Friday, November 27, 2009

Barbie in a Burka

By Joseph Kellard

Despite feminist critics who attack her as a cause of anorexia among young women, the Barbie doll has come to symbolize the independent, attractive, fashionable career woman. But now, on her 50th birthday, she has had a burka thrown over her -- by Westerners!

"One of the world's most famous children's toys, Barbie, has been given a makeover - wearing a burkha. Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby's for Save The Children. More than 500 Barbies went on show yesterday at the Salone dei Cinquecento, in Florence, Italy."

Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have banned Barbie dolls. According to Wikipedia, Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stated "Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful."

Now Westerners have obscured Barbie dolls in burkas - in bright-colors apparently to make them seem fashionable (!) -- while others have praised the new doll because she allegedly gives Muslim girls a Barbie that "represents them."

But outside this world of childish make-believe, the burka is a symbol of force, of oppression of women by religious brutes who rule with an iron Islamic fist.

Let's chalk this up as another example of the depraved lengths to which multiculturalism has taken the West.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Letter on Ad Hominem Attack on Ayn Rand

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online today posted a letter I wrote in response to columnist who scribbled an ad hominem attack on Ayn Rand. My letter is the 11th one listed.

Reg Henry's drive-by criticism

Reg Henry comes off as a coward in his column "Who Spawned All These Nuts? Ayn Rand" (Nov. 11).

He hides behind so-called humor and oversimplifications to attack those he dislikes. For example, he writes that some readers erupted with volcanic name-calling because of his "mild criticism" of Sarah Palin -- but he fails to mention whether that criticism was rational or ... crazy. Often, it's not mere criticism that people are responding to but the nature of the criticism -- and whether it is fair or unjust.

Likewise, he blames Ayn Rand for all the alleged "nutty" ideas out there today. God forbid that people call Barack Obama's efforts to take over the banking and health-care industries for what they are: "socialist" -- that is, government wresting control of the means of production in an industry.

But never once does he give an example of her ideas, other than to summarize them as "greed is good" and leave it as that. In short, his criticism of Ms. Rand amounts to an ad hominem attack.

Based on this smear job, I'll chalk him up as just another of many drive-by critics of Ayn Rand who are too intellectually impotent to stop and provide any rational criticism of her philosophy.

Now who's the name-caller and crazy one?

East Meadow, N.Y

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

With Freedom Comes Responsibility: Part II

By Joseph Kellard

In my post “With Freedom Comes Responsibility,” I wrote that when I read coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall in left-leaning newspapers, such as the New York Times, I found little mention of the actual oppression and suffering people endured under communist regimes. What was mentioned are the people who, after they were freed from communism’s chains, longed for the supposed security of those same regimes. Most importantly, there was no mention of the responsibility that comes along with freedom, particularly the need for individuals to think and live independently -- in short, to cultivate and exercise self-esteem.

On Wednesday, however, the Times addressed these issues in its report on the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Prague in an article called “Celebrating Revolution With Roots in a Rumor”:

Once again, I read about those who favor life under communism:

“In a recent survey by the Czech Academy of Sciences, 81 percent of Czechs said they did not want a return of the old regime, even as a notable 14 percent said that life before 1989 was better.”

Note that what’s “notable” to the Times is that 14 percent. But, to the newspaper’s credit, the reporter found and quoted a freedom-lover who criticizes those 14-percenters:

“But others, like Mirek Kodym, 56, a ponytailed former security guard who published illegal political and literary tracts before 1989 and marched on Tuesday as he had 20years ago, said the Velvet Revolution had been a seminal moment in which a beleaguered nation had finally tasted freedom.

“‘Today you can be what you want to be and do what you want to do, and no one will interfere,’ he said. ‘The nostalgia for the past is a stupid thing.”

Of course, the Times had to mention Vaclav Havel, the leader of the Velvet Revolution that overthrew Communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989, who figured prominently in the article. Here’s the most important passage:

“[Havel] recently argued that nostalgia for the old regime reflected the condition of a people who had been imprisoned for so long that they did not know what to do with their newfound freedom.

