Archive for the ‘Heroism’ Category

Dennis Prager the Misogynist

March 20, 2014

I got this message from the DSCC Rapid Response team.

McConnell Fundraiser: Wives have “obligation” to have sex with husbands
Automatically denounce him immediately >>

Friend – I’m absolutely disgusted: A misogynistic Republican radio host who argued that wives “ought to consent to at least some form of sexual relations as much as possible” despite their “mood” is hosting a $15,000-per-person fundraiser for Mitch McConnell today.

This isn’t the first time that this host — Dennis Prager — has been outspoken against women’s rights. Take a look:

• He said “women are not programmed to prefer a great career to a great man and a family”
• He’s denounced feminism’s “awful legacy” on women

The worst part: Mitch McConnell is raking in boatloads of money from this misogynist TODAY despite his repulsive views. This huge influx of dirty cash could cost Democrat Alison Grimes the lead in this deadlocked Senate race.

Automatically add your name: Denounce Mitch McConnell IMMEDIATELY for taking this dirty cash. Let’s get 100,000 strong against him by midnight.

Your Action History
Supporter Record: VN96C28FDA1
Last Petition Signed: October 24, 2013
This petition: (signature pending)

Right now, McConnell is trailing Grimes — McConnell (R) 42 – Grimes (D) 46 — in an incredibly close race. And Nate Silver reports that McConnell’s seat could determine control of the entire Senate. He’s desperate to stay in office, and willing to do anything to win.

But raising money with this sexist financier is simply over the line. There is NO excuse for McConnell lining his campaign coffers with a mountain of cash from someone who belittles women with such archaic views.

Take urgent action: Click here immediately to automatically sign the petition and denounce McConnell.

Thanks for your support,

Julia Ager
DSCC Rapid Response Coordinator

As a sometime listener of Dennis Prager I can attest that he is probably one of the most civilized people in talk radio. In a field full of shock jocks and simplistic ideas, Prager stands head and shoulders above many of his peers. It is therefore a little surprising to find him at the center of a controversy.

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager

As I am only a sometime listener of Mr. Prager’s show, I cannot be certain of the context of the remarks that Julia Ager finds so offensive. Based on what I know of Prager’s talk show and his weekly column, I can suppose that his crime is to state that men and women are different emotionally and so may want different things out of life. This, of course, is the worst sort of heresy to the left, which holds that men and women are precisely the same and any differences are social constructs.  Dennis Prager is a misogynist  for stating  what everyone who has ever interacted with little boys and girls, and is not blinded by left-wing ideology, can see with their own eyes.

As for the remark about wives having an obligation to have sex with their husbands, I believe that Mr. Prager is stating another obvious point that when one is in a marital relationship, your life and body are not entirely your own. You cannot simply consider your own needs, but also the needs of your spouse. The apostle Paul puts this very well, if I may use Christian scripture to defend a Jew.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Cor 7:3-5)

The idea is not that the husband owns the wife and can demand sex whenever he feels like it. Rather the husband and wife form a partnership each member considering the needs of the other. If feminism holds that marriage is a war or a system of bargaining between the man and woman or that men and women do not need each other, than it has indeed  had an awful legacy for women.

But, you see what is really going on here. It has long been a tactic of the left to announce that some conservative has gone beyond the limits of what is acceptable discourse, limits they define. That person is denounced as a bigot and a hater and all right minded conservatives are expected to share in the denunciations and shun him. Somehow nothing any liberal ever does is ever considered to be unacceptable. George Soros can bankrupt the Bank of England through currency speculation and be convicted of insider trading, yet his money doesn’t seem to be dirty. Al Sharpton has said some truly repulsive thing and has incited riots,yet Democratic politicians race to his doorstep to receive his blessing. Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and many others can have a record of abusing women, yet they are not misogynist. People who have absolutely no shame at all ought not to be in the business of telling others what is and is not acceptable and we ought not to let let them get away with turning conservatives against each other in this way.

