soon and very soon

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Religion of Peace
German police said they arrested a German-born convert to Islam on charges of planning a suicide attack in which she also would have killed her 2-year-old child.

Monday, May 29, 2006

No Shit of the Day
Americans Can't Wait 5 Minutes

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Abbas Throws Down the Gauntlet

Gives Hamas 10 days to recognize Israel or he will go to the people with a referendum...

By the way, who cut off the tip of Abbas' right ring finger?

Weis Meets McCloy

Randal McCloy Jr., the lone survivor of the Sago Mine disaster (who seems to be wearing a Notre Dame had in every picture taken of him) got a visit from ND coach Charlie Weis over the weekend at their home in Simpson, Taylor County, West VA:

Weis wanted to chat with McCloy in person and offered his family a trip to South Bend, Indiana. I wouldn't be surprised of McCloy ends up speaking at a pep rally this upcoming season.

"He wanted to come in and meet Randy and wondered if that was that appropriate," Aly Goodwin Gregg, McCloy's spokeswoman, said. "Randy has never been to campus, so just to visit Notre Dame itself with the legacy of Notre Dame football would be special. I'm sure a game came up and they were invited to come at any time."

Notre Dame's involvement with McCloy goes back to January when the university, Weis and numerous alumni groups sent him care packages that included hats, blankets, and T-shirts. School officials became aware that he was a Notre Dame fan soon after his rescue when they noticed him wearing a Fighting Irish hat in family photos.

"The family is very touched by the Notre Dame family reaching out to them," Gregg said. "I think they're truly shocked by it. Anna has said on more than one occasion, ‘We can't believe how kind and generous they are.'"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Time has jumped on my Palestinian Civil War bandwagon...

The following press release was issued to the U.S. media concerning the apprehension of Ibrahim Hamad, who is believed responsible for the terrorist attack on the Mount Scopus campus of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem on July 31, 2002:


May 24, 2006, New York, NY - In response to the capture yesterday of Ibrahim Hamed, head of one of Hamas' armed branches, Peter Willner, National Executive Director of the American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU), said the following:

On July 31, 2002, nine innocent people, including Janis Ruth Coulter, the assistant director of the Office of Academic Affairs of the Hebrew University and a beloved AFHU colleague, were brutally murdered by a suicide bomber at a student cafeteria on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. With the capture of Ibrahim Hamed, the terrorist mastermind behind the attack, justice can finally be served.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Israeli Defense Force, and the Border Police have our deepest gratitude for their bravery and dedication, which continue to prevent terror attacks and save the lives of countless people in Israel every day.

At this time, we remember those who were killed on that tragic day in July 2002. We honor their memories with a promise that long-delayed justice will finally be served. But perhaps even more importantly, we honor their memories with renewed hope that Israel, the United States and our allies will soon defeat terrorism, wherever it may occur.

The diversity among those who were murdered and wounded in the attack attests to the fact that when Hamas terrorists struck Hebrew University's International Student Center, they not only murdered the innocent, but they also symbolically attacked the aspirations of understanding, tolerance and the quest for peace."

The nine victims of the attack were:

Marla Bennett, from San Diego, CA, a student at the Rothberg International School of The Hebrew University and at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies.

Benjamin Blutstein, from Harrisburg, PA, also a joint student at Rothberg and Pardes.

Dina Carter, who emigrated to Israel from North Carolina in 1990, an employee of the Jewish National and University Library at The Hebrew University.

Janis Ruth Coulter, from Boston, MA, assistant director of the Office of Academic Affairs of The Hebrew University in New York.

David Gritz, from Paris (a French and U.S. citizen), who was about to begin his summer ulpan at the Rothberg School.

David Diego Ladowski, from Argentina, a graduate of The Hebrew University who was about to begin a diplomatic assignment for Israel in Peru.

Levina Shapira, head of the Student Services Department of The Hebrew University.

Dafna Spruch, an employee of the Student Services Department

Revital Barashi, who worked at the Faculty of Law of The Hebrew University.

Palestinian Civil War Watch
Gaza security chief loyal to moderate Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas killed in a car bomb Wednesday, the second attack on security commanders in volatile Gaza in less than a week.

Ehud Goes to Washington

Olmert spoke to a joint-house session today, his full remarks can be found here. Video of the speech should be found here eventually.

The speech was quite moving, as the PM spoke about an Ethiopian immigrant girl killed in a suicide bombing after telling her parents she "knew where to sit on the bus" so she wouldn't be injured if there was a bombing. He also spoke of Daniel Wultz (scroll down), the American killed in the most recent attack on Israel. Wultz's family was in the gallery.

