August 21, 2005
The AP, the LA Times, and Who's Your Chaplain II
One of the more worrying ongoing stories is the arrest of several men for involvement in a conspiracy, hatched in California's Folsom prison to attack Jewish sites and synagogues around the state. What's worrying is that one of the men apparently converted to a radical form of Islam while in prison. For obvious reasons, some attention has been focused on the California Penal system's system for vetting clergy.
The LA Times carried two stories on the subject yesterday, and as usual, the story is the dog that didn't bark. In this case, the dog that didn't ask questions about who was speaking to it.
The first story is about the general threat of radical Islamic recruiting in American prisons, and the tenor of the story is that there's really nothing to worry about:
Recent arrests have focused attention on a potential terrorism danger that federal officials have been warning about -- that inmates in state prison systems are particularly susceptible to radical Islamist ideology.
Then, the last three paragraphs:
The California prison system has 30 full- and part-time Muslim chaplains, civil service employees who undergo background checks and must adhere to mainstream Islam, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
We've already seen about Mr. Syed. I'm sorry he's not being further utilized by law enforcement.
As for Mr. Al-Marayati, here's what Daniel Pipes has to say about him:
Trouble is, Mr. Al-Marayati, like so many other American Muslim leaders, purveys an extremist political agenda that few people seem to notice or care about.
Mr. Pipes goes on to provide some disturbing examples of Mr. Al-Marayati's rhetoric. CAMERA provides further examples.
The other LA Times article focuses on activities in the California prison system, and the checks (or lack thereof) on who gets to be the voice of Islam on the Inside:
The federal study also found that an aggressive brand of Islam often took root in prisons that lacked professional Muslim clerics, where inmate believers took on leadership roles despite having little training or knowledge of Islam's tenets.
Joel Mowbray has done a little spadework on Imam Hasan, who runs the mosque attended by the US soldier convicted of a fragging attack on the eve of the Iraqi invasion.
Now, I want to be very careful here. It's likely that Imam Hasan is one of the good guys. He doesn't try to vouch for anyone else, and I aboslutely do not want to claim that he in any way encouraged the fragging attack, or encouraged the soldier who did it to enter the military. I happen to be a good personal friend of a former camp counseler of Baruch Goldstein, and his connection with that mindset or that attack was less than nothing.
But Imam Hasan takes money from Saudis, and has close ties with a Saudi-funded King Fahd Center in LA. He may well not approve of Saudi extremism. But how likely is he to go out of his way to help ferret it out? Maybe he's one of few who would.
But in his case, and in the case of Mr. Al-Marayati and Mr. Syed, the Times and the AP are extremely negligent in how they indentify the players in these stories.
August 19, 2005
Who's Your Chaplain?
As Frank Gaffney discussed today on Hugh's show, Folsom prison seems to have become a major organizing center for a radical Islamist gang, who seem to have mastered the notion of the revolving door fairly successfully. With three arrests having been made, CAIR held a press conference today to discuss the matter. At this writing, there's no report of how it went, but consider one participant:
Shakeel Syed, Contractor Chaplain with Federal Bureau of Prisons
I'm sure Mr. Syed says all the right things in English, and to interviewers when looking for contract work. Here's what he says to Al-Jazeera:
Nine Eleven "changed everything" has become a popular saying among some. In fact, nothing has changed since 1775. The imperialist mindset remains unchanged. The then founders killed the Native American Indians and believed that they are giving themselves a free America. The current (hopefully outgoing) President apologized to a powerless King, instead to the victims. Their pain is only compounded when the President distances himself from the rhetoric that that behavior was merely the "wrongdoing of a few". Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, however, indicates that the torture was cleared with lawyers. Al-Jazeera, May 30, 2004
Sooner than we think the old footage of blind folded American hostages and the Islamic government of Iran (more democratically elected than the US President) will overwhelm the airwaves. And the global dissent of good people will be ignored to yet another preemptive invasion of Iran and they will be made to forget the bigger monster, Israel from the very discourse of “axis of evil.” Al-Jazeera, November 27, 2004
The United States of America tends to glorify, simplify and sanitize more than two and a quarter centuries of its horrid past. The Declaration of Independence states "all men are created equal," but that was not the case in 1776. Two hundred twenty eight years later, the Declaration still could not home itself in the hearts of all Americans. The 228th year of freedom must see beyond the mundane rituals of afternoon barbecues and evening fireworks.
Aren't you glad he's giving spiritual guidance to our hardened criminals.
Parvez Ahmen, board chairman of the execrable CAIR, takes the CAIR party line today in the Powerline Guys' favorite newspaper, the Strib. For the moment, it's not worth fisking the whole article, except to note that the tune is pretty much the same one we're used to: no matter how noble the cause, no matter how deep the grievances, you can't kill civilians. (Are there Israeli civilians? Who knows?)
Most importantly, he claims that the fatwa, and a massive Islamic education program from "moderates" is the best way to combat terrorist impulses.
Allow me to suggest another.
The Islamic community that neither teaches radical Islam, nor sympathizes or identifies with it, needs to ostracize and isolate those who do within their community. Being an Orthodox Jew, I know a little something about how religious communities enforce their norms without benefit of police powers. Sharia operates in much the same way, aside from burying women up to their necks in sand and stoning them.
So here are concrete steps the Mullahs need to take, need to call for others to take, and need to stick to, in the longer-term interests of their own faith.
They need to ban, or ostracize Muslims who teach these things.
They need to tell businessmen in their congregations, the ones who run the groceries and newsstands, not to sell video games where the heroes are looking to blow themselves up, or where the player gets to blow away Jews and Americans like insects in Galaga.
They need to tell their congregations not to patronize shops who sell video games like that, or the Protocols.
They need to refuse money from these people, no matter where they come from, no matter what holy sites their countries contain.
They need to refuse Halal certification to eateries where this drek is distributed.
In short, they need to make it completely impossible for radicals to function in communities other than those completely dominated by their own kind, thus limiting them to an ever-shrinking circle of operation.
This is how religions function, and enforce their own standards.
Don't hold your breath.
August 11, 2005
Gush Katif Rally
On Monday, August 15, just as the forced withdrawal from Gaza is scheduled to start, Denver will host a prayer gathering and rally to protest.
My own opinions on the withdrawal have varied, but I think the two major issues are strategic and religious.
From the religious side, I have never felt that Gaza was an integral part of the land of Israel. Certainly the participants in the 1967 war had a much stronger emotional attachment to the West Bank than to Gaza. Even if one does believe that Gaza is part of Israel, there are serious halachic opinions that hold that part can be surrendered to buy peace. In any event, the mere holding of Gaza never struck me as religiously critical.
That said, the forced withdrawal is scheduled to start just after Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av) on the Jewish calendar, which is the anniversary of the destruction of both Temples, and the Jewish day of commemoration of a whole host of national disasters - start of WWI, expulsion from Spain, that sort of thing. To the extent that Jews believe in Karma (uh, they don't), this just seems like asking for it. It's the kind of thing that, 60 years from now, we add to the list as the beginning of the end of the Third Commonwealth.
Strategically, I think Dan Diker, Hillel Halkin, and Yossi Klein Halevi have laid out the case for leaving as well as anyone. Mark Gerson had an fine, eyes-wide-open piece in the Weekly Standard a couple of weeks back.
The basic idea behind disengagement-as-I-supported it was that, as Gerson put it, "...we are not giving in to the Palestinians; we are giving up on the Palestinians." Draw a line, take the border decision-making away from the Palestinians, and let them sort out their own misery. When they're ready to be responsible, we'll talk. Since we'll have a defensible line of defense, we can decide when to believe them.
Sharon first proposed this in 2003, remember, when the memory of Jenin and the re-occupation of the Weat Bank and Gaza were still fresh. Arafat was living in what was still standing of his Ramallah villa, and the Palestinians were at a low point. To retreat - even strategically - at that point, looked like it could be pulled off. It wouldn't be a retreat under fire, it wouldn't be a repeat of Lebanon. For Israel, it looked as though it made some strategic sense.
The problem is that what's strategic for Israel is only theater-level for the US and the Global Warriors Against Terror. Al-Qaeda sees Israel as a front, not the final ends, and it's already establishing its tentacles in Gaza. If you look at it from their point of view, they're getting a foothold on the Mediterranean, with a lightly-guarded - to say the least - crossing point into Egypt.
The point is that there's simply no reason to believe at this point that Israel can contain the inevitable violence within Gaza. Moreover, Condi Rice and the State Department seem stuck in the same 1990s time warp of bad models. To put it mildly, they're playing Go Fish while the Arabs have already moved onto contract bridge. They have no idea of the structures, motivations, goals, or attitudes of the Palestinians. The State Department seems on the verge of accepting Hamas, if they can only win enough elections. Hamas doesn't want to govern - it wants to wage war.
Given that, this pullout is a grave mistake. It doesn't have to be a catastrophe or a disaster, but you can bet that the EU and whatever part of our diplomatic corps is assigned to the Middle East will be pushing it in that direction.
August 10, 2005
The Post Persists
I hate to keep doing this, but as long as the Denver Post persists in peddling speculation and outright falsehood as the basis for its editorials, its editorials will continue to read like an 18th-century handbill.
Their current position is that they can dictate to Robert Novak the content of his columns. I should say up front that I've never been a big fan of Novak's. I remember when he used to appear - 30 years ago - on one of those local weekly political journalists' roundtables - Agronsky & Company (who?), Washington Week in Review, McLaughin Group, something like that. He was a paleocon's paleocon, frequently critical of Israel. Not for nothing was he the "Prince of Darkness."
So the Post thinks that Novak should go ahead and write a tell-all column about l'affair Plame:
It's time for Robert Novak to give a public accounting of what led up to his 2003 newspaper column in which he revealed the identity of a heretofore clandestine CIA operative, Valerie Plame.
The Post may think this was "retaliation," for something. Anyone who's actually been following the story knows better. To recap: Wilson's wife helped get him the gig - he lied about that. Wilson's half-hearted site visit supported the Administration's position - he lied about that. Plame's life or career have hardly been endangered by the leak, if it was a leak. Wilson himself is the one who first floated himself and his wife as victims.
Speculation regarding Novak ran rampant as Fitzgerald threatened to jail Judy Miller and Matthew Cooper, two journalists who reported on Plame and refused to identify their sources. Miller never even wrote a story with Plame's name in it, yet she sits in jail at this moment.
Miller's not in jail for writing a story. She's also not in jail for murder, larceny, attempted arson, running up thousands of dollars in parking tickets, or any number of other crimes that would earn your average UN diplomat a first-class plane ticket, that she didn't commit. She's in jail for not cooperating with a federal prosecutor. It's entirely possible that her sources came from inside the Agency itself, and while that, too is speculation, it's no worse that the Post bases its, um, recommendation on.
In fact, this investigation is one that the NY Times actively campaigned for, before their own reporter became involved and they decided there was no crime, no crime at all, nothing to see here, please move along. In fact, Fitzgerald has some experience with Miller's irresponsibility. Apparently, she tipped off the terrorist-front Holy Land Foundation that Fitzgerald was on their case, on the eve of a federal raid on their offices. This prompted the Foundation to call over to Arthur Andersen and ask if the shredders were still under warranty, and could they please borrow them for the evening?
Novak finally broke his silence last week, defending his work after a CIA official suggested that Novak had acted improperly....
Novak was essentially accused (not "suggested") of if not committing a crime, then tap-dancing on the borders of one - of knowlingly outing an undercover officer - by a CIA spokesman. His attorneys were understandably jittery, but Novak was protecting himself in public from public accusations, and probably letting potential sources know that he wouldn't abuse their trust. The CIA officer in question was likely protecting himself and his organization, and if he needed to throw Novak under the bus to do it, so be it. Novak limited his response to the question of how he responded to the Agency's supposed warnings, because that's the only time he's been accused of impropriety. He doesn't need to either defend or attack Rove or Libby. There's a federal investigation, after all.
Finally, the Post more than implies that Novak's, er, performance in walking off a CNN set was directly related to his silence concerning the Plame affair, and that unburdening himself in a column might be cathartic for him:
It's clear the 74-year-old Novak is tied up in knots. Last week he was put on leave by CNN after uttering a barnyard epithet during an exchange on an unrelated political matter. He stalked off the program just before host Ed Henry was to question him about the Plame leak.
Novak has been avoiding talking about this matter for years. One more on-camera "no comment", or even a refusal to go on air, wouldn't have killed him.
Apparently, the Post's position is that Novak should tell all in order to satisfy their curiosity, while Miller should be able to run free while defying a federal prosecutor. For a crime that didn't happen. Or did. As usual, though, their reasoning is compromised by their speculation and incoherence.
August 01, 2005
The Grey Men
Mark Steyn's Telegraph column this week focuses less on the terrorists than on their enablers:
It's not black (the bomber) and white (the rest of us); there's a lot of murky shades of grey in between: the terrorist bent on devastation and destruction prowls the streets, while around him are a significant number of people urging him on, and around them a larger group of cocksure young men gleefully celebrating mass murder, and around them a much larger group of people who stand silent at the acts committed in their name, and around them a mesh of religious and community leaders openly inciting mayhem, and around them a savvy network of professional identity-group grievance-mongers adamant that they're the real victims, and around them a vast mass of progressive elites too squeamish about ethno-cultural matters to confront reality, and around them a political establishment desperate to pretend this is just a managerial problem that can be finessed away with a new bureaucracy and a bit of community outreach.
Steyn's point is that it takes a village to raise a bomber, these guys are not the lone wolves that the CAIR-apologists would have you believe. There's a whole world of people looking the other way and making excuses, most prominently our own cult of multiculturalists.
July 29, 2005
On Meetings and Fatwas
My favorite American Muslims traveled to the Capitol to meet with Tom Tancredo on Wednesday. They didn't manage to get any farther than anyone else with Nuclear Tom, but they did manage to show a remarkable amount of patience in doing so.
Coalition member Ahmad Subhy Mansor, an imam who attended the meeting, said, "If I were in his place, an American congressman concerned about Americans being killed by terrorists, I would say the same thing as the congressman."
Just about the only thing Tancredo has done right in this whole mess is to stiff CAIR, refusing to meet with the little Hamas-niks. By meeting with Nawash, he may also be trying to boost Americans who act like it.
