Today's new revolutionaries are but pretenders to the throne. They protest in a world about a world that no longer exists. They can only dream of creating the social change that their forebearers were able to precipitate. "Social Justice" no longer inspires masses of people or catches the attention of the general populace in the free world, particularly the United States. If you ask the protesters they may say it's because the masses have become somnolent, disinterested (or self interested) and complacent. They may lament the demise of social activism and propagate amongst themselves the idea that the world is slipping backwards from "liberal" ideas under a general conspiracy meant to "keep the people" in an over indulged "zombie" state.
In every word of propaganda, there is always somebody's "truth". The fact of the matter is, poverty in "first world" countries does not equal the poverty of other nations. Particularly in a nation with 5.4% unemployment and 12.7% "below the poverty line" when that poverty line seems like the epitome of comfortable wealth to someone who lives in Somalia or Afghanistan. When the impoverished have access to social services that such countries and people can only dream of, satisfaction (ie, complacency to the left) can permeate the culture. Even more so when access to information and images from around the globe re-enforces this very concept. It may not look that way looking out from an improvished inner city at suburbia, but it is an undeniable fact. Things that were once luxuries and the domain of upper middle or uppper socio-econimic classes are now common items in most households. Cars, televisions, cell phones, video games, dish washers, electric washers and dryers have become affordable and available. Starvation is not a concept that the poor contend with on a regular basis. Medical treatment is available in clinics that are wide spread and, while underfunded in many cases, are still capable of rendering treatment unheard of fifty years ago. Infant mortality is significantly decreased while childhood diseases no longer render minority populations in half.
It may also be a product of a middle class that, while many say is shrinking these days, expanded wildly from the middle 80's until early 2000 and is more likely to be thought of as "stagnated" than shrinking. This expansion was across all racial lines, if not completely equal for all minorities.
Further, racism, while still existing, is no longer institutionalized. Social Justice activists will disagree, but the overt practices of literacy tests, poll taxes, gangs standing at the ballot box to intimidate or simply not opening polls in poor districts does not exist. Current disenfranchisement claims now circle around partisan redistricting, ballot counting techniques and the claims that, while poll taxes no longer exist to exclude the poor (particularly black or other minority), activists now claim that the lack of transportation to polls for the poor is an institutional attempt at disenfranchisement.
In the main, this argument does not gain traction like the once overt discriminatory activities. The concept of "complacency" over this issue may be more related to the general publics' idea that voting is a "right" for all, but the public does not feel obligated to insure transportation. That is not a right. Further complacency may also be associated with the idea that only 60% (in the last election) even felt motivated to vote. The lack of civic duty among the populace is no more or less apparent across races. I use the word "apparent" because the statistics may be physically different, but the perception is missing to your average citizen and does not spark an outrage.
Appearances would say that racism and sexism are no longer ingrained or concsiously acceptable when middle class schools have black, Hispanic and Asian students. Communities and school make up are largely less about race and more about socio-economic status. Again, activists may disagree and insist that the number of minority poor communities prove inherent racism. It just doesn't strike true to the average citizen. Another concept that has not continued to prick at the consciousness of the average citizen is discrimination at work. It still exists, but it is not the descrimination of the fifties, sixties and seventies. In any office, hospital or organization, people of every race, gender, political or religious creed and even sexual orientation can be found. This does not mean that individual bigotry does not exist, but this is now an issue of social evolution, social pressure continuing to change individuals, particularly when laws now support, unequivocably, equal employment opportunities and non-discrimination. Not to mention the ingrained concept of "affirmative action" that is in place in federal organizations and institutions of higher learning.
Another issue that keeps the average middle class citizen from seeing their country as "socially unjust" may indeed be a form of jadedness after years of expanding social programs under the "great society" that, while touted as a significant tool in the fight against poverty and ignorance, has not effectively "wiped out" poverty or illiteracy. The "old/new" idea of "individual responsibility" is again raising it's head across a wide spectrum of citizenship. This is most likely the effect of the expanded middle class over the last two and a half decades, but can also be related to the expansion of information and images that seem to show a wide percentage of those that currently live in poverty is the result of individuals making "bad choices" regarding drugs, pregnancy, education, prostitution, gangs and general life style choices. True or not, appearances are, as they say, everything.
Social Justice activists posit this issue as poverty forcing people to make these bad choices, particularly since businesses and the populace generally avoid these areas and provide less opportunities to avoid the "bad choices", but average citizens again see this as self perpetualization where it seems reasonable that businesses and people do not want to live where crime is rampant and morality and pride of self and community is not related to money and social status, however insistent sociologists and psychiatrists may attempt to convince otherwise. In otherwords, they just don't buy it anymore.
Then there is the commercialization or industrialization of "victimhood". Just looking at legal procedures regarding civil suits for discrimination, average citizens now see laws and judicial proceedings as giving the agrieved a real opportunity to address their concerns, yet, at the same time, certain suits, claims and remunerations seem extraordinary ridiculous and sometimes false, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those that feel they must still struggle for their own survival and, because they are not a member of a specific minority race, religious creed, gender or sexual orientation, do not have the same ability to sue for better treatment or conditions. The commercialization of these suits has also lent to the drowning out of significant cases that might very well be harbingers of social change if they were singular and focused. Instead, the sheer number of claims, true or false, have numbed society.
Organizations abound that seem to proclaim every Jack or Jill the victim of one social or economic ill or another. Couple that with real scams that have ridden into town on the coattails of real social issues and you get a society that now looks askance at every claim. Social differences no longer seem extraordinarily apparent and citizens must sort through a morass of ideas, information and claims to try to determine what is a significant issue and where they should stand for the cause of "right" and "liberty". Further, these organizations no longer appear "grass root" but have significant funding and assetts that indicate a commercial entity, not a social movement.
Those who lived through the civil rights movements and social revolutions of the fifties and sixties, those that grew up reading about those movements and now live in the "new" world, cannot help but notice the difference of those movements of long ago and the ones that exist today. Modern movements appear as pretenders or cast off children of the "real revolution".
Even these movements eventually led to the maxim of "unintended consequences". In every revolution, there is inevitably a moment or group that leads to excesses. Like the French Revolution that began as "liberte, egalite, fraternite" and eventually turned to an excess of terror and bloodshed, the social revolution of the sixties eventually turned into an excess of drugs, alcohol, sex and violence. By the seventies, once peaceful movements had spawned armed and violent organizations that created riots, destruction and even deadly terror. Most societies will eventually tier of the excesses and move towards a more centered and calm community. Modern American society can look back and see both the excellence of Martin Luther King, Jr's march, the quiet and oddly dignified defiance of attack dogs, water hoses and baton wielding police and the final excessive orgy and know that the excess is not something they wish to experience again.
Modern movements that get the most exposure have more in common with these last excessive activities than they do with the civil rights movements of the fifties largely because their causes do not resonate and their protests have the earmarks of excess for the sake of excess instead of for real social change. While there may be the occasional nostalgic yearning for the early days of civil rights activism and the few years of JFK, there is really very little desire to see race riots in Detroit or Los Angeles, even among those that may have a legitimate complaint. This then is the "unintended consequence". While the youth of the sixties may have wanted to push the boundaries even further and perpetuate the eternal revolution, society seems to have been innoculated against it for many more years to come by the very excesses and extremity of these movements.
Other contributions to the leary and the weary included world politics and consequences of "disengagement". Except for the extremely devoted, there can be no denying the outcome of leaving South East Asia to the Communists. Not simply due to the spread of Communism, but in the bloody aftermath. Whomever one will blame for that outcome, it is a fact that millions died there while millions more here patted themselves on the back, self congratulatory and self satisfied that they had "ended a war". It's still a matter of debate of whether interference was right or wrong, but the death of entire tribes, communities and peoples are a matter of record. Whether watched live on TV or seen in a history program, the image of indegenous people scrambling to leave Vietnam, begging Americans to take them away, the thousands of "boat people" that came after and the killing fields of Cambodia have left an indelible mark on our social conscious.
Finally, the illusion that Communism and Socialism are acceptable political vehicles for real freedom and social change was crushed beneath the Berlin Wall, when the Soviet Empire collapsed, the free flow of information and the real images of "social justice" came out. Gulags, secret police, extra judicial execution and torture chambers, all in the name of maintaining the illusion of "social justice". One look inside the misery was enough to convince most Americans that they would not want to live that way. In the sixties, claims about the Communist regime could be shrugged off as "capitalist propaganda". Today, anyone that does so can be easily shrugged off as delusionary. Thus, any organization or cause that hitches their wagon to organizations like International Answer, the Socialist Workers Party or anything similar is dismissed by the average citizen more concerned about going to work, making their "capitalist pig" wages, paying their mortgages and sending their children to college.
Even once rabid "revolutionaries" have sold out their revolutionary causes and became a "cog in the wheel of the machine".
