Saturday, September 10, 2011

From ‘Let's roll' to 'Let's roll over'

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
September 9, 2011

Waiting to be interviewed on the radio the other day, I found myself on hold listening to a public service message exhorting listeners to go to and tell their fellow citizens how they would be observing the tenth anniversary of the, ah, “tragic events.” There followed a sound bite of a lady explaining that she would be paying tribute by going and cleaning up an area of the beach.

Great! Who could object to that? Anything else? Well, another lady pledged that she “will continue to discuss anti-bullying tactics with my grandson.”

Marvelous. Because studies show that many middle-school bullies graduate to hijacking passenger jets and flying them into tall buildings?

Whoa, ease up on the old judgmentalism there, pal. In New Jersey, many of whose residents were among the dead, middle-schoolers will mark the anniversary with a special 9/11 curriculum that will “analyze diversity and prejudice in U.S. history.” And, if the “9/11 Peace Story Quilt” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art teaches us anything, it’s that the “tragic events” only underline the “importance of respect.” And “understanding.” As one of the quilt panels puts it:

“You should never feel left out

You are a piece of a puzzle

And without you

The whole picture can’t be seen.”

And if that message of “healing and unity” doesn’t sum up what happened on September 11th 2001, what does? A painting of a plane flying into a building? A sculpture of bodies falling from a skyscraper? Oh, don’t be so drearily literal. “It is still too soon,” says Yidori Mashimoto, director of the New Jersey City University Visual Arts Gallery, whose exhibition “Afterward And Forward” is intended to “promote dialogue, deeper reflection, meditation, and contextualization.” So, instead of planes and skyscrapers, it has Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree,” on which you can hang little tags with your ideas for world peace.

What's missing from these commemorations?


Oh, please. There are some pieces of the puzzle we have to leave out. As Mayor Bloomberg’s office has patiently explained, there’s “not enough room” at the official Ground Zero commemoration to accommodate any firemen. “Which is kind of weird,” wrote the Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, “since 343 of them managed to fit into the exact same space ten years ago.” On a day when all the fancypants money-no-object federal acronyms comprehensively failed – CIA, FBI, FAA, INS – the only bit of government that worked was the low-level unglamorous municipal government represented by the Fire Department of New York. When they arrived at the World Trade Center the air was thick with falling bodies – ordinary men and women trapped on high floors above where the planes had hit who chose to spend their last seconds in one last gulp of open air rather than die in an inferno of jet fuel. Far “too soon” for any of that at the New Jersey City University, but perhaps you could re-enact the moment by filling a peace tag for Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree” and then letting it flutter to the ground.

Upon arrival at the foot of the towers two firemen were hit by falling bodies. “There is no other way to put it,” one of their colleagues explained. “They exploded.”

Any room for that on the Metropolitan Museum “Peace Quilt”? Sadly not. We’re all out of squares.

What else is missing from these commemorations?

“Let’s Roll”?

What’s that – a quilting technique?

No, what’s missing from these commemorations is more Muslims. I bumped into an old BBC pal the other day who’s flying in for the anniversary to file a dispatch on why you see fewer women on the streets of New York wearing niqabs and burqas than you do on the streets of London. She thought this was a telling indictment of the post-9/11 climate of “Islamophobia.” I pointed out that, due to basic differences in immigration sources, there are far fewer Muslims in New York than in London. It would be like me flying into Stratford-on-Avon and reporting on the lack of Hispanics. But the suits had already approved the trip, so she was in no mood to call it off.

How are America’s allies remembering the real victims of 9/11? “Muslim Canucks Deal With Stereotypes Ten Years After 9/11,” reports CTV in Canada. And it’s a short step from stereotyping to criminalizing. “How The Fear Of Being Criminalized Has Forced Muslims Into Silence,” reports The Guardian in Britain. In Australia, a Muslim terrorism suspect was so fearful of being criminalized and stereotyped in the post-9/11 epidemic of paranoia that he pulled a Browning pistol out of his pants and hit Sgt. Adam Wolsey of the Sydney constabulary. Fortunately, Judge Leonie Flannery acquitted him of shooting with intent to harm on the grounds that “‘anti-Muslim sentiment’ made him fear for his safety,” as Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported on Friday. That’s such a heartwarming story for this 9/11 anniversary they should add an extra panel to the peace quilt, perhaps showing a terror suspect opening fire on a judge as she’s pronouncing him not guilty and then shrugging off the light shoulder wound as a useful exercise in healing and unity.

What of the 23rd Psalm? It was recited by Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer and the telephone operator Lisa Jefferson in the final moments of his life before he cried “Let's roll!” and rushed the hijackers.

No, sorry. Aside from firemen, Mayor Bloomberg’s official commemoration hasn’t got any room for clergy, either, what with all Executive Deputy Assistant Directors of Healing and Outreach who’ll be there. One reason why there’s so little room at Ground Zero is because it’s still a building site. As I write in my new book, 9/11 was something America’s enemies did to us; the 10-year hole is something we did to ourselves – and, in its way, the interminable bureaucratic sloth is surely as eloquent as anything Nanny Bloomberg will say in his remarks.

In Shanksville, Pa., the zoning and permitting processes are presumably less arthritic than in Lower Manhattan, but the Flight 93 memorial has still not been completed. There were objections to the proposed “Crescent of Embrace” on the grounds that it looked like an Islamic crescent pointing towards Mecca. The defense of its designers was that, au contraire, it’s just the usual touchy-feely huggy-weepy pansy-wimpy multiculti effete healing diversity mush. It doesn’t really matter which of these interpretations is correct, since neither of them has anything to do with what the passengers of Flight 93 actually did a decade ago. 9/11 was both Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid rolled into one, and the fourth flight was the only good news of the day, when citizen volunteers formed themselves into an ad hoc militia and denied Osama bin Laden what might have been his most spectacular victory. A few brave individuals figured out what was going on and pushed back within half-an-hour. But we can’t memorialize their sacrifice within a decade. And when the architect gets the memorial brief, he naturally assumes there’s been a typing error and that “Let’s roll!” should really be “Let’s roll over!”

