Wednesday, July 26, 2017

UK Terrorism: 'Enough' is Not 'Enough'

July 26, 2017

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Theresa May delivers a statement outside 10 Downing Street following the attack in London on June 3, 2017. (Bloomberg)

On June 3, Britain underwent its third Islamist terror assault in just ten weeks. Following on from a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena and a car- and knife-attack in Westminster, the London Bridge attacks seemed as if they might finally tip Britain into recognising the full reality of Islamist terror.

The attackers that night on London Bridge behaved as such attackers have before, in France, Germany and Israel. They used a van to ram into pedestrians, and then leapt from the vehicle and began to stab passers-by at random. Chasing across London Bridge and into the popular Borough Market, eye-witnesses recorded that the three men, as they slit the throats of Londoners and tourists, shouted "This is for Allah."

A day later, British Prime Minister Theresa May made another appearance on the steps of Downing Street, to comment on the latest atrocity. In what appeared to have become a prime ministerial tradition, she stressed that the terrorists were following the "evil ideology of Islamist extremism", which she described as "a perversion of Islam". All this was no more than she had said after the Manchester and Westminster attacks, and almost exactly what her predecessor, David Cameron, had said from the same place after the slaughter of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of London in 2013, as well as after the countless ISIS executions and atrocities in Syria in the months that followed.

Yet Prime Minister May's speech did include one new element. She used her speech on June 4to go slightly farther than she had previously done. There had been "far too much tolerance of extremism" in the UK, she said, before adding, "Enough is enough".

It was a strong statement, and seemed to sum up an increasingly disturbed public mood. Were attacks like this simply something that the British public would have to get used to, as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had suggested? What if the public did not want to get used to them? As with one of Tony Blair's statements after the July 7, 2005 London transport attacks -- "The rules of the game are changing" -- Theresa May's statement seemed full of promise. Perhaps it suggested that finally a British politician was going to get a grip on the problem.

Yet now that we are nearly two months on from her comments, it is worth noting that to date there are no signs that "enough" has been "enough". Consider just two highly visible signs that what Britain has gone through this year has been, in fact, no wake-up call at all, and that instead, whatever might have been learned has been absorbed into the to-and-fro of political events, passing like any other transient news story.

The first was an event that took place only a fortnight after Theresa May's claim that something had changed in the UK. This was the annual "Al-Quds Day" march in London, organised by the badly misnamed Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). Apart from organising an annual "Islamophobe of the Year" award -- an award which two years ago they gave to the slaughtered staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo -- this Khomeinist group's main public activity each year is an "Al Quds Day" in London. The day allows a range of anti-Semites and anti-Israel extremists to congregate in central London, wave Hezbollah flags and call for the destruction of the Jewish state, Israel.

Photo: Rachel Megawhat/Breitbart London

As Hezbollah is a terrorist group, and any distinction between a "military" and "diplomatic" wing of the group exists solely in the minds of a few people in the British Foreign Office, waving the flag of Hezbollah in public is waving the flag of a terrorist group. If the rules of the game were indeed changing after the followers of a Hezbollah-like creed had slaughtered citizens on a bridge in London, then the promotion of a terrorist group in the same city only days later would not have gone ahead. Nor would the speeches from the "Al Quds Day" platform have been allowed to be completed without arrests being made. The speeches to the 1,000-strong crowd included the most lurid imaginable claims.

These included a speech by the chairman of the IHRC, Nazim Ali. Mr Ali used his time before the public to make a connection between the horrific fire in a tower-block in West London days before the march and the Jewish state. According to Mr Ali, the roughly 80 victims of the fire at Grenfell Tower "were murdered by Theresa May's cronies, many of which are supporters of Zionist ideology." He went on:
"Let us not forget that some of the biggest corporations who were supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory party... It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory party, to kill people in high rise blocks... Careful, careful, careful of those rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies [of British Jews], who have got blood on their hands."
Does Mrs. May regard this as "enough"?

The same question arises over another event, held in the very heart of Westminster only a couple of weeks later. On the weekend of July 8-9, the Queen Elizabeth II Centre (right opposite Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament) was host to a "Palestine Expo" event. This occasion was advertised as "the biggest social, cultural and entertainment event on Palestine to ever take place in Europe".

Speakers included Tariq Ramadan, the dauphin of the Muslim Brotherhood, who used his speech to try to minimise the violence of the terrorist group Hamas. Ramadan used his speech to pour scorn on the idea that the knife and vehicle attacks carried out by Hamas, and those people inspired by its Islamist message in the Middle East, have any connection at all to the knife and vehicle attacks such as the one which had recently claimed the lives of four people crossing Westminster Bridge, as well as that of a policeman at the gates of Parliament. The site of the slaughter was just opposite the conference centre in which Ramadan was speaking:
"As if al-Qaeda is exactly like Hamas and the Palestinian resistance. By saying that they are all terrorists, that's exactly the game. And we are saying we condemn terrorism. But there is a legitimate resistance to your state terrorism."
Other speakers at the Palestine Expo event included the South African preacher Ebrahim Bham. Among his own previous gems is his claim from earlier this year regarding people who are not Muslims: "They are like animals! No, they are worse than animals!"

All of this took place in the weeks immediately after Theresa May said that "enough was enough." That the UK authorities allowed the Al-Quds march to proceed through the streets of London and for Palestine Expo to assemble such an array of speakers just down the road from one of this year's terror attacks suggests that all that has happened this year in Britain is extremely far from "enough". So, rather than expecting resilience, the British people will have to be prepared to accept still more terror -- and doubtless more pointless platitudes to follow each attack -- as surely as they have followed all the attacks before.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.
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The Charlie Gard Story Exemplifies the Left’s War on Parents

The state continues to encroach on parents’ control of their children.

