Frankly, whether Scotland goes or Scotland stays, once-Great Britain is dead. It’s death was a slow-mo, stupidity-driven suicide:
The enemy will televise the next war
James Taranto points out that, this time around when it comes to Iraq, no one is protesting the fact that Obama, slowly and reluctantly, is sending the military back. Anyone who’s been paying attention since 2009 would say that this is because Democrats only protest when Republican presidents go to war. That’s the easy answer, says Taranto. The reality is that even the hard-core Left, a faction that protests all wars by anyone, has been silent too. Taranto notes, riffing off a Peggy Noonan post, that even the usual suspects (such as ANSWER, the communist organization) are silent. He thinks that Ferguson is distracting them.
I think that there’s more going on than that, and this “more” is something that James Lewis nails. After pointing out how carefully the Leftist media has edited war coverage in the last many decades — showing American troops as both aggressors and victims, but showing communist or Islamist enemies only as victims, Lewis notes that, this time, the enemy has outed itself as an unusually malevolent aggressor:
The criminal monsters of ISIS like to show their killings on a social network called Diaspora, which is less controllable than Facebook or Twitter. The result is what critics call “war porn” – but it means that after six decades of monopoly control of the media by the left (and by Saudi and Qatari money), we are seeing the true horrors of the worst ideological murderers in the world.
Precisely. For the first time since World War II, Americans are allowed to understand that a blood-thirsty enemy is aiming its sights on us, and they are able to understand this fact because that same enemy proudly uses open-access media to show both its enmity to America and its blood-thirstiness. It’s hard, in light of ISIS’s own pride in its slaughters, for the Left to argue that any American engagement comes about because of “American aggression,” “American imperialism,” or a “war for oil.”
Self-defense and Jews
One of the interesting things about my dojo is the number of Jewish kids and adults there. We’re by no means a majority, but we’re represented in numbers greater than our small percentage of the American population.
With me as the only exception, all the Jewish families represented there are solid Progressives. Still, I think there must be some atavistic feeling amongst them that Jews need to learn self-defense.
With the rising tide of anti-Semitic attacks throughout the world, many of which aren’t bombs or knives, but are, instead, just one-on-one bullying attacks on individuals (Jewish) deemed too small and weak to help themselves, self-defense is the best answer. Jews should be armed, and Jews should know how to use close quarters martial arts.
I find support for my belief in Rabbi Aryeh Spiro’s contention that self-defense is a religious obligation:
We fight because self-defense is a mandate from the Bible — the Torah, called by many the Old Testament. We fight to defend life. Because life is precious, the ultimate, we must defend it. The very definition of self-defense is permission to kill the one who is coming toward you to kill you. Self-defense is not simply our right to pray or support with words, but do whatever is needed to stay alive and protect our families.
Those pacifists who are willing to personally die and would rather be butchered so as not to kill their butchers are free to so choose. But no one is allowed to demand or suggest that someone else allow himself to be killed so as to spare the life of the one presently doing murder.
A war to defend and stop those coming to kill you is a moral war. It is called a Just War. And we defend not only ourselves, we defend others. The Bible, the Torah that is, says, “Do not stand idly by while the blood our brother is being spilled”. We also have permission to kill those coming to rape a woman. The Bible, Old Testament, tells us so in Exodus. It is our obligation.
This is always a good time to remind everyone that the Biblical commandment is not “Thou shalt not kill” but is, instead, “Thou shalt not murder.” Murder is a deliberate peacetime act intended to terminate someone’s life for no other reason than the fact that it confers a benefit on the killer, whether material or emotional. Self-defense is a front-line weapon against murder. To the extent murder is prohibited, self-defense must be allowed.
The lack of shame isn’t just a black problem
Yesterday, I wrote that one of the most peculiar things to me about American blacks is that they so wholeheartedly embrace and advocate for sleazy, two-bit gangsters, such as Trayvon Martin or, it seems, Michael Brown. Blackness washes out all sins. There is no sense anymore of being an honorable community. Once you classify yourself as a victim, no one, including your fellow victims, should be allowed to demand of you any standards of morality or decency.
It turns out that this lack of shame isn’t limited just to American blacks. Tom Wilson points out that ordinary Brits seem singularly unimpressed that their determinedly multicultural, politically correct society keeps turning out Islamist mass murderers who kill both at home and, in increasing numbers, abroad:
Observers have warned that the British fighters for the Islamic State are among the most vicious and brutal, and yet there is no sense of shame or culpability gnawing away at the British soul, despite the havoc and terror that British jihadists are causing in Iraq and Syria. The news reporting is procedural, the politicians sound tired, apathy permeates the conversation every time the subject is raised. The only time that any flicker of alarm or interest can be detected is when it is pointed out that these people, hardened by battle and radical Islam, might return to Britain to continue their fight from the streets of British cities.
Read more here. (It may be behind a pay wall, but a Commentary subscription is relatively cheap and definitely worth the price.)
[And now, a brief word from blog management: I've installed new social media buttons that appear at the end of each post. If you use social media, and you like one of my posts, please consider sharing it. Increased readership is good for my ego and, to the extent I have advertising, good for my bottom line. Also, as always, any payments to my tip jar would be much appreciated.]