The PM devoted most of his speech to the Palestinians and Israel making painful sacrifices to secure peace for future generations in the region. He also spoke briefly on Iran and challenged those countries in the world seeking stability and peace to confront Iran & Ahmadenijad, calling it a "test we cannot afford to lose."

Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel at Joint Press Availability

US House of Representatives votes 361-27 for legislation branding the Palestinian Authority a “terrorist sanctuary”.

The Bill, Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, on Thomas: H.R.4681. And the pretty version is here.

Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 - (Sec. 2) States that it shall be U.S. policy to: (1) support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; (2) oppose those organizations, individuals, and countries that support terrorism and violence; (3) urge members of the international community to avoid contact with and refrain from financially supporting the terrorist organization Hamas or a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) until Hamas agrees to recognize Israel, renounce violence, disarm, and accept prior agreements, including the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict (Roadmap); (4) promote the emergence of a democratic Palestinian governing authority that denounces and combats terrorism, upholds human rights for all people, and has agreed to recognize Israel as an independent Jewish state; and (5) continue to support assistance to the Palestinian people.

Amends the the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide assistance under such Act or any other provision of law to the PA only during a period for which a presidential certification to Congress has determined that: (1) no PA ministry, agency, or instrumentality is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization and no member of a foreign terrorist organization serves in a senior policy making position in a PA ministry, agency, or instrumentality; (2) the PA has publicly acknowledged Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the government of the United States, the government of Israel, and the international community, including the Roadmap; and (3) the PA has made demonstrable progress toward purging from its security services individuals with ties to terrorism, dismantling all terrorist infrastructure and cooperating with Israel's security services, halting anti-Israel incitement, and ensuring democracy and financial transparency.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

'In the event of any attack on Israel, the United States will come to Israel's aid'...

Good work Mister President. Keep it up.

Tuesday Post
Some of the great stories in today's Washington Post, too good not to post:

--FBI Raid on Lawmaker's Office Is Questioned: Democrat Jefferson Denies Wrongdoing. Basically a Louisiana Congressman accepted $100,000 in bribe money (which he put in his freezer) from an FBI informant to promote high-tech business ventures in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana.

--Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a Spanish-Syrian citizen tied to al-Qaeda, has his writings on how small teams of Islamic extremists could wage a decentralized global war against the United States and its allies dissected by the Post.

--U.S. Uneasy About Israel's Plans for West Bank. That's because the Israelis take defense of their country seriously. We could learn a lot.

--In Germany, Concern Over Racial Violence at World Cup. Well Duh, get some Nazis, British/Irish/Scottish hooligans together with some Muslims and a whole lot of booze and we can call it battle royale in Berlin.

--Finally, Hamas gunmen clashed with Palestinian police dominated by the rival Fatah party in Gaza City. Palestinian civil war in 3...2...1...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gee, thanks Feminist Movement.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Senate Votes to Build 370-Mile Fence Along Border With Mexico. Senators vote 83-16 in favor of immigration reform & border wall.

Reason # 12,000,001 to build a wall on the southern border.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In case I haven't already express my sentiments on him...Jimmy Carter is a pusillanimous idiot and a perennial loser. That is all.

Monday, May 15, 2006

109 Days...

Quote of the Day
"I guess taking things too seriously is an indictment of our times, really. It amazes me how seriously people take everything. In this case, I just want to scream, 'It's just a movie!' " -- Paul Bettany, the man who plays albino Opus Dei Monk Silas in The Da Vinci Code.

Really Paul? Is it that serious? I seem to recall an incident where people were killed because of religious beliefs and their portral in cartoon form. Give me a call when Catholics start killing people. Ignorant heathen.

American Teen Injured in April Suicide Bombing Dies

A 16-year-old American who was critically wounded in a Tel Aviv suicide bombing three weeks ago and who succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, is to be flown home to Florida for burial on Monday.

Daniel, who was in Israel for the Passover vacation, was having lunch with his father when the explosion went off in a downtown shwarma stand. His death raises the total number of people killed in the April 17 bombing to 11.

He will be buried on Tuesday in South Florida. A memorial service will be held in Jerusalem on Monday. He is survived by his parents, Cheryl and Tuly Wultz and his sister Amanda, a student at Tufts University outside Boston.

