“Written to enlighten, guaranteed to offend”
A Publication of Seth J. Frantzman
April 12th, 2008
1) How not to run a court: The release of the Albanian war criminal Ramush Haradinaj by the European established the International Court of Justice shows the degree to which European standards of Justice have nothing in common with the American legal system. The arbitrary, political and biased nature of justice at the ICC is the reason that it must never be respected as in ‘international’ institution.
2) Make sure Bulgaria apologizes for saving 48,000 Jews: Why should Bulgaria apologize for the fact that 11,000 Jews were deported from areas that were not part of Bulgaria in 1939 to their deaths during the Holocaust. This death toll palls in comparison to what was done to Jews throughout Europe and yet most European countries have never apologized for their collaboration with Nazism. Bulgaria is the only country in Europe that finished the war in 1945 with the same number of Jews as it began the ware with.
4) What is westernization? A recent book by Steve Coll about the Bin Laden family claims that, with the exception of Osama, the family was very American and westernized. They enjoyed their fast cars and they built a successful company. They loved alcohol. So they are latter-day James Madisons. Or are they? Perhaps Coll forgot about the fact that it was a family of 54 children born to one man and that this man discarded his 15 year-old wives at a whim and that even Mr. Coll can’t account for what became of the Bin Laden daughters, since in Islam a woman is worth half a man, who cares what befell them? Perhaps the Bin Laden clan didn’t become ‘American’ but rather Mr. Coll, like so many Westerners, has become more Islamic. Perhaps he doesn’t realize there is more to Western culture than drinking and raping 15 year old girls. On second thought, perhaps he is right, that’s all there is to western culture today.
How not to run a court
Seth J. Frantzman
April 6th, 2008
Everytime one reads a story about the International Criminal Court one becomes more incensed at realizing just how perverted everything with the word 'international' is. This court is an example of how not to run a court. It is politicized. The cases it takes have more to do with who the U.N thinks should be prosecuted rather than based on actual laws. What is amazing is that this high court of justice, established by an international body and which includes judges from many nations would not be able to function legally as a court in many countries. The degree to which it makes a mockery of 'justice' is astounding. No such court would be allowed, even in the most local circumstances, in the United States. Yet there is such a court with a juridistiction to put on trial the entire world. The foreign press, particularly Europeans, complain that the United States has not signed any protocols to allow the International Court jurisdiction over its affairs. Leftists whine that this is a 'double standard'. But why is it a double standard that the U.S will not submit its people to a court that lacks even the rudimentary codes and guidelines of the most lowly court in America?
One feels that every day Europeans need to be schooled, again and again, about how things work in the United States. Let us begin class. In America people have a right to vote. That is first. In America people have a right to assemble freely. They have a right to write what they please in a free and open press. They have a right to speak as they please. They have a right to attend whatever religious service they please. Those are the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
Under the law Americans have a right to be protected from unlawful searches and seizures. Americans have the right to remain silent and not testify against themselves. Americans have the right to due process and a speedy trial. Americans have the right to be judged by a jury of their peers. Americans are innocent until proven guilty. The law applies equally to all and people are guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are also enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Europeans always have a hard time understanding these rights. Europeans think, apparently, that justice consists of prosecuting those that people feel 'should' be prosecuted, regardless of the law. Europeans think that courts are designed principally to serve political ends. Courts are thus a tool of politics, much as in Clausewitz's conception of war. For Europeans there is no concept of the independent judiciary. The judiciary serves political ends. It is no surprise that such a justice system has been perverted. The 'International' Criminal Court is staffed not only by Europeans but also by judges from other countries, many of which are dictatorships. Muslim judges sit at the Hague, judges whose experience in law stems from their work in Saudi Arabia sentencing women to be beheaded for adultery. So between thuggish Islamist judges and Europeans it is perhaps no surprise that the ICC is a farce.
