation. But the moral code of Christianity has been secularized in national politics. Else, why the constant appeals to selflessness and self-sacrifice by politicians?

Strip Islam of Sharia law, and what would be left but a cult and the subject of hilarity?

Neither Christianity nor Islam should be cut any critical slack. If the morality is no good for living on earth, if others’ well-being and happiness have priority over one’s own (or obeying God’s or Allah’s will, in the way of a Kantian moral imperative), if there is no “practical” application of and end to it except suicide and/or homicide, what good is it and why subscribe to it? Both creeds are antithetical and hostile to reason. Both deny or act to counter man’s nature as a being of volitional consciousness, who must choose his purpose for living and act to achieve those goals in pursuit of his own happiness.

Democracy, Christianity, and Islam are all in fundamental opposition to that fact. So one should be less sanguine than is Pipes about Egypt’s fate over the next year, or, for that matter, about the fate of any Arabic Mideast country. There are millions of Arabs who are also practicing (and perhaps even devout) Muslims who have not a clue to what individual rights are, or if they are well-read enough in the subject, would be hostile to them because they would see that individual rights invalidate any morality founded on any “I, God, say so, but I am otherwise unknowable until you are dead” mysticism. Democracy, after all, is just another form of mysticism. The collective wish of the “people” will it. Ergo, it is good.

Well, the Germans “willed” Nazism and racial purity through Hitler and hoped they would triumph. The Japanese “willed” Shintoist nationalism through the emperor and hoped it would triumph. Muslims “channel” Mohammad and hope Islam will triumph. As Pipes notes, Islam permits Muslims to regard themselves as superior to all others and as Allah’s chosen. This is a hubristic collectivism it shares especially with Nazism.

In another article, “Islam and Democracy – Much Hard Work Needed,” Pipes projects what it would take to “tame” Islam and transform it into just another harmless creed that could coexist with “democracy”:
Put differently: of course, Islam is undemocratic in spirit, but so was every other pre-modern religion and society.

Just as Christianity became part of the democratic process, so can Islam. This transformation will surely be wrenching and require time. The evolution of the Catholic Church from a reactionary force in the medieval period into a democratic one today, an evolution not entirely over, has been taking place for 700 years. When an institution based in Rome took so long, why should a religion from Mecca, replete with its uniquely problematic scriptures, move faster or with less contention?

Why, indeed? Why should it even continue to exist? Strip Islam of its appeal to collective superiority – the creed of the second-hander – rip out Sharia law, and what would be its appeal? Why not just join the Amish, or the Mennonites, or the Scientologists? Islamism is Islam, and cannot be reformed. It can only be repudiated and abandoned. The trouble is with religion per se, and not its assimilative capacity with “democracy” or with any other political system.

The United States is now a de facto “democracy,” having slid into that perilous status with little or no opposition for over a century thanks to statist legislation that has nullified or usurped any protection against mob rule offered by the Founders and Framers. President Obama is stealthily “progressing” towards authoritarian “democracy” with his most recent legislation and policies, and his authoritarianism is evident in his “soft” approach to Islam, with whose totalitarian nature he has a natural and undeniable affinity.

Amil Imani reaches the same conclusion I have been emphasizing for years: “If Muslims find fascism repugnant, then they should reconsider being Muslims.” Islam is anti-life and totalitarian to the core. Even shorn of its brutal, virulent, and belligerent aspects, there are no redeeming features to it. The sight of someone bowing to a rock five times a day hardly comports with the idea of “dignity,” especially when one knows that it is in obsequious submission to the commands of a murderous, psychopathic brigand. It does not trigger visions of, say, the climax of Antonio Salieri’s opera Axur, Re D’Ormus. It is about as enthralling and ennobling as a college fraternity initiation.

Islam is Islamism. It is not salvageable as a moral guide to living on earth. There is no reason to wish to preserve it in any form.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Qualified Victory for the Framers

On January 31st Senior Federal Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare or the “Act”), signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, was unconstitutional in its totality.

This was theoretically a spectacularly crucial blow to socialized healthcare (and, as a consequence, to socialized medicine). With the conscientious and intellectual rigor required for the task, Judge Vinson eviscerated the concept and purpose of Obamacare on constitutional grounds, asserting that the whole Act was beyond the scope of Congress’ enumerated powers. Contrast Vinson’s approach to whether or not the Constitution grants Congress the power to mandate health insurance with then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s flip and arrogant response to the reporter who asked her if Congress had such authority. “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

Yes, the reporter was serious, and so was Judge Vinson.

