September 30, 2003

Rosh Hashana Faux Pas

Check out the first sentence of this piece:

A Texas high school has apologized after the school band waved a Nazi flag during a performance on Friday, the start of the Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashana.
The school band did this. Not a skinhead punk, the school band.

I’m sorry if I’m being Politically Correct, but this is too much.

DURING A HALF-TIME show, a student from Paris High School went running across the field waving a Nazi flag.

At the time, the Blue Blazes band was playing the composition by Franz Joseph Haydn that eventually became known as ”Deutschland Uber Alles."

Here’s why:
Grissom said it was part of a show entitled “Visions of World War Two,” in which the flags and music were intended to represent the warring nations.
All right, fine, that’s reasonable enough. It’s not anti-Semitism, and it certainly isn’t pro-Nazism. But still. Come on. In the past two years anti-Semitic invective and violence have spiked, and so has the general public’s tolerance for it. It’s an open wound again, and the Texas school poked it. A Nazi flag on Rosh Hashana…jeez.

At a time of hypersensitivity to the tiniest little “feelings” affront, the negative reaction to something as blatant as this shouldn't be a surprise.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 5:04 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Wing Nuts

While I lob grenades at the left wing-nuts in my own party, liberal Republican Adam Sullivan does the same thing to the kooks on the right. Good stuff at his Karmic Inquisition blog. Start here and just scroll down.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 4:58 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

September 29, 2003

Bosnia, the Middle East, and “Realism”

Christopher Hitchens reviews French journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy's new book Who Killed Daniel Pearl?

Lévy has some interesting things to say, not just about Daniel Pearl and Pakistan, but about the Terror War in general.

Here is Hitchens:

Bernard-Henri Lévy was a strong defender of Bosnia's right to exist, at a time when that right was being menaced directly by Serbian and Croatian fascists. It was a simplification to say that Bosnia was "Muslim," but it would also have been a simplification to say that the Bosnians were not Muslims. The best resolution of this paradox was to assert that Bosnia-Herzegovina stood for ethnic and cultural pluralism, and to say that one could defend Islam from persecution while upholding some other important values at the same time. I agree with M. Lévy that it was a disgrace at the time, and a tragedy in retrospect, that so few Western governments took this opportunity.

But now we hear, from those who were indifferent to that massacre of Muslims, or who still protest the measures that were taken to stop the massacre, that it is above all necessary for the West to be aware of Islamic susceptibilities. This plea is not made on behalf of the pluralistic citizens of Sarajevo, but in mitigation of Hamas and Hezbollah and Saddam Hussein. One of the many pleasures of Lévy's book is the care he takes to show the utter cynicism of the godfathers of all this.

Those who Lévy and Hitchens refer to are actually being consistent. They are Kissinger "realists," and they side with whoever's in power. They really don't care who it is. To them the internal charactertistic of states do not matter. Stability, even a violent and nasty one, rules. A Christian Orthodox fascist who puts Muslims to the sword is as good as a theocratic mullahcracy that throws infidels into torture chambers.

During the Cold War it was often dangerous to be on the same side as the resistance. Odds were high that the Soviet Union backed them. That's not a problem anymore. The Soviets are gone, and there is no wisdom in behaving as though it weren't so.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 10:55 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

New Iraqi Urbanism

Until recently, the Baghdad skyline was dominated by Baath Party buildings and palaces. Those are now gone.

Iraq is rich in natural resources. So when the country gets a decent government, a healthy economy, and some new construction contracts, maybe the new Baghdad skyline will look something like this.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 10:13 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

September 28, 2003

Atrocity Seen From Outer Space

This is what ethnic "cleansing" looks like.

Behold a satellite photo of a Kurdish neighborhood in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 1997.


Here is the same neighborhood in 1998.


Saddam Hussein destroyed more than 3,000 Kurdish towns and villages in this way. Some were so thoroughly annihilated there is little evidence they ever even existed.

Thanks to Bill Herbert for the photos.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:33 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

A Great New Blog

If you haven't already, check out one of the best new blogs around, curiously named Who Knew? The two blog writers, Jeremy and Cara, are disaffected lefties like myself.

Two recent posts of note:

The first tells how to put Glenn Reynolds at a loss for words.

And this post puts me at a loss for words.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:06 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

September 27, 2003

The Iraqi Underground

The Baathists do love to bury things in Iraq.

TIKRIT, Iraq - U.S. troops uncovered one of their biggest weapons caches to date Saturday at a farm near Saddam Hussein's birthplace, including anti-aircraft missiles and a huge quantity of explosives used to make the homemade bombs that have killed numerous American soldiers.
I wonder what else, aside from civilians, is buried beneath that ground.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 3:09 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

September 26, 2003

Totalitarianism, Liberation, and Resistance

Patrick Lasswell has some eloquent words on the nature of totalitarianism.

There is no link between totalitarian government and efficiency, security, honesty, purity, simplicity, or holiness. There is no trade; you do not get benefit in exchange for fascism, socialism, holy rule, or anarchy. What you trade your freedom for is chains and promises; only the chains ever arrive.

Many survivors complain about the lack of stability once their chains are no longer there to support them. Some slaves never let themselves be freed. They insist that the promises were better than the reality they face. They will frequently try to kill the liberators, especially if they were privileged. It is much better, some feel, to be chained to the top of a mountain than walk freely as an equal.

And there you have the so-called Iraqi "resistance."

This dovetails nicely with what Christopher Hitchens wrote in his last essay for The Nation.

I suppose I can just about bear to watch the "inspections" pantomime a second time. But what I cannot bear is the sight of French and Russian diplomats posing and smirking with Naji Sabry, Iraq's foreign minister, or with Tariq Aziz. I used to know Naji and I know that two of his brothers, Mohammed and Shukri, were imprisoned and tortured by Saddam Hussein--in Mohammed's case, tortured to death. The son of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was sentenced to twenty-two years of imprisonment last year; he has since been released and rearrested and released again, partly no doubt to show who is in charge. Another former friend of mine, Mazen Zahawi, was Saddam Hussein's interpreter until shortly after the Gulf War, when he was foully murdered and then denounced as a homosexual. I have known many regimes where stories of murder and disappearance are the common talk among the opposition; the Iraqi despotism is salient in that such horrors are also routine among its functionaries. Saddam Hussein likes to use as envoys the men he has morally destroyed; men who are sick with fear and humiliation, and whose families are hostages.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:51 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Middle East Activist Gallery

Reuters and AFP news services refer to Palestinian Hamas members as "activists." (See here and here.) Let's take a look at these "activists" and compare them with Israeli activists.

Palestinian Activist Photo Gallery

Israeli Activist Photo Gallery

Advice to Reuters and AFP: Knock it off.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:58 AM | Permalink | Comments Off
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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