Finally figuring Obama out
Do you know who is responsible for the shrillest, most nasty anti-Obama post I’ve seen in I don’t know how long? Maureen Dowd. She is clearly a woman whose god betrayed her and she is royally angry. She’s a good writer too when she’s that mad:
FORE! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL.
Dowd is not alone. Over at The New Republic, another true believer can be seen weeping over his keyboard. I mean, it’s pretty clear that a god has failed when you read this opening paragraph:
Why has Barack Obama—one of the most eloquent and thoughtful of recent presidents—become such a terrible politician? Midway through his sixth year in office, his ineptitude is pretty clear.
Yikes! That’s gotta hurt, or at least it would hurt if Obama ever left his bubble, one that Ed Lasky credibly argues sees him deliberately insulate himself from the world.
In Obamaland, there is no such thing as friendly, constructive criticism. If it comes from conservatives, they’re haters and can be ignored. If it comes from the base, they’ve become haters and can be ignored.
As I love to say, being a narcissist means never having to say you’re sorry. The world is composed of supporters and enemies, and anyone who isn’t actively, at this very minute, supporting you, is an enemy, to be disregarded or destroyed (or, preferably, both).
The first president from the TV generation
Jonah Goldberg thinks part of Obama’s problem could be that he’s the first TV generation president. He grew up watching TV and, indeed, likes to boast about the time he spends watching the hip, edgy shows that get such good press in Democrat House organs such as The New York Times or The New Yorker:
Does the president think the world is a TV show?
One of the things you learn watching television as a kid is that the hero wins. No matter how dire things look, the star is going to be okay. MacGyver always defuses the bomb with some saltwater taffy before the timer reaches zero. There was no way Fonzie was going to mess up his water-ski jump and get devoured by sharks.
There’s certainly a fantasist element in every malignant narcissist, since he is always his own superhero, constantly under attack from mere mortals. With this core outlook, TV Land’s paradigm — “the hero always wins” – would certainly mesh perfect with Obama’s character.
Big Shocker (NOT): TSA lies about flying illegals
The TSA was caught in a lie, and it was caught in a lie about very ugly subject: Contrary to earlier denials, the TSA is allowing illegal aliens to fly notwithstanding (a) their illegality and (b) their lack of ID.
Think about that for a moment: Even as you’re standing in endless lines, repeatedly showing your identification, struggling to get your shoes on and off, getting x-rayed, patted down, or strip searched, someone who crossed the border last week gets to show a letter and fly.
I’m sure these illegals are also getting their shoes searched, getting x-rayed, etc., but they’re still allowed to fly — God dammit! That’s just wrong. If the point of all the inconveniences forced upon us is safety, there’s nothing less safe than allowing someone whose first act upon entering America was to break the law, and who could easily be a terrorist or an Ebola carrier, to walk on the plane just by waving a letter.
The politics of doctors
In my neck of the woods, doctors are Democrats. This has always made perfect sense to me. Young doctors are educated to believe that they know what’s best for everybody and should call the shots. (And certainly, you need a certain amount of arrogance to mess with people’s bodies.) This makes doctors a natural Democrat constituency.
According to the Daily Signal, though, my views may thankfully be skewed. Of the 20 doctors in Congress, 16 are Republicans. Moreover, with Obamacare, even the most arrogant of modern young doctors are beginning to realize that, while they don’t mind controlling other people, they’re less than thrilled when the government comes in and tries to control them. Here’s hoping that Obamacare causes more doctors to wise up.
Reporters lie for Hamas
A veteran reporter for reliably Leftist outlets (AP, NPR, NBC, CBS) has written an article starkly stating what we Israel supporters have long known to be true: In addition to bias, laziness, and access issues, the main problem with the reliability of news coming out of Gaza is the fact that Hamas intimidated reporters into lying:
typical news report from Gaza a few days ago described the destruction, interviewed Gaza civilians who related in heartbreaking detail the deaths of their relatives and loss of their belongings, and listed the hardships and travail the people are facing because of the Israeli military operation. Halfway through the long story was a single paragraph that said that Israel claims Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas. This is how journalists protect themselves from charges that they didn’t tell “the other side.”
But in fact, they didn’t. They didn’t report from Gaza about where the Hamas rocket launchers were, where the ammunition is stored, where the openings of the tunnels are—if they mention the tunnels at all, which in this case, they didn’t.
sides the budgetary limitations, news organizations often hesitate to send reporters into Gaza at all because of the constant danger, and not from Israeli airstrikes. In 2007, BBC reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped by Palestinian militants and held for more than three months. Many other foreign journalists were kidnapped there and held for a day or two around that time. There have been no kidnappings recently, but the message was clear—foreigners are fair game. The message was heard and understood. For lack of an alternative, news organizations began to rely more and more on local stringers, giving the regime considerable leverage through intimidation. It’s expected that news organizations will deny all this—it’s part of the dance.
On many occasions, frightened stringers have pleaded to have their bylines taken off stories. Some have been “evacuated” from Gaza for a time for their own safety, after an article critical of the regime was published or broadcast. Families have been spirited out for a while.
