The Future of the Babylonian Jewish Archives

1815 copy of mystical Zohar. Source: Drew Angere for New York Times

When we interviewed Dr. Harold Rhode, the savior of the Babylonian Jewish archives, he told the story of how he had found them in the water-logged basement of the late Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat in Baghdad in 2003 and arranged for recovery and restoration by the National Archives and Records Agency (NARA) in Washington, DC. In July 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority reached an agreement under international law with the Iraqi interim government for return of the restored Jewish archives. We noted:

[This] agreement is controversial as Rhode and others contend that the Hussein’s Mukhabarat stole the property from the Jewish community and that it rightfully should be returned to the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Center in Israel. The Iraqi government contends that the archives may contain important historical information of the origins of the country.

A report by JNS.org on May 15, 2014  brought a reprieve by the government of Iraq for exhibit of these  Babylonian Jewish archives,  “Iraqi Jewish Archive’s U.S. exhibition extended”.

The JNS.org article cited an exchange of letters by the Iraq Ambassador in Washington saying:

Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily said in a statement Wednesday that Iraq “has authorized me to extend the period which the exhibit may remain in the United States.” The exhibit “has led to an increase of understanding between Iraq and United States and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq,” he said.

“We look forward to completing the technical aspects of this extension with the Government of the United States within the coming days. Items which were among the material brought to the United States that are not part of the exhibit will return to Iraq in the very near future, as originally agreed,” said Faily.

Following the close of the exhibit of the archives in early January 2014, at the NARA Lawrence F. O’Brien gallery in Washington, DC, it was sent to New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage for an exhibit. You may browse through the Iraqi Jewish Archive exhibit and collection on-line, at the NARA website, here.

The JNS.org report noted the comments of representatives of both the Orthodox Union and the American Jewish Committee regarding the ultimate status of the Babylonian Jewish Archives:

The Orthodox Union (OU) welcomed Faily’s announcement of the exhibit’s extension, but said its work on the issue of the archive’s final destination isn’t done.

“The historical and religious value of the Iraqi Jewish Archive materials compel us to ensure that the archive should remain in the United States where it will be easily accessible to all, particularly the Iraqi Jewish community now living in diaspora around the world,” said Nathan Diament, OU’s executive director for public policy. “We will continue to advocate for an appropriate long-term solution for these materials.”

Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international Jewish affairs, said, “Extending the exhibit’s schedule and making it available to other American communities will benefit all who have interest in the history of Iraq’s Jews.”

Dr. Rhode in our earlier NER interview expressed his views as to the ultimate disposition of these restored archives:

The American government considered the archives as property which belonged to Iraq and therefore by International law it has to be returned. However, this was really property stolen by the previous Iraqi governments from the Jews who fled the country, mostly in 1950-51.

The problem is most of this is private property. These were holy books that belonged to individuals. They never belonged to the Iraqi government. When, for example, Iraqi Jews had a Torah made, if you moved to another synagogue, the Torah moved with you. In 1950/51 when most of the Jews left they were not allowed to take this material with them. They were only allowed to take basically a suitcase of clothes, if that, and so the Jews were forced against their wishes to leave the material behind.

If this is private property it belongs to the Jews.  If it can’t be identified then it becomes the property of the exiled Iraqi Jewish community. 85% of the exiled Iraqi Jews and their descendents live in Israel.  As exiled Jews from the Muslim world they property was expropriated. They have no access to their material.

We had suggested that the Babylonian Jewish Archives should instead be transferred to the Babylonian Jewish Heritage Museum in Israel to be placed on permanent exhibit there. A significant portion of Iraqi Jews had settled in Israel after their expulsion from Iraq in the early 1950’s.

Following the announcement of the May 16, 2014 agreement to extend the Babylonian Jewish Archives exhibit in the US, we reconvened with Dr. Rhode. We returned to discuss the events of April and May 2003, and those in the American government who enabled the transfer and eventual restoration of the Archives. Rhode provided personal testimony of the encounters he had with Diasporan Iraqi Jews who came to view the Washington exhibit and made their own personal discoveries. He also discusses the possible ultimate disposition of these Archives from this ancient Babylonian Jewish community in light of the current agreement reached between the Iraqi and US governments.

Dr. Harold Rhode

Gordon:  We are here with distinguished Gatestone Institute fellow and former Pentagon specialist Dr. Harold Rhode.

Rhode:  Thank you, nice to be here.

Gordon:  Dr. Rhode, you spent over twenty-eight years in the Pentagon as a civilian specialist in how to understand the Islamic mindset. How did that come about and who was instrumental in soliciting your interest for this advisory post?

Rhode:  My Ph.D in Islamic history is from Columbia University but the truth is that it’s Professor Bernard Lewis, retired from Princeton, who was my real advisor. He was my real mentor and it was he who was a friend of Scoop Jackson, Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington, and Jackson’s aide Richard Perle. When Richard Perle became the Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon for International Security Policy, Professor Lewis called Richard Perle and told him, “You ought to consider Harold for this post.” Richard Perle was working among other things on Turkey and he asked me would I be willing to do that. I received my initial security clearance about 3 months later, and shortly thereafter started working for Richard Perle. I very quickly started working as well for his boss, the late Dr. Fred Ikle. I worked on the entire Islamic world and that was my start in 1982. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Gordon:  How did you happen to be in Baghdad in April, 2003 when the Iraqi Jewish Archives were discovered?

Rhode:  I went with a group of American civilians that the Pentagon sent for the transition period in Iraq. I was one of the people that was asked to go. I asked my wife who agreed and off I went. I had spent twelve years working with the Iraqi opposition on the Iraqi project. I know almost all of the people involved in the Iraqi opposition fairly well, and was deeply honored and spent three months in Kuwait and in Iraq.

Gordon:  What did you find in the water-logged basement of the late Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat or intelligence service building?

Rhode:  Well that’s an interesting story. If you don’t mind could I give you a little background on this story and how we got there?

Gordon:  Absolutely!

Rhode:  In totalitarian societies, when the dictator or the brute is overthrown, the people who worked for him try to go to the new people who take and say: “I’ll tell you what I did and I’ll cooperate with you.  In return will you give me a free pass and say that I have cooperated so nothing will happen to me?” There were about six opposition groups. One of the brightest human beings I have ever met in my life was Dr. Ahmed Chalabi, a then Iraqi-opposition leader who headed the Iraqi National Congress (INC).

The man who ran the Iraqi Jewish section – not the Israeli section but the Jewish section of the Iraqi Intelligence – came to Chalabi and said this is what I have been doing. We had under our control an ancient copy of the Talmud from the 7th century, among other things. Nobody knew that there was such a thing a Jewish section. It was obvious that the Saddam’s intelligence establishment would have an Israeli section, but why a Jewish section? We were all shocked. Chalabi instantly called me and Judith Miller, then a New York Times journalist who was also in Baghdad at the time and said you’ve got to come quickly.

We all traipsed over to the Iraqi Intelligence headquarters with this man who was head of the Jewish section. He repeated his story about the ancient copy of the Talmud written, which he said was written on jild – the Arabic word for skin or parchment. Oh course Judith and I were enthralled. No copy of the Talmud that old had yet ever been discovered. So we went there, with of Chalabi’s people, myself, Judith Miller – she was embedded in the weapons of mass destruction team from the American military. Saddam’s Jewish intelligence section head pointed from the outside to two windows in the basement and promptly disappeared.

We tried then to go into the building and the entire basement was flooded up to our waists. Now why was it flooded? We slowly but surely began to piece the entire story together. The American military had dropped a 2000 pound bomb on the building. It should have destroyed, it as it was a huge building. But the bomb did not explode. It went through the building, destroyed the water system, came out the side and lodged in the ground.

Even though I had by then worked in the Pentagon for twenty-one years I didn’t know much about the military hardware, so I didn’t know that this thing in the ground was a live bomb. It could have exploded at any time. We were there for about six weeks taking out the material. The bomb never went off. The question was what to do?

Well some of the American military guys waded into the water. This is what they found. The first room they came to the Israeli section – not the Jewish section of the basement – and began to pull out models of the Knesset, a sign that said in Arabic which said, “Who was going to send the fortieth missile off to Israel?” (Thirty-nine were fired at Israel during in the Kuwait war in1990.) In addition, they brought out a Russian map of Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor which was taken from the sky; other maps, lists of the set-up of the Shin-Bet (Israel’s Internal Intelligence Service) and the Mossad. Anyway that was just part one of the thing.

The soldiers then went down the hall; they turned left into the room where Saddam’s Jewish specialist showed us from outside. What they found was breath-taking. That room too was flooded; there were books strewn all over the place. There was a Torah scroll, and a box of which the Iraqi Jews would call a tik. A tik is a wooden box in which Sephardic Jews keep Torah scrolls. The tik had floated down into the hallway and that’s what we knew on the first day. I think it was in either late April or the first week in May.

The question is what to do? Chalabi asked me what I wanted to do and I said, “Look, there’s no question.  I am a religious Jew. Saving a Torah for a Jew is like saving a human life.”

Chalabi said he can get pumps to suck out the water. He also offered to supply workers to get this out. Chalabi used his own personal money and made every effort to get the project started. He found a truck that could pump out small amounts of water. The pumps on the truck worked and, within two days, the water went down basically to our ankles. We were able to go in and to see what was there.

The material was unbelievable! We couldn’t see for sure at first what exactly it was except there were a lot of old books and things like school and community records. It wasn’t clear. We began to pull these out. Chalabi had procured for us metal trunks and we began to put the materials that we could in these trunks. Chalabi gave us a courtyard in one of his, headquarters and we would dry out the material there. The problem is that you can’t have all these workers for God knows how long and leave it to Chalabi to pay for everything. It was very nice of Chalabi to do this but I needed to get money from somewhere.

The American government at first was completely unhelpful. There was a wonderful archivist who was part of this civilian team working on things like the Iraqi National Museum and I asked for her help but she was not allowed to help me. It’s not that she didn’t want to. Most of the American governmental authorities in Baghdad saw me and this project as an albatross. They wanted it to go away.

I managed to get through to a remarkable man in New York who used to be the CEO of Lehman Brothers, Harvey Krueger. He managed to procure funds, a grant, so we could pay the Iraqis who were helping us get the material out.

We slowly but surely put all the material in the central courtyard. It had to dry off a bit; again no one would help me. You know I have a PhD in history but I do not understand restoration and I do not understand how to preserve documents. Through a close friend in Jerusalem, I managed to get through to the Restoration Department of the Hebrew University. That preservation specialist spoke to me on the phone, trying to tell me how to preserve these documents. There was only one problem. She said we needed to put the material in a cool place.

But we had no electricity. There was no cool place. It was about 115 degrees in the shade. What she said wasn’t possible. She responded: “look, do the best that you can.”

Anyway we took this material, we dried it out a bit and then we had Torahs, we had all sorts of other documents on parchment. If these had been dried out completely, they would have been like a straitjacket. Look what happens to leather when it gets wet and so we would lay it out, dry it out a bit and then put these materials in these trunks on which I put my name in English, and sometimes in Arabic and in Hebrew.

As for the books, each was much waterlogged and therefore very heavy. Now that becomes important when the archivists later got involved.

In the meantime, I spoke with Natan Sharansky who was at the time was an Israeli government minister and a friend. While I was in Baghdad, he would call from time to time to ask how I was doing. He said what I was experiencing in Baghdad was somewhat like what he experienced in the Soviet Union. That was, I think on his part, very polite, very nice, and a bit exaggerated. I did not go through what he did in the Gulag for so long. He asked what he could do to help. I answered: “call your friend Vice President Cheney; see if he can help.”

In the meantime Richard Perle who was also a friend of Sharansky’s, and a friend of mine, called. I told him that as he was the Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, that he should tell Secretary Rumsfeld about the Jewish material we had found. They both did.

One or two days later, the American government became interested in it. Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld are real heroes in this story, because once they expressed interest in it, the American bureaucracy went into action in Baghdad. I want to tell you when the American government really puts its mind to it, it can do anything!

All of a sudden out of nowhere – this was the second day of Shavuot, the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jewish people received the Torah – the American government got involved. The Americans brought in huge pumps; they blocked off the room containing what remained of the Jewish material. They then sucked out all the remaining water, we saw the water go down very quickly, unlike beforehand, with the small pumps.

So the American government then went into action. It brought over archivists from the National Archives of the United States (NARA) and they took over the project. They – to put it politely – dismissed me from the project and hoped that I would disappear. I came back to the United States and this material is eventually brought out.

The archives officials put the rest of the material into the trunks Dr. Chalabi gave me, and put them into a freezer truck. What a feat it was for the Americans to find such a truck in the midst of the chaos that was Baghdad at that time. But as I say, the American government can do anything, once it decides to do so.