And so we commemorate an act of war as a “tragic event,” and we retreat to equivocation, cultural self-loathing, and utterly fraudulent misrepresentation about the events of the day. In the weeks after 9/11, Americans were enjoined to ask “Why do they hate us?” A better question is: “Why do they despise us?” And the quickest way to figure out the answer is to visit the Peace Quilt and the Wish Tree, the Crescent of Embrace and the Hole of Bureaucratic Inertia.


We'll Never Get Over It, Nor Should We

Ten years later, remembering a day of horror and heroism

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
September 10, 2011

People are discussing the geopolitical implications of 9/11 and how the tragedy changed our country, and most of what's been said has been worthy and serious. But my thoughts, as we hit the 10th anniversary, are more local and particular. I'm in a New York state of mind.

There were two targets, Washington and New York. Washington saw a great military institution attacked, and quickly rebuilt. In Washington people ran barefoot from the White House and the Capitol.

But New York saw a world end. New York saw the buildings come down.

That was the thing. It's not that the towers were hit—we could have taken that. It's not the fire, we could have taken that too. They bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and took out five floors, and the next day we were back in business.

It's that the buildings came down, in front of our eyes. They were there and proud and strong, they were massive, two pillars at the end of the island. And then they groaned to the ground and there was a cloud and when people could finally see they looked back and the buildings weren't there breaking through the clouds anymore. The buildings were a cloud. The buildings were gone and that was too much to bear because they couldn't be gone, they couldn't have fallen. Because no one could knock down those buildings.

And it changed everything. It marked a psychic shift in our town between "safe" and "not safe." It marked the end of impregnable America and began an age of vulnerability. It marked the end of "we are protected" and the beginning of something else.

When you ask New Yorkers now what they remember, they start with something big—the first news report, the phone call in which someone said, "Turn on the TV." But then they go to the kind of small thing that when you first saw it you had no idea it would stay in your mind forever. The look on the face of a young Asian woman on Sixth Avenue in the 20s, as she looked upward. The votive candles on the street and the spontaneous shrines that popped up, the pictures of saints. The Xeroxed signs that covered every street pole downtown. A man or a woman in a family picture from a wedding or a birthday or bar mitzvah. "Have you seen Carla? Last seen Tuesday morning in Windows on the World."

The bus driver as I fumbled in my wallet to find my transit card. "Free rides today," he mumbled, in a voice on autopilot. The Pompeii-like ash that left a film on everything in town, all the way to the Bronx. The smell of burning plastic that lingered for weeks. A man who worked at Ground Zero told me: "It's the computers." They didn't melt or decompose, and they wouldn't stop burning. The doctors and nurses who lined up outside St. Vincent's Hospital with gurneys, thinking thousands would come, and the shock when they didn't. The spontaneous Dunkirk-like fleet of ferries that took survivors to New Jersey.

The old woman with her grandchild in a stroller. On the stroller she had written a sign in magic marker: "America You Are Not Alone, Mexico Is With You." She was all by herself in the darkness, on the side of the West Side Highway, as we stood to cheer the workers who were barreling downtown in trucks to begin the dig-out, and to see if they could find someone still alive.

The notes neighbors left under each other's doors. "Are you OK? Haven't seen you and just thought I'd make sure all is all right." The flags in every bodega, on every storefront, in the windows of apartments, up and down the proud facades of Park Avenue. My beautiful cynical town covered in flags, swept by love and protectiveness toward our country.

At first we didn't know what to call it, so we called it what happened. "Do you believe what happened?" "They think he died in what happened." It was weeks before we called it 9/11. Sometimes tragedy takes time to find a name.

We were half crazy those days. We were half nuts and didn't know it. The trauma on Tuesday was followed in the middle of Thursday night by a storm, a howling banshee that shook buildings—thunder like a cannonade, lightning tearing through the sky. And then there were the stories. We kept hearing about guys who dug themselves out of the rubble. We'd hear a guy came out of the rubble and said, "There's 20 firemen down there in an air pocket," and we'd all put on the news and it was never true. I will never forget this one: As the first tower went down some guy on the 50th floor grabbed a steel girder that was flying by, and he held on for dear life and it landed on a pile of rubble 30 floors below and he got up, brushed himself off, and walked away. That wasn't true either. The stories whipped through the town like the wind, and people grabbed onto them.

And there were the firemen. They were the heart of it all, the guys who went up the stairs with 50 to 75 pounds of gear and tools on their back. The other people who were there in the towers, they were innocent victims, they went to work that morning and wound up in the middle of a disaster. But the firemen saw the disaster before they went into it, they knew what they were getting into, they made a decision. And a lot of them were scared, you can see it on their faces on the pictures people took in the stairwells. The firemen would be going up one side of the stairs, and the fleeing workers would be going down on the other, right next to them, and they'd call out, "Good luck, son," and, "Thank you, boys."

They were tough men from Queens and Brooklyn and Staten Island, and they had families, wives and kids, and they went up those stairs. Captain Terry Hatton of Rescue 1 got as high as the 83rd floor. That's the last time he was seen.

Three hundred forty-three firemen gave their lives that day. Three hundred forty-three! It was impossible, like everything else.

Many heartbreaking things happened after 9/11 and maybe the worst is that there's no heroic statue to them, no big marking of what they were and what they gave, at the new World Trade Center memorial.

But New York will never get over what they did. They live in a lot of hearts.

They tell us to get over it, they say to move on, and they mean it well: We can't bring an air of tragedy into the future. But I will never get over it. To get over it is to get over the guy who stayed behind on a high floor with his friend who was in a wheelchair. To get over it is to get over the woman by herself with the sign in the darkness: "America You Are Not Alone." To get over it is to get over the guys who ran into the fire and not away from the fire.

You've got to be loyal to pain sometimes to be loyal to the glory that came out of it.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The I-Man's Last Stand

By on 9.9.11 @ 6:08AM
The American Spectator

From the perspective of the media tent, there emerged a true star out of this summer's debt-deal crisis. And no, it wasn't Paul Ryan. For us, rather, it was craggy-faced old Don Imus, who gaveNeil Cavuto the perfect interview forNews Alert on July 30 -- one that gleefully pushed the debt-ceiling debate from Continental Congress-like July into the dog days of D.C. August.

