Monday, August 16, 2010


I just watched a pretty hokey flick on TCM from 1940 with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan playing Germans (!) at the time of Hitler's ascendancy. It was a brave film to make in 1940 and some critics, as the TCM host Robert Osborne pointed out, thought it went too far in painting the Nazis badly (and of course didn't go anywhere far enough in terms of what was really happening at the time).

It was great to watch because it had a lot of the virtues of Hollywood movies of that time, including great sets, and the great conceits of the "Germans" talking English except for Stewart's old peasant mother who has what sounded to me like some kind of Eastern European, Slavic accent, etc. But it was most interesting because Frank Morgan (the wizard from THE WIZARD OF OZ) plays "the professor" in it who has some stepsons (one of whom is a young Robert Stack) who become Nazi Party members and turn against their family partly because their stepfather (Morgan) is a "non-Aryan."

They never refer to his being Jewish, though the "non-Aryan" designation implies it. And his downfall comes because he defends the scientific reality that the "blood" of Aryans and non-Aryans is no different (shades of Shylock). The crazy thing is that things were actually much much worse at the time and that even toned down the story raised questions about attempts in our country, especially right now, to use fear of some kind of contamination from "the other" as an excuse to thwart the democratic process because it gave power to someone other than the right.

It's interesting that the righwing ruckus over the so-called "mosque" (which it isn't, the proposal is for a prayer room in a building with many other functions including interfaith meetings etc.) has now reached the level of the silliest lies and distortions. Like the idea that Obama is intent on elevating Sharia—that is Muslim laws based on the Koran, which of course is in itself not universally agreed on in terms of interpretations (much like the Bible the understanding and interpretation of the text is dependent on whose doing the interpreting etc.)—above the Constitution.

The rightwingers are always trying to create the fear that something outside the country is going to infiltrate and take it over, like Islam. An idea which doesn't take into consideration that the totalitarian systems the right usually tries to compare Obama's centrist Democratic policies with, i.e. Soviet Communism and Nazi fascism, share an intolerance for anything other than the party line and came from within the countries that developed or perfected them (Russia in the former case and Germany in the latter) and were based on the belief that those societies couldn't afford to allow any ideas that threatened the party line.

The great gift of the USA has been that despite calls for that kind of intolerance over the two centuries and change we've existed, including the intolerance personified in slavery etc. and later anti-immigrant movements including anti-Irish-Catholic and anti-Semitism, and anti-Italian and anti-Asian and anti-gay, etc., have always eventually been overwhelmed by the basic idea in the Constitution that freedom is a universal right for everyone. That's what this country has come to stand for, haltingly, sometimes after terrific arguments and political and even physical battles that even slavery could not persist against forever.

But what Palin and Rush and Beck and so many others on the right have come to personify is exactly the kind of intolerance and party-line thinking that created the totalitarian movements and threaten our own democracy with the idea that anyone who disagrees with the rightwing line, even if democratically elected by a majority, is a threat to "freedom" by which they mean their power and nothing else.

[PS: Here's a good essay on some of these issues.]


JIm said...

In the tradition of victorious Islam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, Obama’s State Department sponsored Iman , proposes another victory mosque. Islam builds mosques on the site of military victories. Constantanople, Cordoba, the Temple Mount are a few of these. The Ground Zero Mosque will continue that tradition. US tax payer dollars are going to support Faisal Abdul Rauf’s Mid East trip to represent the US views. Faisal views include: Non recognition of Hamas as terrorist organization, contrary to US policy and US blame for inciting the 9/11 attack.
Since the Obama administration is sponsoring this Iman, it seems reasonable to call him Obama’s Iman. As suggested earlier, a group picture would be appropriate with Obama, Feisal Abdul Rauf and the head of Hamas, who also supports the building of the Ground Zero Victory Mosque.
I suspect every Democrat running for office will be required to declare their support or opposition for the Victory Mosque of Ground Zero. Harry Reid has already jumped ship. It will be interesting to see what others do.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Ground Zero is hallowed ground . We must keep it sacred so the we real Americans, safe with our kids in our nice, white, Christian suburbs, can send other people’s kids (many not white, most not “middle class”) to fight the great War(s) for Civilization.

You may call us ignorant and bigoted, but we real Americans know who the enemy is. We will fight them wherever we find them!

Who are they? They’re the ones not like us!

Onward Christian soldiers!!!

JIm said...

The enemy are folks who say they want to convert us or kill us. Sometimes it helps to listen to what our enemies say and write. Chamberlain did not get it right in 1938 and liberals are not getting it right in 2010.

JIm said...

