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FP: Thank you Robert Spencer.
Roger Simon, our concluding round begins. What are the consequences we face with this mass psychosis and denial? What is the most effective thing we can try to do to put a crack in it?
Simon: To begin, I would like to thank my co-panelists for their excellent posts. I think the three of us substantially agree on this issue, which pushes us immediately to the most serious question: As Lenin put it, “What is to be done?”
Well, the answer to that is far from easy because, as a considerably better writer than Lenin – Charles Dickens – put it, these are “the best of times and the worst of times.” By that I mean the very thing that could be our salvation – the unprecedented mass communication of the Internet – is the very thing that is most often used to perpetuate the Big Lie about the very problem we face. Unfortunately, the Internet often ratifies and amplifies the very societal hypnosis and self-hypnosis modern liberals undergo. This is as true for the trial of Geert Wilders as it is for anything else.
For make no mistake about it, we are engaged in a global psy-war. The question is how to win it when our side often seems uninterested in defending itself. Indeed, the current administration seems to want the reverse – to cede victory to our adversaries by refusing to name them, an extraordinary state of affairs. It reminds me of what my colleague Glenn Reynolds used to write about opponents of the Iraq War: “They’re not anti-war. They’re on the other side.”
But back to “What is to be done?” Well, we must redouble our efforts in the psy-war and broaden our approach. That means not just preaching to the choir at venues like Pajamas Media and Front Page, but also finding ways to break through on their turf. The Great American Middle must be awakened and informed logically, not heatedly, about the Islamic threat. This is not about proving we are “right.” This is about saving our civilization.
At this moment, the failures of the Obama administration, perceived now even by his supporters, may offer a window to reach out. We should seize it. Accusations of racism, like those habitually aimed at Wilders, also seem to be losing some of their punch – another signal it is time to go on the offensive. On top of that, the monumental Gulf oil spill – not Obama’s fault, but further evidence of his incompetence – provides further opportunity.
So perhaps I am slightly more optimistic than I was on my first post. See what a little writing can do to make one feel better. Let’s keep doing it. We’ll be covering the Wilders trial closely at Pajamas Media and PJTV.
FP: Roger Simon, thank you. I would like to follow up with you for a moment. Can you briefly list what you deem to be some of the failures of the Obama administration? And also, in your view, what incompetence has Obama showed in dealing with the Gulf oil spill?
Simon: I can’t think of anything I like about Obama, really, but his single most repellent act … or non-act… was his non-response to the Iranian freedom movement at their moment of crisis, when revolution against the mullahs seemed possible. Obama’s lack of emotional connection was stunning. It was almost as if he cared more about taking the credit for some mythical negotiation with Ahmadinejad than he did about the lives of the brave democracy demonstrators thronging the streets of Teheran. I can’t recall an American president ever behaving worse in my lifetime – and that includes Watergate.
The rest of his foreign policy follows from that behavior. His treatment of Israel is beneath contempt and seems guided by his old friend Rashid Khalidi of the missing LA Times tape, but I’m sure the readers of Front Page know that.
As for the economy, he’s been an obvious failure and is clearly out of his depth. I don’t think he has a clue about what he is doing and any real discernible policy. He is also in a trap, because the only thing he does believe in (to the extent he believes is anything) is increased government spending and taxes, but the public knows, indeed many of his allies now know, that that is precisely the opposite of what the country and the world require and is doomed to failure. The recession will only get worse.
The fortunate thing in all this is that whatever he does do domestically, can probably be reversed (with great effort). But some of his foreign policies may be irreversible. The damage will be done.
Regarding the Gulf oil spill, as I have written elsewhere, this is the one area he is not really culpable – anymore than Bush was for Katrina – although, ironically, it is the most likely to bring him down. That said, however, it is evident that Obama doesn’t do empathy well. He couldn’t be empathetic to the Iranian students and it took him ages to react to the people of the Gulf on a human level. Makes you nostalgic for Clinton (Bill, I mean). Anyway, Obama is up against it now. Things don’t look good for him. As John Lennon once sang, “Instant karma’s gonna get you. Gonna knock you right on the head.”
Karma’s catching up with Barack Obama.
