Western Civilization

That was the week that was

Last week was truly remarkable. Republicans swept three state elections; then an Islamic extremist holding the position of an Army psychiatrist murdered 13 persons and wounded 31 others at Fort Hood, Texas; the House of Representatives defied the will of the American people by passing a comprehensive health insurance bill; and free people celebrated the 20th anniversary of the demise of the Berlin Wall back in 1989. These events reveal the contrast that exists in this country and throughout the world between those who value freedom and those who do not. The most encouraging development is the growing awareness of our citizens that the future is won only by doing the right thing.

Reversing the results in last year’s elections, voters gave solid margins of victory to Chris Christie in New Jersey and Robert McDonnell in Virginia in their gubernatorial races, but also Republican candidates for the remaining statewide offices in those states and in Pennsylvania. President Obama campaigned in the first two states, despite the growing unpopularity of his administration.

Democrats have tried strenuously to spin the dismal results as merely local contests, irrelevant to the debate over their health insurance and environmental "cap and trade" proposals. But there is no doubt that it gave the Blue Dog Democrats in Congress incentive to resist party pressure to support these budget-busting and tax-increasing measures.

All good Americans are appalled and horrified at the shooting rampage of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who shouted "Allahu Akbar" before he opened fire on his fellow soldiers and civilians prior to his scheduled deployment to Afghanistan. The news coverage has been remarkably vapid. The same articles which make it perfectly clear that Hasan is an Islamic extremist who could not bring himself to make war on his "fellow Muslims" and regards himself as a soldier in the radical Islamic cause, describe the shooter’s motives as unclear.

Sorry to say, the President himself has set the tone for this mindless and irresponsible attitude, asking people not to rush to judgment about a man and an incident that are as transparent as anything can be. We are learning, too, that "political correctness" or the blind indifference to if not covert sympathy with those who reject Western civilization, has infected the highest ranks of the U.S. Army.

No religion per se makes anyone ineligible for American citizenship or for participation in any civil government, but if the believer’s highest loyalty is to a doctrine that calls for the destruction of constitutional safeguards for human rights, there should be little doubt that he cannot be trusted with any responsibilities or respecting the rights of other citizens.

Notwithstanding weeks of polling date that reveal a solid majority of Americans opposed to government health care (AKA socialized medicine) and Republican election victories in three states that voted Democrat in 2008, the House of Representatives approved a bill of nearly 2,000 pages that would micro manage existing health insurance coverage and impose massive costs on the American people.

Despite considerable rhetorical blather about bipartisanship, the Democrat leadership managed to win over only one Republican representing a traditionally Democrat district in Louisiana and lost 39 Democrats representing traditionally Republican districts, passing the bill by a narrow margin.

It is evident that Democrats are desperate to pass some form of health care legislation, even if they lose seats or lose House control in 2010. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was not deterred by the strong indications that her Senate counterparts lack the votes to pass the legislation, even if it followed her lead in dropping coverage for abortions. She is unmoved despite the fact that she is defying the consent of the governed.

Meanwhile, celebrations are in order on the anniversary of the removal of the infamous Berlin Wall, an event which President Obama either feels is beneath his notice or perhaps understands as an achievement for which he cannot claim credit. No greater contrast exists between Presidents who steadfastly supported the freedom of Berliners and of all Europeans during the Cold War years and the current President who feels more comfortable talking to Asian and Latin American despots than supporting leaders of free nations long allied with the West.

One cannot imagine a President Obama making the courageous decision of Harry Truman to supply Berlin during a long Russian blockade or the uplifting defiance of President Reagan in demanding that Mikhail Gorbachev "tear down this wall!"

The future of freedom is best entrusted to its dedicated friends.

The decline of Western civilization

The West has been warned with increasing frequency, most recently by Netherlands MP Geert Wilders, that radical Islam is making such great strides that Europe will become "Eurabia" in a few decades and that the United States is not far behind. In a speech he gave at Columbia University on October 21, Wilders spoke alarmingly of numerous incidents and ominous trends as evidence that a dynamic Islam is growing at the expense of what used to be called the Christian West.

Wilders himself has been caught in the middle of this rise and fall. For his outspoken opposition to radical Islam, he was even barred from the United Kingdom until the British courts intervened.

