Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rage, Rage, Rage

     The world’s airwaves are alive with it. Politicians are bellowing loudly enough to turn back the tide. Commentators, both printed and talking heads, are practically leaping from their seats. Everyone with even a minor voice about public affairs is afflicted.

     I recall another bout of ubiquitous rage, from about forty years ago:

     It is too soon, perhaps, for a cool, rational, detached book about what has happened to New York. Those of us who live here are too choked with rage. Rage at the knowledge that the South Bronx is burning to the ground, and we do not have enough firemen. Rage at the plague of crime and violence, knowing that we have too few policemen. Rage because so many of our schools and hospitals have been permanently awarded to the rats, our parks left strangled on weed and neglect, our libraries reduced to part-time outposts of civilization. Rage at the scabrous conditions of our streets, the potholes and trenches that might never again be filled, the sewers clogged with a winter’s dismal refuse. Rage at the businessmen fleeing to their suburban arcadias. Rage at the loss of our local democracy. Rage at Washington. Rage at our own impotence. [Pete Hamill, in the New York Times Book Review, June 20, 1976.]

     Quite a bit of rage there, eh what? But what, precisely, was columnist Hamill raging about?

     Do you remember? I do.

     In combination, the mayoral administrations of John Lindsay and his successor Abraham Beame had bankrupted the city of New York. They’d done so by grotesquely expanding its roll of unionized government employees, agreeing to their demands for exorbitant increases in salary and benefits, and meeting those demands with a mountain of debt. When default loomed in late 1974 and Beame discovered that he could no longer interest the private market in NYC municipal bonds, he applied to the federal government for a bailout – without agreeing to expose the city’s fiscal nightmare to public scrutiny. Indeed, the Beame Administration and its supporters in the press reacted to the suggestion that the city’s fiscal house was badly disordered as if they’d been dealt a mortal insult. They wanted federal funds with no conditions and no strings attached, so that they could go on their profligate way as if nothing systemic was wrong.

     Do you remember? I do. Do you remember what came next?

     William E. Simon, the Treasury Secretary under President Gerald Ford, declined to assist the city unless it would accept federal oversight and a thorough restructuring of its finances. He had the president’s backing in saying so. The consequences included the following headline in the New York Daily News:

Ford to City:
Drop Dead

     Do you remember? I do. Do you remember what came next?

     First New York State Governor Hugh Carey got into the act by backing the city from the state treasury. A few months of that put New York State in danger of default. Then Carey leaned on Beame to apply humbly, hat in hand, to the Ford Administration...but not before the city’s press organs had vilified President Ford, Treasury Secretary Simon, and virtually the entire federal government to an intergalactic blackness. The final credit agreement between the city and the Treasury Department was one of the toughest on record. In essence, having proved that it was too spendthrift to manage its own finances, the city lost control of them to the federal government. The Treasury Department supervised their reorganization, much as a judge would have done for a business declared bankrupt.

     Do you remember? I do. Do you remember what came next?

     After Beame and Carey agreed to Secretary Simon’s credit terms, the city returned to fiscal soundness. New York City would never again attempt to pyramid debt upon debt as if its obligations need never be repaid. The Koch and Giuliani mayoralties gradually addressed the city’s other problems – problems Lindsay’s and Beame’s administrations had passively collaborated in creating – and restored New York’s livability, commercial appeal, and pride.

     But all that rage...

     That was about money. Money, mismanagement, and the embarrassment of some overly prideful public officials. What, then, can one say about the oceans of rage being vented about the atrocities in Paris and their kindred in the Middle East?

     Allow me to quote from one of my novels:

     Loughlin sat back. "We've talked about objectives already. How does an objective differ from a motive?"
     "Think, Christine. Did Louis ever give you any crime fiction to read? Detective stories? Murder mysteries?"
     "Well, yes. He wasn't too big on it, but there was some."
     "And what was the mantra the detectives were always chanting? What was their investigation intended to discover?"
     She thought a moment. "Motive, means, and opportunity."
     He nodded. "We can pass on means and opportunity for now. That's tactics. Motive is the 'why' of a criminal act. Where does it reside? Inside the criminal, among his desires, fears and emotions, or outside, in the objective world that he shares with the rest of us?"

     The emotions are what move us to act. Look at the roots of the two italicized words! It’s practically a tautology, yet most people seem unable to see it. An emotion that doesn’t impel action is unimportant in an objective sense – i.e., it has no effects outside the mind of him who experiences it. It’s a waste of energy.

     So here we are, two days since the Paris atrocities, after many months of similar horrors against Middle Eastern Christians and Jews, and years if not decades of fatuous posturings from elected officials about “extremism.” We rage, rage, rage...but to what effect? Are we affecting others’ sense of things? No; those who rage over the slaughters cannot kindle that fire in those who don’t, for reasons as fundamental as reason itself. Are we levering ourselves out of our recliners and preparing to act? I don’t see it. We appear to have decided to “leave it to the government,” even though it’s quite plain from his words and deeds these past seven years that Barack Hussein Obama will never lift a genuinely effective finger against Islam or its villains. Indeed, he persists in proclaiming Islam “a religion of peace,” repeating his predecessor’s gravest mistake.

     Will anything come of our rage? Will the emotion of rage ever move us?

     I’m no seer. Considering what became of Cassandra, I wouldn’t want to be one. But I can’t extrapolate significant action against Islam from what I see and hear today.

     Do you believe that the federal government will act in some effective fashion? Do you believe that about any of the European governments? Do you believe we just have to be patient while they get their asses in gear?

     I wouldn’t put money on it. The governments of Europe and the United States have brought this state of affairs about. Even if it wasn’t purposeful – I’m unwilling to say yea or nay about that – politicians and bureaucrats are so reluctant to admit a mistake that the prospect of a policy reversal appears microscopic. The smart money is betting that nothing substantive will change.