Thereafter, the trunks were put on a small plane with again this remarkable lady, the above-mentioned archivist who had wanted to help me and wasn’t allowed to at first. But after the American government got involved, everything was fine and she was able to help.

This whole project is a story of miracles – and the last part of this is also, it’s going to end up as another miracle. She was on this plane with the material; she is not a Jew. She had been in the military by then for a long time by then. She was on this small plane with two pilots. The trunks were frozen solid blocks of brown ice. Why? Because freezing stopped the deterioration process. The small plane, it’s the middle of the summer – it was extremely hot – landed on the island of Rhodes to refuel at a NATO base. Now the material is in the plane, it lands, in order to refuel. But in order to refuel, you need to turn off the engines. If you turn off the engines you would lose electricity and all of the work that had been done up until then could have been for naught, because turning off the plane’s engines meant that the ice preserving the materials in the trunks would melt and the deterioration process would start again.

The archivist radioed the head of the base who was an American and asked for electricity; he refused. He said it wasn’t possible; the conversation got a bit heated. Finally the head of the base who is an American comes out – a Navy guy and my archivist friend is in shock. The Navy officer had a kippa/yarmulke on his head. The archivist was stunned. She said that in all the many years she had have been in military, that she had never seen anybody in the navy with a yarmulke on. She knew there would be no problem getting electricity. Needless to say, when she explained why she needed electricity, she got it.

Anyway, the material was sent to somewhere in Texas where they sucked out all of the ice which had stopped the deterioration process. Now the question was what was going to happen to this material? When it was in Baghdad, when we took over, we had Iraqi sovereignty. If you take over another country you are responsible for its sovereignty, so the American government signed an agreement with the American official who was the acting head of the Iraqi Cultural Ministry at that time. According to that agreement, this material would be sent back to Iraq after it was restored.

Well, that means we signed an agreement with ourselves – not the Iraqis. (When we left, we handed over sovereignty to the Iraqis.) There is an international law which says that if you conquer another country you may not take out its artifacts. There are two or three caveats to that. If the material has been stolen then that law does not apply. In this particular instance, we know that Saddam’s people and before that, the Iraqi government expropriated this material when the Jews were forced to flee in 1951.

Slowly but surely the Jewish community that remained behind took the remains of whatever was left its own materials and it put it in the women’s section, the upstairs section of the one remaining synagogue -the Meir Tweig Synagogue in what was in the late 1940’s the place to live in Baghdad, Bataween. Synagogues in the Middle East often are compounds. Besides the Meir Tweig synagogue itself there are places that people eat and live.

So how was the material stolen/taken out from that synagogue and land up in Iraq’s Intelligence Headquarters? Sometime in the early 1980’s we found out later, that in the middle of the night, Saddam’s henchmen pulled up two trucks with guns and at gun point took all the material. No one knew where. It was stolen. It’s important to remember this word – STOLEN.

For ten years – from 2003-2013, following our discovery of this material, nothing happened; it sat in limbo.  Eventually – and I really don’t know how – the State Department allocated three million dollars for the restoration of this material. Then, the State Department decided to make an exhibition of this material in both Washington and in New York from October 11, 2013 to May 17, 2014.

In June, 2014, this material was scheduled to return to Baghdad. To return this material which was stolen by the Iraqi government and later by Saddam and to return it now seems to violate the international law. I am not a lawyer but this has been explained to me. The number one issue is that it belongs to the Iraqi Jews – they didn’t call themselves Iraqi Jews. They called themselves Babylonian Jews because Iraq is a relatively modern invention after World War I. Babylonia is ancient and the Jewish community of Baghdad had been there for twenty-six hundred years since about 586 BCE when the Babylonian Jewish community began. That is unbelievably ancient. There was a huge fuss over this and maybe we’ll leave what’s going to happen to it maybe to the end.

Gordon:  That is rather fascinating background and previously unrevealed so I am very happy that you were able to fill in the missing blanks on this. But let me ask you a couple of questions about this ancient community. During World War II, the Jewish community in what we call Iraq really had a series of horrible experiences and even post war as you mentioned they had their property nationalized and expropriated and then they were expelled. What was the experience during World War II and who was the person who was involved?

Rhode:  The British had ruled Iraq and in the mid 1930’s, Iraq was given its independence. It had a king but there was a coup led by a man by the name of Rashid Ali who was working with the Nazis, in cahoots with the Mufti of Jerusalem who was living in Baghdad at the time. The Mufti was also working with Hitler. When Rashid Ali’s forces took over in 1941, there was a pogrom (farhood in Arabic) against the Jews. The Jews up until then never really worried. Yes they had been second class citizens because in the Muslim world, neither Jews nor Christians nor any non-Muslims were allowed to rule over Muslims.

In reality, however, the Jews actually ran much of the Iraqi economy at that time, and were involved in many other activities which helped Iraq run relatively smoothly. It is not surprising that when I was there after the liberation in 2003, many Iraqis – or rather Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs – begged me saying: “how do we get the Jews back here because our country only ran well when the Jews were here.” After about six days in 1941 when approximately 180 people were killed and a lot of property was destroyed and many Jews were injured – all of a sudden Jews said: “wait a minute, something is wrong here. Maybe we don’t have a future here.” Iraqi Jews weren’t ardent Zionists at the time. But the farhood really shook them to their very foundations. The State of Israel was declared in 1948, i.e., it was the rebirth of the Jewish state which had existed 2000 years ago.

After Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Arabs – including Iraq – did their utmost to destroy it. Life became almost unbearable for the Jews of Iraq. Especially in Baghdad but in other places in Iraq as well. Kurdistan, however, was a different story. Life was much better for the Jews in Kurdistan which was Northern Iraq.

Anyway, by 1950-51, an agreement was negotiated between Israel and the Iraqi authorities. It was done indirectly. About 150,000 people were airlifted from Baghdad through Cypress to Israel. That was so because the Iraqis could claim that they were not having direct flights. They were going to Cyprus. They weren’t going to Israel publicly and then after a while the flights went directly from Baghdad to Tel Aviv.

You had rich and poor Jews – all sorts of Jews – on these flights. They had to leave everything behind. They could take a suitcase, nothing more. They were impoverished by the Iraqi government which wouldn’t let them take anything but a suitcase of clothes, and about 40 dinars which was a tiny sum of money.

Ninety percent of the Iraqi Jewish community and their descendants today live in Israel. There are Iraqi Jews in New York, London, and Canada but the vast majority live in Israel. Logically the material in this archive is theirs. And there is a museum or a center for the Babylonian Jewish Heritage outside of Tel Aviv in a place called Or Yehuda. That museum should be the final resting place of the materials we found in Iraq.

Unfortunately, given the nature of international politics at the moment that is not going to happen so we have to look for other options. If the stolen material in this archive go back to Baghdad, which the Iraqi government up until May 17th was strongly pushing for, we have an odd situation. This material belonged to the Iraqi Jews. But since Iraq will now not give visas to Israelis, the 90% of Iraqi Jewry and their descendents who live in Israel would be denied their patrimony, because they could not examine their own material. That is not right.

When I rescued this material in the beginning, all of the Iraqi opposition leaders begged me to get the material out of Iraq before it would become public. Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds said: “get it out of here!” But I had no ability to do that and I think it would’ve been illegal. So why did they say that before it becomes public? Once it becomes public then any Iraqi who would let it go would be shamed, would be humiliated, if they agreed to let the Americans or the Jews have this material. Shame and humiliation are concepts that we do not talk about here in the West. We are a guilt-ridden society meaning we look in the mirror and we say I am proud of myself or not proud of myself for doing X, Y and Z. A “shame society” is one which doesn’t care what you think about yourself but cares what other people think about you and your reputation depends on what other people say about you. No Iraqi politician would be able to say that he let the Americans or the Jews have these materials because he would therefore be humiliated in the eyes of his people.

Gordon:  What was the agreement that was reached in 2003 between the Coalition Provisional Authority and the U.S. Government?

Rhode:  That agreement was that the NARA – the American National Archival Administration – brought to the United States to restore, and then to return the material to Iraq. The interesting thing now is not that agreement. The Iraqi Jewish Community here in the United States has been told by the State Department, there is another agreement that they have reached on May 16, 2014 and it is very Middle Eastern. It is very hopeful.

The agreement formally says that the material in the exhibition which comprises twenty-seven items can stay and go to other places and the Iraqi government is very happy to do that but the rest of the material will be returned to Iraq. Now that doesn’t sit well but I have a thought that maybe something else is going to go on here. As I explained before about honor and shame, it’s very possible that the Iraqis could sign an agreement and quietly agree that this material will never be returned to Iraq but it’s not written and it’s not said which is why I say we must be vigilant now but I am hopeful that the material won’t go back to Iraq.

What material will go back to Iraq? There are certain things that are duplicates, for example, there are sixty copies of an Aleph Bet book which is like a basic Hebrew book teaching students how to write the Hebrew alphabet. We don’t need all of these. We only need the copies which would have notations in them, because notations give us some insight into the Iraqi Jewish community itself. But there are many other books which are essential because, the Rabbis who used them made notes which give us an insight into their mindset.

That sort of material should be retained for access. In Baghdad no one, even though the Iraqi archivists trained here to take care of this material don’t have the conditions they need in Baghdad. Iraq is now a basically lawless society. There are hopeful negotiations with a new group of leaders might take over after the current elections in Iraq. These new leaders might be more receptive to making sure that that everybody has access to this material.

I don’t have all the answers but we had some knowledge of Iraqi culture and once the project was taken out of the hands of the Pentagon and put into the hands of the State Department and CIA and others,  their knowledge and I would say more importantly their interest in the cultures of the Middle East was much less. I am hopeful that we have another new government in Baghdad which will in the end be much more interested in working with the outside world.

Gordon:  You were a docent at the Washington Exhibit which was held at the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery for the National Archives over the period from October 11, 2013 to January 5, 2014.  You had some interesting encounters with folks who came there. Could tell us some of those stories?

Rhode:  When you walked into the exhibit you saw some of my trunks, the aluminum trunks and they all said Rhode on them, my family name, in English and Arabic. Some of them said Sefer Torah scrolls in Hebrew. At the exhibition, there was no explanation about why the word “Rhode” is written on the trunks. Moreover, the first picture of the exhibit is a picture me helping the Iraqi workers get some of these books out. My name is not on that picture. The guards at the exhibit kept being asked by people what does “Rhode” mean? Some asked: “Is that some secret code?” As you said I chose to be a docent. I did not do this for the National Archives. I simply came on Sunday mornings and a few other times during the week to give tours. We started out with two or three people, and, each time, up to 100 people joined the tour. I’m the person who was there when we found all of this. I am not the guy who restored it. The Archives did that, and did a beautiful job.

One of the Jews who stayed behind now who lives in London by the name of Edwin Shuker. He went through the exhibit. Edwin is in his 50’s. He had to escape Iraq when he was 12 years old. He and his family were not allowed to take anything with them which might show they were trying to escape –meaning no documents which might give them away. So he had to leave school report cards etc. behind. Back to Edwin at the exhibition… As he was passing through the exhibition, he all of a sudden looks up and sees his school report card and a picture of himself as a 12 year old. He shouts: “That’s my report card! That’s my picture when I’m twelve years old.” Edwin broke down and started crying like a baby.

You know, and it was amazing, absolutely amazing. This whole Iraqi Jewish Archive project is filled with stories like this galore. There were other people on my first tour that I took through there, a woman said “Oh my God, there’s me and there’s my cousin. There’s my oldest sister in a picture as well.” It was amazing. There was also a copy of the laws from 1948 or ’51 in Arabic which are the Iraqi government laws expropriating Jewish material from the people they forced to flee. There it is, the proof that it doesn’t belong to the Iraqi government. They expropriated it. They stole it.

In the exhibit, there was one section of the Torah that had not been restored. An American Jew, a woman who is Orthodox who works at the Pentagon as a lawyer, went to see the exhibit. She called me said, “Harold, did you see the section of the Torah that was there?” I said, “no.”  She said it is from the Book of Beresheit, i.e., Genesis – from the Torah portion Lech Lecha. My first reaction was “hmmm. That was my own Bar-Mitzvah portion which I first read fifty-one years ago. But what was important here was something much more fascinating – or maybe even hopefully prescient. And that is what is written in that Torah portion on display at the exhibition. It is where God, Ha-Shem, is talking to Abraham and telling him “leave your homeland (i.e., today’s Iraq) and go to the land that I will show you” which of course is what is modern day Israel. It is as if these documents are crying out to the world, saying “get me out of here.  I don’t belong in Iraq, I belong home; and home is the ancient Jewish homeland of Israel.”

