Friday, February 13, 2015

Crusaders and Appeasers

February 12, 2015
Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert
His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over.” His attorney general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, a country cited by President Obama last September as an American success in fighting terrorism.
Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity.
Not to worry, says his national security adviser: This is not World War II. As if one should be reassured because the current chaos has yet to achieve the level of the most devastating conflict in human history. Indeed, insists the president, the real source of our metastasizing anxiety is . . . the news media.
Russia pushes deep into eastern Ukraine. The Islamic State burns to death a Jordanian pilot. Iran extends its hegemony over four Arab capitals — Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and now Sanaa.
And America watches. Obama calls the policy “strategic patience.” That’s a synonym for “inaction,” made to sound profoundly “strategic.”
Take Russia. The only news out of Obama’s one-hour news conference with Angela Merkel this week was that he still can’t make up his mind whether to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons. The Russians have sent in T-80 tanks and Grad rocket launchers. We’ve sent in humanitarian aid that includes blankets, MREs and psychological counselors.
How complementary: The counselors do grief therapy for those on the receiving end of the T-80 tank fire. “I think the Ukrainian people can feel confident that we have stood by them,” said Obama at the news conference.
Indeed. And don’t forget the blankets. America was once the arsenal of democracy, notes Elliott Abrams. We are now its linen closet.
Why no antitank and other defensive weapons? Because we are afraid that arming the victim of aggression will anger the aggressor.
Such on-the-ground appeasement goes well with the linguistic appeasement whereby Obama dares not call radical Islam by name. And whereby both the White House and State Department spend much of a day insisting that the attack on the kosher grocery in Paris had nothing to do with Jews. It was just, as the president said, someone “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.” (By the end of the day, the administration backed off this idiocy. By tweet.)
This passivity — strategic, syntactical, ideological — is more than just a reaction to the perceived overreach of the Bush years. Or a fear of failure. Or bowing to the domestic left. It is, above all, rooted in Obama’s deep belief that we — America, Christians, the West — lack the moral authority to engage, to project, i.e., to lead.
Before we condemn the atrocities of others, intoned Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, we shouldn’t “get on our high horse.” We should acknowledge having authored the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, etc. “in the name of Christ.”
In a rare rhetorical feat, Obama managed to combine the banal and the repulsive. After all, is it really a revelation that all religions have transgressed, that man is fallen? To the adolescent Columbia undergrad, that’s a profundity. To a roomful of faith leaders, that’s an insult to one’s intelligence.
And in deeply bad taste. A coalition POW is burned alive and the reaction of the alliance leader barely 48 hours later is essentially: “Hey, but what about Joan of Arc?”
The conclusion to this patronizing little riff — a gratuitous and bizarre attack on India as an example of religious intolerance — received less attention than it merited. India? Our largest and most strategically promising democratic ally — and the most successful multiethnic, multilingual, multiconfessional country on the planet? (Compare India to, oh, its colonial twin, Pakistan.)
There is, however, nothing really new in Obama’s selective condemnation of America and its democratic allies. It is just a reprise of the theme of his post-inauguration 2009 confessional world tour. From Strasbourg to Cairo and the U.N. General Assembly, he indicted his own country, as I chronicled at the time, “for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness (toward Europe), for maltreatment of natives, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantánamo, for unilateralism, and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.”
The purpose and the effect of such an indictment is to undermine any moral claim to American world leadership. The line between the Washington prayer breakfast and the Ukrainian grief counselors is direct and causal. Once you’ve discounted your own moral authority, once you’ve undermined your own country’s moral self-confidence, you cannot lead.
If, during the very week Islamic supremacists achieve “peak barbarism” with the immolation of a helpless prisoner, you cannot take them on without apologizing for sins committed a thousand years ago, you have prepared the ground for strategic paralysis.
All that’s left is to call it strategic patience.

