At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

ISIS: How You Know It’s All Hype

posted by Jack Kerwick

There is much talk about “the Islamic State,” or “ISIS,” or “ISIL,” or whatever we are calling it. To listen to the talking heads, both Democrats and Republicans, one could be forgiven for thinking that these 15,000 or so Muslim butchers are the biggest threat that the Western world has ever faced.

Of course, as is almost always the case, there is all of the difference in the world between the conventional wisdom and reality.

By now, no one who’s been alive for more than a few years, and certainly no one who has acquired affection for liberty, needs to be told that the government and its apologists in the media are not infrequently less than fully honest. So, when a bipartisan consensus emerges over any issue of the day, those of us who have long ago tired of cheerleading for one team or the other shouldn’t respond with anything other than skepticism.

And when politicians and polemicists of both national parties would have us believe that this issue is greater than any other, those who have been deceived one too many times can’t but meet such assurances with anything less than incredulity.

This lover of liberty is saying it: The notion that ISIS is an imminent danger that America must either face or be destroyed is a lie of epic proportions. It is also the offspring of the union of the same two factors—political opportunism and alarmism—that beget every national “crisis.”

There are two decisive considerations that bear this out.

First, if we are really all that interested in protecting ourselves against threats to our national security, and if we really believe that Islamic terrorists constitute the gravest danger, then one of the most rudimentary things that we need to do is to identify the enemy for what it is.  It’s a cliché, but it’s true, that the first step toward defeating a problem is to acknowledge that there is one.  This, in turn, requires that the problem be properly diagnosed.

However, this is something that Democrats and Republicans resolutely refuse to do.

Democrats can scarcely, if ever, bring themselves to even utter the word “Islamic” in connection with terrorism, and President Obama, even while addressing the nation with respect to ISIS, goes so far as to insist that this is not an Islamic organization!

Republicans, though, are hardly any better. While they (rightly) criticized Obama for making such a wildly preposterous statement, Republicans regularly imply that “World War IV,” as neoconservative writer Norman Podhoretz characterizes “the War on Terror,” has nothing to do with Muslims or Islam.

Rather, the fight to which Republicans want for Americans to commit their collective heart and soul is a fight against “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” “Islamo-fascism,” “Islamo-nazism,” “Islamic extremism,” and whatever other names they can invent to conceal the nature and identity of the enemy.

Since they are so fond of drawing parallels between the so-called “War on Terror”—notice, even here they can’t bring themselves to say Islamic terror—and World War II, we can ask Republicans: What would have happened if the Allied forces during WWII distinguished between “radical Nazis” and “moderate Nazis,” or “fascist extremists” and “moderate fascists?”

Muhammad, the founder of Islam, set the precedent for violence generally, and beheadings specifically, when, upon conquering his enemies, he decapitated, en masse, 700 of them. Those against whom we are now being urged to fight aren’t “radicals” or “extremists,” and they certainly aren’t “Islamists.”

They are Mohammedans.

But Republicans exhibit as much illiteracy—or dishonesty—when it comes to talk of Islam and Islamic terror as do the Democrats.

Secondly, anyone who carries on ad infinitum over the threat of ISIS while doing anything less than demanding an immediate moratorium on all immigration—both illegal and legal—to the United States is either a fool, a liar, or both.

As Brietbart reported last week, in just 2014 alone, a little under 500 illegal immigrants from terrorist-sponsoring countries have been apprehended sneaking across our southern border.  To put this number in perspective, it should be remembered that it took only 19 terrorists to bring about the fateful events of September 11, 2001.

And, lest it bears saying, it takes only one terrorist to detonate a bomb and slaughter thousands.

Yet not only hasn’t a single one of the politicians or media sensationalists who are now breaking out into cold sweats over ISIS come even close to calling for an abrupt halt on all immigration; they aren’t even calling to take the most rudimentary of steps in sealing our infamously porous borders.

Recall as well that many of these same people have advocated on behalf of amnesty (“comprehensive immigration reform”).

If Islamic terrorists compose the single most terrible danger with which Western civilization has to reckon, then those who believe this should invest a fraction of the energy they spend fretting over the borders of Middle Eastern countries into displaying some concern for our own borders.

Unless and until this happens—and I’m not holding my breath—no one with a modicum of intelligence should fail to recognize the buzz over ISIS for the hyperbole that it is.



The Politically Incorrect (?!) Language of the Politically Correct

posted by Jack Kerwick

It would seem that the Enlightened, i.e. those whose moral sensibilities are offended by the name of “Redskins” for a professional sports team, want to purge our language of every “racist,” “sexist,” “classist,” “imperialist,” “colonialist,” and “homophobic” word.

The funny thing is, though, given their terms of choice, the Enlightened make it painfully clear that they aren’t particularly enlightened at all.

