Terrorism & ‘The True Believer’

Terrorism and The True Believer

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“A mass movement,” wrote Eric Hoffer in “The True Believer,” “appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self.

“Their innermost craving is for a new life — a rebirth — or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose, and worth by an identification with a holy cause.”

Such a man was Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a criminal with a decade-long record of drug-dealing, assault and robbery, who shot and killed a guard at Ottawa’s National War Memorial and then burst into Parliament and shot two others before being cut down.

A psychiatric evaluation of Zehaf-Bibeau in 2011 found, “He has been a devoted Muslim for seven years, and he believes he must spend time in jail as a sacrifice to pay for his mistakes in the past.”

Now Zehaf-Bibeau is known to his countrymen and the world. Now his deeds are celebrated by the Islamic State he sought to join.

To understand the appeal to such men of the Islamic State, despite its cruelties, beheadings, crucifixions, slaughter of prisoners, rape and sale into slavery of the daughters and wives of enemies, there are few better sources than the longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer.

Why do young men and women travel from a free prosperous West to fight in Syria and perhaps die in a suicide bombing? What do they seek?

What does ISIS offer? And a more alarming question — why do these jihadists and terrorists continue to gain ground and attract new recruits?

Bin Laden may be dead, but he is world famous and by no means universally loathed for slaughtering 3,000 Americans. During the Bush era, he was more popular in the Muslim world than the U.S. president.

Al-Qaida may have been obliterated in Afghanistan, but has spread to Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, spawning imitators, like ISIS, from the Maghreb across the Middle East into black Africa.

Why are almost all the suicide bombers, the martyrs, on their side?

Wrote Hoffer: “All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action. … All of them irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all … demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance.”

Does this not fairly describe the Islamic State?

Still, what does ISIS offer the young?

A second chance at a heroic life.

A cause to die for. A vision of a new world as Allah intended it. Communion and camaraderie. And should one die striking a blow against the infidel, there is martyrdom and a place of honor and happiness in the world to come.

To the True Believer, writes Hoffer,

“Chaos is his element. When the old order begins to crack, he wades in with all his might to blow the whole hated present to high heaven. … He alone knows the innermost craving of the masses in action, the craving for communion, for the mustering of the host, for the dissolution of cursed individualism in the zest and grandeur of a mighty whole. Posterity is king.”

Another attraction of the Islamic State is that it appears to be not only the strongest of the jihadist movements but also the most feared by America.

An indispensable aspect of mass movements is hatred, writes Hoffer. Mass movements can never rise and spread “without a devil.”

Indeed, he adds, “the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil … the ideal devil is omnipotent and omnipresent. … The ideal devil is a foreigner.”

Superpower America fits the bill perfectly, assuming the devil role by intervening in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Our presence in their war testifies to the truth of what their leaders preach: We are the ones America fears most.

In a West saturated in self-indulgence, to many young Muslims, this must have an appeal. Again, Hoffer: “There is no doubt but that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless.”

The Islamic State cannot defeat the United States. But in fighting against the United States, ISIS sends a message to an Arab and Islamic world where we are not loved that they are the enemies we fear most.

If you wish to fight the Great Satan, come join us.

Thus, while we are killing them, we recruit for them.

Moreover, in waging war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, we are not only sheltering the Shia Crescent of Iran and Hezbollah, we are fighting a Sunni war that Sunni powers like Turkey refuse to fight for themselves.

We are now on both sides of the Sunni-Shia sectarian struggle that has never been America’s war, and we have no credible strategy and no credible army to win it. Who got us into this?

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

By Patrick J. Buchanan

When this writer was 3 years old, the Empire of Japan devastated Battleship Row of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Before I was 7, Gen. MacArthur was in an office in Tokyo overlooking the Imperial Palace, dictating to a shattered Japan.

In 1956, President Eisenhower, impressed by the autobahn he had seen in Hitler’s Reich, ordered a U.S. Interstate Highway System constructed, tying America together, one of the great public works projects in all history.

Within a decade, the system was on its way to completion.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy said the United States, beaten into space by Nikita Khrushchev’s Soviet Union, would put a man on the moon and return him to earth within the decade.

In July 1969, President Nixon, on the deck of the carrier Hornet, welcomed home Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins of Apollo 11.

What ever became of that America? What ever became of that can-do nation? What has happened to us?

This October saw the vaunted Center for Disease Control and Prevention fumbling over basic questions on how to protect Americans from an Ebola epidemic in three small countries of West Africa.

