Saturday, December 05, 2015

Letters To A French Friend

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Despite all the so-called “debates” that have already occurred, our presidential election will fall on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, a little less than a year from now; lots of water there yet to flow under our bridge.

President Barack Obama will be using the next eleven months to put the final gloss on what we call here, sometimes derisively, his legacy; which is to say, he will attempt, despite the tear stained and  bloody flood of misery washing around his feet, to keep his old and tattered campaign pledges: withdraw all troops from every war theatre, patch the leaky roof on Obamacare, close GITMO, the military base in Cuba, and who knows, perhaps put a bow on it and give it back to his new Cuban friends, continue the destruction of the Republican Party, put a period on his long and eventful political campaign, then slip away to establish his presidential library and perhaps write another semi-fictional autobiography.  I think you can see I’ve lost patience with the man. There is always a last straw; for me, Paris was it.

Poor Europe – a very sad state of affairs.

If François Hollande were not a man of the left, his militant response to the slaughter of innocent civilians in Paris by Islamic terrorists might have been questioned more closely – more critically, I mean – by the French media. He was just coming in to office when we spoke together in Paris. I asked, you will remember, how the members of your family felt about him. Your daughter shook her head sadly and said – no, he is not the one, not what France needs. Many of the young members in my family felt the same about Obama during his second election, after all the masks had fallen away.

We both know it is impossible to sustain our revulsion under circumstances of this kind. The passage of time blunts, if it does not heal, such wounds as Paris has suffered – twice now. We must all get up in the morning, have our breakfast and make our way to our jobs. Our daily routine softens our misery, blunts thoughts of revenge or retributive justice. None of us are ever prepared for a sudden on-rush of violence, and not every commander-in-chief can be Charles Martel.

There is something fleshy and flaccid in the West now – positively suicidal. It was Albert Camus who said that murder and suicide were the two most important philosophical problems. He dramatized the first in The Stranger and the second in The Fall. When he tried to address both seriously – I mean philosophically, for philosophy always thinks with a knife in its teeth – he was set upon by the French left, Sartre being the chief assassin. Poor Camus, his own knife came too close to the French bone in The Rebel. He had to be answered: read, destroyed. And the French suicidal left did a good job of it. The man who wrote Exile and the Kingdom himself became an exile. And then he met that tree. Who among us now returns to Sartre? But Camus is alive; I return to him often – for courage and wisdom.

Kadar Had His Day Of Fear still tolls like a warning bell across the years. Under the title “What Budapest was Defending,” Camus wrote:

“The idea, still voiced among us, that a party, because it calls itself proletarian, can enjoy special privileges in regard to history [one senses that this arrow was directed to France’s communist left] is an idea of intellectuals tired of their advantages and of their freedom. History does not confer privileges: it lets them be snatched away… our proudest duty is to defend personally to the very end, against the impulse towards coercion and death, the freedom of that culture – in other words, the freedom of work and creation. ”

And of the failed Hungarian resistance, he writes, “The Hungarian workers and intellectuals, beside whom we stand today with so much impotent grief, realized that and made us realize it. This is why, if their suffering is ours, their hope belongs to us too. Despite their destitution, their exile, their chains, it took them but a single day to transmit to us the royal legacy of liberty. May we be worthy of it!”

It was thunderbolts like this that sealed Camus fate among the anti-Western French intellectuals of his own day, most of whom were unconcerned with Stalin’s mass murders, while harboring suicidal notions. Camus is quotable, an almost certain sign of mental clarity, while Sartre was and always will be prolix.

We are waiting here in the States for the resistance to show its head, to shake a righteous, militant fist at ISIS. But it is not happening among the U.S. Congressional Delegation here in Connecticut, all the members of which are progressive Democrats happy to walk the plank on Mr. Obama’s orders. They all have left reality in the dust. It is as if they had said to each other “We don’t want reality to intrude on our view of reality,” which is more fantastic than the most fanciful fairy tale.

