Thursday, April 26, 2018

How to stop the West from committing cultural suicide


By John Podhoretz
https://nypost.com/opinion/
April 25, 2018

Image result for jonah goldberg suicide

It might seem odd to say a book with the alarming title of “Suicide of the West” is an exhilarating call to arms in defense of what is highest and best in our civilization, but Jonah Goldberg’s extraordinary new bestseller is exactly that.
Goldberg says if we don’t veer from the cultural glide path we’re on, with both left and right committed to factually misleading and emotionally suppurating narratives about the innate cruelty and inborn injustice of this country, the greatest force for prosperity and freedom the world has ever known is likely to die. That is the “suicide” of Goldberg’s title.
But since this is something we’re doing to ourselves — a perverse effort to set fire to our own cultural patrimony — it’s also something we can correct.
The key factoid animating “Suicide of the West” is this: For 2,000 years, everywhere on earth, the large mass of humanity lived on the equivalent of $1.90 a day. “Near subsistence living,” Goldberg writes, “defined human habitats for almost all of human history.”
Then something happened. In the 18th century. In Great Britain. It was a complex phenomenon Goldberg calls the Miracle — a new way of thinking about humanity and human achievement and personal liberty that unlocked a hidden door in the possibilities of the species.
The results of the Miracle are astounding. Where once 94 percent of the people on earth survived on less than $2 a day, today only 9.6 percent does. “Around the world, the number of people considered poor has decreased both relatively and absolutely — an incredible feat, given massive increases in population,” Goldberg writes.
We have come to take most of this for granted, so much so that many of us believe the benefits of material prosperity are of little meaning because they’re not shared equally across all societies. We lament our failings rather than dwell on the astonishing fact that, as Goldberg puts it, “If the 200,000-year life span of homo sapiens were a single year, the vast majority of human economic progress would have transpired in roughly the last fourteen hours.”
We do this, as Goldberg observes in the most original observation in his very original book, because the Miracle is unnatural. It’s a human construct. It’s a new thing, and it remains a radical thing, even though we call its loudest expostulants today “conservative.”
Meanwhile, though we tend to think of those who reject the democratic capitalism at the heart of the Miracle as being “progressives,” they are in fact reactionaries seeking to restore a lost way of life and return humanity to a more natural path.
The political liberty we were granted by the Miracle has freed humankind to pursue individual achievement — and it’s a series of unbroken individual achievements that have led the world to unprecedented bounty. But these achievements involve harnessing nature and improving on it. And it’s this aspect of the Miracle that creates a cognitive dissonance in us. It’s not so easy to transcend humanity’s hard-wired pre-modern drives.
As Goldberg says, we’re tribal creatures, intensely social and innately hierarchical, and we find greater meaning within groups. The great ideological fight in the Age of the Miracle is between those who see the rise of the West as a fulfillment of humankind’s potential and those who cannot reconcile themselves to the ways it seems to go against what they think is natural.
The problem is that the rejecters are themselves creating unnatural constructs to try and restore the existence that seems most real to them. They’re building fake tribes through the vehicle of what we now call “identity politics.” And these fake tribes and the demand that we adhere to the arbitrary rules they establish for who is in and who is out are the true drivers of the West’s suicidal impulses.
Goldberg’s answer is so simple it seems too easy, and yet so difficult it seems unachievable. We need to teach and experience gratitude for what we have been given, which means reacquainting ourselves with the philosophical and scientific roots of the Miracle and then passing them on to our posterity. So much is arrayed against this effort, and yet we Americans, we tribal Americans, do long to belong to the American tribe.
In his pathbreaking book, Goldberg makes it clear all we need do to find our place is to understand that we are the beneficiaries of a great tradition that not only speaks the truth about us, but has rewarded us with gifts once beyond imagining. This is the book of the year.

