Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Good reason for American pride

By Greg Reeson, a Major in the United States Army who has served two tours of duty in Iraq

Historian Howard Zinn, writing recently in The Progressive, said that this past Independence Day, Americans

"...would have done well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed."

His column was an argument against the basic idea that we should consider ourselves Americans, and instead advocated an "allegiance to the human race," as if the two were somehow incompatible.

He described our soldiers in Iraq as "victims...of our government's lies" and claimed that Americans suffer from "a loss of a sense of proportion." To support this claim, he said nationalist thinking had led us to such actions as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in response to Pearl Harbor, and the killing of tens of thousands in the Global War on Terror in response to the deaths of 3,000 Americans in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a clear indication of our "loss of a sense of proportion." The implication, of course, is that we should have been much more restrained after being attacked by a ruthless enemy, in 1941 and again in 2001.

With all due respect to Prof. Zinn's opinion, I must disagree. I take great pride not in the fact that I am a soldier, but in the fact that I am an American soldier. I am as capable at helping others as I am at hurting them, and I take far more pleasure in the former than I do in the latter. I am immensely proud and humbled to have the honor of representing my nation, as a member of the armed forces, in bringing relief to those who need it, and justice to those who deserve it.

I, and I believe most Americans, love all the symbols of our greatness: our flag, our anthem, our history, and our culture. I have sworn my life to defending the principles upon which this country was founded, and I do believe with all my heart that our nation is special and unique.

I teach my children to respect our flag and our country, and to be thankful for the blessings we enjoy. I get choked up at the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner" and at the passing of Old Glory, and I and my children stand and give proper honors when either occurs. That may make me a nationalist in Mr. Zinn's eyes, but it doesn't make me any less a member of the human race.

And what about that greatest symbol of America, our national colors, that Prof. Zinn would have us put away? Our flag stands for what this nation is: a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, a place where freedom and prosperity are available to all who come here peaceably and are willing to work for it. It represents the values and beliefs that our soldiers are dying for, because they know America is worth preserving. It represents that magical place where people from around the world still long to be, and it stands for justice and equality, the inherent human rights that are sadly lacking in many places around the world.

Do we sometimes make mistakes in dealing with other nations? Yes, of course, but this nation represents a land where good triumphs more often than not, and that is why the rest of the world continues to look to us for guidance and hope. And it is why our enemies seek to destroy us and everything that we represent.

I have been around the world and seen the joy in people's eyes when American help has arrived, and I have felt pride and thankfulness for being part of such a wonderful nation, knowing that few other countries could provide the hope and promise that we do. And I have seen the utter fear in those who know that we have come to right the wrongs on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves against tyranny and oppression. A former commanding officer of mine summed it up beautifully when he said, "When we deploy our forces, one of two things happens: people either say `Thank God, they're coming, or they say, `Oh shit, they're coming.'" Both speak to the greatness of this nation.

The flag, and all our symbols of national pride, mean something because they represent all that is good and right about America, and all that can be good and right in the world. They serve as an inspiration and source of pride not only to most Americans, but also to everyone who wants to be an American or wants their nation to be more like ours.

No, the time has not come to renounce nationalism and symbols of national pride. Instead, now, more than ever, it is time to stand up and be counted. Because now is a time of great peril for our nation, when radical enemies seek to destroy everything we stand for and everything we believe in. And it will take proud Americans, and not proud humans, to ensure that our country and our way of life continue, for us, and for the rest of the world.


Refusing To Evolve: The Leftist Creed

Post lifted from SCA. See the original for links

Why isn't there a single example of a successful `People's Paradise'? How is it that the best of intentioned revolutionaries was never able to produce a functional society? Why is it that societies that espouse economic equality and predicated on well meaning ideals, either secular or religious, have proved to be abject failures?

Leftists mistakenly believe that a collective `unity' of beliefs, thoughts and ideologies empower a society. Their strength, they believe, are in the numbers of those who share their ideologies. Leftists also believe that they have every right to design a society based on what they believe is in the best interest of that society. They also believe that an unwillingness to conform to their ideals, poses a threat, and quite possibly, a danger to the society of their creation.