For several weeks now, Mother Sheehan and other organizers of the "anti-war" activities and march in Washington, DC have lamented the lack of attention to their cause due to the twin devestating hurricanes of Katrina and Rita. The truth must be much harder to swallow for these pretenders to the throne. That truth is, this is not 1970. Their causes do not resonate with middle America. They are not real revolutionaries. They do not face concerted efforts to suppress them. They are not harassed, assaulted and arrested. They do not face barking dogs, water cannons or brutal police assaults with batons.
Even more so, they do not resemble the revolutionary fore fathers. Men like Jefferson, Adams, Franklin or even Hancock who pledged their fortunes and lives to revolution against a real tyranny where their very lives and property would be forfeit should they lose. There are no gulags, secret police, torture chambers or extra judicial executions with a silent, unmarked grave at the end. They don't risk hanging much less a stiff prison sentence. They are unlikely to get much more than a few hours in jail and a flimsy fine for destroying property or refusing to obey lawful orders. They are pretenders who risk nothing and pledge nothing but destruction, false causes and false morality while pretending to be "oppressed" by pretend tyrrants.
After four years, the pretend revolutionaries in their pretentious prancing, choose to ignore one of the most important issues in their failing to achieve real wide spread support: the average American remembers the excesses of their fore bearer protestors against the military and what it did to our fathers and even our mothers who served.
Lastly, the pretenders fail to recall the fate of most pretenders to the throne, that is their eventual ignoble demise and fading to a footnote of history.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Today's new revolutionaries are but pretenders to the throne. They protest in a world about a world that no longer exists. They can only dream of creating the social change that their forebearers were able to precipitate. "Social Justice" no longer inspires masses of people or catches the attention of the general populace in the free world, particularly the United States. If you ask the protesters they may say it's because the masses have become somnolent, disinterested (or self interested) and complacent. They may lament the demise of social activism and propagate amongst themselves the idea that the world is slipping backwards from "liberal" ideas under a general conspiracy meant to "keep the people" in an over indulged "zombie" state.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
While the computer was down, I had time to catch up on some reading so I went to the local library. I was looking for "Thunder Run" and a few books like that. Unfortunately, that book and Steve Vincent's "In The Red Zone" were both out. While I was in that section, I noticed a book called "Medal of Honor". I thought it was the most recent book out by that young author with lots of stories, but when I got it home, I realized it was a slightly older book. Then I noted that there was a writer I never heard of and commentary by "Mike Wallace". Yes, that Mike Wallace from CBS.
Still, I didn't let that deter me since I had flipped through the book quickly at the library and it had some interesting background and after information about Medal of Honor winners.
By story number three I noticed an interesting trend that came apparent by story number five that it was going to continue. Every single story (there were twenty I believe) had either commentary from the CMH holder or some brief information about their activities AGAINST the Vietnam War if they were alive at the time to experience that phenomenom. I'm not kidding either. Out of the hundreds of CMH winners that they could have profiled, they chose anti-Vietnam folks.
Believe me when I say I was not expecting the whole damn book to have almost every story end that way (and that's where it was, as if the writer had asked at the end of the interview for the opinion or had looked up the information about these men's activities) to include. I'm also not one to look for "agendas" of books that are largely supposed to be historical accounts, but I really couldn't help but notice it. In between the stories, Mike Wallace had independent commentary and every damn one, including the commentary on the civil war, some how veered into a direct comment or comparison to the Vietnam War era. About 3/4 of the way through, I stopped and looked at the first page of the book to see the copy right and it was 2002.
2002. Mike Wallace was still trying to make his case about the fallacy of the Vietnam War. The very last story in the book regarding Colonel Kelley who won the CMH during WWII and went on to serve through Vietnam, was the only story where a CMH holder said that he believed in his mission in Vietnam, but added the caveat that politics had hindered the fighting and that was what he was most upset about. However, it seemed that either Wallace or the writer pressed the man further to try to get more negative commentary and the man said again, after much reading a reflection away from the war, that it was fought wrong and might not have been a good thing to become involved in.
Last year, during the elections, I noted that Vietnam had shaped Kerry's entire life thereafter. Vietnam had apparently done the same for Wallace. I think that may be true for a number of baby boomers and slightly older folks. It's not WWII that made them who they are, but a war that was basically a loss. Baby boomers are still a large part of our aging population, but I think that a problem here is that my generation was far too young or not quite born yet, to have their ideas about America, wars and particularly Vietnam, shaped by that one war. It did not and does not define us.
If I had to pick a single defining moment, I'd be hard pressed to do so. For me, memory and defining history begins about the time I became a cognizant adult that looked at the world beyond school, fast cars, music and my personal angst. Those defining moments became the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the USSR and Tianneman Square which signaled the new beginning for the spread of freedom and a hope for a future without nuclear holocaust; the Gulf War which seemed to signify that the UN was coming into it's expected role of uniting nations against evil and a new world where technology could make war quick and relatively bloodless (however false that premise really is); the massacre of the Shi'ites, Somalia, Rawanda and the Serbian genocides which made the idea of a functioning UN and the motto "never again" a hypocracy of the worse sort and proved once again that mankind truly could sink to a morality so low even a snake would be embarrassed; and, finally, September 11.
I realize that I did not list the first WTC bombing, Oklahoma, Waco, Ruby Ridge, Kenya, Nairobi, the USS Cole and any number of other activities that might be defining moments for others, but, too me, these were more like "Lee Harvey Oswald and the Magic Bullet". Lone acts of terrorism or insanity that I had not yet linked to our current conflict. I suppose the other thing that defines me or my generation is the incredible leap forward in personal technology that seemed to re-enforce the idea that the sky was the limit and we could not be held back by such mundane things as real politics.
These things define me more than any others. To me, this last decade and a half has said, "Freedom is grand and desired by all men, but we should remember the depravity of mankind and, finally, know that our own freedom and security is not guaranteed."
Maybe others would define themselves differently. I don't know, but I certainly do not believe that the Vietnam War defines me or my generation. The stories about the heroes were extremely interesting and I plan to write about some here. These are people and actions that should not be forgotten. They remind us that ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances are and always have been the real heroes. I am just disappointed that a book published in 2002 about heroism spent a large part of its time trying to fight the last war.
Catch Cassandra on a similar topic Dogs of War.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Long ago, in a land far away called New Jersey, there was a weekly rodeo held at a place ubiquitously called "Cowtown", just southeast of Gibbsboro. Every year at the opening rodeo, the local PETA organization would show up to protest the rodeo as cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.
Being a farm girl from Kansas and having quite a bit of experience with the rodeo, I knew that these animals were probably better cared for than most of the PETA people's own pets. I also knew that the rowels on the cowboys' spurs were squared off, that cinches tied to the rear barrel of bucking horses and bulls were not used to "pinch parts", were not tied any tighter than the cinch on a saddle and that roping rules were specifically designed to prevent damage to the livestock since they were not only valuable assetts to any rodeo company, but usually belonged to animal lovers who considered it there responsibility to take care of these animals.
Most livestock used in rodeos were eventually bred to create more rodeo livestock and turned out to pasture to live very comfortable lives post rodeo career which is a lot more than can be said for the cowboys who dared to rope or ride them. Not to say that there weren't a few disreputable livestock companies around, but these usually supplied unsanctioned events and were deeply frowned on by most rodeo promoters since bad stock didn't perform well and bad looking cattle gave them a bad name. I recall that the rodeo in NJ had cancelled a contract with a livestock owner because it became known that the animals were not treated well. That was just bad for business all the way around.
Every year we ignored the PETA protestors. Of course, PETA wasn't the only interested folks who came down to the rodeo and didn't know anything about it. Many "city folks" from Philadelphia, Wilmington and other small and large urban places in the area would come down in their best "dude" out fits or just plain everyday wear (like Levis and loafers without socks) to take in this strange phenomenom. This rodeo was famous enough on the east coast that it would routinely get bus tours stopping by bringing tourists from Asia and Europe who wanted to experience "real America" or as close as their fantastical minds could get to the "wild west". As a regular afficianado, attendee and general hobnobber with the cowboys who passed through this rarified atmosphere, I and my friends found ourselves unofficial "information guides" since there was always one or two (or twenty) newbies sitting nearby exclaiming over each event.
One particular year, a friend of ours had recently received his PRCA bullfighter's card and was going to "clown" at his first professional rodeo right there at Cowtown. He was actually in the Navy and had been stationed there while his assigned carrier was in drydock for repairs. We had adopted him as our "brother" from Tennessee. To celebrate his official acceptance into this elite group of crazy bastards who wore face paint and baggy pants while confronting a pissed of 1500 lb slab of muscle and bones, his parents came to see him perform. They were extremely nice people whom I had met several times both down in Tennessee and on their visits to Philly to see their son.
I'm quite certain the PETA folks would have been really appalled to find out that our friend's dad raised a few cattle on his spread down in Tennessee for the explicit purpose of butchering them and having fresh meat. One of my memories of visiting them was being offered "Hamburger from Pork" or "steak from Chop" (two calves they had raised up and had been grazing in the pasture the last time I had visited; no effect on me, but it did turn our city friends off a bit).
