Friday, November 18, 2005

Keeping Terror at Bay - Border Control

In the ongoing war against radical Islam, the West’s best defense also happens to be the simplest. Victor Davis Hanson makes the elementary case in City Journal.

From a national security standpoint, the prevention of another September 11 thus seems straightforward—in theory. Suspend most legal immigration from Middle Eastern countries known to subsidize or tolerate terrorism. Review all current visas and search out and deport violators. Continue to audit carefully the arrivals of Middle Eastern nationals. Tighten the Canadian and Mexican borders. Extend existing statutes on inflammatory speech and hate crimes to include radical Islamic doctrines that routinely denigrate Americans, Jews, homosexuals, and women. Hand down long sentences to those convicted of promulgating Islamic hatred and plotting terrorism, with special attention given to Saudi-sponsored charities, madrassas, and mosques. Renew the Patriot Act, and create a public culture that associates radical Islamicism with fascism.

This line of reasoning requires only common sense to understand. Sadly, that’s all too rare a commodity among the political class in Washington. So why haven’t we acted to secure the homeland in exactly the manner that the new security agency’s name would suggest?

Our elite commitment to multiculturalism also hamstrings us from taking the needed security steps. For 30 years, our schools have pounded home the creed that all cultures are of equal merit—or, more accurately perhaps, that no culture is worse than the West’s. Millions of Americans consequently aren’t sure whether radical Islam is just another legitimate alternative to the dominant Western narrative. Typical of this mind-set, UCLA English professor Saree Makdisi, excusing the London subway terrorism, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that deliberately butchering commuters is no worse than accidentally killing civilians while targeting terrorists in a war zone. "American and British media have devoted hours to wondering what would drive a seemingly normal young Muslim to destroy himself and others," Makdisi said. "No one has paused to ask what would cause a seemingly normal young Christian or Jew to strap himself into a warplane and drop bombs on a village, knowing full well his bombs will inevitably kill civilians (and, of course, soldiers)."

It is no accident that Ms. Makdisi hails from a university humanities department. Radical leftists infest the humanities departments in the same way rates infest warehouses – because the humanities, unlike say the hard sciences, demand the least intelligence, the least attachment to reality, and allow them access to the most pliable minds in the student body. In a saner age, Ms. Makdisi’s stunningly obtuse wielding of moral equivalence to excuse the murder of civilians and bestow legitimacy on America’s enemies would have resulted in her immediate expulsion from the school. Today it wins her support amongst her colleagues. This is the level to which the left has brought higher education in the Western world. That the terrorists whom Ms. Makdisi excuses hate the very values she embraces and would kill everyone she loves is a side issue. The terrorists want to destroy the West, particularly the capitalist US, and academics like Ms. Makdisi are perfectly willing to sympathize with that to the exclusion of al other concerns.

It is a tremendous historical irony that America’s liberal Left, embracing moral equivalence in this fashion, has all but refused to denounce the illiberal ideology of our enemies—an ideology that supports polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, hatred of homosexuals, and patriarchy. Sometimes, the terrorists even win outright praise: perhaps the most popular filmmaker of election year 2004 was Michael Moore, who celebrated the suicide bombers and terrorists of Iraq as "minutemen" akin to our own Founding Fathers.

If we are not sure as a nation that Islamists really are foes of Western values but instead see them as another persecuted group with legitimate gripes against us (occupied Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, colonialism, the Crusades), then it becomes increasingly hard to identify, let alone fight, the practitioners of Islamic fanaticism at home. Even the military bureaucracy seems to be having trouble naming the enemy: witness the rebranding by some Pentagon officials of "the war on terrorism" into the "global war against violent extremism." While the original nomenclature was unsatisfactory—wars aren’t fought against a tactic but rather against those using it—the new name is even less helpful. Our fight against jihadists is different from our struggle with recalcitrant Serbian nationalists or Kim Jong-il’s crackpot extremism. We are at war with radical Islam, Islamic fascism, Islamism—the "radical Islamic polemic," in the words of Sarkozy. We should never lose sight of this fact. President Bush’s October speech describing our struggle against Islamic terror—a first for the administration—is an encouraging, if belated, sign.

