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There is an interesting debate on torture and interrogation on the City Journal website. Follow the links listed on the left navigation bar.
Jim Holman talks a lot about perception and interpretation of the American activity in the Middle East by those living there. I don’t suppose there’s any chance that these perceptions and interpretations could be just flat out wrong? Just a bit maybe? Especially when these perceptions and intrerpretatios are fueled by an Arabic media that produces a miniseries on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and editorials are written that repeat the worst antisemitic blood libel.
(BTW, Jim, that was a stunning rejoinder Note 22 to my satirical dialogs above – “Let me know when you get to Camp Anaconda and I?ll send you a care package.” Oooh, you really got me there. I guess I touched a nerve.)
Could acceptance of torture indicate a longing for fascism by the American right? Yes, says American Conservative magazine.
Read: “Hunger for Dictatorship: War to export democracy may wreck our own.”
“Pointing to the justification of torture by conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of ‘fascism with a democratic face.’ His fellow libertarian, Mises Institute president Lew Rockwell, wrote a year-end piece called ‘The Reality of Red State Fascism,’ which claimed that ‘the most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing.’”
Dean, That is the most ingorant fecal matter I’ve read on this blog so far. If that is what you fill your day with, then it is no wonder you hold Republicans and the Bush Administration in such disdain.
Would you like to tell me that this is a reasonable view held by good Orthodox Christians today? Or perhaps you think it should be seriously considered by Orthodox who have a deep attachment to their faith, that American conservatives ?long for fascism?. If this is what the Orthodox should accept then I am no longer Orthodox.
Dan: Nice language. All I know is that no Orthodox Christian can ever condone torture, so the use of torture by the Bush administration is something that Orthodox Christianity would condemn.
By the way, If you will read the article you will see that it comes from the American Conservative web site ( not American Liberal) and is written by conservatives who fear the rapid expansion of both the size and power of the federal government that has taken place under GW Bush.
I would not call it a “desire for fascism”. Nevertheless, we must consider the following freedoms that have been curtailed within the last several years:
*FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigations.
*FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once- public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records questions.
*FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation.
*RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
*FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror investigation.
*RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.
*RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them.
We must seriously consider whether “safety” is worth removing some of our basic civil liberties. For many in America, it’s a sacrifice worth making. I’m not so sure.
Note 55: Nonsense
I have been an attorney for more than 20 years. The claims made by Charles Baldwin are unsupportable nonsense.
If you would like to acquaint yourself with the ridiculous constraints that the United States has operated prior to 9/11 I suggest that you read Steve Emerson’s books.
The content of Note 55 is comparable to astrological readings and UFO citings.
I am aware of the necessity for information sharing between various government agencies without them being burdened with tedious and time-consuming legal hurdles. Nevertheless, the Patriot Act has greatly broadened the authority of law enforcement officials to monitor the electronic transactions of financial, educational and retail institutions as well as that of individuals.
Powers under the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have been broadened to allow for increased surveillance opportunities. FISA standards are lower than the constitutional standard applied by the courts in regular investigations. PATRIOT partially repeals legislation enacted in the 1970s that prohibited pervasive surveillance of Americans.
The law dramatically expands the ability of states and the Federal Government to conduct surveillance of American citizens. The Government can monitor an individual’s web surfing records, use roving wiretaps to monitor phone calls made by individuals “proximate” to the primary person being tapped, access Internet Service Provider records, and monitor the private records of people involved in legitimate protests
We have a certain assumption of a basic right to privacy in the US. These issues deserve discussion, not a simple dismissal of these rights as “ridiculous constraints”.
We should also be concerned about the creation of an American “Gulag” of extra-territorial detention facilities purposefully located by the Bush administration outside the jurisdiction of the American judicial system, and any form of meaningful oversight or accountability.
Such conditions are what have allowed abuses such as this to occur:
“Detainees Accuse Female Interrogators: Pentagon Inquiry Is Said to Confirm Muslims’ Accounts of Sexual Tactics at Guantanamo”, By Carol D. Leonnig and Dana Priest. Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 10, 2005;
“Female interrogators repeatedly used sexually suggestive tactics to try to humiliate and pry information from devout Muslim men held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a military investigation not yet public and newly declassified accounts from detainees.
The prisoners have told their lawyers, who compiled the accounts, that female interrogators regularly violated Muslim taboos about sex and contact with women. The women rubbed their bodies against the men, wore skimpy clothes in front of them, made sexually explicit remarks and touched them provocatively, at least eight detainees said in documents or through their attorneys.
…The inquiry uncovered numerous instances in which female interrogators, using dye, pretended to spread menstrual blood on Muslim men, the official said. Separately, in court papers and public statements, three detainees say that women smeared them with blood.”
As attorney and military law expert, Phillip Carter, writes “we have many young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan (and elsewhere) right now, in harm’s way. Every story like this emboldens their enemies, undermines their mission, and makes it harder for them to prevail. The greatest tragedy of all would be if we spent all this spirit, blood and treasure in the Middle East, and won so many tactical victories, only to lose the strategic war on terrorism because of our immoral and unlawful treatment of these detainees.
Dean, it’s written by morons and my language could have been a LOT worse. As far as I’m concerned the folks at AmCon are a bunch of antisemites; so if they look out at America and see growing fascism the only thing I can figure is that they are looking in a mirror as they stand in a water closet preening themselves on what wonderfully “true conservatives” they are.
Nonsense repeated… is still nonsense. Let me address just one of the myriad of distorted and misleading statments in Note 57.
************************************************************************************The law dramatically expands the ability of states and the Federal Government to conduct surveillance of American citizens. The Government can monitor an individual?s web surfing records, use roving wiretaps to monitor phone calls made by individuals ?proximate? to the primary person being tapped, access Internet Service Provider records, and monitor the private records of people involved in legitimate protests
Bobby Kennedy, idol of the Left, managed a very effective campaign against the Mafia relying heavily on …. drumroll please…. wiretaps. The Constitutional issue which arises with wiretaps is that of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The government would get a search warrent from a judge and tap the lines of mafioso. Obviously, the tap itself was secret. You don’t get results from announced wiretaps. The ACLU was not campaigning against this practice. It resulted in many, many convictions of the mafia, good for Bobby.
Now in the 1950′s and 1960′s everyone had what is now called “land telephone lines.” This means that the signal was carried by physical wires. A telephone had a fixed address beloning to a person. A search warrant for a wiretape would identify a single phone number or several phone numbers belonging to mafioso that the government wanted to learn about.
Now, phone lines are not fixed. Perhaps. James K, you have noticed people WALKING AROUND WITH A CELL PHONE IN THEIR HANDS? The warrants were previously issued with respect to a PHONE NUMBER, now they are issued with respect to a PERSON. There is nothing nefarious about the criminal law keeping up with technology.
Take some aspirin and wake up from your fever dream.
Tired of the nonsense passing for discussion.