There is another issue here,one a little deeper than mere politics. Did you notice the words that Ms. Ager used to describe Dennis Prager’s remarks. They include, “disgusted”, “repulsive”, “sexist”, and “archaic”. Notice what she doesn’t say. Are the statements true or false? If men and women are, in fact, different on an emotional level, as Prager has said, then it doesn’t matter how repulsive or sexist his statements are, they are true statements. If they are not true statements, then why not call him out for making false statements? It is as if whether or not a statement is true, or at least whether or not it can be defended by available evidence, is of far less importance than whether a statement is progressive, or useful. The truth doesn’t seem to matter, at least not if it conflicts with ideology of political expedience.

I know that politicians and their enablers of every faction take this sort of view, to a great or lesser extent. Yet, I suspect that people on the left,with a nihilistic view that there is no truth or truth is a sociopolitical construct are far more apt to disregard inconvenient truths than others. Dennis Prager’s crime is restating some inconvenient truths.

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Israel Treats Wounded Syrians

January 22, 2014

If anyone wonders why I tend to support the State of Israel over its enemies then they should read this story from Israel Hayom which I found courtesy of Jihad Watch.

Israel Defense Forces troops brought a wounded Syrian couple to Poriah Hospital near Tiberias Thursday night. The couple, residents of the embattled town Daraa, arrived with gunshot wounds in their legs. The male is 27 years old and his wife is 23 and in the early stages of pregnancy.

While the two did not have life threatening wounds, the two have been through an immense amount of duress recently: Two months ago, the couple lost their daughter two weeks after she was born. “Because of the gunfire and the siege on our town in the Daraa area, we were left with no choice but to deliver the child at home — and the medical condition of my baby deteriorated,” the woman told Israel Hayom. “All our pleading at the [Syrian] army checkpoint to go to the hospital did not help. We went back home and our daughter died there.”

Eight days ago, the couple was struck with another tragedy. Their village came under attack, “artillery bombardment, gunfire, and planes bombing from above,” the woman said. “In the evening my brother came and took us, my mother and two other wounded people and we tried to flee the village. During our exit from the village we were fired on by the army and my brother was killed before my eyes. We managed to escape back to the village and were treated in a field hospital. But the wounds got worse — until my cousin took us to the border and we got into Israel for treatment,” the woman said. Her brother, 19, fought with rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Currently the couple remains hospitalized, both in the same room. The woman is struggling with being away from her family, but admitted that she did not expect such friendly treatment from her enemy. “We were surprised by the treatment and dedicated medical care we got in Israel,” she said. “We hesitated coming to Israel, because we were taught to hate it. We were taught this is a brutal enemy state, but we learned that reality is different. People here have a conscience. Our enemy is in Syria, not in Israel. If only we could stay here.”

The couple were not named in the article and their faces were concealed in the photograph. I suppose it would not be safe for them if it were known that they spoke well of the enemy.

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What would have happened to a wounded Israeli if he fell into the hands of any of Israel’s enemies? Maybe, he would be given medical treatment, and maybe not.  Judging from the recent, and not so recent history of the region, it would be foolish to expect decent behavior from the people of the region, they have been taught to hate their perceived enemies for so long. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where human rights are respected and the only country where you can expect people to act decently. The Israeli are a civilized people and Israel’s enemies are barbarians. I am going to support the civilized people over the barbarians every time.

 

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Martin Luther King Day

January 20, 2014

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day dedicated to the man I believe is the most overrated individual in American History. I don’t wish to criticize King in this post, though he did have some failings, as do we all, nor do I wish to diminish King’s real contributions. I do want to point out that while Martin Luther King‘s birthday has become a national holiday, Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays have become conflated into President’s Day. Whatever King’s accomplishments, I cannot believe he was more important than Washington or Lincoln. I would also like to point out that there were a great many people involved in the Civil Rights movement, both Black and White and I think that too much emphasis on King often devalues their contributions.

 

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

He was a great orator though.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Polski: Thurgood Marshall

Polski: Thurgood Marshall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

One person, in particular, who deserves far more attention than he has gotten would be Thurgood Marshall. He is best known today as being the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, but he had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer and civil rights advocate. Marshall was the chief counsel for the NAACP and won a number of civil rights cases, most notably Brown vs. The Topeka Board of Education. President Johnson appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1967 where he served until his retirement in 1991.