Read the rest here. The only problem with the article is that it appears in The Tower, which is a great publication, but one that lacks the reach of outlets such as HuffPo. We can all help, though, by using social media to give this article the widest reach possible.
Arabs and the conquest problem
One of my conservative(ish) Facebook friends came out this weekend with a post parroting The New York Times to the effect that the problem in the Middle East is that Israel will not cooperate with the two-state solution so as to give the Palestinians their homeland. It took time, but I shut down that thread by walking everyone through a few facts: Palestinian rejection of the two-state solution, the morality of self defense, Hamas’s founding mandate to kill all Jews, the fact that Palestinians already have their state because Jordan was given to the Palestinians in 1924, and, lastly, the fact that Palestinians have a minimal historic tie to the land.
That last point was reinforced for me by Joshua Gerlenter’s reminder that, to the extent Islam spread by conquest, it’s displaced indigenous people all over Africa, Europe, and Asia for thousands of years.
Europe’s gradual decline into anti-Semitic appeasement
Jeffrey Goldberg is a Progressive who, when his politics aren’t directly involved, often gets things right. A case in point is a recent Bloomberg column he authored accusing Europe of a passive, indecent surrender to the forces of evil roaming European streets. He’s not calling out the active anti-Semites; he’s calling out Europe’s increasingly large cadre of go-along-to-get along people, those who just hope that the Islamists among them will leave them alone.
Goldberg’s starting point is an incident at a Sainsbury’s super market in England. Anti-Israel protesters promised to invade the store, so local management instantly stripped the shelves of all kosher foods (most of which didn’t come from Israel). Although Sainsbury’s corporate management returned the products to the shelf and apologized, Goldberg understands that something very important happened at that local store (emphasis mine):
he Sainsbury’s incident is disturbing not so much for what it says about the nature of European anti-Israelism, but for what it says about the broader response within Europe to forces of intolerance and hatred. Employees of the Sainsbury’s branch in central London seemed to have understood, based on an accurate reading of recent events, that anti-Israel activists posed a threat to their store, and perhaps to their own physical well-being. And so the manager made a decision to surrender to the mob and engage in what could only be called an act of self-preservational, but objectively anti-Semitic, preemption.
Cowering of this sort is a sign that a country is losing the ability to stand for the values it professes to maintain. In the U.K., it is also a sign that a society hasn’t fully grappled with the radical intolerance exhibited by some of its citizens.
It will be a great day when Goldberg and other fundamentally decent people like him understand that the Leftism they espouse — with its moral relativism, multiculturalism, and hatred for white, Anglo-Saxon culture — is what destroyed England’s (and is destroying America’s) “ability to stand for the values it professes to maintain.”
Hollywood’s heavy hitters support Israel
Some really big names in Hollywood have signed a letter supporting Israel and castigating Hamas. All I can say is good for them!! The letter includes the normal mush-mouthed demand for peace, but it has the courage to target Hamas’s stated raison d’etre: killing Jews.
ALS, ice buckets, and coffee — social coercion for other people’s charities
You’ve no doubt heard by now about the ice bucket challenge, which has successfully raised awareness of ALS. Or, more accurately, it’s raised tens of millions for an ALS charity. It’s unclear how many people are actually more educated now about that devastating disease.
If you haven’t heard, the ice bucket challenge goes this way: You dump a bucket of ice on your head for the charity, donate money to the ALS charity ($100 is the recommended amount), and assign three friends who must do the same. (It started out that you told the friends “Donate or suffer the ice bucket,” but it’s morphed into people video taping themselves being iced and donating money.)
I’m a curmudgeon. ALS is a laudatory cause, but it’s not my cause. I tend to donate to military organizations and pro-Israel organizations. As I see it, it’s my money, and I get to spend it as I will. I’ve received two ice bucket challenges to date and have ignored both. I’m not the only one with this curmudgeonly streak:
Because of the subtle social bullying behind the ice bucket challenge, I was fascinated by a story out of Florida. For 10 hours, in St. Petersburg, Florida, people were “paying it forward,” meaning that they were paying for the order of the person behind them in line. One man eventually put a stop to it, and he did it deliberately for a reason I found compelling (emphasis mine):
Peter Schorsch, a blogger, drove to the Starbucks drive-thru in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday after hearing about the “pay-it-forward’ phenomenon there that ended with customer No. 458.
After he ordered two Venti Mocha Frappuccinos, the barista told him his first drink had been paid for by the previous customer and asked if he would like to pay for the next customer.
“I told him no,” Schorsch, of St. Petersburg, told ABC News. “When the barista asks you to pay it forward, it is no longer spontaneous.”
“I just don’t want to be forced into doing something,” said Schorsch, who is also a part-time political consultant. “This is turning into a social phenomenon and I had to put an end to it.”
When baristas ask customers to pay for the next customer, some patrons simply oblige out of guilt, not generosity, he said.
“It just seems like a ‘First World’ problem to me. Middle-class people sitting in their cars at a drive-thru, sipping a $5 drink and worrying about someone breaking the ranks,” Schorsch said.
“There is a little humor being a contrarian, but I think if you really want to help, find someone that obviously needs help, like the homeless,” Schorsch said.
