Friday, December 19, 2014

The Left’s Lawless Shock Troops

The Left’s Lawless Shock Troops Never big on law and order, anti-police protesters target innocent bridges and tunnels.
 
Anti-police protesters have found their enemy, and it is commuters and shoppers.
 
The protest movement that has sprung up in the wake of grand-jury decisions not to indict police officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases is the anti-police version of Occupy Wall Street. It represents the same free-floating critique of “the system,” with the same strong whiff of lawlessness.
 
Even when protesters aren’t burning out buildings (as they did repeatedly in Ferguson), even when they haven’t broken windows (as they have in Oakland and Berkeley), they have closed down intersections and bridges. In other words, even when they have been “peaceful,” the protests have involved coercion and illegal acts.
 
Given the events of the past two weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking that the reason President Barack Obama says there is an infrastructure crisis in this country is that there aren’t enough bridges and tunnels for anti-police protesters to block.
 
The logic of these actions is, to say the least, not obvious. Eric Garner didn’t die in the custody of commuters trying to exit New York through one of its bridges or tunnels. He wasn’t taken down during his arrest by cabdrivers trying to make a living in an already gridlocked city. All of these ordinary people, who haven’t harmed anyone, are being inconvenienced for the sin of having somewhere to go.
 
The Left has long posited various means of achieving social justice, from the general strike to consciousness-raising worker collectives. To these methods must now be added traffic congestion, as well as the staging of obnoxious spectacles during the Christmas shopping season. If the road to police reform goes through the Disney Store in Times Square and other retail outlets around the country, the demonstrations have truly hit home.
 
A professor at the City University of New York named Eric Linsker, who writes “f*** the police” in what he calls his poetry (Robert Frost he is not), took a more direct approach at the inaptly named Millions March NYC over the weekend. He allegedly seemed ready to throw a trash can on police from an elevated walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge. The old Pete Seeger progressive anthem was “If I Had a Hammer.” For Linsker, it isn’t an issue; he was reportedly found with a bag full of them.
 
In the Brooklyn Bridge melee, two police officers who were there to ensure that the protesters’ civil rights weren’t violated were allegedly attacked, although accounts differ about what happened. (Maybe future ambiguity can be resolved by having violent agitators wear body cameras.) The spirit of at least some of these protesters was captured in a chant caught on video: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”
 
And this is a movement that has gotten broadly sympathetic press coverage. Imagine if tea-party rallies occasionally dissolved into acts of arson and property damage. Or if they involved disorderly acts in public spaces. Or if they featured chants braying for violence against their enemies. Back in the day, Sarah Palin merely put a target symbol on a map of congressmen she hoped to defeat, and it was taken as almost an incitement to murder.
 
But these are all counterfactuals, because public disorder, lawlessness, and intimidation are almost exclusively the tools of the Left. This is because the Left doesn’t put a high value on order and lawfulness, at least not when they are perceived to be obstacles to its goals; because it has a violent anarchist fringe that exists to rampage and break things whenever it gets the opportunity; because it has a romance for direct action; and because it tends to believe that the entire American system is rotten, and therefore any means justify the ends in attempting to upend it.
 
It will take out its rage on any convenient target and expect — correctly — to get a free pass from the establishment media and liberal elite.
 
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email:
comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. © 2014 King Features Syndicate

