Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Iraq in 1992

Letter from an Iraqi Refugee

An unforgettable letter from a northern Iraqi refugee reached us in November 1992 from Stockholm, Sweden: These letters demonstrate movingly how our daily radio broadcast enabled us to minister to people in transit through many countries, from Iraq to Sweden. We were a link with their past when they had listened to us in their home back in Irbil, Iraq..
“I have heard your voice for years—in Iraq, my homeland, then in Iran, next in Jordan and now here in Sweden. I am thrilled to be able to hear you. At last I can ask for and hope to receive all of your books.”
The following February, 1993, we received another longer letter which described and enlarged upon his first rather terse communication:
Dear Rev. Bassam Madany,
Greetings! I have just received your beautiful book, THE TEACHINGS OF THE HOLY BIBLE. I was so happy to get it and express my deep thanks. The books you are sending me are the only means of comfort in this land of refuge. Both my children and their mother are at present far away from me in another land of refuge. This forced separation took place around a year ago. I am now waiting on the Swedish authorities to bring the union of my family. Both my wife and my children are in an extreme need to be reunited with me and to find a better future.
We left our native land in northern Iraq around two years ago, exactly on 31st March, 1991. We were celebrating the first day of Easter. We dressed up for the occasion and went to church in our city of Irbil; I, my wife and three children accompanied by my aged mother and my older sister. We had left at home all the special food of Easter: colored eggs, stuffed chicken and many other of the nice things of our land.
Yes, we left for church at dawn as was our custom, and we never went back home. We were attacked (by Saddam Hussein’s army—this is a Kurdish area) and found ourselves fleeing on foot without food or drink. Finally we made it to Iran after a long march which took eight days over the Kurdistan mountains and valleys with snow and rain falling on us. The Iraqi army was following us with its huge guns and its air power. My story is very, very long. In fact, we experienced what the Lord mentioned in the Gospel:
“Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.” Matthew 24: 16-18
We left everything behind, and headed for the mountains. Our faith was strong that we were going to make it, having had communion early in the morning prior to the army’s attack. Would you believe it? They attacked us on that Holy Day in a beastly manner with their tanks, their airplanes and other weapons of destruction.
Please forgive me for these words. I just happened to remember those days and could no longer control my nerves and so had to express myself in this fashion. I will write again.

August 1993: Thanks for the three books you sent me which have become my constant companions. The Lord has listened to my prayers and yours. My family arrived recently from Jordan and they are all well. To God alone be the praise!

For more news about that radio ministry check our website www.levant.info

Posted by Shirley

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"The American People" according to Lehrer and Shields

By Winnifred Thomas

“For more than three decades, Iraq’s life was sheer and limitless terror” Fouad Ajami

“Thus media attention is a whole weapon in itself, and the main one from the view point of this terrorist group, and this subject should be a matter of primary consideration to strategists and planners of the War.” The Mesopotamian blogger.

After years of habitual listening to Jim Lehrer and his news report, one finds oneself weary of Jim’s plaintive and repetitive search for the correct answer from each interviewee, and just about ready to quit the habit. Lehrer’s questions are often phrased this way: “Considering the terrible results, you don’t think that going into Iraq was a mistake?” There is always that surprise and anxiety in the inflections of his voice. He is waiting for the fish to take the bait and then he will reel him in. (He seldom says “don’t you think” – it is rather phrased “you don’t think” as if putting the person on the spot.)

In this past week, Lehrer had both Sen. John McCain and Gen. Peter Pace on his show for in-depth interviews. He tried his best to trip them up.

Meanwhile on Veterans Day we had been fortunate enough to hear our President’s stirring speech to a group of Veterans in Pennsylvania. At last he bluntly attacked his opponents and declared that they could criticize his conduct of the war, that was their right; but he considered their recent attempts to rewrite history to be akin to treason. He pointed out various individual approvals and comments made in both Senate and the House at the time we entered the war with Iraq. Because he made some similar remarks on his way to Asia, a few days later, our biased media declared that the controversy was “escalating!”

