How not to analyze the Fort Hood Massacre: Robert Wright gets it wrong

Robert Wright is an interesting case study the mixture of LCE (liberal cognitive egocentrism) combined with MOS (masochistic omnipotence syndrome). After the collapse of Camp David, when the progressive left should have been begging the pardon of the Israelis for having urged them to take enormous risks with Arafat for the sake of a peace they were sure would come, Wright came out with a ringing defense of Arafat (elaborating on the work of Malley and Falk[!]), that embodies for me the moral failure of the left in the period after 2000.

Now this is perhaps related to his error-ridden work on the important issues of game theory and morality — The Logic of Non-Zero — in which he reads the record backwards and comes up with a model of inevitablility for the victory of positive-sum relations. It’s as if LCE were a part of our genetic make-up, and therefore, we begin assuming everyone’s on that page.

Let’s look at how he handles the case of Major Hasan and the Fort Hood massacre.

November 22, 2009
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Who Created Major Hasan?By ROBERT WRIGHT
Princeton, N.J.

IN the case of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and the Fort Hood massacre, the verdict has come in. The liberal news media have been found guilty — by the conservative news media — of coddling Major Hasan’s religion, Islam.

Liberals, according to the columnist Charles Krauthammer, wanted to medicalize Major Hasan’s crime — call it an act of insanity rather than of terrorism. They worked overtime, Mr. Krauthammer said on Fox News, to “avoid any implication that there was any connection between his Islamist beliefs … and his actions.” The columnist Jonah Goldberg agrees. Admit it, he wrote in The Los Angeles Times, Major Hasan is “a Muslim fanatic, motivated by other Muslim fanatics.”

The good news for Mr. Krauthammer and Mr. Goldberg is that there is truth in their indictment. The bad news is that their case against the left-wing news media is the case against right-wing foreign policy. Seeing the Fort Hood shooting as an act of Islamist terrorism is the first step toward seeing how misguided a hawkish approach to fighting terrorism has been.

The American right and left reacted to 9/11 differently. Their respective responses were, to oversimplify a bit: “kill the terrorists” and “kill the terrorism meme.”

I would have put it very differently. Some people (I won’t call them the “right”) said, “What’s wrong with these people that they hate us so?” The others (I won’t call them “left”) said, “What’s wrong with us that they hate us so?”

Conservatives backed war in Iraq, and they’re now backing an escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Liberals (at least, dovish liberals) have warned in both cases that killing terrorists is counterproductive if in the process you create even more terrorists; the object of the game isn’t to wipe out every last Islamist radical but rather to contain the virus of Islamist radicalism.

Interesting. Would be nice to have some references to how this is an active campaign to strike at the terrorist meme (the closest I could find was this from 2004), rather than mere appeasement, which is what the argument that you can’t fight back lest you anger them produces most often.

One reason killing terrorists can spread terrorism is that various technologies — notably the Internet and increasingly pervasive video — help emotionally powerful messages reach receptive audiences. When American wars kill lots of Muslims, inevitably including some civilians, incendiary images magically find their way to the people who will be most inflamed by them.

Now here’s a good one. One of the main points I try and make in my presentations — most recently at Rutgers – is that the Western MSNM, the NGOs and the UN Missions all emphasize the humanitarian catastrophe and civilian casualties in order to pressure Israel to stop fighting.

They think they’re fighting for peace, but they’re feeding the Jihadi war machine. As Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of Al Quds put it to a BBC reporter (soon on Youtube):

    Hamas enjoying a huge media sympathy in the Arab world. They have very popular channels like Al Jazeera and al Arabiya and al Manar, and they are repeatedly putting Hamas’ point of view 24 hours a day. And what’s happening in Gaza, the carnage, is helping Hamas point of view and making its spokesmen’s jobs much easier…

Somehow, I doubt that Wright would be in favor of having the MSNM express deep suspicion at the casualty figures coming out of Gaza or any other place that Western forces are fighting Jihadis, while emphasizing how Hamas victimizes its fellow Muslims to gain the kind of PR victory that Atwan is talking about. But he will use the impact of this kind of propaganda as a way to suggest we do nothing that might enable it. He is, in other words, a prisoner of his own analysis and his own fears. And as a result, he’s aggressively timid.

