America has been blessed with great peace. This is the gracious realization I felt, standing before David Rubin as he described the constant horrors of terrorism in his hometown of Shiloh, Israel, in a speech at CCU on Oct. 24. David and Ruby, his three year old son, themselves have had their lives threatened by terrorists. 6 years ago both David and Ruby, then just three years old, miraculously survived a Palestinian ambush while driving home from Jerusalem. Before David’s vehicle defied physics and escaped the assault, 49 bullet holes peppered their car… two of those bullets met their true intended targets. One critically sticking David in his left leg, the other entered his son’s head, narrowly missing his brain stem by one millimeter. Both victims needed emergency surgery after their divine and phenomenal getaway. David and Ruby, who were saved against all odds, were the 1,000th victims of terrorism to be treated in that hospital within the previous year and a half. An incredible story of God’s grace and provision in a terrible situation.
David Rubin, Brooklyn born and former leftist, has taken this miracle, which arose from the harsh reality of Islamic hate for Israel, to share the need for action and the reality of this danger with audiences across the world. In his message, he emphasizes that these terrorists are fighting on behalf of their Ideology, Islam. And the application of this Ideology points to the destruction of the infidel, or non-believer. Why then is it, that in the West’s response to attacks, we so frequently compartmentalize the terrorists and ignore the ideological source. Rubin drew on a comparison of the Nazis: not all Nazis killed Jews, yet we fought a war and defeated the Nazis because of the implications of their ideology. We exposed the horrors of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, and demoralized the movement, leading us to a post WWII culture where surviving Germans frantically tried to distance themselves from the Nazi past.
Living in Colorado begs an interesting comparison of terror and our responses to it. On April 20th, 1999 in the same county of Colorado as Colorado Christian University, where Rubin spoke, two high school seniors shot and killed twelve students and one teacher before committing suicide. This was a terrible tragedy, perpetrated by two mad and deranged youth. However, the media, along with politicians and Americans in general sought a deeper cause for this horrific violence. They searched for a responsible ideology; examining Goth culture, heavy-metal music, video games, television shows, action movies and the effects of bullying. More than ten years removed from the tragedy, it appears that the culprit we’ve named is bullying. Legislators and media have latched on to this crusade against bullying, but, as National Review’s Peter Kirsanow notes, with little clarity.
On Friday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a hearing on peer-to-peer violence and bullying in public schools. The focus of the hearing was on the federal response to bullying directed at students on the basis of protected-class status. The commission will issue a report on the matter to the president and Congress in the next few months. Until then, just a few brief observations:
· Several witnesses, including those from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, testified about the “bullying pandemic” sweeping the nation; the bullying “crisis”; the “alarming increase” in bullying. There may, in fact, be an increase in bullying in public schools (I tend to think there has been an increase). But when I asked the witnesses for data in support of the asserted increase (specifically, when did the federal government or any other entity begin collecting data on bullying? What were the numbers then and what are the numbers now?), there was no response. That’s because, according to one expert, no such stats are kept. In essence, the argument for greater federal involvement and legislation in response to bullying is based on no reliable data as to whether the problem has increased, decreased or stayed the same.
· The federal officials failed to cite any examples of how the federal government has, thus far, addressed the problem of bullying better than officials at the state, local, or school level.
· No precise definition of bullying was proffered at any time during the hearing.
· During the seven hours of testimony, a range of issues were discussed: federal jurisdiction, First Amendment concerns, the adequacy or lack thereof of state responses, etc. There was, however, no discussion whatsoever of the role of parents in addressing the problem.
Thomas Sowell also writes on this subject, pointing out the political intentions behind this regulatory push to stop bullying, “Most of the stories about the bullying of gays in schools are about words directed against them, not about their suffering the violence that has long been directed against Asian youngsters or about the failure of the authorities to do anything serious to stop black kids from beating up Asian kids.” This common thread among anti-bullying advocates seems to point to their having liberal cultural aims rather than an actual belief that bullying is the source of school shootings. And after all, the reports from the Columbine shooting suggest that both murderers enjoyed a close-knit group of friends while naming psychopathic and depression issues, evident in both boys, as the source to this violent behavior.
There is no doubt that the violence at Columbine was atrocious, and that bullying is something we must advise our children against and work hard to curtail, however the two are separate issues. We cannot rationalize the actions of those young tyrants. Mad men have perpetrated disgusting crimes throughout history; the Bath School Disaster of 1927 (45 killed), the 1966 University of Texas massacre (17 killed), 2007 Virginia Tech massacre (33 killed).
