Below is the video of the panel “How to Defeat the Jihad,” which took place at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 West Coast Retreat. The event was held April 8-10 at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, CA.
Frontpage, by Bruce Thornton, April 15, 2016:
In Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film-classic Brazil, London is under assault from a 13-year-long terrorist campaign that Londoners won’t stop and so just live with. A bomb goes off in a restaurant, and the waiters scurry to screen off the mangled and dying so survivors can continue eating. When reminded by a journalist that “The bombing campaign is now in it 13th year,” the Deputy Minister laughs, “Beginner’s luck!” The West today is rapidly approaching the surreal insouciance of Gilliam’s fantasy.
Think about Obama, hanging out with head of terror-state Raul Castro at a baseball game during the Brussels attacks that killed 34, including four Americans. Obama told Chris Wallace that the terrorists “win” if we don’t go about our daily business, like the diners in Brazil ordering dessert among the screams and moans of the dying and wounded. After all, ISIS is not an “existential threat,” as the president keeps saying, and more of us die in bathtub falls than are killed by terrorists. Obama apparently thinks he has achieved John Kerry’s goal during the 2004 presidential campaign to reduce terrorism to a “nuisance” like prostitution.
I suppose the absurd security measures we endure every time we board a plane is the sort of “nuisance” Kerry and Obama are talking about. I guess we “win” when we dutifully take off our shoes and coats, put our computers and three ounces of liquids in a tray, and submit to aggressive wanding by surly TSA functionaries. Are such silly measures now part of the daily life we should just get on with? Of course Obama’s attitude is preposterous, and he should know that it is the terrorists who “win” every time an 80-year-old has to endure being felt up by a federal worker. Meanwhile, in breach tests of TSA inspectors in 2015, 95% of fake explosives and contraband sailed through the screening process.
These inefficient and intrusive procedures have been put in place mainly to avoid stigmatizing Muslims. Such obeisance to politically correct proscriptions against “profiling” is just one of the myriad ways in which we tell the jihadist enemy we really aren’t serious about the latest battle in the 14-century-long war of Islam against the infidel West.
Take Obama’s Executive Order 1341, which banned waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” of captured jihadists. Now only those practices in the Army Field Manual can be used to question detainees, despite the fact that the document is public and so jihadists can use it to train terrorists how to resist. Forget that one technique, waterboarding, is legal under U.S. law, and generated actionable intelligence––according to former CIA chief George Tenet, waterboarding a few high-value suspects helped foil over 20 al Qaida plots against the U.S. Those facts cannot outweigh Obama’s need to preen morally and gratify international anti-Americanism.
More recently, his notoriously political CIA director John Brennan displayed once again this administration’s lack of seriousness about the war against Islamic jihad. In 2009 Brennan “corrected” 14 centuries of Islamic scripture, practice, and law by calling jihad a way “to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral good.” Obviously, the most revered Shi’a Islamic theologian, the Ayatollah Khomeini, was wrong when he said, “Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers,” or “Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.” That’s also the “moral good” for which ISIS wages jihad.
Brennan apparently learned nothing since 2009 about the nature of this war. Responding last week to Donald Trump’s promise to bring back waterboarding of detainees, Brennan huffed that should any president revoke Obama’s executive order and allow waterboarding and other EIT’s, “I will not agree to carry out some of these tactics and techniques I’ve heard bandied about, because this institution needs to endure.” Only someone profoundly unserious about his duty to protect the lives and safety of his fellow citizens would promise to disobey the Commander-in-Chief just so the bureaucracy he oversees can “endure,” whatever that means. The CIA has one job, protecting America’s security and interests, and it will “endure” only by successfully doing so, not by moral exhibitionism.
This lack of seriousness is endemic in this administration. Refusing to call ISIS “Islamic,” even going so far as to censor comments by French president François Hollande that used the word, bespeaks a dangerous frivolity. So too do symbolic tactics like droning an endless parade of ISIS “number twos” instead of committing enough forces and dropping enough bombs to make a strategic difference in the region. Instead, the American-led bombing campaign has averaged a mere seven strikes a day, with 75% of the planes returning with their bombs. Meanwhile Russia was averaging 60 strikes a day, freed from the squeamish rules of engagement that inhibit our forces from taking out an oil truck because it would kill the driver. Obama’s war against ISIS is a symbolic one typical of unserious politicians.
