“Today, the pressing question is no longer whether racial uplift will come from gradualism and self-improvement or impatient political activism. Instead, it is about how politics can encourage black self-improvement by removing the real as opposed to the imagined obstacles to its realization.”

The central debate in black social thought from Reconstruction until the 1960s was whether the advancement of the race should be pursued through political agitation for civil rights and equal treatment or through self-help in separate institutions. The former position tended to look outward, seeing bias, discrimination and oppression combined as the major obstacle; the latter position emphasized black self-help from within to overcome deficiencies within the black subculture. Each of these warring ideologies had a towering advocate: The former position was advanced by one of Harvard University’s first black graduates, the founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois; the latter was advanced by the founder of the Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington.

Today, in large part because of the success of the civil rights movement and the iconic status it now enjoys, the older clusters of commitment have broken apart and become virtually reversed: Separatists are now among the most vocal and belligerent activists, while integrationists often preach the gospel of quiet self-improvement. Today the central controversy is still whether blacks are mainly disadvantaged by bias, discrimination and a history of oppression, a moral deficiency in the political culture of the nation; or by their own lack of skills and initiative, a practical deficiency in black culture.

Two recent books carry on this debate. In Not in Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics, University of Chicago Professor Michael C. Dawson describes a political culture that consigns black people to the “bottom of the social order” and to lives of “crippling disadvantage.” Mainstream politicians and the mass media routinely disparage and stereotype blacks and belittle or ignore their concerns, reinforcing a political and economic order that exploits most Americans—especially but not exclusively blacks—for the benefit of a privileged few. For Dawson today, as for Du Bois near a century ago, the solution is a revitalized black politics that can “mobilize, influence policy, demand accountability from government officials . . . in the service of black interests.”

Nothing could be further from Stanford University economist Thomas Sowell’s argument in Intellectuals and Race. Rather like Booker T. Washington, Sowell argues that today’s racial inequalities are the fault of a black culture that encourages the most talented to squander their time and energy mastering esoteric social theories that blame others for their problems, rather than learning the practical skills that will help them solve those problems themselves. He complains that a malcontented “intelligentsia have demanded an equality of outcome and of social recognition, irrespective of the skills, behavior or performance of the group to which they belong or on whose behalf they spoke.”

Anyone familiar with the academic trends of recent decades will recognize some of Sowell’s bêtes noires. Still, one has to wonder which country Sowell is writing about, where “intellectuals can influence the way millions of other people see race.” Is it France, a nation proud of its cerebral culture, where philosophers and social theorists are celebrities? Or perhaps Germany, birthplace of modern post-graduate education, where analytic precision is built into the mother tongue? Certainly not the United States, where folksy vernacular is a sign of moral virtue and erudition is held in contempt; where the ethos of democratic egalitarianism means the uneducated citizen feels entitled not only to his own opinion, but as Tip O’Neill once quipped, to his own facts. Whatever flaws one may find in America’s racial politics—and there are many—it strains credulity to blame them on the dominance of intellectuals. And this makes one worry that Sowell is playing up to a specific audience—an audience that is eager to attack “ivory tower professors” for their supposed “liberal bias.”

Arab-Israeli Straight Talk – A Book for All Seasons:Gerald A. Honigman “The Quest for Justice in the Middle East”

Student, busy lay person, concerned but misinformed news junkie — anyone who would benefit from learning about the Arab conflict with Israel, and not only with the Jewish state but also other minorities in what is often referred to indiscriminately as “the Arab world” — could benefit from reading The Quest for Justice in the Middle East: The Arab-Israeli Conflict in Greater Perspective.

By Gerald A. Honigman (disclosure: a long-time friend of CAMERA’s and of this writer), The Quest for Justice in the Middle East brings the conflict’s fundamentals to life in several dozen short, breezily written but nevertheless appropriately sourced chapters. Whether read straight-through or in brief installments, chapter-by-chapter, the book gives those who didn’t know, or mistakenly thought they did, historical, legal, diplomatic and military basics with which to decipher today’s often misleading news coverage.

Honigman did doctoral studies in Middle Eastern affairs at New York University’s Kevorkian Center for Near East Studies and worked full-time as a consultant on the Middle East and antisemitism before a long career as an educator in Florida. He’s lectured on numerous university campuses and published on Middle Eastern subjects in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and Web sites. In The Quest for Justice (Creation House, Lake Mary, Fla., 2009, 279 pages) he distilled this information to make it accessible for a broad readership.


