The Bookworm Beat 12-12-15 — the “hopeful pessimist” open thread

Woman-writing-300x265[This is a long one, good for a cozy read on a winter day.]

I’m a pessimist. I’ve learned through experience that most things go wrong, whether in the world or in my life. Still, I never completely lose hope. If I didn’t have hope, frankly, I would stop moving entirely.

Despite the knowledge that my best laid plans will gang [mostly] aft agley, I wake up every morning with slightly more than half my brain saying “this time the good thing will happen,” and slightly less than half warning “you know it won’t.” The first part gets me out of bed with the sun, the second part gives me insomnia with the moon.

Anyway, that oxymoronic attitude infuses my blog. I’m never surprised when I read about Progressive perfidy, Islamist terrorism, or human stupidity and cruelty, but I always think, maybe something will change . . . maybe it will be better. And on that note, I offer you a cornucopia of things, both old and new, that acknowledge the bad, but perhaps hold out hope for the good.

If Imam Obama doesn’t speak for sharia, who does?

Obama, whose resume does not include either professional or amateur level knowledge about Islam, nevertheless is very keen to tell us each time there’s an Islamic terror attack anywhere in the world that the perpetrators are un-Islamic and do not speak for Islam. Rather than confound Obama with complicated doctrinal questions, Roger Kimball asks one very important one: So Who Does Speak for Islam, President Obama? Kimball even offers a few suggested answers to that question:

Saudi Arabia? It is the world’s most important Sunni Muslim state. One of the most ghastly things about ISIS is its followers’ penchant for beheading people, yet in 2015 alone, our “ally” Saudi Arabia has beheaded 151 people. I am surprised the number is not higher; the list of things that are capital offenses in Saudi Arabia is long and varied.

Apostasy makes the list. If you decide that Allah is not for you, it’s off with your head.

Want a glass of wine? Think twice. The consumption of intoxicants is on the list, as is consensual homosexual sex, adultery, and “sorcery or witchcraft.”

So, presumably, Obama would not let Saudi Arabia speak for Islam.

How about the world’s largest Shia state, Iran? Does it speak for Islam? If not, why not? Because it is just as much a barbaric cesspool as Saudi Arabia?

You see how it’s going to proceed. Last night, Barack Obama was at pains to distance us from “those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.” Well, with that statement Obama forbids the majority of the world’s Muslims, including the denizens of Islam’s chief states, from speaking for Islam.

Let’s forget conquest and terror: there are millions of folks who call themselves Muslims, yet want nothing to do with jihadist violence. Do they speak for Islam?

Well, if they affirm Sharia — Islamic law — then they cannot in principle affirm “the values of religious tolerance,” etc., so Obama does not allow these Muslims to speak for Islam, either.

Using Trump’s statements about Muslim immigration as the first step in an intelligent immigration plan

If Donald Trump were an artist, he would not be a delicate miniaturist or a meticulous late-medieval Flemish craftsman. Instead, he would be Jackson Pollock or possibly Jeff Koons. He’s creating something all right, but there’s a destructive edge to his creative acts.

Thus, when Donald Trump announced, less than tactfully, that all Muslim immigration ought to step pending Congress’s ability to figure out what’s going on with Muslim immigrants (both ordinary and refugee), he created an immediate furor. There was that the destructive part of his creativity.  But Trump also said something that needs to be said, which is that the American government fails in its obligation to protect Americans against enemies both foreign and domestic when it willingly lets foreign enemies turn into domestic ones.

Recognizing the creative force in Trump’s statement, Mark Krikorian has some more nuanced, intelligent, and do-able suggestions for handling Muslim immigrants. After acknowledging what we all know, which is that there is no right to immigrate to America and that Congress can set whatever the heck parameters it wants, Krikorian describes what those parameters might be:

Under current trends, the United States will admit about 1 million new Muslim-origin immigrants over the next decade, plus hundreds of thousands of Muslim guest workers and foreign students. In addition, something like 50,000 young people from Muslim immigrant families turn 18 in the United States each year. Many of these individuals are productive citizens who pose no threat to our republic. Iman the supermodel, television’s Dr. Oz, Fareed Zakaria, Coke CEO Muhtar Kent — whatever their merits or lack thereof, their Muslim origins pose no threat to us. Some are even politically conservative American patriots, such as our own Reihan Salam.