By Ben Shapiro — July 26, 2017
Chris Gard, the father of critically ill baby Charlie Gard finishes reading out a statement next to mother Connie Yates, right, at the end of their case at the High Court in London, Monday, July 24, 2017. The parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard dropped their legal bid Monday to send him to the United States for an experimental treatment after new medical tests showed that the window of opportunity to help him had closed. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Chris Gard, the father of critically ill baby Charlie Gard finishes reading out a statement next to mother Connie Yates, right, at the end of their case at the High Court in London, Monday, July 24, 2017. The parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard dropped their legal bid Monday to send him to the United States for an experimental treatment after new medical tests showed that the window of opportunity to help him had closed. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
On Monday, two very different videos went viral. The first featured an eleven-year-old boy, Tyler, from Conyers, Georgia. Tyler was 18 months old when his stepfather, Don Gause, entered his life. The video shows Tyler approaching his stepfather and reading a letter: “When I was one and a half years old, something happened to me: God sent me a real dad. . . . Dad, I have been your child in love since I can remember, but I want to be your son legally. Will you please adopt me?” Don says yes, at which point he embraces the crying boy in a bear hug.

It’s nearly impossible not to have the odd speck of dust in your eye while watching it.

Meanwhile, another heartrending video made the rounds. This was video of Chris Gard and Connie Yates, parents of infant Charlie Gard, announcing that they would no longer attempt to remove Charlie from the United Kingdom for treatment. Charlie suffers from a rare degenerative condition that ends in death; the Great Ormond Street Hospital refused to release him to his parents so that they could fly him to the United States to seek experimental treatment, instead deciding that little Charlie should “die with dignity.”

Chris stated, “We knew our son, which is why we continued fighting. Charlie has been left with his illness to deteriorate, devastatingly, to the point of no return.”

Juxtaposing these two videos is awkward for the political Left. It’s awkward because while the Left likes to claim that it stands with parents, it actually promulgates policies antithetical to parental control of their children. The Left will pay lip service to motherhood and apple pie, but if a mother gives her child too much apple pie, it will call on the state to do something about it.

That’s what happened with Charlie Gard. The question isn’t whether you agree with Gard’s parents or not — perhaps the doctors were right, and his parents were grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to ignore the agonizing reality of the situation. The question is whether parents have the right to make such decisions to begin with. We’re not talking about abusive parents who physically harm their children; we’re not talking about a child endangerment scenario. We’re talking about parents choosing a culture of life with which the prevailing leftist sentiment disagrees. There is no objective standard suggesting that so-called death with dignity should overcome the value of preservation of life; that’s a subjective decision at best. Yet the hospital, the U.K. government, and the European Union decided that they knew better than Charlie Gard’s parents.

They don’t. The judges who decided Charlie Gard’s fate have never met Charlie Gard. They never spent hours crying by his bedside or rubbing the fuzz on his head. Had Charlie been healthy, they wouldn’t have been aware of him at all. Yet they know better than Charlie’s parents what ought to happen.

The devaluation of parenting on the left isn’t restricted to life-and-death decisions. It reaches down to the basics of parenting: what value system should be taught to children. Last month, the British government threatened to shut down an Orthodox Jewish girls’ school for the crime of not teaching children the LGBT agenda: Inspectors said that failure to teach children about leftist views of sexual orientation “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.” This despite the fact that the inspectors acknowledged that the “school’s culture is . . . clearly focused on teaching pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle.”

In Ontario, Canada, legislators recently passed a regulation that would allow the government to remove children from the home if parents refused to accept a child’s self-perception as transgender. Their excuse: Failure to do so might result in damage to the child. Instead, the government could take hold of the child, place them in the system, and then promote sex transition. Once again, this has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics.

The roots of this disdain for parenting lie in Rousseau and the romantics, who saw parents as a burden on childhood freedom and exploration. But the truth is far less sunny for children who lack parental guidance: They have higher rates of depression and suicide, higher rates of drug use, higher rates of involvement in crime. We need more Chris Gards and more Don Gauses, not more bureaucrats certain that they know what’s best for a child they’ve never met and don’t care about. The Left, however, seems determined to write parents out of the story of their own children’s upbringing. The state knows best how to care for your child, on everything from nutrition to sexual education to life itself. If that means death for a baby, so be it: At least the state’s view of the value of life has been promulgated.

— Ben Shapiro is the editor in chief of the Daily Wire.


Robert Spencer delivers another indispensable book.

