Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Posted Monday, July 2, 2007, at 1:11 PM ET
A gas canister was removed Sunday from a vehicle that burned Saturday after crashing at Glasgow Airport.
Why on earth do people keep saying, "There but for the grace of God …"? If matters had been very slightly different over the past weekend, the streets of London and the airport check-in area in Glasgow, Scotland, would have been strewn with charred body parts. And this would have been, according to the would-be perpetrators, because of the grace of God. Whatever our own private theology or theodicy, we might at least agree to take this vile belief seriously.
Instead, almost every other conceivable explanation was canvassed. The June 30 New York Times report managed to quote three people, one of whom attributed the aborted atrocity in London to Tony Blair's foreign policy; one of whom (a New Zealand diplomat, at that) felt "surprisingly all right about it"; and one of whom, described as "a Briton of Indian descent," was worried that "if I walk up that road, they're going to suspect me." The "they" there was clearly the British authorities, rather than the Muslim gangsters who have declared open season on all Hindus as well as all Jews, Christians, secularists, and other kuffar or infidel filth.
On the following day, July 1, the same newspaper informed us that Britain contained a "disenfranchised South Asian population." How this was true was never explained. There are several Muslim parliamentarians in both houses, often allowed to make the most absurdly inflammatory and euphemistic statements where acts of criminal violence are concerned, as well as several districts in which the Islamic vote keeps candidates of all parties uneasily aware of what may and may not be said. True, the Muslim extremist groups boycott elections and denounce democracy itself as profane, but this does not really count as disenfranchisement.
Only at the tail end of the coverage was it admitted that a car bomb might have been parked outside a club in Piccadilly because it was "ladies night" and that this explosion might have been designed to lure people into to the street, the better to be burned and shredded by the succeeding explosion from the second car-borne cargo of gasoline and nails. Since we have known since 2004 that a near-identical attack on a club called the Ministry of Sound was proposed in just these terms, on the grounds that dead "slags" or "sluts" would be regretted by nobody, a certain amount of trouble might have been saved by assuming the obvious. The murderers did not just want body parts in general but female body parts in particular.
I suppose that some people might want to shy away from this conclusion for whatever reason, but they cannot have been among the viewers of British Channel 4's recent Undercover Mosque, or among those who watched Sunday's report from Christiane Amanpour on CNN's Special Investigations Unit. On these shows, the British Muslim fanatics came right out with their program. Straight into the camera, leading figures like Anjem Choudary spoke of their love for Osama Bin Laden and their explicit rejection of any definition of Islam as a religion of peace. On tape or in person, mullahs in prominent British mosques called for the killing of Indians and Jews.
Liberal reluctance to confront this sheer horror is the result, I think, of a deep reticence about some furtive concept of "race." It is subconsciously assumed that a critique of political Islam is an attack on people with brown skins. One notes in passing that any such concession implicitly denies or negates Islam's claim to be a universal religion. Indeed, some of its own exponents certainly do speak as if they think of it as a tribal property. And, at any rate, in practice, so it is. The fascistic subculture that has taken root in Britain and that lives by violence and hatred is composed of two main elements. One is a refugee phenomenon, made up of shady exiles from the Middle East and Asia who are exploiting London's traditional hospitality, and one is the projection of an immigrant group that has its origins in a particularly backward and reactionary part of Pakistan.
To the shame-faced white-liberal refusal to confront these facts, one might counterpose a few observations. The first is that we were warned for years of the danger, by Britons also of Asian descent such as Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, and Salman Rushdie. They knew what the village mullahs looked like and sounded like, and they said as much. Not long ago, I was introduced to Nadeem Aslam, whose book Maps for Lost Lovers is highly recommended.
He understands the awful price of arranged marriages, dowry, veiling, and the other means by which the feudal arrangements of rural Pakistan have been transplanted to parts of London and Yorkshire. "In some families in my street," he writes to me, "the grandparents, parents, and the children are all first cousins—it's been going on for generations and so the effects of the inbreeding are quite pronounced by now." By his estimate and others, a minority of no more than 11 percent is responsible for more than 70 percent of the birth defects in Yorkshire. When a leading socialist member of Parliament, Ann Cryer, drew attention to this appalling state of affairs in her own constituency, she was promptly accused of—well, you can guess what she was accused of. The dumb word Islamophobia, uncritically employed by Christiane Amanpour in her otherwise powerful documentary, was the least of it. Meanwhile, an extreme self-destructive clannishness, which is itself "phobic" in respect to all outsiders, becomes the constituency for the preachings of a cult of death. I mention this because, if there is an "ethnic" dimension to the Islamist question, then in this case at least it is the responsibility of the Islamists themselves.
The most noticeable thing about all theocracies is their sexual repression and their directly related determination to exert absolute control over women. In Britain, in the 21st century, there are now honor killings, forced marriages, clerically mandated wife-beatings, incest in all but name, and the adoption of apparel for females that one cannot be sure is chosen by them but which is claimed as an issue of (of all things) free expression. This would be bad enough on its own and if it were confined to the Muslim "community" alone. But, of course, such a toxin cannot be confined, and the votaries of theocracy now claim the God-given right to slaughter females at random for nothing more than their perceived immodesty. The least we can do, confronted by such radical evil, is to look it in the eye (something it strives to avoid) and call it by its right name. For a start, it is the female victims of this tyranny who are "disenfranchised," while something rather worse than "disenfranchisement" awaits those who dare to disagree.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Orange County Register
On the eve of Independence Day, the people of this great republic declared their independence from the United States Senate under the stirring battle-cry, "No legislation without explanation!" The geniuses who'd cooked up the "comprehensive" immigration bill's "grand bargain" behind the scenes in the pork-filled rooms had originally planned to ram it through in 48 hours before Memorial Day. And, right to the end, the bipartisan Emirs-for-life of Incumbistan gave the strong impression they regarded it as an affront to be required by the impertinent whippersnappers of the citizenry to address the actual content of the legislation.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., dismissed critics of the bill as "racist."
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, complained that the peasants had somehow got hold of his phone number, and he felt "intimidated."
