Florida: A Victory for Human Rights – “Yasmeen’s Law” signed by Governor Scott

May 12, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill to protect the human rights of women and children in the Sunshine State from the intrusion of foreign laws and doctrines undermining fundamental Constitutional rights. There is nothing in the law that Governor Scott signed that mentions Muslims, Sharia, Islam or any other religious or ecclesiastical law. It is facially neutral.

However, the legislation, while based on the American Law for American Courts model law adopted in various forms by six other states, offers in  the Florida version relief to women and children against predatory practices often in violation of federal, state and even international law. One of those foreign laws is Sharia, Islamic law, which controls every aspect of a Muslim’s life, and in all too many cases, the lives of non-Muslim wives and the children of those unions. Under Sharia, a husband, a son and male relatives are deemed to have  absolute control over their wives and children.

Florida Governor Rick Scott

Research conducted by the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and its affiliate the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA) found over two dozen instances in which foreign laws had intruded in family and other matters in both lower and appellate court decisions in Florida. The law signed by Governor Scott, diverged from the American Law for American Courts model developed by incorporating applicable Florida case law to preserve those rights in family law and other matters. This enabled passage and ultimate enactment in the 2014 Tallahassee legislative session.

Yasmeen A. Davis

Video Testimonies about American Child Abductions under Foreign Law

Key to the 2014 legislative success was a graphic message about Shariah’s war on American women and children conveyed in two video interviews we conducted. One was with Margaret McLain, a retired Arkansas State University professor who lost her five-year-old daughter, Heidi, now 16, years earlier to an abduction and removal to Saudi Arabia by her Saudi ex- husband. We had chanced to meet Professor McClain at a Jonesboro ACT! For America Chapter presentation in September 2013. Through Professor McClain, we were introduced to a 28 year old South Florida woman, Yasmeen A. Davis. Ms. Davis had been abducted at age 11 by her mother’s Saudi ex-husband and removed to Saudi Arabia. Yasmeen was mistreated at her father’s residence in the Kingdom because of her refusal to convert to Islam and still bears the effects. Her Saudi father still keeps tabs on her through periodic calls to her from his American lawyers and an ex-FBI agent hired by him. She suffers from the equivalent of PTSD as a result of her experience. Ms. Davis was rescued through the resources of her family at age 13.  Both Professor McClain and Ms. Davis had testified in a series of US House of Representative hearings in 2002 along with a panel of other similarly victimized American parents and children. The hearings were held before the US House of Representatives Government Reform Committee chaired by former Indiana Republican Representative Dan Burton and was televised.

It is our contention that the ALAC legislation enacted in Florida in 2014 might be called Yasmeen’s Law. It is a testament  to the courage and resolve by Ms. Davis and her family to secure her rescue. During our interview with her, she hoped that ALAC might protect other similarly importuned American families in Florida from what she experienced 17 years ago.

Florida Senator Alan Hays

The Phone call that began the battle for enactment of Florida ALAC

Introduction of the model ALAC legislation in the 2011 session was facilitated by Christopher Holton, then VP for Outreach at the CSP and New Orleans lawyer, Stephen M. Gelé, Esq., who headed the APPA.  The sponsors of the model ALAC legislation in the 2011 legislative session in Tallahassee were  Sen. Alan Hays (R- Senate District – 11 Umatilla) in the Senate and Rep. Larry Metz (R-House District- 32 Groveland).  The fact that it took four years after the introduction of the model law in the 2011 Florida legislative session indicated that its fundamental merits survived the deliberative process.

Joseph Sabag, Esq.

A volunteer advisory team that supported this effort resulted from a phone call in January 2012 from Joseph Sabag, Esq.  a politically astute young Southern Florida lawyer who contacted this writer on an unrelated matter.

Florida Christian Coalition Citizen Lobbyists in the State Capitol Rotunda on March 13, 2014

Enter Anthony Verdugo and the Citizen-Lobbyists of the Florida Christian Coalition

The Sabag phone call led to discovery of the citizen lobbying prowess of the Florida Christian Family Coalition (CFC) led by Anthony “Tony” Verdugo. Verdugo had an amazing grasp of the nuances in the Florida legislative process. That was evident his ability to invite Florida Senate and House leaders and a Presidential candidate to the January 2012 CFC Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast. Former US Senate Republican majority leader, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum spoke at the 2012 CFC event before an audience of more than 120 citizen – lobbyists. Verdugo’s group represents 5,000 members in the Sunshine State. His leadership of CFC’s diverse members has successfully obtained passage on a number of social issues.

