Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Progressive/Islamic Coalition

“Progressives” have frequently been criticized for being “soft on Communism.” Communism claims to be a secular and scientific program to liberate the poor. It shares many of the progressives’ ideals if not their methods. Islam on the other hand has many major characteristics that are contrary to progressive beliefs. It is not Islamophobic to point out that women have a lower status in Islam or that homosexuality is officially frowned upon within Islam.  Islam is by definition theistic. What can possibly account for the apparent sympathy many progressives have for a rigidly theistic political movement?  What could Communism and Islam possibly have in common?

There is an understandable explanation for this affinity. Progressives, Communists and radical Muslims share similar enemies.  Perhaps Peter Hitchens explained it best.  “The Left can sympathize with it (Islam) as the enemy of the Christian monoculture and as an anti-colonial and therefore ‘progressive’ force.”  Hitchens contends that Islam shares an important goal of progressivism: it is anti-Western and therefore progressive.  Hitchens may be dismissed as a conservative critic of the progressive agenda.  However, the same conclusion was reached by George Galloway, a “progressive” member of the British Parliament.  When asked to explain his call for uniting Muslim and progressive forces, he replied,  “Not only do I think it's possible but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries, mainly Muslim countries. They have the same interest in opposing savage capitalist globalization which is intent upon homogenizing the entire world … So it's necessary to unite these two great forces."

Certainly not all progressives are motivated by hostility toward Western culture.  However, a significant number of the left’s opinion shapers are.   This would not be a problem if progressive intellectuals did not play such a significant role in policy decisions.  Once confined to small enclaves like Greenwich Village they were a curiosity.  Now that they control the “commanding heights” of our society, their influence is highly significant.

Opposition to a society’s culture appears to be a significant component of the progressive intellectual’s makeup.  It is not confined to the United States.  George Orwell claimed, “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality.  In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution.”  M.V. Tugan-Baranovsky, the Russian socialist intelligentsia's theoretician described the typical Russian intellectual at the beginning of the 20th Century: "he was permeated with revolutionary spirit and had the greatest disgust for Russian historical traditions, regarding himself in this respect as an out and out renegade. . . . As for traditional Russian culture . . . hostility to it is the most typical mark of the intellectual. . . . The Russian intellectual is uprooted from his historical soil and consequently selects the social ideal which seems best from the rationalist point of view.  This is the socialist ideal - cosmopolitan, supranational and suprahistorical.”

Here in the United States Eric Hoffer stated, “Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America.” Thomas Sowell claimed, “There is simply a whole class of people who hate what this country stands for, who have contempt for its people and who exploit every opportunity to undermine its institutions and ideals.”

This hostility is best revealed by Susan Sontag: "Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Balanchine ballets, et al. don't redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history. It is the white race and it alone - its ideologies and inventions - which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself."

Sontag is not an isolated case.  There are literally thousands of university professors like Nicholas De Genova who stated, “I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus,” during an anti-war rally.  He was referring to the 18 servicemen killed during a battle in Somalia in 1993.   Professor Ward Churchill referred to the “techncrats” working at the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns."  This somehow justified their murder.  Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict, described this hostility to the West as, “a peculiar Western self-hatred that is nothing short of pathological.”

Academics are not the only individuals who have a rather benign attitude toward Islamic radicals. Washington State Senator Patty Murray described Osama bin Laden in these terms, “He’s been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building healthcare facilities, and the people are extremely grateful.”  She added, "We have not done that. We haven't been out in many of these countries helping them build infrastructure.” Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D. Ohio) compared Islamic terrorists to American revolutionaries. “One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped to cast off the British crown.”

When politicians and policy makers have a tenuous allegiance to their culture and country there are obvious problems.  Our policies in the Middle East have led to a chaotic situation.  This can be attributed to an extent on a distorted view of America’s role in the world and a misunderstanding of radical Islam.

Rev Canon Patrick Sookhdeo: The condemnation of Western culture, especially its Judeo-Christian basis and its liberal tradition, has driven post-modern leftists into an unexpected alliance with radical Islamists, although on other issues leftists and Islamists take opposite positions.  Hatred of their common enemies has forged a bond between them.  Islam in Britain: The British Muslim Community in February 2005, The Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, 2005, p. 73. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Eulogy For The West

  I met a traveller from an antique land,
  Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
  Stand in the desert....Near them, on the sand,
  Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
 And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 
  Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
  Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, 
  The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
  And on the pedestal, these words appear:
 My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, 
  Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
  Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
  Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
  The lone and level sands stretch far away." 