July 25, 2017

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[To order "The Complete Infidel's Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies)," CLICK HERE.]
What would we do without Robert Spencer? In over a dozen definitive books, and on his invaluable Jihad Watch website, he has served as a one-man truth squad on the subject of Islam, providing readers with lucid, cogent accounts of the belief system itself, of the Koran, of jihad, and of the life of Muhammed. In Stealth Jihad (2008), he described the ways in which Islamic law is being forced upon America, subverting the nation's constitutional freedoms in aggressive but peaceful and even, at times, seemingly reasonable ways. Now, in The Complete Infidel's Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies), he looks at the same phenomenon from the other side – providing a compendious if not comprehensive history of the ways in which Western governments, media, and others in positions of authority have enabled stealth jihad and punished its critics.
Needless to say, it's a depressing story. In my 2009 book Surrender, I told it up to that point – the Salman Rushdiefatwa, the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, the Danish cartoons. As it happens, Spencer kicks off his account with the cartoons, reminding us that the good guys (notably Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who refused to discuss freedom of speech with Muslim ambassadors) were outnumbered by the bad guys (the UN's Louise Arbour and Doudou Diène, the EU's Javier Solana, and – surprise! – Bill Clinton, all of whom condemned the cartoons). Spencer then takes a long leap back – not to Rushdie, but all the way back to Muhammed, who himself, Spencer points out, initiated the time-honored Islamic practice of eliminating critics tout de suite. After each of several poets – among them Ka'b bin a'l-Ashraf, Abu Afak, and Asma bint Marwan – publicly mocked Islam, Muhammed, prefiguring Henry II, asked aloud, “Who will rid me of [insert poet's name here]?” Each of these versifiers was promptly dispatched by one of his faithful followers. And a beloved Islamic custom was born.
Spencer doesn't just focus on Islam. By way of demonstrating to American readers that they shouldn't put too much faith in the indelible, rock-solid nature of the First Amendment, he harks back to the 1798 Sedition Act – under which several individuals were imprisoned for mocking then-President John Adams – and the 1917 Espionage Act, under which Socialist Party leaders were jailed for opposing the draft. History, warns Spencer, “shows that First Amendment protections of free speech are most likely to be curtailed in a time of serious and imminent threats to the nation.” Have we reached that point now? After all, look at the procedural encumbrances that have been placed on the Second Amendment in many jurisdictions. Who's to say that the same can't happen to the First?
It's not as if it such limitations haven't been entertained at the highest levels. Spencer reminds us of a failed 2015 House resolution that decried “violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims”; of Hillary Clinton's 2016 statement that “every constitutional right and amendment can be tailored in an appropriate way without breaching the Constitution”; of Hillary's promise, in a 2011 Istanbul speech, to use “old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming” to silence Islam's critics; of President Obama's support for a UN Human Rights Council motion calling for the criminalization of “negative racial and religious stereotyping”; and of an Assistant Attorney General's refusal “to affirm that the Obama Justice Department would not attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam.” 
And of course Spencer revisits the Benghazi killings, every aspect of which, we're reminded, was pure evil – Hillary's mendacious attribution of the killings to an anti-Islam video; her promise to a victim's father that its producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, would be “arrested and prosecuted”; Nakoula's actual arrest and year-long (!) imprisonment (allegedly for a minor violation of probation); the cruelly cynical condemnations of the video by Obama himself as well as by innumerable administration flunkies, such as UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Every one of these actions, of course, was a betrayal not only of the First Amendment but of the dead in Benghazi, of the American people, and of the truth itself. Spencer quotes the estimable Kenneth Timmerman (whose 2016 book Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed for Benghazi I don't think I've even heard of before) as calling Nakoula “the first victim of Islamic Sharia blasphemy laws in the United States.” During the presidential campaign, Democrats complained endlessly about conservatives' supposed harping on Benghazi; in fact Hillary's heinous conduct in this matter – forget everything else she's ever done – should have been more than enough reason for a decent-minded electorate to repudiate her entirely. And to think that this wretch dared to call half of America deplorable!
There are details in Spencer's book that will be familiar to some readers but new to others. For example, I didn't know – or had forgotten – that on the very day after the massacre at that San Bernardino Christmas party in December 2015, then Attorney General Loretta Lynch, speaking to a Muslim group, focused not on that jihadist atrocity but on the purported danger of “anti-Muslim violence,” and instead of committing the Justice Department to enhanced anti-terrorism measures made comments that seemed to many to suggest that she was prepared to prosecute anti-Muslim speech acts. One of the very few politicians to call her on these reprehensible remarks was former New York Governor George Pataki, who, in a tweet, dared her to arrest him for wanting to see jihadists annihilated. (Similarly, when Terry Jones, an obscure Florida pastor, announced his intention to burn copies of the Koran, drawing protests not only from Obama and Hillary but also from Sarah Palin and General David Petraeus, the good guy was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who instead of upbraiding Jones affirmed his First Amendment rights.)
Spencer reminds us that the FBI officials knew of Major Nidal Hasan's terrorist contacts and pro-jihadist statements before he committed the Fort Hood massacre, but let him alone, for the same reason that British authorities kept mum for years about the systematic rape of children (ultimately over 1400 of them) by Muslims in Rotherham: because they didn't want to be called Islamophobes. At the other end of the cowardice-to-courage spectrum, Spencer tells us how a terrorist plan to kill soldiers at Fort Dix was foiled by a young Circuit City clerk, Brian Morgenstern, whom the plotters paid to transfer jihad videos from VHS to DVD. When Morgenstern noticed the alarming contents of the videos, he hesitated to say anything to anybody for fear he was being “racist,” but overcame his fear, informed authorities, and saved lives. As Spencer notes, Morgenstern's hesitation was a perfect example of the kind of “peer pressure” and “shaming” that Hillary Clinton celebrated in Istanbul.
“Americans,” laments Spencer, “are internalizing Islamic blasphemy law.” Well, that's certainly the case with despicable Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who accused the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists of “hate speech” and of having “brought a world of pain to France.” It's also true of the execrable novelist Joyce Carol Oates, who (along a couple of hundred other writers) criticized a posthumous award by PEN, the authors' rights organization, to the Charlie Hebdo victims. Far from all of the dhimmis have been on the left: among those who objected to the 2015 Draw Muhammed event in Garland, Texas, were Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Rep. Peter King (a leading anti-jihad voice in Congress), and, alas, Donald Trump. Spencer reminds us that in the midst of the Satanic Versescontroversy, the Vatican denounced Salman Rushdie; that Pope Benedict, after causing a ruckus by censuring Islam in his 2006 Regensburg speech, quickly tendered a groveling apology; and that Pope Francis responded to theCharlie Hebdo massacre by calling for limits to the right to criticize somebody else's beliefs, suggesting that if you “make fun of the faith of others” you should “expect a punch.”
One of this book's big pluses is the attention it draws to unsung heroes – and villains – in the counterjihadist struggle: I've never heard of Natalie Merchant or her rock group, 10,000 Maniacs, but kudos to her for deciding to stop covering Cat Stevens's “Peace Train” (which had apparently been a big hit for her) after he expressed support for the Rushdie fatwa.
Near the beginning of this work, Spencer quotes 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta, who told the passengers on American Airlines Flight 11: “Just stay quiet and you'll be okay.” Well, as we all know now, they weren't okay. In the days and weeks after that fateful day, we should all have gotten busy learning things that would have entirely altered the grim history related in these pages. The tragic fact, alas, is that during the sixteen years since 9/11, the forces of ignorance and submission have been on the ascendant in the West, aiding stealth jihad and squelching its critics. Atta's seven simple words have become the refrain of the CAIR crowd and the pro-Islamic left – and tens of millions of men and women in the West have listened, held their tongues, and buried their heads in the sand. Atta's promise – his assurance, his admonition – echoes throughout this book, in which Spencer, at appropriate moments, quotes it again and yet again, reminding us that it was, and is, nothing but a deadly lie. The cumulative effect is powerful, even haunting. As we reach the volume's concluding pages – in which Spencer covers some of the latest acts of campus violence by the fascist anti-fascists known as Antifa and offers up sage advice for President Trump (who we can only hope will read this book) – we find Atta's chilling words ringing in our ears. No: as Spencer has made abundantly, authoritatively, and illuminatingly clear, staying quiet will not make everything okay.