Still, having seen the way Jewish organizations treat each other, this scenario is dismayingly familiar:
Underlying the controversy is a dispute over who truly represents moderate Muslims.
I would point out that thus far, it's the only Muslim-led rally against terrorism. The only Muslims other anti-terror rallies managed to attract out here have to be kept on the other side of the Thin Blue Line to keep them from painting the town red, so to speak.
And CAIR rejects criticism that it doesn't represent moderate Muslims or that it hasn't condemned terrorism.
Poor Ibrahim Hooper. Now, I will say this fatwa is better than nothing, but not much, not this late in the game. Go ahead and read it.
Welcome back. First, what's right with it.
Now, what's wrong with it.
Look, Ibrahim Hooper may be wracking his poor, addle-pated brain trying to think of new ways to condemn terrorism, but he clearly hasn't bothered to ask what kind of things would work. Why not? Too degrading? Too bad. They and their multicultural apologists expect us to "engage" them so we can calculate just the right amount of subserviance in any statements we make, laws we pass, or wars we fight.
But then, they didn't ask me.
UPDATE: Steven Emerson is even harder on the fatwa than I am.
July 25, 2005
The New York Times's Thom Shanker has decided that our soldiers have decided that you're not doing enough:
There is no serious talk of a draft to share the burden of fighting across the broad citizenry, and neither Republicans nor Democrats are pressing for a tax increase to force Americans to cover the $5 billion a month in costs from Iraq, Afghanistan and new counterterrorism missions.
Remarkably, I also haven't seen schoolboys, silhouette reference cards in hand, scanning the skies for enemy bombers. Nor have I been silently asked at the light rail "Is This Trip Necessary?" to make way for departing troop trains. I was recently able to replace my tires at very reasonable prices.
Why? Because while the military is on a war footing, we simply neither need nor want the kind of mobilization we had for WWII. There is no need for the government to comandeer the national economy. In fact, we're better off if we don't do that, Bernard Baruch notwithstanding.
Shanker laments the lack of a tax increase to pay for the war. Except that the deficit has been shrinking for a little while now, thanks to the fact that Uncle Sam doesn't have to intercept wheat shipments and send them to the front.
What Shanker doesn't examine is the source of this bitterness, whose extent, I might add, we really have no idea of. Is it possible that a soldier might feel just a little put-upon by Senators who compare their work to gulags, Representatives who call them as bad as Saddam? If the Army is watching CNN on its off-hours, I can see why they might be inclined to ask why these whining civvies aren't being asked to help out.
Except that they have, and they do. I've heard the President speak of the need to support the troops in a tangible way. I've heard him give web addresses. I probably haven't heard it enough. I cetainly haven't heard it from Senator "Turban" Durbin's office.
Hugh "the Dhimmi" Hewitt
Not. Look, I thought Hugh was a little less than aggressive in his questioning of CAIR's Hussam Ayloush. So did Froggy. So did Aaron. (Aaron, by the way, lays out the case against CAIR like few I've seen.)
But "dhimmi?" C'mon guys. Hugh's able to get the bad guys to come on his show because he gives them a fair hearing, lets them say their piece, and then, when they're done, filets them like Uma Thurman in a bad mood.
Anyway, since they're done, bring out the knives. Since Aaron is cool with a group fisking, I'll take two points made by the main from CAIR. First, Hugh asked him about the utter lack of religious plurality in Saudi Arabia, and Hussam replied that since 99.9% of Saudi Arabia was Muslim, there was no need for churches.
Hugh's rather lame response was that the lack of churches certainly discouraged immigration.
A better response would have been that the 2 million+ Philippino guest workers have no place to go. Admittedly, the mosques there tend to be of the radical sort. ("Welcome to Saudi Arabia. Where the family that prays together slays together.") But the fact is that Islamic law has, for centuries, banned to building of new churches and synagogues, although existing ones can be maintained. After all, they might "spread poison."
The conversation moved on to MEMRI. Hugh had nothing but praise for these guys, but Hussam considered that they were doing a "grave disservice," by letting the world know what was being said in Arabic on Friday morning. After all, anyone can pick out the few crazies from the thousands of mosques.
Hugh rightly replied that there really aren't very many crazies in churches and synagogues here in the states. A better reply would have been the following catalog of the minor, insignificant preachers given over to slight hyperbole:
The same page will also show, by the way, a fair number of Muslims and Arabs who think that maybe their religion and culture took a wrong turn at some point, and that if they want to regain their place in the world, they're not quite going about it the right way.
So much for accentuating the negative.
Hugh knows this stuff. I won't speculate as to why he didn't take a harder line, but I'm fairly confident that he still knows what side he's on.
July 22, 2005
Those Signs Again
A few more thoughts on those signs.
Yes, they probably would do more good if they were posted on the inside of the mosque rather than the outside. What we're asking for isn't so much a PR campaign as introspection and self-analysis.
And there are several excellent questions that the banners invite, not all of them snarky. For instance, how does one explain the concept of dhimmitude in light of Islam's advertised tradition of tolerance?
And yet, most of the questions have to do with problems overseas. People tend to come to America, to cross a wide ocean with expensive airfares, to get away from these problems. If there's any place that can work its assimilationist magic on this problem, it's here.
I think the fact that the banners have pictures of the American flag on them is significant. After 9/11, houses, from those of residence to those of worship to those of ill-repute, put out the Red, White, & Blue. But I searched in vain for Old Glory over a mosque. Admittedly, a picture of a flag isn't the same thing as a flag itself, but again, we're talking baby steps here.
In fact, this particular mosque has a little history in that regard. It was this mosque that some idiot AM shock jocks invaded with horns and noisemakers the morning after a Muslim Nuggets basketball player ostentatiously sat down during the national anthem before a game. No higher power than Allah, so how can he stand up for the flag? The Imams pretty quickly said he had been getting some bad advice, and the whole thing went away.
But really. If you've got a universal religion, even symbols of a temporal power might be a problem. I don't see a lot of Union Jacks or Tri-colors or Bundesbanners at Muslim marches in Europe, either. So putting a picture of the flag up may be the beginnings of an American identity.
One last point. Yes, the banners are directed outward. But remember, if first, people are ashamed to say certain things, they may soon be ashamed to think them.
July 21, 2005
A Very Good Start
UPDATE: Welcome Hugh Hewitt Listeners. Look around, and while you're here, check out the rest of the Rocky Mountain Alliance.
Today, I happened to drive by the local Islamic Center, not the mosque of Imam Kazerooni, who is Shiite, but a Suuni mosque. They've added some very welcome decoration:
This is good. For one thing, it's the first time I've seen an American flag anywhere near a mosque since September 11. For another thing, they really do say all the right things. The more this becomes the message from Islam, the better. (They could use a better proofreader, but it's no worse than a whole lot of Israeli menus I've seen in LA.)
There's no question that the fact that the London bombers were homegrown has finally gotten through to some American Muslims that this is their problem, that they can't say to themselves and others, "these guys are from someplace else, they don't have anything to do with me."
That said, I think these banners need to face inward every bit as much as they face outward, if not on Parker Rd. then elsewhere.
July 18, 2005
Way Behind the Curve
Ed Quillen, the Denver Post's resident ex-journalist and current curmudgeon, is generally an excellent read. He's not conservative by any stretch. He writes from Salida, Colorado, and calls Denver the "Front Strange."
His Sunday oped was about the Plame kerfuffle, and was so factually-challenged that one wonders whether the fine Coloado summer had gotten to him a little.
Every time a reporter goes to jail to protect a confidential source, it inspires some anguish here. It happened last week, when Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, went to jail rather than testify before a grand jury about a conversation she had with someone whose privacy she had promised to protect.
If Quillen is correct, then most people reading his column are hearing about the whole kerfuffle for the first time. What he says will be the story they remember. You would think that, as an old newspaperman, he'd bother to get the facts right.
In February 2002, Joseph C. Wilson IV was sent by the CIA to Niger to investigate rumors that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear material there. A year later, he began criticizing the Bush administration for exaggerating the threat from Saddam Hussein.
Well, when you put it that way, sure. Never mind that the way he "critized the Bush administration" was to lie about the origin, contents, manner, and results of his "investigation." This is a bit like saying that Mussolini was "criticizing" the Italian government in the 20s.
Shortly thereafter, syndicated Washington columnist Robert D. Novak wrote that two administration officials had told him that Wilson's Niger trip had been suggested by Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative.
Well, there are two ways to read this sentence, and both of them are wrong. Novak never wrote that Plame was an undercover CIA officer. And Plame wasn't an undercover CIA officer.
Presumably, the idea was to discredit Wilson.
Actually, the idea was at least to let Newsweek's reporter know that maybe Wilson wasn't all he was pretending to be.
Wilson would do a fine job of discrediting himself in fairly short order.
It is a federal felony to identify an active undercover CIA officer. Thus the officials who talked to Novak might have committed a crime. A special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was appointed, and he's trying to find out who leaked Plame's name. He has summoned reporters before a grand jury, with the threat that they'll be held in contempt if they don't testify. Miller wouldn't talk, and she's in jail.
I've skipped a story here about how Quillen had to deal with a similar situation in the past. Similar, but not identical. Because while Quillen was trying to protect someone who had told him about a crime, Miller is going to jail because the act of telling her something may have been a crime. That's why Fitzgerald is talking to reporters.
I do know that when somebody calls me and says, "I've got some hot information, but you can't tell anybody you heard it from me," I tell them to call someone else if the secret must be kept. I'm a blabbermouth by nature and my business is presenting things to the public, not hiding things from the public.
Except that Cooper called Rove, not the other way around. And Cooper asked Rove about Wilson, not the other way around.
And I'm willing to bet on this: Miller will be the only one to serve any jail time as a result of this Beltway brouhaha. After all, she's part of the Liberal Media Elite, and in these times, many Americans will figure she deserves it, as opposed to some White House source who put an American agent's life at risk.
I used to work for the Agency, indirectly, as a contractor. I knew CIA officers, lots of them. I have a fair sense of how the Agency operates. It's entirely possible that Plame could work at Langley and be undercover. Operatives frequently do rotations at HQ before being sent back out into the field. But if Plame is going around telling her friends and family where she works, she's not undercover. No way, no how. Miller may be the only one to serve jail time because there may not actually be a crime here at all.
I don't want to be too hard on Mr. Quillen. He tends to answer emails, and he's the property of no political party. But there's plenty of original-source material out there for him to check. A piece like this might have been forgiveable two weeks or two months or two years ago. I don't know what the lead time on his columns is, and it's possible he wrote this before the Latest Startling Revelations became public. By Sunday, if the Post hadn't been sleeping off their hangovers, they certainly should have spiked the column for inaccuracy.
Cross-Posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.
Tancredo Goes Nuclear
Hugh Hewitt spent most of his show explaining why Tom Tancredo's threat to nuke Mecca in response to an al Qaeda nuclear attack on America is thoroughly irresponsible. I don't need to rehash that here, except to say that Hugh's right.
That said, wars do this to people. Wars distort and heighten emotion, and lead otherwise responsible people to do and say really, really stupid things.
Therefore, the imperative is not to end this war with a minimum of damage, or to try to finesse its conduct, but to end it as quickly as we possibly can. To end the Syrian regime, and to help the Iranian people annihilate the mullahs as quickly as possible. Life is, sadly, messy, and many wars have been lost by being too clever by half. Unless we do that, we're going to be seeing more of this from other Tancredos and Turban Durbins.
Welcome to the multi-polar world. Latin America doing its NASCAR impersonation with a series of hard left turns. Chinese generals a threatening to incinerate everything west of the Mississippi unless we admit that resistance is futile and that Taiwan will be assimilated.
These Islamicists are a big deal, and yet, at the same time, pretty small fry. Let's finish them off.
July 10, 2005
London Attacked - Local Cleric Seeks Victim Status
Even as the British authorities try to find the perpetrators of the attack, and even as speculation grows that the terrorists were - surprise! - home-grown rather than imported, the local Denver Imam is making sure to cover himself. After all, the real victims of the attacks aren't the dead and maimed. No, the real victims are the Muslims, who will be made to worry that someone might blame them for failing to help out the police ahead of time, rather than after the fact.
He added that when people stereotype any group, such as linking all Muslims to a terrorist incident, "people react with irrational behavior."
No doubt this also includes asking local religious leaders why exactly they're sharing afternoon tea with their bretheren who say one thing in Arabic on Friday and something rather different in English the rest of the week. One shouldn't, of course, look at a Muslim and assume he harbors any sympathy for murder. But these harder, community and institutional questions are simply called out of bounds, when in fact, they offer the only excuse for not lumping all Muslims together.
The two men - who have been working together on the church's Abrahamic Initiative, a project designed to build relationships among Jews, Christians and Muslims, for nearly a year - condemned the attacks and cautioned anyone against linking those responsible to any particular group.
Funny, though, that no rabbis were interviewed in the writing of this article. I wouldn't expect them to say anything different, but still, it would have been nice. I have an email in to Ms. House asking about that.
In fact, though, it's the linking of the bombing to a general group, not a particular one, that poses the greatest threat to truth. Just as we wouldn't want to assume that any given religious Muslim is hosting light-rail bombing planning sessions in his apartment, it's most important for Muslims to identify - and tip off the police - other Muslims who are spending the weekends testing out blasting caps and poertable timers.
Then again, perhaps the second paragraph insists on a little too much specificity. We may not yet have the names and addresses of the bombers, and the locale of the mosque whose imam gave them his blessing, but I think it's pretty clear who in a philosophical and political sense was behind this.
While Eaton said he was as "surprised and shocked as anybody," Kazerooni said the war in Iraq may have been a motivation for the attackers. Britain and the United States don't appear to be seeking a resolution, Kazerooni said.
Ah yes, maybe 9/11 was just a pre-emptive attack in case Iraq was invaded, then. Well, if they're teaching that sort of prophecy down at the mosque, I'd imagine you'd see some pretty hot action down at the sportsbook window at Caesar's.
Left unsaid is that Kazrooni, while a Shiite refugee from Saddam's Peaceable Kingdom himself, opposed the invasion from the beginning, and that London has looked like a pretty jiucy target since well before April 2003. Sure, they may be trying to pry Britain loose from the coalition, but that's tactics, not strategy. My guess is that this has more to do with the 10th anniversary of Srbenica than with any brothers-in-arms in Fallujah who've gone on to Eternal Disappointment.