In September, an intruder with a knife climbed the White House fence, trotted across the North lawn, walked through the unlocked front door of the president’s house, barreled over a female officer, and ran around the East Room before being tackled by a Secret Service agent going off duty. The president had just departed.

Days earlier, an armed security guard in Atlanta with a violent criminal past was allowed by Secret Service to ride an elevator with Barack Obama.

Last summer came reports that 60,000 children and young people from Central America had walked across the border into the United States, overwhelming our Border Patrol.

Last spring, we learned that sick and suffering vets were deliberately made to wait months for appointments to see VA doctors, and dozens may have died during the wait.

Earlier, the rollout of Obamacare, years in preparation, became a national joke and a metaphor for government incompetence.

Under President Bush came Katrina, where 30,000 residents of New Orleans were stranded for days behind a pool of stagnant water after a hurricane. The city and state couldn’t handle it.

Yet, during five days in 1940, 350,000 British troops, besieged at Dunkirk, were rescued from across the Channel by their countrymen in boats and yachts under the guns of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe.

Such events have contributed to a collapse of confidence among Americans in the competency of their leaders and their government.

Large majorities now believe America is heading downhill, that the future will not be as good as the past, that we are going in the wrong direction.

Malaise pervades the republic.

And there are larger reasons for these sentiments.

Our recent wars, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, all seem to have left them and us worse off. In fighting our new war in Iraq and Syria we have neither a credible strategy nor sufficient troops to prevail against the Islamic State.

Already, Americans are asking: Why is this our war?

Since the mid-1970s, the real wages of working Americans have stagnated as we have run uninterrupted trade deficits totaling more than $10 trillion. Under Obama the national debt has surpassed the Gross Domestic Product.

Our manufacturing base has been hollowed out with Detroit as Exhibit A. We outsource our future by borrowing from China to buy from China.

We borrow from Japan and Europe to defend Japan and Europe, though World War II has been over for 70 years.

FedEx tracks with precision millions of packages a day. But the U.S. government cannot locate and send back 12 million illegal aliens.

Thirty years after a Reagan amnesty that carried a commitment to secure our borders, Obama is preparing an executive amnesty for untold millions of illegals, as soon as the election is over. And still the borders are not secure.

If government is conceded a role in anything, it is in building roads, bridges, highways and airports, and in running public schools.

Yet our infrastructure is crumbling, U.S. children fall lower and lower in international competition, and the racial divide in academic performances has never closed, despite an investment of trillions in education over half a century.

Even Joe Biden calls LaGuardia a “Third World” airport.

Many private institutions are succeeding splendidly. But our public institutions, save the military, seem to be broadly failing.

Congress is gridlocked. The president is seen as a dithering incompetent. The Supreme Court is polarized irreparably.

Our political, racial and cultural clashes, traceable to conflicts created by the revolutions of the 1960s, are daily magnified and exacerbated by cable TV, the Internet and social media.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” wrote the poet Yeats.

Clare Luce put is another way. In this world, she said, there are two kinds of people — optimists and pessimists. “The pessimists are better informed.”

The Price of Papal Popularity

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Normally a synod of Catholic bishops does not provide fireworks rivaling the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley’s boys in blue ran up the score on the radicals in Grant Park.

But, on Oct. 13, there emanated from the Synod on the Family in Rome a 12-page report from a committee picked by Pope Francis himself — and the secondary explosions have not ceased.

The report recognized the “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation” and said “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” As for Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment, we must avoid “any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against.”

Hailed by gay rights groups, the document stunned traditionalists.

“Undignified. Shameful. Completely Wrong,” said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and guardian of Catholic orthodoxy.

He was echoed by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. “The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium,” said Cardinal Burke. “It gives the impression of inventing … what one Synod Father called ‘revolutionary’ teaching on marriage and the family.”

Cardinal Burke called on the pope for a restatement of Catholic teaching on marriage and morality, saying, “It is long overdue.” The pope has relieved Cardinal Burke of his post.

Voice of the Family, a coalition of international pro-life groups, calls the document a “betrayal.”

Irish representative Patrick Buckley said it “represents an attack on marriage and the family” by “in effect giving tacit approval of adulterous relationships.” The report, he adds, “fails to recognize that homosexual inclination is objectively disordered.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper has been the prime mover of the liberalization of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. When an African bishop objected to the report, Kasper retorted, “You can’t speak about this with Africans. … It’s not possible. … It’s a taboo.”