Truth About Library Records
Kris Kobach is a Law Professor who specializes in constitutional and criminal law.
Please note what he has to say about library records.
By KRIS W. KOBACH
March 1, 2004 — FOREIGN terrorists have an unwitting ally in the American Left. Several liberal interest groups are waging a campaign to unilaterally disarm our government. If they succeed, it could hobble the United States in the War on Terror and eventually exact a toll in American lives.
The liberals’ campaign is mainly a propaganda war – a massive and pervasive disinformation effort meant to convince the nation that the Patriot Act infringes upon the civil liberties of ordinary Americans. It’s a battle on three fronts: in the presidential campaign, before city councils across the country and in the courts.
THE Democratic presidential contenders constantly compete over who despises the Patriot Act most – notwithstanding the fact that John Kerry, John Edwards and 96 other senators voted for the law.
The candidates’ claims are rife with legal and factual errors, but accuracy isn’t the point. Their goal is to discredit the Bush administration and scare voters into believing that the FBI is spying on ordinary Americans.
For example, Kerry promised in December, “In my first 100 days, I will restore our commitment to civil rights and individual rights.” Specifically, he pledged to restrict the delayed notice of the execution of search warrants and the seizure of library or business records under the Patriot Act.
If delayed notice under Section 213 of the Patriot Act (the Left calls it “sneak-and-peak”) is such a threat to civil rights, then Kerry has some explaining to do: It’s been around for decades, and it is routinely used in fighting garden-variety crime. Does Kerry think that fighting terrorism is a lower priority?
Supreme Court cases dating back to 1967 confirm that delayed notice is entirely permissible under the Fourth Amendment. Judicial approval of the warrants is still required. But delayed notice is sometimes necessary to prevent suspects from destroying evidence or fleeing prosecution. It may also be necessary to protect the lives of informants or intelligence operatives.
Either Kerry doesn’t know this, or more likely, he doesn’t care. (As for the library records, more on that below.)
MORE insidious, however, is the battle going on in city halls across America.
A platoon of “civil rights” groups have launched a lobbying offensive for the passage of local resolutions that denounce the Patriot Act and call for its repeal. In hysterical terms, these resolutions scream that civil liberties have been violated. Eager protesters, their beards graying with age, pack city council chambers to tell of the horrors they have read on the Internet.
They never cite any case law or specific instances of lost liberties. But they’ve duped more than 200 credulous city councils across the country into passing these resolutions. And now it’s hit a dangerous extreme – crossing the line from denunciation to non-cooperation.
Last month, the Lawrence, Kan., City Commission considered a proposal ordering police officers to refuse to cooperate with federal investigations involving Patriot Act powers. They were following the lead of Arcata, Calif., which made it a crime for city officials to assist federal investigators in Patriot-related cases.
The practical effect of local resolutions is to prevent such police departments from assisting the feds in all terror cases. In any terrorist investigation, intelligence comes from a variety of sources, including surveillance or information-sharing authorized under the Patriot Act. So, to comply with the resolutions, police in such cities must completely withdraw their assistance.
This non-cooperation makes the FBI’s job much harder, places local citizens in potential danger and is a profound disservice to the country.
THE third front of this campaign is the most telling. In courts across America, liberal interest groups have raised every possible argument in challenging the Patriot Act’s constitutionality.
If the law really were violating the civil liberties of ordinary Americans, some court surely would have reached that conclusion. The problem for the left is that unsubstantiated propaganda (usually) doesn’t go very far in court.
Numerous challenges to the Patriot Act have been raised; and virtually all have been squarely rejected. To date, only one court (a federal district court in the Central District of California) has held any provision of the Act unconstitutional – and that in a highly contrived case in which no one was actually arrested for anything.
The plaintiffs in the case succeeded in persuading the judge that their public advocacy on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party of Turkey and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka might hypothetically be construed as providing “material support” to a terrorist organization in the form of “expert advice or assistance.” The judge, in a poorly reasoned ruling, held the “expert advice or assistance” language to be unconstitutionally vague.
In reaching this holding, the judge made two obvious errors. First, she failed to see that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit, since no federal official had ever interfered with any of their activities. Nor was any interference even remotely likely. Their supposed “injury” was based on pure conjecture.
Second, the judge grossly distorted the meaning of the words of the Patriot Act. Congress was plainly referring to “expert advice or assistance” in the form of flight training, chemical warfare and bomb making – not in the form of making long-winded speeches at conferences and writing self-indulgent letters to members of Congress.
In all likelihood, her decision will be reversed on appeal, even in the left-leaning Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But what of the other charges that the Left so frequently makes, such as the unconstitutional seizure of library records? Pure fabrication.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes courts to order the production of “tangible things” (including library records) has never been used. And if ever it were used, a court would have to approve and issue any such order. Moreover, what the Left neglects to mention is that grand juries have long had the authority to subpoena such records – without any judicial supervision.
The ultimate danger is not that the Left will defeat the Patriot Act in court. The danger is that it will succeed in pressuring Congress to let provisions of the Act expire in 2005 and succeed in tying the hands of police departments across the country. If this happens, terrorists will have cause to celebrate and American lives will be put in jeopardy.
We suffered our 9/11 losses because of negligence and incompetence of federal and state officials. The State Department wrote a blank check to incoming Saudis. The INS refuses the enforce the existing law. State governments gave terrorists with expired visa driver’s licenses. Next time it could be a nuclear bomb that irradiates an entire city.
First of all, I don’t think the US government is in the habit of spying on “ordinary Americans”, whoever that may in a society as multicultural as ours.
In the right circumstances, data-mining technologies and biometrics (which include voice prints, retina, and face scanners, digitized fingerprints) can benefit us. They are about enhancing convenience, authentication and individual security more than about invading anyone’s privacy. They also have uses outside of the war on terror such as security in online commerce, locating missing persons, relaying medical information, etc.
But invasive technologies can also threaten some of our fundamental values of privacy and liberty if misused. We need some framework to distinguish appropriate versus inappropriate uses of surveillance-enabling technologies, and I just am not seeing that, maybe because the records of what the Justice Department are doing are closed to investigation.
A compulsory database encompassing every American citizen that permits real-time monitoring of our whereabouts, movements and transactions is something that troubles me however. In December of last year, legislation was passed that requires States to surrender their regulatory rights over driver’s licenses and birth certificates to the Dept of Homeland Security. This year, the DHS will issue new uniformity regulations for these IDs. They may eventually include biometric identifications.
Right now, the DHS is pushing biometric ID cards for transportation workers, which I have no problem with until it extends to the general public.
(See info here).
So let me ask you, Missourian, as you seem to be unquestioningly trusting supportive of any and all means the DHS wishes to use to begin to put Americans under constant surveillance, at what point does security become intrusive? I’m going to guess that by your comments it never does?
As Ben Franklin said: “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both”.
Missourian writes: “In reaching this holding, the judge made two obvious errors. First, she failed to see that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit, since no federal official had ever interfered with any of their activities. Nor was any interference even remotely likely. Their supposed ‘injury’ was based on pure conjecture.”