This calls into question our nearly obsessive focus on Al Qaeda — the deployment of whole armies to uproot the organization and to finally harpoon America’s white whale, Osama bin Laden. If you’re a Muslim teetering toward radicalism and you have a modem, it doesn’t take Mr. bin Laden to push you over the edge. All it takes is selected battlefield footage and a little ad hoc encouragement: a jihadist chat group here, a radical imam there — whether in your local mosque or on a Web site in your local computer.

This, at least, is the view from the left.

I think he’s damned himself with his own analysis. It’s a classic case of what Charles Jacobs calls the “Human Rights Complex,” in which the “third world” “other” is treated as little more than a moral animal — ironically the title of one of Wright’s books — that is, he expects no real moral struggle or integrity from these folks. Show them pictures of injured and killed Muslims — obviously not those killed and injured by fellow Muslims, what could they do with that! — mix in some incendiary preaching available on the internet or local mosque, et voilà! …Jihadi terrorist. It’s so obvious. If this is the view from the “left” then I’d say we’re dealing with covert racists who have no moral expectations of Muslims.

Exhibit A in this argument is Nidal Hasan. By all accounts he was pushed over the edge by his perception of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He also drew inspiration from a radical imam, Anwar al-Awlaki. Notably, it had been eight years since Major Hasan actually saw Mr. Awlaki, who moved from America to Yemen after 9/11. And for most of those years the two men don’t seem to have communicated at all. But as Major Hasan got more radicalized by two American wars and God knows what else, the Internet made it easy to reconnect via e-mail.

The Fort Hood shooting, then, is an example of Islamist terrorism being spread partly by the war on terrorism — or, actually, by two wars on terrorism, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Fort Hood is the biggest data point we have — the most lethal Islamist terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. It’s only one piece of evidence, but it’s a salient piece, and it supports the liberal, not the conservative, war-on-terrorism paradigm.

Mind you, this is written by someone who fancies himself a serious, even “scientific” thinker. He hasn’t yet taken the step of saying, “so let’s not fight back, so we don’t upset them further,” but it seems like it’s clearly implied.

Let’s try the “war-on-terrorism paradigm” as he calls it, or the HSJP (Honor-Shame Jihadi Paradigm) as I call it, and see what it comes up with as an explanation for the problem. The deepest problem with Islam today, yesterday and, alas, tomorrow, is it adherence to the most extreme version of the meme: my side right or wrong.

    Wala’ wa Bara’: Perhaps best translated as “loyalty and enmity,” this doctrine requires Muslims to maintain absolute loyalty to Islam and one another, while disavowing, even hating (e.g., Koran 60:4), all things un-Islamic — including persons (a.k.a. “infidels”). This theme has ample support in the Koran, hadith, and rulings of the ulema, that is, usul al-fiqh (roots of Muslim jurisprudence). In fact, Zawahiri has written a fifty-page treatise entitled “Loyalty and Enmity” (AQR, p. 63-115).

    One of the many Koranic verses on which he relies warns Muslims against “taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies … whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them” (Koran 5:51), i.e., he becomes an infidel. The plain meaning of this verse alone — other verses, such as 3:28, 4:144, and 6:40 follow this theme — and its implications for today can hardly be clearer. According to one of the most authoritative Muslim exegetes, al-Tabari (838-923), Koran 5:51 means that the Muslim who “allies with them [non-Muslims] and enables them against the believers, that same one is a member of their faith and community” (AQR, p. 71).

    Sheikh al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), takes the concept of loyalty one step further when he tells Muslims that they are “obligated to befriend a believer — even if he is oppressive and violent towards you and must be hostile to the infidel, even if he is liberal and kind to you” (AQR, p. 84).