Capitalism, as Dr Sanity points out, is predicated on the diversity of beliefs, thoughts and ideologies. For example, the Leftists state takes a dim view of anyone or group that might demand lower taxes, changes in the state welfare benefits, or demands any kind of accountability, because less of burden on the individual and less control of the individual by the state, might empower that individual. In the Leftist state, any kind of individualism and real self expression, empowered or otherwise, represents a threat to the state.

Last year, millions of Frenchmen turned out to protest an employers right to fire them from their jobs- even if their job performance was sub par. They demanded that the French government protect them from being held accountable to their employers. There are business owners in France that are afraid to initiate the complex procedures for firing employees, out the fear of retribution and violence.

Despite the leftist of stated disdain for capitalism and materialism, we have noted that: For today's leftist, it is about `the color of one's skin' and not the `content of character. It is about image and not substance. The deliberate obfuscation continues and the blurring of reality continues. As the left indicts America as self absorbed and drunk with materialistic inclinations, they ignore yet another truth: The most self absorbed and materialistic regimes are the leaders of the most tyrannical regimes in Africa and the Arab world, where greed, corruption, excess and deceit are the defining adjectives of those regimes. Those levels of greed, excess, corruption and self serving attitudes rival the most fanatical religious extremists in their tenacious expressions by citizens of all strata in those countries- and these are the leaders the left reveres.

Of course, progressives naturally see themselves as forward thinking. They believe their way of viewing the world is an improvement over the `old way'- hard work for greater personal gain, for example.

(it is interesting to note how `progressives' have aligned themselves with Hollywood- the most narcissistic and self centered group of people on the planet. They are also among the most removed from the real world, believing themselves to be a kind of aristocracy, entitled to material things others would have to pay for. There is much truth to the old saying. `You are known by the company you keep.' The `progressives' have made clear their attachment to the phony aristocracy of Hollywood trumps the relationship they might have with the rest of us, `the little people.')

The only agenda the left have refused to endorse is the only agenda that has succeeded and the one agenda that is gaining ground, worldwide- capitalism. The real revolutions today are not for socialism, but rather, for political and economic freedoms. `People's Revolutions' today aren't about failed Marxist or socialist agendas. Leftist revolutionaries cannot hide the truth any longer. Today's revolutions are about power and the exercise and abuse of power in any way they see fit.

Of course, the `progressives' cannot and will not acknowledge the truth that the greatest philosophers and thinkers were free to think and present their cases to the population. It is the progressives, that want to present their own versions of history, religion and ideologies, without having to explain or defend themselves. Disagree with them and the wrath of the State will come down on you.

It is clear that many `progressives' are actually regressive. The `my way or the highway' kind of thinking is devolutionary, as if any and all disagreements are always invalid. The vitriol and visceral hatred of the current administration is a good example. No difference of opinion will be tolerated. Disagree and the well oiled machine of personal destruction comes out. The shameful display of that truth was evident during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Tens, if not hundreds of millions have died because of leftist `my way or the highway' ideologies. Disagree with the powers that be or want to be, and there are calls of, `Death to.! Disagree loud enough and you are marked for death. We all got a taste of that as the cartoon riots unfolded. That was a clear case of `my way or the highway' unleashed on democratic societies. `My way or the highway' is a nothing more than a regression to a more barbaric time, when disputes, disagreements and different ideas were settled only when blood was spilled. That was an earlier incarnation of `my way or the highway.'

What leftists desperately want you to forget is that we are morally obligated not to get along with those whose ideas are and beliefs espouse violence, hate and evil. We are morally obligated not to give them a platform to preach their hate and we are morally obligated not to equate their values with our own. While we cannot stop anyone from believing what they will, we are morally obligated to deny them credibility.

(It is astonishing to note that while most people would agree that Adolph Hitler would never have been allowed a platform to preach his hate here, there are still those who believe that Josef Stalin, the man responsible for one hundred million deaths, would have rightfully been a allowed a platform.)

Mankind evolved and political expression advanced when societies came to tolerate those with different ideas and beliefs. We advanced because we allowed each of us the freedom the opportunity to achieve whatever it was we were capable of in any endeavor we chose. No one told us what to do, what to think or what to invent. In free societies, possibilities were open to all, irrespective of their political persuasion.