Lets review how a European trial works at the Hague at the ICC. First a special prosecutor is appointed by the U.N. to investigate war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars of succession that took place between 1990 and 2000. In this case it is Carla Del Ponte. After bringing countless Serbs to trial, a handful of Bosnians and a few Croats she sets her sights on three Albanians. One of them is named Ramush Haradinaj. He was a KLA commander in 1998 and 1999 and in 2000, became a politician, eventually becoming 'Prime Minister' of the breakaway province of Kosovo in 2004. He served for 100 days before being indicted for war crimes by the ICC at which time he surrendered to international police and was taken to the Hague. We should pause here to once again remind readers that, unlike in the United States of America, in Europe courts are not rooted in the people. In America a court is responsible to the people in the sense that it is part of a balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government. Every court has a check on its power, just as it serves as a check on the government. By contrast the European ICC has no check on its power. There is no appeals court and no supreme court. The ICC is the court. There is no higher power than the ICC.
Returning to Mr. Haradinaj. He was accused of at least 39 murders due to corpses found near his property. The bodies showed signs of torture and were bound with barbed wire. Some had their eyes cut out and others were mutilated. He was also accused of torturing and murdering Serbs and Gypsies and forcing them to flee Kosovo. But before he could go on trial at the ICC senior political operatives of the United Nations had to have their say. Nicholas Wood of the New York Times noted the following: "For Western diplomats, Haradinaj was a key partner in their efforts to bring peace to the province, so much so that they tried to prevent the case from going to trial, according to a former head of the UN mission in Kosovo and the court's chief prosecutor…'He moved this process forward in a way that nobody else has done,' said Soren Jessen-Petersen, who was the head of the UN mission in Kosovo at the time of Haradinaj's indictment, in March 2005… Carla Del Ponte, has referred to the case as 'a prosecution that some did not want to see brought, and that few supported by their cooperation at both the international and local level'… All along, international officials have tried to balance the need for political stability with the demands for justice. The UN administration in Kosovo repeatedly blocked the prosecution of Haradinaj in a case in which he was accused of attacking a rival family group of former fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army." The UN, unlike the United States, has no tradition of a witness protection program. "The prosecution's leading witness, Tahir Zemaj, his son and nephew were shot and killed during the investigation. Another witness, Kjutim Berisha, died two weeks before the trial opened when he was hit by a car in the Montenegrin capital. More than a third of those giving evidence on behalf of the prosecution are allowed to conceal their identities." Needless to say this did not help the integrity of the case. In addition "senior UN officials had met with Haradinaj before his departure to the Netherlands at the time of his indictment in 2005 and when he returned there to stand trial. 'This has had a chilling impact on our witnesses.' " This would be akin to members of Congress chumming it up with a mafia boss before he goes on trial, sending the message to potential witnesses that the government was surely not interested in their story or in protecting them.
The decision in the case was a foregone conclusion. The U.N hampered its own prosecution from start to finish. It allowed the suspect to go free and return to Kosovo to continue his political activities. This is hardly equal treatment under the law. Thus while Milosevic and Serb leaders were kept at the Hague and not allowed to even communicate with the public this person, because of his ethnicity and the U.N's support, was allowed to return to his country while under indictment for war crimes. Europeans still have not learned that 'equal treatment' under the law actually means equal treatment. In the end the acquittal was a foregone conclusion. In order to not find him guilty of war crimes the ICC determined that his "murders and attacks were not on a scale or of a frequency to conclude that there was an attack on the civilian population." Thus he only committed a small genocide, not a real one.
