Friday, February 04, 2005

Terry Mattingly: The Visions of Tolkien and Jackson

The visions of Tolkien and Jackson
Terry Mattingly's religion column for 01/19/2005

If J.R.R. Tolkien didn't know the perfect word to describe something he often created his own word or even a completely new language.

The climax of "The Lord of the Rings," he decided, was a "eucatastrophe" -- which calls to mind words such as Eucharist and catastrophe. The scholar of ancient languages defined this as a moment of piercing joy, an unexpected happy ending offering a taste of God's Easter triumph over sin and death. Tolkien thought this sacramental element was at the heart of his new myth.

Thus, Greg Wright of asked Peter Jackson how members of his team handled this in their movie trilogy. When they wrote the scene in which the one ring of power is destroyed, did they discuss Tolkien's theory of "eucatastrophe"?

"No," replied Jackson. "What's it mean?"

It wasn't a normal Hollywood question, but Wright wasn't involved in normal press-tour interviews. In 2002 and 2003, Jackson and other artists behind the films sat down for roundtable discussions with religion-news specialists and critics from religious media. The questions ranged from the nature of evil to computer-generated monsters, from salvation to elvish poetry.

Now the extended edition of "The Return of the King" is done and the trilogy is complete, at least until some future extended-extended anniversary set. For Wright and others Tolkien experts, it's time to ask how these movies have changed how future generations will perceive these classic books.

Jackson and his co-writers, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, knew that Tolkien's traditional Catholic faith had deeply influenced "The Lord of the Rings." Their goal was to keep the "spirit of Tolkien" intact, while producing films for modern audiences. They said they had vowed not to introduce new elements into the tale that would clash with Tolkien's vision.

"You would have to say that these are extremely gifted people and that they showed incredible dedication and integrity," said Wright. "But the questions remain: What is the spirit of Tolkien? How well do Jackson, Walsh and Boyens understand the spirit of Tolkien?"

It helps to know that Tolkien never expected these books to reach a mass audience. He thought they would appeal to his friends and scholars -- who would quickly recognize his Catholic images and themes. In his book "Tolkien in Perspective," Wright argues that the author eventually realized that millions of readers were missing the point.

Now, millions and millions of people are seeing what Tolkien called his "fundamentally religious and Catholic work" through the lens of artists who knew the importance of his beliefs, but did not share them. Wright discusses these issues at length in his new book, "Peter Jackson in Perspective."

Take, for example, Tolkien's conviction that all true stories must somehow be rooted in the reality of evil, sin and the "fallenness" of humanity.

Jackson was blunt: "I don't know whether evil exists. You see stuff happening around the world and you believe it probably does. ... I think that evil exists within people. I don't know whether it exists as a force outside of humanity."

Walsh and Boyens emphasized that the books are about faith, hope, charity and some kind of life after death. What about sin?

"You don't fall if you have faith," said Boyens, and true faith is about "holding true to yourself" and "fellowship with your fellow man." The "Lord of the Rings," she said, is about the "enduring power of goodness, that we feel it in ourselves when we perceive it in others in small acts every day. ... That gives you reason to hope that it has significance for all of us as a race, as mankind, that we're evolving and getting better rather than becoming less, diminishing ourselves through hatred and cruelty. We need to believe that."

These noble sentiments do not match the beliefs that inspired Tolkien, said Wright. In these interviews, similar misunderstandings emerged on Tolkien's beliefs about truth, providence, salvation, death, heaven and hell. However, commentaries and documentaries included the final "Rings" DVD set do address some of these issues from Tolkien's perspective -- including that mysterious concept of "eucatastrophe."

"I think that you can find Tolkien's vision is these movies if you already know where to look," said Wright. "But if you don't understand Tolkien's vision on your own, you may or may not get it."

Terry Mattingly ( teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University and is senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He writes this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service.