FP: Thank you Roger Simon.
Kenneth Levin, what is to be done? And I didn’t mean to get us off track with Obama’s failures, but in crystallizing them we can perhaps gauge, as Mr. Simon notes, how to seize the window of opportunity in terms of what to do in the context of our cultural denial.
Levin: The cultural denial of the threat we face will be overcome in one of two ways. Either it will be changed by the nation being subjected to sufficient additional carnage to force it awake or – obviously preferably – it will be abandoned in response to a sustained effort to saturate the public consciousness with images that effectively convey the threat, convey it to the point where fewer and fewer are able to cling to their denial of reality.
Israel, to its misfortune, resisted the latter path to its waking from the delusions of Oslo. Pro-Oslo governments, and the nation’s media, refused to address statements by Arafat and his associates, and by PA media, mosques and schools, that clearly demonstrated their goal remained Israel’s annihilation. Nor did Israel’s pro-Oslo leaders and media acknowledge the obvious implications of the Arafat-supported terror, unprecedented in its intensity, unleashed against Israelis during the early years of the Oslo process. It was only after Arafat, in September, 2000, rejected the offers of a comprehensive peace deal proposed by Israel and supported by President Clinton and instead unleashed his terror war, ultimately killing over a thousand Israeli civilians and horribly maiming thousands more, that Israelis in large numbers were shaken from their Oslo fantasies. For others, it required the Hezbollah terror that followed on Israel’s full withdrawal from southern Lebanon, and the intensified Hamas rocket barrages that followed Israel’s evacuation from Gaza in 2005, to disabuse them of their Oslo delusions.
The United States has, of course, experienced some additional carnage since 9/11 and numerous near misses. And many in America are open-eyed about the broader threat those incidents represent. Many were not only outraged by Nidal Malik Hasan’s murder of 13 at Fort Hood. They were hardly less disturbed by the pathetic failure to stop Hasan when there were so many indications of the danger he posed, by the flacking for him in the military, by the refusal in both government and media circles to acknowledge his more than obvious motives and the significance of his beliefs and his actions.
Much of the public reacted similarly to the government’s handling of the would-be Christmas bomber: the failure to use available intelligence to stop his attempted mass murder; the rapid granting him Miranda rights; the reluctance to acknowledge his Jihadist agenda; the unsupported assertions that he acted alone; the claims that his failure to destroy his plane demonstrated “the system worked.” So too did the public react to the equally ludicrous, similar, and similarly dangerous, initial government and media responses to the Times Square bomber – the initial reluctance to associate the act or its perpetrator with any broader threat, the absurd grasping for alternative explanations of his motives, again the claims that his attempted mass murder failed because “the system worked,” the ongoing refusal to name the actual threat.
But clearly public concern has not reached the level of effectively pressuring the government to abandon its prevarications and its apologetics and indeed its sympathies vis-a-vis the enemy. It is only to be wished that it won’t require a disaster on the scale of 9/11 to rouse the public to that greater determination to bring about a change in government policy.
One element of promoting that determination is not only to speak to the public about the nature of the threat but to demonstrate vividly the threat. This can be advanced by disseminating to broader audiences such works as Fitna, the documentary Obsession, and other films that offer footage both of Islamist leaders explicating their murderous agenda and Islamist cadres acting on that agenda.
Roger Simon notes that the Internet, which could be an effective tool for getting out the truth about the Islamist threat despite mainstream media silence and obfuscation, has actually largely cut the other way by being used to promote the Big Lie about the threat, the denying it and rationalizing it and prettifying it. The Internet is also used by the Islamist enemy to recruit to its cause. But the new media could be used to expose more effectively the Big Lie, with images. I agree with Roger Simon on the repellent non-response of Obama to last June’s mobilization of the freedom movement in Iran. The snapshots and film images captured on cell phones of the popular uprising and the regime’s brutal response were seen around the world, and brought home to many the nature of the Iranian branch of the enemy and the moral bankruptcy of Obama’s response.
