At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

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.        



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.


For weeks on end, the police shooting death of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri by a white officer had managed to remain front and center on the national stage. The usual suspects in the Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC) held up this incident as proof that “black men in America are under attack,” or some gibberish along these lines.

The truth, of course, is dramatically otherwise, a fact of which no remotely aware or honest human being needs any reminding.

For starters, black men in America are under attack.  But the predators responsible are not whites, whether police officers are otherwise; rather, they are other black men.

Yet, if “racism” is the mother of all evils, a “cancer” to society, as we have been tirelessly told for decades and decades, then the exorbitant rate of black-on-black violence, while dreadful as far as it goes, should nevertheless register lower on our scale of priorities than the comparably obscene level of black-on-white violence—which, scandalously, doesn’t seem to register at all.

After all, if the roles were reversed and whites were attacking blacks to a fraction of the extent to which blacks currently attack whites, there is no one—and least of all no one among the captains of RIC—who would hesitate to cite this as proof that “racism” was alive and well.

Just this past week, four vicious black-on-white attacks made local news in their respective towns—while, all too predictably, being entirely neglected by the national media.

In Lockport, New York, two black teenage girls were captured on video savagely pummeling a white girl upon luring her to the location of their choice.  According to News 4, WIVB, a 12 year-old and a 15 year-old “befriended” their “victim and tricked her” into convening with them in an “alleyway” known by the residents of Lockport as “Works Place.”

That’s when the beating commenced.

Reports News 4: “The video shows the victim being pulled to the ground by her hair and being repeatedly punched and kicked in the face.”

The victim was repeatedly punched and kicked in the face.

But it gets worse.

One of the brutes “repeatedly stomps on her [the victim’s] head.”

And all of this happens before the older of the two attackers punches the victim some more.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a large group of black teenagers—according to witnesses, 100-125 of them—forced the owner of a pizza restaurant to close an hour earlier than usual before it stormed a 25 year-old white customer at nearby Kroger’s. The victim was beaten to a bloody pulp.  While he lay unconscious, his assailants took turns kicking and punching him.  They even slammed a pumpkin on his head—all while he was cold-cocked.  A witness relayed that “all [that] you could see was blood and pumpkins.”

A black female who was videoing the event can be heard laughing away as she screeches, “they got a white dude!”

Two employees—at least one of whom, reportedly, was black—were also pounded into oblivion when they tried to intervene to spare the first victim from the further ravages of the wolf pack.

In a suburb of Kansas City, just a few days ago, five elderly white people—two men and three women—were murdered by a 34 year-old black man, ex-convict Brandon Howell.  George and Ann Taylor, both of whom were in their late 80’s, were beaten to death in their own home.  Howell then fatally gunned down 88 year-old Lorene Hurst, her 63 year-old son Darrel, and 69 year-old Susan Choucroun.

To top it all off, Howell then sped away in the Taylors’ car.

In New York City, two black women forced their way into the apartment of three white residents in an attempt to force them out of their apartment and out of their Brooklyn neighborhood.

The aggressors also robbed their victims at gunpoint while complaining that they were “tired [of] white people moving into the area.”

Each of these incidents occurred within just the last week or so, in towns in disparate regions of the country.

And yet we hear not a peep about any of it from the national media.

It isn’t, however, just the left-wing (misnamed) “mainstream” media that is silent on this score. Equally silent are “mainstream” “conservatives” in the so-called “alternative” media. Fox certainly hasn’t broached this topic. Nor has “conservative” radio done so.

This bi-partisan silence is telling. Had whites been the predators in the foregoing cases and blacks the prey, the left would be apoplectic, and the usual suspects would be moaning and groaning over the need for an “honest” discussion of race and “racism.”  Had the culprits been Arabic Muslims, you could bet the bank that “conservative” media would be all abuzz over it.

But the reality is that in contemporary America, it isn’t whites or Arabic Muslims who are the biggest purveyors of interracial violence; it is blacks who hold this ugly distinction.

And this is something that all those who renounce evil must have the courage to confront.