Sen. Trenthorn Lotthorn, R-Lottissippi, said: Who cares if they call? They could call 1-800-BLOWHARD (and leave off the "D" for "Deal's already done") 24 hours a day, and he still wasn't going to listen to them. "To think that you're going to intimidate a senator," he scoffed, "into voting one way or the other by gorging your phones with phone calls – most of whom don't even know where Gulfport is." (Gulfport is a port in the Gulf emirate whose grateful people Sultan Trent has ruled o'er lo these many years.)
More artfully, the Democrats' leader, Harry Reid, instead of insulting his old base, invented a new one. Among the torrent of calls from racist intimidatory talk-radio listeners who don't know where Gulfport is, Sen. Reid had somehow managed to get through to the one constituent worth staying on the line for, a man who supports the bill. Who is he? Well, according to the Senator Majority Leader, his name is, er, "Tommy."
Tommy Hilfiger? Tommy Lasorda? Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra with vocal refrain by Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers? Tommy Lee in the director's cut, where in the hitherto deleted scene right at the end he says to Pamela Anderson, "Sorry, honey, I'd love to carry on for another 20 minutes but I gotta call Sen. Reid in Washington. If you hardworking Canadians are going to do the jobs Americans won't do, I need to get your X-visa sorted out"?
Ah, but Sen. Reid explained that he couldn't identify the Tommy in question in case he was arrested and deported. This Tommy has to stay "living in the shadows," like Tommy Lee in the bit where he's partly obscured by Pamela's embonpoint. Alas, this heartwarming vignette left many cynics unmoved.
On the radio, Laura Ingraham suggested that "Tommy" might be entirely fictional and merely Harry Reid's imaginary friend. I proposed to Laura that "Tommy" might like to start dating John Edwards' "coatless girl," whose Dickensian tale of woe figures in every Edwards stump speech: Apparently she goes to sleep shivering every night because her daddy was laid off at the mill and she can't afford a winter coat. If Tommy and the coatless girl married, he could buy her a coat for $9.99 at Wal-Mart, and she could fill in a routine Spousal Application form with U.S. Immigration, which only takes 10 years to process, as opposed to the cumbersome and time-consuming 24-hour instant amnesty visa for seasonal fruit-pickers and seasonal jihadists contained in the Senate bill.
Sen. Trenthorn Lotthorn, meanwhile, thinks America is a nation of goatless girls. They don't understand goats the way an experienced goat-farmer such as himself does. "If the answer is 'build a fence,' " Sen. Lotthorn declared, "I've got two goats on my place in Mississippi. There ain't no fence big enough, high enough, strong enough, that you can keep those goats in that fence.
"Now, people are at least as smart as goats," the senator told Mario Recio of the Sun Herald. "Maybe not as agile. Build a fence? We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it. I'm not proposing an electrified goat fence," the Lottly Goatherd added. "I'm just trying … there's an analogy there."
By now, his analogy had jumped the fence. But what an awesome monument to the senator's reign it would be: Hadrian's Wall, the Great Wall of China, the Great Electrified Goat Fence of the Rio Grande. They would sing songs about it:
"Grab your goat and get your hat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Just direct your feet
To the sunny side of the fence … "
For "the world's greatest deliberative body," this was a much more ominous popular insurrection than the conservative backlash against the president's nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. Time and again, the remote insulated emirs were offered the opportunity to rise above their condescension and declined to do so. Sen. John McCain, R- Maverickistan, confidently asserted that he'd worked hard on this bill and knew it better than all these no-account nonentities riled up about it and then had to have it explained to him – by bloggers on a conference call – that he'd misunderstood a key provision of his own legislation: There was no requirement for illegal immigrants to pay back taxes. Their amnesty would come tax-free. Blustering senators who claimed to have drafted this thing had to be told what was in it by critics who'd actually taken the trouble to look at it.
Immigration isn't going away: Human capital is the great issue facing all advanced societies. But it's unbecoming for a mature democracy to discuss a critical matter in such a fraudulent way. It's insulting to tell people that to oppose this bill is to oppose border enforcement. There are immigration laws on the books right now, and they are flouted with impunity by "sanctuary cities," states and the federal government itself. The political class tells us that a nation on permanent "orange alert" at ports of entry can't enforce its borders, and a broken immigration bureaucracy that can't process existing levels of applicants can reliably handle another 20 million people.
If the senators have any sense of why they lost, they'll learn their lesson. But initial indications are not encouraging. Predicting victory, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., declared gravely and portentously that "the will of the Senate" would prevail. And that's what matters, isn't it? As the rebel colonists cried all those years ago, "No legislation without self-congratulation!"
Happy Independence Day!
Roger Clemens picked up win No. 350 looking like the Rocket of old, throwing eight innings giving up just two hits.
BY KAT O'BRIEN
Roger Clemens made history Monday night with the 350th win of his career.
The Yankees are hoping to make some history of their own with a second-half surge that carries them back into postseason contention.
Clemens became only the eighth pitcher in major-league history with 350 wins, and just the second in the last 75 years. The 44-year-old Clemens, whose wife, Debbie, was there for the milestone victory, dominated the Twins in a 5-1 Yankees win at Yankee Stadium. He pitched eight innings of one-run ball. He gave up just two hits and a walk and retired the final 15 batters he faced.
"I'll probably look at the history another time," Clemens said. "I just feel really blessed. I don't know how else to put it. To be linked with the guys I was linked with back when I was going for 300 was great. I just feel like everything that's happened since 2003 is a blessing."
In each of the past four seasons, there has been a question whether Clemens would pitch another year. Each time, he has eventually decided to give it a go. Clemens' 300th win came at Yankee Stadium in June 2003, which was the last time the Yankees made the World Series. Clemens promised he won't be around to get 400, saying he would be having a beer with Monday night's home plate umpire Wally Bell, who happened to be the umpire for his 300th win.
"I don't see that happening," Clemens said of 400.
But 350 was indeed sweet. Given the Yankees' recent struggles -- they had dropped nine of their previous 11 -- Clemens knew how much the team needed a win. He gave them everything possible. The Twins managed one run against him, in the second inning.
"That was dominant," said Joe Torre, who caught Warren Spahn's 350th win. "It was really a lift that we needed. He had to make good pitches all night, and he did."
