Touching on the Question of Who will Fry in Hell for Quadrillions and Quintillions of Years, Just for Starters; Christians or Muslims

One hears little about the subject of hell in Christian churches these days. Perhaps things are different in the Moslem madrassahs. Regardless, I have it on good authority that, for both religions, hell is pretty much the same. It is a place where the wicked will burn in living flames for all eternity. When I speak of “authorities,” it’s perfectly clear who I’m referring to in the case of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad is the ultimate authority. Furthermore, he expressed himself with perfect clarity on the subject. He did not speak in allegories. As noted in the Quran, for example,

We have not taught him (Muhammad) poetry, nor would it beseem him. The Book is no other than a warning and a clear Quran. (Sura XXXVI)

Now have We set before man in this Quran every kind of parable for their warning: An Arabic Quran, free from tortuous wording, to the intent that they may fear God. (Sura XXXIX)

In the Quran, Muhammad also makes it clear that Christianity is not just a kinder, gentler version of Islam, as some of our current “sophisticated” Christians would have us believe. Moslems are warned that they must not so much as have Christians and other infidels as friends:

Let not believers take infidels for their friends rather than believers: whoso shall do this hath nothing to hope from God. (Sura III)

They desire that ye should be infidels as they are infidels, and that ye should be alike. Take therefore none of them for friends, till they have fled their homes for the cause of God. (Sura IV)

O believers! take not the Jews or Christians as friends. They are but one another’s friends. If any one of you taketh them for his friends, he surely is one of them! God will not guide the evil doers. (Sura V)

The inmates of hell will include anyone who does not accept the teaching of the Prophet:

But they who shall not believe, and treat our signs as falsehoods, these shall be inmates of the Fire; in it shall they remain forever. (Sura II)

As for those who are infidels, and die infidels, from no one of them shall as much gold as the earth could contain be accepted, though he should offer it in ransom. These! a grievous punishment awaiteth them; and they shall have none to help them. (Sura II)

But they who charge our signs with falsehood, and turn away from them in their pride, shall be inmates of the Fire: for ever shall they abide therein. (Sura VII)

Should anyone be dense enough to doubt that Christians aren’t included among the damned, the Quran makes it crystal clear:

We will cast a dread into hearts of the infidels because they have joined gods with God without warranty sent down; their abode shall be the Fire; and wretched shall be the mansion of the evil doers. (Sura II)

They surely are infidels who say, “God is the third of three:” for there is no God but one God: and if they refrain not from what they say, a grievous chastisement shall light on such of them as are infidels. (Sura V)

And when God shall say – “O Jesus, son of Mary: hast thou said unto mankind – ‘Take me and my mother as two gods, beside God?’ ” He shall say – “Glory be unto Thee! It is not for me to say that which I know to be not the truth.” (Sura V)

The Jews say, “Ezra (Ozair) is a son of God”; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is a son of God.” Such the sayings in their mouths! They resemble the sayings of the infidels of old! God do battle with them! How are they misguided! (Sura IX)

They say, “God hath begotten children.” No! by His glory! He is the self-sufficient. All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth is His! Have ye warranty for that assertion? What! Speak ye of God that which ye know not? (Sura X)

Of course, “Joining gods to God,” and “God is the third of three,” refer to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and all Christians associate the word “begotten” with Christ. The Quran also clears up any misconceptions about how long the wicked will be punished, and what their punishment in hell will consist of:

(Speaking of the wicked), Doubled to him shall be the torment on the Day of Resurrection; and in it shall he remain, disgraced, for ever. (Sura XXV)

Those who disbelieve Our signs We will in the end cast into the Fire: so oft as their skins shall be well burnt, We will change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the torment. (Sura IV)

Christian teaching on the subject of hell is somewhat less explicit than the Moslem version, but is clear enough nevertheless.  Both agree that the wicked will exist in the midst of flames, and that the torture will endure forever. Unfortunately, in the case of Christianity, many of the mainstream churches are now controlled by social justice warriors, who have converted them into little more than leftist political clubs. In general, hell is either left unmentioned, or the original doctrine of the church on the subject has been subverted and bowdlerized, to the point that now hell is merely a matter of experiencing the humiliation and mortification of not being invited to God’s special “members only” afternoon tea parties. As I find no mention in the Bible of such “enlightened” and “sophisticated” versions of hell, I will rely on what the book actually says, as set forth by no less an authority than St. Augustine.