Cavuto treated him like America's dirty uncle, and Imus played along perfectly. "This is nonsense! It's a television show!" he ranted of the Capitol Hill proceedings. And when asked if he thought the credit-downgrade was imminent, he made a false prediction that seemed perfectly sensible: "I don't think they're going to do it to us. It's not in the spirit of doing business."

Imus in the Morning remains the last great example of the metropolitan American art form of morning radio. It's old-school New York media culture in caricature, with "Cardinal Egan over from the Archdiocese" to read lottery numbers. Imus makes high, bitter comedy out of the tropes of Old Broadcasting. And he does it when city people of all ethnicities are bumping into each other at their most off-the-record: during the morning commute.

Unless he's away "on the ranch," he does his show from the Fox Business Network studios in Rockefeller Center: his home since signing a simulcast deal with FBN in September 2009. On the heels of his "nappy-headed hos" comment and ouster from MSNBC, Imus-to-Fox seemed like one of those Roger Ailes hirings borne of political indignation (like Fox News' later embrace of Juan Williams after he was canned by NPR). The ratings reflect that.

While Imus in the Morning remains one of the ten highest-rated programs in New York morning radio with a 3.5 share (justifying to some degree the $8 million a year Imus currently makes from WABC), his television ratings are sub-test signal. Heaveraged 65,000 viewers on Fox Business in the first quarter of 2011 (down 45 percent from the same period in 2010, and down from a competitive 361,000 viewers when he was on MSNBC in 2007). From a television perspective, Imus isn't worth his own Rockefeller Center studio, and his show isn't exactly a venue for guests to reach a mass audience.

So there's something else still bringing senators and bestselling authors to Imus' daily boys' club. Something else that makes his show a hotspot for snide male political commentators likeBill Maher and Matt Taibbi. And it might just be that Imus in the Morning, in the absence of ratings, is the most honest depiction of political discourse in all of media.

While cable news trots out young model-anchors and actor-pundits, Imus reminds us that politics is still a game played by cursing old men over cocktails. And he makes them seem like regular guys. Where else can you hear Paul Begala get called a " numbnuts" or someone like Joe Lieberman say, "May all your sabbaths be peaceful" with a coarse, genuine chuckle? Even after all his P.C. trouble, Imus' notable guests didn't abandon him. That wouldn't be in the spirit of doing business.

For the past two years, Imus, 71, has been battling stage 2 prostate cancer. Though September marks Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Imus will stay tight-lipped on the issue. He hasn't spoken publicly on his condition in over a year -- funny, considering that his on-air staff used to give him such a hard time for talking about it ("Do you think anyone cares about your urinary tract defects?" mustachioed newsreader Charles McCord yelled at him during their Fox Business launch. "You've killed sympathy for yourself!") But the prolonged silence, coupled with the I-Man's age and his younger brother Fred's death on August 10, gives us grim thoughts.

On August 14, former WNBC New York executive vice president and Imus mentor Bob Sherman died of cancer himself. When Sherman joined WNBC in 1979 his first move was to re-hire Imus -- then a New York radio expat serving his exile in Cleveland. With Sherman's blessing, Imus carved out a style all his own, mocking political America with over-the-top characters like evangelist "Rev. Billy Sol Hargus" and a recurring Jesse Jackson impersonator. Imus understood just howmiddlebrow the political game seems to the average American, and he talked about it accordingly. Even as his profile expanded with national syndication and an off-color Clinton-era Correspondents' Dinner performance, Imus never lost his smirking nihilism. When Charlie Rose congratulated him in 1997 for making a Time shortlist of the most influential people in America, Imus joked that somebody at Time must have a book coming out that they want to promote on his show.

Today, Imus' name is inextricable from the 2007 racial controversy he incited. Author Sophia A. Nelson is currently touring the country with her book Black Woman Redefined, which she claimswas inspired by an "open season on accomplished black women" that reached a tipping point with the I-Man's crude joke about Rutgers women's basketball players. As recently as August 15,Huffington Post speech-policer Max Perry Mueller called for some negligible little Cal Thomas quote in USA Today to "move fingers to keyboards to type messages of repudiation for (Thomas') Don Imus-like racial slur."
A group of black women has created a Facebook sorority, seemingly in direct belated response to Imus, with the aim of turning the word "nappy" into "happy" and to "educate, inspire, and uplift" by...

Imus doesn't care. Unlike fellow cancerous rogue Christopher Hitchens, Imus is too gruff and formally uneducated to win media redemption in his final years. My only hope is that a young cult audience will tune in to him now and witness an urban American collective unconscious tapped into…before it's too late.

"The only people following this are sitting at home wearing their 'Pinheads and Patriots' T-shirts, mouthbreathers, eating up macaroni in the microwave and waiting for you to tell them what's going on!" Imus yelled at Cavuto during the debt debacle. Though forced to keep the old man at arm's length for the sake of his own reputation, Cavuto nonetheless couldn't stifle a laugh. Ratings or respect aside, even the suits at Fox know deep down that there's no accounting for style.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

How Obama Protects The Teamsters

By Michelle Malkin
September 7, 2011
My column today sheds light on the longstanding bromance between Barack Obama and the Teamsters. I especially want you to have all this information handy when Obama complains on Thursday about all the infrastructure that’s still not getting built despite the $230 billion in porkulus money set aside for construction projects.
I’ve been reporting for more than a year about how Big Labor will benefit from Obama’s new government infrastructure bank/public construction slush funds — and how feckless U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials in Washington are going along with the union-exclusive project labor agreements that punish taxpayers, employers, and non-union workers. Pay special attention to those goodies in Obama’s jobs speech. The jackals at Teamsters headquarters in D.C. can’t wait to tear up more of your tax dollars on government projects doled out by the crony-in-chief.

As usual, Jimmy Hoffa Jr.’s Tea Party-bashing is a calculated distraction from his festering ethics problems and internal Teamsters strife. According to the FBI via the Center for Union Facts, four of the last eight Teamsters presidents have been criminally indicted and since FY 2001, racketeering investigations have yielded more than 2,000 indictments and awarded more than $3 billion in fines and restitution. In past union elections, Hoffa’s team was caught laundering union funds for electioneering and for campaign polling on dues-payers’ dime. Hoffa now faces a new challenge to his union presidency from his own far Left flank this fall. Make sure to read about the latest election corruption he’s embroiled in below.