Judge Vinson focused on the element of force. And from a strictly constitutional standpoint, he performed a magnificent and crucial task of explaining why Congress does not have the power to force one to engage in “commerce.” He compares being forced to buy health insurance with being forced to buy government price-supported wheat bread, because there will always be a market for food. He cites a number of semi-rational decisions by the Supreme Court in the past that question the government’s economic power.

While Judge Vinson’s opinion refers to and explicates a key section of the Constitution – the “Necessary and Proper” clause – and correctly concludes, based on the Framers’ meaning and intention of its purpose, that it in no way grants Congress the power to “regulate” commerce in the modern, statist sense, something is missing from his reasoning. While in this instance, he argues, to create a “market” for a good that the government may compel everyone to buy – that is, by fiat control in the name of some extra-constitutional purpose or object – is not unprecedented, except in terms of its scale, he nevertheless begs the question: What is the true, proper, and moral function of government?

Measured by his “strict interpretation” of the Constitution, Vinson’s reasoning is impeccable and nearly flawless. His linking of the individual mandate to the absence of a severability provision in the Act, was ingenious. With such a provision present in the Act, he argues, it would have done little good to challenge the Act’s constitutionality, because many of its individual parts could have been implemented even had the individual mandate been declared unlawful. The result would have been the same: the compulsory theft of the right to not buy the product, in which “inactivity” would be treated as a crime.

Having determined that the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, and cannot be saved by application of the Necessary and Proper Clause, the next question is whether it is severable from the remainder of the Act. In considering this issue, I note that the defendants have acknowledged that the individual mandate and the Act’s health insurance reforms, including the guaranteed issue and community rating, will rise or fall together as these reforms “cannot be severed from the [individual mandate].” As explained in my order on the motion to dismiss: “the defendants concede that [the individual mandate] is absolutely necessary for the Act’s insurance market reforms to work as intended. In fact, they refer to it as an ‘essential’ part of the Act at least fourteen times in their motion to dismiss.” Thus, the only question is whether the Act’s other, non-health-insurance-related provisions can stand independently or whether they, too, must fall with the individual mandate.

The absence of such a clause or provision, and the defendants’ acknowledgment that the compulsory individual mandate was the heart of the Act, and that the Act’s efficacy or power to enforce depended on its compulsory character (especially regarding the Act’s dubious punitive and confiscatory funding), led Vinson to conclude that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. Therefore the whole Act, which depended on the inseverability of the individual mandate, was unconstitutional and “void.”

But, with or without a severability clause, would Judge Vinson have regarded Obamacare as unconstitutional and void? That is, immoral, and in direct contradiction of the Framers’ meaning and intent? He did not address this issue.

The Democrats blundered. In their rush to coerce Americans to buy health insurance, they removed the severability clause from the final version of Obamacare. Vinson noted this and nailed them. They were in such a hurry to force Americans to buy health insurance on the government’s terms, and so determined to make Americans accept Obamacare – stressing the “universality” of the scheme, to compel them to swallow the whole scheme with no way to opt out of it (except if one was a member of a special interest group, such as members of Congress or federal employees or unions) – that they passed Obamacare without a stipulated and inclusive guarantee. Judge Vinson wrote:

The lack of a severability clause in this case is significant because one had been included in an earlier version of the Act, but it was removed in the bill that subsequently became law.

In short, because Americans were not offered the choice to “opt out,” because there was no “escape clause” granted to anyone (except to those with political pull), and because compulsion was the fundamental character of Obamacare, the Act fell on Constitutional grounds.

In his concluding remarks, Judge Vinson remarked:

The existing problems in our national health care system are recognized by everyone in this case. There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford. This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution. Again, this case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government.” (Emphasis mine)


The “existing problems” in the healthcare system are all government-caused and sustained, such as insurance companies not being permitted to sell various kinds of health insurance across state lines, a fiat law that certainly comports with the statist interpretation of “regulating commerce.” That kind of regulation is neither necessary nor proper nor within the limitations placed on Congress and the government by the Constitution.

Perhaps because it was beyond the scope of his task, Judge Vinson did not address the constitutionality of Medicare and Medicaid, which programs apparently were an issue with some of the states, who claimed that the states had no choice but to participate in the program and that such participation would endanger the tax-funded “entitlements” of their residents. Preserving Medicare and Medicaid, and perpetuating any government-controlled healthcare system, federal or state, however, are not “laudable” ends. Both systems should be declared “void,” as well.