Country Matters

By Mark Steyn
July 24, 2017

Image result for richard dawkins berkeley

As I've said before, I've said it before. One of the occupational hazards of the commentative biz is that what's new - the daily news item - simply illustrates the same old thesis you've been hammering for years, so that life's rich pageant comes to seem like a Broadway catalogue song, a great torrent of accumulation all making the ever wearier point - that "You're the Top", "The Lady is a Tramp", "These Foolish Things remind me of you". Or in our case: We're the Pits, The Lady is a Transitioning Gentleman, and These Foolish Things remind me that our civilization's on the express chute to oblivion.

Here, by way of example, are a couple of stories readers asked for my thoughts on in the last 24 hours:

Richard Dawkins has become the latest speaker to be prevented from speaking at Berkeley. Professor Dawkins is a world-famous scientist, whose book The Selfish Gene has just been voted "the most inspiring science book of all time" in a poll commissioned by the Royal Society.

His science is not the problem. Dawkins is also an atheist.

That's not the problem, either - or it wasn't when he was principally urinating over the Pope ("a leering old villain in a frock") and the Catholic Church (an "evil corrupt institution" that's also a "child-raping institution"). All three quotes are from just one Washington Post column: that's how respectable and mainstream Dawkins was back then in 2010.
Alas, Dawkins is an equal-opportunity atheist, and feels just as unkindly toward Islam. Hence the announcement from the "liberal" sponsor of his Berkeley talk, KPFA Radio:
Dear Richard Dawkins event ticket buyers, 
We regret to inform you that KPFA has canceled our event with Richard Dawkins. We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn't know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people. 
KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier. We also apologize to all those inconvenienced by this cancellation. Your ticket purchases will automatically be refunded by Brown Paper Tickets. 
KPFA Radio 94.1 FM

It would have to be "sincere", wouldn't it? Because it's hard to see how apparently sentient beings could otherwise write such effete desiccated tripe. Notice how the shriveling of free expression smoothly proceeds to the next diminished staging post: Once upon a time, Berkeley professed to believe in free speech. Then it believed in free speech except for "hate speech". Now it supports "serious" free speech, but not "hurtful" speech.

Well, we live in a world of hurt. Personally, I'm hurt by people who say they don't like my cat album, or by the director's decision to give me purple hair in this video. But what's really hurtful is that KPFA and Berkeley can't even be bothered to pretend to a principled defense of free speech. What is "serious" free speech? Not so long ago, arguments for same-sex marriage or tampons for menstruating men would have been dismissed as utterly unserious - indeed, preposterous. What KPFA means by "serious" speech is compliant, conformist speech that brooks no ideological dissent from the pieties of the day - on male menstruation, climate change, Islam, and whatever's next on the list. You can be as "hurtful" as you like to cardinals but not imams, to climate deniers but not climate alarmists, to homophobic pastry chefs but not to gay newlyweds.

Its "emphatic support" of "serious free speech" is, thus, merely a regime of apostasy enforcement - which is why it has no place for an atheist such as Dawkins.

Now I think of it, readers may recall that Mr Dawkins has been rather hurtful about me:
Five years ago, when I was battling Canada's "human rights" commissions to restore free speech to my native land, Richard Dawkins was one of the few prominent figures in Her Majesty's Dominions to lend unequivocal support. He put it this way: 
'I have over the years developed a dislike for Mark Steyn, although I've always admired his forceful writing. On this issue, however, he is clearly 1000% in the right and should receive all the support anybody can give him.' 
Let me return the compliment: I have over the years developed a dislike for Richard Dawkins's forceful writing (the God of the Torah is "the most unpleasant character in all fiction," etc.), but I am coming round rather to admire him personally.
I renew that admiration today. Notice that even his defender Jerry Coyne feels obliged to qualify his defense: "Dawkins is not Milo Yiannopoulos." And that's true: Milo has bigger hair. Dawkins is also not Ann Coulter. Dawkins is not Germaine Greer. Dawkins is not Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And yet he has joined all of them in the Pantheon of the Hurtful. Funny how that works.

So, as a practical matter, Richard Dawkins is Milo Yiannopoulos. Which is where this sort of thing always leads. As I noted early on during the above-mentioned dispute with Canada's "human rights" commissions, restrictions on speech always start out on the far fringes - ensnaring wacky peripheral figures nobody cares about. But you should care about them - because those scalps are just the warm-up act, and the restrictions always move inwards, to (in my case) Canada's mainstream, impeccably respectable dentist's-waiting-room news magazine and (in Dawkins') to the winner of the Royal Society's prize for most inspiring science book of all time.