Advertisement Daniel, a top student from Weston, Florida who loved basketball and hoped to one day become a rabbi, was described by friends Sunday as a deeply spiritual teenager who was committed to his community.

"Daniel is best that they come," said his rabbi, Yisroel Spalter, in a telephone interview from Florida. "He was the sweetest, most sincere, committed and determined young man. You can't get any better. He was loved by his family, friends and his community, and this loss is so great."
"To talk about Daniel in the past tense is devastating," Spalter added.

Spalter, the head of the Chabad synagogue in Weston, has known the Wultz family for the past decade, but had become increasingly close to Daniel in the past year and a half, after the teen decided to become religiously observant. Spalter flew to be at Daniel's bedside after the attack last month and put phylacteries on the 16-year-old, who woke from a nine-day coma soon after.
A tenth-grader at the David Posnack Hebrew Day School in Plantation, Florida, Daniel was on vacation here visiting relatives. His father, Yekutiel (Tuly) Wultz, who is Israeli-born, chose the small restaurant near the old central bus station - the site of the attack - after their taxi driver recommended it as a tasty, kosher-for-Passover shwarma stand.

Tuly, who was lightly injured in the attack, told reporters two weeks ago that he remembered the moments immediately following the explosion. "I held his [Daniel's] hand and told him that I loved him," the father recalled. "Then he told me he loved me too, and those were his last words."

After being hospitalized last month, Daniel lost a kidney, his spleen and part of his right leg below the knee.

Though he has not received extensive media coverage in Israel, back in South Florida, Daniel Wultz has become something of a household name. His condition, along with reactions from the local Jewish community, has received extensive coverage, including front page stories in both the Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel, the two South Florida newspapers.

The American ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, visited him recently, and the 16-year-old also received autographed photos from his favorite NBA team, Miami Heat. Two weeks ago, students from the Jewish high school where Daniel was in the tenth grade gathered at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to recite prayers for his speedy recovery. His South Florida community has also held prayer vigils on his behalf over the past weeks.

Since the attack, e-mails requesting prayers on Daniel's behalf have circled the globe.
Tuly Wultz told reporters that the continued prayers on his son's behalf "give Daniel the energy to fight and give us support."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Back into Boxing
So I'm starting to get back into boxing again, thanks to my dad. He was in town for the weekend and after checking out museums for most of the day we decided to relax at the hotel and watch the HBO replay of the De La Hoya-Mayorga fight from last weekend.

It was a great fight. Most of the commentators expected De La Hoya to have some ring rust since his last fight was 22 months ago, but the "Golden Boy" showed nothing of the sort, punishing the trashing talking WBC junior middleweight champion Mayorga from the start. De La Hoya put Mayorga on the canvas only a minute into the fight with a devastating left hook, after that Oscar was pretty much in control for the remainder of the fight. Mayorga's amateur pedigree and Oscar's championship form were a mismatch from the start as De La Hoya surgically jabbed at Mayorga's lack of defense, eventually knocking him out with a deluge of shots in the 6th Round.

After the fight it was also revealed that Mayorga had tested positive for a banned substance.

Tonight's fight live from Boston was had Brit Ricky Hatton going against Brooklyn native Luis Collazo. From the way they built up the fight it seemed like Hatton was going to destroy Collazo, but Collazo more than held his own despite a first round knock down. Collazo dominated some of the middle rounds, but in the end Hatton was just way too tough and the combination of his endurance and first round knock down proved to be too much as he won the 12 Round unanimous decision. Two judges scored the fight 115-112 and the third had it 114-113 for Hatton.

This is just a preview for some of the bigger fights that might come up later on this month, particularly I'll be interested to see Notre Dame free safety make his pro debut June 10.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Fight On!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

And the world does NOTHING!

Monday, May 08, 2006

"as long as the book was being used to bash the president, [the CIA] gave me carte blanche to talk to the media"

It's so beautiful...

