Sunday, October 24, 2010

Free Speech, The Middle East and Venezuela

I.Free Speech? 1. NPR fires Juan Williams. Williams, who had been with NPR for over 10 years, was also a contributor on Fox News. The offense that got Williams fired was this comment on the Bill O’Reilly show : “When I get on the plane, I’ve got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” In publicly dismissing Williams, NPR’s executive first indicated that Mr. Williams failed to meet their journalistic standards by inserting his personal views; and then added that why he said what he did was “between him and his psychiatrist or publicist.”

So let us analyze NPR’s comments. Journalistic standards were not met. When Cokie Roberts said: “Beck is worse than a clown. He’s more like a terrorist…” Did that meet their journalistic standards? When Nina Totenberg wished that Jesse Helms’ grandkids got AIDS because he did not support federal funding of AIDS research, did that meet their journalistic standards? When they asked last year that Williams NOT be identified as an NPR employee when he appeared on O’Reilly, what standards were they trying to meet? Or were they simply annoyed that one of their employees would engage in a give and take with the “enemy” at Fox News?

But the “best” line from the NPR executive was about Williams comments being between him and his psychiatrist. This comment reflects the inability of the left to accurately perceive the world around them. After all, no sane person would have any reason to fear Muslims more than they would fear anyone else. When we all watched in horror as people jumped from the top floors of the World Trade Center to their deaths on 9/11/2001, we were unaware that they were all suffering from psychological problems causing them to jump. It had nothing to do with the fact that some Muslims had just flown planes into their office buildings.

2. Per Penal Code Section 137C anyone “who publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way insulting of a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief…will be punished with a prison sentence of at the most one year or a fine of third category.” Don’t panic – this is neither California nor US law. But it is the law in the Netherlands where Member of Parliament Geert Wilders is currently being prosecuted for alleged violations of that law. Among other things, Mr. Wilders has compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and has described it as a fascist book. He has called Mohammad the devil. He proposed banning the construction of mosques. (From the 10/11/10 Wall Street Journal article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a former Member of the Parliament.)

The law in the Netherlands is not unlike that being pushed by the 57 members of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference). They have tried to get the UN and EU to agree to resolutions comparable to the statute in the Netherlands. Clearly, such a law would be contrary to our First Amendment free speech protections. Notice that the law punishes the causing of “insult.” To say that such a provision would put a chill on the freedom of expression would be a gross understatement. Any insult that anyone takes in reference to their “race, religion or belief” could result in jail time for the speaker. This puts personal feelings above truth and the free flow of ideas. And it is exactly what the Muslim world is pushing. After all, they take offense (get “insulted”) by any negative remark about Islam. So if you dare to insult them – go to jail! (Which, of course, is better than being killed by them, which they will also do for insulting them. How many years now has Salmon Rushdie had to live in hiding? Since 1989!) And what can be heard from Arab/Muslim media? The most vile comments about Jews, Israel and America. But we have to bend to them. And countries like the Netherlands fall for it.

II.Mideast Peace. 1. As this writer has previously noted, the Palestinians will seek to get a state through the UN if negotiations fail. They are already seeking support for their state through any international body that will listen. Per Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO: “If we cannot stop the settlements through the peace process, we have to go to the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and every international legal body.” (From the 10/21/10 NY Times.) Israel seems willing to again freeze settlement activity if the Palestinians will acknowledge Israel as the Jewish State. But the chief negotiator for the PLO, Saeb Erekat, says that the Palestinian Authority will NEVER recognize Israel as the Jewish State. And head of the PA Abbas says “Israel can name itself whatever it wants.” Just don’t ask the PA to agree. (From the 10/14/10 NY Times.)

Why is such a concession so important? Arab leaders have consistently and frequently denied Jewish historical roots to the land. A continued failure to accept and acknowledge a Jewish presence simply means that Israel gets to make concession after concession with no end in sight. It means that, as the Hamas and PLO charters indicate, there will be no end to fighting until the Arabs have conquered all the land.

Recently, Ahmadinejad visited Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah, welcomed the Iranian leader, and affirmed Iran’s support for the three “no’s.” He was referring to the 1967 summit of Arab leaders in Khartoum, Sudan. At that time, the Arabs indicated “no” to peace with Israel, “no” to negotiations with Israel, and “no” to recognition of Israel. Needless to say, these same Palestinian leaders take no offense if the word “Islamic” is part of the official name of any muslim country. But "Jewish?" How dare they?

2. But not to worry. Barack Obama to the rescue. Under Obama the USAID is helping to create “facts on the ground” by supporting Palestinian building in the West Bank and “eastern” part of Jerusalem. (As reported by Aaron Klein in the 10/13/10 Jewish Press online.) Of course, no building by the Israelis is allowed – even in their Capital city of Jerusalem.

3. The Catholic Bishops pile on. Catholic Bishops from the Middle East were summoned to Rome by the Pope. Sadly, the Bishops concluded that Israel was primarily responsible for the declining Catholic/Christian populations in Middle Eastern countries. As this writer has previously noted, Christian populations have been significantly reduced in Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Lebanon was once (not that long ago) a majority Christian nation. But the rise of Syrian influence and Hezbollah power has nothing to do with Christians leaving? The Islamic fundamentalists of Hamas have nothing to do with Christians leaving? If the Palestinians (mostly Muslims now) just had their own state, then the Christians would be welcomed back with open arms? Another example of an ideology preventing an accurate perception of the world.

And here's a little data for the Bishops. Notwithstanding the ongoing wars, the Christian population of Israel has actually INCREASED over the last two decades (107,000 in 1989, 132,000 in 1999, and 151,700 in 2009). (Data from the 10/24/10 Jerusalem Post online.) Now why isn't there a declining Christian population in Israel as there has been in the surrounding Arab countries, especially if it's Israel's fault? Why is that Bishops?

III. Russia inks a nuke deal with Venezuela. Russia has agreed to help Venezuela build two nuclear reactors. The Russians are the ones who have also assisted the Iranians with their nuclear program. Recall that Obama reversed Bush policy and declared that the US would NOT place defensive missiles in Eastern Europe, to which the Russians had objected. Recall that Obama signed an arms deal with Russia, indicating that the US would neither expand nor modernize our nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, the Russians continue to occupy Georgia, help with the Iranian nuclear facilities, and now will do the same for Venezuela. Never mind the Monroe Doctrine. Never mind that Obama’s “appeasement” of the Russians was seen (as appeasement always is) as a sign of weakness that has gotten us NOTHING in return.

Obama has assured us: “We have no incentive or interest in increasing friction between Venezuela and the U.S.,but we do think Venezuela needs to act responsibly.” And this from our Commander in Chief: “Our attitude is that Venezuela has rights to peacefully develop nuclear power.” I guess if Obama had been elected President in 1960 there would have been no Cuban missile crisis – just Russian missiles in Cuba.