Anthony Verdugo, Florida Christian Family Coalition

Enter Florida Senator Hays and the Volunteer Advisory Team

Sabag introduced me to Sen. Hays who was the sponsor of the Stand With Israel resolution. At that initial encounter in his Senate office in 2012 we briefly discussed the ALAC bill and underlying issues. The Stand with Israel resolution was passed by the Florida Senate on February 1, 2012 by a resounding bipartisan Senate vote, 39 to 0, while the House version passed on February 29th by 108 to 0.

Out of that success emerged the voluntary advisory team that included Sabag, Christopher Holton,  now with Act! for America, Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, Verdugo of CFC and this writer. The volunteer team worked closely with Sen. Hays and other legislators to conduct research and develop FAQs, training aides, media op-eds, and video presentations.

Although the bill stalled in the 2013 legislative session in Tallahassee, Sen. Alan Hays held a conference call with the advisory team. He noted there was no longer a super majority of Republicans in both chambers, but nevertheless asked, why not make another try in 2014? In 2013, the ALAC bill had once again passed all the House committee referrals and a full chamber vote. On the Senate side under the leadership of Senate President Don Gaetz (R. Senate Dist. 1 – Destin) the bill was referred to four committees, but was prevented from going forward to a final hearing by the Senate Rules Committee, the penultimate stop before a floor vote. The advisory team suggested that to start the process in the 2014 session earlier than normal with legislative planning sessions in the summer of 2013. This was to be followed by bill enrollment and securing a reduced number of committee referrals from the leadership preceding the start of the 60 day legislative session in March 2014.

Christopher Holton, Esq., Act! for America

Overcoming the Opposition to Florida ALAC.

It is said that the legislative process is equivalent to making sausage. Perhaps that analogy may be the pragmatic reality. In 2014 the core message of protection of women and children coupled with research in foreign family laws matters contributed to overcoming vocal opposition from the strange alliance of Muslim advocacy groups and Jewish Defense groups. The  Muslim Advocacy groups  included the Florida and national Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Emerge USAUnited Voices for America, while Jewish defense groups included the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women. They were bolstered by representatives from  both Family and International Law sections of the Florida bar association. The opponents frequently voiced the opinion that the legislation was “unnecessary,” “duplicative,” “ didn’t recognize the competency of the state’s judiciary,” and “prevented foreign investment” in Florida.  At its worst the Muslim opponents resorted to ad hominem attacks accusing bill sponsors of being “Islamophobes,” “racists,” and “bullies.”

Jewish defense groups contended that the legislation would bar recognition of Israeli Rabbinic family law decrees recognized under Florida practice. It was research by a Family Law expert at Tel Aviv University Prof. Daphna Hackner published in a peer reviewed international legal journal that put that to rest. Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, educated in bothJewish Halacha and Sharia Islamic law, with US law degrees and education at the American University in Cairo, enabled him to interpret both religious laws. An Israeli  lawyer and family relation of Rabbi Hausman’s facilitated the connections with Professor Hackner. Rabbi Hausman drafted op-eds and letters to legislators explaining why the change in laws was necessary.

Rabbi  Hausman’s video interview on the legislation and those of Professor McClain and Ms. Davis were loaded into Sen. Hays’  iPad so that he could take them around to show Committee chairs and members during hearings on the measure. The advisory team prepared training presentations, revised FAQs to be used in sessions organized for the 2014 CFC citizen lobbyist day on March 13, 2014. The approximately 100 CFC citizen lobbyists who were bused in to the Tallahassee Doubletree Hotel listened attentively to presentations by Sen. Hays, House sponsor of ALAC, Neil Combee (R. House District 39, Auburndale), and guest speaker Professor McClain. By the end of the day, they secured commitments from 39 Florida legislators.

The Victory for Florida ALAC

After four years of effort in the face of misinformed opposition, an amended version of ALAC passed the Florida Legislature. The Senate sponsor, Senator Alan Hays, said on April 28th when the Senate passed  the measure by a partisan vote of 24 Republicans to 14 Democrats:

I am delighted that my colleagues in the Florida Senate passed SB 386 – The Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases.