Ok, but isn’t the problem that the “interference with their activities” would have appeared in the form of being charged with a federal crime that carries a 15 year sentence? I mean, that’s a hell of an interference — being led away in handcuffs, having your computers and documents seized, and all that.
Missourian: “Second, the judge grossly distorted the meaning of the words of the Patriot Act. Congress was plainly referring to ‘expert advice or assistance’ in the form of flight training, chemical warfare and bomb making – not in the form of making long-winded speeches at conferences and writing self-indulgent letters to members of Congress.”
Long-winded speeches and self-indulgent letters were not the issues in the case. In the case of many of these provisions we really don’t know what they mean until the government says what they mean. For example, there is no specific federal law against training in a camp run by a terrorist organization. (“Terrorist organization” being defined by the U.S. government.) But John Walker Lindh was charged with providing “material suppport” to a terrorist organization after going to an Al-Qaeda training camp. So we discover what “material support” means by looking at the cases that are prosecuted under that statute.
So what does it mean to provide “expert advice” to a terrorist organization? It means whatever the government says it means, and you discover their interpretation as you’re being led away in handcuffs. If you disagree with their interpretation you can hire an attorney — probably at your own expense — defend yourself in court, and be financially ruined even if found innocent. So call it “pure conjecture” if you like, but it seems to me to be a reasonable concern.
Bob Herbert writes in todays NY Times:
“Any government that commits, condones, promotes or fosters torture is a malignant force in the world. And those who refuse to raise their voices against something as clearly evil as torture are enablers, if not collaborators.
There is a widespread but mistaken notion in the U.S. that everybody seized by the government in its so-called war on terror is in fact somehow connected to terrorist activity. That is just wildly wrong.
Tony Blair knows a little about that sort of thing. Just two days ago the British prime minister formally apologized to 11 people who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for bombings in England by the Irish Republican Army three decades ago.
Jettisoning the rule of law to permit such acts of evil as kidnapping and torture is not a defensible policy for a civilized nation. It’s wrong. And nothing good can come from it.”
Dean, while in principle in tend to agree with you that no Orthodox Christian should condone torture, historically that is not always the case. For instance, we venerate as a saint, Empress Theodora because she used the power of the Byzantine state to finally reinstitute the veneration of icons. The same Theodora who had her son’s eyes gouged out because he was a political rival and an iconoclast.
Jim Holman. Your answer is fatuous beyond belief. First, I didn’t write the essay, law professor Kris Kobach did.
Second, you seem incapable of reading plain English. What Kris Kobach reported was that the persons who STARTED the legal action had never been approached by the government in any capacity. They didn’t have standing to sue because the government NEVER DID ANYTHING TO THEM DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY!!!!
Under our legal system, people to whom NOTHING HAS HAPPENED …. DON”T HAVE THE RIGHT TO SUE. People are not allowed to clog up the overloaded legal system with imaginary objections to things that never happened. This is virtual Alice in Wonderland.
You are impervious to facts and reason and your comment is an embarassment to you.
Post 65: I think that has to be taken into historical context. The gouging out of his eyes prevented him from assuming the throne. It was actually considered merciful, since the previous practice in the ancient world would have been to execute him. One would expect that over time, the Christian faith would have had a greater and greater civilizing effect, and this was the case. In an autocratic system, a rival claimant to the throne was a civil war waiting to happen at any time. The consequences of this civil war would have been much more dire than a simple lost election is in our own political system. In any case, the blinding was an act of mercy rather than the use of torture to extract information from a human being who might or might not even have any information of any use.
As to the raging debate on the Patriot Act. I have one question for Missourian and Daniel – would the expanded powers of the Federal Government bother you if the President were Hillary Clinton?
Suppose the Bush Administration is filled with righteous men and women who would never dream of abusing the authority of the federal government to pursue and punish political enemies. The laws and expansions of power often do not have sunset provisions, or they have been extended. It is fully within the realm of possibility that the next president, who could be a Democrat, could come into office with all of these powers at his/her disposal.
What did the Clintonistas manage, without the Patriot Act? We know that Hill and Bill used the IRS to audit critics. We know about Waco and Ruby Ridge. We also know about Elian Gonzalez, and the way that the FBI was used to attack opponents of the Kosovar and Bosnian interventions. We also know that the term ‘Arkancide’ came into being during this time to refer to the unexplained habit of Clinton opponents to end up dead under mysterious circumstances.
This is supposed to be a government of laws, not men. If a law is so broadly written as to be easily abused, then it is a safe bet someone is going to abuse it. May not be the administration in office, but you can bet it will happen. Reflexively defending the Bush administration has caused both of you to overlook the prospect of the Republicans losing power at some point, and then laws similar to this could be used to ferret out priests, for example, who are opposed to homosexuality or the latest bombing effort of a Democratic administration against an Orthodox nation.
In addition, referring to the ‘administration’ is exceedingly broad. There are lots of prosecutors trying to make a name for themselves. We already know that provisions of the Patriot Act have expanded powers that originally existed under FISA, and that these expansions have been used in prosecutions that were completely unrelated to terrorism. This clear misapplication of power has been avidly defended by those who are too short-sighted to remember that RICO has been used to attack pro-life groups and civil forfeiture laws designed to combat drug dealers have been used against law-abiding citizens caught with ‘too much cash’ on hand while driving on I-95.
Also, Daniel, don’t be so free with the perjorative anti-semite. What on earth leads you to believe that traditional conservatives of the type that write and read The American Conservative hate Jews? You need to remember that many Protestants and Jews brand Eastern Orthodoxy in general as ‘anti-semitic.’ That charge is patently unfair, as is your use of this term to describe conservatives such as Pat Buchanan or former Representative Bob Barr.
Such bomb throwing is not meant to further debate, it is meant to stifle it. Applying names such as ‘anti-semitic,’ ‘anti-American,’ or ‘fascist’ to conservative men and women, most of whom are practicing and sincere Christians, is simply uncalled for.
As to the term ‘red-state fascism,’ it is meant to call attention to negative trends in our society, not to imply we have reached terminal stage. Fascism is characterized by extreme centralization of political control in the hands of an exhalted ruler, an incestuous relationship between big business and the government, massive economic intervention to favor selected businesses, a high degree of militarization of civil society, and a religious view of the state. Many of these TRENDS are present in the thinking of both left-wing anti-Bushites and also ‘right-wing’ Bush supporters. Since the lefties are out of power at the time, they are powerless to cause many problems. The same is not true for the Bushies, however.
Huey Long said that it is possible that we will have fascism in the U.S., but that we would call it ‘anti-fascism.’ As a demogoguing politician, Long instinctively understood that the mob is not prone to careful thought, and can easily be misled by deceptive lables. The protestant fundamentalist base of the Republican Party is one of the groups in our society least disposed to introspection, and most easily led by the power of propaganda. If we will succumb to full-blown fascism, then it will be done in the name of protecting liberty. It will come as a thief in the night using misapplications of laws passed with good intentions. It will come as part of an attempt to make us safer.