So, according to a paradigm that doesn’t project our liberal attitudes onto Muslims, but pays attention to what they (are supposed to) believe, we are in an impossible situation: their most fanatic adepts aggress us (despite the overwhelming support the USA has given Muslims worldwide before 9-11 in Bosnia and Somalia), and when we fight back, more of them are drawn into the web of “resistance.” Wright may not notice it, but this “my side right or wrong” is the most fundamental of zero-sum memes.

When the argument is framed like this, don’t be surprised if conservatives, having insisted that we not medicalize Major Hasan’s crime by calling him crazy, start underscoring his craziness. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they’ll note, aren’t wars against Islam or against Muslims; Major Hasan must have been deluded to think that they are! Surely we can’t give veto power over our foreign policy to a crazy … well, not crazy, but, you know, not-entirely-sane person like Major Hasan.

Surely we can’t. It’s the same thing that the 7-7 bombers were trying to do to the British, and the Madrid bombers with Spain. And the “moderates Muslims” in those countries worked the blackmail: “Hey, we want to keep the Muslim community moderate, but as long as you pursue a foreign policy that offends us, we can’t keep them from acts of suicide terror.” As one of my French friends put it, “The French Arabs act as if they have a knife to our throat, and we act as if they do.” So does Wright.

It’s true that Major Hasan was unbalanced and alienated — and, by my lights, crazy. But what kind of people did conservatives think were susceptible to the terrorism meme? Like all viruses, terrorism infects people with low resistance. And surely Major Hasan isn’t the only American Muslim who, for reasons of personal history, has become unbalanced and thus vulnerable. Any religious or ethnic group includes people like that, and the post-9/11 environment hasn’t made it easier for American Muslims to keep their balance. That’s why the hawkish war-on-terrorism strategy — a global anti-jihad that creates nonstop imagery of Americans killing Muslims — is so dubious.

Gotta love the “any religious or ethnic group…” meme. Good old moral relativism. But other religions have much more resistance to the terror meme, despite extraordinary provocation in the case of the Israelis.

Imagine if we were to apply Wright’s grotesquely low moral expectations to Israelis — given all the carnage they’ve seen on their TV screens — even though their news media systematically downplay it — they should be extremely vulnerable to the terrorist meme. And yet, not only are Jewish terrorists extremely rare — a handful vs. tens of thousands of Muslims — but the Jewish and Israeli public are profoundly hostile to them. As opposed to the 80% of Palestinians who, during the Intifada, as their TV’s were constantly inciting them with images of Muhammad al Durah, the overwhelming majority of Jews, including “fanatic” rabbis on the West Bank, condemned Baruch Goldstein and now, Jacob Teitel.

Or how about asking why American Germans didn’t start blowing up Americans when we bombed Dresden? (Now there’s a case of targeting civilians!) Either Wright is inexcusably uninformed, incapable of the basic history exam question — “compare and contrast — or he won’t let anything get in the way of his “leftist” paradigm. Either way, he lacks intellectual and moral integrity.

Central to the debate over Afghanistan is the question of whether terrorists need a “safe haven” from which to threaten America. If so, it is said, then we must work to keep every acre of Afghanistan (and Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, etc.) out of the hands of groups like the Taliban. If not — if terrorists can orchestrate a 9/11 about as easily from apartments in Germany as from camps in Afghanistan — then maybe never-ending war isn’t essential.

Maybe I misunderstand. Is he saying that if they can operate from the West, then we don’t need to fight them? If not, surely he’ll have some suggestions for how to fight them in the West, no?

However you come out on that argument, the case of Nidal Hasan shows one thing for sure: Homegrown American terrorists don’t need a safe haven. All they need is a place to buy a gun.

Concerns about homegrown terrorism may sound like wild extrapolation from limited data. After all, in the eight years since 9/11, none of America’s several million Muslims had committed violence on this scale.

Nothing about the multiple — how many? — efforts that were thwarted. Does Wright live in a world where all the efforts of the FBI and Homeland Security are basically wasted time?