“Also, I got a $6 Venti Frappuccino. Someone might just get a $2 coffee,” Schorsch said. “This is unfair to that person who paid for me.”
A Marine’s kick-ass message to ISIS
It’s “only” one former Marine, but it’s still heartening to know that at least one segment of American society still has a can-do, won’t-back-down, love-my-country, I-support-freedom attitude.
(The “only” in front of “one Marine” comes about because of that wonderful line JKB quoted from an old movie:
I was just watching an old movie, Rendezvous, with William Powell and Rosalind Russell. It’s a WWI spy movie with Ms. Russell’s character the persistent suitor of Powell’s character running down a spy ring. She follows him into a hotel where the spy ring operates. Bullying her way past the front desk she reveals her uncle is the Asst. Sec of War and threatens: “I’ll have him send the Army and Navy. And a Marine, if he’s needed.”
An unusually powerful Michael Ramirez cartoon
In September 2011, I wrote a post about the way teachers constantly present themselves as the hardest working, most underpaid people in America. I have a great deal of respect for teachers and, to the extent I deliver my kids to their care, I want them to be decent, knowledgeable, skillful, hardworking people — and that’s not something that can be had for free. Nevertheless, I don’t see them as the martyrs that they see looking back from their mirrors.
I touched upon that subject again just this past September, after I’d gotten deluged by Facebook posts from teacher friends, all of them reminding us in a cute way that no one works harder in America than a teacher or for less money compared to their work output. Again, with all due respect for teachers, I think many people, including the troops, would quibble with this. I contrasted the Democrats’ deification of teachers and compared it with their denigration of doctors, something expressed obliquely through Obamacare. Doctors train for years in their profession, work heinous hours, and truly hold people’s lives in their hands — and Obamacare is intended to increase their work load and cut their compensation. My conclusion was that socialism prefers propagandists, something that teachers are perfectly situated to do, over providers.
And speaking of socialists and the way they value different categories of workers, Daniel Hannan has written about the British deification of its National Health Service, a system that is above reproach. It’s not above reproach because it’s so wonderful, mind you. It’s above reproach because no one is allowed to reproach it. Hannan notes that there are two classes that speak well of the system: those who work in it or are ideological supporters of socialized medicine, and those who are loudly grateful to have received decent treatment from it. Hannan makes two points about this second category. First, they’re amiable followers of the more strident ideologues. Second, their gratitude that the system works is itself an indictment of the system’s myriad failings:
What of the wider constituency? What of the undoctrinaire people who say, with conviction, “the NHS saved my grandmother’s life”? Well, to make a rather unpopular point, she was saved by the clinicians involved, not by Britain’s unique prohibition of private finance in healthcare provision. In a country as wealthy as ours, we should expect a certain level of service. We can be grateful to the people involved without treating the whole process as a miracle.
When else, after all, do we become so emotional? Do we get off planes saying “I owe my life to British Airways: they flew me all the way here in one piece”? Of course not: that’s what is meant to happen. Our assumption doesn’t insult the pilots any more than expecting a certain level of competence in healthcare “insults our hardworking doctors and nurses”. On the contrary, it compliments them.
The elision of the “hardworking doctors and nurses” with the state monopoly that employs them is what allows opponents of reform to shout down any criticism. People who complain are treated, not as wronged consumers, but as pests. People who argue that there might be a better way of organising the system are treated, not as proponents of a different view, but as enemies.
Naturally, the above passage made me think of the obeisance we’re expected to pay to America’s teachers. The demand that we recognize what wonderful martyrs they are is a tacit acknowledgment that too many of them are government drones who are, quite rationally, milking a system that gives itself up for milking. This doesn’t mean we should denigrate teachers or take them for granted, but there’s a strong element of a “methinks we all do protest too much” mindset when it comes to the ritual demand that we acknowledge that teachers are society’s new martyrs. After all, as Hannan said, they have a job to do and they should be doing it.
Incidentally, while Hannan doesn’t address the issue of teachers, he does point out that our being bullied into expressing exaggerated surprise and appreciation when there’s competence in a public sector area isn’t limited to Britain’s NHS. His other example is the UN, which you all know I believe is one of the most vile, evil, antisemitic, child exploitative, anti-American, money-wasting institutions on earth, as well as a few other institutions that, coincidentally, are also usually anti-American and antisemitic:
Any organisation that is spared criticism becomes, over time, inefficient, insensitive, intolerant. It has happened to the United Nations. It has happened to the mega-charities. It happened, for a long time, to the European Union (though not over the past five years). The more lofty the ideal, the more reluctant people are to look at the grubby reality.
Cheers to Hannan for stating that, while the Emperor isn’t precisely walking around naked, his clothes are scarcely the golden, bejeweled garments that his sycophants claim he’s wearing.
Stella Paul notes something I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere when it comes to Obamacare: the devastating effect it will have on people who travel or divide their time between two locations. The new policies are narrowly locked into local care providers. But people aren’t always in the same locality. Both of my children have been hospitalized while we’ve been traveling. If our insurance company hadn’t paid, we would have been out tens of thousands of dollars. Knowing that sickness can happen and that our insurance might reject our claims makes travel much less enticing.