That it has taken the Bush administration four years since the carnage of September 11, 2001, to properly identify the source of the terrorists dedicated to destroying our way of life is not an encouraging sign. It simply points out the hideous intellectual evasions practiced by the ruling elite in Washington. It provides no measure of reassurance that the Bush administration really yet understands the nature of the threat, or will take the necessary steps to squelch it any time soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Warning Bells for the GOP

To hear the Rush Limbaugh's and Sean Hannity's of talk radio tell it, the recent US elections were entire the product of local issues and in no way prefigure GOP hardships in next year’s mid-term elections. Those are the talking points, and they have been shouted from the rooftops, so to speak. But, increasingly, more sober voices are being heard, warning Republicans that all is not well in the kingdom George W. has created. A surprising entry into this growing chorus of naysayers appears in the redoubtably neo-con Weekly Standard, edited by neo-con luminaries William Krystol and Bush-is-never-wrong flunky Fred Barnes. In their article, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam warn that the GOP leadership has become too comfortable with power in Washington and that the policies of the Bush administration no longer benefit the electoral majority that brought him to power and kept him there. The article is well worth reading, both for what it says and what it doesn’t.

There are a number of interesting admissions in this article and the first one is something Republicans really hate to discuss – the actual composition of their voting base.

This is the Republican party of today--an increasingly working-class party, dependent for its power on supermajorities of the white working class vote, and a party whose constituents are surprisingly comfortable with bad-but-popular liberal ideas like raising the minimum wage, expanding clumsy environmental regulations, or hiking taxes on the wealthy to fund a health care entitlement. To borrow a phrase from Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Republicans are now "the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club."

Therein lies a great political danger for Republicans, because on domestic policy, the party isn't just out of touch with the country as a whole, it's out of touch with its own base. And its majority is hardly unassailable: Despite facing a lackluster Democratic presidential candidate who embodied virtually all the qualities Americans loathe--elitism, aloofness, Europhilia, vacillating weakness--George W. Bush, war president and skilled campaigner, was very nearly defeated in his bid for reelection. GOP operatives boast that their electoral efforts were targeted down to the minutest detail, and that their marketing prowess delivered victory for the incumbent. The trouble is that even such extraordinary efforts delivered only a narrow victory.

For all the blather from the Rove-influenced, big-moneyed neo-con wing of the GOP about the party’s future depending on Hispanic and black voters, it just isn’t so.

The hope that compassionate conservatism might help Republicans make permanent inroads among blacks and Hispanics has evaporated--Katrina's racially charged aftermath probably delivered the coup de grâce to Bush's efforts to woo African Americans--and now the party is struggling to hold on to its white working class loyalists. Last summer, Bush's approval rating among non-Hispanic whites stood at 61 percent. Over the past year, it's plummeted to 44 percent.

The great Latino voting bloc hasn’t emerged yet and when it does, it is unlikely to vote Republican. Steve Sailer made this point brilliantly last year. The GOP depends on a white majority vote. Black and Hispanic voters do not share the GOP’s agenda and will not vote Republican in large numbers, no matter how much outreach, or how many concessions the GOP makes. Worse, while Bush does his best not to alienate Hispanic voters by reigning in illegal immigration, his failure to do so infuriates the non-Hispanic white voters on which the GOP depends. It’s a recipe for future electoral disaster.

Douthat and Salam finally get to immigration after worrying about the rapidly declining financial security faced by lower class Americans, white and non-white. And they attribute that financial insecurity, at least in part, to mass immigration from Mexico.

Then there is the elephant in the room--immigration. No other issue separates the Republican base so starkly from the Republican elite, and with good reason. Simply put, large-scale immigration from Mexico has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. The college-educated have reaped the benefits of a steep decrease in the price of labor-intensive services, while working-class Americans, exposed to increasingly stiff competition, have seen their earnings stagnate and even dwindle.