The central problem with the ICC is politics. The statement: 'international officials have tried to balance the need for political stability with the demands for justice" is the heart of the problem. Justice and 'political stability' are not sitting on different sides of a scale. They are not related at all. Surely political stability could have been preserved in Germany by keeping Hitler in charge. The mafia guarantees a certain stability as well, it keeps people in line. The law is more important than the need for some arbitrary 'stability'. Myriam Dessables, a UN spokeswoman noted that "In decision after decision, the ICTY Chamber has made it clear that the United Nations Mission in Kosovo is in the best position to determine what is in the interest of promoting peace and reconciliation in Kosovo." This is the other central problem. The UN has decided that it, a group of Europeans, is 'in the best position' to decide what is best for the world. But a group of snobbish arrogant Europeans are not in any position to determine this. Between the 16th century and the 1960s Europeans had a chance to determine what was best for the world through their imperialism. That time is over. Europeans think the UN can be used as a new way to revive their ambitions to tell others what to do. Once again one sees the degree to which, in the mind of the European, the ICC is not a court but merely a political base from which to control the lives of others through selective prosecution and rigged courts.
To truly understand European justice and the ICC one must return to a few other things that came to light in the case. A co-defendant of Mr. Haradinaj, Lahi Brahimaj, "was sentenced to six years for the abuse of prisoners detained in a camp where he was in charge. It said that he had personally participated in beatings and torture. Mr. Brahimaj, who has already served three years, is likely to be freed in a year if he gets the usual reduction for good behavior that is common in European countries where he may serve his time." Recall that the Serbs who were 'brought to justice' not only did not receive the furloughs that Mr. Haradinaj received but also were either kept in prison until they died (like Babic and Milosevic) or sentenced to longer prison terms.
In total the ICC for the former Yugoslavia has indicted 161 people of which 5 have been acquitted, 48 sentenced, 11 transferred to local courts and 36 cases withdrawn due to lack of evidence. The Judges are from the following countries: Italy, Australia, Jamaica, Malta, Netherlands, Guyana, Turkey, China, Senegal, USA, Germany, South Korea, France, UK, Belgium, South Africa, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Congo, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Canada, Norway and Denmark. One will note here that the judiciary includes two Mohammeds, one from Guyana and the other from Turkey. It also includes judges from stable democracies such as the Congo and Pakistan as well as countries known for their robust human rights records such as China. In all the court is primarily European, there are no South Americans for instance.
If one examines the track record of indictments one will find that only Serbs have been sentenced to life in prison. The average sentence for 30 convicted Serbs has been 18 years, while the average sentence for the 10 convicted Croats was 13 years, for the two Bosnians was 11.5 years, and for the three Albanians it was only 6.4 years. Fifteen of the indictees have died either by their own hand, at the hands of the ICC police forces or while awaiting trial (10% of those indicted have thus died before their trials have ended!) Thirteen of these have been Serbs. One was a Croat and the other a Bosnian. Four Croats, two Albanians and a Bosnian have been acquitted of crimes. By contrast only 1 Serb has. Dozens are still awaiting trial or on trial for 'crimes' that took place more than 10 years ago. The ICC is so inefficient and so unable to provide people with a speedy trial that it allows most of the defendants to die before being sentenced, thus taking the burden off of itself. This contradicts the American law which requires that people not be 'denied life'. In this case, but putting people on trial for 15 years, they are denied their life. To use a word Europeans like so much, the track record of the ICC has been disproportionately anti-Serb, resulting in the deaths of Serb defendants, extremely long trials and a disproportionate conviction rate against Serbs for crimes that were similar or equal to the crimes Croats, Bosnians and Albanians were accused of. In the United States those who argue courts are biased against African-Americans usually show the statistics that Blacks are more likely to be put on trial and more likely to be convicted and form a disproportionate part of the prison population. Leftists who are proud of using such facts to draw conclusions should make the same conclusions about the ICC rather than praising its biased track record.
In the end the ICC must be judged a sinister kangaroo court. The then head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Søren Jessen-Petersen, described Haradinaj, who had been indicted by the court, as a "friend" and as a man of "dynamic leadership, strong commitment and vision" whose presence would be greatly missed. Carla Del Ponte has expressed her exasperation saying, "I don’t understand why there cannot be peace in Kosovo without Ramush Haradinaj." Kujtim Beriša, a Roma who was to be called as a witness by the OTP in the case against Haradinaj, was killed in a car accident in Podgorica, Montenegro on February 18, 2007. He had been given no witness protection by the court.