Because the "cultural sensitivities" are so great on this issue, it has become virtually a crime to speak frankly and truthfully about what is going on. Here is a sampler that Wilder provides, taken from the mass media reports over the last several years:

The Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard made a Muhammad-cartoon and all of a sudden we were in the middle of the so called 'Danish cartoon crisis'. The Italian author Oriana Fallaci had to live in fear of extradition to Switzerland because of her book 'The Rage and the Pride'. An Austrian politician, Susanne Winter, was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence because she spoke bluntly about the prophet Muhammad. The Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot was arrested by 10 policemen because of his drawings. And the Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a radical Muslim.

This discouraging trend can only be explained by the dynamics of radical Islam as contrasted with the decline of European Christendom. This, in turn, points to the likelihood that religious conviction, thought to be some to be irrelevant in the "post-modern" world, is decisive. Islam, after several centuries of decline, has been reshaped into a messianic force. There is nothing comparable to this among Christians.

As ominous as the constant threat of violence may be, the long term trends in Europe may be more worrisome. For decades, Europeans have permitted large-scale immigration of Africans and Asians to provide cheap labor. Unlike the United States, European nations do not encourage assimilation or movement toward citizenship. As long as Americans pledge loyalty to the principles and institutions of our country, anyone can potentially become a citizen. Not so in Europe.

As a result, millions of largely Muslim inhabitants have no compelling reason to adopt the customs of their host countries. Indeed, as their numbers increase, it is their customs and their laws that take root. Those periodic riots in Paris among unemployed Algerians or Moroccans stem from their permanent outsider status. Increasingly there is pressure to allow Muslims to govern themselves by Sharia law, a repressive code that is the rule in the despotic Muslim nations today.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has even suggested that the United Kingdom acquiesce in the establishment of Sharia there, indicating that preemptive surrender is the proper response.

Europeans generally have acted as if the Christian religion which gave their continent its distinctive identity for centuries can be abandoned without consequences.

In Europe there are many massive–and empty–Christian cathedrals. Meanwhile, Muslims are increasing their numbers through birth rates far in excess of the Europeans’, which have fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 per family.

Another way of putting this is that one cannot oppose something with nothing. If the Europeans altogether abandon the faith that inspired millions of people before them, they can be sure that Muslims will not. Some analysts have predicted that the UK, France and Germany will lead the way into a Muslim future by 2050. Major cities are already dominated by Muslims.

The American birthrate among citizens has fallen below 2.1 as well, with the vast influx of illegal aliens from south of our borders keeping that figure up for all inhabitants. The percentages of Muslims are still far below Europe but the official deference to their sensibilities is strong.

The evidence is overwhelming that as this trend continues in Europe, the change from Christianity to Islam will not be peaceful but increasingly violent. There will be increasing persecution of non-Muslims wherever Muslims are sufficiently numerous to impose their will. The Western world’s half-hearted response is not working. One can pray that a powerful spirit returns to Western civilization, but it will not come as long as it holds that what men believe about God makes no difference.

Teacher's Desk: Tough Kids

First week back in the classroom. Our new math teacher is fresh out of college and trained by Teach America. Our returning students aren't what you'd find at most high schools. I saw two this year that I hadn’t seen for two years. One of the young men spent the last two years incarcerated. In fact, even though he is eighteen years old, he hasn’t been to school since middle school (except for two days here two years ago) because he spent his high school years locked up. I am almost in shock with the pleasantness of the students. The first week often is filled with fights and disagreements. This year: none. My kind aforementioned thug spent a good hour with me explaining his feelings of isolation as a “blood” amongst a lot of students affiliated with “crips.” We shared our experiences, and if not for the criminal involvement of the gang, sometimes they do some solid citizen stuff, believe it or not. He also shared the differences of the two types of gangs, which honestly was news to me.

His feelings of isolation reminded me of another student at our school. He never went to a high school before because he was home-schooled. He, too, had feelings of isolation because we only have a handful of white students and being in a new school, he didn’t know anyone.

“Hmmm…..” I thought.

While speaking to my friendly thug, I asked if he would watch the other young man’s back because he, too, felt isolated and didn’t have street smarts. He agreed, but told me not to let him know.

Another new student came to class this week and I knew he took meds for a bipolar condition (many of my students do). He looked like a fierce fighter of some sort with his hair in a sumo wrestler style on top of his head, some serious weight, and a piercing look emitting from his eyes. He has to be one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. Again, he is someone too familiar with the juvenile justice system.

That is why I love these students so much. In any other setting, I’d be like everyone else, probably pretty nervous around these guys, but here, I get to see their humanity and value.

Val, from a previous blog, visited my today. She decided to go ahead and go to college, so she was here getting help. She continues to be androgynous and just the smiliest person ever!

