Tuesday, September 21, 2004

We're Hated - So What?

I watched the president’s speech to the U.N. today (yeah, ministers get to watch TV at 9:30 in the morning), and for the most part I liked it, particularly his optimism, confidence in the power of liberty, and invocation of “God bless you” at the end. The fact that he didn’t level Kofi Anan and the others implicated in the Iraqi oil for food scandal tells me that Mr. Bush is a man of patience and temperance, while the U.N. is corrupt, morally bankrupt, and too stupid to know it’s not prudent to bite the hand that feeds you (22% of the U.N. budget comes from the U.S., not to mention that fancy building on the east river). John Kerry, of course, was quick to respond with some nonsense about Bush “lecturing” the delegates, which sparked off the daily debate. As I watched and listened today, it occurred to me that there is now another way to philosophically divide Americans - those who are ashamed of America for being hated and those who wear this hatred as a badge of honor. I am in the latter group.

Either America is evil and hatred of it is merited, or America is a decent country and the haters are evil. The correct answer is so obvious that only someone who already hates America or who is simply morally confused would choose the first. To assess the veracity of this, all we need do is compare America, a country that has liberated more people from tyranny than any other, and which has been a place of refuge, tolerance and opportunity for more people from more backgrounds than any other in history, with those who hate America. So here we go:

Militant Muslims hate America. These people include the former Taliban regime of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and other Muslim terrorist organizations, the Islamic regimes of Iran and Sudan, and members of Hamas and the many Palestinians and other Muslims who support it. Now, what types of people are these, and what societies have they made or seek to make? To call the Taliban primitive is to insult the many primitive peoples who were light years more civilized than these totalitarians who forbade girls to get an education and prohibited women from such innocent activities as going to the zoo. They murdered anyone who loved liberty, beheaded any Muslim who converted to another religion, and blew up some of the most priceless sculptures of the ancient world because those works of art were of a different religion. Is it a good or bad reflection on America that the Taliban hated this country? Al Qaeda and other Muslim terrorists seek to impose Taliban-like regimes on everyone in the world, beginning with the Muslim world. They routinely slaughter innocent people - literally slaughter, as cutting off the heads of their human sacrifices is their preferred method of murder. They are monsters in human form. Is it a good or bad reflection on America that Al Qaeda and other Muslim terrorists hate this country? The Islamic regime of Iran has taken one of the brightest nations on earth back into the darkest past of human civilization. Their great ally is the genocidal regime of North Korea. Is it a good or bad reflection on America that the Islamists in Iran hate this country? The Arab Islamic regime in Sudan has killed about one million non-Arab, non-Muslim blacks in the south of its country. Rape and enslavement of these blacks is routine. Is it a good or bad reflection on America that the Sudanese regime hates this country? Hamas and its many supporters among Palestinians have developed a new theology of cruelty and death - that a Muslim boy who blows himself up while maiming and murdering as many innocent Jews as possible goes to heaven where he is then sexually serviced by dozens of virgins. In the annals of the history of religion, no analogous theology of cruelty and vulgarity has ever been devised. Is it a good or bad reflection on America that Hamas and its Palestinian supporters hate this country?

When you look at the roster of the America-haters and realize that none of them hates France or Sweden, this assessment of America-hatred is rendered even more obvious. America, largely alone, calls these groups and regimes what they are - evil. America, largely alone, wages war against them. And America, largely alone, prevents them from assuming far more power. In the last century, America’s enemies have read like a who's who of evil, led by Nazi, Communist, and now Islamo-fascist murderers. So, the question is, can we assess the moral quality of the American people by noting who our enemies are?

The answer is, yes! We should be honored to be hated by them. But not all Americans regard this hatred as a moral badge of honor. Some Americans regard this as a badge of shame. If we are hated, these people contend, it must reflect our moral failings, not the moral failings of those who hate us. So, for these people, the fact that throughout the Muslim Middle East, religious leaders pray publicly for the extermination of the Jews, that the leading Muslim scholars praise suicide mass murderers, that Arab newspapers regularly publish articles that manufacture Nazi-like lies about Jews only reflect on Jewish and American wrongs, not on the low moral stature of the haters. So, too, the fact that most Saudis and other Muslims in the Arab world applauded the terror of 9/11 says to these Americans and many other Westerners that something must be wrong with America, not with the societies that produce the terror and hate. This is the view of Europe, another place that dislikes America. But again the same question may be asked: After morally assessing, let us say, France, the leader in anti-American rhetoric, would you rather be admired or disdained by France? And would you rather be admired or disdained by the United Nations?