Jordan B. Peterson - Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

Left's knee-jerk reaction to Waffle House killings runs counter to facts


April 24, 2018
Image result for Travis ReinkingTravis Reinking, the suspect in a deadly shooting at an Antioch Waffle House, is escorted into Hill Detention Center for booking in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, April 23, 2018.  (Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean)
Travis Reinking, the mentally disturbed man charged in the Waffle House killings, had his guns taken away with the help of law enforcement.
This is a fact.
But the guns were returned to him by his father, and four people were killed the other day in that Waffle House in Nashville, Tenn.
These, too, are facts.
President Donald Trump did not give the guns back to Reinking, the NRA didn’t, and theRepublicans did not meet in a quiet cloakroom so innocents would be slaughtered.
Law-abiding gun owners of America didn’t demand that the guns be returned to a man with obvious mental illness.
The killer’s father, Jeffrey Reinking, did that on his own, according to police.
He took possession of the guns from law enforcement. He knew that his son was sick, that he may well have been dangerous.
And yet he gave them back to his son.
Facts.
Yes, facts are stubborn things, aren’t they?
Yet immediately after the Waffle House killings, the hot takes were launched in media, on Twitter, and the high priests of the left began attacking the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
It was Trump’s fault and the NRA’s fault and the fault of America’s “gun-culture” and the Republicans’ fault, and the fault of the patriots who wrote the Constitution to protect liberty and minority rights, and on and on.
If you’re a regular consumer of American news, you know this liturgy by heart. Do we really need another “town meeting” on national cable news to unleash the demagogues?
Using the Nashville Waffle House shooting in hot takes to shame Americans away from publicly supporting the Second Amendment must be extremely satisfying to some.
But it’s about as logical as using the Toronto van attack the other day to stop Canadians from renting vans.
When partisan politics meets fear and opportunity, the hot takes come rushing, and the herding of the mob commences and facts are pushed aside.
We’ve seen this before in the aftermath of other shootings, like the recent carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The immediate cry was to gut the Bill of Rights in the name of “common sense” gun laws, and those who didn’t join up were shamed.
Only later did facts come out.
An armed Broward County sheriff’s deputy refused to engage the shooter. Local law enforcement had repeated run-ins with the alleged shooter; they knew he was armed and dangerous and yet did nothing.
The federal PROMISE program, brainchild of the Obama administration, was designed to allow schools to deal with disciplinary issues without notifying police.
The 19-year-old suspect, former student Nikolas Cruz, was reportedly not in this program. But such policies may allow troublemakers like him to fall through the cracks.
Seventeen were killed, and he confessed pulling the trigger, authorities said.
But before the details were all known, the hot takes were already thrown.
Appeals to fear and rage aren’t policy, but they are effective politics, especially in a culture that has been weaned away from understanding that our republic was designed to be slow and deliberate to protect the rights of the minority against the passions of the day.
Now we’re fed a daily dose of policy by polls and pundits shouting on TV. Civics in schools is an afterthought.
Fear and rage are potent weapons. And there’s nothing like pushing raw emotion and political tribal chant to herd people to policy, whether that be another war in the Middle East or tearing up the Bill of Rights.
Are there good and honestly outraged and frightened Americans who just want to put an end to these shootings? Yes, of course.
But fear and outrage also have political utility. And those techniques are used by political hacks with their eyes on the 2018 elections.
That is the way of hot takes. Then, a few hours pass, and the facts start coming out.
In August 2017, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Travis Reinking, who is from downstate Morton, Ill., near the White House. He demanded a meeting with President Trump. Federal authorities contacted the Illinois State Police asking that Reinking’s state firearm owner’s identification card be revoked. It was. He gave up his FOID card.
Travis Reinking also gave up his guns, three rifles and a 9 mm handgun.
But his father gave them back to him.
In June 2017, Travis Reinking was wearing a dress, pulled it off and jumped into a pool and began yelling at people. Authorities said he was spotted tossing a rifle into the trunk of his car.
According to news reports, a Tazewell County, Ill., sheriff’s deputy told the father what had happened, adding in his police report that “he might want to lock the guns back up until Travis gets mental help which he stated he would.”
That report mentions Jeffrey Reinking taking Travis’ guns away earlier.
And in May 2016, the sheriff’s office found Travis Reinking talking of suicide, that pop singer Taylor Swift was stalking him and that he had weapons.
You want “common sense” gun laws? How about promoting Gun Violence Restraining Order bills in the states? A GVRO would allow family members living with a mentally ill person to seek a court order to temporarily seize their guns.
But in this case?
This one is not on law-abiding gun owners who safely keep weapons to defend themselves and their families, as is their right.
This one’s on the father.
He gave those guns back to his son.
Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin atwww.wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway.
Twitter @John_Kass
MORE FROM JOHN KASS

