Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mondo Cane

Here is a story from the U.S. about a family of Liberians who have decided to disown their 8-year old daughter because she was gang-raped. I suppose it is better than being lashed and jailed for such an offense, or murdered as an "honour killing". Still, why should the health and safety of a member of your own family not trump the concern about what the neighbours think?

From Saudi Arabia comes this story of a Miss Beautiful Morals contest winner, a young lady shrouded from head to toe throughout the contest, the object of innumerable jokes on the Internet. Apparently, she was selected over the other 274 contestants because she articulated answers to conventional Arabian morality better than the others. I wonder if she also wished for "world peace" as the clincher.

Finally, we have this column from venerable Canadian journalist, Robert Fulford, commenting on honour killings and the lashing of women in, oh, let us say "more conservative" societies, and wondering why the voices of Western feminists are so silent. I think he found his answer from one of them.

But more typical is the feminist blog of Deborah Kate, who acknowledges that feminists have been accused of ignoring Muslim women. Kate comes out against stoning, enforced marriage, female circumcision, etc., and wonders idly whether countries guilty of crimes against women deserve sanctions like those levelled at South Africa in its apartheid days. No, she decides, exhibiting the fondness for fashionable moral relativism that is now epidemic in feminist circles, “I realize I cannot force my version of feminism upon non-Western women.”

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Amen to Tarek Fatah who upbraids the Islamic apologists in today's National Post for their dishonesty in dealing with the problem of "honour killings".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We "celebrate" 9/11

Tomorrow, at Ryerson University, in the heart of Toronto, a weekend lecture series will kick off under the auspices of the Al-Fauz Institute of Islamic Thought. The AFIIT is a new player in the game of educating young Muslims in Toronto. The series is called, From Caliphs to Kings, the rise and fall of the Muslim ummah.

Its guest lecturer for this series is a British-based, Palestinian-born academic, Dr. Azzam Timimi, who, according to writer Terry Glavin, in The National Post, is an unabashed supporter of suicide bombing, Hamas, the Taliban, etc. Glavin spoke to the folks at AFIIT, who disavowed knowledge of Timimi's political views. You can read Glavin’s columns here and here.

I looked at the AFIIT site and it contained two videos of Dr. Timimi lecturing in Britain in September of last year. He didn’t engage in any of the pro-violence stuff that Glavin writes about, but he still had some disturbing messages – disturbing to this Canadian.

In the first video he gives a very white-washed view of how Islam spread from Arabia. I shouldn’t be too critical of this, since President Obama gave his misdirected Cairo speech and did very much same thing. However, Dr. Timimi is here to guide young Canadian Muslims, so I will critique him.

In reference to Palestine, for example, which he acknowledged was part of the Christian Byzantine Empire, he talked about how Islam was welcomed by the people because it brought justice – something he claims they didn’t have.

I don’t know enough about that place and that time under the Byzantine Empire to be able to confirm or deny what Timimi says about the level of justice enjoyed by the non-Arabs, but after the Arabs arrived there are definitely some things they didn’t have. Wives no longer had husbands because they were slaughtered. Husbands who escaped no longer had wives or children because they were carted back to Arabia and sold as slaves. Property that was once owned by Christians and Jews (the majority of the residents) then became the property of the Muslims who supplanted them. Much of the early spread of Islam had to do with Arabs carrying out commerce in the old style – stealing and killing.

He talks about the spread of Islam to India in the most benign language. He left out of the description the fact that Muslim invaders butchered more than one million Hindus and Buddhists and razed thousands of temples.

He starts his lecture by referring to the word minority as being a bad thing. Later he admits that minorities are well protected by laws in liberal democracies.

He pretends that minorities under Islam were protected and treated with respect, and that there were no problems with them continuing worship in the religion of their choice. In fact, they were protected only in so far as they paid a protection tax to the Muslim rulers, and they weren’t permitted to build new houses of worship or openly worship outside of those houses. There were a number of other restrictions that made it clear that in Islamic societies non-Muslims were clearly second-class citizens. And people with no religion, or no religion recognized by Islam, did not have even that status.

I hope some less than bedazzled young Muslim attending these lectures this weekend asks the good doctor why it is that millions of Muslims can live on equal terms and openly practice their religion in predominately Christian-based, secular western societies, but there are very few Christians and even fewer Jews to be found in Muslim countries, and those numbers are rapidly declining?

Timimi made it quite clear in the second video that he does not see Muslims integrating with western secular societies. He claims Muslims are principally disliked because they are part of a global ummah and this transcends geographical and national boundaries. He depicts western society as if it has a Gestapo-complex regarding Muslims – referring to the knock on the door in the middle of the night.

His lecture must have been given before the trial of the airline plotters, because he claimed that everyone of them was innocent. In fact, three of them were convicted, but not for conspiracy to destroy airplanes over the Atlantic.

Finally, the dead giveaway for me was a reference he made to “celebrating” the anniversary of 9/11.

Only a jihad supporter would use a term like that.

The one really honest thing Timimi said was that there was a war going on with Islam. Not that there is a war going on with people who claim to be Islamic but are not really representative of Islam, as the U.S. and British governments try to pretend, but with Islam -- period, full-stop, no qualifications, no obfuscations.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

George Jonas: "Jihad rules! Jews suck!"

A lady who once worked for me as an executive assistant and who is now in her early fifties came to Canada from the Ukraine when she was two years of age. She speaks Ukrainian (poorly by her admission) and English excellently. Her mother, who has now resided in downtown Toronto for half a century, does not speak a word of English. She has never had to learn it. She lives in a largely Ukrainian neighbourhood and can get virtually any service in her native language. Occasionally when she had to see a non-Ukrainian medical specialist, her daughter would accompany her to translate.

In this part of Canada, the story of this unassimilated woman is not unique.

I mention this because for some time now there has been a hue and cry raised over the state policy of multiculturalism. We have had this in Canada as official policy since the 1970s. The anguish about multiculturalism is that there is no incentive for ethnic pockets to assimilate with the general population. Questions regarding inter-ethnic strife, human rights, and general loyalty to the country are raised within the umbrella of the multicultural policy.