Our problem, however, goes beyond the politicians. Too many of us have failed to understand that this war did not begin on 9/11. It did not begin when al Qaeda declared war on us in the 90s and attacked our embassies and naval vessels. It did not begin in 1979, when our alleged neo-colonialist depredations supposedly sparked the Iranian revolution and created today’s Islamic (N.B., Mr. President) Republic of Iran, the world’s premier state sponsor of terrorism. It did not begin in 1948, when five Arab nations, all but one members of the U.N., violated Resolution 191 and attacked Israel. It did not begin when after World War I the victorious Entente powers exercised mandatory powers, granted by the League of Nations and codified in international treaties, over the territory of the Ottoman Empire that had sided with the Central Powers.
All these acts of aggression were merely the latest in a war begun in the 7th century when Islam attacked the eastern Roman Empire and began its serial dismemberment of the heart of Christendom, the old word for the West. For a thousand years the armies of Allah successfully invaded, conquered, occupied, enslaved, and raided the West, in accordance with its doctrine of jihad in the service of Muslim domination, and in homage to Mohammed’s injunction, “I was told to fight all men until they say there is no god but Allah.” This record of success began to end in the 17th century with the rise of the modern West and its technological, economic, and political advantages.
But the war didn’t end with that Muslim retreat, even after what bin Laden called the “catastrophe” –– the demise of the Ottoman Caliphate, and the division of its territory into Western-style nation-states. The West won that battle, but it did not win the war. One reason is the Muslim nations of the Middle East never suffered the wages of their aggression. They sided with the Central Powers in World War I. They sat out World War II––apart from the many thousands who fought on the side of the Nazis––and received fugitive Nazis as guests after the war. Their serial aggression and terror against Israel has never been repaid with bombed-out capitals or punitive postwar reprisals. Their governments have never been punished for funding and proliferating mosques and madrassas teaching hatred of the infidel and terrorist violence in the service of jihad.
Instead of paying the price of aggression, partly because of the Cold War, more recently because of Western failure of nerve and civilizational exhaustion, Muslims have been the beneficiaries of billions in Western aid, Western arms, Western defense against enemies, Western lax immigration policies, Western appeasement, and Western suicidal ideas like cultural and moral relativism. In short, Muslims have never accepted their defeats, and have never experienced the humiliating cost of their aggression, because the modern West has never forced them to pay for it.
Thus they look at our unserious, godless culture of consumption and frivolity, of self-loathing and guilt, and these serious believers are confident that 350 years of defeat in battle have not led to defeat in the long war. And so the war goes on. The frivolous Western dogs bark, but Allah’s caravan moves on.
- Top general: 50,000-troop coalition needed in order to crush ISIS by Catherine Herridge
Frontpage, by Bruce Thornton, Dec. 30, 2015:
A few days before the San Bernardino shootings, President Obama reacted to Donald Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims entry into the U.S. by saying, “It is the responsibility of all Americans––of every faith––to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country . . . Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes.” Attorney General Loretta Lynch went even further. In an address at the Muslim Advocates dinner, she commented,
“Now obviously this is a country that is based on free speech, but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone . . . lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric, or, as we saw after 9/11, violence against individuals who may not even be Muslims but may be perceived to be Muslims . . . When we see that, we will take action”––or as she warns, “They will be prosecuted.”
How is that Muslims have become “snowflakes” like those pampered college students so traumatized by opposing points of view that they need “safe spaces” from speech they don’t like, and demand scrapping the First Amendment? For an answer, look to another progressive “thought-blocker,” “Islamophobia.”