The Last of England

by Mark Steyn
February 12, 2015

Sir Peter Fahy is one of three serving officers to be facing a criminal and gross misconduct investigation by Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Sir Peter Fahy (PA)

The other day Wiltshire Police went to a local newsagent and demanded that, in the interests of "community cohesion", he hand over the names of every customer who bought a copy of Charlie Hebdo... This is Mother England in 2015: You can still read samizdat literature, but your name will be entered in a state database.
The Daily Mail's Amanda Williams reports today that this was not a one-off idiosyncracy by some bozo coppers in one county, but came from the very top:
National Anti-Terror Unit Handed List Of Charlie Hebdo Stockists To Local Forces Who Then Went Round Demanding To Know Who Bought Copies
The man responsible for this decision is Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, who holds the additional responsibility of "national police lead for preventing extremism". A Chief Commissar for Preventing Extremism is a title that not so long ago one would have had to go to Eastern Europe or a banana republic to find. But it is now held by a British policeman. Nevertheless, Sir Peter would like us to know that he thinks, somewhere way down the chain of command, some of the lads may have gotten a little carried away:
Anti-terror units handed local police officers the names of British newsagents who stocked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris attacks. 
But the decision by some forces to then visit the outlets and quiz shopkeepers about who bought the publication was 'overzealous and unnecessary', Britain's anti-terror police chief has said. 
Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and national police lead for preventing extremism, said he was now urgently clarifying guidance to all UK forces. 
It comes after police were caught asking British newsagents which sold copies of the satirical magazine for details of the customers who bought it. 
Shopkeepers in Wales, Wiltshire and Cheshire reported that police approached them and demanded personal information on readers of the magazine. 
In a letter to the Guardian, Sir Peter said that the move to provide details of newsagents to local police was intended to 'provide community reassurance'.
This is the same Sir Peter Fahy who, only two months ago, was warning that Britain could "drift into a police state" in which his officers wound up having to act as "thought police". But why drift into a police state when you can put your foot on the gas and get there in the fast lane? My tireless compatriot Blazing Cat Fur comments:
This is how a Police State operates. The same police state that turned a blind eye to Muslim Rape Gangs.
I don't think that's an exaggeration. The wretched David Cameron was happy to march in Paris under the #JeSuisCharlie banner, but, if he were an honest man, he'd be parading under #JeSuisTheGuyWhoTakesDownTheNamesOfEveryoneWhoBuysACopyOfCharlie. Like most of the European political class, Mr Cameron recognizes he has a problem on his hands - a problem he and the rest of the Euro-elite have created: They have imported a huge population that, even discounting those who wish to join ISIS or slaughter British soldiers on the streets of Woolwich, has no great enthusiasm for English liberties. With the characteristic arrogance of an insulated ruling class, Cameron thinks the solution to the problem is an enhanced security state mediating relations between his fractious citizenry. And, if that means reigning in English liberties, such as the freedom to read a magazine without being monitored by the state, so be it.

Because he cannot address the problem honestly, Cameron has to give his security apparatchiks creepy, evasive titles like "national lead for preventing extremism". But the danger in giving someone an evasively-named job is that he'll end up doing it evasively. After all, what's easier for the lazy, bullying PC Plods of the new security state? Cracking down on Muslim grooming gangs who'll laugh at them, steal their helmets, file Islamophobia complaints and tie them up in sensitivity-training for the next six months? Or cracking down on those few remaining British subjects in whom the spark of liberty still flickers by monitoring them for reading unapproved jokes?

I often describe myself as a 19th-century British imperialist a century past his sell-by date. What do I mean by that? Well, I fleshed it out a bit in America Alonepersonally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore and go to support my pushback against litigious dweeb Michael E Mann and the other Big Climate enforcers... Where was I? Oh, yeah, England, land of hope and glory, mother of the free. From page 167 of America Alone:
In 2003, Tony Blair spoke to the United States Congress. "As Britain knows," he said, "all predominant power seems for a time invincible but, in fact, it is transient. The question is: What do you leave behind?" 
An excellent question. Today, three-sevenths of the G7 major economies are nations of British descent. Of the 20 economies with the highest GDP per capita, no fewer than 11 are current or former realms of Her Britannic Majesty. And if you protest that most of those are pinprick colonial tax havens – Bermuda, the Caymans - okay, eliminate all territories with populations lower than 20 million and the Top Four is an Anglosphere sweep: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The key regional players in almost every corner of the globe are British-derived – South Africa, India – and, even among the lesser players, as a general rule you're better off for having been exposed to British rule than not: try doing business in Indonesia rather than Malaysia, or Haiti rather than St Lucia. 
And of course the pre-eminent power of the age derives its political character from 18th century British subjects who took English ideas a little further than the mother country was willing to go.
I believe that. I was born in Canada, and just about everything that works in my own deranged Dominion (as Stephen Harper once suggested to his befuddled London hosts) came from the Mother Country. Germany, Italy, France et al gave us better art, music, food, women, but it is the English-speaking world that has seeded and grown liberty on every corner of the earth - property rights, self-government, fair courts, laws of contract, free speech... And through the last century it is the English-speaking world that has defended and fought for those liberties when the rest of the west has turned to dark and crude perversions.