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

This Is The Real Reason Britain Won’t Release Alfie Evans To Italy


April 25, 2018

Image result for alfie evans britain
In recent weeks many people across the globe have been moved and outraged by the story of little Alfie Evans, whose life hung in the balance in a British hospital and whose fate was taken from the hands of his parents by the National Health Service (NHS) and the courts.
As of the time of this publication, Alfie was forcibly removed from his breathing devices but continues to breathe on his own. The NHS and the courts would not even allow Alfie to go home with his parents, and when the nation of Italy offered to fly him to a Rome hospital for experimental treatment (at their own expense) the courts told Alfie’s parents they would not be allowed to leave the country.
Even after Alfie surprised doctors with his will to live he was denied water for nearly six hours. He continued to be denied nourishment. With the denial of his exit from England altogether it was clear that the British courts and the NHS had no intention of letting Alfie live.
But why?
Though still morally squishy there’s a valid argument to be made that when a nation votes for socialist healthcare they are agreeing to let the government treat their lives as algorithms. When the bottom line is measured in dollars rather than lives, the risk a society takes is illustrated in cases like Alfie’s. The NHS simply cannot afford the extremely expensive prospect of keeping alive a little boy who most likely will not live much longer due to an incurable condition. Alfie’s chances of any meaningful recovery were slim to none. It isn’t outside the boundaries of reason that the government tasked with his treatment would deem it simply not worth the effort expended.
It’s cruel, but logical…the inevitable result of a single-payer system.
I may not agree with such reasoning, but I can at least derive the path that such woeful decisions must take in a place like the UK.
What is not logical and nearly incomprehensible is the decision of the court not simply to deny Alfie further treatment, but then deny his right and the right of his parents to leave the country to seek treatment elsewhere. Even that decision might make a tiny bit of sense if it were to add to the NHS’ costs. That would be a problem for that pesky algorithm. However, Italy had already sent an airlift equipped to take the young child. His transportation and hospital provisions were covered by donations and the state of Italy. In fact, to move Alfie out of the care of the NHS would only save them money and labor. Alfie’s parents would have one more shot at rescuing his life. It seems like a win-win for everyone.
And still, the courts have barred the family from leaving the country.
Let’s ponder that for just one moment. Great Britain is a nation with a proud history of freedom and democracy. Most other nations around the world and Britons themselves would describe it as a “free country”, and yet here is a case where its free citizens are not allowed to leave its borders.
Is this something that should happen in a “free country”? Would Alfie’s parents be barred from taking a vacation? Would anyone in their right mind in that country find it acceptable or consistent with British values to deny any family the right to leave for a vacation or to visit a relative abroad? Why then is it allowable for this family to be virtual hostages in their land simply because their reason for travel is medical care rather than pleasure?
Some years ago I watched a documentary on the design and building of the Berlin Wall between East Germany and West Germany. It included extremely rare clips of interviews with the architects (I was shocked to learn there was actually a deliberate design to that monstrosity).
I searched high and low for the film, but was unable to locate it. If any reader has any clue where to find it please do let me know…I’ve been desperate to watch it again.
In one clip, an aging (former) East German Wall architect spoke briskly about the strategy of his designs. Although the interview was conducted during what must have been the last years of his life, he still seemed deeply resentful that he was being asked to defend the wall’s erection even after the fall of the Eastern Bloc. I’ll never forget what he said in that interview – it made the hair stand up on my arms.
With great sincerity – almost pleading with the interviewer – he said,  “We had to build the wall. Too many people were leaving for the West and you need people to make socialism work. We had to build the wall to keep them in so they could see how great socialism was, so they could see that it works.”
As I can’t find the clip, you’ll just have to take my word for it (or not). The point is – this man and his comrades felt that the only way to sell people on their socialist vision was to force them to live in it. Those leaving were just too stupid to understand that it was the best thing for them.
This is exactly the point in the ruling by the NHS and the courts to forbid their free citizens from leaving the country. If they are allowed to flee the heart-wrenching consequences of socialism, then others will want to do the same. How can a socialist system work without the cooperation of everyone? And how can you force people to participate in that socialist system when they discover that system may kill them or their loved ones?
You build a wall.
Great Britain doesn’t yet have a wall to keep its citizens in, but the courts have built one with the law. Just as East Germany could not tolerate the massive loss of defectors who were leaving with their training, intellect and tax dollars, Great Britain’s healthcare system cannot tolerate the defection of those who might find better healthcare somewhere else.
After all, how would it look if Alfie were allowed to leave England (allowed to leave a free country! Even to write the words feels absurd!) and then found a successful treatment in another country?
It would be an abject embarrassment to a government that holds up their socialist healthcare as one of the wonders of the Western world. Not only would they be forced to admit that their own doctors and bureaucrats were wrong for denying this baby life-saving measures, but they would then have to deal with hundreds, maybe thousands of other citizens fleeing the bondage of NHS algorithms for a chance at swifter, more modern healthcare.
For some bizarre reason, a nation that boasts figures like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, a tiny island nation that was once so powerful and broad it was said that the sun never set on the British empire…for some inexplicable reason that nation has chosen to hang its pride and joy on socialized medicine.
If you think I exaggerate just look up the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.
To release this child to the care of any other nation would be to admit failure, and heartless bureaucrats who will never have to watch young Alfie struggle for air or dehydrate to death have decided that their misplaced pride is more valuable than the lives of their citizens.
As a born Canadian I’ve often heard friends and family condescendingly mock the United States for our dogged refusal to bow to socialized medicine. They have the woefully ill-informed idea that people without health insurance here don’t receive care or expensive treatment at all.
“I’d rather pay higher taxes for “free” healthcare than deal with America’s health system,” they often say.
To anyone who echoes such sentiments, let me point to poor, sweet Alfie Evans and his helpless parents as to why most Americans still abhor the idea of the government having the last say in whether or not you get the treatment you need to live.
Ask anyone here and 9 times out of 10 they’ll tell you they’d give their last dollar, sell their last possession, go into debt for the rest of their lives to save the life of someone they loved rather than sit helpless as their government sentences that person to death because it just isn’t “worth it”.
It’s never “worth it”…until it’s your child. When government controls your healthcare, they ultimately control what your life is worth to the people who love you. I’ll take the system we have here in America over what Canada or the UK shoves down the throats of its citizens every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Given how many Canadians seek surgeries and treatments south of their border every year, I reckon they would too.
Alfie Evans may indeed have never really had a chance to survive his illness, but if there were a chance – one that would not cost the taxpayers of Great Britain – shouldn’t his parents be allowed to seek it out? Shouldn’t they, as citizens of a “free country” be allowed to leave its borders whenever they please and for whatever reason they please?
Sadly, Alfie – and little Charlie Gard before him – is doomed to be the sacrificial lamb at the alters of pride and socialism.
You will never convince me that this is right in any way. Never.
Because what this is… this is nothing short of real, actual, genuine evil.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

