Taking away our Liberties

“Sadly, we have been conditioned to believe that the job of the government is to keep us safe, but in reality the job of the government is to protect our liberties. Once the government decides that its role is to keep us safe, whether economically or physically, they can only do so by taking away our liberties.” – Ron Paul

Tehran is happy too

Anybody else find it disturbing when our enemy, a crazed radical Islamist intent on going nuclear, who talks often of the destruction of Israel and is in complete defiance of the UN, makes statements such as these:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush’s defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran.

Bush has accused Iran of trying to make a nuclear bomb, being a state sponsor of terrorism and stoking sectarian conflict in Iraq, all charges Tehran denies.

“This issue (the elections) is not a purely domestic issue for America, but it is the defeat of Bush’s hawkish policies in the world,” Khamenei said in remarks reported by Iran’s student news agency ISNA on Friday.

“Since Washington’s hostile and hawkish policies have always been against the Iranian nation, this defeat is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation.”

. . .

But, he said: “With the scandalous defeat of America’s policies in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan, America’s threats are empty threats on an international scale.”

I find it quite disconcerting that our enemies rejoice when Democrats gain back some power. Maybe they hope for the return of the Clintonian foreign policy: talk a lot, lob some Tomahawks, and flee if soldiers start dying.

Muslim guns down Jews in Seattle

I didn’t even find out about this until many hours later. Typical religious-extremist Muslim activity: target and kill unarmed civilians. The synopsis:

A woman was dead and five others were hospitalized this afternoon after a shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building in downtown Seattle by a man who declared he was “angry with Israel.”

Seattle police later arrested the alleged gunman, who reportedly had walked into the building between Lenora and Virginia streets on Third Avenue in Belltown and started shooting. One victim died at the scene, according to police.

All five of the wounded are women, said Pamela Steele, a spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The women, ranging in age from 20 and through their 40s, were brought in between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Three victims are in the operating room now and are in critical condition, Steele said. All three were shot in the abdomen.

It doesn’t mention until almost halfway through the story that the man claimed to be “a Muslim American” who was “angry at Israel.” These people are our enemies living in our own country, and we need to name them as such.

Here’s a quick round up of blogger reaction over at Instapundit. I have the same sentiments as them, including this one: “Me? I’m going to buy a gun. I’m serious.” Something like this would have stopped the dirtbag, keeping the body count to one — the bad guy.

Got ‘im

Al Zarqawi was killed today. 2 500 pound bombs obliterated his safe house.

You’d think after some explosions like that every body in that building would be crushed or blown to bits. However, seeing pictures of Zarqawi’s corpse, it looks like it’s in pretty good shape. Of course I’ve only seen the head, maybe the rest of the body is in a much worse state.

Saddam’s terror links

As long as I’m bringing up war issues, I might as well continue. Newly released documents clarify Saddam’s links to terrorist networks and to Al-Qaeda. Read about it here, and here.

From the first link:

A newly released prewar Iraqi document indicates that an official representative of Saddam Hussein’s government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995, after receiving approval from Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested “carrying out joint operations against foreign forces” in Saudi Arabia. According to the document, Saddam’s presidency was informed of the details of the meeting on March 4, 1995, and Saddam agreed to dedicate a program for them on the radio. The document states that further “development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what’s open [in the future] based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation.” The Sudanese were informed about the agreement to dedicate the program on the radio.

I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of this stuff as the tens of thousands of pages of Saddam regime documents get translated and analyzed.

More cartoon unrest

If this hubbub over the Danish cartoons isn’t disconcerting, I’m not too sure what is. Extremist Muslims have made themselves known for many many years, well before 9/11, but this cartoon stuff is really just mind boggling.

Muslim protests and “activity” has broken out all over the globe (via Mark Shea): New Zealand, Turkey, Palestine, Lebenon, Syria, Indonesia, Norway, Afghanistan and Jordan. Some of these are peaceful, many are not.

More than 700 angry Muslims marched through Auckland yesterday, many wearing black arm bands.

Pakistan Association of New Zealand president Naveed Hamid said his group had organised the march because Muslims wanted to make their hurt felt to the public.

“Something the media has to understand (is that) somebody’s religion is not for insult,” he said.

Also at the weekend, thousands of Syrian protesters set fire to the Danish embassy in Damascus; a Hamas leader in Palestine said publishing the cartoons was an “unforgivable insult” that should be punished with death; and Palestinians threw a firebomb at a French cultural centre in Gaza. There have been violent protests in Turkey and Lebanon, a peaceful protest in Afghanistan and many Muslims are boycotting Danish and other European goods. In Indonesia, up to 300 people invaded a building housing the Danish embassy in Jakarta and ripped up a Danish flag. Iran has recalled its ambassador to Denmark.

In Norway, the editor of the Magazinet newspaper, which reprinted the cartoons, said he had received 25 death threats and thousands of hate emails, while in Ireland the Daily Star joined other European papers in publishing the drawings.

In Jordan, Jihad Momani, the editor sacked for reprinting the cartoons, said his purpose had been merely to demonstrate the extent of the insult.

