Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Gentleman from Wisconsin

Jim Wallis of Sojourners has called for a more civil political discourse, but I haven't heard much from him on the topic recently. Perhaps that's because almost all of the most egregious examples of incivility are being tendered by his progressive friends. Here, for example, is a story out of Wisconsin that recounts the ungentle, and ungentlemanly, behavior of one Democrat assemblyman toward a female conservative colleague:
"You're f****** dead". Nice. The guy probably lacked the courage to threaten another male this way so he showed off his manliness by threatening a woman. Pretty gutless, but of course I'm speculating.

Thanks to Hot Air for the video.

I know I say this all the time, but I can't help it. Just imagine the tempest there'd be in the media if a tea-partier had said this to a Democrat, especially a Democrat woman. It'd be on every news talk show, Chris Matthews and Lawrence O'Donnell would be apoplectic at MSNBC, and the New York Times, in righteous dudgeon, would be publishing scathing editorials on the awful rhetoric emanting from the right. Women's groups would be outraged at the misogynistic, abusive language directed against a woman.

But, it was a Democrat who was spewing the vulgar, violent, misogynistic hate, so the media just yawn and women's groups look the other way. Maybe they have a different standard for Democrats. Do you think?

Socialist Justice

Among the groups seeking to exploit the protest demonstrations against Republican governor Scott Walker in Madison, Wisconsin is the International Socialist Union. This video introduces the viewer to a young spokesman for the group and also takes the viewer to a seminar in which the socialist vision for the future is made clear. The future to which they aspire is not pretty, and neither is some of their language, so be advised.

The whole video is revealing, but perhaps the best part is at about 3:30 where the young socialist complains about the unimaginable working conditions at the restaurant which employs him. Take a look:
Let's understand what the Left envisions for our future. It's pretty much Cairo-like chaos for decades until they've managed to kill the golden goose of capitalism. Imagine if the spoiled brat to whom we're introduced in this video has his way. The owner of the restaurant who employs him and who has invested a lifetime building his business will have it all taken away by a bunch of minimum wage employees who have invested nothing because the oppressor owner actually dictates what they must cook and when they must show up for work.

Perhaps we should read a little about the owner of this restaurant so we can better appreciate the justice of what the socialist left wants to do to people like him:
Aaron Kennedy, the founder of Noodles, grew up on a farm with few to no connections to money. Like my friend Rob [the fellow in the video], Kennedy also studied at the University of Wisconsin. At 29, while eating at a Chinese restaurant, Kennedy had an idea, and scribbled his business plan on a napkin.

Scraping some money together from his friends and family and maxing out eight credit cards, Kennedy opened the first Noodles in his basement, and then put together a team with whom he’d build and operate 100 Noodles branches all on their own. It is now a $75 million franchise with 240 locations in 18 different states, providing jobs to over 3,000 employees just like Rob. This is what the American Dream looks like.

Under Lewis’ vision, however everything Kennedy has worked for would be taken away from him. The status he has earned for himself through his achievements would be reduced to that of one filling out an application for the very business he built from the ground up. Perhaps my imagination is limited, but at the moment I cannot imagine a greater humiliation. This is what socialism looks like.
The fellow who made this video, Christian Hartsock, offers more thoughts on it here. He's put together an important piece of journalism.

Parenthetically, I couldn't help, when reading about Aaron Kennedy and watching Rob express his outrage at Kennedy for telling him how to prepare the food in his restaurant, of why Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged has struck such a resonant chord with so many readers.

Only If Compared to the Nazis

I've recently been rereading Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong, a history of relations between Islam and the West. Lewis, now 94, is still highly regarded as one of the Western world's top authorities on the history of the Muslim Middle East and his book is an excellent account of how Arab Muslims, once the cultural leaders of the world, went into a long decline pretty much simultaneous with Europe's rise during the Enlightenment.

With Lewis' work on my mind I was thus drawn to a news story in the Daily Caller in which Lewis takes exception to much of the chatter in Washington about the benign intentions and peaceful aspirations of the Muslim Brotherhood. Lewis observes that the Muslim Brotherhood is benign only if one is comparing it to the Nazis:
Historian Bernard Lewis, 94, discussed the ongoing wave of anti-government protests across the Middle East in an interview published Friday in the Jerusalem Post.

Lewis expressed skepticism of the emergence of secular democracy in Egypt, and said that Western political systems may lead to disaster in Arab countries that have long been ruled by autocrats.

“I don’t know how one could get the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood is relatively benign unless you mean relatively as compared with the Nazi party,” Lewis said.

“In genuinely fair and free elections, [the Muslim parties] are very likely to win and I think that would be a disaster,” Lewis said of Egypt.
Throughout its history the Muslim world has been ruled by autocrats. It adopted the trappings of Western style democracy in the 19th century because it concluded that the ascendency of the West was due to its democratic forms of government, and the Islamic world felt that it had to follow that example if it was going to avoid complete extinction, but the Muslim heart has never really been in the effort.

The reason, perhaps, for this vacillation is that there is another strain of thought in the Muslim world, represented today by the Muslim Brotherhood, that holds that Muslim decline can only be reversed by getting rid of secularization and returning to rule by Islamic law. The thinking here is that God is punishing the Muslim world for having abandoned the true path, but as Lewis notes in his book, this is a bit of a hard sell when the beneficiaries of Muslim decline are the Western infidels.

At any rate, I'm no expert on the Arab world, but I would be very surprised if what emerges from the turmoil there are genuine democracies where the people are free in the sense that we in the West understand the word.

I will not be surprised if we find one autocrat replacing another, as happened in Iran in the late 70s, and the people just as tyrannized, if not moreso, as they were under the old regime.

Moreover, if this happens, I would be surprised if the new regimes were friendly to the West. In most revolutions the most ruthless and well-organized people eventually ascend to power. In Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere that would be Brotherhood-type hard-liners, more favorable to organizations like al Qaeda (which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood), more hostile to Israel, and more inclined to use oil to compel compliance in the West.

I would not be surprised, as the fundamentalists consolidate their power, to see access to the Suez canal restricted, particularly for military vessels, nor would I be surprised to see a return to 70s era gas lines, coziness with China, a rapprochement with Iran, more terror attacks in Europe and the U.S., and more war against Israel.

Meanwhile, instead of seeking to make us less reliant on Middle East oil, and thus more detached from the conflicts raging there, the Obama administration seems to be doing everything it can to make our involvement more necessary by preventing American oil companies from drilling in American waters.

It's one of the mysteries of this very mysterious administration.