OBAMA’S MOVE TO STRENGTHEN CUBA WILL ALSO HELP RUSSIA, IRAN, NORTH KOREA AND VENEZUELA


President Obama has chosen an odd time to begin a diplomatic and economic relationship with Cuba that undoubtedly will strengthen Cuba’s economy and thereby, in all probability, prolong the rule of the Castro brothers and make it more likely that they will be succeeded by another generation of Communist tyrants. In recent years, Cuba has aligned itself militarily with an international rogues’ gallery: Venezuela, of course, but also Russia, Iran and North Korea.
As we noted here, Havana hosted a Russian intelligence ship earlier this year. The Russians made no secret of the use they want to make of their long-time ally:
The Defense Ministry plans to expand its military presence to several key regions outside Russia in an effort to increase its long-range bomber coverage. …
“We need bases for refueling [our aircraft] near the equator, and in other places,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said….
Then there is North Korea. As Marco Rubio wrote, exclusively for Power Line, Cuba has repeatedly engaged in internationally prohibited arms transactions with North Korea.
Cuba has a cooperative military relationship with Iran, too, as explained here.
And, of course, Venezuela’s catastrophically socialist regime has been Cuba’s main ally since the Soviet Union imploded.
So, by propping up Castro’s regime in Cuba, Obama can indirectly benefit all of America’s major adversaries, providing them with a more economically robust trading partner, a better source of illicit arms, and, most important, naval bases and intelligence outposts just miles from our shores. I think it is fair to say that for all past American presidents, even the Democrats, the prospect of aiding such bitter enemies of the United States would have rendered propping up Castro’s regime unthinkable. For Obama, the fact that he can strengthen North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Russia along with Cuba may be a feature rather than a bug.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE LIBERAL CASE FOR LIGHTENING UP ON THE CASTROS


Earlier today, I contended that President Obama’s decision to begin a diplomatic and economic relationship with Cuba was an ideologically-based move intended, we should presume, to do precisely what it will accomplish — assist the dictatorship. There is, however, a case for changing our Cuba policy that isn’t founded on hard leftism. I don’t find the case persuasive, but thought it would be helpful to acknowledge and discuss it.
I did so in a 2009 column for the Washington Examiner, the relevant parts of which I now set forth (the whole thing is here):
Momentum is growing in Washington for removing the ban on most travel to Cuba and for lifting or lightening other economic sanctions. This is a subject about which reasonable people can disagree. Unfortunately, there appears to be little room for disagreement within the Senate Democratic caucus.
Let’s start with the merits. U.S. sanctions were originally intended to bring down Castro’s revolutionary regime or, alternatively, to marginalize it.
Sanctions failed on the first score, but succeeded on the second. In less than 20 years, Cuba was transformed, even in the left-liberal imagination, from a romantic cutting-edge society to an impoverished backwater. And Castro was never able to “export” his revolution.
This was due primarily to the underlying weakness of Castro’s model, but sanctions probably made a contribution too. Once Cuba was marginalized, however, the case for maintaining the sanctions came to rest on their ability to help actually change Cuba.
In this, sanctions have not succeeded, and there begins the case for lifting or lightening them. Taking the analysis one step further, liberal Democrats contend that Cuban “engagement” with American tourists and American businesses will make the country a more open one and increase internal pressure for reform.
The problem with this approach is that, like sanctions, it has been tried and found wanting. As Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, points out, millions of Europeans, Canadians, Mexicans, and South Americans have visited Cuba, while their nation’s businesses and governments have invested in the Cuban economy and entered into trade agreements. Yet the regime has not opened up.
Unfortunately, the tyrants who control Cuba have the desire and the means to maintain their control. Neither the infliction of more economic pain on the population through sanctions nor the further lining of the tyrants’ pockets through “engagement” will change this.
Maintaining the sanctions nonetheless increases the likelihood of a democratic Cuba. The next generation of Cuban leaders may be less dead set against loosening the government’s hold on society than the old-time totalitarians. If sanctions remain in place, the prospect that they might be lifted provides the new leaders with an incentive to reform. If sanctions have already been removed or substantially reduced, that particular incentive no longer exists. . . .
None of this likely matters to Obama. He has never shown a sincere interest in altering the nature of the Cuban regime or, for that matter, in seeing meaningful regime change in countries even more hostile to the U.S., such as Iran.
In any case, for the reasons presented in my column, extending a diplomatic and economic hand to Cuba will not help liberalize that country, and is likely, instead, to delay liberalization.

Use Low Oil Prices to Upset Foes

Use Low Oil Prices to Upset Foes 
The White House did nothing to advance the shale revolution, but it can use its effects against Iran and other bad actors. 
 



