Monday, November 16, 2015

Cruising the Web

My heart goes out to all the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris. I just don't have the words. For too many times we've seen such horrors and it still is impossible to understand the evil in the hearts of such murderers.

Europeans must feel as if they've been invaded. For years they've been welcoming immigrants who too often have not assimilated to the host countries, but have demanded that the countries adapt to them. And that has not worked. Mark Steyn has been warning about this for years and his anger bleeds through the computer in his essay on this attack.
But look at the photographs from Paris: there's nowhere to get away from it; the barbarians who yell "Allahu Akbar!" are there waiting for you ...when you go to a soccer match, you go to a concert, you go for a drink on a Friday night. They're there on the train... at the magazine office... in the Kosher supermarket... at the museum in Brussels... outside the barracks in Woolwich...

Twenty-four hours ago, I said on the radio apropos the latest campus "safe space" nonsense:

This is what we're going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.

Almost. When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world's leaders will fly in to "solve" a "problem" that doesn't exist rather than to address the one that does. But don't worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there'll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?

With his usual killer comedy timing, the "leader of the free world" told George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning, America" this very morning that he'd "contained" ISIS and that they're not "gaining strength". A few hours later, a cell whose members claim to have been recruited by ISIS slaughtered over 150 people in the heart of Paris and succeeded in getting two suicide bombers and a third bomb to within a few yards of the French president.

Visiting the Bataclan, M Hollande declared that "nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable": We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless.

Does he mean it? Or is he just killing time until Obama and Cameron and Merkel and Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull fly in and they can all get back to talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.

Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight's events as "an attack not just on Paris, it's an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share".

But that's not true, is it? He's right that it's an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world - an attack on one portion of "humanity" by those who claim to speak for another portion of "humanity". And these are not "universal values" but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta "universal" when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those "universal values" are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.

And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries. Most of those people don't want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live - modern, pluralist, western societies and those "universal values" of which Barack Obama bleats. So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who's been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.

And all Chancellor Merkel and the EU want to do is make that large comfort zone even larger by letting millions more "Syrian" "refugees" walk into the Continent and settle wherever they want.

As I wrote after the Copenhagen attacks in February:

I would like to ask Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt what's their happy ending here? What's their roadmap for fewer "acts of violence" in the years ahead? Or are they riding on a wing and a prayer that they can manage the situation and hold it down to what cynical British civil servants used to call during the Irish "Troubles" "an acceptable level of violence"? In Pakistan and Nigeria, the citizenry are expected to live with the reality that every so often Boko Haram will kick open the door of the schoolhouse and kidnap your daughters for sex-slavery or the Taliban will gun down your kids and behead their teacher in front of the class. And it's all entirely "random", as President Obama would say, so you just have to put up with it once in a while, and it's tough if it's your kid, but that's just the way it is. If we're being honest here, isn't that all Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt are offering their citizens? Spasms of violence as a routine feature of life, but don't worry, we'll do our best to contain it - and you can help mitigate it by not going to "controversial" art events, or synagogues, or gay bars, or...

...or soccer matches, or concerts, or restaurants...

The administration is in full-scramble mode to defend President Obama's unfortunate words on Thursday that ISIS had been "contained." You can add that statement to his claim that ISIS was the JV team to al Qaeda. He clearly doesn't really have a grasp on the threat. So the attack a day after claiming that ISIS is contained, their reach has extended to the heart of Paris. So the explanation today is that he didn't mean what he said.
Before the attack, Obama spoke reassuringly about the growth of ISIS in the MIddle East, suggesting that while the terror group had not been beaten, it had been controlled.

"We have not yet been able to ... completely decapitate their command and control structures," he told ABC News. But he touted success in "trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters."

The administration says when he declared ISIS contained, Obama was speaking only about efforts to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces and U.S. bombing efforts in Syria.

Recent wins against the group seemed to back up Obama's assertion: Kurdish forces retook Sinjar Mountain in Iraq with the help of U.S. airpower late this week. A drone strike announced late Thursday is suspected to have killed "Jihadi John," the ISIS executioner, a symbolic victory after Americans and others were killed on camera and used in propaganda videos. And overall, ISIS' capture of ground has slowed.

"It means exactly what he said," the senior administration official said, referring to the President's containment comments. "Their (ISIS) momentum in terms of territorial gains in Iraq and Syria has been contained/halted."
Well, how comforting that would be if it weren't clear that ISIS can go beyond fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Even before Obama's "contained" comment regarding ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the group's influence beyond those countries' borders was on full display with attacks connected to ISIS-related groups in Beirut and the downing of a Russian passenger plane in Sinai.

This news is rather terrifying.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has nearly 1,000 active probes involving the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inside the United States, dozens of law enforcement officials disclose in a letter to President Obama.
Is that Obama meant by saying that we've contained them to Iraq and Syria? Then why do we have all these active investigations?

