Views From Kennewick

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam

From The Times
March 07, 2007

How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam

Is it racist to condemn fanaticism?

Phyllis Chesler

Once I was held captive in Kabul. I was the bride of a
charming, seductive and Westernised Afghan Muslim whom I met
at an American college. The purdah I experienced was
relatively posh but the sequestered all-female life was not
my cup of chai - nor was the male hostility to veiled,
partly veiled and unveiled women in public.

When we landed in Kabul, an airport official smoothly
confiscated my US passport. "Don't worry, it's just a
formality," my husband assure d me. I never saw that passport
again. I later learnt that this was routinely done to
foreign wives - perhaps to make it impossible for them to
leave. Overnight, my husband became a stranger. The man with
whom I had discussed Camus, Dostoevsky, Tennessee Williams
and the Italian cinema became a stranger. He treated me the
same way his father and elder brother treated their wives:
distantly, with a hint of disdain and embarrassment.

In our two years together, my future husband had never once
mentioned that his father had three wives and 21 children.
Nor did he tell me that I would be expected to live as if I
had been reared as an Afghan woman. I was supposed to lead a
largely indoor life among women, to go out only with a male
escort and to spend my days waiting for my husband to return
or visiting female relatives, or having new (and very
fashionable) clothes made.

In America, my husband was proud that I was a natural-born
rebel and free thinker. In Afghanistan, my criticism of the
treatment of women and of the poor rendered him suspect,
vulnerable. He mocked my horrified reactions. But I knew
what my eyes and ears told me. I saw how poor women in
chadaris were forced to sit at the back of the bus and had
to keep yielding their place on line in the bazaar to any

I saw how polygamous, arranged marriages and child brides
led to chronic female suffering and to rivalry between
co-wives and half-brothers; how the subordination and
sequestration of women led to a profound estrangement
between the sexes - one that led to wife-beating, marital
rape and to a rampant but hotly denied male "prison"-like
homosexuality and pederasty; how frustrated, neglected and
uneducated women tormented their daughter-in-laws and female
servants; how women were not allowed to pray in mosques or
visit male doctors (their husbands described the symptoms in
their absence).

Individual Afghans were enchantingly courteous - but the
Afghanistan I knew was a bastion of illiteracy, poverty,
treachery and preventable diseases. It was also a police
state, a feudal monarchy and a theocracy, rank with fear and
paranoia. Afghanistan had never been colonised. My relatives
said: "Not even the British could occupy us." Thus I was
forced to conclude that Afghan barbarism was of their own
making and could not be attributed to Western imperialism.

Long before the rise of the Taleban, I learnt not to
romanticise Third World countries or to confuse their
hideous tyrants with liberators. I also learnt that sexual
and religious apartheid in Muslim countries is indigenous
and not the result of Western crimes - and that such
"colourful tribal customs" are absolutely, not relatively,
evil. Long before al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan
and Nicholas Berg in Ir aq, I understood that it was
dangerous for a Westerner, especially a woman, to live in a
Muslim country. In retrospect, I believe my so-called
Western feminism was forged in that most beautiful and
treacherous of Eastern countries.

Nevertheless, Western intellectual-ideologues, including
feminists, have demonised me as a reactionary and racist
"Islamophobe" for arguing that Islam, not Israel, is the
largest practitioner of both sexual and religious apartheid
in the world and that if Westerners do not stand up to this
apartheid, morally, economically and militarily, we will not
only have the blood of innocents on our hands; we will also
be overrun by Sharia in the West. I have been heckled,
menaced, never-invited, or disinvited for such heretical
ideas - and for denouncing the epidemic of Muslim-on-Muslim
violence for which tiny Israel is routinely, unbelievably

However, my views have found favo ur with the bravest and
most enlightened people alive. Leading secular Muslim and
ex-Muslim dissidents - from Egypt, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq,
Jordan, Pakistan, Syria and exiles from Europe and North
America - assembled for the landmark Islamic Summit
Conference in Florida and invited me to chair the opening
panel on Monday.