John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona, had just given a speech in Washington on how the United States can, and should win the war in Iraq. Lehrer asked McCain if he “bought” the idea that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has created more terrorists than it destroyed. McCain said that he did not buy that theory. In fact he thought that the war in Iraq was more important than the Vietnam War. The astonished Lehrer echoed his words with horror and surprise in his inflection: “More important than Vietnam. In what way?” McCain then went on to explain the very different enemy.

Lehrer had one more try before letting his victim go: “You know as well as anyone what the opinion polls show about the American people’s feelings about the whole Iraq enterprise at this point. They are down on it, and they are losing support for it. What’s the cause of that? Why don’t they get it, what you just said?”

He got a typical politician’s answer for that. But we could insert our own. What American people is he talking about? What kind of genuine polls are being used? Why hasn’t the media reported all the success and real progress being made in Iraq? If anything is being manipulated, it is our own public opinion and that by a mainline media which cannot be trusted.

One last question to McCain: “Do you believe that the costs thus far in lives and money and prestige …have been worth this going into Iraq?” McCain hedged but did say that if we hadn’t gone in and removed Saddam Hussein, he would have been acquiring all those dreaded weapons and using them on his neighbors, in the same way he used them on his own people. Here came the last plaintive gasp of Jim Lehrer: “So you have no second thoughts at all about the wisdom of going to war?” McCain admitted to lots of second thoughts when a soldier’s life is lost. But he didn’t say we shouldn’t have gone.”

Now for General Peter Pace, the newly appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this interview you got the crisp straight-forward answers of a life-time Marine. He managed to turn one of the first questions into a mini-lecture to Mr. Lehrer that “I truly believe that we do not want the American public or anybody else watching this broadcast to start counting bodies.” Lehrer was inclined to argue about that, as if the military had been quick to say how many insurgents or army men had been killed. Pace replied: “No. I am saying that anyone who, in the past, has been counting bodies has been presenting the wrong measure of success. The correct measure of success is how much of this country, how much of Iraq is being controlled by coalition forces to include, and most importantly to include the Iraqi armed forces themselves, how much security is being provided and it’s not about death counts. It’s about defining security so that the Iraqi people can live in freedom.”

Lehrer quickly switched to the matter of the insurgency and its strength. Pace replied: “The insurgents fear the fact the Iraqis will be able to pick their own future. So when I say that, no, to your question about how they are getting stronger, I believe they are not because of the elections—because the 64 percent of the Iraqi populous went and voted; because 210,000 Iraqis now serve in their armed forces and their police.”

So Lehrer then asked if it was just a matter of time and Pace replied: “I absolutely believe that, yes.

Every Friday night on PBS stations, there would be a summary of the week’s news dealt with by Mark Shields and David Brooks. We would then have to suffer through the mock indignation of Mr. Shields as he time and time again brought up with strangled voice the dreadful facts of “no WMDs”, Jim, we went in there and they told us untruths. We didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction. We have been deceived. It was all a big lie,” etc., etc., ad infinatum.

How one wishes that these two old friends, Jim and Mark, could be given copies of Kenan Makiyah’s “Republic of Fear” to read. Or that they could develop a taste for the numerous fine articles of Fouad Ajami, who teaches International Relations at Johns Hopkins University. They don’t seem to have a glimmer of feeling for the Iraqi people themselves and for their excitement over the success of both elections. In an article which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on September 28, 2005, Ajami remarked:
“For more than three decades, Iraq’s life was sheer and limitless terror.” He speaks out loud and clear for the Shi-ites in the south and the Kurds in the northern part of Iraq. “An edifice of Arab nationalism built by strange bedfellows—the Sunni political and bureaucratic elites, and the Christian Arab pundits who abetted them in the idle hope they would be spared the wrath of the street and of the mob—was overturned in Iraq.”

He imagines what it would have been like if oil had been located in Sunni provinces.

“They would have disowned both north and south and opted for a smaller world of their own and defended it with the sword. But this was not to be, and their war is the panic of a community that fears that it could be left with a realm of ‘gravel and sand.’”

“The claim that our war in Iraq, after the sacrifices, will have hatched a Shiite theocracy is a smear on the war, a misreading of the Shiite world of Iraq…..The new order shall give them what they want, a place in Iraq’s cultural and moral order, and a decent separation between religion and the compromises of political life.”