Unless they've already rescinded that. Because who wants to be inspired by someone so beastly and hurtful?

Why are we surprised that identity politics trumps even a theoretical commitment to free speech? Richard Dawkins belongs to the generation of British subjects who grew up in the long shadow of Dunkirk - the "miracle" (Churchill's word) of evacuation that saved the British Expeditionary Force (including significant numbers of Canadians, as our many RCL readers won't need reminding) and critical elements of the French and Belgian armies from certain capture or death by the Germans. The event resonated throughout Britain and the Commonwealth for half-a-century and was far more central to a people's sense of themselves than any of the more obvious triumphs: "The Dunkirk spirit" is shorthand for snatching victory from certain defeat by muddling through, backs against the walls, improvising as one can, and, without making a lot of fuss about it, never giving up. Yes, it has a big dollop of self-flattery, but right now we could use a bit more of that in the western world, don't you think?

Image result for dunkirk movie

I hope to have more to say about Christopher Nolan's new film on the subject, but I'll be hard put to match this insight from USA Today's critic Brian Truitt:
The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.
He's right. I've seen Pirates of the Caribbean. Why isn't Keira Knightley kick-assing on the beaches? Or better yet Halle Berry, with Jay-Z as the plucky Cockney Tommy stranded in France and gasping for a fag. And Morgan Freeman back at HQ as Field Marshal Viscount Gort, VC, GCB, CBE, DSO...

But hang on: Wouldn't that be "cultural appropriation"?

No. As with Berkeley's distinction between "serious" and "hurtful" speech, it all depends where you're coming from. If you happen to have the wrong kind of culture, it is necessary to appropriate it. Which is why Brian Truitt worries you may be hurt by Nolan's film.

Anyone who reads accounts of the instant, reflexive, civilian response to Dunkirk - of those middle-aged Englishmen volunteering to take a small fishing boat on a dangerous journey across the Channel to rescue a beleaguered soldiery from what would have been the most total and catastrophic defeat in British military history - finds himself thinking, as presumably Christopher Nolan did, about what spurs such men. Mrs Thatcher and Enoch Powell were both diligent attenders of the Conservative Philosophy Group, and at one meeting had a dispute on that very subject:
On one occasion, just before the Argentines invaded the Falklands, Mrs. Thatcher spoke about the Christian concept of the just war and Western values. "We do not fight for values," said Powell. "I would fight for this country even if it had a Communist government." 
"Nonsense, Enoch," snapped Maggie. "If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values." 
Powell stuck to his guns. "No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed."
I'm inclined to give that one to Enoch. After the war, we tidy things up and say we "fought for freedom". But Englishmen fought bravely for England, just as Germans fought bravely for Germany and Russians fought bravely for Russia. Freedom in the two latter was non-existent, and in the former incidental: it's more visceral than that.

Well, we are all moral preeners now. When the Oxford Union voted that this House would not fight for King and Country, they did not say what they would fight for instead. We like to think we would fight for "values" - which is why martial imagery and metaphor are so enthusiastically bandied for piffling micro-crusades on the home front.

But as Powell said, values exist in a transcendental realm. And, as the Berkeley incident illustrates, values are precisely what we're surrendering, incrementally, every day. Many of us, including presumably Richard Dawkins, are puzzled why all over the developed world there are so few takers to "fight for freedom": Certainly the list of those prepared to champion the cause of free speech and protest assaults on it - from Berkeley to Berlin to Brisbane - is short, and those prepared to subordinate free speech to the needs of identity politics grows ever longer. Is this really so surprising? Most people are not invested in abstractions: "Country" or "tribe" is real, which is why Pushtun goatherds prove so implacable to transnationalist do-gooders.

But we're not much invested in "country" these days, except as a repository of "values" - all those "British values" and "Canadian values" the likes of Mrs May and M Trudeau keep going on about. In the absence of any real, felt sense of "country", we seek alternative identities in the new triabalisms: for the left, sexual self-expression; for restive western Muslims, a global Islamic identity. Whatever the defects of these enthusiasms, they're more real, more felt than a commitment to transcendental values unmoored from national identity.

Three-quarters of a century ago, the Englishmen at Dunkirk did not need to think about these things. They felt them. Today we have forgotten how to think about them, and no longer feel them.

Which is why, at Berkeley, no one will fight for freedom of speech. Values are no match for identity.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Aaron Judge is only person who doesn’t witness his greatness

By Kevin Kernan
July 22, 2017

Aaron Judge appears to have broken Statcast, which did not have an immediate measurement of the blast.

Aaron Judge appears to have broken Statcast, which did not have an immediate measurement of the blast.


