Monday, August 9, 2010

What We Don't Want Future Generations to Say

Future generations will judge us harshly. Let’s hope they don’t judge us for the wrong things.

Even though it looks like all governmental bodies involved have cleared the way for construction of the Cultural Center/Mosque near the site of the 9/11 terror attack a growing segment of the general public is still very much engaged in stopping the project.

According to a Fox News report today, August 9, 2010, resistance to the construction of Mosques is growing nation wide. Right now there are approximately 1,200 Mosques in the United States and plans are under way to increase that number to 1,800 in the near term. The Fox News cameras showed clips of sizable protests all across the country as Americans become increasingly alarmed.

Naturally, critics are characterizing this opposition as “religious intolerance”. And if we can agree that Islam is a religion and not just an extremely large “cult”, there may be a point to be made along those lines. Other people’s religious beliefs along a whole spectrum often seem cult-like to an outside observer. From the burning bush to the Resurrection, from no meat on Friday to no meat at all, from full-dunk baptism to just a splash…Most in this country believe the bill for any theological errors will come due soon enough. In the meantime, why make each other miserable arguing here on earth?

But, tolerance is not something we see in Islam. Pick up a newspaper almost any day; Bali, Mumbai, Lockerbie, Fort Hood. Today it was reported that ten international medical aid workers were lined up and shot in remote Afghanistan. No amount of politically correct happy talk can smooth that over.

Americans share a healthy suspicion of the Islamic community for a host of reasons, not the least is the 9/11 Attack and the video images of the Muslim world celebrating, dancing in the streets following it. Seeing no discernable effort of the Muslim community to rid their own faith of violent fanatics, is it any wonder that the American public’s “radar” is turned on and loaded with fresh batteries? And while none of us would like to be thought of as intolerant there is a prudent need for caution with regards to the spread of a belief system that has both declared and shown itself hostile to other religions and to the West.

So, rather than go round in a circle on the question of tolerance, let’s get to the point. Here is what we want to happen:

One hundred years from now we want the American people to look back and say of us, “The early 21st Century was truly a dark time. Many American citizens were rather silly in those days. They viewed the Muslim religion with skepticism and outright suspicion. They even went so far as to hinder the construction of hundreds of much-needed Mosques and cultural centers. Yet, in the face of all this intolerance, the good Muslim people themselves cleansed their faith of dangerous fanatics, renounced the violence of their traditional justice system, embraced their new culture in the West and became a model of tolerance and understanding.” That’s what we want future generations to say.

What we don’t want future generations to say, especially historians writing centuries from now, is something like this:

“The political leadership in America was every bit as weak and frivolous as their enemies suspected. This leadership was unsure of the value of their own culture. Preferring to avoid controversy at all cost, they were willing to look the other way and distract themselves with trivial matters. Public concerns were swept aside while the country was re-populated by residents who were openly hostile to the basic tenants of their Constitutional government. Once a tipping point was reached, the Old American Republic was no more and mankind sank, as Winston Churchill stated in 1940,

“into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”

That is what we don’t want future generations to say.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Monument at Ground Zero

In Columbus, Ohio stands a statue dedicated to that city's namesake: the discoverer of America, Christopher Columbus.

Let's not quibble about whether a band of Vikings or an errant Chinese vessel reached the New World centuries earlier. Other than to quote the famous line "Yes, but when Columbus discovered America, it stayed discovered," that's beside the point.

In the late 1980s, I was photographing campaign commercials for Democratic candidates. One bright day, I was riding in a van with that day's candidate, his media consultant, a director, camera assistant, sound man, gaffer, and whoever else squeezed in. We were discussing particulars of our project when we turned a corner. There, in a grassy park, was the statue of Columbus. As we rolled past, gazing at it from the windows, one of our number offered a comment: "Christopher Columbus: a symbol of racism, sexism, genocide and oppression."

No one seemed to need clarification. He might as well have been talking about the weather. If you have spent any time at all around Leftist Democrats, you know that this remark was nothing out of the ordinary. Inside their comfort zone, or after they've had a couple glasses of wine, they are capable of making the most astonishing pronouncements and judgments, delivering them in the most unequivocal terms.

The Christopher Columbus remark lingered in the air for a moment, a couple heads nodded in agreement, and then talk returned to details of the job at hand.

That statement made an impression on me, however, and on occasion over the years, I have remembered it and considered it from various angles. It is certain that readers of this essay will find much to comment on regarding the peculiar mindset this anecdote exposes and the low opinion Democrats frequently express of the nation they seek to lead. It may even prompt readers to wonder whether some Democrats identify with America as a nation at all, wishing instead that the country had been settled by a better class of people. Again, this is not the point.

My point, rather, is this: Those who erected that statue intended the image of Columbus to reflect and honor the noble characteristics of Vision, Courage, and Resolve. They intended it to be viewed as symbol of the power of Right Idea and Inspired Enlightenment as a direct challenge to ignorance and superstition. And for quite a while, the statue of Columbus stood as a representation of those very things. But then we arrived at the era of postmodern Liberalism, and out of the classrooms and intellectual enclaves came political correctness, revisionist history, and the image of The Ugly American. Things changed, or were made to change. Immediately following World War II, there seemed to be a deep need in some to take a little of the shine off the U.S. The United States was no longer depicted as a beacon to mankind but as a plundering bully that needed to be cut down to size. To some in this country -- and every year, hordes of them come out of the woodwork around October 12 -- the image of Christopher Columbus was made to represent the exact opposite of Freedom, Enterprise, and the power of Mind.

Interesting, isn't it, how a monument erected to noble ideals can be remade instead into a symbol of "genocide and oppression"?

Let us now consider another monument, recently approved by state and local leaders to be built in lower Manhattan, a block from the hole in the ground known as "Ground Zero."