According to the chair of the meeting, Ibn Warraq: "What we
need now is an age of enlightenment in the Islamic world.
Without critical examination of Islam, it will remain
dogmatic, fanatical and intolerant and will continue to
stifle thought, human rights, individuality, originality and
truth." The conference issued a declaration calling for such
a new "Enlightenment". The declaration views "Islamophobia"
as a false allegation, sees a "noble future for Islam as a
personal faith, not a political doctrine" and "demands the
release of Islam from its captivity to the ambitions of
power-hungry me n".

Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be
antiracists and committed to human rights to stand with
these dissidents. To do so requires that we adopt a
universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty
to multicultural relativism, which justifies, even
romanticises, indigenous Islamist barbarism, totalitarian
terrorism and the persecution of women, religious
minorities, homosexuals and intellectuals. Our abject
refusal to judge between civilisation and barbarism, and
between enlightened rationalism and theocratic
fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of
Islamic tyranny.

Ibn Warraq has written a devastating work that will be out
by the summer. It is entitled Defending the West: A Critique
of Edward Said's Orientalism. Will Western intellectuals
also dare to defend the West?

Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and
Women's Studies at the City Un iversity of New York

At Last....A Leader For America!

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Conservative Political Action Conference

Washington, DC
March 2, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Good morning.

You know, I woke up to the commentary—that one of the commentators was saying that the only reason that Hunter beat all of those guys in South Carolina is because his Marine son has been there for a week. Well, I looked down at that army of consultants—everybody who is vertical in South Carolina was hired by the other guys —and I said, "You know, that's a pretty good match up. One Marine versus 550 consultants. We did have the advantage."

And Dunc, if you're listening to me right now, you know, there's a couple of boxes still out. We've got about five more votes to get and we may even win this thing and pull just ahead of Mr. Giuliani.

You know, this is a great place to start because we're just a couple of miles away from Arlington Cemetery right now. And about an hour ago, the first rays of sunlight hit the stars of David and crosses in Arlington Cemetery and started to illuminate this great country.

And when they did, they illuminated what I call the arsenal of democracy. And that's our plants and facilities and manufacturers, who make things in this country and who helped to carry us to victory three times in the last century in winning this war, the war for freedom, for not only the United States, but for the world.

That's our ability to make things, our ability to produce.

You know, in World War II, we made a 100,000-plus tanks. We made 41,000 pieces of artillery. We made 36 billion yards of textiles. Ford Motor Company turned out a bomber every 60 minutes in their plant in Michigan.

Well, let me tell you, the arsenal of democracy is being fractured and sent across the world.

And as chairman of the Armed Services Committee a couple of years ago, when the roadside bombs started to hurt our troops in Iraq, and I sent our teams out to find some high-grade armor steel to protect our troops on our Humvees, I found one company left in this country that could still make high-grade armor steel.

And when a company in Switzerland cut off the guidance devices for maybe our most important weapon system, that's our smart bombs, we found one company left in America that could still make that tiny guidance system for smart bombs.

So the arsenal of democracy can largely be found today in places like Beijing and Paris and Korea and Japan, but that great arsenal that carried our troops to victory, that carried Eisenhower's forces to victory in Berlin. and carried our forces across the Pacific and drove the Japanese back to the mainland, World War II, and, yes, carried us to victory in the Cold War—it was the strength, the industrial strength, behind Ronald Reagan's peace through strength policy that helped win the Cold War—that arsenal is being fractured.

And let me tell you one reason we're losing it: We're losing it largely because China is cheating on trade. And they're buying ships and planes and missiles with billions of American trade dollars.

And let me tell you how they're doing it.

If this podium was made in China and exported to us here in the United States, and it was $100 when it goes down to the water's edge to be exported to us, the government of China walks over and gives its exporter all their taxes back; something we can't do under the trade law we signed, incidentally. They give them back, $17, all their VAT taxes. So the cost of this is now down to $83.

