THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE TODAY

June 12, 2009

I know that many of you who received our invitation were expecting to be greeted by Ward Connerly as our Master of Ceremonies tonight.  Well I am sorry to inform you that Ward was not able to make it.  But we are blessed, with the attendance of his twin and even better looking brother, Joe Hicks , a formidable former radio talk show host and co founder of Community Advocates.  And we will be meeting him in just a moment. 

Tonight’s dinner comes in the midst of  two of the most important anniversaries in the history of the modern world. 

The first is the 65TH Anniversary of D -Day.  The second is the   20th anniversary of the massacre of students in Tiananmen Square in China. 

These two epochal events, one where freedom was fearlessly defended and other where it was brutally extinguished, should give us pause today when considering the challenges to freedom around the globe. 

Because wherever we look on the world’s map, freedom is under assault.  Not just in world capitals, such as Beijing, Moscow and Teheran –  but in places far closer to home – in  our universities, in our media and among many of  our leaders, all who blindly ignore the reality of the world in which we live.  

Twenty years after the screams and blood and slaughter at Tiananmen Square, the People’s Republic of China is still a great dungeon. The unchanging key to all Beijing’s policies is that the nation is ruled by a Leninist dictatorship and intends to remain as such.

That was the truth in 1989. It remains the truth today.

We should see China in the context of recent developments around the world.   In the twelve months that have passed since our last Heroes of Conscience Dinner,  the  world seems to have been upended.  An economic collapse, unlike any since the Great Depression; a financial scandal which destroyed the portfolios of thousands of American individuals and organizations; the fragmentation of venerable American institutions in the banking, automotive and brokerage industries  – all have seemed a portent of  an end of the fabled ‘American century’.  

But those who are writing off American power, prestige  and resilience are very much mistaken.  Recovery from these setbacks may be slow and painful, but there is no doubt a resurgence will occur. Signs are already emerging of an American recovery and the thought of a  black night of permanent recession will soon be behind us. 

Yet as America makes its steep climb out of its troubles, it should be remembered that even if our financial models have changed, certain other paradigms have not.  These include the fact that  in radical Islam, our civilization is confronted with an implacable, remorseless foe determined upon our defeat.  In mosques and Islamic community centers throughout   Europe and America –  in Africa and even Australia, that movement sees in economic disarray  great opportunity and  gains ground daily as it feeds  off multicultural openness, cultural relativism and moral confusion.  

The Islamicization of Europe,  the collapse of academic freedom, media bias and the global governance movement –  these are all are the portals through  which Islamic fundamentalism is seeking to penetrate and destroy our civilization and quash freedom. The approach might be opaque and hidden, but no one should be deluded  that it is still extraordinarily sophisticated in its planning and in its scope. 

And it is illustrated by some of the oddest anomalies the West has ever encountered: 

  • How, is it, for instance,  that a Geert Wilders, a man who stands for the very values which have given Western civilization its greatness, could be debarred from entering Great Britain, the fount of modern European democracy, for fear  that the expression of his views might lead to criticism and civil unrest? 
  • How can Alan Craig, a passionate believer in peaceful coexistence, be vilified as a bigot and racist for merely pointing out that one of the most dangerous Islamic sects in his country  is seeking to build a monumental edifice close by the site of 2012 London Olympics? 
  • How is it possible for the Dutch-born Ian Buruma, one of the West’s intellectual darlings, to describe Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a “enlightenment fundamentalist”, as if her belief in Western values and Western ideals should cast her  in the same rejectionist mode as Islamic imams who preach intolerance, violence and destruction of Western institutions?  
  • How could the Archbishop of Canterbury , the highest prelate in the United Kingdom, call for the embrace, by the English legal system, of aspects of Shaaria Law as if there is no fatal conflict between those two systems of jurisprudence.  

Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen. Western civilization is battling for its own survival. The freedoms and liberties that we take for granted are under threat and that challenge is being aided by the naivety, moral blindness and cowardice of Western intellectuals, our media, our academies of higher learning and certain elements within our political leadership. 

At the American Freedom Alliance we recognize these enormous challenges.   And tonight we are going to show you exactly what we  are doing to address them.  

Many sacrifices were made so that we could savor the kind of freedoms we enjoy today.  So as we join together tonight in celebration of the Heroes of Conscience, lets not forget the sacrifices made on the beaches of Normandy, 65 years ago.  And in that spirit I wish invoke the words of Ronald Reagan himself,  spoken on the 40th anniversary of D- Day in 1984:   

“ But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it. We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago –  the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. 

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.” 

 No truer words that can be spoken about the world in which we live today.  

 

Thank you.

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PAYING TRIBUTE TO HEROES

June 12, 2009

For anyone paying close attention, a historic event occurred this week in Europe.  As we go to press, polls reveal that Geert Wilders’ party, the Party for Freedom, has won a sweeping victory in the Dutch section of the European electorate coming in second and  swamping its nearest rival by nearly 20%.

Today’s elections to the European Union parliament are vitally important.  The European parliament in its next session is likely to vote on a number of issues which could affect  trade alliances, the sovereignty of its constituent states and the Trans- Atlantic Alliance.

How has Geert Wilders, labeled by his enemies a racist and bigot, whose pronouncements against Muslim extremism are widely reviled by the European intelligentsia, media and political class, won such an extraordinary level of popularity?

The answer is that Wilders reflects a profound disenchantment with those elites – men and women who are blindly leading that continent to catastrophe.   A willingness to hide behind multicultural slogans and politically correct nostrums, has led to a continent wide rise in anti-Semitism, incipient violence and a vicious anti-democratic movement, led by an empowered Muslim minority.