But then this is the president who told the Coast Guard graduates earlier this year what a serious threat to global security climate change is.
"Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security," he told the graduates in their dress white uniforms at the campus football stadium, "and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act— and we need to act now.”
He told us in his State of Union that climate change is the greatest challenge and threat to future generations. Breitbart has compiled a list of 22 times that Obama and officials in his government have told us that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism. Somehow, I don't think that is what people are worrying about in the wake of Friday's attacks. As James S. Robbins writes in USA Today,
President Obama also said “we’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters,” referring to international jihadist recruits heading into Syria. But what about the flow of foreign fighters out of the region? It is significant that Syrian and Egyptian passports were found near the bodies of suicide bombers in Paris. Earlier this year ISIS threatened to send 500,000 refugees to Europe to sow chaos, and this year there have been over 700,000 asylum claims filed in Europe alone. It is unknown how many of these might be ISIS infiltrators, but recent experience has shown – whether in Paris, Madrid, London, Boston, or with the 9/11 attacks – that it only takes a small number of committed terrorists to wreak havoc.
Meanwhile, the administration continues with its plans to bring refugees from the Middle East here.
Last month FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that the incoming refugees cannot be adequately vetted, and if ISIS is weaponizing them we have no way of knowing it. While it is important for the United States to assume some of the humanitarian burden for the expanding Syria crisis, it is recklessly irresponsible to distribute unvetted refugees to 180 communities across the country, forcing untrained and inexperienced local law enforcement officers to try to sort out who is a potential threat.

The White House is fresh out of ideas how to counter the Islamic State’s compelling ideological message. At the UN Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in September, President Obama cycled through the usual litany of supposed solutions to the terrorism problem; confronting “economic grievances,” “creating opportunity and dignity,” spreading “more democracy in terms of free speech, and freedom of religion.” However, ISIS, al Qaeda, and other Islamist extremist movements are immune to these appeals. They don’t offer their followers a job training program, they promise an eternal afterlife in Allah’s glory. President Obama also lectured the world once again that “violent extremism is not unique to any one faith, so no one should be profiled or targeted simply because of their faith.” But the global jihadist movement is most definitely unique to Islam, and the sooner the White House confronts that fact the better....

The Paris massacre shows that half-hearted attempts to degrade, contain, or diminish the jihadist threat are failing. What we need is a strategy to defeat and destroy them. There is no substitute for victory, but unfortunately only ISIS seems to understand that.

Having the Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes go on TV to lie to us about how much vetting that they're doing before admitting refugees to the United States is no comfort. The FBI Director and the Assistant Director both say that they don't have the sort of information that they would normally use to do such checking. They have no way of doing the sort of checking that Ben Rhodes is telling the public that they'll do. Isn't this subject too serious for them to be lying to us about?

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Apparently, the theater where the worst of the attack occurred in Paris had been a terrorist target for years as Legal Insurrection reports.
The answer may lie in the fact that it is Jewish-owned, and has been a target for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions BDS movement and terrorist threats for years.

This history was first publicized yesterday by the French Le Point magazine.
The French magazine reports that terrorists had issued threats to the theater back in 2011. Anti-Zionist groups had also targeted them and the theater was talked about and threatened on the Web. The rock group, Eagles of Death, that was playing there had toured Israel and had resisted calls to boycott Israel by anti-Zionist groups. So that target was not chosen at random. In addition to being an attack on France, this was also an attack on Jews and those who support Israel. It's all part of the same terrorist effort we saw earlier when a Jewish deli was attacked the same day as the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

An additional reason that the terrorists might have chosen that day for their attack was because it was a day on which medical professionals were supposed to be on strike.
Thousands of medical professionals planned to go on strike Friday to protest a health reform bill in the French Parliament on the same day Parisians faced terrorist attacks at multiple locations including a rock concert venue, a soccer stadium, and night club.

It is unknown if medical professionals called off the protest at the last minute in light of the attacks.

....According to the, public hospitals were to be carrying the burden of staff shortages during the strike and will remain open to handle emergencies.

The Health Ministry says it has taken precautions so “each patient can receive treatment in good conditions,” The Connexion reported.

Five prominent health workers’ unions representing around104 medical professionals called for the strike. Many doctors’ surgeries around the France were planned to be closed and some planned operations in private clinics were supposed to be delayed.
Can you imagine the idea of a strike by doctors, specialists, surgeons, and nurses in this country? If the Democrats succeed in unionizing every worker they can, it would not be an impossibility.

The WSJ hopes that this attack in Paris will serve as a wake-up call for President Obama.
The Paris massacre should mark the end of that self-deception. Jimmy Carter shed his illusions about the Soviet Union after its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and Mr. Obama needs a comparable rendezvous with reality. This will be harder for Mr. Obama, a man of great ideological vanity, but perhaps the prospect of defeat for his party in 2016 will force him to see the world more clearly.

For seven years Mr. Obama has used the unpopularity of the Iraq war as a shield for his retreat from antiterror leadership and the Middle East. His periodic drone strikes and his most notable security success, the Osama bin Laden raid, obscured the jihadist danger growing in the wake of America’s departure from Iraq and abdication in Syria.