The Left needs censorship because it’s ideas do not work in the real world. Only censorship can hide that fact long enough for the Lefts to have such a tight grip on the levers of power that, once the truth emerges, hapless citizens can do nothing to change the situation. The latest example of this is Covered Oregon’s insistence that those who know about its healthcare debacle must forfeit their free speech rights.
Speaking of censorship, one would think that Britain would be doing everything in its power not to become the living incarnation of Orwell’s 1984. Instead, though, it is hastening down that path, by refusing admittance to those who make factual statements about who Islamists really are and what they do.
Some people — most notably greedy insurers — have been voluntarily silencing themselves (self-imposed censorship, if you will), because they believed that the Democrats would reward them. Now that Obama is actively trying to destroy them, Jonah Goldberg wonders if these corporate worms will turn.
Speaking of worms turning, is it my imagination or are some courts getting a little more courageous about taking on Obama’s overreach. Gabriel Malor has what I think of as a great example of this judicial trend. No wonder Reid went nuclear in order to pack the courts.
By now, of course, you’ve heard about the young metrosexual nattily attired in a plaid onsie pajama and clutching a cup of hot chocolate, whose image went out in a Tweet from Barack Obama urging people to “talk about getting health insurance.” I call him “Princess Pajama Boy”:
Other people, much more witty than I will ever be, have been having way too much fun with this one. You can see collections of retweets and Photoshops here, here, and here. There’s a bit of overlap between the three sites, but still a lot of original stuff on each. Here’s my effort:
@BarackObama Looking at the kid in the photo, y’all are talking about “getting MENTAL health insurance,” right? That kid needs help.
— Bookwormroom (@Bookwormroom) December 18, 2013
And finally, the ad that everyone is saying is a political game changer:
UPDATE: I’m still laughing over the Pajama Game posters that Steven Hayward found.
UPDATE II: And still more posters, this time from National Review.
I was living in England in 1981 and 1982, so I was there for the coal miner riots and the Falkland War. Since I was at a Northern University, the official posture of every student there was that Maggie Thatcher was evil. I kind of admired her then, and I greatly admired her later. This is the obituary I wrote for her at Mr. Conservative:
The indomitable Margaret Thatcher is dead at age 87, after having suffered a stroke. Thatcher was England’s Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. She got elected after promising England that she would end the socialist hold over the British economy and, despite fierce opposition, that is precisely what she did.
Thatcher was absolutely sure of her convictions – she knew that Communism was evil; and that British socialism, a soft form of Communism, was simply a slow-moving evil sapping away the will and moral fiber that had once characterized the British people.
As is always the case when people who have been dependent on government benefits suddenly have those benefits pulled out from them, violence ensued. Thatcher was unmoved, and delighted in the fact that the British adopted the Soviet nickname for her: “The Iron Lady.’ She knew she was right, and she was not going to back down. She relished battle.
When, in 1982, Argentina attempted to take over the Falkland Islands, a small British governed island chain off its coast, Thatcher unflinchingly sent battleships off to war to take those islands back. The British, even those who hated her economic policies, cheered her on and celebrated what turned out to be a swift victory
Thatcher was the daughter of a conservative grocer and his wife. They raised her to believe in herself and in the fact that others had the right and the ability to be equally self-confident and self-sufficient. In the Thatcher family, dependency on government wasn’t just an embarrassment; it was a destructive force that had to be fought at every turn. This belief guided Thatcher’s entire career. Thankfully, her education at Oxford was in science and then law, so she was not indoctrinated in the leftism that was already then infecting Western liberal arts education.
Thatcher also had a wonderful gift for pithy sayings that readily encompassed serious conservative political thought. Small wonder that she and Ronald Reagan, whose presidency overlapped with much of her time as Prime Minister, delighted in each other so much:
Individualism has come in for an enormous amount of criticism over the years. It still does. It is widely assumed to be synonymous with selfishness…But the main reason why so many people in power have always disliked individualism is because it is individualists who are ever keenest to prevent the abuse of authority.
To be free is better than to be unfree – always. Any politician who suggests the opposite should be treated as suspect.
Because she understood socialism so well, she had the gift of prescience, predicting the socialist future with remarkable accuracy:
The European single currency is bound to fail, economically, politically and indeed socially, though the timing, occasion and full consequences are all necessarily still unclear.
I do believe that political arrangements which are based upon violence, intimidation and theft will eventually break down – and will deserve to do so.
Margaret Thatcher was a great lady, with the highest degrees of moral courage and political conviction. For a short, but golden time, she was able to stop Britain’s miserable slide into socialism. Although her control over Britain ended in 1990, it is her death that truly reminds us how rare her courage was, how difficult her conservative gains were, and how easily they were lost. All that’s left of Britain now seems to be embodied in an ugly, mean-spirited Leftist carpetbagger who seeks to destroy America as he and his kind have succeeded in destroying Thatcher’s Britain.
Defending your home against a break-in is about as personal as it gets. The following email is a good example of taking that personal principle, then expanding to a narrative about a single third party, and finally discussing the broader policy implications that affect all citiziens (h/t Earl):
A LESSON FROM HISTORY:
You’re sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way.