Most shameful of all is the track record of praise given to the court by some American politicians. United States Senator Joe Biden commented on Haradinaj's indictment, "In the overall post-Yugoslav context, Mr. Haradinaj's willingness after his indictment to surrender voluntarily and go to The Hague is striking. It stands in glaring contrast to the behavior of the three most infamous individuals indicted by The Hague, all of whom are still fugitives, resisting arrest: former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and former Croatian General Ante Gotovina." Joe Biden should be ashamed. Why would anyone surrender to a court when their trial might last 15 years, when they will be kept in solitary confinement due to their ethnicity and when they are guaranteed a longer sentence due to their ethnicity?
The international community had a chance to establish a war crimes tribunal and court that was just. They could have modeled it after the American legal system and given defendants the same rights. They could have set standards for it, rather than making them up as it goes along, and had checks and balances and an independent court of appeals. Indictments could have been served independently of political interests and without the influence of senior Un officials. Thuggish judges from dictatorships could have been prevented from being on the bench. But none of this was done. The existence of the ICC and its creation should serve as a lesson of how not to run a court rather than be praised as an ideal internationalist utopia.
Make sure Bulgaria apologizes for saving 48,000 Jews
Seth J. Frantzman
March 29th, 2008
Haaretz was giddy with a report that ‘Bulgaria accepts blame for 11,000 Holocaust deaths’. The story goes that President Georgi Parvanov said in a visit to Israel that in Bulgaria “we do not shirk our responsibility for the fate of more than 11,000 Jews who were deported from Thrace and Macedonia to death camps.” Its important that Bulgaria take responsibility for the deaths of these Jews even though these places in which Jews lived did not belong to Bulgaria until April, 1941 and Bulgarians did not take part in transporting them to their deaths. So Bulgaria is being good for taking responsibility for something it had virtually no role in.
The U.S Holocaust Museum makes it pretty clear just what kind of credit the Slavic Bulgars deserve. “During the war, German-allied Bulgaria did not deport Bulgarian Jews. Bulgaria did, however, deport non-Bulgarian Jews from the territories it had annexed from Yugoslavia and Greece…. Jews of Bulgarian citizenship were relatively secure from deportation to German-held territory… Also in the spring of 1943, the Bulgarian government made extensive plans to comply with the Nazi demand to deport Bulgaria's Jews. Significant and public protest from key political and clerical leaders moved King Boris to cancel these deportation plans…In 1945, the Jewish population of Bulgaria was still about 50,000, its prewar level. Next to the rescue of Danish Jews, Bulgarian Jewry's escape from deportation and extermination represents the most significant exception of any Jewish population in Nazi-occupied Europe.” It is important to note that the Museum’s discussion does not mention even one name associated with saving the Jews of Bulgaria. But the names should be known. Metropolitan Stefan of Sophia, the Metropolitan Kiril of Plovdiv, the Metropolitan Neofit of Vidin and MP Dimiter Peshev, were the lead protestors on behalf of the Jews. Apparently they sent word to the king that they would lie down on the train tracks to prevent the deportation of the Jews.
The problem with Bulgaria is that it didn’t do enough. It was the only country in Europe to have as many Jews after the war as it did before the war (Denmark by contrast had to send its 7,200 Jews to Sweden). Bulgaria declared was on Nazi Germany in October of 1944. That was not enough. One might stop here and wonder ‘what if all the countries of Europe had done as Bulgaria did? Then there would have been no Holocaust. But, no matter, it’s those 11,000 Jews that are blood on Bulgaria’s hands, not the 50,000 survivors. Bulgaria’s sin was to ally itself with Nazi Germany in March of 1941 and help in the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece and accept territorial concessions given it by the Nazis. When the Nazis demanded in 1943 that Bulgarian hand over the 11,000 Jews in these newly won territories the Bulgarians complied. After the war these territories were given back to Yugoslavia and Greece.