There are stories galore that I could tell like this. This is the first time that the American Archives has had any non-American government archival material, in all of the years it’s been open which is approximately one hundred and fifty years. I was only there for the first six weeks of this exhibit. Twenty-three thousand people by then had come through to see it. It was unbelievable. Now people certainly came to the Archives but I’m talking about only through this little exhibition room. It’s huge! Jews came and non-Jews came, it was so moving, so fascinating, so amazing.

Gordon:  Have you been approached about writing a book on this marvelous story? Has anybody come to you about producing a documentary other than the one that NARA did on the process for restoration and recovery?

Rhode:  The answer is a number of my friends said I should write a book, however, nobody has approached me. I would be very interested in doing so because the whole story is just filled with wonderful, amazing people. I would be very happy to do a documentary if anybody would like to do it. Now in all candor, NARA, the National Archives, did a short documentary of how they restored it. But that documentary doesn’t do justice to the whole project from beginning to end.

I’d like to add one more thing about Chalabi. Ahmed Chalabi who was the one who instantly called me and told me to get over there so he could tell us about what he had just learned. I had known him and worked with him on an almost daily basis all the time he was in the United States. I got to know him very well but there are certain things he didn’t tell me. For example, when I went to an opposition meeting in London with the Iraqi Opposition, before we liberated Iraq, I also met some Jews who had been in Baghdad during the Farhud, the pogrom, in 1941. They told me of the greatness of Chalabi’s family. Chalabi himself hadn’t been born yet; he was born in 1944. Chalabi’s family saved Jews and these Jews were telling me their stories when they and their parents ran and the Chalabi family took them in. Now because the Jews kept kosher they couldn’t eat the food in Chalabi’s house. They would only eat hard-boiled eggs. I went to Chalabi afterwards and asked:”Ahmed. Why didn’t you tell me this?” And he looked at me and said, “Why should I tell you this? Why should I have said anything about this? All that would have been self-serving. What good would it have done?” Now my experience with him previously and this episode told me what type of man he was; a very kind and decent man. And a man the Americans never really wanted to understand.

Gordon:  How has this episode impacted your life?

Rhode:  It’s hard to answer that. From the very beginning of this process – when I had to make a split-second decision on what to do? Do I leave this under the water or do we take it out? I couldn’t have lived with myself had I left that material to rot under water. It has brought me nothing but enormous joy to know that I’m part of a project which has contributed to Jewish history. Not only for the Jews of Babylonia, of Iraq, but it has helped world culture gain some insight into who we Jews were and how things were done historically. It is part of human history. It’s an amazing thing.

I want to tell you that there are many other people, Jewish and non-Jewish, who feel exactly the same way. I find it very difficult to believe that this material would eventually go back to Iraq. But we had the agreement over the weekend on May 16, 2014. Let’s hope that the agreement does that, whether it’s formal or informal just as long as everybody in the world, who wants to, has access to the material.

NARA has done a marvelous job scanning all of this material for which there is access to anybody in the world on the internet. However, I want to tell you that internet access to the material isn’t enough. I want to explain this from my personal experience. I come from a completely assimilated Jewish background here in the United States. My family has been in the US for four generations. My family origins are from what is today’s Lithuania, southern Latvia, and western Belarus. When the Soviet Union broke up, I obtained archival documents having to do with my family for the past two hundred years. It gave me information. It was wonderful. However, when I eventually went to Vilna – today known as Vilnius – the capital of modern Lithuania, and when my hands touched the documents where my ancestors two hundred years ago were present at the birth of this, the death of that….  Just touching those records was deeply moving. The joy that it filled me with was unbelievable. It is not just seeing the material. It’s feeling it. Touching it. It’s mine. I say this because I want the Jews of Iraq, the Jews of Babylonia, to have that exact same possibility. If they choose to go, they too can put their hands on their ancestors’ material. It will mean the world to them.

Gordon:   Harold I want to thank you for this extraordinary story. This interview on the eve of the famous minor festival in Judaism called Lag B’Omer. When you think about it, what does Lag b’Omer signify in this world? It signifies in many ways the fighting Jewish spirit harkening back to the days of the Second Jewish Republic.

Rhode:  You are absolutely right. Jewish history to me seems an aberration. It is outside of normal history. What most of the peoples of our size in this world have gone through, are not here anymore. Either they were eradicated, or absorbed into other peoples. Not so the Jews.

Look at the Bible, there are names galore of all sorts of people and we don’t know what happened to them. They don’t exist anymore but we Jews are still here and the question is, why? Well, we have a bond with God. God chose us to receive his laws, and carry out his mission on Earth. The covenant that he made with Abraham is very clear. We need God and we must accept whatever is his decision. We can fight him but we must accept it. But guess what? God needs the Jewish people. Why? Because he chose us to bring his Message, his Word, to the world.

There is another phrase in the Talmud. It describes the Jewish people as a particular plant – the name escapes me – a plant which grows in the Negev desert in the southern part of Israel. Whatever you do to eradicate it, down to its roots, next year guess what? There it is again and maybe that’s the story of the Jewish people. Maybe that’s the story of these Iraqi archives.

Three years after the Holocaust we had the rebirth/re-establishment of the ancient Jewish state after 2000 years when we lost sovereignty. We have had ups and downs. As the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, a remarkable man by the name of Ron Dermer said, the difference now, from the past 2000 years is the Jews now have an army to defend ourselves. The State of Israel has an army and it can take care of whatever it needs to defend Jews all over the world when they are in trouble. What a remarkable story!  The story of the history of the Jewish people.

Gordon:  On that note Harold, I want to thank you for this engrossing discussion.

Rhode:  Thank you very much Jerry. I really appreciate this. This is again as I said, a wonderful project.  I am so thankful to God that I had this opportunity to be part of it.

Gordon:  Thank you Harold.

Rhode:  God be with you.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Open letter to President Obama: On Using U.S. Military Forces Against We The People

Dear President Obama,

I understand you considered using U.S. military force against militia forces at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. Well golly we are shaking in our boots. You understand this would have been in direct violation of the the 1878 “Posse Comitatus Act” and an act of war against “We the people”.

The Posse Comitatus Act states:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

This would also explain the purging of our military at the highest levels. I guess these purged commanders refused to comply with your request to shoot upon the American people if called upon to do so by YOU! Well you fired over 200 of these brave patriots and now they are 100 times more powerful as armed private citizens. You made a huge mistake.

Mr. President, you considered a military attack against the militia at the Bundy Ranch by applying the unconstitutional Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” which was issued by the Pentagon on December 29, 2010, and states that U.S. commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.” To continue it states:

“Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,”

The directive then states.

“In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions.

The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”

“Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,”

Military assistance can include loans of arms, ammunition, vessels and aircraft. The directive states clearly that it is for engaging civilians during times of unrest.

The directive was signed by then-Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn. The full text of the directive may be found on the Pentagon website.

So why did a U.S. official, a man who works in the White House state that you considered but then rejected deploying military forces under this directive during the recent standoff with our militia at Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s home?

Mr. President, why did you cave in and not fire upon the militia members at the Bundy ranch? Why did you order the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM) a federal, fascist like, militarized unit to stand down?

You must have seen the light and realized you would lose this fight. You would then have been arrested and impeached for crimes against the U.S. Constitution, charged with the murder of innocent Americans and you probably would have started a Second American Revolutionary War.

We the people will not permit such folly. The Second Amendment is probably the only thing keeping your progressive/socialist policies in check. It kept Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japanese out of our nation during World War II. Now its keeping you in check too. Agreed? Our founding Fathers were wiser than we could ever imagine, and you are the newest iteration of the Communist – Fascist – Marxist ideology they prepared us for.

Mr. President, defense analysts across this nation are watching you very closely and they state you have built tactical armed military units within non-security-related federal agencies. You have created Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams within the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Education Department, etc., etc., etc.

Why are you doing this Mr. President and why is the Congress allowing you to do this? Where is Speaker John Boehner? There is ZERO leadership in the Congress for the people.

The militarization of federal agencies is in full swing and the White House continues to launch psychological Saul Alinskyesque attacks upon U.S. private citizens’ regarding ownership of firearms despite the fact that Americans are law-abiding citizens.

Where is the Congress of the United States? We paying them $175,000 a year for what, exactly? To sit around while the BLM, IRS, DHS and other federal agencies build armies against we the people? It is time for Speaker Boehner get off the fence and start writing a bill to disarm all of these federal agencies. DO IT NOW or blood will be spilled, American blood! Congressman Miller get off your seat and stand with the people! Write the bill, pass it and get it through the U.S. Senate.

I called the White House National Security Council direct line for an answer but your team won’t comment to me. What are you hiding Mr. President?

I am glad Mr. President you chose wisely and abandoned your attempt to shoot our Constitutionally legally amassed militia forces in Nevada. The outcome of such a battle would be a huge loss for the government. Trust me. There are more of us than you and we are not afraid to protect the Republic legally and constitutionally under all Amendments the Founding Fathers entrusted us with.

God Bless America and shame on the Congress for not protecting us. I guess it up to us. This is why more guns and ammo are being bought by American men and women. They are going to need them one day it appears. Mr. Obama is preparing a war against we the people.

Working off facts and not hear-say on this issue, I believe I am 99.9% right.

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘Undocumented Immigrants’ Will Be Able to ‘Join the Military’

That Cold-Hearted Discipline by David J. Hebert

Good economics teaches cooperation and the limits of politics, not greed.

But of all the duties of beneficence, those which gratitude recommends to us approach nearest to what is called a perfect and complete obligation. What friendship, what generosity, what charity, would prompt us to do with universal approbation, is still more free, and can still less be extorted by force than the duties of gratitude. — Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

A recent article by Wharton Professor Adam Grant has been popping up here and there, most recently in Psychology Today. Grant suggests that studying economics breeds greed, and he cites several studies to support his claim. The studies conclude economics professors give less money to charity than other professions, economics students are more likely to deceive others for personal gain, and people who study economics have less of a concern for fairness and tend to think that “greed” is okay.

To his credit, Grant does consider the alternative: that maybe economics actually attracts greedy people or that greedy people tend to thrive by studying economics. He dismisses these possibilities by noting that “there is evidence for selection…but this doesn’t rule out the possibility that studying economics pushes people further toward the selfish extreme.” He goes on to chide practitioners of the discipline for teaching self-interest in the classroom.

Finally, he concludes with four points that are meant to provide evidence of the social harm in studying economics, which can be summarized in two overarching points:

1) Economics justifies greedy behavior, and

2) Studying economics makes people less altruistic.

Economics Justifies Greedy Behavior?

Studying economics, and specifically the role of incentives, teaches us that relying on altruism is a brave assumption that has but limited applicability. For example, among people we know, we can rely on a certain degree of altruism or benevolence. I know, for example, that my family and friends will be there for me not because I pay them to do so, but because they care about me. Similarly, they know I will be there for them. However, I don’t know the same thing about random people I encounter on the street.

And yet in order to enjoy the immense wealth that the division of labor affords us, society demands that we have interactions both with people we know well and people we do not know at all. These two distinct spheres of activity require two distinct forms of cooperation, which one might get from reading Adam Smith’s twin pillars of economics: The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations.

More tidily, perhaps, F. A. Hayek describes this situation in The Fatal Conceit by noting the difference between the macro-economy and the micro-economy. Macro, in this context, refers to society as a whole, while micro refers to just the people to whom we are close. Hayek says that if we were to apply the same rules of the family unit to the macro, as would be the case if we were to allocate resources altruistically, we would destroy the macro. This is because there would be a complete lack of economic calculation, resources would be misallocated, and plans would fail to be coordinated (see these articles for more on economic calculation).

Hayek also notes that the reverse is true: If we were to apply the rules of the market to the family, we would destroy it as well. We don’t need prices and incomes at the dinner table to allocate the food. Even the most ardent defender of markets would agree that having prices and such as the means of allocating food at the dinner table would be wrong, just like paying your friends to help you move across town would be strange. (Beer and pizza don’t count.)

Instead, students of economics recognize not that greed is good, as the saying goes, but that greed can be transformed into the service of others given the proper institutional setting. That institutional setting, which has been thoroughly discussed elsewhere, is one that celebrates the role of property rights, prices, and profits (and losses) and recognizes their role in creating the incentives to properly husband resources, generates the information about the relative scarcities of various goods and transmits this information to consumers and producers in a quick and efficient manner, all of which provides a feedback mechanism to drive continued innovation.

Economics Makes People Less Altruistic?

Grant cites a 2005 article by Neil Gandal et. al. as concluding that “students who planned to study economics rated helpfulness, honesty, loyalty, and responsibility as just as important as students who were studying communications, political science, and sociology,” but that by the third year, economics students rated these values “significantly less important than first-year economics students.”