Put more simply, American workers in low, semi- and non-skilled jobs are being driven out of the job market by illegal Mexicans. Wages respond to the same supply and demand pressures as do prices. If there are 100 available jobs emptying trash cans, and only 80 people willing to take them, then employers will have to compete with each other to attract employees to empty the trash cans. They do this by raising wages or offering benefits. However, if someone opens the door to more workers and suddenly there are 200 people willing to empty trashcans – and 120 of them are willing to work for virtually anything, then the equation changes. Pressure shifts away from employers and back to employees, who must now compete with each other for jobs. Employers know they no longer need to offer incentives to keep laborers, and can get new workers with ease. It becomes economically sensible for the employer to fire his current workers and hire new ones at lower wages. The greater the level of immigration, the greater the downward pressure on wages at the level where most immigrants enter the labor market. In an information/high-tech economy like the US, the highest levels of employment are relatively insulated from the effects of high immigration because few immigrants – legal or otherwise – have the qualifications to compete in those markets. Hence, the support of many GOP pundits and elites for open door immigration which drives the price they pay for services down, but has no effect on their wages, and the building fury among middle and lower class Americans who feel the negative effects of this open door policies on their paychecks and neighborhoods.

Douthat and Salam sense the bind the GOP finds itself in over immigration.

But Mexico is more than a source of cheap labor. It's the ancestral homeland of a large and growing number of Americans. Remembering the lessons of Pete Wilson's doomed anti-immigration crusade, many Republicans, from President Bush on down, are reluctant to travel that road again. Such considerations drive the Bush administration's proposed immigration reform, which would offer a path of earned legalization to those already in the country. Bush is half-right: Few Americans would support a program of mass expulsion (which would probably destroy the Republican party's electoral prospects for a generation), and there needs to be a greater effort to Americanize Hispanics (as we used to say). But taken on its own, Bush's quasi-amnesty would in all likelihood increase the size of the unskilled influx, further damaging the economic prospects of low-income native-born workers, and raising the likelihood of a revolt by the Republican base.

One suspects that the authors would be surprised by just how many Americans would favor the forcible expulsion of illegal immigrants (possibly even a solid majority), but the question will never be asked exactly because the elite political class in Washington senses that it wouldn’t like the answer. Nevertheless, Douthat and Salam try to make a case for serious border enforcement though they sound distinctly pained in the process.

… the GOP needs to find a way to split the difference between the anti-immigration hawks and the advocates of open borders--by predicating any earned legalization program on increased spending for border control and serious sanctions for employers who hire undocumented workers. Would such measures put an end to illegal immigration? Of course not. But they would do something to slow it, and more important, seal a fissure that's opening within the party.

In the long run, though, the GOP needs to recognize that clumsy pandering on immigration isn't the best way to win Hispanic voters (especially since many of the workers being hurt by unfettered immigration are themselves native-born Latinos). If Republicans are going to continue making inroads among Hispanics, they need to address their economic aspirations, not their ethnic loyalties. It's upwardly mobile second-and third-generation Mexican-Americans, not recent immigrants, who are likely to turn to the GOP--and wage subsidies for low-income workers, a health care reform that drives down costs, and government support for large families are all more likely to win them over than any amnesty proposal.

The evidence that most Mexican-Americans will ever vote republican, at least in sufficient numbers to help the GOP is seriously in doubt. In fact, the evidence regarding Mexican-American living patterns across multiple generations is chilling. To the extend that they are assimilating, many seem to be adopting the habit and degenerate behavior of the underclass. Such "Americans" will never vote republican, or with any sense, if they vote at all. It also raises serious questions regarding the average I.Q. of recent immigrants from south of the border and what an large infusion of lower-I.Q. immigrants really means for the economic and cultural health of the U.S. over the long term. But that’s not a topic you’ll find discussed in the Weekly Standard, or certainly any mainstream publication, save to offer politically acceptable denigration of the whole notion of I.Q.

