Monday, April 29, 2019

Islamist barbarism thrives on West’s weak response

Here’s the most horrific thing from the barbaric assault on Christians and holiday-makers in Sri Lanka. In the Zion Evangelical Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa, Christian children were gathered for Sunday school. Given it was Easter Sunday, their teacher asked them a special question: “How many of you are willing to die for Christ?” According to a teacher who survived what was about to happen, all the children put their hands up.

The children then spilled out into the church grounds to play. Photos show them looking sunny and happy. Minutes later, an Islamist terrorist, who had failed to get into the church itself, walked among the group of children and blew himself up. Twelve children were killed. Many of their teachers were killed, too. Their crime was to be Christian.

Details such as this demand an urgent and serious assessment of the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism. Because this terrorism, even by the historical standards of terrorism, is peculiarly hateful, misanthropic and barbaric.

What drives someone to detonate a suicide belt while standing among children? It brings to mind the suicide bomber who in July 2005 drove his car into a group of children who were accepting sweets from a US soldier and blew himself up. Twenty-four children were killed. Or the female suicide bomber in Iraq in September 2006 who blew herself up among families that were queuing for kerosene.

Try to imagine what happened next. A terrifying glimpse was offered by a witness report in The Washington Post: “Two pre-teen girls embraced each other as they burned to death.”

It brings to mind the twin suicide bombings at All Saints Church in Peshawar in Pakistan in September 2013, when an Islamist extremist blew himself up among poverty-stricken Christian women and children who were queuing outside the church for a free meal, while his associate blew himself up inside the church where people ran to take cover. One hundred and twenty-seven people were killed.

And of course it brings to mind the Manchester Arena bombing of 2017, which faded strikingly fast from the forefront of British political consciousness, in which an Islamic State-inspired extremist blew himself up among parents and children leaving an Ariana Grande concert. The youngest victim was an eight-year-old girl. It’s likely many people in Britain don’t even know her name. It was Saffie Roussos. These are only a handful of the thousands of acts of barbarism carried out by Islamist extremists in recent years. From the US to Europe, from the Middle East to the subcontinent, tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered by Islamist extremists.

This terrorism seems to have utterly dispensed with the old rules of engagement. Its battleground is as likely to be a church or a school or a hospital or a queue of children as it is a piece of land claimed by an opposing military outfit. It follows no moral code whatsoever. Its defining feature is a glaring and terrifying absence of moral restraint. Anything is acceptable. Anyone can be killed. There is no code or rule or even basic human impulse that says to these groups: “Don’t do that. Not here. Not at a Sunday school.”

This means the new barbarism is very different to the violent groups that existed in the 1970s and 80s. These outfits, such as the Palestine Liberation Organisation or the Irish Republican Army, were usually, though not always, restrained by their political motives and ambitions, contained and controlled by their political beliefs.

Their claim to represent a political outlook and a political constituency meant they tended to behave within a basic moral framework. Their claim to be serious political actors meant they carefully tailored and targeted their militaristic acts. Their acts of violence were frequently bloody, of course, but they rarely did what Islamist terrorists do today: seek to kill as many people as possible, ideal­ly women and children, in a kind of perverse display of pornographic misanthropy, and with no higher aim than to devastate lives, communities and the human family more broadly.

For a few years now, some observers — not nearly enough — have tried to get to grips with the new barbarism, with this utterly unanchored, unrestrained, death-glorying violence. A 2005 New York Times piece titled “The mystery of the insurgency” commented on Iraqi insurgents’ massacre of civilians and how historically unusual it was. This “surge in the killing of civilians” reflects “how mysterious the long-term strategy remains”, it said.

The writer arrived at a horrifying conclusion: that maybe there was no long-term strategy; that maybe killing civilians was the strategy, was the overriding aim. Death for death’s sake.

“Counter-insurgency experts are baffled,” said the NYT piece, because these civilian-targeting groups in Iraq had “developed no alternative government or political wing and displayed no intention of amassing territory to govern”. Of course this changed later, with Islamic State, which did amass territory. But even this contained within it “the mystery of the insurgency”, given that the Islamic State territory was defined by its perverse celebration of extreme ­violence, which it recorded and distributed online. If anything, its territory looked less like a traditional state or guerilla nation than a staging post for the internationalisation of “the surge in the killing of civilians”. A piece of land from which spectacles of deaths could be organised.