John Brennan's Secret Trip to Moscow


April 24, 2018

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The Russians say he did, and while some might say, well, these are the same Russians who helped put together the Steele dossier filled with "salacious and unverified" material, and may once again be playing with us, there is evidence that Brennan, the man who voted for communist Gus Hall for president, did make the trip in March 2016 for purposes unknown:
"It's no secret that Brennan was here," claimed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov.  "But he didn't visit the Foreign Ministry.  I know for sure that he met with the Federal Security Service (the successor agency to the Soviet KGB), and someone else."
No further remarks clarify what Brennan was allegedly doing in Moscow or what he discussed with the FSB.  Syromolotov insists it had nothing to do with Russia's withdrawal from Syria.
Sputnik News, a Kremlin-controlled propaganda outlet, quotes CIA Director of Public Affairs Dean Boyd as affirming that Brennan did, in fact, discuss Syria during the visit.  "Director Brennan," he allegedly said, "reiterated the US government's consistent support for a genuine political transition in Syria, and the need for [President Bashar] Assad's departure in order to facilitate a transition that reflects the will of the Syrian people."
The website GlobalSecurity.Org goes into somewhat more detail about Brennan's Moscow trip without clearing up confusion about what the purpose of the trip might have been:
News of the CIA chief's visit to the Russian capital was first made public on Monday by a Russian foreign ministry spokesman and subsequently confirmed by the CIA.
"It's no secret that Brennan was here," the Interfax news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Syromolotov as telling journalists in Moscow.
He added that the visit was not linked to Moscow's decision to start withdrawing military forces from Syria, which President Vladimir Putin announced on March 14.
Dean Boyd, director of the CIA's Office of Public Affairs, confirmed Monday that Brennan visited Moscow.
"Director Brennan traveled to Russia in early March to emphasize with Russian officials the importance of Russia and the Assad regime following through on their agreements to implement the cessation of hostilities in Syria," said Boyd.
He added that Brennan "also reiterated the U.S. government's consistent support for a genuine political transition in Syria, and the need for Assad's departure in order to facilitate a transition that reflects the will of the Syrian people."
Now, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for a CIA director to make a trip to Moscow, but when a Russian deputy foreign minister says he didn't visit the Foreign Ministry itself but did visit the KGB's successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB), it raises some eyebrows.
Consider that John Brennan is a Trump-hating perjurer who lied to Congress about secret surveillance.  He is the crown prince of a Deep State fiefdom that has its own agenda.  The end justifies the means in their world, and Brennan may have been up to his eyeballs in developing that "insurance policy" against a Trump victory. 
Certainly, he ruthlessly defended his CIA turf.  The mind hearkens back to the day when an op-ed in the Washington Post, that right-wing rag, called for Brennan to be fired for conducting illegal surveillance of the Senate Intelligence Committee and then lying about it:
Brennan was asked by NBC's Andrea Mitchell whether the CIA had illegally accessed Senate Intelligence Committee staffcomputers "to thwart an investigation by the committee into" the agency's past interrogation techniques.  The accusation had been made earlier that day by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said the CIA had "violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution." Brennan answered:
As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth.  I mean, we wouldn't do that.  I mean, that's – that's just beyond the – you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do. ...
And, you know, when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.
Now we know that the truth was far different.  The Post's Greg Miller reports:
CIA Director John O. Brennan has apologized to leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee after an agency investigation determined that its employees improperly searched computers used by committee staff to review classified files on interrogations of prisoners. ...
A statement released by the CIA on Tuesday acknowledged that agency employees had searched areas of that computer network that were supposed to be accessible only to committee investigators.  Agency employees were attempting to discover how congressional aides had obtained a secret CIA internal report on the interrogation program.