Sharia and non-Muslims
Main article: Dhimmi
Based on Qur'anic verses, classic Sharia distinguishes between Muslims, pagans, and the followers of other monotheistic religions, often referred to as "people of The Book." Jews and Christians have traditionally been considered "people of The Book," and have been afforded a special status known as dhimmi, derived from a theoretical contract - "dhimma" or "residence in return for taxes". There are parallels for this in Roman and Jewish law. [191] Hindus were originally considered pagans and given the choice between conversion to Islam and death (or slavery). [192] By the Middle Ages, the Hindus of India had come to be considered dhimmis by their Muslim rulers. [193] Eventually, the largest school of Islamic scholarship applied this term to all non-Muslims living in Islamic lands outside the sacred area surrounding Mecca, Saudi Arabia. [194]

According to law professor H. Patrick Glenn of McGill University, "Today it is said that the dhimmi are 'excluded from the specifically Muslim privileges, but on the other hand they are excluded from the specifically Muslim duties' while (and here there are clear parallels with western public and private law treatment of aliens - Fremdenrecht, la condition de estrangers), [f]or the rest, the Muslim and the dhimmi are equal in practically the whole of the law of property and of contracts and obligations."[195]

Pagans are not afforded the rights and protections of the dhimma contract. Sharia attributes different legal rights to different groups; in practice, this consists of less rights for non-Muslims.[196]

Butch in Waukegan said...

Moran is right — the liberals are selling us out. God, I wish Bush were still here to carry on the fight!

Oooops. Never mind.

The great thing about war propaganda is it doesn’t have to be true! When the British told us the Huns were bayonetting Belgian babies, or Hill & Knowlton told us that Iraqis are throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, or Condi scared us with mushroom clouds, it didn’t really matter they were all lies. What matters is we got our wars.

Whatever we say to gin up war is all good, no matter how stupid.

Don’t worry, America faced a foreign religious enemy before. Americans (real Americans) and America will prevail. All we need is more hate and more (other people’s) blood spilled.

Anonymous said...

did we ever finish wiping out the Apaches?

the Only Good Indian is a Dead Indian! a Dead Iraqi! a Dead Afghani! a Dead {etc}

let's drop another BOMB on them Ignorant ...Bastards... that'll show 'em who is Boss Righteousness

JIm said...

Please, please, please keep it up President Obama, Democrats and Liberals.

August 11, 2010
Overwhelming majority oppose mosque near Ground Zero
Posted: August 11th, 2010 01:02 PM ET
(CNN) -
According to the new survey out Wednesday, nearly 70 percent of all Americans oppose the controversial plan to build the mosque just blocks away from the solemn site in lower Manhattan while just 29 percent favor the construction.

Full results [pdf]

Broken down by party affiliation, 54 percent of Democrats oppose the plans while 82 percent of Republicans disapprove. Meanwhile, 70 percent of independents said they are against the proposal.

The poll also showed opposition did not vary widely by age.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Citing the responses to one question on a poll, when additional questions give a clearer picture of what people are thinking, is dishonest.

As it turns out, Obama’s position, tower of Jello that he is, is an exact reflection of the polls.

According to a Fox News poll, 64% of the respondents thought the building of the mosque was inappropriate, (“mosque” was the word used in the poll), but 61% of the same respondents said that it was their right to build it.

This is exactly Obama’s position. It would be naive to think that his statements were not fashioned by poll data.

The fact is both of our corrupt political parties are demagoguing this issue. Everyone knows how cheesy the Republicans are, but now we have a Democrat attacking his Republican opponent for not opposing the mosque. And, of course, Harry Reid is his usual weasely self .

So it appears that most politicians agree that, because of the freedoms allowed us in this great and wonderful nation, Muslim’s have a right to build their places of worship, but . . . but . . . but . . . they should build it somewhere else. Republicans and Democrats are asking Muslims to have a little respect for the people who hate them — let there be a Muslim Free Zone in Lower Manhattan.

Obama, just as he did with Shirley Sherrod, refuses to fight the right wing, goo goos some soothing platitudes and then concedes. Where's the man of principle you all promised us?

JIm said...

Hopefully the controversy has the legs to make it through to November 2nd.

Butch in Waukegan said...

What political courage looks like.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Polls are myths and bullshit. They don't now or have they ever reflected real true reality. They are propaganda and lies. I don't believe in polls, I believe in what I experience first hand and know. I have spent time in mosques and with many Muslims, both here and abroad. All of them are good people with values. In the Muslim faith people greet each other with the word "Salaam", in fact, this is the highest word in the Muslim faith. It means "peace." You can recite all the data you want Jim, but you are not connected with the real reality of this world. No more than the ignoramus in the doctors office in Miami who said "Obama should go back to Saudi Arabia where he was born." or the security guard in nortwestern PA who said "I'm not prejudice, but I saw it written in the President's health bill that he wants all people over 65 to commit suicide." Go to a dozen mosques, go to the homes of Muslims and break bread, then come back and speak.

JIm said...

With a name like Zuckerman you may not want to travel to places like Mecca, Lahore, Kandahar, Gaza etc. Your head is liable to become separated from your body. If you should travel to those places, you can take comfort with your dying breath that Islam is a religion of peace.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Be careful going to church - Timothy McVeigh will blow you up!

Lally said...