The Soviets produced engineers by the millions. They built the world's largest hotel, the Rossiya, in Moscow, meant to be showcase of Soviet superiority. When you get up close and inside, it is hard to miss the walls that are crooked and floors that are uneven. It is true the Russians led early on in the space race. It is also true that many hundreds of thousands, if not millons, died over the years because money that was spent on the space race was diverted from providing food to Soviet citizens. That malaise infected Communist eastern Europe. Once a net exporter of grain, Poland reached a point where she could barely feed herself. To put that in perspective, at one time Poland grew more grain than France or Canada.

The Judeo-Christian ethic is just that- an ethic, an ideology that was to serve as the basis and foundation upon which a free nation might be built. The Judeo-Christian ethic is not an endorsement of religion- it is an endorsement of ideas, not the least of which is the validity and importance of freedom. The Judeo-Christian ethic has been the blueprint, revised over time, that has come to be a definition of freedom. The ideas contained in those ethics have come to define the boundaries of our freedom and our obligations to out society. We have been blessed with freedom and democracy as a way of life.

It is also true that free societies not only exist, but they prosper and progress as well. If there were no free societies and democracies, our world would look exactly like much of the Arab world today- failed states torn apart by internal strife and political mayhem, with hundreds of millions of people languishing in a netherworld, where their only purpose is to serve the needs and whims of a regime that cares nothing for them and attaches no value to their life.

For the most part, progressives do not want to acknowledge that there is not a single example of a regime they have endorsed that has not resorted to murder, oppression and repression. There are some regimes are authoritarian, caring only about controlling behavior. There are other regimes are totalitarian, seeking to control not only behavior, but thought as well. The only regime ever supported by the left (only to be later abandoned) that made a success of itself was Israel.

Real freedom represents the highest political and ethical expression and aspirations of the human condition.

After witnessing the spectacular and bloody imposition and failures of ideologies embraced by leftists, one can only conclude that those ideologies have proved to be a monumental failure on the scale of political evolution. Leftist ideologies cannot be made to adapt to the real world environment that places freedom atop the evolutionary that scale, because leftist ideologies refuses to adapt and acknowledge that people are best served when free to choose for themselves.

Leftists have failed to adapt and evolve to the reality that accelerating freedom is the destiny of mankind. We are meant to be free choose, free to believe, and free to express themselves in any way they see fit, free of interference. That is the equivalent of debating the merits of the wheel.

Britain's Orwellian vision of government housing

Allocated a silver-level needs certificate, Linda is unlikely to get into the most popular development.but after a year's acceptable behaviour she will be given a secure tenancy certificate. This, however, is a floating security given the owners will be able to insist she moves into one of their smaller premises if her needs change. Next door to Linda is one of six extra care homes.they include video monitoring and biosensors to allow 24-hour video supervision from the district health centre.'

Speaking is Jon Rouse, outgoing head of the UK Housing Corporation, which controls all social housing in the UK (1). The slide that accompanied Rouse's recent speech represented the family of four - Linda, Tom, Dick and Harry - as little lego people. Rouse was not warning us of an Orwellian dystopia; this is actually his ideal of what should happen with social housing in the UK.

In Rouse's social-democratic hell, people will not talk about `social housing' - they will talk about `different degrees of ownership'. Even new tenants will be `gifted' two per cent equity - except that this equity is conditional upon good behaviour, and will be recovered in toto if tenants fall into more than eight weeks' arrears. Furthermore equity in the leasehold is conditional, since the Housing Corporation would have the (until now unheard of) right of first buyback, and there is absolutely no right of succession (meaning you cannot bequest the home to your children). In other words, this `equity' is not ownership at all - except that it does come with responsibilities for the repair and upkeep of your home.

Prime minister Gordon Brown has announced that three million homes will be built and that the state will take up the slack left by the private sector's failure to build enough houses to match demand (2). For many, this is a sign that Old Labour is back. Council housing in particular is something of a nostalgia-trip for born-again Labourites like Jon Cruddas, commentator Lynsey Hanley and London mayor Ken Livingstone.