That’s a reminder that, contrary to right-wing stereotype, Islam isn’t an intrinsically belligerent religion.

Wow. That’s quite a conclusion, and confirms my question: he wants to believe that rather than a constant war going on domestically and abroad with a profoundly militant Islam, that’s it’s merely a matter of our not provoking them. The idea that you can prove that Islam is not intrinsically a belligerent religion — something that both Islamic texts and history confirm — by pointing to the lack of major attacks on American soil in the last ten years, constitutes a leap of logic the defies all sober analysis.

Still, this sort of stereotyping won’t go away, and it’s among the factors that could make homegrown terrorism a slowly growing epidemic. The more Americans denigrate Islam and view Muslims in the workplace with suspicion, the more likely the virus is to spread — and each appearance of the virus in turn tempts more people to denigrate Islam and view Muslims with suspicion. Whenever you have a positive feedback system like this, an isolated incident can put you on a slippery slope.

Of course, what if, as the HSJP suggests, every time you do not confront Jihad you strengthen it; every time you pretend Muslims are a religion just like the other civil religions we have, at great effort, generated in the democratic West, you encourage Muslims who do not share our liberal/left/progressive ideas about tolerance and separation of mosque and state, to push harder. Is that even on Wright’s radar? It’s a domestic replay of Goldstone’s folly.

And the Fort Hood shooting wasn’t the only recent step along that slope. Six months ago a 24-year-old American named Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad — Carlos Bledsoe before his teenage conversion to Islam — fatally shot a soldier outside a recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark. ABC News reported, “It was not known what path Muhammad … had followed to radicalization.” Well, here’s a clue: After being arrested he started babbling to the police about the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, we should stop fighting there? Or our media should constantly emphasize the disgusting way that Jihadis kill fellow Muslims in these places? After all, when it comes to killing Muslims, we don’t hold a candle to Muslims killing Muslims.

Should we be gentle and delicate with Islam, or should we be tearing aside the hypocritical masks it wears and reveal the soul of terrorism that resides at the heart of its most vocal and most violent proponents, and the soul of fear and appeasement that resides at the heart of its “silent majority.”

Both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were supposed to reduce the number of anti-American terrorists abroad. It’s hardly clear that they’ve succeeded, and they may have had the opposite effect. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, they’ve inspired homegrown terrorism — a small-scale incident in June, a larger-scale incident this month. That’s only two data points, but I don’t like the slope of the line connecting them.

If all Mr. Wright has to work with are two data points, maybe he should just comment on something he knows about. Or maybe he should spend six months exploring this site before publishing another word on the “non-belligerent” religion of Islam.

Sept. 11, 2001, though a success for Osama bin Laden, was in the scheme of things only a small tactical triumph; his grandiose aspirations go well beyond the killing of a few thousand people and the destruction of some buildings. Maybe he feels that our descent into the carnage of Iraq and Afghanistan has moved him a bit closer to his goal. But if he succeeds in tearing our country apart along religious and ethnic lines, he will truly be able to declare victory.

So Wright agrees with General George Casey:

    As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.

In other words, rather than get to the heart of the infection, let’s put on a band-aid and act as if, if only we’re nice them, they’ll be nice to us. Ten years and going… and the only thing the self-proclaimed “left” like Wright, has learned, is to repeat the same nonsense.

In fact this kind of cowardly appeasement, in which we pretend that Islam is just like any of our “civil religions,” makes things much worse. It empowers the radicals, who can push as hard as they want, and we’ll back off; and it disadvantages the real moderates, who are just as afraid as Wright and his fellow “leftists,” to confront these radicals. Talk about the trahison des clercs — only this time, it’s the left that’s betraying our values.

Robert Wright, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, is the author, most recently, of “The Evolution of God” and the editor in chief of the blog The Progressive Realist.

Heaven and earth, save us from progressives who think they’re realists.