Both men said reports that British Muslims were encouraged to remain at home were disturbing.
What they didn't say was that the people doing the encouraging were something called the "Islamic Human Rights Commission," whose main contribution to Islamic Human Rights was the unconditional support of Palestinian terror, and whose best friends seem to be the Noturei Karta, a group of a couple hundred Orthodox Jews who think Israel was a grand cosmological mistake.
It's no trick as to why they'd be peddling this line. A group whose whole means of support comes from a siege mentality is going to do their best to put their own people under seige, even if they have to bring in the battering rams themselves.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again. Until we demand that the Muslim community begins taking collective responsibility as eagerly as it files for collective greivances, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
June 17, 2005
Salazar on Durbin
At least, that's the answer I got when I called the senator's DC office this morning. No official statement yet, and no entry into the Senate record.
Duane, who appears to have taken poll-operating lessons in St. Louis, has a long discourse on the senior Senator from Illinois's Churchill-like rant, pointing out where Durbin says something, quotes himself saying it, and then denies that he said it.
May 24, 2005
Newsweek's Klaidman on Al-Jazeera
We can't see the initial question, but Klaidman goes on for two paragraphs describing the technical journalistic question of sources and sourcing, how this item ended up in their magazine. I assume the question was something like, "why did you run this item?" Then, this:
Klaidman: ...we concluded that we did not have the information that we needed to make the assertion that we did in this item – that this had happened.
One would be tempted to ask what on God's green earth Klaidman was thinking, if we didn't already know.
The Al-Jazeera reporters deftly changes the subject from Newsweek's lousy reporting to the truth of the underlying charges, asking Klaidman to admit that he can't prove that George Bush isn't receiving intergalactic messages through his fillings.
And Klaidman goes along! Here he is, appearing on what amounts to the propaganda arm of Al Qaeda, the closest thing we have to enemy television. He's staring into the eyes of man who quite obviously hates him as an American and as a Jew. He's got the attention of millions of people for whom CNN isn't anti-American enough. And he acts like he's trying to be the peacemaker at a college debating society.
Even if Newsweek's judgment weren't already compromised, merely by agreeing to appear, Klaidman calls into question his ability to differentiate reporting from propaganda. But this "defense," this complete refusal to defend his country's conduct of the war only compounds the problem.
Look, I don't expect him to go on enemy TV and say something like, "you people need to cool it. Some of your co-religionists have issues with perspective and proportion, and some of you might want to take them aside and teach them how to behave like civilized people." No, that would be asking too much, and Newsweek already has image problems in Arabic.
Something like, "the reason this was news at all was because the US Army has tried so hard to be Religiously Correct that they've issued a supply contract for prayer mats and Korans, and practically has the kitchen staff fom the Mecca Marriott preparing the meals down at Gitmo," would have worked.
Whose side are they on, indeed.
May 06, 2005
Lapses in Coverage
April 27, 2005
Dease & Desist
Apparently, Father Dennis Dease, head of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, thinks more highly of Fidel Castro than of Ann Coulter.
Last year, Dease criticized the Bush Administration's restrictions on travel to Cuba, a position actually taken by many Cuban Americans as well. But, then, according to a May 27, 2004 Star-Tribune report,
St. Thomas has been a pioneer in academic exchanges with Cuba. The school's president, Father Dennis Dease, travels frequently to Cuba, and has encouraged cultural and academic exchanges with the University of Havana.
In my experience, those advocating more openness with Cuba rarely do so hoping to topple Fidel. And indeed, when a Cuban baseball team toured the US In 2000, they made sure to stop in at St. Thomas for a game against the college's team.
Perhaps the team's greatest achievement - returning home almost intact - was also the occasion for Father Dease to embarass himself. The defecting player, Mario Miguel Chaoui, drove away from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport and surfaced again in Miami.
According to the May 9, 2000 Strib,
Informed that Chaoui had surfaced in Miami, the Rev. Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, said, "My initial reaction was that I was relieved he is safe; he's OK. I'm happy for that."
Is it any wonder that a guy who lectures a Cuban refugee on the virtues of Castro's Communism would find Ann Coulter "crossing the line?"
April 07, 2005
Squaring the Sunni Triangle
The Indispensible MEMRI is reporting that 64 Sunni clerics (no, despite the useful number, there's no Mullah Madness basketball tournament scheduled) are advocating that Sunnis join the new Iraqi armed forces, militia, and police.
This is probably good news. I say "probably," because my friend Michael Eisenstadt points out that Sunnis traditionally have dominated those institutions, and more likely to have military training in arms and tactics. Despite the British efforts to integrate Shiites into the Iraqi military during their occupation, Sunnis eventually rose to the top and controlled the command structure. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the mullahs are planning on history repeating itself.
Which, of course, is exactly no guarantee that it will. There's plenty of evidence that, if anything, Iraq is much less sectarian than it has been in the past, and that large numbers of Sunnis are ready to join the rest of Iraq in building a country worth keeping together. The mullahs make a point of stressing non-cooperation with the Americans, which may also be a way of appealing to people not enamored of US troops, suggesting that switching rather than fighting may be the fastest way to get the US to leave.
April 05, 2005
I know Hugh's looking for an English-speaking Pope, whether he be Australian or Nigerian. While Ratzinger's 78 years came up, Arinze's 72 would also likely make him a short-timer.
While I like the idea that the Italian winning streak has gone the way of the US dominance of the America's Cup, this guy is pretty intriguing, as described in the Wall Street Journal:
Angelo Scola -- An Italian born Nov. 7, 1941, Cardinal Scola has been patriarch of Venice for three years. During his time in the job, the 63-year-old has called for broadening Catholic religious instruction to include issues involving the economic and bioethical challenges facing society. He has also been vocal about the need for the church to find a way to confront the Muslim world and recently launched a publication dedicated to that topic.
If the War on Terror is the great defining issue of our age, a Pope who takes that struggle seriously could be as great an ally in this war as John Paul II was in the last.
He has begun a journal, Oasis, to look at the Church's relations with Islam, and seems to be one of the few people not named Mark Steyn to take Europe's demographic problems seriously.
April 01, 2005
Mark Mulligan, guest-blogging over at Clay's site, raises some interesting questions about the differences among the Amendments in the Bill of Rights, especially where they concern Jose Padilla.
I understand the arguments against gun control. Criminals and terrorists aren’t going to Wal-Mart or Garts. I’m just trying to understand the process by which we decided that the 2nd amendment was sacrosanct and the 5th and 6th weren’t. I don’t remember a national debate. The government decided for us and we went along.
The 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments are qualitatively different from the 2nd in at least two ways.
First, the government is a direct agent in Amendments 4,5, and 6. Therefore, it can take or not take actions that the courts can rule on. If the government were selling guns, like Virginia used to sell liquor, it could probably try to issue an administrative "Do Not Sell To" list that could also be challenged in court.
Secondly, Amendments 4, 5, and 6 enjoin actions by the government. Amendment 2 protects specific actions by me. The freedom to walk the streets freely may follow from 4-5-6, but it's indirect.
In that sense, the 1st Amendment is much like the 2nd. There are plenty of non-shooting positions in a terrorist operation, and I'm not sure I'd like Padilla wandering around collecting Saudi jihadist literature after Friday prayers, either. But I'm also not sure I could stop him.
For that reason, the context of actions taken under the 1st or 2nd Amendment matters. If my target terrorist organization is meeting at a mosque, the FBI can follow the guy right into prayers and eavesdrop on his conversations. Likewise, the purchase of a gun may be evidence of criminal intent, given the right context.
Again, any of this is subject to modification by the law, but where you're starting from matters.
March 28, 2005
The parking meters in Denver are on holiday today. As a group of high schoolers, on Spring Break, tried to use the high-tech parking meters, a woman came out of the Post Office and helpfully explained that today is "Hugo Chavez Day."
Let's hope it never comes to that. Cesar Chavez Day is bad enough.
Personally, I plan to eat my traditional bunch of grapes in commemoration.
March 21, 2005
Nuts and Bolton
That's the title of the latest from Mark Steyn in the Spectator. Steyn usually cuts down the Spectator column for American syndication, and if you've got less time this morning, you can get the gist of it here.
Okay, I get the hang of this game. Sending John Bolton to be UN ambassador is like ...putting Sudan and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission. Or letting Saddam’s Iraq chair the UN conference on disarmament. Or sending a bunch of child-sex fiends to man UN operations in the Congo. And the Central African Republic. And Sierra Leone, and Burundi, Liberia, Haiti, Kosovo, and pretty much everywhere else. All of which happened without the UN fetishists running around shrieking hysterically. Why should America be the only country not to enjoy an uproarious joke at the UN’s expense?
Steyn goes on to argue that America is simply honoring its traditions by refusing to play by the stale rules of an archaic game designed by others. Unlike some others who would like to do the same thing, America can make it stick.
Bolton simply isn't interested in being liked. He's interested in promoting a policy, which is actually what diplomacy is about.
My guess is that that’s what Bill Clinton and Eason Jordan were up to when they respectively hailed the progressivism of Iranian politics and defamed the entire US military. You’re with a bunch of foreigners and you want them to like you and it’s easy to get carried away.
March 08, 2005
Light Blogging, and a Note of Concern
Today's Blogging: Light, with much to do.
Ah, that Note of Concern. Well, you know, now that the MSM has decided to start checking out that "Bush May Have Been Right" train that left the station while they were inside refreshing their cocktails, it might be worth it to remember that these guys do have a pack mentality. They usually do all right with the fact - it's the story they have a hard time getting right.
In this case, with Democracy Busin' Out All Over, the story we want to avoid is 1848. That was the year that the citizens took over Europe. In January, they started making trouble all around; by June, the people had seized control of the governments of Germany, France, and Austria. By December, the Empires had struck back, and were back in control. In the one exception, France, the man who would become the dictator Napoleon III was in charge.
Revolutions, even genuinely popular ones, can fail. Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen in the Middle East. My guess is that the President understands this better than most of the critics-turned-grudging-admirers.
March 06, 2005
The good folks over at the RMPN are practicing the old Guilt by Association.
My outrage is for me alone to dispose of, but I am thoroughly disgusted by this.
I was disgusted when I saw this same group of about 8 people several months ago on a Sunday morning as I was walking my dog. No words passed between us, but it was clear they returned my contempt. Sadly, my dog declined my invitation to lighten his load on them.
Still, I am not outraged. I will be outraged when they are invited to sit in the Presidential Box at the Republican National Convention.
February 21, 2005
Media Bias Down Under
For those of us who think that media bias is even primarily an American phenomenon, I'd recommend to you Australian Gerard Henderson's Media Watch postings. Henderson is executive Director of the Sydney Institute, where he writes a weekly column. He also seems to appear in The Age with some regularity.
Not Paying Attention
The brilliant Mark Steyn's latest devastating column centers on Arthur Miller's inflated reputation, and the uses to which it has been put:
Miller was the most useful of the useful idiots. It was a marvelous inspiration to recast the communist "hysteria" of the 1950s as the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. Many people have pointed out the obvious flaw with "The Crucible" — that there were no witches, whereas there were certainly communists. For one thing, they were gobbling up a lot of real estate: they seized Poland in 1945, Bulgaria in '46, Hungary and Romania in '47, Czechoslovakia in '48, China in '49; they very nearly grabbed Greece and Italy; they were the main influence on the nationalist movements of Africa and Asia. Imagine the Massachusetts witch trials if the witches were running Virginia, New York and New Hampshire, and you might have a working allegory.
Steyn is the theater critic for the New Criterion, and reason enough to subscribe.
February 14, 2005
The Iraq-Vietnam Parallels Continue to Mount
I did notice this somewhat rueful quote from GM's President concerning the Fiat debacle:
"To be honest, when you do deals, you don't do the deal you want to, you do the deal you can do."
Aha! The President of GM is quoting (sort of) the Secretary of Defense. Remember, McNamara was President of Ford before leading into Vietnam as...Secretary of Defense!
It's just too spooky for words. Don't tell the RMPN.
Back In Action
He's also got a Purple Heart.
Capt. David Rozelle has a prosthetic leg, after losing the real one to a roadside bomb in Iraq. Now, sans foot, he's being cleared to go back to Iraq for another 6-month tour, after which he'll return to Washington. He'll be working at the new amputee center at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
Rozelle has written a book, Back In Action, about the injury and his recovery. There's some concern he may have been too successful...
In the book, Rozelle deals honestly with the period he spent feeling sorry for himself. He writes of kicking an addiction to morphine that accompanied the amputation and a bout of drinking too much that came with the recovery. Those struggles, along with much of the daily pain, are hidden when he tucks his uniform over his prosthetic.
Now that's courage.
February 12, 2005
Hey, I Knew Thomas Jefferson...
Jim Hu over at Blogs for Industry has been busy checking out Churchill's resume, and finds that he is claiming to have received a university Thomas Jefferson Award for Civic Contributions. The university seems to think otherwise.
As a grad of Mr. Jefferson's University, I have some problems with taking his name in vain like this. Obviously, I'd also have problems if it were true, but that's another matter...
February 11, 2005
He became affiliated with activist groups upon his return to Illinois and began teaching the radical Weather Underground how to make bombs, the Post story said. He started working for the American Indian Movement in 1972.
This is apparently a reference to the same 1987 Post article that both reader (and CU Law alum) Eric Johnson, and JW have asked me about. (Hat tip to the Camera, which sent me the KHOW link.)
A couple of things stand out from the original article, among them his apparent disgust at his students inadvertantly blowing themselves up. It would seem he wasn't much of a teacher then, either.
While I guess we shouldn't be too shocked at former radicals, even violent ones, showing up on campus, we may also take this with a grain of salt. For Churchill, this kind of involvement just proves his leftist bona fides, so he's got a clear incentive to embellish. And a proven talent for it.
February 08, 2005
Joe McCarthy Moment
Tonight was Ward Churchill's Joe McCarthy moment. (What was that? French Horns.)