At first, just as in Germany, the average person won’t see much of a difference in their lives, and will deny that anything has really changed. After all, how does one know what rights one has lost until one has been arrested and charged with a crime?
No one is making the case that Bush is a fascist. Only that his elevation to pontificus maximus of the Protestant Right, the Protestant Right’s glorification of the American State, the external security crisis, the massive expansion of central power under both Dems and Republicans, and the institutional weakness of Protestant churches have all combined to leave us on a road we really shouldn’t be traveling.
Again, as I said before, the bitter harvest of all this could be reaped under a Democratic administration. If we are not careful, then we may be building the vary scaffolds that secular humanists will use to hang us on in the future.
“For instance, we venerate as a saint, Empress Theodora because she used the power of the Byzantine state to finally reinstitute the veneration of icons. The same Theodora who had her son’s eyes gouged out because he was a political rival and an iconoclast.”
That was actually an act of mercy. The previous practice for dealing with a rival claimant to the throne (a civil war waiting to happen) would have been to execute him. Blinding prevented his accession to the throne, but spared his life. As the Christianization of Eastern culture continued, forcible confinement to a monastery became the norm. Preventing a possibly devastating civil war by blinding a known enemy is not the same thing as torturing potentially innocent suspects on the hopes that you can shake loose some information. Most of the suspects held and abused at Abu Ghraib, and many held at Gitmo, have been released because they were simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Daniel and Missourian – I have a question for you. Would the expansion of government power under the Patriot Act bother you if the president were a Democrat?
Remember what the Clintonistas were able to do without the expansion of government power? Hill and Bill were able to use the IRS to investigate critics. They were able to circumvent and ignore Civil Service laws (Travelgate). Remember Waco and Ruby Ridge and the innocents that died there? Remember Elian and his seizure by federal thugs? Remember the bombing of Belgrade, and the use of the FBI to investigate critics of that war?
Now, what could the next Democratic president accomplish with the expansion of Federal powers that were much more restricted under FISA before the Patriot Act came along?
We are a government of laws, not men, and we must understand that men are both corrupt and fallen. If a law is overly broad and easy to abuse, then we can rest assured it will be abused at some point by someone. It shouldnÂt be hard for you, as Republicans, to imagine the kind of mischief that a Hillary Clinton administration could foster using misapplication of provisions of the Patriot Act.
Don’t let short-sighted, reflexive support for the Bush Administration blind you to the danger of such government power. Already the Patriot Act has been used to prosecute crimes unrelated to terrorism. Such use will surely increase in the future, and could take on intolerable qualities under a left-wing administration. Remember, RICO was used to prosecute pro-life groups. Asset forfeiture has been used to steal money and cars from perfectly innocent people who had the misfortune of being stopped on I-95. In the hands of ambitious prosecutors, laws are often misused to get press and build careers. This is nothing new. Do we want to compound the problem?
Also, Daniel, you should be careful when applying the appellation ‘anti-Semite.’ Most conservatives who read and write The American Conservative are practicing Christians. Many are Catholic, some are Orthodox, and others are from various protestant backgrounds. To label fellow Christians as Jew haters simply because they disagree with you is mean-spirited and unwarranted. It is a smear that is intended to be a debate-stopper like labeling someone a ‘racist.’ This is a leftist debate tactic, not one that I would expect from someone who claims to be a conservative himself. If you disagree with the The American Conservative crowd, then do so on the issues, not by engaging in Ad-hominen attacks. Many Protestants and Jews consider Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism to be anti-Semitic in general. That charge is unfair, and so is yours. (By the way, you might want to get around sometime to explaining just what ‘conservatism’ means to you.)
Finally, ‘red-state fascism’ is a loaded term, but one meant to draw attention to negative trends in our society. People reflexively associate fascism with anti-Semitism but that is not necessarily the case. A fascist state is characterized by the concentration of political power, glorification of the leader, massive government intervention in the economy, government support for favored business interests, and a religious devotion to the state. The left and right in the United States both exhibit fascistic tendencies, but since the ‘left’ is out of power at the current time, most attention is rightly focused on the Bushies and their supporters.
Huey Long once said that Fascism could come to America, but that we would call it ‘anti-Fascism.’ As a demagogic politician himself, Long reflexively understood that the populace can be misled by appropriating labels and misapplying them. Giving a bad idea a pleasant name can make it palatable to those unwilling or unable to think through the issue in a logical manner. (Remember the ministries in ’1984′ – Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Peace, etc.)
The nexus of currents among Protestant fundamentalists has made many people, including me, nervous about the potential for a type of American-fascism to take hold. For starters, many fundamentalists consider Bush to be God’s own mouthpiece and consider the presidency to be a prophetic office. Instead of a politician, he is viewed as the pontificus maximus – holding all religious and political power in hand. At the same time, these same fundamentalists seek ever greater of consolidation of power into the presidency, both to further their social agenda and to combat terrorism. Further, fundamentalists conceive of the state in religious terms (‘shining city on a hill’), love the military unquestioningly, worship order, hate many foreigners in the aggregate (though are often extremely nice to foreigners personally), are distrustful of free will (prohibition, war on drugs, etc.), and recognize that we are in a security crisis.
If Fascism comes to the U.S., then it will arrive in the name of protecting liberty and the American way of life. It will come quietly through the misapplication and expansive use of laws that were passed with good intentions. It will come in a way that will benefit wealthy CEOs, including those that run media corporations. It will come in a way that most Americans will never notice, until too late. (After all, most Germans in 1938 had no idea what they were in for. One never knows what rights have been lost until one is arrested.) And, the heavy-handed tactics, if carried out by a Republican administration, will be roundly applauded by Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and others who speak often of religion but seem to have completely forgotten GOD.
The bitter harvest of all these things may not come under the Bush administration. It may not even come under a Republican administration. In fact, we may reap this whirlwind under the next Democratic president. We may be, in fact, building the very scaffolds that secular humanists will use to hang us.
Glen, you are quite right to be concerned about fascism taking hold in this country. Your definition of fascism is quite good. We are much more vulnerable to it than to socialism. Prior to World War II, there was a strong fascist movement in this country. Many prominent people were involved including members of the United State House of Representatives. Had not the Japanese attacked us, it is at least likely that we would never have entered World War II because of the strong fascist network that existed in the United States at the time.
You are also right to be wary about the fundamentalist Christians whose millennial eschatology leads to some quite twisted ideas regarding foreign policy. Bush seems to partake of at least some of these ideas that to the Orthodox are probably heretical. I worry about his statements in the State of the Union and his inaugural address both of which expressed strong eschatological overtones that seemed to equate the state with the fulfillment of freedom at the end times.