I wish we had one from TJ to Brownsville.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Making me think twice about whether or not Arafat's death wasn't Mossad enhanced...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moussaoui's New Crew:
List of prisoners at ADX Florence, Colorado:

Matthew F. Hale (White Supremacist convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge)
Theodore Kaczynski (The "Unabomber")
Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City Bombing conspirator)
Omar Abdel-Rahman (Islamist terrorist, nicknamed "The Blind Sheik"; Involved in World Trade Center bombing planning in 1993)
Larry Hoover (Leader of the Black Gangster Disciples Nation, based in Chicago)
Richard Reid ("Shoe bomber"; Islamist terrorist)
Ramzi Yousef (Islamist terrorist, 1993 World Trade Center bombing)
Ahmed Ajaj (Islamist terrorist, 1993 World Trade Center bombing)
Eric Robert Rudolph (Olympic Park bomber)
Mutulu Shakur (Convicted of bank robbery, conspiracy and murder; During the robbery, a policeman and two guards were killed.)
Brian Askew (Co-Leader of the RCC)
Robert Hanssen (FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia.)
Charles Harrelson (Found guilty of murdering Judge John Wood on behalf of drug runner Jimmy Chagra)
David Lane (Found guilty of murdering liberal Jewish talk radio host Alan Berg)


"rearranging knickknacks and toiletries"

So Moussaoui will live. That's good, we don't need another shahid (martyr) at the hands of the US government. It's a definite loss for the Bush Administration and I think raises serious questions about the legitimacy of what is being done to prisoners in Camp X in Cuba. I mean if the US government couldn't convince a jury in Northern Virginia to fry this guy, who was suppose to have been an integral member of 9/11, than I think it raises serious questions about the holding of hundreds of prisoners in Cuba without even charging them with a crime.

The good news is that Moussaoui will be shipped to a "Supermax" federal prison compound in Colorado whose nickname is 'Alcatraz'. Moussaoui has this to look forward to:

Supermax prisoners are locked into small cellsfor approximately 23 hours a day. They have almost no contactwith other human beings.

There are no group activities: no work, no educationalopportunities, no eating together, no sports, no getting togetherwith other people for religious services, and no attempts atrehabilitation.

There are no contact visits: prisoners sit behind aplexiglass window. Phone calls and visitation privileges arestrictly limited. Books and magazines may be denied and pensrestricted. TV and radios may be prohibited or, if allowed, arecontrolled by guards.

Prisoners have little or no personal privacy. Guardsmonitor the inmates' movements by video cameras. Communicationbetween prisoners and control booth officers is mostly throughspeakers and microphones. An officer at a control center may beable to monitor cells and corridors and control all doorselectronically. Typically, the cells have no windows. Lights are controlledby guards who may leave them on night and day. For exercisethere is usually only a room with high concrete walls and a chin-up bar. Showers may be limited to three per week for not morethan ten minutes.

1. Typical cell sized 7ft x 12ft (3.5x2m) with small slit window 2. Shower works on timer 3. Small black and white TV showing educational programmes (some prisoners only) 4. Heavy duty steel door or grate 5. Writing desk 6. Toilet which shuts off if blocked 7. Sink 8. Steel mirror, rather than smashable glass

"Prisoners are confined to a concrete world in which theynever see a blade of grass, earth, trees or any part of thenatural world."

There are complaints that inmates who misbehave while in supermax or control units are put into "strip cells" (sometimesat temperatures near 50 degrees with only boxer shorts to wearand no bedding), or are chained spread-eagle and naked toconcrete beds. Other complaints include denial of medical care,interference with mail, arbitrary beatings, "hog-tying"(intertwining handcuffs and ankle-cuffs), "cock fights" (doublecelling inmates who are likely to attack each other), and injuryto inmates during "cell extractions."

John Perotti, writing after having spent 10 out of 12 yearsin control units, says: "Every aspect of life in the ControlUnit is meant to debase and degrade a prisoner's very soul thepurpose being that when released to general population whereconditions are somewhat improved, the prisoner causes no problems. . . for fear of being sent back to the Control Unit."

Longterm confinement under supermaxconditions is likely to have psychological consequences. "Studies of the psychological effects of solitary confinementhave found it can produce symptoms of paranoia, hypersensitivityto noise, panic attacks, hallucinations and even episodes ofamnesia. One article by Harvard psychiatrist Stuart Grassianreported 'the emergence of primitive, aggressive fantasies ofrevenge, torture, and mutilation of the prison guards' amongsolitary inmates in Massachusetts."

Dr. Craig Haney, who is anexpert on the psychological effects of living and working inmaximum security prisons, puts it this way: "[W]hen our reality is not grounded in social context, the internal stimuli and beliefs that we generate are impossible to test against the reactions of others. For this reason, the first step in any program of extreme social influence--ranging from police interrogation to indoctrination and 'brainwashing'--is to isolate the intended targets from others, and to create a context in which social reality testing is controlled by those who would shape their thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behavior. Most people are so disoriented by the loss of social context that they become highly malleable, unnaturally sensitive, and vulnerable to the influence of those who control the environment around them. Indeed, this may be its very purpose."

