The advent of the internet means that ordinary people like me can loudly criticize Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and the Times‘ ridiculous 1619 project.
(If you prefer listening to reading, the companion podcast is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcast so, if you like it, please share it with your friends and on social media. Giving it good ratings helps too.)
An internet world lets ordinary people praise Israel. It’s very hard to cast ones mind back to a pre-internet era when traditional news outlets were the only game in town and news was on a day-to-day cycle. In today’s world, the fact that two junior Congresswomen were denied admission to Israel has received 24/7 coverage in the old-line news media (television and what we still call “print,” even though it’s really internet). In addition, politicians — especially Leftists — have spoken about it steadily, flooding Twitter with their opinions.
Here are the basic outlines: Rashida Tlaib (D-Palestine) and Ilhan Omar (D-Somalia) have consistently and openly demonized both Israel and Jews. Among other things, both have actively pushed the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement, which seeks to destroy Israel economically. Of course, those who argue that this is an appropriate activity because of Israel’s alleged human rights abuses have not pushed a BDS movement against any other country that has provably violated human rights. The same people behind BDS are horrified that Trump would use economic sanctions against China, never mind that China’s human rights abuses against its own people are legion and that its economic abuses are terribly damaging to Americans here at home.
Anyhoo, Tlaib and Omar planned to travel on the taxpayers’ dime to visit Israel. Oh, wait! I misspoke. They planned to travel on the taxpayers’ dime to visit a place called Palestine:
Israel mulled letting the women into the country but eventually decided against it. In so doing, it relied on an existing law holding that Israel has the right to bar from entry people who support the BDS movement. One could add that it’s quite reasonable to prohibit entry to people who call for your country’s destruction and openly embrace activists who use violence to advance that destruction.
Democrats went nuts. How dare Israel enforce its borders! How dare Israel insult the U.S. Congress! How dare Israel insult American citizens! How dare Israel listen to Trump’s advice about the women!
Tlaib then upped the ante by announcing that Israel’s decision was barring her from seeing her beloved 95-year-old grandmother. She promised, in writing, that if Israel agreed, she would not engage in any anti-Israel provocation:
Israel yielded to this humanitarian request, only to have Tlaib immediately throw it back in Israel’s face:
Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice. https://t.co/z5t5j3qk4H
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 16, 2019
In other words, the whole thing was a stunt to keep the news cycle going a bit longer. Which gets me back to my point about the non-stop news cycle. Would this kind of non-news also have been a story in the old days? I think it would have been. I distinctly remember when the media turned on Jimmy Carter (hoping, I’m sure, that Ted Kennedy would become the Democrat candidate for 1980). The traditional media was suddenly flooded with endless iterations about killer rabbits, lusting after the Polish people, and defecting from America.
The virtue of the internet era, despite the best efforts of Google, Facebook, and other Leftist outlets exerting out-sized control over the internet, is that people other than the mainstream media still have a say in the matter. That means that I — and you and every other sane person — can tweet or blog or podcast about the fact that, if Tlaib and Omar can boycott Israel, Israel can boycott them.
And I can point out that it’s really irrelevant that Israel is barring those two women from entering Israel, since their plan is to go to some other country altogether. That other country would be Palestine, a place found only on UNRWA maps and on the map that Tlaib put in her office when she was elected as a U.S. Congresswoman. (UNRWA, for those who don’t know, stands for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. It is the only UN agency devoted entirely to a single group of refugees, a group, moreover, that gained its refugee status 52 years ago. All other refugee groups in the world have either been repatriated or absorbed into their new locales.)
One other opinion I’ve seen floating around is that Israel should let Tlaib and Omar in and have them see places unique to Israel, in the hopes of changing their minds. Daniel Pipes, one of the most profound thinkers about anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment believes this:
For starters, the possibility exists that the congresswomen would have learned something during their travels to diminish their hostility to Israel. It has happened before. Jesse Helms, the longtime Republican senator from North Carolina, who died in 2008, was renowned for his hostility to Israel, for example calling in 1982 for a “shut down” of U.S.-Israel relations. But he was strongly affected by a 1985 trip to the Holy Land and became Israel’s staunch supporter. In a more recent case, former Islamist Maajid Nawaz recalled on Twitter Thursday that a “trip to Israel & engagement with Israeli humans changed me profoundly.”
This is one of the few times I find myself at odds with Pipes. First, Israel can’t force the women to do anything, and visiting “pro-Israel” sites was not on their itinerary. Second, these woman have a political, public, and media investment in hating Israel. There’s no benefit to them in changing their minds. Third, serious haters are surrounded by a mental force field. This is especially true when it comes to calls (not Pipes’ call, by the way) that it would have helped Israel to take Tlaib and Omar to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. I can’t think of a more terrible idea.
I can assure you that seeing Yad Vashem will not move these two open anti-Semites to see the error of their ways. Instead, whether they gloat openly or inwardly, a visit to Yad Vashem will represent something they devoutly wish — the bloody and complete destruction of the Jewish people. Keep in mind that their pals in Hamas have as part of their charter calls for the obliteration of the Jewish people and the complete Muslim takeover of their land. In other words, what Hitler started, they wish to finish. Yad Vashem is not a place of horror for them, but a reminder of work yet to be done.
So, I’m fine with the fact that Tlaib and Omar don’t get to go to Israel, that they don’t see Yad Vashem, and that the internet world, while every bit as Leftistly vicious and repetitive as the old, pre-internet mainstream media world, for the first time gives the rest of us a voice.