When we send the same product over to them, they give us a bill for $17, thereby making us noncompetitive.

And just to make sure that the Americans never win in a competition, they devalue their currency by 40 percent. And that means that if this product is sitting in a showroom floor somewhere around the world, and sitting next to it is a product made in China, it's the equivalent, and they're both tagged at $100 and somebody's trying to decide which one to buy, the Chinese government in effect walks by and says, "We just has a markdown in aisle 5. Our product now is $60. Won't you buy it over the American product?"

HUNTER: And billions of consumers around the world, because of this cheating, are doing just that.

Well, let me tell you, there's a couple things that presidents do that are very important. One thing is to make arms control deals. Another thing is to make trade deals. And trade deals are business deals between nations.

And I can tell you that as president of the United States, I will junk the bad trade deal that we currently have with China. More importantly, I'll stop their cheating on the one that we have right now. We're going to have a new policy with respect to trade deals. (Applause)

And when we look across the table at ChinaChina will come to the table, incidentally, because we have something that will pull them to the table. It's called the American market.

But we're going to have a new policy in dealing with China on trade deals. I borrowed it from a guy named Ronald Reagan: trust, but verify. (Applause)

Now, ladies and gentlemen, as that morning son goes across the United States this morning, right about now it's shining on a little town called Kingston, Texas. And that's where Audie Murphy grew up, our most decorated hero in World War II.

And a couple hundred miles away is Cuero, Texas, where Sergeant Roy Benavidez, a special forces sergeant who helped to rescue a special operations team with nothing more than a Bowie knife—where he grew up.

And abut 1,600 miles away is a little town called Scio, New York, where Corporal Jason Dunham grew up; a young Marine who gave his life for his buddies in a place called Fallujah.

Now, all three of those guys are tied together and they're tied to us with something that is very strong: the American interest. The American interest in expanding freedom.

And, of course, in World War II, in Audie Murphy's war, we freed hundreds of millions of people. And, of course, in Vietnam we failed to free people. And in Iraq, Jason Dunham's war, victory hangs in the balance.

But there can be no debate about the fact that it's in our interest to expand freedom around the world. And that really was a trademark of Ronald Reagan.

And, you know, as we watched the debate this last week, in which the liberals were trying to cut off reinforcements, and will continue to do that, I thought, "I've been here before."

HUNTER: Because I was here in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan stood up to the Russians in Western Europe as they started to ring France and Germany with those SS-20 missiles, and President Reagan started to send in ground-launch cruise missiles and Pershing IIs to stand up to the Russians. And you had liberal pundits saying, "There he goes, we're going to have World War III; he needs to appease the Russians."

In fact, while I was campaigning in Iowa, one person told me their newspaper actually had an editorial at that time against the president, saying—and it was entitled "Better Red Than Dead."

But, you know, because we had a policy of peace through strength, at some point the Russians picked up the phone, and they said, "Can we talk?" And when we talked, we didn't talk about a standoff or about a negotiated treaty. We talked about dissembling the Russian empire.

And I remember also, in those 1980s, when we had the wars in Central America. And we provided that shield for that little country called El Salvador. And we provided the shield while we stood up a fragile democracy.

And liberals across this nation said, "This is going to be America's Vietnam." Do you remember that? In fact, I think there's a lot of liberals who have died of old age waiting for the next Vietnam, very anxiously.

But it wasn't. And today Salvadoreans are standing side by side with us in Iraq.

Now we're trying to expand freedom in a very difficult, tough part of the world right now. And it's tough work and it's difficult work and it's dangerous work. But it's worthwhile.

I saw the secretary of defense two days ago, and I gave him a plan that I've worked up that I'm going to try to develop here over the next several weeks. It's a plan for the right way to rotate out of Iraq—to rotate American troops out as we rotate Iraqi troops into security positions.

HUNTER: It's based on operations. And that's the right way to hand off the security burden in Iraq.