How does all this relate to torture? The more certain a nation is of its righteousness and the evilness of its enemies, the easier it is to torture even suspected enemies. We clearly are opposed by a deeply evil enemy. We have the responsibility to oppose that evil for the world as a whole and a right to defend ourselves against it. Nevertheless, we must not allow hubris to overtake us or as you so correctly point out, the consequences will be grim. The type of mission Pres. Bush is on can easily lead people to suspend or abandon their own moral choice, especially when free will and indeed freedom in general is not part of their theology. The Orthodox Church is structured to allow and encourage real freedom within a non-democratic hierarchy. We are under obedience and it is precisely that obedience that allows us to be free in and from the world. The obedience is not forced upon us, we grow into it as we are transformed by the Holy Spirit in the sacramental life of the Church. Torture is a significant denial of the freedom in which we are called to live.
The Orthodox Church has experienced the horror of living under totalitarian despots in a way no other faith tradition has. Our voice should be the loudest when it comes to restraint of oppressive practices. Our voice is muted and distorted however because we continue to mire ourselves in worldly politics, worldly political agendas, and express our faith through political philosophies rather than allowing our faith to inform our words and actions. There is no political party, philosophy, or ideology that adequately expresses the truth. Jesus Christ is above and outside of politics except to the extent that we allow Him, the Holy Spirit, and the Church to mold our conscience.
If we are to avoid torture as a policy, we must forcefully express and live an ethic that leads to peace, founded on the inherent dignity we all posses as creatures of God to whom He has given stewardship of His creation. We must have a clear, focused idea of what kind of force is justified under what circumstances. As a starting point we have to realize the existential reality of the fallen world–all of our actions will create harmful consequences, no matter what we do. That destruction, harm, pain, and degradation will occur should not deter us from acting for destruction, harm, pain, and degradation will occur if we do not act. Ultimately, it comes down to specific moral choices made by individuals in specific situations. The more formed and authentic a person’s conscience is, the more correct will be his choice. Certainly, our national laws and policies should be formed in such a way as to support and encourage the best outcome possible, appealing to our highest standards, not our lowest. We will not reach that level if we continue to wallow in petty partisan political pandering.
Correction to my previous post, it was St. Irene, not St Theodora.
Glen – very well said. Also, the danger of swinging the pendulum too far to one side is that it can swing back too far to the other.
Republicans fear socialism, but they should bear in mind that if we shred the social safety net, and a deep economic recession or depression follows, the inevitable result of the ensuing human suffering will be calls for massive government involvement in the economy like this nation has never seen. The massive trade deficit (over $600 billion this year) financed with foreign debt, and the massive federal budget deficit, (over $400 billion) also largely financed with foreign debt, are setting America up for just such an economic calamity.
Here is why your answer was fatuous
You are simply not qualified to read the opinion and evaluate it. You are not qualified to challenge Prof. Kobach’s credentials or his legal opinion.
Legal arguments must be based on specific references to the Constitution, federal or state statutes, court decisions or regulations. The Constitution, federal or state statutes, court decisions and regulations are called “sources of law.” There is an entire body of law that governs when each “source of law” applies and when it takes precedence in a particular case. You are not qualified to evaluate when a particular source of law is controlling. You don’t know which “sources of law” applies when and which take precedence.
A second reason, out of many, is that you are not qualified to read the Court opinion and evaluate it is that you simply don’t know what the words and phrases mean. You don’t know what “standing” is. Standing is a term that actually represents a very large body of jurisprudence. When I am debating with a lawyer or a judge, we share a common knowledge of the body of law on “standing.”
You do not. The entire court’s decision is filled with specialized legal terms for which you have no understanding. For instance, in the criminal law, “intent” is a very important concept, it does not mean what “intent” means in ordinary parlance. Ninety per cent of the opinion that you read is written specialized legal terminology. You are not even able to decifer which terms are used in the legal sense and which terms are used ordinary sense.
A third reason that your answer is FATUOUS is that you don’t understand that the opinions of all federal courts are on record and are easily accessible to those who are trained in the law. You have no way to evaluate whether a decision of a particular federal judge is in line with the opinions of many other judges, OR, whether this judge is out of an limb by herself.
You are not only VASTLY IGNORANT of the law, but you are UNAWARE OF THE WASTE EXPANSE OF YOUR MONUMENTAL IGNORANCE.
It is FATUOUS in the extreme to suggest that because at one time, Kris Kobach worked for the Attorney General’s office that he is not qualified to evaluate an opinion which touches on the power of government. Kris Kobach is a professor who is respected by lawyers all across the political spectrum. Constitutional jurisprudence is a set of principles that rises above mere petty political debate. We do have a constitutional jurisprudence that is non-partisan. Kris Kobach is respected because he has published many thoughtful and well-regarded articles in public or specialized legal journals. There are some who disagree with Prof. Kobach but no one thinks that his arguments are specious or not well reasoned and supported in law.
Kobach’s knowledge of Constitutional history, criminal law, and the law of espionage, is massive. You are FATUOUS because you are ignorant of the value and substance of his real scholarship.
Legal Debate is Not Political Debate
American law has an intellectual framework which is non-partisan. The intellectual framework is the Constitution and the common law. A legal debate is not just a free for all discussion similar to those that occur around a dinner table. A legal debate has a particular form. All arguments must be supported by facts in the record put there by witnesses under oath AND they must be supported by the constitution, statutes passed by legislature or other court decisions. Each “source of law” must be specifically identified in full.
Each lawyer must lay out his argument in separately numbered paragraphs, one logical step at a time. Each logical step must be supported by facts and law. When a legal arugment is laid out in this manner, an opposing attorney can readily identify where the parties agree and where they disagree. All parties are bound by legitimate precedent. This means that legal argument when properly conducted sheds real light on the essential issues, it not simply a shouting match.
I have served both as a prosecutor (small time, very small time) and a defense attorney. I have filed lawsuits for plaintiffs and I have responded to lawsuits for defendants. None of the legal work I did was affected by my political philosophy. The political philosophies of the judge, the other lawyer(s) or parties were irrelevant. The controversy was about the proper application of the law to the facts as developed in the courtroom.
Jim Holman is FATUOUS and insulting in his refusal to recognize that law truly is a profession. The foundations of American law go back to the Old Testament, to the Roman Law, English Common law and modern Constitutional law. The Founding Fathers were true geniuses who left us the most precious gift imaginable-the Constitution. American is today, the oldest continuous democratic government in the world. This is something worth defending and respecting.
Missourian writes: “Legal arguments must be based on specific references to the Constitution, federal or state statutes, court decisions or regulations.”
That’s great, but neither you nor your man Kobach have made any argument, at least none that has been presented here. In the piece you posted Kobach simply says ” . . . she failed to see that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit . . . ” The judge devotes nine pages to her opinion. Kobach has a couple of sentences, but addresses none of the specifics of her decision. You yourself do not address any specifics of the judge’s opinion. Yet you expect me to fall down in slavish admiration of Bush administration employee Kobach, who happens to be one of the legion of law school faculty across the country.