This made-up thought-crime is not a response to an epidemic of Muslim persecution in America. Sixty percent of anti-religious hate crimes are directed at Jews, not Muslims. Nor is it penance for historical crimes committed by Christians and Jews against Muslims, whether those are imperialism, colonialism, or Israel’s defense of its nation against incessant violence. Islam’s record of slaughter, enslavement, and occupation far eclipses that of the West.
Rather, “Islamophobia” is the product of peculiarly modern bad ideas. It surfaced in 1997 in a report by a British think-tank, the Runnymede Trust. The purpose was to explain the social dysfunctions and problems of British Muslims, which were laid at the feet of “anti-Islamic bias” that encouraged discrimination, hate crimes against Muslims, and distortions of Islam in the media and popular culture. In 2004 the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia––notice how the name begs the question––concluded that England was “institutionally Islamophobic.” Facts of illiberal Muslim behavior such as its unequal treatment of women, intolerance of other faiths, and radical mosques preaching intolerance and jihad were ignored.
So where does “Islamophobia” come from? Start with the suffix “phobia,” from the Greek word for “fear.” This is a vaguely Freudian psychological idea referring to an irrational fear that reflects not reality but repression of unsavory or frightening impulses. After all, fearing a dangerous black widow spider is not irrational. Fearing a harmless brown recluse is. The suffix as used in other ideological smears like “homophobia” or “xenophobia” always implies that the fear is baseless, and has more to do with irrational neuroses and bigotry than genuine threats. “Islamophobia,” then, begs a huge question, for it is perfectly rational to fear a danger like terrorist violence justified by religious doctrine.
More important than two-bit Freudianism for the currency of “Islamophobia” has been the work of Edward Said, the main source of most of the malign ideas that poison our discourse on Islam with self-loathing and dismissal of reality. The colonial West, according to Said in Orientalism, invented the Muslim “other” as inferior and violent in order to justify Western dominance of the region, creating a “Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the orient.” In a later book Said argued that the Muslim terrorist was another “other” fabricated to create “both a peculiarly immediate sense of hostility and a coarse, on the whole unnuanced attitude toward Islam,” the purpose of which is to serve “national and corporate needs.” These needs created the “highly exaggerated stereotypes” of Muslims highjacking airplanes and blowing up buildings. As Lee Smith points out, Said set the terms of how journalists and intellectuals talked about Islam and Muslims––as the crude “other” invented to mask Western oppression and “Islamophobia.” The reflexive self-loathing and guilt that lie at the heart of “Islamophobia” found their most influential enabler in Said’s work.
The fear of being “Islamophobic” in part explains the whitewashing flattery of Islam that has characterized the government even before 9/11. In the late 90s, when Osama bin Laden was already waging war on America, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gushed that Islam is a “faith that honors consultation, cherishes peace, and has as one of its fundamental principles the inherent equality of all who embrace it.” George Bush said that Islam’s “teachings are good and peaceful” and that terrorists like bin Laden “blaspheme the name of Allah.” And of course Barack Obama has been the most fulsome and groveling in his praise of Islam. He carefully says “the Prophet Mohammed” and “Holy Koran,” while never saying “Our Lord Jesus Christ” or “Holy Bible.” He has leached traditional Islamic doctrines from the motives driving jihadists, and regularly condemns “Islamophobia” as a greater threat to America than Muslim terrorist violence. But the top prize for such myopic pandering to Muslims goes to ex-Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey, who responded to the 2009 Fort Hood jihadist attack that killed 13 by saying, “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”
The worst consequence of the “Islamophobia” phobia has been the distortion of our analyses of the jihadists’ motives. The specious psychology of the apologists holds that the insults or policies born of “Islamophobia” offend Muslims and create more terrorists. Or as Obama said of Trump’s proposal to screen Muslims entering the country, “plays into the hands of groups like ISIL,” for “when we travel down that road, we lose.” Hillary Clinton has played this same card, calling Donald Trump ISIS’ “greatest recruiter” and “recruitment poster,” and falsely claiming that Trump is used in ISIS recruitment videos. Thus her constant calls to cater to Muslims in America, who she sees as genuine, peaceful Muslims, and thus our natural allies against the “hijackers” like ISIS. “We must work more closely with Muslim-Americans,” Clinton said recently, “not demonize them” or make them “feel left out or marginalized” since they’re trying “to stop radicalization.” Of course she ignores the fact that CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the most influential Muslim lobby in America, continually apologizes and rationalizes jihadist terror, and encourages Muslims not to cooperate with the FBI.