It is my fervent desire to make sure everyone in a Florida courtroom is protected from the imposition of any foreign law that may diminish the rights of that person which are afforded by our US and Florida Constitutions. This bill codifies case law to offer those protections and is a welcome addition to the statutes of our state.

I sincerely appreciate the efforts of many others who assisted in the passage of this landmark legislation.

Florida Representative Mike Hill

House Rep. Mike Hill, (R. House District -2 Pensacola), a member of the Subcommittee on Civil Justice, following House passage on April 30th of HB 903 by a vote of 78 Republicans to 40 Democrats, said:

I am honored to join my colleagues and vote ‘yes’ on the bill that passed the Florida House codifying that American law only will be used in Florida courts. It is our duty to do so as I took an oath to protect the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Florida.

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman and I were in the Florida House Public Gallery on Tuesday, April 29th and witnessed the floor debate with questions from opposition Democrats to House bill sponsor Rep. Neil Combee. Misinformed, they persisted in asking why the measure was necessary. Rep. Combee cited both lower court and appellate level cases in which foreign law had been recognized that did not comply with the comity principles under Florida practice as justification for passing the measure.

Stephen M. Gelé, Esq. of the New Orleans law firm of Smith Fawer LLC

Prior to the Senate and House deliberations on  ALAC we suggested to the bill sponsors that the amended version be reviewed by Stephen M. Gelé, Esq. of the New Orleans law firm of Smith Fawer LLC, former Chair of the APPA. Despite his being on vacation, Gelé sent his assessment of the legislation that we received via Christopher Holton of ACT! Gelé wrote:

The Florida Legislature recently passed and Gov. Scott signed into law SB 386, a bill that will help protect Floridians from foreign law that is inconsistent with American values, such as Islamic Sharia law. The law will help protect Florida parents who face loss of their children to a foreign custody judgment; help protect spouses who face unfair foreign judgments of divorce, spousal support, or marital property distributions; help protect parents and spouses from marital contracts (including Islamic marital contracts often named mahrs) that would force decisions regarding child custody, spousal support and marital property distributions to be decided in foreign courts or under foreign law in American courts; and, help protect parents and spouses from having disputes regarding child custody, spousal support and marital property distributions from being dismissed by Florida courts in favor of being decided in foreign courts.

Although American and Florida courts have held in the past that foreign law should not be applied when the foreign law offends public policy, this concept has not previously been strengthened by statute. Further, under current Florida child custody statutes a judge can refuse to enforce a foreign custody judgment only “if the child custody law of a foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.” Unfortunately, statements by the U.S. State Department suggest that “fundamental principles of human rights” should be interpreted more narrowly than most Americans would interpret the phrase. However, ALAC  allows a Florida judge to refuse to enforce a foreign custody judgment under the much broader standard of whether the judgment offends the public policy of Florida.

Therefore, the most important effect of  the law will be to protect parents from losing their children to foreign custody decrees, which has happened before.

Gele’s comments are reflective of a new theme based on the recommendation of Kansas House Speaker Pro TemporeRep. Peg Mast. Mast successfully secured bi-partisan support for passage of ALAC in the 2012 session in Topeka. She suggested emphasizing protection of “fundamental Constitutional rights” for Florida women and children. That meant putting a human face to the theme of the foreign law war on women and children. This was reflected in interviews women, Professor Margaret McClain and Ms. Yasmeen Davis.

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz (R. House District 4 – Shalimar)

Without the dogged determination of the legislation’s sponsors like Sen. Hays and Rep. Combee with the support of advocates in the House Reps. Mike Hill, Larry Metz and Matt Gaetz, what occurred in the final week of the 2014 Florida legislative session might not have happened.

Other important legislation was passed in Tallahassee in the final week of the 2014 session

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Sen. Hays had also deftly maneuvered another measure directed at text book review, SB 864, which passed the Senate with a tally of 21 Republicans to 19 Democrats. The measure reversed State Department of Education control over selection of textbooks returning that role to Florida’s 67 school districts, requiring open public hearing on texts used in courses. SB 864 was largely prompted by objections of parental groups in several Florida counties about the treatment of Islam and Muslim culture in world history textbooks that are on the Florida State Department of Education list of approved texts.

The House passed the amended SB864/HB 921 by a resounding bi-partisan vote.