Hearing this insult, Burke went upside the head of his brother cardinal:

“It is profoundly sad and scandalous that such remarks were made by a cardinal of the church. They are a further indication of the determination … to advance Cardinal Kasper’s false positions, even by means of racist remarks about a significant and highly respected part of the Synod membership.”

In the report voted on by the full synod and released this weekend, the language most offensive to orthodox Catholics was gone.

But the synod meets again next year, and the stakes could scarcely be higher for the church and pope.

In his remarks at the synod’s close, Pope Francis mocked “so-called traditionalists” for their “hostile rigidity.”

That is one way of putting it. Another is that traditionalists believe moral truth does not change, nor can Catholic doctrines be altered.

Even a pope cannot do that.

Should such be attempted, the pope would be speaking heresy. And as it is Catholic doctrine that the pope is infallible, that he cannot err when speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals, this would imply that Francis was not a valid pope and the chair of Peter is empty.

We would then be reading about schismatics and sedevacantists.

The Catholic Church is not the Democratic Party of Obama, Hillary and Joe, where principled positions on abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage “evolve.” And when did flexibility in matters of moral principle become a virtue for Catholics?

Indeed, it was in defense of the indissolubility of marriage that Pope Clement VII excommunicated Henry VIII who held the title “Defender of the Faith” for refuting the heresies of Luther.

When Henry wished to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, Pope Clement said this was not possible. His stand for marriage caused the Catholic Church to lose England.

One wonders what this pope thinks of Pope Clement’s “rigidity.”

While Francis I has neither denied nor sought to change any doctrine, Cardinal Burke is correct. The pope has “done a lot of harm.” He has created confusion among the faithful and is soon going to have to speak with clarity on the unchanging truths of Catholicism.

In his beatification of Paul VI on Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated change. “God is not afraid of new things,” he said, “we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods … to the changing conditions of society.”

But among the social changes since Vatican II and Paul VI have been the West’s embrace of no-fault divorce, limitless promiscuity, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

Should the church “adapt” to these changes in society?

Should the church accommodate itself to a culture as decadent as ours? Or should the church stand against it and speak moral truth to cultural and political power, as the early martyrs did to Rome?

Pope Francis is hugely popular. But his worldly popularity has not come without cost to the church he leads and the truths he is sworn to uphold.

“Who am I to judge?” says the pope. But wasn’t that always part of the job description? And if not thee, Your Holiness, who?

Ebola, Ideology and Common Sense

Ebola, Ideology and Common Sense

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Growing up in Washington in the 1930s and ’40s, our home was, several times, put under quarantine. A poster would be tacked on the door indicating the presence within of a contagious disease — measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever.

None of us believed we were victims of some sort of invidious discrimination against large Catholic families. It was a given that public health authorities were trying to contain the spread of a disease threatening the health of children.

Out came the Monopoly board.

Polio, or infantile paralysis, was the most fearsome of those diseases. The first two national Boy Scout jamborees, which were to be held in Washington in 1935 and 1936, were canceled by Presidential Proclamation because of an outbreak of polio in the city.

Franklin Roosevelt, who had apparently contracted polio in 1921, never to walk again, appreciated the danger. In the 1930s, ’40s and early ’50s, there were outbreaks of polio in D.C. Swimming pools were shut down.

The Greatest Generation possessed a common sense that seems lacking today.

We read that five new Ebola cases occur every hour in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, that thousands are dead and thousands more are dying, that, by December, there may be 10,000 new cases a week of this dreadful and deadly disease.

Yet calls for the cancellation of commercial airline travel from the affected nations to the United States are being decried as racist, an abandonment of America’s responsibilities to Africa, a threat to the economies of the poorest continent on earth.

How could we consider such a thing!

Where once we suffered from infantile paralysis, now we suffer from ideological paralysis. And there appears to be no Salk or Sabin vaccine to cure our condition.

Exhibit A is the befuddled response of some in public service is the case of Amber Joy Vinson.

Nurse Vinson was among 75 health care providers who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who brought Ebola into the United States. At the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Duncan was treated, Vinson had been among those in closest contact with the patient.

Two days after Duncan’s death, Vinson was allowed to fly to Cleveland to visit relatives. She then prepared to fly back to Dallas.

Before boarding, she called the Center for Disease Control, and said she was running a fever of 99.5.

Yet she was given clearance to fly commercial back to Dallas, where she was admitted to the hospital with symptoms of the disease. She is the second nurse at that hospital to come down with Ebola.

According to CBS Medical Correspondent Dr. John LaPook, “Nurse Vinson did in fact call the CDC several times before taking that flight and said she had a temperature, a fever of 99.5, and the person at the CDC looked at a chart and because her temperature wasn’t 100.4 or higher she didn’t officially fall into the category of high risk.”