 

In her book Demonic, Ann Coulter argued that Marshall played a far more effective role than King in securing civil rights for Blacks and she dismisses King as being a rabble-rouser and a leader of mobs. I wouldn’t go as far as Coulter and it should be kept in mind that she often makes controversial statements just for the sake of stirring people up. Still, I think that she is largely correct in her assertion. Thurgood Marshall worked within the system by taking segregation to court and showing its basic incompatibility with American legal and moral traditions. Martin Luther King did much the same with his speeches and protests except that to some extent he was outside the system. I think that in the end Marshall’s methods provided for more lasting change.

 

 

 

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India Defeats Polio

January 16, 2014

Here is a bit of good news, for a change. It has been almost three years since there has been a case of polio in India. Once India has been confirmed to be polio free for three years, the disease will be considered eradicated in India. I read this story in the Times of India.

India marked three years since its last reported polio case Monday, meaning it will soon be certified as having defeated the ancient scourge in a huge advance for global eradication efforts.

India’s polio programme is one of the country’s biggest public health success stories, achieving something once thought impossible thanks to a massive and sustained vaccination programme.

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, along with global groups who have been working to eradicate the virus, hailed Monday’s anniversary as “a monumental milestone”.

“We have completed a full three years without a single polio case and I’m sure that in the future there won’t be any polio cases,” Azad told reporters in the capital.

Smiling and flashing a V for victory sign, he added: “I think this is great news not just for India but the entire globe.”

With the number of cases in decline in Nigeria and Afghanistan, two of only three countries where polio is still endemic, world efforts to consign the crippling virus to history are making steady progress.

“In 2012, there were the fewest numbers of cases in endemic countries as ever before. So far in 2013 (records are still being checked), there were even less,” Hamid Jafari, global polio expert at the World Health Organization, told AFP.

“If the current trends of progress continue we could very easily see the end of polio in Afghanistan and Nigeria in 2014.”

This is wonderful news. It is too bad that India’s neighbor Pakistan does not share India’s good fortune.

There are also reasons for caution in India, with the virus still considered endemic in neighbouring Pakistan, where vaccinators are being killed by the Taliban which views them as possible spies.

A fake vaccination programme was used by the CIA to provide cover for operatives tracking al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan by US special forces in May 2011.

It is unfortunate that the CIA decided to use that particular cover for its operatives, although I understand  that the Taliban believes vaccination to be un-Islamic and would probably be killing vaccinators anyway.

 

 

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Gun Bullies

January 10, 2014

I have written several times about liberal bullies who threaten people who dare to question their ideals with the loss of employment, or worse. Most recently I have defended Phil Robertson’s right to express his opinion about homosexuality and other issues. There are some who do not regard this sort of thing as an infringement of the right of free speech because it is not a case of the police or government agents jailing anyone. I do not agree. If a clique of activists can pressure employers to blacklist anyone who dissents from politically correct orthodoxy, the effect is much the same as the threat of sending that person to prison. The whole point is to instill fear and compliance.

It is with a sense of disappointment, then, that I must now write about a case of conservative bullying , this time on the subject of gun control. I have been and still am a supporter of the second amendment right to bear arms. I do not own a gun and have never fired one. I am under no illusions that I could use a gun to defeat a criminal. I do not even like guns very much. I wish they had never been invented and that people still fought wars with spears and swords. My support for the second amendment is solely due to my support for freedom. I believe that if someone wants to own a gun, they should be allowed to own a gun and ought not to have to explain themselves to anyone. I agree with the NRA and others that this is a freedom issue.

For this reason, I believe that those who purport to defend freedom ought to play any role in restricting freedom, especially when it comes to a man who is on their side and has himself been a firm supporter of the second amendment. Such an action, however, can be found in the case of Dick Metcalf. Mr. Metcalf is a well-known gun writer who had a column in Guns & Ammo as well as a television show. He had the column and show, until he wrote a column suggesting that there should be some sort of regulations on gun ownership. This act of heresy got him fired. Here are more details from the New York Times. I realize that the Times is not the most credible source, being only one notch above the Weekly World News these days, but I think the article is worth reading.

he byline of Dick Metcalf, one of the country’s pre-eminent gun journalists, has gone missing. It has been removed from Guns & Ammo magazine, where his widely-read column once ran on the back page. He no longer stars on a popular television show about firearms. Gun companies have stopped flying him around the world and sending him the latest weapons to review.