So the death of England is not like the death of Sweden or Belgium. It represents the foulest betrayal of a glorious inheritance. I have quoted before my old National Post comrade George Jonas - that things aren't wrong because they're illegal, they're illegal because they're wrong. If an English policeman no longer knows it's wrong to ask a newsagent for the names and addresses of those who purchased a particular magazine, no amount of "clarifying" "guidance" from Sir Peter Fahy can help him. And if an English Chief Constable no longer knows it's wrong to demand the national distributor cough up the names of all the stockists he's shipped it to, no amount of bland soft-totalitarian blather about "providing community reassurance" can alter the fact that an English public servant is subverting a core liberty - an English liberty. A society can survive losing this or that liberty as they ebb and flow across the centuries, but there are no easy roads back when it loses the spirit of liberty. And that is what Sir Peter Fahy and his ilk are missing.

When David Cameron appeared with David Letterman a couple of years back, he knew the date Magna Carta was signed, butdidn't know what it meant. In this 800th annniversary year, in the coercive hyper-security state over which he presides, that no longer seems so surprising.

~See you on the radio later today with Hugh Hewitt - coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Solzhenitsyn’s permanence

On Daniel J. Mahoney's new book, The Other Solzhenitsyn, and why Solzhenitsyn is still relevant today.

by Brian C. Anderson
February 2015

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s reputation has waned in the English-speaking world. The Russian writer still gets credit, at least from sensible quarters, for revealing the Soviet Union’s infernal system of forced labor and institutionalized mendacity in the series of works that includes One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and the three-volume “experiment in literary investigation,” The Gulag Archipelago, the publication of which in the West in 1973 sounded the first death-knell of the Soviet Union and made its author a household name. But Anglophone critics have tended to dismiss Solzhenitsyn’s later output—and that’s when they’ve bothered to acknowledge its existence. Diminished interest in Solzhenitsyn is reflected in the fact that much of his post-Gulag writing—including the bulk of his multi-volume literary and historical narrative about the Russian Revolution, The Red Wheel—remains untranslated into English, six years after his death from heart failure at eighty-nine.
The notion that Solzhenitsyn is of merely historical interest in a post-totalitarian age is one likely reason for this neglect. The other is political. The American left, never fond of Solzhenitsyn, began actively to despise him after his 1978 commencement speech at Harvard, “A World Split Apart,” which denounced the rise of moral relativism in the West, praised the idea of liberty under God, and blasted anti-war activists for forcing the United States to withdraw militarily from South Vietnam, leaving that country prey to the Communists—views that were anathema to elite opinion, then as today. As one journalist then put it, Solzhenitsyn “is not the ‘liberal’ we would like him to be.” Around this time arose a perception of Solzhenitsyn, sold primarily by the left but endorsed by some on the right, that provided an excuse not to read him: he was a tsarist reactionary, an Orthodox Christian ayatollah, a hater of democracy, a Russian ultranationalist. None of this was true. Solzhenitsyn wasn’t just dismissed; he was demonized.
Daniel J. Mahoney, a political scientist at Assumption College, has labored in recent years to reestablish Solzhenitsyn’s rightful place as a novelist, historian, and moral and political thinker of the first order, whose work provides not only an astonishing account of the soul of man under communist totalitarianism but also deep insights into the problems of modern democratic societies. Back in 2001, he published Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology, an exploration of the Russian writer’s key spiritual and philosophical themes. A few years later, Mahoney and fellow Solzhenitsyn scholar Edward Ericson Jr. edited The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947–2005, a 600-plus–page collection of the author’s work, including material previously unavailable in English. And now comes The Other Solzhenitsyn: Telling the Truth about a Misunderstood Writer and Thinker, a luminously argued book in which Mahoney directly takes on the main charges against Solzhenitsyn and defends him as a man of faith and reason, moderation, and commitment to freedom and the truth.1
