September 13, 2007 - September 6, 2007
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Pugs Are Funny.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Can you spell T-W-I-T?
Jessica Stern of Harvard
DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN
What would we do without academic experts? We'd probably motor along
somehow, but without nearly as many laughs per gallon. Thanks to HughHewitt.com
I discovered one of the more humorous MSM essays of the week, written
by Jessica Stern of Harvard and characterized by blogger Dean Barnett
as a "shockingly ignorant op-ed piece." Here's an excerpt
The only way to understand how this
phenomenon works is to hang out with Muslim youths and talk to them. I
have done quite a bit of that in various parts of the world in Western
cities, in Palestinian slums, and in Pakistani madrassas. And what I've
learned is this: Jihad has become a global fad, rather like gangsta
rap. It is a fad that feeds on images of dead children.
Most of the youth attracted to the jihadi idea would never become
terrorists, just as few of the youths who listen to gangsta rap would
commit the kinds of lurid crimes the lyrics would seem to promote. But
among many Muslim youths, especially in Europe, jihad is a cool way of
expressing dissatisfaction with a power elite whether that elite is
real or imagined; whether power is held by totalitarian monarchs or by
liberal parliamentarians. And we should not assume jihad is a Middle
Eastern or European problem. The idea is spreading here in America as
Jihad has become a millenarian movement with mass appeal, similar, in
many ways, to earlier global movements such as the anarchists of the
19th century or even the peace movement of the 1960s and '70s.
Where to begin? How about with Ms. Stern's resume
includes plenty of educational and power elite credentials.† For
example, her C.V. says she "received a bachelor's degree from Barnard
College in chemistry, a master's of science degree from MIT, and a
doctorate in public policy from Harvard." She also served on the
National Security Council in the Clinton administration, where she was
"responsible for national security policy toward Russia and the former
Soviet states and for policies to reduce the threat of nuclear
smuggling and terrorism." She's a member of the Trilateral Commission
too. And here's my favorite quote from her resume: "From 1998 to 1999,
she was the superterrorism Fellow at the Council on Foreign
There's more but you get the picture. A policy wonk, yes, a cultural
anthropologist, no. If I were seeking someone to go "hang out with
Muslim youths and talk to them...in Western cities, in Palestinian
in Pakistani madrassas," I probably wouldn't select a Barnard chemistry
major who's spent most of her adult life "hanging out" with the
National Security Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the
Still, she claims to have done it and we have to take her at her word.
How do you suppose she went about it? Did she slip into her little
burkha and sashay over to the nearest male-only cell meeting of
Hamas suicide-bombers-in-training to sound them out about their
taste in music, jeans, sneakers, bling, Bentleys, and all the other habiliments
of a pop culture "fad"? Did she carry her urdu phrase book into
madrassas accompanied by Musharaff's secret police and somehow bond with pubescent Jew-haters? Or did she take tea
in university common rooms with English-speaking students who were
intensely aware they were in a position to send messages to the world
of American academia? Just asking.
After all her in-depth discussions with muslim homeys, she consulted
her encyclopedic knowledge of the gangsta rap culture and determined
that jihadism is just another fashion craze, a trend in young people's
entertainment of which most adults predictably would not approve.
Sound plausible to you? For myself, I'm having a hard time imagining
that Ms. Stern has done much "hanging out" with gangsta rappers in the
hood, either, and I'm thinking it's likely their "culture' would have
remained impenetrable to her if she had.
In his analysis, Dean Barnett opines, "I'm not sure that you can
describe something that's been around for 14 centuries as a fad.†
But if gangsta rap is still popular in the 35th century, I'll eat my
He's right that jihadism is no fad. But just as damaging for Ms.
Stern's credibility is the fact that gangsta rap isn't a fad either.
Both of these cultural manifestations are profound pathologies
, and her failure to
recognize this invalidates any and every observation she might offer.