What is most important is to make sure that Bulgaria gets no credit for saving 48,000-50,000 Jews, all the Jews who lived in Bulgaria before the redrawing of her borders in 1941. The President of Bulgaria mentioned this as well “when we express justifiable pride at what we have done to save Jews, we do not forget that at the same time there was an anti-Semitic regime in Bulgaria.” Thus the Bulgarian Socialist president who was formerly a communist is joining the self-flagellating dialectic of the west. The same self-flagellation imposed itself upon my high school teacher Jim Wigren who told me that the U.S was responsible for the Holocaust because America didn’t take in all the Jews of Europe and thus save them.
In 2000 a statue to King Boris III, who played a role in saving the country’s Jews, was torn down from its place in the Jerusalem hills after protests by Holocaust survivors who blamed him for not saving the 11,000 Jews in the areas ceded by the Nazis to Bulgaria. There is only one word for the treatment of Bulgaria and the revisionist writing on the country’s role in the Holocaust: Chutzpah. It is little different than the condemnations of the Catholic church for saving Jewish children by placing them with Catholic families (while the church’s role is distasteful, those who condemn the church for this seem to imply somehow that it would have been better had the children been killed. In an ideal world the children wouldn’t have had to be saved by being raised in such a manner-but 1942 in Europe was as far from an ideal world as could have been). The same logic propels both condemnations. The Catholic church and Bulgaria should apologize for saving Jews.
It is ironic that Bulgaria, one of the few countries in Europe whose priesthood and public leaders united to save Jews should be the one pressured into apologizing while countries who collaborationist Nazi-like leaders are allowed international fame and even become head of the UN. That is right. The countries where all the Jews were killed are not forced to apologize. Poland receives millions from Jewish tour groups year after year so that Jews can see the death camps on its soil. Poland has never apologized for its multi-faceted role. I say multi-faceted because Poles worked for the Nazis and the underground Polish Home Army, despite fighting the Nazis, also hunted down Jews. After the war there were pogroms in Poland. There has not been an apology. There has been no apology from Ukraine where many locals joined the Nazis and helped kill Jews. There has been no apology from Belarus. There has been no apology from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, all of which furnished the Nazis with collaborationist units during the war. There has been no apology from Rumania, home of a fascist collaborationist Legion of the Archangel Michael party during the war. There has been no apology from Czech republic, home of the Arrow Cross. There has been no apology from Switzerland, whose Red Cross collaborated and where Jews were refused permission to enter. There has been no apology from France, where the Vichy regime collaborated. There has been no apology from Norway, home of Quisling. There has been no apology from Slovakia. There has been no apology from Greece. No apology from the Netherlands or Belgium. No apology from Macedonia. No apology from Hungary. No apology from Austria, a country that welcomed the Aunschluss and also furnished more men per capita as volunteers for the SS than any country in Europe. It later elected, after the war, the former SS officer Kurt Waldhiem as president. There has been no apology from Bosnia where the Palestinian Mufti Hajj Amin al Husayni went in 1942 to recruit volunteers for an SS unit, the Handzhar divison and where Muslims gladly joined. But most glaring of all there has been no apology from Croatia, that Catholic darling of the west which had the most brutal collaborationist regime, the Ustasha, and which cleansed itself of all its Jews. It was the only country to set up its death camps without the help of the Nazis. In the 1990s the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a bestselling booking Zagreb. Its president in the 1990s, Franjo Tudjman was a Holocaust denier who wrote in his book that “That the estimated loss of up to 6 million dead is founded too much on both emotional biased testimonies” But Croatia, the neo-Nazi state in the heart of Europe has not apologized. Neither has the Catholic church in Croatia, which independent of Rome’s mandate, helped organize the Holocaust in that country to the extent that one of its Franciscan priests, Miroslav Filipovic-Majstorovic earned the nickname father Satan.