John Fund 
Americans are actually smiling as they fill up at gas pumps these days, with some people enjoying prices below $2 a gallon. But the recent 40 percent collapse in oil prices down to the $60-a-barrel range is leading to a lot of hand-wringing among oil-producing nations that are also America’s adversaries. The distress is afflicting a group of thugs who well deserve it.
It’s been amusing to see anti-U.S. demagogues rail at low oil prices. Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, the Mini-Me of the late dictator Hugo Chávez, took to state-run TV last week to blame U.S. fracking technology for the collapse in prices. “We’ve got to get oil back to the price where it needs to be,” he whined. “The oil they’re taking from [shale deposits] and the gas. They’ve flooded the international market to batter Iran and to hurt us, Venezuela.”
Iran is blaming both the U.S. and its neighbors in the Mideast. Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht told Muslim clerics in October that “some so-called Islamic countries in the region are serving the interests of America and [other] arrogant powers in trying to squeeze the Islamic Republic.” He later told reporters that the West has “forced our oil production from 4 million barrels per day to 1 million barrels per day.”
Then there is Russia. Vladimir Putin is in denial over the falling price of oil. “I am sure the market will come into balance again in the first quarter or toward the middle of next year,” he said recently. He appears not to have a Plan B if oil prices continue to decline. The three-year Russian budget he just signed into law is based on an oil price of $100 a barrel. Dissenting voices are squelched. When Alexei Ulyukayev, Russia’s economic minister, predicted that Russian real wages would decline by 3.8 percent in 2015, he was quickly contradicted by Putin economic aide Andrei Belousov, who dismissed the pessimistic forecasts as “a bunch of numbers” and “a technical mistake.”
But numbers do have consequences, and if oil prices continue to fall, Putin will have to ponder his response. Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin wielded enormous power in the Kremlin, but both were humbled and limited by economic downturns that caused popular unrest. Despite his strong will, Putin may have to reconsider his foreign adventurism and his refusal to go along with reform-minded advisers who are urging him to deregulate the Russian economy and limit corruption.
Venezuela is in much more dire straits that could definitely limit its capacity to make trouble internationally. Oil makes up 97 percent of its foreign earnings, and its massive spending on social programs is based on an oil price that’s double what it is today. Standard & Poor’s pegs the risk of a Venezuelan bond default at 50 percent within the next two years. Those approving of Maduro’s performance in office now represent only a fourth of Venezuelan voters.
The Maduro government’s struggles may well have a silver lining for U.S. interests: Venezuela will be less able to use cheap oil to prop up Cuba and other regimes in Latin America.
No one is suggesting any of the Triple Threat regimes — Venezuela, Iran, and Russia — are about to be overthrown and replaced with friendlier regimes. But the opportunity is there for the United States to exert more pressure against them.
Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, thinks that we should factor Iran’s current economic woes into our policy on Iran’s nuclear capability. “The Iranian economy is weaker now than ever, and we have an opportunity to get them to consider a compromise on the nuclear program to stave off an economic collapse,” he told me. Right now, Iran is barred by sanctions from selling its oil to the European Union.
Other analysts agree. “For the first time since the United States and other world powers confronted Iran over its nuclear program in 2006, today’s oil-market conditions allow [the negotiators] to work toward the best possible deal without risking oil-price volatility and damaging consequences for the global economy,” Sam Ori, the executive vice president of Securing America’s Future Energy, said in a recent press release. Iran’s economy already is suffering from international sanctions that include a European Union ban on buying Iranian oil. Only the regime knows just how much pressure its economy can take before public unrest breaks out. But Ori warned that now is the time to take advantage of the current low oil prices: “While current conditions will likely hold through 2015, this suggests that there is a temporary window in which to work to strike a deal.”
Of course, all of these foreign-policy opportunities would require the occupant of the White House to play a skilled diplomatic hand. Given President Obama’s track record in foreign policy, that’s a big if. After all, as National Review editor Rich Lowry reminded us last week, as recently as 2012, Obama was proclaiming that “we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” The White House failed to predict (let alone to bring about) the sudden downward spiral of oil prices, but it would be sheer folly if it now failed to use the power that dropping prices gives us to responsibly squeeze our adversaries. But as his record as shown, Barack Obama appears so far to be far tougher on his domestic opponents — the Republicans — than he does on our overseas foes.
— John Fund is national-affairs correspondent for National Review Online.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/394654/use-low-oil-prices-upset-foes-john-fund

It’s (Still) a TARP!