Fouad Ajami ends this article, which was called “Heart of Darkness,” with these words:

“It has not been easy, this expedition to Iraq, and for America in Iraq there has been heartbreak aplenty. But we ought to remember the furies that took us there and we ought to be consoled by the thought that the fight is a fight to ward off Arab dangers and troubles that came our way on a clear September morning, four years ago.”

By the way, Dr. Fouad Ajami who was born in Lebanon, and received most of his education in his native land, speaks now as an Arab-American.

If you look up the November 3rd blog from Baghdad, you will get something to think about: http://www.messopotamian.blogspot.com/. Summing up his talk about the media and about Al Jazeera television station in Qatar, our grateful friend says:

“What is paradoxical, is that the regime behind this outlet claims to be the most faithful ally and friend of the U.S. to whom it owes its prosperity and security especially in the face of historical claims by Saudi Arabia, and often makes very friendly gestures towards Israel, and where the biggest American military base is located housing the command of American forces in the entire region (Siliya, Qatar). To western people who do not understand the M.E., this may sound very strange. The answer however is very simple: Sectarian prejudice, i.e. the pathological hatred of the Shiaa sect, which is the majority in only one Arab country, which is Iraq. Indeed, the only Sunnis who are inclined to be more tolerant towards the Shiaa’s are the Iraqi Sunnis, especially in cities, having lived side by side for many centuries. Thus the fury of the Arabs and other Moslems against the Americans is not because they invaded and occupied Iraq, but because as a result of this action and the fall of the Saddam regime, the Shiaas have become liberated and acquired a louder voice. This by the way is also the main factor fanning the “insurrection” and terrorism in Iraq, a fact which is publicly proclaimed by people like Zarqawi. Thus, the development of representative democracy with the Iraqi Sunnis taking their rightful place is the real antidote to these stupid prejudices. This is the hope of all patriotic Iraqis of all sects and the final happy outcome that we are all praying and working for."

How could anyone think it has been a mistake to liberate 26 million people? And who else could have done it? Freedom has always been a costly commodity. We, ourselves, have enjoyed peaceful lives thanks to the sacrifices made in World War II.

I would like to think that there is a strong core of patriotic Americans who aren’t ashamed of their love of country. Every time the media talk about the “American People”in this negative way, I want to say – that’s not the group of people I know.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thyroid/Lung Cancer: Treatment with Radio Active Iodine I 131

by Shirley W. Madany

Talking with a nurse at the Cancer Center of Ingalls Hospital, Harvey, IL, where I was having a follow-up visit with the radiation oncologist Dr. Sharkar Sanwalani, we got around to what I thought were possible symptoms earlier in this year (2005). One always looks back to see if there weren’t some signs. She suggested that I write an article for a magazine or our blog site, as it is a subject which interests everyone. I know, myself, that ever since being diagnosed with cancer I have had an avid interest in the entire subject.

After having a CAT Scan because of some irregularities noticed on an X ray, I received a phone call from my doctor the following day. I should see a pulmonologist right away. I got an appointment and we were shown the results. There were visible nodules on both lungs. I should have the more intensive PET Scan right away and a lung biopsy at the hospital the following day. Another sober phone call, again on a Friday. There was no doubt about it. I should find an oncologist and go on from there. It was definitely cancer.

Dr. Mark Kozloff was recommended as oncologist. And that first phone call to make an appointment with him, gave an inkling of a very different kind of doctor. The receptionist said, “Hold on, he’ll want to speak to you”. That was a surprise. His words were a surprise also: “As you have to wait a week to see me, please call if you have any emotional problems during the week.” At our first meeting he explained that he always takes phone call from his patients immediately, so one accepts the inevitable interruption during an appointment, because that is how he operates.

Next I phoned our Pastor to tell him the sober news. I will always remember his words: “Shirley, you know that God is not surprised.” How true. Think about it. From the minute I heard I had cancer I had experienced a remarkable gift of peace. Like most new cancer patients I also had that acute sense of the shortness of life and a wish to tidy up loose ends. I saw my life taking a turn down an unknown and unexpected road, but not for one minute did I think that I had strayed from following Jesus This was all part of God’s will and God’s plan for my life..

