Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Now is the Time - For a Blue Revolution

I put this up on the weekend; I'll put it up again now as a way of inviting all readers in Vancouver to our weekly Thursday meeting at the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm. We're the guys in the blue scarves and bandanas. But make sure not to miss Charles' posts below.

Victor Davis Hanson:
When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.

Of course, the trauma of the Great War was all too fresh, and the utopian hopes for the League of Nations were not yet dashed. The Great Depression made the thought of rearmament seem absurd. The connivances of Stalin with Hitler — both satanic, yet sometimes in alliance, sometimes not — could confuse political judgments.

But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Not any longer.

Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.

It is now nearly five years since jihadists from the Arab world left a crater in Manhattan and ignited the Pentagon. Apart from the frontline in Iraq, the United States and NATO have troops battling the Islamic fascists in Afghanistan. European police scramble daily to avoid another London or Madrid train bombing. The French, Dutch, and Danish governments are worried that a sizable number of Muslim immigrants inside their countries are not assimilating, and, more worrisome, are starting to demand that their hosts alter their liberal values to accommodate radical Islam. It is apparently not safe for Australians in Bali, and a Jew alone in any Arab nation would have to be discreet — and perhaps now in France or Sweden as well. Canadians’ past opposition to the Iraq war, and their empathy for the Palestinians, earned no reprieve, if we can believe that Islamists were caught plotting to behead their prime minister. Russians have been blown up by Muslim Chechnyans from Moscow to Beslan. India is routinely attacked by Islamic terrorists. An elected Lebanese minister must keep in mind that a Hezbollah or Syrian terrorist — not an Israeli bomb — might kill him if he utters a wrong word.
But then the world is awash with a vicious hatred that we have not seen in our generation: the most lavish film in Turkish history, “Valley of the Wolves,” depicts a Jewish-American harvesting organs at Abu Ghraib in order to sell them; the Palestinian state press regularly denigrates the race and appearance of the American Secretary of State; the U.N. secretary general calls a mistaken Israeli strike on a U.N. post “deliberate,” without a word that his own Blue Helmets have for years watched Hezbollah arm rockets in violation of U.N. resolutions, and Hezbollah’s terrorists routinely hide behind U.N. peacekeepers to ensure impunity while launching missiles.
Demonstrators on behalf of Hezbollah inside the United States — does anyone remember our 241 Marines slaughtered by these cowardly terrorists? — routinely carry placards with the Star of David juxtaposed with Swastikas, as voices praise terrorist killers. Few Arab-American groups these past few days have publicly explained that the sort of violence, tyranny, and lawlessness of the Middle East that drove them to the shores of a compassionate and successful America is best epitomized by the primordial creed of Hezbollah.

There is no need to mention Europe, an entire continent now returning to the cowardice of the 1930s. Its cartoonists are terrified of offending Muslim sensibilities, so they now portray the Jews as Nazis, secure that no offended Israeli terrorist might chop off their heads. The French foreign minister meets with the Iranians to show solidarity with the terrorists who promise to wipe Israel off the map (“In the region there is of course a country such as Iran — a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region”) — and manages to outdo Chamberlain at Munich. One wonders only whether the prime catalyst for such French debasement is worry over oil, terrorists, nukes, unassimilated Arab minorities at home, or the old Gallic Jew-hatred.

It is now a cliché to rant about the spread of postmodernism, cultural relativism, utopian pacifism, and moral equivalence among the affluent and leisured societies of the West. But we are seeing the insidious wages of such pernicious theories as they filter down from our media, universities, and government — and never more so than in the general public’s nonchalance since Hezbollah attacked Israel.

These past few days the inability of millions of Westerners, both here and in Europe, to condemn fascist terrorists who start wars, spread racial hatred, and despise Western democracies is the real story, not the “quarter-ton” Israeli bombs that inadvertently hit civilians in Lebanon who live among rocket launchers that send missiles into Israeli cities and suburbs.

Yes, perhaps Israel should have hit more quickly, harder, and on the ground; yes, it has run an inept public relations campaign; yes, to these criticisms and more. But what is lost sight of is the central moral issue of our times: a humane democracy mired in an asymmetrical war is trying to protect itself against terrorists from the 7th century, while under the scrutiny of a corrupt world that needs oil, is largely anti-Semitic and deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, and finds psychic enjoyment in seeing successful Western societies under duress.