Douthat and Salam make another critical observation:

Both military service and parenthood are crucial to the country's long-term survival. It's about time we recognize that fact.

This position should be so commonsensical that saying it out loud ought to be unnecessary. Unfortunately, in the current climate of intellectual decay and evasion, stating the obvious becomes essential since common sense has been run out of the national political discourse. (The situation is far worse in Europe, but that should be of no comfort to Americans. The intellectual and demographic demise of Europe directly harms American interests and isolates the US from what should be its natural allies.) The first law of Darwinian reality is that populations (you can equally well insert "cultures") that do not reproduce themselves become extinct. The second rule is that populations that fail to defend themselves against predators also become extinct (or at least linger on in impoverished misery). Rarely are conquerors as beneficent to the vanquished as the US was to Germany and Japan. That represents an historical anomaly. Consider how the Japanese treated the defeated Chinese during the same war for an example of the usual course of events. Reagan’s oft-repeated bromide "peace through strength" rang true to those who had lived through WWII and won their votes.

The authors then point out – quite correctly – that the economics of modern life have conspired to make children an almost prohibitively expensive luxury.

Conservatives have long emphasized the importance of these cultural factors, and rightly so--but just as culture impacts economics, so too can economic policy affect cultural trends. It's possible to imagine policies that would support a virtuous cycle, in which increased working class economic security shores up familial stability. And policies that offer government support to economically insecure families wouldn't be money for nothing. America, like any nation, depends on parents' willingness to raise healthy and well-educated children.

Without a youthful population, the costs of supporting retirees are unsustainable, and the innovation and entrepreneurial zeal that make America the world's economic leader will slowly wither. Yet the decision to raise children continues to be treated as something akin to the decision to buy an expensive automobile--a perfectly fine thing to do, but don't expect any sympathy or support when you can't afford a tune-up or an oil change. Having a large family used to be a sign that you had faith in the future. Today, outside the family-friendly exurbs that played a crucial role in reelecting President Bush, it's become a form of conspicuous consumption--or, for the poor, a mark of irresponsibility.

The ever-indispensible Steve Sailer has pointed out that a major difference in the cultural norms and voting habits of red states, as compared to their blue-colored brethren – is the statewide birthrate. States whose economic conditions (cost of living, etc) are more favorable to families tend to produce them, states where the cost of raising a family is high tend to produce fewer families and fewer children. States with more families and higher birthrates vote Republican. Douthat and Salam follow this line of reasoning to realize that policies that make family formation more attractive and attainable are in the GOP’s long-term interest since they will increase the segments of the population most likely to embrace republican ideals. Bush’s failure to assist struggling families, the authors claim, represents yet another long-term debacle for the GOP. (Sailer comes to the same conclusion - indeed, one wonders how much of Steve Sailer’s work Douthat and Salam have read.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Islamic Liberty

The next time one hears Muslims in the US or Europe whining about supposed infringements on their civil liberties (like, say, surveilling mosques at which Islamists recruit, or restricting immigration from Muslim nations), one might respond by pointing out the extend of personal freedoms allowed in Muslim countries. Take Saudi Arabia, for instance. Religious liberty is unknown in Islam’s Holy Land, not only for non-Muslims, but for Muslims foolish enough to say anything favorable about other religions. Before Muslims criticize their treatment in the West, where they are permitted to publicly practice their religion, let them first address the repression in their own lands.

A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a teacher to 40 months in jail and 750 lashes for "mocking religion" after he discussed the Bible and praised Jews, a Saudi newspaper said on Sunday.

Al-Madina newspaper said secondary school teacher Mohammad al-Harbi will be flogged in public after he was taken to court by his colleagues and students.

He was charged with promoting a "dubious ideology, mocking religion, saying the Jews were right, discussing the gospel and preventing students from leaving class to wash for prayer", the newspaper said. It gave no more details.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, strictly upholds the austere Wahhabi school of Islam and bases its constitution on the Koran and the sayings of Prophet Mohammad. Public practice of any other religion is banned.