UPDATE: Hitchens responds to Wright

29 Responses to How not to analyze the Fort Hood Massacre: Robert Wright gets it wrong

  1. [...] nennen), sagte: „Was läuft falsch bei uns, dass sie uns so hassen?“ Richard Landes, The Augean Stables, 22.11.09 über den unterschiedlichen Umgang mit islamischem Terrorismus und [...]

  2. Lorenz Gude says:

    I am reminded of the Psychologist Alice Muller’s dictum that anything the parent does to the child, the child interprets as love. Anything the Islamists do, a certain segment of political opinion absolutely refuses to acknowledge the declared intent of the Islamists.

  3. sshender says:

    OFFTOPIC

    Just came across this hilarious book:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politically_Correct_Bedtime_Stories

    Here’s a small exceprt:

    There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house–not because this was womyn’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore, her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.

    So Red Riding Hood set off with her basket through the woods. Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, however, was confident enough in her own budding sexuality that such obvious Freudian imagery did not intimidate her.

    On the way to Grandma’s house, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a wolf. who asked her what was in her basket. She replied, “Some healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is certainly capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.”

    The wolf said, “You know, my dear, it isn’t safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone.”

    Red Riding Hood said, “I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way.”

    Red Riding Hood walked on along the main path. But, because his status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to linear, Western-style thought, the wolf knew a quicker route to Grandma’s house. He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma’s nightclothes and crawled into bed.

    This promises to be a good read!

  4. John Byrnes says:

    LEARN HOW TO PREVENT FUTURE NIDAL HASANS

    The dilemma caused by the shooting at Fort Hood by Major Hasan exemplifies how each of our programs have failed us. When supervisors, counselors and task forces members rely on subjective references of culture and mental illness, observers miss the signs specific to aggression referenced in post analysis. When observers focus specifically on aggressive behavior, the objective and culturally neutral signs of “aggression” standout, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters.

    Major Hasan was under surveillance by two Terrorist Task Forces, one with Department of Defense oversight and the other with FBI oversight. So why wasn’t he stopped?

    The use of subjective/qualitative indicators, prone to stereotype individuals by culture or religion; versus quantitative indicators and the use of mental health references know to mislead and misconstrue, fails us repeatedly in our attempts to prevent acts of violence. Only when we use the specificity of “aggression” and its objective, culturally neutral indicators can we get-out-in-front of these acts of aggression and prevent them. Why are current systems uses on campus failing us?

    The answer is quite simple – The military does not have an objective and culturally neutral system that collects information and evaluates it to determine the degree (or level) of aggression an individual is displaying, nor has it people who have a clear responsibility to observe and report this information. Learn more about the problem and the solution by reading our Blog: http://Blog.AggressionManagement.com

  5. Eliyahu says:

    EG, off topic/

    speaking of how books originally published outside the US, especially in languages other than English, do not get translated even if they have commercial appeal or of interest for other reasons, I just heard on France24 TV of a new book about Jan Karski by Yannick Haenel. Karski was an official of the Polish underground during WW2 who witnessed the awful persecution of Jews by the German Nazis and knew of the mass murder going on. He was smuggled out of Poland as an emissary of the Polish underground and Polish govt in exile. When he came to the USA, he was granted an interview with Roosevelt. He told him about the mass murder of the Jews going but FDR was not interested. We know for sure that FDR did almost nothing to help the Jews threatened by the Nazis. The British did about the same, meanwhile preventing Jews from finding refugee in the internationally designated Jewish National Home, the Land of Israel [called "palestine" in the West].

    Will this book be published in the United States or the UK? To be sure Karski’s own book, The Story of a Secret State, was published many years ago in English. But those were different times and different publishers.

  6. Ari says:

    Jacob Teitel

  7. sshender says:

    Eliyahu, I still think you failed to prove intent on part of the allies. Mind you, they were embroiled in a war of unprecedented scale and had – as one would expect – priorities in which the Jews did not play a significant role. I’ve seen a documentary about the British bombing of German targets in the vicinity of Auschwitz – so much so that you can actually see parts of the camp on the aireal photos – in which the camp was left intact. Of course the bombing of the death camps in the post-Kalinigrad days could have significantly delayed and even stopped the conveyer of death, but when having to choose between tactical military targets and humanitarian ones, the Brits chose the former, because resources were limited and were best deployed militarily. The death camps were just of lower priority. This was not deliberate actions against the Jews, more like indiference. If the Nazis had suddenly layed down their arms but the death camps still operated, I don’t think they would not have bombed them or stop the mass slaughter immidiately.