CBS had a live feed that worked about as well as their news department ever does, and KOA carried it. I hope other stations around the country picked it up. I hope as many people as possible heard this man's ravings. I hope they have it on MP3. He came across as even more condescending, self-righteously indignant, and arrogant than even the worst of his writings could convey. Anyone with even an ounce of faith in the American people knew in a heartbeat that Wardo was Toasto. It's why the First Amendment guarantees freedom of bleat, and also why we shouldn't be paying for any more of his.
By the end, in response to a Columbus "You over here on a Fulbright?" Day Parade question, he was blathering about how human rights and international treaties and the 9th Amendment mean he gets to put a fist in your mouth if he likes it.
There were some humorless comments about how it was obvious that he didn't mean janitors or firefighters or babies or innocent bystanders or anyone other than Cantor-Fitzgerald bondtraders when he was talking about "little Eichmanns" and how some people have suggested it wasn't a very good metaphor but he disagreed because you could go out and find your own but this one was his and he thought it was obvious what "Eichmann" stood for but he guesses now that some people, like, just don't get it. Well, we’re all a little hostile now and then; some of us can sublimate, others can’t adjust. You know how it is...
I was in the car, and I did hear the start of the talk. He said, and I'm paraphrasing a little, but not much, that "I do not work for the state of Colorado. I do not work for the Board of Regents, at least not in the way that they think I do." And he went on to explain that his academic work is subordinate to his politics.
The good part is that now everyone knows just what he means, and just how ugly it is.
The bad part is that not enough people understand how pervasive it is.
"Sorely Lacking in ... Scholarly Integrity"
Source: American Indian Quarterly; Winter96, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p109, 10p
WARD CHURCHILL. INDIANS ARE US?: CULTURE AND GENOCIDE IN NATIVE NORTH AMERICA. MONROE, ME: COMMON COURAGE PRESS, 1994. 381 PP., NOTES, INDEX. $14.95 PAPER.
Indians Are Us? is a collection of commentaries on American Indian political and social affairs, written in the truculent tone that readers have come to expect from writer Ward Churchill. Like its predecessors, Fantasies of the Master Race and Struggle for the Land, this latest Churchill project consists largely of polemical pieces hastily compiled from obscure leftist publications.
Through the course of all his writings, Churchill gradually has emerged as a spokesman of sorts for those persons derisively referred to as Indian "wannabees"-individuals with no American Indian ancestry or tribal affiliation who nonetheless hold themselves out to the public as "Indians" by aggressively inserting themselves into the political affairs of real Indian people. Churchill's appeal among the "wannabees" lies both in the boldness with which he expresses contempt for Indian tribes, and in the scholarly facade he gives his anti-tribal propositions; indeed, many Churchill fans appear to have been won over by the mere fact that Churchill's books contain an abundance of endnotes. By researching those copious endnotes, however, the discerning reader will discover that, notwithstanding all the provocative sound and fury rumbling through his essays, Churchill's analysis overall is sorely lacking in historical/factual veracity and scholarly integrity.
In Indians Are Us? this problem is best illustrated in Churchill's recurring denunciations of the right of Indian tribes to determine their own members. Tribal self-determination is, of course, an inherent attribute of tribal sovereignty, cherished and fiercely guarded by Indian people against all efforts to deprive tribes of this fundamental right. What is intriguing about Churchill's assault on tribal self-determination is that Churchill launches his attack, ironically, under the guise of championing Indian rights, invoking, in the process, an altogether remarkable revisionist depiction of the history of relations between Indian tribes and the United States government. Thus, in his essay "Nobody's Pet Poodle," Churchill characterizes Indian tribes in the following disparaging manner:
These entities' membership rolls originated in the prevailing federal racial criteria of the late 19th century. The initial U.S. motive in quantifying the number of Indians by blood was to minimize the number of land parcels it would have to assign native people under provision of the 1887 Dawes Act .... Tribal rolls have typically been maintained in this reductionist fashion ever since .... [p. 92]
This peculiar wholesale condemning of Indian tribes by reference to the universally hated 1887 General Allotment Act (or Dawes Act) -- assigning blame, as it were, to the victims of nineteenth century federal Indian policy -- derives from Churchill's insistence that the General Allotment Act imposed an eligibility "standard" of"one-half or more degree of Indian blood" (p. 62) on Indians seeking land parcels under the Act. According to Churchill, this insidious "standard" was then imitated by-tribes, in puppet-like fashion, in formal enrollment procedures "as a matter of U.S. policy implementation" (p. 333). And so, according to Churchill, Indian tribes today deserve to be violently opposed for implementing tribal citizenship standards that, in Churchill's scheme, are nothing more than a mirror-image of the oppressive General Allotment Act's "formal eugenics code" (p. 333).
The main flaw in this federal/tribal conspiracy theory is that it rests on -- and propagates -- demonstrably false information concerning the contents and impact of the General Allotment Act. Contrary to Churchill's claims, the General Allotment Act did not require Indians to be "one-half or more degree of Indian blood" in order to be eligible for land allotments. Churchill's asserted General Allotment Act "standard" does not exist anywhere in the text of the Act. This, in turn, explains why Churchill never once provides a citation to any provision of the General Allotment Act (25 U.S.C. subsection 331 et seq.) wherein that dubious "standard" can be found.
While the General Allotment Act itself simply does not define "Indians" (i.e., those whom the Act renders "eligible" for land allotments), a provision of the Code of Federal Regulations implementing the Act specifies that such eligibility depends on whether the applicant is a recognized member of an Indian tribe or is entitled to be so recognized.
Such qualifications may be shown by the laws and usages of the tribe. [C.F.R. subsection 2531.1(a)] Thus, the General Allotment Act's "standard" is not the "formal eugenics code" asserted by Ward Churchill. Rather, that Act -- like nearly all federal legislation in both historic and modern times -- defers to membership in an Indian tribe as the core criterion for triggering the law's applicability to individuals.
As disturbing as Churchill's use of invented historical information to cast aspersions on Indian tribes plainly is, his additional attempts to "validate" this false propaganda by misrepresenting the views of fellow writers is even more disconcerting. In attempting to prop up his insupportable claims about the nonexistent "eugenics code" of the General Allotment Act, Churchill invokes two sentences from historian Patricia Nelson Limerick's acclaimed book The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. Churchill writes:
As the noted western historian, Patricia Nelson Limerick, has observed: "Set the blood-quantum at one-quarter, hold to it as a rigid definition of Indianness, let intermarriage proceed...and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. When that happens, the federal government will finally be freed from its persistent 'Indian problem.'" [p. 42]
Churchill then interjects:
Ultimately, there is precious little difference, other than matters of style, between this and what was once called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem." [p. 42]
By placing the quotation from Patricia Nelson Limerick in the midst of his incendiary pronouncements about the "genocidal potential" of the "Indian identification criteria" purportedly contained in the General Allotment Act (and allegedly mimicked by tribes), Churchill makes it appear as though Limerick herself is likewise bemoaning this asserted federal "usurpation" of tribal enrollment under the 1887 legislation.
In reality, however, Limerick is not commenting on the General Allotment Act at all. Rather, she is describing a 1986 proposal of the Reagan Administration to reduce overall federal spending by restricting eligibility for Indian Health Service benefits to Indian tribal members with "at least one-quarter Indian blood" (Limerick, p. 338). As Limerick explains in the very paragraph from which Churchill extracts the two quoted sentences, tribal leaders universally opposed and successfully rebuffed the Reagan proposal precisely because it "threatened to crack the bedrock of tribal self-determination" by making "Indianness a racial definition rather than a category of political nationality" (Limerick, p. 338).
Obviously, these remarks would make no sense at all if Limerick herself were to maintain -- as Churchill insinuates she does -- that this "bedrock of tribal sovereignty" had been successfully "cracked," and "Indianness" successfully subverted, a full century earlier, through tribes' wholesale adoption of the 1887 General Allotment Act's dreaded "eugenics formulation." Thus, Churchill's out-of-context manipulation of the quotation from Patricia Nelson Limerick can be viewed as nothing other than a deliberate attempt to mislead his readers.
Equally astonishing is Churchill's misrepresentation of Russell Thornton's painstaking scholarship. Once again, to artificially validate his own hostility toward tribal membership procedures, Churchill (p. 93) asserts the following: "Cherokee demographer Russell Thornton estimates that, given continued imposition of purely racial definitions, Native America as a whole will have disappeared by the year 2080." Churchill then cites to nine pages from Thornton's definitive American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492.
Nowhere in those nine pages, however, does Russell Thornton make an assertion even remotely resembling the grim, sensational forecast that Churchill attributes to him. In fact, Thornton is decidedly optimistic about the future of Indian tribes throughout the chapter containing those nine pages. The chapter begins, "Since around the turn of the twentieth century American Indians have made a remarkable population recovery as a result of their greatly improved demographic situation" (Thornton, p. 159). Under a heading entitled "A Look to the Future," Thornton points out that "American Indians are thriving today demographically" (Thornton, p. 182) . Thornton continues:
If this rate of growth from 1970 to 1980 continues to the year 2000, the size of the American Indian population then will surpass 4 million .... But, it will likely not continue .... One projection is that the American Indian population will not increase to around 4 million until the year 2020... It is also projected, however, that the American Indian population will increase to almost 16 million by the year 2080 .... [Thornton, p. 182]
Clearly, Russell Thornton's comments concerning various estimates of the future population of American Indians all point to an anticipated increase in that population in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, Ward Churchill, for his own purposes, cites Russell Thornton as authority for an antithetical proposition never put forward by Thornton and implicitly repudiated, in fact, in Thornton's text-i.e., that the American Indian population is in danger of suffering a dramatic decrease in the twenty-first century. A more perverse rendering of the plain meaning of an author's text would be difficult to imagine.
There is no escaping the conclusion that in Indians Are Us? Ward Churchill misrepresents the writings of both Russell Thornton and Patricia Nelson Limerick in order to create a false appearance that these acclaimed scholars corroborate and partake of Churchill's hostility toward Indian tribes. In reality, neither Thornton nor Limerick has ever maintained a disrespectful attitude toward Indian tribes in general or toward the enrollment methods employed by tribes in particular. Indeed, the anti-tribal posturing that Churchill cunningly assigns to Thornton and Limerick is decisively negated by both authors in those very same passages, no less, to which Churchill cites! Numerous other problems plague Ward Churchill's treatment of historical and political issues in Indians Are Us? -- so many problems, in fact, that readers would be well advised to independently investigate the veracity of any inflammatory/defamatory assertion made by Churchill before relying on it or repeating it. Several red flags can be briefly noted:
In the book's "Acknowledgments," Churchill engages in scurrilous name-calling of prominent, widely respected Indian leaders. Among the Indian rights advocates and grassroots community organizers mocked and maligned by Churchill are U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Washington lobbyist Suzan Shown Harjo, and American Indian Movement leaders Vernon Bellecourt, Carole Standing Elk, and Fern Mathias.
The original "Declaration of War" was adopted unanimously as a resolution by both the National Congress of American Indians, representing more than one hundred fifty Indian nations, and by the Lakota Summit, representing all forty Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations and bands in the United States and Canada. Thus, as originally conceived, drafted, and adopted, the "Declaration of War" articulates the overwhelming consensus of Indian tribes that the commercial abuse and exploitation of Lakota ceremonies by non-Indians no longer will be tolerated.
Ward Churchill neither requested nor was granted Center for the SPIRIT's permission to reprint either the "Declaration of War" or the "Alert." However, that considerable impropriety alone pales by comparison with a much more serious transgression, namely, Churchill's decision to strategically alter the "Declaration of War," distorting it to conform to his own anti-tribal bias.
Thus, the original "Declaration of War" expresses indignation toward non-Indians who have formed "imitation 'tribes'" (emphasis added) like the so-called "Bear Tribe" and the "Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society," whose non-Indian "members" systematically exploit the spiritual traditions of Indian tribes for profit; Churchill's version of the resolution, on the other hand, omits the crucial word "imitation," making it appear as though the resolution were expressing resentment toward Indian tribes themselves, as such. Likewise, Churchill's version omits an entire "whereas" provision of the true resolution, wherein emphasis had been placed on the fact that the exploitation of Lakota traditions "has reached epidemic proportions in urban areas throughout the country." Presumably, this provision was deleted because it detracted from the false inference advanced by Churchill's version of the resolution, viz., that the exploitation of Lakota traditions emanates primarily from Indian tribes themselves, as such.
In short, Churchill's ersatz version of the "Declaration of War" is a strategically manipulated and subtly distorted device, which could be used to undermine rather than support Indian tribes in their efforts to safeguard their sacred traditions and culture. Yet another noteworthy problem in Indians Are Us? is Churchill's harangue in "Naming Our Destiny" against popular use of the word "tribe." "[T]o be addressed as 'tribal,'" Churchill insists, "is to be demeaned in a most extraordinarily vicious way" (p. 295). The persuasiveness of Churchill's case against the word "tribe" is decisively undercut, however, by Churchill's reliance on his contrived, indefensible position concerning the nonexistent "eugenics code" of the 1887 General Allotment Act, as critiqued previously in this essay. And so, Churchill's argument that "the preoccupation with 'blood lines' connoted by the term 'tribe'" (p. 296) is rooted in "a system of identifying Indians in accordance with a formal eugenics code dubbed 'blood quantum' which is still in effect at the present time" (p. 333) is as fallacious and unavailing as the tribal sovereignty-bashing conspiracy theory on which that argument entirely depends.
In a section of "Naming Our Destiny" entitled "'Tribes' versus 'Peoples,'" Churchill endeavors further to rationalize his antipathy for the word "tribe" by invoking "the definitive Oxford English Dictionary," which in one obscure definition, according to Churchill, defines "tribe" as a group in the classification of plants, animals, etc., used as superior and sometimes inferior to a family; also, loosely, any group or series of animals. [p. 294] Churchill then excerpts definitions for the word "people" from the Oxford dictionary and, curiously, from a 1949 edition of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, to decree that the word "people" in all ways is preferable to the word "tribe," since "tribe" embodies an "expressly animalistic emphasis . . . . . . . . . . . . It follows that when indigenous peoples are passed off as tribes . . . they are effectively cast as being subhuman" (p. 298).
Of course, Churchill never explains why he so fervently insists on vesting in English dictionaries the ironclad authority to dispose of an issue of self-naming that for Indian people is a matter exclusively for the tribes themselves to decide. Be that as it may, it is instructive to examine a few of the wobbles in the eccentric spin of Churchill's treatment of language.