Raymond Keating: Reflecting on Harry, Darth and Frodo
Commentary on Social and Moral Issues of the Day
Reflecting on Harry, Darth and Frodo
Raymond J. Keating

My church kicked off a book and movie club in December. We kind of eased into things by watching the 1947 classic Christmas film "The Bishop's Wife," which led to a worthwhile discussion about values in Hollywood almost a half-century ago compared to today.
Needless to say, we generally agreed that it's almost impossible to envision a major movie studio today presenting a romantic comedy offering such positive views of the traditional family, prayer, the clergy, and the Christian faith, not to mention including a distinctly non-New Age angel quoting Psalm 23.

Our January gathering offered a little more spirited, though civil, exchange. It revolved around a book titled "Faith Journey through Fantasy Lands: A Christian Dialogue With Harry Potter, Star Wars, and the Lord of the Rings".

The timing to read this book was ideal. In December, the last installment of director Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy "The Return of the King" came out in its extended DVD version. Looking ahead in 2005, George Lucas completes his "Star Wars" saga with "Revenge of the Sith" coming to movie theaters in May. And matters promise to be very busy in the magical world of Harry Potter, as author J.K. Rowling's next book "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" hits bookstores in July and the film version of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" arrives on the silver screen in November.

There's been much debate about how Christians should view these films and books, with Harry Potter, of course, generating the most controversy. With his "Faith Journeys through Fantasy Lands," Dalton, who is the director of the Master of Arts in Religious Communication at United Theological Seminary in Ohio, helps readers and moviegoers to use aspects of these tales to reflect on the Christian faith in perhaps some different ways. Dalton notes at the outset that he "uses the image of a journey, or quest, as it is depicted in these stories to help explore several aspects of the Christian life," and "compares the way these issues are explored in the fantasy stories with the way these issues are explored in the Bible." This makes the book particularly useful for church discussion groups or Bible studies.

Dalton observes: "Throughout the ages, humankind has constructed myths and legends as a way to explore the ultimate spiritual questions of life." He goes on: "From a Christian perspective, we might say that God created these spiritual motifs in us. We all share a yearning to find purpose and meaning in our lives and to know our God; Christians find the ultimate fulfillment of the spiritual yearnings expressed in these myths in the Gospel story of Jesus Christ." Along these lines, Dalton highlights how J.R.R. Tolkein, author of "The Lord of the Rings," and Henry Victor Dyson aided C.S. Lewis in coming to the Christian faith. Lewis could not accept Jesus Christ's death and resurrection because of the parallels in many myths. Dalton notes: "Tolkein argued that the myths Lewis found so moving ultimately came from God and were God's way of expressing truths. As a matter of fact, he argued, all great stories pointed to the greatest story of all, the Gospel story of Jesus Christ. Tolkein believed that at the core of Christianity was a myth that was also a fact."

One of the many interesting chapters in "Faith Journey through Fantasy Lands" deals with the issue of sin. Dalton notes that the characters in the Harry Potter, "Star Wars," and "Lord of the Rings" tales are not cookie cutter, but "have within them the potential to do good and the potential to do evil." To prove his point, he highlights various shortfalls or challenges experienced by Harry Potter and his schoolmates, Anakin and Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars," and Bilbo Baggins and Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings." This leads to discussions of sin in the Bible, recognition of man's sinful nature, our efforts to do what's right, and God's mercy and forgiveness.

Dalton also notes: "The Harry Potter stories, Star Wars films, and The Lord of the Rings are all set in a moral universe that presumes the presence of good and evil. As a matter of fact, many have identified the struggle between good and evil as the primary themes of the stories." He adds: "The opposing view -- that there is no such thing as good and evil -- is put into the mouths of despicable characters," such as Voldemort, Darth Vader and Saruman. What an interesting thought given today's widespread proclivities toward relativism and nihilism. Dalton goes on to explore how the conflict between good and evil is portrayed a bit differently in each of these stories, and then how this compares to the reality of what Christianity teaches about the existence of and our struggle with evil.

The Harry Potter stories, "Star Wars" films, and "Lord of the Rings" books and movies deal with some big questions -- such as right and wrong, good vs. evil, sacrifice, and redemption -- in generally constructive and very entertaining ways. For that reason, these rank as our modern-day myths. There is no doubt in my mind that one hundred or two hundred years from now, people will still be exploring, thinking about and wrestling with these exciting tales. More importantly, let's hope and pray that they will be doing so in a similar manner as Russell Dalton does in "Faith Journeys through Fantasy Lands," that is, well-grounded in that true myth told in the Christian faith. As Dalton reminds at close of his book: "Our own journey with God is the most amazing adventure of all."