However, my Ukrainian example goes back to the 1950s, long before the so-called multicultural mosaic was identified as a cultural phenomenon and then subsequently embraced by the polity as policy. I don’t believe for a second that my friend’s mother would have lived a different life whether there was a state policy regarding her culture or not, except for one that might have discriminated against her for not assimilating.

Ukrainians, for the most part, belong to the Eastern Orthodox Christian church, the remnant of the old Byzantine Empire, which, in turn, was the remnant of the eastern half of the old Roman Empire. My executive assistant used to take days off work to celebrate “Ukrainian Christmas” and “Ukrainian New Year”, which arrived later in the calendar than the national statutory holidays of Christmas and New Year.

Except for this departure, I would never have identified her culture as being religiously determined. Ukrainians have distinctive native costumes, peasant wear, which they trot out during Ukrainian cultural festivals. Generally, however, in dress and conduct they are indistinguishable from the great mass of other Canadians.

This brings me to a rather misleading column by the otherwise excellent journalist, George Jonas, in today’s National Post.

Jonas is commenting on the published e-mails that passed amongst the female relatives and friends of the famous “Toronto 18”. These are the alleged wannabe Islamic terrorists who were supposedly plotting to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange, CSIS (Canada’s anti-terrorist organization), and storm the Parliament buildings and behead the Prime Minister.

He is struck by the fact that the hatred of the women towards Canada and some members of the Canadian community, namely homosexuals, are expressed primarily in idiomatic English.

The remarkable thing was seeing their admiration and hatred posted, not in a foreign language, not in misspelled, broken English, but in the colloquial idiom of soccer moms in Toronto's bedroom community of Mississauga.

He then extrapolates from this the following conclusion.

By offering the views of Wahhabist Islam on homosexuals in words she borrowed directly from our culture, Ms. N was demonstrating that acculturation, a much-touted remedy for the risk of fragmentation in immigrant societies, isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

I don’t want to sound to picky, but I have always considered English to be nothing more than a language, a language of convenience, if you like, when you live in a county where 90% the population converses in it and where it is an official language by law.

I never thought of it as being “culturally distinctive” such that its use by an Arab would be considered remarkable. To be sure, within the confines of the language, there are cultural markers – expressions used to describe things that would be associated with someone from Canada rather than someone from England or Australia or the United States. But that is not what Jonas is talking about.

What he is on about is how a cultural norm, in this case Arabic, survives long after someone has been swimming in the deep end of the cultural pool of Canada.

Our great-grandfathers assessed matters more accurately. They had taken it for granted that integration is a process of considerable complexity that occurs over historic time. It isn't achieved by a quick immersion in another culture, even when the immersion is … superficially complete. Our generation not only overestimated the effects of such cultural silver-plating, but tried reducing it even further by the imposition of multiculturalism.

Cultural silver-plating may not achieve much beyond teaching al-Qaeda idiomatic English anyway, but multiculturalism makes it stick even less and wear off even quicker. Cultural silver-plating may produce amusing incongruities, like jihadists with pre-nuptial agreements and Wahhabi feminists who retain their maiden names after marriage. But computer-literate fundamentalists take us no closer to a harmonious society. They only illustrate how ultra-liberal policies, slogans and practices confuse and alienate vulnerable youngsters of foreign ancestry and increase the number of our solitudes.

I don’t believe multicultural policies and practices have anything to do with alienation of these young women.

This is because they do not have a culture distinct from their religion, unlike my Ukrainian examples. Islam determines their culture, on everything from defecating rituals, to eating habits, to attitudes towards non-Muslims, and so on. I am surprised that Jonas would overlook this cultural influence and chalk up assimilation failure to the straw man of multicultural policy.

It is the religion, dear boy, and that is what you should be targeting.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cream pies and free speech in Canada

Richard Warman mocks Ickes

We have heard a great deal over the last year from Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn about free speech, the craven media, and the activities of Jewish award winner, Richard Warman, a former Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator who appears to have made a handsome financial return from the human rights industry in Canada by posting racist comments on websites and then complaining about how he was offended by postings on those websites.

This link takes you to a fascinating British documentary on a fellow named David Ickes who has a worldview not in keeping with the norm. He may be a kook, but, in my view, he is entitled to say what he thinks. The video is 50 minutes in length, and the last half is devoted to Ickes’s reception in Vancouver, where a coalition of Jewish activists tried to shut him down.

He was kicked out of Canada’s largest book chain when he went to a book signing that he had been invited to and he was booted from a radio station that had invited him to a morning talk show. He did manage to appear on television, but the host started the questioning with an on-the-street university professor who pronounced Ikes a kind of a nutter. Normally, you would ask your studio guest to elaborate his theory before turning to others to challenge him.

Altogether, it was a very poor showing from the Canadian media establishment and Canada’s Jewish establishment, particularly since Ikes never says anything that is anti-Jewish. The Jews are persecuting him for a perceived metaphor.

However, what becomes clear, as he progresses through Vancouver, is the general good sense of the ordinary Canadians who clearly recognize the value of free speech and discount the efforts of the establishment and the elites to muzzle Ickes.

Watch for Warman to equate an attempt to throw a pie in the Icke’s face, intended to interrupt, humiliate and discredit him, with an exercise in free speech. Lost on Warman is the idea that Ickes should be free to speak without a pie in the face.

Unfortunately for Canada, I think the intellectually-warped Warman mentality prevails amongst the establishment and the elites.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last": Winston Churchill

I was wandering around in the book store the other day, looking for a good read, when I came across Bruce Bawer’s latest effort, Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom. I looked at it for a minute or two, noted the price ($30 Cdn) and wondered whether it was worth it. I am well read in Islamic subjects and follow a number of websites that keep me current on the subject. What could Bawer tell me that I didn’t already know?

What the hell. I bought it. And, as it turns out, plenty.

Bawer, a former literary critic, currently living in Norway, is a gay American who decided several years ago that gays could live a better life in Europe than in the United State and he moved to Amsterdam. Europe was not what he expected and he documented his epiphany in a previous book called, While Europe Slept.

His conclusion from his European foray is that Islam is slowly, but inexorably, swallowing Europe. Like a crocodile.