For this humble immigrant, and soon to be proud American citizen, those questions are rhetorical. Woe unto us if Saddam Hussein, the Iranian mullahs, the Sudanese regime, and the U.N. start liking us as much as they like France.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Why I am Not a Democrat (even though I care about the poor)

When I arrived in the U.S. in 1994 I knew very little about the two major parties. I was still enamored with freedom, and all the other niceties young immigrants can barely take in - Super Wal-Marts and 99-cent cheeseburgers! Soon, however, I began to pay attention. At first I was taken in by the Democrats tall tales of “evil Republicans.” I instinctively came to bristle at the mention of “Rush Limbaugh.” I thought Republicans hated immigrants, and didn’t want me here. I came to like Bill Clinton (actually I still do). I even “campaigned” for him in 1996, urging my girlfriend (now wife) to vote Democratic. And still, I simply paid attention to the national debate. I watched. I listened. I often saw both sides of the argument. I tried to be fair and objective. But then the Democrats finally made a big mistake. It was November 2000.

Like other power-hungry groups in history, they didn't know when to hold back. The Democrats and their standard bearer, Al Gore, attempted to thwart an election not in the quiet of the night, but in broad daylight, before the cameras of the world. That November I was angry. Even Bob Dole got angry. It was thanks to the Democrats changing ballot-counting rules, their emphasis on hand counts in only those Florida counties they dominate, their invalidation of military ballots, their sending Jesse Jackson to rouse race-based anger and Alan Dershowitz to smear Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris that galvanized my identity as someone opposed to the Democratic party.

I had spent six years watching in silence as the Democrats came to rely on fomenting anger among Americans for its victories. The more that blacks are angry at whites, the more they vote Democrat. The more that Jews fear Christians, the more they vote Democrat. And the more women distrust men, the more they vote Democrat. In November of 2000 I finally realized that I was a part of that large block of America between New York and California that Democrats believe to be stupid, racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynist. Since November 2000 I have come to see the problem – I was intimidated by the Democrats claims of goodness. You aren’t allowed to point out their lies and failures, because they have good intentions. Now, I still find Democrats frightening, but I no longer find them intimidating. I am still wary of them because their socialist ideology is pure fantasy, and thus their tactics are strategically incomprehensible! But thankfully for America, and me, they made a big mistake in November of 2000.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Who's Really Compassionate?

Last week Senator Kerry gave a pseudo-Pentecostal speech/sermon that set off my asininity alarms. This man must think we’re incredibly stupid. Speaking of George Bush’s “compassion,” he said that the president was like the man who passed by on the other side of the road and refused to help in the story of the Good Samaritan.

Okay, now for some perspective. I don’t care much for the president’s “compassionate conservatism.” It falsely implies that regular conservatism is not compassionate. Under the Bush administration and a Republican (or is it RepubliCON) congress, federal spending has skyrocketed in an alarming way. Stop the spending! Please!!! And stop using the word “compassion” in reference to federal spending (and Democrats, stop using the word “invest” also). You cannot be compassionate with other people’s money! If anyone reading this would volunteer to send me their credit card for a day, I’ll show you all some real compassion! Again, you cannot be compassionate with other people’s money. The government only has what they confiscate, by force, from us. It’s not their money, and it’s not their duty to be compassionate with it.

And now for the real test of who is compassionate, and who passes by on the other side of the road. John Kerry's tax returns from 1995 and earlier have attracted criticism over the issue of charitable giving. In 1995, according to published reports, Kerry reported a taxable income of $126,179, and charitable contributions of $0. In 1994, he reported income of $127,884, and charitable donations of $2,039. In 1993, he reported income of $130,345, and contributions of $175. In 1992, he reported income of $127,646, and contributions of $820. In 1991, he reported income of $113,857, and contributions of $0. As far as Bush is concerned, in 1991, the future president, then a private citizen, reportedly had income of $179,591, and charitable contributions of $28,236. In 1992, Bush reported income of $212.313, and contributions of $31,914. In 1993, Bush reported income of $610,772, and contributions of $31,292. When he became governor, Bush's returns revealed major changes in his financial health. For example, after his 1997 return showed income of $271,920, his 1998 return revealed income of $18.4 million. The vast majority of that came from the sale of the Texas Rangers baseball team, in which Bush held an 11-percent ownership stake. Bush's tax bill that year was $3.7 million. That year, Bush donated $334,425 to charity.