Brennan once proudly admitted that he voted for Communist Party leader Gus Hall and openly supports liars and perjurers like Andrew McCabe, James Clapper, and James Comey.  The possibility that he went to Moscow to personally obtain a copy of the dossier and similar material is real.  As I wrote here recently, Brennan may have colluded with foreign spies to help Hillary Clinton.
There is another scenario as plausible as the one asserting that Team Trump, and perhaps President Trump himself, colluded with the Russians.  It is that John Brennan himself colluded with the Russians to help Hillary win to guarantee his continued tenure as CIA director.  It involves the infamous anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, used by Brenan and others as a pretext for a Trump investigation bonanza.  As the American Spectator reported:
An article in the Guardian last week provides more confirmation that John Brennan was the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump.  One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election – Hillary's.
Seeking to retain his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump's candidacy.  He used their phony intelligence as a pretext for a multi-agency investigation into Trump, which led the FBI to probe a computer server connected to Trump Tower and gave cover to Susan Rice, among other Hillary supporters, to spy on Trump and his people[.] ...
The Guardian story is written in a style designed to flatter its sources (they are cast as high-minded whistleblowers), but the upshot of it is devastating for them, nonetheless, and explains why all the criminal leaks against Trump first originated in the British press.  According to the story, Brennan got his anti-Trump tips primarily from British spies but also Estonian spies and others.  The story confirms that the seed of the espionage into Trump was planted by Estonia.  The BBC's Paul Wood reported last year that the intelligence agency of an unnamed Baltic State had tipped Brennan off in April 2016 to a conversation purporting to show that the Kremlin was funneling cash into the Trump campaign.
Any other CIA director would have disregarded such a flaky tip, recognizing that Estonia was eager to see Trump lose (its officials had bought into Hillary's propaganda that Trump was going to pull out of NATO and leave Baltic countries exposed to Putin).  But Brennan opportunistically seized on it, as he later that summer seized on the half-baked intelligence of British spy agencies (also full of officials who wanted to see Trump lose).
The Guardian says that British spy head Robert Hannigan "passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan."  To ensure that these flaky tips leaked out, Brennan disseminated them on Capitol Hill.  In August and September of 2016, he gave briefings to the "Gang of Eight" about them, which then turned up on the front page of the New York Times.
Could it be that Brennan himself is the leaker of classified information and is up to his eyeballs in using foreign sources to gather dirt on President Trump for the purpose of keeping him out of the White House?  Brennan's briefing of Sen. Harry Reid, which included information from the Steele dossier, certainly is a key indicator of his participation in the campaign to keep or kick Donald Trump out of the White House:
According to "Russian Roulette," by Yahoo! News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff and David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of the left-wing Mother Jones magazine, Brennan contacted Reid on Aug. 25, 2016, to brief him on the state of Russia's interference in the presidential campaign.  Brennan briefed other members of the so-called Gang of Eight, but Reid is the only who took direct action.
Two days after the briefing, Reid wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey asserting that "evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump's presidential campaign continues to mount.
Reid's letter referred to some public reporting about Trump campaign associates' links to the Kremlin, but he also included a reference to information that may not have been made public at the time.  He cited allegations that were included in the infamous Steele dossier about Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign at the time.
It would seem that the trip to Russia we should be investigating is not Carter Page's, but rather John Brennan's.
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor's Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Modern criticism of Winston Churchill is fake history – it’s based on quotes taken out of context