While the Gandal study does include such conclusions, it also includes much more. For example, economics students attribute less importance to fairness. Evidencing this, Gandal points out that, when questioned about the allocation of radio frequencies to different mobile-phone service providers, students who study economics are more likely to advocate selling the rights to the highest bidder while students of other disciplines are more likely to advocate for allocating the rights to “anybody who meets some minimal eligibility criteria.”

Students of economics do not advocate for property rights because we are greedy; we advocate for property rights because we understand and take seriously potential incentive problems in politics. The notion of minimal eligibility requirements may sound nice, for example, but problems may lie in who gets to draw that line, by what process that line gets drawn, and the incentives faced by the line-drawers. As Madison points out in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

Economics students know men are no angels. And as Nobel laureate James Buchanan points out, government officials are human beings, too, with their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations—and yes, forms of avarice. Supporting the allocation of resources to the highest bidder sidesteps the issues raised by these potential incentive problems. This means that the choice of how to allocate resources fundamentally comes down to a choice of institutions.

We can have a central authority establish guidelines by which anyone who wants can use the radio frequencies, or we can let the market decide. The former leads to a standard tragedy of the commons problem, whereby the radio frequency gets overused. In the case of cell phones, this means that the frequency would be crowded with multiple conversations simultaneously; imagine trying to shout to your friend across a crowded bar. The latter leads to the frequencies being allocated to the person who is best able to utilize them to serve the general population. So AT&T, for example, gets exclusive rights to a certain bandwidth and then tries to figure out how to best serve its customers. In this case, the customer gets to enjoy a clear phone call without the distraction of several other conversations in their ear simultaneously.

In any case, these are not examples of quelling altruism, but of keeping it in its place.

Less Greed, More Cooperation

Viewed in this light, economics does not so much teach greed but rather the beauty of cooperation. How else could we explain how a woolen coat gets made, how Paris gets fed, or how a pencil gets made? And if allocating, say, radio frequencies based on highest valued use makes people learn to discard fairness, well, how exactly is that a bad thing?

ABOUT DAVID J. HEBERT

David Hebert is a Ph.D. student in economics at George Mason University. His research interests include public finance and property rights.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is from FEE and Shutterstock.

Why Black Men Need More White Women

Black women constantly complain about the dearth of “eligible” Black men to date and marry. Noted sociologist William Julius Wilson has argued that “the increasing levels of non-marriage and female-headed households is a manifestation of the high levels of economic dislocation experienced by lower-class Black men in recent decades.”

He further argued that, “When joblessness is combined with high rates of incarceration and premature mortality among Black men; it becomes clearer that there are fewer marriageable black men relative to black women who are able to provide the economic support needed to sustain a family.”

Then you add in the unfortunate increase in homosexuality within the Black community and you have a recipe for disaster.

This is why Black men need more White women like Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. Even though they are conservative media personalities, they have done more to promote the well-being of Black males than many of the very women who stridently complain about the lack of “eligible” Black men.

Coulter is a friend and I find her comments regarding the Black community very insightful. Look at what she said two years ago on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” She said, “Groups on the left, from feminists to gay rights groups to those defending immigrants, have commandeered the Black civil rights experience.”

She continued, “I think what – the way liberals have treated Blacks like children and many of their policies have been harmful to Blacks, at least they got the beneficiary group right. There is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws. We don’t owe the homeless. We don’t owe feminists. We don’t owe women who are desirous of having abortions, but that’s — or — or gays who want to get married to one another. That’s what civil rights has become for much of the left.”

Stephanopoulos asked, “Immigrant rights are not civil rights?” Coulter responded, “Civil rights are for Blacks…what have we done to immigrants? We owe Black people something…We have a legacy of slavery. Immigrants haven’t even been in this country.”

Earlier this year, she said, “I mean my whole life I’ve heard Republicans hate Black people, I’ve never seen any evidence of it until I read Marco Rubio’s amnesty bill. We are the party that has always stood up for African-Americans. Who gets hurt the most by amnesty, by continuing these immigration policies it is low-wage workers, it is Hispanics, it is Blacks.”

I don’t know Ingraham personally, but I like what she had to say last month about Democrats and Blacks. “

[Congressman] Steve Israel is reprehensible in what he said [on alleged racism in the Republican Party]…Nancy Pelosi, throw her into the ring [for similar comments]…I say this is a race to the bottom…The Democrats have failed the Black youth in this country with their terrible economic approach. Do we call that racist?

“…They turn their heads away from the millions upon millions of Black babies slaughtered in the womb over 10 years… Is that racist?…Is it racist that they allow inner cities to continue to crumble as families decay across the board in America – especially hard hit is African-American families…It is reprehensible and it’s all about November…This is not about ‘They care about Black people.’ They care about their majority eroding away.”

So, let me make sure I understand. Black women complain about the state of “eligible” Black males to date and marry, yet they support the policies of a president who is going to make the problem much worse.

Under Obama, Blacks have regressed on every economic, social and moral indicator that is tracked. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the current Black unemployment rate is 11.6 percent; for Blacks aged 16-19 it is at 36.8 percent.

However, the average Black unemployment rate during the terms of the last three presidents, as well as the average over the past 30 years, are noteworthy. Under Clinton, it was 10 percent; under George W. Bush, 9.3 percent but under Obama, 14 percent for the total time he has been in office. The 30-year average for Blacks is 12.4 percent.

Campaign slogans notwithstanding, this isn’t the kind of change we have been waiting for.

Obama has done more for same-sex marriage couples than he has for his same-race brothers and sisters. In fact, Newsweek dubbed him our first gay president – not for his sexual orientation, but for his relentless pandering to homosexuals.

He has also advocated amnesty for those in this country illegally, which will only continue to increase the unemployment rate in the Black community, especially among low and under-skilled Black workers. This will further decrease the pool of potential Black men for women to date and marry. Let’s face it, our women are not going to marry someone who is unemployed or underemployed.

Historically, Black women have been notoriously protective of their men and children. It is ironic that Coulter and Ingraham, two conservative White women, are now assuming that role. We Black men need more White women like Coulter and Ingraham, not Black women who will give a pass to a failing Black president.

Council on American Islamic Relations visits Franciscan Sisters

Good Friday 2011 Franciscan Sisters Silent Walk for Peace through the City of Little Falls, MN. Photo by Sister Mary Lou.

The  Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls were visited by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, aka CAIR, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).  These trained public relations groups reach out to the under informed, accommodating citizens, in political and religious institutions, public libraries, schools and universities, and government security forces, to whitewash their history, hide their intent, inhibit discussion, prohibit news coverage of acts of violence, and control language that exposes the truths of Islam.

violentislam-150x150CAIR and ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) were unindicted co-conspirators of the Holy Land Foundation, a front organization for Hamas, a designated, chartered terrorist group.  They are no different than the Muslims who are killing Christians and Jews throughout the world; the same as Boko Haram that kidnapped, converted and killed the female students in Nigeria; the same as those who burned to death male students just weeks before; and the same as those who recently destroyed entire villages in Nigeria, burned down 200 homes and butchered 16 while intoning Allahu Akbar. They differ only in their attire.

Among the many strategies of Islamic conquest is to use a grassroots network of social and charitable organizations to expand their membership base. Their God demands conversion or death to infidels and Islam is responsible for the slaughter of 270 million people over 14 centuries – with more than 23,000 deadly jihad attacks since 9/11/01.  Eighty percent of their Koran incites and advocates death.

Their claim of victimization is bogus; they are the aggressors in today’s world. They do not live the Gospel of tolerance and peace, or the Biblical Commandments or Golden Rule. Rather, they advocate the cruelest set of laws, Sharia, on the planet. Behind a façade of Mohammad’s earlier writings and their five pillars of faith, the later writings in their Koran, Hadith, and Sura contain a doctrine of hate and commands to kill Jews and Christians primarily, but also Hindus, Buddhists, all infidels and apostates. Sexual slavery continues in Islam.  This is a political ideology couched as religion, to globalize Islam. They have made continents unsafe; Jews are fleeing for their lives and Christians who have nowhere to run are beginning to experience the crimes of Islam – riots, no-go zones, rapes, terrorism, honor killings, and a loss of their native identity.

I ask the Franciscan sisters to please research this themselves and perhaps obtain the documentary, “Honor Diaries,” for how women are severely mistreated in Islam.  I also urge them and all their coreligionists to go to www.memritv.org and download a cross-section of weekly sermons translated into English, for an analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural and religious trends in the Middle East. Books by Nonie Darwish or Brigitte Gabriel or Ayaan Hirsi Alli would also provide a truthful exposé of Islam.

  • The Sisters were told that Muslims and Christians need to come together to stop the violence, but it is the Muslims, not the Christians, who are committing the crimes against five religions in dozens of countries. CAIR’s purpose is to soften their history and temper any possible resistance against their imposition of Sharia.
  •  The Sisters were told that individuals commit violence, not religions, but it is the Islamic individuals who are commanded by their religion/culture/ideology who commit the violence – not only against other religions but among themselves, particularly against their women.  It is the Muslims who are taught to hate in their schools, mosques, and television programs and their Koran that promises heavenly reward for carrying out jihad.
  • The Sisters were told they had to return to their moral compass, but does CAIR have a moral compass when Muslim deeds include rape, beheading, dismemberment, castration, gouging-out eyes, flogging, stoning, hanging, blinding women with acid; enforcing genital mutilation on young girls, enforcing their marriage to considerably older men; and keeping many women enshrouded, unable to drive, socialize, or attend school?  Their god advocates murder and destruction in at least 109 Koranic verses.
  • The purpose of CAIR’s visit was to tell the sisters what to think, what to do and what to say.  Today CAIR is challenging Oklahoma to not show a film about Muslims and the Oklahoma bomber; not show the film “Honor Killings,” and not show the film being used by the 9/11 Memorial Museum. They have control over our school textbooks, which parents are attempting to fight.

We must not allow ourselves to be misled by the Islamic propaganda or by the evaded answers to citizens’ questions. We must ask ourselves if CAIR’s intentions were indeed as honorable as those of the immigrants who preceded them, would they really need these image-management teams to define themselves?  Rather than integrate and become Americans, they are requiring American acquiescence to their demands, and they are changing the history that is being taught in our schools today.  This is not assimilation, but conquest. It is they who hate all others, and your tolerance of their intolerance is not tolerance, but civilizational suicide.

I hope the Sisters will contact me or ACT! for America for more information about this scourge that has insinuated itself into our public schools, our places of worship, businesses, and government. We must all become aware of how we might be instrumental in protecting ourselves, and our country.

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The True Meaning of Patriotism by Lawrence W. Reed

Patriotism Is Not the Waving of a Flag.

Patriotism these days is like Christmas—lots of people caught up in a festive atmosphere replete with lights and spectacles. We hear reminders about “the true meaning” of Christmas—and we may even mutter a few guilt-ridden words to that effect ourselves—but each of us spends more time and thought in parties, gift-giving, and the other paraphernalia of a secularized holiday than we do deepening our devotion to the true meaning.

So it is with patriotism, especially on Memorial Day in May, Flag Day in June, and Independence Day in July. Walk down Main Street America and ask one citizen after another what patriotism means and with few exceptions, you’ll get a passel of the most self-righteous but superficial and often dead-wrong answers. America’s Founders, the men and women who gave us reason to be patriotic in the first place, would think we’ve lost our way if they could see us now.

Since the infamous attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans in near unanimity have been “feeling” patriotic. For most, that sadly suffices to make one a solid patriot. But if I’m right, it’s time for Americans to take a refresher course.

Patriotism is not love of country, if by “country” you mean scenery—amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesty, and the like. Almost every country has pretty collections of rocks, water, and stuff that people grow and eat. If that’s what patriotism is all about, then Americans have precious little for which we can claim any special or unique love. And surely, patriotism cannot mean giving one’s life for a river or a mountain range.

Patriotism is not blind trust in anything our leaders tell us or do. That just replaces some lofty concepts with mindless goose-stepping.

Patriotism is not simply showing up to vote. You need to know a lot more about what motivates a voter before you judge his patriotism. He might be casting a ballot because he just wants something at someone else’s expense. Maybe he doesn’t much care where the politician he’s hiring gets it. Remember Dr. Johnson’s wisdom: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Waving the flag can be an outward sign of patriotism, but let’s not cheapen the term by ever suggesting that it’s anything more than a sign. And while it’s always fitting to mourn those who lost their lives simply because they resided on American soil, that too does not define patriotism.

People in every country and in all times have expressed feelings of something we flippantly call “patriotism,” but that just begs the question. What is this thing, anyway? Can it be so cheap and meaningless that a few gestures and feelings make you patriotic?

Not in my book.

I subscribe to a patriotism rooted in ideas that in turn gave birth to a country, but it’s the ideas that I think of when I’m feeling patriotic. I’m a patriotic American because I revere the ideas that motivated the Founders and compelled them, in many instances, to put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line.