It would be comical if the fate of our country and the world didn’t hang in the balance to watch the Democrats and their neoconservative Republican rivals point blame at one another as ISIS assumes the national stage.

Some thoughts on this internecine battle between these two birds of the same leftist feather are in order.

(1)The cold, hard truth of the matter is that the contemporary left, of which Obama is a textbook exhibition, sympathize with the world’s Muslims—including and especially those Muslims who engage in violence.

It’s true that few leftists would want to admit this, even to themselves. But the logic of their worldview demands such sympathy.

Some eminent talk radio hosts’ assertions to the contrary aside, it isn’t America that is the object of the leftist’s scorn; it is white America that enjoys this distinction. And white, American, heterosexual Christian men are at the bottom of the heap, the most ravenous, “racist” “oppressors” to have ever roamed the Earth.

However, most of the world’s Muslims are, well, Muslim: they are not Christian.  Moreover, most are not white, but “people of color.”  Thirdly, Islamic lands are for the most part satellites of the “third world”—i.e. they are decidedly not instances of “capitalist” societies.

Finally—and the importance of this, from the leftist’s vantage point, must not be understated—Islam is a militant religion whose adherents, as we have seen, are strongly disposed to resort to violence, murderous violence, in resisting what the left can only view as the “oppressive” or “imperialistic” treatment to which America—to repeat, white, Christian, affluent America—has subjected them.

Like it or not, beside that of the jihadist, the image of the Islamic terrorist taking up Muhammad’s sword against the Western, American infidel fits nowhere as nicely as it fits in the imagination of the contemporary Western leftist.

(2)Though it is distinct from that of the recognizable leftist, it is not of an entirely different breed. In other words, the neoconservative shares in common with other leftists a utopian/Big Government vision.  The difference between the two is one of emphasis, not of kind: while Obama and company want to grow government for the sake of engineering—“fundamentally transforming”—America, neoconservatives want to grow government for the sake of engineering—“fundamentally transforming”—the rest of the world.

The invasion of Iraq was a catastrophic mistake, one that incurred incalculable costs in blood and treasure. It also cost the Republicans the House, the Senate, and the White House.  If not for the removal of the largely secular dictators that our “democratizing” efforts affected, the Middle East wouldn’t be at the mercy of militant Islamic rulers and terrorists today.

But, the neoconservative now protests, we “won” Iraq.  We established a functional “democracy.” If only Obama hadn’t downsized our troop presence in Iraq, it would’ve remained a reasonably peaceful place.

While it’s true that the immediate cause of the conflagration that is contemporary Iraq is the removal of American troops, the mediate cause was the removal of Saddam Hussein.

At least as important, we “won” nothing.

Let’s suppose that you hire someone to build you a house. This person assures you that it will cost only X amount of dollars, and that the house will be built no later than such-and-such a date.  But, your contractor promises you, he will build you the greatest house that you could ever imagine.  You accept.

Yet time rolls on and the deadline for completion comes and goes. New deadlines are set and ignored.  The exponential increase in the passage of time is accompanied by an exponential increase in the funds that you wind up spending.  All the while, your contractor continues to assure you that he’s closing in on completing the mission.

Finally, he comes to you one day and announces the good news: He’s done it. The house is finished.  Relieved, you eagerly plan to relocate to your new home.

But when you arrive, you notice that your contractor is camped out in your living room propping up your roof with some of his tools. He explains that if he leaves now, your roof will collapse.  He doesn’t know how long he will have to remain there—maybe forever, or at least as long as it takes to prevent your house from imploding in on itself.  In the meantime, though, you will have to continue paying him.

No one in their right mind would view this as success.

Yet this was our situation in Iraq: As soon as we left, the whole country was reduced to a cauldron of violence.  Insofar as American lives and taxpayers’ monies had to remain in Iraq in order to prevent a takeover from ISIS or any other terrorist organization, many things could be said of this circumstance, but that it was a success was not one of them.

The truth—not the ideology, but the truth—of the matter is that both leftist Democrats and leftist neoconservative Republicans are responsible for the mess that is Iraq.