Dr. Haney describes several different reactions. In asupermax, he says, the institution is in total control. Manysupermax inmates become totally dependent upon the structure androutines of the institution to control their behavior. Somebecome unable to set limits for themselves; they lose a sense ofhow to behave without a tight external structure and enforcedrestrictions. Others lose the ability to initiate behavior or toorganize their lives around any activity and purpose; their mindswander, they cannot concentrate or focus their attention. "Inextreme cases, a sense of profound despair and hopelessness iscreated."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

58 Years!

Despite the world, Israel turns 58.

NEWSFLASH: Cheney ISN'T a bastard!

That must be so hard for liberals and the media elite to understand.


White Guilt and the Western Past

Why is America so delicate with the enemy?

There is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II.

For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one--including, very likely, the insurgents themselves--believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an insurgency.

Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy.

Why this new minimalism in war?

It began, I believe, in a late-20th-century event that transformed the world more profoundly than the collapse of communism: the world-wide collapse of white supremacy as a source of moral authority, political legitimacy and even sovereignty. This idea had organized the entire world, divided up its resources, imposed the nation-state system across the globe, and delivered the majority of the world's population into servitude and oppression. After World War II, revolutions across the globe, from India to Algeria and from Indonesia to the American civil rights revolution, defeated the authority inherent in white supremacy, if not the idea itself. And this defeat exacted a price: the West was left stigmatized by its sins. Today, the white West--like Germany after the Nazi defeat--lives in a kind of secular penitence in which the slightest echo of past sins brings down withering condemnation. There is now a cloud over white skin where there once was unquestioned authority.

I call this white guilt not because it is a guilt of conscience but because people stigmatized with moral crimes--here racism and imperialism--lack moral authority and so act guiltily whether they feel guilt or not.

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with. When they behave in ways that invoke the memory of those sins, they must labor to prove that they have not relapsed into their group's former sinfulness. So when America--the greatest embodiment of Western power--goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past--two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.

The collapse of white supremacy--and the resulting white guilt--introduced a new mechanism of power into the world: stigmatization with the evil of the Western past. And this stigmatization is power because it affects the terms of legitimacy for Western nations and for their actions in the world. In Iraq, America is fighting as much for the legitimacy of its war effort as for victory in war. In fact, legitimacy may be the more important goal. If a military victory makes us look like an imperialist nation bent on occupying and raping the resources of a poor brown nation, then victory would mean less because it would have no legitimacy. Europe would scorn. Conversely, if America suffered a military loss in Iraq but in so doing dispelled the imperialist stigma, the loss would be seen as a necessary sacrifice made to restore our nation's legitimacy. Europe's halls of internationalism would suddenly open to us.

Because dissociation from the racist and imperialist stigma is so tied to legitimacy in this age of white guilt, America's act of going to war can have legitimacy only if it seems to be an act of social work--something that uplifts and transforms the poor brown nation (thus dissociating us from the white exploitations of old). So our war effort in Iraq is shrouded in a new language of social work in which democracy is cast as an instrument of social transformation bringing new institutions, new relations between men and women, new ideas of individual autonomy, new and more open forms of education, new ways of overcoming poverty--war as the Great Society.

This does not mean that President Bush is insincere in his desire to bring democracy to Iraq, nor is it to say that democracy won't ultimately be socially transformative in Iraq. It's just that today the United States cannot go to war in the Third World simply to defeat a dangerous enemy.

White guilt makes our Third World enemies into colored victims, people whose problems--even the tyrannies they live under--were created by the historical disruptions and injustices of the white West. We must "understand" and pity our enemy even as we fight him. And, though Islamic extremism is one of the most pernicious forms of evil opportunism that has ever existed, we have felt compelled to fight it with an almost managerial minimalism that shows us to be beyond the passions of war--and thus well dissociated from the avariciousness of the white supremacist past.

Anti-Americanism, whether in Europe or on the American left, works by the mechanism of white guilt. It stigmatizes America with all the imperialistic and racist ugliness of the white Western past so that America becomes a kind of straw man, a construct of Western sin. (The Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons were the focus of such stigmatization campaigns.) Once the stigma is in place, one need only be anti-American in order to be "good," in order to have an automatic moral legitimacy and power in relation to America. (People as seemingly desperate as President Jacques Chirac and the Rev. Al Sharpton are devoted pursuers of the moral high ground to be had in anti-Americanism.) This formula is the most dependable source of power for today's international left. Virtue and power by mere anti-Americanism. And it is all the more appealing since, unlike real virtues, it requires no sacrifice or effort--only outrage at every slight echo of the imperialist past.