Barry and Jimmy: Birds of a feather.

How Obama protects the Teamsters

by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2011

Barack Obama and Jimmy Hoffa are like Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Lady Gaga and hype, the “Jersey Shore” cast and hairspray: inseparable. The president can no more disown the Teamsters Union’s leader than he can disown his own id.

At a Labor Day rally in Detroit on Monday before Obama spoke, Hoffa stoked anti-tea party hostility by urging his minions to “take these son of a b*tches out.” (Botched grammar added that extra boost of street-gang authenticity to the labor lawyer’s threat.) The same civility police on the left who decry any references to crosshairs as incitements to violence are now mute about Hoffa’s brass-knuckle rhetoric. The Chicagoans in the White House refuse to comment.

Those calling on Obama to condemn Hoffa’s uncivil tone are deluding themselves. The 1.4 million-member Teamsters lifted Obama to power with a coveted endorsement and bottomless campaign coffers funded with coerced member dues. Over the past two decades, the union has donated nearly $25 million to Democrats (compared to $1.8 million for Republicans).

What quid pro quo protection has the Teamsters’ money bought? Let us count the ways.

Calling off Teamsters corruption investigations. Back in May 2008, as he jockeyed with rival Hillary Clinton for Big Labor support, Obama promised to end longstanding federal probes into the Teamsters’ mob racket. In 1989, the union was facing federal racketeering charges after Justice Department officials determined it was operating as a “wholly owned subsidiary of organized crime.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama phoned several Teamsters heavies to convey his vow to begin dismantling the independent federal watchdog overseeing the Teamsters; an Obama spokesman confirmed it.

Teamsters reformers now consider the review board a “toothless mechanism,” according to a recent article in the left-wing The Nation magazine. As one Hoffa critic put it, “You’re so tied up into a corrupt culture. You have this culture of protecting each other.”

Meanwhile, a federal court has determined that Hoffa and his goons raided the Teamsters treasury to try to buy his own re-election support with jobs and pensions. As a court-appointed watchdog determined this spring: “The conduct revealed in this investigation reflects a culture, or mind-set where elected union officials do not clearly distinguish between their fiduciary responsibilities to the union and their separate political objectives of achieving election.”

Nevertheless, Obama’s crime-fighting crusaders are far more preoccupied with cracking down on Gibson guitars made of rare wood and covering up the Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal than with cleaning up the Teamsters’ graft and pay-for-play dirty business.

The Cadillac health plan exemption. While he regularly lambastes “millionaires and billionaires” who benefit from tax loopholes, Obama has zero to say about the crony Cadillac health insurance tax exemption he doled out to the Teamsters and other Big Labor groups. In January 2010, Hoffa and his pals met behind closed doors at the White House to ensure that they would be shielded while other middle-class Americans were forced to bear the burden.

Obamacare waivers for the brotherhood. While he calls for shared sacrifice, Obama has zero to say about the exclusive Obamacare waivers he has awarded to Teamsters chapters, including:

the Western Teamsters Welfare Trust in Seattle

the Teamsters and Employers Welfare Trust of Illinois in Springfield

the Teamsters Local 485 Health and Welfare Fund in Brooklyn, N.Y.

– the Teamsters Local 617 Welfare Fund in Ridgefield, N.J.

the Teamsters Local 734 Welfare Fund in Chicago.

No comment on obscene Big Labor salaries. While he regularly lambastes Wall Street salaries, Obama has zero to say about the bloated salaries and benefits of Teamsters brass (pdf). According to internal data compiled by Teamsters for a Democratic Union, 120 top Teamsters officials made more than $150,000 in 2009 — the largest number ever. Forty made more than $200,000 — also an unprecedented number. Hoffa pulls down nearly $400,000 a year, including an exclusive housing allowance and cost of living raise.

Shutting out non-union competition for public contracts. While he rails against “special interests,” Obama has zero to say about the executive orders he signed in the first days of his presidency to give unions a leg up. Executive Order 13502, for example, essentially forces contractors who bid on large-scale public construction projects worth $25 million or more to surrender to union representation for its employees. This codification of so-called project labor agreements significantly raises the cost of highway and school construction projects (by as much as 15 percent among California public schools, according to a new study by the National University System Institute for Policy Research).

The Obama protection order shuts out the vast majority of contractors in America. As I’ve noted before, 85 percent of the construction industry workforce is nonunion by choice.

Instead of putting Americans to work, the Teamsters have been busy yanking members off projects and idling construction projects from California and Nevada to Indiana to New York in order to shake down employers.

Now, you tell me: Who’s waging “war on workers”?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Packing Heat

By on 9.7.11 @ 6:07AM
The American Spectator

The theory that human activity is causing potentially catastrophic global warming is not science. It is politics, driven by special interests with ideological, political and economic stakes in the theory.

For environmentalists, global warming corresponds with the authoritarian goal at the core of their movement: repeal of the industrial revolution (which President Obama's EPA has begun to implement). For governments, it presents an opportunity to vastly expand their power and control through taxes, regulation and bureaucracy.

The theory also presents an opportunity for the United Nations to vastly expand its power and control. As an organization of world governments who would also gain enormously from acceptance of the theory, the UN is doubly corrupted as an honest broker on the issue. Yet, perversely, governments across the globe have delegated authoritative inquiry on the issue to the UN through its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Wily environmentalists have also successfully weaved economic stakes in the theory for some in the business community, starting with tens of billions -- growing into hundreds of billions -- of government subsidies for businesses that will pose as potential producers of the "green energy of tomorrow." This enables wily politicians to attempt to snooker voters with promises of "green jobs." Of course, those jobs would only become available if self-supporting producers of abundant low cost energy are replaced with an entire "green" industry that can survive on corporate welfare while producing unreliable high cost energy for the economy (resulting in job loss and a decline in America's standard of living).

What is so shocking is the way formerly objective, reliable Western science has been seduced by all these interests into intellectual corruption in service of the global warming fraud (less shocking when you consider the tens of billions in "research" funding provided by the above special interests). But don't forget that scientists live and breathe in the far left environment of the academic world. Thus, many of them have social and ideological interests in advancing the global warming charade.