     It’s been said by several commentators with audiences much wider than mine that Islam is at war with us, but our “leaders” are unwilling to admit it. Do you really think a few dozen deaths in a capital where hundreds of cars used to be burned each night will give our political elites cause to admit mistakes so massive, so fraught with consequences both near term and far? Should it become obvious that they will not, do you seriously expect a popular uprising, a People’s Crusade to expel Islam from the lands of the West and confine it to the hellholes where it was born?

     If not, then what meaning has our rage?

     “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” – attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroko Yamamoto, after the “successful” attack on Pearl Harbor, though possibly apocryphal

     The above sentiment was echoed after September 11, 2001, in many parts of these United States. We raged after that stroke, too. We, the “sleeping giant,” were ready to rise and take a terrible vengeance, just as we had done in 1941. We cheered as President George W. Bush took the reins of war and sent our forces forth.

     Despite the superficial appearance of what came afterward, we failed. Not because Barack Hussein Obama surrendered the gains the Bush Administration had achieved; because we struck the wrong targets.

     We struck Afghanistan, because we believed Osama bin Laden was hiding there. By orienting the campaign around him, we demoted to a criminal act what was actually a salvo in a war that’s persisted for fourteen centuries.

     We struck Iraq because it appeared to be “low-hanging fruit,” a good entry point for a campaign to democratize the Muslim Middle East. By doing so, we misdirected our forces in a centuries-long religious war against what was the most secular regime in the region.

     Fifteen of the nineteen terrorists of 9/11 were Saudi Arabian nationals. Saudi Arabia was and remains the seat of Wahhabi Islam, the most virulent and militant strain of the madness, which bred Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorists. Did Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, which largely owes its continuation in power to American backing, make any changes in its campaign to spread Wahhabism? Did any element of the Bush Administration even suggest such a thing to the House of Saud?

     Was there even a hint at a move to limit Muslim immigration from Islamic nations to the United States? Did a single proposed mosque fail to get a building permit? No, we were too concerned about a “backlash against Muslims.” Too afraid of what “the international community” might think. Too anxious to placate CAIR and ISNA. Too frightened of being called “Islamophobic.”

     Nice rage, folks.

     Expect nothing to change.
     Expect the political posturings to continue.
     Expect the nations of Europe to conciliate “their” Muslims.
     Expect Obama to assure the Saudis, the Iranians, etc. that “we don’t blame you.”
     Expect the Merkel Administration over Germany to open wide for millions more young, fit Muslim “refugees.”
     And expect further Islamic terror attacks in Europe, and despite our greater level of civilian armament, perhaps here in the U.S. as well.

     Perhaps that will get us genuinely enraged. Enraged enough to “take it private:”

  • To refuse to hire Muslims.
  • To refuse to do business with Muslims.
  • To refuse all social intercourse with Muslims.
  • To make it effectively impossible to operate a mosque.
  • In short, to render the United States utterly inhospitable to Islam.

     If We the People are unable to get “our” government to act, then either we must tacitly accept the gradual degradation and subjection “our” government seems to have in mind for us, or we must take the matter into our own hands.

     Are we enraged enough for that latter course yet?


pdwalker said...

No, not while there is food on the table, heat in the house and some measure of "freedom" remaining.

It's going to have to get a lot worse first.

I never wanted to live in interesting times, but here I am.

Brinster said...

Seems to me the only things we have in our favor are our faith in the Lord God and our ability of self-defense. The government, which for some time hasn't answered to the governed, is too stupid, too incompetent and too timid to do anything about it. To echo Francis' final line from yesterday, "it's them or us."

Eskyman said...

Fran, you said until we get enraged enough:
To refuse to hire Muslims.
To refuse to do business with Muslims.
To refuse all social intercourse with Muslims.
To make it effectively impossible to operate a mosque.
In short, to render the United States utterly inhospitable to Islam.

Have you forgotten that our benevolent government has forbidden all of those things?

First we have to get rid of the Globalist Elites that now dictate everything in this once-free country. Hussein Obama would be a great place to start; once he's in jail as a traitor then further healing can take place.

Yes, I know that won't happen. We live in interesting times indeed, when a Muslim Manchurian candidate can actually be elected, not once but twice. I have very little hope that anything will improve until well after the cities are burning all across the land.

Francis W. Porretto said...

No, I haven't forgotten, Esky. Some willingness to defy the State and risk the consequences will be required. This is about the defense of the U.S., and by extension the defense of the free world generally. Either we suck it up and take some risks today, or we must accept greater risks and still more terrible consequences tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Change comes not from the plans on our elites nor from their intentions. Changes come from unexpected challenges that are not predictable nor can be foreseen. Who expected 9-11? Who expected Trump?

But the results of the reactions cannot be controlled forever, surpressed for a time, controlled, again for a time. But the flood cannot be restrained forever. And the elites will be swept away for failing to take corrective solutions.

Brinster said...

This will NOT be put into memory, nor will it fade from it. The hideousness of the acts of the "religion of peace" will linger forever.

Brinster said...

The French bombed ISIS headquarters in Raqqa. Where have we been the last 2 years? Does this not make the Pres look bad? Will he be questioned about this at his next news conference?

Anonymous said...

Napalm. I know, I know.... it's not nice, or polite, or politically correct. But in an "us or them" situation it is most expedient. "Hi, I'm with the Concerned American Islamist Removers"... (or some such outfit) - and I'm here to offer you a similar choice to one your 'brethren' have offered to ones such as we. Leave and return to the land of sand and goats, or.... napalm."
It is us or them, and we must find within us the moral courage (and balls...) to say 'enough' - and get on with it. There's a war going on. Let's win.