To begin with, the Enlightened, like most of us, live in a universe composed of words of a specific language, namely, the English language.  The latter, of course, is not only a product of European or Western civilization; it is the dominant language of the world today.

In the idiom of the Enlightened, we can say of English that it is as “imperialistic” or “colonialist” a language as any, for the entire cosmos is carved up, and is expected to be parceled by others, in terms of this language, that of a European, i.e., a white, people.

But this is the language of the Enlightened.

Secondly, the Enlightened demand of the rest of us that we substitute for “black” when describing Americans of the Negroid race the more sophisticated nomenclature of “African-American.”  How primitive: this last moniker is doubly insensitive.

“America” derives from the name of the Italian—a European, Western, white, maleexplorer Amerigo Vespucci.  “America” is the feminine version of “Amerigo,” and it was coined in 1507 by a German—a European, Westerner, white, male—cartographer. In 1538, when another German—a European, Western, white, malecartographer, the famous Gerardus Mercator, was mapping out the world, he chose to ascribe the name of “America” to its regions on both sides of the equator.

“Africa,” it may interest inquiring minds to discover, is a term of Roman—European, Western, white—coinage. The Romans—the largest group of “imperialists” and “colonialists” the world had ever seen until that juncture in history—used the Latin term “afri” to reference, first, a Libyan tribe in North Africa that dwelt outside of Carthage, the capital of “Africa Province,” and, later, Carthage as well.  The suffix of “Africa,” “-ica,” signifies a land or territory.

So, even “Africa” is, ultimately, the invention of a bunch of wealthy, imperialistic, colonialist, white guys.

Thirdly, there is the word “Native American” that the Enlightened insist we use in place of the “racist,” “ethnocentric” term, “Indian.” After all, reason the Enlightened in all of their brilliance, “Indian” is a term that the evil Columbus and his cohorts imposed upon the indigenous peoples that they “encountered” while asserting their “imperialist” designs upon the latter. And this was only because the European oppressors thought that they had arrived in India.

However, as we just noted, “America,” to a much greater extent than “Indian,” reflects the incorrigibly ethnocentric impress of the Europeans—the whites—who “encountered” the indigenous peoples to whom, the Enlightened demand, we assign the label, “Native American.

How “racist,” how culturally “insensitive” can we get?!

Fourthly, the Enlightened routinely lecture us on the “misogyny” underwriting the use of the word “man” in contexts that should encompass both men and women.  Thus, they tell us, since the masculine “man” and its cognates—“he,” “men”—are “sexist,” we must delete them from our vocabulary and replace them with “humankind,” “humanity,” “human beings,” “he or she,” etc.

Wow. Do these people really want for us to return to the “Dark Ages” of rampant “sexism?”

“Man” stems from a word that originally referred to all humans.  The word for a male human is a different word altogether.  It wasn’t until the late 13th century that the word for “man” began to be used to describe male humans. But rather than reclaim the original, gender-inclusive meaning of “man,” the Enlightened have chosen instead to become accomplices to the ravenous misogyny that lead to the “sexist” narrowing of this definition in the late 1200’s.  This is the only verdict to draw from the fact that the Enlightened have long ago charged as “sexist” any author or speaker who dares to continue the age-old practice of employing “man” and “he” to signify both men and women.

Finally, the Enlightened inexhaustibly extol “Equality” as the queen of all virtues. In doing so, they just as tirelessly condemn the “hierarchical” and “patriarchal” character of Western civilization.

In spite of this, the Enlightened refuse to abandon the use of titles and other reference terms that undermine the cause of Equality.  Words like “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Ms.”, “Dr.”, “President,” “Senator,” “Congressman,” “Your Honor,” “sir,” “ma’am,” “gentlemen,” “ladies,” “youth,” “adolescents,” “the elderly,” “young adults,” “middle aged adults,” “seasoned citizens,” “boys,” “girls,” “women,” “men,” and even “mom” and “dad” at once express and reinforce the infinitude of distinctions to be found between people. More damning, they reveal and cement the hierarchical relations that exist between human stations.

Only the unenlightened could fail to see that for a truly “classless” or egalitarian society to arise, these are among the words that must be purged from our language.

It bears underscoring that I am in no way advocating on behalf of any changes in our vocabulary.  The point, of course, is that in quality and quantity, the hypocrisy, moral posturing, and inconsistencies of the Enlightened are epic.





History, Not Ideology, is Our Guide for Iraq

posted by Jack Kerwick

While listening to Bill Bennett’s radio program the other morning, a caller, respectfully, yet passionately, expressed his incredulity over the fact that anyone continues to take the Bill Kristols and Max Boots (and, by implication, the Bill Bennetts) of the world seriously when it comes to issues pertaining to American foreign policy vis-à-vis the Middle East, particularly Iraq.