What ideas? Read the Declaration of Independence again. Or, if you’re like most Americans these days, read it for the very first time. It’s all there. All men are created equal. They are endowed not by government but by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Premier among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government must be limited to protecting the peace and preserving our liberties, and doing so through the consent of the governed. It’s the right of a free people to rid themselves of a government that becomes destructive of those ends, as our Founders did in a supreme act of courage and defiance more than two hundred years ago.

Call it freedom. Call it liberty. Call it whatever you want, but it’s the bedrock on which this nation was founded and from which we stray at our peril. It’s what has defined us as Americans. It’s what almost everyone who has ever lived on this planet has yearned for. It makes life worth living, which means it’s worth fighting and dying for.

An American Spin

I know that this concept of patriotism puts an American spin on the term. But I don’t know how to be patriotic for Uganda or Paraguay. I hope the Ugandans and Paraguayans have lofty ideals they celebrate when they feel patriotic, but whether or not they do is a question you’ll have to ask them. I can only tell you what patriotism means to me as an American.

I understand that America has often fallen short of the superlative ideas expressed in the Declaration. That hasn’t diminished my reverence for them, nor has it dimmed my hope that future generations of Americans will be re-inspired by them.

This brand of patriotism, in fact, gets me through the roughest and most cynical of times. My patriotism is never affected by any politician’s failures, or any shortcoming of some government policy, or any slump in the economy or stock market. I never cease to get that “rush” that comes from watching Old Glory flapping in the breeze, no matter how far today’s generations have departed from the original meaning of those stars and stripes. No outcome of any election, no matter how adverse, makes me feel any less devoted to the ideals our Founders put to pen in 1776. Indeed, as life’s experiences mount, the wisdom of what giants like Jefferson and Madison bestowed on us becomes ever more apparent to me. I get more fired up than ever to help others come to appreciate the same things.

During a recent visit to the land of my ancestors, Scotland, I came across a few very old words that gave me pause. Though they preceded our Declaration of Independence by 456 years, and come from three thousand miles away, I can hardly think of anything ever written here that more powerfully stirs in me the patriotism I’ve defined above. In 1320, in an effort to explain why they had spent the previous 30 years in bloody battle to expel the invading English, Scottish leaders ended their Declaration of Arbroath with this line: “It is not for honor or glory or wealth that we fight, but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life.”

Freedom—understanding it, living it, teaching it, and supporting those who are educating others about its principles. That, my fellow Americans, is what patriotism should mean to each of us today.

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20130918_larryreedauthorABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

Memorial Day 2014: Honoring My Daddy

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Daddy holding me when I was 5-days old.

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Insignia for the Third Army, Seventy-first Division

On this Memorial Day, I would like to feature my father, Michael Louis Schneider, Jr. (October 31, 1918 – May 10, 1980), who served in the Third Army, Seventy-first Division, from 1943 to 1946. Michael L. Schneider, Jr., circa 1943. He was around 25 years old at the time. I think he was really handsome.  Daddy did not tell me much about his time serving in World War II, but he was obviously proud when he said his division was under General George Patton. He also told me that he had a date once with actress Jane Russell. I later learned that Dwight Eisenhower’s son also served in the 71st.  I have my daddy’s army yearbook, sent to him from the US War Department around 1947.

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My Daddy’s Army yearbook.

I have the book and the original package in which it was sent. “3225 N. Miro Street” is the New Orleans address where my father grew up. My father, in a photo taken of him in Mississippi in 1936 (he was 18 years old); his army yearbook, and the original package in which the yearbook was mailed to him from the US War Department. The yearbook is well done and details the 71st’s movements well. Since it is easier for me to reproduce, here is the Wikipedia  summary of the 71st’s combat chronicle:

The 71st Infantry Division arrived at Le HavreFrance, 6 February 1945, and trained at Camp Old Gold with headquarters at Limesy. The division moved east, relieved the 100th Infantry Division at Ratswiller and saw its first action on 11 March 1945. Their ouster of the Germans from France began 15 March. The division moved through outer belts of the Siegfried Line, captured Pirmasens, 21 March, and crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim, 30 March. The 71st continued the advance, taking Coburg without resistance, cutting the Munich-Berlin autobahn, 13 April, and capturing Bayreuth after fierce opposition on 16 April. Moving south, the Division destroyed Schönfeld, 18 April, took Rosenberg, crossed the Naab River at Kallmünz on 24 April and crossed the Danube on 26 April. Regensburg fell on the next day and Straubing on 28 April. As resistance crumbled, the division crossed the Isar on 29 April and entered Austria, 2 May.

Participated in the liberation of concentration camps including one in Austria called Gunskirchen Lager on 4 May. A pamphlet was produced by the US Army after they liberated the camp, called “The Seventy-First came to Gunskirchen Lager.” The book recounts in detail, and with very graphic photos, the tragedy they found in the camp. The complete booklet is available for free on-line.

The 71st organized and occupied defensive positions along the Enns River and contacted Russian forces east of Linz, 8 May, the day before hostilities ceased,having gone further east than any other U.S. Army unit. The division was assigned occupational duties until it left for home and inactivation 1 March 1946.

During the last several weeks of the war, the 761st Tank Battalion, an African-American unit that earned a high reputation for its effectiveness in combat, was attached to the 71st Division and fought with it. The 71st Division is also the formation in which Lt. John D. Eisenhower, General Dwight Eisenhower‘s son, served. [Emphasis added.]

Daddy kept all of the above details to himself. He did tell me that he was a master chef in his army division. He also talked of not having water to use to shave and having to do so using hot coffee.

(An amazing aside: The father of one of the faculty members at the high school where I teach was a cook with the Third Army, Seventieth Division. I learned from him that he and my father were across the Rhine River in France at the same time.)

Prior to its deployment to Europe, the 71st was in Fort Benning, Georgia. I have a photo of my father in which he is holding turkeys from a hunt with the general of the parachute school.

Daddy turkey hunting

On the back of the photo, my daddy wrote, “These are wild turkeys that were killed by the general of the parachute skool (sp.) during a hunting trip in ‘Georgia.’”

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Explanation of the turkey hunt photo, written by my father. I loved his manuscript. His formal education stopped with eighth grade and some trade school, but he mastered penmanship. Daddy died when I was twelve. He was 61 years old; his smoking and drinking had taken their toll and led to both cirrhosis of the liver and lung cancer. My nanny (his cousin, Mercedes Stone, for whom I am named and who helped raise me) kept the wallet my father brought home with him from World War II. Once she died in 1992, my aunt Louise (my father’s younger sister) found the wallet with a note in it, written to me. My nanny earmarked the wallet to be passed on to me. It contained an ID card written in his hand, three ration coupons written in some Germanic language, two addresses (one for his brother, Walter, who was also a soldier), and a one-cent postage stamp attached to a piece of paper that had “gossip sinks ships” written on it.daddy walletMy father’s wallet that he carried in World War II , and assorted contents. daddy id cardMy father’s ID card, written in his beautiful handwriting. The emergency contact was for his aunt, Mrs. W. (William) (Annie Schneider) Stone. His mother died in 1922 from childbirth complications when he was not yet four. His aunt was a widow, and she and her brother (my grandfather, Michael Schneider, Sr.) combined their households. daddy ration couponRestaurant ration coupon dated June 1944.  One of three that my father brought home in 1946 from Europe. And with that, I conclude my “show and tell” of my daddy’s serving his country in World War II. I have one more photo to offer, the only one I own of both my father and me. It was taken on August 8, 1967. I was eight days old:  My daddy holding me when I was five days old. I loved my daddy and am pleased to have been able to offer my readers this posthumous tribute. Happy Memorial Day to all.

Scandal Exhaustion

Listening to President Obama respond on May 21 to the latest scandal regarding something about which he knew and did nothing—the mess at the Veterans Administration—was such a familiar event that I have reached a point of exhaustion trying to keep up with everything that has been so wrong about his six years in office. As he always does, he said was really angry about it.

Writing in the May 20 Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin said, “Forget ideology for a moment. Whether you are liberal or conservative, the Obama presidency’s parade of miscues is jaw-dropping.”

Stacked against the list of Obama scandals and failures, Rubin could only cite the Bush administration’s 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina, the seventh most intense ever, and, as anyone familiar with that event will tell you, the failure of FEMA’s response was matched by the failures of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and the New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had declared a national emergency two days before it hit the Gulf coast.

Rubin concluded that the Obama administration scandals “reflect the most widespread failure of executive leadership since the Harding administration”, adding “The presidency is an executive job. We hire neophytes at our peril. When there is an atmosphere in which accountability is not stressed you get more scandals and fiascos.”

Obama spent his entire first term blaming all such things on his predecessor, George W. Bush, until it became a joke.

One has to wonder about the effect of the endless succession of scandals and fiascos have had on Americans as individuals and the nation as a whole.

While it is easier to lay all the blame on Obama, the fact is that much of the blame is the result of a federal government that is so big no President could possibly know about the countless programs being undertaken within its departments and agencies, and all the Presidents dating back to Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive initiatives have played a role in growing the government.

It is, however, the President who selects the cabinet members responsible to manage the departments as well as those appointed to manage the various agencies. Kathleen Sebelius, the recently resigned former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the implementation of Obamacare, comes to mind. She had solicited donations—against the law—from the companies HHS regulates to help her sign up uninsured Americans for Obamacare and signed off on the millions spent on HealthCare.gov and other expenses leading up to its start.

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For a larger view click on the graphic.

There are lists of the Obama scandals you can Google. One that continues to fester is the attack on September 11, 2012—the anniversary of 9/11—that killed an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya. It has been and continues to be investigated, mostly because of the lies told by Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of “What difference at this point does it make?” fame. Clinton was asked what she had accomplished in her four years as Secretary and was unable to name anything.

Eric Holder, our Attorney General, continues in office despite having been held in contempt of Congress, professing that he knew nothing about “Fast and Furious”, the earliest scandal involving a gun-running scheme to Mexican drug cartels by the ATF presumably to track them, but they lost track and many were used in crimes including the killing of a Border Patrol agent.

Holder also told Congress that he was not associated with the “potential prosecution” of a journalist even though he had signed the affidavit that named Fox News reporter, James Rosen. as a potential criminal. Holder was also in charge when the Justice Department culled the phone records of Associated Press reporters to find out who they deemed was leaking information.

Keeping track of the solar power and other “renewable” and “Green” energy companies like Solyndra that received millions in grants and then rather swiftly went bankrupt became a fulltime effort and, of course, there was the “stimulus” that wasted billions without generating any “shovel ready jobs” qualifies as a fiasco.

In the midst of the recession that was triggered by the 2008 financial crisis various elements of the Obama administration continued to spend money in ways that suggested their indifference. In 2010 the General Services Administration held a $823,000 training conference in Las Vegas, complete with a clown and mind readers.

An Agriculture Department program to compensate black farmers who allegedly had been discriminated against by the agency turned into a gravy train that delivered several billion dollars to thousands of recipients, some of whom probably had not encountered discrimination.

The Veterans Affairs agency made news when it spent more than $6 million on two conferences in Orlando, Florida, and is back in the news for revelations about alleged falsified records concerning the waiting times veterans faced amidst assertions that many died while waiting for treatment surfaced. This was a problem of which the then-Senator Obama was already aware, but six years into his presidency it still existed despite his early promises to fix it.

Obama has been the biggest of Big Government Presidents since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, and Obamacare put the federal government in control of one sixth of the nation’s economy while putting the government in charge of the care Americans expect to receive. Obamacare will dwarf the problems associated with the Veterans agency.

Meanwhile, we have been living with a President who is so indifferent to working with Congress that he has gained fame for his use of executive orders such as the decision to not deport illegal immigrants. His aides have promised more executive orders.

All this over the course of the last six years has left Americans exhausted by the incompetence and wastefulness of an administration that now presides over the highest national debt in the history of the nation and the first ever downgrade of our credit rating.

It has also left them angry if they were conservatives and disillusioned if they were Obama supporters. The Veterans Administration scandal is likely a tipping point for the independent voters and even for longtime Democrats who will want a change.

It is increasingly likely that the November midterm elections give the Republican Party control over the Senate as well as the House and then to hope that it will begin to rein in the spending and save the nation from a financial collapse that will rival the one in 2008.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

USPS Drinks the Harvey Milk Kool-Aid — Awards stamp to “Degenerate Homosexual Icon”

Candice Naranjo from KRON 4 reports, “Long lines have formed in front of a U.S. Post Office in San Francisco’s Castro District this morning as supporters of assassinated city Supervisor Harvey Milk rush to get a stamp dedicated to the gay rights leader, a postal service spokesman said. The stamp with Milk’s laughing face, name and a small strip of the rainbow flag, first became available this morning at post offices throughout San Francisco and nationwide.”