It's as if her extremely limited real world experience has actually
caused her to relish her little rendezvous with jihadists, and like a
little girl in the big city, she's become star-struck by the air of
excitement and energy she's encountered.
Too much to assume? Consider this quote from an interview
she gave for a Harvard website called Ask
or some damn thing. She was asked to describe the
relationshop between terrorist leaders and their followers. She said:
Some of the leaders Iíve met are
extremely charismatic. I have found myself feeling slightly mesmerized,
even when these charismatic leaders espouse views I find abhorrent. I
can readily imagine that young men from difficult backgrounds might
feel hypnotized in the presence of these leaders, especially if the
leaders have taken them into their homes, armed compounds, or schools.
Ooh, the magnetic masculinity of a Zarqawi!? Think about it. A highly
educated American female academic "mesmerized" by the worst examplars
of a society that has been described, by someone
competent to judge, in
(I)n a typical shame culture (i.e.,
Arab/Islamic culture) what other people believe has a far more powerful
impact on behavior than even what the individual believes. The desire
to preserve honor and avoid shame to the exclusion of all else is one
of the primary foundations of the culture. This desire has several
side-effects, including granting the individual carte blanche to
(1)engage in wrong-doing as long as no-one knows about it, or knows he
is involved; and (2) engage in any necessary behavior, including
wrong-doing (i.e., murder, beheading, etc.) in order to avoid shame
and/or recover honor...
One of the ways that those who fear shame protect their fragile self is
to subjugate those who he perceives as weaker. By doing so, he can
rationalize that he is superior to the subjugated individual. In fact,
this is the only way he can maximize his honor. In Arab/Islamic
culture, women are one of the primary instruments of achieving honor.
Hence the bizarre and distorted attitude that the culture has toward
women and the exaggerated means by which "honor" must be maintained. So
strong is the cultural pressure, even women buy into the delusion.
To equate this kind of socially embedded, and religion-supported,
sickness with a fashion or fad is the purest of delusions. And for a
western woman to so deceive herself in the presence of "extremely
charismatic" barbarians is actually quite frightening.
Let's hope she doesn't believe her own superficial perceptions so much
that she ventures into the slums of L.A., New York, or even Boston to
encounter the exciting gangsta fad in person. If she's tempted, I
certainly hope she'll take a look at this
before she does anything rash:
What happened to the Black community
between the Harlem Renaissance and the advent of N.W.A?† Part of
what happened was the growth and development of an entire bureaucracy
devoted to the ongoing victim status of the American Black.† There
is no question that on an individual basis many poor Black Americans
became materially better off with the Great Society programs, but what
they lost was so much more significant.† Victims have no dignity
and no agency; they are helpless and weak, like children.† Worse,
the toxic combination of anti-male radical feminism that† began to
seep into the culture along with the growth of the nanny state, had
horrendous consequences for the poor Black community; their men were
devalued (after all, they were seen as incapable of supporting a family
without assistance) and unnecessary.† Since a young woman could
raise a child (financially) without any input from "her baby's father"
(in a locution that has become all too popular), the father's
importance in the life of the child was diminished.† Boys growing
up without fathers have no fully human, three dimensional, role models
for becoming men; as a result they have adopted a caricature of manhood
which depends on demanding and coercing "respect".† The results,
stuck at the level of a Shame Culture, have been all too apparent in
the destruction of the poor Black family.
Perhaps here, after all, we can see the reason for Ms. Stern's
astonishing dim-wittedness (even if she can't). Rapper misogyny has
evolved to resemble Islamic misogyny from the exact opposite direction
-- from the cultural castration of males as opposed to the cultural
priapism of males created by a religion that has always used women as
appliances. Here, two different kinds of diseases meet and reflect one
another, and they may do do so for some time, because there is no quick or
easy way out of such an annihilating value system.