On top of that, our friends dad was the spokesman for the PRCA circuit in Tennessee.
On this particular evening of PETA protesting, the news organizations were out in force. If I remember correctly, drive by shootings were down and Nicky Scarfo was in prison so there wasn't a lot to report that summer. The rodeo promoter had met our friend's dad much earlier in the day and, seeing that the press was getting an earful from PETA without any opposite views from the rodeo crowd, he asked our friend's dad to act as the unofficial spokesman for the rodeo. He agreed and we followed him out to stand nearby in case things got ugly. PETA had been in town that year throwing blood on people wearing fur coats and generally destroying furrier property along with a few other ignominious actions.
Most of the PETA crowd were across the street on a public easement, away from the rodeo. They were marching around with signs about animal cruelty. The one I remember the most clearly was the protestor dressed in a cow costume with some rather pornographic utters waggling around carrying an incredibly uninspired sign that said, "Make Milk Not Rodeo." This is where you should laugh since most bovines used in rodeos are bulls and steers, cattle of the male persuasion, which I do not recommend attempting to milk. Unless you count the occassional "wild cow milking contest" which I believe would meet their standards.
Another protester was giving an interview to the local TV news. He seemed like your typical urbanite. One of the cowboys with us walked over and told the assistant standing near the cameraman that a rodeo spokesman was prepared to give an interview. Shortly after, the camera crew and reporter came over to our side of the road and began a brief interview with our friend's dad. He was explaining the care and treatment of rodeo animals when the yuppy spokesman for PETA came over and jumped into the interview accusing our spokesman of being a liar and a hypocrit. After a few brief moments of the reporter trying to get control of the situation and our friend's dad reminding the gentleman that he did not interfere in his interview and being continously shouted down, our spokesman tapped the cameraman on the shoulder and pointed down at the PETA guy's feet.
The cameraman tilted the camera down and both the reporter and the PETA guy were momentarily thrown off pace, causing a loll in the shouting.
PETA Guy, "What?"
Our Guy, "Your boots." At which point, the reporter was looking down, too.
PETA Guy defensive now, "What about them?" The boots were the urban cowboy wannabe black and white fur side out boots that were useless accept to look good and cost money.
Our Guy, "Well, I couldn't help but notice they're cow hide. Did you eat the meat from the cow before you had those boots made?"
PETA Guy was insulted by such a thought, "I did not! I'm a vegan! I don't eat meat!"
Our Guy, "So, what you're saying is that some cow was killed senselessly just to make you those boots. Unless you think that cow died of old age somewhere before they took his hide?"
PETA GUY, "I bought these boots before I joined PETA!"
Our Guy, "Really? How about that belt? Looks like genuine leather to me. And your friends over there look like they have leather purses, belts and shoes as well. Just where do you all think that leather comes from?"
The TV Cameraman had panned over to the crowd on the other side of the street with his powerful camera spotlight shining on the PETA Hypocrits. The PETA Guy seemed momentarily speechless so our guy went on to explain briefly the PRCA (Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association) rules on treatment of livestock and their involvement in the ASPCA and other humane societies. Ending briefly with an invite to come out and see what it was all about and learn about the "cowboy way of life".
We walked back into the rodeo to see the nights entertainment as the cameraman and reporter broke for the night. I honestly don't know if it made the news or how it was presented. However, about a quarter of the way through the rodeo, another friend came up where we were sitting and said that the protesters were gone.
The only thing left was a pair of black and white cow hide boots with a black leather belt at the curb.
"I didn't mean to make the guy go shoeless," our friend's dad said, a little sheepish now that the war of words had been over for awhile.
"Don't worry, sir," I replied, "I'm sure he has two or three other pair of cow hide shoes in his closet to replace them."
Friday, September 23, 2005
The computer died. Completely shot craps. Hard drive is gone and the cost to repair it is beyond current budget. I will once again have limited access to a computer. So, if you don't see anything, not only am I looking for a job, but I can't get on very often.
As a matter of fact, my 1 hour time limit is about up at the library, so, I'm out of here.
PS...considering my run of bad luck these days, I wouldn't mind a few prayers or burning incense to Buddha or positive energy waves..whatever floats your boat. Hate to solicit such things, but you gotta do whatya gotta do.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
...Blackfive reports that Simon Wiesenthal has died. He suggests that you read this entire article and so do I.
As I wrote the post "1938" late last night, I was thinking that the veterans are dying and the concentration camp survivors are dying, it becomes easier to forget. And, today, there are too many people who due to distance or ideological differences, want to mitigate the disaster that was the holocaust.
In England, Europe, the United States, Russia and especially the Middle East, people deny that it happened or that many people were murdered.
I shake my head over the number of people that believe this that get legitimate press time to air their denials or bizarre conspiracy theories.
David Hirsch addresses one such person. In Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain are not only holocaust deniers, but actively work to deligitimize Jews and Israel, insisting that the Palestinians are victims of "genocide" and the Israelis are the new "Nazis". As I said in "1938", these ideas and groups get far too much acceptance on universities that are supposedly institutions of higher learning. Where once in Nazi Germany, Jewish professors were forced from their positions and replaced by men who who taught eugenics and racial purity, the evilness of "the Jew", in American Universities, where the far left prevail ( a left that was also excoriated by the Nazis), "alternative" history is taught where the holocaust is either denied or is "mitigated" by alleged atrocities of the Israeli state. And, no one laughs these entities from the campus.
As I read the article from the Chicago Tribune, these words struck me the most:
"When history looks back," Wiesenthal said, "I want people to know the Nazis weren't able to kill millions of people and get away with it." He warned on many occasions: "If we pardon this genocide, it will be repeated, and not only on Jews. If we don't learn this lesson, then millions died for nothing."[snip]
His experiences with Kohlrautz and Gunthert [prison guards who helped Wiesenthal stay alive] would later influence Wiesenthal to reject collective guilt. Jews "are the eternal scapegoat," he wrote in "The Murderers Among Us." "We know that we are not collectively guilty, so how can we accuse any other nation, no matter what some of its people have done, of being collectively guilty?"[snip]
Merz[prison guard] asked what he would do if he ever got to New York and people inquired about the concentration camps.
Haltingly, Wiesenthal replied, "I believe I would tell the people the truth."
"You know what would happen, Wiesenthal?" Merz asked, smiling. "They wouldn't believe you. They'd say you were crazy. Might even put you into a madhouse. How can anyone believe this terrible business -- unless they lived through it?"[snip]
"The last day at Mauthausen," Wiesenthal told The Times during a July 2000 interview in Vienna, "I say to my friends in the death block, 'I wish to live another 15 minutes, because I want to see the look on the Nazis' faces when the Americans come.'."[snip]
Seibel and his troops found as many as 10,000 bodies in a single grave. Among the living "were thousands who had been starved, beaten and cruelly tortured," Seibel told his superiors in a report quoted in Pick's book. "I viewed the gas chambers where people were packed so tightly they couldn't move and little children were thrown on top of their heads before they were gassed. I saw the dissection rooms and the cooling rooms where the bodies were stacked like planks of wood
"I viewed the private execution rooms where prisoners were hanged or shot by the commandant. I saw the highly charged electric fences where prisoners, who could no longer endure the suffering, threw themselves for a swift death. I saw the bunkheads [sic] in the barracks, bunks made for one man, where prisoners so emaciated could sleep three to a bed.
"Mauthausen did exist. Man's inhumanity to man did exist. The world must not be allowed to forget the depths to which mankind can sink, lest it should happen again."
That is our heritage. That is what we should remember. The world must not be allowed to forget the depths to which mankind can sink." And it is easy to forget or at least push it far away in our minds so that Rwanda, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cambodia and all others become some how acceptable or "not our problem" because we are told by the internationalist that we should not intervene because these nations are "sovreign" and these things are "internal affairs". Then there are those that sit around and debate what constitutes "genocide". All this after we declared "never again."
More important than the outcome of the trial, Wiesenthal wrote, was Eichmann's testimony.
It "destroyed the fairy tale that Auschwitz was just a lie," Wiesenthal said referring to the infamous death camp where historians say the Nazis murdered 1.1 million people. "Since then," he added, "the world has been familiar with the concept of the 'murderer at his desk.' We know that fanatical, near-pathological sadism is not necessary for millions of people to be murdered; that all that is needed is dutiful obedience to some leader."
This is also the reality of Iraq under Saddam and Iraq under attack by Islamic terrorists. They destroy and build nothing but grave yards and monuments to their own egos or proclaim their righteous cause sanctioned by history and religion on internet sites convincing young men that to die and to kill civillians is sanctioned by God. And like the executioner who paused for mass in Wiesenthal's story, the new killers pause for prayers, get up and go out to do it again. They have their own torture and execution chambers, choosing their victims based on ethnicity and religion.
And here, decades away from the sin of the holocaust, some choose to forget.
I found the end of the piece to be the most compelling:
Well into his 90s, Wiesenthal worked in his office regularly for at least half a day.