SEATTLE — Here is what Aaron Judge brings to the Yankees and MLB. It is rare, something seen only once in a great while in sports.
Judge brings something bigger than the wow factor.
To every fan who comes to a game, Judge brings anticipation, the ability to witness an “I was there’’ moment.
All rise, indeed.
That is so rare these days. In the NBA, LeBron James and Steph Curry possess that ability. In the NFL, there is Odell Beckham Jr., who has “the gift.” What makes Judge so different, especially in this generation, is that he is so humble. The big man puts his head down and offers an aw-shucks smile when asked about his achievements.
Such was the case after his prodigious three-run home run at Safeco Field on Friday night that lifted the Yankees to a 5-1 win over the Mariners. The tracking mechanism lost contact with the arcing baseball.
Call it the biggest error in the Statcast era, but we will know when the next 120-foot bloop hit lands in the outfield.
An “official’’ guesstimate measurement was offered by the Mariners at 440 feet, something everyone who witnessed the blast scoffed at immediately.
Mr. October was in the house, and Reggie Jackson, you’ll remember, hit one off a light tower in Detroit at the 1971 All-Star Game, so he knows great home-run distances better than anyone. In the clubhouse he was told that the estimate was 440 feet and Reggie immediately said, “That ball was hit at least 500 feet.’’
He went on to add that he was so sure it was that type of tape-measure home run, he would “eat’’ the baseball, if it had not gone that far.
It is a good thing the roof was open because if it had been closed, Judge’s ball might have scraped the baseball umbrella that sits 217 feet above second base.
The home run was caught by a fan named Rob Sibley. He was seated three rows from the top in left, by the tracks that house the mechanism for the retractable roof. He made a leaping grab, so the ball would have landed one or two rows from exiting the building, something that has not happened since Safeco was built in 1999.
“The ball just kept carrying,’’ Sibley told Mariners TV. “At first I thought there was no way it would carry to me because I knew how far up we were, and it just kept floating right into my hands.’’
The pitch was a hanging curve by Andrew Moore that floated to home plate at 77 mph, and at just the right height for the 6-foot-7 Judge to lay into the pitch with every ounce of muscle in his body. The blast, his 31st, left the bat at 115.6 mph and, according to the ESPN home run tracker, landed 434 feet from home plate with a stadium distance of 454 feet. Different estimate; still not long enough.
For Judge it was the 13th home run this season that was at least 425 feet, the most in baseball.
This is not about numbers, it is about the moment, and that is what Judge gives the Yankees and fans. These are great days in which we are living.
Earlier in the year when the rookie registered another ridiculous exit velocity and I mentioned the speed to him, he smiled and said, “I’ll take a few more of those.’’
What made this home run special to Judge was that his parents, Wayne and Patty, were at the game, having come up from their Northern California home for the series.
“It’s great having them here,’’ Judge told me with that gap-toothed smile.
As for the home run, he mentioned it was key that his teammates were able to get on base ahead of him.
“I was just glad to be in that position,’’ he said. “CC [Sabathia] pointed it out, helping me to figure out where it landed.’’
Judge puts his head down and runs the bases when he homers. He does not stand and admire his home runs, so he did not know the exact spot where it landed. He might have been the only person seated in the ballpark who did not watch the incredible flight of the ball.
They all witnessed.

Film Review: 'Dunkirk'

Christopher Nolan's Wartime Epic

'Dunkirk' is a harrowing look at a barely averted British catastrophe

From the July 31, 2017 issue

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Deep space was where Christopher Nolan boldly chose to go for his last feature, “Interstellar” (2014). Now he has aimed for shallow waters. Most of “Dunkirk” is set on and off the beaches of northern France, close to the Belgian border—a perilous place to be, in late May and early June of 1940. The British Expeditionary Force, dispatched to France in the fall of the previous year, had been forced into an inglorious retreat. The result was that a multitude of Allied troops were stranded in and around the town of Dunkirk, waiting at the sea’s edge to be rescued. For prowling German aircraft, they were easy prey. Thankfully, salvation did arrive, in the shape not just of the Royal Navy but also of a flotilla of small vessels—the Little Ships, as they came to be known, some seven hundred strong—that had been summoned to the fray. Eventually, in what Churchill called “a miracle of deliverance,” more than three hundred thousand men made it back to England.

This saga is an unlikely candidate for a major Hollywood production, especially one written and directed by the maker of the “Dark Knight” trilogy. It’s hard to think of a more parochial tale. Dunkirk is stitched into the British mythology of the Second World War and, even now, occasional mention is made of “the Dunkirk spirit,” yet the legend has never travelled far, and for obvious reasons. Operation Dynamo—the code name for the evacuation—was not a victory but a barely averted catastrophe, and it came on the heels of what Churchill himself, in the House of Commons, lamented as “a colossal military disaster” in Belgium and France. Many countries, preferring straightforward triumphs, would have swept such an episode under the rug with a mixture of embarrassment and relief. Something about Dunkirk, though, appeals to the peculiar British love of the gallantly narrow squeak, and, in the deployment of the Little Ships, to an abiding fondness for the doughty and the makeshift. You can understand Nolan’s interest; born in London, in 1970, he belongs to what is probably the last generation to have been reared on the rousing fable of Dunkirk. Why on earth, however, should he want to spread the word?

A clue to this puzzle comes early in the film. Up onscreen appear the phrases “1. The Mole,” “2. The Sea,” and “3. The Air.” They introduce us to the three narrative strands that will wind through the next hundred minutes or so; notice the hint of the elemental. The Mole refers to a concrete jetty jutting into Dunkirk Harbor, whereas the air is the domain of a Spitfire pilot (Tom Hardy). When we first encounter him, he is already aloft, in a formation of three. Never do we discover which squadron he belongs to, or what sort of life he has left behind on the ground. For the most part, all that we see of him is his goggled eyes; not until the finale are we shown the rest of him, and only in the ensuing credits do we find out that he is called Farrier. It must have taken Hardy almost an entire morning to learn his lines, which seem even sparser than his dialogue for “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015), although, as we know from that masterwork, the less we hear from him the tighter our grasp of his character, and the greater the powers that seem to be held in check. At one point in “Dunkirk,” Farrier, low on fuel, is faced with a choice: pursue a German bomber that is harrying a warship crammed with evacuees, or turn tail and head for home before the tank runs dry? He says nothing, but those eyes reveal all. We follow his thoughts as clearly as we do every tip and tilt of his wings.

No such clarity below. Men are lined up on the shore, hoping to get onto one of the ships that dock in the harbor, but a sullen quiet prevails; the next bomb could shred and scatter them, and they cannot predict where it will hit. Shouldering through the crowd are a couple of young British soldiers with a stretcher, who are trying to get one of the wounded on board—and maybe, in the process, sneak a berth themselves. Gradually, one of them, Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), gains a foothold in the drama, though you couldn’t call him the hero, for there is no main character in “Dunkirk.” Instead, various figures move onstage and off: Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh), who oversees the embarkation; Alex (Harry Styles), a fellow-evacuee whom Tommy meets halfway through; and a numb and nameless man (Cillian Murphy) found shuddering on a capsized hull. Silent at first, he eventually mutters, “U-boat.”

