The bad news: It was for all the wrong reasons.
Faced with an economy wrecked by mismanagement, the Chirac government tried to implement financial reforms. The public's response was to toss him out of office.
Between this, the recent debacle in Spain, and what may very well be a similar story for the Schroeder government in Germany, it appears that European electorates will not tolerate any leader that tells them anything other than what they want to hear. The EU's political and economic decline is accelerating to a plummet.
How unfortunate. But not surprising.
I'm always careful to put a disclaimer in front of the words Muslim. Radical. Militant. Something that sets those crazed, suicidal, murderers apart from the peace-loving, people-next-door who practice the same religion.She has a point -- one that has been pushed by LGF for over two years now. It's not just that there are lunatics and radicals and terrorist sympathizers in disproportionate numbers among Muslims, including American Muslims. That would be bad enough, but the far greater problem is that the countering voices seem so weak that they barely register. We keep hearing how the terrorists are a tiny, radical minority -- so where in hell is the huge, non-radical majority that is supposed to repudiate them? Why is the death of an unabashed terror sponsor like Yassin publicly presented as a global tragedy? Is this really the leadership that global Islam follows? Why aren't there Muslims marching in opposition to the bombing in Spain, or the horrific terror attacks in Turkey, or (heaven forbid!) the inhuman mass murder of Israeli bus-riders?
The problem I'm having with that now is I see less and less of the latter. I have yet to see any of the moderate Islamists (is there such a thing?) stand up and condemn their brothers for their acts of violence; violence done in the name of Allah, their god. . .
So where are the followers of Islam who do not condone the branch of their religion that is being practiced by those who see suicide belts as a fashion statement? Do they even exist?
If any event can shed the light on how some have underestimated the strength and numbers of the followers of radical Islam, it is the death of Sheik Yassin. Suddenly, the whole world is mourning and chanting and throwing stones.
They protested his death in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq. They burned flags in Beirut. . .
These people who live just miles from me praise this man. They cry over his death. In fact, they wail. They curse Israel, curse America and wish death upon everyone but themselves. Where are their leaders, the ones who claim to be moderates and wonder why people walk on the other side of the street from them? Speak up. Tell us that you denounce Yassin and Arafat. I'm not asking that they turn around and praise Israel or defend her actions, I'm just asking that they show me who they are, that there are Muslims who do not fall to their knees in despair when a despicable mass murderer dies.
Why is it that every statement out of CAIR fits the template of Of course, we condemn terrorism, but...? Why the constant apologia? Why can't they ever flip the clauses around the conjunction, anyway? No one is asking them to plaster their cars with Elect Sharon stickers, but wouldn't it be nice if once -- just once -- they said something like
Of course, we want the Palestinians to have a state, but the bombing of Israeli civilians is not an acceptable way to do it.There, that wasn't so hard, was it? Same ideas, different emphasis. And it'd be nice to see this delivered as publicly and loudly as the Muslim lobby manages to yell whenever some Islamic "charity" gets investigated for sending CARE packages to al-Qaeda, or when someone points out that a value system that permits child "martyrs" is not compatible with the norms of civilized behavior. While we're at it, let's hear some condemnation not just of abstract terrorism, or the backhanded criticism of Israel with "terrorism in all its forms," as if killing a Hamas operative is equivalent to bombing a pizza parlor. What is it that sticks in CAIR's craw that keeps them from pointedly, unequivocally condemning Islamic terrorists, by name? How hard is it to say "Palestinians who send children to blow up other children are nothing but bloodthirsty psychopaths, and we condemn them unconditionally"? Why this pathological need to equivocate at every turn?
Of course, Muslims have many reasons to be angry at Western powers, but setting off bombs in their cities is inhuman and against everything we stand for.
For Pete's sake, if the Muslim community wanted a better image in the West, all they had to do was create it. Instead, with a few notable exceptions, the community seems bent on being antagonistic, chauvinist, intolerant of their host cultures, and openly seditious. Given this, and the apparent lack of any dissent, why shouldn't we take them at their word? Why should I not treat this community with suspicion, when every message it sends out seems to be condemnation with a veiled (or even overt) threat? Having seen no protest, no outrage, no revulsion at terrorism beyond perfunctory condemnations, why should I think anything other than that the Muslim community by and large supports it?