Americans  For Truth About Homosexuality noted in an email, “USPS Awards stamp to degenerate homosexual icon, Harvey Milk–who was big supporter of murderous cult leader Jim Jones. No problem that as a 33-year-old man, Milk had an illegal sexual relationship with a 16-year-old runaway boy! (Imagine if you were the boy’s dad or mom or grandparent.).”

The American Family Association reports, “The Harvey Milk stamp was a result of seven years of lobbying by a self-described drag queen (a biological man with implanted breasts) and former transsexual prostitute Nicole Murray Ramirez of San Diego.”

Watch the White House “Harvey Milk stamp” ceremony:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/joJAqZe7ZaU[/youtube]

 

Question: Why honor Harvey Milk rather than Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens? Milk was a minor figure, Ambassador Stevens was a Presidential appointee and died in service to the nation.

In the byline to his San Francisco City Journal column “Drinking Harvey Milk’s Kool-Aid” Daniel J. Flynn states, “Lionized by Hollywood and California state legislators, the real Milk was a demagogue and pal of Jim Jones.”

Flynn writes:

Milk makes a rather unremarkable subject for the silver screen. In his seven years in San Francisco, he made four bids for elective office, only emerging victorious in his last—a 1977 run for city supervisor. For his persistence, Milk jokingly referred to himself as the “gay Harold Stassen.” He served for less than a year. In naming the onetime camera-shop proprietor one of the 100 most important people of the twentieth century, Time conceded, “As a supervisor, Milk sponsored only two laws—predictably, one barring anti-gay discrimination, and, less so, a law forcing dog owners to clean pets’ messes from sidewalks.” Eleven months on the city council hardly seems the stuff of Hollywood legend. So Hollywood invented a legend.

Rather than the gentle, soft-spoken idealist portrayed by Sean Penn, the real Harvey Milk was a short-tempered demagogue who cynically invented stories of victim hood to advance his political career. During his successful run for city supervisor, for instance, Milk’s camera store was the object of a glass-shattering attack by low-grade explosives. Milk blamed singer Anita Bryant, the outspoken opponent of gay-friendly legislation. “Years later friends hinted broadly that Harvey had more than a little foreknowledge that the explosions would happen,” biographer Randy Shilts noted. One friend explained to Shilts: “You gotta realize the campaign was sort of going slow, and, well . . .”

[ … ]

Milk was far more cavalier about the privacy of others than he was about his own. When Bill Sipple became a national hero for tackling gun-toting kook Sara Jane Moore before she could kill President Gerald Ford in 1975, Milk anonymously leaked news of the former Marine’s homosexuality to the media. “It’s too good an opportunity,” Milk reasoned. “For once we can show that gays do heroic things.” Just as Milk anticipated the “outing” tactics of ACT-Up and Queer Nation, his rhetoric, too, foreshadowed the hyperbole of AIDS activists of the following decade. Milk liberally tossed the “Nazi” label at opponents of various gay-rights proposals and even compared politically moderate homosexuals to Nazi collaborators. “We are not going to allow our rights to be taken away and then march with bowed heads into the gas chambers,” Milk proclaimed at 1978’s Gay Freedom Parade in San Francisco.

But Harvey Milk’s homosexuality played about as much of a role in his murder as San Francisco mayor George Moscone’s heterosexuality played in his. Their murderer, troubled political neophyte Dan White, had donated $100 to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have empowered school boards to fire teachers for homosexuality. White hired a homosexual as his campaign manager and voted as a city supervisor to fund a Pride Center for homosexuals. White wasn’t driven to murder by Milk’s vision of gay rights but rather by something more pedestrian: the petty politics of City Hall. What makes for good history doesn’t always lend itself to good theater.

[ … ]

Nine days prior to Milk’s death, more than 900 followers of Jim Jones—many of them campaign workers for Milk—perished in the most ghastly set of murder-suicides in modern history. Before the congregants of the Peoples Temple drank Jim Jones’s deadly Kool-Aid, Harvey Milk and much of San Francisco’s ruling class had already figuratively imbibed. Milk occasionally spoke at Jones’s San Francisco–based headquarters, promoted Jones through his newspaper columns, and defended the Peoples Temple from its growing legion of critics. Jones provided conscripted “volunteers” for Milk’s campaigns to distribute leaflets by the tens of thousands. Milk returned the favor by abusing his position of public trust on behalf of Jones’s criminal endeavors.

“Rev. Jones is widely known in the minority communities here and elsewhere as a man of the highest character, who has undertaken constructive remedies for social problems which have been amazing in their scope and effectiveness,” Supervisor Milk wrote President Jimmy Carter seven months before the Jonestown carnage. The purpose of Milk’s letter was to aid and abet his powerful supporter’s abduction of a six-year-old boy. Milk’s missive to the president prophetically continued: “Not only is the life of a child at stake, who currently has loving and protective parents in the Rev. and Mrs. Jones, but our official relations with Guyana could stand to be jeopardized, to the potentially great embarrassment of our State Department.” John Stoen, the boy whose actual parents Milk libeled to the president as purveyors of “bold-faced lies” and blackmail attempts, perished at Jonestown. This, the only remarkable episode in Milk’s brief tenure on the San Francisco board of supervisors, is swept under the rug by his hagiographers.

Is Harvey Milk deserving of recognition by the United States Postal Service? We report you decide.

EDITORS NOTE: Daniel J. Flynn, the author of A Conservative History of the American Left, blogs at www.FlynnFiles.com. The featured image is courtesy of KRON 4

Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition by George C. Leef

Drug Prohibition Is Deadly.

In perhaps no other public-policy question is the United States more hopelessly in the grip of a conventional wisdom that is utterly and egregiously wrong than drugs. Most Americans, no matter their political affiliation, are adamant supporters of the “war on drugs.” Try suggesting that the war might be stupendous folly and you’ll most likely run into vehement opposition replete with ad hominem attacks.

It is hard to get people to examine their ideas—“prejudices” might be a better word—about drugs, but in Drug War Crimes, Boston University economics professor Jeffrey Miron has put into the public discourse an attack on the conventional wisdom that is impossible for any serious-minded person to brush off. Written with a professional economist’s careful attention to costs and benefits, both seen and unseen, the book relentlessly challenges all the beliefs that support the criminalization of drugs.

Miron begins by toting up some of the principal costs of our anti-drug crusade. Government spends more than $33 billion annually on it. Arrests for drug-related infractions exceed 1.5 million per year. The United States now has well in excess of 300,000 people behind bars for drug violations. If they’re even aware of the cost, drug-war supporters contend that we would experience a disastrous rise in drug use—which is assumed to be a life-ruining event—and therefore worth it. Prohibitionists assert that “drug use causes crime, diminishes health and productivity, encourages driving and industrial accidents, exacerbates poverty, supports terrorism and contributes generally to societal decay,” Miron writes. Those beliefs are carefully reinforced by spokesmen for the drug war. Our author takes on all those claims and shows them to be erroneous.

Consider, for example, the widely held idea that drug use causes crime. Statistics show that in 35 cities monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2000, at least 50 percent of adult men arrested for crimes tested positive for drugs. That’s enough to frighten the typical citizen into supporting the drug war. After all, who wants more crime? But Miron points out that those statistics don’t show that drug usage causes criminal behavior or that the arrestees were under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime. “The methodology used in these analyses would also demonstrate that consumption of fast food or wearing blue jeans causes criminal behavior,” Miron observes with appropriate sarcasm.

Another mistaken belief that leads to support for the drug war is that any drug use almost inevitably leads to addiction and an increasingly dissolute life. That notion causes people to view drug use as so dangerous as to warrant the extreme measures the government employs in its attempt to prevent anyone from using any illegal drug in any amount. Miron shows that belief to be unfounded. Drug use may be addictive, but is not necessarily so and many drug users lead perfectly normal lives. True, some users suffer adverse health consequences, but, the author observes, “A critical problem with standard depictions of the health consequences of drug use is reliance on data sources that are systematically biased toward those who suffer the worst consequences.”

For all our costly enforcement efforts, Miron shows that drug prohibition has little impact on the incidence of drug use, mainly because drug producers and sellers can evade law enforcement so easily. Yet the costs extend beyond the obvious ones already mentioned. One of them is increased racial tension because drug enforcement is so often targeted at minority areas.

Another is a great increase in violence. Miron argues that without drug prohibition, homicide rates in the United States would fall by half. A third is the non-availability of drugs, particularly marijuana, for medical reasons, thus causing much avoidable pain and suffering. By the time our author is done with his analysis of costs and benefits, it is clear that the war on drugs is an exceedingly foolish policy.

Miron advocates legalization rather than any of the halfway alternatives sometimes advanced. He concludes by saying, “American tradition should make legalization—i.e., liberty—the preferred policy, barring compelling evidence prohibition generates benefits in excess of its costs. As I have demonstrated here, a serious weighing of the evidence shows instead that prohibition has enormous costs with, at best, modest and speculative benefits. Liberty and utility thus both recommend that prohibition end now: the goals of prohibition are questionable, the methods are unsound, and the results are deadly.”

ABOUT GEORGE C. LEEF

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Drug Addicts As Rational Actors by Cathy Reisenwitz

Rethinking the science of addiction.

How do you justify taking away someone’s agency? The easiest way is to claim they didn’t have it in the first place.

For a long time, both popular media and information sources on the subject have depicted drug addicts as zombies incapable of making rational choices. Helpguide.org describes drug addiction as causing “changes in your brain,” which “interfere with your ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, [and] control your behavior.”

Drug use and addiction are a lot more complicated than what we get in most policy debates. These debates are more often driven by political incentives and personal biases than actual evidence. We’ll return to this evidence in a moment. Right now, let’s unpack this “national conversation” a little more.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.”

This view is fairly representative. The focus of this accepted wisdom is often about how the brains of addicts are different from those of non-addicts, which gives rise to the idea that if you alter the addict’s brain with substances, you alter his or her behavior.

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims “drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse.” Its website describes addiction as “a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use.”
  • This view is shared by the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to its Drugs of Abuse 2011 resource guide, “Addiction is defined as compulsive drug-seeking behavior where acquiring and using a drug becomes the most important activity in the user’s life. This definition implies a loss of control regarding drug use, and the addict will continue to use a drug despite serious medical and/or social consequences.”

And all these statements seem uncontroversial until you get to the fundamental question: Do drug addicts lose their agency—that is, their ability to make rational choices?

The prevailing view is that addicts simply lack free will.

But as ubiquitous as the view might be, it’s actually a pretty recent development in thinking about addiction. “Historically speaking, the idea of addiction as a brain disease is a very new one,” according to the University of Utah’s Health Sciences department. “People once saw addiction as a personality flaw and a sign of weakness. This stigma persists in society today and is a major challenge for addicts and the people who treat them.” Is it a challenge? Could there be some wisdom in the idea that one is able to find the strength to make better decisions?

In many ways, viewing addicts as victims who need help has improved outcomes and led to better addiction treatment options. However, the view that addicts lack free will no doubt contributes to wrongheaded ideas on the right and left. For those on the right, it is morally permissible to lock up drug offenders; on the left, it’s fashionable to think of addiction as a blanket public health problem requiring more State resources for more clinics and more social workers.

But what if addiction didn’t mean addicts have no choice? Maybe it really means something closer to this: The addict chooses to use drugs when others wouldn’t. In other words, that decision-making process varies from user to user and from addict to addict in nuanced ways. But it’s still a decision-making process.

For years, Dr. Carl Hart has been bringing drug addicts into the lab and giving them choices. Would you rather have some crack now or $20 later? It’s like a grimier version of the marshmallow tests for kids. And he’s been continually surprised at how rational those choices are. Addicts will often give up more doses of crack for $5 in cash or a voucher. Every meth and crack addict took $20 when offered.

Video of the marshmallow test for kids:

Besides the implications this finding has for how to treat addiction, it also raises questions about the ethical implications and underpinnings of incarcerating addicts and casual users alike.

No doubt the view of addiction as reducing rational actors to agency-less drug-craving automata opens up several ways to evade the questions surrounding whether or not it’s ethical to lock someone for ingesting a certain substance. Put another way, the evasion comes precisely in pegging social costs like crime to that purported lack of agency. So, in some quarters, the rationale goes: They have to be locked up because they’ll just do anything to get their drugs.

On the other hand, a similar premise can justify requesting expanded budgets to finance less punitive public health measures. And neither of these justifications is always and in every case wrong. Certainly,some addicts make poor life choices, engage in criminal activity, and impose social costs due in great part to their addictions. But Hart’s work demonstrates that conventional wisdom and popular media tropes get the zombie premise wrong: People are still agents.