Florida Representative Larry Metz

Like the experience with ALAC SB 864/HB 921: “on K to 12 instruction materials,” was amended following a conference with both Senate and House sponsors in consultation with the Governor’s office. While it requires clarification that standards of fact-based accurate in world history texts should be adhered to, it also creates a process giving parents an opportunity at school district level to trigger a public hearing. The laws also adds requirements that instructional materials “accurately portray the religious and physical diversity of our society.” Further, it makes the school district boards responsible for the content of all instructional materials used in the classroom. One important requirement is that the amended law would add a new topic in the curriculum specified in 1003.42, F.S. –“the events surrounding the terrorist attacks occurring on 9/11/01 and the impacts of those events on the nation.”

Those of us who have been involved with the support of both measures consider them landmarks for possible consideration in other US states. This might not satisfy all of the concerns in certain quarters; however, they reflect two well turned precepts. Voltaire wrote: “a wise Italian says that the best is the enemy of the good.” German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck said: “politics is the art of the possible.”

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

Protest Against the United Nations in Sarasota, Florida set for Thursday, June 5th

Sarasota County is hosting the United Nations for World Environment Day. The Sarasota County website states, “Sarasota County has been selected by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA) as the official North American host community for World Environment Day (WED) 2014, to be held on June 5. More than just a single day of environmentally focused events, the WED celebration launches on Earth Day in April and bridges the globe—and the months—with programs and events that culminate on June 5.”

Sarasota residents are not happy that the United Nations is coming to town. These citizens are comparing the UN presence in Sarasota to the Bureau of Land Management standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. An email from Sarasota residents Eileen Green, and Mike Bolam state:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Forward this message in the hope you will attend this event and that you also know that there is more being done behind the scenes that can’t be shared now .

The presence of People at government meetings and events where elected servants are in attendance is significant to promoting our stand on an issue . Lately this point has been confirmed in multiple ways and is the most successful… e.g. Bundy ranch, Red River Texas/Oklahoma border .

The protest isn’t as important than the number of People that attend…. that in itself speaks the loudest. Is our Liberty of less value than a golf date, a day at work , a lunch date, a game or exercise appointment? When they don’t see you there the cause isn’t important to them either! Just as at Lexington and Concord when the Liberty bell rings we need to come a running!

Share this with your contacts even those in surrounding counties because we need lots of People to send the foreign powers (UN) packing!

The Republican Sarasota County Commission has over the years used taxpayer funds to buy “environmentally sensitive lands” and place them under government control. The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program, “[I]s a voter-approved and taxpayer-funded program designed to acquire and protect natural lands. Priority sites within the county are ranked on environmental criteria including connectivity, water quality, habitat rarity, land quality and manageability. Acquired lands are being protected and managed. Most preserves have public access for nature-based recreation.” Approximately 30% of Sarasota County is owned by city, county, school board, state and federal agencies.

Coupled with the comprehensive Sarasota County 2050 Plan, adopted on July 10, 2002, the Sarasota County Commissioners are now in full alignment with the goals and objectives outlined in the 1992 UN Rio Earth Summit. The documents produced at the Rio Earth Summit include: Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Statement of Forest Principles, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The followup mechanisms are: Commission on Sustainable Development; Inter-agency Committee on Sustainable Development; High-level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development.

The UN Earth Summit was and remains based upon the dis-proven scientific theory of man-made global warming.

The Rio Earth Summit’s message:

[T]hat nothing less than a transformation of our attitudes and behaviour would bring about the necessary changes… Governments recognized the need to redirect international and national plans and policies to ensure that all economic decisions fully took into account any environmental impact. And the message has produced results, making eco-efficiency a guiding principle for business and governments alike.” [Emphasis added]

SARASOTA UNITED NATIONS PROTEST EVENT DETAILS:

June 5th
Be at Mote Marine
Laboratory and Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota , FL 34236
by 10:00 am
To Picket the United Nations 

GET THE UN OUT OF THE USA

Bring Signs!

NO MORE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT!
NO MORE AGENDA 21!
NO MORE COMMON CORE!
NO MORE SOCIALISM!
NO MORE MARXISM!
No more EPA!

NO MORE CARBON FOOT PRINT NONSENSE!
Eileen Green is the organizer  941-379-8796
EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of The Zach Morris Experience. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Marijuana Legalization: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Kevin Sabet, author of “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana,” sat down with The Foundry to discuss the dangers of marijuana use, why the drug is more potent than ever, and that it is considered by medical professionals to be as addicting as alcohol.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/060pHP7v3i0[/youtube]

In “Why You Should Be Alarmed About Marijuana Legalization, According to a Former Obama Drug Adviser” Rob Bluey writes:

Marijuana legalization poses a significant health risk to America’s youth—and many parents have no clue about the consequences, says a former Obama administration drug policy adviser.