Wilders recognizes both the seriousness of the threat and the depth of the disenchantment and it is for this reason his popularity has soared.  He is courageously spearheading a movement, at great risk to his own life, to alert his corner of the world to the perils of accommodating fundamentalist Islam.

Across the English Channel another man similarly toils against great adversity and the similar willing denial of the deep problems his country faces from appeasement to Muslim demands.   Alan Craig, a councilman in one of London’s inner suburbs, is fighting a successful campaign to force a secretive fundamentalist Muslim group to bend in its plans to construct a mega mosque near the heart of the still- under-construction 2012 Olympic village.   Craig’s pertinacity, not just in the face of Tablighi Jamaat’s campaign of vilification but in defiance of his many of his political adversaries, is a case study in courage and determination.  There are few men of his caliber today in England who state plainly what all can see – that British identity and national character is in a state of free fall and that no less than national survival is at risk if something is not done to rescue that country from the grip of its multicultural swoon.

These two men exemplify the spirit of the hero of conscience – unafraid to speak plainly and unashamedly that they are sons of the enlightenment and will resist any attempt to deny that legacy.

For that reason the American Freedom Alliance is proud to offer both men its 2009  Heroes of Conscience Awards. This year’s annual dinner,  to be held on Sunday, June 7, at the Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, will offer us the opportunity to pay tribute to their commitment to Western values and to celebrate with  them the glory of our heritage.

We hope you can join us.


FIGHTING OVER THE CONSTITUTION

June 12, 2009

One of the things that has always perplexed me about the contentious debate surrounding the Guantanomo Bay detention policies is the argument that constitutional protections, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, should be extended to enemy combatants.

The United States Constitution has been one of the most effective and resilient documents ever produced by human hand.   Despite a cataclysmic civil war, the malfeasance of certain presidents and the pressures brought to bear on the republic by a depression and two world wars, the founding document of the republic has stood the test of time and is a profound statement of what human beings as a collective can create with sufficient faith and determination.

But the Constitution has also come in for rhetorical abuse and no more so than last week when Barak Obama and Dick Cheney faced off in separate locations against one another, concerning the Bush Administration’s detention policies.  Cheney claimed that the (policies) “prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people, “ while Obama’s stated  that “rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries.”

It is no accident that Obama’s speech was delivered from the National Archives, the marble building which houses the U.S. Constitution.  The President’s supporters have made it clear that they regard Guantanomo Bay and the Bush Administration as a direct assault on the Constitution and that claim can be heard loud and clear from politicians like Nancy Pelosi to singers like Bruce Springsteen.

But the United States Constitution was written, as far as I am aware, with only American citizens in mind, to safeguard their liberty and freedom – not to defend and protect those who have no respect for our constitutional safeguards and in fact wish to destroy them.

Did the founders of this country ever conceive of the Constitution as a universalistic document designed to protect the rights of all human beings – even antagonists allegedly pledged to the destruction of the country?

Hardly.  James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, in the Federalist Papers, went out of his way to draw a distinction between citizens and non -citizens – and how rights would be apportioned between them.  

Does the same Constitution prevent us, particularly in the light of the devastating attacks of 9/11, from detaining non-citizen suspects indefinitely, in violation of habeas corpus, in  order to prevent other potential attacks?  

If one argues that the first obligation of government is the common defense of the country – a point noted in both the Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the Constitution, there is almost no argument.  Habeas Corpus, an English doctrine and one of the only British legal concepts imported into the U.S. Constitution, was itself never designed to give enemies of the state, rights. The great British legal scholar Blackstone described the Writ of Habeas Corpus as  allowing “the King at all times, as entitled to have an account of why the liberty of any of his subjects is restrained, wherever that restraint my be inflicted.”

Should interrogation techniques, designed to elicit crucial information vital to the security and safety of the nation, be dispensed with because they violate constitutional safeguards?

Well that depends on whether you regard the Constitution as a mere adjunct to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or as a document which stands alone, independent of other international or supranational agreements. There is of course the argument that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified in 1949 by Congress under Article III of the Constitution, is already a part of U.S law.

But it is not part of the Constitution which is a significant difference.

Barack Obama, constitutional scholar though he may be, was not making a legal argument based on the Constitution;   He was making a political argument based on international human rights law. So while Obama may have may made the symbolic inference that the Guantanomo Bay detention policies abuse constitutional safeguards, what he is really arguing is that they abuse universal human rights safeguards, which is another thing.

The problem, on the other hand, with Cheney’s point of view is that he, and others in the Bush Administration, were never able to validate the severity of the threat, since the projected events never occurred. But it must be left to each government administration make threat assessments and to respond accordingly. 

We should never forget that the U.S. Constitution stands as the ultimate American symbol of independence  – the independence of its judiciary, separated from both the legal and executive branches; the independence of its citizenry, which has a direct share in the proper and effective administration of government. And the independence of its polity from those of others around the world.   International humanitarian law, which comes packaged to us in the nebulous expression “human rights,” should never be allowed to override governmental obligations to protect U.S. citizenry.

Where there  is a conflict between a constitutional mandate – such as the  government’s duty to provide a common defense, and a universal human right – such as the right to due process for foreign nationals, the Constitution, the true symbol of American independence, must prevail. 

Dick Cheney mentioned in his remarks that whatever choices the President makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.  I would add that it is not just the truthful telling of history that is necessary – but the truthful acceptance of the Constitutions’ uniqueness and independence which should always be a president’s overriding concern.


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