This nostalgia for council housing is hard to take. There is no principle that says that houses built and managed by the state are any worse than those in the private sector. But in practise, social housing has precious little to do with meeting people's needs, and everything to do with state control over supposedly anti-social elements. The Housing Corporation's thinking about dividing people into Gold, Silver and Bronze levels - imposing tenancy agreements, issuing secure (but floating) tenancy certificates, partial equity, video- and bio-monitoring, 24-hour surveillance, retaining the right of first buy-back - are all drawn from the real way that social housing tenants are intrusively regulated by the authorities.

Throughout its history, social housing has always been intimately related to the perceived problem of social order. In Nathaniel Rothschild's `Four Per Cent Dwellings', which opened in 1887, each landing had its own warden, usually an ex-NCO from the army who would enforce curfews and respectable behaviour. When philanthropists decanted tenants into the subscription-funded Somers Town estate in the 1930s, their bedding was burnt and furniture put into a mobile fumigation wagon.as part of a public ceremony overseen by local dignitaries, complete with the burning of papier mach‚ effigies of rats, fleas and other pests.

Similar things took place outside of Britain. In `Red' Vienna's much-trumpeted inter-war municipal houses, Social Democrat councillors enforced a `social contract' with tenants, which committed them to responsible parenting. Where this was lacking, social workers were on hand to remove children to the municipal Child Observation Centres (3).

In the postwar expansion of social housing in Britain, the charity-laden character of such housing was moderated: tenants were more like citizens and less like supplicants. Therefore, other ways of relating to the estate-dwellers had to be found. Labour's Peter Shore (1924-2001) oversaw the racial segregation of Tower Hamlets' Council Stock in the 1970s, as the London borough used divide-and-rule tactics to win the support of white residents with marginally better estates. Then, 20 years later, in the early and mid-1990s, the council turned around and started threatening white residents, who had believed the promise of preferential treatment, with being evicted for racism (4).

Between 1979 and 1997, the Conservative government stopped new council houses being built in Britain, sold off some homes and transferred others to Housing Associations. The declining stock of council homes shifted the social mix, as the more affluent workers moved out of local authority management. This was when people started calling Council Housing `social housing', meaning that it was primarily for housing people who were a social problem.

In the Nineties, local authorities pioneered the systems of social control that would later be generalised under Labour's Crime and Disorder Bill in the form of the ASBO: that is, the Anti-Social Behaviour Order. Before there were ASBOs there were tenancy agreements. On 24 May 1995, 2,500 council tenants in Cross Farm Road, Birmingham, were warned that they would have to put their children under an 8pm curfew. They were told that not annoying or harassing their neighbours - or allowing their children to do so - was a condition of their council tenancies. Breaches were to be heard by a subcommittee of councillors (5). Councils had expanded the terms of their tenancy agreements to include clauses governing social behaviour on top of keeping up rent payments and looking after the fabric of the home.

In June 1995, the Labour Party, then still in opposition, published a housing consultation paper titled A Quiet Life. It was influenced heavily by the thinking of the (mostly Labour) councillors who had enhanced their powers of social regulation through the issue of housing. A Quiet Life proposed special Community Safety Orders, which could be imposed to regulate behaviour, on the same model as the expanded tenancy agreements. These were later renamed Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. Just as the councils had done when enforcing their tenancy agreements, so Labour proposed dealing with `problem tenants' through the use of professional witnesses (that is, housing officers) and by the lower standard of proof that is normally used in civil proceedings.

Recently the courts struck down an ASBO that was issued in Manchester on evidence supplied by the council, when it came to light that the reports they had solicited against the unfortunate accused were entirely made up. Manchester City Council had told the courts that they had independent corroboration, which was not true - but it was in keeping with the local authority's contempt for the rights of their tenants.

Brown is right that we need more homes. The market is so restrained by bureaucratic controls that it cannot meet the real demand that exists. It does not matter who builds or manages the homes, private sector or government. But council housing was never just about providing homes; it was always about regulating social behaviour. Those who long for a return to council housing are either ignorant of what a trap it was, or more likely, they look forward to the day when they can tie up more of the people they imagine to be `problem families' in bureaucratic regulations.


Reality catches up with another red diaper baby

Having grown up in a home of diehard New Deal Democrats, with a wider family circle that included hard-core socialists and communists, and having come of age in the United States during the turbulent 1960s, every fiber in my body is filled with political and social liberalism.