On Friday, December 4th, two days after two Islamic terrorists killed fourteen innocent civilians and injured 21 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, four members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation appeared at the state capitol in Hartford to inveigh against guns and press for more restrictive national gun control laws.

Here is the Harford Courant’s lede to the story, After Latest Attack Delegation Renews Call For Gun Control:

Four members of Connecticut's all-Democratic congressional delegation (Significantly, two members  – Reps. Joe Courtney and Jim Himes, both representing swing districts -- were missing from the press conference)  came to the state capitol Friday to press for stronger gun control laws after the San Bernardino massacre.

The revelation that one of the assailants had contact with people connected to terror organizations overseas — and that the FBI is investigating the shooting as an act of terror — does not change the need for stricter gun rules, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was joined at a press conference at the Legislative Office Building by Sen. Chris Murphy and Reps. Elizabeth Esty and John Larson.

Mr. Blumenthal said, “There are a lot of facts we don't know ... but we do know what kind of weapons were used. They were designed with one purpose: to kill and maim human beings. That's the purpose of an AR15 ... Banning assault weapons and enforcing that ban is a way to save lives.''

Actually, before Mr. Blumenthal, primping before the news cameras, issued his statement, even non-senators knew: 1) that the slaughter in San Bernardino was a terrorist act, according to an FBI release; 2) that the shooters -- a couple who met, before they concocted their terrorist plans, at the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and later married – were both devout Muslims; 3) that the male shooter, living in the United States for some time, had been radicalized, and that his wife, who immediately before the terrorist attack paid tribute to terrorist sheik Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, also had been radicalized, possibly in Pakistan; 4) that the devout wife wore a full burqa while she was in the United States; 5) that Baghdadi, long on the U.S. terrorist watch list, was released early from prison because he was thought to be a scholarly egg-head rather than a terrorist; 6) that the female shooter was not detected as a possible threat when she was vetted for her visa; 7) that the similarities between the attack in San Bernardino and Paris are striking, however studiously they are discounted by Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation; and finally – let it be said – if Mr. Blumenthal was unaware of any of this publicly available data before his appearance in Hartford two days after the assault by radical Muslims on Christians celebrating a religious feast in San Bernardino, he should have shouted it from the gilded state Capitol rooftop.  He didn’t -- because he did not want to go off-message. The messaging from the White House -- that one may not connect Islam with terrorism, even in cases in which the connection is obvious -- has been consistent and unremitting.

Mr. Murphy -- speaking in what was only a few weeks ago the murder capital of New England, despite Connecticut’s strong anti-gun legislation --  said, “Despite the differences in the facts of each one of these shootings, what unites them all is that Congress can pass laws to make them less likely to happen again and we're not doing that. The menu of policy options to us are (sic) almost limitless."

Other than repealing the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, suggestions offered Mr. Murphy’s included: stronger border security (a Trump wall?); reforming the process of issuing visas to screen tourists and other visitors to the U.S. for links to terrorism (better late than never, but any link to terrorism among Syrian refugees would be unavailable); “fixing our mental health system, a common element of many of these mass shootings’; and changing gun laws “to make sure criminals aren't getting guns or that individuals who are thinking about mass slaughter don't have a military-style assault weapon (like pipe bombs, suicide belts, exploding pressure cookers, all of which, one hopes, have been illegalized by a watchful Congress.)

There are, Mr. Murphy said, “a broad array of options with which to work from, and what is so disgusting is that Congress is accepting none of them. ... We don't have to live in fear every single day but Congress has to get off their ass and start working on behalf of the American people to stop this mass slaughter.''

Mr. Murphy is operating on the tenuous theory that so fearsome a thing as a non-Islamic, Western law promulgated by Congress would dissuade committed Islamic terrorists from following Surah (47:4): “So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command.]”

There are some of us who dare to think that the country would be much safer and more prosperous if the Congress and the President would get off their asses and go home. What the country really needs is an enforceable law that would put an end to mass disinformation and pre-campaign propaganda.

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