Raymond J. Keating is a columnist with Newsday, and a regular columnist for He can be reached at
Posted 31-Jan-05

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Review: PBS' Documentary On Fidel Castro

An Honest Portrait of Fidel
The new PBS biography of Castro is fair, balanced, and unafraid.
by Duncan Currie
02/04/2005 12:00:00 AM

ADRIANA BOSCH'S much-touted documentary Fidel Castro made its PBS debut Monday night, as part of the network's "American Experience" series. I can already picture conservatives rolling their eyes. "A PBS special on Castro?" But Bosch's piece is remarkable--remarkably good, that is. It explains (1) Castro's messianic appeal to the Cuban people in 1959; (2) his countless failings as a leader; and (3) the barbarity of his rule. Bosch, a Cuban-American, pulls no punches. She interviews former political prisoners and documents the ghastliness of Cuba's jails. She also includes testimony from ex-Castro confidants who fell out of favor with the regime for their anticommunist beliefs, such as Huber Matos.

Yes, there are a few asides about the Cuban revolution's achievements in education and medicine (achievements that are highly debatable, to say the least). But on balance, Bosch paints an objective portrait of El Jefe. She does a bang-up job illustrating how the fatigue-clad strongman of a Caribbean island grew so influential on the world stage.

Specifically, Bosch makes at least three points about Castro that often go unmentioned or under-emphasized. First, Castro exhibited volatile, brutal tendencies at an early age. For example, he was expelled from boarding school for being too unruly. When confronted by his mother, Castro threatened to burn her house down if she didn't get him back into the school. And in the late 1950s, while waging his anti-Batista guerrilla campaign from the Sierra Maestra, Castro governed his forces with an iron fist. His later cruelty was hardly unforeseeable.

Second, the United States didn't "lose" Fidel Castro to communism any more than it lost Mao Zedong or Ho Chi Minh. Sometime in early 1959, Bosch demonstrates, Castro decided he must drive America out of Cuba. The ideological nature of his revolution demanded it. And by extension, the revolution gave him an instinctive pro-Soviet bent. On his famous September 1960 trip to New York, Castro flaunted his relationship with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. In sum, no matter what mistakes Washington initially made in handling Castro, dissuading him from "going Red" was a futile enterprise.

Third, when the Ford administration sought détente with Havana, how did Castro respond? He poured troops and military advisers into Angola to aid the Marxist-Leninist MPLA. (Moscow saw Angola as a potential linchpin of Soviet interests in Africa.) A few years later, when the Carter administration pushed for rapprochement, what did Castro do? He sent thousands of Cuban fighters to Ethiopia, supported the Sandinista insurgency in Nicaragua, endorsed the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and unleashed the Mariel boatlift. So it's not fair to say a "softer" American line on Cuba would've de-radicalized Castro. We tried that. It failed.

There are a few nuggets Bosch leaves out. She might have addressed Castro's pro-fascist and pro-Axis leanings during the Second World War. He only jettisoned fascism and adopted "socialism" because, well, the Axis powers lost. Bosch briefly hints at Castro's persecution of homosexuals, but could say much more. Also, she does not discuss the regime's tourism apartheid, which segregates ordinary Cubans from foreign travelers, or the fact that blacks ("Afro-Cubans") make up a hefty portion--perhaps a majority--of Cuba's dissident movement. But these are minor quibbles. Fidel Castro is a superb bit of filmmaking. Anyone interested in twentieth-century Cuban and American history should watch it.

Duncan Currie is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Joel Mowbray: Jersey Jihadists
Joel Mowbray (archive)
February 2, 2005

When a family of Egyptian immigrants was murdered in Jersey City recently, the media’s response was to wring its hands about anti-Muslim bias. But the truth is more complicated, and reveals the media’s own bias--against America.

Anti-Muslim bias had nothing to do the killing of the Armanious family; they were Coptic Christians. It wasn’t the religion of the victims that concerned the press; it was the religion of the suspected murderers.