No apologies will ever be forthcoming from these countries in which more than 90% of the Holocaust’s victims came from (less than 265,000 of the Jews killed in the Holocaust were from Germany). The collaborationists will not apologize. But leave it to Jewish groups and leftists to make sure the country in Europe which actively saved the most Jews should apologize for its ‘crimes’. What crime was that? Surely if it had just killed the other 48,000 Jews then it would not have to apologize. Then it might have had one of its former SS officers made a UN secretary-general. Then it would have been one of the first Eastern-European countries to join the EU, as was the case with Croatia.
The Europeans like to talk about the Holocaust. Some European countries make it illegal to deny the Holocaust. But when it comes to actually being interested in which countries helped Jews and which did nothing and which collaborated the track record is displeasing. In fact given the secular-leftist view of history, that heritage and history are not connected to modern man, this should be no surprise. Even though Bulgaria and Serbia saved Jews that is no reason to give them credit today. That was a one time event. Even Jewish groups are clear on that. The JDC supported Jewish philanthropy in Sarajevo, La Benevolencija made sure to help to Croats and Bosnian Muslims during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. It is no surprise. They gave aid to the very people who had joined the Mufti’s Nazi units. They gave aid to the former Ustasha Nazis. Of course. There was no aid for the Serbs.
If the Bulgarian President wanted to tell the truth he should have apologized, he should have apologized for the fact that his country saved Jews. Had his country helped kill all the Jews, the way almost all the other European countries did, then his country could today be a proud member of the European family of nations and it could sit at the EU summits with all the other former collaborationist regimes and they could all pat eachother on the backs and say ‘we have no Jews and we are secular-leftist and liberal, isn’t that great. We sure got away with it. We got to be Nazis when it was fashionable. Then we were Communist when that was cool. Now we are secular liberals. Soon we will be Muslim. We have museums to the Jews but no Jews.’
What is westernization?
April 12th, 2008
Seth J. Frantzman
A recent book by Steve Coll entitled The Bin Ladens: an Arabian family in the American Century on the Bin Laden family, after mentioning that he was one of 54 children, claims that many of his siblings were ‘western’. According to the author they ‘loved America’ and they were ‘American’ in their love of ‘free choice’. The evidence for this is clear. They enjoyed fast cars. They liked to fly their own small planes. They were in rock bands. They had European friends. Some of them grew their hair long.
The iron in all this is that Liberalism in fact accepts Osama’s definition of westernism, it assumes that to be western is to be affluent, corpulent, bourgeoisie, decadent, and obsessed with consumer goods and materialism.
It is best to let a review of the book by the Washington Post speak for itself: “Steve Coll's marvelous book about the bin Laden family would begin like a familiar American saga. An illiterate youth arrives in a land of opportunity from his impoverished homeland and, by dint of ambition, talent and hard work, becomes immensely rich and powerful. He collects properties, airplanes, luxury cars and women -- tastes he passes on to his sons…Mohamed bin Laden was rigorous in prayer but liberal in interpreting the Koran's sexual strictures. He married countless times, occasionally for business reasons, often out of whimsy, sometimes to women he kept with him, usually to women he legally divorced. In 1958 alone, his wives gave birth to seven children, among them Osama, whose mother was a 15-year-old Syrian from whom Mohamed quickly split.. following Islamic law, he willed each of his 25 sons 2.7 percent of his company's assets, while each daughter received 1 percent…[Osama] At 17, he married a 14-year-old cousin, who quickly bore him a son; he kept her in strict Islamic seclusion…Osama, with three wives (a fourth had recently left him), 11 sons and an unrecorded number of daughters, chose exile in Sudan…Osama’s older brother, Salem—a free-living, chainsmoking, guitar-strumming pilot, adventurer, and businessman who cavorted across America and Europe and once proposed marriage to four American and European girlfriends simultaneously, attempting to win a bet with the king of Saudi Arabia.”