His new book spans the Atlantic, shifting between the United States and Europe, and outlines in cringe-inducing detail the lies and distortions of the members of the Islamic Project, and its enablers and useful idiots; namely, the mainstream media, politicians and university faculty and administrators.

Anybody concerned about this subject ought to read this book. Anybody who is not concerned about this subject ought to read this book.

I read the thing in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down.

Bawer is very good at cutting through the cant and obfuscation to get to the heart of an argument. His logical analysis of the bullshit that passes for intellectual argument is worth the price of the book, even if you know a great deal about the subject matter.

His detractors, who regularly brand him as a racist, miss the essential point of his argument, which is simply that Islam is incompatible with secular liberal-democracy, the values and ideals associated with the Enlightenment, and one or the other must prevail – there is no compromise.

One of the interesting perspectives he brings to the table is the plight of homosexuals under Islam.

We read a lot about women in Islam: should we insist they remove their veils to vote in elections; should headscarves be banned in public facilities; should the wearing of the burqua be banned outright; should we look the other way when husbands beat their wives, etc.

We have non-Muslim troops dying in Afghanistan so that Afghan women can go to school, so we are told. Yet we barely hear mention of Islam and homosexuality.

Women may be beaten, lashed, mutilated and abandoned within the tenets of the faith, but homosexuals are simply killed.

The odd thing is the support of gay groups for Islam. We had a bit of a local furor recently when a gay, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian organization marched in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade. Bawer dissects other examples of this odd phenomenon.

Bawer should be celebrated for speaking out forthrightly and telling the unvarnished truth. Sadly, too many people in our politically correct establishment cannot, as Jack Nicholson said, “handle the truth”, and it shows in the poor reviews he received in a couple of the mainstream newspapers in the U.S.

Given that other publishers have crumbled in the face of Islamic threats and either shredded their works or refused to publish their authors, it would be an oversight not to also congratulate Doubleday, a division of Random House, for publishing Bawer’s work.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heading for the exits in droves, even before the fat lady sings

Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician whose popular Party for Freedom (PVV) did so well in the recent election to the European Parliament, appears to have Dutch Muslims on the run. A poll taken amongst Muslims in the Netherlands suggests more than half of them would consider leaving the Netherlands.

One Dutch-Muslim politician warned that Wilders' political rise is fueling a growing radical Islam in the Netherlands.

That’s odd, because I thought it was the other way around. A growing radical Islam and its enablers in the multicultural and politically correct establishment, that killed Theo Van Gogh, drove Ayaan Hirsi Ali out of the country, celebrated the murder of Pim Fortuyn, and the 9/11 atrocity, is attempting to prosecute Wilders, and causes Wilders to travel with police protection and to keep his whereabouts a secret, are the reasons why he has become popular in the Netherlands.

I am betting that those Dutch Muslims who express such victimization in the current political climate do not have to travel around with a police escort to ensure they are not murdered.

Apparently, when asked what they should do about this, 40% of them said they should just ignore the PVV. Twenty-five per cent said they should debate Wilders and his followers. Another 35% said they should “vociferously” protest. And just 11% thought they should get politically active and form a political party to represent Muslim interests.

Here’s another idea that seems not to have occurred to the respondents. Simply abandon Islam and embrace liberal secular values. Maybe then Wilders’ party will have more appeal to them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh Islam! You are just so confusing.

On the same day that I read this column by The Toronto Star’s, Haroon Siddiqui, serving up his usual pastiche of the wonderful religion of peace, and, in the process chastising westerners for their ignorance of Islam by making fun of their concerns about the niquab: “On what legal basis does a democracy ban one person's veil but favour another's bikini”, I then read this story about a Sudanese female journalist facing a penalty of 40 lashes for the crime of wearing trousers in a restaurant.

I guess Mr. Siddiqui would be in no doubt what the legal basis would be in an Islamic society for banning clothing, so that is not worth writing about.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Time to tax the business of religion -- no crisis should be wasted

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

The latter part of this quote, that religion is regarded by the rulers as useful, must be the underpinning of Canada’s designation of “the advancement of religion” as a charitable purpose in its own right, and therefore subject to the special tax status granted to charities under the Canadian Income Tax Act.

According to federal requirements, to meet the category of religion, an organization must have “an element of theistic worship”, meaning the worship of a deity or deities in the spiritual sense. Why would a supposedly secular state classify as charitable organizations whose purpose is not ministering to the needs of the needy, but rather convincing the common people that they owe obedience to invisible sky-gods?

When most people think of charity, they picture poor little orphan children being fed, clothed, housed and educated. We see many disturbing pictures on television of these kids in appeals for charitable donations. Granted, there is real charitable work undertaken by religious groups and that work deserves to be recognized by the tax statute.

But is much attention being paid to the money raised by religions for proselytizing purposes?

It is not a small number.

The Canadian Secular Alliance analyzed data obtained from the Canadian Revenue Agency’s Charities Directorate for the year 2007. Leaving out of the analysis money used for a separate Catholic school system, this is what it found with respect to the public subsidization of “the worship of a deity or deities.”

The loss of tax revenues attributable to tax-deductible donation receipts was approximately $900 million, and a bizarre appearance of direct government transfers amounted to another $63 million. The CSA has not yet tracked down the source of these latter funds, but after eliminating all the other sources of revenue accounted for in the data all the remains is that this money is a direct transfer from government accounts.

The CSA is also continuing to investigate the lost tax revenue at the municipal level from the exemption of religious properties from property taxation. A very preliminary estimate suggests it may be around $160 million.

In short, in the year 2007, government treasuries “lost” over $1.2 billion to the earthly agents of the sky-gods.

There are also other tax savings enjoyed by religious organizations, such as a rebate of sales tax and the exemption from land transfer taxes in some jurisdictions. Such amounts are not included in the foregoing analysis. Also excluded from the calculation were religions that reported some charitable work, no matter how small.

So the amount of lost tax revenue could be much greater.

Very little that appears in Canadian statutes is original. Much of our law is simply a carry-over from English common law that we obtained through our long years as a British colony. The test for determining the charitable status of a religion is no exception. The origin is found in The Statute of Charitable Uses, 1601. The formula for the test was elaborated by The House of Lords (the U.K.’s highest court of appeal) in 1891. That standard was abandoned by the U.K. in 2006.