Clemens' success this season and that of the Yankees are intricately linked. If Clemens can be anywhere near as dominant as he was Monday night, then the Yankees' chances of re-entering the playoff race greatly improve. The Yankees must also hope that MVP candidate Alex Rodriguez, who left Monday night's game with a strained left hamstring and is day-to-day, can avoid the disabled list.
Before the game, Torre and general manager Brian Cashman said they need their players to improve performance in order for the team to make some noise. Cashman said that this team really hasn't "earned reinforcements" in that it has not shown it can compete for a championship, and why mortgage the future for a team that is unlikely to make the playoffs.
"I'm making phone calls and checking with my counterparts to see what might make sense," Cashman said, "but what makes the most sense is trying to have these guys find a way to play better baseball ... If I chose to put Phil Hughes out on the market, we could have done something already. I chose not to do that."
Torre singled out Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano as hitters who need to step up. Abreu made a step in that direction Monday night. He went 3-for-4 with a monster home run that landed midway up the third deck of the stands in rightfield. That homer gave the Yankees a 2-1 sixth-inning lead, and they added three more runs in that inning.
Bobby Abreu and umpire Wally Bell, left, watch Abreu's home run against the Minnesota Twins during sixth inning.
"It feels very good," Abreu said, with a rare smile. "I needed a game like this. It's been a tough season for me so far."
Clemens said of Abreu: "Since I've been here, when Bobby hits, we're a lot different lineup. When I was over there , he was the guy that you didn't want to beat you."
If Clemens and Abreu can again put up the kind of numbers they did the past several years, the Yankees may have hope yet.
By PETE CALDERA
Bergen County Record
New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens reacts as he leaves the game after the eighth inning during MLB baseball against the Minnesota Twins MOnday, July 2, 2007 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Clemens got his 350th win as the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 5-1.
NEW YORK -- A truly vintage Roger Clemens outing would have crowded the scorebook with more Ks, and would have caused more of a fan frenzy -- building anticipation with every two-strike count.
In these bonus years of a Hall-of-Fame career, Clemens is proud of what he can accomplish on an economy of pitches.
Allowing only two hits, including a suspect double, in eight innings at Yankee Stadium, Clemens retired the final 15 Minnesota Twins he faced and secured a 5-1 victory Monday night for the Yankees -- the 350th win in a remarkable career.
The bullets he saves now can help the Yankees later, and the fragile state of this imperfect team was underscored as Alex Rodriguez exited the game with a strained left hamstring.
"We're going to sleep on it and see how it [feels] in the morning," said A-Rod, who got his left leg tangled with Twins first baseman Justin Morneau's right leg on a close play at first base.
What manager Joe Torre termed a "scary" incident occurred in the sixth inning, after the Yanks (38-41) scored four times to break open a 1-1 game -- which began with Bobby Abreu's tie-breaking, solo home run.
Torre had caught the last-ever victory No. 350 in the majors, when Warren Spahn did it for the Milwaukee Braves in 1963, against the Cubs.
Besides giving the Yankees "a lift that we needed," Torre marveled at Clemens' ability to "pitch as long as he has and really not change his style" of power splitters and fastballs.
After Joe Mauer doubled to lead off the fourth inning, the Twins (42-39) bowed to Clemens, who had lost his last three starts; the Yanks had combined to score three runs in those starts.
Before the game, general manager Brian Cashman said his underachieving club would have to show signs of a championship pedigree before he attempted to make an impact trade at this month's deadline -- if such a deal exists at all.
"This team's got to earn that right," said Cashman, who is reluctant to deal any of the top, young pitchers in his system for a slugger.
Of course, a lengthy A-Rod injury would throw his club's pennant chances in further jeopardy.
For now, Clemens (2-3) remains the big addition, and he met another major milestone before a crowd of 53,036.
"I'll probably look at the history, if you will, another time," said Clemens, who used 97 pitches and gave up one earned run, with one walk and four strikeouts in his fifth start this season. "With everything going on ... it was a good night [for a victory]."
The Yankees had lost nine of their past 11 games entering Monday, but losing A-Rod was an unexpected jolt.
Abreu's upper deck homer kicked off the Yankees' scoring in the pivotal sixth against starter Boof Bonser (5-5). Bonser was chased after hits by Andy Phillips (double) and Robinson Cano.
Reliever Juan Rincon promptly walked Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera to force in a run. Matt Guerrier came in for Rincon and Derek Jeter's two-run single -- misplayed by third baseman Jeff Cirillo, who backed up on the ball and it bounced over his glove -- made it 5-1.
New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, center, leaves the game with trainer Steve Donohue, left, and manager Joe Torre, right, after getting injured during sixth inning MLB baseball against the Minnesota Twins Monday, July 2, 2007 at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Next, A-Rod beat out a potential double play grounder, but tumbled to the ground in pain. He remained in the game briefly, but came out after he got to second base -- where he told coach Larry Bowa that he was "scared to bust it and really miss a long time" if he were to attempt to score on a hit.
"I think [today] will tell us more than anything right now," said Torre, who admitted that he was "concerned" about A-Rod's status.
Rodriguez recalled being carried off the field in 1996 with his only other serious hamstring strain, but he walked out of the Stadium with a wrap on his leg.
Perhaps an extended injury for A-Rod would alter Cashman's stance on a deal for offense, but by how much?
"If I chose to put Phil Hughes on the marketplace, I could've done something by now," Cashman said before the game, emphasizing his reluctance also to move right-handers Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy. "You don't want to sacrifice high end talent for short-term gain."
Monday, July 02, 2007
John Shea, San Fransisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Barry Bonds will be the only Giants player who'll keep his locker -- in his case, lockers -- for the 78th All-Star Game. Everyone else's stuff must be packed away to clear space for the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Prince Fielder and Trevor Hoffman.
The All-Star Game is coming to San Francisco a week from Tuesday, and Bonds has his invitation. Thanks to a swing of nearly a quarter-million votes in the past week, Bonds was elected to the National League's starting lineup.
"This is the best one. It'll probably be my last, too, so it's kind of awesome," Bonds said. "It means more because I'm at home. This is my town. This is my house. You can't say enough for being at home. It's just great. This is the one I'll remember forever."