But large Muslim populations, continually refreshed by ongoing mass immigration, are a problem. Polling suggests between a quarter and a third are not attached to the principles of the Constitution, supporting things such as sharia law over U.S. law and the use of violence against those who insult Islam. Nor is this merely hypothetical; Muslims account for only about 1 percent of the U.S. population but account for about half of terrorist attacks since 9/11. That means Muslims in the United States are about 5,000 percent more likely to commit terrorist attacks than non-Muslims.

So what to do? A strictly religious test for immigrants or visitors, as Trump seems to suggest, while perfectly legal with regard to foreigners seeking entry, would obviously run against the grain of American political culture, and rightly so. Whether you believe that Mohammed flew to heaven on the back of his horse is no more anyone else’s business than whether you believe in the virgin birth or the transmigration of souls.

But while Islam is indeed a religion, it is also more than that — and it is the political aspects that concern us. As Andy McCarthy noted last week, Islam’s non-religious element — sharia — “involves the organization of the state, comprehensive regulation of economic and social life, rules of military engagement, and imposition of a draconian criminal code.” That program of Islamic supremacism is fundamentally incompatible with the Constitution, and we should strive to minimize the number of people living in our country who hold such beliefs. As Walter Russell Mead wrote the other day, “a cosmopolitan and tolerant society can’t thrive if it admits millions of migrants who hate and despise cosmopolitan values.”

The narrowest solution would be to restore the principle of “ideological exclusion” to U.S. immigration law. With the end of the Cold War — which too many imagined to be the End of History — we eliminated the legal bar to enemies of America who were not actual members of terrorist organizations or card-carrying members of totalitarian political parties. Specifically, the law says the State Department is prohibited from keeping a foreigner out “because of the alien’s past, current, or expected beliefs, statements, or associations, if such beliefs, statements, or associations would be lawful within the United States.” In other words, since 1990 we have applied the First Amendment to all foreigners abroad seeking admission to our country. The only exception is if the secretary of state “personally determines that the alien’s admission would compromise a compelling United States foreign policy interest” — note this exception is only for a “compelling . . . foreign policy interest,” not a domestic-policy one, like limiting the number of residents who support killing apostates.

Read Krikorian’s other sensible suggestions here.

Also, if you want to learn more about what moderate, pluralist Islam looks like, check out this article about Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser. He is a wonderful and brave human being.

After reading about Dr. Jasser, think long and hard about the fact that (a) Obama and his state media totally ignore this reform movement and that (b) by constantly refusing to acknowledge that Islamic extremism is Islamic, they make it almost impossible for a true reform movement with Islam to take place. The Democrats are the doctrinal version of enablers, preventing Islam form acknowledging that it has a problem so that it can take steps to address that problem.

A matched set of articles about Muslim responses to Muslim terrorism

One of the things that’s fascinating is the dance the enabler’s dance that the media immediately begins with the CAIR-Muslim crowd after a terrorist shooting. The media rushes out to interview, or give op-ed platforms to, Muslims who (a) claim that they’re nice people and (b) they’re getting dirty looks from Americans. Worse, these Muslims feel terribly put upon that they’re being asked to help identify bad Muslims, which leads me to the first article from my matched set:

President Obama’s request that American Muslims help “root out” and confront extremist ideology in their communities is getting mixed reactions. Muslim leaders say they want to help, but some are not happy that they are being singled out.

“We would never ask any other faith community to stand up and condemn acts of violence committed by people within their groups,” said Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who has worked extensively with the Black Lives Matter movement and other minority groups. “The fact that this is only directed at the Muslim community is something that I personally can’t accept.”