Mr. Obama also deposed Moammar Gadhafi in Libya but then did almost nothing to help Libyans restore order. Americans saw a glimpse of the gathering storm in the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, but the White House blamed it on an obscure video.

Now Americans can see clearly the spreading infection from Islamic State and a resurgent al Qaeda. It isn’t merely a regional threat, as Mr. Obama once claimed. Its offshoots have spread into North Africa across the Middle East to Afghanistan. The civil war in Syria has spawned a refugee crisis that has descended on Europe and may have provided cover for at least one of the Paris jihadists.

Islamic State also isn’t the “jayvee” terror team, as Mr. Obama once claimed. Western intelligence believes its sympathizers in Sinai took down a Russian airliner. Its bombs explode day after day against civilian targets, this past week in Beirut and a Christian convent in Iraq.

The Paris attack is in some ways even more alarming than 9/11. Airplane hijackings have largely been stopped through enhanced security. Paris suggests that Islamic State has embarked on a strategy of urban unconventional warfare wherever it is able across the West. And it is far harder to track and prevent suicidal jihadists with assault rifles and grenades who want to blow up a restaurant district or concert hall.

France has been the target three times this year, counting the attack on a train foiled by three Americans, but America’s day is coming. In May FBI Director James Comey said there are “thousands” inside the U.S. who are absorbing Islamic State propaganda on the Internet.

The question now is what America’s President is going to do to prevent more Paris-like carnage, including attacks on U.S. soil. He can start by taking the political restraints off the U.S. military’s campaign against Islamic State. Turkey and the Sunni Arabs haven’t committed more to the fight because they don’t believe Mr. Obama is committed. France launched air strikes against the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa on Sunday, but the U.S. should have been hitting those targets long ago.

Mr. Obama should order the Pentagon to roll back Islamic State from all of its territory in Iraq and Syria as rapidly as possible, which means months not years. Kurds and Sunni Arabs will provide most of the fighters if the U.S. supplies the firepower, intelligence and political leadership.

This ought to include taking up the Turks and Jordan on their desire for safe zones in Syria to protect Sunnis who are fighting the Bashar Assad regime but aren’t radical jihadists. Iran and Russia will not stand in the way of a determined U.S.-led coalition that includes France and the Sunni Arabs.

A similar policy reversal will be needed at home. From his refusal to speak clearly about the Islamist nature of the threat to his looming decision to close Guantanamo, Mr. Obama’s every instinct has been to suggest that America will be safer if we stop provoking jihadists and treat them as common criminals. Paris shows how mistaken that is.

Mr. Obama would send an important signal if he’d declare that Guantanamo will not be closed on his watch, and that U.S. surveillance will increase at home and abroad. It’s hard to know how much Mr. Obama has impaired U.S. intelligence collection since the Snowden theft, but the President should repair the damage because any terror attack will be his responsibility.
To read that list of recommendations is to know that nothing will change in this president's policies. He has never seemed to let reality intrude on his ideological proclivities. So we can just hope that our next president will be more aware of these realities and have the courage to act accordingly.

I didn't watch the Democratic debate since I was busy with a Quiz Bowl tournament. And who watches a political debate on Saturday anyway? But it does seem that, if anything came out of the debate, it was the knots that Hillary Clinton tied herself into when answering a question about whether President Obama had underestimated ISIS. Amy Davidson analyzes her response and those of O'Malley and Sanders.
In other words, Clinton had managed, in a couple of sentences, to simultaneously open herself up to the charge that she sees ISIS as someone else’s war and that she rushes into wars too readily. Those notions feel paradoxical, and yet they both feed into a critique of Clinton as someone who does not always embrace responsibility. It did not help that she replied to Sanders not by acknowledging the specific disaster of Iraq but by saying that there had been big terrorist attacks before Iraq, too—under Reagan and “when my husband was President.” Perhaps “cannot be America’s fight” was an attempt to reassure non-interventionist primary voters, but she has favored more direct military involvement in Syria, and needs to better explain that she knows what the consequences might be, rather than occluding them. In that sense, the exchange touched on a fear that Clinton is not only hawkish but hawkish in a politically opportunistic way.
Someone has leaked that the Sanders campaign was not eager for the Saturday debate to focus on terrorism in the wake of the attack in Paris.
A top aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., one of the three candidates, got into a lengthy dispute with executives from CBS, the network hosting the debate, during a conference call on Saturday morning. A staffer for one of the other campaigns who was also on the call described the exchange to Yahoo News as “heated” and even “bizarre,” and a second source on the call confirmed the nature of the exchange.

The dispute centered on CBS’s decision to increase the emphasis on terrorism, foreign policy, and national security in the wake of the attacks that left more than 100 people dead in Paris on Friday night. According to the rival staffer, Sanders strategist Mark Longabaugh lit into CBS vice president and Washington bureau chief Christopher Isham when the changes to the debate were detailed on the call.

“It was a little bit of a bizarre scene. The Sanders representative, you know, really laid into CBS and basically … kind of threw, like, a little bit of a fit and said, ‘You are trying to turn this into a foreign policy debate. That’s not what any of us agreed to. How can you change the terms of the debate, you know, on the day of the debate. That’s not right,’” the staffer recounted.