“‘I have often compared it to being released from prison,’ he said. ‘In prison everything is laid out for you; you don’t have to decide on anything. They tell you when to get up, what to wear, everything is decided for you by others. If you live in this for years and are then suddenly released, freedom becomes a burden.”

So the Times finally, although indirectly, touched on the issue of freedom and responsibility, those fundamental issues that the 14 percenters and the Times would otherwise rather evade.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Letter on Religion and Terrorism

By Joseph Kellard

Conservative, committed religionist and jihadist apologist Dinesh D’Souza wrote a column “Don’t blame God for terrorism” in Monday’s USA Today.

In large lettering above the start of the column, D’Souza’s basic stand is summarized as follows: “After the Fort Hood massacre and others, some people – often atheist stalwarts – like to point at the corrosive influence of religion. But a closer look suggests that the most notorious killers usually act on secular motives.”

Here’s an excerpt from his column:

”Marx's call to eliminate the next world by establishing a communist utopia on this one was taken up with a vengeance by Lenin and a host of communist leaders who followed him. These despots established atheism as state doctrine in the Soviet Union, and other Marxist regimes around the world followed. In the past hundred years, these regimes, led by people such as Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceausescu, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and others, have murdered over 100 million people. Even bin Laden, in his wildest dreams, doesn't come close.”

In response, I submitted the following letter:

To the Editor:

Because Dinesh D’Souza and other religionists believe that a God exists and provides men with commandments that constitute an absolutist moral code, so they believe that those who don’t believe in God are fundamentally no different.

But atheism is merely a metaphysical view that rejects God’s alleged existence, and is thus not a comprehensive philosophic system. It leaves wide open what an atheist actually believes in other branches, including ethics and politics. And atheistic communism is merely a secularized version of religion.

While religion commands an unquestioning faith in and sacrifice to God, a being said to be omnipresent and therefore without a particular identity, communism preaches an unquestioning faith in and sacrifice to the state or “society,” an entity that is nobody in particular but everyone in general except you. Both religionists and atheistic communists are mystics, the former of spirit and the latter of muscle, and a man either has faith in what they preach or else!

As the atheistic philosopher Ayn Rand pointed out, faith and force are corollaries. She showed that when men dispense with reality and reason -- their only means to knowledge, persuasion and agreement -- then their only means of dealing with each other is ultimately by force. Disbelievers must be done away with, either by burning at the stake, by overwork in frigid forced labor camps, or by suicidal pilots crashing airliners into their office towers.

Joseph Kellard
East Meadow, NY

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

By Joseph Kellard

From the title essay in Ayn Rand's book "For the New Intellectual":

"From the start of the post-Renaissance period, philosophy — released from its bondage as handmaiden of theology — went seeking a new form of servitude, like a frightened slave, broken in spirit, who recoils from the responsibility of freedom."

This reminds me of my recent readings, particularly in the New York Times, on the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall. Of the few articles and columns on the subject I came across, there was little, if any, mention of the actual oppression and suffering people faced under communist regimes. But, of course, readers read about when communist-states collapsed and people got a taste of freedom, many of them eventually longed for the supposed security blanket of the Soviet Union — you know, that state that took care of everyone from cradle to grave. In reality, the communists really took care of people getting into those (mass) graves. What I didn’t read about, particularly in those opinion columns, was any mention of the responsibility of freedom, which first and foremost demands that you think for yourself and stand on your own two feet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What About The Reds?

By Joseph Kellard

Earlier this decade, when my nephew attended Oceanside Middle School, his teachers devoted a month to the Holocaust. He and his fellow eight-graders had to read a book, watch a movie and write several reports on this important subject.

As students nationwide are taught the horrors of Nazism, however, I won’t hold my breath waiting for those same educators to teach anything comparable about the grand-scale horrors of an equally evil ideology: communism.

I’m reminded of this as the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall approaches on Nov. 9. While growing up during the Cold War era, I’d seen many movies and documentaries and read books, both in and outside of Oceanside schools, about Hitler’s atrocities. Why then did it take me until my late-20s to finally discover the collective horrors committed by Communist dictators — an estimated 100 million people perished under Marxist regimes, and countless others suffered widespread poverty and deprivations?