Apparently Linda Sarsour hasn’t noticed that, when it comes to murders that appear to have a religious motive, other denominations don’t have to be asked to speak out. When a crazed man attacks a Planned Parenthood clinic, the first ones to condemn his act are Pro-Life Christians, who point out that their message is to preserve, not to take, life. The reason Muslims, unlike other denominations have to be asked, is that it’s rare from them to condemn such acts on religious grounds. Instead, they say they’re sorry people died and it has nothing to do with them. There is no sense of shame that a co-religionist has done something terribly wrong, a shame that would be followed by soul-searching and redemptive behavior. Instead, a CAIR press conference looks like this:

Not all people exhibit Sarsour’s narcissistic defense mechanisms. On the same day that I read about her “I am not my brother’s keeper” quote, I saw an article by Khurram Dara saying that peace-loving, patriotic Muslims have to be their violent brothers’ keepers:

Attacks like last week’s underscore the importance of countering extremist propaganda. While sophisticated attacks by terrorist groups can be effectively prevented by law enforcement and national-security measures, the truth is there isn’t much that can be done—not even stricter gun-control laws—to completely eliminate the possibility of a radicalized lone wolf wreaking havoc. Only defeating the ideology that inspires these attacks can do that. A propaganda war must be waged on radical Islam, and American Muslims have to be on the front lines for it to be credible.

It isn’t enough to condemn radicalism—we must actively engage in counter-extremism messaging. We must build an intellectual and theological case against radicalism. Our religious leaders must educate and warn our youth about the dangers of searching for spiritual guidance on the Internet. And we have to be vigilant. When someone stops coming to mosque and disappears from a community, abruptly after marrying a Pakistani woman in Saudi Arabia whom he met online, it shouldn’t take two years and 35 Americans getting shot (including one from that very congregation) before we notice.


We carry with us a responsibility to our country, our faith and our children. The majority of us are here because our parents or grandparents emigrated from oppressive and illiberal nations for the promise of a better life in America. But the way things are heading, our children may grow up with less opportunity and freedom than we did. I can think of no greater defeat and surrender to radicalism than that.

Hurrah, Mr. Dara! I wish there were a hundred thousand — nay, a million — more like you in America, and 160,000,000 more like you around the world.

There’s a different kind of student uprising in Tennessee

It appears that not all American students have drunk too deeply of the multi-culti suicide juice that has turned colleges and universities from educational institutions that churn out educated, mature young adults, ready to face the world, into oversized nursery schools for heavily indoctrinated, damaged children. At the University of Tennessee, at least one group of Christian students has announced that it will not fall in line with seeing America’s highly successful, truly humanist traditional Judeo-Christian culture erased to satisfy the Progressive Gods.

The brewing battle is taking place at the University of Tennessee, which earlier this year raised hackles when its administration wanted teachers and students to use gender-neutral pronouns even for those proud of their biological gender. Having attacked human biology and grammar, the administration was ready for its next assault: Christmas.

Accordingly, it’s oh-so-PC Office for Diversity and Inclusion promulgated guidelines for hosting Christmas parties that — natch — forbore to mention Christmas or anything remotely related to the reason for the season:

In addition to recommending that parties not be scheduled to coincide with cultural or religious holidays, the document provides a list of “best practices” to ensure that holiday parties do not inadvertently evoke any traditions or imagery associated with specific celebrations.

Refreshments, for instance, should include “food from multiple regions and cultures,” which the guidelines suggest could be accomplished by hosting a potluck-style party and encouraging attendees to contribute dishes “that reflect their personal religions, cultures, and celebrations.” At the same time, though, the document also warns that “Supervisors and managers should not endorse, or be perceived as endorsing, religion generally or a specific religion.”

You’d think, of course, that the Diverse and Inclusive people in the UT administration would be a bit more sensitive about cultural appropriation, but there it is, right in the middle of the guidelines: the food should come “from multiple regions and cultures.” Honestly, how dare that mis-named Office for Diversity and Inclusion say it’s appropriate for some white southern person to eat nachos or egg rolls? And can you imagine anything more insulting than forcing a black student to eat some super white food like an ambrosia salad? It’s just so wrong….

Clayton Dorman, a member of a Christian fraternity, saw something else wrong in that diktat: “It’s my God given right to be able to have a Christmas party and telling me I can’t do that just really sent me over the edge.” To that end, he and his fellow fraternity members hung a big white sheet outside their fraternity with a picture of a Christmas tree on it and the words “Come And Take It.” He then sent off a soon to be very popular tweet about the banner.