It’s (Still) a TARP!
Elizabeth Warren, corporate-welfare queen
By Kevin D. Williamson

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ATTACKS ON BANKS, PAID FOR BY BANKS?


If you look at photos of anti-Wall Street, Occupy-type protests, it seems clear that the people doing the demonstrating have not had lots of dealings with banks–like most Americans, actually. So they are acting on hearsay, or on a theory: they have been told that “big banks” are somehow responsible for the sorry state of our economy, in particular the fact that most young people can’t find good jobs.
Elizabeth Warren is the foremost exponent of that theory. You might think that she can’t be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, given that in her lifetime she has won–count ‘em–one election. But she has emerged as the champion of the Democratic Party’s left wing, the tiny splinter group that thinks Barack Obama’s problem is that he isn’t liberal enough. As Democrats realize with mounting horror that Hillary Clinton is an awful candidate, they seem likely to turn to the woman who made a career out of pretending to be an Indian.
Of course, if the Democrats want to base their 2016 campaign on anti-bank populism, they will have to deal with the fact that the financial industry contributed more money to Barack Obama’s campaigns than any industry has contributed to any candidate in the nation’s history. Why might that be? The Democratic Party is, and has been for a long time, the party of Wall Street. The congruence between the Obama administration’s policies and Goldman Sachs’s interests is almost perfect. Will Elizabeth Warren really disrupt that alliance? Or will banks fund the Democrats’ demagogic attacks on themselves? The latter, I suspect. Wall Street will assume that Warren is a hypocrite, whereas I think she is just a liar.
I have a good friend who has had a notable career as an expert on risk management in the banking industry. His expertise, in other words, is vastly greater than Elizabeth Warren’s. I asked him to comment here on the amendment to Dodd-Frank that was part of the cromnibus compromise. Tonight, he offers these thoughts on Warren’s latest anti-bank screed:
The populism is bad enough, but it’s the Big Lie that gets under my skin.
In what sense were banks “bailed out”? They weren’t “given” anything. Large banks were forced to take liquidity loans by the lender of last resort to prevent a bank run while the equity holders got mercilessly hammered in the market. Most “bankers” had huge amounts of their bonuses and net worth in options or in equity in the bank, respectively, which also became nearly worthless. Hundreds of thousands of “bankers” lost their jobs and will never work in finance again, most likely. This is a “bailout”?
The “Wall Street banks” weren’t bailed out by taxpayers. Depositors, lenders and the entire financial system were bailed out, including, of course, those 99%-ers who successfully flipped houses with sub-prime financing (one third of sub-prime loans in California in ’06 – ’08) and those 99%-ers who sold during the bubble at inflated prices and had enormous windfalls of capital gains.
From Felix Salmon, hardly a bank apologist:
[F]irstly the Fed is there to be lender of last resort. That is its job. It was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing under its charter in 1913, that is why these…stor[ies] are fundamentally BS. Secondly, I don’t get why the Fed is considered a subsidy. Unlike, say, lending to homeowners or car companies which is going to cost more than $50bn from TARP, all of the operations to do with banks MADE the government money at next to no risk. How many government interventions can you say that about?
I know in the end this is all just peeing in the wind, because thanks to lying dishonest scum like Louise Story, Gretchen Morgensen, [New York Times]…and their ilk, the idea banks got out “unscathed”, no bankers lost their jobs, no bankers lost money, that they got bailed out, that it cost the taxpayer billions or trillions is now well established. Turns out Goebbels was right about the Big Lie.
The bank liquidity programs were nothing like the bailout of GM or Chrysler, which were actually given money directly and indirectly, through special tax legislation creating a loophole worth about $45 billion in foregone taxes, most of which will never be recovered. And it was done in an irregular [Ed.: i.e., illegal] process that robbed senior creditors — now THAT’s a bailout!
Virtually all of the loans, not grants, made under duress in most cases to the large “Wall Street banks” were repaid in short order–and profitably! Including the worst at AIG.
