Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Telling it Like it Isn't

Jim Skillen at the Center for Peace and Justice has a piece on the election wherein he makes these remarks:

Do you want to know what kind of president George Bush will be during the next four years? Look at his record; read reality; and then ask how well his words square with that record and reality.

For Senator Kerry one should take a different approach. He has no presidential deeds to evaluate. Listen carefully to his words, his promises, his proposals. If the promises remain general and vague; if the tax-and-spending proposals don't quite add up; if the security and foreign affairs strategies don't seem likely to yield more safety and international justice over the next decade; if he relies as much on Bush-bashing as Bush relies on Kerry-bashing, then assume that Kerry will be that kind of president.

Mr. Skillen's advice needs a little clarification. First, it's simply misleading to say that Kerry has no presidential deeds to evaluate as if there were no relevant record at all upon which a voter can base a decision on Mr. Kerry. He has spent almost twenty years in the Senate and, on those occasions when he has shown up, has cast votes. There is plenty of record there for voters to contemplate. Mr. Skillen doesn't mention it because unless those who take the trouble to discover how the Senator has voted over the years are pro-abortion, pacifist socialists Kerry's record is likely to alienate most of them, including, one hopes, not a few of Skillen's own readers.

The biggest untold story in this campaign, in fact, is Senator Kerry's senatorial record. The media aren't going to publicize it, of course, because they know it would swing the election to Bush, and the Republicans, for some unfathomable reason, haven't made much of an issue of it either except to cite the Senators chronic tergiversations on Iraq.

The second point on which Mr. Skillen allows his ideological preference to cloud his judgment is when he suggests that Mr. Bush has "relied on Kerry-bashing". It's not clear whether he means to imply that Bush himself has engaged in this behavior, or whether he means to suggest that Bush is relying on others to do the bashing. The latter interpretation is more charitable toward Skillen because it merely makes him look silly, but it is less plausible than the former.

If Skillen is indeed stating that it remains to be seen whether Kerry will rely on others to do the bashing of the president, then we must conclude that Mr. Skillen must have been sequestered in a cave for the last two years during which time Kerry's surrogates have been flaying Bush with the most odious charges and allegations imaginable.

Assuming he hasn't been on a two year retreat somewhere, Skillen must mean that Bush himself has been taking cheap shots at Kerry and that we should watch to see if Kerry responds in kind. If so, Skillens' claim is simply false. Bush has publically said nothing about Kerry except as it pertains to his record throughout this campaign. He has been extraordinarily gracious to his opponent in praising his dubious military record and has refused to attack Kerry personally. Perhaps Mr. Skillen can offer us a counterexample or two, but it's doubtful. Unless he can, however, his assertion above that Bush has engaged in some ignoble political chicanery slanders a man whose conduct in this campaign should serve as a model for politicians everywhere, and Skillens' insinuation to the contrary, therefore, is itself a disreputable cheap shot.

Thanks to Derek Melleby via Byron Borger for the Skillen article.

Is the Global Test Galaxy Wide?

Having been roundly criticized, Senator Kerry attempts to clear up his reference to the need for a "global test" which any foreign policy initiative would evidently have to pass in his administration:

"The test I was talking about is a test of legitimacy - not just in the globe, but elsewhere. If you do things that are illegitimate in the eyes of other people, it's very hard to get them to share the burden and risk with you. I will never cede America's security to any institution or any other country. No one gets a veto over our security. No one."

"Elsewhere"?! Is Bush now going to be hammered by the left because his coalition didn't include Martians?

Cult of Death

Wretchard at Belmont Club quotes from an article in the London Times that discusses Muslims living in London:

Mobile phones are being used by young Muslims living in Britain to watch videos of hostages being beheaded by militants in Iraq. With their color screens and access to the internet, the latest generation of mobile phones are being used to download the videos after they are posted on Islamist websites. The videos can then be sent to other mobiles.

One militant has saved every available video of hostages being killed in Iraq. An Algerian in his thirties who has lived in London for almost ten years, he is a follower of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the cleric whose extradition is sought by the US ... said "for us the jihad is alive in our hands as we watch American infidels get their heads chopped off ... within a few minutes of the Americans dying last week I was watching them on my phone"

Wretchard cites this anecdote to highlight the futility of abandoning the war on terror, or turning it into a police action, as Senator Kerry proposes. These people are cruel, vicious, sick, and consumed with hatred for the West. They will not be stopped by a police investigation.

The article, however, summons another observation to mind. Muslim terrorists are sometimes said to be little different from, say, the Irish terrorists in Belfast. Both are motivated by religion, in one case Islam, in the other Christianity, and both use terror and murder as weapons to achieve religiously inspired aims.

The assumption is that religion of any kind can lead to horrors, but the comparison of the jihadis to the IRA is inapt. The Irish of the IRA or Sein Fein are not devout, pious men. Their religion is merely a social bond which gives them group identity. They don't invoke their devotion to Jesus Christ as their justification for their murders. They are thugs who use religion as an identifier like L.A. street gangs use race or the colors of their jackets.

The jihadis, on the other hand, are extremely devout, offering their crimes as a sacrifice to Allah and imploring his blessing upon their savagery. In their mind their viciousness and bloodthirstiness pleases God and gains them his favor. Everything they do they do in the name of Allah.

Another difference between the Irish terrorists and the Muslims is that the Irish could not take their Christianity seriously and still remain terrorists. The jihadis take their Islam very seriously, and because they do, they are murderers.

Their religion condones their depravity. What, then, are we to make of a belief system which encourages so many of its most fervent adherents to revel in death and butchery and others to remain passive and mute while such atrocities are carried out in the name of their faith?

There is a deep pathology associated with any religion which teaches that the unbeliever should have his head severed and that God will not only approve but reward the deed. There is a deep pathology in a religion which condones and encourages such hatred and which produces young men who delight so much in such horrific behavior that they collect videos of it.

Until Muslims do more than they are presently doing to demonstrate that the Islam we're seeing and reading about is not the genuine faith, until they begin to convince us that their version of God is not really just a gross perversion of the God of Christianity, we have every reason to insist that there be no room in the civilized world for what certainly appears to be a primitive, hate-drenched cult of death.

American Muslims have much work to do. We want to believe the best of them. We're listening.