Not unnaturally given Leftist campus hegemony over the last few decades, the faculty came out strongly in favor of the Christmas ban:

[M]any faculty members have stepped up to praise the administrators for their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Chancellor Cheek and Vice Chancellor Hall have worked tirelessly to help make UT a more welcoming and inclusive place for all students, faculty, and staff, and we support them in these efforts,” reads the statement released Sunday by “Members of the Executive Council and the Past Presidents of the Faculty Senate” at UT-Knoxville.

The full Faculty Senate has not yet met to address the issue—they are scheduled to do so Tuesday evening—but the statement offers several indications that their position will be endorsed at the meeting.

“Petitions in support of Cheek and Hall were signed by nearly 3,000 faculty, students, and staff since Thursday,” they point out, adding that both Faculty Senate and Undergraduate Student Government were involved with the effort.

Additionally, the statement references a letter sent to University President Joe DiPietro Sunday from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which was also signed by 20 other department heads, urging DiPietro to stand firm against criticism of the guidelines

“Such an attack demonstrates the deep need for UT Knoxville’s initiative to respect and increase diversity and inclusion,” the letter asserts. “Inclusion in this case asserts the willingness to welcome all traditions, and not to prioritize one over the other.”

Back in the 1980s, when I first heard Christians complain about “secular humanism,” I thought they were crazy. To me, an atheist Jewish Democrat, the phrase simply meant an entire absence of faith in the public square — and wasn’t that a good thing?

It wasn’t until I read Stephen L. Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief that I understood that lack of faith is itself a belief system, complete with a doctrine predicated on Big Government, animism, Gaia-ism, the denial of biological reality, and sexual license. Moreover, the Left is using the government itself, as well as government-funded institutions, to enforce this new religion, thereby violating the First Amendment. I therefore wish young Mr. Dorman much luck in rallying the troops — but he’s got a long, hard battle ahead of him.

Thomas Sowell, incidentally, long ago wrote that the reason Leftism has taken such firm hold in academia is because that’s the only place it can survive:

The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields in which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine;and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up. It should not be surprising that all of these fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination by the left on campuses across the country.

In the humanities, for example, the test of deconstructionism is not whether it can produce any tangible results but whether it remains in vogue. So long as it does, professors skilled in its verbal sleight-of-hand can expect to continue to receive six-figure salaries.

You might think that the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe would be considered a decisive failure for Marxism, but academic Marxists in America are utterly undaunted. Their paychecks and their tenure are unaffected. Their theories continue to flourish in the classrooms and their journals continue to litter the library shelves.

Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it. Even countries that were once more prosperous than their neighbors have found themselves much poorer than their neighbors after just one generation of socialistic policies. Whether these neighboring countries were Ghana and the Ivory Coast or Burma and Thailand, it has been the same story around the world.

There are two things we can do to destroy the Left entirely in this country:  (1) Take away all public funding from America’s colleges and universities; and (2) reverse John F. Kennedy’s executive order establishing public sector unions, which are nothing more than money laundering entities for the Left.

Destroying students’ backbone starts as early as high school

The Young America’s Foundation sponsored a speech by Ben Shapiro, known for his conservative views, at Otay Ranch High School, a primarily minority school near San Diego. Four-hundred-fifty students turned out to hear the speech and, apparently, listened politely. There haven’t been any reports that students fainted, threw up, or rioted. The faculty, however, wasn’t so civil:

They listened with interest – until a school administrator, Dean Nafarrete, dismissed the students halfway through the speech, telling them that Shapiro’s conservatism “crossed a line.”


Nafarrete said he would “dismiss the students” because Shapiro “crossed a line” by discussing the realities of income mobility in the United States. Asked about whether the government ought to take money from rich Americans and give it to poor Americans to help poor Americans rise from poverty, Shapiro explained that handouts did not accomplish that goal: only hard work and prudent fiscal management did that.

Shapiro added that America’s permanent poor were not poor because they had been exploited by wealthier Americans, but because permanently poor Americans are typically not good with money, which is why lottery winners with a history of poverty largely fall back into poverty after spending their winnings.