Today words like "power" and "victory" are so stigmatized with Western sin that, in many quarters, it is politically incorrect even to utter them. For the West, "might" can never be right. And victory, when won by the West against a Third World enemy, is always oppression. But, in reality, military victory is also the victory of one idea and the defeat of another. Only American victory in Iraq defeats the idea of Islamic extremism. But in today's atmosphere of Western contrition, it is impolitic to say so.

America and the broader West are now going through a rather tender era, a time when Western societies have very little defense against the moral accusations that come from their own left wings and from those vast stretches of nonwhite humanity that were once so disregarded.

Europeans are utterly confounded by the swelling Muslim populations in their midst. America has run from its own mounting immigration problem for decades, and even today, after finally taking up the issue, our government seems entirely flummoxed. White guilt is a vacuum of moral authority visited on the present by the shames of the past. In the abstract it seems a slight thing, almost irrelevant, an unconvincing proposition. Yet a society as enormously powerful as America lacks the authority to ask its most brilliant, wealthy and superbly educated minority students to compete freely for college admission with poor whites who lack all these things. Just can't do it.

Whether the problem is race relations, education, immigration or war, white guilt imposes so much minimalism and restraint that our worst problems tend to linger and deepen. Our leaders work within a double bind. If they do what is truly necessary to solve a problem--win a war, fix immigration--they lose legitimacy.

To maintain their legitimacy, they practice the minimalism that makes problems linger. What but minimalism is left when you are running from stigmatization as a "unilateralist cowboy"? And where is the will to truly regulate the southern border when those who ask for this are slimed as bigots? This is how white guilt defines what is possible in America. You go at a problem until you meet stigmatization, then you retreat into minimalism.

Possibly white guilt's worst effect is that it does not permit whites--and nonwhites--to appreciate something extraordinary: the fact that whites in America, and even elsewhere in the West, have achieved a truly remarkable moral transformation. One is forbidden to speak thus, but it is simply true. There are no serious advocates of white supremacy in America today, because whites see this idea as morally repugnant. If there is still the odd white bigot out there surviving past his time, there are millions of whites who only feel goodwill toward minorities.

This is a fact that must be integrated into our public life--absorbed as new history--so that America can once again feel the moral authority to seriously tackle its most profound problems. Then, if we decide to go to war, it can be with enough ferocity to win.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is author, most recently, of "White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era," published this week by HarperCollins.

Don't know if you heard or not, but they "saved Darfur" the other day here in DC. And all it took was George Clooney and superstar Senator Barak Obama to do it! Good show gents!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Farther we fall...

A Sage in Christendom - A personal tribute to Bernard Lewis.

Bernard Lewis came to the New World in the nick of time. Fate--or, more appropriately, history--decreed his American journey and the direction it would take. The historian, who will turn 90 in a handful of days, had come to Princeton from London, at the age of 58, in 1974, to do the work of Orientalism which had gained him scholarly renown. But there would be no academic seclusion for him in the years after. The lands of Islam whose languages and cultures he knew with such intimacy would soon be set ablaze. And his adopted country, the bearer of the imperial mantle shed by his own Britannia, would in time make an honored place for him, and all but anoint him its guide into those burning grounds of the Islamic world. He would become the oracle of this new age of the Americans in the lands of the Arab and Islamic worlds.

In the normal course of things, America is not a country given to excessive deference to historians and to the claims of history, for the past is truly a foreign country here. But the past quarter century was no normal time, and Mr. Lewis no typical historian. He knew and worked the archives, it is true; and he mastered the languages of "the East," standing at the peak of his academic guild. But there is more to him than that: He is, through and through, a man of public affairs. He saw the coming of a war, a great civilizational struggle, and was to show no timidity about the facts of this war. "I'll teach you differences," Kent says to Lear. And Mr. Lewis has been teaching us differences. He knew Islam's splendor and its periods of enlightenment; he had celebrated the "dignity and meaning" it gave to "drab impoverished lives." He would not hesitate, then, to look into--and to name--the darkness and the rage that have overcome so many of its adherents in recent times.