The caller noted that the neoconservatives who advocated on behalf of the invasion of Iraq back in 2003 have been spectacularly, almost unbelievably, wrong from beginning to end.  In contrast, he contended, “traditional” or “real” conservatives, like Pat Buchanan, have been right to the point of being prescient.

Bennett, to his credit, was responsive, yet he disagreed with the caller’s assertion that Iraq had been a total debacle.  “The surge,” he insisted, was a success.  Moreover, Iraq had been “won”—until we began withdrawing the troops.

Some comments are in order.

First, the so-called “surge” occurred five years after the Iraq War got under way.  That is, Bennett’s appeal to “the surge”—that there even had to be a “surge”—actually underscores the caller’s point that, at the very least, an exercise in military adventurism that was supposed to have been a “cakewalk” but which went nowhere after sucking up five years worth of exorbitant sums of human blood and treasure could scarcely be billed as a “success.”

Second, Bennett, like many of the war’s supporters, has taken to saying of Iraq that it had been “won.” But, thinking minds want to know, what exactly was won?

Surely, no remotely astute political thinker could claim with a straight face that it is “democracy” that we achieved in Iraq. Readers may recall that during its tumultuous or pre-surge days, the war’s apologists spared no occasion to remind Americans that our “democracy” has been many centuries in the making.  Thus, they concluded, we shouldn’t expect for Iraq to become a “democracy” over night.

That the constitution of a people and the government appropriate to it are indeed the fruits of “generations and of ages,” to paraphrase conservatism’s “patron saint,” the great Edmund Burke, is something of which no student of politics needs to be told. But, now, polemicists for the Iraq War are whistling a different tune: they would actually have us think that what took the West millennia to develop took the West, namely America, only a handful of (post-surge) years in an Islamic country—until, of course, our troop withdrawal undid all of America’s work.

Hopefully, no one really believes any of this.

Third, when Bennett’s caller began discussing the Iraq War that paved the way for the mess that is ISIS, the host—as the war’s defenders invariably do—implored his interlocutor to resist the impulse to “rehearse history.” The caller, however, calmly explained that it is intellectually and morally irresponsible to neglect past decisions when those decisions have lead to present dilemmas. History is our guide to the future.

And he couldn’t have been more correct.

The truth of the matter is that Pat Buchanan wasn’t alone in sounding the alarm against invading Iraq.  There were others, including some observers who, unlike the Buchanans and Ron Pauls, say, opposed American intervention in Iraq (and elsewhere) while refusing to endorse the notion—preposterous on its face—that Islamic terrorism can be explained solely in terms of some “blowback” theory or other.

One such writer whose counsel must now strike the ear of the unprejudiced spectator as prophetic is Ilana Mercer, a Jew whose formative years were spent living in both South Africa and Israel. The author of the hard hitting (but, scandalously, little known) book, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, as well as countless other incorrigibly politically incorrect essays from her long-standing perch at World Net Daily, Mercer can always be counted upon to defy the conventional wisdom—even when—maybe especially when—it is potentially dangerous to do so.

In September 2002, in the article, “Why So Many Americans Don’t Support Attacking Iraq,” Mercer noted the readiness with which George W. Bush shifted between entirely distinct rationales for toppling Bagdad.

When Saddam Hussein agreed to “the unconditional return of weapons inspectors” to Iraq, Bush ignored the gesture and, instead, sought “approval from the United Nations, a body entirely unrepresentative of—even hostile to—the American people” (emphases mine).  Mercer remarked that Bush’s “swirl of rhetoric before the UN was not even tangentially related to the original indictment against Iraq: that it had a hand in Sept. 11 and directly supported Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.”

She continued: “Iraq is a secular dictatorship profoundly at odds with Islamic fundamentalism.” To support this verdict—which is obvious to everyone today—Mercer alluded to Vincent Cannistraro, “the former head of the CIA’s counterterrorism office” who “stated categorically that there was no evidence of Iraq’s links to al-Qaeda.”

The President then charged Hussein with reacquiring “weapons of mass destruction.” To this, Mercer’s response was swift: “Essentially, Iraq is being convicted based on a rehash of its record during—and prior to—the war in the Persian Gulf, not based on the current threat she poses to the United States and the region.”

Mercer puts the lie to the current line that, prior to the invasion of Iraq, everyone believed that Hussein had WMD’s.  She refers to Republican Scott Ritter, a long-time Marine, war veteran, and a former UN weapons inspector who had “spent seven years inspecting and turning Iraq inside out [.]”  His verdict was unambiguous: Iraq had been “95-per-cent disarmed and has no weapons of mass destruction [.]”  She added that this verdict had been confirmed by numerous “experts in strategic studies.”

For her efforts in cautioning Americans against being bamboozled into supporting a Gargantuan Government exercise in the “social engineering” of a foreign land, Mercer, like Buchanan and other opponents of the war whose arguments have proven to be sagely, was derided and ostracized.