    To ascribe this course of action (or rather lack thereof) to antisemitism – the allies did nothing because deep inside they approved of the holocaust – is disingenuous at best and reeks of egocentrism.

  8. sshender says:

    Ooops…. I meant post-Stalingrad

  9. marty says:

    Part of the problem with addressing Islam and violence is that its views are basically circular. Resistance to Islam’s aggression is deemed to be aggression against Islam, which turns any effort to defend oneself into an acceptable cause for an Islamic attack. Since there is no way to defend oneself from Islamic aggression that doesn’t offend Muslims, perhaps it would be wiser simply to assess whether what we are doing defends Western interests and not worry about how Muslims may interpret what we do.

    A second point that needs to be understood is that Muslims are not divided between distinct camps of moderates and Islamists. Rather, there is a continuum stretching from those who have already chosen to become “martyrs” through those who are considering it, to those who support others who might want to, to those who tolerate violence directed at non-Muslims, and so on until one gets to the small group who have realized that there is something sick about how their fellow Muslims think about non-Muslims. Anything that can be done to break this conveyor belt would be a step in the right direction. Suggestions are invited.

  10. Cynic says:

    LEARN HOW TO PREVENT FUTURE NIDAL HASANS

    First of all one must be able to recognize a “Nidal Hasan”.
    To do that as in any case of trying to identify something, be it an atomic particle or a terrorist or rapist, one must have a profile of the object being looked for; one must have a good idea of what one must expect in the identity, characteristics of the searched for object, to qualify.
    In a Politically Correct Society where profiling is declared illegal one might just as well not even bother trying to identify and prevent as this has already descended into the pit of stupidity giving the enemy the same advantages as the innocent as if this were a board game where the rules must be “fair and balanced” for the “players”.

    As for agression; how does one discern it in one accustomed to taquiya, not just in words, but in body language and deeds as well?
    The pat on the back, the smiles, the tea and amusing chit chat blinding one to the reality of a millennial culture and all the while the hatred kept in check until one’s back is turned.

  11. RedPencil says:

    Eliyahu,

    I have had a treasured copy of Jan Karski’s Secret State (published in 1944 BTW!) for many years. It details all kinds of horrific Holocaust details (pre gas chamber) and conversations with FDR & others, where their indifference seemed palpable.

    I met Karski in the ’90s, he came to Denver for a Holocaust remembrance event. He spoke about what he witnessed and what he did about it and how no one listened, not FDR or anyone else. He took questions afterwards. There were a bunch of older people in the audience with me with tattoos on their arms, who didn’t believe that (a) a Pole like Karski COULD have been as decent or concerned as he actually was, or (b) that he had really made an effort to inform people of what was happening. Their general consensus was that he was making up his role in everything. The poor elegant old man seemed distressed and a tad defensive.
    In the midst of this I brought my copy of The Secret State up to him to be signed, and he looked at it like an old friend he had not seen in years whose intervention was darned handy. “See! See!” he said to the skeptics in the crowd, holding the book aloft. “This was published in 1944! Still during the war! I did this!”

  12. Eliyahu says:

    RP,
    Karski has been terribly neglected over the years by the historians, it seems to me. This French book about him [Yannick Haenel, Jan Karski] is the only one I know about. I think that he did get recognition from Yad vaShem. But Karski is not the only one or only thing neglected. The whole issue of what the Western Allies [UK & USA] did and did not do and what they could have done is neglected. Now if this neglect is policy, then Karski has to be neglected as contradiction to what today we call The Narrative. Don’t you find it curious that so-called “radicals” who fulminate against capitalism-imperialism, the West, bourgeois society, and so on, don’t find the time to discuss this history?