“The reason people are permanently poor in the United States,” Shapiro said, “isn’t because they don’t have money, it’s because they suck with money. The reasons people are temporarily poor can vary.” As a rumble ran through the crowd, Shapiro continued, “That’s not even controversial. If you’re permanently poor [in America] for your entire life, you’re not great with money by definition…”

Per Nafarette’s world view, explaining to students that they can control their own destiny was simply too awful to hear — and believe it or not, I understand Nafarette’s thinking. He’s a statist. His world view holds that the state, and only the state, controls our destiny. We must look to it for all things. It’s therefore a revolutionary act to tell young people that they should look to themselves for salvation and not to the state. So Nafarette, who is, like all 21st century American statists, a complete reactionary, put a stop to Shapiro’s effort to storm the establishment barricades.

While Leftists protect young people from morality, they ignore the risks from immorality

Nafarette exemplifies that Leftist mindset that believes that the monster under the bed is traditional Judeo-Christian morality. Meanwhile, bowing to the Gods of political correctness, these same Leftists refuse to acknowledge the actual monsters preying on young people. With a trial underway, some details are now emerging about the appalling Rotherham pedophile/sex/prostitution scandal, which saw British Muslims preying on as many as 1,200 vulnerable, white British children — a scandal that the authorities ignored for over a decade for fear of being called racist:

The catalogue of alleged abuse, which spanned more than a decade from 1990 to 2003, was said to have been masterminded by Basharat’s brother, Arshid Hussain, 40, who is facing 29 counts relating to nine girls. The court heard that he passed the lead victim [beginning when she was 12] to his brother and friends and arranged her abuse in flats, garages and houses in the Rotherham area and in London.


“She was beaten, had a cigarette stubbed out on her chest, she was tied up, she was raped from a very young age, often by numerous men, one after the other, at the say-so of Arshid Hussain. She was insecure and vulnerable and believed he was her boyfriend,” said Colborne. “He passed her to his brother and friends, and over time gave her as payment to men for debts he owed.”


The jury heard the final victim “suffered years of mental and physical cruelty”. She was 15 when she met Basharat Hussain, then 24, and they quickly started having sex. Her mother was unhappy about the relationship and would confiscate her phone, but Basharat would replace it. “He would habitually be violent. He would slap, punch, kick and spit at her,” Colborne said.

At one stage he became angry with her and called her a “slag”. He told her he had shovels in the boot of his car and she could dig her own grave, the prosecution said.

The girl went to the police on numerous occasions and asked to go into the witness protection programme, but Hussain allegedly told her he had a paid mole in the force and knew all about her plans, which she then abandoned.

It’s important to note that these outrages arose not just because the authorities were scared of or in thrall to the perpetrators. They also came about because, with statism displacing traditional morality and ideas about self-reliance, the British people have too often become quite degraded. In Council housing and impoverished neighborhood live generations of people seduced by the opiate of drugs, alcohol, and a welfare system that makes no demands on them, but allows them to perpetuate their worst behaviors — and too often these behaviors created homes so unstable and destructive that their daughters are easy prey for a sweet-tongued predator.

Islam as a whole is no respecter of childhood

When I was going through my old emails, I found that someone (and with apologies, I forget who that someone was) sent me a fascinating article about the fact that Christianity humanized children:

Children, he says, were considered nonpersons. In the cultures of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Pliny the Elder, society was organized in “concentric circles,” with the most valuable (freeborn, adult males) in the center, and the least valuable (women, slaves, and children) on the fringes.

From the moment of birth, a child in ancient Rome was as likely as not to die. If disease or injury didn’t end a young life, very frequently the parents themselves did, “exposing” any infants deemed inconvenient. Such children usually fell prey to wild animals or the elements. But as Gobry points out, a few were rescued only to be raised in one of the ancient world’s most lucrative industries: sex slavery.

Today, sexually abusing a child is a serious crime. Not so in the pre-Christian world, writes Gobry. During that time it was legal, and even considered good form, for a married Patrician to keep children—particularly young boys—to exploit sexually in his free time. “[M]ost sexual acts were permissible,” Gobry explains, “as long as they involved a person of higher status being active against or dominating a person of lower status. This meant that, according to all the evidence we have, the sexual abuse of children…was rife.”

Into this world came Christianity, with its condemnation of abortion, infanticide and child abuse, its glorification of faithful marriage, and its teaching that children come first in the Kingdom of Heaven. “Whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble,” said Jesus, “it would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and to be thrown into the sea.”