I don’t believe this has ever been reported publicly, but the CEO of one of the nation’s five or ten largest banks was told by representatives of the Obama administration that he would not be allowed to leave the room until he signed a document accepting federal TARP money, even though his bank had no need of it and didn’t want it. The Obama administration is just one small step above Mussolini.
But the bailouts of housing, FNMA/FHMLC [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac], and autos — actual coverage of losses — will never be repaid.
It’s all a convenient distraction from the government sponsored and engineered housing bubble, aided and abetted by a huge and pervasive real estate complex in every Congressional district, lavishly maintained by lobbying and funding from FNMA and FHLMC to keep the game going.
For years, my friends in the banking industry told me that the federal government was forcing them to make bad loans. Mortgages were not the only such bad loans, but while they were the largest, they were also the least problematic from the banks’ standpoint, since the taxpayers, through Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, stood ready to buy them and assume the risk. The financial collapse of 2008 and the recession that followed were caused primarily by liberal policies enforced by the federal government that went back to the Carter administration.
After all, where did all those loan proceeds GO? ANSWER: to developers, brokers, construction unions, contractors, landowners, lawyers, appraisers, servicers, local governments and boosters, real estate agents…AND homeowners, and house flippers getting windfall gains.
The fees that “Wall Street bankers” made (2% – 5%) and the net interest spread and returns expected by investors (but, of course, subject to losses) pale in comparison to the application of proceeds to the other beneficiaries. The banks got fees, but the 99% got the aggregate net principal from the loans. It is simply impossible for it to be otherwise. In the end there was, indeed, a wealth transfer from taxpayers (and to a lesser extent from investor losses) who paid for FNMA/FHLMC and other government agencies. But the wealth transfer was primarily TO the 99%, not to the “Wall Street banks”.
The real story here is the disastrous role played by [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] — Friends of Bill (Clinton) and Friends of Barry O, and Barney (Frank) and Chris (Dodd), which ultimately did get bailed out by taxpayers.
Jamie Gorelick, the Democratic Party hack who helped to facilitate 9/11 by imposing a strict wall of separation that prevented federal agencies from sharing information on terrorist plots, was rewarded with tens millions of dollars “earned” as the vice chairman of Fannie Mae, even though she had no financial expertise whatsoever. There are Democratic Party insiders–multimillionaires–and then, there are the rest of us.
FNMA/FHLMC is government-directed Industrial Policy for the housing and real estate sectors. Banking and finance is always a derivative or “following” activity, led by the “real” economic sectors. The banks certainly accommodated the housing bubble and in the process kept it going, but they didn’t create it. The government did, responding to and developing further long-standing New Deal/Great Society housing initiatives.
Of course, banks large and small made as much money as they could from the process — as did everyone else — and certainly became reckless. No doubt the incentives were skewed also, so they’re hardly innocents in this sad tale. But they weren’t “bailed out” in the commonly understood sense. The taxpayers will end up holding the bag for the government which directed allocation of capital to housing and to the auto industry (more specifically, the auto labor unions), not to Wall Street.
That’s why the Narrative, the Big Lie, must be continually repeated: to obscure and to create a scapegoat for the disaster in which millions participated, but politically cannot be blamed:
To see the full story of the credit collapse is to understand what a small role [Wall Street] really played in it. The real star turn was shared by millions of people, and the whole superstructure of careless lenders, eager bond buyers, and willing underwriters existed merely to service the base unit of the collapse: the ordinary American deadbeat. Every time your local paper tells the moving tale of some poor soul who ended up in foreclosure, mysteriously owing $220,000 on a house that originally closed at $63,000, you’re finding out…
Something tells me that we will return to this subject many times between now and November 2016.