    Most “radical” history [historiography] is worthless for these reasons. Speaking of surprises and the unexpected, a French Catholic priest has traveled through the Ukraine and Belarus inspecting places/sites [like Babi Yar] where mass murder took places by shooting by the einsatzgruppen [and Wehrmacht?] before the death camps with gas chambers were set up. His conclusion is that the number of murdered Jews is closer to 7 million than 6 million.

    I think you were lucky to meet Karski.

  13. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    Thanks for the info. The priest’s name is Père Dubois.
    (I’ve no/little time to comment these days)

  14. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    (I’ve no/little time to comment these days)

    What, you been cooking up a turkey for Thanksgiving?

    Ah well, in a couple of weeks you’ll have to get down to making that Christmas pud.
    :-)
    Take it easy and don’t overdo it.

  15. Cynic says:

    Eliyahu,

    With regard to the Secret State, do you know if it is still possible to get a copy?
    Where would one look for one nowadays?

  16. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Who’s cookin’, Duck? Been chasin’ that animal for days, preparing ambushes at nights… From Tundras to cliffs and slopes… Oy!

    And the road to the pud is looooong and windy.

  17. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic, re Karski’s book, The Story of a Secret State, check Amazon or Barnes & Noble to see if it has been reprinted/republished. Otherwise, check used book dealers. Even here in Israel you might find the book at a good used book shop. It’s probably in one of the university libraries. There is an Israeli union catalogue of books, which you can consult at a university library.

  18. Cynic says:

    Eliyahu,

    I’m sort of mindful of the dangers for us redneck extremist “national socialist worker” types treading on university campuses these days.
    Doesn’t one need some sort of identity to permit entering the sacred halls of academe to research their books?

    Freedom of expression belongs to professors and students alike

    According to a recent report in Ha’aretz, students at Tel Aviv University are complaining bitterly about leftist professors. The students are said to be hurt by the professors’ positions, “but are afraid to express contrary views, lest this harm their grades.”

    Academics behaving badly

    Tell me who your sponsor is, and I will tell you what your next study will say.

    Do you know of any such used book shop in TA that’s likely to carry such titles? I have heard that Jerusalem has several.

  19. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    From Tundras to cliffs and slopes… Oy!

    Any chance you were down East Anglia way after that duck?

    Mark Steyn comments on the “pier review” down there
    CRU’s Tree-Ring Circus Who peer-reviews the peer-reviewers?

    Pier-reviewed studies. You stand on the pier and you notice the tide seems to be coming in a little higher than it used to and you wonder if it’s something to do with incandescent light bulbs killing the polar bears?
    ……………………………
    …….. it only counts as “peer-reviewed” if it’s published in Peer-Reviewed Studies published by Mann & Jones Publishing Inc (Peermate of the Month: Al Gore, reclining naked, draped in dead polar bear fur, on a melting ice floe),

    By the way if the road is tooooooooo long for the pud maybe try plum duff?

  20. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic, if you are a citizen of Israel, you can go into the National Library in Jerusalem on the Giv`at Ram campus of the Hebrew university. Show your identity card.

    Yes, there are used book shops in both TA and Yerushalayim. On Melekh George in TA, try Pollak near Dizengoff. There are others in TA.

    In Jerusalem, try Stein on Melekh George in Jerusalem. Also Trionfo, Book Store in the Klal building, plus a very good store on a small street [forget its name] between Melekh George and the Bezalel art school and several others.

  21. Ray in Seattle says:

    Richard, I just came upon a very interesting Blogging Heads episode between Robt Wright and Chris Hitchens. This was just recorded Dec 9.

    http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/24455

    Some of the content includes: Bob vs. Christopher on Fort Hood and the causes of terrorism (12:45)
    Is Major Hasan really the one to blame? (04:43)
    Was the Iraq invasion legitimate? (09:15)
    The UN vs. the US as arbiter of international law (07:03) Bob offers Iran a nuclear deal (09:03)
    Christopher: Iraq forced itself upon us (05:15) etc.