“Islamophobia” is not just intellectually incoherent and loaded with cringing self-hatred. It is deadly. In order not to wound Muslim sensibilities and create a “backlash,” egregious rules of engagement are imposed on our warriors that sacrifice their lives by proscribing the destruction of mosques and dwellings harboring arsenals and snipers; common sense calls to limit Syrian economic immigrants are rejected; government security training documents are purged of references to Islamic jihadist doctrines; Guantanamo is demonized as a “recruiter” for terrorists from which actual terrorists must be released; Orwellian Newspeak is employed to “disappear” the precedents for terror in Islamic scripture and practice; and radical mosques and imams in America are given free rein to proselytize and recruit.
We’ve been at this tactic of flattery for decades, and there’s no evidence it works. America is no more liked among Middle Eastern Muslims today than when George Bush left office. Terrorist groups have multiplied and spread despite our anxious protestations of our admiration for their religion, even as we ignore the genocide of Christians in the Middle East. Jihadism is strong and growing, attracting thousands of Western Muslims to the fight against the infidel. And jihad, abetted by the anxiety over “Islamophobia,” is winning the hearts and minds of the youth demographic. As the Atlantic reports, globally jihad is “cool,” a false but glamorous promise of redeeming violence and transcendent meaning powerfully attractive in a Western world marked by anomic secularism and trivial hedonism.
“Islamophobia” blocks clear thinking. It ignores the traditional Islamic motives that drive jihadists, trivializing them into wayward teens who “act out” because their self-esteem has been damaged by insensitive adults, and who merely need their self-esteem boosted by recognition of how wonderful their religion and culture are. A foreign policy based on such pop-psychological superstitions is one doomed to fail.
Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy’s Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase
Frontpage, by Bruce Thornton, September 11, 2015:
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 should have been a rude awakening from the dogmatic slumbers of the previous decade. Instead, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West went on a vacation from history. The seeming triumph of liberal democracy and free-market capitalism convinced many that all we had left to do was to oversee the inevitable triumph of the Western paradigm throughout the world. Unfortunately, the “world,” especially the Islamic ummah, had other plans, ones that our own bad ideas and cultural dogmas have advanced.
Most broadly, the centuries-long belief that all peoples everywhere are embryonic Westerners should have been shattered by the slaughter in Manhattan and at the Pentagon. The attacks were a horrifically graphic reminder that our core ideals––human rights, sex equality, tolerance of difference, peaceful coexistence, personal and political freedom, material prosperity, the separation of church and state, free speech, and consensual government founded on law––were historical anomalies rather than the destiny of all humanity.
The 19 murderers were acting on a radically different set of ideals and principles––the doctrines of Islam that had destroyed the mighty Byzantine and Persian Empires, and that had invaded, plundered, and occupied southern Europe for 1000 years. We should have learned that nearly a quarter of the world’s people still take seriously what we have reduced to a life-style choice––faith in a transcendent power for whose commands the believer will kill and die, and whose spiritual imperatives trump freedom, human rights, and all the other goods we desire.
At the same time we indulged this universalism, we incoherently endorsed multiculturalism, a doctrine of cultural relativism––the idea that all cultures and their differences are equally good and admirable, that no basis exists for judging a culture or saying one is better than another, and that to say one is better is insensitive ethnocentrism or even racism. September 11 should have exposed this superstition as a dangerous lie, and reminded us that all cultures and social practices are not equal. Islamic sharia law, which codifies beliefs founded on fossilized tradition, intolerance, sex apartheid, and justified violence against infidels, are not just “different,” but inferior, for they limit human potential and flourishing by restricting individual freedom.