“Today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of the ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s. It’s five to 15 times stronger,” Kevin Sabet said in an exclusive interview with The Foundry. “I think a lot of Baby Boomers’ experience with pot—a couple of times in the dorm room—they don’t correspond to what kids are experiencing today.”

Sabet, a former senior adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, wrote the book “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana” to shed light on the marijuana legalization movement.

He pointed to Colorado, which has operated with de-facto legalization for five years, as a case study. By 2011, Denver had more medical marijuana shops than Starbucks or McDonalds.

The state has more kids using marijuana, he said, resulting in more kids in treatment and higher rate of car crashes. There have even been two deaths tied to marijuana use, including one involving domestic violence.

“Legalization in practice is a lot scarier than legalization in theory,” Sabet said. “It means a pot shop in your backyard, mass advertising and commercialization and greater health harms.”

In the book, Sabet takes on the myth that marijuana isn’t addictive. He said one in six kids who try marijuana will become addicted—the same as alcohol. That’s because young people are vulnerable than adults.

“There are more kids in treatment for marijuana today than all other drugs, including alcohol, combined,” Sabet said.

He worries that as other states and the District of Columbia consider legalization, more people will be hurt by the drug.

CLICHES OF PROGRESSIVISM #7 – The Free Market Ignores the Poor

Editor’s Note: This week’s cliché was authored decades ago by FEE’s founder, Leonard E. Read, and originally appeared in the first edition of Clichés of Socialism. Barely a word has been changed and though a few numbers are dated, the essay’s wisdom is as timely and relevant today as it ever was.)

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government.

Our society is inundated with half-truths and misconceptions about the economy in general and free enterprise in particular. The “Clichés of Progressivism” series is meant to equip students with the arguments necessary to inform debate and correct the record where bias and errors abound.

The antecedents to this collection are two classic FEE publications that YAF helped distribute in the past: Clichés of Politics, published in 1994, and the more influential Clichés of Socialism, which made its first appearance in 1962. Indeed, this new collection will contain a number of essays from those two earlier works, updated for the present day where necessary. Other entries first appeared in some version in FEE’s journal, The Freeman. Still others are brand new, never having appeared in print anywhere. They will be published weekly on the websites of both YAF and FEE: www.yaf.org and www.FEE.org until the series runs its course. A book will then be released in 2015 featuring the best of the essays, and will be widely distributed in schools and on college campuses.

See the index of the published chapters here.

#7 – The Free Market Ignores the Poor

Once an activity has been socialized for a spell, nearly everyone will concede that that’s the way it should be.

Without socialized education, how would the poor get their schooling? Without the socialized post office, how would farmers receive their mail except at great expense? Without Social Security, the aged would end their years in poverty! If power and light were not socialized, consider the plight of the poor families in the Tennessee Valley!

Agreement with the idea of state absolutism follows socialization, appallingly. Why? One does not have to dig very deep for the answer.

Once an activity has been socialized, it is impossible to point out, by concrete example, how men in a free market could better conduct it. How, for instance, can one compare a socialized post office with private postal delivery when the latter has been outlawed? It’s something like trying to explain to a people accustomed only to darkness how things would appear were there light. One can only resort to imaginative construction.

To illustrate the dilemma: During recent years, men and women in free and willing exchange (the free market) have discovered how to deliver the human voice around the earth in one twenty-seventh of a second; how to deliver an event, like a ball game, into everyone’s living room, in color and in motion, at the time it is going on; how to deliver 115 people from Los Angeles to Baltimore in three hours and 19 minutes; how to deliver gas from a hole in Texas to a range in New York at low cost and without subsidy; how to deliver 64 ounces of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—more than half-way around the earth—for less money than government will deliver a one-ounce letter across the street in one’s home town. Yet, such commonplace free market phenomena as these, in the field of delivery, fail to convince most people that “the post” could be left to free market delivery without causing people to suffer.