By Percy Shelley

            We are witnessing the death of a civilization.  Journalist Mark Styen has predicted that,  “Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.”1 Charles Krauthammer came to an similar conclusion in a Time Magazine article in 2005 where he stated, “France . . . is an aged and exhausted civilization, the hollowed-out core of European Christendom, static, aging, contented, coddled, passive and literally without faith.  The old French, like the rest of Europe, are literally disappearing.”2 Patrick J. Buchanan has claimed, “A civilization, a culture, a faith, and a moral order rooted in that faith are passing away . . .”3     Many people might find this proposition absurd. The “death of the West” has been predicted for generations.  Yet the power, influence and even vitality of the West appear to be at their zenith. What are the factors that lead Styen and other to conclude that we are rapidly nearing the end of Western civilization?

            The symptoms of decline have been diagnosed by many historians.  The most important of these are, a loss of religious faith, a decline in demographics, a coarsening of morality and an influx of outsiders.  Perhaps the most important of these symptoms is the loss of religious faith.  Orientalist Franz Cumont, writing in 1906 at the apex of Western civilization, wrote:

Let us suppose that in modern Europe the faithful had deserted the Christian churches to worship Allah or Brahma; let us imagine a great confusion of all the races of the world in which Arabian mullahs, Chinese scholars, Japanese bonzes, Tibetan lamas and Hindu pundits would be preaching fatalism and predestination, ancestor-worship and devotion to a deified sovereign, pessimism and deliverance through annihilation - a confusion in which all those priests would erect temples of exotic architecture in our cities and celebrate their disparate rites therein.  Such a dream, which the future may perhaps realize, would offer a pretty accurate picture of the religious chaos in which the ancient world was struggling before the reign of Constantine. 4

Civilizations are organized around an idea.  As T. S. Eliot has asserted, “no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion.”5 When that organizing idea loses its vitality the society based upon it is in jeopardy.

            There has been an effort, beginning with the Enlightenment, to organize Western societies along another set of ideas.  The proponents of these “enlightenment” ideas claim that they are rational and based upon scientific proofs.  In their zeal to promote these enlightenment ideas they have frequently been overcome with a desire to destroy traditional institutions, seeing in them the obstacle to fulfillment of their dream.  Many of them have come to identify all western traditions and customs as the enemy.

1.The New Criterion THE CENTURY AHEAD It's the Demography, Stupid The real reason the West is in danger of extinction. BY MARK STEYN, January 4, 2006
2.  Time Magazine, November 21, 2005, p. 162
3.  The Death of the West, Patrick J. Buchanan, Thomas Dunne Books, New York, 2002, p.  9
4.  Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, p. 197
5.  Christianity and Culture, T.S. Eliot, Harcourt Brace & company, San Diego, 1948, p. 87

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Obamas: Conspicuous Sacrifice vs. Conspicuous Consumption

A recurring theme of the Obama White House is "sacrifice." The president has repeatedly stressed the need for us to tighten our belts. He has informed us, "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ..." During the campaign, his wife told us that we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. Shortly after the election, the president said that "[e]verybody's going to have to give. Everybody's going to have to have some skin in the game." 

This emphasis on "sacrifice" is presented as a simple matter of justice. We are told that we live in a nation that comprises a small fraction of the earth's population, yet we consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources.

The Obamas do not expect us to sacrifice alone. They believe that they have established a long pattern of self-sacrifice. According to Michelle Obama, one of the Obamas' first major decisions after graduating from college was, "Do I go to Wall Street and make money, or do I work for the people?" As we all know Barack, decided to "work for the people." During the campaign, Michelle informed six women in the playroom of the Zanesville Ohio Day Nursery, "We left corporate America." She advised these working-class women to do the same: "Don't go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers." According to Michelle, these are "the careers we need." She discouraged them from going into "corporate law or hedge-fund management." She warned these women, however, that their salaries would respond negatively if they made that choice. 

After attaining the White House, the Obamas have continued to sacrifice, with a notable example being their trip to Denmark in order to secure the 2016 Olympics for Chicago. Michelle explained, "As much of a sacrifice as people say this is for me or Oprah or the president to come for these few days, so many of you in this room have been working for years to bring this bid home." The Obamas appear to be bearing up, however. They are tough. As Michelle told her Zanesville audience, "So I tell people, 'Don't cry for me.'" In spite of their apparently sincere belief that they are sacrificing "for the people," Michelle's behavior occasionally seems to belie this idea. This is most obvious in her thirst for fashion.