The confluence of all these special interests and their money has now corrupted the broader scientific community. Formerly venerable, objective, respected scientific bodies such as the National Academy of Sciences have been taken over by politicians in scientific drag. Formerly independent scientific journals and publications have gone the same route rather than suffer the social and financial opprobrium that service to the truth will entail.

This growing intellectual corruption is greatly magnified by our thoroughly politicized Old Media, which operates today only in service of politically correct causes. Consequently, so much of the public discussion on global warming that we see is actually "play acting," with supposed scientists, journalists, media commentators, politicians and others posing as if objective science actually demonstrates the danger of human caused global warming. One day Al Gore​ will receive an Oscar for his role in posing as savior of the planet, which actually reflects delusional mental illness in the man who almost became our president.

But the politicization of Western science means the decline of Western science as well. That in turn augurs the decline of Western civilization, as objective science was a foundation of the rise of the West for centuries.

Climate Change Reconsidered

But real, objective science continues to flourish at little noticed work stations, offices, and independent institutes and foundations across the globe. The budding international headquarters of this worldwide counterrevolution has now flowered at the Chicago based Heartland Institute, which bravely soldiered on in devotion to real climate science when even compatriots told them objectivity on this issue was a lost cause.

In 2009, Heartland published the 858-page Climate Change Reconsidered, a comprehensive, dispassionate, thoroughly scientific refutation of the theory that human activity is causing global warming. That served as the first answer to the quadrennial Assessment Reports of the UN's IPCC. No one is knowledgeable about the true scientific debate over global warming until they have read and analyzed this thorough publication. Play acting commentators should be challenged for their response to this report, and publicly dismissed if they have none.

On August 29, Heartland released a 400-page follow up report titled Climate Change Reconsidered, reflecting the same thorough, objective, dispassionate analysis of the theory of global warming, and updating the science and developments. Heartland will continue the pattern of presenting full scientific alternatives to the UN's IPCC Assessment Reports (AR), planning to produce another full report in 2013 when the next IPCC AR is expected. Heartland has also sponsored annual international scientific conferences on climate change, several of which I have attended.

Hundreds of scientists from across the planet are now speaking out in opposition to the corruption of climate science. Among them are Fred Singer​, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia, and the founder and first Director of the National Weather Satellite Service; Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and U.S. Science Team Leader for the AMSR-E instrument flying on NASA's Aqua satellite; William Happer, Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University; Syun-ichi Akasofu, Professor of Physics and former director of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska; Patrick Michaels​, Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and past President of the American Association of State Climatogists; and David Douglass​, Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester. Physics icon Freeman Dyson​ expressed similar skepticism in the New York Times. These scientists are as good and as credentialed as any working on the UN's IPCC Assessment reports.

The just released Interim Report concludes that "natural causes are very likely to be the dominant cause of the climate change that took place in the twentieth and the start of the twenty-first centuries. We are not saying that anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) cannot produce some warming or have not in the past. Our conclusion is that the evidence shows they are not playing a substantial role."

The authors add, "the net effect of continued warming and rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere is most likely to be beneficial to humans, plants, and wildlife."

The Evidence Shows

The theory of global warming holds that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases produced by human civilization collect in the atmosphere. They let radiation from the sun in, but like a greenhouse they prevent the radiation from escaping back out, leading temperatures to increase, potentially to catastrophic levels. Humans cause CO2 emissions primarily by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal, natural gas, and wood, which was the foundation of the industrial revolution.

But the established temperature record from the official sources is not consistent with this theory. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions continually increased, yet temperatures did not steadily increase. Surface temperatures in the U.S. were warmer in the 1930s than they are today. From 1940 to the late 1970s, U.S. surface temperatures declined, despite all the increased burning of fossil fuels during that period, leaving no significant difference at that point from 1900. This decline actually prompted speculation at the time that a new ice age was coming. Surface temperatures then increased until the unrelated El Nino weather phenomenon in 1998, sponsoring the global warming hysteria. Since 1998, surface temperatures have actually declined again.

More reliable and relevant is the satellite data on global atmospheric temperatures, which is not distorted by the location, coverage, and surrounding activities of land based weather stations (highly unreliable outside the U.S. and Europe), and covers the whole planet. The satellite data starts in 1979, and shows no increase in global temperature trends until 1998, when El Nino caused a sharp temperature spike. Since then the satellite data again shows that global atmospheric temperatures have declined.

If supposed greenhouse gas emissions were causing global warming, then we should have seen a far more steady increase in temperatures. What the objective scientists are now saying is that this up and down pattern of temperature is far more consistent with natural causes. The temperature variation patterns follow variations in solar activity (like sunspots) and major ocean current temperature trends. For example, a major influence on global temperatures is what is known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which turns from warm to cold and back every 20 to 30 years, as cold water from deep in the ocean cycles up and is warmed by the sun. This PDO variation seems to follow closely with the actual temperature variation trends.

Global temperatures were also warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period, a period of several hundred years around 1000 A.D, when now icy Greenland was named and actually farmed by settlers (who long since fled as the cold and ice advanced). Even higher temperatures prevailed during a period known as the Holocene Climate Optimum, which ran roughly from 6000 B.C. to 3000 B.C. In fact, temperatures were higher than today during most of the period from 9000 B.C. to the birth of Christ. Yet, there was no significant human burning of fossil fuels during these periods.

CO2 is a naturally occurring substance in the Earth's atmosphere essential to life. Plants need to take in CO2 to live, and emit oxygen, which is essential to animal life. Animals breathe in oxygen and emit CO2. Proxy records scientists use to reconstruct the past show that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were much higher in the past than today. For hundreds of millions of years prior to 400 million years ago, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were well over 30 times greater than today. But CO2 concentrations have actually been in sharp decline since then. From roughly 50 million back to 350 million years ago, fluctuating CO2 concentrations were generally 3 to 15 times their current levels. Princeton's Happer argues that we have been suffering a CO2 famine that has harmed plant life and agriculture.

CO2 concentrations have begun rising again, due primarily to the industrial revolution and increased burning of fossil fuels, up 44 percent from 150 years ago. And this is already causing more rapid growth of plant life. But CO2 still accounts for only 0.039 percent of all atmospheric molecules, less than 1 percent of the concentration in human breath.