By Andrew Roberts
6 April 2018
Image result for winston churchill
The movie Darkest Hour, in which Gary Oldman won an Oscar playing Winston Churchill, has garnered many plaudits, and deservedly so. It introduced a new generation to Churchill and the inspiring story of 1940, reminding them of how Britain stood alone for a year against the might and fury of Nazi Germany.
But it has also produced a vicious backlash against Churchill and all that he stood for, and unleashed an avalanche of vitriolic abuse, much of it ahistorical and ignorant.
It says more about our modern “fake history” culture than anything about Winston Churchill.

Churchill the monster?

A sub-editor on the Indian Express, Adrija Roychowdhury, wrote an article in the paper accusing the “unpopular racist” Churchill of, among other things, praising Mussolini, preferring Nazis to Communists, deliberately using the Bengal Famine to commit genocide, and using poison gas against Iraqi tribesmen.

These ancient tropes, long exploded by serious Churchill historians such as Sir Martin Gilbert and Richard Langworth, tend to be based on truncated quotes ripped out of context.
Thus Churchill praised Mussolini for repaying Italy’s war debts to Britain; he never once said he preferred Nazis to Communists; he did all he could to relieve the terrible Bengal Famine subject to the exigencies of the Japanese holding Burma and their submarines infesting the Bay of Bengal; and it was tear gas – not poison gas – that was used in Iraq.
Then we had a Channel 4 programme,Churchill’s Secret Affair, in which it was alleged – without any proof whatsoever, beyond ancient hearsay – that Churchill had cheated on his beloved wife Clementine with the sexy Lady Castlerosse.

Eye candy

This was picked up in every newspaper, not least because it gave editors the opportunity to print photos of Doris Castlerosse’s great-niece, Cara Delevingne. The allegations were based on a remark Churchill’s private secretary, Sir Jock Colville, made before his death in 1985, but at no stage did Channel 4 admit he did not become Churchill’s private secretary until after the alleged affair and that Churchill never spoke to him about it.
The Toronto Star, once a serious paper of record, meanwhile ran an article by its race and gender columnist Shree Paradkar about Churchill, “the barbaric monster with the blood of millions on his hands”, and how he “lacerated the world with tragedies”.
This perpetuated the myth that because Churchill made some remarks about Indians that today we would find racist – but which for a late-Victorian aristocrat were unexceptional – that he wanted to commit genocide.
Yet Churchill was a man who was willing to risk his life on numerous occasions to defend northern Indian tribes, and who constantly gloried in the increase in the population of India as a reason to commend the British Raj as a success.
In an article in the Washington Post entitled “Hollywood Rewards a Mass Murderer”, the ultra-nationalist Indian politician Shashi Tharoor claimed that Churchill “was one of the few British officials in favour of bombing Irish protesters, suggesting in 1920 that airplanes should use ‘machine-gun fire or bombs’ to scatter them.”
He was able to quote those five words of Churchill’s, but didn’t bother with the rest of the paragraph which shows that it was armed IRA murder squads that Churchill wanted to attack, not innocent Catholic demonstrators.

Hysteria

Of course Winston Churchill made many mistakes in his nearly two-thirds of a century in the public eye between first standing for parliament in 1899 and finally leaving it in 1964.
He can rationally be criticised from both the Right and Left for several serious errors of judgement, such as continuing with the Dardanelles Campaign for far too long, returning Britain to the Gold Standard, supporting King Edward VIIIduring the Abdication Crisis, and so on. These debates can be carried on temperately and with reference to the facts.
But this new strain of hysterical, ultra-politically correct, historically inaccurate, and in all too many cases intellectually fraudulent abuse of him is indicative of a collapse in our modern political discourse, more unhinged internet trolling than reasoned criticism. Fortunately each of these assaults has been repelled with facts, figures and accurate, contextualised quotations.
Next month the Oxford Union will be further dignifying the Churchill-abuse by debating the disgraceful, egregious motion “This House is Ashamed of Winston Churchill.”
Expect more hysteria.
Andrew Roberts’s new biography, Churchill: Walking With Destiny, will be published in October by Penguin

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Antony Beevor: why did Ukraine ban my book?