Mahoney’s new book isn’t a biography, but the major moments of Solzhenitsyn’s remarkable life run through his narrative. Brought up in humble circumstances in Rostov-on-Don by his well-educated mother Taisia—his father had died in a hunting accident six months before his birth—Solzhenitsyn was encouraged from an early age to pursue his literary interests. Young Aleksandr was raised as an Orthodox Christian, but by the time he left Rostov University with a math degree, he had accepted the Marxian worldview of his teachers. It was while serving as a Red Army commander during World War II that he first began to doubt that worldview. In 1945, the authorities intercepted private correspondence of Solzhenitsyn that criticized Joseph Stalin. Swiftly arrested, he spent the next eight years in the nightmarish Soviet system labor camps, which he would name “the gulag archipelago.” The searing experience transformed Solzhenitsyn, leading him to reject Marx, rediscover Christ, and embrace his destiny as a witness of evil and suffering. A period of internal exile followed in Kazakhstan, where he taught high schoolers math and physics and won a life-threatening bout with stomach cancer—and where he started to write daily, something he didn’t stop doing until he died.
Solzhenitsyn’s first major work, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, appeared in 1962 during a period of loosened state censorship under Premier Nikita Khrushchev. It heralded the arrival of a new literary sensation. Solzhenitsyn’s largely autobiographical story of a Russian peasant unjustly condemned to a Stalin-era labor camp moved Khrushchev, who believed that its publication would aid his push to “de-Stalinize” the Soviet Union. After Khrushchev’s removal from power in 1964, the censors clamped down, and in 1965 secret police confiscated Solzhenitsyn’s manuscripts and files and began a constant campaign of harassment. The brilliant novels The First Circle and The Cancer Ward appeared in translation in England and Western Europe in the late Sixties but remained officially taboo in his homeland. Based on his available masterworks, Solzhenitsyn was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1970, enraging Soviet leaders, who saw the honor as a hostile act by Western powers.
Solzhenitsyn had been hiding The Gulag Archipelago from the censors and keeping it from publication in the West, where a smuggled draft was in friendly hands. He feared that living people mentioned in the book would face ferocious Communist reprisals if it appeared, even in translation. But when the KGB got hold of a manuscript, Solzhenitsyn said it was time to unveil The Gulag: the first of the book’s three volumes came out in France in late 1973, unleashing a storm of controversy and comment. Briefly jailed in Moscow and charged with treason, Solzhenitsyn again found himself exiled, this time outside of the Soviet Union; his international reputation protected him from worse. He eventually settled in Cavendish, Vermont, where he resided with his family for two decades. The publications flowed in profusion, including The Oak and the Calf and further installments, or “Knots,” as the author termed them, of The Red Wheel, which he regarded as his greatest literary achievement. Yet as Solzhenitsyn’s often critical views about the West and modern society became more widely known, elite opinion—especially in America and England—began its turn against him.
The Soviet Union’s implosion made it possible for Solzhenitsyn to return to Russia in 1994, moving with his wife into a dacha west of Moscow. Some Russians greeted him as a national icon and hero; the left-liberal Muscovite intellectuals were as contemptuous as their Western counterparts. Solzhenitsyn found much to worry about in the new Russia. He laid out his reform ideas in interviews and publications that included two books of political reflection: Rebuilding Russia (1990) and Russia in Collapse (1998). Among his last major projects were a memoir of his time in America and a two-volume history of Jewish–Russian relations. Solzhenitsyn died in August 2008, firm in the belief that “life on earth does not exhaust our destiny,” Mahoney says.
Mahoney spends much time on Solzhenitsyn’s later writing and public statements in his new book, and for good reason: they have been seriously misrepresented. The charge that Solzhenitsyn is an authoritarian has frequently characterized English-language responses to his post–Gulagthought. One American scholar, in a typical aside, derides Solzhenitsyn’s “categorical opposition to democracy.” A 2008 Guardian op-ed portrays him as “hankering after an idealized Tsarist era when, seemingly, everything was rosy.” For the noted historian Richard Pipes, the author was a “false prophet,” brimming with “hate-driven intellectual intolerance” and seeking some kind of hallucinatory “ ‘Holy Russia’ of his imagination.”
Mahoney demolishes this caricature. True, Solzhenitsyn was critical of many aspects of modern democratic societies, above all the Enlightenment-born pretension to make man, and not God, the measure of all things—an ethos, he claimed, that lost sight of the Western tradition’s “rich reserves of mercy and sacrifice” and led to serious abuses of freedom and spiritual desiccation. But he also found much to admire about the West’s democratic experience. In his 1993 address to the International Academy for Philosophy in Liechtenstein, he praised the West’s “historically unique stability of civic life under the rule of law—a hard-won stability which grants independence and space to every citizen.”