So, who’s really compassionate, and who’s the phony, empty suit?

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Worst Sin?

As I have reflected on the 9/11 attacks this third anniversary, right off the heels of the slaughter of over 200 schoolchildren in Russia, my belief that there is one sin that may be worse than all other sins has been reinforced. Most Christians maintain that one cannot declare any sin worse than any other -- that a person who takes an office pen is committing as grievous a sin in God's eyes as a murderer. But most people intuitively, as well as biblically, understand that there are gradations of sin. However, I would like to offer evidence that one particular sin is far worse than all others. That sin is committing evil in the name of God. The Commandment translated as "Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain," is imprecisely translated. The Hebrew literally reads, "Do not carry the name of the Lord thy God in vain." And, the Commandment continues, "for God will not hold guiltless whoever carries His name in vain."

When a secular person commits evil, it is surely evil, but it doesn't bring God and religion in disrepute. When a person commits evil in God's name, however, he destroys the greatest hope for goodness to prevail on earth - widespread belief in a God who demands goodness. There is nothing as evil as religious evil. The chanting of "Allah akbar" ("Allah is the greatest") by militant Muslims as they commit barbaric acts against innocents around the world is the greatest sin a human can commit. The Nazis were as cruel, and so were the Communists. But they only sullied their own names, not the name of God. But the immense amount of evil being caused by those Muslims murdering and slaughtering innocents in the name of God is hurting God's reputation. One can only pray that Muslim institutions will realize the immensity of damage done to the name of Allah and to Islam by those Muslims who preach or practice evil in the name of Allah and Islam - and the even greater damage done by the rest of the Islamic world's failure to protest against this evil. If only they realized that they could go a long way in mitigating this damage by publicly announcing over and over that evil preached or committed in the name of Allah and Islam is the greatest sin and its practitioners will go to hell, not to Paradise to be serviced by multiple virgins! For if there is a hell, those who murder and torture the innocent while praising God are surely the first to go there.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Dear American Soldier in Iraq

Three things have happened this past week that made me dig out this wonderful Dennis Prager article and post it anew: 1) We reached the 1000 dead mark; 2) Over 200 children were murdered in Russia by the same thugs who want us dead; and 3) Two war veterans were on the O'Reilly Factor last night debating the now tired WMD issue. Dennis Prager is what I like to call "chicken-fried genius." Enjoy and share.

Dear American Soldier in Iraq:

I am writing to you simply as a fellow American.
In just about every way, I am quite typical. I am a married man with three children, believe in God and love my country. I differ, however, from many Americans in a couple of ways. First, my vocation -- radio talk show host and columnist -- makes me a professional communicator. So I might be able to say things that most other Americans feel but could not communicate quite as clearly. Second, and more important, I suspect that more than some Americans, though hardly more than President Bush and his administration, I am keenly aware of the fragility of civilization, of the monumental evil you are fighting, and of the historic mission of America. For these reasons, I am writing to you. Though you may already know everything I am about to say, I need to say it for those of you who, after seeing fellow soldiers blown up or severely injured, may sometimes wonder whether these sacrifices are worth it.

So, first, let me set the record straight. Not since World War II have the stakes been this great. This is a war for the future of civilization every bit as much as the war against German Nazism and Japanese Fascism was. If we had lost that war, the world would have devolved into barbarism. If we lose this one, the same will happen. It was a war for civilization then; the war against Islamic Fascism is such a war today. Of course, there are hundreds of millions of fine people among the world's 1.3 billion Muslims. But that is, unfortunately, as irrelevant to understanding today's war as the fact that there were millions of fine Germans living in Hitler's Germany was to understanding World War II.

It is not the fine Muslims who rule most Muslim countries, some of which are among the cruelest on earth. It is not the fine Muslims who dominate the Islamic schools around the world that teach that it is right to subjugate women and to slit Christians' and Jews' throats. It is not the fine Muslims who wish to impose a violent, hate-filled religion on others. It is not the fine Muslims who burned 13 churches in Nigeria just last week. And sadly, most of the fine Muslims, including those in America, rarely condemn their civilization-threatening co-religionists. Iraq is the battleground for civilization. That is why our enemies are throwing everything they can at you. If you help create the first free and tolerant Arab country in the heart of Islam, they are doomed. If we fail in Iraq, we are doomed. Our enemies know this. We need to know this.