Throughout the years, I have tried to maintain a universal outlook on life, no matter the winds of change that continually blow across the international arena, relentlessly testing my ideological worldview - especially over the 35 years I have lived in Israel and, particularly, the last 10.

Since the onset of the second intifada, the rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas's takeover of Gaza, the encroachment of Hizbullah, I am fighting forces within me that are edging to the political right - all the while desperately holding on to a progressive philosophical mindset. In the deepest recesses of my being, I am finding it difficult to maintain my usual equilibrium.

I am constantly doing battle with two competing inclinations - one to preserve my body (my physical well-being) and one to preserve my soul (my moral integrity). And, right now, the urges of my body seem to be getting the upper hand. I feel my corporeal self under siege from all sides. I ache with the historical burden of persecution knocking at my door every minute of the day, fired by forces like those that engulfed us during the Crusades - read Hamas - and expelled us during the Inquisition - read Hizbullah - and led by the warriors of anti-Semitism like Chmelnitski - read Hassan Nasrallah - and those who slaughtered us mercilessly like Hitler - read Ahmadinejad.

HOW DO I maintain a sense of justice for Palestinians whose freedoms have been compromised under Israel's 40-year occupation and continue to advocate for their human rights, when I know they are being swept up by a pan-Islamism characterized by Islamist extremism? No wonder the Israeli Left has gone underground. Many of our cherished values have gone up in smoke.

We hate the security barrier because it steals Palestinian lands, divides villages and separates families, but we sleep better knowing our children no longer play Russian roulette with their lives when they venture out in public. We deplore targeted assassinations, but when the IDF kills terrorists on their way to fire rockets into Sderot, we breathe a sigh of relief - even if innocent Palestinians are caught in the cross fire.

Has the Right read the political map better than we have? Everything that those who opposed the unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza predicted would happen has happened. Hizbullah in the north and Hamas in the south are squeezing us and, at a moment's notice, could wreak havoc upon the country. The internecine fighting in Gaza, where Palestinians killed each other with impunity, proved a harsh reality: These Muslim fanatics are out for anyone's blood that gets in the way of their ultimate goal - spilling the last drop of Jewish blood.

SO, WHAT'S an Israeli liberal Jew to do - turn to our leftist sympathizers abroad to gain some perspective and objectivity? Who are they - the American Center for Constitutional Rights that has issued warrants for the arrest of Moshe Ya'alon and Avi Dichter for war crimes; the International Solidarity Movement or the Christian Peacemaker Teams whose Web sites are veritable wellsprings of anti-Semitic drivel?

You see why I feel besieged - even my natural allies put me on the defensive. We activists for decency and fair play for the other can no longer bury our heads in the sand. We must find a way to reconcile our ideological liberalism with the harsh political realities of a bellicose neighborhood and an indifferent at best, hostile at worst, world community that allows the UN Human Rights Commission to single out Israel for permanent scrutiny. (Silent complicity strikes the Jews again.) Only America has consistently stood by us.

So as not to further darken the gathering storm hovering above, we liberals will have to temper our views and moderate our behavior. Does this mean that we limit self-criticism and curtail what we say and what we do because our words and actions can supply ammunition to our detractors and to those who decry our legitimacy as a state? Does it mean that we sacrifice our moral conscience on an altar of fear? No! But, it does mean that we must carefully weigh the possible consequences of our rhetoric and activities.

It also means that we who are sympathetic to Palestinian suffering cannot become mirror images of our right-wing adversaries - abandoning any sense of balance, thus discounting Israeli pain. More so, even as we concede Israeli offenses, we must acknowledge Palestinian violence and, more importantly, its global implications. With the radicalization of Gaza, surely to be exported to the West Bank, Palestinians are part of a growing Islamist threat to Western stability, and we stand at the forefront of its eventual onslaught.

For those of us born with a liberal spoon in our mouths, the challenge is formidable - almost frantic. Painful memories of our history, presently reflected in the mirror of a dangerous new reality, compel us to examine and reexamine, evaluate and reevaluate our deeply held principles - even as we resolutely cling to our ideals, steadfastly advancing a social agenda that impels Israel to be a "light unto the nations."



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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