Less than nine years after the 9/11 attack -- the "Day America Will Never Forget" -- state and city officials in New York have cleared the way for a proposed fifteen-story mosque, or Islamic "culture center," just paces away from the hole. While nothing has yet been built on the actual site of Ground Zero, the mosque zipped through zoning and landmark hearings untouched by city and state bureaucrats and unscathed by citizen protests. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo were both early supporters of the project. Much of official media sees nothing wrong or disrespectful about it. Words like "insensitive", "tacky," and "in poor taste" have had no place in the conversation, nor have words like "vile" and "obscene." In the minds of our current officialdom, the issue is one of America's lack of religious freedom and tolerance -- and officialdom is all about tolerance of religion, don't you know.

Well, here is what that mosque will truly represent: To the American Left, this mosque represents a gooey dose of feel-good inclusiveness. It provides a platform for them to lecture and talk down to the public on the subject of America's perceived moral shortcomings while at the same time allowing them to act as enablers for a religion that happens to have many adherents who wish for the destruction of America. It's a win/win.

To Islamist fanatics, it will represent a victory over what they perceive as a corrupt and complacent America. To them, America is a "weak horse"; we can be had, and official approval of this mosque only nine years after the slaughter that took place at this location serves as living proof.

But to us regular citizens, living in the burroughs, across the Hudson, or out here in flyover country, driving our seven-year-old cars and happy to have our families together, that mosque represents the dangerous fecklessness of the Left. It is another symptom of timidity when common sense is called for. It is the disease of the Arizona border issue spread to New York City. That mosque will stand as a testament for every modern liberal who never missed a chance to call Ronald Reagan a "warmonger" but finds Islam a "religion of peace." Additionally, if actually built, it will be a testament to shortsighted Islamic overreach. Erected as a chip-on-the-shoulder challenge to the United States, it will sooner or later be knocked flat.

No one contemplating this building as they pass on their way to pay respects at Ground Zero will have to have lost loved ones that day to understand the meaning of that building. We all know that not just New York was attacked, but all of America. And we all will see this building as an insult to the three thousand people who were crushed or burned alive that September 11. This mosque, at fifteen stories tall, will memorialize two hundred souls per floor. And every brick, every stone will represent Progressive Liberalism's astonishing preference to defend everyone else's position, but not ours.

While we marveled at the implications of one Democrat's words on seeing a statue of Christopher Columbus, consider that same re-interpretative phenomenon magnified ten thousand times over as Americans contemplate this proposed monument at Ground Zero.

This essay was originally published in The American Thinker, August 7, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Arizona and the Pottery Barn-rule

What happened last week to the Arizona illegal immigration law is a clear indication that in these serious times America has an un-serious President… as if we needed more proof.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has acquiesced to the Obama Administration’s pleading and issued an injunction preventing implementation of the Arizona law. What’s likely to happen next? To those who feel that Judge Bolton’s decision is a sure disaster I say, “Yes, it will be a disaster. But, let’s slow down and see if we can find a ‘bright side’ to any of this.” And, you know, there just may be. Barack Obama may have given the people of Arizona an insurance policy.

A few years ago regarding Iraq policy someone warned George W. Bush of the Pottery Barn-Rule; “You break it, you own it.”

By telling the people of Arizona, "Relax. I'll take care of it" the President has taken ownership of the illegal immigration issue and of all the collateral problems that result from it.

Okay, Mr. President, you’re in charge. From here on out, if anything breaks you get the bill. That includes shootings, kidnapping and headless bodies found in the desert.

Moving the official command and control center from Phoenix to Washington, DC, about as far away from Arizona as is possible to get, is not a confidence-builder. Arizona residents will not sleep better knowing that help is only 2,300 miles away and that it moves at the speed of the Federal bureaucracy.

The President does not seem to understand that because of his own Justice Department’s case and Judge Bolton’s ruling he is the one who will be receiving the likely "3:00am phone call". All of the crime and violence, the shootings and kidnapping are his problem now. While he can count on a continued news blackout on the part of the MSM, it is a safe bet that Fox News will continue to report (you decide) on the subject and to air hidden-camera footage of drug smugglers and human traffickers crossing the border at will.

It is not likely to be a pretty picture. It is inevitable that sooner or later the Obama Administration will get tangled up in some unpleasant border incident. When that happens the President will attempt to shift the blame and the people of Arizona and their police force will bear the cost. Our job will be to make sure that Obama is not able to shirk the responsibility he has taken with his District Court victory.

We were looking for a bright side to the story. That’s about as bright as it gets.

Simultaneously, there is a dark cloud that seems to have escaped much notice. The Republican Party also had a hand in Judge Bolton’s decision. All you Tea Party people take note.

In 2000 Judge Susan Bolton was nominated to the District Court by none other than President Bill Clinton. No surprises there. Problem is, US Senator John Kyl, Republican of Arizona, is the one who suggested her. Further, at that time the Republicans held a majority in the US Senate and Trent Lott was Majority Leader.

Fade Out – Fade In: Ten years later…

When Democrats needed a Judge to do them a favor they had one in the right place, and the Republicans put her there. This is what America gets as a result of Republican “collegiality” and going-along-to-get-along.

The purpose here is not to bang on John Kyl. He’s a pretty good Senator. But the Pottery Barn-rule applies to him, too, and to all of our elected officials. They have to know that they are accountable to us, not “Them”. We do not hold elections and send people to Washington to represent someone else’s interest. They are to represent our interests.

Keep the Arizona decision in mind when Elena Kagan’s name comes up for a vote.

To those reading this in Maine, Massachusetts, or South Carolina; now would be a good time to contact your Republican Senator. Remind them that if they break something, they bought it.

This essay was published August 2, 2010 on The American Thinker.