Further, Solzhenitsyn made democratic reform the focus of his reflections on Russia’s future after his return from exile. The Western model of democratic capitalism couldn’t be imposed top-down on Russia, he averred, as if the traditions of the people of the country were mere abstractions. He was outraged by the Boris Yeltsin regime’s perversion of reform following the Soviet Union’s collapse, when the centralized introduction of “democracy” and “markets” brought the imposition of political control and theft of public wealth by a new oligarchic elite—an oligarchy that included many former Communists. During the 2000s, Solzhenitsyn offered qualified support for Vladimir Putin as Russia’s prime minister and then as president, hoping that the former low-level KGB man would stand up to the oligarchs on the people’s behalf, put an end to the chaos that was engulfing the country, and establish the rule of law on firmer foundations. Those hopes proved mostly naive, as Solzhenitsyn, were he alive today and faced with Putin’s stubborn hold on power and increasing bellicosity to Russia’s neighbors, would doubtless acknowledge: in his final interview, with Der Spiegel in 2007, he lamented the nation’s lack of a real opposition. What post–Communist Russia most needed, Solzhenitsyn argued repeatedly, was a patient reconstruction, from the bottom up, of the institutions and habits of self-government. Striking a Tocquevillian note, Solzhenitsyn celebrated inRebuilding Russia the local political liberties of the New England and Swiss towns of his exile. Grassroots self-government of that kind had a precedent within Russian history: the zemstvo, local governing bodies that existed during the last half-century of tsarist rule. A modernized zemstvo system, rooted in Russian traditions, he believed, could help build a freer future for his country.
Solzhenitsyn never idealized tsarist rule. As Mahoney observes, “if one opens almost any page of Solzhenitsyn’s 1994 essay The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century one finds Solzhenitsyn faulting tsarist authorities for their blindness about the need for political liberty in Russia, and for their wasting of the nation’s strength in unnecessary and counterproductive foreign adventures.” The portrait of late-tsarism in The Red Wheel is dominated by the fecklessness and mediocrity of Nicholas II, whose weakness of character contributed to making Communism a dark fate for the Russian people. Had the Tsar boldly backed the liberalizing reforms of Russia’s prime minister Pytor Stolypin—Solzhenitsyn’s embodiment of responsible statesmanship in August 1914, the first installment of The Red Wheel—the revolutionaries would have been defanged, giving Russia time to develop freer and more representative political and constitutional forms. Tragically, an assassin’s bullets felled Stolypin in September 1911. The wheel of history, now unstoppable, would eventually grind up millions of lives.
Solzhenitsyn’s Christian beliefs were more nuanced than his critics have claimed; he was certainly no “Russian ayatollah,” he retorted. Mahoney describes the genesis of Solzhenitsyn’s adult religiosity as a response of a questioning nonbeliever to the incredible suffering and glimmerings of hope he witnessed around him in the gulag; the camps showed him fundamental truths about human nature. “He was groping in the camps, searching for answers,” Mahoney writes, “and he found that Christianity offered many of them.” Yet Solzhenitsyn refused any theocratic temptation. Though he embraced Orthodox Christianity, his arguments about the mystery of transcendence—that a healthy culture must recognize that mystery—were non-sectarian and often philosophical, and not dogmatically religious. Like Pope John Paul II, whom he greatly admired, Solzhenitsyn was a man of faith and reason.
Another falsehood that Mahoney exposes is that Solzhenitsyn was a fevered ultra-nationalist or pan-Slavist, eager to unite the Slavic peoples under Russian rule. Solzhenitsyn was unquestionably a Russian patriot, but this didn’t mean he blinded himself to his country’s weaknesses or mistakes. “Patriotism means unqualified and unswerving love for the nation,” he wrote in The Russian Question, “which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins.” Pan-Slavism was a “wretched idea,” he bluntly stated; “the aims of a great empire and the moral health of the people are incompatible.” Indeed, moral health for Russia, and for all nations, required “repentance and self-limitation,” not the aggressive pursuit of power. “Solzhenitsyn the patriot is a critic of a nationalism devoid of a higher perspective, a nationalism that ignores spiritual imperatives,” Mahoney writes. “He is a critic of a nationalism that puts national self-assertion above a humble attitude toward God’s heaven.” Still, Mahoney acknowledges, some of Solzhenitsyn’s rhetoric in defense of his fellow Slavs—comparing NATO’s bombings of Serbia in 1998 to Hitler’s assaults on eastern Europe being the most regrettable example—gave his critics ammunition.