Like most of the biblical scholars of late antiquity, Augustine knew the Bible inside and out. He could point with precision to the verses in the book of Obadiah that predict the coming of Christ. I have my doubts about whether the current pope has ever even read the book of Obadiah. Many of Augustine’s comments on hell may be found in Book XXI of his The City of God.  He begins by citing some of the relevant passages in the Bible, such as Matthew 13:41-42,

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

and Matthew 25:41&46,

41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

The most recent translations of the Bible “correct” Christianity, and “bring it up to date” by substituting milder terms such as “cutting off” for “punishment,” after the fashion in which, for example, they have “retranslated” the word “firmament” to “sky” in Genesis. Augustine saw no need for such impostures, and took the Bible at its word. He writes,

What, then, can I adduce to convince those who refuse to believe that human bodies, animated and living, can not only survive death, but also last in the torments of everlasting fires?

He notes the example of salamanders, of which some claimed, as noted by Aristotle, that they could live in the midst of flames without the least inconvenience. He then points out that, just because flames cause mortal bodies to die in this life, the same hardly applies to the hereafter:

Our opponents, too, make much of this, that in this world there is no flesh which can suffer pain and cannot die; while they make nothing of the fact that there is something which is greater than the body. For the spirit, whose presence animates and rules the body, can both suffer pain and cannot die. Here then is something which, though it can feel pain, is immoral. And this capacity, which we now see in the spirit of all, shall be hereafter in the bodies of the damned.

It turns out that there were “sophisticated” Christians in Augustine’s day as well as our own who, like the current version, insisted that all the talk of fire in the Bible is mere allegory. Augustine devotes Chapter 9 of Book XXI citing several examples from scripture which demonstrate that, when the Bible says “fire,” it means “fire.” In Chapter 12 he notes that, by virtue of original sin, “eternal punishment is due to all who are not within the pale of the Savior’s grace.” Needless to say, this does not include Moslems. In Chapter 17 he refutes those who claim that punishment in the flames will not be eternal.

In short, then, the Moslem and Christian versions of hell are quite similar. As noted in my title, in both cases the “wicked” will suffer torture in the midst of living flames for quadrillions and quintillions of years, just for starters. Indeed, such a period would not even represent so much as a start. Quadrillions and quintillions of years are an infinitesimal period compared to “forever.” The main difference between the two is the answer to the question, “Who constitute the wicked?” As an atheist, of course, the question is moot as far as I’m concerned. If either side is right, I will be spending eternity in a climate decidedly more tropical than the one I became accustomed to growing up in Wisconsin. For theists, however, there is a greater incentive to get it right. I quote the following passage from a sermon of the American clergyman Jonathan Edwards to “encourage” them, as Voltaire would put it:

The God that holds you over the Pit of Hell, much as one holds a Spider, or some loathsome Insect, over the Fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his Wrath towards you burns like Fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the Fire; he is of purer Eyes than to bear to have you in his Sight; you are ten thousand Times so abominable in his Eyes as the most hateful venomous Serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn Rebel did his Prince: and yet ‘tis nothing but his Hand that holds you from falling into the Fire every Moment: ‘Tis to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to Hell the last Night; that you was suffer’d to awake again in this World, after you closed your Eyes to sleep: and there is no other Reason to be given why you have not dropped into Hell since you arose in the Morning, but that God’s Hand has held you up: There is no other reason to be given why you han’t gone to Hell since you have sat here in the House of God, provoking his pure Eyes by your sinful wicked Manner of attending his solemn Worship: Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a Reason why you don’t this very Moment drop down into Hell.