Images of events in Darfur can also be mustered to convey the counter-message to the Big Lie. The people of Darfur, like those in the streets in Iran, are Muslims, but their tormentors, the rulers of the Sudan, are closely allied with the Iranian branch of the Islamist threat – its chief boosters are drawn from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. Sudan’s rulers enjoy as well the unanimous backing of the Arab League, the friendship of Erdogan’s Islamic government in Turkey, and the support of additional non-state backers such as Al-Qaeda. Many on this roster, including the Sudanese government, are the object of Obama Administration blandishments and outreach and offerings of carrots, even as the slaughter in Darfur, and indeed in other minority areas in Sudan, goes on unabated. Images, in photos and film, of what is actually happening there can help promote public eye-opening to the broader threat and impatience with our government’s fecklessness.
Those who speak the truth, or convey it in photos and video, will be demonized, as Robert Spencer says. That is, indeed, the Islamist way, and leftist way. But one can challenge the censors. If their counterparts in Europe, including the indicters of Wilders, are largely able to escape serious challenge, we’re not obliged to give the censors a free pass here.
Material demonstrating the threat – in the words and deeds of the Islamists themselves – can be offered, in universities and elsewhere, as material to be discussed and debated. If it contains errors, let the critics demonstrate it. Those who refuse to allow the discussion, in whatever venue, should be called out for violating the norms of a free society, whether they are motivated by fears of the physical retaliation supporters of the Islamist threat so widely employ, or by fears of being labeled “racist” or “anti-Muslim,” or – as the anecdotes cited by Robert Spencer effectively convey – by refusal to recognize the nature of the threat because it is too daunting and upsetting.
During the late thirties, Churchill was censored. He was virtually blackballed by the BBC and demonized by other major media. They were afraid to have his message aired, afraid of its implications. When Chamberlain brought “peace in our time” back from Munich, Churchill was denounced as a warmonger for criticizing Chamberlain’s capitulation to the Nazi threat.
But we do have tools to circumvent the censorship of the appeasers, and only through those tools can we hope to break the dominant self-delusion by means that will spare the nation a ruder awakening via future 9/11’s.
FP: Thank you Kenneth Levin. Robert Spencer, final thoughts?
Spencer: It is indeed, as Roger Simon, a global psy-war, and it is by no means over. We have the truth on our side, and as Kenneth Levin ably adumbrates, we have the alternate media – which is still very small compared to the mainstream media, but it is growing apace as the frustration of people who realize they’re being lied to increases. The biggest challenge we face is that all too many people who no longer buy the lies of the Left still allow themselves to be cowed by this psychological manipulation, such that they’re afraid to speak out for the truth themselves, or afraid to venture outside the bounds of what the Left has delineated as acceptable discourse. The hardest obstacles to clear away are not the Left’s control of the mainstream media, but our own mind-forged manacles.
As for Obama, no one should be surprised by what is happening. As Pamela Geller and I show in our book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War On America (coming July 27 from Simon & Schuster), he is not only presiding over America’s decline, but is in a very real sense the apostle of that decline. The course he is taking as President could have been predicted by anyone who knew the activities and associations of his earlier career, as we outline in the book. And so it is no surprise that the list of his anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic appointees and associates just keeps growing: not just Reverend Wright, but also Samantha Power, Robert Malley, Rosa Brooks, Chuck Hagel, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and more. Likewise also his appointees who wish to give international law precedence over American law: Harold Koh, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, John Holdren, Carol Browner – on and on.
In light of all this and more, the situation is very serious, and the time for appeasement, and what Levin terms “the censorship of the appeasers,” is over. William Jennings Bryan said it in 1896 in a vastly different context, but every word applies to conservatives today:
We do not come as aggressors. Our war is not a war of conquest; we are fighting in the defence of our homes, our families, and posterity. We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned; we have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded; we have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came. We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy them!
We beg no more. We entreat no more. We petition no more. We defy them. We are not the aggressors. We are not haters. We are not racists. We are not bigots. We are not neofascists. Those who claim otherwise are knowingly or unknowingly abetting a monstrous evil. We withdraw our sanction from them. We must no longer treat journalists as if they were objective reporters when they are ideologues and propagandists. We must constantly call them out on their game. And refuse to play it ourselves.
FP: Roger Simon, Robert Spencer and Kevin Levin, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.
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