Over the weekend, the Associated Press wrote of the “dirty looks and shouted slurs” directed at Muslims in Jersey City following the slaughter of an Egyptian Christian man, his wife, and two young daughters, which many reports attribute to local radical Islamists upset about something the man wrote in an Internet chat room.

The AP followed in predictable fashion:

"The strife is particularly distressing in light of efforts the area’s Muslim community made to reach out to other faiths and strengthen ties after the 9/11 attacks."

What the AP conveniently ignored, however, was known and suspected radical activity in northern New Jersey's Muslim community.

The former imam at the El Tawheed Islamic Center of Jersey City, Alaa Al-Sadawi, was convicted in July 2003 of attempting to smuggle more than $650,000 in cash to the terrorist Global Relief Fund in Egypt in April 2002.

One of Al-Sadawi’s former mosque-goers was convicted last March of murdering in the name of Islam. Alim Hassan, then 31, killed his pregnant wife, her mother, and her sister on July 30, 2002. He reportedly stabbed the women more than 20 times each because they refused to convert to Islam. According to reports, Hassan prayed regularly at El-Tawheed.
Al-Sadawi and Hassan were hardly the first Muslims in the area, though, to appear on authorities’ radar.

Mohamed El-Mezain , the former imam at the nearby Islamic Center of Passaic County, which has close relations with El-Tawheed, worked with the Paterson-based mosque to raise funds for Hamas in the mid-1990s, according to an FBI memo drafted in November 2001 by the FBI’s assistant director of counterterrorism Dale Watson. El-Mezain, who is no longer affiliated with the Islamic Center, was never charged or arrested.

The FBI document, which served as the basis for the U.S. government shutting down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in December 2001, cited a “reliable” source in noting that “during a speech at the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) in November, 1994, Mohammad El-Mezain, the HLFRD’s current Director of Endowments and former Chairman of the HLFRD Board, admitted that some of the money collected by the ICPC and the HLFRD goes to Hamas or Hamas activities in Israel. El-Mezain also defended Hamas and the activities carried out by Hamas.”

El-Mezain also openly raised funds for Hamas, according to the FBI memo. After a speech at a Muslim rally in Southern California in the mid-90’s in which the keynote speaker urged attendees to “exterminate” and “finish off the Israelis,” El-Mezain asked for contributions and told the crowd that $1.8 million had been raised for Hamas in 1994 alone, according to the memo.
Radicalism at ICPC hardly seems to have subsided. The mosque in February 2003 hosted a lecture by Abdelhaleem Ashqar, long after he was identified by the FBI memo as a prominent Hamas figure.

Investigators in Jersey City have yet to announce the motive for the murder of the Armanious family. But if it turns out that the murder or murders were religiously-motivated Muslims, with whom will the media sympathize: those grieving for the victims or those who attend the same hate-filled mosques as the murderers? Is there any doubt?

©2005 Joel Mowbray
Contact Joel Mowbray Read Mowbray's biography

Joel Mowbray's controversial book!
Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security
Read the book that made Pat Robertson want to "nuke" the State Department! Fighting to send arms to Saddam, resisting post-9/11 attempts to toughen visa requirements, actively fighting against American parents trying to recover their abducted American children from places like Saudi Arabia -- amazingly enough, this is the record of the U.S. State Department. Joel Mowbray's explosive exposé tells it all!!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Christopher Hitchens: Beating a Dead Parrot

Why Iraq and Vietnam have nothing whatsoever in common.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Jan. 31, 2005, at 1:16 PM PT

There it was again, across half a page of the New York Times last Saturday, just as Iraqis and Kurds were nerving themselves to vote. "Flashback to the 60's: A Sinking Sensation of Parallels Between Iraq and Vietnam." The basis for the story, which featured a number of experts as lugubrious as they were imprecise, was the suggestion that South Vietnam had held an election in September 1967, and that this propaganda event had not staved off ultimate disaster.

I can't quite tell why this article was not printed on the day before the Afghan or Palestinian elections, or at any of the times when Iranian voters overwhelmingly chose reform candidates but were thwarted by the entrenched reserve strength of the theocracy. But perhaps now is the moment to state the critical reasons why there is no reasonable parallel of any sort between Iraq and Vietnam.

