February 01, 2003

Goodbye, Blogger. The party's moving.

That's right everyone, Clubbeaux has a new home: http://www.clubbeaux.com. Update your bookmarks. All archives have been moved as well.

All hugs, kisses and thanks to St. Rachel Lucas for her help.

Plus on the new site you can see what the name "Clubbeaux" means.

French amnesia.

All the talk in France about these ridiculous warlike American cowboys. Let’s all see if we can remember the last time France hosted a crew of these stupid American cowboys. From Dr. Horsefeathers :

Le plus on leur baise le cul, le plus ils nous chient sur la tete.
The more you kiss their ass, the more they shit on your head.

by Alan Furst

America has been attacked and faces a formidable enemy and we turn to the nations of the world for moral support in our fight and what do we get from our former French allies – the finger.

The French government, the French press, and the French intellectual establishment, members of the French elite all – eaters of oysters, drinkers of premier crus, and lovers of polysyllabic words and nuanced politics. They love to make fun of Americans, and especially of George W. Bush. Americans are crude, simple, inarticulate, and tasteless; Bush is depicted in the French press dressed in a cowboy outfit with a moronic smile and toting two shootin’ irons.

It’s time to remember a few things:

In 1940 the great French Army – the largest and best among the Western Europeans – surrendered to the Germans in 43 days. And because of the rapidity with which the great French Army capitulated, it suffered the fewest casualties of any of the so-called Allies.

France was liberated by an Anglo-American army, not a French force. The Free French were not even told when D-Day was scheduled, and took no part in D-Day. A small French force was allowed to participate in Operation Anvil – the invasion of southern France in August of 1944.

The invasion of southeast France along the Riviera was accomplished by the American Seventh Army, which consisted of three divisions, and these three divisions chased Germany’s Nineteenth Army out of southern France. Two of those three divisions were made up largely of cowboys from Oklahoma, the Forty-fifth, and Texas, the Thirty-sixth. The Texas division was made up of guys from little towns like Galena Park and Melissa where, for a few dollars a month, they joined the National Guard, which became federalized at the beginning of the war.

The division was bloodied in the brutal Italian Campaign the year before, and then in late summer of 1944 the Thirty-sixth started on its mission to free southeastern France. Starting with St. Raphael, they drove northward through Cannes, Grasse, Gap and Grenoble, places these boys had never heard of before they left home and had no plans to visit. They had worked on farms and ranches back home, in shops as mechanics, in stores as clerks, but they were cowboys at heart. Not very verbal or grammatical, they wore cowboy hats mostly, the cheap kind made of straw, and talked about everyday things, but not their cowboy values – being a square shooter, and being upright and honest men. They’d never heard of Voltaire, or Rousseau, or Chateau Petrus – but they liberated southern France, something the great French Army couldn’t do.

The Thirty-sixth Infantry – the Texas cowboys – closed with the German Nineteenth Army as they retreated north along the Rhone. At Montelimar the Americans blocked their retreat and a major week-long struggle ensued until many thousands of Germans surrendered and many hundreds of Texans lay dead, like Pvt. Cecil Lewis from Houston, killed in action, or Sgt. George W. Rivers, Jr. from Tuxedo, killed in action, cowboys who had never heard of Montelimar and had never planned to visit.

The Thirty-sixth worked its way northeast, fighting the retreating Germans and liberating French town after town. On September 2 the Division entered Lyons and it was greeted by throngs of civilians who came out of hiding to applaud their liberation. The elderly shook hands and threw flowers; the young sought autographs and climbed aboard Jeeps and trucks.

They fought their way week by week through the winter and the Vosges Mountains and then through Alsace to the Rhine and into Germany. Their last cowboy adventure occurred in Austria in May, a few days before the end of the war. The Texas division had heard rumors that a number of important French personages were being held captive by the SS in a castle near Worgl, Austria, so they sent a tank crew and a handful of infantrymen of the Thirty-sixth to investigate.

The patrol climbed the mountain to the twelfth-century Alpine castle of Itter where Edoard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, former prime ministers; General Maurice Gamelin, former commander of the French Army; General Maxime Weygand, commander of the French Army at the time of the French surrender; Mme Alfred Cailliau, sister of General Charles DeGaulle; Michel Clemenceau, son of the French statesman; and Jean Borotra, French tennis star, were being held captive.

When the patrol reached the castle, although the German commandant surrendered it, it was still surrounded by a large force of SS troops which began to attack as soon as they realized that the American group was so small. Their artillery knocked out the lone American tank and blasted gaping holes in the old castle. Captain John Lee, the officer in charge of the expedition, organized his small force and because the castle occupied the high ground and was surrounded by a moat they were able to withstand with minimum losses the repeated storm trooper assaults. At three in the afternoon, long after the defenders had run out of ammunition, another detachment of the Thirty-sixth drove through the SS ranks and opened the road to the castle.

So let’s remember, you French bastards, the Texas cowboys who went to France even though they never planned to visit, and who remain there to this day. If you really despise belligerent American cowboys so, please dig up those who have overstayed their welcome and send them back.

January 31, 2003

Go Kiwis.

It’s times like these you find out who you can depend on. A 39-nation public opinion survey published Friday found sentiment in favor of military action against Iraq strongest in the United States and New Zealand, while six in 10 in France and Russia and half in Germany opposed it under any circumstances.

The polls were taken from Jan. 15 to 25 and so do not capture possible opinion shifts resulting from U.N. inspectors’ reports on Iraqi disarmament and President Bush’s State of the Union speech. Gallup International, an association of independent polling companies not affiliated with the Gallup Organization, the U.S.-based company that publishes the Gallup Poll, conducted the surveys among 29,822 respondents by telephone and in person.

Polls in France, Russia, Britain and the United States involved samples of 1,000 or more and have a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The margin is greater in surveys with smaller samples.

Poll results also can be affected by question wording. The Gallup International survey asked, in native languages: “Are you in favor of military action against Iraq?” with response alternatives “Under no circumstances,” “Only if sanctioned by the United Nations,” “Unilaterally by America and its allies,” or don’t know/no opinion.

In the United States, 33 percent favored “unilateral” action by America and allies – by far the highest percentage of any country surveyed (Uganda was next with 20 percent) – while 34 percent favored military action if U.N.-sanctioned.

In New Zealand, 60 percent favored U.N.-sanctioned action and 12 percent favored “unilateral” action. Other countries with majorities favoring one or the other of the pro-war responses were Ireland and Holland (58 percent each) Australia (56 percent) and Canada (56 percent). Those responses combined got 50 percent in Switzerland and other countries within sampling error of that mark were Britain, Hong Kong, Romania, Germany, Denmark, Uganda and Cameroon.

In Britain, Bush’s strongest ally in the campaign against Iraq, 41 percent said no under any circumstances, 39 percent would support U.N.-sanctioned action and 10 percent agreed with unilateral action.

In France and Russia, whose leaders have opposed unilateral action by the United States and Britain, a majority of respondents said no under any circumstances – 59 percent in Russia and 60 percent in France. In Germany, whose government also opposes a unilateral war, 50 percent said no under any circumstances.

Twenty-one percent of Americans said no to war against Iraq under any circumstances. At the other end of the sentiment scale, about 80 percent in Argentina and Uruguay and roughly 75 percent in Macedonia, Bosnia and Spain opposed military action under any circumstances. Six in 10 in India and Pakistan also felt that way.

Thanks, New Zealand. Now if you’d only let us dock our nuclear-powered ships there…

Wrong about affirmative action yet again.

Those liberals who venture beyond the simple brute “Yep it’s discrimination, but it’s our kind of discrimination, so cheese off, whitey” justifications for the legal racial discrimination known as affirmative action almost invariably fall over a logical cliff in so doing. Poor Peter Beinart in this week’s The New Republic is no exception.

Beinart goes in for a more subtle form of moral equivalency and tries to show that hey, affirmative action’s okay because Republicans are just as bad, really. He rightfully calls out the left’s hypocrisy in demanding divestiture from Israel but not from the more evil Syria. Then he tries to carry the same logic over to Republicans’ stances on affirmative action. He invokes Colin Powell’s defense of affirmative action and says “Powell didn’t quite say affirmative action was fair; he said it was hypocritical to single out preferences for blacks while leaving other, deeper preferences intact.”

Maybe Powell spelled out what those “other, deeper preferences” are, if so I’ve missed it. My guess is he didn’t, since Beinart leaps into the breach… and over the cliff. “The next time you hear a Republican denouncing racial preferences at the University of Michigan,” he thunders, “test his or her moral consistency with three simple questions.”

I’ll step up to the plate on behalf of conservatives who have openly denounced racial preferences at the University of Michigan. The questions, Peter?

Have you denounced other identity-based preferences in college admissions? Beinart points out that race isn’t the only thing U of M gives preference points for, geography is another. Students also get points for being from other parts of the state. Beinart finds this just as bad as racial preferences. Maybe he’s unaware that the University of Michigan is a state-supported institution, which means that tax dollars from all parts of Michigan support the university, and that giving kids from the Upper Peninsula what amounts to a quota is simply the state serving its entire financial base. Since all geographic parts of Michigan support the law school through taxes all geographic parts of Michigan get to send kids. In other words, the folks who fund the university get to attend the university. Next question?

Do you believe in color-blindedness across the board? “Yes” is the short answer, what could Beinart be talking about? Ah, profiling: “Republicans and conservatives are perfectly willing to classify people by race when it serves policy goals they like. Many conservative commentators have endorsed some racial profiling of black motorists, given that those drivers are statistically more likely to be transporting drugs… since September 11, 2001, numerous Republican politicians and conservative pundits have demanded the profiling of Arabs and Muslims on the grounds that they are statistically more likely to be terrorists.”