In late October, Mr. Metcalf wrote a column that the magazine titled “Let’s Talk Limits,” which debated gun laws. “The fact is,” wrote Mr. Metcalf, who has taught history at Cornell and Yale, “all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.”

The backlash was swift, and fierce. Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Death threats poured in by email. His television program was pulled from the air.

Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said “in no uncertain terms” that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there. He was let go immediately.

“I’ve been vanished, disappeared,” Mr. Metcalf, 67, said in an interview last month on his gun range here, about 100 miles north of St. Louis, surrounded by snow-blanketed fields and towering grain elevators. “Now you see him. Now you don’t.”

He is unsure of his next move, but fears he has become a pariah in the gun industry, to which, he said, he has devoted nearly his entire adult life.

He is right, of course, in suggesting that the constitutional right to bear arms must have some limits. I don’t believe that even the most fanatic gun rights advocate would suggest that citizens be permitted to own rocket-propelled grenades, or surface to air missiles, then again I could be wrong.

His experience sheds light on the close-knit world of gun journalism, where editors and reporters say there is little room for nuance in the debate over gun laws. Moderate voices that might broaden the discussion from within are silenced. When writers stray from the party line promoting an absolutist view of an unfettered right to bear arms, their publications — often under pressure from advertisers — excommunicate them.

“We are locked in a struggle with powerful forces in this country who will do anything to destroy the Second Amendment,” said Richard Venola, a former editor of Guns & Ammo. “The time for ceding some rational points is gone.”

That is the problem, though. The people who call for “reasonable restrictions” to prevent “gun violence” often seem to believe that the only reasonable restriction is to ban private ownership of firearms. Still, I don’t think that it is necessary to circle the wagons as it were. Public opinion and political momentum are on the side of the defenders of the second amendment. Remember, the measures that President Obama wanted Congress to pass were very mild compared to the sort of proposals that were discussed a couple of decades ago, and it still didn’t pass. The Supreme Court has affirmed the second amendment grants individuals the right to own guns. We shouldn’t grow complacent, but there is no need to be defensive or set up an inquisition to ensure ideological purity. We don’t have to act like liberals.

What has happened to Dick Metcalf  and others is no different than what happened to Phil Robertson. Both men were fired after expressing an opinion which offended an activist group, in Metcalf’s case seemingly an entire industry. I would hope that the people who supported Phil Robertson’s rights would also support Dick Metcalf, even if they don’t agree with what he wrote. I am not very hopeful that will happen, though. These days, all too many people only support the right to express opinions they personally agree with.

 

 

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Steyn Stands Strong

December 23, 2013

One of the problems that conservatives have had is that all too often they buy into liberal premises about what is acceptable discourse. If the progressives insist that whole topics are out of bounds and any deviation from orthodoxy is racist, homophobic, islamophobic, bigoted, hateful, ignorant, greedy, and whatever other labels they can think of, all too often, conservatives will back down and agree to abide by the progressive’s rules. This has to stop. We have got to be on the offensive, or we will lose this country. Above all else we must be defenders of liberty, even if it means defending the rights of people we don’t necessarily approve or or whose speech is somewhat less civil than we might like. Mark Steyn from National Review understands this. I wish more conservatives did.

Having leaned on A&E to suspend their biggest star, GLAAD has now moved on to Stage Two:

“We believe the next step is to use this as an opportunity for Phil to sit down with gay families in Louisiana and learn about their lives and the values they share,” the spokesman said.

