Wednesday, July 20, 2016

History Not in History Books: Winston Churchill During World War II

I've been reading an obscure account about World War II and came across this gem about Winston Churchill. You won't find this in any school textbooks:
Well anyway, along comes Churchill, and all the women and children cheer him wildly as his car drives along the road. Then he tells his driver to stop. The driver stops, Churchill gets out, stands to the side of the car and begins relieving himself. He had an honor guard and everything else, and he ordered the whole thing to stop. At the same time, he flashes the "V for Victory" sign. And all the women and children? It doesn't faze them in the least. Well, that was the great Winston Churchill. If you can do a thing like that in full sight, you're an unusual man. (Source)
There's a lesson to be learned about politics from this story. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm certain there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Some Thoughts on Islamist Terrorism and Truck Drivers in Nice, Once Again

Once again, terrorism on a mass scale has struck France. This time, a crazed Tunisian turned French national drove a truck through a crowd in Nice as the people celebrated Bastille Day.

Once again, the news media are slobbering all over themselves to prove that the driver, named Mohamed, wasn't really a Muslim (he drank alcohol and never attended the mosque!), that he was a loner (he became depressed when his wife left him!), or that the truck was responsible (CNN headline "Truck Terror").

Once again, French President Hollande has vowed to show "real force," whatever that means.

Once again, US President Obama lectured the world on religious tolerance.

And once again the world is diminished because Islamist terrorism has been allowed to grow and prosper all over the world.

The progressive elites who control the narrative fail to identify and to understand the nature of terrorism. Even after years of Islamic terrorist acts, reaching back into the 1970s, most members of the press, as well as most governments, treat terrorism as a unified group of people with central leadership.

This is not the case. Terrorism is a religious and political ideology.

Terrorism is a means to spread the ideals of Islamism - the call to create an Islamic state. Terrorism is an appeal to the basest emotions, directed at young Muslim men. Terrorism presents the promise of Allah's salvation to those who are "strong" enough to commit mass murder. Terrorism is an idea that spreads through the minds of Muslims, corrupting them, shaping them, and convincing them that evil is good and good is evil. Terrorism is strengthened whenever it is allowed to grow unchecked and unnamed.

While certain groups (such as ISIS) gained notoriety by spreading terrorism, they spread an ideal, rather than taking territory. These groups are not unified. They are not centralized. They are not beholden to a top-down government. They have no hierarchical structure. If one Muslim terrorist rises to notoriety by spreading lies and deceit, then is killed, the Hydra of terrorism will grow three new heads in his place.

This is where governments and media get it wrong. They insist on misrepresenting terrorism as a solidified movement. (They also insist that it has nothing to do with Islam.) Yet, by its very nature, terrorism attracts the disgruntled, the loners, the insane, the bullies, the sadists. It glorifies the evil that would kill innocents. The evil comes in many forms, but it always connects with the roots of Islam.

That is why terrorism strikes in the Mideast. It strikes in Asia. It strikes in Russia. It strikes in France and Belgium and the United States.

The solution to get rid of the infestation of terrorism is not to bomb random buildings in Syria. The solution is not to send drones against suspected terrorists in Pakistan. The solution is not to ban guns or even trucks. The solution is not to just live with terrorism.

The solution to defeating terrorism is to defeat the ideology that promotes it.

Admittedly, destroying bad ideas is difficult, made more so when most people in the world are kept in ignorance through the deceit and lies of those who hold power. The world suffers under the burden of those who preach ignorance.

To paraphrase: "Beware ignorance for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

Evil ideals can only be fought by utterly destroying them. Sometimes that means going to war. More often, it means that good people must unite to stand up for the truth, to stand up for the right, to stand up for the good. It takes courage to stand up for what is right.

And perhaps that is the real danger of ignorance; it destroys courage and the will to stand against evil.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hunting Bark Scorpions: A Completely Non-Political Post

Living in the Arizona desert, I get used to the fact that nearly every plant and every bug has some kind of spike, bite, or stinger.