With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it…
In the darkness, you make out two shadows. One holds something that looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire.
The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside.
As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you’re in trouble. In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless. Yours was never registered.
Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm.
When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter.
“What kind of sentence will I get?” you ask.
“Only ten-to-twelve years,” he replies, as if that’s nothing. “Behave yourself, and you’ll be out in seven.”
The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper. Somehow, you’re portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can’t find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both “victims” have been arrested numerous times.
But the next day’s headline says it all: “Lovable Rogue Son Didn’t Deserve to Die.” The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters.
As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero. Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he’ll probably win.
The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you’ve been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.
A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven’t been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted.
When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn’t take long for the jury to convict you of all charges. The judge sentences you to life in prison.
This case really happened.
On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk, England, killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term. [See link below, explaining that he only served three years, but has had to go into hiding.]
How did it become a crime to defend one’s own life in the once great British Empire? It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license.
The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns. Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.
Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987. Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the street shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead. The British public, already de-sensitized by eighty years of “gun control”, demanded even tougher restrictions. (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.)
Nine years later, at Dunblane, Scotland, Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school. For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, sealed the fate of the few sidearm’s still owned by private citizens.
During the years in which the British government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released. Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying, “We cannot have people take the law into their own hands.”
All of Tony Martin’s neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the consequences.
Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.
When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn’t were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn’t comply. Police later bragged that they’d taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens.
How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kind of like cars. Sound familiar?
WAKE UP AMERICA; THIS IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTION.
“…It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” –Samuel Adams
If you’re curious, here’s more information about Martin. Please note that the challenges against him came about because the state hadn’t given him permission to defend himself.
It’s no wonder Brits, contra Obama, want out of the EU. Aside from exerting nit-picky control over every aspect of British life, the EU makes it virtually impossible for Britain to stem the endless tide of immigrants coming in, legally or not, and immediately getting public benefits that are not available to the Brits themselves.
Here are two articles and a video regarding that problem.
First, a woman talks about living the lush life on her benefits.
Second, some fed-up Brits raise their voices in protest song:
Third, a shy, unlikely voice emerges to oppose, not just the welfare state, but the lies that the ruling class tells about the welfare state.
Words matter, President Obama once said. He’s right. How we choose words gives a very good insight into our feelings upon the subject under discussion.
In the current debate regarding the Second Amendment, conservatives have made the mistake of ceding oratorical control to the Left. How? By accepting the phrase “gun control” as the operative phrase to describe the debate.
Calling the debate “gun control” presupposes that there will be control — i.e., that government control over guns is the end, rather than the means. The only question remaining in such a debate is how much control the government will ultimately exert over citizens’ guns.
Most people, though, if they thought about it, would say that what they’re really aiming for is “violence minimization.” If one properly identifies minimizing violence as the goal, the debate changes dramatically. It forces those participating in the debate to ask, not “how many guns can we take away or how many magazines can we limit?” but, instead, “what approach results in the fewest number of gun deaths or overall violence?”.
When it comes to overall violence, data from the world over easily answers that question. Those Countries that have extremely strict gun bans also have extremely high violence rates — and those rates have often climbed in direct proportion to the increased gun bans. England’s experience is the most stunning example. From the time it imposed limitations on guns so stringent that almost all law-abiding citizens are now disarmed, England has seen its violent crime rate soar, to the point where the number of violent crimes per capita is the highest in the First World:
In the U.K., gun ownership is virtually banned. Even the police force in the U.K. is, for the most part, unarmed. Raw figures show that the UK has a lower homicide rate than the U.S., 1.2 per 100,000 of population in the U.K. versus 4.8 in the U.S. But when it comes to violent crime overall, the UK is a much greater hotbed than the U.S., with 2,034 violent criminal incidents in the U.K. per 100,000 of population versus 486 in the U.S.
Incidentally, when it comes to discussing murders in the United States versus those in England, don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in the fact that England has a lower homicide rate than we do. It has always had a lower murder rate than America, which is not a surprise given that, until recently, it was a small, homogeneous nation, as compared to the brawling, sprawling frontier that is America. In addition, it’s a sad fact — one that few have the courage to address — that America’s high gun crime numbers are rooted almost entirely in America’s black community. If one subtracts that subset of America from the equation, our gun homicide rates are comparable to other majority Caucasian nations. Comparing American and British murder rates is to compare apples to oranges.
However, comparing British to British murder rates over the period of the gun ban is edifying, since those rates have increased consistently for the first thirteen years after the 1996 gun ban. They have tapered off again in the last three years, which suggests that the decrease in homicides is unrelated to the 1996 gun ban and may, instead, have more to do with the recession’s effects on England.
England’s violent crime statistics, while shocking, are not unique. Putting aside anarchic areas (in the Middle East and Africa, for example), there’s a consistent correlation between government interference in private gun ownership and higher violence rates. Take Australia, for example, a country that the New York Times touts as the example the U.S. should follow when it comes to government gun bans:
The homicide rate in Australia, low in 1996 at 1.9, increased in the three years after their gun ban before dropping to 1.3 in 2007. Regardless, overall, violent crime in Australia has exploded since gun control was imposed, with the sum of violent crime, including sexual assaults, robberies and assaults, increasing about 20% in just 12 years.