At the deepest level, Solzhenitsyn saw national pluralism as an expression of the richness of the human soul. He put this magnificently in his Nobel lecture. Nations, he observed, “are the wealth of humanity; they are its crystallized personalities; even the smallest among them has its own special coloration, hides within itself a particular facet of God’s design.” Were national differences to disappear—as Marxism prophesied would happen at the end of history—humanity would be impoverished “not less than if all men should become alike, with one personality and one face.”
Mahoney devotes a chapter to defending Solzhenitsyn’s two-volume history of the relations between Russians and Jews, Two Hundred Years Together, from the accusations of anti-Semitism that some have made against it. The main basis of those charges is Solzhenitsyn’s willingness to discuss—and detail—the “disproportionate” presence of Jews in the early Leninist state’s repression machine. Yet the critics “never really challenge the accuracy of the facts to which Solzhenitsyn draws our attention,” Mahoney observes, which the refuznik Natan Sharansky has pointed out as well. And Solzhenitsyn never blames Jews for the Bolshevik takeover: a tiny Jewish minority could never drag the massive Russian nation into the Communist underworld, he recognizes. Moreover, adds Mahoney, Solzhenitsyn’s study acknowledges the uniqueness of the Holocaust and carefully documents the pogroms and abuses Jews suffered in Russia and the Soviet Union across time. Solzhenitsyn’s purpose in Two Hundred Years Together is simply to encourage both Russians and Jews to take responsibility for the actions of their “renegade” predecessors during the twentieth century. In such mutual repentance, he believed, lay forgiveness. “A fair-minded critic can only conclude that there is nothing anti-Semitic or nationalistic” about Solzhenitsyn’s effort, says Mahoney.
The Other Solzhenitsyn proves its subject was a critical friend of democracy and human freedom, a harsh judge of Tsarism, a faithful and tolerant Christian, a Russian patriot who saw the divine in the diversity of human cultures, and no anti-Semite. But Mahoney’s book isn’t just an apologia for Solzhenitsyn. It includes informative chapters on Solzhenitsyn’s defense of force in the struggle against evil; his affinities for the great French political thinker Raymond Aron (whose writings Mahoney and I have worked together to return to print); and his innovative “binary tales,” short stories written in the 1990s and recently published in English as Apricot Jam and Other Stories.
The Russian writer’s greatest achievement, though, remains his profound analysis of Communist totalitarianism, which Mahoney unpacks in a chapter on the “phenomenology of ideological despotism” in The Gulag Archipelago. The Soviet overlords punished everything decent and humane, Solzhenitsyn showed. Constant fear was one aspect of their rule—no minute passed when people weren’t being spied on or arrested. Enemies were dehumanized: they were insects, vermin, not men and women. Secrecy and mistrust metastasized, consuming human relationships. Betrayal became a way of life, corrupting “all that was bright, remarkable, of a higher level,” as Solzhenitsyn would later put it. Yet the evil wouldn’t have reached so deeply into the soul, and killed so many, Solzhenitsyn argued, were it not for Marxist ideology, which justified horrific acts on the altar of historical progress. This was the “lie” that began with Marx and Lenin and ravaged a century.
Is that lie gone for good? Marxist regimes have vanished, of course, save for the impoverished anti-society of North Korea and crumbling Cuba. Yet even as I was reading Mahoney’s study, a new book came across my desk from the prestigious Columbia University Press: Factory of Strategy: Thirty-Three Lessons on Lenin by the Italian political theorist Antonio Negri, an unrepentant Marxist revolutionary and one-time accused terrorist. I would bet that more of Negri’s translated writings—celebratory of violence and mad in their denial of basic economic and political realities—are being taught in American universities these days than are Solzhenitsyn’s. Traveling to Los Angeles recently, I saw one young woman wearing a Che Guevara shirt and another clutching a handbag decorated with Mao’s face. The high-end toy and gizmos store near my office sells an expensive statue of Joseph Stalin; maybe it’s ironic in intent, but still. In other words, Marxism may have gone down to defeat in history, but as an ideal, as a cultural referent, as something regarded as positive and good and hip, it lives on.
Mahoney’s superb book reminds us that Solzhenitsyn, the great Marx-killer, is the antidote to such destructive ignorance and, more broadly, a classic author whose life’s work should not be lost to time. The Kennan Institute’s recently announced initiative to translate the remaining volumes of The Red Wheel and other Solzhenitsyn books into English by the centenary of the author’s birth in 2018 will be an important step in making that a reality.
1 The Other Solzhenitsyn, by Daniel J. Mahoney; St. Augustine’s Press, 242 pages, $30.
The Other Solzhenitsyn: Telling the Truth about a Misunderstood Writer and Thinker
Brian C. Anderson is Brian Anderson is the coauthor of A Manifesto for Media Freedom(Encounter Books).