Second, don't be discouraged by America's relative aloneness in the world. The world is not, by and large, a good place. And the United Nations, which reflects the world, reflects that fact. That is why Libya, a police state that ordered the mass murder known as the 1988 bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, is not only on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, it is the head of the commission. And Syria, which is worse than Libya, judges us on the Security Council. As for Europe, Britain and a few other Western states aside, the folks who gave us Auschwitz and Communism and who now bankroll Iran and North Korea hardly have a claim to moral superiority. Americans like you died for their errors. They never died for ours. And they err again. Instead of learning to fight evil, they have only learned that fighting is evil.

Third, we Americans are relatively alone because from our founding we have believed that we have a mission to better the world. And for this we are hated. We are not hated for our power; we are hated for our values and our sense of chosenness -- just as the never powerful Jews have long been hated for their values and their chosenness.

In sum, you are carrying the great burden of history on your shoulders every day you serve in Iraq. That some of your fellow citizens do not understand this only means that the war for civilization is taking place as much here at home as it is in Iraq. We pray for you not only because you are our sons and daughters risking your lives, but because if God is good, and if we humans can discern between good and evil, you are doing God's work. It is as clear as that. No American war has ever been clearer.

Dennis Prager

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

America the Good

President George W. Bush often speaks about the "goodness" of America and about the "evil" of various world tyrannies. Is this language meaningful -- or is it, as many critics both at home and abroad contend, empty and sanctimonious rhetoric? Perhaps "blasphemous?"

A strong case can be made that the very fact that an American president refers to America as a good country and speaks about a standard of good and evil is itself a compelling argument on behalf of America's essential goodness. How so? Isn't such rhetoric just mere words? Not at all. The rhetoric that leaders use to describe their nations tells you a great deal about those nations. And no other nation's leaders use this goodness terminology nearly as often as American leaders (of both political parties) do. That this rhetoric is largely confined to American leaders may be surprising to most Americans, as they probably believe that other national leaders use similar rhetoric. But it does not surprise foreigners. A leading French political scientist, quoted in The New York Times, accused Americans of speaking in terms of good and evil, something, he said, Europeans just don't do. But if other leaders don't use such rhetoric, what language do they use?
The answer depends, of course, on which leaders and nations we are talking about. But whichever they are, their national self-description rarely includes the goodness rhetoric used by American leaders. This is true regarding both tyrants and elected leaders. Adolf Hitler did not speak about the German people's goodness, but about the racial superiority of the deutsche volk . Joseph Stalin spoke about economic and social "progress," about moving toward a communist utopia. Saddam Hussein spoke about Iraqi and Islamic "greatness," and Islamo-fascist terrorists increasingly rely on the religious language of "sacrifice for Allah." Many European national leaders rarely laud their countries, but instead speak of international law and European unity. And when they do express pride in their country, Europeans rarely invoke moral criteria. The French, for example, express pride in their culture -- their arts, museums, cuisine, etc. And, along with Germany, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries, they regularly boast of their commitment to peace. But not to goodness or to fighting evil.

That is America's self-image as it has long been. We Americans regard ourselves as a nation with a moral mission; a nation that is, in Abraham Lincoln's (Bush’s) words, "The last best hope of mankind." Europe, on the other hand, identifies a sense of national mission with fanaticism and chauvinism. In America itself, there are many who eschew this self-image. Like Western Europeans, the American Left does not use goodness rhetoric; it prefers the language of "fairness," "rights" and "equality" to the language of morality. Thus, the Left divides the world into rich and poor, the haves and the have-nots, the strong and the weak, the white and the non-white, not good and evil. The Left dismisses that division as "simplistic," "being judgmental," and seeing a gray world in black and white. Some on the American Right, too -- as exemplified by Pat Buchanan and his supporters -- also reject a moral mission for America. They divide the world between Americans and non-Americans, not between good and evil. This preoccupation with good and evil is a primary reason America is hated. If people demonstrating against the American-led war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq cared about peace or about good and evil, they would have been rioting against China, against Sudan, against North Korea, against Iran's mullahs, and against Saddam. But America, precisely because it is good, and precisely because it fights evil, shames all these people. And you never hate anyone as much as he who forces you to stare at evil and at your acceptance of it. Because America talks about good and evil and does something about it, those nations and individuals, including many Americans, that have other priorities resent this America. Rhetoric matters. May we long believe that we are a good people and strive to prove it.