The next lesson of September 11 should have been the dangerous consequences of the anti-Americanism rife not just in the Middle East and Third World, but among many Europeans and Americans themselves. In the months after the attack numerous American and European intellectuals opined that America had in one way or another “deserved” the attacks. As Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright put it, the attacks were “chickens coming home to roost,” and America was paying for its numerous imperialist and racist crimes. This fashionable superstition, whose ultimate origins lie in communist propaganda, had hardened into stale clichés and an unthinking reflex triggered by international envy and resentment of America’s success, and by self-loathing and guilt on the part of Americans who enjoy biting the hand that fattens them.
In fact, there has never been a great power with the cultural, economic, and military resources of America that has been as restrained in using that power. Muslims in particular have benefited from America’s dominance, which saved hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Balkans and Iraq, and even after 9/11, liberated millions more from the psychopathic Saddam Hussein and the vicious Taliban. Contrary to anti-American propaganda, the U.S. wasn’t targeted by al Qaeda for its alleged “crimes” against Islam, a specious pretext bin Laden cooked up to appeal to self-hating Westerners and rally disaffected Muslims, but for being the world hegemon that wields the power and influence the faithful believe Allah has destined for his believers. We should have learned on 9/11 that as a great power, we will be hated, envied, and resented merely for our existence, and that there is no number of good deeds we can perform to make like us those whose culture and traditions teach that they must hate us.
We also should have learned that our abysmal ignorance of history lies behind the demonization of the United States and our blindness to the reality of Islam. Too many of us endorse the lie that the U.S. has been a racist colonial and imperial power, oppressing and exploiting people across the globe, even as we gush over myths about Islamic “tolerance” and cultural achievements, and ignore the 1000-year record of Imperial Islam’s invasion, conquest, colonization, slaving, slaughter, raiding, and plundering of Christian lands. No better example of this ignorance has been the President, who has decried the Crusades––an attempt to liberate lands that had been Christian for over six centuries from their Muslim conquerors and overlords––and the Spanish Inquisition, whose toll of dead in its whole existence is about the same as the 5000 Jews slaughtered over a few days in Muslim Granada in 1066. Without history to provide the context for evaluating human behavior, we are vulnerable to the propaganda and duplicitous pretexts of the jihadists.
Finally, we should have connected the ignorance of history to the delusional utopianism that infects the West. The carnage on 9/11 should have restored the tragic vision of human existence, the recognition that humans flawed by destructive passions in a brutal indifferent world of chance, change, and death will never create heaven on earth. We should have relearned what our fathers and grandfather knew in World War II: that good men sometimes have to do things they’d rather not in order to keep bad men from prevailing; that the question is not whether people live or die, but whether some people die today so more people don’t die later; that hard, brutal choices have to be made in order to protect our civilization and its cherished goods like freedom and human rights. The simple fact is, if we had fought World War II the way we are fighting the war against jihadists and the states that nourish them, we would have lost.
The last decade and a half, especially the presidency of Barack Obama, has confirmed that many Americans, most on the left, did not learn those lessons. They still think the Middle East can be fixed by more democracy or economic development, since those peoples just want what we want, freedom, peace, and prosperity. Perhaps some do, but millions want more to live in obedience to Allah and restore the dominance Muslims enjoyed for 1000 years.
These Americans still practice a morally idiotic multiculturalism that idealizes the enemy, rationalizes or ignores Islam’s illiberal beliefs and sanctified violence, and proscribes as “hate speech” anybody who speaks the truth about Islam based on its 14 centuries of doctrine and practice. Even the terms “Islamic” and “jihadist” have been erased from our government’s discourse, and jihadist attacks described as “workplace violence” or their perpetrators called vague “extremists.”
These willfully ignorant Americans still indulge a self-loathing that reflexively blames America for all the world’s ills, and as such emboldens our enemies to persevere in the face of our civilizational failure of nerve. They still know nothing of history, refusing to put America’s actions in the context of what other great powers have done, and remaining oblivious to the bloodstained history of Islamic aggression. There is no better example of this cultural neurosis than Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech, in which he apologized for “colonialism” and flattered the mythic achievements of Muslim Cordoba for the benefit of the jihadist Muslim Brothers sitting in the front row.