What was really unfolding in Iraq back then was the new barbarism. The Western leftists who excused, and in some cases even celebrated, the “Iraqi insurgency” were utterly missing the point of what was happening — not an anti-imperialist rebellion, as they dreamed, but the spread of a new, unhinged breed of violent misanthropy. Of something we had not previously seen, certainly not in our lifetimes.

This is post-state, post-political, post-morality violence. It speaks to and is no doubt inflamed by the hollowing out of political and international norms in recent years. It feels genuinely apocalyptic. But there is another factor that, it seems increasingly likely, is contributing to the intensification of the new barbarism: the striking and self-defeating reluctance of many in the West to condemn this barbarism or even to speak openly about its origins or uniqueness.

The aftermath of the attacks in Sri Lanka captures Western liberal elites’ caginess about morally and politically confronting the new barbarism. There has been no talk of fascism and hatred and our moral responsibility to stand up to these things, as there was after the mosque massacres in Christchurch. There has been no emergence of a Christian solidarity movement, in contrast with the numerous, and correct, cries of solidarity made to Muslims after Christchurch.

Indeed, focus too much on Islamist terrorism these days and you risk being accused of Islamophobia. “Christians used to do this kind of thing,” they will say, inaccurately, to deflect attention from their own unwillingness to take a strong moral stance on Islamist extremist violence. Or they will point out that the US and Britain and other nations are still engaged in violent conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, even though they must know, somewhere inside their moral universe, that there is an immeasurable difference between America’s military campaigns in the Middle East (which are wrong) and the wilful slaughter of children queuing for sweets or teenage girls collecting petrol.

Whether it is their accusations of Islamophobia or their morally relativistic comparison of today’s new barbarism with the behaviour of Western armies, the liberal elites’ key aim seems to be to avoid having to take a strong position on this new, strange, spectacularly anti-human violence. And this moral cowardice has now crossed the line from being irritating and has become possibly dangerous in itself. Certainly it does nothing to challenge, far less try to stop, the rise of the new barbarism.

A weak and morally disoriented West that will not strongly condemn the nihilistic ideology behind the slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka, or the bombing of children in Manchester, or the gunning down of rock fans in Paris, is a West that cannot feign surprise when such violence continues. It is no longer enough to say “That’s awful” and then move on; we need a serious reckoning with the war on Christians, the rise of seventh-century barbarism, and the collapse of any semblance of moral restraint among the new terrorists.


Judge accused of helping an undocumented immigrant escape an ICE officer

A Massachusetts judge and a former court officer are accused of helping a twice-deported undocumented defendant elude immigration authorities by slipping out a rear courthouse door.

Newton District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph, 51, and former trial court officer Wesley MacGregor, 56, were indicted Thursday on obstruction of justice and other federal charges.
They face counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, obstruction of a federal proceeding, aiding and abetting, according to an indictment in US District Court in Boston. MacGregor was also charged with one count of perjury.

"This case is about the rule of law," US Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement. "We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law."

Joseph and MacGregor appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon. They were released without bond after pleading not guilty, CNN affiliate WCVB reported.

Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, "believes no one should obstruct federal law enforcement officials trying to do their jobs and supports the Supreme Judicial Court's decision to suspend Judge Joseph without pay," his office said in a statement. His administration has filed legislation to allow court and law enforcement officials to work with immigration authorities "to detain dangerous individuals."

"Everyone in the justice system -- not just judges, but law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defense counsel -- should be held to a higher standard," Lelling said. "The people of Massachusetts expect that, just like they expect judges to be fair, impartial and to follow the law themselves."

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the indictment was "a radical and politically motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts" and that the matter could have been handled by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Trial Court.

"It is a bedrock principle of our constitutional system that federal prosecutors should not recklessly interfere with the operation of state courts and their administration of justice," she said in a statement.