Importantly, some moderate Muslims are apologizing for the behavior of their fellow adherents (via Instapundit):

We condemn the shameful actions carried out by a few Arabs and Muslims around the world that have tarnished our image, and presented us as intolerant and close-minded bigots.

. . .

We apologize whole-heartedly to the people of Norway and Denmark for any offense this sorry episode may have caused, to any European who has been harassed or intimidated, to the staff of the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Embassies in Syria whose workplace has been destroyed and for any distress this whole affair may have caused to anyone.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Danish imams are adding to the original 12 cartoons to further inflame Muslims (via The Volokh Conspiracy):

Meanwhile, the Danish tabloid Extra Bladet got hold of a 43-page report that Danish Muslim leaders and imams, on a tour of the Islamic world are handing out to their contacts to “explain” how offensive the cartoons are. The report contains 15 pictures instead of 12. The first of the three additional pictures, which are of dismal quality, shows Muhammad as a pedophile deamon [see it here], the second shows the prophet with a pigsnout [here] and the third depicts a praying Muslim being raped by a dog [here]. Apparently, the 12 original pictures were not deemed bad enough to convince other Muslims that Muslims in Denmark are the victims of a campaign of religious hatred.

Akhmad Akkari, spokesman of the 21 Danish Muslim organizations which organized the tour, explained that the three drawings had been added to “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.” Akkari claimed he does not know the origin of the three pictures. He said they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. However, when Ekstra Bladet asked if it could talk to these Muslims, Akkari refused to reveal their identity.

The second of those 3 is almost undoubtably a forgery.

And finally, it seems depictions of Mohammed isn’t completely forbidden or at least is a hazy issue in the Muslim world. (via Instapundit) There are lots of images in that link, so you’ll have to give it time to load.

I’d like to add a few thoughts of my own. First, obviously it is clear the press should have the freedom to print these cartoons. Second, obviously it is clear Muslims should have the freedom to peacefully and lawfully protest these cartoons. Third, cartoons that make a mockery of religious beliefs probably are in poor taste and should be avoided. However, I would never support a law that outlawed or in other ways used the power of the state to discourage them. It should be up to the editors of the papers, the cartoonists, and the readers of the paper to determine what gets printed. It is disheartening to see such a vicious and violent reaction to what really are just bad scribblings and poorly crafted jokes. Should these Muslims really expect any better behavior from infidels? I wouldn’t if I were them. Of course, I’m used to having my religious beliefs openly mocked, scorned, and mischaracterized, so maybe the outrage of something like this could never be sharp enough to goad me into going crazy.

Our ways vs Our kind

I wish this article (which goes well with the discussion Micah and I are having) was more informative about terrorists motivations, but it is an interesting and quick read about the two camps seeking to explain the motivation of terrorists. Here’s the gist:

For some experts, the attacks – whether in London or Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – are aimed at the West for what it is doing: in other words for its policies, like the war in Iraq. Others insist that the perpetrators are more at odds with the ideals of the West and “who we are.”

For the latter group, this is a war of civilizations or ideologies that the West has no choice but to fight aggressively, because anything else would entail appeasement and imply a retreat from identity and principles.

This is a difficult and often touchy debate. Personally, I just find it hard to believe that our policies only cause Muslims to blow themselves up in some type of violent protest. There’s something truly sick about these people, and the what-we-do explanation is hugely deficient in explaining it.

UPDATE: It occurred to me today that I’m not being thoroughly consistent in my position because there is one American policy that I would admit does incite a gross amount of hatred against us in the Muslim world: our support of Israel. So, a more honest statement of my position is that Al Qaeda and their ilk hate us for who are are as infidels and, to make it worse, infidels who support Israel. And to be even more honest I would have to say that there are times when what we do incites hatred. For example, it wouldn’t surprise me if a man who had his family blown to smithereens by one of our errant bombs would want to pretty much kill as many of us as possible. However, I contend there must be something greater and more sinister that motivates the thousands of Islamofascists who want to destroy our country and the entire culture of the West.

Fighting terrorists, fighting myths

With the recent bombings in London, it’s very easy to fall for the idea that it is our involvement in Iraq which is causing these bombings. In a more honest moment, I’d say even I think that sometime. We want to think that if we leave the terrorists alone, they’ll leave us alone, so maybe we did bring this on ourselves. I want to think this despite all my Calvinistic pessismism concerning the human condition and rabid, jingoistic patriotism. But we must remember the history of bombings before the Iraq war. John Howard, the Australian prime minister, had to deal with this myth when a reporter asked about it while he was in London. His response is dead on and worth a full quote (emphases are mine):

Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don’t want to add to what the prime minister has said. It’s a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it’s given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia’s involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn’t have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq — a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations — when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don’t know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can’t put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I’ve cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

And if that isn’t enough, perhaps a pictorial history (via Instapundit) would drive the point home. And if even that isn’t enough, perhaps the 88 dead in Egypt will be a sufficient reminder that Islamofascists really do want to kill everybody who isn’t one of them. Despite reports that our actions are aggravating the situation, we must remember that it’s likely things will get worse before they get better. When knocking down a hornet’s nest, you don’t expect the number of hornets to reduce immediately.