From Disneyland to Dante

Go to Europe in search of truth, not illusions of tradition.

Terrorism Supporters Exploit Chapel Hill Killings

(This article contains information not readily found in much of the coverage of these horrific killings.  Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims. - jtf)

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On February 12, 2015 @ 12:58 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 8 Comments

Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, Police custody shot of Craig Hicks

Yesterday an angry leftist supporter of the Ground Zero Mosque shot three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina over a parking dispute.  Jibril Hough, the spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, called the parking space shooting “domestic terrorism.”

Which “domestic terrorist” group did Craig Stephen Hicks, the shooter, belong to? His Facebook likes give us a partial clue. Maybe it was “Liberals Against Conservative Propaganda,” “LGBT Activism” or “The Rachel Maddow Fan Page.”

There’s no doubt that the Islamic Center of Charlotte has a great deal of expertise when it comes to terrorism. It was owned by the North American Islamic Trust which the FBI described as supporting Jihad in the United States. NAIT was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case over that charity’s funneling of money to Hamas.

Four years ago, Hough had defended Hamas. Instead he claimed that America and Israel were the real terrorists.

“What is ‘terrorism?” Jibril Hough asked. “Terrorism against Iraqis, Palestinians, Afghanis?”
Apparently shooting people over a parking dispute is terrorism, but terrorist groups murdering Americans and Israelis in a holy war isn’t.

While the police, the brother of one of the victims and the shooter’s wife had agreed that the issue was a parking dispute, not Islam, the usual Islamic advocacy groups rushed to get in on the victimhood. CAIR called on law enforcement to, in its own words, “address speculation about a bias motive.” But it’s not the job of the police to address online speculation. It’s their job to deal with the actual evidence.

CAIR has its own extensive history with actual terrorism. CAIR’s Nihad Awad, who asked the Federal authorities to step in, had said, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”

There is no need to speculate as to Awad’s position on terrorism. He has already told us what it is.
While Deah Barakat’s brother stated that Hicks had not made anti-Muslim remarks, his wife’s father began claiming that it was a hate crime. Linda Sarsour, who had expressed sympathy for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, is currently being quoted as the “family spokeswoman.”

On Twitter, Linda Sarsour complained that CNN had described the Al Qaeda attack in Paris as terrorism, but not Hicks’ parking space shooting. It’s a predictable agenda from Sarsour who has a history of spreading conspiracy theories about Muslim terrorist attacks in the United States.

The only reason to bring Linda Sarsour into a case is to manufacture victimhood and conspiracy theories.