Beinart gives the whole argument away, however, in his next line: “Whether such profiling is effective is not the point.” See, that’s the whole problem with liberalism. Yes, Peter, effectiveness is the entire point. Profiling works. And liberals hate things they don’t like that work in the real world. But maybe he’s just smokescreening to cover up the fact that he’s trying to compare apples with oranges here:

What are colleges and university admission policies tasked to do? In an ideal world, identify the students most likely to succeed at the institution. Does race factor in how well a student can peform in college? Of course not. Some blacks and whites will succeed, some blacks and whites will fail. How can you tell? Grades, test scores, etc. Going simply by grades and test scores is, clearly, the way for admission policies to perform their jobs effectively.

Profiling is never done by law enforcement for any reason other than effective job performance. If 48 white soccer moms driving green minivans were found to be selling coke in one year in a city cops would start finding all sorts of creative reasons to pull over white soccer moms driving green minivans.

The only reason profiling occurs in law enforcement is because it works. Terrorists are almost exclusively males of Middle Eastern descent between the ages of 18 and 45, it’d be literally criminal not to profile for that. And consider that in 1989 the New York police conducted an antidrug effort at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Between 65 to 75 percent of the people stopped were black, and about 35 percent white. Police found drugs on exactly two whites, and found drugs on 208 of the 210 blacks and Latinos they stopped. Such numbers don’t lie, and for cops to do their jobs they go on the best facts available.

Yet when it’s found that fewer blacks than somebody would like qualify for America’s elite universities by this method, the method is changed. The result is that black students without the necessary test scores and grades are admitted. Forget for a minute the injustice perpetrated against the white kid who qualified but who’s turned away, and focus on the black kid. Study after study has shown that blacks admitted to elite universities under affirmative action programs flunk out in disporportionate numbers. Is that fair to the kid?

The whole point of James Meredith at Ole Miss is that had he been white he’d have sailed through admission – he was smart and had great grades. Today all the James Merediths of the country are admitted to the universities of their choice and showered with scholarship money to ensure they stay there. That problem was fixed a long time ago.

Is it fair to take a B student with good but not great test scores and throw him in Harvard or Yale where he’s sure to flunk out (and usually does), when he could have done passably well at the University of Illinois, simply to bring a smile to the face of some social engineer somewhere? Where’s the justice in that? At least when a cop stops some 17-year old hip-hop black kid driving an Escalade with temporary tags and takes an illegal gun off him he’s probably saved some other black from being the victim of a crime.

His third question is have you denounced the affirmative action in your own party? Beinart is shocked, shocked that the 2000 Republican convention featured “obscure” black and Hispanic state legislators. “Can anyone seriously claim that anything qualified them for the slots besides their race?” he asks.

Let me get this straight: Democrats unfairly hammer Republicans for being racist instead of simply meritorious, for stifling advancement opportunities for blacks and Hispanics. Republicans use the convention to show that there are blacks and Hispanics who are happy about being Republican. “Unfair! Unfair!” Beinart screeches. I notice that in the article he does not address the fact that two of President Bush’s top aides are not only black but blacks obviously chosen for their merit, not their race, whereas you can’t name a single black in President Clinton’s administration who was demonstrably the best person for that job.

But that’s one of the drawbacks of thinking of people as members of socio-political categories as liberals do, instead of as individuals as conservatives do. Nobody ever sits down and asks “Is Lakeesha equipped to succeed at Northwestern? Wouldn’t it be in Lakeesha’s better interests to enroll at Michigan State, where she has a much better chance of obtaining a degree, than flunking out of Northwestern, since her grades and test scores are well below the average of the white kids who can’t hack it here?”

No, Lakeesha’s simply admitted as everyone pats themselves on the back and when she flunks out a couple semesters later nobody notices, nobody cares what she does with her life, whether she even finishes college somewhere else or not. Northwestern looked good admitting her, she filled a quota, that’s all they care about.

If conservatives do sometimes indulge in a bit of racial grandstanding it’s only because the liberal left has so unfairly warped the terms of the discussion that sometimes you have to use their inane terms of debate (Clevinger: “I always never said it, sir.”) just to get your point across. For that Beinart criticizes conservatives? It’s he and his fellow blockheaded liberals who forced the country to stop regarding people as people and as socio-political pawns, and it’s our fault?

“I have a nightmare…”

Gotta lay off the cheap red wine, you wouldn’t believe the dream I had last night:

I dreamt a 15-year old white girl goes missing. Three days later she turns up in a terribly disheveled state, claiming three black guys kidnapped her and raped her. Her story is seized by an unemployed, shiftless white supremacist and his associates who, on 33 occasions, with a complete lack of physical evidence or eyewitnesses declare that an obscure black attorney had kidnapped, abused and raped the girl.

The white supremacist skyrockets to instant national celebrity. The attorney pays over $300,000 conducting his defense against the charges, producing 13 alibi witnesses whose stories check out and prove his innocence. It’s established that the first time the attorney saw the girl was on the TV news.

An intensive state investigation proves the girl’s allegations are pure lies from beginning to end. The girl says she simply wanted to avoid punishment for not coming home, so she made up the whole story. She changes her name and disappears.

The white supremacist is undismayed. “If we’re lying, sue us,” he challenges the attorney. The attorney sues. On the day of the trial’s opening the white supremacist declares “no matter what the verdict, it will not affect one iota my principles or my future.” After years of fighting the attorney wins a $65,000 judgment against the white supremacist. The supremacist’s rich friends foot the bill.

The white supremacist is charged with tax evasion, and it’s disclosed he once worked as an informant for the FBI. His rhetoric about “useless niggers” incites an arson attack on a black-owned business that leaves eight people dead.

Yet his star keeps rising. He attracts decent vote totals in losing a statewide primary for U.S. Senate and mayor of the biggest city in the state. He’s widely-quoted on social issues of the day, cleverly urging peaceful dissent to temper his widespread image as a racial provocateur. It works, the national press regularly solicits his comments on national matters. His appearance fees rise.

The black attorney, divorced and his life shattered, suffers insomnia, stomach ailments and anxiety attacks for the next 15 years. He loses his law practice and finds work as a private investigator in a rural corner of the state. He watches on TV as the white supremacist, his rhetoric now toned down to appealingly moderate, files papers as a Republican candidate for the White House, smiling broadly, surrounded by moneyed supporters in a photo op carried nationally.

The white supremacist never backs away from his role in the case that brought him instant national exposure – “Apologize for what?” he asks in an interview with The Associated Press. “For believing a young lady?” He says he still believes the 15-year old girl, who never testifies in court. The girl still owes the black attorney $500,000 in defamation money. It will never be collected.

Now imagine my surprise when I woke up and found it was all real.

A reader responds.

Read with interest your diatribe about Micky Dees and some comments by your readers – think you are treating a subject that has many dimensions in a very shallow way.

Probably because I don’t think providing polite competent counter service is a particularly deep issue.

BTW, I have no particular allegiance to McDees or stock or business connections. My point isn’t even to defend McDees per se.

I haven’t read your blog before but in reading some of your posts you come across as refreshingly iconoclastic.


However, have you ever thought your bitching about service at McDees can be compared to the supercilious, odious, kvetching of some rich asshole about “good servants being so hard to find” ?

No, actually that never entered my mind once.

Only in this case it is the intermediary of McDonalds that hasn’t found the “good servants.”

If somebody is being paid to serve customers I think it reasonable they do so professionally and courteously. Do you disagree?

You are probably from a college educated middle class background.


Anyone in your milieu ever expressed an interest in a career as a McDonalds clerk?

I worked counter at a Friendly’s for a couple years, I waited tables and cleared tables and have held other menial jobs – as did pretty much all my friends in college – and I have never been rude or incompetent in any of them. I don’t care if you’re working at McDonald’s for a career or a summer job, there is no reason why counter help cannot be polite and competent.

Any parents bragging about when their little Poindexter finishes Havaad he will immediately don the paper hat featuring the golden arches? The big joke among white collar workers fearing a loss of their jobs is that they will end up “flipping burgers.”

I don’t care in the least what the burger flipper does. I care what the counter help does.

Just who the fuck in this society, where everyone is entitled to a good education – “Leave no child behind,” is gonna want to be a clerk at McDonalds!?

Probably people like me in high school who actually were fast-food clerks – people who wanted the opportunity to earn money and learn how to hold a job. If people at McDonald’s don’t want to work there they’re free to leave and find another job.

High School Students? Not on your life in any suburb in big city USA.

I see you’re not from the United States. Thousands of suburban and city kids in America work at McDonald’s.

Only the heavily pimpled geekdom nation would go there. That leaves the foreign, the poor, the handicapped, or the old.

( BTW, your reader who made the comment about the “retarded” is an insensitive fuck. I pride myself on not being PC but that is a bit much. I know someone personally who is mildly retarded and recently got a job at McDonalds and is so happy with the way they treat her – with a little respect – and she is thrilled to actually have benefits for the first time after being a stablehand on various horse farms her whole life.)

My cousin’s mildly retarded and has worked as a cook in a hospital for over twenty years now. I thought the point of my reader’s comment was clear enough, but your comment is just another depressing example of how PC people are today – even those who think they’re not PC look first for where they can take offense at something, not where they can understand the intent of something. Sad.

McDees business model is cheap prices and standardization. Are you gonna pay $20 for a burger just so you can be served by a Phi Beta Kappa?

Not sure what your point is here. McDonald’s business model is to blame for surly, incompetent counter help?

The service at McDonalds is a reflection of the employee pool.

No, it’s a reflection of a society which doesn’t value hard work, respect and courtesy any more. It’s a reflection of people thinking they’re too good to do anything other than produce movies and that their feelings about what they’re doing are more important than the job itself or the feelings of the person they’re dealing with.