To begin with, Vietnam had been undergoing a protracted struggle for independence since before World War II and had sustained this struggle militarily and politically against the French empire, the Japanese empire, and then after 1945 the French empire again. By 1954, at the epic battle of Dien Bien Phu, the forces of Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap had effectively decided matters on the battlefield, and President Eisenhower himself had conceded that Ho would have won any possible all-Vietnamese election. The distortions of the Cold War led the United States to take over where French colonialism had left off, to assist in partitioning the country, and to undertake a war that had already been lost.

Whatever the monstrosities of Asian communism may have been, Ho Chi Minh based his declaration of Vietnamese independence on a direct emulation of the words of Thomas Jefferson and was able to attract many non-Marxist nationalists to his camp. He had, moreover, been an ally of the West in the war against Japan. Nothing under this heading can be said of the Iraqi Baathists or jihadists, who are descended from those who angrily took the other side in the war against the Axis, and who opposed elections on principle. If today's Iraqi "insurgents" have any analogue at all in Southeast Asia it would be the Khmer Rouge.

Vietnam as a state had not invaded any neighbor (even if it did infringe the neutrality of Cambodia) and did not do so until after the withdrawal of the United States when, with at least some claim to self-defense, it overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime. Contrast this, even briefly, to the record of Saddam Hussein in relation to Iran and Kuwait.

Vietnam had not languished under international sanctions for its brazen contempt for international law, nor for its building or acquisition, let alone its use of, weapons of mass destruction.

Vietnam had never attempted, in whole or in part, to commit genocide, as was the case with the documented "Anfal" campaign waged by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.

In Vietnam the deep-rooted Communist Party was against the partition of the country and against the American intervention. It called for a boycott of any election that was not an all-Vietnam affair. In Iraq, the deep-rooted Communist Party is in favor of the regime change and has been an enthusiastic participant in the elections as well as an opponent of any attempt to divide the country on ethnic or confessional lines. (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is not even an Iraqi, hates the Kurds and considers the religion of most Iraqis to be a detestable heresy: not a mistake that even the most inexperienced Viet Cong commander would have been likely to make.)

No car bomb or hijacking or suicide-bombing or comparable atrocity was ever committed by the Vietnamese, on American or any other foreign soil. Nor has any wanted international gangster or murderer ever been sheltered in Vietnam.

American generals and policymakers could never agree as to whether the guerrillas in Vietnam were self-supporting or were sustained from the outside (namely the northern half of their own country). However one may now view that debate, it was certainly true that Hanoi, and the southern rebels, were regularly resupplied not by minor regional potentates but by serious superpowers such as the Warsaw Pact and China, and were able to challenge American forces in battlefield order. The Iraqi "insurgents" are based among a minority of a minority, and are localized geographically, and have no steady source of external supply. Here the better comparison would be with the dogmatic Communists in Malaya in the 1940s, organized principally among the Chinese minority and eventually defeated even by an exhausted postwar British empire. But even the die-hard Malayan Stalinists had a concept of "people's war" and a brave record in fighting Japanese imperialism. The Iraqi "insurgents" are dismal riff-raff by comparison.

Where it is not augmented by depraved Bin Ladenist imports, the leadership and structure of the Iraqi "insurgency" is formed from the elements of an already fallen regime, extensively discredited and detested in its own country and universally condemned. This could not be said of Ho Chin Minh or of the leaders and cadres of the National Liberation Front.

The option of accepting a unified and Communist Vietnam, which would have evolved toward some form of market liberalism even faster than China has since done, always existed. It was not until President Kennedy decided to make a stand there, in revenge for the reverses he had suffered in Cuba and Berlin, that quagmire became inevitable. The option of leaving Iraq to whatever successor regime might arise or be imposed does not look half so appetizing. One cannot quite see a round-table negotiation in Paris with Bin Laden or Zarqawi or Moqtada Sadr, nor a gradually negotiated hand-over to such people after a decent interval.

