Local News (meant to post this a little over a week ago):
About two weeks ago, a tornado missed our home by a block. It was the mildest form of tornado (category 1? Or zero?). The damage was worse in my old neighborhood.
I know it was nothing compared to the twisters they get in place like Kansas and Oklahoma but it was pretty eerie. The sky turned from gray to black so quickly and then buckets or rain started falling down.
After much time away from my regular reads (over a month!) I finally had an opportunity to take a look around. Here is a sample of what I found:
Bob discusses Influential Left-Wingers. I wonder why he didn’t tag me?
Congratulations to Flesh is Grass for placing number 14 on top political blogs in the Green category.
Martin discuses left-wing antisemitism. I’ll have to take a look at the earlier post he mentions.
Mod on EDL violence.
Noga on Hitch on the Flotilla.
Roland is back in the mix! Here is a post on state-building in Iraq.
Over at Contentions, there is the usual mix of great stuff but Abe Greenwald’s “A Class War or War?” had me scratching my head in confusion. Not this part, which is undeniable:
On the same day that the president gave his academic instruction on the roots of religious scapegoating among the American working class, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a report titled “Assessing the Terrorist Threat,” which stated, “Last year was a watershed in terrorist attacks and plots in the United States, with a record total of 11 jihadist attacks, jihadist-inspired plots, or efforts by Americans to travel overseas to obtain terrorist training.” Most gruesome among them was the attack at Fort Hood, Texas, which killed 13 people…
And I somewhat agree when Greenwald notes:
The declarations of President Obama and of the Bipartisan Policy Center are the poles between which American national security now vacillates. We go from the real world, where gunmen scream “Allahu Akbar” and kill Americans, to the classroom, where Islamist terrorism does not exist and all conflict can be explained as a function of economic struggle.
However, the notion that “the classroom” (by which I presume he means academia) explains terrorism as a function of economics is simply false. Academics focus on everything from the political roots of terrorism to terrorism based on ethnic, national, and religious conflicts. Most do not trace terrorism to poverty. Yes, there are some academics, journalists and activists who take this position but it has largely been discredited in the scholarly community that actually focuses on terrorism.
But by the end of the post where Greenwald proclaims:
The classroom explanation is an insult to public intelligence. So too is the concomitant disclaimer that “the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people.” Not because it is false (it is not), but because no sane person has ever asserted the counterclaim.
I found myself sighing, “if that were only so.” There is a vocal contingent on the conservative end of the political spectrum that views Islam, the religion (not Islamism, the ideology) as the primary threat facing the U.S.
I would never suggest that the writers at Contentions think this way, but all one has to do is read the work of authors like Robert Spencer and others who have a significant following on the right to see there people who many conservatives would consider sane promoting some very batty stuff.
Then there was Jennifer Rubin’s “Liberals Versus Conservatives in Defeat.” Rubin is among my least favored writers over at Contentions. Here she compares the difference in perception between liberals and conservatives:
When things go wrong for the left, it blames the people; when things go wrong for the right, it blames the governing elites. It is not in the nature of conservatives to demean and attack fellow citizens. To the contrary, conservatives’ vision is grounded in the belief that Americans are competent, decent, and hardworking, and it is the heavy hand of government that threatens to squelch American virtues.
This is simply not the case. There is a strong tendency in classical conservatism to distrust “the masses” and place trust in governing elites. In fact, the history of conservatism in Europe can largely be traced to reactions against democratization and influence of the popular classes on the political and economic structures which influence their lives.
In the American context, libertarians, traditionalists, and other conservatives have long promoted variations of the concept of the remnant, a minority in any given society that was conscious and aware, while the majority of the population remained largely ignorant. One exemplar of this tendency was Albert J. Nock. Bernard Iddings Bell held similar beliefs.
American liberalism and American conservatism contain elitist and populist tendencies and influences, both sides have their establishment and their grassroots. The conflicts between these two groups within parties are occasionally more divisive than the conflict between parties. We are witnessing this in the current election cycle with the insurgent tea-party movement.
Yet the tea partiers are a larger and more diverse group than simply an element of the Republican grassroots. They include independents, swing voters and a significant number of people who are generally angered by out of control federal government spending. More on them later.