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Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Diplomatic Perfidy

It's been a week full of shakedowns and hard knocks.

Obama now realizes there's no way of avoiding a convention battle with Hillary even as his popularity among Democrats and voters in general continues to drop.

Russia appears to have begun the invasion of Georgia, with Putin calling it a declaration of war, see the previous post on this and my CFP article for my take on the situation.

The media is reporting that Hevron "settlers" attacked an armored car full of British senior diplomats. It's safe to say that unarmed people protesting by blocking an armored car is not an "attack" and what is being under-reported is that the settlers were protesting the way that British diplomats have used diplomatic cars to smuggle left wing activists and anarchists past Israeli checkpoints to stage protests and incidents.

The Times admits not only that the British Diplomats were transporting left wing activists (under the guise of a tour) but that it's Britain that funds the activists in the first place.

The attack came as British officials were being given a tour by Breaking the Silence, a British-funded organisation...
Further on in the smear article, the Times admits that B'Tselem is British Foreign office funded as well. I imagine that if Israel had been funding pro IRA British groups, the Foreign Office might have been a bit put out.

The disgraceful media orgy over the death of Solzhenitsyn seems to have finally subsided, a primarily Western obsession mostly overlooked by Russians. It's not a culpable obsession simply because most Westerners don't know him the way Russians do, from his disgraceful treatment of his pregnant wife whom he later denounced as a KGB agent while having an affair with the much younger woman who would become his second wife, to his persecution of actual dissidents from Sakharov on down even while he lived in luxurious comfort in Vermont, while the KGB was doing its best to break Sakharov, to his final years spewing hate filled Russian nationalism that called for Russia keeping all of the republics of the old USSR and praising Putin.

There were and are plenty of symbols of freedom, men who resisted the Soviet tyranny, worth admiring. Sakharov was one. Solzhenitsyn was not. Instead Solzhenitsyn was an informer who pinned his crimes on others drawing thinly disguised literary sketches in his writing of the men who had helped him, as despicable figures. He died just too soon to see Russia invade Georgia, but it is exactly the sort of thing that Solzhenitsyn who praised Putin and put Russian nationalism above the freedom of the former Soviet republics would have wanted and celebrated. The true legacy of the dissidents of the USSR is opposition to the current Russian tyranny, a legacy that Solzhenitsyn betrayed, just as he betrayed the dissidents under the USSR and his fellow inmates who rose up against their tormentors in the Gulag.

In the blogsphere, Bob from Brockley points out that many of the critics of Solzhenitsyn are Stalinists or Stalinist apologists. That may well be so, at least in the West. But political writers produce different species of critics, those who oppose their politics and those who oppose them personally, those who oppose how they practiced those politics rather than the politics themselves and those who reject the "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" formulation.

Similarly there are no doubt people who hate Koestler for his various politics and for his personal life as critics of David Irving include those who despise his sympathy for Nazism, as well as those on the far right who feel he isn't sympathetic enough to Nazism or anti-semitic enough. There are no doubt Stalinists, at least Western Stalinists, who oppose Solzhenitsyn, especially as he became one of Khrushev's tools for denouncing Stalinism. But it is an ironic note that during his speech in the Duma, he received more applause from Communists than he did from any other faction. And that he reacted to the fall of the USSR with anything but rejoicing. 

No doubt Stalinists will denounce him, but I have to ask how far apart he was from their politics. He supported a Russian Empire, which Stalin created. He supported the persecution of the Jews, which Stalin implemented. He was obsessed with Trotsky, much as Stalin was. He could only really part ways over the irreligious nature of Stalin's Communism, but one mitigated during WW2 when Stalin reintroduced the use of battlefield religion--, and the excessive atrocities of Stalinism. But that is a matter of detail not general principle. So Bob is of course correct, but I have to view an opposition between  Solzhenitsyn and Stalinism, as the kind of far right vs far left clash that leads both sides to the same point on the dial.