"Maybe it's my craziness," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. "Because I will never stop. I tell my wife, 'The great things in life are never done by normal people. They're done by crazy people.'."
Wiesenthal spoke often of a Sabbath dinner he had spent at the home of another survivor of Mauthausen, who had become a wealthy jeweler. The man speculated that Wiesenthal could have become a millionaire if he had gone back to architecture instead of hunting Nazis.
"When we come to the other world," Wiesenthal said he responded, "and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps, and they ask us, 'What have you done?' there will be many answers.
"You will tell them, 'I became a jeweler.'
"Another will say, 'I smuggled coffee and American cigarettes.'
"Another will say, 'I built houses.'
"But I will say, 'I didn't forget you.'."
To repeat the anchor: "Just as Cindy Sheehan finished giving her speech, police rushed in cut the rally short."
No mention of lack of permits. No mention of who was supporting the rally. No mention of the permits they had or what they were asked to do in order to use the sound system. Nada.
While I declared that I would not speak about this woman here, I will not refrain from pointing out misleading bullshit from the media. Basically, they gave the impression that the storm troopers rushed in to put a stop to a peaceful demonstration which is so far from the truth, it's not even funny. I mean, did you ever hear the storm troopers of Germany or Stalinist Russia asking people politely to not use a sound system that they had no permit for but telling them that they could have their rally as long as it was without it?
Or, Storm Troopers that just walk away while being called names and threatened by the protesters?
I think KCTV5 just pissed me off. Freaking CBS affiliate.
One thing I've noticed in web and real time discussions with people of all walks of life is the disturbing Jewish conspiracy theories. I've heard these theories from two types of people: those that are simply ideologically/ethnically opposed to Jews and those with a conspicuous lack of historical knowledge.
The first group of people are the people that have existed through out history. European and Russian pogroms were based on rumors and finding scape goats. It's been this way since the first Jew stepped foot on European soil. The Jews allegedly brought the plague. The Jews, lending money to unfrugal monarchs for everything from crusades, to inter-state war, to just plain spendthrifts throwing lavish parties, giving "gifts" to favorites or just buying the latest jewelry/fashion/horse flesh, etc, etc, etc.
King John and King Henry III of England both instituted pogroms against the Jews. Why? Because they both owed Jewish moneylenders large sums of money. Even King Richard the Lion Hearted had a love hate relationship with the Jewish money lenders. From my historical readings, I'd have to say that being a Jewish money lender in those days had to be the epitome of high risk investment. Monarchs come and go. They have the power of life and death over you so even if they are bad risks for repayment (which most of them were), it was usually an offer you couldn't refuse. Even if the king or queen was good enough to give land or jewels as security, since the monarch technically owned all the land, he could arbitrarily take it away. The Czars and Czarina's of Russia were the same.
Owe the Jewish moneylenders money? Got civil unrest or an unexplained plague? Got Jews? Let's have a pogrom. Drive them from the land. Burn them at the stake. Confiscate their property.
Got a new war you want to prosecute? Need to update the crown jewels? Excuse me, Mr. Jewish Money Lender, got gold? Give it up. Don't make me call a pogrom on you.
I guess I always found it interesting that the Jews were blamed for the bad money management of kings. It's not the monarchs and lords that were bad, it's the evil Jewish moneylenders. Of course, the medieval church was part of that, insisting that the Jews were evil because they "killed Jesus". At least that gave the wealthy and the royalty a cover for defaulting on their loans and an outlet for their people to take their anger over their crappy condition out on somebody.
Life hasn't changed that much either.
In modern history, you have three kinds of people with three ideas about the holocaust: 1) the Jews deserved whatever they got and it wasn't as catastrophic as people say it was, the Jews are the real nazis; 2) the holocaust happened in a vaccuum, a one off episode rendered by a one off mad man and whatever happened doesn't have a thing to do with Jews and Israel today; 3) the holocaust was the culmination of centuries of hate and the way the world still behaves today, it could esily happen again.
I'm a number three.
Reading history, whenever I think of the Balfour Declaration that finally led to the creation of Israel, I never took it as a distinctly philanthropic undertaking by the European states that supported it. Frankly, it always reminds me of the post civil war effort to send the "Africans back to Africa" which was largely meant to satisfy post bellum discrimination. In the case of the Balfour Declaration, it was a post bellum/pre-holocaust concept that seemed bent on sending the Jews back to "where they belonged". Of course, there were Jewish Zionists who believed the Jews should have their own homeland and Europe wasn't exactly a friendly place to be if you were Jewish even before the holocaust.
And, while I am not so historically challenged that I don't know about the beginnings of the Haganah militia and other groups or their activities, I can grasp that both the Arabs and the Jews were betrayed by European realpolitics and the final gasps of colonialism.
The simplistic "holocaust in a vaccuum" idea of WWII Europe is a nice fantasy. It's just not historically accurate. I remember in high school when we were learning about World War II, we did learn a little bit about the collaboration of the French Vichy government with the Germans. However, it wasn't until many years later that I found out that there were plenty of citizens in France who were quite willing to round up the Jewish citizens and send them off to the camps. That went for a number of other European states. Then there were the states (including the US) that refused entry to those who tried to escape.
So, here we are, centuries and decades later and I hear rumblings that repeat every folly, regurgitating foolish conspiracy theories and for what? For the same reason that they've always been repeated: a convenient scapegoat that is weak comparatively speaking. Approximately 15 million Jews, 1.2 billion Christians and 1.5 billion Muslims and some how, the Jews control our fate.
The Jews own the banks, the media and the US and British government. The war in Iraq, both of them, were allegedly to protect Israel. Don't forget that the Mossad apparently perpetrated 9/11 and all the Jews knew to stay home that day. Don't forget that some of the hijackers allegedley had Israeli passports (they were Iraq passports but who pays attention apparently). Kind of sickening really. And, some of it is repeated by people that swear they aren't bigots, just pacifists or anti-war or support the "Palestenian Cause" or those that just wish we weren't at war or should have just stayed in Afghanistan to capture OBL as if he was the only terrorist that mattered. While it's true that Israel's security is vastly improved without Saddam in power and threatening to lob scuds with nerve gas at them whenever he gets pissed at the Americans, it was hardly a primary concern. Just like oil existed there and Saddam's existence threatened the security of the region, but hardly rates as the pimary reason for invasion.
Whenever I hear those comments, I usually roll my eyes and shrug "so, what's your point?".
You get those comments from the idealogues and demogogues, but you also get them from the historically challenged who like to make believe that the Middle East would be one fuzzy friendly land of brotherly love if Israel didn't exist or we weren't in Iraq. The Egyptians, Persians, Assyrians, the Turks and various other groups were busy conquering each other for millenia. Then came Mohammed that united many groups, but upon his death left divided ethnic and sectarian rivalries that continue today. Even the Ottomans couldn't keep them all under control. No better or worse than the Europeans incessent wars or other ancient or recent wars of conquest and they certainly needed very little outside provocation. Frankly, such commentary betrays the inner bigot.
Today, the British Universities disassociate themselves from Israeli Universities; the British and American Churches have gone through a purge of of their investments; the American and European Universities are rife with anti-Israel groups; newo-nazis are once again getting press time and damaging synogogues, cemetaries and businesses; Jewish students are harassed; and the historically uneducated or the short term memory folks or those who are inherently bigotted go on and on about the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. All the while, a fascist ideology percolates and vows to take over the world under the pretext of righteous grievances, destroying the Jews as a primary step towards that goal.
To paraphrase another blogger, I get the feeling that it's 1938.
Monday, September 19, 2005
According to this news item, two British soldiers were detained by Basrah police after getting into a shootout with the police.
An Iraqi official in Iraq's second largest city said the British military had informed him that the men were undercover soldiers and that an Iraqi judge was questioning them.
"They were driving a civilian car and were dressed in civilian clothes when a shooting took place between them and Iraqi patrols," the official told Reuters.
"We are investigating and an Iraqi judge is on the case questioning them."
Reuters photographs showed one of the two men with a bandage on his head. Police and Interior Ministry officials said the men were wearing traditional Arab headdress for their undercover mission.[snip]
Mohammed al-Abadi, an official in the Basra governorate, said the two men looked suspicious to police.
"A policeman approached them and then one of these guys fired at him. Then the police managed to capture them," Abadi told reporters.
"They refused to say what their mission was. They said they were British soldiers and (suggested) to ask their commander about their mission," he added.
I'll guess what their mission was and I'll guess why they weren't too keen on telling anyone after they were arrested. Recall that Basrah is now the home base for the Iranian backed Shi'ites and Sadr's own theocratic thugs that pretty much run their own little crime syndicate in town, cheating on contracts, killing anyone they think is threatening to their survival (Steven Vincent comes to mind) and intimidating or killing anyone that does not adhere to their hypocritical concept of morality including just recently four women for singing at a wedding.
I imagine that the Iranian and Sadr connections are the most interesting to the Brits considering the number of arms being smuggled into the country via smuggler routes in eastern Iraq.