Now, then, resort to imagination: Imagine that our federal government, at its very inception, had issued an edict to the effect that all boys and girls, from birth to adulthood, were to receive shoes and socks from the federal government “for free.” Next, imagine that this practice of “free shoes and socks” had been going on for lo, these 173 years! Lastly, imagine one of our contemporaries—one with a faith in the wonders of what can be wrought when people are free—saying, “I do not believe that shoes and socks for kids should be a government responsibility. Properly, that is a responsibility of the family. This activity should never have been socialized. It is appropriately a free market activity.”

What, under these circumstances, would be the response to such a stated belief? Based on what we hear on every hand, once an activity has been socialized for even a short time, the common chant would go like this, “Ah, but you would let the poor children go unshod!”

However, in this instance, where the activity has not yet been socialized, we are able to point out that the poor children are better shod in countries where shoes and socks are a family responsibility than in countries where they are a government responsibility. We’re able to demonstrate that the poor children are better shod in countries that are more  free than in countries that are less free.

True, the free market ignores the poor precisely as it does not recognize the wealthy—it is “no respecter of persons.” It is an organizational way of doing things featuring openness, which enables millions of people to cooperate and compete without demanding a preliminary clearance of pedigree, nationality, color, race, religion, or wealth. It demands only that each person abide by voluntary principles, that is, by fair play. The free market means willing exchange; it is impersonal justice in the economic sphere and excludes coercion, plunder, theft, protectionism, subsidies, special favors from those wielding power, and other anti-free market methods by which goods and services change hands. It opens the way for mortals to act morally because they are free to act morally.

Admittedly, human nature is defective, and its imperfections will be reflected in the market (though arguably, no more so than in government). But the free market opens the way for men to operate at their moral best, and all observation confirms that the poor fare better under these circumstances than when the way is closed, as it is under socialism.

Leonard E. Read
Founder and President
Foundation for Economic Education, 1946–1983

 

Summary

  • Explaining how a socialized activity could actually be done better by private, voluntary means in a free market is a little like telling a blind man what it would be like to see. But that doesn’t mean we just give up and remain blind.
  • Examples of the wonders of free and willing exchange are all around us. We take them for granted. Just imagine what it would be like if shoes and socks had been a government monopoly for a couple hundred years, versus the variety and low cost of shoes as now provided in free countries by entrepreneurs.
  • Free markets open the way for people to act morally, but that doesn’t mean they always will; nor should we assume that when armed with power, our behavior will suddenly become more moral.
  • For more information, see http://tinyurl.com/mkkrcpuhttp://tinyurl.com/m8vjqvp,http://tinyurl.com/pfrmbux, and http://tinyurl.com/ocva6hu.

ABOUT LEONARD E. READ

Leonard E. Read (1898-1983) was the founder of FEE, and the author of 29 works, including the classic parable “I, Pencil.”

Public Education: Two Lies do not make one Truth

A LIE is defined as a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally.

As a teacher I watched as new texts moved away from history and fact into emotion and fiction. History altered in texts, were forced upon unsuspecting students. Today little resembles the American experiment full of pride, patriotism and self confidence.  The words, “think outside the box are no longer uttered in halls and classrooms.” Today students are taught to be common while legislators refuse to listen to Americans scream, stop experimenting on my child. Their career, their wallet is more important than being a statesman protecting the people.

Instead, legislators protect special interest with one goal, screw the people and steal their land. They use environmental lies to promote this goal while unsuspecting true environmentalists become useful idiots incapable common sense relying only on the lies they learned in school.

In 1989, Shirley McCune of the McREL Foundation under George Bush 41 as President and Bill Clinton as president of the Governors Association changed the face of education. Shirley proclaimed:

Students are HUMAN CAPITAL Education’s purpose is to train students to work.

The purpose of education is to teach people how to think not what to think. Training is not education

Purpose of Education was to Transform Society from individualism to collectivism

Individualism is the core of American exceptionalism. The concept of America is that exceptional people working together will create exceptional things which we did until now.

Fact Based Education is no longer the primary focus of education

Today we have a government based on lies and deception as these students have graduated and work in unconstitutional government agencies all knowing that truth is no longer important.

In the 1930’s Communists, evil people following Lucifer – as noted by Saul Alinsky, fled Hitler’s Germany and fled to Russia and  America. Under Operation Paper Clip they were given new identities and placed in our science programs, universities and now government. They did not stop their ideology and embrace American values.  Instead they set out to transform American into their utopia by continuing their experiments using the environment as their crisis.