Here are some things that bother me about this. We have a seriously damaged economy, with high unemployment and a government that has abandoned balanced budgets in favour of deficit financing. The problem with government deficits is that they eventually have to be paid from taxes. In a bad economy, tax revenues fall. In good times, maybe we can afford the luxury of allowing the “business of religion” to be tax sheltered. But, I think the day has come when we need to put an end to this.

A second consideration is the fairness to the growing demographic of those in this country who consider themselves non-religious. It is anticipated that number will come in at about 25% when the next census is taken in 2011, making the non-religious the second largest demographic by religion after Christianity. Why should these people be taxed to pay for religion?

Finally, our world has moved on since the time of Elizabeth the First. If the U.K. can see through the folly in the era of Elizabeth the Second surely Canada can.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Look up the definition of narcissistic personality

Seven out of ten Republicans have answered a national poll by saying they would vote for this chowder head in 2012. Only in America is ignorance raised to the level of virtue. She resigned her governorship of Alaska to start her presidential campaign. Here is a well-researched Vanity Fair article on Ms. Palin, appropriately entitled, It Came from Wasilla.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Health care complaints

I read Mark Steyn quite a bit because I am sympatico with his free speech crusade and some of his views about Islam. However, I am tired of his tirades against a government-run, single-payer health care system as we have in Canada.

Steyn is Belgian born, raised in Canada and, by choice, lives in New Hampshire, U.S.A. where the state slogan, he tells us proudly, is “Live free or die.” When it comes to health care, Steyn is all for pocketbook health care. He who has the biggest wallet gets the best care. He who has little, well, just sucks it up.

I have been reading this guff from him for quite some time. Then I came across this eyebrow-raiser from a blog, called “The Corner”, which he carries on his website. This is Steyn writing about his personal situation after a description of a woman who died from a bedsore in a hospital in England.

When we quote stories like these at NRO, we get a lot of e-mail saying these are just "anecdotes." And yes, if you look on yourself as being part of a government health system of millions of people, getting a bedsore and dying in hideous pain is no big deal in the scheme of things. But I look on myself as being part of the Mark Steyn health system. So if I get a bedsore and die, as far as I'm concerned, that's a 100% systemic failure. The difference between government health care and a private system is that, under the latter, you're free to say, "This dump's filthy. I'm going to the state-of-the-art joint five miles up the road." You may have to get out your checkbook, but ultimately the decisions are yours.
In a government system, the decisions are the bureaucrats', and that's that. My father is currently ill, and the health "system" is doing its best to ensure it's fatal. When an ambulance has to be called, they take him to a different hospital according to the determinations of the bed-availability bureaucrats and which facility hasn't had to be quarantined for an infection outbreak. At the first hospital, he picked up C Difficile. At the second, MRSA. At the third, like the lady above, he got septicaemia. He's lying there now, enjoying the socialized health care jackpot — C Diff, MRSA, septicaemia. None of these ailments are what he went in to be treated for. They were given to him by the medical system.

So, best-selling author, ubiquitous media guy, has a sick father that he leaves to the attention of the health care system he claims is terrible and he blames that system for his father’s additional medical woes.

What are we to make of this?

If his father was in a U.S. hospital he wouldn’t get hospital-induced diseases?


Well, perhaps less likely if dear old dad was in some super-expensive private clinic. So why doesn’t Steyn have him in one of these preferred settings? Doesn’t he like him that much, or is pop not as trusting of the U.S. medical system as his son is?

Oh, right, it is those drawbacks. You know. You have to pay for it, either directly or through some outrageous insurance premiums. Doubtful that Steyn would have a policy that covered his father, so it is out of pocket for him. He talks about it, but doesn't mention actually doing it.

Now, I don’t know about the great man’s personal financial situation, although I imagine he is not doing that badly, but I would venture that the sight of the doctors pulling into the clinic’s parking lots in their new Ferraris, kissing their buxom trophy wives goodbye, and lugging their new Callaway golf clubs into the physicians’ locker room for an early start on the fairway after a short stint of warm-up surgery caused a sharp guy like Steyn to consider how that lifestyle gets financed and just how many hundreds of guest gigs he would have to do on the Rush Limbaugh show to keep those patient-first docs happy enough to attend to dad.

Much better to continue to let people like me pay for his father’s care and then write nasty columns about what a fool I am supporting such a system.

Well, don’t worry yourself, Mark, I don’t mind in the slightest paying for your Dad, and I hope he suffers no further set-backs and gets better soon.

I am going to go out on a limb here and make a little wager. Our Mr. Steyn frequently comes back to Canada for speaking engagements and such. I bet you he takes the opportunity to pop into doctors' offices here for health check-ups, because it costs him nothing. I would be very surprised if he did not continue to carry a Canadian health card with him just for that reason. I know a number of ex-pat Canadians who shit all over Canada and then pull this stunt.

I wonder why Steyn thinks there is some difference between a U.S. hospital administrator and a Canadian one. Is there really that much to choose between a government bureaucrat and an insurance company one? Would it be the ties?

In Canada, his father was taken to several hospitals. In the U.S., if he had a health insurance policy, it would likely have dictated which hospital he could use if he wanted the insurance company to foot the bills.

I recall watching a television documentary on The Learning Channel called Misdiagnosis. It related the experience of several Americans who were allegedly misdiagnosed by American doctors.

I say alleged because one of the stories concerned a self-employed man of 42 years of age. He was married with children and his wife had a job with a company that provided its employees with health coverage through a third party insurance company.

The man started to have an unusual number of bowel movements each day and his stool was bloody. He sought medical attention under the terms of the policy and a battery of tests was performed and medicines were prescribed. Nothing cured the problem for two years. Then his wife got a new job with new medical insurance and it covered a colonoscopy (not covered in the previous plan). He had the colonoscopy and found that he had colon cancer. He was living for two years with colon cancer because of inadequate health insurance coverage.

That was not a case of misdiagnosis; that was purely non-diagnosis.

In Canada, colonoscopies are routine examinations performed as part of normal physicals for people of a certain age and are readily available for anyone else who has suspicious symptoms. They are covered under the government paid health plan.