In my old city many of the stores had ghetto kids and the service was as bad as it could get – sullen, mumbling, deliberately slow. These kids acted like it was the McDee’s plantation. You could understand where they were coming from though

No I can’t. They were free and earning money in a job they chose of their own volition, what’s wrong with that?

and I took it in stride but certainly didn’t like it. Here in Chi town, at least on the North, it is exclusively Mexican immigrants (who do all the manual labor jobs it seems). While there is an occasional communication problem the service is usually good. To these people from some crummy rural area of Mexico it is a better life, at least for the time being.

Again, your point being...

And that gets to the real issue. Most social ills go right back to one basic thing. Once people formed societies and there was division of labor one elemental fact emerged. There were some real shit jobs that nobody really had a hankering to do. This has been solved at various times by various societies in different ways. Conquest and subjugation was one. Slavery was real popular. In Rome there was a one to one ratio of slaves to free people. Man, you fuck up an order there you’ll find yourself facing a hungry lion in the coliseum. I think that’s where Burger King’s slogan, “Have it your way” originated. It is always a devil’s bargain though, as we have found out in this country. The fall out from slavery is still the biggest social problem in this country.

No, the entitlement mentality inherent to socialism is the biggest problem. People think they’re too good to work anymore, that society owes them the living of their choice.

The US was in a unique situation post civil war though. Because of the hyperbolic


growth of the US it could attract huge waves of essentially capable immigrants who would do the shit work in exchange for their offspring to have a better life. That concept worked great until well after WWII in the U.S. But there is no longer the promise of unlimited growth... Why are there so many Muslims in European countries.? Germany has millions of Turkish “Gastarbeiters” imported in the 60’s to do the shit work. Now they are unassimilated, their offspring don’t want to do the shit work, and that leads to membership into all sorts of screwy organizations that preach about the exploitation and decadence of the West....

The gig is up – here as well as Europe. We are in for some interesting times.

How’d you like that segue from flippin burgers to the collapse of Western Civilization?

I guess I would have appreciated it more if I understood it. My original complaint was that service in McDonald’s is terrible, and I don’t see where you’ve really addressed the issue except to say hey, understand that the people working there don’t want to work there, that’s why it’s terrible. I don’t agree with that, I think learning how to be productive and civil in a distasteful job is one of the greatest skills anyone can learn. I certainly did when I was working fast food as a kid, and I’m damn glad I did. If someone thinks they’re too good for any kind of honest work they can either get a better job or suck it up.

Recipe time.

Steve over at Little Tiny Lies is developing a recipe book. This inspired me to drag out Grandmother Sims’s time-tested recipe for rum cake for the benefit of Clubbeaux’s readers:

Flora’s Rum Cake


1 cup of butter
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup dried fruit
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 cup of brown sugar
Nuts, rum of choice.

Before you start, sample the rum to check for quality. Good, isn't it? Now go ahead and select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc. Check the rum again. It must be just right. To be sure the rum is of the highest quality, pour one level cup of rum into a glass and drink it as fast as you can. Repeat. Qith an electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a fluffy bowl. Add one seaspoon of thugar and beat again.

Meanwhile, make sure the rum is of the quinest fallery. Cry another tup. Open a second quart if necessary. Add two are leggs. Two cup fried druiot and beat til high. If druit gets stuck in beater, just pry loose with drewscriver. Sample rum again, checking for tonsisticity. Next, shift three cups of pepper or salt, two or three, whatever the hell. Sample the rum again.

Fold in chopped butter, sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add a babblespoon of brown thugar or whatever color you can find, who cares? Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Wix mell. Crease the oven and trun cake pan to 350 gredees. Pour the mess into boven and ake. Throw bowl out window, check rum and go bed.

Moving Day and The Spongmonkeys.

Slow Friday here at Clubbeaux, we’re all excited about our big move to a new Movable Type site, www.clubbeaux.com this weekend. That’s right, you’ll be changing your bookmarks soon. And we’re real sorry to leave Blogger, really. We’ve never had any technical or archival glitches here, the hit counting meter’s always worked properly, the site loads quickly and – ow, my nose just hit the screen.

Many thanks to Denny over at the great blog Grouchy Old Cripple and the inestimably wonderful Rachel Lucas for first convincing Clubbeaux to move uptown, and for helping with so much of the nuts ‘n bolts.

See, as much as Clubbeaux likes to think he knows about stuff like the Crusades, customer service and the infield fly rule he’s a technical yahoo. If your car breaks down by the side of the road you’ll want Rachel Lucas stopping to help, not Clubbeaux.

So we’re getting all the suitcases of invective, bags of ranting and boxes of grossly one-sided opinions packed up here. Oh, there is something we’d like to leave you with, courtesy of Tex at Whacking Day : Ladies and gentlemen… the Spongmonkeys!

January 30, 2003

Slimy Al.

Here’s Al Sharpton speaking to the entire membership of the People With An I.Q. Higher Than Their Shoe Size Who Support Slimy Al For President In ’04 organization:

Cpt. Mojo’s New Ugly Americans.

Seattleite Captain Mojo describes the New Ugly American, and he’s spot on. Excerpts:

Even in the quiet, residential neighborhood where I live, the protesters gather in small groups, blocking the sidewalks and snarling already unpleasant rush hour traffic. These gatherings, never consisting of more than a half-dozen participants, are usually not staffed by unwashed, rough looking, dreadlock sporting 19 year olds, or even by elderly hippie burnouts, but instead by handsome late-20s-early-30s Gen Xers with conservative clothes and stylish preppy haircuts.

Undeterred by the Northwest’s punishing January downpours, these cheerful looking people carry their signs with a look of intense smugness and joyous self-righteousness, giving exuberant thumbs up and waving when a rare passing car honks in support. The whole thing is like some high school football team’s car wash. Occasionally they shout one of their beloved phrases; “no Iraq war!” Or “say no to Bush’s war!” Or “no war for oil!” They never seem to forget that oil part. And of course you can’t forget that Bush’s greedy war will lead to the inevitable deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi Women and children. I mean, that’s the point of war, to target civilians, right…

… Back in my college days I had to deal with protests groups all the time on campus, and I was Mr. Heckler. Never did a distributor of the World Worker Weekly, or any other socialist pamphleteer, pass my sight without a bellowing, “Go back to Boston ya pinko,” or “If you love socialism so much, move to Canada you red bastard.” (In fairness, the Young Republicans always got a loving, “Go to Hell, ya damned God-boy!”) Surprisingly, I’d often find a few people joining in after I’d yelled a few times (usually stupid, drunken frat boys, whose one great value, bless their brainless hearts, was in heckling). It was all great fun.

A part of that fun lay in the fact that these yahoos were harmless. I wasn’t necessarily angry with the poor sods. Irritated, sure, but pity for their defeated worldview and their impotence prevented any rage. I’m sure the objects of my scorn were a little intimidated by a 6’1”, 220 lbs, often intoxicated, Hawaiian shirt wearing man with wild ass-length hair (yes, I was a damned, dirty longhair during school) screaming McCarthyite slogans at them, but, fortunately, I am a peaceable man, and never had any violent intentions.

However, there is no fun to be had with these latest rounds of protestors. These are serious times, and they require thoughtful points of view. The best these yuppie wannabe Gandhis (I would call them useful idiots, but they wouldn’t get past the base insult to understand the Leninist meaning of the phrase) can offer in the way of thoughtfulness is invective thrown at Bush, and tired pacifist slogans. The smarter ones might be able to quote some tripe they pulled out of one of the two nearly identical incestuous sister newspapers, or something even more insipid bits of information from one of the city’s two equally similar alt-weeklies (Dan Savage in The Stranger seems to be a rare exception).

My fury grows as these same people who, in there great hipness, followed the cause of liberation for the oppressed people of Tibet, now join the latest cause celeb, allowing Saddam Hussein’s viscous oppression of the people of Iraq to continue. I could confront them on their hypocrisy and probe the depths of their thoughts, however shallow that might be. So what, I could ask them, if inspectors haven’t found any of Saddam’s hidden weapons? He denies ever having the ones the UN inspectors knows about from earlier rounds of inspections. So what if oil is involved in the war equation? If oil is all we wanted we could just make a deal with Saddam. So what if we backed Saddam in the 70’s and 80’s? Any of our past foreign policy decisions, however immoral or stupid, can’t erase the fact that Hussein’s Iraq is one of the world’s most brutal police states?

“But think of the women and children that will die if we attack!” they would reply with doe eyes. Well, unfortunately, I can’t deny that civilians will inevitably die in any attack. Terrible as that may be, the numbers will be small, far smaller than if Hussein’s regime is allowed to starve segments of the Iraqi populace disloyal to him for another five years, all the while building new palaces and weapons with UN oil for food money. And they will also be smaller than the number of Israelis killed when Hussein gives the Palestinians the weapons to destroy Tel Aviv. And smaller again than the number of Arabs that would die when Israel retaliates by glassing every major Arab city.

“But we can deter him,” one of the brighter meatbots would say. There is some truth to this argument, as he cannot openly develop his weapons with UN Inspectors in country. Unfortunately, the inspectors will eventually leave, weapons-free Iraq or no. The UN will tire of the issue and forget about it, as happened through the 90’s, and then we’re facing the same threat. And, although we have no hard evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection, the inspectors cannot prevent Saddam from transferring weapons he already has to unsavory agents of terror.

At this point, one of the protestors would call me a filthy Bush-loving Republican warmonger, and he and his friends would all look quite pleased with themselves. This would be followed by my fist encountering his face repeatedly, my subsequent arrest for assault and battery, and the possibility of having a large cellmate named Bubba who thinks my lips are ‘purty’. This is why I must never engage these people in debate. Self control over my rage would be impossible to maintain.

Of course, all these affluent young “peace activists” grew up in a society where their idea of oppression was getting busted for smoking pot in a high school bathroom. On the oil front, they drive cars as big and inefficient as even the most gas-guzzling environment hating Republo-meany. They grew up in a nation protected from foreign aggressors by a mighty army, protected from banditry by police forces reined in by the rule of law, and protected from the ambition of ruthless politicians by a government designed from the ground up with checks and balances.