Missourian: “You are not only VASTLY IGNORANT of the law, but you are UNAWARE OF THE WASTE EXPANSE OF YOUR MONUMENTAL IGNORANCE.”
Rather than writing paragraph after paragraph raking me over the coals for not possessing legal knowlege (that, by the way, I never claimed to have) perhaps you could devote one or two lines in addressing some the specifics of the judge’s opinion — you know, some of the nine pages that she devoted to the topic. I’m sure that the other non-lawyers here would appreciate that also.
Missourian: “It is FATUOUS in the extreme to suggest that because at one time, Kris Kobach worked for the Attorney General’s office that he is not qualified to evaluate an opinion which touches on the power of government.”
I’m not saying that he isn’t qualified. I’m saying that because of his employment record — an employment record that your post neglected to mention — I am hesitant to take him as the final word on the subject.
Missourian: “There are some who disagree with Prof. Kobach but no one thinks that his arguments are specious or not well reasoned and supported in law.”
Again, since you have presented none of his arguments here I have no idea if they are specious or not. And if other legal professionals disagree with him on this issue, perhaps you can present that side of the case as well.
Missourian: “Jim Holman is FATUOUS and insulting in his refusal to recognize that law truly is a profession.”
I’m not saying that law is not a profession. I’m saying that I see no reason to accept Kobach’s opinion as the be-all and end-all on this particular matter. You yourself say that others in the profession disagree with him. By the way, since both Kobach and the judge are attorneys, why should we accept Kobach’s opinion over that of the judge? You give us no reason why we should prefer one over the other, except to insist that Kobach is right, even as you say that others disagree with him.
Note 81: The Ignominity of Arguing with Mental Flypaper:
Jim Holman types:
Missourian writes: ?Legal arguments must be based on specific references to the Constitution, federal or state statutes, court decisions or regulations.?
That?s great, but neither you nor your man Kobach have made any argument, at least none that has been presented here. In the piece you posted Kobach simply says ? . . . she failed to see that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit . . . ? The judge devotes nine pages to her opinion. Kobach has a couple of sentences, but addresses none of the specifics of her decision. You yourself do not address any specifics of the judge?s opinion. Yet you expect me to fall down in slavish admiration of Bush administration employee Kobach, who happens to be one of the legion of law school faculty across the country.
My nominee for the most FATUOUS Jim Holmanism yet:
Kris Kobach “happens to be one of the legion of law school faculty across the country.” There are only 150 accredited law schools in the United States and positions on their faculties are highly sought after. Shall we compare legal credentials? We know that Mr. Kobach graduated sufficiently high in his college class to gain admission to law school. We know that Mr. Kobach graduated from law school with high honors, or he would not have been hired as a professor. We know that Mr. Kobach passed at least one bar exam. We know that Mr. Kobach held a very responsible position in the U.S. Department of Justice. We know that Mr. Holman has done NONE OF THE ABOVE and yet considers himself prepared to challenge Mr. Kobach.
I submitted the short article by Kris Kobach in order to inject some sanity into the nonsense that was passing for the discussion of the Patriot Act. By this time, I should have anticipated the response I would get from Jim Holman.
Bigotry, thy name is Holman.
Literally thousands of highly-qualified, ethical attorneys have worked for the U.S. Department of Justice while Bush has been President. It is a testament to your ignorance and bigotry that you conclude that Kobach’s LEGAL opinion should not be given respect because he worked for Justice while Bush was President.
Your response is nothing but an ad hominen attack.
Some legal topics relate to the ordinary events of life. For instance, most people have read and signed a contract at some point in their life, so it is possible to give a laymen’s explanation of a good deal of the law of contracts. That is also true for a topic like negligence law. Negligence law covers a great deal of life’s ordinary activities. Most of us have been involved in some kind of fender-bender accident and have some inkling of what negligence law is about.
Standing, on the other hand, is not related to the ordinary events of life. Standing is a jurisprudential topic. This means that standing concerns itself with the proper role of the courts and the proper role of law in government and in human life. Standing touches on the philosophy of law. To understand standing, one must have a background in the common law traditions, the constitutional doctrine of federalism, the jurisprudential prohibition against advisory opinions and many other topics. None of these topics lend themselves to intuitive understanding.
A full and proper discussion of the standing issue would require references to law review articles, statutes and case law. Assuming that I invested the time to prepare a legal memorandum, you wouldn’t be in a position to evaluate it. You don’t have the background to evaluate a bona fide legal discussion based on bona fide legal sources.
I find myself in the unenviable position of an adult who has made the mistake of arguing with a child. It is pointless and the adult just loses dignity.
Kris Kobach has accurately reported that when challenged in Court the Patrior Act has been upheld, with only ONE EXCEPTION despite countless challenges in Court. Given that a SINGLE FEDERAL JUDGE has arrived at an opinion which is joined in by no other federal judge, it is perfectly proper to question her stance on the issue of standing to sue.
This forum has been besmirched by the most hysterical and ignorant claims about the Patriot Act that I have ever seen. Consider the nonsense about the change in rules for phone taps and the library flap. Prof. Kobach correctly points out that those objections are specious. The Left today is engaged in a furious assault on any attempt of the United States to defend itself from Islamofascist criminals.
There is no greater error than to conclude that we have more to fear from Ashcroft that we do from Al-Zawqhari.
Missourian – Al-Zawqhari could, possibly, kill a lot of Americans. An out-of-control government could destroy our entire way of life. Just as the Founding Fathers were cautious about the possibility of government being out of control, so should we be. There is nothing so inherently good or wholesome in our culture that would prevent our government from seizing powers beyond that which a free society should permit. It is only the diligence of citizens that keeps power from centralizing to a degree that it is too great to be controlled.
But, then again, since many of our Founding Fathers were merely planters or tradesmen, rather than lawyers, perhaps their concerns about expansive government were unwarranted?
Missourian, you wrote: “The intellectual framework is the Constitution and the common law. A legal debate is not just a free for all discussion similar to those that occur around a dinner table.” You also made a commment that Constitutional Law was non-partisan.
How do you explain the Roe v. Wade decision, then? Or the Dred Scott case? Or Brown v. Board of Education? Or Casey v. Planned Parenthood?
I could go on, but I think the point is obvious. Many, many times in our past, judges have twisted the Constitution and common law to fit their own agenda. In all of the above cases, the Court was clearly legislating from the bench. Sometimes the objective was just (Brown), sometimes ignominus (Roe and Casey), and sometimes the result was pure disaster (Dred Scott).
Constitutional Law is perhaps the most partisan area of the Law! If it weren’t, why would the Democrats and Republicans spend so much effort campaigning based on the type of judges they would appoint if president! Under a best case scenario, the court is a disinterested party presiding over two adversarial parties who argue their cases based on their repsective merits.
Great in theory, but sorry, that just isn’t happening. Remember Lawrence Tribe? He’s a Constitutional expert and a major leftie to boot. There are lots more where he came from. If there is non-partisan legal scholarship out there dealing with Constitutional issues, I would appreciate it if you would point it out to me.