O Sinner! Consider the fearful Danger you are in: ‘Tis a great Furnace of Wrath, a wide and bottomless Pit, full of the Fire of Wrath, that you are held over in the Hand of that God, whose Wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the Damned in Hell: You hang by a slender Thread, with the Flames of divine Wrath flashing about it, and ready every Moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no Interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the Flames of Wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one Moment.

There. Are you encouraged? I have a few questions for the true believers. Is the distance between us and God not much greater than that between humans and ants? What are we to think of a human who would devote all of eternity to torturing ants because they displeased him for a few moments? If an immortal super being did much the same thing, would it be rational to describe that being as “benevolent,” or “merciful?” Just asking.

The Eunuchbomber: “Spilling his Guts” without Torture?

Apparently Christmas Day bomber Abdulmutallab is a walking treasure trove of information about his fellow terrorists. According to FOXNews,

The Nigerian man accused of trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas has been cooperating with investigators since last week and has provided fresh intelligence in multiple terrorism investigations, officials said Tuesday.

Could it be that Cheney and the rest of the Rabbit People are exaggerating when they claim that we need to torture people to be “secure?”

Marc Thiessen’s New Book: The Rabbit People Tremble On

The rabbit people are a strange breed.  In one breath they will shout paeans to Liberty, repeat platitudes about how “freedom isn’t free,” and shed crocodile tears in remembrance of the great wisdom of our Founding Fathers, whose bitter enemies they surely would have been had they lived at the same time.  In the next, shaking with fear at the thought of how the CIA, by its own account, just barely saved us from devastating attacks that were invariably “in the final planning stages,” they will demand more torture (er, “enhanced interrogation techniques”), more arbitrary imprisonment without trial for unlimited periods of time, and carte blanche for domestic spying.  In fact, they are more than willing to jettison anything that could reasonably be associated with the word Liberty if only their government will promise them “security.”  “Security” is the sine qua non of the rabbit people.  “Liberty” and “human rights” are reduced to things one shouts about on suitable public occasions accompanied with much waving of flags.  However, genuine liberty and human rights, which are meaningless unless they apply to others as well as oneself, are jettisoned for anyone the rabbit people deem a “terrorist.”  For them, “security” trumps any other value you could name.

It happens that today is the official publication date of “Courting Disaster:  How the CIA Kept America
Safe and How Barack Obama is inviting the Next Attack,” by Marc Thiessen, who, we are informed, is eminently qualified for penning such shocking revelations by virtue having been a Presidential speech writer.  Based on a foretaste Thiessen has been kind enough to provide for us, it will send many a shiver up and down the spines of the rabbit people as they cower in their beds.  Here are some examples that will surely make their blood run cold:

On Christmas Day, a new terrorist network–a mysterious branch of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula – almost succeeded in bringing down a commercial airliner over one of America’s largest cities. If the plane had exploded and crashed into downtown Detroit, thousands could have perished. Only luck saved us from catastrophe.

Never mind that it took four planes, three of which were deliberately crashed into buildings full of people, to actually kill “thousands” of people.  Never mind that airliners have occasionally crashed in large cities before, including Manhattan, and the death toll on the ground came nowhere near “thousands.”  Never mind that, if you stand near Detroit’s Metro Airport you can easily see for yourself that approaching planes don’t fly over downtown Detroit.  After all, we live in the 21st century, and any hyperbole is justified, as long as it sells books.  After reeling off any number of spine tingling tales about all the attacks the CIA “saved” us from, just by the hair on our chinny chin chins, Thiessen repeats a self-congratulatory claim by a former CIA director about how torture (er, “these techniques”) were a huge success:

Former CIA Director Mike Hayden has said: “The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work.