Moreover, humans and their activities currently account for only 3 percent of CO2 emissions each year. And less than half of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel burning remains in the atmosphere; the rest is absorbed by the ocean or incorporated by the terrestrial biosphere. This is why policies to reduce human CO2 emissions such as the Kyoto treaty, even if fully implemented, would have negligible effects on future temperatures, reducing the temperatures that would otherwise result by 0.02 degrees C by 2050 for Kyoto, as conceded by even global warming alarmists.

Marching Science Proves the Special Interests Wrong

Real science continues to march on, despite the politicians and media flacks. Right now, scientific proofs are developing and being published that disprove the global warming theory.

Published, peer reviewed papers by MIT's Lindzen find that a doubling of (CO2) in the atmosphere would increase temperatures by 0.7 degrees, less than half the estimate of the theoretical climate models relied on by the UN's IPCC. Another published paper by NASA's Spencer shows, using atmospheric temperature data from NASA's Terra satellite, that much more heat escapes back out to space than is assumed captured in the atmosphere by greenhouse effects under the UN's theoretical climate models. This explains why the warming temperature changes predicted by the UN's global warming models over the past 20 years have been so much greater than the actual measured temperature changes.

Last month came the results of another major experiment by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), involving 63 scientists from 17 European and U.S. institutes. The results show that the sun's cosmic rays resulting from sunspots have a much greater effect on Earth's temperatures through their effect on cloud cover than the UN's IPCC has been assuming. More cosmic rays mean more cloud cover, which cools temperatures. Less cosmic rays mean less cloud cover, raising temperatures. This again shows what the NIPCC and Heartland have been saying, that natural causes have the dominant effect on Earth's temperatures, not greenhouse gases.

Finally, the UN's own climate models project that if man's greenhouse gas emissions were causing global warming, there would be a particular pattern of temperature distribution in the atmosphere, which scientists call "the fingerprint." Temperatures in the troposphere portion of the atmosphere above the tropics would increase with altitude producing a "hotspot" near the top of the troposphere, about six miles above the earth's surface. Above that, in the stratosphere, there would be cooling. But higher quality temperature data from weather balloons and satellites now show just the opposite: no increasing warming with altitude in the tropical troposphere, but rather a slight cooling, with no hotspot and no fingerprint. QED.

- Peter Ferrara is Senior Fellow at the Carleson Center for Public Policy, Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy for the Heartland Institute, and General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan​, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under the first President Bush. He is the author of America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb, now available from HarperCollins.

Simply Evil

A decade after 9/11, it remains the best description and most essential fact about al-Qaida.

The proper task of the "public intellectual" might be conceived as the responsibility to introduce complexity into the argument: the reminder that things are very infrequently as simple as they can be made to seem. But what I learned in a highly indelible manner from the events and arguments of September 2001 was this: Never, ever ignore the obvious either. To the government and most of the people of the United States, it seemed that the country on 9/11 had been attacked in a particularly odious way (air piracy used to maximize civilian casualties) by a particularly odious group (a secretive and homicidal gang: part multinational corporation, part crime family) that was sworn to a medieval cult of death, a racist hatred of Jews, a religious frenzy against Hindus, Christians, Shia Muslims, and "unbelievers," and the restoration of a long-vanished and despotic empire.

To me, this remains the main point about al-Qaida and its surrogates. I do not believe, by stipulating it as the main point, that I try to oversimplify matters. I feel no need to show off or to think of something novel to say. Moreover, many of the attempts to introduce "complexity" into the picture strike me as half-baked obfuscations or distractions. These range from the irredeemably paranoid and contemptible efforts to pin responsibility for the attacks onto the Bush administration or the Jews, to the sometimes wearisome but not necessarily untrue insistence that Islamic peoples have suffered oppression. (Even when formally true, the latter must simply not be used as nonsequitur special pleading for the use of random violence by self-appointed Muslims.)

Underlying these and other attempts to change the subject there was, and still is, a perverse desire to say that the 9/11 atrocities were in some way deserved, or made historically more explicable, by the many crimes of past American foreign policy. Either that, or—to recall the contemporary comments of the "Reverends" Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson—a punishment from heaven for American sinfulness. (The two ways of thinking, one of them ostensibly "left" and the other "right," are in fact more or less identical.) That this was an assault upon our society, whatever its ostensible capitalist and militarist "targets," was again thought too obvious a point for a clever person to make. It became increasingly obvious, though, with every successive nihilistic attack on London, Madrid, Istanbul, Baghdad, and Bali. There was always some "intellectual," however, to argue in each case that the policy of Tony Blair, or George Bush, or the Spanish government, was the "root cause" of the broad-daylight slaughter of civilians. Responsibility, somehow, never lay squarely with the perpetrators.
So, although the official tone of this month's pious commemorations will stress the victims and their families (to the pathetically masochistic extent of continuing to forbid much of the graphic footage of the actual atrocities, lest "feelings" and susceptibilities be wounded), it is quite probable that those who accept the conventional "narrative" are, at least globally, in a minority. It is not only in the Muslim world that it is commonplace to hear that the events of 9/11 were part of a Jewish or U.S. government plot. And it is not only on the demented fringe that such fantasies circulate in "the West." A book alleging that the Pentagon rocketed the Pentagon with a cruise missile—somehow managing to dispose of the craft and crew and passengers of the still-missing Flight 77, including my slight friend Barbara Olson—was a best-seller in France, while another book about another 9/11 conspiracy theory was published in the United States by the publishing arm of the Nation magazine. Westminster John Knox Press, a respected house long associated with American Presbyterianism, published Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, which asserted that the events of that day were planned in order to furnish a pretext for intervention in the Middle East. More explicitly on the Left, my old publishing house Verso—offshoot of the New Left Review—published an anthology of Osama Bin Laden's sermonizing rants in which the editors compared the leader of al-Qaida explicitly, and in the context not unfavorably, to Che Guevara.
So, for me at any rate, the experience of engaging in the 9/11 politico-cultural wars was a vertiginous one in at least two ways. To begin with, I found myself for the first time in my life sharing the outlook of soldiers and cops, or at least of those soldiers and cops who had not (like George Tenet and most of the CIA) left us defenseless under open skies while well-known "no fly" names were allowed to pay cash for one-way tickets after having done perfunctory training at flight schools. My sympathies were wholeheartedly and unironically (and, I claim, rationally) with the forces of law and order. Second, I became heavily involved in defending my adopted country from an amazing campaign of defamation, in which large numbers of the intellectual class seemed determined at least to minimize the gravity of what had occurred, or to translate it into innocuous terms (poverty is the cause of political violence) that would leave their worldview undisturbed. How much easier to maintain, as many did, that it was all an excuse to build a pipeline across Afghanistan (an option bizarrely neglected by American imperialism after the fall of communism in Kabul, when the wretched country could have been ours for the taking!).