Another person who was on the call confirmed to Yahoo News that Longabaugh had a lengthy dispute about the changed plans for the debate format during the call with CBS. The Sanders campaign declined to comment.

The rival staffer said the CBS representatives on the call argued they were not completely switching the focus for the debate.

“The CBS folks were like, ‘Look, we’re not turning this into a foreign policy debate. We’re going to reorder the questions so that we’re leading off with a foreign policy focus based on what happened last night,’” the rival staffer said.
Gee, there were three campaigns on the phone call. How many guesses about which campaign leaked that story? And isn't it cozy that CBS told the campaigns ahead of time that there would be questions about their reactions to the attack and what they would do? Is it a shock to anyone that there would be questions at the debate about what the candidates would do if they were president in response to this escalation of ISIS attacks outside of the Middle East? WHy did they need to be warned? When you're president, you don't get a warning about what the day's news will bring. But I guess CBS is just especially solicitous of these candidates. Apparently, the CBS debate moderator, John Dickerson, thought it proper to meet ahead of time with each campaign to discuss the issues.
Moderator John Dickerson and his team met with each of the campaigns for more than an hour to discuss the major issues at play in the race, sources on the campaigns said, describing the pre-interview as "informational in nature." Dickerson is not giving candidates previews of his questions for the debate.

Prior to the CNN debate, the campaigns said moderator Anderson Cooper did not reach out directly to them before the candidates took the stage.

“[Dickerson] and his team were very interested in getting to better know the senator's stand on a wide spectrum of issues, what he would do about income inequality in this country," said Bernie Sanders' spokesman Michael Briggs. He said they discussed issues where there are real differences between the candidates — including gun control, the death penalty and raising taxes on the middle class. "John Dickerson's a smart, impressive guy who cares a lot about the issues," Briggs said. "I'm sure we'll see a smart, issues-oriented debate."

A CBS News official said Dickerson’s outreach to the campaigns was the same type of research he conducts for his weekly show, “Face the Nation.” The official said Dickerson talked with three dozen people and organizations beyond the campaigns to “immerse himself” in the issues.
Dickerson can't do his own research ahead of time, but needs the campaign to tell him what the candidates think? How lame is that?

So Bernie Sanders' aide thought it was wrong to talk about the attacks in the debate. Clearly, the man has not changed from running to get his voice heard to actually considering himself a serious candidate for the presidency. Because no serious candidate would have any objection to such a common-sense addition to the debate. How lucky is Hillary Clinton to be running against someone who really doesn't want to be president. He just wants the attention.

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As predicted, airing a debate on a Saturday night garnered much lower ratings than one held on a weeknight. I was telling my students about the debate so that those who are following the Clinton and Sanders campaigns for their project could at least read about it even if they didn't get to watch it. When discussing the scheduling of the debate on a Saturday night, many of my students thought that it would get more viewers. When I asked them why they thought that, one girl said, "Who has time to watch TV on a weeknight - there is too much homework to do." They're so sweet. It was a surprise to them that most adults don't have homework on weeknights. But I know how they feel; I usually have a couple of hours of work on the weeknights. But I do know that I don't want to spend a Saturday night watching a debate.

I can imagine the ads that are already being prepared in RNC HQ using this answer from Hillary Clinton.
With just three people on the Democratic debate stage -- one of them a democratic socialist and the other in possession of a tiny share of Clinton's mammoth campaign resources and support -- Clinton really should have had one of those well-rehearsed responses prepared when the issue of campaign donations from Wall Street arose.

Instead, when the evils and excesses of Wall Street, banking regulation and her relationship to the world's most famous financial district became unavoidable for a seemingly well-prepared Clinton, this exchange followed.
"Well, why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions?" Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked. "They expect to get something. Everybody knows that."

Clinton responded:

CLINTON: Oh, wait a minute, senator. You know, not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors -- most of them small. And I'm very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60 percent.


CLINTON: So I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.

As a defense of your Wall Street contributions, it was bad. Very, very bad.
That is one of the crassests uses of 9/11 by a politician that I've seen. I don't think anyone is going to buy that the attack on New York City on 9/11 means that she has to accept money from Wall Street. CBS followed up with a real-live Twitter question responding to Hillary's inept answer that exposed how clueless she was.
It didn’t help that during the event, a biting follow-up question came from social media. “I’ve never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations until now,” wrote Andy Grewal, a law professor at the University of Iowa.

In other words, explained CBS moderator Nancy Cordes: “What does that have to do with taking big donations?”

For a moment, Clinton paused, seemingly stunned by the implication that she had politicized the 2001 terrorist attacks. Then, she apologized.

“Well, I’m sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression,” Clinton said.
Few people might have watched the debate, but I'm sure that Republican operatives were watching it and preparing their attacks. And, if the Republican candidate is someone like Rubio or Cruz who come from a younger generation than Clinton, expect to see this answer used.
It was not a tricky question, but Hillary Rodham Clinton found a way to make it so. Toward the end of the latest Democratic presidential debate over the weekend, she was asked about the rash of campus protests and whether she would encourage more of them. Clinton, who had plenty of stories of her work with activists, decided to go with biography.