Actually, “the next step” is for you thugs to push off and stop targeting, threatening and making demands of those who happen to disagree with you. Personally, I think this would be a wonderful opportunity for the GLAAD executive board to sit down with half-a-dozen firebreathing imams and learn about their values, but, unlike the Commissars of the Bureau of Conformity Enforcement, I accord even condescending little ticks like the one above the freedom to arrange his own social calendar. Unfortunately, GLAAD has had some success with this strategy, prevailing upon, for example, the Hollywood director Brett Ratner to submit to GLAAD re-education camp until he had eaten sufficient gay crow to be formally rehabilitated with a GLAAD “Ally” award.

It is a matter of some regret to me that my own editor at this publication does not regard this sort of thing as creepy and repellent rather than part of the vibrant tapestry of what he calls an “awakening to a greater civility”. I’m not inclined to euphemize intimidation and bullying as a lively exchange of ideas – “the use of speech to criticize other speech”, as Mr Steorts absurdly dignifies it. So do excuse me if I skip to the men’s room during his patronizing disquisition on the distinction between “state coercion” and “cultural coercion”. I’m well aware of that, thank you. In the early days of my free-speech battles in Canada, my friend Ezra Levant used a particular word to me: “de-normalize”. Our enemies didn’t particularly care whether they won in court. Whatever the verdict, they’d succeed in “de-normalizing” us — that’s to say, putting us beyond the pale of polite society and mainstream culture. “De-normalizing” is the business GLAAD and the other enforcers are in. You’ll recall Paula Deen’s accuser eventually lost in court — but the verdict came too late for Ms Deen’s book deal, and TV show, and endorsement contracts.

Mark Steyn understands what the progressives are trying to do better than most of us here in the US. As a former resident of Canada, he has had personal experience with attempts to criminalize and de-normalize politically incorrect opinions.

Up north, Ezra and I decided that, if they were going to “de-normalize” us, we’d “de-normalize” them. So we pushed back, and got the entire racket discredited and, eventually, the law repealed. It’s rough stuff, and exhausting, but the alternative is to let the control-freaks shrivel the bounds of public discourse remorselessly so that soon enough you lack even the words to mount an opposing argument. As this commenter to Mr Steorts noted, the point about unearthing two “derogatory” “puerile” yet weirdly prescient gags is that, pace Marx, these days comedy repeats as tragedy.

I am sorry my editor at NR does not grasp the stakes. Indeed, he seems inclined to “normalize” what GLAAD is doing. But, if he truly finds my “derogatory language” offensive, I’d rather he just indefinitely suspend me than twist himself into a soggy pretzel of ambivalent inertia trying to avoid the central point — that a society where lives are ruined over an aside because some identity-group don decides it must be so is ugly and profoundly illiberal. As to his kind but belated and conditional pledge to join me on the barricades, I had enough of that level of passionate support up in Canada to know that, when the call to arms comes, there will always be some “derogatory” or “puerile” expression that it will be more important to tut over. So thanks for the offer, but I don’t think you’d be much use, would you?

Precisely. The end game is to make it impossible to fight against the progressives because you are unable to even articulate any opposing views. This is what George Orwell foresaw in 1984. This is the sort of mindset we are facing. It is no good trying to compromise or get along with these people. They are not interested in getting along. They mean to crush any opposition. We had best grow spines and fight.

 

Duck Amuck

December 19, 2013

We don’t have cable for the simple reason that we don’t actually watch much television in our family and it doesn’t seem worth it to have to pay for the little we would watch, especially since so many television programs are simply awful. When one of our children asked why we don’t have cable, I replied for the same reason that we don’t pay someone to dump raw sewage into our living room. Because we don’t have cable, there are whole segments of contemporary pop culture that I am unaware of in any but the vaguest fashion. For the most part, I don’t think that is any great loss on my part, but there do seem to be a few shows worth watching that I am missing.

One of these shows has to be A & E’s Duck Dynasty. I was almost completely unaware of this show until  the local Wal Mart put up a huge display in the front of their store featuring the recently released DVDs of the last season of Duck Dynasty and various paraphernalia related to the Robertson family and their business, including a TV running a continuous loop of clips from the show. I have still not seen a single episode of the show, but the Robertsons seem to be a decent and hard working family who deserve their success.