Robert, I'm leaving "Jim's hateful last comment because I feel it is educational to see how minds incapable of reason and logic can be manipulated into believing in the right's lies and/or furthering the spread of them. As you and I obviously know the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" isn't at "Ground Zero" and isn't a "Mosque"! Jim's not even veiled threat against you because of his presumption about your name and what it signifies is such a perfect example of the way the right works, their unfounded or overblown fears expressed in threats based on their or their leaders manipulation of that fear to create more widespread fear that they can then exploit for their political power etc. So he threatens that if someone with a Jewish sounding name were to appear anywhere people practice the religion of Islam he would be beheaded! And if someone with an affiliation to Islam (not the branch that was behind the 9/11 attacks by the way) wants to open a community center in lower Manhattan and include a prayer room among the facilities, it means the end of the USA and our Constitution and the implementation of Sharia for US citizens! How anything so absurd could even be argued is a measure of how far the public dialogue has fallen in this country and the blame is solidly on the national media and their surrender to the influence of the right and their disregard for reason and logic and the principals of The Enlightenment that generated our democracy and its Constitution.

JIm said...

Robert and Mike,
News Flash! Islam is not friendly to Jews or for that matter anyone who is not Muslim. There are not a plethora of churches or synagogues in Mecca, yet there are plenty of mosques in Rome and in NY. Islam and specifically Sharia law is not even kind to Muslims. Stoning of ladies who are raped but little or no consequence for the rapers is common in sharia ruled countries. Murder of girls by their fathers or brothers for such hostile actions as dating a non Muslim or dressing inappropriately is all to common place. Mike, you call noticing Islamic outrages, sanctioned in Sharia Law a disregard for reasoned logic. I call your ignoring of abhorrent Sharia practices as willful blindness. The Liberal apologists for Islam are putting our country and Western Civilization at risk. The good news is that help is on the way November 2nd.

JIm said...

Here is an excerpt from the Wall Journal editorial page. Ms. Ali knows something about Islam and Sharia from her time in Somalia and Holland. She has been forced to employ bodyguards for many years.

Clash of Civilizations - By AYAAN HIRSI ALI

"But divide and rule cannot be our only policy. We need to recognize the extent to which the advance of radical Islam is the result of an active propaganda campaign. According to a CIA report written in 2003, the Saudis invested at least $2 billion a year over a 30-year period to spread their brand of fundamentalist Islam. The Western response in promoting our own civilization was negligible.
Our civilization is not indestructible: It needs to be actively defended. This was perhaps Huntington's most important insight. The first step towards winning this clash of civilizations is to understand how the other side is waging it—and to rid ourselves of the One World illusion."

Ms. Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is the author of "Nomad: From Islam to America—A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations," which has just been published by Free Press.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Bravo Robert!

Unless all people of good will, including politicians, call out and oppose these racist kooks, I am afraid of where this will lead. Voltaire said “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” It’s not a big step from forcing Muslims out of a neighborhood to forcing them into a neighborhood.

I didn’t think Jim could sink any lower but I was wrong. His slimy pandering, intimating that Muslims are by definition anti-Semitic, shows that he would welcome concentration camps and loudly cheer during the daily 2 minutes of hate.

Historically, members of Jim’s own religion have been the most anti-semitic. The Crusades (yes, Jews were victims too), the inquisition, pogroms and the holocaust were all products of Christianity. Jews have much to fear from their erstwhile fascist friends like John Hagee and Jim.

Butch in Waukegan said...

Robert G. Zuckerman said...
Be careful going to church - Timothy McVeigh will blow you up!

For the sake of children, let’s ban retirement homes for priests from locating within 5 miles of a school.

JIm said...

Catholicism had significant problems including the Inquisition, pograms and general bad conduct by the heirarchy. But then the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation occurred and significant change occurred. The Reformation was able to occurr because Christians believe that the Bible was written by men but inspired by God. Men make mistakes. Muslims believe that the Quran is actually the exact words of Allah. Mohammed was only a scribe. That belief of Muslims in the immutability of the words of Allah make it very difficult for Islam to have a Reformation that would allow the equal treatment of non muslims and and women.

PS The Crusades are a whole other subject.

JIm said...

Mike and Butch,
Congradulations on the addition of "Anti-Semite Jew Hater" to your list of anti- Republican/Conservative/Constitutional Origionalists/American Exceptionalist/anti-Shariah law folks. I am curious. In the hierarchy of insults, how do you rate your newest addition in relation to "Racist and Liar"?
I note that the head of CAIR is calling those opposed to the Ground Zero Victory Mosque bigots and San Fran Nan is calling for an investigation of a, supposed conspiracy against the Mosque. It is amazing, but you guys really do think alike, with no reliance on facts and heavy reliance on insults.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Lao-Tzu says "What is a good man but a bad man's teacher, and what is a bad man, but a good man's job?" Jim, I've walked through the streets of Egypt and Jordan by myself, have broken bread with Lebanese, Iranians with people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Morocco, Harlem, South Central and more. I've walked the streets of Harlem from end to end. Have you done this? By the way, my head is still very much on my shoulders.

JIm said...

Thanks for the heads up on your head.

Anonymous said...

about the film The Mortal Storm: did not they know that Austria was about to become part of Germany and the Jew Baiting there made Germany proper look like Tel Aviv today. Running to Austria was going from the pan into the fire!