Friday, March 10, 2006

Jared Diamond, Please Call Your Office

In two bestselling books, UCLA professor Jared Diamond has argued that the success or failure of human societies has little to do with the innate characteristics of the peoples who comprise those societies but rather depends almost entirely on the environment in which they find themselves. Prof. Diamond built the foundation for this argument in Guns, Germs and Steel, in which he cited Europe’s impressive network of rivers, temperate climate and fauna as the real reasons underlying the success of European civilization. He consummated it in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by arguing that a communitarian environmentalism saves societies from their own greed. This won him instant acclaim from the academic Left, which despises the concept of natural selection the second someone applies it to modern humans (let’s not even mention sexual selection) and any notion of human progress. The two books have made Prof. Diamond quite wealthy, and have guaranteed him an ample income in speaking fees. However, one key morality tale in Prof. Diamond’s treatise is being seriously challenged. It turns out that the native inhabitants of Easter Island may not have sent their society hurtling into eco-collapse as long thought. According to research published by Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii, and Carl Lipo of California State University, in Science, the original Polynesian settlers of Easter Island arrived considerably later than commonly thought, and that the society didn’t collapse suddenly.

The researchers also dispute the claim that Easter Island's human inhabitants were responsible for their own demise. Instead, they think the culprits may have been Europeans, who brought disease and took islanders away as slaves, and rats, which quickly multiplied after arriving with the first Polynesian settlers.

"The collapse was really a function of European disease being introduced," Lipo said. "The story that's been told about these populations going crazy and creating their own demise may just be simply an artifact of [Christian] missionaries telling stories."

At a scientific meeting last year, Hunt presented evidence that the island's rat population spiked to 20 million from the years 1200 to 1300. Rats had no predators on the island other than humans and they would have made quick work of the island's palm seeds. After the trees were gone, the island's rat population dropped off to a mere one million.

Lipo thinks the story of Easter Island's civilization being responsible for its own demise might better reflect the psychological baggage of our own society than the archeological evidence.

"It fits our 20th century view of us as ecological monsters," Lipo said. "There's no doubt that we do terrible things ecologically, but we're passing that on to the past, which may not have actually been the case. To stick our plight onto them is unfair."

Of course, Prof. Diamond will say that he never claimed that environmental folly was the sole cause of every civilization he mentioned and that he can still cite other examples. But the reversal of thought on Easter Island’s history – much like the earlier reversal of thought regarding the violent nature of Mayan culture – should give pause to those hawking trendy theories that ignore the basic building blocks of any society: people.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Another Moderate American Muslim

It’s always illuminating to find examples of moderate Muslims who have achieved prominent positions in American life, giving clear evidence as to the peaceful, respectful nature of Islam and its ability to fully integrate into the American way of life.

The head of Islamic chaplains in the New York City Department of Correction said in a recent speech that the "greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House," Jews control the media, and Muslims are being tortured in Manhattan jails.

The outlandish remarks were made by one of the city's most prominent Islamic leaders, Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, the executive director of ministerial services for the city Department of Correction. He spoke at a conference of Islamic leaders in Tucson, Ariz., and was secretly recorded by the counterterrorism organization The Investigative Project.

The recordings capture Abdul-Jalil - speaking at two separate symposiums on Islam in America held by the Muslim Students Association on April 15 and 16 last year - making incendiary charges and espousing extremist views.

Abdul-Jalil, 56, who is also imam of the Masjid Sabur mosque in Harlem, initially denied making the comments - but later admitted to The Post that the tape was most likely accurate and said his words are being "taken out of context."

Isn’t comforting to know that such a well-tempered and manifestly well-informed, unbiased person has been placed in charge of "ministering" to prison inmates, who can then take what they’ve learned outside the prison an straight into their neighborhoods – and ultimately (when they’re robbing your home) yours.

Abdul-Jalil also accused the Bush administration of being terrorists, according to the tape.

"We have terrorists defining who a terrorist is, but because they have the weight of legitimacy, they get away with it . . . We know that the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House, without a doubt," he said.

At another session, Abdul-Jalil urged American Muslims to stop allowing "the Zionists of the media to dictate what Islam is to us" and said Muslims must be "compassionate with each other" and "hard against the kufr [unbeliever]."

Abdul-Jalil, a Bronx resident who said he converted to Islam while at Attica prison in 1970, participated in interfaith reconciliation efforts after 9/11. He recently took part in an educational ceremony with Gov. Pataki on Martin Luther King Day.

"His comments betray an effort to instill hatred of the United States as the enemy of Islam by making a series of false allegations portraying the U.S. as an evil country," said anti-terror expert Steve Emerson, director of The Investigative Project.

Of course, Mr. Abdul-Jalil isn’t the only example of a peaceful, moderate Muslim civil servant. Indeed, in New York, his kind are becoming a distinct trend:

Abdul-Jalil is the latest Muslim chaplain working for city and state agencies to come under fire.

Last year, the city Fire Department forced Imam Intikab Habib to resign as chaplain for publicly doubting that al Qaeda hijackers brought down the World Trade Center towers and suggesting there was a broader "conspiracy."

Three years ago, Pataki fired Imam Warith Deen Umar, the former chief Muslim chaplain for the state prison system, after it was reported he was expressing support for the 9/11 terrorists.