We anoint sages when we need them; at times we let them say, on our behalf, the sorts of things we know and intuit but don't say, the sorts of things we glimpse through the darkness but don't fully see. It was thus in the time of the great illusion, in the lost decade of the 1990s, when history had presumably "ended," that Bernard Lewis had come forth to tell us, in a seminal essay, "The Roots of Muslim Rage" (September 1990), that our luck had run out, that an old struggle between "Christendom" and Islam was gathering force. (Note the name given the Western world; it is vintage Lewis, this naming of worlds and drawing of borders--and differences.) It was the time of commerce and globalism; the "modernists" had the run of the decade, and a historian's dark premonitions about a thwarted civilization wishing to avenge the slights and wounds of centuries would not carry the day. Mr. Lewis was the voice of conservatives, a brooding pessimist, in the time of a sublime faith in things new and untried. It was he, in that 1990 article, who gave us the notion of a "clash of civilizations" that Samuel Huntington would popularize, with due attribution to Bernard Lewis.

The rage of Islam was no mystery to Mr. Lewis. To no great surprise, it issued out of his respect for the Muslim logic of things. For 14 centuries, he wrote, Islam and Christendom had feuded and fought across a bloody and shifting frontier, their enmity a "series of attacks and counterattacks, jihads and crusades, conquests and reconquests." For nearly a millennium, Islam had the upper hand. The new faith conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa--old Christian lands, it should be recalled. It struck into Europe, established dominions in Sicily, Spain, Portugal and in parts of France. Before the tide turned, there had been panic in Europe that Christendom was doomed. In a series of letters written from Constantinople between 1555 and 1560, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, imperial ambassador to the court of Suleyman the Magnificent, anguished over Europe's fate; he was sure that the Turks were about to "fly at our throats, supported by the might of the whole East." Europe, he worried, was squandering its wealth, "seeking the Indies and the Antipodes across vast fields of ocean, in search of gold."

But Busbecq, we know, had it wrong. The threat of Islam was turned back. The wealth brought back from the New World helped turn the terms of trade against Islam. Europe's confidence soared. The great turning point came in 1683, when a Turkish siege of Vienna ended in failure and defeat. With the Turks on the run, the terms of engagement between Europe and Islam were transformed. Russia overthrew the Tatar yoke; there was the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula. Instead of winning every war, Mr. Lewis observes, the Muslims were losing every war. Britain, France, the Netherlands and Russia all soon spilled into Islamic lands. "Europe and her daughters" now disposed of the fate of Muslim domains. Americans and Europeans may regard this new arrangement of power as natural. But Mr. Lewis has been relentless in his admonition that Muslims were under no obligation to accept the new order of things.

A pain afflicts modern Islam--the loss of power. And Mr. Lewis has a keen sense of the Muslim redeemers and would-be avengers who promise to alter Islam's place in the world. This pain, the historian tells us, derives from Islam's early success, from the very triumph of the prophet Muhammad. Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land; he had led his people through wilderness. Jesus had been crucified. But Muhammad had prevailed and had governed. The faith he would bequeath his followers would forever insist on the oneness of religion and politics. Where Christians are enjoined in their scripture to "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things which are God's," no such demarcation would be drawn in the theory and practice of Islam.

It was vintage Lewis--reading the sources, in this case a marginal Arabic newspaper published out of London, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, in February of 1998--to come across a declaration of war on the United States by a self-designated holy warrior he had "never heard of," Osama bin Laden. In one of those essays that reveal the historian's eye for things that matter, "A License to Kill," Mr. Lewis would render into sublime English prose the declaration of bin Laden and would give it its exegesis. The historian might have never heard of bin Laden, but the terrorist from Arabia practically walks out of the pages of Mr. Lewis's own histories. Consider this passage from the Arabian plotter: "Since God laid down the Arabian Peninsula, created its desert, and surrounded it with seas, no calamity has ever befallen it like these crusader hosts that have spread in it like locusts, eating its fruits and destroying its verdure; and this at a time when the nations contend against Muslims like diners jostling around a bowl of food. . . . By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions whenever he finds them and whenever he can."

Three years later, the furies of bin Laden, and the cadence and content of his language--straight out of the annals of older wars of faith--would remake our world. There would come Mr. Lewis's way now waves of people willing to believe. They would read into his works the bewildering ways and furies of preachers and plotters and foot soldiers hurling themselves against the order of the West. Timing was cruel--and exquisite. The historian's book "What Went Wrong?" was already in galleys by 9/11. He had not written it for the storm. He had all but anticipated what was to come. This diagnosis of Islam's malady would become a best seller. In a different setting, Mr. Lewis had written of history's power. "Make no mistake, those who are unwilling to confront the past will be unable to understand the present and unfit to face the future." We were witnessing an epic jumbling of past and present. It was no fault of this historian that we had placed our bet on the death of the past.