Why they were shot at, I can only imagine. Could be a simple check point that the soldiers wanted to avoid or it could be that, just like Steven Vincent's killers, the men were police officers who were involved in something nasty and were only prevented from killing these men because they were armed or because one of the rogue police elements in Basrah had a leader that felt compelled to insure their dirty little empire was not completely exposed or put into danger by overtly killing British soldiers. Much better to detain them and embarass the British officers in charge, giving the thieves and strongmen some leverage.
If I was the Brits, I'd be "investigating" if the soldiers' cover was blown by someone inside their Joint Operations.
While reading the story from AP, I noted this rather overblown observation:
Basra, capital of the Shi'ite south, has been relatively stable compared with central Iraq, where Sunni Arab insurgents have killed thousands of Iraqi and U.S. forces, officials and civilians with suicide attacks, roadside bombs and shootings.
Maybe I'm just being picky, but I would have put that as "thousands of Iraqi civilians, police and military" and for once, I wouldn't have minded the most current body count for the US. It just seems by that comment they were overstating the US casualties and understating the "relative stability" of Basrah.
You might have noticed that I have been less than prolific lately. The writing/philosophy muse has been on vacation apparently. Or, possibly it's been pointing me in different directions, things I wouldn't normally write about on this blog. Personal things. Yes, I've been pretty open about my past life living in the big "P", but that was a lifetime ago and I felt far enough removed from that life to write about it (though I ended the series on the first half of the Philadelphia years; there's plenty laugh to laugh and curse about). Recent things have been too close and too "now" to feel comfortable to write about.
In some ways, holding that separate and trying to write something intelligent or worth while, it's been quite difficult. On top of that, I feel a little bit like I've had battle fatigue. Reading a bleat by Lilek today, one of his sentences got to me. Basically, talking about 9/11 and the war, he said, "if you don't get it by now, you never will." That's how I've been feeling lately. I'm tired of talking about why it's important, why it's necessary, defending our soldiers and I'm tired of being angry with these folks who use overblown polemics and low disgusting insults to make their points because they simply don't have anything else worth while to say or add to the discussion. Other blogges have noted this same malaise about the foolish repeated ad nauseum (yes, making me nauseas) same ridiculous commentary that passes for discourse.
On the other hand, I feel a little guilty about my fatigue on the subject because our men and women are still over there, the terrorists are still killing people, the towers are still gone, 2973 people are still dead and there's a hole in a Pennsylvania field that reminds me I haven't given even a quarter of what those people gave in the war against Islamist extremists. It's something I think about whenever I feel down or feel a little pity party for myself, I think about what it had to take to rush a cockpit knowing that you have a 99% chance of dying, but doing it anyway because it's the right thing to do. I think about what it takes to wake up every morning after that and see the pillow beside you is empty or all that you have left of your son or daughter are the pictures and their school trophies.
Those are heavy loads to bare and it makes my load seem like a feather. So, it's been difficult in my current situation to write about it because what I would write would seem so damned pitiful compared to those difficulties that it's almost an insult. On the other hand, however pitiful, I want to write about it just to talk it out. One thing about writing here, it's like having a hundred therapists or members of your support group listening. Kind of a captive audience.
Then again, you have to ask yourself: does anyone really care?
Where's this all going? Here it is:
I'm unemployed. I've been unemployed for three months now. After seven years killing myself for my company, traveling everywhere, barely taking vacation and using up just about every ounce of my creativity, right in the middle of my personal crisis (which I have failed to mention here for some time) and having twice tried to give my resignation, both times being rejected (and me foolishly not insisting that they take it anyway) I was fired.
Yep, fired. Seven years, three promotions, six incredibly good reviews, I finally needed some personal time to take care of those loathesome personal things I'd been ignoring for awhile and it was unacceptable to the company. The last straw was, right in the middle of this whole mess a wisdom tooth became infected so bad that I had to go on double antibiotics, using hot and cold compresses to make the swelling go down and then had to have the tooth removed. I had plenty of PTO. The year before I had lost a week of PTO because the company wouldn't let me carry anymore. But, that doesn't really matter when the company decides that you are no longer necessary. You may be loyal to your company, but for many companies, that loyalty is not reciprocated. In the last cost/benefit analysis, loyalty and years of service don't really matter.
It didn't take very long to go from star employee to an albatross. I'd tell you that I learned lesson from it, but I can't say that I did because I still believe that, if you're going to do something you should do it the best that you can and give all that you can. I suppose that the only thing I learned is that not everyone feels the same way that you do and in this corporate world, you're expendable.
In the end, it put me in a severe financial bind, but, in a strange way, I felt a very real sense of relief the day they gave me my termination papers. There's no bitterness, just relief.
I can speculate why it was they decided that I was now expendable. I was in the middle of analyzing a third reduction in force. Sales were going down and new business leads were no where to be seen. Not to mention that several contracts we'd had for years were unprofitable and they were a large part of our existing revenue base. Looking at the numbers, I can honestly say that I couldn't see where the cost reduction was coming without actually closing the business or dumping some more upper management folks. I believe I had the unfortunate timing of handing them their big cost savings without having to give me the severence package they would have had to based on my salary, position and years of experience. Lucky them.
But, like I said, that's oly speculation and I was actually relieved when it happened. I mean, I really felt a smile come over my face as I was leaving the office. I had escaped.
At that point you know that you should have left a long time ago.
So, here I am. Jobless. I took thirty days off and then started looking. I was trying to decide what I wanted to do. One of the things that was difficult is trying to decide about changing career paths. That is just about down right impossible when people see your resume is full of the same kind of companies over and over. But, I'm applying and I've got interviews lined up. Which is good because the mortgage needs paid and the dog needs food.
So, if you see me not posting anything pithy for a day or two at a time, don't go away. I'm just dilligently looking for employment. I'm thinking I may have to go work at the quick trip across the street and maybe the Mc Donalds.
Now that's desperate.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
...democracy continued it's march in Aghanistan as Afghanis prepared to vote for Parliament and local elections. Afghan Warrior reports that the Taliban are still trying to stop the elections while promising not to attack the polls:
Unknown armed men killed 7 civilians after they searched the vehicle and passengers and found official documents. It was a very cowardly act of the enemies because these civilians were just carrying voter registration cards and documents for the weekend's parliamentary election and they wanted to cast their vote for a better future of their country and they were not armed men and nor were they goverment officials.
In another incident 3 more civilians were killed and 4 injured including a child by a remote-controlled landmine blast in the Tirinkot district of the same province on Wednesday. In southeastern Zabul province a man was hanged by Taliban rebels on Tuesday. He was an intelligence official working for the district intelligence department. He was captured and killed by the Taliban. He was hanged. After all these killings it is impossible to trust the Taliban. However the Taliban announced that they will not target the polling stations during the election day because they don't want civilian casualties.
But the Afghan's are preparing their security:
Around 50,000 police together with 20,000 Army and some 30,000 coalition troops are ready to provide security during the parliamentary election so I am sure nothing much will happen during the election and Afghans will peacefully vote and elect their honest representatives.
And our Afghan friend reminds us that the Afghanis have not forgotten the event that led to their freedom from terrorists:
The people of Afghanistan have not forgotten the deadliest attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon four years ago during which around 3000 people lost their lives. We strongly condemn this cowardly terrorist attack and express our grievous condolences for all American people, especially with those who lost family members, relatives and friends.
Make sure you watch the slide show. I must admit to getting a little teary eyed whenever I see the people keep marching on. It gives me the hope and the confidence that this war will be won and it is the dream of every man and woman, no matter how poor or from what nation, to be free.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Okay, I hat to equate anyone to Hitler because, well, it's like trying to disuade discussion by some sort of false argument, but I really have to say that his rhetorical style, as I listen to his comments on MP3 at the debate with Hitchens last night, I have this picture in my mind of Hitler at Nuremburg, pounding his fist on the podium denouncing Jews.
Don't believe me? Listen for yourself. Catch the second half here.
He also had the bad fortune to say something that quite sounded like he was blaming the United States for the attacks on the WTC 9/11. This while the debate was occuring in New York City. Needless to say, he was very loudly booed.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Early this morning as I wrote this post concerning my concerns re: possible terrorist strikes in the US and indicators/target patterns, I forgot one of the main indicators: whenever terrorists feel like they aren't being given their due by the media (ie, they drop off the radar while larger tragedies or more important things are going on), they are bound to strike in a major way to regain their prominence on the international media.
I can't believe that I missed this important indicator since it is one of the MAJOR plaints of Zawahiri in his book "Knights Under the Prohet's Banner".
Part ElevenA. The universality of the battle:
The western forces that are hostile to Islam have clearly identified their enemy. They refer to it as the Islamic fundamentalism. They are joined in this by their old enemy, Russia. They have adopted a number of tools to fight Islam, including:
(1) The United Nations.
(2) The friendly rulers of the Muslim peoples.
(3) The multinational corporations.
(4) The international communications and data exchange systems.
(5) The international news agencies and satellite media channels.