In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.
Charles Henry:
I am sick to death of "neutrality" masquerading as the universally moral stand for Canada to adopt no matter what storm brews around us. Indifference to one side or another might be appropriate when nothing of moral value is at stake; what care I which leaf falls first from a tree. There may be times when a matter is of only intellectual substance, such as what blade of grass gets cut first on my lawn, and on those occasions being neutral is the sensible position, since the outcome possesses no moral dimension to it, for having no ongoing connection to our life.

There are times, however, when being neutral means ignoring the moral component so intertwined with the experience of being human. Part of my understanding of what it is to be human, is to strive to become more civilized, that is, to rise above the animal dimension of our existence, to reach towards the spiritual component of our existence. To try to be civilized (no easy task) is the height of human achievement.

I say it is not civilized to see evil being done, and to do nothing.

Of the cast of characters in the following story, it's not hard to see which individual was the civilized one...

Hezbollah’s violent ideology hits Montreal streets:
After having heard countless cries of “death to Israel”, “vive le Hezbollah” and once in Arabic “death to the Jews”, I addressed some of the protesters by shouting back “am Yisrael chai” (the people of Israel live) and “shalom aleichem” (peace to all). The incident then turned violent when a fanatic ran up to me suddenly, punching and strangling me quickly as I fell onto a parked car on Ste. Catherine St. As the attacker was restrained and ushered away I then yelled “Are you crazy? This is Canada, so act civilized like everyone else watching you.” The unknown assailant was then reintroduced by protest-organizers into the crowd to avoid detection by the numerous members of the media and policemen who had witnessed the assault. Other disgruntled anti-Israel protesters then attempted to enter my place of work where I sought refuge yelling “Jewish pig” and “down, down Israel” as police and bystanders sealed the entrance briefly, preventing the mob from breaking the storefront.

Thank God that Canada is still home to brave men with the moral clarity of this individual who, seeing evil in his streets, acts accordingly. My respect for his courage notwithstanding, I must point out one statement with with I disagree: he admonishes the terrorist cheerleaders in the street for not acting cilivized, " everyone else watching you."

I do not consider these mute eye-witnesses civilized, if they can clearly see the face of evil, look at the hatred in its eyes and only yawn.

If we go all the way, following the "value" of neutrality to the logic of its conclusion, we might discover that it is about learning how to be dead rather than how to be more alive: the ultimate neutrality is the cold of the grave, being at "peace" with your fellow human beings, by being as unconnected to their ongoing lives as it is possible to become.
Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)
Vit{ae} Summa Brevis Spem nos Vetet Incohare Longam*
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

* "The short span of life forbids us to entertain long hopes." - which I take to mean: it's time to stop dreaming that a utopian solution to all present woes will drop from the sky, and to act, if we are to fulfill the modest dreams that our briefly-opened path allows. Dowson died very young, an alcoholic. But it is in his poem, not in the tragedy of his life, that we may find the sign that inspires us to transcend the previous limits of our sign system, our culture, as we turn from the romantic ending to the revival of our cultural traditions and their orthodox and never-dead dreams of freedom.

Covenant Zone/Blue Scarf Meetings, every Thursday, in the atrium of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 7-9 pm. Come join Charles Henry and the rest of us.


Charles Henry said...

Truepeers, I'm humbled to find my simple salami being served betwen these two delectable slices of literary pita bread!

Have you ever heard some of the old Father Coughlin radio broadcasts that VDH references? Hanson is right to wonder how the resident pastor of the Church of the Little Flower (if I recall the name correctly) ever amassed the sizeable following he did; much like today, anti-semitism sadly attracts large audiences of like-minded folk.
(or should I say volk)

The lesson I always drew from his broadcasts (the few I've heard, that is), was that envy as an emotion must have staggering drawing power; second only to admiration maybe, or love. Envy of the successful, of the hard-working, of those truly faithful in their future, such envy just drips from his voice and lays in one's lap like some vile oral spittle.

truepeers said...


I've seen clips of Coughlin in historical films, but have never sat down to listen to them seriously. I think you're right about envy, or as i call it, resentment. So far in history, love has proven more powerful; hence we are here. But I don't think we have any right to assume love must always be stronger than resentment, that humanity is guaranteed to survive itself. We must continue to love and to fight against the forces of resentment, forces that we have to accept are in all of us, and not just the truly pathological.