Thus began a remarkable summer punctuated with appointments and tests. Sometimes things seemed to be moving too slowly but our doctor son urged patience, because when cancer appears in two locations it is absolutely imperative to locate the “starter”. Once that was finalized the cancer would henceforth go by that name. The lung biopsy gave definite results. The next thing then was an ultra-sound and biopsy of the thyroid.
After carefully studying the two sets of cancer tissues Dr. Mark Kozloff announced “If you have to have cancer, then I have good news for you. You don’t have lung cancer but rather thyroid cancer and that makes you eligible for targeted therapy, Radio Active Iodine!”

Before describing my adventures in the nuclear field of medicine let me go back to those supposed symptoms.

For months I had been extremely bothered by excess phlegm which made me almost lose my voice each evening and caused all kinds of coughing and clearing of the throat in order to answer the phone let alone carry on a conversation. About March a friend noticed that I was “wheezing”. I could feel it and hear it myself. So, I begged my primary care doctor to think of a solution to what I called a “condition”. He recommended that we try allergies first and I did get some relief from the product Zyrtec. However, he wanted me to see a specialist and it was then that I totally failed my first experience with a spirometer. I simply couldn’t exhale properly. The allergist said he was going to recommend that I see a pulmonologist because I obviously had an obstruction in my lungs. He ordered an X ray and the rest of the story followed when the X ray showed irregularities and a CAT Scan was prescribed.

Searching the Internet, I found that coughing and wheezing could be signals of cancer. And I regretted that the annual X ray had gone out of style. It was just fortunate that I had recently had a chest X ray prior to cataract surgery. Thus it was possible to compare and see that something was not right in the lungs.

It seemed another blip in the road when I didn’t qualify for a full-body Thyroid Scan. Dr. Kozloff suggested that we go the route of surgery immediately. By August 25th I was having thyroid surgery and recovering very quickly. A mass was found attached to one nodule and removed and most of the thyroid removed as well, with the comment from the doctor that he wondered how I had been swallowing all this time. The trachea had been displaced considerably.

Finally by September 19th I was given that full-body thyroid scan. It proved positively that the diagnosis of thyroid throughout the two areas was correct. I was ready to have the exceedingly remarkable “one time does all” full dose Radio Active Iodine I 131.

Since that treatment a physician friend wrote the following: I'm sure that most of your friends in the congregation have heard of the more common cancer treatments that were like mine (surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy) and not so much about the ones that are like yours (surgery followed by a single shot of I131). Maybe it would help them to know that in the case of a functioning thyroid, the situation is virtually unique among body organs in that the thyroid concentrates iodine in its cells; no other organ in the body does that, so we can "target" active thyroid cancer nicely, even the distant metastases, by giving it a "poisoned" form of iodine. In essence, you poison the "food" (the iodine) that only the thyroid has to have, then the thyroid cells take it up, and die. It's the same sort of principle that some people use for rats, slugs, termites, ants and mice--they put poison out disguised as food, and when the little creatures eat it, they die. In your case, your thyroid gland was still using iodine to make thyroid hormone, so all your doctor had to do was use the radioactive form of iodine to deliver a "bomb" to each thyroid cell, and boom! They all died. Fried. Gone! Since no other cells in the body use iodine like that, they weren't harmed. Since you can't live without thyroid hormone, you are probably on Synthroid or some other kind of thyroid replacement.

A graphic description!

The administration of the dose was unique. It was done by swallowing three capsules which were transported in highly insulated carrying cases and which could not be touched by anyone’s hand. They were lifted carefully with long tweezers into a paper cup, one at a time and an audience of three watched me do the successful swallowing of this highly dangerous material. The private room had been prepared against radiation and I would remain there until a high tech instrument showed a reading that declared me safe to be out in the public! The only way to wash the radiation out of my body was to drink large quantities of water. This became one’s main occupation during the almost 4 days I spent in that little “cell”. Certain precautions had to be taken by each nurse who entered my room and food trays were stored until I checked out. Finally, at noon on day four I was pronounced safe to go home, with certain precautions and instructions. . I had absolutely no ill effects and only that special instrument could tell that I was filled with radiation. (No. You don’t glow in the dark!)

I had brought several of Jan Karon’s “Mitford Series” to read again and a radio to provide good music. So it was a time for contemplation and meditation and rest. A time to thank God for the marvels of modern science and for real hope of a cure.