Judge Vinson in the beginning of his opinion quoted James Madison in Federalist No. 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Men may not be “angels,” but the enumerated powers of Congress as clearly stated in the Constitution were intended to protect men from being robbed and enslaved by devils. Judge Vinson is to be commended for having performed an invaluable task. His 78-page opinion, reasoned on strictly Constitutional grounds, tosses the 2,000+ page Obamacare law out the window to scatter hither and yon in the wind for the Democrats to scramble after and salvage what they may. The narrowly defeated repeal in the Senate yesterday guarantees that Obamacare will wend its way to the Supreme Court. And there is another issue: the Court which Obama has attempted to “pack,” FDR-style, with left-leaning liberals who may very well reverse Judge Vinson’s ruling. But, for the moment, that is another story.

The strength of Judge Vinson’s ruling, in the meantime, should be further enhanced with a specific reaffirmation of the Framers’ all-important Necessary and Proper clause, to refine its meaning and intent. “Auxiliary precautions,” such as the Bill of Rights, were necessary and proper to limit the power of government, and to frustrate the machinations of devils, big and small.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Burning the Koran is Self-Defeating

Missing most from arguments against burning Korans is the fact that a Koran may be one’s personal property. This fact is overlooked in all arguments I have read against the action. It is also absent from the argument that when authorities arrest someone who is charged with a “hate crime,” or with “hate speech,” or even with “promoting racial hatred,” the property status of the book is not considered relevant. It is one’s property, but it is subject to the equivalent of a local building or property code on speech.

Burning a book – the Koran, the Bible, the Torah, Mein Kampf, Das Kapital, Ulysses, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, any of the Harry Potter novels, even of Atlas Shrugged, or any work that someone or some group may object to – is basically an emotional expression of the contempt, anger, or fear one harbors for the book. It is fundamentally cathartic in nature; it begins with the flames and ends with the ashes. The emotion is indulged and expended, privately or in public. It is certainly a species of freedom of speech, or of expression, but what does it accomplish beyond the satisfaction of having committed the action?

I do not see that it accomplishes anything tangible, except for the declaration of a particular attitude, view, or position, which may or may not be rational, for all to witness and evaluate. Burning a Koran lets friends, enemies, and the disinterested know where one stands on a specific issue. If one fears or despises the implementation of the Mohammedan diktats in the Koran, one certainly has the right to burn the work in a public or private venue. But one would better contribute to the defeat of the Islamists – who base their stealthy and violent actions on the contents of the Koran, and who, to judge by their actions in this country and around the world, should be feared – by writing a critique of Islam.

Burning a Koran should not be regarded or treated as a crime or a criminal action. The hate, the speech, the fear, or the bigotry demonstrated in such an action is one’s own, not anyone else’s, not the government’s, not society’s. It is a personal affair which one has chosen to make public. Once demonstrated, the hate, the fear, the speech, or the bigotry is in the open for others’ evaluations, for better or for worse.

To punish, fine, or otherwise prohibit a person by force from the expression of his own mind, at his own risk, expense, and venue (or even in a “public” place) is to impose politically correct speech, or censorship.

Conversely, “hate speech” statutes not only represent an attempt at thought control, but insulate the “hated” from criticism and opposition, deserved or not. Words, unlike bullets or stones, have no metaphysical attributes to harm, injure, or kill. It is only one’s premises that are subject to correction or “wounding.”

Several arguments have been made in favor of burning and/or banning of the Koran, based on some inexplicable danger it represents. None of them is valid. Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician, for example, courageous as he may be, has called for a ban of the Koran, just as Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf has been banned in Germany and in other countries. Wilders has rightfully compared the Koran with Mein Kampf. Both works are about a “struggle” to implement the authors’ world views, which include conquest and the elimination or subjugation of enemies. Both works, he says, are threats in and of themselves.

The Koran is anti-Christian. This is true. Unlike the Bible, it is a collection of primitive homilies and diktats to Muslims to keep the faith and to spread it, violently if necessary. The Koran is most like the Old Testament, all blood and thunder and rapine and conquest of unbelievers and sinners. Somewhat like the Old Testament, it was written by a tribalist for tribalists. It has no place in the modern world. It has as much to do with morality as Indian rain dances have to do with climatology. The Old Testament, however, is balanced by the pacific New Testament. The Koran stands by itself, unbalanced by an ancillary or supplementary text, unrepentant in its horrid, barbaric tribalism.

More germane, however, is that the Koran is also anti-atheist, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Jew, anti-reason, and much, much more. Christians do not have a monopoly on being hated and targeted by Islam through the sanction of the Koran for conquest, submission, persecution, or elimination.

