This is what I do on Sunday mornings: With one hand I grab my Dallas Morning News Points section, so I can read the latest drivel from right-wing editorialisto Rod Dreher, as though I were clutching up a big glassful of really bad-tasting medicine. But in my other hand I keep my Sunday New York Times Week in Review section in the other hand. It's like a bottle of Tums.
Yesterday Dreher’s offering was headlined, “A Nation Asleep” -- the online version is slugged "Holy Land trial revealed a covert Islamist agenda" -- and it was a rant telling us how pissed off he is that the jury in the Holy Land trial declined to hand out the wholesale convictions for which he had been praying. “Yes, it was a disappointment for us who wanted to see that Hamas-loving bunch convicted,” he confesses.
He goes on to revile and ridicule the American system of jurisprudence, but he describes the government accusation’s as a kind of royal imperative. Talking about a rumor that one of the jurors took naps in the jury room, Dreher marvels: “The U.S. government’s signature terrorist financing trial -- the culmination of 15 years of investigation -- depended on people like that woman.”
Yes, indeed, Rod. It’s a little system we’ve developed over the last thousand years or so called “trial by jury.” Not perfect, but way better than trial by fire, water-boarding and other techniques from the Dark Ages.
The most offensive thing about Dreher is his lack of respect for or belief in American culture. He cites, as if it were proof of perfidy, what he says is the real plot of the Muslim Brotherhood: “a strategy of realizing its goals not through violence but through participation in civil society.”
But, you see, Rod, for patriotic Americans like myself, that’s a good thing. Nothing in the history of mankind has proved more curative of malevolent radicalism than the American dream. How many waves of bomb-throwing Germans, Croatians, Irish, Swedes, Cubans and other citizens of the globe have come here angry, full of bullets and fury, only to settle comfortably and successfully into the business of making a better life for their kids? Oh, yeah, I forgot one big group: the English.
And what of the gifts that each new wave of immigrants brings? Couple weeks ago our neighborhood enjoyed a block party at a gas station owned by Lebanese and Palestinian immigrants. I watched while Muslim, Christian, Jewish and East Dallas Vego-Montessorian kids from the neighborhood danced to a live rock band on the tarmac.
Because I know the families involved, I know that the Muslim kids are out there dancing and having a good time with the other kids, but the Muslim kids are not going out on un-chaperoned dates, and very few of them are drinking. They are religious and very family-centered. Is that such a terrible cultural influence, Rod, on the Britney Spears nation? Would it harm us to have some of that basic respect for human dignity rub off?
Sorry, but I put your negative feelings about Muslims together with your extreme antsiness over Mexican immigration, and I come up with ethnophobia every time.
So I had to take a dose of The Times. There, a professor of history at the University of Montreal, Francois Furstenberg, offered a discussion of U.S. radicalism called “Bush’s Dangerous Liaisons.” Furstenberg points out that the most furious and homicidal enemies of liberty have tended over the course of time to view themselves as anointed defenders of liberty.
He quotes one of the architects of the French Terror in the early 1790s: “No liberty for the enemies of liberty.” Juxtaposed with this quote is one from President Bush: “We must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself.”
To those quotes I would add the one Dreher offers from a Danish Muslim who, according to Dreher, “called U.S. government officials ‘useful idiots’ for continuing to succor extremists.” Dreher says of the Holy Land verdict: “But no matter which side you were on, the jury’s deadlock and post-trial revelations of utter cluelessness made our system look shabby and pathetic.”
Rod, I didn’t see it that way, and I do not believe a majority of proud Americans saw it that way.
I think we looked at the outcome and thought, “Wow, that must have been one lousy case the government was trying to make if they couldn’t get a roomful of Texans to convict a non-Christian outfit that called itself the Holy Land Foundation.” Pretty much the courtroom equivalent of not being able to punch your way out of a wet paper bag.
The real core of what Dreher writes -- an echo of the danger we face from Washington now -- is a profound and cynical disrespect for America, its history, its cultural traditions and its laws.
These people tell us that we’re fools if we don’t recognize the superior cultural strength of impoverished Middle Eastern tyrannies. From there, they begin to argue immediately against our laws and liberties and in favor of a society that more closely resembles impoverished Middle Eastern tyrannies.
These are not our patriots. The people who make this case are our Jacobins.
Furstenberg ends his piece with a little dissertation on the origin of the word terrorist: “The word was an invention of the French Revolution, and it referred not to those who hate freedom, nor to non-state actors, nor of course to ‘Islamofascism.’
“A terroriste was, in its original meaning, a Jacobin leader who ruled France during la Terreur.”
If anybody who lives near Dreher notices him hammering away in the back yard on a big contraption that looks like a giant meat cleaver on a slide that could possibly chop people’s heads off, give me a heads up, willya? I’m serious. --Jim Schutze