January 29, 2003

This just in: American leftists completely brainless.

Reading a good book now, Why The Left Hates America by Daniel J. Flynn. Incredibly balanced – “Doesn’t teaching the good, the bad and the ugly include teaching the good, too?” Flynn asks as he mentions examples of all three – he comes across more as the proverbial guy who dropped in from Mars and is confused than someone with an axe to grind. Take his masterful evisceration of the anti-Americanism following 9/11:

If the automatic assignment of fault to the United States no matter the circumstances bespeaks an irrationality inherent in the self-hating American, what does his projection on the terrorists of his own views say about him? Not only do the terrorists reject the principles he links them to, but he discredits the ideas he seeks to gain favor for. None of the hijackers cared about the Kyoto environmental treaty, the Durban conference on racism, or hate crimes legislation in Congress. Yet the self-hating American insists the U.S. government’s inaction on these and other issues caused the catastrophes in Tribeca, in rural Pennsylvania, and near the shores of the Potomac.

Homophobia, patriarchy, and the exploitation of workers are among the reasons given why America is hated. Does any thinking person believe that the hijackers has the eradication of these ills in mind when they hatched their nefarious plot?

Osama bin Laden and the Taliban government that harbored him represent all that many activists claim to be against. The oppression of women, outlawing homosexuals, the destruction of non-Islamic cultural relics, a wide chasm between rich and poor, and no separation of church and state were a few characteristics of the late Afghani state and, not coincidentally, the ideal community that the bin Ladens of the world seek to impose. Yet the Taliban and bin Laden were not considered the bad guys [by American leftists]. We were. Hatred for America is so great that it blinds its adherents to the sins of our enemies.

America finds itself almost alone in the history of nations in its cultivation of an elite that hopes for its country’s demise. Museums, libraries, art galleries, schools, colleges and universities, and other institutions charged with passing on our culture seek instead to destroy it…

The whole book is worth a read.

Safe haven?!?!

If George Bush agrees to act as an international real estate agent for Saddam Hussein, and let him waltz off to some posh secure retirement villa and keep all his billions in Swiss banks and immunity from any prosecution for himself, his evil family and bloodstained henchmen then George Bush is the biggest two-bit cardboard fake in the world, I will lose every ounce of respect for the man and I swear, I swear I will hold my nose and vote a straight Democrat ticket in 2004. Either kill Saddam or turn around and go home right now. There are no other options.

More disagreement. Ain’t it great?

Jim over at JimSpot disagrees – intelligently – with my fisking of sportswriter extraordinnaire Rick Reilly. Check it out – the rest of the blog’s not bad either.

More mail.

Another e-mail from Joe:

“By the way, I’m impressed with your obvious spirituality, which doesn’t come through in an overt fashion on your blog, but which, having thought about it, seems to inform your analyses. Nice balance.

“Yes, it seems in our rush back in the 60s to dismantle what was disparaged as the ‘repressive apparatus of conventional morality,’ we replaced it with nothing. Hence the appeal of cults in the 70s among people hungry for any framework providing them with bearings in matters moral and spiritual. John Walker Lindh’s odyssey is the result of this ‘design-your-own-cosmology’ vacuum.

“The clergy bought into some of this, from left-wing Catholic priests more concerned with temporal justice through political salvation, while Protestant ministers threw their energies into resolving the earthly dilemmas facing governments (Vietnam) and societies (social justice). Who’s left to keep the flock’s attention focused skyward?”

Amen brother. I wish the clergy attracted only men who wanted to actually minister to Christians’ spiritual needs, but it seems it attracts a lot of guys who want cushy, not-too-taxing jobs while they pursue their own interests. Hmm, sounds a lot like the same guys who run for the Senate in that regard.

My family fellowships with the Mennonites here in Richmond, there seems to be more of an emphasis on the Bible and Jesus, which is why we go to church – it should be why anybody goes to church. But increasingly mainline (i.e. dying) churches adopt the attitude that to attract people they need to be as indistinguishable as possible from the rest of society. So they play down the Christian distinctives and play up how “hip” and “tolerant” they are, and emphasize that what you hear in church won’t challenge you spiritually, won’t bother you, won’t differ at all, really, from what you hear the rest of the week.

So why get out of bed Sunday morning? The only reason for the existence of the New York Yankees is to play baseball, the only reason for the existence of a chef is to cook food and the only reason for the existence of the Christian church is to bring the good news of redemption from sins through Jesus Christ to a lost world. Agree or disagree with that, it’s the only reason a church needs to exist.

If the church doesn’t offer a viable alternative to secular society, what’s the point of its existence? If it’s not offering anything you can’t get better of somewhere else it’s simply background noise, part of the wallpaper and fully deserves to die an obscure death.

As is happening to liberal mainline churches, while Southern Baptists, Pentecostals and other churches which actually present solid teaching about Jesus Christ and his message are growing by leaps and bounds.

From the mailbag.

Every blogger needs Frank and Joel-type readers. Guys who know stuff about stuff and can offer corrections, improvements or expansions on topics discussed. Fortunately Clubbeaux heard from both Frank and Joel this week.

Frank on Rick Reilly and Title IX’s Dirty Little Secret.
“A couple of your web postings got me going,” Frank writes. “First of all, Rick Reilly. I haven’t read his column but if he was lumping UConn as one of the places that ignores a winning women’s basketball team, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The UConn girls regularly sell out Gampel Pavilion, which holds 10,000 and for big games, they can sell out Hartford Civic Center which holds 16,000. I suspect that’s more than a few NBA franchises are drawing these days (that’s if you’re counting actual bodies rather than corporate season ticket holders that don’t show).

Indeed, the lady Huskies do so well that the WNBA is locating a new team, the Connecticut Sun in the state to try to capitalize on their popularity and success. Here’s even money you won’t see a Rick Reilly column on that.

“He also gets on a couple of other irritations of mine. Women’s tennis actually had a bigger following than men’s just 2-3 years ago. But now that the Williams sisters dominate, it isn’t much fun to watch. I don’t really believe that their matches are thrown but they are so much better than everybody else that it’s boring.

“As far as the lack of fan interest in other women’s sports, part of is that women aren’t as good at men at any sport. The Williams sisters dominate the women’s tour but neither of them would qualify to play on the satellite tours, let alone win a match in the regular ATP events. Hitting a 120 MPH serve wouldn’t mean squat against a male pro, everybody can do it.

“I remember 8 or 9 years ago, Coors Light sponsored a professional women’s baseball team and had them play exhibition games against semi-pro men’s teams. The women were all big time softball players, the best available players. The men’s teams had a few ex-major leaguers but were basically guys who might play in independent leagues like the Bridgeport Bluefish. I think they played 3 games and cancelled the tour. The men won every game by 15-20 runs. It was just no contest.

“My other beef with Reilly is that women participate in sports at lower rates than men do. My numbers may not be exact but to illustrate a point, in any given high school in the U.S. maybe 35% of the boys will go out for a sport whereas 25% of the girls will. If fewer girls are interested in playing sports, it shouldn’t be that surprising that fewer of them are interested in supporting professional sports. An even bigger beef though is that Title IX mandates that colleges offer the same number of scholarships to girls as boys without taking into account their lower participation rates. The dirty little secret is that there are a lot of average girls getting athletic scholarships whereas boys still have to be outstanding.”

Frank on McDonald’s, competence and reverse-reverse racism.

“Moving onto the subject of McDonald’s, you’ll get a kick out of this one. A story comes out in the Connecticut Post saying that McD’s was yanking the license from the franchisee at that McDonald’s in the traffic circle in Fairfield. I was happy, that store is poorly maintained, understaffed and you’re lucky if they get your order of French fries right.

Clubbeaux once made the mistake, in his Connecticut days, of patronizing that restaurant. It is unquestionably the dirtiest, sloppiest and rudest McDonald’s either Clubbeaux or Frank has ever seen.

“Well it turns out the franchisee is a black woman (if only she was disabled it’d be a trifecta). Needless to say she’s claiming discrimination. She got the president of the local chapter of the NAACP to write a column in the paper claiming that McD’s was playing the race card??? And then went on to say that the media had conditioned the public to discount claims of discrimination as ‘playing the race card.’ I wish I had saved this guy’s article to give you a sample.

“The man is the local president of the NAACP and writes at a 9th grade level. I was embarrassed for him. Personally I agree with everything you said about McDonald’s, their service is atrocious. But one thing they really aren’t guilty of is racism. I know they go out of their way to court minority applicants and I know they have lower financial requirements for minorities who have a credible job history. I suspect that if you get right down to it, they show a percentage of black franchisees in line with blacks’ percentage of the population.

“Personally, I don’t really have a problem with this, I think you’ll be better off with 1,000 franchisees who have their entire life savings in their store than to get 100 rich white guys who treat the whole thing like part of their business portfolio. McDonald’s probably needs to weed out several hundred more franchisees that are providing substandard service regardless of what color they are. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the courts. For once I’ll be rooting for McD’s.”

Aussie Joel on Aussie religious yahoo Peter Matheson:

“1) I’ve never heard of Matheson before.

“2) The Uniting Church isn’t a mainline church. It would like to be, as it’s the descendant of a merger of the Australian Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches. But most of the real Christians and churches left the Uniting Church a long time ago. They have a nice social outreach, and they have a big real estate portfolio which they are slowly selling off to support the likes of Matheson.

“3) In terms of church attendance, the Uniting church is tiny. In terms of preaching the gospel though, it’s the evangelical Anglicans, the Pentecostals, the Baptists and the assorted other evangelicals (the Presbyterians who never united, the Brethren, the independent churches, and the ethnic evangelical churches) which do the work in Australia.