Later X rays and scans will tell us just how effective this treatment has been.

November 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Steady Voice in an Unsteady World

A Christian minister of Middle Eastern origin offers an excellent introduction to the core teachings of Islam as well as a refresher course in Christianity.
by Harry Antonides

“What does the future hold for relations between Christianity and Islam? That is uncertain, but one thing is clear: both religions have a message and a mandate. Christianity has a mandate to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel—a Gospel of salvation and reconciliation in Jesus Christ. Islam has a mandate to practice jihad and to bring the non-Muslim world under the rule of Allah and the injunctions of the Qur'an.”
George W. Braswell, Jr.

There is obviously no unity within the West about the nature of the threat we face …
How do we know what the religion of Islam, professed by more than a billion people, really stands for? On the one hand, Muslim leaders in the western democracies assure us that Islam is a religion of peace, and they quote from the Qur'an to back up this claim. They are assisted in this effort by such sanitized documentaries shown on American television as Islam: Empire of Faith and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad.

Even President Bush insists that Islam is a religion of peace. But does he really know this? Or is he being diplomatic not to arouse the wrath of American Muslims?

Is 9/11 a precursor?

On the other hand, September 11, 2001, confronted us with a very different face of this religion. After all, the perpetrators of that spectacular crime left no doubt that they were motivated by their belief that they were obeying Allah and earning a special place in heaven for their "martyrdom." They were following the order given in the name of Allah by Osama bin Laden in 1998 when he called on all Muslims to kill Americans and Jews wherever they could.

What evil forces lurk behind Al Qaeda, Hizballah, Hamas, and similar terrorist organizations now causing great stress and wide-spread fear of coming disasters? How can we live together in one world with our differences? What will it take to avert the dreadful events of which 9/11 may be an ominous precursor? Are we inevitably drifting into a "clash of civilizations" that will smash whatever good modern culture has produced?

These are the kind of existential questions that crowd in on us when we reflect on the current world stage. There is obviously no unity within the West about the nature of the threat we face or about the way we should defend ourselves. Many are baffled by the depth of conviction of the radical followers of Islam (Islamists) who hold to the idea of Jihad, that is, holy warfare.

Who better to enlighten us than someone who was born into the Arab world, speaks the language, and knows its history? Bassam Madany is well suited to be our guide in finding our way through the thorny questions we face.

He is a Christian minister who spent most of his working life preaching the good news of the Gospel to the Arab world. Born in the province of Antioch, Syria, he received his early education in British and French schools. In 1950 he immigrated to the United States where he studied for the ministry. He served as the Back to God Hour Arabic broadcast minister from 1958 till his retirement in 1994. He also taught a number of courses in Middle East history. He and his wife Shirley now live in retirement near Chicago, where they operate a busy Internet information centre focused on the Middle East and the religion of Islam.

The Bible and Islam

The Rev. Madany has written extensively about his 36-year ministry to the Muslim world. This position gave him the opportunity to interact with tens of thousands of listeners who responded to his radio broadcasts. “… A formal adherence to the Bible as the Word of God, does not equip a person to be a missionary to Muslims." I want to draw attention to two of his publications.

The Bible and Islam: Sharing God's Word with a Muslim was first published in 1979. Its most recent printing with a new concluding chapter was published in 2003. It is an excellent introduction to the core teachings of Islam as well as a refresher course in Christianity. Here, in the author's own words, is the thrust of this study:

"It is equally my conviction that a formal adherence to the Bible as the Word of God, does not equip a person to be a missionary to Muslims. We need to grasp the purpose of the Word. In this book you will find a special emphasis on the redemptive character of the Gospel. Biblical revelation finds its focus in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Islam makes it doubly necessary to emphasize and re-emphasize that the Messiah did not come merely to teach and to heal, but to redeem His people from their sins.

"…Muslims are taught that man is not really sinful in the biblical sense of the word, and thus needs no redemption. It is extremely important therefore that we keep on emphasizing this biblical teaching that the Messiah came from God specifically to deal with the awful imperialism of sin."