Pitcher Dan Haren is Oakland's lone representative. It'll be the first All-Star Game for Haren, who has led the American League in ERA much of the season and improved his record to 10-2 by beating the Yankees on Sunday.
Bonds was selected to his 14th All-Star Game but will be making his 13th appearance (he was voted in by fans in 2000 but missed the game because of injury). A week ago, he ranked fourth among NL outfielders, 119,000 votes behind Alfonso Soriano. Sunday, when the results were announced, he had passed Soriano by 123,000 votes to join Griffey and Carlos Beltran in the starting outfield.
The Giants vigorously campaigned for fans to vote on the Internet -- where someone technically could vote nonstop by constantly creating e-mail addresses -- and had ballpark personnel wear stickers urging fans to keep voting for the left fielder.
If Bonds wasn't selected by fans, he would have needed to be picked by manager Tony La Russa because Bonds wasn't getting the players' vote, which determines most of the substitutes. The top five NL outfielders, according to the players' vote, were Matt Holliday, Griffey, Carlos Lee, Beltran and Soriano.
"Yeah, I'm surprised," Bonds said of getting the starting nod. "I thought I played good enough to make the team but didn't think I would start. This is great. I'm having a big ol' party Monday, so it'll be fun. I just can't say thanks enough to the fans in San Francisco."
Long ago, Bonds reportedly had planned to co-host (with rapper Jay-Z) a bash at Roe, at the intersection of 3rd and Howard, a week from tonight, the same time as Major League Baseball's gala at Pier 30/32.
Whether Bonds makes an appearance in the Home Run Derby before his party is undetermined. Early in an interview Sunday, he said, "I don't think so. I don't have anything to prove in that." But later, he left it open, saying it'll depend on how he feels after the seven-game trip through Cincinnati and St. Louis.
"I'll make that decision then," Bonds said.
The decision isn't totally his. MLB does the inviting. It'll be four players from each league, and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, though he's not an All-Star, was asked to participate as the reigning champion. That would leave three NL spots, and MLB traditionally asks the guys leading in homers.
Fielder tops the league (and said he wants to be in the derby) and is followed by Adam Dunn (who wouldn't get asked as a non-All-Star), Griffey, Howard, J.J. Hardy, Dan Uggla (another non-All-Star), Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols.
Bonds ranks ninth. As it stands, theoretically, three All-Stars would need to decline for Bonds to be asked. Of course, fans spending big money for tickets might be irked if Bonds isn't a participant, and a special consideration could be made, especially if ESPN heavily suggests that Bonds blasting balls into McCovey Cove would help ratings.
Either way, it could put Commissioner Bud Selig in an uncomfortable spot once more. He already is hesitant to say whether he'd attend the game in which Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's homers record, all the while awaiting results of a steroid investigation focusing on Bonds.
Meantime, the Giants' campaign paid off.
"I think his performance on the field made a difference," executive vice president Larry Baer. "If he didn't have the performance, he wouldn't be starting and probably wouldn't be on the team. The most important thing is performance instead of pounding our chest saying the front office did this.
"Look, we're the San Francisco Giants, and the game's in our park. To have our player running out to left field at the start of the game is something we'd like to have happen and we're proud of."
Booed in other parks, Bonds is largely loved in San Francisco, where fans generally overlook his connection with the BALCO steroids scandal. Curiously, many fans voiced their frustration when Bonds was re-signed in the offseason for $15.8 million, having heard from management that the roster would get younger after consecutive losing seasons.
The Giants remain old and in last place, and Bonds is the major threat. He's hitting .304 with 16 homers and 40 RBIs while ranking first in the league in on-base percentage (.516) and walks (84) and second in slugging percentage (.603). But in 12 All-Star Games, he's hitting .200 with two homers and seven RBIs.
E-mail John Shea at email@example.com.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Ken Griffey, Jr.
2007 All-Star Rosters
C- Russell Martin- LAD
1B- Prince Fielder- MIL
2B- Chase Utley- PHI
3B- David Wright- NYM
SS- Jose Reyes- NYM
OF- Carlos Beltran- NYM
OF- Barry Bonds- SF
0F- Ken Griffey Jr.- CIN
Brian McCann, Atlanta
Miguel Cabrera, Florida
J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee
Orlando Hudson, Arizona
Derrek Lee, Chicago Cubs
Albert Pujols, St. Louis
Freddy Sanchez, Pirates
Dmitri Young, Washington.
Matt Holliday, Colorado
Carlos Lee, Houston
Aaron Rowand, Philadelphia
Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs.
Francisco Cordero, Milwaukee
Brian Fuentes, Colorado
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
Trevor Hoffman, San Diego
Jake Peavy, San Diego
Brad Penny, L.A. Dodgers
Takashi Saito, L.A. Dodgers
Ben Sheets, Milwaukee
John Smoltz, Atlanta
Jose Valverde, Arizona
Billy Wagner, New York Mets.
C- Ivan Rodriguez- DET
1B- David Ortiz- BOS
2B- Placido Polanco- DET
3B- Alex Rodriguez- NYY
SS- Derek Jeter- NYY
OF- Vladimir Guerrero- LAA
OF- Magglio Ordonez- DET
0F- Ichiro Suzuki- SEA
Victor Martinez, Cleveland
Jorge Posada, New York Yankees
Carlos Guillen, Detroit
Mike Lowell, Boston
Justin Morneau, Minnesota
Brian Roberts, Baltimore
Michael Young, Texas
Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay
Torii Hunter, Minnesota
Manny Ramirez, Boston
Alex Rios, Toronto
Grady Sizemore, Cleveland
Josh Beckett, Boston
Dan Haren, Oakland
Bobby Jenks, Chicago White Sox
John Lackey, L.A. Angels
Gil Meche, Kansas City
Jonathan Papelbon, Boston
J.J. Putz, Seattle
Francisco Rodriguez, L.A. Angels
C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland
Dr. Walid Phares
July 2, 2007
British authorities are to be commended for successfully averting two (maybe more) car bomb attacks in London last week. At the same time, much of the reaction of Britain’s counter-terrorism community reveals that the country is not wholly prepared to deal with the terrorism threat.