“I come from the ’60s, a long time ago,” she told moderator John Dickerson. “There was a lot of activism on campus.”

Republicans spotted an opportunity. A spokesman for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) demonstrated just how easily a 44-year-old ­Cuban American could outflank a 68-year-old baby boomer.

“Debate recap,” tweeted Rubio spokesman Alex Conant. “Clinton: ‘I come from the 60s, a long time ago.’ Marco: ‘This election is about the future.’ ”

It was one of a series of potential missteps by Clinton that could become fodder for damaging attacks against her, both in the primary season and the general election.

Matthew Hennessey writes at City Journal to make the connection between the terrorist attacks in France and the solipsistic protests that have roiled college campuses in recent months as students try to shut down any talk with which they disagree and administrators caved to them.
In the darker corners of the Internet and the leftward precincts of academia, the Enlightenment values of liberty, reason, and universal human rights—not to mention the world-changing political revolutions they inspired in Europe and the Americas—amount to little more than a cheap intellectual justification for the historical forces of imperialism, slaughter, and subjugation. Usually, it’s easy to ignore those who respond to events such as the attacks in Paris with soliloquies to the effect of: “Well, you know who the real terrorists are, don’t you?” Or, “You can’t expect an entire civilization to take centuries of insults lying down.” Or, “Do you know what’s happening in Palestine right now, yesterday, and every day?”

It’s not easy to ignore those sentiments today. We’ve only just realized in the last week that a significant cadre of college-age Americans put no stock in the Enlightenment principles enshrined in our Constitution. Maybe you saw the vice president of the University of Missouri’s student body telling an MSBNC anchor, “I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here.” Maybe you saw the video of the young Yalie shrieking at a professor to “Shut up” because he had the arrogance to suggest that she and her compatriots could handle being treated like adults. Maybe you read the op-ed in the Yale Herald in which another student claimed to be uninterested in debate. “I just want to talk about my pain,” she wrote.

Maybe, too, you noticed how the adults at Missouri and Yale (and at other schools) reacted to these bullies. They scampered. They caved. They groveled. They apologized. And they resigned. It doesn’t bode well for Western civilization, does it, that our best and brightest young things are less than convinced that it’s better to live in an open society governed by laws than it is to live in a society governed by subjective notions of fairness and progress. I’m sure Isis would love to get its hands on such a place. Far easier to hijack a population in thrall to relativism than to conquer a free people who know why they’re free and are committed to remaining so.

Isis and its admirers are surely banking on our civilizational response to its aggressions resembling the reactions of Missouri president Tim Wolfe and Silliman College master Nicholas Christakis to the insubordination of their students. They expect us to freeze up. The expect us to be cowed. They expect that we will apologize and give them what they want.

And why wouldn’t they? Every time they hit us, we make a big show of our outrage and resolve. Ultimately, though, we find a way to pull back from doing the job that needs to be done. Our memories are short—they can be measured in the four-year cycles of presidencies and academic life. Their memories are long—they can be measured in centuries and millennia. They see our civilization as a Johnny-come-lately, wet behind the ears and unsure how to respond to a bully. They may be right. I hope not. I hope French president Fran├žois Hollande means it when he promises that France’s response will be pitiless—for civilization’s sake.

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Jonathan Rauch also worries about the strength of character of today's students.
The self-infantilization on display in this tirade lacked even the dignity of a sinister ideology. Its point was more like: “I want my mommy.”

But if students feel the modern university’s job is to create a “place of comfort” rather than an “intellectual space,” that is hardly all their fault. Many parents of my generation make it their business to spare their children any exposure to upset and risk. Then kids and parents alike are wooed by colleges that promise idyllic experiences at very steep prices.

Yale, for example, markets its residential colleges as “little paradises.” No wonder if some students expect college to provide shelter from intellectual and interpersonal storms.

And no wonder the movement for trigger warnings and safe spaces is gaining traction at colleges around the country. Trigger warnings supposedly help students cope with (or avoid) exposure to upsetting ideas and images; their other purpose, I and many other free-speech advocates believe, is to chill the presentation of controversial material. Either way, they seek to make higher education emotionally safer by making it less intellectually dangerous.

The trouble is that intellectually safe places are finishing schools, not universities. They can confer connections, polish and useful skills, but they will not educate, because to educate is to inflict and to endure criticism, which is not comfortable.
Rauch proposes the following trigger warning for today's students and their tender sensibilities.
So it is only fair to warn students and their parents that higher education is not a Disney cruise. Tell them in advance so they can prepare. Not, however, with multiple trigger warnings festooning syllabi. One will suffice:

“Warning: Although this university values and encourages civil expression and respectful personal behavior, you may at any moment, and without further notice, encounter ideas, expressions and images that are mistaken, upsetting, dangerous, prejudiced, insulting or deeply offensive. We call this education.”