But what the Democrats tried to do this last week, and what they're going to try to do—and you've seen the talk about cutting off supplemental appropriations. And you've seen the talk about how the troops won't be able to go; they won't have— and I'm quoting them, "They won't have the training. They won't have the equipment."

Ladies and gentlemen, if the Democrat leadership of the United States House of Representatives tries to cut off reinforcements or cut off supplies for our troops who are engaged on the battlefield, our troops will never forgive them, and the American people will never forgive them. (Applause)

Now, ladies and gentlemen, as that morning sun continues—floods the Southwest, it reflects on what I call that thin green line of Border Patrol men who secure that 2,000-mile border to the best of their ability every day. And they're trying to secure a border that, right now, is wide open.

And through that border in 2005, along with the hundreds of thousands of people who came across the border from Mexico, who were citizens of Mexico, we interdicted, we arrested 155,000 people who came across from Mexico who weren't citizens of Mexico.

They came from virtually every country in the world; 1,100 of them came from communist China. Some came from Iran. Some from North Korea. And the reason they came is because everybody in the world now has a television set and they know that the southern border of the U.S. is open.

Well, let me tell you. I built the border fence in San Diego, and I built it against a lot of complaint. It's a double-fence.

And when we built that fence, the border between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, was a no-man's land. It was a land that was roamed by armed gangs that robbed and raped and murdered. It was so bad that Joseph Wambaugh wrote the best-selling book "Lines and Shadows" about that difficult piece of territory that was owned by nobody.

Well, we built the double-fence in San Diego. And we knocked back the smuggling of people and narcotics by more than 90 percent. And we reduced the crime rate in the city of San Diego—after we'd built the border fence, by FBI statistics, the crime rate in the city of San Diego fell by more than 50 percent. (Applause)

HUNTER: Well, ladies and gentlemen, I wrote the law that was signed by the president which extends that San Diego border fence for 854 miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, all the smugglers' routes. We're going to build that border fence.

And we've got, contrary to popular opinion as emanated from The Washington Post, we have $1.2 billion cash on hand at the Department of Homeland Security to build that fence.

Now, some people will say, "Well, the fence is going to be very expensive. It costs 3 million bucks a mile. That means if you build 1,000 miles of fence, that's $3 billion."

Ladies and gentlemen, we have today incarcerated in federal, state and local penitentiaries and jails 250,000 criminal aliens. Some of them are so bad that their countries won't take them back, like the MS-13 gang members.

We pay $3 billion a year to incarcerate them. We could save enough money in one year in incarceration costs to build a thousand miles of border fence.

Let's build this fence. (Applause)

And, ladies and gentlemen, at one small, one remote place on that Rio Grande, as almost everybody here knows, two American Border Patrol agents saw a van come across with some 750 pounds of narcotics. And at some point during that apprehension, the drug dealer was winged. He wasn't winged badly. I understand he didn't even collect workman's comp...(Laughter)

... before he was back on the job. But for that, these two American Border Patrol agents, Ramos and Compean, were given 11 and 12 years of hard time in the federal penitentiary.

HUNTER: That is a greater punishment than the average convicted murderer in this country, who does about eight and a half years.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I've read the transcript. I've talked with the families. And I've met with Mrs. Compean and Mrs. Ramos. And I've read the transcript of the trial. And I would say this.

I've been in the Armed Services Committee for 26 years. I've been chairman for four. I have never seen a Marine or a soldier treated in such an unjust way as Ramos and Compean.

And as president of the United States, I will pardon Ramos and Compean. (Applause)

And, ladies and gentlemen, it takes more than simply walking across the border — and I'll shut up here shortly and take questions. But it takes more than walking across the border to be an American.

You've got to have a heart for people. You've got to have the willingness to serve your country when called. You've got to be charitable. You've got to have a sense for your fellow citizens.

You've got to be a guy like my chief of staff, Wendell Cutting, who, when he had terminal cancer last year, last January, and I called him up to see how he was doing because I thought he had two weeks to live—that's what the doctor had told me—I heard that Wendell wasn't there.