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, called the case "preposterous, ironic, and deeply damaging to the rule of law" and said it had "everything to do with enforcing the president's anti-immigrant agenda."

Federal prosecutors said the charges stemmed from an April 2, 2018, incident in which Richmond and MacGregor allegedly allowed an undocumented immigrant at a criminal court hearing to escape detention by an ICE officer.

Newton Police had arrested and charged the undocumented immigrant days earlier with being a fugitive from justice and drug possession, according to the indictment. Authorities later learned he had been deported from the US in 2003 and 2007 and was prohibited from re-entering the country until 2027. ICE issued an immigration detainer and warrant of removal.


Federal Judge's Bizarre Views of Justice for American ISIS Terrorist and the Bereaved Mother of His Victim

To forgive and forget - or to punish and stand vigilant. That is the question about how to treat Americans who fought for the territorially defeated ISIS as they reenter society, presumably with battlefield experience, atrocities, and religious zealotry for bloodletting baked in.

In Texas, judges of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals are grappling for an answer in a bizarre case in which a federal judge doled out what prosecutors say was a "substantively unreasonable" 18-month sentence for a returned ISIS recruiter and fighter who caused the battlefield death of at least one American. Prosecutors asked for at least 15 years.

Houston-based National Security Division prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas appealed the sentence after Reagan-appointed U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes scoffed at their arguments, expressed a paternal sympathy for the convicted terrorist, and dismissed input from the dead victim's bereaved mother (present in court) as "only her grief...sad but not cogent."

The 18-month sentence was given to Asher Abid Khan, a 24-year-old University of Houston engineering student, after he pleaded guilty to one count of material support to ISIS for trying to join them with a high school friend in 2014, who was killed in action.

Transcripts of the sentencing hearing show the judge readily accepting Khan's narrative that he quickly matured after he was tricked into returning in 2014, no longer believes the propaganda, and that he made one bad youthful mistake. Khan professed to having straightened out his life while free on bond that Judge Hughes granted Khan after his 2015 FBI arrest, despite opposition from prosecutors.

"Given the right breaks, most young people...if you can get their attention and give them some guidance, will quit doing that particular stupid thing," Judge Hughes scolded prosecutors after they pointed out that Khan continued to proselytize online for ISIS after he returned to Texas.

The judge dismissed all that.

"I don't think we need to lock you up for 15 years, and I have been pleased with your progress while you have been under my care. You would be surprised that some people don't take that as a hint."

Judge Hughes offered a parting word of advice to Khan at the sentencing hearing: "Work hard – fly right. Got it?"

"Yes, your honor," Khan replied.

The appellate court's decision holds potential national implications as more Americans return from ISIS; as many as 150 traveled overseas to join the group in Iraq and Syria while about 100 others were prosecuted after they were caught trying.

One obvious gamble inherent in the forgive and forget approach is addressed in studies of terrorist recidivism, including this one by The Soufan Group, which concludes that terrorism supporters often do not 'age out' of their motivations. Those caught leaving or returning might view an 18-month prison stint more as delayed gratification than as wait-just-a-minute deterrent.

U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, argued as much in a brief filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month, that "The district court's error was not harmless. Indeed, the magnitude of its error was enormous."

The U.S. Attorney's office wants a new sentencing hearing.

"The sentence," the brief explained "... did not reflect the gravity of Khan's conduct and would not sufficiently deter others from taking the first step along the path to radicalization. The sentence also results in unwarranted disparity with sentences of similarly situated defendants who have received far more serious sentences."

A counter-brief by Khan and his attorney, David Adler, is expected sometime in the coming weeks.


In new S. Africa, some in 'Coloured' community nostalgic for apartheid

The 'Rainbow Nation' is a big lie!" complained Dalene Raiters, a South African mother from the "Coloured" community. "We are not black enough," added her sister who has also been unemployed for years.

"We are not part of this country. We were marginalised during the apartheid and even now," lamented Dalene, getting into her stride about the discrimination of which she insists she is a victim.

"Our people live like mushrooms. Four generations under the same roof," said Elizabeth Raiters, seated in the living room of the family home in the majority "Coloured" township of Eldorado Park, an outlying suburb of Johannesburg.