The first chapter sets out the heart of Christian ministry as it is summarized in St. Paul's epistle to the Romans. Madany insists that St. Paul's teaching about human sinfulness, salvation by grace through Christ's death and resurrection, and the call to repentance and faith is what also must be presented to the Muslims.

Gospel versus Qur'an

At the same time he stresses the need for understanding what has made Islam such a prominent force in the world today. He explains what are the tenets of the Islamic faith that provide Muslims with a strong built-in aversion to the Christian Gospel.

For example, though the Qur'an pays considerable attention to Jesus, it considers Him to be inferior to Muhammad because the latter received the final, uncorrupted, eternally existent revelation from Allah, which supersedes all previous revelations. Muslims do not believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross.

Further, Muslims consider the belief that Jesus is the Son of God blasphemous. They think that this would mean that God is not one, but is divided, and that would make Him less than complete and perfect—and therefore less than divine.

The Qur'anic insistence that every aspect of life must come under the direct rule of Islamic law is at the heart of the conflict between Islam and the Christian idea of freedom.

Another core teaching of Islam that is fundamentally at odds with biblical religion is the belief that salvation is not a gift of God's grace, but can be obtained by obeying all the commands for right living. That includes a strict regimen of prayer, alms giving, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca, and sacrificing one's life for the advancement of Islam. Redemption is possible by obtaining the right knowledge and living according to all the commands of the Qur'an and the Hadith (the collected sayings of Muhammad).

The Qur'anic insistence that every aspect of life must come under the direct rule of Islamic law is at the heart of the conflict between Islam and the Christian idea of freedom. Madany writes:

"Islam is more than religion, and has always maintained an exclusivist political worldview. It has no room for non-Muslim entities (i.e. states) to freely exist within the context of the Household of Islam."

Where such laws (sharia) are put into effect there is no freedom of religion, nor freedom of any other kind. In fact, where sharia law rules, it is a crime punishable by death to convert to another religion. Invariably, such regimes strictly prescribe the place of women to one of servitude.

Madany shows that during its 1400 years of existence internal divisions have rocked Islam, leading to the existence of divergent streams of thought. The author provides fascinating details of the conflict between these factions, often fought with deadly ferocity. He describes this as a fierce battle between moderates, who are willing to co-exist and interact with the world outside Islam, and "Utopian Muslims whose vision is to re-create a world Islamic order…."

A panoramic perspective
A second publication prepared by Bassam and Shirley Madany is a collection of articles (some in the form of book reviews) available on CD. These 33 articles explore all the significant issues related to the meeting of the Muslim and Western world. Here are some of the topics dealt with in this collection: American Muslims; Islam is more than a religion; Islam and war; Jesus in the Qur'an; Muslims and Christians in dialogue; the attraction of Islam; the world after September 11, 2001; the complex nature of Middle Eastern relations.

These two publications provide a panoramic view of one of the most pressing issues of our time. The authors have managed to pull together a great many strands of a very complex reality. You will get acquainted with outstanding Muslim teachers who pleaded for moderation and goodwill toward the non-Muslim world—and sometimes paid for it with their lives. You will learn of some of the most dedicated and able Christian missionaries to the Muslim world. All of this is interspersed with the personal experiences of the two authors.

In short, these two publications will serve to give the readers an excellent overview of what for many has become an incomprehensible jumble of religious conflict and political turmoil. What makes these publications especially valuable is that they are written with a deep commitment to biblical truth and a profound love for the Arab people. At the same time these authors have no illusions about the dangers inherent in radical Islam. This is how Bassam Madany puts it:

"I write…as a Christian of Middle Eastern roots. I do hope, perhaps, I should say, I wish that the Islamic world would somehow experience a radical change in the direction of democracy and true freedom for its teeming millions. If not, the forecast remains for a very turbulent future. But as a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, I live in the light of the Christian hope as expounded by Saint Paul."

Bassam and Shirley Madany have developed their Middle East Resources ministry: www.levant.info. They can be reached by e-mail at MER@levant.info. An Introduction to Islam, is available on CD for U.S. $2.50.