In a further look at the big old blogsphere,Lemon Lime moon lists a petition to force the Obama campaign to finally release his birth certificate. I've heard both sides on this in the anti-Obama opposition, and I still have to wonder why the Obama campaign wouldn't just put this to rest, if they could.

Magdeburger Joe writers on Immigrants and Crime

The same qualities that make a good entrepreneur can make a good criminal. A criminal has a drive to search for opportunities. A criminal thinks creatively and analytically in seeking new opportunities. What differs is the moral choices that he or she is willing to make. Illegal immigrants have already decided to knowingly break laws that restrict their entry into the United States. They have chosen to live with the constant fear of deportation. They are psychologically conditioned by their choices be less averse than others to make illegal choices. The combination of being adventurous enough to seek opportunity abroad and willingness to break laws with serious enforcement consequences would seem to yield a higher percentage of criminals in this sector of the population.

A large percentage of undocumented aliens are men who arrive by themselves. Some are married, and the vast majority seek female companionship. Language barriers, immigration problems and low wages present obstacles to these individuals settling into stable relationships. This would seem to feed into prostitution. It might also push a small unstable minority towards sex crimes.

Debbie Schlussel takes on the lack of patriotism on NBC at the Olympics, part and parcel of making Americans feel guilty for national pride, which of course is the surest way to undermine and destroy a country.

The New Centrist covers animal rights and environmental terrorism, a generally non-lethal but growing problem, fed by the increasing hysteria we're being subjected to. The firebombing of Dr. Feldheim's home is all the more disturbing by the lack of remorse that his children could have been burned to death.

Jerry Vlasak, a Los Angeles physician who runs a website that highlights animal rights activism, blamed the scientists for the violence.

While a spokesman said he didn't know who committed the act, the Woodland Hills-based Animal Liberation Front called the attacks a "necessary" act, just like those who fought against civil rights injustices. Spokesman Dr. Jerry Vlasak showed no remorse for the family or children who were targeted.

"If their father is willing to continue risking his livelihood in order to continue chopping up animals in a laboratory than his children are old enough to recognize the consequences,'' said Vlasak, a former animal researcher who is now a trauma surgeon. "This guy knows what he is doing. He knows that every day that he goes into the laboratory and hurts animals that it is unreasonable not to expect consequences."

"The inconvenience and the suffering of any children or any family members pales in comparison to the suffering and oppression that goes on in these animal laboratories," Vlasak said in an interview Monday. Feldheim is "putting himself and his family in harm's way by continuing to abuse animals."

What we have is a mindset not significantly different than the way that Islamist terrorists think about Jews or Americans. And I can't help but wonder to what extent the Western tolerance and justification of Islamic terrorist ideology in turn legitimizes homegrown terrorism such as this.

But Vlasak's lack of human empathy is a natural outgrowth of the ideologies of people such as Peter Singer who put animals on the same level as people or even higher.

At a time when a lot of science advocates are obsessed with fighting creationism, perhaps they should instead look at what is being described as The War on Scientists.

Imagine if a group of rabid creationists started fire-bombing the homes of University of California professors to prevent them from teaching evolution. Area politicians would be holding competing press conferences to assure the public that they would take on the violent zealots, who have declared war, not only on good academics and their families, but on science itself. No need to imagine.

Across California, a different group of zealots has done just that.The difference is these zealots aren't fighting for religious fundamentalism. Extremist animal rights groups have organized anonymously to intimidate and terrorize medical researchers until they abandon their studies out of fear for their children's safety and their own peace of mind.

"We must not allow a violent minority to dictate the future of medicine," Holder noted, when cures and knowledge can save so many lives. Too often American universities have tried to downplay animal rights terrorism. Researchers clam up, lest they be next. The harassment campaigns "tend to isolate individuals," Holder noted. But the terrorists cannot prevail when scientists stand together for their work. 
We wouldn't let these zealots burn the university's books. But if they prevail, these extremists will have cowed scientists, destroyed research labs, and with them any cures they might invent.  

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