Finally, the unschooled pursue utopian ideals that claim civilizational order and peace can be maintained without brutal violence, that wars can be fought without all the permanent horrible consequences of mass violence, that conflict with inveterate enemies can be resolved with talk or material rewards, and that economic development and esteem-boosting flattery of an illiberal religion and culture can transform the faith-based identity of the jihadist into something more like us––all delusions evident in Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran.
Three thousand dead and a multi-billion dollar hit to our economy on 9/11 were not enough to school those still clinging to their delusions. But as the Romans said, experience is the teacher of fools. The implosion of the Middle East and the probability of a nuclear-armed Iran suggest that class is still in session, and more hard lessons are on the way.
By Frontpagemag.com On March 13, 2015:
This week’s Glazov Gang was joined by scholars Bruce Thornton (Freedom Center Shillman Fellow), Raymond Ibrahim (Freedom Center Shillman Fellow) and Robert Spencer (Director, JihadWatch.org).
The three titans joined the Gang at the Freedom Center’s 2015 West Coast Retreat, held March 6-8 in Palos Verdes, CA.
The discussion focused on Jihad on the Offensive, a topic in which the three scholars unveiled the evil the free world is up against. TRANSCRIPT
By Raymond Ibrahim, Jan. 12, 2015:
Bruce Thornton writes another great article today titled “Western Sleepwalkers and the Paris Massacre.” He points out the utter lack of common sense in Western responses to repeated jihadi attacks, which are repeatedly portrayed as aberrations by Western media and leaders. Towards the end he writes, “Our ancestors for centuries acknowledged the true nature of Islam, a simple fact proven by 1000 years of Muslim aggression.” He then quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, “one of our most brilliant political philosophers,” who wrote the following in 1838:
Jihad, Holy war, is an obligation for all believers. … The state of war is the natural state with regard to infidels … [T]hese doctrines of which the practical outcome is obvious are found on every page and in almost every word of the Koran … The violent tendencies of the Koran are so striking that I cannot understand how any man with good sense could miss them (emphasis added).
Even Egypt’s Muslim president recently said that the Islamic “corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries” are terrorizing the entire world.
The fact is, centuries before the current excuses used to rationalize away Islamic violence ever even existed — colonialism, Israel, cartoons, “Orientalism” — Islam was behaving violently toward the “infidel.” Concludes Thornton:
Our leaders today have slipped into delusional dreams, in which people like Tocqueville or Winston Churchill––who in 1897 said, “Civilization is face to face with militant Mohammedanism”––are dismissed as ignorant bigots and racists who lack our superior knowledge and morality. Meanwhile, the bodies of jihadism’s victims continue to pile up, and Iran’s genocidal theocracy closes in on a nuclear weapon. And many in the West continue to sleepwalk through it all.
The three scandals dominating the news this week all reveal the moral and intellectual corruption at the heart of progressive ideology. Whether are not these revelations gain enough traction to halt the country’s downward spiral is the more important question.
The moment it came into office the Obama administration bought into the delusional narrative that Islamic jihadist terror is a response to Western historical crimes against Muslims, rather than an expression of Islamic theology. The Israeli “occupation” of Palestine, the depredations of colonialism and imperialism, the resulting dysfunctional economies and oppressive governments in Muslim countries, the arrogant xenophobia and intolerance of American culture, the invasions of Muslim countries after 9/11––all were identified as the “root causes” of terrorism.
Obama’s foreign policy, based on the assumptions of American guilt and the malign consequences of George Bush’s arrogant, unilateralist foreign policy, thus was an attempt to correct the bad policies and behaviors that instigated terror. Thus Obama apologized in his Cairo speech, eagerly extended a diplomatic “hand” to the genocidal mullahs in Iraq, rushed for the exits in Iraq and Afghanistan, supported the dubious “Arab Spring” uprisings and their Islamist prime movers like the Muslim Brothers, and distanced America from Israel.