In total, nine people -- soon to be 10 with a baby due -- live in the property, which has a small bedroom and a hut in the yard.

Elizabeth applied for social housing to ease the squeeze -- but that was 17 years ago, and failed. She is convinced it is because of the colour of her skin.

Apartheid legally divided South Africans into groups of whites, blacks, Indians and "Coloured," a term meaning people deemed to be of mixed race.

The remnants of system were swept away a quarter-century ago, and today the notion of race remains as discredited as is segregation.

Yet the term "Coloured" is still widely used today -- and complaints of exclusion are common.

"We are constantly in the middle," complained Elizabeth, a woman with a small frame and hair held back with a headband.

The "Coloured" community itself also comprises several ethnic groups, notably including the San (bushmen) and Nama -- both indigenous to southern Africa.

They are often referred to as the country's "first nation," according to Keith Duarte, a representative of the community living in Eldorado Park.

In 1994, when the ruling African National Congress (ANC), spearhead of the anti-apartheid fight, was propelled to power, "we all felt that the ANC would represent us, would be inclusive," he said.

"It was the biggest mistake ever... We need to be treated equally," he insisted.

- 'The forgotten sheep' -

In the down-at-heel Eldorado Park township, where the traffic lights sometimes show amber and red at the same time, the small brick homes offer an illusion of comfort.

Behind each home there are courtyards which host cabins made of whatever was available that are home to entire families.

To enter the home of Chesney Van Wyk -- a hut with just three square metres (30 square feet) of floor space -- one does not have to push the door, but instead lift it with two hands. It has neither a handle nor a hinge.

Van Wyk and his partner, who share a small mattress, use a small peach tree behind the door as a bag rack. The shack, made with plastic-covered cardboard, floods whenever it rains.

Chesney makes ends meet thanks to the small jobs the neighbours give him.

But today he was focussed on another task.

Along with dozens of other nearby residents toting picks and shovels, Van Wyk cleared a vacant plot of land before marking out locations for their future homes with branches.

"We are claiming this land. We know it is illegal but every time we apply for a (social) house, we need to fill up some documents and they never get back to us," he said.

"For us it's like we are the forgotten sheep."

During apartheid, "we were not white enough, and now we are not black enough," he added.

- 'I prefer apartheid' -

"They say we are nothing. We are bastards. We are not white, nor black," said Violet Bouwers, a woman in her fifties who was also helping to clear land.

Local youths have limited job opportunities and many have turned to drugs.

In the township, a hit of highly-addictive crystal meth sells for 50 rands ($3.20).

The drug has ravaged many lives.

In April three mothers made criminal complaints against their addicted children for attempted murder and domestic violence, said Dereleen James of the Yellow Ribbon Foundation which fights drug abuse.

One mother recently killed her addicted son.

"She could not handle it anymore," said James, before commencing a lengthy pursuit in her car for a young addict whose mother requested he be detained.

Patients young and old insist they are in their dire situation because of their skin colour.

There are several drug rehabilitation centres in the township where many people see themselves as victims of an unfair system.

If one goes by official figures, this picture of marginalisation is somewhat different.

Household income among the "Coloured" community is twice as high as the black majority who make up 81 percent of the population.

Unemployment stands at 30.5 percent among the black labour force while it is 23 percent for the "Coloured" community.

"Coloured people have always been marginalised under colonial and apartheid rule," said Jamil Khan, a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand's Centre for Diversity Studies in Johannesburg.

"Post-apartheid South Africa has not addressed that legacy substantially and aggressively enough."

The sense of injustice has persisted to the point that several community members lament the fall of apartheid under which "Coloured" people had neither the freedom to move around nor vote.

"The blacks have all the opportunities," complained pastor's wife Janice Jacobs, 49.

"We were much more comfortable during the apartheid. They would provide us a school pack with all the stationery. We had nurses in the schools. There was order and discipline. If you set a place alight, you would end up in jail.

"The apartheid government used to look after education, health, housing. (This) government does not look after us. I prefer apartheid."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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