I initially discovered communism’s legacy on my own by reading Russian authors Ayn Rand and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who both survived the Soviet slave state. More recently, I completed “The Black Book of Communism,” the most comprehensive tome on Marxist utopias, whose ever-present political imprisonments, tortures and executions continue today, and “Gulag,” by Anne Applebaum, an equally thorough study of the Soviet forced-labor camp system.

I've since learned that in Soviet Russia the mass murders began immediately under Vladimir Lenin and peaked with Joseph Stalin, who from 1932 to 1933 systematically starved an estimated 6 to 10 million peasants in Ukraine after they rebelled against his collectivized farm system. Under the reds, tens of millions of people were deported to gulags, many in frigid Siberia, where most perished.

Mao Tse-tung can unquestionably be called history's worst mass murderer, having orchestrated a massive famine from 1959 to 1961 that killed between 20 and 43 million Chinese, and overall the communist dictator slaughtered some 65 million people.

During Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, a third of that nation's citizens were sacrificed in what is the greatest proportion of a population exterminated under a communist dictatorship.

It is disgraceful that educators never teach, give short shrift to, or rationalize away the horrors in these and other nations that instituted communism or still do, as in North Korea and Cuba. Yet a fundamental and complete understanding of both Nazism and communism requires that they are taught together — they represent two sides of the same ideological coin.

As with the Holocaust, the horrors of communism have their deniers and apologists. The difference is the Nazi sympathizers are properly condemned and shunned, but some gulag deniers still hold high positions in our universities. These professors and their former students in education, the mainstream media and government still preach that communism is noble in theory but failed in practice. In reality, communism, like Nazism, failed miserably in practice because it is anti-life in theory.

At root, both preach that the individual must sacrifice for the group and state, be it “the master race” under an Aryan regime or “the working class” under a dictatorship of the proletariat; that the individual has no right to his life, liberty, property or the pursuit of his own happiness; that he must obey the dictates of the state; and that its use of physical force is a justifiable means to effect these ends.

The most important lesson students can learn about totalitarian regimes is that both ideologies lead to the systematic violation of individual rights, the moral-political principle that is America’s original foundation, and ultimately had to lead to mass deaths.

But how can students learn such lessons when communism and its history are virtually ignored, its ideology is still taught as noble, and some openly celebrate communist killers such as Mao and Che Guevara?

For starters, educators can assign their students novels like Ayn Rand’s “We The Living,” to introduce them to Marxist ideals and the perpetual hopelessness and fear people suffer living under a communist state, and Solzehenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” which revealed the brutality of the Soviet labor camps.

We cannot expect the horrors of history's bloodiest regimes to never happen again if our educators fail to teach students about the corrupt ideas that made them happen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two Anniversaries Highlight America's Philosophic Failures

By Joseph Kellard

This month marks 30 years since the Iranian hostage crisis began and 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell.

What must Americans understand about these milestones, the rise of Islamic totalitarianism and the collapse of communism, to understand why these forces continue to threaten our lives and freedoms today?

After three decades, the Iranian regime that initiated war against America on Nov.4, 1979, having stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 American hostages for 444days, has since emerged as the world’s premier sponsor of terrorism, murdering and maiming thousands of Americans from Beirut in 1983 to Afghanistan today. This has happened because our appeasing, timid leaders, both Democrats and Republicans alike, have all along refused to put even a scratch on Iran’s ruling ayatollahs and mullahs.

And two decades after communism collapsed in Eastern Europe and, soon after, Soviet Russia, we are witnessing the resurgence of socialism -- at home. This phenomenon is due, in large part, to the so-called defenders of capitalism, the Republicans-conservatives, who have resigned themselves to accept the welfare state that brought us our now bankrupt Medicare and Social Security systems, rather than mount a principled, moral defense of capitalism.

How essentially did we get to this point?