By Antony Beevor
3 February 2018
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According to an old Spanish proverb, “history is a common meadow in which everyone can make hay”. It has also long been a battleground for the perpetuation of nationalist myths and political attempts to reshape the past. In recent decades there have been encouraging developments, with many more international history conferences and foreign academics recruited by universities. All of this has helped to reduce the tendency of countries to view the past uniquely from their own patriotic perspectives. At the same time governments of all shades still long to impose their versions of the past through education, pressure on the media and if necessary outright censorship and even legislation.
Motives vary. In France, attempts by the former president Nicolas Sarkozy tocriminalise denial of the Armenian genocide were strongly suspected to have been aimed at attracting the votes of the large Armenian community. Meanwhile, Holocaust denial laws in Germany and Austria in 2000 were no doubt brought in with the best intentions, yet the conclusion of the Irving-Lipstadt case in Britain – in which historian David Irving sued US academic Deborah Lipstadt for branding him a Holocaust denier – triumphantly proved that open debate, if necessary in court, is a far better way of nailing the lies of extremists. Irving’s short term in jailin Austria in 2006 simply encouraged him to play the political martyr.
In Turkey, censorship becomes more and more ferocious, and not just about the Armenian genocide, Kurdish matters, Fethullah Gülen and the attempted coup of 2016. Today’s Russia is at times just like the Soviet Union in its attempts to preserve past legends. Yuri Dmitriev, the highly respected Gulag researcher in Karelia, north-west Russia, was arrested on trumped up charges in 2016 of taking pornographic photographs of his adopted daughter and is still held more than a year later for “psychiatric evaluation”.
Most Russian archives, especially the military ones, were closed to foreign historians back in 2000 after the tantalising glimpses we had enjoyed from 1992. Friends teased me, blaming the closure on the storm caused by my book Berlin – The Downfall, but it was not published until 2002. This was also some time after the FSB (the new version of the KGB) had started to investigate the work of foreign researchers. One friend, more than a year after he had published his book, found that in one of the archives every file he had quoted from had been withdrawn on orders from on high. Grigory Karasin, the Russian ambassador in London at the time, and now deputy foreign minister, condemned my account of the Red Army’s mass rapes in the Berlin book as “lies, slander and blasphemy”, although it was mainly based on Russian archival sources. And in 2014, when historian Catherine Merridale and I were in Estonia for a literary festival, we heard that the Russian defence minister, Sergey Shoygu, had finally managed to pass a law condemning anyone who insulted the Red Army in the second world war with up to five years in prison. During his first attempt, six years earlier, to introduce the law, Shoigu had said that the offence was the equivalent of Holocaust denial, which was an interesting comparison.The following year an already bowdlerised version of Berlin was banned in part of Russia on the grounds that it might corrupt the minds of students and teaching staff. According to the regional minister of education, the book “propagandises stereotypes formed during the Third Reich”. My Russian publishers, who have been issuing new translations of my books, are working to find a way in which they can be published in their integral forms without coming into conflict with the authorities. It is not easy.
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I certainly did not expect this latest contretemps, following the Ukrainian government’s sudden banning of a Russian language edition of Stalingrad, especially 20 years after the first publication. This was basically because one passage recounts how the SS forced Ukrainian militiamen to massacre 90 Jewish children in August 1941. The Ukrainian government’s “committee of experts” claimed this story was taken from Soviet propaganda. In fact the source notes show clearly that it was based on reliable German accounts, especially one by an anti-Nazi officer who was so horrified that he wrote to his wife to say that Germany did not deserve to win the war. There is also a harrowing eyewitness account of the killings written by an SS officer.
At least there has been one encouraging aspect to the whole sorry story. I received a bewildering array of support from Ukrainian human rights groups, Human Rights Watch in the US, the Canadian foreign minister and the Foreign Office in the UK. (This prompted my daughter to observe: “And what about people who have real human rights problems?” She had a point.) Fellow historians naturally regarded the decision to ban the book as ridiculous. Philippe Sands, the president of English PEN, immediately offered to change his mind and accept an invitation to the Kiev book fair for his book East West Street so that he could put the case there. It was an astonishing own goal by the Ukrainian committee of experts when the country wants to be seen as more democratic and western than Vladimir Putin’s Russia to their north, and, finally, mainly thanks to representations by the British embassy, the committee has backed down. There is no longer any suggestion that the story came from Soviet sources.
They did, however, have one complaint outstanding. My Russian publisher’s translator had changed “Ukrainian militiamen” to “Ukrainian nationalists”, which implicitly tars all Ukrainian nationalists with the reputation of having helped the SS Einsatzgruppen. But now my Russian publisher believes that it was right to change the word on the grounds that the militiamen were operating under the aegis of the OUN, the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists. This may seem a trivial spat over nomenclature, but it is a pertinent reminder of how powerful the grim legacy of the war remains three-quarters of a century on.

