Back to work on this front . . .
The term, Fifth Column has an interesting history: on approaching Madrid in 1936, Emilio Mola of Franco's nationalists, said in a radio broadcast that the four columns of troops approaching Madrid from without, would be supported by a fifth column from within that city.
(And, while in the event that fifth column proved relatively ineffective, in the case of Norway, Vidkun Quisling and associates in Norway proved just how devastating willful or naive betrayers of the city within the gates can be. [I find it telling that Wikipedia's article on the topic fails to mention this major success of fifth columnists, even while it seemingly wants to suggest that internment of enemy aliens in a time of war is never justifiable! That telling omission, therefore becomes an apt -- though obviously inadvertent -- illustration of the point for this blog post.] )
Last time around, we reflected on Churchill's The Gathering Storm, on the run-up to the Second World War, on the theme: "How the English-speaking peoples through their unwisdom, carelessness and good nature allowed the wicked to rearm."
In such a situation, plainly, opinion leaders and key decision makers as a class, the educated, their instructors in schools and colleges, and the media houses that have a duty to inform and warn, bear a particular responsibility. One that a key -- and too often forgotten or neglected -- lesson of the 1930's teaches us, can be failed. Failed to the point of betrayal of one's homeland, whether by negligence or by treasonous intent. Failed at predictably bitter cost.
For, if we neglect or reject the lessons of history we are doomed to repeat its worst chapters.
Sadly, this is just what seems to be happening in our time. For instance, since the last remarks in this blog, several further indicators of our mortal peril and in too many cases willfully or negligently foolish blindness have been all across our headlines (if we will read between the lines) and I have seen a case or two personally too:
1] North Korea has repudiated the armistice and is breathing out nuclear and conventional war threats. But, we are being soothingly told that it is just a matter of an internal power transition. (But, if threatening nuclear war in Asia and across the Pacific is how the North Korean elites think 'internal" power transitions should be made, what does that tell us about the danger posed by that oppressive regime? And, what does it imply about the valid point in Mr Bush's remarks so many years ago now when he warned about the danger posed by North Korea and other oppressive regimes that sought nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them? Should we therefore simply accept the disregard for solemn international non-Proliferation agreements by signatories -- and BTW, Israel has never been a signatory -- now openly tied to saber-rattling?)In short, a lot has been happening, and it raises serious questions on whether we are sober enough and awake enough to truly understand the signs of these times. Much less, to know how to act in the face of rising mortal dangers from without and within, including the words and deeds of the misled and the misleaders within our own gates. (And, it is particularly noteworthy that the educated have a duty of due diligence on matters of opinion, of we will by neglect become just such misleaders.) END
2] Mr Obama made a widely praised speech in Egypt, at the invitation of two leading Islamic universities. However, while it will be unpopular to raise questions on Mr Obama [a darling of the media elites and the educated public in our region, to the point where I have seen Obama campaign stickers on cars], and while the speech strongly reflects the more or less "standard" media trumpeted conventional wisdom of progressivist post colonial narrative in which Western powers bear a particular burden of having been oppressors, the speech seems to be lacking on a few key points of note, e.g. somehow Mr Obama forgot that the past decade's face of US foreign policy did in fact "look like" him: Mr Powell, and Ms Rice. Similarly, while it was important to say that the holocaust was a real horror, it would have been a key departure to point out, however gently and eloquently, that a founding father of palestinian Arab militancy [mufti Hussein] was (a) implicated in and indicted for crimes connected to that holocaust as a collaborator with the Nazis, and (b) was shielded from having to stand before a bar of justice by Egypt. Similarly, Hamas has enshrined in its charter in clause 7, a hadith that calls for the wholesale end of days massacre of Jews, and Iran's regime has indulged itself in both Holocaust denial and a blatant attempt to acquire nuclear weapons in defiance of its international commitments, while openly declaring intent to wipe Israel off the face of the map. In that context, a call to the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank to walk away from the history of war to destroy not just Israel but its Jews, and instead go back to the principles of the UN mandate of 1947 and the post six-day war resolution 242 -- i.e. mutual recognition and peace -- would have been a much more just start point than the agenda-laced Saudi proposal. So, it would have been an important point to call the Middle East to a general recognition of the rights of all historic Middle Eastern peoples, including Jews, Kurds and the Copts of Egypt; as a first step to real regional peace. Then, a call for reform of the regimes to better balance liberty and justice for all, backed up by a call to re-examine the various theologies, law sources and texts in Islam that have spawned the sort of hostility, violence, terrorism and oppression that we have seen across that region and now spreading to the wider world in recent decades, would have been a key premise for addressing the role of religiously motivated ideology in that region's problems. (And if such a speech could not have been made from that platform, Mr Obama had no business being on the platform. For instance, the UN would have been a very suitable venue for a true "new beginnings" speech, if such a platform was needed.)
3] After Iran's blatantly stolen election, many Iranians have taken to the street in protest, calling for a real election. Only, to be met with beatings and oppression, multiplied by a deafening global silence on the part of leading democratic nations. In short, notwithstanding that the other candidate was also vetted by the mullahs [but has now found himself as the symbol of rejection of Mullah-ocracy, which ironically echoes the role Mr Gorbachev found himself in in the years from 1984 on . . . ] we have strong evidence that the people of Iran want democratic liberation, but are being oppressed. (So, we must ask a sad question: is it that the voices of liberation in our region and in the wider West are concerned for liberation, or is our concern confined to just western oppressors and potential oppressors? [It would be wise to note that none of Britain, France and the USA were lily-pure in 1939 - 1945; but a sober estimate of the circumstances would have shown that Hitler and co. were infinitely more dangerous and destructive. In that light, France's half-hearted-ness in the war (driven by divided counsels and deep mutual animosity) cost it dear, and cost the world dear.])