Note that with the rise of socialism in the early 20th century, age-old religion took a back seat as communists promised unprecedented material prosperity wherever they brutally spread their ideology. Yet, in reality, communism was no more than a secularization of religion. Communism adopted religion’s altruist ethics that commanded men to sacrifice their lives to God’s will and substituted him with demands to sacrifice to society and the state instead. The Berlin Wall came to represent the communism’s universal slave state, crushing its citizens’ fundamental rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, and those who tried to escape to freedom were shot dead, treated like common criminals going over a prison wall.

Long before the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989, communism had demonstrated its anti-life impotence and evil, failing miserably to produces any semblance of a “workers paradise” on earth, with widespread poverty and deprivations and mass death -- an estimated 100 million people slaughtered from Stalin’s Russia to Mao’s China to Castro’s Cuba.

When in 1991 Soviet Russia collapsed, some hailed it as “the end of history,” as if capitalism had triumphed and America faced no other enemies. But there stood religion, both at home and abroad, already filling the void with its promises of paradise in a mystical afterworld. As communism-socialism wasted away, Iran’s Islamic revolution emerged in 1979 as the latest enemy of the West and religion was resurrected in America.

Like the communists, the Islamics watched America become an unprecedented superpower, both economically and militarily, based on fundamental premises antithetical to their own: reason, individualism, individual rights and the selfish pursuit of happiness. Like communism, the religionists preach faith and obedience to something allegedly higher than the individual. While communists extolled sacrifice to an all-powerful proletariat state, the religionists demand submission to an all-powerful god. Thus, to Iran’s ruling clerics -- who properly viewed America as an essentially secularist, this-worldly nation – called her “the Great Satan,” and since the hostage crisis have made “death to America” their mantra.

Meanwhile, at home, Ronald Reagan and his supporters ushered in religious revival, declaring America a nation based on Judeo-Christian values. And although Reagan rightfully identified Soviet Russia as an “evil empire,” he nevertheless held arms negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev, who threatened this nation with nuclear annihilation, and Regan did nothing when Iranian-backed terrorists murdered 241 U.S. Marines at barracks in Beirut in 1983.

When the Soviet Union expired, the terrorists lost their main resource. Suddenly, life-long terrorist Yasir Arafat played peaceful with Israel, and the post-Ayatollah Khomeini regime posed as “moderates.” Al Qaeda, however, who proceeded to build on Iran’s Islamic revolution and bombed American embassies in Africa and the USS Cole in Yemen. Next came September 11, 2001.

The born-again Christian George W. Bush responded by downplaying the terrorists as representing “a fringe form of Islamic extremism” who otherwise pervert “a religion of peace.” Thus Bush was unable to identify our enemy as motivated by religion’s essence of faith and force, and so he failed to properly frame the war as Islam vs. Western Civilization. Instead of destroying the enemy, he turned to nation-building campaigns to bring Iraq and Afghanistan “democracy,” that is, mob rule. All the while, Bush allowed those nations to adopt Islam as a cornerstone of their constitutions, and left the Iranian regime still intact to build nuclear weapons. Today the Obama administration, which is holding America’s first open diplomatic talks with the Iranians since the hostage crisis, is pursuing the same appeasing, timid policies.

America is at this point, in part, because conservatives have only offered religion as an answer to communism-socialism and Islamic totalitarianism. Through its support of faith-based welfare programs, expansion of socialized medical programs and bank bailouts, Bush laid the groundwork for the Obama administration to swiftly push for an explicit socialist agenda in finance and automobiles, and now looks to do the same in the medical and energy industries. Meanwhile, Obama makes nice with Palestinian terrorists and socialist like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, as White House communications director Antia Dunn praises communist mass murder Mao Tse-tung.

This week and next, as we watch images of the freedom-lovers who took sledgehammers to the Berlin Wall 20 years ago and the Iranian thugs who blindfolded their American hostages 30 years ago, we must recognize that the forces of communism-socialism and Islamic totalitarianism continue to threatened our freedoms and lives. And to weaken and finally stamp them out, we must uncompromisingly champion and practice not faith but reason, not collectivism but individualism, not the all-powerful state but individual rights, not force but voluntary trade, not self-sacrifice but rational selfishness.

Nothing less will save this great nation.