Michelle attended a luncheon for the homeless wearing a pair of $540 Lanvin sneakers. On a trip to Russia, she was seen sporting what was thought to be a $5,950 VBH alligator manila clutch. The White House protested that she was actually carrying the $875 VBH patent leather clutch. This is perhaps another example of self-sacrifice. She has ordered a pair of thigh-high leather boots from Robert Clergerie, a famous French designer. On her trip to China she stayed in an $8,400 per night hotel suite.  Had Governor Sarah Palin made any of these purchases, she would have been criticized on the front pages of the major newspapers. Their treatment of Michelle Obama is considerably kinder. She is seen as a fashion icon.

For a couple with a preference for $100-a-pound Wagyu beef, it is inconsistent to claim that "we can't eat as much as we want." Apparently the president's admonition that we can't "keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times" does not apply to him. If his senior adviser David Axelrod is to be believed, the president prefers a warm environment. Axelrod is reported by the New York Times as describing the temperature in the Oval Office as rather temperate: "He's from Hawaii," Axelrod said. "He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there." The president's years in Chicago apparently were not sufficient to acclimatize him to the cold.

The Obamas have every right to dress as they please. The have every right to spend their money as they choose. However, they cannot spend lavishly while contending that they are sacrificing for "the people." The majority of "the people" know about sacrifice. A Zogby poll reported that 70 percent of households are forgoing movies and restaurants. Are the Obamas? Perhaps the pièce de résistance was a statement by Michelle after a party for the "first dog," Bo: "We had a really sweet celebration -- [Bo] got a doghouse cake made out of veal stuff and he had his brother Cappy come over and we had party hats." Poor Bo. I am certain that he would have preferred Wagyu steak.

This elite behavior is described by Victor Kravchenko in his book, I Chose Freedom.  He states, “I found myself among men who could eat ample and dainty food in full view of starving people not only with a clear conscience but with a feeling of righteousness.”  To describe the Obamas as nouveau riche would be an insult to the nouveau riche.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How extensive was Western complicity in Soviet crimes?

            Diana West has again raised the question of Western complicity in Soviet crimes in "American Betrayal: Nuremberg and the Nazi-Soviet Pact."  This is the 75th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.  This particular case involves the suppression by the American and British authorities of evidence contained in the secret protocol of the Hitler-Stalin Pact.  It was a widely known historical fact that the Soviets had come to an agreement with the Hitler regime to divide Poland between them.  The German invasion of Poland was the immediate cause of the Second World War.  It was followed two weeks later by the Russian invasion of their agreed upon eastern part of Poland.

            It was necessary to suppress this evidence because the German high command  was being charged with “conspiracy to wage aggressive war.”  It would damage the image of the Nuremberg trail as a "model of international justice" if it was pointed out that the Soviets, sitting in judgment of the Germans, were themselves guilty of the same crime.  The Soviets originally planned to charge the Germans with committing the Katyn Forest Massacre.  This was the execution in Katyn Forest and other locations of 25,700 Polish prisoners captured by the Soviet.  Their case was so weak that they thought it wise to not include it.  The whole proceeding was described by Judge Learned Hand  as "A step backward in international law."

            The Western officials had good reason to protect their Soviet "allies."  They were trying to maintain the good will of their Russian counterparts.  They also did not want other matter to come to light.  Diana West mentions the forced repatriation of over two million eastern Europeans to the Soviet Union.  But there is much more they wanted to conceal.  The Western role in the slave trade and the engineered famine are the two most indefensible policies.  Germany was transformed into a paradise for looters.  Even the chief U.S. Prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson took part in this orgy of looting, obtaining two grand pianos at bargain basement prices.    

            She points out that the perpetrators of these crimes were "allowed to slip away unrecognized, unjudged, unpunished."  Why would these criminals, whose death toll exceeded the Nazis, be allowed to escape judgment after the fall of the Soviet Union?  Diana West provides a partial answer.  The decisive opposition to a Nuremberg style trial came from the West.  What did the leaders of the West have to hide?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Is There An The Invisible Man

Diana West has opened a can of worms.  Few people are interested in investigating this further.  Some powerful people are interested in closing this can as quickly as possible.  One commentator remarked, "think about what exactly would unravel, should the official version of events regarding the war be exposed as lies and propaganda?"  This could be scary.  Diana only scratched the surface of this dilemma.  She mentions 500 Soviet agents in the U.S. government.  Vasili Mitrokhin  lists about 1,000. There are several subjects she deals with only superficially (U.S. POWs, slave labor, engineered famine.)  You can only cover so much material in 400 pages.   