Would not common sense have told that CDC apparatchik to tell Vinson not to fly at all, but remain in Cleveland, stay in touch with CDC, and monitor any symptoms to be sure she was not coming down with the disease that just killed her patient?

In dealing with contagious and deadly diseases, common sense says to err on the side of safety. Public safety must come before political correctness. Community and country come ahead of any obligation to the people of West Africa.

Indeed, is not the first duty of the government of the United States to protect the lives, liberty and property of the citizens of the United States?

Traveling to Africa decades ago, Americans were given a series of shots to avoid contracting indigenous diseases. Travelers to the United States were questioned about diseases to which they may have been exposed in third world countries.

Now we have a government that considers it discriminatory to put troops on our frontiers to halt the invading millions from across the Mexican border, and the mark of a cruel and cold people to send back lawbreakers who have broken into our country.

The two nurses who came down with this disease after close contact with Duncan are being cared for in quarantine, as is the NBC crew, one of whom contracted the disease. And rightly so.

As for U.S. aid workers in Africa, they are heroic. But before bringing these good and brave people home, we ought to be sure they are not bringing back with them the Ebola they have been fighting.

If that means quarantining them for 21 days, so be it. If that means no commercial flights to the United States from the three most affected countries of West Africa, and no admission to the USA of any travelers whose visas show they have been in those countries in recent days, then it ought to be done.

Else political correctness is going to end up killing a lot of us.

Goodbye, Columbus

Goodbye Columbus

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In 1492, “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and discovered the New World. And Oct. 12 was once a celebrated holiday in America.

School children in the earliest grades knew the date and the names of the ships on which Columbus and his crew had sailed: the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria. They knew his voyage had been financed by Queen Isabella of Spain, after the Genoese Admiral of the Ocean Sea had been turned down by other monarchs of Europe.

Oct. 12, 1492, was considered a momentous and wonderful day in world history: the discovery of America — by men from Europe.

This year, Columbus Day passed almost without notice. And that Columbus Day has become an embarrassment to many and an issue of savage controversy to some reflects a receding belief in this country in the superiority of our civilization.

Haters of Columbus say he was an imperialist, a colonialist, a genocidal racist, and a slaver who brought dictatorship, disease and death to the native peoples he encountered in the Caribbean.

And, in truth, many explorers and conquerors like Columbus, Cortes, Magellan, Pizarro and the soldiers and sailors they led, engaged in acts we would call atrocities and war crimes.

Yet that is true of every great empire and great civilization. The ancient Greeks had slaves. Were the Romans not brutal conquerors? Ask the Carthaginians. The Spanish, British and French empires all have their own long chronicles of crimes against colonized peoples.

Today we say that the beheadings and crucifixions of ISIS remove them from the company of civilized men. They should be annihilated to the last man, we hear on cable TV.

But the Romans beheaded St. Paul and crucified Christ. Queen Elizabeth beheaded her cousin Queen Mary, even as her mother Anne Boleyn had been beheaded by her father Henry VIII, who also decapitated Sir Thomas More.

The French Revolution Jefferson loved used at its instrument of justice the guillotine, to which Louis XVI and his queen Marie Antoinette were sent. Those heroes of the Revolution, Danton and Robespierre, were guillotined, as was Charlotte Corday, four days after she stabbed to death in a bathtub a third great man of the revolution, Marat.

Great men are rarely good men, and every great empire is guilty of great crimes. But the empires men still study and admire are those that created, built and advanced civilization, that brought mankind to a higher plateau, that left behind magnificent legacies.

And here we approach a deep-seated reason for the hatred of Columbus.

He was a colonialist and an imperialist. He believed in the superiority of his Catholic faith and European tribe. He believed that what we call the West should rule, because its faith, of which God Himself had been the founder, and its culture and civilization, which excelled all others in arms, inventions, literature, governance and the arts, were superior.

Christopher Columbus was a Christian European supremacist.

When he landed in the Caribbean islands and found peoples there with no alphabet, who had not yet invented the wheel, Columbus did not think them equal. The only reason he would believe they had intrinsic worth as fellow children of God would be from the teachings of his faith.

Right up to our own time, Western men believed with Columbus that their Christian faith and their civilization were superior. Today, Columbus is denounced and rejected because he acted in his belief that the indigenous peoples he encountered should be converted and ruled by Europeans. Columbus rejected the idea of equality.