Display that trigger warning prominently on the college website. Put it in the course catalog and in the marketing brochures. Then ask students and their parents to grow up and deal with it. And watch as they rise to the challenge.
Maybe, instead of having prospective students write essays about their biggest weakness or times when they have shown leadership, they should have to write essays about just this topic to see if they can endure being presented with ideas with which they disagree. Deep down, too many young people today hate free speech. Noah Rothman writes about this sad fact.
It’s beginning to become hard to ignore how woefully ignorant a burgeoning generation of Americans seems to be in even the bedrock philosophical tenets upon which the United States was founded. You might think that a principal notion so central to the American identity as the freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly – rights so essential the Founders made it the first – would enjoy at least modest respect if not veneration from all citizens, young and old. Increasingly, the next generation seems to view First Amendment protections not as a bulwark against the dangers of tyranny, but as a threat to their comfort and preferred intellectual isolation.
He points to the vice president of the Missouri Students Association who said, “I personally am tired of hearing that first amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here.” That's such a frightening thought. And he links to a poll by McLauglin & Associates of college students that found how many of them have low regard for the freedom of speech.
By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.
Since we are discussing the Constitution and the debates over ratification, I posed those poll questions to my students and was heartened that they all were against limitations on the freedom of speech. But a few of them said that, while they thought that the First Amendment protected "hate speech," they wished that it didn't. Thus it starts. Rothman writes,
The invented scourge of “hate speech” is another cause for which the left is convinced the Constitutional protections on expression must be undermined. Even those who make their living speaking into a camera, like CNN anchor and brother to New York state Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, Chris Cuomo, appear convinced that “hate speech is excluded from protection.” He made this contention in the wake of a thwarted terrorist assault on a deliberately provocative cartoon drawing contest in Texas which, successfully as it happens, sought to replicate the offense that led to the slaughter of an office full of French satirists in January. Cuomo isn’t alone in his equivocation in the face of terror. A YouGov survey taken last October found that 51 percent of Democrats would support a law that made it a crime for anyone to make “public comments that advocate genocide or hatred against an identifiable group based on things such as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.”

Not only is the right of free speech seen by the left as subject to a gross level of abuse, as though such a thing were possible beyond willful and premeditated incitement to violence, but fewer and fewer seem to understand even what constitutes free speech. Writing in The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb went to bat for a Yale University student who was caught on camera amid a group of like-minded peers screaming at an administrator over the school’s decision not to police student Halloween costumes in the name of subjectively defined cultural sensitivity. Cobb noted that this student’s obnoxious behavior resulted in a backlash from her peers and even anonymous death threats. “Surely these threats constitute an infringement upon her free speech — a position that has scarcely been noted amid the outraged First Amendment fundamentalism,” Cobb wrote. How bizarre. Not only does the First Amendment not protect death threats, those threats in no way limit this adult’s ability to seek legal remedy for this abuse nor to continue to express herself as she sees fit.

Later, we learn that Cobb’s intention is not to defend this anxiety-stricken student, but to write an exposition in favor of censorship. “The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered,” he averred. “The enlightenment principles that undergird free speech also prescribed that the natural limits of one’s liberty lie at the precise point at which it begins to impose upon the liberty of another.” God save the republic if this is the standard we as a country apply when evaluating what expression deserves legal protections.

At the heart of the collective liberal angst over the pesky burden of free speech is the nagging perception that they have lost the argument. There is no great progressive era about to dawn; we may never see a more liberal presidential administration than this in our lifetimes. While the dangerous impulse to silence their critics is merely sad in fully-formed adults, it is terrifying to witness in the generation just coming of age. When asked if he had built for ensuing generations of Americans a republic or a monarchy, Dr. Benjamin Franklin was said to quip “A Republic, if you can keep it.” That is a proposition set to be tested like never before.

Roger Kimball explains to us why administrators are so cowed by the students they're supposed to lead and teach.
What is happening? Is it a reprise of the late 1960s and 1970s, when campuses across the country were sites of violent protests? In my book “Tenured Radicals: How Politics Have Corrupted Our Higher Education,” I showed how the radical ideology of the 1960s had been institutionalized, absorbed into the moral tissues of the American educational establishment.

As one left-wing professor wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “After the Vietnam War, a lot of us didn’t just crawl back into our literary cubicles; we stepped into academic positions. With the war over, our visibility was lost, and it seemed for a while—to the unobservant—that we had disappeared. Now we have tenure, and the work of reshaping the universities has begun in earnest.”

“Tenured Radicals” provides an account of that reshaping, focusing especially on what it has meant for the substance of a college education. The book includes a section on “academia and infantilization.” But when I wrote in 2008, the rhetoric of “safe spaces,” “microaggressions” and “trigger warnings” had not yet colluded to bring forth that new academic phenomenon, at once tender and vicious, the crybully.

The crybully, who has weaponized his coveted status as a victim, was first sighted in the mid-2000s. He has two calling cards, race and gender. By coincidence Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard University, was involved in the evolution of both.

