The Bookworm Beat 1-27-15 — a potpourri of stuff

Woman writingI’ve been telling myself that the legal work I’ve been doing lately is good for my brain. It’s like fitness training. If only it didn’t take away from my blogging. Still, I do what I can and this time around I have a short and sweet Bookworm Beat:

Primo Levi on passive evil

One of the things we talk about a lot here is that only 10% of the world’s Muslims are active supporters of violent jihad. That’s a large number of people when you consider that there are around 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, but it does imply that the other 90% of Muslims are opposed to jihad. Of course, the reality is different. Although the numbers differ from nation to nation, it’s obvious that a good 40% of the world’s Muslims are all good with violent jihad, even though they don’t want to do it themselves — and probably don’t even want to know the facts when violent jihad goes into action. In that way, they can tell themselves and others with a straight face that their Islam is a religion of peace.

I thought of that little charade when I read about a letter Italian concentration camp survivor (and later suicide victim) Primo Levi wrote to a little girl who asked him two simple questions:

“Why didn’t anyone do something to stop the massacre?” and “Were the Germans evil?”

Levi’s answer was surprisingly simple:

“Dear Monica, the question you ask me about the Germans’ cruelty has long perplexed historians. In my opinion, it would make no sense accusing of cruelty the whole German nation of those days — let alone pointing the fingers at today’s Germans,” Levi wrote.

“We know for sure, however, that the vast majority of Germans had accepted Hitler, voted for him, approved him and admired him, as long as he was successful, militarily and politically. Nevertheless many Germans must have known, either directly or indirectly, what was going on — not only in concentration camps, but also in all the territories occupied [by the Third Reich], especially in Eastern Europe. For this reason, rather than accusing them of cruelty, I would accuse the Germans of those days of selfishness, of being indifferent and intentionally ignorant, for anyone who really wanted to know the truth could do so, and could have made it known to the world, not even at his own risk.”

Evil people are able to do what they do, not because the lumpen mass helps them, but because the lumpen mass deliberately ignores them. As it was with Hitler and the Nazis, so it is today with the world’s Muslims, 10% of whom interpret literally their religion’s blood lust, and another 40% of whom pretend that this blood lust is purely symbolic and, while you’re at it, please join them in ignoring the gun- and knife-wielding killers a few blocks, towns, or nations away.

There’s long been a method to Obama’s madness

Do you remember when Iran had its attempted Green Revolution (which would have weakened the Mad Mullahs), and Obama, rather than offering, at the very least, moral support, kept conspicuously silent, thereby effectively siding with the same Mad Mullahs? I certainly remember it.

In the years since then, Obama has always hastened to carry Iran’s water. Even when he makes pro forma objections to Iran’s policies, Obama’s words are at odds with his acts. His acts have enabled Iran to come this close to having nuclear missiles, and have seen it establish increased dominance throughout the Middle East, both directly in Iraq, and through it’s proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and amongst the Palestinians.

The question is why? Obama’s behavior isn’t just about his obvious liking and support for Islam. Obama could just as easily have tried to tip America’s weight towards Sunni powers, rather than the dominant Shia power in the region.

David Daoud thinks he knows what’s happening:

ny interpret America’s softening stance toward Iran as an attempt to make Tehran more amenable to a deal on its nuclear program. But the Obama administration’s new approach to Iran doesn’t end with the nuclear issue, and assuming it does is to miss the true danger of it all. This White House views the nuclear deal currently being negotiated as only a first step toward a general détente and broader cooperation between the two countries. The perception permeating the Situation Room is that filling the power vacuum created by recent Middle Eastern upheavals with Iranian forces—especially its Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its proxy Hezbollah—will help stabilize the ungovernable spaces of the region in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Getting the nuclear deal out of the way is therefore essential to progress on positioning Tehran as “a force for stability” in the region, as the President has described it.

If, as is likely, this is indeed Obama’s strategy, it’s a deeply disturbing one. It rests on the assumption that stability is inherently virtuous. But what is virtuous about a stability premised on genocidal antisemitism, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-Christian sentiment? That is the peace of the grave, something I hope that most Americans would reflexively reject.

Also, any sane person has to ask, why in the world would Iran think itself beholden to Obama for giving them that which they already believe they deserve by Allah’s grace? If Obama thinks giving Iran the Middle Eastern world on a platter will lessen its view of America as the “Great Satan” that needs to be put to death, he is so hopelessly delusional that he should instantly be relieved of office on sanity grounds.

All Americans should be terribly concerned that their president has concluded that the best way to have peace is to give the world over to tyranny. Unfortunately, most Americans, pacified with the opiates of smart phones and welfare and Oprah-esque emotional responses to minor crises, neither see nor care about what’s happening. In that regard, we are just as bad as both the Germans and the Muslims I described in the note, above, about Primo Levi. Worse, it seems as if those of us who see what’s happening and who do care are Cassandras. No matter how we plead with people to look clearly at the future, they ignore us.

Where there’s life, there’s hope

My longtime blog friend, Patrick O’Hannigan, has written one of his typically lyrical American Spectator pieces, this time about the March for Life in Washington, D.C., which he attended. His starting point is an article by a Canadian writer saying that Right-to-Lifers can march until they’re blue in the face. It’s irrelevant because the fact that there is even a debate about the issue means that those who support Life have lost. Once again, as so often in American history, a small cadre of judges made a decision that goes far beyond law and purports to establish America’s moral direction. (Think how Dred Scott, another dreadfully wrong Supreme Court decision, started a war.)

Patrick is much less pessimistic. He feels strongly that faith matters, although it requires hard and long work.

Fisking Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi’s nasty “American Sniper” review

Mike McDaniel does a stellar job of fisking the “American Sniper” review that Matt Taibbi, of Rolling Stone wrote:

Media Progressives are nothing if not predictable. A case in point is one Matt Taibbi, writing what purports to be a movie review of American Sniper in a January 21, 1015 edition of Rolling Stone, which hasn’t had a good run of journalistic integrity of late. One can expect the self-appointed cultural elite to be insultingly dismissive of and terminally snarky about anything the denizens of flyover country–you know, Americans?–like, but his article “American Sniper’ Is Almost Too Dumb To Criticize. Almost,” is a study in predictability and lazy disdain.

The only point on which Mike and I differ is that I didn’t like Forrest Gump. I appreciated how clever the movie was, but I never could get over my visceral — and, I’ll readily concede, irrational — dislike of Tom Hanks. I disliked him the first moment I ever saw him, back in the days of Bosom Buddies. Watching Hanks makes me uncomfortable, so I’m never going to like a movie he’s in, no matter how good it is.

If you’d like to see an actual review of “American Sniper,” rather than an embittered Leftist tirade, I recommend Mike’s review.

Progressive media lies

There are some people who lie simply because they seem programmed to do that. You’ll point to a wall and say, accurately, “It’s a red wall.” And they, because they simply want to dominate reality, will answer, “No, it’s a blue wall,” even knowing that statement to be untrue. Usually, though, people lie for a reason. They lie to hide their guilt, shame, or failure, or they lie to advance an agenda.

In keeping with that last thought — lying to advance an agenda — I found fascinating Andy Puzder’s deconstruction of the many lie’s Slate told about his testimony at a Senate hearing about a proposal to change Obamacare to make 40 hours, not 30, count as full time work for purposes of mandatory coverage.