Now, it seems that the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, has gotten himself into a considerable amount of trouble by making “controversial” remarks about homosexuals. By controversial, it is meant remarks that the left does not approve of and therefore believe should be censored. As a result of complaints by the perpetually offended , A & E has decided to suspend Phil Robertson from the show. The story is all over, but here is an account from Yahoo News.

The stars of “Duck Dynasty” might be America’s most popular TV family, but that could change very soon — because Phil Robertson has made some seriously divisive anti-gay remarks that have sparked instant backlash.

Speaking with GQ, Robertson lamented that when “everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong … sin becomes fine.” So just what qualifies as sinful in his book?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there — bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he declared.

From what I have read, I don’t think the backlash will be against the Robertson family and Duck Dynasty. I think A & E will be getting the bulk of any backlash, especially if the rest of the family absolutely refuses to do the show without Phil.

I doubt that many will actually read the interview from GQ all the way through, but here is the article by Drew Magary. In general, it is a sympathetic treatment of the Robertson family, though somewhat condescending. The author shows a certain disdain for the red neck family. Here are the remarks that are controversial.

Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Perhaps we’ll be needing that seat belt after all.

And,

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Phil Robertson did not advocated stoning homosexuals, nor did he advocate criminalizing homosexuality or discriminating against homosexuals in any way. He simply expressed a personal distaste for certain activities, a distaste that was considered common sense until very recently, and expressed the view that homosexuality is a sin along with a list of other sin, a view that is and has been a mainstream teaching of Christianity for the last two thousand years. He did not express hatred for anyone.Quite the contrary actually.

As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

In response GLAAD stated,

What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike,” said GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz. Robertson’s removal “has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”

Again, it is interesting that people who have had, up till now, no use for any religion, least of all Christianity, are now lecturing Christians about the precepts of our own faith, against clear statements in scripture. For the activist bullies, it is no longer enough to simply tolerate the homosexual even though you may disapprove of the act. You must become a cheerleader for the lifestyle, or else. And, if your religion teaches against it, you had best drop the religion in favor of what the world teaches. I doubt if Mr. Robertson is much disturbed by this controversy. If he is, he can take solace in the notion that the people who hate him and what he represents hate the One who is much greater.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. (John 15:8-23)

As for me, I stand with the Robertsons and freedom and against the bullies who preach tolerance and diversity but practice enforced conformity and hatred.

Who are the haters?

Who are the haters?

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters

November 15, 2013

The recent history of the country known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo is singularly melancholy, even by the depressing standards of colonial and post-colonial Africa. In 1885, King Leopold II of Belgium somehow managed to convince an international conference held in Berlin to give him control of the region that now makes up the Congo. He made the entire country into his personal possession and named it the Congo Free State. Without any necessity of dealing with a parliament or any other institution that might limit his control over his colony, Leopold hardly made any pretense of bringing civilization to Africa, as the other colonial powers did. The Congo Free State existed solely to enrich King Leopold with its rubber plantations, by the most efficient or brutal means possible.

The situation in the Congo became so notorious that in 1908 the Belgian parliament took control of the colony from Leopold. The Belgian government ruled the colony somewhat more humanely than King Leopold had but the Belgian colonial officials made no effort to prepare the Congolese for self-government. No African was placed in any position of authority. The colonial army had no black officers. Needless to say, when the Congo achieved independence in 1960, there was virtually no chance that the new nation would be governed in an effective or democratic way. In fact, there was considerable political unrest until Joseph Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko as he came to call himself, took power in 1965.

The only good thing that can be said about Mobutu was that he was not a Communist and so did not slaughter his people by the millions, as Communists invariably do. Unfortunately, Mobutu was dictator and a kleptocrat. He changed the name of the country to Zaire and pillaged it, filling his Swiss bank accounts from the Zairian treasury. Despite this Mobutu might have died in peace, had he not made it a habit to intervene in the internal affairs of Zaire’s neighbors.