It is commendable that someone should address the psychological profile of Muslims – that is, of individuals born into the culture of Islam – and Nicolai Sennels does that in his Jihad Watch article of October 30th, “Cultural psychology: How Islam managed to stay medieval for 1,400 years.” I began reading it with some eagerness. Over the years I have had nothing good to say about the psychology or mindset of anyone who was either born into the religion/ideology and never challenged it or attempted to escape it, or who had been converted to it.

Sennels has studied Muslims prisoners in Denmark and has a wealth of insights to offer, one of which is that, from my perspective, at least, Islam provides a purported “moral” base which especially Muslim criminals justify or rationalize their criminal actions. The New English Review published his May 2010 study, “Muslims and Westerners: The Psychological Differences.” I had already read that paper and discussed it in “Islam on My Mind” in May 2013.

Sennels’ Jihad Watch summary, however, was disappointing. There were a number of statements in it with which I could legitimately quibble. Straight off, the very beginning of the article grated against my sensibilities. He began:

While almost all other cultures changed from primitive and medieval to democratic and egalitarian societies, one culture managed to keep even its most brutal and backward traditions and values for 1,400 years until today. (Italics mine)

Sennels, apparently born and raised in socialist Denmark, might be forgiven for employing the highlighted terms. Democracy means “mob rule,” or, the rule of the majority. What a majority may want and vote for is not necessarily rational or desirable by individuals who value their freedom to live their own lives unencumbered by a political or even the social consensus represented by majority rule. Numbers do not establish political or metaphysical truths.



It is really this bad?: Yes, really and much worse when people begin to learn how Obamacare will affect them…. not good
Bob: “Hey Jim, did you hear about the Obama administration scandal?,

Jim: “You mean the Mexican gun running?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

Jim: “You mean SEAL Team 6?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

Jim: “Obama saying the avg family would save $2,500 on their premiums?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

Jim: “Forcing businesses to violate their religious beliefs by paying for drugs that abort the unborn?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

Jim: “Violating the rights and sanctity of our Churches?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

Jim: “Spending $634 million on a website that doesn’t work?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

Jim: “Obama calling for an increase in our debt when he lambasted Bush for the very same thing?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

Jim: “Obama having NSA spy on 124 Billion Phone Calls in One Month?”
Bob: “No, the other one.”

AMB. (RET) YORAM ETTINGER: THE OSLO ACCORD REALITY CHECK On October 24, 2013 (the Diplomatic Conference) and October 16, 2013 (the memorial ceremony for Prime Minister Rabin), President Peres, the architect of the September, 1993 Oslo Accord, claimed that the Israeli-Palestinian accord was the “opening to dialogue and peace.”  Is Peres’ claim vindicated by a reality check? The Oslo state of mind The […]

Fracking Gets a Clean Bill of Health Walter Russell Mead….

The British government’s health agency is the latest body to give fracking a clean bill of health, in a move that should galvanize the country to act on its considerable reserves of shale gas. Reuters reports:

Public Health England (PHE) said in a review that any health impacts were likely to be minimal from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations deep underground….

“The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated,” said John Harrison, director of PHE’s center for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.

Don’t expect this to sway recalcitrant greens; one activist pointed out that “low risk is not the same as no risk,” which while semantically true, doesn’t belong in an energy policy discussion. Every energy source entails risks, from wind (bird deaths, anyone?) to coal, from solar (bird blindness) to, yes, shale gas. The goal, then, shouldn’t be to eliminate risk, but rather to minimize it. This new review suggests that that’s possible with shale gas.

Energy prices are the topic du jour for British politicians right now, as parties compete over who can further distance themselves from the green policies that have been pushing electricity prices higher and higher. The UK is sitting on an estimated 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of shale gas. Drilling can be done safely, and can boost the country’s energy security.

Shale gas fracking a low risk to public health -UK review Kate Kelland
By Kate Kelland

(Reuters) – The risks to public health from emissions caused by fracking for shale oil and gas are low as long as operations are properly run and regulated, the British government’s health agency said on Thursday.

Public Health England (PHE) said in a review that any health impacts were likely to be minimal from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations deep underground.

Environmental campaigners have staged large anti-fracking protests in Britain, arguing that it can pollute groundwater and cause earthquakes.

Since there is currently no fracking in Britain, the PHE report examined evidence from countries such as the United States, where it found that any risk to health was typically due to operational failure.

Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Claude Lanzmann Revisits the Holocaust

CLAUDE Lanzmann’s opus magnum, the nine-hour 1985 documentary Shoah, focused on the oral testimonies of the perpetrators of the Holocaust and its victims. It was a forensically detailed examination of the mechanics of mass murder.