Race came first. In 2001 Mr. Summers made headlines when he suggested that Cornel West—then the Alphonse Fletcher, Jr., University Professor and eminence in the African and African American Studies Department at Harvard—buckle down to some serious scholarship. (Mr. West’s most recent production had been a rap CD called “Sketches of My Culture.”) Mr. Summers also suggested that the professor lead in fighting the scandal of grade inflation at Harvard, where one of every two grades was an A or A-.

A national scandal erupted. Black professors at Harvard threatened to leave—Mr. West soon decamped to Princeton—and the New York Times published a hand-wringing editorial criticizing Mr. Summers, who quickly recanted, noting that the entire episode had been “a terrible misunderstanding.”

Then came gender. In 2005 Mr. Summers spoke at a conference on “Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce” at MIT. He speculated on why there aren’t more women scientists at elite universities. He touched on several possibilities: Maybe “patterns of discrimination” had something to do with it. Maybe most women preferred to put their families before their careers. And maybe, just possibly, it had something to do with “different availability of aptitude at the high end.”

What a storm that last comment sparked! “I felt I was going to be sick,” wailed Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at MIT, who had walked out on Mr. Summers. “My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow, low,” Ms. Hopkins said. “I was extremely upset.”

Once again, Mr. Summers recanted. He published an open letter to the Harvard community. “I deeply regret the impact of my comments,” he wrote, “and apologize for not having weighed them more carefully.” It was too late. By May 2005 his faculty had returned a vote of no confidence 218 to 185, with 18 abstentions. By February 2006 he had been forced to announce his resignation.

These two incidents, partly because they involved such a high-profile institution, marked an important turning point. The pleasures of aggression were henceforth added to the comforts of feeling aggrieved.
This virus of students insisting on only their views being allowed to be voiced on campus and administrators caving to them is spreading.
Academic administrators would be better advised to take a page from the robust philosophy of Teddy Roosevelt, leavened with a little clear-eyed truth-telling from Aristotle. In Roosevelt’s autobiography, TR cautioned that “The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin . . . would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.” He warned against the destructive vogue for “hyphenated Americans.”

Back then, it was German-Americans, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans. Today we speak of “Native-Americans,” “African-Americans,” and the like, and terms tend to be wielded in a way to claim both special protected status and unearned privilege. The result is a tangle of national squabbling that is like nothing Roosevelt could have imagined.

The truth is that American universities are among the safest and most coddled environments ever devised by man. The idea that one should attend college to be protected from ideas one might find controversial or offensive could only occur to someone who had jettisoned any hope of acquiring an education. Many commentators have been warning about a “higher education bubble.” They have focused mostly on the unsustainable costs of college, but the spectacle of timid moral self-indulgence also deserves a place on the bill of indictment.
Other students need to push back against the virus. I would bet that there are a lot of students who are equally appalled. Their voices should be heard.
There are some encouraging signs. When a dean at Claremont College resigned on Thursday after being accused of racism because of a carelessly worded email, some brave students at the Claremont Independent published a dissenting editorial in which they berated hypersensitive students for bringing spurious charges of racism and the dean and the president for cowardice in not standing up to the barrage.

“Lastly,” they wrote, “we are disappointed in students like ourselves, who were scared into silence. We are not racist for having different opinions. We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement.” (A larger excerpt is nearby.)

And this is where Aristotle comes in. Courage, Aristotle pointed out, is the most important virtue, because without it you cannot practice the others. Courage has been in short supply on American campuses. Those independent-minded students at Claremont provided a breath of fresh air. It will be interesting to see if it penetrates the fetid atmosphere that has settled over so much of American academic life.

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As Byron York notes, the Democrats are quite uncomfortable with taking a truly strong position on terrorism. Nothing seemed to change for them after the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris.
If, before the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa Saturday night, a Republican operative had been told that, in the wake of the Paris attacks: 1) Hillary Clinton would refuse to apply the phrase "radical Islam" to ISIS; 2) Bernie Sanders would maintain that climate change is a greater threat to national security than ISIS or Islamic terrorism in general; and 3) Martin O'Malley, with Clinton's agreement, would insist that the U.S. stick to a proposal to admit 65,000 Syria refugees into the country. If a Republican operative had been told that, he would have been delighted at the prospect of future ads portraying Democrats as in denial about the threat Islamic radicalism poses to the United States.
Expect to hear Republicans talk abut the words of the Democrats in coming days. We'll see if the majority of American people support candidates who, one day after these attacks, insist on not using the term "radical Islam," believe that climate change is still our greatest national security threat, and are calling for even more refugees from the Middle East to be admitted in the U.S.

Ben Domenech wonders why Democrats are so loath to use the phrase "radical Islam." They're willing to talk about jihadists, but won't use the term.
Our leaders do us no service when they fail to recognize that the threat the Islamic State and its allied terrorists represent is a civilizational not a geopolitical conflict, and can only be understood through that lens. The radicals who perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo attack were not motivated by Western Imperialism, but by members of a free society violating Islamic law.