This spring I had an occasion to talk about health insurance with a technician who fixed my air conditioning in my Florida house. He was 45 years of age, married and had two children. He had no health insurance. He didn't think it was that big a deal and then he said that his wife was run down by a car and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where, in addition to her cuts and bruises being patched, she was given an MRI.

I suggested that that was as far as it went because then they discovered she had no medical insurance and so she got no follow-up treatment. He kind of stepped back for a moment at that and it dawned on him that I was right. She was handed a copy of the MRI and summarily shown to the door. In Canada, she would have been kept in the hospital overnight to ensure that nothing was missed. And contrary to all the crap about misuse or non-use of MRI's in Canada, if one were available she would have had it right away for a car accident. We do use triage here.

Speaking of misdiagnoses, a few years ago in Florida my arm suddenly swelled up with painful inflammation. I checked into the nearest hospital. I used my credit card at the front door when I registered in. I was shown into a waiting room. After a while, I was ushered into an examination room. Shortly thereafter, a doctor came to see me. He diagnosed bursitis. I thought I had been bitten by an insect from the appearance of the swelling (a bright red dot in the centre where it was most painful) and the suddenness of the appearance of the condition.

Nope. Absolutely bursitis says the doc, laughing at my insect diagnosis, and sells me an arm sling for ten bucks and writes a prescription for a common anti-inflammatory drug.

I go to a pharmacy and discover that the medication costs more than twice what it would cost in Canada, so I don’t bother with it. After a few days, the swelling subsides. I confer with my mother who suffered for years from bursitis. That is not bursitis says she. Then a termite inspector walks through the house and notes that I have a nest of black widow spiders in the corner of the ceiling of my bedroom.

Eventually I get a detailed bill from the hospital. It was not outrageous but it also was not cheap. What caught my eye were the line-items. I was charged so much per hour for my wait in the waiting room. Then I was charged at a different rate for the time I spent in the examination room. There was a charge for the consultation with the doctor and a charge for the writing of the prescription.

If I were a hospital administrator using this kind of a billing system and if I wanted to boost my hospital’s income, I would be making sure that people waited a little longer before a doctor appeared on the scene, and if I did that, I would be just like Canadian hospital administrators (or bureaucrats as Mr. Steyn prefers).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

South of the border, down America way

America is nothing if not a country devoted to equality. There will be pressure on the government in its efforts to protect its borders to treat its northern boundary with Canada exactly as it does its boundary with Mexico. Already, the passport requirement is in effect at land border crossings and the U.S. has deployed spy drones and other electronic devices to watch for illegal crossings from Canada. No doubt the legislators will demand a fence like the U.S. has between itself and Mexico, although nearly half the boundary between our two countries is under water.

The Department of Homeland Security will have to show that it is spending an equal amount of money defending America's north as it is defending America's south -- in the U.S., equality is measured by money.

Here are the numbers regarding illegal crossings from last year.

Officials apprehended 723,840 people trying to enter the country illegally. Nearly 662,000 were from Mexico. Only 610 were from Canada.

Let's put those numbers in some perspective.

If you put all the illegal entries from Mexico in one urban location, it would rank by population as the 20th largest city in the United States, knocking Baltimore, Maryland down to the 21st spot. If you put the illegal entries from Canada in one place, it would equal the crowd that be can found in one of Toronto's largest downtown nightclub on any Saturday evening.

Do you really need to spend the same money on policing a downtown Toronto nightclub as you do Baltimore?

Now a cynic might say that the reason for the discrepancy in these numbers is because the United States has to date spent a lot more money on resources to catch illegal immigrants from Mexico.


That would be a person who believes that everybody wants to come and live in the United States and that there is no difference in that respect between Mexicans and Canadians. I don't like to burst the bubble of American self-pride, but the vast, vast majority of Canadians have no interest in living in the United States -- visiting yes -- living no. And the few that do want to live there take the legal route and become fully-fledged voting American citizens.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Does she like photography? Candid, eh? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Pee Wee's great Russian adventure.

I love these two pictures, they really do say more than a 1,000 words. They follow on from pictures of Obama's controversial bows to Middle Easter potentates. I doubt Putin or Medvedev are much into the bowing business.

Here is Obama shaking Medvedev's hand at the podium while the Medeved looks like he is preoccupied with considering what is on the menu for lunch, or wondering whether it is time to take a bathroom break.

Notice Putin waiting patiently for Obama to pull up his socks. Boy if that doesn't just capture the power relationship, I don't know what could.

It is reported that Putin sent birthday greetings to GWB just before his meeting with Obama praising Bush's openess and honesty; how thoughtless of Bush to have a birthday on the day Obama shows up to spread the oil around. Could those Republicans stoop any lower than this to steal the headlines from the great one?

Apparently, Obama was not greeted with adoring crowds and fawning media -- something new for him.

Although, I hear he declared the age of empire over, in case you, or anybody else in the world missed it. Perhaps you were distracted by those falling sea levels since he took office.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Prisoner number 88794 - languishing for a whole week in an immigration detention centre. The horror!

The following letter is reproduced from The Free Gaza Movement” website, and now appears to be in circulation on the Internet -- it first came to my attention that way. My comments will appear below the italicized text.

Letter from an Israeli Jail, by Cynthia McKinney

Saturday, 04 July 2009 13:47 Last Updated on Sunday, 05 July 2009 15:30 Written by Free Gaza Team

This is Cynthia McKinney and I'm speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies - and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

At the outbreak of Israel's Operation ‘Cast Lead' [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day's notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16's rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs - new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel's onslaught that Gaza had become Israel's veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.

The world saw Israel's despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water ... It's a miracle that I'm even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.
The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime ... I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?

Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else's children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza's children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.

I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza's children could color & paint, that Gaza's wounded could be healed, and that Gaza's bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.
But I've learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it's incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream ... like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better ... The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn't cheap. Many of them represent their family's best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them "there is no UN in Israel."

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world's first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle's detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can' were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel's marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they've done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people's children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I'm experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I'm lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

Let's change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State's Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.

I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I've met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.

Cynthia McKinney is controversial politician who is not shy about thumbing her nose at authority. She pushed her way past a security guard on Capitol Hill and allegedly assaulted him. She later apologized for her actions. Her father, who was also a politician, was heavily involved in the civil rights movement in Georgia and was reported to have made anti-Semitic remarks, to the effect, that the “Jews buy everybody”. I get the feeling she is a black Mel Gibson.