Now to the "Invisible Man."  It is quite possible that after careful consideration writers and editors decided that publishing favorable articles about American Betrayal would not be wise.  On the other hand it is possible that they produced their work and were quickly contacted by someone who informed them that they had made a mistake (you might call this a conspiracy.)  David Horowitz published an article by Mark Tapson favorable to the book.  It was quickly withdrawn and the author, a Frontpage staff writer, labeled an "incompetent."  Clare Lopez wrote an article favorably mentioning American Betrayal on the Gatestone site.  Apparently, Gatestone's editor, Nina Rosenwald, was initially impressed with the article.   Shortly after that the article was pulled and Clare Lopez was given a pink slip by Gatestone.  Andrew McCarthy wrote a somewhat balanced article on the book and was chastised by Conrad Black.  He responded by praising Black and asserting that he was misunderstood.

Diana West's responses to her critics have been published in Gates of Vienna and Breitbart.  Few other publications have covered the controversy.  The case of The American Thinker is unique however.  It has published several articles dealing with American Betrayal that have been critical.  Yet its editor gave what amounted to a refusal to Diana West's request to respond. 

The problem Diana's critics have is that their position is untenable.  Diana West's supporters believe in "conspiracy theories."   As all informed "experts" know the Communists never conspired.  They may have sat around and drank vodka, ate borsch and chatted, but they never conspired.  I offer two quotes that sum up the oppositions position.  Harvey Klehr speaking for himself and John Haynes: "In our more than twenty years of archivally based research on Soviet espionage in America, we have uncovered ample documentation of Soviet intelligence obtaining American technical, military, and diplomatic information but very little indicating successful policy manipulation."  Conrad Black has written: "There is not one scintilla of acceptable historical evidence that the supposed 500 Soviet agents, 'many of them operating at the very highest levels of the federal government,' existed in such numbers or influenced American foreign policy in these most important matters at all, or that any actual policymaker from Roosevelt down thought of anything except the national interest of the United States and the desirability of the reign of democracy within countries and of international law among them."

In response I would like to offer The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy.  I am not trying to promote the sale of my book.  Please get a copy from the interlibrary loan.  It details extensive Soviet influence on American policy.  It has footnotes and even a bibliography.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Poverty Hoax

A major concern of progressives is their supposed interest in the fate of the poor.  They purport to be the champions of the poor.  But the truth is that they need the poor more than the poor need them, in a symbiotic relationship.  As much as 75% of the money allocated to the poor is consumed by the vast bureaucracies that administer this aid.  These agencies are actually job programs for college graduates who would often find it difficult to find employment in the private sector.  The late William Raspberry wrote a column dealing with Gina, a 14 year old living in a group home, who had a caseworker, a psychotherapist and a court appointed lawyer.  These caregivers have to be supported by a number of clerical workers and supervisors who compose the vast helping bureaucracy.  If the "poor" were suddenly to disappear they would have to redefine their definition of poverty in order to maintain their sinecures.  And that is exactly what they have done.

Advocates for the poor do not ordinarily live by what they preach.  The President has informed us that, “We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times.”  Yet during a recent trip to China the first family and their staff of about 70 stayed in the presidential suite at the Westin Chaoyang Hotel, which USA Today reports costs about $8,400 a night.  Clearly the elite live by a different standard and have for a long time.  Communist defector Victor Kravchenko recalled that during the famine in the Soviet Union, “I found myself among men who could eat ample and dainty food in full view of starving people not only with a clear conscience but with a feeling of righteousness, as if they were performing a duty to history.”

What is poverty?  The late political scientist Edward Banfield provided four degrees of poverty: destitution, which is lack of income sufficient to assure physical survival and to prevent suffering from hunger, exposure, or remediable or preventable illness; want, which is lack of enough income to support essential welfare; hardship, which is lack of enough to prevent acute persistent discomfort or inconvenience. To this he added a fourth: relative deprivation which is a lack of enough income, status, or whatever else may be valued to prevent one from feeling poor in comparison to others.  This last category is elastic enough to include millionaires who covet the possessions and power of billionaires.  One important category of poverty Banfield does not mention is psychological or spiritual poverty.  This is the most significant form of poverty in an affluent society when physical needs are easily met.