But Ms. Stern believes there must be a temporal limit to misogynistic
jihadism precisely because
she believes that the liberal policies which have re-enslaved black men
are really going to work somehow in the long run. That affirmative
action and the political correctness which refuses to identify a
gangsta rapper as an animalistic thug will eventually lead to a happy
result. So why shouldn't she believe the same about Islamic fascism? If
we can only make sufficient reparations for their avowed grievances and
treat them politely enough, they will outgrow the "fad" of beheading
their enemies, employing women and babies as shields for their own
murderous gangs, and binding their womenfolk in perpetuity like
mummified stillborns. We just have to be smart enough to understand and
tolerate their ways in the interim.
If Ms. Stern has close friends and family who care about her, my final
words are to them. Don't let her go alone into any place where she can
bask in the glow of the jihadist OR gangsta rap fads. She'll get hurt
or killed. The women who choose to accommodate them are their most
natural victims. Just ask Lil Kim.
Monday, July 31, 2006
The Algebra of
We're sure it adds up; we just don't
. Yesterday's post inspired a comment that's worth responding
to. I started to write my answer in the Comments section, but mindful
of all the flame wars raging through the blogosphere, I remembered the
advice of one presently beleaguered blogger who remarked that if a
comment is worth answering at all, it merits a post that everyone can
see. I think that's good advice. So I'm responding here to the comment
of Blade, who cited one phrase of my post and registered an objection:
>> nauseating phenomenon of
pro-Palestinian "anti-zionist" Jews<<
Anti-Zionism == Anti-Semite. I've never gotten this algebra.
It works out like this: if you even consider the idea that a political
fiat establishing a "country" in the middle of a 6,000-year-old war
zone might not have been a good idea -- even if you are actually a Jew
-- you an Anti-Semite.
I suspect you are considered an Anti-Semite for even wondering aloud
about such a strange equation.
I believe Blade speaks for a significant population of virtuous but
skeptical thinkers. He deserves a thoughtful reply. Here's mine:
Thank you for your reasonable tone. It's much appreciated.
The anti-zionist position is not
automatically anti-semitic. It does, however, carry the huge burden of
its disastrous bedfellows, many of whom are avowed anti-semites and
many of whom are -- regardless of your own rational perspective --
secret anti-semites. Does this and should this silence you? No.
It does seem to me, though, that anti-zionists who are not anti-semitic
have a special responsibility. If I inclined to the anti-zionist
position, for example, I would be eager to make it clear exactly why
and how my beliefs were distant from any desire to pack Jews into gas
chambers and cremate them after first digging the gold fillings from
their teeth. I'd be hypersensitive about this. I certainly wouldn't
want to be quoted in print for the casual observation that it's not "a
good idea" to plop a hated people into "the middle of a 6,000 year-old
war zone." I wouldn't want my doubts to be read like some slightly
condescending review of a badly written play. I wouldn't want anyone to
mistake me for one of the people who sincerely believe the world would
be a better place with no Jews in it. And I certainly wouldn't drop a
hint about my anti-zionist leanings and then lapse into silence with
the suggestion that to say more would be to expose myself to the
unfounded charge of anti-semitism. I would instead regard it as my
responsibility to delineate in precise detail the differences between
my position and that of both the Zionists and the Jew-haters.
In fact, I'm prepared to describe the particulars of the special
responsibiliity I believe non-anti-semitic anti-zionists have. Are you
prepared to shoulder that responsibility?
First, I believe they should recognize that more than other idealists,
they have an obligation to describe how, other than via Israel, the
Jews might be protected from the multiple cultures and peoples who wish
to exterminate them. For example, it's all well and good to criticize
the ad hoc decision in the wake of WWII to give the Jews a homeland
surrounded by desperate bigots bent on their annihilation, but we who
had no part in that decision are the reluctant heirs of a history that
cannot be repealed. What precisely
would you propose we do to rectify this half-century-old error that
does not involve destroying
the lives of the descendants of Hitler's (and Stalin's and Mussolini's,
and Vichy's, etc) victims? Are you prepared to throw the French and
Germans out of Alsace-Lorraine and plant the Jews in an ancient
war-zone surrounded by (hopefully) more civilized† anti-semites?