This ethic, which the Western world takes for granted today, is a direct heritage of Christianity. It rests on the very same beliefs as traditional marriage, chastity, and the sanctity of all life. And secularists who want nothing more than a world free from these constraints of Christian morality, warns Gobry, had better consider—or rather remember—what that world looks like.

Read more here.

The contrast with Islam is obvious.  Because the Koran has all sorts of immoral ideas about sex and women (e.g., brides as young as 9, good; any contact with women if one isn’t married, bad; women as purely sexual objects, good; and non-Muslims as slaves, good) child rape and sex enslavement are common currency in the Muslim world.   ISIS’s sex trade in children is now notorious, but too many people turned a blind eye to the disgusting pedophile culture around young boys in Afghanistan (something that even attentive conservatives first learned about only when the Army wanted to discharge a Green Beret who raised a ruckus about this pederasty).

It’s not just about sex, though, when it comes to the Muslim disdain for childhood.  In the 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq war, the most terrifying Iranian troops that the Iraqis faced (although not the most effective militarily) were the child brigades. These consisted of completely brainwashed young children, armed with cheap plastic “keys to paradise,” who had been raised to kill, and who were lacking in humanity and compassion even by Muslim standards.

In the Palestinian territories, the smallest children are being raised as killers, whose life goal is to slaughter Jews:

As for ISIS, it is heavily invested in the younger generation, although not as America understands that concept. Here, our investment is in children who grow up strong and healthy, and who live safe and long lives (although the universities are turning them into paranoid wrecks). In ISIS land, children are meant to be killing machines. They lead prisoners to their executions and, once the decapitation is completed, parade around with the heads.

And of course, if the children won’t get with the program, it’s Red Queen rules: “Off with their heads.

Those Muslims in America who are lukewarm about Western values and feel a vague yearning for a Caliphate might want to look at their children and grandchildren, and then ask themselves “Is their being turned into cannon fodder what I really want for them?”

Sepsis — America’s silent killer

Neo-Neocon is reeling from the loss of a dear friend. One day her friend was part of her life; the next day, she was gone. What made this loss more than usually terrible was that the friend died of something most Americans assume vanished with the antibiotic era: Sepsis.

People in the old days knew all about sepsis. I knew about it because Rupert Brookes died from an infected mosquito bite. Agatha Christie also wrote a very clever pre-antiobiotic mystery that involved the murderer inducing sepsis in an intended victim. But sepsis doesn’t happen nowadays, right? Wrong, very wrong:

Actually, deaths from sepsis unfortunately are quite common in our time, too. Sepsis develops with lightening speed in situations in which the patient often isn’t even aware of the location of the infection. Certainly, even today a blister such as the one Coolidge’s son had is not usually treated with antibiotics, or effective antibiotics; we don’t need to take antibiotics for every small scrape or scratch (most of which will never be infected), and some bacteria are drug-resistant (sepsis can sometimes follow fungal, parasitic, or viral problems, too, but that’s not as common).

But even more importantly, that last sentence of the quote is still true: “Patients presenting with fever, low blood pressure, and an obvious site or cause of infection could be diagnosed with relative ease, but the treatment options available were minimal, and the mortality rates were high.” Patients with those symptoms could and should be diagnosed, but the diagnosis is sometimes missed. But even a prompt “sepsis” diagnosis of a patient with those symptoms might not save that person because by the time a patient has low blood pressure, something called septic shock is probably setting in, and multiple organ failure can occur within hours, even with the most heroic efforts known to modern medicine. Antibiotics and other medications are poured into the patient, and very often a coma is induced and a respirator connected and dialysis is commenced, but it’s often to no avail.

Please read the whole thing and pay attention to any infection that isn’t getting better. Sepsis can be treated in its early stages (per a doctor friend of mine) but, as Neo-Neocon says, it’s almost impossible to treat in its later stages.