    IMO Chris seems to make Robt look a bit at a loss to have any any decent argument at all on these topics – but then Christopher does that very well to whomever he debates. In any case I would love to see you, Richard, debate either or both of these guys. It would do Robt a service to get some education about some things that he seems to have many ill-conceived opinions. As far as Hitchens, he seems to have a burr up his *ss when it comes to Israel. In that case I would be the one getting an education from watching you both go at it. Do you have any objection if I post a suggestion for either or both those debates at Blogging Heads?

  22. [...] title came to me while reading about the Fort Hood Affair, and the following remark actually nailed it for me. Shades of Larry Derfner on my racism for saying [...]

  23. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Another used books shop in TA is on Ibn-Gevirol near Bloch (forgot the name).

    The chase has successfully ended after the Sufganiyot filling was had.
    A few more candles on my cake than in the Hanukiya.

  24. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    For me it’s Oofganiyot and out of the question.

  25. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    אבל אני חגגתי יום הולדת בת”א, עם סופגניות
    :-D

  26. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    מה, לא הזמנת אותי לראות את הדלקת הנרות? אני בשוק, בשוק אני אומר

    A few more candles on my cake than in the Hanukiya.

    BY the way what was the state of the shamus after all those candles? :-)

  27. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    ניסיתי לרמוז לך על הארוע אבל זה לא כל-כך הלך
    בשביל דברים מסוג זה, עדיף להחליף אימייל פרטי. אם מתחשק לך, בטוח שידידנו לאנדס יכול להעביר לך את שלי

    The guy was only too happy to see me satisfied with all my demands having been well taken care of. Including having Sufganiyot as one of the desserts.

  28. William Cohen says:

    The statement “the object of the game isn’t to wipe out every last Islamist radical but rather to contain the virus of Islamist radicalism” seems to me to be self-evidently true – if radicalism persists then there will always be more radicals. Equating that claim with a belief that “there’s something wrong with us” – that we need to apologize or be “politically correct” – is absolutely incorrect.

    The contention in my 2004 post “http://www.watchblog.com/democrats/archives/001563.html”, which you so kindly mentioned in your comment on my blog, was that Islamist radicals are engaged in a war of ideas against the west – a war in which on one side are the ideals of sanity, tolerance, moderation, and democracy, and on the other side are, well, radicalism. And that their only real hope for not losing big in the long term is to provoke us into a hot war – a war with guns and tanks and refugees and collateral damage.

    In a hot war, they can’t hope to win militarily – but they can make America an enemy, at least to some. They can hope to do enough damage to the American “brand” that our ideas about tolerance are put aside, at least by some, for another generation or so.

    This is why America is the Great Satan in Iran – nothing keeps people in line more than a common enemy. If you want another example, think of Saddam bombing Israel – the only country in reach he was NOT at war with – in the first Gulf war. Saddam wasn’t trying to obtain a military goal – he was trying to provoke Israel into retaliation – to find an outside enemy that coalition members would treat as a common enemy.

    In my view nothing serves the purpose of the terrorists more than over-reaction on our part. Beating your chest in fury and hiding behind an armored division, or strip-searches and scans at the airport – as far as I can see that’s what the bin ladens of the world expect and want. It’s not being a hawk, it’s being a pidgeon.

    Calling this PC or bleeding-heart misses the whole point – it’s not that we should be compassionate or apologetic, it’s that we should stick to our guns! and keep supporting our ideals. I’m not saying it’s an easy path to take, but it’s not a weak one either.

  29. Richard Landes says:

    interesting comment, and in line with what i’ve argued repeatedly. this is a war that can be won largely in the world of discourse, without spilling too much blood.

    but what are some concrete moves we should make in this line?

    e.g., wd you argue that when the muhammad cartoons appeared, every newspaper should have published them, and then publicized that the most outrageous one — muhammad as a pig — was made by muslim rabble-rousers?

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