Three years ago, Army major Nidal Hasan committed his massacre at Fort Hood. He got 13. Hasan was a protégé of Anwar Awlaki, who was kind of an imam to the terrorist stars — including some of the 9/11 hijackers. Awlaki was zapped by a drone in Yemen last year.
In an e-mail to Awlaki, Hasan asked whether it was kosher for a suicide bomber to kill innocents, if the main purpose of the mission was to kill “enemy soldiers or their helpers.” That is just the kind of thing Awlaki was happy to green-light.
The Army and the FBI were aware of Hasan’s relationship with Awlaki, but did nothing. This whole area was “politically sensitive,” as the FBI, or some people in the FBI, held. You can read about it in the Webster Report. Judge Webster, as you know, is a former director of both the FBI and the CIA. To read his report on the Fort Hood massacre, go here.
Webster recommends many changes at the FBI but does not recommend any firings. This has rattled some people, who are saying “whitewash.” But the report has a heck of a lot in it. A lot that is damning, eye-popping, interesting, valuable.
The chief figures on the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, said, “We are concerned that the report fails to address the specific cause for the Fort Hood attack, which is violent Islamist extremism.” I have great sympathy for this point. Still, I think people know. Do you know what I mean?
After the massacre, the Army chief of staff at the time, General George Casey, said, “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” We ask our soldiers to die in fights against our enemies. We must never, ever ask them to die for political correctness.
Apparently, Rielle Hunter’s book is a big flop. You remember Rielle: She was the girlfriend, or something, of Senator John Edwards. She is also the mother of one of his children.
I have to wonder: What if she had had an affair with a Republican vice-presidential nominee, rather than a Democratic vice-presidential nominee? With a big conservative politician, rather than a big liberal one? Would the media have been eager to promote her book? Would it be a bestseller, rather than a flop?
Here’s a related question: What if a Republican vice-presidential nominee had gone through exactly the same court trial Edwards did — that same drama? Would it have been a bigger deal in our media?
You might think I’m a paranoid and whiny right-winger. The whiny part, I’ll grant you. But paranoid — I don’t think so.
In Jerusalem, Romney talked about the economic success of the Israelis and the economic failure of the Arabs around them. Culture is key, he said. Back home in America, a great many Democrats wet their pants. “What a gaffe! An insult to the Palestinians!”
What Romney said is exactly what I have heard a thousand different Arab intellectuals and even officials say at a thousand Middle East conferences. Impromptus readers know this: I have reported on these conferences over the years. What Romney said is absolutely commonplace, even banal. Hell, you can hear the king of Jordan say it, some days.
The line goes something like this: “Aspects of our culture are holding us back. The corruption. The nepotism. The sense of ‘station,’ above which you must not rise. The stifling bureaucracy. The impossibility of permits. The exclusion of women. The stigma of a business failure. In Silicon Valley, failure is a badge of honor. You learn from your mistakes. Each failure teaches you something. But here, a business failure means shame — a permanent stigma.”
I mean, this is totally elementary stuff. Have Romney’s critics never heard it?
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian spokesman, claimed to be insulted by what Romney said. Democrats said, in effect, “Ooh, you’ve hurt Saeb’s feelings. Racist meanie!”
Um, Saeb Erekat is not stupid, trust me. He is other things — but not stupid. I haven’t the slightest doubt that he agrees 100 percent with what Romney said, no matter what he feels he must do as a West Bank poobah.
Gilder writes that, “by merely foreswearing violence and taking advantage of their unique position contiguous with the world’s most creative people, the Palestinians could be rich and happy.” He also says that “the Palestinian Arabs could be a nation tomorrow and a state the day after, if their leaders could let go of the notion that the Jews must die before Palestine can live.”
I suspect that, if sane but stubborn Palestinians such as Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi read The Israel Test in the dark of night, with a single bulb near the pillow, they would agree with almost all of it — and never breathe a word about this agreement.
Two days ago, Mark Steyn had a post with the inspired title “Taking the Jew Out of Judo.” He cited a news report: “The Lebanon judo team has refused to train alongside the Israeli team, demanding that a curtain screen be erected so that the athletes would not have to see each other.”
I had a memory. Many years ago — must have been the 1980s — Ted Koppel had a special Nightline, in which Palestinians agreed to speak on the same stage as Israelis. But they insisted on a fence — a little fence, between themselves and the Israelis. So, this weird little fence was in a TV studio, or whatever it was. Koppel perched on it, asking questions.
There was something else about that night: The Palestinians refused to look at the Israelis. Would not make eye contact with them. The Israelis looked directly at the Palestinians, and talked to them kind of beseechingly. The Palestinians stared determinedly ahead.
Some years later, Israel felt the need to erect a fence of its own — which stopped the murder of innocents.
The day after the Olympic opening ceremony, I went to the Telegraph website. Almost all the bloggers were attacking one man: a parliamentarian named Aidan Burley. He had tweeted some negative comments about the ceremony. For example, he wrote, “The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen — more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state!”
And writer after writer lit into him, as though he were not just wrong but a heretic, possibly to be burned. I mean, it was really fierce. A mob had formed.
People are very uncomfortable with dissenting opinions, and I imagine always have been. Why couldn’t Burley have held his opinion and the others theirs? Why couldn’t they have given their own views about the opening ceremony, rather than attacking Burley’s?
You know what I mean?
Burley had departed from a consensus, and this departure was apparently intolerable. Only one opinion was tolerable. The opening ceremony was beautiful, apolitical, fair-minded, and something for all Britons to hail. Anyone who disagreed was a virtual traitor (and I’m not so sure about the virtual).
More and more, I learn that people really can’t stand to be disagreed with. They talk a nice pluralistic game, but they are totalitarian in their hearts.
Reading about the Republican convention, I see that Newt is not to speak. Santorum is not to speak. GWB is not to speak. I think this is BS. It’s a Republican jamboree, let ’em all speak. I admire Romney a great deal, but it is not Romney’s convention — it’s the Republicans’ convention. I didn’t want Newt for president, but, my goodness: the idea of not having him speak at the convention this year. So wrong!
An Associated Press report out of Denver began, “A woman who was critically wounded in the Colorado theater shooting that left dead her 6-year-old daughter has suffered a miscarriage.” It continued, “The family of Ashley Moser said in a statement Saturday that she is recovering from surgery but that the trauma caused the miscarriage.”
Why this news about a meaningless blob of protoplasm, nothing like a human life? I consider this report yet another assault on a woman’s right to choose.
A reader wrote me, “Come on, Jay. Madison was a man of his times, and a great man at that. It is unbecoming of you to make such an inane and inappropriate comment. It ruined your whole column.”
I take the point. But how about this point? George Washington: Was he a “man of his times,” in addition to great? It was not impossible, you know: freeing one’s slaves. It was, I would think, the kind of thing a great man did.
Alex Joffe has written a review of my new history of the Nobel Peace Prize in — at? — Jewish Ideas Daily. Go here. When this magazine, or website, first appeared, I commented, “Many publications are Jewish-ideas dailies — they just don’t know it.”
A reader writes, “Jay, I have a thought about this Chick-fil-A hubbub. It looks like it was started by the gay-rights crowd. But could it really be a plot of the beef lobby?”
Later on, y’all. I think I’ll be writing you from Salzburg next — maybe afterward.