And for our refusal to listen then, 11 years, many thousands of casualties, and trillions of dollars spent later, we are still mired Iraq—only now we have ISIS with which to reckon.

It is this history, and not some utopian ideology, on which Americans must base their decisions on how to deal with Islamic terrorists in the future.        



When “Race” Riots were White–And What We Can Learn From Them

posted by Jack Kerwick

In light of the “Fergusons” that have erupted in America over the last 50 years or so, it may come as quite a surprise to many of us to learn that from the 19th century clear through to roughly the middle of the 20th, most of those responsible for initiating “race” riots were white.

In 1829, Cincinnati, Ohio had a population of a little more than 2,000 blacks. Within the span of little more than a month, this population would be reduced by half as over 1,000 blacks fled the city as a result of the violence against their person and property initiated by whites—mostly Irish immigrants—who felt economically threatened by the presence of black laborers.

In 1841, another extended outburst of racially-inflamed violence occurred as mobs of whites, in response to a fight that had erupted the previous night between some Irish and black men, took to the streets with clubs in search of blacks to pummel. Black tenants of a boarding house and their neighbors were attacked in their homes.

The violence got worse, though, the next day. According to a witness at the time, when two young whites boys were badly harmed by knife-wielding black assailants, vengeful white men saw to it that blacks were “assaulted wherever” they were “found in the streets,” and they were assaulted “with such weapons and violence as to cause death.”

In 1863, in Detroit, whites (mostly Irish) spearheaded a rampage against the city’s black residents in response to the draft and the detention of a black man who was accused of having raped a white woman. They beat and stoned men and women—including women with small children—and set fire to black businesses and residences.

This same year, the Draft Riots erupted in New York City. To date, this three day conflagration holds the distinction of serving as our country’s largest “civil insurrection” of all time. Whites (again, primarily Irish) attacked the Mayor’s office, the New York Times building, police officers, fire fighters, white abolitionist women who had married black men and, of course, whatever blacks they could find.

Black businesses, homes, and even a black orphanage were burned to the ground. One black man was fatally battered by hundreds of whites armed with clubs and paving stones.  He was hung from a tree and his body set aflame.  However, while he may have been the first, he certainly wasn’t the last, for at least 100 blacks were murdered from the 13th to the 16th of July during this fateful year.  Some estimates place the number as high as 500 black victims claimed by the rioters.  Thousands of people were injured.

The military was required to quell the unrest and reclaim control of the city. Many of those blacks who survived the riots fled Manhattan, reducing the black population of the city to its 1820 levels.

Time and space constraints preclude an exhaustive list of white race riots, but suffice it to say that our country’s history, up until the middle of the 20th century, is replete with them.  Here are just a few:

In 1887, in Louisiana, a mob of whites attacked and killed between 20 to as many as 300 blacks—men, women, and children.

In 1917, in East St. Louis, a group of blacks killed two white police officers after having mistaken them for a carload of white men who had previously shot bullets into a black crowd. In retaliation, white men sought revenge. When it was all over, approximately 100 blacks were dead.

In 1919, in Chicago, a young black male was on a raft on Lake Michigan when he drifted into an area known to be frequented by whites. He was hit by a rock and drowned. When a police officer failed to arrest a suspect, the officer was attacked by blacks. Whites retaliated, pulling blacks off of trolley cars, pounding them with baseball bats and pieces of iron, and destroying black businesses.  Some blacks fought back, but by the time the rioting had ended, more blacks (23) than whites (15) had been killed.

Many, many more incidences of white-on-black (and other white) riots could be cited.

The point of rehashing all of this, however, is not to engage in but another exercise of white guilt mongering. The point is threefold.

First, race riots are not synonymous with black riots. Historically, in America, there have been more white riots than there have been black riots, and in terms of sheer brutality, casualties, and brazenness, the former have made the latter look like temper tantrums.

Second, blacks are not naturally more (or less) violent than whites (or anyone else).  The appalling amount of black violence that we witness today is a function of a cultural universe of values that is a relatively recent phenomenon, as far as history is measured.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this little history lesson is a desperately needed cautionary tale: Just because whites, or at least mobs of whites, are not, in this day and age, known for wreaking havoc upon blacks and their communities does not mean that such things can’t or won’t happen in the future.  The past could repeat itself if a tipping point is reached, for just as there is nothing within the nature of blacks as blacks that accounts for their rioting, so there is nothing within the nature of whites as whites that explains why they haven’t rioted in many decades.

Violence against the persons and property of innocent human beings, no matter their race, is always wrong. But if this isn’t enough to deter those who are disposed to commit this evil from doing so, they would be well served to consider that violence just might eventually beget more violence.

When this happens, life becomes unpleasant for everyone.


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