(6) The international relief agencies, which are being used as a cover for espionage, proselytizing, coup planning, and the transfer of weapons. [snip]
Choosing TargetsN. We must get our message across to the masses of the nation and break the media siege imposed on the jihad movement. This is an independent battle that we must launch side by side with the military battle.
Thus, the last indicator for an attack would be whenever the headlines do not have the words: Iraq, dead, suicide bombers, statement from "X" (choose one: Zawahiri, Zarqawi, OBL) for three or more days.
Just like spoiled children, they demand attention. Unfortunately, they are more like the spoiled children of Satan (al Shatan) who want their attention in bloody headlines.
Iraq the Model believes they are trying to avenge Tal Afar based on a statement released by Al Qaida in Iraq, but I believe it is more complex than that considering that large attacks with multiple suiciders and mass casualties are reserved for special strategic needs.
Zawahiri explains further the strategy for achieving multiple goals in any one attack:
L. Changing the method of strikes:
The mujahid Islamic movement must escalate its methods of strikes and tools of resisting the enemies to keep up with the tremendous increase in the number of its enemies, the quality of their weapons, their destructive powers, their disregard for all taboos, and disrespect for the customs of wars and conflicts. In this regard, we concentrate on the following:
1. The need to inflict the maximum casualties against the opponent, for this is the language understood by the west, no matter how much time and effort such operations take.
2. The need to concentrate on the method of martyrdom operations as the most successful way of inflicting damage against the opponent and the least costly to the mujahidin in terms of casualties.
3. The targets as well as the type and method of weapons used must be chosen to have an impact on the structure of the enemy and deter it enough to stop its brutality, arrogance, and disregard for all taboos and customs. It must restore the struggle to its real size.
The real size, he goes on to say, is global war.
Frankly, I wonder if any agency has taken the time to compare the news cycles and headlines in a given period to attacks by the terrorists? Instead of blithely assuming that a decrease in activity on the part of the terrorists signifies defeat?
Although, the other point that can be made is that as we see attacks whittled down to mostly spectacular, mass casualty affairs further and further apart, this may be a good indicator that human resources may be declining or that the mujihadeen are moving their leadership assetts to avoid capture and are reduced to setting off their main attack by well entrenched and hidden cells. The good news is, these cells don't get rebuilt over night and investigative and interrogation techniques have led to support personnel and groups being arrested or taken out of the equation, forcing the mujihadeen to rebuild, not just the cell, but entire support networks in location.
No easy task once the cover is broken.
I am also beginning to think, based on the amassing of forces and the attacks in Baghdad that Zawahiri or some other leadership element was being evacuated from the area of Tal Afar once again and these items were hopeful distractions for US forces.
Read this quick book review in the WSJ re: Pakistan, Jihad and Afghanistan.
Try not to be too shocked when you read it. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)
As we continue to clean up from Hurricane Katrina, the largest discussion about terrorist attacks in the US are centered around the response of the federal and local government to the disaster and what this would portend for a future mass terrorist attack. What we aren't discussing is the probability of a terrorist attack in the wake of the disaster. Neither do we hear any comments regarding raising the terror alert level.
Just looking over the brief history of the last four years with direct massive attacks on first world nations, their are certain patterns and areas that intersect in order to form Al-Qaida's perfect target.
The intersecting areas have so far involved:
1) Politically weak or weakened leadership
2) Financial weakness or instability
3) Political atmosphere that leans towards withdrawal or isolation
4) Probability of a change in political leadership or changing the leadership's goals based on inability to sustain current policies or activities.
The targets in first world nations have centered around:
2) Direct impact of financial capabilities
3) Mass casualties
7/7 - 7/14:
Post Katrina, the President continues to be attacked for lack of preparation on the home front and with calls from many, even previous supporters, to re-focus resources and time on the home front to make it more secure. While this cannot lead to a change in leadership, the declining polls and support could force a significant change in focus. Katrina has also certainly put a huge krimp in the continuing climb of the economy and immediately put unemployment up by .3% with a probably outcome of a decrease of .5%.
An attack today may bolster the election possibilities for the opposition in 2006, eroding Republican control and possibly leading to attempts by the opposition to block continuing finance of military operations or significantly erode them. Take over of the Senate or House by the opposition could also allow even more gridlock of Presidential policies, eroding his support and the support of the leading party by providing the illusion that the administration is ineffectual and their policies have failed.
This could lead to the eventual political victory of a candidate in 2008 who promises to make a significant change in policies, protect the homeland "at home" and return the troops to home, allowing a return to the policies that allowed Islamists to spread largely unopposed and claim a victory over the US.
Right now, if all agencies are not looking for the possibility of a terrorist attacks in the next 30-90 days, before economic recovery gets in full swing, it would be a terrible failure in creative thinking or recognizing patterns of significant terrorist attacks on first world nations.
Considering the impact of Katrina on the oil infrastructure and ports which caused gasoline prices to soar and general short termed panic for several days in the populace after the anouncement of possible gasoline shortages and a request from the President to conserve gasoline AND the impact from the East Coast to the Midwest, I would be looking for security at ports with significant oil infrastructure to be dramatically increased.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Is it just me or does Adam Gadahn's video look make him look like a cheap wannabe riding on the coat tails of killers? He reminds me of those kookie guys that always try to confess to some heinous crime so they can be "famous". The video looked like it was shot in front of a blue screen or merged to show some fake background and the guy himself looked like a kid playing make believe.
What's with him hiding his face? As if nobody has a picture of him without a turban or scarf across his face.
Also, his hand movements were extremely wimpy. Was that finger pointing supposed to make us afraid?
My honest opinion? Mr. Gadahn is a nobody who is acting out a fantasy, pretending to be somebody he isn't and making videos proclaiming attacks on specific cities because he wants to be something he isn't. A very dangerous game, to be sure, but a game none the less.
I particularly found this statement ironically amusing:
"Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing. And this time, don't count on us demonstrating restraint and compassion," the man says during the 11-minute tape.
Restraint? Compassion? Laughable. Not only because the attacks against civilians have neither been restrained or compassionate, but because he is trying to intimate that their relative smallness compared to giant car bombs in Iraq and the attacks of 9/11 are because they are showing restraint as opposed to unable to do anything else in these restricted arenas with stronger security and control by the authorities.
My first reaction to his statement was: don't make me laugh you little pissant peacock.
Anybody else think that Adam and Johnny Walker's parents should have beat them more?
In most discussions concerning our current day terrorism, much of the discussion concerns the political and ideological motivations. We also focus on the political and miltary weakness of such organizations as reasons to turn to terrorism in order to promote their causes. Terrorists understand their weaknesses and use their lone ability to cause mass civilian casualties in order to exploit the one tool that they have: information. Whether that is apparent in 24 hour news cycles, world wide web or simply the attention of an audience that seems unable to look away, like deer in the headlights.
One aspect that has not been fully explored is the concept that some, if not many, terrorists' personal motivations for perpetrating terrorist acts are not motivated by lofty ideas or causes, but by the acts themselves: terrorism for the sake of terrorism.
We have examples of this concept on the individual level. Serial killers and sexual predators have very similar motives for their pursuit of their idea of "pleasure". In fact, the study of serial killers and sexual predators in history may well lend to the ability to evaluate and predict certain actions on the part of terrorists. Serial killers and sexual predators always select the weakest to prey upon. This is usually because the predator personally feels weak, psychologically and sometimes physically. They choose the weak because they are the easiest to manipulate and control. They are the easiest to affect.
These predators derive a major portion of their pleasure from the fear they instill in their victims. The final act or killing is the penacle of the pleasure and power. Once that pleasure is gone, the predator usually begins seeking another victim until they are stopped.
Power is it's own drug and the power of instilling fear has long term resonating impact on both the victim and the perpetrator. The final power is the power of life and death over the victim. Some have reported feeling god-like in the control of the act.
For some terrorists, this is their motivation.
Historical discussions of the post Russian-Afghanistan war have pointed to the number of young Muslim men who basically "grew up" fighting and know no other way of life, returning to their homelands and finding that they no longer fit in or found an outlet. Thus, they returned to Afghanistan and Pakistan to rejoin these organizations and continue their activities.
There may be questions as to whether this kind of behavior is learned or already part of the perpetrators nature. Discussions concerning the effects of war in general on soldiers have brought up the myth that soldiers who have killed find it easier to kill again, particularly in civilian life. But, this myth has been debunked time and again. Largely because most militaries have "rules of engagement" that expressly define who the enemy is and whether action is taken as an immediate deffensive or offensive movement. In which case, this allows most combat seasoned warriors to identify and compartmentalize the act of killing, insuring that such actions are not considered part of "normal life" and that the soldier can return into society without seeking death and destruction as a common or acceptable act against non-combatants.
In terrorist organizations and individuals, the entire concept of terrorism works on the theory that no person is protected against military acts: regardless of sex, age, creed or identity, uniform or not, every person is a potential target. This substantially lowers the mental and moral barriers of the actors against killing. Further destruction of barriers may be directly related to absolution that the perpetrator feels is given by religion or some other justification.