First, Churchill's disdain for the word "tribe," by his own avowed reasoning, should extend with equal force to the word "family," since each of these terms may denote a general category in the classification of plants, animals, and other living organisms, within the science of taxonomy. Likewise, since the word "community" may denote any interacting population of life forms (human and/or nonhuman) in the language of scientific ecology, Churchill logically should be just as disgusted by any reference to human beings per se as constituting a "community." Clearly, if a person actually were to be repulsed and enraged whenever words like "family," "community" and "tribe" were used in ordinary conversation-and merely because these terms, like most words, have multiple, divergent meanings-then such a person would be in need of psychological treatment for what would amount to a debilitating disorder in interpersonal communication.
Second, Churchill summons forth his sundry dictionary definitions in a noticeably lopsided manner. For instance, Churchill chooses not to divulge the fact that Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary lists a definition for the word "peoples" that has as much "animalistic emphasis" as Churchill's comparably obscure definition for the word "tribe." This omission is especially noteworthy because Churchill admits that he in fact consulted this very same dictionary-Webster's Ninth-in order to "cross-reference the 'old' definitions obtained [in the 1949 Webster's] with those in newer iterations of the same dictionary, to see whether there have been changes" (pp. 332-333). According to a definition in Webster's Ninth suppressed by Churchill, "peoples" may be defined as "lower animals usu. of a specified kind or situation... 'squirrels and chipmunks: the little furry [peoples].'" In addition, Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language calls to mind yet another amusing "nonhuman" meaning for the word "peoples." According to this particular Webster's (not concededly referenced by Churchill), the word "peoples" may denote "supernatural beings that are thought of as similar to humans in many respects... 'kobolds, trolls, and such [peoples] are not to be trusted.'" Thus, it appears that Churchill's pedantic argument against the word "tribe" rests not on any objective analysis of dictionary definitions at all, but rather on a highly manipulative process of selectively disclosing those definitions that would appear consistent with Churchill's antitribal thesis, while carefully concealing those definitions that would seem to contradict that thesis. So much for the manifest silliness of competing (and, in Churchill's case, cheating) in a game of Trivial Pursuit with "definitive" dictionaries to ascertain by what name Indian tribes will be permitted to identify themselves.
But beyond all the tedious game-playing and semantic trickery in "Naming Our Destiny," there remains unresolved a very serious implied question: By what mechanism does an abstraction like "Indian self-determination" get transformed into real selfempowerment for Indian people?
As demonstrated in this essay, Ward Churchill expends a great deal of effort in Indians?Ire Us? espousing the counter-intuitive thesis that Indian tribes themselves are an obstacle in the struggle for Indian self-empowerment, and should be aggressively disavowed and devalued, therefore, in all political discussions bearing on Indian self-determination. Of course, the very fact that Churchill strives to "prove" his case against Indian tribes by falsifying the historical record, misstating the views of fellow scholars, issuing distorted versions of public documents, and shrewdly manipulating language is enough to dissuade any sensible reader from taking Churchill's anti-tribal propaganda seriously. Still, the goal of clarifying and affirming the integral role of Indian tribes in the dynamic of Indian selfempowerment is extremely important and challenging -- much more so than is the relatively easier task of dismissing Ward Churchill's obfuscation of this profound topic.
For there can be little doubt that for most Americans, Indian tribes will always be an enigma. After all, Indian tribes are organized around distinctive values that in many ways are incompatible with and even diametrically opposed to the values that inform the political nation-states of the modern West, including, most emphatically, the United States. These unique tribal values -- an emphasis on the well-being of the entire tribal community rather than the self-interest of the individual; on a nature -- centered spirituality rather than an acquisitive materialism; on an ethic that treats one's homeland and the earth itself as a mysterious, living, dignified presence rather than as a lifeless repository of exploitable resources -- are what constitute the very core and substance of Indian tribes.
Tribal sovereignty, in turn, is the collective endeavor of all the members of an Indian tribe to maintain, nourish, and reinforce that fragile, living constellation of tribal values which comprises the tribe itself, rooted in a unique, spiritual relationship with the land that has been passed down from generation to generation, since time immemorial, through closely guarded tribal kinship systems. Tribal members carry on this heroic task of exercising tribal sovereignty --that is, of safeguarding the survival of the tribe itself, as such --under the most difficult of circumstances because of the enormous pressure to conform to an alien and often hostile system of values that constantly is being exerted by a dominant, non-Indian society ill-equipped to comprehend, let alone appreciate, the beauty and significance of the values inhering in Indian tribes.
Genuine self-empowerment for Indian people, therefore, is inextricably attached to the dignity accorded Indian tribes themselves as such, for real Indian self-empowerment is made manifest only when Indian tribes are granted their due respect as sovereign nations, with an inherent, inalienable right of tribal self-determination. Any attempt to dislodge the principle of Indian self-determination from the sovereignty inhering in Indian tribes as such is, in reality, an attempt to tear asunder and destroy the unique tribal values that make up the very essence of Indian people's continuing existence as Indians.
The inherent right of Indian tribes to determine their own members is, of course, the most critical factor in the process whereby Indian self-determination is transformed into Indian self-empowerment, for if non-Indians can succeed in usurping this fundamental tribal prerogative and themselves seize control of the right to ascertain who is and who is not an Indian, then by their sheer numbers these non-Indians will quickly overwhelm whatever tenuous political power real Indian people have retained in American society. In this disastrous scenario, non-Indians will rapidly supplant tribal values with their own invasive non-Indian values, in accordance with dominant societal norms permitting and even encouraging individuals to accrue political power by any artifice whatsoever -- including that of opportunistically and capriciously defining themselves to be "Indians."
Just such a blueprint for disrupting Indian political affairs and disempowering Indian people would appear to underlie the architecture of anti-tribal propaganda in Indians Are Us? -- a kind of Trojan horse wheeled to the gate of an unsuspecting American public, cleverly disguised in what Ward Churchill calls "a language of American Indian liberation" (p. 291).
In view of America's entrenched ignorance of the legal and political concerns of Indian tribes, the publication of a grossly misleading and misinforming book like Indians Are Us? constitutes a regrettable setback in Indian people's struggle for social justice. There is no doubt, of course, that many of the topics ostensibly covered in Churchill's book deserve serious public attention: the trivializing of Indian identity by sports teams; the exploitation of Indian spirituality by the men's movement and the New Age movement; the propagation of degrading Indian stereotypes by the entertainment media; the targeting of Indian political activities by clandestine military operations. All these problems must be squarely confronted if grave injustices suffered by Indian people are ever to be acknowledged and remedied.
However, Indian people stand to benefit only if these momentous issues are addressed with an unsparing honesty that openly concedes the extent to which Indian tribes as sovereign nations have been and continue to be brutally defamed, demeaned, discredited, undermined, and otherwise victimized by those whose overt and/or covert political agendas necessitate the subversion and ultimate destruction of Indian tribes. With its pervasive hostility toward Indian tribes and its constant twisting of historical facts crucial to an intelligent assessment of tribes' legal and political needs, Indians Are Us? compounds and exacerbates what are already formidable popular misconceptions concerning Indian law, policy, and history.
The renowned scholar of Indian law Felix Cohen wisely warns us that "confusion and ignorance in fields of law are allies of despotism." As Cohen well understood, and as history abundantly testifies, there is no political arena in which confusion and ignorance take a more terrible toll than in the oppression bearing on American Indian people's five-centuries-long struggle for basic human rights. With this essential realization in mind, supporters of Indian rights should insist that any serious discussion of Indian issues be, at the very least, compassionate and respectful toward Indian tribes, as well as fundamentally truthful in recounting the brutal treatment that tribes have been forced to endure historically. By this minimum standard of integrity, Indians Are Us? is a bitter disappointment indeed.
BY JOHN LAVELLE
JOHN LAVELLE IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CENTER FOR THE SPIRIT (SUPPORT AND PROTECTION OF INDIAN RELIGIOUS AND INDIGENOUS TRADITIONS) IN SAN FRANCISCO, AND WAS THE 1994-95 INDIAN LAW FELLOW AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA SCHOOL OF LAW, VERMILLION.
Churchill's critics have always been at risk of turning him into a martyr. As long as his scholarship was beyond reproach, Churchill could later claim to have been drummed out for speaking truth to power, or some such nonsense.
Paul Campos, himself a law professor at CU, has done some spadework on that front this morning ("Truth Tricky for Churchill"):
Academic freedom must be protected, which is why I'm continuing to write about this matter. A version of academic freedom that protects Churchill from appropriate sanctions isn't sustainable either as a political or an ethical matter....
Campos goes on to cite Thomas Brown at Lamar University who claims (and documents) that Churchill made up an 1837 smallpox attack by the US Army in order to defend himself in court, in regards to yet another Columbus Day Parade episode. (Note to Ward: it's now 1493. It's a round, round world.)
Make no mistake. Brown is documenting actual academic fraud, passively aided and abetted by a politically monolithic academic community that wants to believe.
Campos also cites University of New Mexico law prof John P. LaValle. LaValle also considered Churchill guilty of academic fraud. His most well-known journal article, "The General Allotment Act "Eligibility" Hoax," is not on line. It did appear in Wicazo Sa Review, a university-published journal, although not a peer-reviewed one.
I was able to find an earlier book review from American Indian Quarterly, (Winter96), which is peer-reviewed. Since it's not online, I'll quote from it here. In it, LaValle shows that Churchill simply makes up claims concerning the General Allotment Act, and quotes other researchers out of context and out of century.
Suffice it to say that while the True Believers won't be impressed, there's plenty of evidence that Churchill is little more than a bully, good with insults, but with the facts, not so much.
UPDATE: Instead of including the article in an Extended Entry, I've made it a separate blog posting. Should I receive any complaints from the copyright holders, I'll go ahead and email a copy to anyone who's interested.
The AAUP on Tenure
Both tenure and the exclusion of extramural statements appear to have gone through mission creep of a sort, with the AAUP becoming both progressively more strident in defense of professors' privileges. Such a development isn't unique: trial lawyers give hundreds of millions of dollars ever elections cycle in order to preserve the Right to Sue as We Know It.
Kudos to the Greeley Tribune ("Challenge the Value of Tenure") for looking into the sources and roots of tenure as we know it. While professors may look nervously at that cup of hemlock every time the tenure system is questioned, in fact the current system has its basis in a 1940 American Association of University Professors Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, itself a restatement of a 1925 Statement:
College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution
Which leads to this interpretation in the same document:
If the administration of a college or university feels that a teacher has not observed the admonitions of paragraph (c) of the section on Academic Freedom and believes that the extramural utterances of the teacher have been such as to raise grave doubts concerning the teacher’s fitness for his or her position, it may proceed to file charges under paragraph 4 of the section on Academic Tenure.
February 07, 2005
Somebody Please Call the CU CRs
...so that they can distribute copies of Iowahawk's latest tomorrow night outside Glenn Miller Hall?
OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE
And it only gets better...
February 06, 2005
Jim Hu down at Blogs for Industry is doing yeoman work trying to compare Ward Churchill's pre-tenure output to those of his peers-at-the-time in the Communication Department. Churchill's CV isn't on line, so for a guy whose field is Communications, he seems pretty tight-lipped about a number of issues.
Anyway, it looks like it might be a closer thing than I had previously thought - that maybe Churchill's number of pre-tenure refereed publications isn't quite so out of line. Nevertheless, it does seem to be the lowest among those being compared. And he still doesn't have a Ph.D. at the time.
Memory vs. History
In 1982, Yosef Yerushalmi was invited to speak at the University of Washington's annual Samuel and Althea Strom Lecture Series on Jewish Studies. His lectures were collected and published in a book, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory. It in absolutely indispensible reading for anyone who wants to understand the traditional and modern Jewish views of history.
Yerushalmi's point was that after the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews stopped writing history. The history they did have, they committed to memory. Thereafter, anything that happened, locally or nationally, would be seen as a reflection or repetition of what had gone before. Jews would retain a very keen sense of the meaning of history, but historiography as a serious pursuit would all but end until the Enlightenment. New interpretations of history would be either undiscovered or rejected.
I think something similar has happened with today's left with regard to Iraq. I see little historical analysis, and little attempt to understand Iraq on its own terms, in relation to its own history over the last century. I do see a great deal of argument-by-analogy to Vietnam. The Vietnamese elections went well, too! We had an insurgency in Vietnam, too! Fallujah is Tet! And so on. The meaning of History is clear (US Military Bad!) and room for new interpretation just doesn't exist.
It's a blinkered way of looking at things, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to a religious, rather than a rational, view of the world. There may be some similarities between Vietnam and Iraq - it would be surprising if occupations didn't resemble each other in some superficial ways. But harping on those surface similarities doesn't leave any room for real understanding. And throwing around the year 1920 like a Red Sox fan who still hasn't gotten over the Curse reveals more poverty of knowledge than depth.
Moreoever, as in rabbinic Judaism, such an understanding of history tends to lead towards passivity and prevents the emergence of a positive program. After all, if history ends in failure, trying to push it forward can only end in catastrophe.
In early 2003, my friend Mike Eisenstadt, and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near-East Studies, co-edited and contributed to a volume looking at Iraq in light of the British experience there. U.S. Policy in Post-Saddam Iraq: Lessons from the British Experience actually looks at Iraqi history. It examines the context and causes of the mostly-Shiite 1920 rebellion, and Britain's attempts to rule the country by proxy through a gloss of democracy that excluded more than it included.
In fact, it's remarkable how many mistakes we've avoided making, or at least have reversed, if you go by Mike's suggestions.
I've disagreed with Mike a lot over the years, especially regarding Israel and its relations with the Palestinians and other Arabs. But this is a well-thought out piece of work, especially for people looking for analysis instead of polemic.
February 04, 2005
What That Piece Means
What does the piece below mean? Shabbat's coming on hard, so this is a first take:
1 - The measure to make spending by state university foundations in Colorado transparent is tremendously important, but probably not enough to solve the problem
There's more. Give me time. Like a day or so.
Hear for Yourself
Via reader Gregg Howard.
The publisher Alternative Tentacles has a website peddling CDs of Ward Churchill's 2003 appearance in Oakland, CA. The CD is called "Pacifism as Pathology," which is a cute way of saying that the "Peace" movement isn't made up of peaceful people.