It doesn't have to be this way. But frankly, I fail to see why I should always be the one giving the full benefit of the doubt. If there is another voice, another movement, another set of ideas in Islam -- we're listening. We're all straining to hear it. But we'd better hear it soon.
This explains a lot!I believe we have found one of the major root causes of idiotarianism:
UNITED NATIONS - The brainpower of entire nations has diminished because of a shortage of the right vitamins, and slipping nutrients into people's food seems to be the only solution, a new U.N. survey says. . .(Emphasis mine)
In most Western countries, governments have fought the problem with additives: iodine is sprayed onto salt before packaging, vitamin A is added to milk and margarine, and flour is enriched with niacin, iron and folic acid.
But that doesn't work in countries where governments are weak, food is not processed in big mills and diets are based on a single starchy staple like rice or corn.
Suddenly, the commonality between organic-everything anti-industrial antiglobazoids and Third-World Islamist nutcases is revealed: the former eschews foods that prevent stupidity, and the latter doesn't have access to same.
Update April 16, 2004: Yahoo link no longer valid; changed to point to the same AP story at the Miami Herald.
YawnThe Arabs are mad at the Israelis for making the world Sheikh Yassin-free. Really mad.
Perhaps the Arabs need to learn to concentrate on the positive and celebrate love. ...Well, maybe not.
"This is one of the biggest crimes that the Israeli government has committed." - Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.Pot, kettle. Also, I love the lack of quotes around "Prime Minister."
"Words cannot describe the emotion of anger and hate inside our hearts." - Ismail Haniyeh, a close associate of Yassin.As opposed to the love and sweetness normally associated with Hamas.
"Yassin is a man in a nation, and a nation in a man. And the retaliation of this nation will be of the size of this man. ... You will see deeds not words." - Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.Whoa... a man in a nation, and a nation in a man. That's some deep stuff, Rantisi. Hey, do I hear a helicopter overhead...?
"The United States urges all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint." - U.S. State Department spokesman Lou Fintor.Ah, incisive stuff as usual from our State Department. I'm sure the Arabs are really impressed with our even-handedness.
"The Zionists didn't carry out their operation without getting the consent of the terrorist American administration, and it must take responsibility for this crime." - Hamas statement to The Associated Press.D'oh!
And now, for my favorite:
"He (Yasser Arafat) is like a man who was hit on the head because they killed Yassin and now they could kill him. He feels his turn is next and he is sad and worried." - an aide to Arafat, describing the Palestinian leader's reaction.Ooh, the baby wipe supply will be running low tonight! Here's hoping!
Update: Not that I had any doubt, but now it's official: "international opinion," including that of the EU, individual European nations, and even the UK, is worth less than used nasal wipes. The Israelis should have stopped paying attention to it years ago.
Whether the attacks were, in fact, linked to actions in Iraq is beside the point. The Spanish assumed that they were, and took action to distance themselves from Iraq as soon as possible, in the hopes of preventing more attacks -- the very definition of caving to terrorism. By allowing the random murder of 200 citizens to change the outcome of an election, the people of Spain have demonstrated that terrorism against them works, and works well. Rest assured that every radical pressure group -- from lunatic Muslims to lunatic nature-lovers to lunatic Basque separatists -- has noticed, and will now change their tactics accordingly.
It is unlikely that the impact will be limited to Spain -- certainly the resolve of other countries in Europe will be likewise probed and tested, as the various Islamist and other terror groups keep pushing the envelope, trying to figure out how much they can actually get away with. An attack on Americans would be less likely -- our response to 9/11 clearly demonstrated that such things are counter-productive -- though not altogether impossible. But more mega-attacks in Europe (and Spain especially) are now a virtual certainty. Efforts to arrest the perpetrators and disrupt networks will be too little, too late -- it's clear that the network only needs to succeed once, and their members are not afraid of European jails. If the conflict with Islamic terror is World War IV, then Spain is its Sudetenland.