Truly, the residents of New York can sleep well at night, secure in the knowledge that multiculturalism and political correctness have allowed only the finest, best suited people to work to "reform" the prison population.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tarheels and Terrorists

Mohammad Reza Taheri-azar, an Iranian-born Muslim, raised in the US, drives a large rented SUV into a crowd of students at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, then calmly calls the police to announce his crime. When asked why he did it, Taheri-azar replies that he was attempting to kill Americans in response to America’s crimes against Muslims. He is proud of his actions. In a rational world, Taheri-azar’s actions and his self-declaration of terrorist intent would be enough to definitively label his act an example of Islamic terrorism. But not everyone at the University of North Carolina agrees, offering a fascinating glimpse into how multiculturalist thinking forces otherwise intelligent people to deny reality:

While Taheri-azar's actions and intentions seem pretty straightforward, the reaction by the Chapel Hill community has reflected political ideology more than reality. Though school officials and students have denounced the incident, they have not called it an act of terrorism. UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser didn't use the word "terrorism" once when he gave his first public comments on the incident. In fact, no one from the school administration has uttered the term. "In times like this, it is so important for our community to pull together, remain calm and offer comfort and assistance to one another," Moeser said in a statement. He added that the school would host an event on the incident once students return from spring break.

On Monday, some students took the initiative to denounce the attack and stage a rally to label it as an act of terrorism. Jillian Bandes, a columnist who was fired from The Daily Tar Heel in September for comments she made about Muslims and terrorism, told The News & Observer, "Why not label terrorism? Not doing so suggests a certain leniency toward that kind of thing."

But many of the attendees at the rally were there to denounce the use of the term. Muslim students told the media they were offended by those who believe it was an act of terrorism. By Monday afternoon, signs were seen in the Pit that called the rally organizers racists and asking about 100,000 people killed in Iraq.

A UNC sophomore, Johnathan Pourzal, told the Durham Herald-Sun that the mission of the event organizers offended him. "By calling it religious violence, you are telling people that Muslims are violent," he said.

Muslims, within the US and abroad, have come to understand the West far better than most Westerners do. They understand Western self-loathing, which expresses itself in multiculturalism and the identity politics it spawns. And they understand the Western fear of being labeled racist (the worst thing that can happen to a white person). Having understood these things, the radicals amongst them are more than happy to use it to their advantage. Taheri-azar committed a terrorist act in the name of Islam. Those are the facts. That "Muslim students" at the University of North Carolina and their lefty supporters want to deny reality and claim otherwise – and slander into silence those who disagree – should tell your everything you need to know about those "Muslim students", their leftist supporters and the sort of ideological indoctrination now on offer at American universities.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bush's Legacy

As Iraq teeters on the verge of interdenominational and interethnic warfare (civil war is actually an inaccurate terms since Iraq does not posses anything like a unified civil society), Shiite extremists backed by Iran have positioned themselves as the arbiters of Iraq’s destiny. Ironically, the Bush administration’s strategy of building democracy has provided given Islamist extremists like Moqtada al Sadr the political leverage to tilt Iraqi politics in his favor, and has given Iran a handy weapon with which to threaten the US. Arnaud de Borchgrave offers a succinct summary of the current situation:

The bombing of the Askariya Shi'ite shrine in Samarra, and the destruction of its golden dome, took Iraq to the brink of civil war. Shi'ites retaliated by attacking scores of Sunni mosques and more than 1,300 were killed in three days of sectarian bloodshed before the government decreed a curfew. Political and religious leaders on both sides quickly blamed the U.S. -- and Iran, yet again, emerged the victor.

When President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the last thing he anticipated was an Islamist radical calling the shots in a democratic Iraq. A glutton for geopolitical punishment -- which our enemies must see as congenital masochism -- the administration and Congress are crab-walking into an "Iran Liberation Act." The first tranche requested by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is for $75 million "to weaken Iran from within."

This time it wasn't an Iranian Chalabi type with dubious credentials, but several little Chalabis in the form of influential Christian lobby groups -- and some of our born-again neocons determined to recover their Iraqi losses. Mercifully, Congress is looking askance at the project. And after testy exchanges with Miss Rice, the administration got what it wanted -- plus $10 million already budgeted.

So far the administration's magic potion for democracy in the Middle East has produced a majority for Hamas and its Islamist leadership, a sworn enemy of Israel and ally of Iran, in the Palestinian territories, and an alarming election sally by Egypt's long banned Muslim Brotherhood, another sworn enemy of Israel and friend of Iran. Hezbollah, an adjunct of Iran in Lebanon, is also comfortably installed in the Beirut parliament.

de Borchgrave points out that military action against the very real threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon would only play directly into the hands of Iranian president Ahmadinejad, whose fanaticism may surpass even that of the ruling ayatollahs. Worse, the Iraq war has provided a credible weapon against Washington.

While in Washington, the two Iranian emissaries also made clear that U.S. and/or Israeli attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities would set the whole region ablaze against the United States. "They have clandestine assets throughout the oil-producing countries of the Gulf," one said, barely audibly. "And they also remember how you were forced to leave Vietnam in 1975."

Iran's Shi'ite friends in Iraq, led by fee-faw-fum scarecrow Mr. al-Sadr, will be asked to harass U.S. troops "as you prepare to end the occupation with honor."

Yuval Diskin, head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency, said recently his country might come to regret its decision to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq. "I'm not sure we won't come to miss Saddam," he told a group of students in a meeting broadcast on Israeli TV.

Sixty-three former heads of government, national security advisers and intelligence directors met for an off-the-record powwow in Monaco last weekend. There were disagreements, but the consensus was unequivocal: "Iraq is the biggest strategic blunder in 229 years of American history." Last throes anyone?

As Iraq festers and Iran cleverly leverages the administration’s mistakes, the GOP finds itself facing an internal revolt at home over its fiscal irresponsibility and failure to defend American sovereignty. The mounting evidence suggests that George W. Bush’s real legacy will be a mess of politically empowered Islamic extremists throughout the Middle East and a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives at home. Sooner of later, conservatives will realize how badly they’ve been had.