 Where do America's "poor" stand in this scale of poverty?  In a nation of over 300 million people there are undoubtedly cases of destitution, want and hardship.  However, these cases appear to be the exception.  As former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman stated, "More people die in the United States of too much food than of too little."  According to William Bennett, "Poor people in America have a higher standard of living than middle-class Americans of previous generations."  According to the Heritage Foundation, 80% of poor households have air conditioning.  Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31% have two or more.  Two-thirds of poor households have cable or satellite TV with 18% having a big screen television.  And .6% of poor households own a Jacuzzi.  The Los Angeles Times reported the California's "poor" spent $69 million using their welfare payments on at least 14 cruise ships sailing from Miami and other ports, at Disney World, in Hawaii and Guam and at hotels in Las Vegas.  Many of the "poor" enjoy luxuries that the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt would envy.  Heather MacDonald claimed in 2000 that New York City spent $790 million on the homeless, or $39,500 per person.  According to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation the U.S. has spent over $20.7 trillion on means-tested welfare since the beginning of the War on Poverty.

 The failure to eliminate "poverty" is a result of the faulty assumptions made about the poor.  Many believe that the poor are "just like us" except for the fact that they do not have money.  Even such an astute observer as George Orwell believed that providing material support for the poor would improve their behavior.  "Give people a decent house and they will soon learn to keep it decent.  Moreover, with a smart-looking house to live up to, they improve in self-respect and cleanliness, and their children start life with better chances."  It has become obvious that this is not the case.  The "poor" have a different set of values condemning them to poverty regardless of how much money is lavished on them.  A professional athlete may make $300 million during his career and yet retire in poverty.  As Banfield has stated, "the capacity of the radically improvident to waste money is almost unlimited."

 This brings us to the last form of poverty: psychological or spiritual poverty.  Mother Teresa commented at Harvard, “America is not a rich country.  America is a desperately spiritually poor country.”  This “spiritual” poverty hits the poor particularly hard.   Vladimir Bukovsky noted this upon his arrival in the United States.  Having been born and raised in “genuine” poverty he noted that he, “detected everywhere the spirit of ostentatious defiance.  The worse it looks, the better, because society is to blame.”  American poor made a concerted effort to exhibit their poverty.  Advocate for the poor complain that there are "food deserts" in the inner cities.  It might also be noted that these areas suffer from being “hardware store deserts.”  Yet there is no shortage of nail salons and liquor stores in these neighborhoods.  The market determines what people are interested in buying. Tennis shoes, costing several hundred dollars, a pair are not marketed to middle class youth.  The target market is inner city youth.

Myron Magnet tells the story of author Amy Tan’s sister and brother-in-law who arrived from China in 1983.  After only four years in America, they owned a car, three televisions and a house.  They also had two children in college.  They accomplished this all with dead-end jobs: he washed dishes and she helped manage a takeout restaurant. Reporter Jacob A. Riis described the attitude of Jewish immigrants early in the 20th century: “The poorest Hebrew knows – the poorer he is, the better he knows it – that knowledge is power, and power as the means of getting on in the world that has spurned him so long, is what his soul yearns for.  He lets no opportunity slip to obtain it.  Day- and night-schools are crowded with his children, who learn rapidly and with ease.  Every synagogue, every second rear tenement or dark back-yard, has its school and its school master, with his scourge to intercept those who might otherwise escape.”  According to Magnet, the successes of present day Asian immigrants “contains an implicit reproach” to the indigenous poor.  Many arrive with little capital and a poor command of the language, but through hard work become successful.

 Innumerable studies have been conducted on poverty's causes and cures.  Perhaps the assertion of President Franklin Roosevelt says it best: “Continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber.  To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.”  Certainly progressive academics are aware of the consequences of their policies.  Perhaps that is their ultimate goal.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Health Care Plans Gang Aft Agley

  Few people would claim that our present health care system is ideal.  Much of the argument for government run health care insurance is based upon the disparities in life expectancy among various nations.  The United States is rated somewhere between 40 and 50th in life expectancy among nations according to international organizations.  This argument scrupulously ignores demographic factors. Different demographic groups lead different lifestyles.  The differing lifestyles lead to different life expectancies.  Black men in Harlem have a shorter life expectancy than men in Bangladesh.  Is the health care system in Bangladesh better than the health care system in Harlem?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Vox populi, vox Mohammad?

In November 2011, at the height of the optimism about the regime change in Libya, the following article appeared.  In light of the Egyptian rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood, it may have been less accurate in its predictions.  However, it does predict that the "Arab Spring" was not destined to be the panacea that it was presented to be.