A unique and amazing war hero has died

In 2005, Tibor Rubin was awarded a Medal of Honor for his services during the Korean War.  No one denies that he deserved the award and that it was withheld because of antisemitism in the chain of command.  By rights, though, Rubin should have been awarded an unlimited, lifetime supply of Medals of Honor:

Born in Hungary in 1929, Tibor Rubin’s father was a shoemaker who was also a WWI hero. who had fought on the Eastern Front and survived six years in a Russian Gulag POW camp. Despite fighting in the Austro-Hungarian Army as an ally of the German Empire, Mr. Rubin’s family were sent to Auschwitz. Tibor Rubin’s father, sister, and mother did not make it out alive, and Tibor himself, only 13 when he was taken, was forced to endure 14 grueling months after being transferred to Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.

When the horrific death camp was liberated by American soldiers in 1945, 15 year-old Tibor Rubin swore from that moment on he would repay the United States for getting him out of there.

It took Rubin 3 years to get to the states, and he immediately attempted to enlist in the United States Army. He was denied because he failed the English test. So he learned English, tried again in 1950, was accepted, went to boot camp, and was immediately shipped out to South Korea to fight and die for his new country.

Serving with the 1st Cavalry Division, “Ted” Rubin was a front-line soldier in the early days of the Korean War, back when wave after wave after wave of fanatical North Korean communists, supported by the Chinese, came flying across the 38th parallel. The Americans and Koreans, badly outnumbered by Communists, were forced to retreat to a tiny perimeter around the city of Pusan and wait for reinforcements. The 1st Cavalry was ordered to hold the roads as long as possible, defend at all costs against literally hundreds of thousands of North Korean troops, and keep the road open so supplies and troops and refugees could be evacuated back to Pusan.

Corporal Ted Rubin was positioned atop a critical hill overlooking the main road to Pusan. When every other man in his unit was killed in hand-to-hand combat, Ted Rubin went total blood-rage berserker, grabbed a .30-caliber machine gun out of the hands of a dead U.S. gunner, and single-handedly defended the hill for over 24 hours, inflicting, as the Medal of Honor citation puts it, “massive casualties” on the enemy. When reinforcements finally arrived, they found Ted Rubin sitting on top of the mountain next to a smoking gun barrel, an empty ammunition can.Two weeks later he led a one-man assault on the enemy and personally captured over a hundred North Korean troops by himself.

During the period between 1950 and 1953, Ted Rubin fought on the front lines with a ridiculous amount of bravery and guts. He was so damned impressive that his commanders nominated him for the Medal of Honor four separate times, the Silver Star twice. Both of these officers were killed in action shortly afterwards, but not before ordering Rubin’s sergeant to begin the necessary paperwork recommending Rubin for the Medal of Honor. Some of Rubin’s fellow GIs were present and witnessed when the order was issued to the sergeant, and all are convinced that the sergeant deliberately ignored the orders. “I really believe, in my heart, that [the sergeant] would have jeopardized his own safety rather than assist in any way whatsoever in the awarding of the Medal of Honor to a person of Jewish descent”, wrote Corporal Harold Speakman in a notarized affidavit.

After 3 years of fighting on the Korean peninsula, Tibor Rubin found himself in yet another jacked-up situation in October of 1953, when his 150-man company was assaulted by an entire Brigade of Chinese infantry. Rubin, grabbed a .30 cal machine gun out of a gun pit that had been wiped out with a grenade, repositioned the weapon, and started blasting everything he could see. Wounded badly by shrapnel and shot a couple times, Rubin kept firing until he ran out of bullets, got blown up with a grenade, and had his unconscious body hauled back to North Korea as a Prisoner of War.

That’s just the beginning of Rubin’s insane bravery.  You have to read what happened once he ended up in a Chinese concentration camp.

Even the most stalwart warriors, though, cannot win in the battle against time.  At age 86, Tibor, who survived two concentration camps in two different wars, as well as innumerable fiercely fought battles, has died.

Interesting interviews with interesting people

One of the delightful people I’ve gotten to know through my blogging is Michael Phillips. He has the incredible gift of curiosity. First he learns, then he applies his values and previously acquired knowledge to this new information. I was therefore unsurprised to learn that, from 1988 to 1998, he conducted a series of interviews with a vast array of well-known people. (He even interviewed Paul Krugman who was, at the time, a genuinely respectable Nobel Prize winner in Economics, not an angry political hack.) These interviews are now online and available at 75 cents a pop.