It is clear that long before she went to the Middle East she had her mind made up with respect to who is right and who is wrong in this conflict, and her mind has not been unduly influenced in that respect by a short stint in Israel’s immigration detention centre.

She is a great lover of conspiracy theories and was one of the early ones to jump on the “9/11 was an inside job” bandwagon. She later accused the authorities, in the wake of Katrina, of summarily executing 5,000 prisoners and secretly burying the bodies.

She wrote with approval to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal after New York Mayor Guilani gave him back his $10 million donation when the Prince proceeded to lecture on U.S. foreign policy. McKinney focussed on the accusations of human rights breaches by Israel. Imagine, sympathizing with a leading Saudi on human rights violations. Perhaps Ms. McKinney should go to Arabia and rent a car and do a driving tour of the country. Then she will be able to compare the inside of a Saudi jail with that of Israel’s.

I am not to sure what to make of her comments about Ethiopian cellmates. Apparently, they are black. Who knew? They also are stateless, hence their housing and three squares a day courtesy of the Israeli taxpayers. Ethiopians are Christians, and apparently they are under some delusion (which McKinney quaintly calls dreams) that Israel is the homeland for Christians. Nope. It is the homeland for Jews.

It strikes me that the energetic Ms. McKinney has a lot to offer the United States in terms of working hard to find a solution to America’s illegal immigration policies and perhaps would be more effective at that than lecturing a foreign state on its immigration policies. But, then, that is what American politicians do best, telling other people how to live their lives.

There is an internationally approved naval blockade (also approved by the Palestinian Authority), managed by Israel, to prevent arms flow into Gaza. Twice Ms. McKinney’s vessel tried to run the blockade. On the second journey, the captain provided false information to the Cyprus port authorities as to the vessel’s destination (claiming Egypt), which secured port clearance for the departure, something that would have been denied if Gaza had been listed as the destination.

This is a woman who doesn’t like Jews, doesn’t like Zionists, doesn’t like Israel, and doesn’t respect authority as a matter of course. It is clear that the whole thing was staged as a publicity event. She wasn’t detained for carrying crayons to children; she was detained for blockade running. Until the Israeli navy apprehended the vessel and searched it, they could not be sure it was not carrying weapons. There was nothing done by Israel that was illegal. The same cannot be said for her.

She has been released by the Israelis and they have offered to deliver her humanitarian aid by land. Other than being temporarily detained, she has not been harmed in any way, and has the right to avail herself of the Israeli legal system to defend her (yes Virginia, unlike Hamas-run Gaza, Israel has a fully functioning legal system that even the Palestinians appreciate).

What I would recommend for Ms. McKinney’s next big adventure is delivering boxes of crayons to deprived black children in Darfur who are being systematically slaughtered by Arabs. I wonder how she will enjoy her experience being detained by the Jajanweed. They are not quite as punctilious about human rights as the Israelis, nor even the Saudis.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why does everything look so small and far away with these binoculars?

Our good friend in The Toronto Star, Haroon Siddiqui, for whom the sun only shines out of Muslim backsides, has penned one of his patented “end of era” stories about how the recent, long-planned departure of American soldiers from Iraq shows the whole adventure to be a huge imperialist failure. They were “yanked” out of the cities, says Siddiqui.

He is right about the failure, of course, just not about the empire. He is like a man who looks through the wrong end of binoculars and notes that everything seems so small and far away.

The U.S. military forces destroyed the much vaunted Iraqi military in approximately a month after its invasion, and finally put an end to Saddam Hussein’s dreams of empire (seizing territory from Iran and annexing Kuwait). Then just about every jihad fighter in Islam descended on Iraq, spurred on by Osama bin Laden’s vision of a worldwide Caliphate and the Islamic conquest of the entire globe. There were 4 years of vicious fighting, and more than 4,000 U.S. casualties, but Islam was hammered into the ground, to the point that America feels it can safely withdraw its troops.

To take a conceit from Siddiqui’s story, nowhere does he mention the 300,000 plus Iraqis that Hussein murdered or the nearly one million Iranians who died from his war. Nowhere does he mention that the vast majority of the bloodshed in post-invasion Iraq came from Muslims killing each other, contrary to the dictates of the Koran.

All sustaining liberal democracies were born from conflict, but as Benjamin Franklin once said to a citizen outside the chambers where the American constitution was being debated, “We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it.”

I am not anticipating it will fail, but if Iraq should fail as a liberal democracy after this, it will be the responsibility of the Iraqis to shoulder the blame, not the United States. And if it is Islam that dooms the fledgling democracy then I suppose we will have our answer to the question of whether Islam can truly be compatible with democratic values. Who then will Siddiqui blame for Iraq’s troubles?

Militarily, there is no way Islam can defeat the west, even when armed with the weapons of the west. That has been the case for the past four centuries. However, the peaceful invasion of Islamic immigrants to western societies may have better outcomes for dreams of Islamic empires.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How "ism" and "ist" are euphemisms for the real problem, which is the religion

This is the text of American conservative journalist Diana West’s speech at the free speech conference of the International Free Press Society on 14 June, 2009 in the Danish Parliament building in Copenhagen.

The Impact of Islam on Free Speech in America

Americans are proud, and rightly so, of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which, among other things, protects speech from government control. The Amendment says in part: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Increasingly, however, Americans seem content to regard the First Amendment not as the fundamental working tool of democracy, but as a national heirloom, a kind of antique to admire rather than put to use. I don’t think many of my countrymen perceive how profoundly their attitude toward free speech has changed. But there is a difference between having freedom of speech and exercising freedom of speech, one that has become glaringly and distressingly obvious to me since September 11, 2001. So, while it is true that the US government is not Constitutionally empowered to make laws that censor Americans, it is also true, I believe, that Americans have come to censor themselves. But why?

I speak today in regard to the effect of Islam on speech in America - Islam as it has entered our national discussion and debate – and, I must add, lack of national discussion and debate - since the heinous Islamic attacks on the US nearly 8 years ago.