Russia and Mexico, two countries that have stringent laws controlling citizen access to guns, are two other countries frequently cited by Second Amendment supporters as proof that government restrictions on guns don’t work.
We really needn’t look so far afield, though, to determine whether people are safest when the government takes guns or when it allows law abiding citizens to hang onto their guns (including guns with high capacity magazines). Reason.com has assembled a boatload of data showing that in America, as private gun ownership soared over the past 20 years, public violence — including violence in schools — decreased:
1. Violent crime – including violent crime using guns – has dropped massively over the past 20 years.
The violent crime rate - which includes murder, rape, and beatings – is half of what it was in the early 1990s. And the violent crime rate involving the use of weapons has also declined at a similar pace.
2. Mass shootings have not increased in recent years.
Despite terrifying events like Sandy Hook or last summer’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, mass shootings are not becoming more frequent. “There is no pattern, there is no increase,” says criminologist James Allen Fox of Northeastern University, who studies the issue. Other data shows that mass killings peaked in 1929.
5. “Assault Weapons Bans” Are Generally Ineffective.
While many people are calling for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons – an arbitrary category of guns that has no clear definition – research shows it would have no effect on crime and violence. “Should it be renewed,” concludes a definitive study, “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
Correlation is not causation, of course, but it’s very hard to avoid looking at the above data (fewer guns and more crime versus more guns and less crime) without coming to the conclusion that, in a nominally Judeo-Christian society with a rule of law, guns add to, rather than subtract from, public safety.
So we’re back at the beginning. Do we want to debate gun control, which is the current nomenclature of choice, or do we want to debate lessening violence overall? The former discussion presupposes government restrictions on gun ownership, with the only question being how much restriction the government can and should impose. The latter discussion, however, forces people to confront the fact that the best way to lessen violence would be to arm more law-abiding citizens, rather than to leave guns as the exclusive preserve of the criminal and the insane.
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(I find that I’m too thrifty not to get the most mileage out of my writing. People who get my newsletter — and if you don’t, you can fill out the subscription form to the right — will have seen this post already, but I couldn’t resist a slightly wider audience for it.)
I wrote the other day about the extraordinary violence in England, a level of violence that increased dramatically after the Labour Party outlawed almost all guns. After reading that post, a friend send me a link to an article by Tom Gresham, writing at the Tactical Wire. Gresham’s article bounces off of Bob Costas’ inane little homily asserting that Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive if guns were outlawed. After pointing out the most obvious fact, which is that Belcher could easily have killed Perkins with his bare hands, Gresham gets to the heart of the matter, which is the way the anti-gun Left abuses data.
Gresham first tackles Costa’s claim that, even if guns aren’t used to kill innocent bystanders, they drive suicide rates. Gresham has one word to demolish that argument: Japan. Japan’s laws almost completely prohibit guns. Nevertheless, says Gresham, “the suicide rate in Japan approaches (sometimes exceeds) twice that of the U.S. No guns in Japan, but twice the rate of suicides of the U.S., which has perhaps 300 million guns.”
Gresham also points to a stunning statistic about America, one I hadn’t known. In the 20 years since most states passed laws mandating issuance of concealed carry permits to qualified applicants,”the murder rate in the United States has fallen dramatically.”
We now have three interesting facts: (1) Mostly gun-less Japan has twice the suicide rate of America; (2) mostly gun-less Britain has almost five times as much violent crime as armed America, a rate that increased dramatically when Britain banned most weapons; and (3) when American states enabled law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons, gun crime decreased, rather than increased.
We’ve talked before at the Bookworm Room about the fact that correlation is not the same as causation. Those three facts taken together, though, indicate that it’s reasonable to assume a connection between guns and violent crime. The connection, though, isn’t the one the Left wants us to draw, which is that guns increase the violent crime and suicide rate. Rather, the connection is that an armed society is one that sees fewer violent crimes and fewer suicides.
I grew up deathly afraid of guns. This wasn’t like my fear of snakes and spiders, which seems to be pretty atavistic. Instead, this was a learned fear: Guns kill people. Guns also kill innocent animals that should, instead, die nice clean deaths in factory farms, before being sliced up and packaged in cellophane. I knew the truth: guns are bad, very, very bad.
Then I went to England and learned that guns aren’t the only bad things. My sojourn in England coincided with the explosive rise of soccer hooligans, louts who traveled the length and breadth of England, and periodically spilled over into the rest of Europe, bringing jack-booted violence with them wherever they went. (Among the Thugs is a horrifying account of these louts and the carnage in which they delighted.) Up in the north of England, where I lived, I could always tell when the local soccer team was having a home game because all the businesses near the soccer stadium boarded up their windows. England may not have had mass shootings, but it had death by a thousands cuts and boot stomps.
When I returned to America, I still hated guns (I had, after all, been carefully taught to do so), but I began to wonder — Are guns really the only bad thing out there? Will doing away with guns turn America into an Eden that sees that loutish lion and the helpless lamb lie down together? England, which was a less armed country than America, wasn’t necessarily a safer one. People still got victimized; it was just that guns weren’t the weapons doing the victimizing.