Perhaps this is the America of Hollywood and San Francisco. Perhaps this is the America of the Rolling Stones. But these qualities are not what makes the West. This is where the confusion rests. Hypocrisy is an Islamic quality. This story of the Bin Ladens reveals what Islam entails. It is a religion that combines an extremist legal code, hateful dogmas, the seclusion and imprisonment of women, with the fun-loving desires of men. That people have come to think that this is western shows the degree to which commentators simply do not understand the history of Western Civilization of America. When one reads Mr. Coll’s book they are invited to believe that this blend of Mohammed Bin Laden’s Rockefeller like rise and Salem Bin-Laden’s Howard Hughes like life make the family suddenly American. But perhaps people are forgetting an essential ingredient here. John D. Rockefeller loved his wife. He had one wife. He devoted his life to her. He tithed 10% to his church. His was not a world of hypocrisy. He did not enjoy the good life while keeping his daughters locked behind closed doors. Steve Coll’s book misses this essential point in his quest to westernize the Bin Ladens. Where are the Bin Laden women? Coll reveals the essential difference between American civilization and Islamic civilization without even realizing it. “an unrecorded number of daughters.” The essential difference between the American way of life and the Muslim one has nothing to do with the behavior of men. It has everything to do with the behavior and treatment of women. It has everything to do with the existence of women. In Coll’s book women exist as tools. They are the tools used to create more children. They are playthings for the wealthy men. They are virginal 15 year old girls, purchased and raped and discarded like trash. The only difference between the west and Islam is the difference in the use and abuse of women. Islam produces the Howard Hugheses. It produces the Brad Pitts. It produces the all sorts of males. But just because men enjoy fast cars and are able to succeed at running a business and just because they enjoy ‘cavorting’ does not make them western. Hermann Goring, the Nazi Air Marshal, also enjoyed his fast cars and his women and his planes and his expensive tastes. But he was not western. He was a Nazi. Levrenti Beria, Vyacheslav Molotov, Genrikh Yagoda and Nikolai Yezhov all enjoyed fast cars, beautiful women, beautiful estates, and some of them engaged in cavorting and more extreme sexual antics. They were Stalin’s henchmen. Good Communists all. They were not western or American and no one would describe them as such. Is it the fact that Molotov and Goring were European so we are more easily able to realize the fallacy of connecting their love of wealth with their being ‘American’ or ‘Western’?
Steve Coll’s American culture seems to be defined merely by wealth, love of easy women, fast cars and occasional hard work. These qualities may be found in Americans but they are not the soul of America. They are not what differentiates American Culture from other cultures. Decadence, despite Bin Laden’s claims, is not American. It is the antithesis of America. To be sure, some Americans are decadent. But does America truly love those who are decadent? When MC Hammer’s Hammertime mansion was shown to be bankrupt didn’t people silently smile that he his decadence had brought him down. Isn’t it the same with the Neverland Ranch of Michael Jackson? Decadence leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many Americans. It s the reason the Rockefeller family donated their estates in Maine to form Acadia National Park. That quality is more American. Few people are impressed with the Kennedy compound in Cape Cod. Still fewer are pleased with the extreme decadence of Paris Hilton.