This is going to be a fun and successful school year for everyone. I can feel it in my bones!

Kathleen Kullback is a licensed special educator with an MA in educational leadership and a former candidate to the State Board of Education.

The meaning of American independence

The national holiday we celebrate today is more often referred to as the Fourth of July than Independence Day, but at least that makes clear what date we are marking. We should, however, commemorate the historical event and all that it symbolizes, for the common world calendar ensures that the whole world has a July 4th just we like do. American independence has transcendent constitutional significance. No other nation in the world before 1776 had ever established (constituted) itself in the world on the basis of political principles which are true for all times and places. The most famous part of the Declaration of Independence is "all men are created equal," rather than merely all Americans, or all whites or even all males.

Cynics are fond of ridiculing the language of the Declaration because they think they really know that its authors didn’t mean to include everybody. After all, the pre-revolutionary institution of slavery was not immediately abolished, women were not generally regarded as equal in rights to men, and the vote was not even extended to all males. So it was all a pretense, right?

Wrong. Northern states prohibited slavery by the time the Constitution was ratified, women had the right to vote in several states, north and south, and the voting franchise was extended to most white males within a generation or two.

Of course, we had no power to "secure these rights" anywhere else but on our own soil, and that was hard enough, as the Civil War and the long struggle for civil rights attest. But the meaning of independence, in the first place, is that the American people, through their chosen representatives, were free to throw off ancient shackles as soon as possible, however much they might disagree about the timing or even the wisdom of that welcome change.

In other words, no European nation, however powerful or influential, could impede the progress of the American people toward their fullest security for equality and liberty. America would long remain the only country so free, as Europeans underwent a cycle of violent revolutions and even world wars before that greatest of all battles was won. And the rest of the world took even longer, with a decidedly mixed record of success.

For much of our history we have been a beacon to other nations and peoples, drawing millions to our shores and inspiring revolutions abroad. An almost inevitable consequence of the influence was that the growing power of the United States has spared the world some of its greatest evils.

Depending on their agenda or what part of the Constitution they are talking about, both liberals and conservatives like to argue that the American government is severely restricted in its power and authority in order to ensure our freedoms against infringement. But they fail to understand what Alexander Hamilton, for example, understood, which was that "the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; [and] that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated . . . "

The most fundamental obligations of the government of the United States are to "provide for the common defense" and "promote the general welfare." In the midst of revolution without a national government, the Continental Congress had to find a way to fulfill these obligations, and barely succeeded. The object of the Constitution was not to give us a weak government but rather a powerful one.

Living in a world of monarchical governments, hostile Indian tribes and fierce pirates, the government needed to be, in Hamilton’s words, "energetic," not lethargic. The world is a dangerous place always, the only difference at any time being the nature and scope of the dangers. Had the national government not possessed the requisite power, the authority of the Union would not have been upheld against secession.

A united America is a boon to the world. Consider if our nation had not been united under one energetic government when in 1916 German submarines began to sink our ships and patrol our Atlantic and Gulf coastlines, not to mention block our shipping lines overseas. Only a strong American government could have kept the Gulf of Mexico from becoming a German lake.

More ominously still, consider the horrendous consequences if we had not had the means to keep Great Britain in the war against Nazi Germany until such time as the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought us into a two-front war. Our military, industrial and financial power was critical.

In both world wars, American power was decisive. In the earlier conflict, Germany defeated Czarist Russia at about the same time as America entered the war on the side of the Allies.  Absent American intervention, how does the thought of a Prussian dictatorship all over Europe strike you?

In the later war, an even more tyrannical German regime left unchecked would have held sway all over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and perhaps farther, doubtless putting an end to liberty for decades, if not centuries.

The superpower status of the United States kept most of the world safe from Soviet domination and ultimately proved too much for that evil empire to survive its own inherent weakness and inferiority. Today our government is the primary check on the world's despots and their blood brothers, the Islamist fanatics plotting against our freedom.

In sum, American independence means that we Americans alone decide how we are to be governed, and our formidable power has blocked or ended the rule of overbearing empires. This great good we celebrate today is a blessing for all mankind.

'Suicide of West' imminent?

National Review listed James Burnham's "Suicide of the West" as one of the top 10 books that nudged America toward political conservatism in recent decades. (See rankings in their 50th anniversary edition.) Burnham was a young Trotskyite who turned against Communism and in his later years wrote for National Review. He wrote this book in 1964.

Burnham's thesis was that liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide.