Arnhem – The Battle for the Bridges is published by Viking in May. To pre-order a copy for £21.25 (RRP £25) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Belgium: First Islamic State in Europe?


April 22, 2018

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A masked youth taunts Belgian police in Molenbeek, Belgium, on April 2, 2016 (Picture: Reuters)


The French acronym of Belgium's ISLAM Party stands for "Integrity, Solidarity, Liberty, Authenticity, Morality". The leaders of the ISLAM Party apparently want to turn Belgium into an Islamic State. They call it "Islamist democracy" and have set a target date: 2030.

According to the French magazine Causeur, "the program is confusingly simple: replace all the civil and penal codes with sharia law. Period". Created on the eve of the 2012 municipal ballot, the ISLAM Party immediately received impressive results. Its numbers are alarming.

The effect of this new party, according to Michaël Privot, an expert on Islam, and Sebastien Boussois, a political scientist, could be the "implosion of the social body". Some Belgian politicians, such as Richard Miller, are now advocating banning the ISLAM Party.

The French weekly magazine Le Point details the plans of the ISLAM Party: It would like to "prevent vice by banning gaming establishments (casinos, gaming halls and betting agencies) and the lottery". Along with authorizing the wearing the Muslim headscarf at school and an agreement about the Islamic religious holidays, the party wants all schools in Belgium to offer halal meat on their school menus. Redouane Ahrouch, one of the party's three founders, also proposed segregating men and women on public transport. Ahrouch belonged in the 1990s to the Belgian Islamic Center, a nest of Islamic fundamentalism where candidates for jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq were recruited.

The ISLAM Party knows that demography is on its side. Ahrouch has said, "in 12 years, Brussels will principally be composed of Muslims". In the upcoming Belgian elections, the ISLAM Party is now set to run candidates in 28 municipalities. On first glance, that looks like a derisory proportion compared to 589 Belgian municipalities, but it demonstrates the progress and ambitions of this new party. In Brussels, the party will be represented on 14 lists out of a possible 19.

That is most likely why the Socialist Party now fears the rise of the ISLAM Party. In 2012, the party succeeded, when running in just three Brussels districts, in obtaining an elected representative in two of them (Molenbeek and Anderlecht), and failing only narrowly in Brussels-City.

Two years later, during the 2014 parliamentary elections, the ISLAM Party tried to expand its base in two constituencies, Brussels-City and Liège. Once again, the results were impressive for a party that favors the introduction of sharia, Islamic law, into Belgium. In Brussels, they won 9,421 votes (almost 2%).

This political movement apparently started in Molenbeek, "the Belgian radicals' den", a "hotbed of recruiters for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant". Jihadists there were apparently plotting terror attacks all over Europe and even in Afghanistan. The French author Éric Zemmour, facetiously suggested that instead of bombing Raqqa, Syria, France should "bomb Molenbeek". At the moment in Molenbeek, 21 municipal officials out of 46 are Muslim.

"The European capital," wrote Le Figaro, "will be Muslim in twenty years".
"Nearly a third of the population of Brussels already is Muslim, indicated Olivier Servais, a sociologist at the Catholic University of Louvain. "The practitioners of Islam, due to their high birth rate, should be the majority 'in fifteen or twenty years'. Since 2001... Mohamed is the most common name given to boys born in Brussels".
The ISLAM Party is working in a favorable environment. According to the mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, all the mosques in the European capital are now "in the hands of the Salafists". A few weeks ago, the Belgian government terminated the long-term lease of the country's largest and oldest mosque, theGrand Mosque of Brussels, to the Saudi royal family, "as part of what officials say is an effort to combat radicalization". Officials said that the mosque, was a "hotbed for extremism".

confidential report last year revealed that the police had uncovered 51 organizations in Molenbeek with suspected ties to jihadism.

Perhaps it is time for sleepy Belgium to begin to wake up?

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.