Saturday, May 15, 2010

Recent Commentary Of Interest

While others look away, Mark Steyn continues to shine a light on the West's appeasement of radical Islam.

Last week, the American Association of Pediatricians noted that certain, ahem, “immigrant communities” were shipping their daughters overseas to undergo “female genital mutilation.” So, in a spirit of multicultural compromise, they decided to amend their previous opposition to the practice: They’re not (for the moment) advocating full-scale clitoridectomies, but they are suggesting federal and state laws be changed to permit them to give a “ritual nick” to young girls.

A few years back, I thought even fainthearted Western liberals might draw the line at “FGM.” After all, it’s a key pillar of institutional misogyny in Islam: Its entire purpose is to deny women sexual pleasure. True, many of us hapless Western men find we deny women sexual pleasure without even trying, but we don’t demand genital mutilation to guarantee it. On such slender distinctions does civilization rest.

Steyn, in an earlier column, had made the following observation.

America is so un-Islamophobic that at Ground Zero they’re building a 13-story mosque — on the site of an old Burlington Coat Factory damaged by airplane debris that Tuesday morning.

So, in the ruins of a building reduced to rubble in the name of Islam, a temple to Islam will arise.

Communism is an ideology even more murderous than radical Islam (at least by the latest count - we'll see what happens if/when jihadists get hold of WMDs). It has also been treated with, if not deference, then either justification, unconcern, disinterest, tolerance, or some combination of these. A sympathetic view of communism is generally considered a (sometimes charming) foible, not the morally obtuse character flaw it is.
In its "Notable and Quotable" feature today, the WSJ excerpts the following by Claire Berlinski writing for the spring issue of the City Journal.

In the world's collective consciousness, the word "Nazi" is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis' ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the F├╝hrer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.

For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he can't get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he can't get anyone to take much interest in them at all. . . .

One personality of interest in Stroilov's documents is former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, a darling of the left. Leftist mythology holds that Gorbachev "ended" the cold war. The obvious truth is that the cold war didn't "end". It was won by the U.S. and its allies and those most responsible for the victory were named Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul 2. Anyway, Berlinski notes that the documents reveal Gorbachev's true character.

...the documents cast Gorbachev in a far darker light than the one in which he is generally regarded. In one document, he laughs with the Politburo about the USSR's downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983—a crime that was not only monstrous but brought the world very near to nuclear Armageddon. These minutes from a Politburo meeting on October 4, 1989, are similarly disturbing:

Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.

Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands . . . So what?

Conrad Black (NRO) sounding like his fellow Canadian, Mark Steyn -

The Western world’s greatest problem is the Euro death wish. Apart from perhaps the Poles, the whole continent has lost the energy to work hard or even procreate. It is torpid, flaccid, without serious leaders, and the historic nationalities are all shrinking as they try to replace the unborn with inassimilable immigration. Barely a third of Europeans work and the rest are family or welfare dependents. It is all coming apart at the seams.

And this is the system that Obama and the Democrats are trying to get us to emulate.

National Review Online runs a video program called "Uncommon Knowledge" hosted by former George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson. (Robinson wrote Reagan's "Tear down this wall..." speech). The program's format is an interview divided into five segments featuring writers, commentators, politicians, and other public figures. Robinson's most recent guests were (separately) Mark Steyn and Fouad Ajami. Steyn was questioned about his book, "America Alone" and he expounded on his pet theory of the West's demographically driven, civilizational decline.
Ajami weighed in with his considerable expertise about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Middle East and radical Islam. A great admirer of George W. Bush and the Iraq project, he is far more sanguine about the prospects for Iraq than Afghanistan. He also took issue with Steyn's blanket condemnation of Islam as a radical ideology.
One drawback to these otherwise interesting programs is that Robinson, though articulate and knowledgeable, is somewhat full of himself, preening, and at times, taking too long to frame his questions.

Uncommon Knowledge with Steyn (part 1 - link to other parts from here)

Uncommon Knowledge with Ajami (part 1 - link to other parts from here)

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