Don's Tuesday Column (Sorry, a day late)

THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   12/16/2014
Sexual assault statistics, reality
If home-made desserts and camaraderie is your thing, the Tea Party Patriots meeting tonight is devoted to just such not-quite-calorie-free activity. Hey, just skip dinner and go for the stuff you normally stingily portion out. December 23rd and 30th meetings are cancelled.
I’d like to share some Department of Justice data on frequency of rape and sexual assaults. It goes without saying that any man, or woman for that matter, that forces themselves on an unwilling victim deserves serious prison time and a life long stain on his or her reputation. True, these perpetrators are overwhelmingly male. However, it should not be neglected that hardly a day goes by without a report showing up at Instapundit (pjmedia.com/instapundit) describing some phase of the legal process applied to a female assaulter of a minor boy or girl, either as teachers or some other figure of authority.
Each entry is preceded by the title, “Teach Women Not to Rape,” and, before someone starts throwing literary stones my way, they should spend some time perusing the actual cases and instances. This year, over 300 of those reports involved female teachers somewhere in America, a trend which reminds me that such criminal assaults were deemed newsworthy, outrageous and widely condemnable when committed by priests or Boy Scout leaders.
The DOJ statistics cover reported acts of “Completed Rape,” “Attempted Rape,” “Sexual Assault” and “Threats of Rape or Sexual Assault.” The so-called epidemic and culture of “rape” and “sexual assault” on college campuses has been publicized and used to make broad political and cultural points that many have questioned. By questioned, it is meant that the widely quoted figure of “one in five” women being assaulted sexually on campuses in America is doubtful. The now-debunked Rolling Stone story of a “gang rape” at a University of Virginia fraternity has fit the popular (at least among the media, academic and cultural left) anti-male theme.
I posted the source article, “New DOJ Data On Sexual Assaults: College Students Are Actually Less Likely To Be Victimized,” from thefederalist.com with links to the full DOJ report, on Sunday at donpolson.blogspot.com. “A new report on sexual assault released today by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officially puts to bed the bogus statistic that one in five women on college campuses are victims of sexual assault.”
The “Average annual number” and “Rate” is provided at the “full study” link. The bottom line is that “rape” happens to 6.1 out of 1,000 female students; when you combine all four categories together, culled from 18 years of crime reports (1995 to 2013), slightly over 12 women out of 1,000 on college campuses are victims per year. To understand how wildly inflated the “one in five” figure is, just realize that equals 200 women out of 1,000—the real figure, again, is about 12. Even if they meant that in four years of college, 200 out of 1,000 women are assaulted, that would be 50 per year per thousand—still over 4 times the actual rate of incidents.
What is even more revealing is that the frequency of rape and assault on campuses is less than that for “Nonstudent women”; the raw numbers are twice as high off campus while the frequency is over 15 per 1,000. No one seems disturbed that women not in college suffer greater from what, also from DOJ figures, is a crime that has declined dramatically (by about half) since 1997.
I have also read that many such crimes are committed by “serial” offenders who have their modus down and, not unlike the accusations against Bill Cosby, show pathology and methodology. Many occurrences involve inebriation by one or both parties. In incidents at frat houses, for instance when an obviously drunk female is observed being led away, the observing “brother” is reluctant to step in, much less report and provide witness testimony against an offending fraternity brother.
I’ll not provide critics with a fat target by lecturing about the evils of alcohol consumption by young women; an inebriated woman with diminished ability to resist should be treated as a victim of self-inflicted over-indulgence, not as an opportunity for sexual exploitation. However, a basic rule for both sexes is that one’s reputation and self-respect is far easier to sustain with honor than to salvage after lost control and blacked-out memory leave one open to all manner of indefensible accusations and perfidy.
It should also be remembered that the inexcusability of violent rape has been with mankind for all of recorded civilization; so have the occurrences of false accusations of rape. I find it hypocritical for the same people and political spectrums that insist on the presumption of innocence for murder and terrorism suspects, to then say that those accused of sexual assault are assumed guilty because victims are universally truthful.

My comment on the report on CIA interrogation released by Senator Diane Feinstein: It is the most deceitful, slanted, manipulated presentation of non-fact, damaging to those protecting us from terrorists, in my memory. Since I began this column in 2005, pushing back against the lies and propaganda over this subject has been no small effort, given the Bush Derangement Syndrome that drove the accusers. For perspective, read the 7 recent (of 391) posts under the “War on terror” label at donpolson.blogspot.com.

