Saturday, February 19, 2005

Saturday Morning Musings, February 19, 2005

Spotting The Idiots

I have not paid too much attention to Ward Churchill because I find academics like him quaint and undeserving of being taken seriously. Also, my attitude toward free speech tends to be fairly libertarian: As Best of the Web reader Jay Lesseig said, "Freedom of speech makes it much easier to spot the idiots." So if someone wants to burn an American flag, he/she is identified as behaving like an idiot and that's enough for me. I don't need to see the flag burner prosecuted.

Even so, this piece in Armavirumque, the commentary blog of The New Criterion, is very much worth the read. To me, it is a reminder that the political and social agendas of most modern American universities need to be scrutinized with great skepticism. In the social sciences I daresay most of them do not even deserve to be taken seriously. (Hat tip to Power Line.)

One Publication That Gets The Blogosphere

Speaking of The New Criterion, I noticed that it is one established publication that understands that the blogosphere is a wave to be ridden, not an opponent to fight. Here's how the editors describe Armavirumque's purpose:

Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.
So it's a blog that complments the monthly publication of the magazine. "The timetable of the digital age," indeed! I am sure others are doing this, but this is the first such effort I have noticed that actually calls itself a blog. We'll see much more of this.

An Iwo Jima Must-Read

I probably call too many articles a "must read." But this time I really mean it! Today's the 60th anniversary of the American assault on Iwo Jima. Candidly, that was one WWII battle about which I was woefully uninformed. If you're like me, this Opinion Journal piece will teach you a lot. Did you know the following, for example:

[The assault invovled] more than 110,000 Americans and 880 ships . . . .

The attack on Iwo Jima capped a two-year island-hopping campaign that was as controversial with politicians and the press as any Rumsfeld strategy. Each amphibious assault had been bloodier than the last: at Tarawa . . . 3,000 ill-prepared Marines fell taking an island of just three square miles . . . and Peleliu, where it took 10 weeks of fighting in 115-degree heat to root out the last Japanese defenders, at the cost of 6,000 soldiers and Marines.

Iwo Jima would be the first island of the Japanese homeland to be attacked. The Japanese had put in miles of tunnels and bunkers, with 361 artillery pieces, 65 heavy mortars, 33 large naval guns, and 21,000 defenders determined to fight to the death. Their motto was, "kill 10 of the enemy before dying." American commanders expected 40% casualties on the first assault. "We have taken such losses before," remarked the Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith, "and if we have to, we can do it again."

That puts the American casualties in Iraq in some perspective, doesn't it? Every American death in Iraq is horrible; there was a lot more of that to go around in 1945.

Top your Iwo Jima reading off with this first-hand account by a man who was 18 years old when he stormed up that beach on Iwo Jima.

Speaking of Spotting the Idiots, Do You Read The L.A. Times?

You can spot a few writing there. Laer of Cheat-Seeking Missiles explains why he finally cancelled his subscription. He also links helpfully to some information about the SpongeBob Squarepants "controversy" that some lefty news media types ginned up recently.

Quote of The Week

As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully naïve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. "Sobriety" and "working with Arab moderates" is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.
--Victor Davis Hanson, Private Papers


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