The worst of the lot, in my view, is the bark scorpion. They are arachnids indigenous to Arizona and New Mexico. They especially thrive in the Sonoran Desert, where there is sufficient water. (Yes, even scorpions need water. At the very least, they need juicy bugs that need water.)

Bark scorpion stings are quite painful. I've been stung a couple of times. Other than the throbbing pain, I don't seem to suffer any ill effects. Some folks (like my across-the-street neighbor) can have an allergic reaction which can cause breathing problems, dizziness, a racing heart, and painful stiffening of the joints.

These critters love the cinder block wall surrounding my back yard. (They thrive on the random bugs and the plentiful water.) They are nocturnal predators. During the day, they hide just about anywhere they can find to get out of the hot Arizona sun. Mostly, they crawl into the cinder block fence and sit around (either playing pinochle, or more probably planning my demise) until the sun goes down.

Bark scorpions are highly resistant to chemical pesticides, so are difficult to control. Some folks have success spreading diatomaceous earth around the base of their walls and fences.

The only thing I've found to keep the scorpions at bay is to hunt them down at night using a black light. Bark scorpions fluoresce under a black light, glowing a brilliant green. Seriously. Usually they are incredibly difficult to detect, being masters of camouflage and with the ability to flatten themselves into the tightest spaces. (Hence, they can easily crawl under the seals at the bottom of the door.) Under the beam of a black light, they glow from dozens of feet away.

I go out scorpion hunting several nights a week during the summer. I take along my trusty "Slipper of Mighty Slaying" (an old rubber-soled slipper repurposed as a champion scorpion squisher). I also take along a putty knife, dedicated to the task of cutting scorpions to bits when they crawl into tight cracks or crevices.

I find scorpion hunting oddly relaxing. I can take out my testosterone-induced aggression against a foe that would otherwise sneak into my bed and sting me, or at least eat crackers. (Scorpions have no sense of honor.) It's far better to keep the predators at bay, far away from the edges of my home.

If you come out to visit, be sure to join me in the hunt. It's an inexpensive but satisfying hobby.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Aim of Progressivism

Modern progressivism in the US is a divisive ideology. It seeks to divide the country into groups to keep them at war with each other: blacks against whites, men against women, straights against gays. Its philosophy is inherently founded on intolerance and its ability to switch off the rational mind to accept the irrational.

I am reminded of the following quote, written in 1925, by an obscure artist turned politician:

Leadership itself requires not only will but also ability, and a greater importance must be attached to will and energy than to intelligence as such, and most valuable of all is a combination of ability, determination, and perseverance. The future of a movement is conditioned by the fanaticism yes, the intolerance, with which its adherents uphold it as the sole correct movement, and push it past other formations of a similar sort.

While progressives keep demanding that their goals are tolerance and equality, their protests, their press conferences, their rhetoric, their lawlessness, and their fanaticism, all point to an ideal contrary to its stated goals. They hide their intent behind a fa├žade of lies and deceit.

I'm not saying that progressivism is fascist. (In fact, it is socialist.) I am saying that we should be wary of any movement that stifles freedom of religion, free speech, and the right to bear arms. I am saying that progressivism promotes its will, attempting to switch off the rational mind, in order to promote intolerance and rage.

Our country cannot long survive those who destroy liberty in order to promote equality.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Modern Students: A Quote from Allan Bloom

As the spring semester comes to a close and I finish grading the myriad final projects for my class, I am reminded of a quote from the late Allan Bloom. This comes from his outstanding book The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students.

Today’s select students know so much less, are so much more cut off from the tradition, are so much slacker intellectually, that they make their predecessors look like prodigies of culture. The soil is ever thinner, and I doubt whether it can now sustain the taller growths.
Written in 1987, the commentary is even sadder today than it was nearly 30 years ago.