As for the complexities of legal theory – isn’t that part of the problem? Conservative critique of the framework of Constitutional Law is that the Constitution should be accepted to mean what it says, in plain language, and where ambiguity exists reference should be made to the original intent as divined from the writings of the Founders and the minutes of the Constitutional Convention. This, of course, is not what happens in reality. Law students don’t actually study the Constitution and the history preceding it, the intent in drafting it, and the debates surounding its adoption. Instead, they start with Marbury v. Madison and discuss the Constitution soley within the framework of what the Supreme Court has said the document means. Not surprisingly, we have continued to drift farther and farther from a document written by planters and tradesmen, and have lost the plain language in a haze of legalese and ‘emanations,’ to quote the Roe court.
In general, I would have thought that you would be sympathetic to this kind of criticism, since you are a Republican yourself. Isn’t it a Republican author, Mark Levin, with a book out called, “Men in Black,” which is all about the abuses committed by the Supremes? If the Supremes can twist the law, why not prosecutors? If the prosecutors and the Supremes can twist the law into perversities to fit their agendas, then how are we really safe in our Constitutional liberties? What checks the courts at this stage, when legislatures and even the executive branch follow the law as laid down from the bench – even when clearly contradictory to the Constitution?
Finally, look at the presidency of John Adams, the second president. Hamilton, acting through subordinates in Congress, was able to exploit the Quasi-war with France to push through the Alien and Sedition Act. This act actually criminalized criticism of high government officials, in clear contravention to the First Amendment. The ulta-federalists had even bigger plans than this in their quest to consolidate power in presidential hands. The situation was so dire, that Madison (the Father of the Constitution) actually started to lament his role in drafting the document. The whole slide into tyranny was halted, however, by the election of Thomas Jefferson. Eventually the Federalist party disintegrated.
My point? A Republic is a fragile thing. Many of the federalists thought they were doing the right thing in 1798. History has judged otherwise. The same may be true today. Sincere people doing what they think is right, but the consequences could be dire for our self-government. Caution should be the watchword when dealing with either power or fire. I think that, perhaps, you may be way too trusting of those in authority.
Glen writes: “We’re doing the same thing in Iraq, turning a nuisance dictatorship into a new Shi’ite state allied with the Iranian Mullahs . . .”
From the Washington Post, 2/14/05:
“When the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq two years ago, it envisioned a quick handover to handpicked allies in a secular government that would be the antithesis of Iran’s theocracy — potentially even a foil to Tehran’s regional ambitions.
“But, in one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention, Iraqis instead went to the polls and elected a government with a strong religious base — and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door. It is the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy — $300 billion and counting, U.S. and regional analysts say.
” . . . Yet the top two winning parties — which together won more than 70 percent of the vote and are expected to name Iraq’s new prime minister and president — are Iran’s closest allies in Iraq.
“Thousands of members of the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite-dominated slate that won almost half of the 8.5 million votes and will name the prime minister, spent decades in exile in Iran. Most of the militia members in its largest faction were trained in Shiite-dominated Iran.
“And the winning Kurdish alliance, whose co-leader Jalal Talabani is the top nominee for president, has roots in a province abutting Iran, which long served as its economic and political lifeline.”
Note 67: I just don’t see how I’m “throwing bombs” by charging the founders of AmCon with antisemitism, but Glen is engaging in reasonable discussion by charging President Bush with establishing “red state fascism”. I would again direct folks to examine the definition of “double standard.”
Both Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos have been known for antisemitic remarks and they were instrumental in founding The American Conservative. William F. Buckley, Jr. in the December 30, 1991 issue of the National Review clearly shows Pat Buchanan?s tendency for antisemitism. Mr. Theodoracopulos has shown his own tendency for this kind of behavior in his columns in The Spectator.
Mr. Buchanan’s article Whose War? is vague enough to sound like nothing more than critique of Bush foreign policy. But examine the photos and the text closely. It is meant to incite anti-Jewish animosity. Therefore, I charge Pat Buchanan with antisemitism. I will acknowledge that some reasonable people are published in AmCon’s pages (Justin Raimondo is certainly NOT one of these people). However, this doesn’t change the fact that those who started the magazine are tainted by antisemitism
As painful as it might be, I would not be so quick to dismiss charges made against Eastern Orthodoxy and its relationship with Jewish people. I strongly suggest an honest dealing with John Chrysostom’s preaching against the Jews before you blithely dismiss charges of antisemitism as “unfair.” Pope John Paul II has done a great deal in acknowledging and begging forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s own past antisemitic behavior. It would be good for the Orthodox, leadership & laity alike, to do the same especially since John Chrysostom wrote the Orthodox Liturgy and also wrote that the Jews, “sacrificed their sons and daughters to devils”, “[The Jews] are become worse than the wild beasts, and for no reason at all, with their own hands they murder their own offspring, to worship the avenging devils who are the foes of our life”, and much, much more.
I have also had an Egyptian Orthodox say, to my face, that the Jews deserve whatever the Palestinians do to them (including having their children blinded, maimed, and blown to bits while eating pizza) because they were worshiping idols when Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai. An American convert to Orthodoxy, who also believes that the greatest threats in the world are predispensational Protestants, stood idly by, nodding his head in agreement. This, my friend, is antisemitism. And these are the kind of hateful, idiotic comments one can expect when a people fail to acknowledge their own anti-Jewish history.
Interesting and thoughtful post. I would respond with Buchanan’s own words, written in response to an attack on his character by Norman Podhoretz in 1999.
“As I wrote years ago, true anti-Semitism-a hatred of Jews for who they are or what they believe-is a disease of the heart. Unrepented of, it corrupts the soul. There is no such hatred in my heart for any group or any individual. That includes Mr. Podhoretz, a one-time comrade. Perhaps Norman should review his own past writings and search his own soul to determine which of us harbors the morally unhealthy obsession. “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” Mr. Podhoretz says of my leaving the GOP. Decades ago, I was among those conservatives who urged that we throw open our doors and welcome to our ranks the “neoconservatives,” fleeing the party of McGovern. Now they have become our inquisitors, hurling anathemas as any who decline to embrace their revised dogmas. Non serviam, Norman. All my life I labored in the vineyards of the Republican Party, and fought in more campaigns than ever did Mr. Podhoretz and his cohorts. But, today, I look upon that party the way a man looks on a beloved home in the old neighborhood where he grew up, as he sees squatters convert it into a crack house. You don’t know whether to burn it down in rage, or just drive away and never look back. I have decided to leave; and the sentiment I feel most on reading such as Norman’s 3000-word rant against me, is liberation. Free at last.”