In the end, these last motivations may only act as mitigation of morality. Once the barriers are down and there are no boundaries it is easier to expand the pool of eventual victims and turn them into objects that serve the individuals purpose. Serial killers and sexual predators also experience similar break down in normal cultural mores and objectivize the victims.
It is likely that a number of leaders in the current terrorist movement are similarly motivated.
Some give aways for this idea are the grievances or "causes" that the individuals or organizations state as their motivators for actions. Demands that are impossible to meet or not in control of the victims or their extorted governments allows the terrorist to continue to feel justified in their actions and acts as the trigger "permission" to act again and again while simultaneously garnering additional vicarious thrills from the helplessness of their victims and the attention their continued demands receive.
Some of these demands include the withdrawal of western countries from any interaction in the middle east and the complaint that western culture is degrading their own culture through the influence of music, movies, fashion, education and information. While it is possible for western forces to physically leave the area, in a global connected world, demands for the separation of cultures are impossible. Even in Afghanistan, no perfect utopia devoid of outside relations or influence could be achieved. Books, music and learning aides were smuggled into the country. NGOs operated, with some limitations, but surely with western personnel interacting with locals and psuedo-officials.
In which case, such demands for a withdrawal or rejection of western culture from these areas are impossible demands. Regardless of other demands that may seem to have a veneer of legitimacy (like issues of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict; or even forces leaving Saudi Arabia) this impossible demand for disengagement simply acts as the justification for continuing terrorist acts.
Similarly, the last goals for a caliphate or global conversion to Islam, demands that are impossible, not just due to western interests but because the individual states are bound to object if not their citizens, also acts as the last justification for continuing terrorist activities.
There are several ways to use this knowledge to combat terrorism.
The first is to deligitimize their claims. Do they speak for all the people they claim to speak for? Do their moral justifications meet the morality of those they claim to fight for?
Second, take away their followers. Similarly by working against their ideology, pointing out their fallacies. Part of this could be pointing out the fact that the three base demands are unattainable, not just militarily, but politically and objected to by the actual citizens.
Predictable patterns. Like serial killers and sexual predators, terrorists tend to follow certain patterns in selecting victims, preparing and perpetrating attacks. They operate in areas where they feel comfortable. Recent major terrorist attacks have focused on the intersecting of transportation, large crowds and impact on the financial health of the victimized countries.
There are other patterns to be found in their activities. Realizing the patterns will allow authorities to counter terrorist activities. It is also important for citizens of potential victim countries understand that terrorism, seemingly random and without counter, can be stopped. This will lend towards mitigation of fear which is not only a tool for terrorists in achieving their aims, but may very well be their sole purpose considering the probably psychological motivations of individual actors.
While it is difficult to stop a serial killer, it is not impossible. By countering or mitigating their motivation, or over confidence or by the simple need for the killer to achieve ever greater psychological thrills and satisfaction from their acts, they eventually make mistakes that lead to their capture or death. Part of the motivation is also the game; the need for the killer to feel superior to his (sometimes "her") pursuer which leads to taunting through letters, videos and other media.
Again, all of these activities are part of the killers over all psychological need and resemble quite closely the motivations and actions of terrorists. Ultimately, serial killers and sexual predators are imminently selfish and perform their acts for their own sake.
Without a doubt, terrorists will continue to perpetrate terrorism for the sake of terrorism.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
It's four years later. Four years that we are supposed to have healed and grown away from the multitude of feelings that we felt on 9/11. It's called the healing process.
In four years, through personal tragedies and triumphs, nothing has ever felt like that day nor the days since.
Some say that 9/11 changed everything, changed America. I don't know if that is true, but it did change me. Before that day, it was as if I was only me, though connected to family and friends, while claiming to be an American and thinking I knew what that meant, I really never understood.
In wasn't that I lost my innocence on that day, but that I lost my trust in a world I had imagined was changing. I had dreamed the impossible dream and it was shattered that day. Since then, I have found myself re-evaluating all the things I thought I knew or understood. I found the world was changing, but it wasn't in that fuzzy, ephemeral way, far away from me. It was up close and personal.
Every day since then has not made it farther away or easier to remember. I still cry on September 11. Maybe I'm not supposed to say that. Maybe that means I haven't "healed" or found "closure" whatever that means. Maybe that is strange for somebody to say when I knew no one who died.
Yet, I felt like I knew them. They were more than just faces or fellow citizens. They were me. They were the unfortunate ones to be in the buildings and planes that were targeted. I could have been them on a different day.
On most days, it's just a thought in the back of my mind, but on others I could play the whole day in my memory like a movie that never ends. Mostly, because it hasn't. We're still at war and unlike all the other small wars, this one was more than just an action by the country I live in. It was personal. Very personal.
On the day the war began, it was a beautiful September morning. I was wakened early by the bright sunlight coming through the drawn shades. It was so bright that I wanted to put a pillow over my head to block it out and go back to sleep. But a glance at the alarm clock told me that it was only a few moments before the alarm would go off so I decided to get up anyway. I had the house to myself. My parents were away on vacation. I'd been living with them while I tried to find a house.
So, I threw back the covers, automatically reaching for my fluffy green robe and walking to the bathroom. I was thinking how much I was going to enjoy hogging the hot water that morning and I did. Twenty minutes of hot water further enjoyed because I was early and could waste a few more minutes. Getting out of the shower, I wrapped the towel around my head, put on the robe and brushed my teeth. Putting the brush in my pocket, I walked into the living room, found the remote and flipped on the TV to CNN. I tossed the remote into the easy chair and walked to the kitchen without really looking at the TV. The sound was down low as I walked into the kitchen looking for a can of coke. My morning caffiene. I didn't really do coffee back in those days.
I walked back to the living room and placed the coke on the table by the easy chair. Sitting down, I pulled the towel from my head and began to rub my hair dry. It was then that the images on the TV caught my attention. It was just the towers, one with a gaping hole, smoke billowing. The other was still untouched.
First, I thought it was a movie. In a few seconds, I had taken in the words streaming across the bottom of the screen: small plane reported to have hit the trade center. What? I fumbled for the remote and turned up the sound. The reporter was saying that they were waiting for confirmation, but first reports indicated a small commuter plane and flown into the building.
Oh my God! What a tragic accident. Of course, when they said "small plane" and "commuter plane", I was thinking a small jet that could hold 20 or so passengers. From the view of the towers, it was hard to tell how big the hole was. I couldn't understand the scale of the damage compared to the building. The reporter kept talking, basically repeating what they had already said and continuing to say that they were waiting for additional confirmation. Shortly after, they switched to cameras at the roof of the building where CNN was housed and I believe that Aaron Brown was standing there with a view of the towers behind him on his left, but on the right of my television screen.
Several minutes had gone by. I don't know how many, but I heard someone gasp and say, "there's another plane" just as the plane flew out of the left side of the screen, angling towards the building and crashed into the backside of the building that was away from the camera.
"OH MY GOD!" Was shouting in my head, but I said nothing. I know that I was sitting there with a towel in my hands, staring at the TV, slack jawed and nearly uncomprehending for 30 seconds. It was as if the world had gone silent. I couldn't hear what the reporters were saying. There was nothing but a buzzing sound that slowly faded away until the thoughts in my head and the words of the reporter echoed each other: terrorist attack.
We've been attacked! Oh my God! We've been attacked! Shit! Shit! Shit! What the hell? What are we going to do?
I sat there and listened, waiting to hear the rest of the reports. Obviously, the first reports had been wrong. The second tower strike, I had seen the plane, but I still couldn't tell the size of the plane. I couldn't understand the size.
The reports continued to come. More attacks. Get the planes down. The firemen and police were on the ground. Another plane might be hi-jacked. The tower is coming down, smoke billows up and covers the people who were running. I felt my heart pounding as I watched them run. A plane flew into the Pentagon. I was feeling more and more shocked as the time went on, but I also felt something else: really deep anger. It was welling up inside. I wanted to call somebody. Do something.
But I couldn't. It was the most helpless feeling that I had ever experienced. I have to admit, since that day, I've felt that many times: wanting to do something, but unable to do anything and it's bothered me ever since.
I don't have to retell that day. Most people remember the second tower falling, the reports from the Pentagon and the recordings of the voices from flight 93 who knew already that they would die. It was only a matter of how and when. I stayed watching the news until close to noon time before I drove down to the office. I noticed the sky was still electric blue with very few contrails tracing the sky. Everyone at the office was listening to the radio or trudging into the conference room to catch a few moments of the news while others kept their computer screens turned to streaming news. I went home as soon as I could to watch the news some more so that I would know what we were going to do. I wanted to know that we were now safe. I kept thinking that more attacks would come.
But they didn't.
I suppose that day stays imprinted on my mind because it ran the gamut of all human emotions: happy, shocked, fear, anguished and angry with a multitude of levels and emotions between. It stays with me because that day represents an entire range of all human activity:
To build soaring towers standing against all elements using advanced mathmatics, technologies and materials showing the unrivaled power of the human mind and spirit.