In Vietnam, the most appalling excesses were committed by U.S. forces. Not all of these can be blamed on the conduct of bored, resentful, frightened conscripts. The worst atrocities—free-fire zones, carpet-bombing, forced relocation, and chemical defoliation—were committed as a direct consequence of orders from above. In Iraq, the crimes of mass killing, aerial bombardment, ethnic deportation, and scorched earth had already been committed by the ruling Baath Party, everywhere from northern Kurdistan to the drained and burned-out wetlands of the southern marshes. Coalition forces in Iraq have done what they can to repair some of this state-sponsored vandalism.

In Vietnam, the United States relied too much on a pre-existing military caste that often changed the local administration by means of a few tanks around the presidential palace. In the instance of Iraq, the provisional government was criticized, perhaps more than for any other decision, for disbanding the armed forces of the ancien regime, and for declining to use a proxy army as the United States had previously done in Indonesia, Chile, El Salvador, and Greece. Unlike the South Vietnamese, the Iraqi forces are being recruited from scratch.

In Vietnam, the policy of the United States was—especially during the Kennedy years—a sectarian one that favored the Roman Catholic minority. In Iraq, it is obvious even to the coldest eye that the administration is if anything too anxious to compose religious differences without any reference to confessional bias.

I suppose it's obvious that I was not a supporter of the Vietnam War. Indeed, the principles of the antiwar movement of that epoch still mean a good deal to me. That's why I retch every time I hear these principles recycled, by narrow minds or in a shallow manner, in order to pass off third-rate excuses for Baathism or jihadism. But one must also be capable of being offended objectively. The Vietnam/Iraq babble is, from any point of view, a busted flush. It's no good. It's a stiff. It's passed on. It has ceased to be. It's joined the choir invisible. It's turned up its toes. It's gone. It's an ex-analogy.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His latest collection of essays, Love, Poverty, and War, has just been published.

Daniel Pipes: Saudi Venom in American Mosques

By Daniel Pipes
February 1, 2005

Those of us following the nascent career of Islam in America have for years worried about the unhealthy influence of Saudi money and ideas on this community.

We watched apprehensively as the Saudi government boasted of funding mosques and research centers; as it announced its support for Islamist organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations; as it trained the imams who became radicalized chaplains in American prisons; and as it introduced Wahhabism to the university campuses via the Muslim Student Association.

But through the years, we lacked information on the contents of Saudi materials. Do these water down or otherwise change the raw, inflammatory message that dominates religious and political life in Saudi Arabia? Or do they replicate the same outlook?

Now, thanks to excellent research by Freedom House (a New York-headquartered organization founded in 1941 that calls itself “a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world”) we finally have specifics on the Saudi project. A just-published study, “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques,” provides a wealth of detail.

(Two points about it bear noting: this important study was written anonymously, for security reasons; and it was issued by a think tank, and not by university-based researchers. Once again, an off-campus organization does the most creative and timely work; yet again, Middle East specialists find themselves sidelined.)

The picture of Saudi activities in the United States is not a pretty one.

Freedom House’s Muslim volunteers went to fifteen prominent mosques from New York to San Diego and collected over two hundred books and other publications disseminated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (some 90 percent in the Arabic language) in the mosque libraries, publication racks, and bookstores.

What they found can only be described as horrifying. These writings – each and every one of them sponsored by the kingdom – espouse an anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, misogynist, jihadist, and supremacist outlook. For example, they:

* Reject Christianity as a valid faith: Any Muslim who believes “that churches are houses of God and that God is worshipped therein … is an infidel.”

* Insist that Islamic law be applied: On a range of issues, from women (who must be veiled) to apostates from Islam (who “should be killed”), the Saudi publications insist on full enforcement of the Shari‘a in America.

* See non-Muslims as the enemy: “Be dissociated from the infidels, hate them for their religion, leave them, never rely on them for support, do not admire them, and always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law.”

* See the United States as hostile territory: “It is forbidden for a Muslim to become a citizen of a country governed by infidels because this is a means of acquiescing to their infidelity and accepting all their erroneous ways.”

* Prepare for war against the United States: “To be true Muslims, we must prepare and be ready for jihad in Allah’s way. It is the duty of the citizen and the government.”