In addition, the no-agency view has helped policymakers sidestep the issues of how genetic, environmental, and societal factors can all influence addictive and drug-seeking behaviors. Remember the infamous studies showing drug-addicted rats pushing the button for drugs until they literally starved themselves to death? Dr. Hart’s research is exposing the full picture of that study, too, along with some startling implications for humans if said rats are suitable analogs.

“The rats that keep pressing the lever for cocaine are the ones who are stressed out because they’ve been raised in solitary conditions and have no other options,” Dr. Hart said. “But when you enrich their environment, and give them access to sweets and let them play with other rats, they stop pressing the lever.”

“The key factor is the environment, whether you’re talking about humans or rats,” he said.

If drug-addicted humans and rats have more agency than we realized, are cages and clinical complexes the most ethical response? Treating people as agents again could change the way we think about controlling the social costs of addiction.

RELATED RESOURCE: Rehab for Teens: Your Best Options

ABOUT CATHY REISENWITZ

Cathy Reisenwitz is an associate at Young Voices and editor-in-chief of Sex and the State. She will be speaking at the FEE summer seminar “Are Markets Just? Exploring the Social Significance of a Free Economy.”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Terrorist Attack on Brussels Jewish Museum Triggered by “Climate of Hate”

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Policemen close the access of the scene of a shooting near the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 24, 2014. Three people were killed and one badly injured in a shooting Saturday near the Jewish Museum in Brussels. (Photo credit: AFP/ Belga Photo/NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

Reports have just come in  about a possible terrorist attack on The Jewish Museum in Brussels by a perpetrator and accomplice, one of whom  entered the lobby and shot dead two men and a woman seriously injuring a fourth person.. The attack took place in mid afternoon, GMT, not far from the EU headquarters in Belgium’s Capital city.  The Jewish Museum, which is not operated by the country’s Jewish community, was open on Saturday and is located in the antique district popular with visitors.

The recent ADL Global 100 Index of Antisemitism indicated that an estimated 27% of Belgians evinced some form of Antisemitism. Belgium has a large emigre Muslim community. A 2008  study  estimated that  6% of Belgian’s population, 628,751 were Muslim.  A November 2012 Gatestone Institute article by Soeren Kern, “Belgium Will Become an Islamic State” drew attention to Muslim dominance in Brussels, noting:

Speaking to a reporter from Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), the public broadcasting service of the French-speaking part of Belgium, Ahrouch said: “The agenda is still the same, but our approach is different now. I think we have to sensitize people, make them understand the advantages to having Islamic people and Islamic laws. And then it will be completely natural to have Islamic laws and we will become an Islamic state.”

The reporter interjected: “An Islamic State in Belgium?” Ahrouch replied: “In Belgium, of course! I am for the Sharia. Islamic law, I am for it. It is a long-term struggle that will take decades or a century, but the movement has been launched.”

The rise of the Islam Party comes amid a burgeoning Muslim population in the Belgian capital. Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of Brussels, according to a book recently published by the Catholic University of Leuven, the top Dutch-language university in Belgium.

In real terms, the number of Muslims in Brussels — where half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live — has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled “Capital of Europe” is one of the most Islamic city in Europe.

Here are excerpts from the Times of Israel report, ‘Climate of hate’ blamed for attack on Brussels Jewish museum that kills 3″:

The murder of three people at the Brussels Jewish Museum Saturday afternoon was a result of “a climate of hate,” said Joel Rubinfeld, the head of the Belgian League against anti-Semitism.

Rubinfeld told AFP it clearly “is a terrorist act” as a man had been seen driving up and entering the museum before opening fire inside and running off.

One person remained in critical condition as a result of the shooting. Twelve people were being treated for shock, according to local sources.

“Two women and one man are dead, a third person is in hospital,” Interior Minister Joelle Milquet said at the scene. “We don’t yet know if they were tourists or staff, they haven’t been identified.”

Asked whether she believed it was an anti-Semitic attack, she said it was too early to say as a police and judicial inquiry was under way but that given the target “there are strong grounds for presuming so”.

One man was reported in custody after the attack.

Milquet said the government had moved to increase protection at Jewish buildings as well as the Israeli embassy.

The country’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, tweeted Saturday that he was “shocked by the murders committed at the Jewish museum.”

“I am thinking of the victims I saw there and their families,” he said.

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Forensic experts examine the site of a shooting at the Jewish museum in Brussels, Saturday, May 24, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/Yves Logghe)

The La Libre newspaper said on its website that an Audi had driven up and parked outside the museum, and that both a passenger and the driver had gotten out.

It said the driver placed two bags on the ground and then opened fire on bystanders before driving off.

“A person wearing a backpack was seen opening fire before fleeing,” Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF) reported [in French].

Police and emergency services were at the site, which was blocked off in the Belgian capital.

The Jewish Museum of Belgium, which was not answering calls, is located in the heart of the Sablon district which is home to the city’s top antique dealers. The area is a popular weekend haunt for shoppers.

The museum is not run by the Jewish community, and is therefore open on Saturdays. There were visitors at the museum at the time of the shooting.

The head of Belgium’s Jewish Consistory told La Libre that “is is probably a terrorist act. For us it is an extremely serious act.”

Read more: ‘Climate of hate’ blamed for attack on Brussels Jewish museum that kills 3 | The Times of Israel

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RELATED STORY: Tel Aviv Couple Among Four Dead in Attack on Brussels Jewish Museum

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Training our Soldiers to be Godless

“[T]he spiritual and moral health of the Armed Forces is a vital element in our national security.” – President Harry S. Truman, December 20, 1946.

During the 1950s and early 1960s a US Army lesson plan titled “One Nation Under God” listed two objectives: “To help the individual [soldier] to understand the effect of faith in a Supreme Being has had on the origin and development of our country” and “To lead the individual [soldier] to a recognition of the importance of the spiritual element in his training.” The fifty-minute lecture to all Army soldiers aimed at proving that “We as a nation are DEPENDENT upon and RESPONSIBLE to Almighty God.”

Today, there is a growing concern among former military leaders that the United States military is becoming more and more secular and therefore Godless. In 1998 Kathleen Johnson an Army Sergeant First Class founded the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF). The group’s early efforts included letter writing campaigns reminding public figures such as Tom Brokaw not to use the phrase, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

There are growing indications that the US military is being used as a “social petri dish” to further short term political agendas versus address growing kinetic national security threats from Iran, Russia, China, North Africa and Syria. Recent examples of this accelerating trend include:

  • Declaring climate change as a national security priority. In May 2014 the CNA Corporation’s Military Advisory Board issued the report National Security and the Accelerating Risks. The report states, “It is through this [CNA] analytical prism that 11 retired Generals and Admirals came together in 2007, under the moniker of CNA’s Military Advisory Board, to examine the security implications of climate change. Their landmark report, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, was the first time that such an elite body of military leaders expressed their concern over the security implications of climate change.”
  • The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by the US Congress in 2010. Dr. Judith Reisman reported that in the US military  in 2013 there were confirmed  10,700 rapes of men by men. Historically, only 17% of rapes are ever reported indicating that the number of men raped by men can be over 63,000 of the 1.2 million men in the military.
  • The growing restrictions placed upon both military chaplains and those in uniform on when, where and how they may proselytize and pray. The Thomas More Law Center released a video showing members of the US Armed Forces speaking out about the culture of fear and intimidation in the US military that is forcing Christian soldiers to hide their faith.
  • The de-funding of the US military as part of the sequestration imposed by Congress. Sequestration led former Congressman and Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, US Army (Ret.)  to ask, “So, as we decimate our military, cut retiree and veteran benefits, and cut benefits to our military families, [while] we are arming federal agencies. Why?”
  • The changes, over time, to the Rules of Engagement (ROE) that allows our military to function effectively in a hostile environment. Capt. Joseph John, USN/FBI (Ret) wrote, “Two well-known losses of combat personnel are examples of how the imposition of the new and ‘dangerous’ ROE forced on combat personnel increased the dangerous environment on the battlefield.  The first example was depicted in the movie ‘Lone Survivor’ where the fear of being charged by civilians in the Pentagon with war crimes, if they silenced a hostile Afghan, resulted in compromising an entire operation and resulted in the death of 3 SEALs.  The second event, Extortion 17, occurred because the request for suppression fire at a landing zone, that used to be normally approved to allow a helicopter to land in a hot zone, was denied by senior commanders because of the new and ‘dangerous’ ROE.  That lack of support resulted in the loss of 48 military personnel flying on Extortion 17 (those killed included 16 members of SEAL Team SIX, 20 Spec Ops Warriors, 5 helo crew members, and 7 Afghan military allies); Extortion 17 was the largest loss of life of US military personnel in one day in the 13 year history of combat operations in Afghanistan.  There have been thousands of incidents over the last 5 years that resulted in casualties that could have been avoided, if the “standard” ROE were being employed.

Each of these issues, and others such as the growing numbers of military suicides and cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, raise a red flag that the US military has lost its character and moral compass.

It appears God has been removed from the soldier, Godlessness is becoming the norm.

This is not a new issue. In the July 2000 Journal of Military History column Character Education in the U.S. Army, 1947-1977, Anne C. Loveland wrote,  “In 1947, amidst great fanfare, the US Army activated and experimental unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky, made up of 664 young men between the ages of 17 and 20 (average age 17 1/2). Since the autumn of 1945, the Truman Administration had been pressing Congress to institute universal military training (UMT), and the Fort Know unit was set up to demonstrate the kind of instruction it would involve… But the most publicized aspect of the experiment was the program of moral, religious, and citizenship instruction administered by three chaplains who delivered fifty-minute lectures on such subjects as ‘The Ten Commandments,’ ‘Grounds for Moral Conduct,’ ‘Purity in Thought, Word and Deed,’ ‘Marriage as a Sacred Institution,’ The Citizen and Morality,’ and ‘Citizen and Honesty’.”

“The program developed for the Fort Knox experimental unit and subsequently expanded to the Army as a whole emphasized three inter-dependent components: religion, character building, and citizenship,” notes Loveland. “Army publications explicitly stated the religious basis of Character guidance, pointed out that the principles the chaplains taught came from God. A lecture entitled ‘Natural Law’ and ‘Moral Law’ concluded with the declaration that ‘our chief responsibly as moral beings is toward God.”

Over time Loveland reports that there was push back against character and morals training by unit commanders, who wanted the time spent on unit training. Loveland writes, “Whatever the reason for it, it is clear that chaplain disaffection played as important a role as command resistance in undermining character education in the 1970s. In 1977, the Army officially discontinued the already moribund Human Self Development program [which replaced moral and character programs]. Thus ended the Army’s thirty-year experiment in character education.”

Loveland concludes, “If the concern with national preparedness in the 1940s impelled Army leaders to institute character education, the decision to end the draft in 1973 hastened the demise of the program. In the early 1970s, when Army leaders began planning implementation of the all-volunteer force, they decided to deemphasize the existing character education program. With public approval of the draft no longer a concern, they sidelined a program designed to inculcate personal and civic values in an army of citizen-soldiers, relying instead on a revitalized military ethic to teach the values and behavior of professional soldiers.”

I submit that the values and behaviors of professional soldiers are not comparable to the character and morals of citizen soldiers. The question is: Do we now have a Godless military?

RELATED ARTICLES:

Plan Would Let Transgender People Serve Openly in Military

The Case for Military Prayer

Alaska’s Joint Army-Air Force Base Promotes, Sponsors First Drag Queen Event for Families, Children

The following are part of a collection of articles from the Air Force Law Review 2007, 59 A.F. L. Rev. 1

Religion in the Military: Navigating the channel between the religion clauses
Katcoff v. Marsh at twenty-one: The Military Chaplaincy and the Separation of Church and State
“Religion and the US Military” After Dinner Speech for the International Symposium on Military Ethics Springfield, VA on January 25, 2007
Evangelical Proselytizing at the U.S. Air Force Academy: The Civilian-Military Controversy, 2004-2006
Jesus killed Mohammed: The crusade for a Christian military By Jeff Sharlet
Pastoral Care in a New Public: Lessons Learned in the Public Square

Austrian Elisabeth Sabditsch-Woff Speaks at March For Persecuted Christians in Orlando, FL

On May 17, 2014 200+ people participated in a Prayer March For Persecuted Christians. Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff held a similar March For Persecuted Christians in Austria which was the inspiration for this one. Rev. Bruce Lieske attended the March in Austria inspiring him to do the same here in Orlando, FL

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Frontpage Magazine writes, “Sabaditsch-Wolff discussed her own well-publicized ordeals and subsequent activism stemming from criticizing Islam, a faith described by her as a “religion of peace” that “is not really peaceful to those who speak the truth.” Daughter of a diplomat, she had already developed reservations about Islam during her childhood stay in Iran right before the 1978-1979 revolution. During her diplomatic tenure, postings to Kuwait encompassing the 1990 Iraq invasion and to Libya where she saw her landlord on September 11, 2001, blame the Jews for Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks that day only increased these concerns.
The controversy surrounding Sabaditsch-Wolff began with her comments before an October 2009 Vienna seminar of the rightwing Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs or FPÖ). Discussing canonical accounts of Islam’s mid-50s prophet Muhammad consummating a marriage with a nine-year old Aisha, Sabaditsch-Wolff asked “what do you call” this “if not pedophilia?” Subsequently, Sabaditsch-Wolff received hate speech charges under Section 283 of the Austrian Criminal Code.