You may recall that just days after the attacks, then-President Bush said “This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.” At that same moment, the Pentagon, just across the river from the White House, was a colossal ruin, there was still carnage and mangled steel in the Pennsylvania woods, and an acrid fire of souls burned at the bottom of Manhattan. But once President Bush uttered that word “crusade” a new fear seemed to grip Washington and the wider world: namely, the fear that the President would “alienate” Muslims, even so-called “moderate Muslims.”

I believe such a fear may be unique in the annals of peoples under assault and bears further consideration. The English word “crusade,” of course, harkens back to the medieval wars between Islam and Christendom, which Islam ultimately won, as we know. In the more than nine centuries since, the word has become a familiar metaphor for any moral fight for right: Long ago in America, Thomas Jefferson spoke of a “crusade” against ignorance; the feminist Susan B. Anthony called for a women’s temperance “crusade”; more recently Colin Powell referred to the “equal rights” crusade. And when Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote his memoir of World War II, he called it “Crusade in Europe.”

But after 9/11 it became instantly clear that there wasn’t going to be a 21st-century-“crusade” against newly expansionist Islam – not even against the most violent manifestations of jihad as exemplified by these bloody attacks on civilians and cities in the United States. Why? Muslims didn’t approve. Non-al Qaeda Muslims, presumably, didn’t approve of a “crusade” against al-Qaeda, and the leader of the Free World deferred. A White House spokesman quickly expressed the president’s “regret” that anyone might have been “upset” by the word “crusade.” After that, the word was effectively struck from the English language.

This may seem like a small thing, no more than a diplomatic nicety, but the significance of excising this rousing and storied word from the vocabulary of Americans at the onset of war can hardly be overstated, and must be understood as an early and decisive psychological victory for Islam over the West. In this early semantic retreat we can see the beginnings of the official American lexicon that now strives to avoid associating Islam and jihad altogether, that no doubt gives mighty encouragement to the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s continuing efforts to outlaw all criticism of Islam.

Let me explain. In acceding to the Islamic interpretation of the word “crusade” as something wrong and indefensible – and, worse, something taboo and also verboten - the president traded away a piece of our history and our language – and our understanding of our history through our language – for the sole sake of appeasing Islam. And truly, this was just the beginning.

Soon, the president was giving up other words, other pieces of our culture. Operation Infinite Justice, the Pentagon name for the assault on the Taliban, for example, was changed after Muslims complained that they believed only Allah dispenses infinite justice. The new name was Operation Enduring Freedom. Presumably, Muslims do not believe Allah dispenses freedom, enduring or otherwise (which is interesting), so that was all right. But in making the change, the US was again deferring to Islamic demands, Islamic understandings. In other words, as a military intelligence officer-friend of mine likes to put it, we were “outsourcing” our judgment to Islam. Indeed, the name “war on terror” itself was a generic sop to Islamic sensibilities, omitting any reference to the Islamic dimension of the struggle, namely the jihad that was and is underway.

In those early days after 9/11, President Bush also made it part of his job to serve as the nation’s head cheerleader for Islam as “the religion of peace.” Confusingly, this immediately put “jihad” in a box as something superfluous to Islam. This is now the conventional wisdom in America, from Left to Right: jihad has nothing to do with Islam. Or: “Jihadism is not Islam,” former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney obediently declared last month. People think Barack Hussein Obama is the first American president to promote Islam. The fact is, President Bush’s incessant declarations that Islam is a peaceable creed that terrorist-traitors had “hijacked” or “twisted” drove Abu Qatada, the notorious imam in Britain linked to Al Qaeda to comment “I am astonished by President Bush when he claims there is nothing in the Koran that justifies jihad or violence in the name of Islam. Is he some kind of Islamic scholar? Has he ever actually read the Koran?”

It’s fair to say that the answer to both questions is no. It’s also disturbing to realize that in the mainstream conversation, the only questions balking at the president’s depiction of Islam as a hearts-and-flowers ideology came from an Islamic terror-imam – never from our own media or politicians. Last year, George W. Bush’s Department of Homeland Security made it difficult for government officials to talk about anything but “hearts and flowers” Islam by issuing a long memorandum “suggesting” that government officials stop using all such words as “jihad,” “jihadist,” “Islamic terrorist,” “Islamist” “Islamofascist” and the like when discussing, well, Islamic terrorism. “Using the word “Islamic” will sometimes be necessary,” the memorandum said, adding that the department’s Muslim experts were concerned that in such a case “we should not concede the terrorists’ claim that they are legitimate adherents of Islam.”

It’s not hard to imagine Abu Qatada cackling over this propaganda, but I regret to say there was scant media coverage of even this outrageous Islamic apologetic via government directive.

This shouldn’t be surprising since the media in the US, as elsewhere in the West, is overwhelmingly predisposed to ignore or deny, as a key point of cultural relativism, all specifically Islamic roots of jihad violence and conquest. This is the philosophical basis of what I call Islam-free analysis. Add to that the fear factor of Islamic violence – as we saw in the Danish cartoon crisis – or fear of Islamic protests or harassment, and the United States of America is happy to comply with a universal gag order on Islam, First Amendment or no First Amendment.

And so, from the so-called war on terror – which is now, even more opaquely known by the Obama administration as an “overseas contingency operation” - to newsrooms across America, Islam as what sociologists call “an underlying cause” is increasingly treated as a forbidden topic. Another example: As a journalist, I attend expert lectures in Washington, DC, on, What happened in Iraq? or, The future of Afghanistan. I can attest that at all the ones I have attended, Islam – its culture, its history, beliefs, supremacism, sharia, jihad, anything - is never even mentioned. In this same mold, Gen. Stanley McChrystal gave one his first interviews as the newly confirmed commander in Afghanistan last week about the challenges facing coalition forces in Afghanistan. Such challenges, apparently, have nothing to do with Islam, Islamic law (sharia), or jihad – none of which he even mentioned.