In "Solidarity", Churchill exhorts his listeners (to a smattering of applause) to follow-up on the 9/11 attacks.
In "Exemption is Over", Churchill calls the attacks "correct," and coolly assesses the replaceability of the Cantor-Fitzgerald bond traders, all of whom were wiped out on that day.
Anyone who saw the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald interviewed after the attacks, and saw the way he choked up talking about those men and women, knows that he cared about them as people. Which is more than you can say for Mr. Churchill.
Apropos a comment on the Oh That Liberal Media posting I made several days ago, I did another search for refereed publications by Mr. Churchill. It turns out that in 1980, an article did appear in a University of Iowa collection; Mr. Churchill also did present a paper in 1989 at a conference here at CU, and edited a two volumes of scholarly papers on indiginous affair for a publisher based in Copenhagen. My thanks to the commentor for pointing me to WorldCat.
I'm unsure if the paper at the Denver conference would technically count as a peer-reviewed publication, but it's certainly at a major state university.
Still, six publications at age 43, even accounting for losing a year or two to Vietnam, is not an exceptionally large number. Remember, the lack of a PhD is a handicap to be overcome, so one should expect more, not fewer, than the pre-tenure average.
UPDATE: Blogs for Industry has listed four pre-tenure works by Mr. Churchill. He received tenure in 1991, so no matter how productive he's been since then, only pre-1992 publications could possibly have been taken into consideration for that decision
Marxism and Native Americans, Agents of Repression, and COINTELPRO papers were published not by a university press, but by a self-proclaimed radical publisher, South End Press. Critical issues in native North America I counted as a refereed pre-tenure publication; it's listed as the Copenhagen-based publication.
February 03, 2005
Grounds for Dismissal
The Indian Country Today article noted below casts severe doubt on Ward Churchill's Indian ancestry. Further reason for doubt comes from the Denver Post ("CU prof affirms Indian heritage; Tribe says he's not full member"). In today's Rocky, Stuart Steers raises some more questions ("http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_3519179,00.html"), and hints and something much, much darker - deliberate grade retribution against a student:
In his books and articles, Churchill has described himself as a member of the Keetoowah Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In past interviews, he's claimed to be one-sixteenth Cherokee.
If true, this behavior is one of the grossest abuses of power short of criminal behavior that a professor can exercise. I don't believe that there's a member of the "appalled" faculty who wouldn't recognize it as a severe violation of the academy's rules - the same rules that Churchill is hiding behind to save himself.
If this is true, if Churchill is fraudulently posing as an Indian to boost his academic credibility, which "scholarship" in any case seems to be an adjunct to his political activity, and is then using his position as professor to bully students who question it, the question is no longer whether CU can fire him. It's how they can avoid firing him.
Indian Country Today is an unabashedly liberal and pro-Indian newspaper. They support sovereignty, repurchase of land to expand tribal sovereignty, have editorialized in appreciation of Bill Moyers, endorsed John Kerry and Tom Daschle, and have no love for their image of Christian conservatives.
Interestingly, it disapproves of the tactics of local Coloradoans in opposing Columbus Day, while approving of the basic message and beating up on our favority columnist, David Harsanyi. The column blamed Vernon Bellecourt for the tenor of the protests, prompting a reply to the effect that "Bellecourt wasn't here; we did this all on our own." Apparently Bellecourt has got a somewhat Jesse-Jacksonish reputation in American Indian circles.
Which brings us to their appraisal of Ward Churchill. Basically, they throw Mr. Churchill under the bus in a way that puts the CU faculty to shame, although they also defend his keeping his job on First Amendment grounds:
The nature of Churchill's decidedly offensive remarks, however, forces us to critique in general the injurious approach to scholarship and basic human decency. We defend the right to broadcast and publish, but propose it is reprehensible to excoriate innocent human beings who have suffered great loss by rubbing salt in deep wounds simply to prove a political point and simply to strike (one more time) a political posture on behalf of the far left and under the guise of American Indian sentiment. Wrapped intimately with American Indian themes in his writings and lectures, and shielded apparently by his own American Indian Movement (AIM) security team, Churchill projects the image of the quintessential American Indian activist and/or warrior - angry, defiant, insulting, forceful and accusatory. Churchill sometimes captures the historical truth of a thing, but only to load it like deadly ammunition into his ideological machine gun...
WaPo Reporter Gives Mea Culpa
The emotional highpoint of last night's event came near the end when Bush introduced the parents of a U.S. Marine from Texas, Sgt. Byron Norwood, who was killed in the assault on Fallujah, Iraq. As Norwood's mother tearfully hugged another woman in the gallery, the assembled senators and representatives responded with a sustained ovation, and Bush's face appeared creased with emotion.
Peter's online taking questions now, and admits he just didn't know who the other woman was:
Let me use this opportunity to offer a mea culpa on a similar point. Certainly the most moving moment in last night's speech was when the president introduced the parents of a Marine slain in Iraq. The mother of the Marine teared up and hugged the woman in front of her in the gallery, an Iraqi woman whose father had been killed by Saddam Hussein's regime. In our story this morning, we said the Marine's mother hugged "another woman" without identifying her as Iraqi. Some people this morning have rightly criticized the lapse.
UPDATE: Look, Peter said what he said, and you can accept the explanation or say that he should have been paying better attention. I'm sure he'd also say that it was a long story he wrote, and people are paying attention to one detail. Peronally, I think that's a valuable change of perspective for a reporter covering the President. At the same time, he hasn't dissembled, made excuses about viewing angles, notes, or anything else; he's been a stand-up guy and admitted he made a dumb mistake. Let's keep some perspective.
February 02, 2005
Ward Churchill, The Man, The Fraud?
This morning, Stuart Steers over at the Rocky has an interesting piece questioning whether Mr. Churchill is half the blood he claims to be:
In past interviews, Churchill has said he is largely of English and Swiss-German descent but is one-sixteenth Cherokee. His critics within the American Indian community don't believe it.
I've got a question into Mr. Steers asking if he's asked about Churchill's "not in dispute" service record. An FOIA request
In a separate action, not surprisingly, the university faculty is appalled:
"The lifeblood of any strong university is its diversity of ideas which allows for the environment necessary to educate and train young learners and advance the boundaries of knowledge," said a statement released Tuesday by university spokesman Peter Caughey. "Debate is a fundamental characteristic of a university."
February 01, 2005
Ward of the State U - VII
Now, the government weighs in. I'm glad there are adults around.
From the Governor:
No one wants to infringe on Mr. Churchill's right to express himself. But we are not compelled to accept his pro-terrorist views as state taxpayer subsidy nor under the banner of the University of Colorado. Ward Churchill besmirches the University and the excellent teaching, writing, and research of its faculty.
And State Representative Ted Harvey has used to occasion to commemorate, rather than insult, the September 11 victims. It doesn't actually call for Churchill's head on a pike, but it does point out that this is a guy completely out of touch with the rest of the state.
Ward of the State U - VI
Well, maybe we've got some momentum here...
The New York state college whose invitation to CU professor Ward Churchill touched off a firestorm of controversy cancelled his talk this morning over security concerns.
Having denied him a platform, perhaps we can now deny him a lectern. Evidently, Mr. Churchill is getting a lesson, rather than teaching one, on the Limits of Dissent.
That said, this "threats of violence" thing sounds more than a little like a fig-leaf. Throughout the post-9/11 era, it's been the radical left, and the pro-terror groups, that have a penchant for violent demonstrations.
Did someone say something about professors' salaries? I won't generalize, because not everyone has tenure, and not everyone has been around as long as Churchill has been soiling the hallowed halls, but this little tidbit jumped out at me:
His salary will drop to $94,242 from $114,032, said Pauline Hale, a CU spokeswoman.
You know, that's a pretty good number for someone who's braying about people serving the engine of profit.
January 31, 2005
Ward of the State U - V
I was preparing for an exam when this happened, so I haven't gotten round to it until now.
Ward Churchill has resigned as chairman of the Ethic Studies Department at CU. This is not, of course, an end, but a beginning. Almost any professor will confirm that being a department chairman is more of an administrative nightmare than an honor. It may sound impressive to civilians, but nobody inside the academy really covets the title. Therefore, the university faculty can't be allowed to pretend that this is actually a sacrifice of any sort.
In the course of resigning, he released a statement that is as dishonest as his original essay was malicious.
In 1996 Madeleine Albright, then Ambassador to the UN and soon to be U.S. Secretary of State, did not dispute that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of economic sanctions, but stated on national television that "we" had decided it was "worth the cost." I mourn the victims of the September 11 attacks, just as I mourn the deaths of those Iraqi children, the more than 3 million people killed in the war in Indochina, those who died in the U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama and elsewhere in Central America, the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, and the indigenous peoples still subjected to genocidal policies. If we respond with callous disregard to the deaths of others, we can only expect equal callousness to American deaths.
Don't buy the book, but go ahead and read the whole thing. On an empty stomach.
When Does "Warning About" Become "Rooting Against?"
The self-styled "Progressives," continue to live in the past. Someone should renew their subscription; they've obviously been reduced to pulling out the cardboard boxes with the old newspapers and love beads...
by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)
If these guys are this heavily invested in this story line, they're certainly not leaving any doubt about their policy. And for those of you who've forgotten how well it worked out the last time, I refer you to that decade of American triumph, the 70s. You know, first time tragedy, second time farce, and all that.
Fortunately, there's an antidote to this sort of simplisme - actual scholarship. Brought to you by Mack Owens of No Left Turns. It's a review of Lewis Sorley's A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam.
The defenders of the conventional wisdom will reply that Mr. Sorley’s argument is refuted by the fact that South Vietnam did fall to the North Vietnamese communists. They will repeat the claim that the South Vietnamese lacked the leadership, skill, character, and endurance of their adversaries. Mr. Sorley acknowledges the shortcomings of the South Vietnamese and agrees that the US would have had to provide continued air, naval, and intelligence support. But, he contends, the real cause of US defeat was that the Nixon administration and Congress threw away the successes achieved by US and South Vietnamese arms.
This war is similar in the ways that benefit us, and entirely different in ways that benefit us.
Ward of the State U - IV
Ah, it gets better. It turns out that DU has access to an extended academic database, where I can limit my searches to refereed publications. There, I did find one other pre-tenure piece, bringing the total to two, I believe. Possibly three. (Note that the stated publication date on the UCTP site is 1991, making it possibly one of the sounds, reasoned arguments that earned Mr. Churchill his tenure.)
What really caught my eye, though, was "Deconstructing the Columbus myth: was the "great discoverer" Italian or Spanish, Nazi or Jew?", which made it into Social Justice, Summer 1992 v19 n2 p39(17).
The question of Columbus' possible Jewishness nonetheless remained intriguing, not because I held it to be especially important in its own right, but because I was (and am still) mystified about why any ethnic group, especially one that has suffered genocide, might be avid to lay claim either to the man or to his legacy....
This is, not to put too fine a point on it, garbage. It practically qualifies as an intellectual landfill all on its own.
There was a point in time, back when I was growing up, that certain Jews felt it necessary to try to prove Jewish connections to as many Western figures as possible. As the song says "But what kind of nut would you have to be/ To borrow a ship and put out to sea/When you don't know what's on the other side". Say what you will, it takes a special kind of courage to point your ship towards the open sea at a time when everyone else is creeping down the African coast, afraid that their ships will spontaneously combust when you get too far south. Freberg was making fun, but my guess is that we learn more from his history than from Churchill's.
As for his understanding of Jewish theology, the concept of "chosenness," and practically every event in Jewish history since 1933, he's got enough problems in his own field before venturing out into that world. I'm sure he doesn't get out much, but he might have taken in a high school version of "Fiddler on the Rez." You know, the one where Tevye looks up at God and asks, "Couldn't you choose someone else once in a while?" Chosenness isn't a virtue, it's an obligation. The hostility of the Nations is a biblical concept, and goes back just a wee bit further than even Columbus.
As for Zionism, it's an idea with many currents. But in its dominant form in the 1930s and 40s, its purpose wassn't to exempt Jews from history - we'd had quite enough of that for a few millenia, thank you very much - it was to mainstream Jews back into history.
Most Jews I know are perfectly comfortable calling Darfur a "genocide," far more comfortable than the UN is, for instance. It's the term "holocaust" that we want to preserve as evidence of a unique event. The costs of not doing so were on display in last week's London Auschwitz commemorations, as Muslim organizations variously declined to participate, objected to the whole thing, or did go based on the notion that other people died too, so it was ok to look past the Jews. Someone who's immoderately protective of ethnic identity should certainly be sensitive to others' history being stolen.
Ward of the State U - III
Regarding the excrable Ward Churchill, whose exploits in academic rigor and inquiry have been discussed here, and here, more people are weighing in, some in postings I didn't have time to read before writing here.
David Harsanyi brings an appropriate sense of moral outrage to the question:
The problem is, as with all tenured professors, Churchill doesn't have to answer for his actions.
I'm not sure that students are so delicate they need to be protected from the likes of Ward Churchill. I do wonder, though, why the university is so eager to protect Churchill.
So does Paul Campos. He posits a hypothetical response from an academia with backbone:
"To compare the victims of the 9/11 massacre to one of the chief architects of the Holocaust is both intellectually bankrupt and morally depraved. To do so in a published essay, and to repeat this opinion to the media, after being asked whether he wishes to reconsider it, calls into question the author's fitness to continue as a member of this university's faculty.
And Roger Kimball brings up the Case of David Irving, which also came up in my discussion with Ms. Kent:
But the truth is that freedom of speech, like all human freedoms, thrives only when it is limited. The law recognizes this by limiting free speech--shouting "Fire!" is a crowded theater is one proverbial instance.
In this last case, you really should Read The Whole Thing.
In any event, the university's Board of Regents has scheduled a meeting for the sort of action that academics do best: be appalled.
UPDATE: Ironically, just as the Ward Churchill controversy was afoot, FrontPage Mag published "The Susan Rosenberg Debate," on Hamilton's previous struggle with morality, by Jonathan Rick, a senior at Hamilton.