Let's begin with the contradictory statements made by British authorities after the car bombs had been identified. On one hand, Britain’s new home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said after an emergency meeting of top officials that “we are currently facing the most serious and sustained threat to our security from international terrorism.” But other British authorities claimed that “they found no link between the defused car bomb and any terrorist group.” This sharp contradiction is indicative of the tough political background to the UK’s counter-terrorism efforts.
The problem is this: Since the “7/7” attacks, authorities have hesitated to define the enemy. For London’s political establishment, any reference to the religious or ideological motivations of the terrorists is to be avoided. Examined closely, this attitude is the result of layers of “expertise” provided by academic “specialists” who advise against any statements that, as they see it, would exacerbate domestic tensions with the domestic Muslim community.
Hence, British authorities have preemptively dropped any reference to the cause of the terrorists’ war -- namely, Islamic jihadism -- while failing to outline its global scope. By default, then, the government has conceded to the Islamists a political victory in the "battle of ideas."
A second series of questions accompanying the immediate debate about last week’s plot centered on the alleged link to al-Qaeda. The media went back and forth on the theory of Bin Laden’s responsibility -- as if this single factor would shape the strategy to respond. To be successful, British investigators must bypass the dead-ended guessing about al-Qaeda’s formal role and spend their energies and time on the more important issue: Islamist penetration of British society.
Bin Laden and Zawahiri may or may not have ordered this specific operation; al-Qaeda’s central apparatus may or may not be in charge of its execution; and the perpetrators may or not be professional terrorists. Of greater consequence for counterterrorism efforts is finding out who indoctrinated those who planted last week’s bombs and procuring detailed information about jihadist cells in the UK. Bin Laden will one day pass from the scene. But unless confronted, Britain’s jihadist network will live on.
The question of whether the terrorists were “homegrown” or “international” circulated with dizzying frequency last week. Neither explanation is reassuring for the authorities. If the terrorists are “homegrown,” it reopens the debate about the radicalization of the British Muslim community. Obviously, officials want to avoid the matter. If, on the other hand, the terrorists are said to be “international,” with links to outside terrorist networks, officials would have to grapple with an equally unappealing fact: The followers of jihad, whether “homegrown” or “international,” operate without boundaries.
Failure to consider the underlying cause of jihadist terrorism has stunted Britain’s intellectual debate. Consider that in the most recent plot, the two cars were declared as “linked” because the bombs they contained were made of the same material. But what if the two car bombs were filled with different types of explosives? Would they then have belonged to two different conflicts? It would have been odd in the extreme for police during the London Blitz of 1940 to wonder whether the bombs falling on the city were “linked” because they were made of the same material. But because many in Britain still refuse to acknowledge that they are at war with Islamic terrorism, we get the kind of official analysis that we saw last week.
Surveying the situation from a distance, it seems that even the successes that British authorities have had can be exaggerated. For instance, the government prides itself for having installed more cameras in London than in all other European cities combined, a fact acknowledged by commentators who noted that the manhunt launched for the suspects last week was made possible by the release of film from London’s surveillance cameras. But the reason that this surveillance is so extensive is that for years the authorities were on the defensive, having caved in to those lobbies who insisted that the government should not target terrorists before they strike. Resources were diverted to spy on the terrorists, but little was done to preempt their attacks. The United States is under similar pressure by its own internal critics to follow the same path and stop monitoring the terrorists.
Fortunately, British officials are becoming more clear-sighted. Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of Britain’s joint intelligence committee, was among the first to conclude that the two car bombs were related to the attack on Glasgow Airport. It is the first step to understanding that what the UK is facing is not dispersed acts of violence but a war that is grounded in the expansion of Wahabism, Salafism and other forms of radical ideologies. There is a standing order by al-Qaeda and fatwas by Salafi asking their allies, local and international, to "strike into the heart of infidels, including the British."
Other strategic considerations are also in play. There is little doubt that the Islamists want to test the new cabinet of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and to drag him into an “engagement.” This in turn would provide extremists in Britain’s Muslim community the occasion to demonize Brown and weaken his resolve to confront both domestic and international terrorism. The jihadists’ move is clear, but the question remains: Is Britain seeing clearly?
Dr Walid Phares is the author of the newly released book Future Jihad. He is also a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington DC.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Best-selling atheist authors are riding a wave of ignorance and illiteracy.
The latest offering, God Is Not Great, comes from a bon vivant with a British accent, an attribute that lends sophistication in the eyes of the pseudo-intellectuals whose vision of the Christian is the Bible-thumping backwoodsman.
But Christians on the far right and on the far left, fundamentalists, or literalists of both stripes, have given Christopher Hitchens much to work with.
For example, Memorial Day saw the opening of the Creation Museum in Kentucky, where Genesis comes alive with Adam and Eve alongside animatronic dinosaurs from 6,000 years ago. More of God’s country in Tennessee is slated for despoliation with a theme park to be called Bible Park USA.
A display at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio
Then the following week Arianna Huffington preached on CNN that the most pervasive message in the Bible concerns charity. Huffington, the publisher of the blog with the most vile words against Christians, commenting on the Democratic presidential candidates’ interviews on faith, pontificated on how the Bible advocates income redistribution.
We know that the Devil can quote Scripture, but Huffington misrepresents it egregiously. Real charity does not come at the end of a gun pointed by the IRS.
I do not assign the same obviously ulterior motives of political manipulation to those who build creation museums or Christian theme parks. While Huffington and her ilk hate Christianity, the theme park and museum builders have sincere intentions. But, gosh, I wish they’d read some books. And I’m talking about more than the Bible.
We are instructed to love God not only with all our hearts, but also our minds. But it seems that some people have simply abandoned their God-given reason.
These zombie-like people with smiles plastered on their faces are the worst ones to convince those with doubts. I had one of them send me to reading Ralph Waldo Emerson at a time when my faith was already wavering. She cornered me while I was doing laundry. With an expression between one of the early martyrs at the point of death and a hippie on an acid trip she asked me if I "knew Jesus." This of course implied that she did and what was wrong with me? I was out of the club. That was it. Nothing else. No other discussion. I know Jesus. You don't.
What was much more convincing to me were the great works of literature written by Christian authors. Though I saw these authors mocked in graduate school, the force of their ideas showed through. Their wisdom and humanity contrasted sharply with the nonsensical nihilism put out by the trendy authors, and their exponents, the professors.