The trial found insufficient evidence for the Section 283 charge. Yet the judge’s initiative brought a Section 188 charge against the denigration of recognized religions, resulting in a 480 Euro fine on February 15, 2011, later upheld. Thus Sabaditsch-Wolff concluded that under Europe’s various speech restrictions “you may not call a spade a spade” with respect to Islam.

This ordeal made Sabaditsch-Wolff devote herself to opposing Islamic totalitarianism, with her main “playground” the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This 1975-founded non-treaty organization “many people have never heard of” contains 57 states, including the United States and Canada, formulating various legally non-binding agreements in the areas of security, economics, and human rights. Here Sabaditsch-Wolff focuses on the OSCE’s Human Dimension covering human rights, in particular the Warsaw-based Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Thank you to Elisabeth for traveling all the way from Austria in support of our Prayer March For Persecuted Christians.

“LGBT” Teachers Conference in Boston – Part II: Pushing ‘Gay’ clubs in Middle Schools

The latest push: “Gay” clubs for kids in middle schools. Here’s how they get them in — and what comes with them.

The homosexual-transgender movement is working hard to indoctrinate schoolchildren as young as possible. By far, the most effective way is to get them into school-based “gay” clubs that are run by activist, often radical, adults, but though otherwise unsupervised. They have been working at this for several years (see our 2008 report) but are now ramping up their efforts considerably.

We reported last week, on this year’s annual GLSEN Conference in Boston which brought together LGBT teachers, activists, and supportive administrators to discuss their latest tactics for the schools.

A prominent part covered strategies for setting up “gay-straight alliance” (GSA) clubs in as many middle schools as possible, given that most high schools now have them.

Getting kids to feel involved — especially middle school students — is a major tactic of the LGBT movement. These buttons were given out at the GLSEN Conference in Boston.

At that conference, there were kids as young as 11 and 12, and that younger age group was clearly the focus of much of the conference.

Middle school student gives speech at LGBT conference opening session

Middle school are such an important target that GLSEN recruited an activist “LGBT” middle school student to address the conference’s opening session. She said she’s bisexual (in middle school!) and that her sister is lesbian.

The girl spoke about how she helped organize the “Day of Silence” in her middle school. She said that one teacher was reluctant to put up the posters because of parent conferences that evening, saying that parents might not be comfortable seeing it. The girl labeled the teacher “ignorant” and said the teacher is “no longer working at the school” (which brought a cheer).

She added that “kids are figuring out who they are younger than ever” (i.e., being persuaded to self-identify as L, G, B, or T) and that “we need to create a safe environment for them in the lower grades.” This was a mantra that was repeated again and again in the conference. (“Safe environment” is the Orwellian term for a school that aggressively enforces pro-“LGBT” sexual ideology and suppresses all dissent.)

Given that middle school students would not have these ideas and talking points on their own, this shows how well the adult activists instruct them.

Helping kids be “safe” at school is the Orwellian term for aggressively enforcing pro-“LGBT” sexual ideology — and more importantly, suppressing all dissent. In particular, it’s used very effectively to confront any criticism by adults, including parents.

The workshop: “Starting a Middle School GSA”

The LGBT movement is getting serious about the lower grades. One of the prominent workshops at the GLSEN conference was “Starting a Middle School GSA.”

At first glance, a “gay” club for middle school students would seem beyond something even most liberals would buy into. But that’s simply another challenge for the movement to overcome. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that ANY “gay” club at all, even in high school, was beyond the pale.

Here is how the conference program listed it:

3.1 Starting a Middle School GSA: A Sustainable, Grassroots Approach
Practical advice and encouragement for students, staff, parents and community members who would like to establish a sustainable GSA in their local middle school.

Presenter(s): Anna Watson, Friends of the Ottoson Middle School [Arlington, MA] GSA

This workshop gave step-by-step instructions by a seasoned activist.

The presenter, Anna Watson, started out by saying that she believes that “coming out” is a “life-saving adventure” and that kids are coming out at younger and younger ages. Thus, they need support groups to help them do that.

She told the workshop attendees that she has been an “LGBTQ” activist and organizer for several years. In particular, she is interested in starting GSA-type groups for young people.

“Queering the ‘Burbs Since 1992.”  Anna Watson gave out this card at the workshop. She is no casual activist, obviously.

She said that in city schools there are lots of GSAs, but it’s different in the suburbs. This is likely because the parents are more attentive to what’s happening in the schools. She used the term “suburban gap” and said that just a few people with a lot of energy can make it happen.

The strategy: Build up incrementally then hit with petition!

Her goal at the Ottoson Middle School in Arlington, Mass., was to put in a GSA with “permanent club” status — with a line item in the school budget for financial support.

At first, the principal was resistant, even though Arlington is a very liberal town.

The homosexual movement has found that a very effective approach for overcoming resistant school officials is using a petition as a pressure tactic, along with other maneuvers.

Watson’s tactic was to do incremental, smaller things to set up an informal GSA and have it become active as much as possible in the school. They would get everything else in place so that there would be no procedural or other excuse not to allow it. Then they would go over the head of the principal and blitz the superintendent with a petition — with as large a force as necessary — to push it over the top with a demand it be given permanent “club” status in the school.

The Petition presented to the Superintendent (and Anna Watson’s timeline of events)

That strategy worked perfectly. Here’s the timeline of events that Watson described:

1. Starting in the fall of 2010, Watson began discussing it with the principal. Since the principal had an interest in anti-bullying, Watson positioned it as an anti-bullying group.
2. Spring 2011: Watson established an “informal” GSA group at the school that met every other week. She submitted a grant to the local “Arlington Education Fund” for funding.
3. Fall 2011: The grant was awarded from the local group. The GSA’s outside activities, including a stipend to the adult staff advisor, were now funded and it started meeting every week.
4. Spring 2012: The GSA began giving out “Human Rights” awards to students at the school. They also attended the GLSEN Conference that year, brought in “educational” groups, and established a “peer leader” program in the school.
5. Fall 2012: They persuaded the principal’s discretionary fund, the PTO, and the Parent Advisory Council to give the GSA funding. They also had volunteers raise money in the community.
6. Fall 2013: The petition was put together and formally presented to the Superintendent, accompanied by a lot of pressure.  The superintendent easily capitulated and granted the GSA permanent club status and a budget item in the school budget. They achieved their goals.

The principal and any other staff who might have been resistant were completely steamrolled. It’s a strategy that can be replicated at other schools where there is any significant resistance.

Other comments at the workshop

Many of the other people at the workshop were experienced GSA activists. Some of their remarks and ideas on starting a GSA were interesting:

  • Some schools have made it easier by having a less overt title, such as calling it an “affinity” group rather than a GSA.
  • One person said, “For school clubs, no permission slips are needed. Thus parents do not know. The same is true for GSAs. You don’t have to let your parents know. There is a sort of goodwill around it.”
  • They always say that GSA’s are about “school safety” and suicide prevention. They also remember to make a point to say that GSAs “are not about sex.”
  • One teacher recommended that the GSA follow the GLSEN “Ally week” program. (See more on that below.)

How to get kids to come to their first GSA meeting? Most middle school kids would not normally think of going to a “gay” club. So the LGBT activists use a variety of tricks and misleading tactics. Once the kids are there, it’s easier to persuade or pressure them to keep coming back.

Here are some of the ideas brought up by activists at the workshop:

  • Announcing a “cheese & food” party.
  • Getting the school football coach to come is a great draw for bringing kids to a GSA meeting.
  • One school put up posters with the message: “You don’t have to be gay to be in the GSA.”

For a larger view click on the flyer.

The LGBT movement will use any tactic they can to lure kids into their “gay” clubs for the first time. GLSEN passed out this information at the Conference.

What is Watson’s next project? Apparently, her next goal is to set up AGLY (“Arlington Gay and Lesbian Youth”) which would probably be a youth/adult “gay” club not connected with the school. There are several of those around the state, supported at least in part by taxpayers.

GSAs: A poisonous experience for vulnerable kids

In our experience going back nearly twenty years working with parents and kids, the GSAs in the schools are emotionally poisonous and physically dangerous to vulnerable kids, many of whom have serious psychological issues to deal with. And GSAs are often run by radical “gay” adults who themselves are psychologically dysfunctional.

GSAs persuade students that homosexuality, transgenderism, etc., is perfectly normal to engage in. They take troubled kids and tell them that if they feel “different” or that they “don’t fit in” then they’re probably really “gay” or “transgender.” This causes enormous trauma down the road. We’ve seen that these kinds of “clubs” lead kids into engaging in perverse sexual activities.

Also in GSAs: Indoctrinating kids in radical “queer theory” as “LGBT allies”

But additionally, a purpose of GSAs is to indoctrinate the kids (including those calling themselves “straight”) in the radical ideas of the LGBT movement, which they term “queer theory.” Most people are not aware just how extreme this is. Then the GSA leaders have the kids spread those ideas to the rest of the school through events like the “Day of Silence”“Gay History Month”, and “Transgender Awareness Day.”

When getting this training, the kids are told that this helps them become “allies” of the LGBTs. The concept of being an “ally” pushed very hard throughout the schools. It becomes another identity for the kids in their fight for so-called social justice.

At the GLSEN Conference, this “training” pamphlet, titled “Ally Packet” was given out. It’s a pretty frightening example of what the LGBT movement teaches children, and what parents know almost nothing about.

“Ally Packet” given out at GLSEN Conference

Here are just a few examples and excerpts from the 8-page pamphlet. THIS is what the LGBT movement is teaching schoolchildren:

What is an Ally?
An ally is a member of the dominant social group who takes a stand against social injustice directed at target group(s) – for example .. . heterosexual individuals who speak out against heterosexism and homophobia. An ally works to be an agenda of social change rather than an agenda of oppression.

Characteristics of an ally
Recognizing that unlearning oppressive beliefs is a lifelong process.

Appropriate Group Terminology
Genderqueer: A term used by individuals, especially transgender youth, who identify as neither male nor female, or as both, and who often seek to blur gender lines.

Appropriate Social Justice Terminology
Gender-Normative Privilege: The benefits and advantages that gender-normative people receive in genderist culture.

Inappropriate Terminology
Homosexual: A clinical term for gay men and sometimes lesbians.
Transvestite: An outdated clinical term for crossdressers.

What are Biphobia, Homophobia, and Transphobia?
Example of Biphobia: Believing that bisexuals are confused or indecisive about their sexuality. Example of Transphobia: Believing that cross-dressing is a sexual perversion or that people who cross-dress do so for sexual gratification.

How to Be an Ally to LGBT People
Validate people’s gender expression. For example, if a person assigned male at birth identifies as female, refer to that person as “she” and use her chosen name.
Educate yourself about LGBT histories, cultures, and concerns.
Support and involve yourself in LGBT organizations and causes.

What is Heterosexual Privilege?
You can belong to the religious denomination of your choice and know that your sexuality will not be denounced by its religious leaders.
You can expect to see people of your sexuality positively presented on nearly every television show and in nearly every movie.

Myths and Realities of LGBT Life
Myth: The majority of child molesters are gay men. Reality: Very few gay men molest children. Myth: Bisexual men are largely responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS to heterosexual women. Reality: This stereotyping of bisexual men ignores the realities of AIDS. It is unsafe sexual practices and needle-sharing behavior, not membership in a particular group, that spreads HIV.

Lots of help from your tax dollars

In Massachusetts, once these “clubs” are set up, they get substantial organizational and financial help from the state. This will likely become more prevalent in other states.

Among other things, the Mass. State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education maintains a staff to make sure that the GSA clubs across the state are properly organized and that the school is cooperating with them. The Department also provides training for GSA adult leaders.

In addition, the state-funded Mass LGBTQ Youth Commission goes into the schools and works directly with students and pushes LGBT programs statewide.

Just the beginning

The GSAs and the “training” are, unfortunately, just the foundation of what the LGBT movement is doing in the nation’s high schools and now, the middle schools.

In upcoming posts we will reveal more from the 2014 GLSEN Conference. As we’ve said, most people are completely uninformed of what the LGBT movement does with schoolchildren . . . and where this leads beyond the school doors.