The Koran, as a moral and political expression of Islam, is un-American. This is true. One could even claim that it is anti-American. It does not advocate individualism, reason, limited government, and freedom of speech, but their opposites: conformity, irrationality, totalitarianism, and censorship. The Koran does not at all resonate with the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

An article on the Holocaust Museum site about the May 10th, 1933 book-burning in Nazi Germany cites the German students’ reasons for participating in the burnings. That event was billed as a “spontaneous” protest against Jewish and “un-German” influences in German culture, orchestrated, however, by the Nazi Party. About the first major book-burning by students in Germany in 1817, the article explains:
The students, demonstrating for a unified country -- Germany was then a patchwork of states -- burned anti-national and reactionary texts and literature which the students viewed as “Un-German.”

And, writing about the 1933 book-burning:
The students described the “action” as a response to a worldwide Jewish “smear campaign” against Germany and an affirmation of traditional German values.

Substitute “Jewish” with “Arab,” Germany” with “America,” “un-German” and “traditional German values” with “un-American” and “traditional American values.” What is the meaning of “un-American,” and what are “traditional American values”? Other than the conservative, non-intellectual assertion that they are family, home, and religion, I have never read any statement of what those values are.

The Koran, like Mein Kampf, can seduce men’s minds, and so should be banned. The state of Bavaria controls the copyright and publication rights to Hitler’s book, whose copyright will expire in 2015. Officials have blocked wishes to have the book republished, citing its possible deleterious influence on certain segments of the German population. The British Daily Mail had an article about the drive to republish Main Kampf.
The Bavarian government do not want Hitler's words to be abused by neo-Nazi. Historians say a thorough, academic presentation that places Hitler's work in historical context would be the best defense against neo-Nazis who might want to use the book to advance racist agendas.

Bavarian lawmakers have routinely turned down calls to reprint the book for fear that it might be misused by right-wing extremists and out of respect for the victims of the Holocaust….“Mein Kampf" was banned from publication after World War II. Possession and resale of old copies in Germany is legal, but highly regulated.

This position ascribes to evil – and both works do advocate evil ideas and actions – a potency it does not possess. There is no innate power in either work to magically work its corruption in men’s minds. This position views men’s minds as passive receptors, and the books as insidious incubi. But a copy of the Koran, like a copy of Mein Kampf, is merely a collection of atoms. The paper and the ink on it that forms audio-visual symbols that are words are not an alchemist’s formulae for turning gold into acid. No combination of words, whatever its content or purpose, can cast an irresistible hex or spell on anyone’s mind, neither at a glance nor during years of examination. Philosophies, Ideologies and systems of ideas do not have the power of autosuggestion.

Evil has only the appearance of virility and strength, when in fact it is strong only in proportion to the unwillingness of men to oppose it or acknowledge it. Men can agree or disagree with any idea expressed in any work; it is their actions encouraged by such ideas that count. The books themselves are impotent. The phrases “the power of ideas” and “ideas have consequences” have meaning only in the context of action and in the volitional nature of men’s minds. Ideas are not poison ivy.

The Koran can no more automatically influence a person to become a Muslim and/or a jihadist than Atlas Shrugged can automatically turn a reader into an intransigent champion of reason, individualism, and capitalism. The power of any fiction, nonfiction, religious, and scientific work, or of the ideas contained in them, depends on a reader’s predisposition to any work’s theme and purpose. If one is open to reason and rational answers, one will be influenced by Atlas Shrugged, and be impervious to or on guard against any appeal to the irrational. If one is open to mysticism, to the comfortably unknowable, envy, belonging to a group, an ethics that requires no thought, and to hatred of the good for being the good, one will be influenced by the Koran, and be immune to any appeal to reason.

If one composted copies of all the books mentioned in this commentary, and used the compost as fertilizer in one’s garden, one’s vegetables or flowers would not grow into inflammatory, poisonous, hate-inculcating monsters.

A Koran, when all is said and done, is merely a physical object, owned by someone, who is free to do with it what he wishes. He can burn it in protest of the ideas contained in it, or tear out its pages, or mulch it. Or he can read it, to better understand what he senses or has heard is objectionable and evil in it.

But treating what could be a personal misdemeanor or futile gesture, such as burning a book, as a capital crime is as much an act and instance of intolerance as an Islamic charge of blasphemy. Any law that protects the “feelings” or “dignity” of Muslims by incorporating “hate speech” laws into its legal system has taken the first crucial step to censorship and the subversion of secular law, including the negation of the First Amendment.

Burning a book is a concession to its author. It hands him a victory he would not have otherwise had.