When the people screamed and exposed these lies, there were demonized.  To shut people up programs like:

  • Political correctness – self censorship
  • Do not talk about Politics and Religion – most important to our founders who believed the PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER but only if they are involved in the government process. A republic can only work when the people are moral.
  • Being part of the silent majority – not speaking out affirms the lies

While parents were told to be silent, books like Rescue Mission Planet Earth were being used in school – The child’s edition of UN Agenda 21 promoting sustainability by demonizing groups and humans.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/LCd0_k5XtrI[/youtube]

Passages like those on page 73, ” Agenda 21 says: Funds could be raised by reallocating resources now committed to the military” were drummed into the heads of the youth who are today’s legislators while turning these legislators into “useful idiots” necessary to transform Americans from individualism into communism as Shirley stated.  Today Representative Joe Garcia said, “Communism works.”

Cradle to grave indoctrination is being called for in programs demanding all students must go to college just so they will incur debt.  People in debt are slaves and will never own anything.

  • School is to replace family
  • Government is to replace God and morality
  • The UN is to replace the US in programs

Programs like free trade, sustainability, conservation, man made global warming are used to divide people and promote poverty not success.

“Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty, reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control.” – Professor Maurice King

Students are indoctrinated into believing they are at fault:

“The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.” – Club of Rome, premier environmental think-tank, consultants to the United Nations

While lies are promoted as the truth….”No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” – Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment

In the last few weeks I exposed the lies of John Beale and his lying wife Nancy Ketes who are largely responsible for creating the heinous deception of the EPA.

With Americans no longer taught the US constitution in school, they do not know that Article IV Section 4: “The United States shall guarantee to every State (Person) in this Union a Republican (representative – you vote for the people to carry your voice) Form of Government…

Marbury vs Madison decision:  Any unconstitutional law is void.

Rules and statutes are not laws and should not be followed.

  • The EPA is not elected.
  • The EPA is unconstitutional.
  • The EPA is void.

Lack of that knowledge has forced phony laws/rules based on lies to dictate the future of America.

  • Not preparing for the real weather – controlled by the sun, in hibernation, getting colder in a 206 year mini ice age – spaceandscience.net
  • Forcing GMO – experimental food control with genetically modified food – Monsanto Seeds of Death, Food safety Act – which no one read giving government power to confiscate your food.
  • Creating phony droughts to create phony food shortages- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drvsaJrebd8
  • Lying about fossil fuels- oil and coal a cheap source of energy giving wealth and power to individual business owners enabling them to keep costs of goods and services down while providing American jobs like fracking and Keystone,
  • Using the Clean Air Act to deem a puddle navigable water. Putting meters on private wells, taxing rain water, creating phony conservation, wetlands
  • Conducting experiments on students and seniors (just like their ancestors in the 30’s),
  • Using food for fuel creating famines and high food prices. Ethanol a phony science designed to redistribute wealth through subsidies while damaging cars and engines while driving prices higher.
  • Forcing people off their land in conservation schemes.
  • Working with the UN to create phony models eliminating farming, fishing in order to control food.
  • Working with Sierra Club and other environmental liars creating phony law suits in order to create phony legislation aimed and destruction of the middle class by eliminating private industry and private property.

The EPA and other unelected bureaucratic departments have one goal, destruction of middle America.  These unconstitutional regional groups must be closed and the liars must be prosecuted.

The first step is to defund.  Your Representative will tell you – but we do not have the Senate to stop funding.  If they tell you that FIRED THEM.  They did not read the constitution.

Funding begins and ends in the HOUSE of Representatives.  Article I Section 7.  All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the HOUSE of Representatives; but the Senate may  (not must, shall or will – remember the NDAA, the President may pick up Americans w/o due process. Same idea) propose or concur with Amendments as on other bills.

When I taught the Constitution I taught:

The House controls the purse and does not need the Senate to vote on any funding bill.

The Senate ratifies all appointments and treaties and does not need the House to approve.

When the constitution is not taught people do not know their rights.

Get involved.  Your job for today… Demand defunding of the lying cheating, stealing, unconstitutional EPA or soon you will be deciding whether to drive to work or buy food.  Contact your HOUSE member.

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

daddy-and-me

Daddy holding me when I was 5-days old.

US 71st Infantry Division.svg

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.’”

turkey words

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.

AA - Obama's Scandals

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.