But the truth is that Hicks did not single out the people he shot because they were Muslim. He did it because he was obsessed, not with Muslims or even atheism, but with parking spaces.

tow truck driver described Hicks as manically fixated on his parking space. According to him, Hicks was making calls nearly every day to have cars towed.

“The news is saying, ‘hate crime, hate crime,’ but then I found out it was that guy and I thought, ‘Hmm, it actually might have been a parking issue,’” the tow truck driver said. “He was all about towing.”

One of his neighbors, Robert Maitland, said, “This man was frustrated day in and day out about not being able to park where he wanted.”

On Facebook, Hicks called the entire thing “my parking lot” and described calling the police on a couple in their car who were not, apparently, even in what he considered his space.

But on Twitter, Jibril Hough, who had defended Hamas, claimed that Hicks was the “atheist version of ISIS.” “Who shoots 3 people in the head over a parking spot?” he demanded.” A Rasict and Islamophobic man in Chapel Hill.”

Or a man who was really attached to his parking space. But who plants bombs in supermarkets, sends suicide bombers to buses and murders Rabbis in synagogues? Not terrorists, according to Jibril Hough.

The atheist version of ISIS wouldn’t be a guy who shot people over a parking space. It would be a mass movement of angry Bill Maher fans beheading Muslims and then turning their women into sex slaves. That hasn’t happened. What is happening is that Muslim groups with ties to terrorism use every opportunity to promote Muslim victimhood, whether Muslims kill or are killed in an ordinary crime.

Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins and other “militant atheists” are not urging their followers to kill Muslims. Meanwhile Charlotte area Muslims like Samir Khan, who founded Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, have done just that. Khan called September 11 an “act of retaliation.” He was later taken out by a drone.

Jibril Hough ought to be familiar with Khan as his family attends the Islamic Center of Charlotte.
Maher and Dawkins are critics of Islam. If Jibril Hough wants to see ISIS, he can look in his own mosque. Or he can look to his fellow organizer of Jumah at the DNC, Imam Siraj Wahhaj. Wahhaj was an unindicted coconspirator in the World Trade Center bombing who said, “You don’t need nuclear weapons or even guns! If you have faith in Allah and a knife!”

In a sermon he stated, “I will never ever tell people, ‘don’t be violent, that is not the Islamic way.’ The violence has to be selected.”

Jibril Hough and other Muslim leaders are playing up the Chapel Hill shootings to divert attention from the likes of Siraj Wahhaj and Samir Khan.

Islamists like Hough are quick to play the victim by labeling anything Muslims don’t like as terrorism and equally quick to deny that a Muslim atrocity is terrorism. There is a deep failure of empathy behind that attitude that goes a long way to explaining everything from ISIS to Hamas and its Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile Sam Wazan, author of “The Last Moderate Muslim”, blamed Pamela Geller and FOX News for the shootings.  If we believe Sam, then the shooter, in between enjoying the work of Sarah Silverman, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, was getting his politics from their exact opposites.

Craig Stephen Hicks was not a terrorist. He was an angry leftist whose three great passions in life seemed to be loathing Christianity, gay rights and protecting his parking space. Those subjects made up the bulk of his contribution to social media.

Nor was he remotely of the right. His politics were shot through with leftist anger. And while he did despise religion, he hated Christians and conservatives so much that he was willing to defend the Ground Zero Mosque and to ridicule the American Family Association for complaining about Halal.

Like many on the left, Hicks hated Christians and conservatives so much that he was willing to overcome his hatred of religion to defend Muslims. Not consistently, but he had clearly picked a side.

In a perverse way, Hicks had much in common with the Hamas supporters who are exploiting his killing spree. Like them, Hicks felt a misguided sense of ownership for a particular space and was willing to kill innocent people for it. In his own mind, his murderous behavior was justified by his outrage.

Many Muslim activists traffic in that same entitled outrage. Like Hicks, they justify horrifying atrocities through their outrage. It was that attitude which led to the murders in Chapel Hill. 
Instead of treating the tragedy as a reality check, Muslim leaders like Jibril Hough and Linda Sarsour have retreated into an entitled victimhood devoid of empathy for others that they unfortunately share with Craig Hicks.

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