The report’s authors correctly find that the publications under review “pose a grave threat to non-Muslims and to the Muslim community itself.” The materials instill a doctrine of religious hatred inimical to American culture and serve to produce new recruits to the enemy forces in the war on terrorism.

To provide just one example of the latter: Adam Yahiye Gadahn, thought to be the masked person in a 2004 videotape threatening that American streets would “run with blood,” became a jihadi in the course of spending time at the Islamic Society of Orange County, a Saudi-funded institution.

Freedom House urges that the U.S. government “not delay” a protest at the highest levels to the Saudi government about its venomous publications lining the shelves of some of America’s most important mosques. That’s unobjectionable but it strikes this observer of Saudi-American relations as inadequate. The protest will be accepted, then filed away.

Instead, the insidious Saudi assault on America must be made central to the (misnamed) war on terror. The Bush administration needs to confront the domestic menace that the Wahhabi kingdom presents to the United States. That means junking the fantasy of Saudi friendship and seeing the country, like China, as a formidable rival whose ambitions for a very different world order must be both repulsed and contained.

Daniel Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Dennis Prager: The Left is Worth Nothing

Dennis Prager (archive)
February 1, 2005

"Someone who does not know the difference between good and evil is worth nothing." -- Miecyslaw Kasprzyk, Polish rescuer of Jews during the Holocaust, New York Times, Jan. 30, 2005

It took a Polish rescuer of Jews in the Holocaust, cited this week 60 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and death camp, to best describe those people who cannot or refuse to know the difference between good and evil. They are "worth nothing."

Since I was an adolescent, I have been preoccupied with evil: specifically, why people engage in it and why other people refuse to acknowledge its existence. As I have gotten older, I often find the latter group more infuriating. Somehow, as much as I don't want to, I can understand why a Muslim raised in a world permeated with hate-filled lies about America and Israel, and taught from childhood that God loves death, will blow himself up and joyfully maim and murder children. As evil as the Muslim terrorist is, given the Islamic world in which he was raised, he has some excuse.

But the non-Muslims who fail to acknowledge and confront the evil of Muslim terror and the evil of those monsters who cut innocent people's throats and murder those trying to make a democracy -- these people are truly worth nothing. Unlike the Muslims raised in a religious totalitarian society, they have no excuse. And in my lifetime, these people have overwhelmingly congregated on the political Left.

Since the 1960s, with few exceptions, on the greatest questions of good and evil, the Left has either been neutral toward or actively supported evil. The Left could not identify communism as evil; has been neutral toward or actually supported the anti-democratic pro-terrorist Palestinians against the liberal democracy called Israel; and has found it impossible to support the war for democracy and against an Arab/Muslim enemy in Iraq as evil as any fascist the Left ever claimed to hate.

There were intellectually and morally honest arguments against going to war in Iraq. But once the war began, a moral person could not oppose it. No moral person could hope for, let alone act on behalf of, a victory for the Arab/Islamic fascists. Just ask yourself but two questions: If America wins, will there be an increase or decrease in goodness in Iraq and in the world? And then ask what would happen if the Al Qaeda/Zarqawi/Baathists win.

It brings me no pleasure to describe opponents of the Iraqi war as "worth nothing." I know otherwise fine, decent people who oppose the war. So I sincerely apologize for the insult.

But to the Left in general, as opposed to individually good people who side with the Left, I have no apologies. It is the Left -- in America, in Europe and around the world -- that should do all the apologizing: to the men, women and children of Iraq and elsewhere for not coming to their support against those who would crush them.

That most Democratic Party leaders, union leaders, gay leaders, feminists, professors, editorial writers and news reporters have called for an American withdrawal and labeled this most moral of wars "immoral" is a permanent stain on their reputations.

About 60 percent of the Iraqi people went to vote despite the fact that every Iraqi voter risked his or her life and the lives of their children, whose throats the Islamic fascists threatened to slit. Yet, the Left continues to label the war for Iraqi democracy "immoral" while praising the tyrant of Cuba.

Leftists do so for the same reason they admired Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tse-tung and condemned American arms as the greatest threat to world peace during and after the Cold War. The Left "does not know the difference between good and evil." And that is why it is worth nothing.

©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
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