Harry Antonides, based in Toronto, immigrated to Canada in 1948 and served as a staff member of the Christian Labor Association of Canada for 35 years. He can be reached hantonides@sympatico.ca. Originally published in Christian Courier, August 2, 2004.
Used with permission of the author.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Antonides review of Unholy Alliance by David Horowitz

Ties That Bind
By Harry Antonides
Christian Courier October 18, 2005

Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left by David Horowitz, Regnery Publishing, Inc. 2004. 296 pp.

"The nature of political doublespeak never changes and its agenda is always the same: Obliteration of historical memory in the service of power…. Only a restored memory can demolish totalitarian myths and make men free. " (David Horowitz, in Big Lies, Center for the Study of Popular Culture, 2005)

At first sight, a merger of the secular political left and the Islamist radical believers is an anomaly. But this book carefully dissects the secret of their partnership: their shared hatred of America. This explains why they have made common cause in their venomous opposition to the American-led war against Islamic terrorists.

The author stresses that this book is not about war critics as such, “but about the leaders of the organized anti-war movement and the practical support they are willing to give to America’s enemies and their agendas.” And what a gripping and deeply disturbing story this is.

Horowitz describes how the Left receives its inspiration from the Marxist ideology that has inspired millions in their search for a perfect world. One of its guiding principles is the belief that the existing world, especially the West, is rotten to the core and must be totally overthrown. As Marx put it: “Everything that exists deserves to perish.”

This totalizing and revolutionary principle at one time made American Communists look to the Soviet Union as the land of promise. That promise collapsed, but the same motive continues to inspire the post-Communist radicals including the anti-war Left. Horowitz convincingly demonstrates that this ideology is still firmly ensconced on American campuses.

Betrayal by the Intellectuals

This explains why patriotism is one of the prime targets of the radical protesters. A number of prominent university professors led the way mapping out a radical stance against their own country. Professor Eric Foner of Columbia University quoted Paul Robeson, an “icon” of the Communist Left and a winner of the Stalin Peace Price, who had claimed: “The patriot is the person who is never satisfied with his county.”

Foner, like Horowitz, grew up in a family of Communists but he never left the fold. His history of the United States, The Story of American Freedom, has been described as “his attempt to rehabilitate American Communism.” The same can be said about the influential book by another “fellow traveler,” the historian Howard Zinn, A People’s History, which, according to Horowitz, “reflects a left-wing culture that despises America in its very roots.” It is this type of source material that has given generations of American students not merely a warped but a bitterly antagonistic view of their own country. Here is Horowitz take on this reality:

As a result of the Left’s colonization of the academic social sciences, this anti-American culture is now part of the educational curriculum of America’s emerging elites, and as much an element of the cultural mainstream as any other historical tradition. Indeed, it is a dominant element. In 2004, the Organization of American Historians devoted an evening at its annual convention to honor Zinn and his work.

The shocking events of 9/11and their aftermath was the “defining moment” that set off a massive movement of opposition to the policies of the Bush administration. Again, the tenured university professors led the way.

Right after the beginning of the war in Iraq, a group of professors at Columbia University held a “teach-in” where they denounced the American-led military action. Professor of anthropology Nicholas De Genova called for “a million Mogadishus,” a reference to the 1993 humiliation of American soldiers in Somalia. He said that U.S. patriotism is a form of imperial warfare and white supremacy and that the “only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.”

Behind such shocking and hate-filled comments at a time when their own country is at war lies the conviction that America is not just afflicted by faults and shortcomings, but that it is an unjust society to the core. (In other words, a form of “total depravity” that calls for total “redemption.”)

Therefore, all its wars are also unjust, no matter what the alleged purpose may be. This premise leads many in the protest movement (especially in Europe) to the outrageous conclusion that President Bush is no better than Saddam Hussein.

One of the most notorious spokesmen for this view is Noam Chomsky, a prestigious professor of linguistics at the MIT. He is best known for his numerous books, articles and speeches as a relentless critic of the United States. He did not spend any time empathizing with the victims of 9/11, but the day after he proclaimed that the attacks amounted to a turning point in the war against imperialism, since “for the first time, the guns have been directed the other way. “

Despite his vitriolic language Chomsky has a large following not only in the U.S. but all over the world, spreading his hatred of America to overflow crowds and in his voluminous writings where he brazenly re-writes history.