Denial of Islamic fundamentalism puts us in danger

Denial of Islamic fundamentalism puts us in danger

Iranian born Man Haron Monis outside the Dowling Centre Local Court in Sydney. Picture: Cameron Richardson
MAN Haron Monis couldn’t have done more to make the deaf hear that the terror he unleashed in Sydney was in the name of Islam.
As he walked into the Lindt coffee shop with his shotgun on Monday he wore a headband bearing the war cry: “We are ready to sacrifice for you, O Muhammad.”The Iranian-born cleric had already fought for Islam by sending jeering letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
On his Facebook page he’d posted jihadist porn and pledged his allegiance to the bloody caliphate of the Islamic State.
And in that coffee shop on Monday he conscripted his terrified hostages at gunpoint into his personal jihad.
He ordered some to hold up against the window a black Shahada flag announcing: “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
He made videos of three of them reciting his demands, which included ordering police to fetch him an Islamic State flag and have broadcast this explanation: “This is an attack on Australia by Islamic State.”
And then he killed two captives.
I don’t know how much more explicit Monis could have been.
And I don’t know how more wilfully deaf some people can be.
“Cops still baffled by gunman’s motivations,” reported AAP on Tuesday.
The Age, in one long online news report on the terror attack, avoided any use of the words “Islam” or “Muslim”.
ABC reporters and commentators, especially, on Radio National, babbled how this unfortunate episode had nothing to do with Islam, given Monis was clearly crazy.
Islamic groups claimed nothing in their faith licensed this ghastly attack, and Monis’s former lawyer, Manny Conditsis, summed up this deep evasion in an interview with the ABC: “Yes, he said he was of the Islam faith, but he could have been any other damaged individual that did what he did.”
Except, of course, we rarely get damaged individuals killing people in chocolate shops in the name of Buddha.
We don’t get damaged individuals beheading a British soldier in the name of Christ.
We didn’t get damaged individuals shooting a Canadian soldier guarding Canada’s cenotaph, or plotting bombings of our MCG, or trying to blow up jets with the explosives in their shoes or their underwear in the name of any faith other than Islam.
True, Monis seemed crazy. True, crazy people of all kinds kill, and do not need a faith to make them pull a trigger — as we saw at Port Arthur.
Yet are the apologists really trying to dismiss the faith of Monis as just an astonishing coincidence?
Must we always feign this surprise when a terrorist is found to be — gasp — Muslim? Surely we can finally drop this absurd game given that 21 of the 21 people jailed for terrorism offences here in the past couple of decades were Muslim, as are 19 of the 20 proscribed terrorist groups in Australia.
Surely we’re entitled to conclude that something specific to Islam seems to license violence, given we have just as many Buddhists here as Muslims, yet not one Buddhist has killed here for his faith.
Yes, Monis was not a rational man, which I suspect is true of so many other notorious Islamist killers, including Australian head-hackers Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, now fighting for the Islamic State.
The question is: what would Christianity have inspired a Monis to do? Preach Armageddon at some street corner?
Now ask what Islam, as interpreted by a minority of extremists, whispered in Monis’s ear.
Whisper? It shouted. As Monis’s lawyer conceded on Tuesday: “His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness.”
The ideology Monis followed was inspired in large part by Islamic scriptures that urge believers to “kill the polytheists wherever you find them”, and exhorts: “So when you meet those who disbelieve (in battle), strike (their) necks.”
We’re told, as always, that those who take seriously such passages in the Koran and Hadith are a tiny, unrepresentative minority.
But wait. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Monis had more than 14,000 “likes” on Facebook, and a Muslim community leader asked by counter-terrorism authorities to find the Islamic State flag Monis demanded said: “I found plenty of people who had one, but they didn’t want to give them up.”
So why this denial about Islam — and specifically about its role in this attack?
For the authorities it is about public order. They fear reprisals against Muslims, and also do not wish to alienate the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims here whose help they need against the radicals.
For the Left more generally, to admit the latent threat in Islam would be to question disastrous Leftist programs that have left this country more exposed to political violence — particularly our too-lax immigration programs, multiculturalism and the much-rorted “refugee” programs that let in Monis in 1996. It is also to seem unkind.
But the denial, the racism of the anti-racists, it all must end.
The elements are shocking, true. But Islam contains a strong streak of violence and intolerance of other creeds. Mass immigration from the Middle East has left us in greater danger than before. Muslim leaders were recklessly slow to help fight extremism in their doctrine and their followers, including the mad.
And by screaming “racist” rather than allowing debate, our academics, commentators and politicians deafened us to the warnings until it was too late.