Why is it then that we have been quick to search for ideological reasoning where it is lacking, yet we refuse to acknowledge it where it is plain and clear? The response in America after the September 11th, 2001 attacks was to blame “madmen” for killing thousands. Likewise, when the world sees the systematic terror so evident in Israel, they brush it off as extremists operating outside of accountable reason or logic. How is this our response when faced with the glaring dogmatism and coherent, though disturbed, uniting source for these attacks. Islamic terrorists are fulfilling their duties to their doctrine… a doctrine of slavery and hate, also known as Islam. Again, this is not to say that every Muslim is active in the perpetration of terrorism, but neither was every Nazi a killer of Jews, gypsies, gays and prisoners. The Qur’an in several locations specifically calls for the annihilation of non-believers. While it has recently been popular to print editions with these passages removed, the vast majority of Muslims reject these copies, some arguing that it is a capital sin to disfigure the great word of Muhammad. Here are a few excerpts from the ‘peaceful’ Qur’an:
[2.191] And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
[5.51] O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.
[4.76] Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil.
This is the ideology that informs incorporated terror attacks, attacks that are celebrated in the street of Palestinian neighborhoods and communities. It is not a religion of peace, rather a conquering ambition, carried by many. Why is it we refuse to understand the dangers of Islam? If we continue to overlook this reality, we face not only the normalization of murder that David Rubin and his family are subjected to, but also more attacks like the ones seen on September 11th.
(Centennial Fellow) WASHINGTON, JAN. 17 - When judgment is rendered on the success or failure of U.S. foreign policy in 2010 the verdict will depend more than anything on the outcome of our confrontation with Iran. The threat to U.S. global interests from Iran is immense, but so too is the opportunity for a historic and transformational advancement of those interests. Converging circumstances in both Washington and Teheran strongly suggest that a decisive turning point is at hand. The sudden leap of Yemen onto the front pages of U.S. newspapers has underlined how far reaching are the dangers Iran poses for the United States and its allies. Both the Bush and Obama administrations chose to narrow the focus on Iran to that country’s nuclear ambitions correctly seeing that issue as the most critical and most likely to rally international support.
The fact that Iran by supplying sophisticated weaponry to its proxies in both Iraq and Afghanistan is killing American soldiers has been downplayed by both administrations. The fact that murderous violence aimed at Israel and the United States in Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, and Yemen has been powerfully fueled by Teheran’s money and fanatical ideology has similarly been acknowledged but in a very low key.
Both Bush and Obama repeatedly denounced the wickedness of al-Qaeda but failed to connect the dots regarding the obvious implications of the religious zealotry and violent strategies that are common to Bin-Laden and the Iranian mullahs e.g. pathological hatred of Israel, predilection for blowing people up, and determination to take the battle to the heartland of the Great Satan America.
Bush’s Iran strategy was to isolate and not talk to them. Obama reversed field and opted for engagement. Both approaches utterly failed to modify Iranian objectives; Teheran’s response to both isolation and engagement has been a mix of arrogance, insult, and continued bad behavior culminating most recently in Ahmadinejad’s bombastic demand that Israel and America give up their own nuclear weapons as a precondition for any Iranian response.
Obama’s oft declared end of year deadline for positive Iranian response has come and gone. He now must be prepared to implement those “serious consequences” he has long spoken of. This will not be easy, particularly in light of China’s recent declared intention of using its veto to block sanctions in the United Nations Security Council.
Given the U.N’s almost limitless capacity for procrastination Obama’s best hope for support lies with the European Union, but despite encouraging rhetoric from Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy, action from that multi-lateral body is far from certain.
In the end Obama must consider an approach he has long decried: unilateral United States action.
So, amidst these growing threats, where is the grand opportunity?
It principally lies in the very realistic chance of achieving “regime change” in Iran by boldly siding with the growing opposition in that country. Once they merely sought honest elections. Now clearly their goal is the overthrow of the dictatorship. The Iranian people- now chanting in street demonstrations “Obama, are you with us or them?” – are the most educated and sophisticated populace between Israel and India and as they showed in 1979 they have the capacity to bring down an intolerable regime.
In his Nobel Address President Obama eloquently stated some realities that much of the world sometimes forgets. He said that evil exists, and that peaceful means would not have stopped Hitler and will not stop al- Qaeda. He reminded his audience that American power had for half a century been the principal guarantor of their freedom, and while collective security is always preferred, sometimes one nation i.e. the United Stated must act alone.
Many saw President Obama’s speech as a justification of his Afghan escalation, but he was also laying down a marker for Iran and clearly signaling that he was ready for a major course correction is his own approach to world affairs.
Absent a pathologically hostile regime in Iran, U.S. foreign policy challenges from Pakistan to Israel dramatically shift in our favor, the entire Middle East is transformed, and U.S. global influence, and the cause of freedom reaches a pinnacle unmatched since the Second World War.
Heady stuff. Not easy, not certain, but once again History offers America an opportunity to be the great catalyst for human progress.
Centennial Fellow Bill Moloney was Colorado Education Commissioner, 1997-2007. His columns have appeared in the Wall St Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post.