January 30, 2005
The RMPN and the War
Arguing with the RMPN is a bizarre experience, rather like the last election's rhetoric extended forward into real time. You're never quite sure what they're getting at. For some reason, they have a bone to pick with me this morning.
It seems they don't like the fact that, as the Princess Bride would have it, "I do not think that report says what you say it says." In fact, the Duelfer Report says quite explicitly that Saddam was keeping intact his weapons programs and research teams, using the Oil-for-Food program to do so. Contemporaneous MSM accounts of the report, at the height of an election season, make this quite clear. My point in the original posting was that the Duelfer Report was being quoted as saying one thing, when it says quite another. The link above will take you to a number of contemporaneous media accounts of the Report, all confirming the plain meaning of the report.
There can be no doubt that the administration used the presumed WMD threat as a justification for the timing of the war. That no substantial quantities of WMD had been found played a large role in the election, although not one large enough to defeat the President. Nevertheless, the larger goal of democratizing Iraq, thus defeating the terrorists ideologically on a central battlefield, was always part of the plan, as the contemporaneous demonization of Paul Wolfowitz bears out.
Finally, everyone, all the time, makes policy based on what they think will happen. The prospective story that Duelfer tells, that a bought-off France, Germany, Russia, and China, would help keep Saddam on life-support until the sanctions regime was removed, and after that, would help him rebuild, including WMDs, squares with both evidence at the time, and subsequent history.
January 29, 2005
Making Numbers Lie
Our friends over at the RMPN are once again demonstrating their ability to use the subtraction, addition's tricky friend, even as their post claiming that "These Numbers Don't Lie," um, lies.
Conflict-related civilian deaths in Iraq. July 2004 to January 2005
They draw their numbers from the BBC, quoting official Iraqi government statistics.
Except that the BBC report now states,
Today, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has issued a statement clarifying matters that were the subject of several conversations with the BBC before the report was published....
For the record. The BBC page was updated at Saturday, 29 January, 2005, 11:19 GMT, while the original RMPN posting was at January 29, 2005 07:58 AM, Mountain Time, or 14:58 GMT.
It's quite an achievement to be less reliable that the Beeb.
For the Democrats' sake, let's hope their budget calculations are little more reliable.
Hat Tip: Best Destiny.
Ward of the State U - II
Later, I had an extended discussion with Ms. Kent about academic inquiry, and the rights and responsibilities of the faculty of a university in policing itself. I should stress that during this part of the chat, Ms. Kent was emphatically not speaking as a school administrator, but as a faculty member and history professor. I'll do my best to represent her views fairly here, although this isn't a transcript.
Ms. Kent was quick to point out that she disagrees rather strenuously with Mr. Churchill's screed. As a member of an academic community, she finds it not only troubling, but extremely painful and disappointing that someone would write this kind of thing. She finds it outrageous, offensive, hurtful, and harmful. Any defense of inaction on the part of the university should not be seen as agreeing with Mr. Churchill's rant, but as a defense of the current tenure system.
The tenure system was created, Ms. Kent went on, to protect individuals who say controversial things from retribution by both outside forces, like congressmen who have called for Mr. Churchill's scalp, and the Chancellor or Board of Regents. It is, as she put it, "the First Amendment extended to the university."
While, again, Ms. Kent was speaking as a professor, the university administration does share her views:
Although Churchill has been tenured since 1991, CU spokeswoman Pauline Hale said, "We view this issue more as an issue of freedom of speech, than of tenure."
Ms. Kent also proposed that, as contemporary writing, Mr. Churchill's tirade could be used as a classroom text to promote discussion on the war directly, or on the Limits of Dissent, the title of the Hamilton College forum he'll be on a panel at.
Although the discussion was long, my point was fairly direct: faculty inaction would be an case of an institution supported, nurtured, and respected by a society, refusing to defend that society but instead attacking it. I do not believe the issue is one of hurtfulness or offensiveness - nobody has the right not to be offended. (I note with relief that CU has no speech code targeting hate speech.) This is a case of someone not criticizing the US in order to improve it but making common cause with its enemies, and were he to "win" the argument, it would result in the defeat of that society, and the murder of many, many of its members.
Moreover, there's plenty of writing that can be used to provoke thought, starting with Socrates, and I'd add that the punishment I'm proposing falls a little short of what was expected of him. In fact, having Mr. Churchill pack his bags and head for well-earned obscurity wouldn't keep someone from using his "text" in a class. Nothing says that a case study has to have a happy ending for its participants.
This is, quite clearly, a violation of the university's principles and its mission, and it seems to be most appropriate for a faculty congress, if such a thing exists, to hear the unrepentant Mr. Churchill out, and then give him 30 minutes to clear out his desk. If there are no current rules permitting that punishment, they should be adopted and enforced. Ms. Kent agreed that the question was one of how far a university faculty would go in governing itself. I would add now that if an organization effectively insulates itself from any form of outside governance, its members really have no choice but to govern themselves.
The fact is that universities make these sorts of judgments all the time. I described incidents on other campuses where newspapers had been stolen, conservative or religious organizations denied funding for ideological reasons, the abuse of sexual harassment rules, and so on. I got the impression that Ms. Kent was largely unaware of these incidents. This implies that there may be enough people of goodwill, even liberals, who are simply not aware of how bad things have gotten. That's a hopeful sign.
A less hopeful sign was her reaction to ROTC. "Twenty years ago, when I first entered academia, I wouldn't have been able to make the case [for it]. But by being around it, I see where both I and other students have learned so much from having it on campus, that I'm glad that it's here." Fair enough, if you look at ROTC as another extracurricular, albeit one with an attitude. And it's certainly refreshing to see ideological diversity extended to something that must look pretty conservative.
But the reason for having ROTC on campus is that it trains officers in a military sworn to defend this country. It's really as simple as that.
Just like telling a enemy of the country that his services are no longer required.
Ward of the State U
By now, everyone knows about the University of Colorado's Ward Churchill and the atrocious screed he wrote after September 11, essentially accusing the entire country of being "little Eichmanns." Today, the Rocky Mountain News's Charlie Brennan wrote puff-piece intended to portray this, um, iconoclast, as a brave, lonely warrior, worthy of admiration and sympathy.
So, people are mad at Ward Churchill. What else is new?
Notice how Churchill is "outside the mainstream," "weathered anonymous death threats," and "suggests" that American citizens deserve to have a little jet fuel with their morning coffee. Notice, too how his opponents are "spitting mad" and "disturbed." As though death threats were all that uncommon. Basketball coaches, reporters, even bloggers I know personally have received them.
Brennan also is curiously uninterested in Churchill's academic credentials. It turns out that Churchill has no PhD. According to Susan Kent, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Colorado, this is unusual, but not unprecedented. The "terminal degree," or the degree required for tenure, is determined by the academic organization that the professor's department is affiliated with. So, for instance, MESA determines if professors in Middle East Studies should be expected to have PhDs. In certain departments, such as Music, PhDs are not expected.
She was unsure of the specific requirements at the time that Churchill received his tenure (1997), for a professor in the Communications Department. However, the conversation did proceed as though an exception was made in his case. This was done because Mr. Churchill had an "exceptional" record of peer-reviews publication.
A search of the Academic Search Premier database reveals that since 1986, Mr, Churchill has published 25 academic articles. Only 3 of those were published before 1997, with 4 more occurring that year. This hardly seems like an astonishing output for a full professor, especially given that the majority are quite short, including a 2-page book review and a 2-page discussion in Progressive attacking the FBI.
Mr. Brennan was at the Greeley Presidential rally I attended, and had to be talked down by Mike Littwin from saying that the invocation called President Bush "appointed by God," and was way too eager to take my joke about the lead-in music (endlessly replayed) as being from Apollo 13as factual.
Apparently, some facts are more important than others.
UPDATE: According to today's Rocky, Churchill received tenure in 1991, at which point he had exactly two publications, one of which was the aforementioned hit-piece on the FBI.
He had also published a book. One of the requirements for tenure is, according to Ms. Kent, usually something like a book and substantial progress towards another book. And indeed, Mr. Churchill did indeed find something called "Common Courage Press" to publishe books in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Neither his first publisher, South End Press, nor his second look much like an academic press to me.
I should also add, in fairness to Ms. Kent, that she did not hold her current position in 1997, and is not in the Communications Department which Mr. Churchill was infesting at the time. She wasn't even at CU in 1991. Therefore, I didn't think it appropriate to ask her to defend the university's tenure grant.
Cross-Posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.
January 26, 2005
The Bush Doctrine
I like the Bush Doctrine. I think it is a clear statement of our country's BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal), that both clarifies and inspires, without requiring the slavish obsessiveness of the Carter Administration.
That said, I have to agree with Charles Kesler that optimism must also include a stomach for hard work.
I'd also add that democracy is not only hard to get up and running, it can also run down pretty easily. Just because we can add a country to the Democracies List doesn't mean it'll necessarily stay there. Allende in Chile, Chavez in Venezuela, Lula in Brazil, the decidedly unfree nature of the EU Constitution, the impending return of Ortega in Nicaragua, even successes like the Orange Revolution and Georgia, show how people can, over time, choose security over freedom.
When there's only one democratic choice, every election becomes a referendum on the very existence of the next election. So the democratic choice holds together by fear of the consequences of losing, instead of splitting or reforming itself as it ought to be free to do.
Reversing these reverses isn't cheap, either, since the dictator usually comes to power with a solid, if minority base of support, imbued with the fervor of the converted. In the case of Germany and Japan, it took WWII and a lengthy and comprehensive occupation. So along with worrying about pushing the front forward, we also have to be very worried about defections.
Next Tuesday night, Israeli Israeli Brigadier General Natke Nir will speak at the Denver JCC on "The Imperative of Morality in the IDF."
We can expect peace sometime after the first public address by a Palestinian leader on "The Imperative of Morality in the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade."
January 23, 2005
The Bush Doctrine Abroad
My friend Peter Baker has written a suitably pessimistic article about President Bush's inauguration address, and the Bush doctrine in general, and their foreign reception. Peter's not normally a snarky guy, (although he has hankered for the MSM ever since at least the 4th Grade). But his piece today does pretty much everything to frame the Bush Doctrine as an inevitable failure right out of the box. There's a lot to pick from, but I'll work on the choicest pieces, and let you do the rest.
We can start with the description of the Bush doctrine's innovative style:
The inspiration for Bush's thinking lately has been Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet political prisoner turned conservative Israeli politician. Bush read Sharansky's book " target="_blank">The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror and invited him to the White House in November to talk about its ideas. Since then, Bush has been recommending the book to nearly everyone he sees, from friends to journalists to foreign leaders, telling CNN last week that "this is a book that . . . summarizes how I feel."
Well, yes, except that the conservative "realists" now tend to be holdovers from the Bush I administration, while the ones that show up on the talk shows are all from the Clinton years.
Putin logically would be Bush's first test of his inaugural pledge to confront "every ruler" about domestic oppression and predicate relations on "the decent treatment of their own people." ...
As good a job as Peter does of explaining the origins and underpinnings of the Bush doctrine, he seems to have a somewhat tenuous grasp of its underlying realism. We may oppose tyranny wherever, but that doesn't keep up from fighting today's battle today, while setting up the pins for tomorrow. We're not at war with Russia, we're at war with Islamo-fascists.
Richard Holwill, a former Reagan administration diplomat, said Rice would make a difference at State because of her close relationship with Bush. "They're going to greatly improve the administration's foreign policy machinery," he said.
I don't want to be too hard on Mr. Holwill, but this sort of people, people who would quite literally take Mr. Holwill's head off before negotiating with him, don't define black-and-white morality, then the diplomatic machinery really does need some new blueprints. After all, blunt talk does preclude things like mixed signals from trade representatives.
And a nice touch, there in, "Salafists." I'm sure this is a term that resonates deeply with Islamic scholars and some academics, but it doesn't mean much to the man on the street. Naming something gives you a certain power over it, but only if that name conveys something of its essence. "Salafists" sounds more like sandwich-makers than bomb-throwers.
..."We need to work on a public diplomacy effort that explains our motives and explains our intentions," [Bush] said.
That last bit is such a good straight line, it's hard to know which direction to go with it. Of course by now, everyone's well aware of Europe's having squandered 500 years of military tradition on 50 years of dependency, so it's pretty obvious which direction the giving and taking is going to go in that case.
The Talbott quoted, by the way, is Strobe Talbott, who was responsible for that smashingly successful approach to Russia during the Clinton Administration. You know, the one that left all the goodies that weren't disintegrating into iron oxide filings in the hands of a few families, leaving the opening for Mr. Democracy, Tsar Vladimir I to step into power.
Peter opens and closes with a description of the President's post-election trip up North.
To avoid any unpleasantries, Martin sacked a shrill critic of Bush from his governing party, and Bush aides steered the president away from speaking to Parliament, where he might have been heckled. Canadian officials said their U.S. counterparts assured them that Bush would not put Martin on the spot on his refusal to join the U.S. missile defense system.
Well, if nothing else, this ought to put to bed the idea that Powell and Rice were in the room to handle the marionette-strings. More than that, the President was challenging Mr. Martin to be a leader. That may be a bit much to ask of a premier leading a coalition government with a coalition dedicated to keeping the country defenseless. Still, there's something to be said for marginalizing irresponsibility, and if Mr. Martin is forced out in the next year or so, he could have left behind a party committed to a bipartisan foreign policy.
In any case, it's a bit rich for the Canadians to be complaining here of double-crossing when they were avoiding publicly humiliating the man responsible for their defense. After all, Mr. Bush voiced his objections in private, and it's the oh-so-discreet diplomats in the room who made them public. For some reason, Peter wants to make this the President's fault.
The Washington Post reports today on an effort by the Pentagon to do what the CIA Directorate of Operations has been unable and unwilling to do in the War on Terror.
Rumsfeld's efforts, launched in October 2001, address two widely shared goals. One is to give combat forces, such as those fighting the insurgency in Iraq, more and better information about their immediate enemy. The other is to find new tools to penetrate and destroy the shadowy organizations, such as al Qaeda, that pose global threats to U.S. interests in conflicts with little resemblance to conventional war.
That the Agency has been woefully lacking in both strategic and operational intelligence gathering should be clear to anyone who's been paying attention for the last 3+ years. The Pentagon decided so early on that it needed on-the-ground assets that it could rely on, and that the best way to get them was to channel Bll Donavon rather than to try to reform his sclerotic heirs.