Mobutu was overthrow in the First Congo War from 1996-1997. This war and the following Second Congo War which was fought from 1998-2003 is the subject of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns.

dancing-in-the-glory-of-monsters-the-collapse-of-congo-and-the-great-war-of-africa

Stearns begins with the genocide in Rwanda that preceded and sparked the Congo Wars. After the Hutu massacred the Tutsis of Rwanda, Tutsi rebels took control of Rwanda and drove thousands of Hutus into neighboring Zaire. With support from Mobutu, the Hutus began attacking the Tutsis across the border. The Tutsis in response decided to overthrow Mobutu but assembling a coalition of southern African nations and arming Congolese, predominantly Tutsi, rebels. This first Congo War was a success as the rebels drove Mobutu from power and installed Laurent Kabila as the new president of the renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kabila turned out not to be very competent and the policies he favored seemed to be unchanged since the 1960’s. The Rwandans began to be exasperated with him, especially after he began harassing the Congolese Tutsis, so the Rwandans supported a new rebel movement against Kabila. Meanwhile, there was a falling out between the former allies Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Angola, and each nation supported its own movement in the Congo and fought over the natural resources of the Congo. This was the Second Congo War.

Jason Stearns writes the history of these two wars from the perspective of several participants in these wars and the aftermath. Some of these stories are from prominent players in the politics and fighting of the region, some are from people who were simply in the way. Dancing in the Glory of Monsters is not primarily a military history but a story of a disaster that has blighted the lives of millions of people in central Africa. Stearns writes of mass murders and refugees as much as he does of troop movements and political deals, leaving the reader with a true appreciation of the scope of the suffering these wars brought.

The fighting in the Congo is mostly over now. Joseph Kabila, the son of Laurent rules the Congo and has proved to be a relatively effective leader, though one reluctant to create the kind of institutions the Congo needs. The suffering of the Congolese people continues as they try to rebuild their wrecked country. Still, as Stearns points out in the end of his book, they have an indomitable spirit and may yet overcome the bad hand history has played them.

 

Veterans Day

November 11, 2013

Today is Veterans Day. This day began as Armistice Day, November 11 1918 being the day that Germany signed the armistice that ended World War I. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in 1919 to celebrate the courage of the men who fought and died in that war. The day was changed in 1954 in order to honor the veterans of all the wars of America.

I don’t have anything else to say except Thank You to all of the veterans who have served your country. You are better men and women than I am.

 

Neville Chamberlain

October 14, 2013

Neville Chamberlain

Neville Chamberlain (Photo credit: Irregular Shed)

 

If I mention the name Neville Chamberlain, chances are you will immediately form an image of a man holding aloft a piece of paper and proclaiming, “peace in our time” while Hitler was preparing for war. Chamberlain is generally regarded today as a dupe who foolishly believed that Hitler would keep his word and as a man who advocated appeasing an aggressor in order to keep the peace. I think this impression is just a little unfair. It is easy for us to condemn his actions. We know what happened next. Chamberlain did not have the advantage of our hindsight. A review of his career shows Chamberlain to be a capable politician and leader. He was not brilliant in the way his contemporary Churchill was, but he rose steadily and swiftly to Prime Minister.

 

Neville Chamberlain was born on March 18, 1869 in Birmingham. His father, Joseph Chamberlain, was a successful businessman and politician. Neville followed his father’s footsteps enter the worlds of business and politics. His party was the Liberal Unionist Party and then a Conservative when the parties merged. He was elected to the Birmingham city council in 1911 and became Lord Mayor in 1915. World War I had broken out and in 1916, Chamberlain was made the Director of National Service, which, among other duties, placed him in charge of conscription.

 

Neville Chamberlain then ran for Parliament and easily won election. He was a dutiful Member of Parliament, rarely missing debates or votes. He served terms as Minister of Health and Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Conservatives held a majority. In general, he was competent and was able to advance bills to reform the relief of the poor and help Britain pay off its war debts from World War I. As Exchequer, he cut the budget ruthlessly and by 1934 Britain had a surplus. His cuts included cuts in Britain’s defense, but Chamberlain was not clueless about the threat from Nazi Germany, and as Hitler began to rearm, Chamberlain increased defense spending again.