Reading Milton led me back to the Bible. The late Walker Percy allowed for the idea of evolution. But he, like the proponents of intelligent design that I met at a Christian Faculty Forum at The University of Georgia, read the Bible not literally, like an instruction manual, but allowed for the possibility of a metaphorical meaning that went beyond their understanding. Shakespeare revealed the evil of atheism through characters like Iago. Flannery O'Connor demonstrated how her characters' estimations of their own goodness provided the opening for Satanic influences. Dostoyevsky exposed the evils of pride and self-devised "justice."
Surprisingly, Hitchens cites some of these Christian authors in his claim that atheists are not simply scientists gone off the deep end of rationalism. They appreciate Art:
"We are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books."
But Hitchens must be banking on a readership that has not read Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky. These Christian authors dramatized the themes and stories of the very holy book that Hitchens disparages. Has he forgotten how Shakespeare explicitly has Iago explain the materialist origins of his wickedness: "Virtue? A fig! 'tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens"? Iago is a sociopath because he is an atheist.
Hitchens gives lip-service to these Christian authors, despite his claims of erudition. Literature endeavors to reveal some truth and its beauty. Therefore, the enterprise has to presuppose some end, some ultimate source of truth. Contrary to his beliefs, that truth does not reside in Hitchens’s brain. That source is God. For if literature does not aim for the revelation of some truth, then what is the purpose of suspending disbelief? (This view, of course, contradicts the postmodern, i.e., atheistic notion of art: the solipsistic presentation of the chaos of the universe—but that is art that only its practitioners seem to enjoy and not the kind of art Hitchens is citing.)
Nor is Hitchens’s dismissal of religious faith as something that arises from primitive fear and ignorance of the workings of nature as clever or new as he imagines. He only needs to go to one of his referenced authors and read in The Brothers Karamazov, "socialism is not merely the labour question, it is before all things the atheistic question." In Devils, Dostoyevsky exposes the self-delusion of the atheistic revolutionaries who presume themselves bold and more intelligent that the God-fearing around them. In a send-up of "free-thinkers" meetings, Dostoyevsky has a female student say:
"I mean, we know, for example, the superstition about God derived from thunder and lightning . . . It’s only too well known that primitive man, terrified by thunder and lightning, deified his invisible enemy, conscious of his own weakness with regard to them."
Hitchens, like the other dilettantes writing the books on atheism, now recycles this tired argument and sells it to weekend intellectuals striking a pensive pose with The New York Times and a $4.00 latte in front of them on Sunday mornings.
Another old example that Hitchens uses to claim atheists’ moral superiority is Abraham’s willingness to kill his son Isaac. But this citation betrays ignorance of explications made by everyone from Sunday school teachers to Kierkegaard. Hitchens brags that atheists make the best life in this life and see posterity in their children, whom they treat better than Abraham did Isaac.
But the question remains for the atheists: what do you do with children incapable of fulfilling your demands for immortality?
Hitchens also ignores Dostoyevsky’s prediction of the death toll from atheistic communist regimes. One of the characters in Devils refers to pamphlets that urge "total destruction, on the pretext that however much you try to cure the world, you won’t be able to do so entirely, but if you take radical steps and cut off one hundred million heads, thus easing the burden, it'll be much easier to leap over the ditch."
But if you go into a Christian bookstore you will not likely see Dostoyevsky on the shelf. Instead, you'll find pastel-covered saccharine tomes, the pious stories that the devout Catholic Flannery O'Connor disparaged.
The literalists, the theme park and museum builders, do to the Biblical stories what Disney does to fairy tales, stripping them of the tragic, the comic, and the sublime. In effect, what these people ask is just leave your mind at the door, get on the ride, and be happy!
But easy Christianity is vulnerable to easy atheism. Hitchens is too stupid to see the origin of art: the never-ending artistic imperative to wonder at and explore the mystery of God’s creation. It’s too bad that he has a readership prepared for him by an educational system that ignores, distorts, and disparages Christian art.
Mary Grabar graduated from the University of Georgia with a Ph.D. in English and currently teaches at a university in Atlanta.
The Wall Street Journal
Sunday, July 1, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
The late Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was a true liberal--a man who welcomed debate. Just before he died this winter, he wrote, quoting someone else, that history is an argument without end. That, Schlesinger added, "is why we love it so."
Yet concerning Schlesinger's own period of study, the 1930s, there has been curiously little argument. The American consensus is Schlesinger's consensus: that FDR saved democracy from fascism by co-opting the left and far right with his alphabet programs. Certainly, an observer might criticize various aspects of the period, but scrutiny of the New Deal edifice in its entirety is something that ought to be postponed for another era--or so we learned long ago. Indeed, to take a skeptical look at the New Deal as a whole has been considered downright immoral.
The real question about the 1930s is not whether it is wrong to scrutinize the New Deal. Rather, the question is why it has taken us all so long. Roosevelt did famously well by one measure, the political poll. He flunked by two other meters that we today know are critically important: the unemployment rate and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In his first inaugural address, Roosevelt spoke of a primary goal: "to put people to work." Unemployment stood at 20% in 1937, five years into the New Deal. As for the Dow, it did not come back to its 1929 level until the 1950s. International factors and monetary errors cannot entirely account for these abysmal showings.
When I went back to study those years for a book, I realized two things. The first was that the picture we received growing up was distorted in a number of important regards. The second was that the old argument about the immorality of scrutinizing the New Deal was counterproductive.
The premier line in the standard history is that Herbert Hoover was a right-winger whose laissez-faire politics helped convert the 1929 Crash into the Great Depression. But a review of the new president's actions reveals him to be a control freak, an interventionist in spite of himself. Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which worsened a global downturn, even though he had long lived in London and understood better than almost anyone the interconnectedness of markets. He also bullied companies into maintaining high wages and keeping employees on their payrolls when they could ill afford to do so. Perhaps worst of all, he berated the stock market as a speculative sinner even though he knew better. For example, Hoover opposed shorting as a practice, a policy that frightened markets at an especially vulnerable time.