This is not about a traditional conflict between nation-state actors. It is not about a violent expression of a tiny element responding to economic incentives. And it is most definitely not about climate change. The unwillingness of any candidate for the nomination of the incumbent ruling party in America to grasp this fact is about more than a nod to political correctness: It betrays a very real lack of understanding and an inability to learn any lessons from the past decade and a half.

It also demonstrates an inability to learn from the Islamic world itself. American policymaking in the Islamic world must begin with a foundation of respect for Muslims, especially when they tell us about their faith. In an era in which wealthy white Methodist senior citizens like Hillary Clinton define a faith that is not theirs, we need to allow the faithful the respect they deserve in defining it themselves.

Our leaders do us no service when they fail to recognize that the threat the Islamic State and its allied terrorists represent is a civilizational not a geopolitical conflict, and can only be understood through that lens. The radicals who perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo attack were not motivated by Western Imperialism, but by members of a free society violating Islamic law.

This is not about a traditional conflict between nation-state actors. It is not about a violent expression of a tiny element responding to economic incentives. And it is most definitely not about climate change. The unwillingness of any candidate for the nomination of the incumbent ruling party in America to grasp this fact is about more than a nod to political correctness: It betrays a very real lack of understanding and an inability to learn any lessons from the past decade and a half.

It also demonstrates an inability to learn from the Islamic world itself. American policymaking in the Islamic world must begin with a foundation of respect for Muslims, especially when they tell us about their faith. In an era in which wealthy white Methodist senior citizens like Hillary Clinton define a faith that is not theirs, we need to allow the faithful the respect they deserve in defining it themselves....

An American citizen of any political stripe with even a cursory awareness of world events can look at an orchestrated jihadi attack, one that included the systematic execution of French concertgoers, and understand that we are at war with radical Islam. A Democratic candidate for the Presidency cannot.

Or, at least, she cannot say that she shares that understanding. In order to fully comprehend the dynamic on stage at Saturday evening’s Democratic president debate, understand that every one of the aspirants on stage is wholly dependent upon an activist class that has spent most of the past year eradicating thoughtcrime and historical monuments in the summer, and then concocting moral crises to destroy academic institutions in the fall.

If your political prospects rested upon not antagonizing this roiling mass of poorly educated but deeply fanatical cohorts of middle-class radical youths, what else can you do when posed a direct question like Dickerson’s challenge to call something by its right name? You can’t say the obvious thing that everyone knows: speaking the truth is what gets elites dethroned these days. Instead, you profess allegiance to the lie. You do exactly what the country saw these candidates do onstage Saturday: you dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.

No wonder we are witnessing a total collapse of Americans’ trust in the elites at a time when the elites’ beliefs are so consistently and glaringly at odds with reality, when they fail to learn from experience, and when those beliefs have resulted in a very real body count.

The Democrats cannot say we are at war with radical Islam for two reasons. First, because the ones who don’t know it will never know it, and second, because the ones who do know it are afraid of the ones who don’t.

As John Podhoretz writes, Clinton's responses in the debate about going after ISIS were nonsensical. All the Republicans need is a candidate who can legitimately and logically point this out.
Under appropriately polite but devastatingly persistent questioning by moderator John Dickerson, Clinton proved astonishingly incoherent.

We must “root out” ISIS, she said, and implicitly criticized Obama when she said it “cannot be contained, it must be defeated.” At the same time, she said, “it cannot be an American fight.” However, “American leadership is essential.” And yet, she said, “I don’t think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility.”

Instead, and breathtakingly, she suggests the person who must take the lead is Syria’s dictator, himself responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of his own people and the progenitor of the refugee crisis that is turning Europe inside out: “I really put that on [President Bashar] Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself.”

This is nonsense on stilts, and it deconstructs itself.

If ISIS must be defeated, then by definition this is an “American fight” because it is a necessity for the good working order of the world and the safety of the United States. And if Clinton believes “American leadership is essential,” then again by definition American military leadership is essential.

You cannot have it both ways. ISIS is not going to be “defeated” unless the United States defeats it. It will not be “destroyed” — Bernie Sanders’ startling word at the debate — unless the United States defeats it.

Clinton basically endorsed our present course. “That is why,” she said, “we have troops in Iraq that are helping to train and build back up the Iraqi military, why we have special operators in Syria working with the Kurds and Arabs, so that we can be supportive.”

What we are doing now is not going to cut it. Obama knows it. That’s why the man who promised to destroy ISIS shifted to the worst timed talking point in history on Friday — saying ISIS has been “contained” just hours before the carnage in Paris began.

Her policy incoherence only became more pronounced when she intimated — jaw-droppingly — that Obama had only pulled out of Iraq and left a power vacuum there because of a status-of-forces agreement President George W. Bush had made before leaving office in 2009.

Her answers were terrible, but they were terrible because there are no better ones. And this is the Republican opening: She cannot move very far away from the president, because she was his diplomatic steward for four years.

If ongoing events make foreign policy a key voting issue in 2016, and the Republican candidate is as assured at questioning Clinton about it as Dickerson was last night, Hillary will reap the whirlwind — and the Republican will be the beneficiary.