4] In Pakistan, the Taliban and allies have made a major power grab in the Swat valley, only sixty miles from the capital of that dangerously unstable Islamic nuclear power. This provoked fighting, which for the moment has pushed back the threat, but the overall situation simply underscores the dangers posed by radical Islamism. (And, we should note that in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, it is clear that Mr Bush sent Mr Musharraf a message: either be the first regional ally in the war on terrorism, or its first target in the axis of evil. An axis that --as our headlines and an atlas will show -- in significant part, is clearly still in business.)
5] In America, a madman has barged into the Holocaust memorial museum, and has murdered a guard there. Immediately, it was trumpeted that this -- following on the heels of the murder of a late term abortionist as he ushered in his church (of which he seems to have been a major financial backer) -- is a second sign of a trend of right wing, religiously motivated "fundamentalist" extremists and the dangers of such. Soon, it turned out -- from his own online writings -- that this latest mad man actually despised Christians and the New Testament, and saw himself as a champion of the racialist form of Social Darwinism [a profile that is remarkably similar to that of the murderers at Columbine High School a decade ago]. But in this year of Darwin 200 celebrations and hagiography, it is not politically correct to point out that not only did Darwin sub-title the first five editions of Origin with "the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for existence," [with the direct implication of the extinction of "unfavoured" ones] but that this was not jut a matter of "races" of cabbages. (Believe it or not, that was put to me in a blog commentary thread some days ago. Similarly, yes, Christians, Jews, and many other individuals and movements have been implicated in racism etc; but such distractive immoral equivalency rhetoric simply blocks us from listening to the moans of over 100 million victims of social Darwinist thought in the hands of powerful elites claiming to act with the culturally dominant warrant of science in the past 100 years. So, with all due regard to other historic sins and dangers, we must now frankly face then address the clear and present danger of Darwinist amorality and associated aggressive elitism. In fact, Darwin's second book, on The Descent of Man, makes it plain in Chs 5 - 7, that he saw the White Germanic European races -- observe his way of speaking of the English as "Saxons" -- as the supremely fit ones, and sees them as exterminating "inferior" ones such as Negroes and Aboriginal Australians over the next few centuries; not to mention his dismissive remarks on fringe European peoples such as the Irish,and mixed race peoples such as in Brazil and the Americas more generally. And in a notorious letter of 1881, he added Turks to the list of inferiors. The insistent refusal to face and soundly address the moral hazard of aggressive elitism that leaps out of Darwinian thought -- now in racist and sexist forms, now in the rise of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, etc -- should tell us that this is not merely a past historical issue, but a still present problem, one that is being covered over by powerful elites flying the flag of Science.)
6] In Iraq, terrorist bombings have again begun to creep back into our headlines, even as media coverage of the war continues to fail to give us an informed and objective analysis of the underlying strategic, ideological and Islamic apocalyptic issues that are driving the global terrorism crisis and associated military campaigns. In that context the new American regime has decided that it will now read captured terrorists the Miranda Rights (an unprecedented step for prisoners of war, much less captured illegal combatants . . . ), while moving away from recognising a global war on terror to speaking about "overseas contingency operations." indeed, I find it astonishing that by far and away most informed people do not know the term "black flag army," or the hadith about how they will come from Khorasan [E. Iran and to the east and north thereof] and under Imam Mahdi will conquer the Middle East, conquer and massacre the Jews in and around Jerusalem then subjugate the world.)
7] In the UK, on a more personal note, I have now received notification on the outcome of my protest on the way a BBC entertainment programme, Bonekickers, on July 8, 2008 recognisably Protestant "fundamentalist" Christians were portrayed as zealous, violent crusaders who -- in a Dan Brownesque scenario full of allusions to pieces of the "true cross" and knights templar etc -- set out on holy war and in that process seized an innocent Asian muslim man and beheaded him. This turnabout of the actual situation where for instance the South Asian islamist terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed seized Israeli -American journalist Daniel Pearl and beheaded him, to the cheers of many islamists across the world, reeks of the demonisation of Bible believing Christians that is now ever so common in the western media and among wider elites. In particular, it seems that, under the distorting lens of the postmodern post colonialist progressivist narrative, they seem to think that the current global situation boils down to Western crusaders setting out on unprovoked colonial aggression in Asia yet again, just as 1,000 years ago; never mind the fact that the crusades -- horribly carried out as they were, and with very bad theology turned into war propaganda as well -- were, strictly speaking limited counter-offensives after centuries of Jihad that had carried Islamist conquest and terroristic or piratical raids from Arabia to India and to France. Similarly, they claim -- even post Dan Brown -- that merely labelling and presenting such stereotypes and afrd hominem laced strawmen as fiction suffices to remove harm. So, it is no surprise to learn that my objection has been dismissed right tot he level of the Editorial Standards Committee, which in its report has not even made mention of the Associated Press Style book recommendation that since the term "fundamentalism" has become so much a term of abuse and demonisation, unless a group specifically calls itself "fundamentalist," it should not be labelled as such; indeed, when I received the proposed published report, it -- lamentably -- brimmed over with precisely the problem just pointed out. (I intend to carry the protest forward to he highest level, on a point of principle.)