Upon my return to the states, Second Amendment supporters to whom I spoke told me that, while bullets have the advantage of distance, in the close quarters of a bar fight, knives or broken bottles are much more dangerous. They made the logical argument, then, that no one ever suggests outlawing knives or bottles. Likewise, the fact that more people die from car accidents than gunshot wounds doesn’t mean we’re about to outlaw cars. (Although, I must say, the climate change people are making a good stab at outlawing cars.)
When I was still in my liberal phase, I always had the right answer at hand when I heard these logical arguments: knives and bottles and cars all have a primary utility separate from their secondary, dangerous uses. Guns, however, exist only to kill.
With age, thankfully, I’ve gained wisdom. I’ve figured out that guns are extremely useful: you can get your own food if you’re nowhere near a market with tidy cellophane packages; you can have the sheer pleasure of target practice; you can discourage looters in the wake of a disaster; if you’re a woman and a large man is threatening you, guns are the great equalizer; if you’re alone and a crazy man is at your door, you don’t have to die like the screaming teen in a slasher movie; and guns are the only defense against the single largest and most deadly entity known to man — a totalitarian government that has turned on its citizens.
As I know from my gun hating years, even though all of the above are good reasons to cheer the Second Amendment, these facts make no headway with the anti-gun crowd. Instead, they just keep pulling out this tired old poster:
Here’s an interesting point about those numbers. In 1997, Britain’s Labour government worked overtime to remove guns from the hands of law-abiding citizens:
After Hungerford [a massacre in 1987], the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 criminalised most semi-automatic long-barrelled weapons; it was generally supported by the Labour opposition although some Labour backbenchers thought it inadequate.After the second incident, the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 criminalised private possession of most handguns having a calibre over .22; the Snowdrop Campaign continued to press for a wider ban, and in 1997 the incoming Labour government introduced the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, which extended this to most handguns with a calibre of .22 (there are exceptions for some antique handguns and black-powder revolvers.)
And not coincidentally, since 1997, the year law-abiding Brits were denied arms, violent crime in England has skyrocketed:
The Tories said Labour had presided over a decade of spiralling violence.
In the decade following the party’s election in 1997, the number of recorded violent attacks soared by 77 per cent to 1.158million – or more than two every minute.
The figures, compiled from reports released by the European Commission and United Nations, also show:
- The UK has the second highest overall crime rate in the EU.
- It has a higher homicide rate than most of our western European neighbours, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
- The UK has the fifth highest robbery rate in the EU.
- It has the fourth highest burglary rate and the highest absolute number of burglaries in the EU, with double the number of offences than recorded in Germany and France.
But it is the naming of Britain as the most violent country in the EU that is most shocking. The analysis is based on the number of crimes per 100,000 residents.
In the UK, there are 2,034 offences per 100,000 people, way ahead of second-placed Austria with a rate of 1,677.
The U.S. has a violence rate of 466 crimes per 100,000 residents, Canada 935, Australia 92 and South Africa 1,609.
Britain used to be famed as a polite society. It is no longer. It is also a society that full lives up to the saying that “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
People will kill. They always have, and they always will. Culture matters, in that cultural norms can encourage or discourage violent crime. But only guns will be there when you’re small and alone, and that’s true whether you’re facing a home invader, a street thug, or a modern-day Hitler, Pol Pot, or Stalin.
In today’s Britain, when something bad happens, all people of good will are trained to stand by. They watch and hope that the omnipresent CCTV will alert the authorities that someone needs help. Indeed, they’re so well-trained that, sometimes, even the authorities stand aside in order to take a break or follow department rules. That’s why it’s rather surprising to read about a 14-year-old boy who threw himself into a wild fight in order to help four security guards who were being assaulted by thugs (emphasis mine):
A teenager in his school uniform dived in to stop a fight which saw four security guards punched, kicked, head-butted and bitten.
Have-a-go-hero Jack Slater, 14, did not spare a thought for his own safety until after he saved the security man from four attackers.
Dozens of adults gathered to watch the spectacle, but only Jack jumped in to help.
Jack, who saw one of the four guards pinned to the ground, jumped onto the back of the assailant and pulled him away.
The teenager, from Maidstone, Kent, said today: ‘The security guards were getting flung around a bit and one of them looked like he was getting overcome.
‘I ran over and grabbed the shoulders of the person he was struggling with and pulled him away.
‘I’ve never done anything like this before and it was only afterwards I thought, “I could’ve been hurt there”.
‘My friend tried to stop me and said I was stupid for getting involved but it was a spur of the moment thing.’
His mother Michelle Slater, 42, said: ‘I told him off at the time for getting involved, but I’m very proud of him.
‘He won’t do anything like that again, hopefully.’
The salient points in that story are as follows: British grown-ups, trained by the state into passivity, watched hooligans attack innocent people. A young boy, whose state training clearly hadn’t taken hold (although it had taken hold in his peers), would not stand idly by but, instead, immediately helped, at no small risk to himself. His mother was angry at him for taking the risk.
Wow. Just wow. That’s what the mighty British empire has dwindled to: a single young boy who still has fire in his belly and courage in his heart.