And a lot of folks here know Wendell, or knew Wendell. And I said, "Where is he?"

And they said, "He's gone to help the people in the tsunami." And he'd gotten up, with his chemotherapy equipment, and gotten on the airplane and flew over with his beloved rescue task force to help the tsunami victims.

That's the heart of this country. And the great aspect of that is that Wendell wasn't alone. He came with thousands and thousands of Americans who spread out around the world. Some of them come under government action, like our fleet that came in to help those folks. But a lot of them just come because of the goodness of their heart.

And, you know, to America's critics, I would say this. When you were hungry, we brought you food; the Americans came. When you were sick, the Americans brought medicine. When you were attacked, we left the safety of our own homes to come and defend you.

America is a great nation because America is a good nation. (Applause)

HUNTER: And our goodness — and our goodness comes from our belief in God and a corresponding belief in the value of human life. (Applause)

Now, presidents appoint judges. And I can tell you, if any judicial candidate comes before me who can look at a sonogram of an unborn child and not see a valuable human life, then I will not appoint that candidate to the federal bench. (Applause)

Now, ladies and gentlemen, if we walked all the way across this great country in this great, wonderful morning, in just a short period of time the sun's going to be coming up 3,000 miles away at another cemetery — another national cemetery, and that's Rosecrans National Cemetery in my home town of San Diego. And Rosecrans stands guard over that great harbor where so many people have come back from America's wars.

And in 1945, a young Marine returning home from the South Pacific to San Diego wrote these works: "I think that just to be able to live with your wife and family, to be able to take care of them every day is the great privilege a person can enjoy."

Well, 61 years later another Marine returned to San Diego from a place called Fallujah, and he wrote: "At some point in a dangerous environment you forget about your own safety and you try to keep your men safe and place your own life in the hands of God. But your family, your wife and kids never leave your mind. Families lift our country up. They support us with fidelity, morality, faith in God, and raising the next generation of Americans."

Ladies and gentlemen, the first gentleman that I mentioned, the first Marine, was my father, to whom I owe everything I am or ever will be. And the second was my son, Duncan Hunter. (Applause)

Those letters, 60 years apart, reflect the truth of America. God still loves this nation. We are still a people of character and strength and kindness.

And so with faith in God, with confidence in the goodness of the American people, let's win this race for the United States presidency.

Thank you, and God bless you. (Applause)

Monday, March 05, 2007

A British news paper salutes Canada . . . this is a good read. It is funny how it
took someone in England to put it into words...
Sunday Telegraph Article From today's UK wires: Salute to a brave and modest
nation - Kevin Myers, The Sunday Telegraph LONDON -
Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost
no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are
deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the
rest of the world, as always, will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets
nearly everything Canada ever does.

It seems that Canada 's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of
its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be
well and truly ignored.

Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall,
waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out,
she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious
injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is
Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously
cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent
with the United States , and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two
global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two
different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an
address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never
fully got the gratitude it deserved. Yet its purely voluntary contribution
to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of
any democracy.

Almost 10% of Canada 's entire population of seven million people served
in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died.
The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops,
perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, it's
unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular Memory
as somehow or other the work of the "British."

The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began
the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half
of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships
participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian
soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the
third-largest navy and the fourth-largest air force in the world.

The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had
the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged
in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a
campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a
touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since
abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood
keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary
Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William
Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter
and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and
Christopher Plummer, British.

It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be
Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian
as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to
find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements
of it's sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware
of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by
anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the
world's peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century
have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN
mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East
Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.

Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular on-Canadian
imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia , in which out-of-control
paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then
disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for
which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless
friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan? Rather
like Cyrano de Bergerac , Canada repeatedly does honourable things
for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains
something of a figure of fun.

It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such
honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian
families knew that cost all too tragically well.