Thereby confirming Clubbeaux’s observations that the more stridently liberal the leadership, the smaller the church attendance.

“As a rule of thumb, 600,000 people rock up at a Catholic, Anglican or Pentecostal church every Sunday, with numbers very evenly split between those big three denominations, and an unknown but smaller number attending other denominations. However in terms of the census, the Pentecostals are almost negligible, while the Uniting, Anglican and Catholic churches would all have just over 20% of the population each.

“Real pastors don’t often get much of a run in the Aussie media, unless it’s to bag and lampoon them. The exception is probably Tim Costello, but his brother happens to be federal treasurer, he has a gripping past in local politics and even then, he is only quoted on politics and social justice.”

Frank on Useful Idiot Matheson:

“Finally, I liked your rebuttal to Peter Matheson. The one thing about these guys that irritates me is that they presume to speak for large groups of people. The fact is that the mainline Protestant churches are small and getting smaller. Your average Southern Baptist megachurch probably seats more people in one Sunday service as this Matheson guy sees in 6 months.

Your average Southern Baptist megachurch probably seats more people in any one of their Sunday services as the Uniting Church sees in a month of Sundays.

“That’s true across the board. The Archbishop of Canterbury claims to speak for world Anglicans but the biggest Anglican churches are in Africa and Asia and most of them are way more conservative than he is. I’m not sure what the Pope said about the war but I seem to remember kind of a reluctant admonishment rather than any kind of vigorous disapproval. I especially liked your point about how he uses the Pope to validate his opinions about the war but ignores them about abortion (which the Pope has vigorously spoken against).”

Joe on Matheson:

Aussie religious yahoo was perhaps your best yet. Excellent take down. Keep at it!”

Come dance at the Carnival.

Many thanks to C. Dodd Harris IV over at Ipse Dixit for hosting the Carnival of the Vanities this week and for seeing fit to include three Clubbeaux blogs. As usual lots of good stuff to check out, so bop on over.

January 28, 2003

Newspapers’ readerships.

From an e-mail today:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand The Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country if they could spare the time, and if they didn’t have to leave L.A. to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country, and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped lesbian minority feminist atheist dwarves, who also happen to be illegal aliens from any country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats.

10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

Why we’re homeschooling our kids, Part CLVII.

The full text of Jane Ehrenfeld’s “Hide Your Books” article:

“To Ms. Ehrenfeld: This morning I observed that during the morning news program, you and your students were engaged in activities other than watching television.”

So began the official letter of reprimand placed in my personnel folder by the principal at the elementary school in Maryland where I was teaching 3rd grade at the time. Odd as the accusation was, it was made even odder by the fact that my students were reading when the principal caught them not watching television. She had walked in, and there they were, sitting as silently as a group of 3rd graders can, every one of them absorbed in a book.

What they were supposed to be doing was watching our school’s morning news show, an exercise in terminal boredom during which students from the upper grades mumbled incoherently into a microphone, reading the weather forecast, the lunch menu, and the daily announcements in a fast monotone. Every day, this list would be supplemented by an “educational lesson,” which often consisted of a vocabulary word and its definition. I imagine the expectation was that after hearing the word spoken once, all of the children would retain it in their memories forever.

Because this was an inner-city school with abysmal test scores and a learning day far too short to cover the material necessary to help these students, I hoarded every educational second. For much of the year, my television had been mysteriously out of order, which neatly solved the problem of wasting 20 minutes watching the news. Then, sadly, it was fixed, and I no longer had an excuse for skipping the program. So I did the next best thing: I devoted the time to silent reading and trained the kids to ignore the screen (no small feat with TV-addicted children). This worked beautifully – until we were busted.

After delivering the letter of reprimand, the principal took to sneaking up to my classroom and standing in a spot just outside the door where she could see in but I couldn’t see her. My students would whisper to me that she was there, but it didn’t matter much, since I had already forced them to put down their books and watch television every morning, as directed. One kid went so far as to suggest having me or someone else stand guard to watch for the principal so we could read in peace until she appeared. Although I reluctantly vetoed the idea, I did like the thought of adding that job to my list of duties: line leader, board eraser, homework grader, spy.

What happened next was surprising and glorious: My students began reading surreptitiously, hiding books under their desks and sneaking glances at me when they thought I wasn’t watching. We had achieved the impossible – my Internet Age children were actually choosing books over television! Of course, I had to make a show of telling them to stop when I caught them, but my heart was never in it. And they persisted, to my secret delight.

I’ve never been comfortable teaching by the numbers, so when I entered the profession five years ago, I figured it wouldn’t be long before one of my methods prompted a reprimand. I thought maybe I’d get in trouble for letting my kids howl like wolves while studying The Three Little Pigs; or for keeping 2,000 worms in a compost box in my classroom; or for conducting earthquake drills (remember, this was Maryland). But I never imagined that when the letter finally came, it would demand that my students watch television.

What baffled me most was that these kids were already excellent TV watchers. If that activity had been on the state tests, ours would have been a Blue Ribbon School. The children tuned in faithfully every evening, on the weekends, and in the mornings. There was no end to the time they would sacrifice to the almighty screen.

Reading was a different matter, though. In that area, our scores on the state test were as low as they could be; very few students were reading at grade level. For most of them, picking up a book at night or on the weekend was simply unheard of. I struggled for months to get them to read and like it even a little. Imagine my thrill, then, when Richard, a popular boy who usually spoke of nothing but professional wrestling, showed up one morning with a hardcover copy of the first Harry Potter book, which he had bought with his own money! By spring, many of my students had fallen similarly in love with books like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee. This was a triumph.

Our principal, I felt, should have been one of the people most excited about this literary turn of events. To be fair, she may have felt that the news program boosted school spirit or was an important learning experience for the older children who ran it. But I also think her pride in our audiovisual equipment obscured what the administration’s priorities should have been. I don’t know her exact reasoning because I never raised the issue with her. At our school, her word was law, and I was saving my energy for other, larger battles.

The TV incident could be chalked up to the idiosyncrasies of one principal if I had not since heard stories of teachers at other schools who’ve received similar reprimands. Channel One, a news program that reaches 8 million children in 12,000 schools across the nation, is particularly insidious because it’s peppered with commercials and product endorsements. I know of one teacher who was ordered to have his students watch the program after he’d turned his classroom’s television off. This fellow came up with an interesting solution. Obeying the letter of the law, if not the spirit, he would turn the television on but leave the volume all the way down. Then he’d sit in front of it, wearing an absurdly huge hat that blocked the screen, and read to his students from Shakespeare. If only I had thought of that!

Jane Ehrenfeld teaches 1st grade in the Roxbury section of Boston. Previously, she taught for three years in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Thanks to Country Store for the heads-up.

Gonna study war some more.

From the good folk at MEMRI comes this dispatch highlighting some remarks the Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Muhammad delivered to an international forum on Islam in Kuala Lumpur, “The State of the Muslim World Today: Knowledge as a Tool for Muslim Empowerment.”

Mr. Muhammad’s talk was titled “The Need for the Muslim World to Pursue Knowledge to Catch Up with the West.”

Basically he says that in addition to specifically Islamic instruction, Muslim countries should also bone up on other areas of research and inquiry – such as, oh, weapons production:

Frequently we are told that we must not seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge. But we must know that at some stage the knowledge we acquire may be useful to us. Why study the structure of an atom when it does not promise anything that can be useful to us? But we know now that our failure to study the structure and forces contained in the atom has made us vulnerable to total destruction by the nuclear devices developed through the knowledge of the elements and basic structure of materials and their properties.

So there you go, kids, study hard and you may win the school’s Invent A New Weapon Of Mass Destruction For The Praise Of Allah contest at Field Day! Who says Muslims aren’t educated people?

Some excerpts:

The Status of the Muslim World is at the Lowest Ebb

I don’t think that it would be wrong to say that the status of the Muslim world is at the lowest ebb, and is probably continuing to decline.

Ever since the Turkish Muslim Empire fell… not only was the Muslim world broken up into small and ineffective nation/states, it has never been able to put up a recovery, much less to re-establish itself on the world stage.

Even when they are richly endowed they have not been able to make any real progress in terms of their influence in international affairs. Not a single Muslim country is to be found among the developed nations of the world.

When the Industrial Revolution took place, the Muslim world was relatively undivided. But Muslims as a whole were either unaware of the revolution or rejected it. For a long [time], the outcome of the Industrial Revolution – whether in terms of material gains or systems – [was] rejected by Muslims.

But Muslims, during the days of Islamic glory, did seek knowledge. And so there were great Muslim physicians, scientists, mathematicians, astronomers and geographers, etc. during the ascendancy of the Muslim empires and civilizations. In fact, the great empires and civilizations were partly the results of the endeavors of these scholars, these seekers of knowledge.

Later on, knowledge was merely interpreted as religious knowledge and the study of other kinds of knowledge was regarded as either sinful or as lacking in merit, as not contributing to the afterlife. And so the pursuit of knowledge other than the religious one was neglected.

Muslim Students Hardly Ever Achieve Excellence

The result is that Muslim students hardly ever achieve excellence in the sciences, etc., including [in] the field of research, so necessary in order to compete with the rest of the non-Muslim world. Later in life these graduates are not able to contribute to the recovery of the past glory of the Muslims. Worse still, they are not even motivated to do so.

One of the important fundamental teachings of Islam is the need of being equipped with weapons and defense capabilities in order to instill fear in the enemy and to defend the Ummah. This teaching is obviously neglected, for the race of just 13 million people in the whole world can defeat the forces of 1.3 billion Muslims. In fact, just about anyone can oppress any Muslim country and there is nothing the Muslim countries can do beyond crying and appealing for justice.

The Muslim World of Today is Hopelessly Weak and Backward

Because of all these and many more (shortcomings), the Muslim world of today is hopelessly weak and backward. Can knowledge empower the Muslims politically? Of course it can.