A U.S. State Department report criticised Saudi Arabia last week, saying religious freedoms "are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam".

The newspaper said Harbi will appeal against the verdict.

Note the line: "public practice of any other religion is banned." If the Islamists have their way, that stricture wouldn’t simply apply to Saudi Arabia, but to the entire world. Historically, Islam spread fastest when driven by the sword. That’s a point not lost on the Islamists, nor on most Muslims, who gleeful celebrate the mass murder of non-Muslims, but bray like stuck pigs when non-Muslims dare to return the favor.

Of course, Muslims have learned well the weakness and self-loathing of Western intellectuals, which is why they constantly complain that their rights are being violated. Such appeals – especially by non-Christian, non-whites – carry special currency with the politically correct ideologues of the West, producing spasms of ferocious self-hatred from white liberals who consider themselves and their culture the cause of all human suffering. It’s the perfect wedge with which to infiltrate and undercut Western culture, which was the point of multiculturalism all along.

Oh, and good luck with that appeal, Mr. Harbi. You’ll need it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Jihad Down Under

The recent arrest of seventeen Muslims in Australia highlights the peril presented by Muslim immigration to Western societies. True enough, not all Muslims are Islamists, but a significant percentage are sympathetic to Islamism, or at least unconcerned by its growth in their communities, which amounts to tacit support. Given the worldwide reach and ambitions of Islamist terrorists, drawn in unending numbers from local Muslim populations worldwide, the folly of admitting Muslim – even in small, highly screened number – into non-Muslim nations should be self-evident. Of course, the leaders of Western nations have adopted multiculturalism as their new civic religion, and willfully refuse to acknowledge the mounting evidence that multiculturalism’s core social assumptions are false (see France). Nonetheless, it is instructive to note what the police found when they arrested the Australian Muslims.

Seventeen men, including the suspected ringleader Abdul Nacer Benbrika, also known as Abu Bakr, were arrested in Sydney and Melbourne on November 8 in Australia's biggest anti-terrorism raids.

The document, submitted to Sydney's Central Local Court today, outlined the allegations against the eight suspects held in Sydney.

It shows that they bought chemicals used in the London July 7 bombs, had bomb-making instructions in Arabic and videos entitled "Sheikh Osama's Training Course" and "Are you ready to die?"

It also shows that their Islamic spiritual leader told the men that if they wanted to die for jihad they should inflict "maximum damage".

"If we want to die for jihad, we have to have maximum damage. Maximum damage. Damage their buildings, everything. Damage their lives," said Benbrika, according to the document.

It also alleges that six of the men went on "hunting and camping trips", which police described as jihad training camps, in the Australian outback in March and April 2005.

"This training is consistent with the modus operandi of terrorists prior to attacks," the police document said, adding one man attended a training camp in Pakistan in 2001.

This is what the Australians permitted into their country when they opened their borders to immigrants from cultures which had nothing in common with their own. The same blight – created by the same ideological poison – is now burning cars in Paris (read: flexing its muscles). The inability of Western leaders to forthrightly identify the threat and take the proper steps to combat it, leaves the West vulnerable and undefended as it invigorates the Islamists, who have correctly diagnosed Western self-loathing and intellectual decay and are ready to exploit both. Such muddle-headedness is amply demonstrated by George Bush’s incoherent and empty "War on Terrorism" rhetoric (is the US at war with Basque separtists in Spain? The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka?) and his frequent admonitions to the American people that "Islam is a religion of peace," which demands Americans to close their eyes and ignore the cruel reality that fills the nightly newscasts and every day’s newspapers. Not surprisingly, this is the same leader who has stood by idly as his nation’s southern border has collapse under an tidal wave of invading Mexicans, who bring with them their language and culture, creating Mexican colonies in every American city and town, and who show no inclination to assimilate. Paris today is Los Angeles twenty years from now, if not sooner.