Or do you prefer turning everyone out of New Jersey (where I live and
you presumably do not) so that the world's most accommodating nation
can absorb the human cost of a second radical displacement of peoples?
Hypothetical if-wishes-were-horses solutions to the fatal problem your realpolitik logic sees are
unacceptable. If your objection is grounded in the accuracy of your
real-world vision, so must be the more intelligent alternative you
The fact is, it's been almost 60 years since the Palestinians were
deprived of sovereignty over their patch of desert. And history is
overflowing with examples of land that changed hands. (Anyone heard
from the original Britons lately? The proto-Liberians? The pre-Viking
Russians?) Do you find it at all interesting that the Jews lived for
nearly 2,000 years after the Diaspora without becoming
monomaniacal† terrorists living only for the possibility of
annihilating those who displaced them from their patch of desert? Is it
only casino licenses that's preventing the Native Americans from
lobbing rockets into Oklahoma City and Dallas on a daily basis? Or is
it somehow possible that a stone-age people in the Americas had more
civilization in their wheel-less world than the ne'er-do-wells of one
of the world's most prevalent cultures?
You see, part of the special responsibility of anti-zionists is also to
describe the definition of justice that makes it acceptable for a
supposedly advanced, civilized, and estimable people to abandon all
pretense of ordinary human morality and adopt instead the pursuit of
genocidal vengeance so rabidly that it warps even the parent-child
relationship into a breeding program for mass-murdering martyrs. How can this phenomenon be excused in any system of
morality? And why is it always wrong for the descendants of an
historical fait accompli to defend themselves from the terroristic
assaults of the descendants of the long-dead dispossessed? Speak to me
about this in a way that does not
evince the flavor of anti-semitism. I'm not saying you can't do it. I
just haven't heard it. And I have no doubt that if you could explain
such an exotic morality, it would be educational for reactionary
zionists the world over. It might even lead to a framework for peace.
Finally, the special responsibility includes the obligation to explain
the moral basis of the double standard that obtains in the response to
the stated genocidal intentions of Araby by the U.N., the E.U., Russia,
Why, in particular, do anti-capitalists of the Third World and the
post-Marxist left make this one
spectacular exception to their contempt of the concept of property?
As a universal rule, they believe that everything belongs to everyone,
regardless of who made it or remade it or developed it or created it or
earned it or imagined it in the first place. Except for Palestine.
Which belongs eternally to the Palestinians because they owned (!) it
-- from the time when the Jews were driven out of it into millennia of
persecution until they came back in sorrowing desperation -- and
therefore can't be expected to get over the loss of their property EVER. This is the basis
for my criticism of Pro-Palestinian, anti-zionist Jews. For the most
part Jewish anti-zionism is derived from Marxist sympathies (and the
neurotic self-hatred that accompanies membership in the world's most
hated club). Yet they do not ever explain why they acknowledge this one
lonely claim of property while they disdain all others.
I'd also like to hear how you feel about the company you keep. Does it
bother you (even a little) that Israeli sympathizers mistake
your completely rational objections to the existence of their tiny
nation as anti-semitism? Or is it, in the final analysis, no big deal?
Do you think it's basically positive that people can agree to disagree
about the disposition of the Jewish problem? That it would be a shame
if they all wound up dying, but nevertheless a mathematically
predictable outcome of an old bad decision? Is that your underlying algebra?
I'd love to read your response, and I'm not being sarcastic. If there's
something you know that we Zionists don't, this is the time to
The answers don't have to come from Blade. But they do have to address
my points. I'm tired of the sneaky, superior hit-and-run
commentary†about this matter. Prepare to swing for the fences or
shut the hell up.