But one has to remember that there is no single cause responsible for anything that takes place in the world. Lack of knowledge alone is not the cause (of our backwardness) and acquiring knowledge alone will not empower the Muslims. Certainly knowledge (acquired) that is not applied will not benefit the Muslims not a bit.

Together with the acquisition of knowledge, a change in attitude is also a must – a change of our mindset and value system that always holds us back whenever we seek to empower ourselves.

The majority of the Muslims of today do not believe in worldly well-being, including worldly security. They also do not believe that Muslims can ever be as advanced as the developed countries.

I spoke about our attitude towards the Industrial Revolution. Our suspicion of the products of the Industrial Revolution is the result of our wrong interpretations of the teachings of Islam.

Thus when we are enjoined to seek knowledge, we defined it as knowledge about religion only. When we are asked to defend ourselves, we stress instead the weapons of the armies of the Prophet (peace be on him), considering riding skills and the use of bows and arrows as important and not the capacity to defend.

Even when Islam enjoins upon us to be just, we ignore justice but uphold the procedures only. Clearly our teachings do not emphasize the real priority in Islam. We are taught to uphold the forms rather than the substance of the religion we believe in.

Before we can pursue knowledge we have to understand the teachings of Islam regarding the reasons and need to acquire knowledge. Frequently we are told that we must not seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge. But we must know that at some stage the knowledge we acquire may be useful to us. Why study the structure of an atom when it does not promise anything that can be useful to us? But we know now that our failure to study the structure and forces contained in the atom has made us vulnerable to total destruction by the nuclear devices developed through the knowledge of the elements and basic structure of materials and their properties.

We Must Also Banish the Idea that the Only Knowledge that We Need to Acquire is that of Islam

We must also banish the idea that the only knowledge that we need to acquire is that of Islam. Neglect of other areas of knowledge has led us to our lack of industrial capacity, our capacity to invent and produce weapons to defend ourselves...

There is no need to feel guilty when we study the other subjects. We should indeed consider that it is important ‘Ibadah, an Islamic injunction that is no less meritorious than the study of religion. Indeed our ability to study religion depends on our capacity to defend ourselves.

It is only if we succeed in changing our mindset... regarding the acquisition of non-religious knowledge that we can seriously pursue knowledge to a level that has been achieved in the countries of our detractors. And when that is achieved and followed by the application of the knowledge... it can be a tool for empowerment.

We Must Not Allow Ourselves to be Again Sidetracked by Skewed Interpretations of Islam

The correct interpretation of what is enjoined by Islam with regard to the acquisition of knowledge is, therefore, crucial. We must not allow ourselves to be again sidetracked by skewed interpretations of Islam, which have led us to miss the Industrial Revolution, to reject electricity and mechanical products, and to reduce our capacity to defend our faith and ourselves.

Islam is not just a religion for the 7th century of the Christian era. It is a religion for all times. With time things change. Fourteen centuries after the advent of Islam we cannot expect to live in the same environment and under the same conditions as we found in the 7th century C.E. Islam has [a] provision for this change, if only we interpret Islam properly. Islam is not a rigid religion. There are many provisions in Islam to take care of all situations...

Islam is not the religion that obstructs our progress, it is wrong and rigid interpretations of our making that hinder our progress.

It is Our Narrow Interpretation of Islam That Has Resulted in the Backwardness of Muslims in Many Fields of Knowledge

Similarly in education, in the search for knowledge, Islam is not to be blamed but it is our own narrow interpretation of Islam that has resulted in the backwardness of Muslims in many fields of knowledge crucial to their own well-being.

Of course knowledge can be a tool to empower us politically. But pure knowledge will get us nowhere unless we learn to apply that knowledge to our own advantage and for the betterment of our life. If knowledge is to be for our empowerment, then it must contribute to our economic, social, and security needs…

The Discovery of New Frontiers of Knowledge Must Not be Left to Others

The discovery of new frontiers of knowledge must not be left to others. In the past, the knowledge pioneered by Muslims was acquired by the Europeans, which enabled them to power their industrial development.

To this day, the areas of knowledge pioneered by Muslims, such as Algorithm developed by Al-Khwarizmi, is being used in the design of the electronic circuits and microchips. It is the Algorithm that makes IT hardware and software possible.

But Muslims themselves have not used the knowledge pioneered by their ancestors. In many cases, unfortunately, we don’t even learn them.

While we can learn to apply such knowledge, there is no reason why we cannot pioneer new knowledge and its applications.

If we are able to do this, then once again we can gain an edge over the others as we once did when Muslims pioneered and dominated many areas of knowledge. Muslim migrants to other countries are pioneering new areas of knowledge simply because their own countries provide them with no facilities or opportunities.

Clearly when we reach the stage of being pioneers, knowledge will literally mean power. But even before that, the mastery of knowledge will enable us to compete on equal footing with others.

We could certainly be empowered and we would be able to lift ourselves up and out of the very inferior position that we are in today. Indeed the pursuit of knowledge and following the acquisition of skills to apply the knowledge will take a considerable period of time. We have to remember that knowledge is not static. Today the speed of discovery and development of new knowledge is exponential.

It May Take a Decade or a Century to Catch Up with the West

It will take time to acquire knowledge. We have to accept the need to be patient. It may take a decade or even a century. Remember when we were at the peak during the great days of our Islamic civilization, it took the Europeans several hundred years to catch up. But catch up they did, and then they surpassed us completely.

We will have to accept the need to struggle for a considerable length of time. But, fortunately, knowledge is much less hidden now than it was before. Most of the knowledge is well documented and easily available. Modern technology makes all knowledge, except [some] which [is] concerned with defense applications, easily accessible.

The next problem is the vastness of the field. We have to divide our manpower within the country and among the countries in order to be able to cover the knowledge in all fields. If we are prepared to overcome all the problems which can hamper our acquisition of knowledge, and be patient enough then, Allah willing, knowledge can empower us. There is no quick fix. One particular group of people waited 2,000 years. We will not have to wait that long if we understand the need for knowledge and we learn the lessons of history. It is easy to agree that knowledge is a tool for our political empowerment. But mere agreement is not going to lead us anywhere. We really do not need more seminars and conferences, which will end up with obvious conclusions...

(Remarks reprinted in the Saudi Gazette, The Message, December 20, 2002.)

January 27, 2003

Aussie religious yahoo weighs in and is found wanting.

Why is it that whenever any institutional churchman addresses political issues he always – always – exhibits a superabundance of naïveté, ignorance, condescension and arrogance?

Some person named the Reverend Dr. Peter Matheson, principal of the Uniting Church Theological Hall in Melbourne published this edited text of his address at the weekend to the peace vigil at St Paul’s Cathedral. Let’s see what this fellow has to say, not like we haven’t all heard it a billion times before:

With rare unanimity, religious leaders across the world have condemned the proposed war against Iraq.

As they condemned the proposed war against Saddam Hussein back in 1991, American military intervention in Bosnia and American military action against the Taliban. That they were completely and utterly wrong on all three counts doesn’t seem to faze them as they seek to go 0-4.

The Pope, Eastern patriarchs, the Archbishop of Canterbury, American and Australian religious leaders have all spoken out in unmistakeable terms.

Gee, Matheson must’ve missed the hundreds upon thousands of evangelical, conservative Christian pastors supporting military action against Iraq, as well as Friday sermons at the mosque, where they’ve been calling for bloody war for years now.

Yet George Bush and Tony Blair are deeply committed Christians. The same may well be true of John Howard.

Warning. Whenever some acknowledgement of a positive quality is given to opponents by intellectually dishonest leftist hypocrites it is always, always, always to better position their chins for the imminent left cross. This sanctimonious twit does not believe that Bush, Blair and Howard actually are “deeply committed Christians,” he merely wants to heap sneering scorn on their statements that yes, they are Christian men. He doesn’t for one second believe that they’re one-tenth as esteemed in God’s grateful eyes as his own wonderful self, he’s merely seeking to set them up to knock them down like bowling pins, it’s a favorite dishonest debate tactic. Witness:

So what is going on? Why are Western church leaders and political leaders so out of step?

(Clutching his heart) – “Wha… I… I can’t believe it… (shaking head) Such… such fine Christian men, it – no, no, it can’t be… Why don’t they agree with me? What is their problem?”

Here would be a good time to ask why Matheson himself is “out of step” with the Pope and patriarchs by supporting abortion rights, but there’s no need to underscore the poor addled man’s inept hypocrisy in so clear a fashion, it’s plain enough already.

There will be purely secular factors. The military tail is wagging the political dog.

Secular factors, of course, never sway the good Rev. Matheson. Oh no, the fact that all his publicly stated opinions line up obediently behind left-wing dictates is… coincidence. That’s right, he got them all, um straight from the Bible itself. Yeah, that’s the ticket, from II Opinions 12:4, actually…

The urgent, quite hysterical note to be heard from the White House these days reflects the exigencies of a military timetable that is already set in concrete. The logic of military events drives the political lunacy.

Doesn’t it ever strike you that stridently politically outspoken churchmen are guys who really wanted a career in politics all along but just couldn’t cut it so they went for a comfortable sinecure in the church instead, where they neglect the care and feeding of the flock to lob potshots in the political realm and pick up their skirts and scurry back to hide behind the cross whenever anyone dares suggest they butt out? Does anyone think this clown could discuss the meaning of the Incarnation and Resurrection – which he probably thinks is all hogwash – with a fraction of the relish he has for leftist politics, which is his real god anyway?

Idiots like Matheson wasting space in ecclesiastical office are a big reason the Western mainline churches are in the trouble they’re in today. There are left-wing Christians and right-wing Christians and moderate Christians and apolitical Christians, and the mainline churches, dominated as they are by petty witless hacks such as Matheson are bereft of leaders who can minister on a purely Christian basis to all kinds. Any minister who claims Jesus would have voted for Reagan or endorsed socialism or been a vegetarian or ignored politics altogether is saying he sees his ministry only to a small slice of God’s people – and he wonders why his church shrivels and dies.

