Letters From and To a Young Liberal: Animosity and Gratitude
Thank you for that reply. I hope you don't mind my long repsonses, but I find it very valuable to discuss these issues with folks whose politics are different from mine. Also I'm new to the blogosphere, so please let me know if I'm overstepping any limits. I wanted to point out that actually, CAE has never taken an "anti-GMO" position; to the contrary, their assumption has been that some may be helpful, and others harmful, to people and the environment, and that therefore, risk has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To do that, the public needs to be informed and have a basic undertanding of the science involved. CAE's work, on every subject, has been to demysitfy and inform and to cut through the hype and hysteria. (On the question of Monsanto's GMOs, the problem is more their strong-arming tactics against traditional and organic farmers to force them to grow Monsanto 'products' (see the case of Percy Schmeizer for example); a reasoned assessment would tend to conclude, I think, that consolidation of the global food supply in the hands of only a few corporations is something we should probably all be at least concerned about, based, if nothing else, on our knowledge of what has happened with monopolies in the past and the centrality of food to survival. On the subject of the 'war on terror' I highly recommend anything written by constitutional lawyer David Cole (see especially "Less Safe, Less Free: Why we are losing the war on terror" or "The New McCarthyism: Repeating History in the War on Terrorism". One of the startling statistics he points out is this: ""Of the 80,000 Arabs and Muslim foreign nationals who were required to register after September 11, the 8,000 called in for FBI interviews, and more than 5,000 locked up in 'preventive detention', not one stands convicted of a terrorist crime today. In what has surely been the most aggressive national campaign of ethnic profiling since World War II, the government's record is 0 for 93,000." When you combine this with a climate at the DoJ in which nothing assures prosecutors of the fast track to promotion more than convictions of 'terrorism', you can begin to see why this nightmare has happened to Steve Kurtz - as well as to all those other supposed 'terrorists' and 'sleeper cells' (kids with cell phones, the Christian community center in Miami, and so on) that we keep hearing about, once, on the nightly news, and then never again. But it's important to remember that innocent people's lives are being ruined, just as in the McCarthy era - even though we don't hear about *that* on the nightly news (one guy in LA is living in his garage after losing his business, his family and everything else; there are hundreds more stories like that). And the people targeted are overwhelmingly poor and lack the resources Kurtz has to launch an adequate defense. One other thing to point out is that William Hochul, the DoJ prosecutor in Kurtz's case, is the same guy who put away the "Lackawanna Six sleeper cell" shortly before Kurtz's arrest (for which of course he won huge promotions and awards). Some time afterward, he admitted that he had NO EVIDENCE AT ALL to put away those kids, but said "but we have to make examples." This is the (post) Ashcroft policy of "preventive justice" at the DoJ, and its something that many traditional conservatives who are opposed to government overreach are justifiably alarmed about (as opposed to that little cabal of neoconservatives who are busy creating the most massive and powerful federal government ever seen in this country). Best regards,
Stephen R. Maloney said...
I keep finding your comments late at night when I don't always have the energy to respond adequately. I guess you're right about us being on different sides of the fence politically. Since I spent a good portion of my life in the academic world (and another portion in electoral politics), I have a lot of experience with liberals. One thing they're absolutely terrible about (and conservatives aren't much better) is examining their own views. They read very selectively. How many of them have the works of Bernard Lewis on the history of Islam -- or Ms. Ali's "Infidel"? We have Silvestre Reyes as Nancy Pelosi's choice to head the House Intelligence Committee. It turned out that Reyes, who's no more suited to BE on that committee, didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shias, a knowledge that's central to understanding intelligence and the dynamics of terrorism. Where were the liberals, including people like Steve Kurtz, who HAD A MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL OBLIGATION TO OPPOSE THE REYES NOMINATION? The man is incompetent, but of course he's a loyal Democrat and an Hispanic, which I guess makes him untouchable. (Howard Jefferson, the Florida congressman who was found with $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer, was recently appointed by Ms. Pelosi, who ran against "Republican corruption," to the House Homeland Security Committee. Of course, Mr. Jefferson is Black, so of course liberals don't criticism him, on the off-chance someone might suggest they're being "racist.")
In terms of the FBI's anti-Muslim approach, I'm not aware of any major terrorist attack (going back to the African embassies, the USS Cole, 9/11, the Madrid Train Bombings, the London Bombings, Bali, the various attacks in Egypt, the hundreds of suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many others that weren't carried out by Muslim fanatics, most of them from the Middle East and South Central Asia. Given all these horrors, your concern about John Ashcroft seems wildly misplaced. John Ashcroft???!!! As for the Lackawanna Six, I recall the neighbors saying of their trip to Pakistan that "They were just pursuing their Islmaic studies!" It turned out they were also conducting their "Islamic studies" in the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. If you and were meeting face-to-face, I'd ask respectfully why you choose your details so selectively. With the terrorist actions I've mentioned, I don't think it should be necessary for the FBI to "make up" terrorists, although I do agree that they're not nearly as effective as they should be. Some sophisticated polling in Great Britain had demonstrated that there are perhaps 200,000 Muslims in Britain who are supportive of Al Qaida style terrorism. I submit that you and Steve Kurtz should be focusing on doing something about the people represented in such statistics. They refer to people who are supportive of -- or willing to engage themselves in -- the mass murder of infidels (people like you, me, Steve Kurtz, most members of CAE, Mary Thomas, and billions of other people). My impression is that CAE is largely indifferent to the horrors I've mentioned. The members seem to get their gratification from sticking it to relatively benign institutions like Monsanto (and Halliburton, a company whose employees risk their lives every day in Iraq). On liberalism's view of the world: A couple of years ago I read Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears, an over-long novel about Muslim terrorists setting off a nuclear bomb at the Super Bowl (in Denver). Now, I hear that the film of the Clancy story doesn't touch the question of Muslim terrorists. Instead, it turns the bombers in the movie into American neo-nazis! That strikes me as the essence of liberalism: never confront a troubling reality when it's possible to rely on straw-men and stereotypes. In a world of bin Ladens, Zawahiris, and al Zarqawis, let's pretend that the real villains are John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and a handful of neo-nazi nutcases. The absolutely essential distinction between bin Laden and Gonzales is that one of them wants to kill you -- and the other wants to save your life. One deserves your total animosity, the other your gratitude. It is your obligation as a decent human being to oppose the murderer and at least understand -- if not totally support -- the lifesaver.