At the beginning of the war in the Middle East, Chomsky addressed large Islamic crowds in India and Pakistan where he called the United States “the greatest terrorist state” that was planning to commit genocide in neighbouring countries. This attempt to turn his Muslim audiences against his own country in that volatile part of the world must have been his personal effort to “turn the guns around. “ In normal times such explosive falsehoods would be called treason.

Birds of a Feather

Horowitz provides a deft overview of the transition American radicalism underwent in order to survive the post-Stalinist disillusionment. He details the various phases of that transition from the old to the neo-Communism, which he describes as the time of the “forerunners,” including the “Utopians,” and the “nihilist Left,” to arrive at the current “Anti-American Cult” stage. At this point the Left has found common cause with the radical Islamists who believe that America is the “Great Satan,” responsible for the survival of the equally-detested nation of Israel.

Islamist radicalism originally was hostile to Communism, but that changed in the 1950s. The writings of Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) have been influential in the shaping of the extremist Islamic movement and such leaders as Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden, as well as the Islamic terrorist organizations Hizbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda.

Qutb wrote that sharia amounts “to a universal declaration of the freedom of man from servitude to other men and from servitude to his own desires.” Horowitz points out that despite the libertine inclinations in some factions of the political Left, “Western radicals’ efforts to purify their tainted souls of ‘racism, sexism, and homophobia’ reflect parallel inclinations.”

Both movements, the secular Left and the Islamic radicals, are totalitarian in their ambition to control all of life and both are exacting in their demand for loyalty. Their radicalism makes them believe that the ends ultimately justify any means, including murder. As Horowitz writes: ”Like the salvationist agendas of jihad, the Left’s apocalyptic goal of ‘social justice’ is the equivalent of an earthly redemption.”

Marx said that people turn to religion (like opium users) to dull the pain and suffering caused by injustice and exploitation – under capitalism. He predicted that eliminating oppression and creating a society of justice will do away with the need for religion. The secularist half of this strange partnership is banking on Marx’s prediction; in the meantime they turn a blind eye to the religious zealotry of their newfound partners.

No Enemies on the Left

The final sections of this book detail how this combination of secular and religious fanaticism is played out in sabotaging the American government’s determination to respond forcefully to 9/11. This campaign is conducted by treachery and by cleverly exploiting the very freedoms in America that its enemies are determined to destroy.

The FBI and the CIA were hindered in their fight against crime and terrorism by the so-called “wall” that separated the two agencies. The Patriot Act intended to overcome that deficiency, and it has been an essential tool in exposing and convicting a number of key members of terrorist and terrorist-related organizations.

Horowitz names organizations and individuals who have consistently fought against the efforts of the Justice Department to bring to justice people who support and actively work for Islamic terrorist organizations. No matter how clear their guilt, the National Lawyers Guild, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Bar Association, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Muslim Council, and others in that fold are ready to defend them. They invariably do so by claiming victim status for the accused and denouncing the government as a destroyer of human rights.

Lynne Stewart is a prominent member of the Left establishment. A lawyer activist, she has made a name for herself as a staunch defender of the “victims” of the American government, which she denounced as a “poisonous government that spreads its venom to the body politic in all corners of the globe.” In the same breath she said that Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedung, Lenin, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are modern heroes.

She acted as counsel for the blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman who was convicted as the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Stewart was found guilty of providing material support for the sheik’s terrorist activities. No matter, she continues to receive a hero’s welcome on university campuses and other events sponsored by the despisers of America.

When asked whether she would defend the right of citizens to protest against a revolutionary government that had “liberated” its people from the oppression of capitalism, she said: “I don’t have any problem with Mao or Stalin or the Vietnamese leaders or certainly Fidel locking up people they see as dangerous. Because so often, dissidence has been used by the greater powers to undermine a people’s revolution.”

The shame of it is that a person proclaiming such nonsense is a revered member of the American Left. This is historical revisionism at its most evil. The good news is that people with the determination to tell the truth are still with us.

David Horowitz’s Unholy Alliance is a remarkable and insightful book. It helps us to see through the veil of falsehood and secrecy that protects those who want to do us harm. It is an indispensable source of information to counter the twisted imaginations of the secular and the Islamist participants in this conspiracy.

[David Horowitz's Unholy Alliance can be purchased from the FPM Bookstore for $18.00.]