One more thing: I’ve seen a bunch of headlines for the past two days about the fact that that Tlaib’s grandmother called for “God to ruin Trump.” She didn’t. If you listen, you hear that she called for “Allah” to ruin Donald Trump.
‘May God ruin him.’ — This is how Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother responded after Trump suggested Israel ban the congresswoman pic.twitter.com/OK9WRsxaho
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 17, 2019
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never considered Allah to be the same creator as the Judeo-Christian God. Monothesist, yes. God, no. Just sayin’.
The risible Times’ take on slavery and America. Byron York has garnered deserved praise for his article describing the latest New York Times project, which isn’t just to say that Trump is racist (its planned narrative for the next 15 months), but to say that all of America is racist:
In the Times‘ view (which it hopes to make the view of millions of Americans), the country was actually founded in 1619, when the first Africans were brought to North America, to Virginia, to be sold as slaves.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of that event, and the Times has created something called the 1619 Project. This is what the paper hopes the project will accomplish: “It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
The basic thrust of the 1619 Project is that everything in American history is explained by slavery and race. The message is woven throughout the first publication of the project, an entire edition of the Times magazine. It begins with an overview of race in America — “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.” — written by Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, who on Twitter uses the identity Ida Bae Wells, from the crusading late 19th-early 20th century African American journalist Ida B. Wells.
The essays go on to cover the economy (“If you want to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.”), the food we eat (“The sugar that saturates the American diet has a barbaric history as the ‘white gold’ that fueled slavery.”), the nation’s physical health (“Why doesn’t the United States have universal healthcare? The answer begins with policies enacted after the Civil War.”), politics (“America holds onto an undemocratic assumption from its founding: that some people deserve more power than others.”), daily life (“What does a traffic jam in Atlanta have to do with segregation? Quite a lot.”), and much more.
A major goal of the 1619 Project is to take the reframing message to schools. The Times has joined an organization called the Pulitzer Center (which, it should be noted, is not the organization that hands out the Pulitzer Prize) to create a 1619 Project curriculum. “Here you will find reading guides, activities, and other resources to bring The 1619 Project into your classroom,” the center says in a message to teachers.
The paper also wants to reach into schools itself. “We will be sending some of our writers on multi-city tours to talk to students,” Hannah-Jones said recently, “and we will be sending copies of the magazine to high schools and colleges. Because to us, this project really takes wing when young people are able to read this and understand the way that slavery has shaped their country’s history.”
I have a few points I want to make, in no particular order.
To a hammer, everything is a nail. To the extent the Left is monomaniacal about America and racism, this truly is the prism through which it views this country. Nothing will change that.
The goal here is obvious: To make it clear that America is rotten to its very core. There can be no salvation. It must be destroyed root and branch, for the sin of African slavery is so deeply woven into the fabric of America’s soul that it cannot be expiated. There is no level of remorse or redemption that will wipe out this canker. The more than 600,000 American men whose bodies littered American soil are meaningless. The Civil Rights Movement is meaningless. The first black(ish) president . . . meaningless. The corruption is so interwoven with America that the country needs to be ended.
I’m reminded somehow of my aunt. She, along with her siblings (one of whom was my father) and her mother managed to escape Nazi Germany before the war. After the war, she found her way to Israel. Israel was socialist, which ought to have satisfied her, but it wasn’t socialist enough. She wanted communism, so she abandoned her husband and child and returned to Berlin. When people asked her how she could return to the land of the Nazis, she assured them that this was not a problem: “They’ve been purified by communism.” Looking at how East Germans suffered compared to their Western compatriots over the next 73 years, I have to say she was right. That’s the kind of purification the new American Left wants for us.
The Left ignores or misunderstands the history of slavery. Slavery is not uniquely American. Slavery is a part of the world and its history. I don’t believe that there has been a time or place in the world during which slavery has not existed. In the early years of European activity in North America, it was the Europeans — the Spaniards, French, and English — who brought slavery to these shores. At the same time, throughout the Muslim world, there was a huge traffic in European slaves, with millions of Europeans vanishing into Africa and the Middle East.
Moreover, slavery in America wasn’t initially driven by race. The British made a serious effort to use the Irish as slaves — in the form of indentured servants for debts or penal servitude for crimes — but the Irish, stubbornly, kept up and dying. It was black resistance to malaria, rather than their skin color, that initially made them the preferred unpaid servant race.
Put another way, for all of America’s pre-revolutionary history, slavery in every part of the world wasn’t the exception, it was the norm. Moreover, the fact that slaves ended up being black wasn’t a racial decision, it was a pragmatic decision based upon survivability.
The only places in which slavery ceased being the norm were those places that embraced capitalism. Slavery is an inefficient system, since those who labor without recompense produce at the most minimal level possible. It’s when people’s labor is tied to profit that they put energy into their work. Moreover, although the slave owner isn’t getting good work from slaves, he still has to maintain them. They must be fed, housed, and clothed. Moreover, a slave owner with the even most limited conscience also had to care for them at some level after their work years ended. After all, at this point they were unsaleable and, even in the cruelest of times during the Roman empire, slaughtering them like old horses wasn’t the done thing.
Beginning immediately after the Civil War, the northern states took off like gangbusters, creating the amazing American economic engine that exploded onto the world in the second half of the 19th century. Meanwhile, for more than 100 years after the War, the former slave states — the ones that immediately embraced Jim Crow — were economic backwaters. To the extent that they had a slavery legacy, it screwed them economically. It wasn’t until they turned their collective backs entirely on their racist pasts that the Southern states finally caught up with the northern states economically.
But again, to a hammer, everything is a nail. America is evil and modern Americans must be made to suffer until, as my aunt said, they are purified in the fires of communism.