The intervention in Libya seemed to be an easy way to validate these beliefs, at the same time avoiding the charge of retreat and withdrawal from America’s global responsibilities to advance human rights and protect the victims of tyranny. The overthrow of Gaddafi was sanctioned by the U.N. and engineered by NATO, thus confirming the progressive belief that unilaterally pursuing national interests was, like nationalism itself, immoral, and that only transnational collective action sanctioned by international institutions was legitimate.
For a while the optics were good. A creepy psychopath was eliminated, no casualties were suffered, and a seemingly secular democracy was aborning. The idealism of democracy promotion, one bungled by the unilateral, trigger-happy George Bush, was indulged at little political cost, while the “legitimate” war, against al Qaeda, was being pursued just as cheaply with out-of-sight, out-of-mind drone killings, proving that Obama was no crypto-pacifist squish. Hence the foreign policy narrative peddled during the presidential campaign that al Qaeda was on the ropes and democracy was on the march.
The attack on Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11, eight weeks before the election, exploded that narrative. Al Qaeda and its affiliates were not on the ropes, but were growing and expanding, and could swiftly organize the sack of an embassy office and the murder of four Americans, including an ambassador, humiliating the infidel superpower. Libya was not a democracy-in-the-making, but a Darwinian tribal and sectarian jungle dominated by jihadists armed with the weapons we put in their hands when we destroyed the Gaddafi regime. The refusal to beef up security in Benghazi, which would have been an admission that things weren’t so rosy in the fledgling democracy, now looked like a political calculation that cost American lives. Worse yet, once more the idea that terrorism is a response to our bad behavior was exploded, as many of those Libyans we had liberated turned against us, just as thousands of Afghans and Iraqis have.
So of course the attack had to be spun into something closer to Obama’s foreign policy narrative: the attack was caused by a “spontaneous” protest against an Internet video insulting Mohammed. The administration knew this was a lie the day of the attack, but could not admit this repudiation of Obama’s foreign policy claims so close to the election, and so kept repeating the lie for two weeks, trusting the media spaniels to spin the attack and collude in the still on-going cover-up.
IRS Political Harassment
The IRS’s targeting of groups associated with conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status is a predictable consequence of the progressive narrative that conservatism is a form of neurosis, the lashing out of ignorant, violent “bitter clingers” against a changing world that challenges their racial privilege, economic power, and religious superstitions. The fondness of groups like the Tea Party for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution reflects this psychopathology, the desire to “turn back the clock” and restore their once exalted social and political position. As such, they are dangerous––and armed to boot––and so require monitoring by all right-thinking people who are progressing towards the utopia of “social justice.”
So it’s no surprise that IRS functionaries would create investigative rubrics like “Tea Party” or “patriot” that reflect these assumptions in order to guide them in their scrutiny of groups seeking tax-exempt status. These bureaucrats have absorbed the narrative from the mainstream media and popular culture, both of which are steeped in the two-bit pop psychologizing that passes for wisdom among those who fancy themselves the enlightened “anointed,” as Thomas Sowell calls them. Nor are they troubled at using the coercive power of the state to pursue these political agendas, for one of the most important progressive principles is that righteous ends can justify a whole range of brutal means.
Whether or not someone in the Obama administration directly ordered the IRS to pursue this partisan harassment is irrelevant. Like the Corleone family, the administration has a lot of “buffers.” No one had to be told, just as the progressives don’t have to tell anyone in Hollywood to make yet another movie or television show denigrating and demonizing corporations, conservatives, Christians, or the CIA. That is what’s so insidious about this ideology: it has permeated the minds of people to the point that unsavory actions advancing the cause are never questioned or doubted. In the progressive mind, dogma rules, not principle. Hence the righteous act to advance ideologically sanctioned political ends without bothering about coherent or consistent principle.