This same see-no-Islam mindset, to focus on the media for a moment, drives stories such as the Buffalo, New York “businessman” who beheaded his wife this spring after she filed for divorce. Did I mention he was a Muslim? That he had founded a television station to combat negative Islamic stereotyping? Most US media didn’t. Initial reports, such as they were, cited “money woes,” or general “domestic violence” as the trigger, never noting the sacralization of misogyny within Islam, let the unfortunate Koranically inspired propensity toward beheading people. To take another typical story, last month authorities uncovered a terror plot in New York City targeting synagogues and military aircraft. I listened to a 2 minute and 29 second radio report of the story and didn’t get the information that the suspects were jailhouse converts to Islam until the final eight seconds. And that was typical. Another non-story for the Islam-blind: When Harvard University’s Muslim chaplain recently declared support for the traditional Islamic penalty of death for apostasy, there were exactly two newspaper stories: one in Harvard’s student newspaper, and one that I wrote. Some of the most egregious examples of Islam-free reporting came out of the jihadist attacks on Mumbai. Early this year, for example, the Indian government released intercepts of conversations of the jihadists who murdered 163 people last November. The conversations frequently invoked Allah, Islam and the need to spare Muslims in the bloody rampages but world media including the New York Times and the Associated Press, for example, omitted all or very nearly all references to Allah, Islam, and the need to spare Muslims in the bloody rampages.

As a conservative, I would like to say that such silence on all things Islam is a phenomenon of the mainstream media, or the Left in general. But this same silence is also a phenomenon of the Right, the side of the political spectrum where one expects to find some fight. But American conservatives, too, protect Islam by not talking about it - our most famous conservative talk show hosts, for example, barely ever mention it - or by obscuring the subject with the nonsense words that hide the mainstream Islamic roots of terror and supremacism.

Soon after 9/11, I tried some of these same terms out myself – Islam”ist,” Islamo-fascist, radical fundamentalist, Wahhabist, and the like - but came to find them confusing, and maybe purposefully so. In their amorphous imprecision, they allow us to give a wide berth to a great problem: the gross incompatibility of Islamic ideology with Western liberty. Worse than imprecision, however, is the evident childishness that inspires the lexicon, as though padding “Islam” with extraneous syllables such as “ism” or “ist” is a shield against politically correct censure; or that exempting plain “Islam” by criticizing imaginary “Islamofascism” spares us Muslim rage--which, as per the Danish experience, we know explodes at any critique. Such mongrel terms, however, not only confuse the discussion, but keep our understanding of Islam at bay.

Here is how it works on the Right. In writing about Cartoon Rage 2006, Charles Krauthammer, probably the leading conservative columnist in America, clearly identified why the Western press failed to republish the Danish Mohammed cartoons.

He wrote: “What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear.”

This was clear as a bell: but then he wrote: “They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached.”

To repeat, the columnist wrote that Theo van Gogh made a film about the “Islamic treatment of women” and was killed by a knife “with an Islamist manifesto” attached. Given that both Theo’s film and murder-manifesto were explicitly inspired by the verses of the Koran, what’s Islamic about the treatment of women that’s not also Islamic about the manifesto? The “ist” is a dodge, a semantic wedge between the religion of Islam and the ritual murder of van Gogh. It saves face. But why, why, is it up to an infidel American columnist to save face … when the face is Mohammed’s?

I think the answer is connected to what may have been the real war President Bush began to lead the day he gave up the “crusade.” I’m afraid this effort isn’t against “jihad,” and it isn’t against Islamization. On the contrary, it’s a very strange war for the West: it’s our war against alienating Islam; our war against blaming Islamic ideology for violence and repression in the cause of Islamic conquest. In this Western struggle to protect Islam, denouncing an Islam”ist” manifesto, for example, leaves Islam itself ideologically blameless. And this constitutes a win in this very weird war.

But the war against alienating Islam is not a war I want to fight — and no adherent of Western liberty could believe it’s the war we want to win. Indeed, this war effort turns out to be the same thing as fighting for Islam. It calls us to self-censorship, self-abnegation, self-extinguishment. It depends on and encourages our submission. This is the behavior of the dhimmi and the culture of dhimmitude as catalogued by the great historian Bat Ye’or. Honestly, I don’t think Americans realize they’re engaged in such a suicidal effort, which has even intensified under President Obama. Nor do I believe most Americans would rally to such a cause - if, that is, they became educated to understand it. But the knowledge gap is as wide as the communications gap. Deep down we may not have lost our will; however, at this terrible point, we have lost our language to mobilize that will. And very few Americans seem to realize it.

A final point: I’ve had the opportunity to observe Geert Wilders speak in the United States this past year, and, as you know, he speaks in robust terms to explain forthrightly the perils of Islamization in the West. His heroic manner and clarity electrify many of the Americans who hear him – which suggests there is a healthy flicker of life out there. But there is often someone in the crowd who will tell Mr. Wilders that while he agrees with the message, Mr. Wilders should soften his words so as not to offend anyone – meaning, of course, Muslims. “Don’t say Judeo Christian culture is better,” I heard one man say to Mr. Wilders. “Say: ‘we believe in women’s rights.’” I know I don’t have to worry about Mr. Wilders “moderating” his message, but I worry greatly about all the Americans who ask him to.

On hearing about the Dutch court’s sharia-compliant prosecution of his freedom of speech, an American journalist reacted with genuine horror that such a state of repression could exist in a Western country. At the same time, I could sense his quiet pride in knowing, at the back his mind, that he, as an American, was fully protected by the First Amendment. But I wondered to myself, Did he use it? Did his colleagues use it? If the state of American journalism is any marker, the answer is no. Geert Wilders speaks out as if he is protected by the First Amendment, but US journalists and politicians speak so as not to “give offense,” so as not to raise alarm, so as not to criticize Islam.

Islam, of course, is not our only block on speech. For decades, Americans have been schooling themselves to speak with political correctness. As the country has lurched Left under President Bush and now even further under President Obama, we are now seeing ominous legislation making its way through Congress – so-called “hate crimes” legislation – that bodes ill for free speech and also for equality before the law. We are seeing alarming efforts on the Left to “regulate” – in fact, to censor - radio talk shows, for example, and also the Internet.

I wish I could end on a hopeful note, but my sense is that it will have to get worse in America before it gets better. And how will we know when things are beginning to improve? When Americans, as a people, learn, or re-learn something: that it’s not enough to possess freedoms. We must learn that it’s vital to exercise our freedoms if we want to have any hope of preserving them.