Meanwhile, out in the English Channel, and heading to Dunkirk, is the Moonstone, skippered by Dawson (Mark Rylance), her owner. (In truth, the majority of Little Ships were requisitioned for the voyage across, but there were exceptions, and that is why Dawson casts off just before the uniformed authorities can reach him.) He recognizes a Spitfire from its growling thrum overhead, without having to glance up. “Rolls-Royce Merlin engine,” he says. “Sweetest sound you could hear out here.” He is no more voluble than the rest of the folk in this film, who seem either stunned by events or taut with determination, but Rylance, as ever, conveys a vigor of spirit through the simple crispness of his gestures. He removes his jacket on departure, and, throughout the ordeal, wears a white shirt, a tie, and a sweater, as if he were doing a bit of Sunday gardening rather than hauling a shoal of his countrymen, half-drowned and drenched in oil, from the unfriendly waves.

How to account for the impact that is made by “Dunkirk”? After all, there are so many ways in which the film falls short, and so many directions in which Nolan decides not to tack. Anybody wishing to understand the niceties of Operation Dynamo will be confounded, as will anyone expecting the sight of high-ranking strategists huddled around maps in low-lit situation rooms. (We do hear one of Churchill’s speeches, but only when a young man reads it aloud from a newspaper.) Nor does the film convince as a period drama. Most of the soldiers, who should look pinched and ration-fed, are well nourished, handsome, and unmistakably modern specimens—oddly well spoken, too, and lacking that earth-dark humor with which combatants everywhere seek to lighten their load and to wrestle down their dread. Most anachronistic of all are the tears that cloud Bolton’s eyes at the approach of the Little Ships. As a rule, senior officers, tasked with the mass relocation of men, have neither the time nor the inclination to weep.

Yet the movie works. Time and again, the action swells and dips, like a wave, then suddenly delivers a salty slap in the face. From above, we see a pilot ditching his damaged Spitfire in the sea, and the procedure runs smoothly; later, another flier does the same, and we stay with him as he lands. A tumult of water rushes toward him and fills the cockpit at alarming speed, while he batters on the canopy above, which refuses to slide open. Smoothness, viewed from another angle, collapses into the roughness of panic. Likewise, we join a throng of rescued men, belowdecks on a naval vessel, who are served bread and jam and—as in every moment of crisis, this being a British enterprise—mugs of tea. Then a torpedo hits. All becomes darkness and deluge. Humans turn into creatures of the deep. A pale hand flickers like a fish.

Nolan has described “Dunkirk” as less a war film than a survival film, but it’s even more basic than that, in the way it lures us in and keeps us hooked. It is about what we do—how we suffer and retort—when things happen to us, and when the happening grows far beyond our control. There is plenty of agency here, much of it valiant, not least in Farrier’s dogfights, but the focus is on the inflicted; aside from a few shadowy forms in the closing minutes, no Germans are visible at all. Look at the British who hide in the belly of a beached fishing boat, which unseen enemy troops are using for target practice. Look at the evacuees on the Mole, turning their backs as a bomb bursts nearby and being caught in the gust of spray; we don’t actually witness the explosion, any more than they do. We need to feel their fear.

And so the fates keep drumming down like rain. By constantly cutting between the three stories, Nolan, the master of all he surveys, allows us no chance to relax before the next onslaught begins. Hans Zimmer’s music may pilfer from Elgar’s “Nimrod,” the most patriotically charged of the Enigma Variations, yet such bombast is not really required, and the rest of the score is more attuned to the film’s suspense; the strings unleash a machine-gun stutter, and a ticking sound suggests not a clock but a countdown to detonation. Although “Dunkirk” is not as labyrinthine as Nolan’s “Memento” (2000) or “Inception” (2010), its strike rate upon our senses is rarely in doubt, and there is a beautiful justice in watching it end, as it has to, in flames. Land, sea, air, and, finally, fire: the elements are complete, honor is salvaged, and the men who were lost scrape home. ♦

This article appears in other versions of the July 31, 2017, issue, with the headline “On the Beach.”

Monday, July 24, 2017


The fake science has been exposed.