My solidarity with soldiers, cops, and other "responders" didn't make me a full convert to the police mentality. I was a named plaintiff in the lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the National Security Agency, for its practice of warrantless wiretapping. I found a way of having myself "waterboarded" by former professionals, in order to satisfy my readers that the process does indeed constitute torture. I have visited Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, those two grotesque hellholes of American panic-reaction, and written very critically from both. And I was and remain unreconciled to the stupid, wasteful, oppressive collective punishment of Americans who try to use our civil aviation, or who want to be able to get into their own offices without showing ID to a guard who has no database against which to check it. But I had also seen Abu Ghraib shortly after it was first broken open in 2003, and could have no truck with the moral defectives who talked glibly as if that mini-Auschwitz and mass grave was no worse. When Amnesty International described Guantanamo as "the Gulag of our time," I felt a collapse of seriousness that I have felt many times since.

One reason for opposing excesses and stupidities on "our" side (actually, why do I defensively lob in those quotation marks? Please consider them as optional) was my conviction that the defeat of Bin-Ladenism was ultimately certain. Al-Qaida demands the impossible—worldwide application of the most fanatical interpretation of sharia—and to forward the demand employs the most hysterically irrational means. (This combination, by the way, would make a reasonable definition of "terrorism.") It follows that the resort to panicky or degrading tactics in order to combat terrorism is, as well as immoral, self-defeating.

Ten years ago I wrote to a despairing friend that a time would come when al-Qaida had been penetrated, when its own paranoia would devour it, when it had tried every tactic and failed to repeat its 9/11 coup, when it would fall victim to its own deluded worldview and—because it has no means of generating self-criticism—would begin to implode. The trove recovered from Bin Laden's rather dismal Abbottabad hideaway appears to confirm that this fate has indeed, with much labor on the part of unsung heroes, begun to engulf al-Qaida. I take this as a part vindication of the superiority of "our" civilization, which is at least so constituted as to be able to learn from past mistakes, rather than remain a prisoner of "faith."

The battle against casuistry and bad faith has also been worth fighting. So have many other struggles to assert the obvious. Contrary to the peddlers of shallow anti-Western self-hatred, the Muslim world did not adopt Bin-Ladenism as its shield against reality. Very much to the contrary, there turned out to be many millions of Arabs who have heretically and robustly preferred life over death. In many societies, al-Qaida defeated itself as well as underwent defeat.

In these cases, then, the problems did turn out to be more complicated than any "simple" solution the theocratic fanatics could propose. But, and against the tendencies of euphemism and evasion, some stout simplicities deservedly remain. Among them: Holocaust denial is in fact a surreptitious form of Holocaust affirmation. The fatwa against Salman Rushdie was a direct and lethal challenge to free expression, not a clash between traditional faith and "free speech fundamentalism." The mass murder in Bosnia-Herzegovina was not the random product of "ancient hatreds" but a deliberate plan to erase the Muslim population. The regimes of Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fully deserve to be called "evil." And, 10 years ago in Manhattan and Washington and Shanksville, Pa., there was a direct confrontation with the totalitarian idea, expressed in its most vicious and unvarnished form. Let this and other struggles temper and strengthen us for future battles where it will be necessary to repudiate the big lie.

Today's Tune: Steve Earle - The Other Kind (Live)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Pro-Sharia Lunacy at the New York Times

By Ryan Mauro
September 6, 2011

On September 2, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Yale University’s Eliyahu Stern titled, “Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America.” The article compares the fight against Sharia law to anti-Semitism and depicts it as being based in anti-Muslim bigotry. On the contrary, the campaigns to ban Sharia-based judicial rulings actually protect Muslims who love the U.S. and the values that define it.

“The crusade against Sharia undermines American democracy, ignores our country’s successful history of religious tolerance and assimilation, and creates a dangerous divide between America and its fastest-growing religious minority,” Stern writes.

At least a dozen states are considering outlawing Islamic arbitration tribunals where Muslims can voluntarily settle their disputes according to Sharia law. As Daveed Garteinstein-Ross notes, there are similar courts for Jews and they are not used as criminal courts. However, there is a danger that an Islamist judge will be able to push his interpretation of the faith from the bench, and that Muslims will feel forced by their communities to use Sharia courts. Islamist groups have also promoted Sharia courts as part of an incremental strategy to bring about Sharia-based governance.

The Center for Security Policy has found 50 examples in 23 states “where Muslim-Americans had their cases decided by Sharia Law against their will.” In one case, a Trial Court judge ruled based on Moroccan Sharia law, even though those involved were not Moroccans or even Muslims. In Tampa, FL, a judge ruled that a dispute between two Muslim parties would be solved in accordance with Sharia, overruling the objections of the one party. There is also the notorious New Jersey case where a judge exonerated a Muslim man of raping his wife because Sharia allowed him to do so. The ruling was later overturned.

“These families came to America for freedom and from the discriminatory and cruel laws of Sharia. When our courts then apply Sharia law in the lives of these families, and deny them equal protection, they are betraying the principles on which America was founded,” the study says.

This is why the American-Islamic Forum on Democracy supports the ban on Sharia-based rulings.
“As Americans we believe in the Constitution, the Establishment Clause, and our one law system. [The ban] reaffirms the First Amendment to the Constitution and prevents the establishment or empowerment of a foreign legal system like the specific Sharia legal systems implemented in many Muslim majority nations and in western Sharia courts seen in places like Britain,” the Muslim group said.

To see the problems posed by Sharia courts, one only needs to look at Europe, where they have been established. The Civitas think tank in the United Kingdom found that the country has at least 85 of them.