Lanzmann cut from the final film an interview, conducted in Rome across a week in 1975, with Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Elder of the Theresienstadt Judenrat (Jewish council). That interview has now been made public for the first time with the release of a new documentary, The Last of the Unjust.

The role of the Judenrat during the Nazi period has long been a delicate ethical issue. Were the community leaders motivated by selflessness or selfishness, self-aggrandisement or civic duty, political naivety or poor judgment, self-preservation or integrity? It is a sine qua non that collectively and individually the council members collaborated; their appointment was to implement Nazi orders.

The Judenrat ensured the efficient administration of ghettoes. The leaders, believing work would save their communities, gave up the sick, elderly and children for deportation or were silently complicit. They repressed resistance, and when they knew the final destinations of the deportees determined not to inform their communities. These were choices made in the most difficult circumstances.

Seventy years on it remains problematic to pass judgment. Historians have tiptoed through this morally complex terrain. Survivors also have been equivocal, although uniformly sceptical about the exercise of power, the opportunities for profiteering, preferment and corruption. That said, survivors know survival required a denial of conventional moral codes. So condemnation does not come easily to those who lived through the period.

In The Last of the Unjust, Lanzmann resists opining on this moral quagmire. Instead the French filmmaker allows the only surviving Elder of the Theresienstadt ghetto, located in what is now the Czech Republic, to speak for himself. Murmelstein’s survival depended on his hard work and loyalty to his Nazi masters. Had he been disloyal, he certainly would not have been available for interview on a sunny Roman balcony.

RUTHIE BLUM: HYPOCRISY AND DOUBLE STANDARDS Hypocrisy and double standards According to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, when U.S. President Barack Obama learned that his National Security Agency had been tapping the phones of 35 world leaders, including that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the White House ordered a stop to it. At a summit of […]

“The Great Achievements of Liberalism” a/k/a “The Ponzi Scheme” – A Response to Ron Radosh Andrew McCarthy Life may be too short to unwind everything Ron Radosh distorts in his PJMedia blog post on Monday. In it, he purported to recap both Charles Krauthammer’s recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and my NRO column from last weekend, which examined that appearance in the context of mainstream Republican enthusiasm […]

JONAH GOLDBERG:Obama: The Myth of the Master Strategist

His poor maneuvering before and after the Obamacare rollout shows that he’s not three moves ahead.

Often in error but never in doubt, Barack Obama could walk into the Rose Garden and step on a half-dozen rakes like Foghorn Leghorn in an old Looney Tunes cartoon, and the official line would be, “He meant to do that.”

And the amazing thing is that so many people believe it. “Mr. Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike. He’s smart, deft, elegant and subtle,” proclaimed then–New York Times columnist Bob Herbert in 2009. It’s an image of the president that his biggest fans, in and out of the press, have been terribly reluctant to relinquish — because it confirms the faith they invested in him. Nobody ever likes to admit they were suckered.

But the fiction of Obama as a man three steps ahead has taken a terrible beating if you have eyes to see it. The budget cuts under the so-called sequester are the law of the land because Obama thought he was outthinking his opponents when he gave budget-cutters budget cuts. Now he’s stuck railing against his own idea. His allegedly revolutionary decision to turn his presidential campaign into a personal political organization independent from the Democratic party has turned out to be the most expensive way ever to generate smarmy and ineffectual e-mail spam. And, if you want to believe that Obama’s goal in Syria all along was to elevate Vladimir Putin and alienate all of our Middle East allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel, and to make Bashar Assad our strategic partner while he finds more politically correct ways to slaughter his own people, well, that’s nice.

Or consider Obama’s only clear-cut political victory since his reelection. Republican demands were a bit of a moving target, but basically the GOP wanted either an all-out repeal of Obamacare or, as a fallback, a one-year delay of the individual mandate. By the end, they would have taken even less.

But Obama wouldn’t consider it. Instead, he played hardball with everything from national-park closures to, temporarily at least, denying death benefits to military families. As the debt ceiling loomed, the GOP relented. Conventional wisdom says Obama won, and I basically agree with the conventional wisdom.

Or at least I did. There’s something those of us scoring that bout didn’t know: The president desperately, urgently, and indisputably needed to delay the rollout of Obamacare.

This is not a matter open to fair-minded dispute, never mind partisan disagreement. Even the president and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius agree that the rollout of Obamacare has been a “debacle” (Sebelius’s word). Revelations in the press and in congressional hearings show that the administration was warned prior to both the shutdown and the Obamacare debut that was as ready to go live as a kid’s make-believe refrigerator-box submarine is ready to explore the ocean depths.