Bruce Thornton
July 24, 2017

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Al Gore Returns to Battle Climate Change in AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER (Video)
Following Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, Al Gore is releasing an update of his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. It’s called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, in which no doubt we will hear the same apocalyptic hysteria of its predecessor, and the same lurid predictions that will never come true. The difference between the 2006 Academy Award winner and the updated version is that now volumes of counter-evidence and exposure of the manipulation of climate data make it obvious that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a progressive cult-belief and alternative energy boondoggle, not real science.
Earlier this month PJMedia covered a new report that seriously challenges the data all warmists rely on to buttress their case that the planet has been steadily warming to disastrous levels. This peer-reviewed paper examines how the raw data from weather stations are manipulated and altered by the three main purveyors of temperature data known as Global Average Surface Temperature (GAST)––The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research––before being used by other researchers. Incorporating more reliable satellite temperature data­­––which for going on two decades do not show any meaningful rise in temperature, let alone the steep rise that the GAST data show––the authors come to this devastating conclusion:
The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality. In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent year have been the warmest ever––despite current claims of record setting warming.
Moreover, the legitimate need to control for any environmental factors that could distort raw temperatures has been abused to produce a preordained conclusion:
While the notion that some “adjustments” to historical data might need to be made is not challenged, logically it would be expected that such historical temperature data adjustments would sometimes raise these temperatures, and sometimes lower them. This situation would mean that the impact of such adjustments on the temperature trend line slope is uncertain. However, each new version of GAST has nearly always exhibited a steeper warming linear trend over its entire history.
These types of manipulation of data, however, have been obvious going back to 1998 and Michael Mann’s infamous “Hockey Stick” graph, in which the Medieval Warm Period (950-1250), when temperatures were about as hot as they are today, was erased to show a steep linear rise in temperatures. And NOAA’s manipulation of data also has been exposed by the Real Climate Science blog, which examines NOAA’s charts and graphs claiming to show that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and U.S. temperatures have increased 1.5°F since the 19th century. In fact, critical analysis reveals that in 2016, “The percentage of hot days was below average, and ranked 80th since 1895. Only 4.4% of days were over 95°F, compared with the long term average of 4.9%.”
As for the second claim of a 1.5°F rise, “NOAA creates the warming trend by altering the data. The NOAA raw data shows no warming over the past century.” The altered data are made to correlate with the increase of atmospheric CO2, conveniently supporting the main hypothesis of a “greenhouse effect” in which temperatures increase along with the greater volume of CO2 in the atmosphere––a hypothesis dating back to 1896. Additionally, missing weather station raw data––42% of stations in 2016––have been replaced by fabricated data.
Warmists, of course, like most cultists have a whole repertoire of very unscientific tactics for swatting away these inconvenient truths. They use the ad hominem and genetic fallacies to demonize critics, accusing them of being stooges of the oil companies or flat-earth kooks, even as they ignore the warmists who have received billions in government grants and green-energy subsidies, and who like Al Gore indulge in end-of-times scenarios–– “Every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation,” he told Fox News––redolent of Millerism and other eschatological melodramas. And of course, it’s okay for Al Gore to make millions of dollars off such subsidies and “renewable energy” investments. Not to mention celebrity status and perhaps political capital; he’s being touted as a presidential contender in 2020, the environmental knight who will slay the “denier” dragon Trump who besmirched our national reputation and endangered the planet by withdrawing the U.S. from the preposterous Paris Climate Accord. And let’s not forget global-warming “scientists” themselves, who over the years have reaped billions of federal dollars, with $22 billion of taxpayer money slated just for 2017. At least oil companies spend their own money.
Then there’s the argument from authority, especially the modern willingness to reflexively credit with objective wisdom anyone calling himself a “scientist,” and to be hypnotized by the seeming self-evident truth of quantitative data. Most revealing, however, is the incessant claim that since “97% of scientists” believe in AGW, there is a “scientific consensus” that AGW is a scientific fact rather than a hypothesis compromised by our lack of enough scientific knowledge about how global climate functions over space and time. But the “97%” canard has been repeatedly exposed as an artifact created by unscientific polling. Thousands of respected and credentialed scientists question the central hypothesis and predictions of those endorsing AGW.
As for quantitative data, don’t forget that most pseudoscience is replete with copious numbers and formulas, from alchemy, phrenology, craniometry, and astrology to eugenics and “scientific racism” with its carefully quantified crania sizes and skewed IQ tests. Early 20th century eugenics also was considered a scientific fact acknowledged by a “consensus” of “scientists,” and was endorsed by professors at America’s elite universities, one of whom went on to become president. As respected progressive sociologist Edward A. Ross wrote in 1937, the endorsement of eugenics was “a perfect index of one’s breadth of outlook and unselfish concern for the future of our race.” Only religious nuts and the uneducated questioned a theory backed by the work of Charles Darwin. We know what that “consensus” led to––forced sterilization, “scientific” justifications for racial segregation, restrictions on immigration based on race and ethnicity, and ultimately the crematoria of Auschwitz.
Real science, of course, seldom leads to a “consensus,” and thinking it does can lead to unforeseen consequences. For example, after decades of being told that the “scientific consensus” on nutrition was that fat and cholesterol led to heart disease, now we are hearing “never mind.” Unfortunately, the avoidance of dietary fat led to a shift to carbohydrates, which in turn contributed to today’s obesity epidemic. Likewise, following the warmist’s prescriptions to outlaw carbon, our most efficient and cheapest energy source, will stunt economic growth in the developing world, leaving billions of people in disease and poverty; and will increase energy poverty in the U.S. and prevent job growth, all to achieve a meaningless reduction in the temperatures projected by computer models.
Skepticism, not consensus, is the hallmark of science. As Karl Popper said, “The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.” The warmists reveal their political and ideological interests when they demonize opponents, insist on “settled science” to stifle debate, unleash state Attorneys General to hound researches and corporations, sue critics for defamation, and do anything in their power to stop “sever attempts to refute” the AGW hypothesis.
The Al Gore show is a progressive revival-tent meeting, an excuse for intrusive big government and crony-socialist rent-seeking. The fact is, from its beginning global warming has been a political, not a scientific movement. Rupert Darwall has documented the growth of the global warming fad as a political movement. As he wrote in 2015 before the Paris Climate Accord signed by President Obama,
Global warming is preeminently a political project. On Tuesday, the leaders of France and Germany met to set a goal for the December climate summit in Paris: to fully decarbonize the world economy by the end of the century. It required, Angela Merkel and François Hollande declared, “a profound transformation of the world economy and society.” The role of experts is to provide a scientific consensus to support the drumbeat of alarm. When the president of America declares climate change an immediate threat to national security and accuses skeptics of “negligence” and “dereliction of duty,” scientific skepticism becomes an enemy of the state. The shrillness of the president’s rhetoric draws attention to the weakness of the science. The true believers have given up trying to win over the undecided. 
That sums up the problem. The solution is to start practicing real science again, take the big thumb of the federal government and its deep pockets off the scales of the debate, and base energy policy on science and what is best for the American people, rather than on what serves the pecuniary interests of researchers, progressive politicians, and countries like China, and that gratifies the weird combination of stale nature-love and two-bit Marxist clichés about the evils of industrialism that passes for science among the bicoastal elites.