“Among the rulings…we find some that advise illegal actions and others that transgress human rights standards as they are applied by British courts,” the report said. It mentioned a case where a Muslim woman was not allowed to marry a non-Muslim. In one incident, a Sharia councilman dismissed a woman’s complaint that her husband hit her once, saying “it’s not a very serious matter.”

Another study of Britain’s Sharia courts by One Law For All found that, “There is neither control over the appointment of these judges nor an independent monitoring mechanism. People often do not have access to legal advice and representation. Proceedings are not recorded, nor are there any searchable legal judgments. Nor is there any real right to appeal.”

Baroness Cox has proposed a bill that would prevent Sharia courts from claiming they have legal jurisdiction over family law or criminal law. It also would require that women be informed that they are best protected if their marriage is recognized under English law.

“Cox said they are increasingly ruling on family and criminal cases, including child custody and domestic violence. Jurisdiction ‘creep’ had caused considerable suffering among women compelled to return to abusive husbands, or to give up children and property,” the Guardian said.

The British Ministry of Justice decided to investigate the Sharia courts, but dropped the probe because of a lack of cooperation by the courts. The Ministry said it had a hard time interviewing those involved with the courts because they are short-staffed, over-worked, and simply didn’t want to talk. The Ministry mentioned a “reluctance to discuss the private work of the councils and respondents were wary of the stereotypical ways in which their organisations were represented in the media.”

It determined that Islamist forces are promoting the courts. “Despite all efforts to package Sharia’s civil code as mundane, its imposition represents a concerted attempt by Islamists to gain further influence in Britain,” it concludes.
The creation of Sharia courts is part of Islamist programs elsewhere in Europe and in the U.S. There is a concerted effort by Islamist groups to create Sharia enclaves within the United States, as well as in Canada and Western Europe. For example, a Spanish National Intelligence Center report warns that foreign money is helping Islamists to create “parallel societies” that include Sharia courts “that operate outside of Spanish jurisprudence.”

The opponents of Sharia-based court rulings and Sharia-based governance should not be dismissed or denigrated as they were in The New York Times opinion piece. There are legitimate concerns about what kinds of judges will be appointed, “jurisdiction creep,” and the potential for the abuses seen in Europe. And those concerns cannot be addressed so long as those raising them are ridiculed and dismissed.

Banned Books Week is just hype

By Jonah Goldberg
September 5, 2011

School is starting up again, and later this month we will celebrate another national tradition: Banned Books Week, which since 1982 takes place every year during the last week of September.

It's an exciting time. There are going to be special readings of "banned books" not merely in bookstores (where the banned books will, tellingly, be for sale) but online as well. This year, explains, "readers will be able to proclaim the virtues of their favorite banned books by posting videos of themselves reading excerpts to a dedicated YouTube channel." It's all so very brave and subversive!

Already, news outlets are dusting off familiar stories about the scary climate of censorship in the land. Indeed, it's a staple of nearly every major newspaper to at least let the American Library Association air its dire warnings about the growing threat to the freedom to read. Last year, on the eve of Banned Books Week, the ALA's official magazine, American Libraries, ran a story headlined, "Book banning alive and well in the U.S."

"What do books from the Twilight series, To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye have in common?" asked the magazine, "All have faced removal from library bookshelves in the United States within the past year."

It's a storyline the American left in particular seems to desperately want to be true. Recently, an American writer penned a lengthy online piece for the British newspaper The (London) Guardian headlined "The Tea Party moves to ban books." The left-wing activist group Think Progress announces, "Censorship On The Rise: U.S. Schools Have Banned More Than 20 Books This Year."

No, not true

The problem: None of this is remotely true. Banned Books Week is an exercise in propaganda. For starters, as a legal matter no book in America is banned, period, full stop (not counting, I suppose, some hard-core illegal child porn or some such out there). Any citizen can go to a bookstore or and buy any book legally in print — or out of print for that matter.

When the American Library Association talks about censorship of books, it invariably refers to "banned or challenged" books. A "banned" book is a book that has been removed from a public library or school's shelves or reading lists due to pressure from someone who isn't a librarian or teacher. In practice, this means pretty much any book that's pulled off the shelves of a library can be counted as "banned." Even so, that's very rare, which is why the ALA lump "banned" and "challenged" together. Moreover, it's crazy. If the mere absence of a book counts as a "ban," then 99.99% of books have been banned somewhere.

Meanwhile, a challenge happens when someone — usually a parent — questions the suitability of a book. If you complain that your 8-year-old kid shouldn't be reading a book with lots of sex, violence or profanity until he or she is a little older, you're not a good parent; you're a would-be book-banner. The preferred tactic of the BBWers is to highlight a stupid decision by one school somewhere in America and hype the anecdote as a trend. So when a school in Missouri recently removed Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five from its shelves, it was immediately decried as the harbinger of a national trend. (The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library immediately offered all the school's students free copies of the "banned" book)

Numbers tell it all

To get a sense of how overhyped these sorts of stories are, consider that reported challenges have dropped from 513 in 2008 to 348 last year. The historic norm is a mere 400 to 500 bans or challenges.

Well, there are almost 100,000 public schools in America (98,706 in 2009) educating roughtly 50 million students. (There are 33,000 private schools. And some 10,000 public libraries). So if there were, say, 500 parent-driven "bans or challenges" in a given year in public schools, that would mean for every 200 public schools, or every 100,000 students, at least one parent even complained about an age-inappropriate book. What an epidemic!

These days, teachers unions are fond of claiming that apathetic parents deserve more of the blame for the woeful state of education today. Maybe so. But a national policy of bullying parents interested in what their kids are reading hardly seems like the best way to encourage them. Indeed, from these numbers, the real scandal might be that so few books are "banned or challenged."

As an author myself, I'm all for making book-reading more attractive to young people. Banned Books Week seems in part designed to make book-reading seem "subversive." That's admirable. But Banned Books Week has less admirable themes as well. As an educational enterprise, it denigrates the United States as a backward, censorial country when it's anything but. It demeans parents and other citizens who take an interest in the schools. And it attempts to elevate the judgment of professional librarians to unimpeachable heights — the same librarians who've sometimes pushed to allow nearly unfettered access to porn in public libraries. Fighting mythical censorship with real propaganda hardly seems like a worthwhile trade.

Jonah Goldberg is editor at large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.