But there are deeper issues.

He’s right, it gets much deeper. Bring your shovels.

One is reminded of the icy fury of Mrs. Thatcher when the churches dared criticise her intervention in the Falklands.

Silly her, she probably thought the Church had as much right to pronounce on her handling of government as she did to tell the Church how to order its affairs. “Icy fury…” let Mrs. Thatcher preface any statement with “It’s my belief that the Church needs to…” to see genuine icy fury from Matheson and his ilk.

The assumption of such leaders as Bush is obvious: the role of the Christian churches is to provide moral legitimacy and pastoral support for the “national interest.”

Bush has never said, intimated or implied this. Matheson can’t provide any proof of this, partly because it doesn’t exist and partly because he’s too dishonest. It’s such a great line, who cares if it’s true or not? It sounds good.

But the crying shame here is that it’s the assumption of such religious leaders as Matheson that role of the Christian churches is to provide moral legitimacy and pastoral support to left-wing partisan political stances, and not to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins which is its only raison d’etre at all. The result is that men tasked with concentrating on the spiritual well-being of people under their care shirk those boring duties to stand on the political sidelines and chant in unison with the Islamic terrorists who wish to kill them and their church members.

It’s astounding to me that mainline church leaders, who provide the soggy religious cover for leftism, wonder why their congregations are dwindling when they try to turn churches into political recruitment centers. Maybe… that’s… not… what… people… go… to… church… for? Maybe when you take a job in the church you should concentrate on, well, church issues, and leave politics for professional politicians? And if you’d rather not do the work of the church maybe you should have the integrity to resign and let somebody genuinely interested in the mission of the church do the work?

And when Christians decline to be instrumentalised in this way, such leaders are outraged.

Find me one example of Bush blasting any church leader for criticizing the assumed war. One. Why are liberals so habitually, easily dishonest? Is it stupidity, laziness or inferior character?

We are standing in vigil in Melbourne because, as people of faith,

As opposed to those “deeply committed Christians” Bush, Blair and Howard.

we feel closer to the likely victims of a pre-emptive strike than to our political leaders.

You got that right – you hate America and the freedom-loving West as much as Saddam and anybody in al-Qaeda does. You and Islamic suicide bombers can lock arms and march under that banner.

One reason, as our posters illustrate, is that we put people first - the Iraqi people in the first instance.

I would pay money, a lot of money, to see this sniveling idiot standing in the middle of a crowd of the families of the disappeared, the gassed, the executed Iraqis and say this. There wouldn’t be enough of him left to identify.

Incidentally Jesus did not put “people” first, he put the Kingdom of God and fidelity to God’s truth first. Not that Matheson cares about Jesus, of course. I mean it’s not like he joined the church to spread the good news of Jesus, he got into the church to live off a secure salary while spreading the religion of leftist socialism.

Where humanity is to be trampled on, the warning signs flash on.

One wonders what Matheson would call Saddam’s little police torture state if not humanity being trampled on. Corrected version: “Where somebody whose politics we disagree with is about to win spectacularly, the warning signs flash on.” And not that facts concern Matheson much but given the military technology at America’s disposal far fewer Iraqi civilians will die in this war than were gassed by Saddam Hussein or killed in his torture chambers – heck, fewer Iraqi soldiers will die than are shot for deserting every year.

But it goes much deeper than that. This is an outrageously unjust war. By every criterion laid down by the churches over the centuries, this pre-emptive strike has to be condemned.

So it shouldn’t be hard for you to name one criterion then, right? Just one?

We fear it will ignite tension and hatred and a string of other wars. World War I was hailed as the war to end all wars. This will be the war to start all wars. Its destabilising potential is alarming for all with eyes to see.

I bet he just cut and pasted this from his 1991 speech protesting the Gulf War (“we put people first – the Kuwaiti people…”) and his 2001 speech protesting America’s Afghan operation. No doubt he predicted those would be “destabilizing” before they happened and conveniently forgot how stupidly wrong he was afterwards. He probably still thinks World War II was “destabilizing.” But hey, being a liberal means never having to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

In his rhetoric, President Bush often uses the prayer: God bless America.

When Bush speaks it’s “rhetoric.” When Matheson speaks it’s...?

We have no difficulty with that.

That huge sigh of relief you just heard came from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But again, even the slightest admission from a doctrinaire liberal that his opponent has the merest of agreeable qualities is just a boxer tilting his opponent’s chin for the next punch:

The trouble is that he appears unable to distinguish between God and America.

Wham! The Stupid Statement Meter hits eleven!

It is not just the churches that Bush and Blair want to put in their pocket but the God of all times and nations – ludicrous as that would seem.

I think it’s pretty clear by now to all who’s “ludicrous.” Find one statement of Bush or Blair’s that backs this unbelievably stupid statement up. One. Oxymorons: Polite, friendly French waiter. Calm, relaxed New York cabdriver. Liberal fact-checker.

So we stand today in the ancient, Judaeo-Christian prophetic tradition to warn that God is not mocked, and that blessing can swiftly change into cursing.

“I am Jeremiah! I am Isaiah! I am John the Baptist!” quoth this modern-day Pharisee.

Our worst fear is that there will be a terrible curse on this enterprise.

No, your worst fear is that it will succeed with a minimum of bloodshed. You and all the other pacifist West-hating peaceniks would just HATE that, wouldn’t you?

Imagine what would happen if other major nations – China, for example – arrogated to themselves the right to such pre-emptive strikes.

Does China’s pre-emptive strike against the Falun Gong count? Tibet? Some strikes you don’t need nukes for. China will not launch nukes, they don’t want to destroy their world markets, now does they?

In God’s world – and there is no other – security cannot be secured by military superiority

Right. Tell that to Israel. The only reason Jewish Israelis are alive today is because of their military superiority. The only security Israel has is its military superiority, it’s certainly not through anything anti-Semites such as Matheson offer..

however overwhelming, but only by respecting mutuality of interests.

As soon as Matheson convinces Iraq, al-Qaeda and Palestinian suicide bombers to respect the mutuality of interests of America and Israel and the non-Islamic West, I’ll listen to him. Here, I’ll hold my breath. Why is it that when America-hating liberals like Matheson say things like you can almost smell their hate for America dripping from their lips?

For all its religious rhetoric,

Supplied mostly by left-wing idiots so far, from what I’ve seen.

this market-driven war amounts to practical atheism.

Prosecuted by men Matheson called “deeply committed Christians,” now.

Charlton Heston ideology. It believes in nothing but overwhelming force and self-interest and is unfortunately right in line with the ravaging of the environment and the polarisation of rich and poor with which this US Government is identified.

Just can’t resist throwing in the rest of your liberal script, can you? Oh well, nice of you to lift your skirts and show us the real reason for your opposition to freeing Iraq from Saddam Hussein – it might make your hated United States look good.

We are not anti-American.

Yes you are. Deeply, hatefully, religiously anti-American. Nobody hates the personal freedom and accountability America stands for more than brainless liberals. Nobody.

We stand, however, for humanity and common sense.

You make statements you don’t support, contradict statements you make in one paragraph in the next, hurl charges you don’t verify and draw conclusions 180 degrees opposite from the historical experience. The common sense in all that would be where, again?

This fear-driven slide towards war flies in the face of the Christian Gospel of hope and reconciliation and justice.

Unfortunately it fits squarely with the Christian gospel of hope (for those living under the heel of Saddam Hussein), reconciliation (of actions with consequences) and justice (Evil tyrants deposed).

It also happens to betray the best in the noble US traditions of enlightenment and freedom.

I do believe I would punch this asswipe in the mouth if I heard him say this within my hearing.

We are not fatalists. Even now, hoping against hope, we call in the name of God for a halt to this war.

And condemn yet another generation of Iraqis to cruel, tyrannized lives and blasted futures. How Godly of you.

We cannot wash our hands of it, because it will sully us all, but at the least we want it to be crystal clear to our Islamic sisters and brothers that this is not our war.

Don’t worry, any Islamic terrorist who reads this is giving you a standing ovation, Matheson. The genuinely suffering people of Iraq just wish you’d shut up and go away.

God bless Iraq.

Or more properly “Allah,” the Mesopotamian cult moon goddess you worship in harmony with your Islamic brothers and sisters. Of Jesus Christ you know and care nothing.

The case for war.

Readers of Clubbeaux know I’m not a, Iraq war hawk, I think if we’re really going to go after the source of the problem of Islamic terrorism we need to take out Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, but there is a case for war against Iraq and it’s made by Bill Whittle at Eject! Eject! Eject! as well as I’ve seen it made anywhere.

It’s rather long but elegantly written, so get a cup of coffee before plunging in. Some highlights (subheadings mine):

Media hypocrisy.

One of the reasons that September 11th remains so shocking and clear to us today was that it was all raw and unedited during those first few hours. Bland, chatty newsmen were rendered speechless, a tough-as-nails mayor broke down and wept, congressmen spontaneously broke into God Bless America because they didn’t know what else to do, and people sent in video of jets flying into buildings, broadcast unedited as their friends screamed “Jesus Fucking Christ!” on network television. It was raw. It was real. It stayed that way for perhaps 48 hours, until people like me (but not me) got a hold of it and turned it into America Mourns with slow-mo flags snapping and moving dissolves of weeping bystanders superimposed over somber musical chords.

Now that awful, enraging footage is being held back, so as not to enflame public opinion. We are about to launch a war in which people will die at our hand, and we have done a dreadful job of making the case for such an action. Public opinion needs to be enflamed, because no cold-blooded, clear-eyed look at what we oppose in this conflict could do anything but enflame public opinion.