The second standard understanding is that the Brain Trusters were moderate people who drew from American history when they wrote the New Deal. If their philosophies were left wing, then that aspect ought to be treated parenthetically, the attitude was. But the leftishness of the Brain Trust was not parenthetical. It was central.
In the summer of 1927, a group of future New Dealers, mostly junior professors or minor union officials, were received by Stalin for a full six hours when they traveled on a junket to the Soviet Union. Both Stalin's Russia and Mussolini's Italy influenced the New Deal enormously. The Brain Trusters were not, for the most part, fascists or communists. They were thoughtful people who wrote in the New Republic. But their ideas were wrong. Their intense romanticization of the concept of the economy of scale ignored the small man. One of the New Dealers from the old Soviet trip, Rex Tugwell, even created his very own version of Animal Farm in Casa Grande, Ariz. As in the Orwell book, the farmers revolted.
The third familiar story line in the received wisdom about the New Deal is that, while it may not have been perfect, it did inspire the American people and tide them over. Here the emphasis is wrong. Roosevelt's radio voice may have inspired--yes. But the New Deal hurt the economy, and that mattered more. At some points Roosevelt seemed to understand the need to counter deflation. But his method for doing so generated a whole new set of uncertainties. Roosevelt personally experimented with the currency--one day, in bed, he raised the gold price by 21 cents. When Henry Morgenthau, who would shortly become Treasury Secretary, asked him why, Roosevelt said that "it's a lucky number, because it's three times seven." Morgenthau wrote later: "If anybody ever knew how we set the gold price through a combination of lucky numbers, etc., I think they would be frightened."
The centerpiece of the New Deal, the National Recovery Administration (NRA), was perverse. The premises of its codes were ones anyone would reject outright today--the concept that price cutting caused deflation, for example. Everyone, even Roosevelt's own agonized advisers, understood this. The poet Ogden Nash wrote a poem that captured the inanity--its title was "One from One Leaves Two":
Mumblety-pumbledy my red cow
She's cooperating now
At first she didn't understand
That milk production must be
She didn't understand at first
She had to either plan or burst
A think tank produced a report of 900 pages in 1935 concluding the NRA "on the whole retarded recovery" (that think tank was the Brookings Institution). Some of the great heroes of the period were the Schechter brothers, kosher butchers who fought the NRA all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Their case was not only jurisprudential but also based on common sense--management from above was killing recovery. The Schechter case is as important to history, as, say, the Gideon case that Anthony Lewis wrote about in his great book about the right to counsel, "Gideon's Trumpet." Where is the "Gideon's Trumpet" for free marketeers?
The fourth rule we learned is that Roosevelt's call to "bold, persistent experimentation" was, on balance, good. But this conviction ignores the cost of uncertainty, as the economic historian Robert Higgs first pointed out. Today we know that unknown unknowns are inherently destabilizing. Roosevelt, a man of impulses, changed policies routinely. He moved from supporting big business to attacking it to supporting it again, many times in his presidency.
On some days, as Anne O'Hare McCormick, a Maureen Dowd of her time, wrote during FDR's second term, Roosevelt was the personification of "the Dutch householder who carefully totes up his accounts every month and who is really annoyed, now that he is bent on balancing the budget, when Congress can't stop spending." Other days he was a big spender.
Uncertainty caused markets to freeze in fear; so did investment--the old New Yorker cartoons of the plutocrats in the salon were true. Yet Roosevelt counterattacked by compiling lists of the wealthy to prosecute--his administration prosecuted the Alan Greenspan of the day, Andrew Mellon, until Mellon died. Roosevelt's administration pushed a plan for an undistributed profits tax to eat the essence out of companies. Policies like this caused the most unnecessary part of the Depression: the Depression within the Depression of the late 1930s.
The final line in the traditional story is that Roosevelt's government offices were somehow better than their private sector counterparts--when it came to utilities, for example, we learned that only the federal government could electrify backward rural areas. This is a false memory, for there was a company that already planned to light up the South, Commonwealth and Southern. David Lilienthal of the Tennessee Valley Authority set out to gut it, and succeeded. But the battle over electric power was also, literally, a power struggle between coequals, not a contest between a good policeman and a sinning company.
The most useful economic philosophy for understanding what went on is not Keynesianism. It is the public choice theory of James Buchanan and others, which says that government is a competitor that will annihilate what comes in its path.
So why has it taken so long to revisit this period? The first reason is that the Great Depression was a disaster. From the Crash to the Dust Bowl and the floods, it all felt like a permanent Katrina, and Americans suspended disbelief. But the reality was that the depression did not mean permanent Katrina--indeed, we see now that that downturn was the exception in the century, not the rule.
The next reason we hesitate is World War II. War always trumps economics. New Deal critics were right on the economy, but they were wrong in their estimations of Hitler. To write sympathetically about the Liberty Leaguers is seen, even today, as siding with the appeasers. The incredible rightness of FDR's war policy obscures the flaws in his prior actions.
The Cold War also played a role in delaying examination of the 1930s. Nearly all writers today--whether they write policy or history--make a point to avoid being classed with Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. But that fear of being labeled as a red-baiter prevented the necessary discussion of the counterproductive policy of the 1930s.
In the Cold War, there was also the assumption that Europe certainly, or even the U.S., might conceivably go communist. The premise therefore was that safety nets--from Social Security in the U.S. to codetermination in German boardrooms--were necessary to prevent such an event. Bismarck's social democracy and Roosevelt's New Deal were therefore glorified as justified.
In the past half-century, we have learned that much of our capital comes from the private sector, not the public sector, and that most of our growth inheres in the private sector. After the 1980s and 1990s we know that markets can do much of the work that Roosevelt believed only government capital could do.
My own sense is that there is a final reason we have all paused at the New Deal--a generational one. To insult the New Deal is to insult the Social Security that we, our parents, or grandparents receive. The Baby Boomers have a reputation as being selfish. But their reverence in regard to Social Security, not to mention Medicare Part D, is overly unselfish, and comes out of misplaced filial piety. Younger Baby Boomers and the generations after them will doubtless pay higher taxes because of our current unwillingness to criticize entitlements. Americans owe them as much as we owe senior citizens.