Mr. Lewis has lived a long and engaged life, caught up in the great issues of war and diplomacy--and may he be with us as far as the eye can see, as long as life and good health permit. Some of his detractors, with an excessive belief in his talismans, have attributed to the historian all sorts of large historical deeds. For some, he is the godfather of the accommodation of years past between Turkey and Israel. For others, he inspired the Iraq war, transmitting to Vice President Dick Cheney his faith in the Iraq campaign as the spearhead of an effort to reform the Arab world. (It will, of course, help confirm this view that Mr. Cheney is set to speak to a conference today, hosted by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, in honor of Mr. Lewis.) In more recent writings on the historian, George W. Bush's "diplomacy of freedom" in Arab-Muslim lands is laid at Mr. Lewis's doorstep. The president was seen, in one account, with a marked-up copy of a Lewis article. We have come to a great irony: the conservative Orientalist holding out democratic hope for Iraq and its Arab neighbors, while his liberal critics assert the built-in authoritarianism of the Arab political tradition.

For Bernard Lewis, there is something now of the closing of a circle. As a young man, he had been on His Majesty's service during the Second World War, working for British intelligence between 1940 and 1945. The young medievalist had been pressed into modern government work, and that experience had given him his taste for contemporary political affairs. This new war is something of a return to his beginnings. For an immensely gregarious man of unfailing wit and personal optimism, a darkness runs through his view of the future of the Western democracies. "In 1940, we knew who we were, we knew who the enemy was, we knew the dangers and the issues," he told me when I pressed him for a reading of the struggle against Islamic radicalism. "In our island, we knew we would prevail, that the Americans would be drawn into the fight. It is different today. We don't know who we are, we don't know the issues, and we still do not understand the nature of the enemy."

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which once translated one of Mr. Lewis's books into Arabic, said that his book was "the work of a candid friend or an honest enemy." Either way, the Brotherhood said, it was the work of "someone who disdains falsification." And this, to me and to his countless readers, runs to the core of this historian's craft--the aversion to falsification. He has been, always, a man of his own civilization and convictions--a fact that accounts for the deep reservoirs of reverence felt for him in many Muslim and Arab lands. In the American academy, he may be swimming against the currents of postmodernism and postcolonial history; he has given up his membership in the Middle East Studies Association, of which he had been a founding member. But countless Arab and Iranian and Turkish readers recognize their tormented civilization in what he has written. They know that he has not come to the material of their history driven by bad faith, or by a desire for dominion. They take him at his word, a man of the Anglo-Saxon world, convinced that the ways of the West today carry with them the hopes of other civilizations. In one of his many splendid books, "Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery," he gave voice to both his fears and to his faith. "It may be that Western culture will indeed go: The lack of conviction of many of those who should be its defenders and the passionate intensity of its accusers may well join to complete its destruction. But if it does go, the men and women of all the continents will thereby be impoverished and endangered."

Edward Gibbon once called the historian's "I" the "most disgusting of pronouns." In the main we see very little of that pronoun in Mr. Lewis's work. But in the academy he belongs to the ages. He is the peer, and inheritor, of the great Western scholars of Islam--the Hungarian Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), the Dutchman Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), the Frenchman Louis Massignon (1883-1962), the British Thomas Arnold (1864-1930), and Mr. Lewis's own teacher, Sir Hamilton Gibb (1895-1971). Mr. Lewis took to the East to understand his own world, because, as he tells us, Western civilization "did not spring like Aphrodite from the sea foam." He wanted to get to the mainsprings of Western civilization.

I shall set aside the ban on that "most disgusting of pronouns." I came to know Bernard Lewis the year he made his passage to America, on the Princeton campus. I was then at the beginning of my academic career, justifiably obscure and anxious. Mr. Lewis was one of the academic gods. I approached him with awe. But his grace was our bridge. I was of the old world he studied; he was keen to know the name of my ancestral village in southern Lebanon. I told him it was an obscure place without history, and gave him its name. He offered me an invitation to examine his archives, and said that he had the land deeds of that remote hamlet. It has been like this with Bernard Lewis: We travel by the light of his work. He weaves for us a web between past and present, and he can pick out, over distant horizons, storms sure to reach us before long.

Mr. Ajami, Majid Khadduri Professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, is author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq," forthcoming from the Free Press in July.