This isn't permanent, of course. People will only tolerate dumb ideas for so long, and eventually, I expect the Spanish to reject this pacifist nonsense, just as Europe eventually rejected appeasement of Nazism. But it is clear that this will take much longer than I'd hoped, and we will see many more attacks, and many more mangled corpses of pedestrians and subway riders, before the bloody lessons seep through. How ironic, that in their search for a quick way to peace and stability, the Spanish should launch what may be their most violent era since the civil war.
Some more comments at Iberian Notes.
Update: Nelson Ascher at Europundits is less optimistic than I am:
Today's election in Spain proved that what didn't work in Israel worked pretty well and will go on working in Europe. . . Islamism became today the real power-broker in the European continent. Sometime in the future some European government will try to fight them and, after a bombing or two, it will be deposed by voters decided to become, in practice, "dhimmis" rather than to risk their necks. The Thursday bombers gave the orders and the Spanish voters followed them. That means that shariah is beginning, slowly, to be imposed on the whole continent. . . As Churchill once said, they'll have both war and dishonour.I don't know if I'd go quite that far: the problem with yielding to terrorism is that it encourages more terrorism, but eventually people's tolerance for terrorism runs out. The trick is to stretch out the time before it happens, by keeping the attacks small-scale, as the IRA, the ETA, and the Palestinians have done -- and also by having concrete demands that are at least not completely insane. The scale of the Madrid bombings is unsustainable in the long-term, nor the demands of the return of Muslim rule to Andalusia in any way grantable. I believe that eventually, the Spanish will realize that yielding to terror doesn't bring peace, and act accordingly. Sadly, for the voting majority, that day is not today.
My trouble with the Times website dates back to the "terror widows" controversy. That cartoon, which appeared in March 2002, became the target of a coordinated email attack by right-wing "warbloggers." These pro-Bush bloggers, coasting on a wave of post-9/11 patriotism, sent out emails to their followers (helpful souls forwarded some to me) asking each other to deluge the Times and other papers with complaints that purported to come from their readers. The Times, under the mistaken belief that hundreds of their readers had complained about the cartoon, dropped that particular piece.Oh, those silly Times people, apparently unable to run the list of senders against their subscriber database! Those intrepid paragons of investigative journalism, bamboozled by an email campaign! That must be it -- it couldn't just be that the Times editors took a close look at his alleged artwork, and good taste prevailed. No, no, the Times simply ran for cover.
. . .It seems that the warbloggers consistent campaign of email harrassment has finally taken its toll over at Times Digital. Because they're annoyed by receiving so many email complaints about my work--all of them motivated by partisan politics--the Times has decided to drop my cartoons entirely.I have frankly forgotten all about Rall since that time, but who knows, maybe others still keep up the "campaign of email harrassment." Somehow I doubt that Rall is the biggest issue for the Times staff. I mean, really, is NYT's other content so completely inoffensive that it's the Rall "campaign" that drove them to submission? Methinks someone is suffering from delusions of importance.
Not content to simply whine, Rall first paints himself as a selfless artist. . .
Other cartoonists have decried the censorship of their cartoons over political (rather than quality) concerns, but never me. I've always believed that papers can run whatever they want--or not. But this is different. For one thing, no money is involved. That's right--I didn't get one penny from the Times for running my work online. The syndicate was giving them the content for free--for the exposure, as they say. So when I ask for your help, please rest assured that this isn't some cheesy financial appeal. If the Times picks me up again, it won't make any difference to my checkbook.Right. Being carried by the New York Times is not at all helpful to the career of a cartoonist. No difference to Rall's checkbook. None whatsoever.
But, please, he has more noble concerns:
The fact of the matter is that what the Times has done here to me--and to you--represents a dangerous precedent for a free press (or, in this case, an online press). They've sent the message that political pressure works.My God -- saying unpopular things makes you unpopular! Others may not like you! People may choose not to associate with you! A newspaper may decide that your humor is neither funny nor tasteful, and seek better talent! The horror of it all!
And by the way: in order to be a precedent, something has to occur for the first time. I'm sure Rall has heard of the cancellation of CBS's Dr. Laura show, or NBC's pulling of the L&O Puerto Rican Day Parade episode -- both done at the behest of "pressure groups" who did way more than writing email. Yet somehow I doubt he was very concerned with these "precedents" -- "dangerous" though they may have been. At best, Rall's worldview seems a tad self-centered.
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