Read more at Front Page
- It’s Bigger Than Obama — We’re Witnessing What Happens When Liberalism Rules (rushlimbaugh.com)
- Woodward: Don’t dismiss Benghazi as a scandal (hotair.com)
- KUHNER: Lawless in office (washingtontimes.com)
By Bruce Thornton:
The French call it “professional deformation,” the way institutions filter and shape information and events to fit institutional orthodoxy, interests, and ideology. Professional knowledge then becomes a stencil applied to reality, hiding information that doesn’t fit the institution’s received wisdom, and leaving a neat pattern that is then taken for the whole of reality. In foreign policy, this bad habit abets the failure of imagination that leads to disaster.
Our decades-long bungling in the Middle East is a good example of this phenomenon. For years our foreign-policy establishment has looked on disorder and conflict in this region through a Western paradigm that has downplayed or ignored other motives and beliefs, and failed to imagine worldviews radically alien from our own. Thus this paradigm is based on questionable assumptions, such as economic development, anti-colonialism, and nationalist self-determination as the prime movers of social and political unrest. Western colonial empires and then post-colonial interference, so the story goes, had brutally suppressed nationalist aspirations for autonomy and freedom. Economic development had likewise been thwarted to serve the colonizers’ own interests, leading to poverty and lack of opportunity that feed despair and drive the oppressed to violence. Get the neo-imperialists out, create democratic institutions, aid economic development, and all will be well. Peace, prosperity, international cooperation, and global order will follow.
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The currently suspended missile duel between Israel and Hamas exposes yet again the surreal absurdity of the way the international community handles this conflict between a democratic state and a terrorist gang. Yesterday’s cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas is another example of the folly of treating a bunch of murderers like a legitimate government.
Consider, for example, the way a terrorist outfit like Hamas, self-defined in its charter by its genocidal goals, is treated as if it were a legitimate state. But Hamas is not a government that rules over a sovereign territory defined by international borders. If you want a recent graphic illustration of Hamas’ true nature, peruse this video of the aftermath of the summary execution of 6 accused “collaborators.” Or consider Hamas’ official television coverage of this week’s terrorist bombing of a bus in Israel. Or contemplate the barbarity of using its own “citizens” as human shields for its munitions dumps and rocket launchers. Calling Hamas honcho Ismail Haniyeh a “Prime Minister,” as virtually every world government and news organization does, doesn’t mean he is actually a prime minister, no matter how many elections are held. These titles and voting procedures do not constitute a legitimate government that should be recognized as such by the world community as though it respects international laws and treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Let alone should this façade of political legitimacy rationalize the millions of dollars Western governments give to Hamas under the guise of U.N. aid for social services, freeing up funds for purchasing weapons and munitions.
The same pretence of state legitimacy is equally absurd in the case of Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas, the holocaust-denying head of the Palestinian Authority, which is recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinians instead of the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization ever since the cosmetic makeover brought about by the 1993 Oslo Accords. The PA is still just another terrorist gang, as demonstrated by its frequent honoring of terrorist murderers by naming streets and parks after them, and its clinging to the goal of destroying Israel through demands for territorial concessions and the “right of return” for an endlessly growing number of “refugees.” As such, the PA’s main functions include peddling to the international community the “two-state” and “nationalist aspirations” canard in order to delegitimize Israel and obtain money, and to distribute to its people whatever international financial aid is left over after PA fatcats have skimmed their take. Yet today as in the past, the U.S. is intervening in the current conflict to ensure that Abbas rather than Hamas is the “primary interlocutor with the international community,” as the Wall Street Journal reported, because it allegedly is more “legitimate” and “moderate”––the only sign of its moderation being that it believes Israel should be destroyed later rather than sooner.
Of course, totalitarian regimes for decades have appropriated the government titles and offices of legitimate governments, but at least a state like the laughably named Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea actually controls a recognized territory defined by international borders (except for the armistice line in the south). That hypocrisy is bad enough, but extending it to terrorists whose sole foundation for existence is the destruction of a neighboring legitimate nation compounds hypocrisy with delusion. It demands that superficial nomenclature substitute for reality. After all, as Plato pointed out, a gang of thieves behaves “democratically” when it divvies up the loot. But that machinery does not signify the presence of the principles and beliefs that constitute legitimate government.
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