For a young person unschooled in political thought, such as I was, this thesis was difficult to believe. Both JFK and LBJ were aggressive in their Cold War liberalism, which in those days included a strong pro-American component. Even the true believers on the Left assured us that they were pro-American, despite appearances to the contrary. Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs and I.F. Stone were all leftist idealists, they never actually betrayed their country. Or so we were endlessly and emphatically told in the mass media and in our classrooms.

Well, it turned out that Burnham and his fellow conservatives were correct, and we had been lied to on virtually all fronts. We now know that Hiss, the Rosenbergs, Stone and many others on the American Left spied for the Soviet Union for years.

The leftists were not only for collectivism, they were against America and most of what it stood for. Their virulent assaults against the free market, against a strong military and against traditional American values were all of a piece. They regarded liberal journalists and liberal officials in all three branches of government as "useful idiots" and as loose allies in the steady drip of daily propaganda and assaults against America.

By now we are much further along in this process. Some of the most prominent liberal journalists and liberal Democratic leaders in government are no longer acting as merely useful idiots. Some of them are at last revealing themselves to be more malevolent than that.

This is most clearly seen in their move to prosecute those in the Bush admininistration who authorized the enhanced interrogation techniques (which they falsely call "torture") against a few of our top terrorist enemies.

We should recall at this point that the laws of war and the Geneva Convention clearly distinguish between (1) conventional soldiers and (2) nonuniformed terrorists who hide among civilians and attack from schools, mosques and civilian residences. Conventional soldiers, when captured, must be treated humanely. Nonuniformed terrorists, when captured, may be summarily shot.

Unfortunately, instead of shooting these vicious predators on the spot, our government unwisely treated most of them better than we have ever treated prisoners of war. They get better food in prison than our schoolchildren get in school cafeterias. There have been strict limits even on the interrogation techniques.

In three highly supervised cases waterboarding was employed to get vital information that saved many innocent lives. (Many of our own soldiers and sailors undergo waterboarding as part of their training, hence it is absurd to deem it "torture".)

But now many voices are telling us that this was unacceptable, that America's leaders must be punished, rather than thanked and honored, for this great so-called evil. They quote the Constitution much as Satan quotes Scripture, and they pretend to defend both America and the Constitution. However, this new thrust is clearly intended to demoralize those who are defending the country and to reduce or destroy America's future effectiveness in fighting our enemies.

Here at last the Left is taking a position that is so clearly anti-American that there is very little room at the margin for "useful idiots". Some Democrats on my "lunatic" list claim that foreign terrorists captured on the battlefield should be treated as if they were American citizens with Constitutional protections, but even for them that level of imbecility is not credible. Political maneuvering aside, their position can be seriously maintained for long only by the actual enemies of the United States.

For benefit of the lawyers and other confused citizens, let us apply the Left's argument in mirror image so that everyone can see just how bonkers it really is.

The FDR administration put more than one hundred thousand Japanese American citizens in concentration camps during World War II. This was clearly a much more heinous crime against humanity than waterboarding three Al-Qaeda terrorists. We should therefore prosecute all those Democrats still alive who had anything to do with perpetrating that great injustice. Correct?

The LBJ administration entered the Viet Nam conflict on the false and exaggerated claim of being attacked near the Gulf of Tonkin. This resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of American soldiers and sailors and of millions of Asians. We should therefore prosecute all those Democrats who had anything to do with perpetrating and acting on that falsehood. Correct?

The Reagan administration's retributive attack across Libya's "line of death" in 1986 happened to kill Gaddafi's innocent young daughter. We should therefore prosecute all the Republicans who had anything to do with that attack. Correct?

The Obama administration's attacks on Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists using Predator drones and other means also produce collateral damage, killing innocent children and others, without benefit of legal hearing or trial by jury. Also the suspects are not even given their Miranda warnings. We should therefore (as Ted Olson has recommended in a recent thought experiment) prosecute everyone in the Obama administration who has anything to do with these attacks whenever they occur. Correct?

No, of course these assertions are clearly not correct. The concept is intended to be used only against the "evil" Bush administration, which in fact was trying with the best of intentions to protect America in a legally acceptable manner.

However, war is not police work, never has been, and never can be. The concept of prosecuting actions like this, if taken seriously, would degrade or destroy our ability to defend ourselves. But that is the whole idea. Our domestic enemies will now have another powerful new tool to weaken us, if we have become so confused and lacking in will as to allow it.

In summary, James Burnham was both correct and extremely prescient. Liberalism is indeed the ideology of Western suicide. We will see this in spades during the next four years.