Those who criticize the United States from within clearly have not seen any of these horrors I have mentioned, for if they had it could not but mitigate their rhetoric, and put some perspective into their arrogant and affluent lives. Those who actually endure such daily horror as can be found in the world want one thing and one thing only: they want to come here. They want to come here NOW.

We never see these grotesque realities on U.S. television, and yet our news media has not been shy about reporting the effects of U.S. bombing campaigns, never missed a chance to show us the weeping civilians wailing over children lost in U.S. air attacks, never blanched at showing charred Iraqi soldiers hanging out of tanks destroyed by our weapons.

However, by showing only our actions, by showing only what we did to Iraqis without presenting the horrors they inflicted on Kuwait, we have made an editorial decision, that being: The U.S. is the cause of, and not the remedy to, much of the suffering in the world.

Just the beginning.

We and two or three other nations, old and true friends who have stood by us through flame and terror, now confront a menace the likes of which we have not seen for almost a thousand years. We face an adversary in the full bloom of romance with death and destruction, an enemy willing – eager – to spray our cities with a virus it has taken armies of scientists and doctors, working diligently through centuries of research and learning, to eradicate from the blood-soak rolls of history. We face fanatics who would bring down the entire world, themselves included, in a radioactive Armageddon, secure in their own twisted souls of the heavenly rewards of sexual gratification and revenge for their many abject failures.

We face people such as this, people who are so far beyond the pale of human mercy and so corrupted by black and bitter rage that they must be killed, for nothing else will stop them, nothing – as they tell us at every opportunity.

Those protesting this war do not seem to get this at all. Not only have they failed to make an argument based on fact and historical precedent, they have stooped to the most childish and infantile posturing and rhetoric imaginable. Their chanting has all the mindlessness and cruelty of a kindergarten cabal; their slogans and slanders and taunts seemingly exclusively ad hominem.

Watching them on C–Span for as long as you can bear, you rapidly become convinced that they have no point to make at all, other than that the United States is, by definition, the source of all evil and injustice in the world. Conscientious liberals admit in private, and indeed, more frequently in public, to the paucity of thought, the irrationality and sheer lunacy of those who march in our streets in opposition to war with Iraq.

I see the absurd posturing of these suburban socialists, listen to the inane chanting from these mall Marxists, watch them return to their Lexuses and their minivans and their SUVs and find myself stuck with “Life During Wartime” running over and over in my head:

This ain’t no party
This ain’t no disco
This ain’t no foolin’ around.

This is nothing new.

We have blithely ignored them for many years, turned a deaf ear to their warnings and fatwas, turned an even more blinded eye to their procession of assassinations, massacres, bombings and attacks. Despite our recent and proven record of aiding and defending innocent Muslims in Kuwait, the Balkans, and elsewhere, we have been singled out as a Satan, a nation of sub-human infidels, and been the target of slander and incitement to murder that would have shamed the most fanatical Jesuit in the Spanish Inquisition.

There are those of us who have the courage to actually listen to their unedited rhetoric, view the video records of their atrocities, and face the fact that these people are sworn to kill as many innocent civilians as they possibly can. Some of us, in the months since September 11th, 2001, have chosen to take them at their word.

Liberal logic.

No one disputes that nuclear weapons are dangerous. No one disputes that Saddam is dangerous. So why do legions of people argue that Saddam with nuclear weapons is somehow not dangerous?

What war protesters say:

Now let’s deal with some of the reasons why people oppose this war.

Innocent people, innocent children will die in this war.

That is true. Innocent people will die at our hand. But let us never forget that action is visible and direct, but that inaction also bears consequences.

We will do everything in our power to limit civilian causalities in this war. In fact, during the days and weeks ahead, we will see something unheard of in military history: a campaign designed not only to minimize civilian casualties, but one aimed at killing as few enemy soldiers as possible. We have already dropped leaflets on Iraqi regular army units, telling them that if they remain in their positions they will not be harmed, but if they mass for a counterattack, we will destroy them. As Steven Den Beste repeatedly has pointed out, they have recent experience in this matter, both with our destructive capabilities and our generosity and kindness to prisoners of war.

Those that do chose to fight will be the hard core element of Saddam’s blood-stained police state, the sadists and executioners who have tortured and murdered their own people on Saddam Hussein’s orders for decades. Don’t forget that. Don’t forget the number that have disappeared in the night during his monstrous reign of terror. Don’t forget well-documented, disgustingly common accounts of the children tortured to death in front of their parents, of girls raped in front of their fathers, not to mention the roll-calls of horror that will emerge when that evil is finally swept away.

And finally, don’t forget your friends and family, the good people you work and play with, the innocent men women and children of New York or Los Angeles or Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, or whichever city we may condemn to radioactive vapor because we were too cowardly and indecisive to act on what we knew to be a threat.

This war is all about oil.

Demonstrably false for the reasons listed above. Nevertheless, let’s grant the premise. Oil is the only power source currently available to meet the needs of our post-industrial society. Not only our automobiles depend on this oil: it is also a primary source of electrical energy in this country, and is essential to the plastics we use in everything from MRI machines to CD players.

To say this war is all about oil is factually identical to saying that this war is all about maintaining our society and lifestyle. If that is not worth fighting for, what is? One may find that offensive ideologically, but my experience with the people who have SPLIT WOOD NOT ATOMS on their bumper stickers have actually split very little wood in their lives. If one feels deeply about NO BLOOD FOR OIL, you must either drive a solar-powered electric car, ride a horse or a bicycle, or walk. You must remove your home from the city power grid. You must discard all plastic items. You must also abandon television, radios and movies, all of which rely on electricity generated by oil. You must forgo modern medicine, surgery and dentistry, likewise driven by oil-fired electricity at many stages. You must grow your own food.

Do all of these things, and you will have my frank admiration for your dedication to a moral cause. Do anything less and you are a hypocrite mouthing an easy lie in an attempt to strike a pose of moral superiority.

We need a ‘smoking gun’ from the UN inspectors.

It is clear from documented reports of bribery attempts on UN inspectors on the part of the Iraqis, to French inspectors tipping off Saddam about team destinations, that to accept this argument we de facto lose the game. This is why it is so popular. It ignores reams of testimony from defecting scientists, and all of the other evidence stated above. In fact, it raises the question that ignoring such a mountain of existing evidence requires such a willful burying of one’s head in the sand as to make any proof insufficient.

To such people, the smoking gun they require is a pile of radioactive rubble where Tel Aviv once stood, or legions of dead commuters in the London Underground, or the wildfire spread of smallpox through greater Chicago and beyond. Scores of independent sources repeatedly and emphatically demonstrate that Iraq has massive quantities of biological and chemical weapons, and is working frantically to attain nuclear ones.

Those unconvinced by the existing evidence will be convinced by nothing less than their actual use against our military or civilians.
To hell with those people.

The United States has no right to launch a pre-emptive attack; we can only respond if we are attacked.

This is the most pernicious and dangerous argument of all, because it plays directly into our natural revulsion at being an aggressor and causing the deaths of innocent civilians.

As I mentioned, I see both Iraq’s attack on Kuwait, and the Islamicist attacks on 9/11, as the pre-emptive attacks that started this pending conflict. But perhaps you do not buy that argument. Well, consider this:

We were attacked before, on December 7th, 1941, by a vast navy that had been assembling for years. We watched the Japanese build the Pearl Harbor fleet. We did nothing. We – the French and English especially – also did nothing as a bitter and vengeful Germany grew stronger and more daring. Appeasement was all the rage back then.

In the years following that naval sneak attack, and after a war in which unchecked militarism nearly brought civilization to ruin, it made sense to think that we could stay free by being strong enough to deter or repel any invasion. We would do – indeed, we have done – whatever it took to create a defense so formidable that the mere idea of defeating it has become unthinkable, and to willingly provoke it becomes an act of state suicide.

Those days are gone.

We face an enemy willing – eager – to carry a suitcase into Times Square, press a button, and in one millisecond inflict more casualties on the United States than we have seen in all the wars of our history, combined.

It is an image so horrible that many simply refuse to believe it.

Believe it.

We ignore September 11th at our mortal peril. We no longer have the luxury of watching an enemy build military and naval strength over years or decades. We no longer face uniformed divisions massing at the borders. We face instead a group of depraved murderers to whom nothing is off-limits, who fear no earthly retribution, who love and glorify death for its own end and who hate not only all that we do, but all that we are with a black bitterness that we cannot begin to imagine.

For we are waking up to a simple reality. In a new millennium where a few diseased people can carry a suitcase with the power to kill millions, the lesson we must learn is simply this: the only way we will be safe, prosperous and free is when everyone is safe, prosperous and free.

Critics of this War on Terror call it ‘eternal’ and ‘never-ending’ as a means of discouraging us from fighting it at all. But there can be an end to this war. It will end when all people are inside the bubble we have built for ourselves and our children – warm, well-fed, free to pursue their dreams and ambitions, their minds and bodies and women liberated, racial and tribal hatreds put aside, and so on.

The quiet idealist deep inside in me, on a speak-when-spoken-to basis, actually believes such things are possible. After all, it works – pretty well – for us, and we Americans are children of all the world. We know what such a society looks like, and we have documents of such stunning clarity and hope as to show anyone the way.

The conservative I have become, however, is certain that if it happens, it will happen because of the actions and sacrifice of US Marines and not because of middle-aged naked hippies spelling PEACE on a golf course. It will take decades. It may take centuries.

Can we FORCE freedom and democracy on people? It seems, from the example of Germany and Japan, that indeed we can. These societies once harbored fanatics no less dedicated to our destruction than the ones we face today. Now they are our trading partners, and often our friends and allies.

The point at which it becomes necessary to force such a regime change will be determined by how ugly the swamp has become. And can anyone seriously argue that the people left after the defeat of the Nazis, Japanese Imperialists or American Confederates are not far better off today than they would have been if they had WON?