Yet how far from his view were Washington, Jefferson, Madison and James Monroe, slaveholders all. How far from Columbus’ view was Andrew Jackson? Was Jackson’s treatment of African-Americans and the indigenous peoples of Florida so different from that of Columbus?

Gen. Philip Sheridan, to whom Sherman gave command of the West, volunteered, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” His troopers often acted upon that belief.

The Spanish Empire, the British Empire, the French Empire, the United States all rose to power and greatness, motivated by a belief in the superiority of their race, tribe, religion, culture and country. All believed their innate superiority conferred upon them a right to rule what Kipling called “the lesser breeds without the law.”

How else, these men would ask us, does civilization progress, if not through the imposition by superior men of superior ideas? What great nation, what great empire, what great civilization ever rose on a belief in the equality of all other peoples and all other faiths?

The United States, among the largest countries on earth, from sea to shining sea was carved out of lands seized from native peoples by Spanish, British, French, and Russian conquerors first, then taken by us.

We are the heirs of marauders, pirates, conquerors, colonizers, colonialists, and imperialists. And such knowledge is why so many have guilty consciences and seek to salve them by repudiating Columbus.

As they say in Seattle, Happy Indigenous People’s Day.

Our Judicial Dictatorship

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage?

Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes.

Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress or elected state legislatures.

But today rogue judges and justices, appointed for life, answerable to no one, instruct a once-democratic republic on what laws we may and may not enact.

Last week, the Supreme Court refused to stop federal judges from overturning laws banning same-sex marriage. We are now told to expect the Supreme Court itself to discover in the Constitution a right of men to marry men and of women to marry women.

How, in little more than half a century, did the American people fall under the rule of a judicial dictatorship where judges and justices twist phrases in the Constitution to impose their alien ideology on this once-free people?

What brings the issue up is both the Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the death of my friend, Professor William J. Quirk, of the South Carolina University School of Law.

In “Judicial Dictatorship” (1995), Bill wrote of the revolution that had been imposed against the will of the majority, and of how Congress and the people might rout that revolution.

The instrument of revolution is judicial review, the doctrine that makes the Supreme Court the final arbiter, the decider, of what the Constitution says, and cedes to the Court limitless power to overturn laws enacted by the elective branches of government.

Jefferson said that to cede such authority to the Supreme Court “would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” Was he not right?

Consider what has transpired in our lifetime.

The Supreme Court has ordered the de-Christianization of all public institutions in what was a predominantly Christian country. Christian holy days, holidays, Bibles, books, prayers and invocations were all declared to be impermissible in public schools and the public square.

Secular humanism became, through Supreme Court edict, our established religion in the United States.

And the American people took it.

Why was there not massive civil disobedience against this anti-Christian discrimination, as there was against segregation? Why did Congress, which has the power to abolish every federal district and appellate court and to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, not act?

Each branch of government, wrote Jefferson, is “independent of the others and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the Constitution in the cases submitted to its action.”

“No branch has the absolute or final power to control the others, especially an unelected judiciary,” added Quirk.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of all public schools.

But when the Court began to dictate the racial balance of public schools, and order the forced busing of children based on race across cities and county lines to bring it about, a rebellion arose.
Only when resistance became national and a violent reaction began did our black-robed radicals back down.

Yet the Supreme Court was not deterred in its resolve to remake America. In 1973, the Court discovered the right to an abortion in the Ninth Amendment. Then it found, also hidden in the Constitution, the right to engage in homosexual sodomy.

When Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, Bill Quirk urged it to utilize Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, and write in a provision stripping the Supreme Court of any right to review the act.

Congress declined, and the Court, predictably, dumped over DOMA.

Republican presidents have also sought to curb the Supreme Court’s aggressions through the appointment process. And largely failed.

Of four justices elevated by Nixon, three voted for Roe. Ford’s nominee John Paul Stevens turned left. Two of Reagan’s, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, went wobbly. Bush I’s David Souter was soon caucusing with the liberals.

Today, there are four constitutionalists on the Court. If the GOP loses the White House in 2016, then the Court is gone, perhaps forever.

Yet, the deeper problem lies in congressional cowardice in refusing to use its constitutional power to rein in the Court.

Ultimately, the failure is one of conservatism itself.

Indeed, with neoconservatives in the van, the GOP hierarchy is today in headlong retreat on same-sex marriage. Its performance calls to mind the insight of that unreconstructed Confederate chaplain to Stonewall Jackson, Robert Lewis Dabney, on the failure of conservatives to halt the march of the egalitarians:

“American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. … Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious, for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom.”

Amen.