After all, the argument of markets has its own powerful morality. It is immoral to cause unemployment by pretending that a big government policy is morally necessary. When Andrew Mellon and Calvin Coolidge put through their tax cuts in the 1920s, they made the efficiency argument that supply-siders make today: lower rates could yield, they posited, higher revenues. But they also had a moral argument: high taxes were wrong, confiscatory and illiberal, in the classical sense. You can acknowledge this without being a Roosevelt-hater.
Schlesinger, who so often contributed to these pages, has already issued the invitation. It is more than time that the rest of us took him up on his offer.
Miss Shlaes, a Bloomberg columnist and visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is author of the just-published "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression" (HarperCollins), from which this is adapted, and which you can buy from the OpinionJournal bookstore..
July 1, 2007
A year or so after the Ayatollah Khomeini took out an Islamist mob contract on Salman Rushdie, the novelist appeared, after elaborate security arrangements, on a television arts show in London. His host was Melvyn Bragg, a longtime British telly grandee, and what was striking was how quickly the interview settled down into the usual cozy lit.-crit. chit-chat. Lord Bragg took Rushdie back to his earlier pre-fatwa work. "After your first book," drawled Bragg, "which was not particularly well-received . . ."
That's supposed to be the worst a novelist has to endure. His book will be "not particularly well-received" -- i.e., some twerp reviewers will be snotty about it in the New Yorker and The Guardian. In the cozy world of English letters, it came as a surprise to find that being "not particularly well-received" meant foreign governments putting a bounty on your head and killing your publishers and translators. Even then, the literary set had difficulty taking it literally. After news footage of British Muslims burning Rushdie's book in the streets of English cities, BBC arts bores sat around on talk-show sofas deploring the "symbolism" of this attack on "ideas."
There was nothing symbolic about it. They burned the book because they couldn't burn Rushdie himself. If his wife and kid had swung by, they'd have gladly burned them, just as the mob was happy to burn to death 37 Turks who'd made the mistake of being in the same hotel in Sivas as one of the novelist's translators. When British Muslims called for Rushdie to be killed, they meant it. From a mosque in Yorkshire, Mohammed Siddiqui wrote to The Independent to endorse the fatwa by citing Sura 5 verses 33-34 from the Koran:
"The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land, is execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land."
That last apparently wasn't an option.
Britain got so many things wrong during the Rushdie affair, just as America got so many things wrong during the Iranian embassy siege 10 years earlier. But it's now 2007 -- almost two decades after Iran claimed sovereignty over British subjects, almost three decades after they claimed sovereignty over U.S. territory. So what have we learned? I was with various British parliamentarians the other day, and we were talking about the scenes from Islamabad, where the usual death-to-the-Great-Satan chappies had burned an effigy of the queen to protest the knighthood she'd conferred on Rushdie. I told my London friends that I had to hand it to Tony Blair's advisers: What easier way for the toothless old British lion, after the humiliations inflicted upon the Royal Navy sailors by their Iranian kidnappers, to show you're still a player than by knighting Salman Rushdie for his "services to literature"? Given that his principal service to literature has been to introduce the word "fatwa" to the English language, one assumed that some characteristically cynical British civil servant had waved the knighthood through as a relatively cheap way of flipping the finger to the mullahs.
But no. It seems Her Majesty's government in London was taken entirely by surprise by the scenes of burning Union Jacks on the evening news.
Can that really be true? In a typically incompetent response, Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary, issued one of those obviously -we're-sorry-if-there's-been-a-misunderstanding statements in which she managed to imply that Rushdie had been honored as a representative of the Muslim community. He's not. He's an ex-Muslim. He's a representative of the Muslim community's willingness to kill you for trying to leave the Muslim community. But, locked into obsolescent multiculti identity-groupthink, Beckett instinctively saw Rushdie as a member of a quaintly exotic minority rather than as a free-born individual.
This is where we came in two decades ago. We should have learned something by now. In the Muslim world, artistic criticism can be fatal. In 1992, the poet Sadiq Abd al-Karim Milalla also found that his work was "not particularly well-received": He was beheaded by the Saudis for suggesting Mohammed cooked up the Koran by himself. In 1998, the Algerian singer Lounes Matoub described himself as "ni Arabe ni musulman" (neither Arab nor Muslim) and shortly thereafter found himself neither alive nor well. These are not famous men. They don't stand around on Oscar night congratulating themselves on their "courage" for speaking out against Bush-Rove fascism. But, if we can't do much about freedom of expression in Iran and Saudi Arabia, we could at least do our bit to stop Saudi-Iranian standards embedding themselves in the Western world. So many of our problems with Iran today arise from not doing anything about our problems with Iran yesterday. Men like Ayatollah Khomeini despised pan-Arab nationalists like Nasser who attempted to impose a local variant of Marxism on the Muslim world. Khomeini figured: Why import the false ideologies of a failing civilization? Doesn't it make more sense to export Islamism to the dying West?
And, for a guy dismissed by most of us as crazy, he made a lot of sense. The Rushdie fatwa established the ground rules: The side that means it gets away with it. Mobs marched through Britain calling for the murder of a British subject -- and, as a matter of policy on the grounds of multicultural sensitivity, the British police shrugged and looked the other way. One reader in England recalled one demonstration at which he asked a constable why the "Muslim community leaders" weren't being arrested for incitement to murder. The officer told him to "f - - - off, or I'll arrest you." Genuine "moderate Muslims" were cowed into silence, and pseudo-moderate Muslims triangulated with artful evasiveness. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, who went on to become leader of the most prominent British Muslim lobby group, was asked his opinion of the fatwa against Rushdie and mused: "Death is perhaps too easy."
In 1989 Rushdie went into hiding under the protection of the British police. A decade later, despite renewals of the fatwa and generous additions to the bounty, he decided he did not wish to live his life like that and emerged from seclusion to live a more or less normal life. He learned the biggest lesson of all: how easy it is to be forced into the shadows. That's what's happening in the free world incrementally every day, with every itsy-bitsy nothing concession to groups who take offense at everything and demand the right to kill you for every offense. Across two decades, what happened to Rushdie has metastasized, in part because of the weak response in those first months. "Death is perhaps too easy"? Maybe. But slow societal suicide is easier still.