The Left and Congressional Democrats will almost certainly howl, "end run," and want to know why, if this organization is so much better, it didn't know about the WMD. It also explains at least partly the disproportionate public hostility of the Agency to the President. Certainly it explains some of Rumsfeld's concerns about the intelligence reorganization, especially that one sentence about the new law's not impeding the DoD's own responsibilities.
The President has noted a number of times that the War will consist of operations both public and private, and will take place on battlefields all over the world. As long as this new effort remains active and isn't allowed to degenerate into another bureaucracy, it should help to integrate real-time intelligence into large- and small-scale military actions.
Such pro-activity may also explain the singular ineffectiveness of terrorist operations as time goes on.
Iran in the Sights?
The mullahs in Iran have apparently seen the tapes of President Bush's inaugural, and are back with what sounds like a great deal of bluff and bluster. The American public has no taste for another invasion right now, and that might not even be the best way to "deal with" the mullahs (if by "deal with," we mean, "have used as pinatas on Multicultural Day in the Teheran Public Schools"), letting them have a bomb is just not on the agenda.
I'm sure that 1) this would lengthen the war, and 2) the Left would be perfectly happy to spend the next 50 years explaining to use why this was actually a good thing, 3) the Left would also patiently explain that the whole thing was our fault anyway, 4) it would almost certainly mean the end of Israel and quite possibly mark the beginning of the end of the US as a great power.
Edward Luttwak, a realist who has been extremely skeptical of the Bush Doctrine, uses this week's Telegraph column to defend the need for such action, with or without the Europeans.
If Iran is to be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons, effective diplomatic or military action will have to come soon. Production facilities can be bombed but once actual weapons are assembled, locating and destroying them will become next to impossible. And Iran will then be in a position to threaten not just Israel, but all of our oil-producing Arab allies.
To which I can only say, go get 'em Edward, but I'm not so sure. The mullahs are canny and calculating, but they may be feeling the march of history a little too personally right about now. They've obviously made the calculation that the Europeans are already so cowed that a nuclear Iran won't make much difference in their foreign policies, and have staked the future of their dismal worldview on obtaining a bomb and just about all costs. They're probably right.
If we do decide to do something about Iran's reactionary reactors, it'll probably have to be another Made in the USA production.
January 21, 2005
Foreign Policy Framework
First of all, Peggy Noonan aside, the President was not immanentizing the eschaton. Islamists have a goal - make the whole world Muslim. Three hundred years ago, as the Heathen Turk retreated from Vienna for the second time, Europe seemed out of reach. Now, ask the Dutch what they think. That our goal won't be achieved in 100 or even 200 years doesn't mean it's not the right one.
In the short term, freedom won't necessarily make Iran less nuclear, but it will change the world. I've always thought that Iran was sort of the Soviet Union of this war, the beacon that Islamists point to, and the country that's most aggressive in pushing Islamism outwards. So if the mullahs end up like living versions of that statue of Dzerzhinsky, game over.
Secondly, the China problem is probably worse than we think. The goal of China's naval capability isn't to use it against us. It's to keep from having to use it against us. Show enough muscle, and the countries in theater will start to think about cutting a deal with them. After all, most of those local trading partners are running surpluses with China.
Finally, there's Latin America. A growing set of left-wing elected leaders, with moral cover from such titans as Chris Dodd and Jimmy Carter, and turning Latin America away from the US, and possibly back towards dictatorship.
I know, I know, one problem at a time. But as Michael Ledeen says, "Faster Please."
January 09, 2005
Muslim Charities and the Tsunami
Muslims in Colorado are apparently using some discretion in deciding where to direct their Tsunami relief money. Although it's not clear that it's always for the right reasons.
No doubt most of this is for the right motivations,
Chaudhry, of the Colorado Springs mosque, heard about Islamic Relief on CNN. The mosque checked to make sure the group wasn't on a government website listing charities with suspected terrorism links.
I was also glad to see the charities gaining credibility by intergrating themselves into rigorous accounting and transparency regimes:
Some Muslim charities, meantime, are redoubling their transparency efforts. One is the organization the Colorado Springs mosque singled out: Islamic Relief USA, part of an international Muslim charitable network undertaking a $10 million tsunami fundraising effort.
At the same time, there was the requisite carping and whining about how the government is trying to make sure that those dollars don't just blow themselves up:
Helping the poor is central, it's mandatory, especially under the circumstances," said Liyakat Takim, a University of Denver religious studies professor who teaches about Islam. "On the other hand, Muslims have to be careful because they don't want to jeopardize their positions or get into trouble with Homeland Security. Muslims are far more careful as to where and who they give their funds to now."
Naturally, it's a non-Muslim professor doing the complaining. In fact, the Holy Land Foundation has been under suspicion for almost a decade. My friend Yehudit Barsky, who has been following this stuff for many years, has a comprehensive discussion of Hamas, linking it to a number of US charities, using sources that date back to well before 9/11.
The problem here, as usual, isn't that the government has moved too quickly, but that it coddled a non-existent "peace process" by moving too slowly. In anything, four is not enough.
These kinds of complaints are aimed at "criminalizing" the war by reducing it to law enforcement standards. This might be useful is the government were to start thinking about these charities as RICO targets, but that's clearly not the aim of Ms. Mattson.
December 20, 2004
My Mind's Made Up, Don't Confuse Me With the Facts
Welcome RMPN readers. Here's the piece Alan links to. A somewhat longer reply to his piece is at the top of the blog.
Gerard Hauser’s article in Sunday’s Denver Post "Perspective" section is typical of the sophistry that passes for political argument on the left today. We no longer debate opinion, we debate facts. Such divisions over facts are especially poisonous in a democracy, which depends on common facts, even as we dispute their meaning.
He's right, but Professor, heal thyself. Here, the "fact" he presents is that conservatives can't think straight. In Prof. Hauser’s world, only Republicans who watch Fox News resent the truth-tellers who come to explode their delusions.
Hauser quotes the University of Maryland study purporting to find high levels of misconception lurking in the President's supporters. The problem with the study, pointed out by the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto at the time, is that it examines only possible conservative biases, and is intended as an indictment of Fox News. It completely misses liberal biases, held by viewers of the three major networks.
Even then, the specifics that Hauser cites are pretty weak. The Duelfer Report does not claim that "Iraq did not have a significant WMD program." In fact, the report spent about 1000 pages arguing that the oil-for-food scam was part of a larger plan to maintain just such programs that could be quickly mobilized, once sanctions were lifted.
Republican skepticism about Kerry's motives in citing the report had less to do with their preconceptions, and everything to do with Kerry's own selective and misleading use of the report during an election campaign. The idea that Bush redefined the justification for war is fantasy. In fact, it was the Democrats who repeatedly insisted that the President had cited an "imminent threat" in his State of the Union Address. While everyone now admits that Saddam didn't have WMDs in quantities large enough to repel an American invasion, the "gathering threat" actually noted was more than justified by the Duelfer findings.
Even the New York Times and Washington Post figured this out, as summarized nicely in Powerline at the time. Professor Hauser might have known this, had he been willing to read outside his own echo-chamber.
Hauser doesn't do himself any favors by his reporting on a 25-year-old energy "crisis," either. Gas lines were not caused by a shortage of oil, or an impending energy crisis. As David Frum demonstrates in his book, The 70s, gas lines were caused by price controls, preventing refiners and retailers from selling gas at a price high enough to cover their costs. Europe experienced no gas lines. Miraculously, once prices rose, lines disappeared and new car designs had better mileage.
He brings up that whole sorry episode in American political economy to show how the President can frame the debate during important crises. The public may have gone along with President Carter's idea to "punish" the Iranians by buying less oil. This proposal, like Carter's "Windfall Profits Tax" on the oil companies, was based on the same flawed economics that caused the lines in the first place. So eventually we were sitting in lines, and we didn't have the hostages back.
If the President is going to "connect the dots," he'd better be sure he knows how to count. Eventually, people will figure out the truth. In Carter's case, it was that we weren't nearly as impotent as he wanted us to believe. In Bush's case, it was that Saddam's European-backed pursuit of WMDs was a threat, even if he hadn't got there yet.
Hauser admits that the echo-chamber is a two-way problem. But if the misconceptions are all on the right, then the advantage for the left in breaking out of it is purely rhetorical. In fact, Hauser seems to be trying to make the case that Fox News, by presenting a conservative viewpoint, is balkanizing the country. That we'd all be much better-served by using the liberal line of the mainstream media as the baseline for political discussion.
Hauser is correct that when basic facts come into dispute, civil discourse dissolves. So for an article about facts in a section titled "Perspective," it’s a shame that Prof. Hauser should offer so little of either.
December 07, 2004
President Bush at Camp Pendleton
The President is speaking at Camp Pendleton to the Marines, using the Pearl Harbor anniversary as an opportunity to talk about the war.
The speech has a great rhythm. He started out talking about the Marines' history, citing Chesty Puller and the battle out of Cho Sen in Korea. Perhaps significantly, in that battle, one Marine division took out 7 Chinese division. "I know what you were."
He then talks about the victories, progress, and future in Iraq. There's not a lot new here, but he lays out the case nicely. "I know what you are."
And then, a long extended discussion of the casualties, those not killed, but injured. Not merely numbers, but real empathy for those who've sacrificed limbs, eyes, fingers, and just plain recovery time for their country.
He makes a point of talking about private initiatives to help wounded soldiers in their post-war lives. And then, in case you doubted we were in the Internet era, repeated twice, www.americasupportsyou.mil, as a nationwide clearinghouse on those national and local efforts. He finished the appeal to the American public by looking, as Kerry would say, right into the camera: "Stand up for the men and women who stand up for America."
It's a good speech, and after the unbridled enthusiasm of the campaign trail, it's good to get back to some sense of normalcy. While the guys behind him are standing and taking digital photos, not sitting like my friend Jason, and nobody yells out in the middle of the speech. Perhaps because of the serious nature of the speech and the men, then enthusiasm is real, but muted. But the Army and Navy cadets have nothing on these guys for their mutual love for the President.
Has it really been just 63 years?
December 01, 2004
Ted Rall's Worst Nightmare
According to Ted Rall, who can neither think nor draw, all these people are idiots.
I particularly like this quote:
McMaster said he knew his troops had grown close while serving in Iraq, but he was surprised the regiment more than doubled its goal for re-enlistments.
November 30, 2004
Cliff May Speaks
I had a chance to hear Clifford May, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies speak this evening, and the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado's annual Men's Event fundraiser. (Yes, there's a women's event, too, but I don't get to go to that.) He's an eloquent speaker in defense of the notion that freedom is the best antidote, or even prophylactic, for terror.
For someone who follows the war in all its phases fairly closely, he probably added little directly, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth hearing. For instance, the most alarming part of his speech was in Arabic: captioned videotapes of Hezbollah propaganda, now airing in France courtesy of that country's government.
In the event that anyone thinks anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism aren't inextricably linked, one of the videos literally showed a rotating coin, with engravings of President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon on opposite faces. Another juxtaposed President Bush and Adolf Hitler, and WWII footage with stock images of the US military in desert action. "History Repeats," says the closing caption, an irony coming people who have found inspiration in the Nazis.
May was in Moscow in 1978 to cover Anatoly (now Natan) Scharansky's trial, and stated that his new book, The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, organizes and restates many of the ideas that power the Bush Administration's radical foreign policy. Stability can always be temporarily bought, but only free societies can produce a broadly stable society. The struggle is between what free societies, and "fear societies." (Those aren't scare quotes, they're attribution.)
Towards the end, he also made the point that while Islamofascists have a foundational and historical militarism to draw on, Islam doesn't have to be violent or terrorist. My poor digital recorder wasn't able to pick up all the names of those trying to fix Islam and the Muslim world, but you can see some of them here.
November 23, 2004
David Frum has decided to fight likely libel charges against him by the Council for American-Islamic Relations by discussing the organization's origins and sordid history. These recent press releases indicate that the Council remains implacably hostile to both the United States and to Israel.
When Arafat recently assumed stable condition, CAIR issued the following press release:
CAIR offers it sincere condolences to the Palestinian people on the death of President Yasser Arafat. We come from God and to God we return.
The release isn't entirely dishonest. Sadly, Arafat did come to embody the Palestinian struggle - and to corrupt that effort with the worst elements of humanity. Somehow, though, I'm not certain that's what they meant.
Virtually no serious "objective" observer really believes that Arab concern for the Palestinians is sincere. For the rulers, it's a means of distracting their people from their own failures. For the people, it's a way of rationalizing the dysfunction of their societies.
And for an organization that opposed the liberation of Iraq
Naturally, having opposed a "rush to judgment" about one of the world's most corrupt, dangerous, tyrannical, and murderous regimes, they're perfectly happy to blame US soldiers on the flimsiest of evidence.
As the Professor says, they're not anti-war, they're just on the other side.
Hat Tip: Powerline
November 22, 2004
Europe Starts to Wake Up?
The Wall Street Journal carries a long article today about how the murder of Theo Van Gogh has apparently awakened Dutch authorities to the fact that yes, Virginia, there really is a problem with Muslim extremism.
The article details the steps that the traditionally tolerant, and recently unconfident Europeans, are taking.
The Journal notes van Gogh's "many enemies." Apparently, though, only one of them decided to kill him:
The story is complete with the by-now-typical European bungling of a terror-related investigation and surveillance:
Finally, the Journal notes that Van Gogh's killing, "set off outrage, introspection and a wave of further violence." While there appears to have been mutual violence, introspection only appears to be happening on one side. At least it's asking how far Europe has to go to stop extremism, and not how much it has to offer. In the meantime, there's no mention of any Muslim introspection about how their community spawned this monster.
Secondly, this seems to be a purely defensive Fortress Europe sort of strategy, not one that addresses the international sources of terrorism. In that sense, Europe is still where we were a few years before 9/11. Europe's complicity in Iran's nuclear program is evidence of that. Perhaps this is a necessary first step. A Europe that feels less beholden to extremist elements at home may believe it has a freer hand to address those elements abroad. If this truly is an awakening by the institutional left (as opposed to the Intellectual Left, which is beyond hope or help), Europe may be coming to realize it has more in common with us than it thought.