Buchanan has issues with current policies pursued by the State of Israel – a secular, socialist state which oppresses Orthodox Christians. That does not mean that he or Taki are in favor of discrimination against Jews, hurting Jews, destroying Jews, or anything else that would be associated with anti-Semitism. Israel is a state. It has policies, just like any other state. However, it is the only state in the entire world that if you criticize its policies, you can be labeled as suffering from a pathological hatred.
There are ant-Semites in the world. I don’t believe that Pat Buchanan is one of them. I have been reading his books and columns for years. He has traditionally been a supporter of Israel, though not of all Israeli practices. I also don’t believe that AmCon is an anti-Semitic magazine. The label anti-Semitic has been bandied about so much that it has lost a lot of its meaning, just like the term ‘racist.’ Criticize Michael Jackson, gangsta’ rap, or Jesse Jackson and you are ‘racist.’ Criticize policies of Israel, even when millions of Israelis do the same exact thing, and you are anti-Semitic.
Anti-Semites are people that harbor an irrational hatred of Jews and Israel and wish to see massive destruction visited upon it. Their opinions are out-of-bounds, even if the source of their opinions is perfectly understandable. For example, Copts in Egypt are often abused because their Christianity is linked to the U.S., and the U.S. is linked to Israel. Hence, they often attempt to win some acceptance from the majority Muslim population by expressing such views as you referred to here. Understandable does not imply acceptable, but understanding the source of this anger and hatred helps to prepare you for answering it.
In addition, many Orthodox Christians from Israel or the occupied territories express similar views. This is because they are being hammered by both the Israelis and the Muslims. They are discriminated against because of their ethnicity by the Israelis, yet have no place among the Muslims because of religion. They find no support or comfort from U.S. Christians – only derision. They get bitter, and they often lash out. Again, understandable, and a way needs to be found to help them. They are, after all, our brothers and sisters, though we almost never discuss them or what is happening to them.
As for St. John Crysostom – his homilies Against Jews must be put into proper historical context. At the time the saint was writing, Jews around the Mediterranean were making a major push to evangelize both Christians and pagans. Many people, particularly pagans, were having a difficult time accepting such Christian doctrines as the Trinity. The Jews of St. John’s day were capitalizing on the doctrinal climate to push themselves as an alternative to Christianity. All the morality and history, but without the messiness of the Cross, the Trinity, or the Virgin Birth. Historical documents witness to this being effective. What was really common, as a matter of fact, were relatively new Christians who spent time partaking both of Christian rites, and attending Jewish celebrations that had taken on a pagan tinge. The aggressively evangelical Judaism of the time appears to be somewhat removed from that of the traditional Synagogue, and was instead being used by people who, at heart, were pagans but could see which way the monotheistic wind was blowing. There is an excellent treatment of these homilies in multiple biographies of St. John Chrysostom.
Was St. John too harsh? 1,600 years later, that is hard to say. The triumph of the True Faith was by no means certain in his day. In living memory, a pagan emperor had mounted the throne and outlawed the church. A majority of the population of the empire was still pagan, or barely Christian. And here was this group who was actively seeking to undermine the church and offer an alternative monotheistic religion. In today’s world, we tend to view everything through the prism of the Holocaust. In the fourth and fifth centuries, this was not the case. We can not project backwards our historical example onto a time so far removed from our own, especially without taking the time to understand it.
Now, as to the Jews and their place in Christian society. Prior to the reformation, most Christian nations were almost uniformly Christian in population. The Jews were, in fact, the only religious outsiders present in most European countries. Differences often breed problems in a fallen world, whether they are of religion or ethnicity. It is not surprising that conflicts emerged between Jews and Christians. What is amazing is that true Christian charity, such as existed in Poland and many other nations, was possible at all given the harshness of the conditions.
Finally, to play devil’s advocate on this, much law in Orthodox Russia, and many other parts of the Orthodox Christendom, was concentrated on controlling the Jews and keeping their influence checked. This was out of fear of corrupting society. Now, it is a simple fact that many of the early Bolsheviks were Jews. Leon Trotsky (Lev Bronstein) headed the Red Army and, for a time, was chief of Soviet foreign affairs. Yakov Sverdlov (Solomon) was both the Bolshevik party’s executive secretary and — as chairman of the Central Executive Committee — head of the Soviet government. Grigori Zinoviev (Radomyslsky) headed the Communist International (Comintern), the central agency for spreading revolution in foreign countries. Other prominent Jews included press commissar Karl Radek (Sobelsohn), foreign affairs commissar Maxim Litvinov (Wallach), Lev Kamenev (Rosenfeld) and Moisei Uritsky. Lenin himself was of mostly Russian and Kalmuck ancestry, but he was also one-quarter Jewish. His maternal grandfather, Israel (Alexander) Blank, was a Ukrainian Jew who was later baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church.
Why did Jews in Orthodox Russia become Bolsheviks? Probably for the same reason that many Christians in Muslim lands have become Arab socialists – they were looking for a non-religious identity with which to share with the other inhabitants of their homeland. Which came first – the Jewish threat or Orthodox repression it? This is a very complex subject and seems to inolve a kind of dynamic feedback – the Orthodox feared the Jews, many of whom, in time, actually became very real objects of fear.
I think the truth is that if you let a culturally alien element dominate your culture, bad things are going to happen. As has been pointed out on this site, many cultural but non-observant Jews are responsible for a great deal of the degradation of our own culture. The recent article by an Orthodox Rabbi absolutely castigating such Jews as porn star Ron Jeremy is a case in point. Had the Rabbi been writing in the 1960′s, I am certain he would have pointed out the role the Jews Beat poets and many other Jewish writers had in launching the counter-culture in the U.S.
Pointing out facts is not anti-Semitism. Mere possession of Jewish ancestry does not bullet-proof one against criticism, nor does historical suffering of the Jews mean that you are above reproach. Having a connection to the Torah and attending a Synagogue does not guarantee you salvation, nor does it make you part of God’s Chosen People.
The problem is that in the U.S., the blind and slavish devotion of the Protestant fundamentalists to the Likud bloc in Israel has rendered all rational discussion out-of-bounds. As U.S. taxpayers, we are supposed to pony up $8 billion a year, attend dreadful Ben Stiller movies, listen to Abe Foxman tell us how evil we are, and smile while doing so. Sorry, I don’t buy it. If simply objecting to such things brands one an anti-Semite, then the definition of that word covers a lot of ground.
I guess it was a slow anti-American news day at Al-Jazeerah, so AP thought they’d lend a hand. On a day when the Islamofascist enemies of democracy murder dozens in Iraq the AP provides “balance” by digging up a story that is a year old. When they can’t find recent stories about the horrible Americans in Iraq and why they deserve to be targeted by Islamofascist terrorists, they go back and fill in a few gruesome details on last year’s Abu Ghraib scandal. Nice.
Just in case you failed to notice that let me highlight it for you: “The death of the prisoner … became known last year when the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke.” “The U.S. military said back then that the death had been ruled a homicide.”
Also, in case anyone needs reminding, Abu Ghraib became news because the U.S. Military released a report on their own investigation into what happened.
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