 

On May 28, 1937, Neville Chamberlain was named Prime Minister after the resignation of his predecessor. He became Prime Minister largely because he was next in line and it was his turn. He was not a very popular or inspiring figure in the Conservative Party and no one expected him to be anything but caretaker who hold the job until the next election. He was competent and might have been remembered as a good Prime Minister in more peaceful times. These  were  not peaceful times and Chamberlain was somehow not quite up to the task of managing the crises caused by Hitler’s increasing belligerence.

 

In March 1938, Hitler invaded and annexed Austria. Chamberlain denounced this violation of the Treaty of Versailles in Parliament, but there was nothing he could do about it. Judging from the cheering crowds that met the Wehrmacht as it marched into Vienna and from the results of the subsequent referendum, this seemed to be what most Austrians wanted. One could argue that since the Germans and Austrians were basically the same nationality, this union or Anschluss was simply an expression of Hitler’s nationalism. It didn’t mean, necessarily, that he wanted to conquer other nationalities. Next, Hitler demanded the sections of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland on the grounds that the German minorities in those regions were being persecuted. The fact that the Sudetenland happened to be a center of Czechoslovakian industry and an easily defensible border might have had something to do with Hitler’s demands. The Czechoslovakian government, knowing that without the Sudetenland their country would have little defense against Germany, resisted Hitler’s demands. Hitler threatened war.

 

So it was that in September, Chamberlain flew to Germany for a series of meetings with Hitler in order to resolve the crisis. Chamberlain may not have been as naive in these meetings as is generally supposed. He was not really impressed by his meetings with Hitler and was shocked by Hitler’s displays of temper. Still, Chamberlain was determined to keep the peace and at the last of these meetings, in Munich, he came to an agreement with Hitler to sacrifice the Sudetenland. The Czechoslovakian government was not consulted. Chamberlain flew back to London with that famous piece of paper. Hitler invaded the remainder of Czechoslovakia the following March. 

 

It is easy to condemn Neville Chamberlain, in hindsight, but again, he could not know what the future held. He knew that Britain was not ready for war and he did not know that Germany wasn’t really prepared either, despite what Nazi propaganda asserted. One could even argue that Chamberlain’s actions bought valuable time for the allies. If so, Germany made better use of the time. Hitler made a formal alliance with Italy in May 1939, and negotiated a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union in August. The agreement took the rest of the world by surprise since Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had been implacably hostile to one another. Stalin, however, had seen that the British and the French were interested only in appeasing Hitler, perhaps with the hope that Hitler’s attentions would be directed eastward against him. Stalin, therefore, was very receptive to the overtures made by Hitler. For his part, Hitler believed that by coming to such an agreement with Stalin, he would be able to avoid a two front war and would have a free hand against the west. The non-aggression pact also made it impossible for Britain and France to live up to their guarantees to protect the Poles from invasion. So, when the war came, Hitler was in a better position than he had been the year before.

 

I think that Chamberlain’s mistake was not that he was gullible or a fool. He knew Hitler was not very trustworthy. I think that Chamberlain’s mistake was in not realizing that Hitler was not playing by the same rules. He must have thought Hitler a German nationalist who wanted to expand Germany’s power, if it could be done without war. In other words, Hitler could be reasoned with. The idea that Hitler actually wanted war, that he glorified the struggle, may not have occurred to Chamberlain. He knew the contents of Hitler’s speeches, but perhaps he thought Hitler was only rallying his supporters.He didn’t really mean it, did he? He might have believed that Hitler might try to get around any treaty he signed, but surely he wouldn’t just openly violate an agreement he signed in less than a year, would he? Chamberlain was not the only one who underestimated Hitler. There were a good many German politicians who thought that once Hitler was brought into the government, he could be tamed. They couldn’t quite believe that he would overthrow the Weimar Republic as soon as he was made Chancellor and actually kill his opponents.

Perhaps the lesson of Munich is not that appeasement never works but that you should not take it for granted that your opponent is playing by the same rules or wants the same thing that you do. When dealing with countries like Iran or North Korea, it might be dangerous to assume that they are either crazy or rational in the same way we are. The leader of countries like these are not crazy and their behavior might be entirely rational, from their point of view. In any case, maybe it’s time to give Neville Chamberlain a break.

 

 

 


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