The essential stupidity in defining every Muslim who enjoys having sex with 15 year old women and enjoys driving fast cars and is “free-living, chainsmoking, guitar-strumming pilot, adventurer, and businessman who cavorts across America and Europe and once proposed marriage to four American” as ‘American’ or ‘Western’ simply show the degree to which people are out of touch with what it means to be American. In truth, the fact that Mr. Coll can describe these qualities as ‘American’ shows the degree to which he has been converted to Osama Bin Laden’s viewpoint. Free-living and respect for the freedom of others are not the same thing. American civilization is replete with characters who are the opposite of the Bin Ladens. They are modest characters such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. They are men who respected the intelligence of their wives and daughters such as John Adams. America is a country that also included women, unlike the story of the Bin Laden family, the story of America is one that includes that other half of society, the female half. Had Coll stepped outside himself he would have realized he had written a book entirely about men, mostly one that involved men raping and exploiting women, and this quality, while it exists in the west, is one that is not smiled upon but one that is the underbelly of the west. Perhaps if Mr. Coll had read Cokie Roberts new book Ladies of Liberty about prominent First Ladies in American history he would have noticed that his book was an ingredient.
The Bin Ladens are not Americans. They are Muslims. Their way of life is Islamic. Their obsession with 15 year old girls is an Islamic custom. Their ‘love of life’ is Islamic, for Islam is a religion that primarily encourages men to have no responsibility and to cavort and enjoy life. Their ‘free choice’ is one that is Islamic insofar as an Islamic society encourages men to go to other countries and do as they please without regard to the law or the cultures and religions and customs of others. Their fast cars and their airplanes and guitars are Islamic for the Islamic life is primarily one wealth and privilege. The wealthy in Islamic societies, like in many other cultures, do not work for a living but instead play for a living, like the European aristocrats of the 19th century. The story of the Bin Laden’s is not even a story of the 20th century. The review of Coll’s book claims “At the story’s heart lies an immigrant family’s attempt to adapt simultaneously to Saudi Arabia’s Puritanism and America’s myriad temptations. The family generation to which Osama belonged—twenty-five brothers and twenty-nine sisters—had to cope with intense change… these Bin Ladens found themselves bombarded by Western-influenced ideas about individual choice, by gleaming new shopping malls and international fashion brands, by Hollywood movies and changing sexual mores—a dizzying world that was theirs for the taking, because they each received annual dividends that started in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. How they navigated these demands is an authentic, humanizing story of Saudi Arabia, America, and the sources of attraction and repulsion still present in the countries’ awkward embrace.” This has nothing to do with America. Coll’s book could just have easily been one of the stories found in Hugh Kennedy’s Court of the Caliphs which describes life in 8th and 9th century Iraq during the Abbasid caliphate. This was a similar Islam, an Islam of men playing and women wrapped up and hidden away. It is a story of pleasures and sex and cavorting and wealth and slaves doing all the work. This is an Islamic story. It is not American.
Those who read about the ‘secular’ Bin Ladens and feel that their partying and ‘enjoyment of life’ is a connection, something that ‘we have in common with them’ show the degree to which a part of western civilization has become Islamic. It is the reason Islam has such an easy time converting people in Europe. Part of the west has left the western tradition and it has taken all the weaknesses of it and boiled it down and turned Western Civilization into a fleshpot of dancing and enjoyment and ‘freedom’ without any of the morals and rights and liberties and strengths needed to keep the party going.
Saudi Arabia is hardly ‘puritan’ in this respect. It is America that was founded by the real Puritans. These were the men who listened to the sermon by Jonathan Edwards entitled ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’. It is America that had prohibition. But Prohibition and the Puritan settlers don’t make America ‘like’ Saudi Arabia. Our Puritans didn’t rape 15 year old girls and discard their wives like trash. Our Puritans didn’t glory in the killing of civilians. Our Puritans held self-reliance and individual responsibility high on the pedestal of human virtues.
The Bin Laden family has not become American. Americans have simply become more Islamisized. By allowing people like Mr. Coll to dictate to us what ‘American’ culture is and allowing him to denigrate it as cavorting with teenage girls and driving fast cars people are essentially admitting they have no culture. They have lost any attachment to the founding fathers of America. They have lost touch with the ideas that informed the founding fathers, namely Greek civilization and the Old Testament and the enlightenment.