To utterly destroy, as only man can do, without feeling or regard, without compassion or compunction.
Bravery beyond ken as men and women found the courage to go where angels feared to tread, saving others without care for their own safety, not knowing what was ahead, but knowing they had to go on. And those that knew, who saw the first tower fall and realized that they had to get the others out. Others who's faces they had never seen, yet were precious to them for simply being humans. The ones that knew the fate of the other planes, but fought back, calling in those last minutes to say good-bye or to calm their loved ones.
Depravity beyond comprehension as men who had just been sitting in the passenger area, knowing that men and women, old and young, small children and grandparents were on board, having seen those people's faces, held them worthless along with the thousands of other lives, unknown and unseen, that they intended to end that day.
Grace as calls from the towers told loved ones good-bye or not to worry. Grace that overcomes men and women, knowing that they will die and deciding at the end that this last thing they can control, these last moments, as they jumped clear of the buildings, like silent gliding birds.
The roar of crashing steel and glass.
The deafening silence after.
The blue of a morning sky.
The grey dust and smoke of destruction.
The fear of pedestrians running before the cloud.
The compassion of strangers dragging people to safety, offering their arms for strength and their shirts as kerchiefs or tourniquets.
The joy of being alive.
The despair knowing friends and loved ones were gone.
Hope and anguish.
Once I was a simple citizen who knew nothing but the pleasure of living here, in a country, formed on an idea that I enjoyed yet barely understood. Then I finally understood "community" and "citizenship". I saw it defined on that day along with honor, duty and sacrifice. I've come to understand freedom and I finally understood tyranny.
I was no longer separate, but part of a whole and that whole had been attacked; wounded deeply and without remorse.
It was on that day that it became personal. Unknown by name and face to me, the dead and the survivors became my family. I finally saw their names and faces as thousands came into the streets with pictures and names, holding them up to the camera. I heard their stories in the days after.
We were united by more than tragedy. We were citizens. We were free. We were still here. We were still strong.
Several days later, as I walked with my nephews into a store in a strip mall, we noticed that one of the shops had been burned out. One nephew holding my hand tugged on it and asked me if a plane had flown into that building too and would we be safe when we went in. So I understood that tragedy and fear knew no age and it was now my job, not just to comfort them, but to protect them from all danger and fear.
Now every day, since that day, we have been at war. It will be the longest war in my lifetime; possibly the longest war known by our country. Every day I have never doubted the purpose of this war nor the outcome, though I have cried for the losses of more brave men and women, for those children who will not know their mother or father again except in pictures and stories. Since that day, the song "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes always evokes tears and remembrance of flagged draped coffins born by men in blue uniforms and white hats. The summer song of the crickets always reminds me of the sad sound of fireman's alarms echoing from the dusty silent streets.
Continuing this war, whether Afghanistan or Iraq, is not about those sacrifices. Though some have said that to pull back now would be to make their deaths in vain. They were not in vain and never will be. But this war is not about today or even the yesterday of a cloudless September morn. This is about tomorrow and the day after and the day after that. This is about the future that we choose to live in; the future that we will make.
This is about a Saturday after a terrible Tuesday, when two small boys asked me if they were safe and I promised them that they were and would be.
At the end of that terrible day, we were still standing. We unfurled the flags, lit our candles and sang songs of faith and devotion. And, burning hotter than those flames was anger, rage and righteous vengeance. Justice some call it; revenge say others. What ever it is, for some of us, a burning ember was placed in our hearts; an eternal flame that reminds us what we are and why we keep going.
It became personal.
That burning flame strengthens us when we despair, warms us in the cold night, lights the way when we feel lost and continues to forge the steel of our will. Like the phoenix, we rose from the ashes, born again to the call of an idea that had once languished behind a wall of complacency.
Now that wall is broken like the once impenetrable iron curtain, that which separated us is gone and we are inexplicably bound together, not just here within the shores of a free nation, but with events thousands of miles away where each triumph of freedom breaks away another stone in the wall allowing the fire in our hearts to burn more brightly and shine the light of the torch of liberty in every dark corner.
The fire in the minds of men was started by the flame of rememberance in our hearts.
We will never forget.
Previous 9/11 posts:
First flight after 9/11
Why we Fight
Rudyard Kipling: Justice
Friday, September 09, 2005
Do we need another committee or commission to figure out what went wrong with Hurricane Katrina Relief or is it just another time, money and resource wasting project that can be resolved by each area concentrating on their own area of expertise and responsibility?
The answer is, “Hell no!”.
The failures run the gamut from individuals to leaders, from citizens to city to state to federal, from bureaucracy to actual law, which means that efforts must be made across the board, from the lowest to the highest to evaluate and make changes to the level of responsibility, planning, communications, organization, leadership and law.
What’s likely is that, instead of streamlining any of this, government involvement will simply create more bureaucracy, more law, red tape, more of the same that we have already received. To simply point to individuals, decide that they should take the fall and fire them, would not solve the problem either.
No defense for anyone here, but it would be OVER simplifying the solution and would let people breath a sigh a relief, go back to what they were doing, once again paying little or no attention to the problems at hand. The same will happen once a committee or commission gets its hands on the issue. Just like 9/11, the citizens of this country watched congress and the White House go through contortions and act as if they were deciding how many bedrooms and separate baths they should build in their new home on the Riviera of Federal Boondogles at the tax payers expense.
As usual, the citizens of the country were complacent and relieved that SOMEBODY ELSE was looking into and taking care of it. We turned back to our television, our magazines, our movies, our Play Stations, the concerns of making dinner and deciding which bill to pay this week while the “remodelers” told us they were fixing the house, putting in new plumbing, a security system with a direct line to police and fire departments, bullet proof glass, electronic fence, steel doors, iron bars, fire proof insulation and roofing, five rotteweilers, a panic room and they’d throw in an armored humvee or two for transportation.
While we were not overseeing the remodeling efforts, the contractors brought in cheap labor to stand around and pick their noses, drink your beer (or wine depending), steal your grandmother’s silver, jack your car, sell your own dog to a chemical testing lab, while the contractors (senators, representatives, governors, city council members) use most of your payment and your credit account at the local hardware store to remodel their own homes and buy some nifty laser guided levels and saws (with their own titanium cases and the equipment rarely leaves the cases) before finally instructing the cheap labor to paint the walls, repair the holes (that they put there) and move the furniture.
Don’t forget to tie tin cans to the door handles for a security alarm and put the ceramic dog by the door.
Finally, they hand you the bill with an explanation that they had greatly underestimated the cost of the security remodeling, it’s now twenty times more than the initial projections, and the invoice has four line times:
White Paint - $8756.99
Miscellaneous - $61,789,563,242.27
The look on your face when you actually do have an emergency: priceless
Your service contract has a large print single line, “On Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to handle all problems with installed products and threats to the safety of you and your home.” Under that in extremely small print:
Except on weekends, federal holidays, weekdays between the hours of 5:01pm and 8:29 AM. On call repair and response services are included after purchasing the six year service contract and paying an additional $5 billion per year service fee. All repairs and updates to installed systems will be at the owner’s expense. Contractor may send you arbitrary charges for goods and services bought for the contractor’s home, family, friends, or unrelated projects at any location serviced by the contractor. Failure to pay these charges will result in your tin cans…er…security system being uninstalled at an additional cost to you that will be specified at the time of removal. Contractor is not libel for death or injury caused by failure of security systems to be present, to properly function or for the lack of response from any of the contractor’s representatives, sub-contractors or designated scapegoat. In the event of an actual emergency, dial 911. If 911 places you on hold or is unavailable to respond, hang up and dial 1-800-RED-CROSS.
The contractor will not even lift a pen to take down your name without first consulting a panel of lawyers to insure there is no legal risk to the contractor or other designated representative. Scapegoats may be sued or lambasted at your leisure. Legal services will be billed to the customer at an amount to be specified later. Prior to any assistance being provided, the customer will also complete 9 million forms in triplicate regarding customer information, assessment of needs, specific list of requirements and requested assistance, with a three million word essay on why you deserve any assistance at all. The customer will need to attach a copy of this service agreement with each of the completed forms. The customer will be responsible for all administrative costs for submitting this document including $50.00/document not including labor and other unspecified charges.
Contractor reserves the right to addend this service agreement without notice input from the customer. Any attempt to provide your own security will be considered a breach of contract and will be subject to harsh penalties.
If you have any questions, don’t call us, we’ll be on vacation.
Thank you and have a nice day.
You want something to get done? Let the citizens get it done. Yes, the citizens. Get a group of private citizens with backgrounds in customer service, management, engineering, communication technologies, a couple of efficiency experts, several recent victims of disasters and incompetence , one logistics rep from the military, one red cross volunteer, one lawyer and Donald Trump.
I bet you we could fix this problem much faster, easier and get results.
Something we won’t be seeing out of a blue ribbon panel or congressional committee.
Inspired by Michelle Malkin’s Not Another Damn Commission.