Never mind that intelligence agencies have long had a penchant for claiming “victory” whenever they could get away with it by virtue of the impossibility of fact checking those claims.  Never mind how often those claims haven’t passed the “ho ho” test when subjected to even mild scrutiny after the fact.  In their trembling little hearts, the rabbit people breathe a sigh of relief, deeply grateful to a government that has been wise enough to torture and imprison anyone they see fit to call a “terrorist,” in order to “make them safe.”

It never seems to dawn on the rabbit people why our forefathers condemned torture and established basic human rights to begin with.  It never seems to occur to them that they may actually have done so for reasons other than waving flags on public occasions and striking heroic poses from the moral high ground.  In fine, it never seems to occur to them that they might have established those rights for the very reason that they are absolutely essential before any society can truly consider itself safe or secure.  In spite of the fact that the 20th century seemed tailor made to rub their faces in the truth of that conclusion, they’ve learned nothing.

Consider the Spanish Civil War, which I just mentioned in an earlier post.  It was a perfect demonstration of what happens when governments are unconstrained by respect for human rights, and when the need for “security” is allowed to take precedence over any other value.  Franco’s fascist regime shot tens of thousands of people in cold blood, often without even the formality of a kangaroo court, in the name of “security” for the church, the middle classes, and anyone else on the right of the political spectrum.  His anarchist and Communist opponents on the other side shot tens of thousands of people in cold blood, and subjected them to torture and arbitrary imprisonment, in order to defend the “security” of the workers and the people.

The rabbit people never seem to realize that this “security” that the Spanish people enjoyed during their civil war, or the “security” of the German people under Hitler, or the “security” of the people of the Soviet Union under Stalin, or the “security” of the Cambodians under Pol Pot isn’t just something that could only happen to “others.”  Liberty and human rights are worth defending, not because they are noble causes, but because they are the antidote to that kind of “security.”  Osama bin Laden and his ilk can certainly harm us, but what they can do is child’s play compared to the harm that our own governments can do to us once we have allowed them to jettison fundamental human rights in order to “make us safe.”  Governments have always been, by far, the deadliest killers, the most fiendish torturers, and the most merciless jailers.  No historical analog of bin Laden has ever held a candle to them when it comes to slaughter and mayhem.  The rabbit people fondly assume that they will never be among the murdered, the tortured, or the imprisoned.  They are wrong.  In a world in which the need for “security” justifies any crime and any abuse, nothing is more certain than that they will eventually be among the “others.”

The Moral Crusade of the Rabbit People

They do not trust the government to administer “end of life” panels, even though such services are common in medicine today, because they are afraid they will become “death panels.” They do not want to give the government power to take over the Internet in “emergency situations” because they suspect, and rightly so, that it would facilitate censorship. They do not want big government because they suspect, and rightly so, that the cost of big government is the loss of Liberty. Yet somehow they have managed to convince themselves that they must elevate government use of torture in the interest of “security” to the status of a holy cause. Is it that difficult to grasp the logical disconnect? Throw me a bone here.

Torture: The Rabbit People Rejoice

The Rabbit People are euphoric over the “successful” torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Even as they cheer on the torturers, Cheney’s collaborators still can’t look themselves in the mirror. You see they’ve been living in an echo chamber for years telling each other what fine champions of “Liberty,” and “Justice,” they are. They still haven’t sufficiently mastered Orwellian doublethink to truly believe that two plus two equals five, and that one can be a champion of Liberty and a collaborator in torture at the same time. Therefore, when “patriotic public servants” at the CIA slam someone’s head against a wall “20 or 30 times a day,” waterboard him over a hundred times, and deprive him of sleep for 180 hours, for them it is not torture. It is “torture.”

As Ann Althouse puts it, “I’m not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say “torture.” Let’s look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.” Actually, Ms. Althouse, there’s nothing “abstract or linguistic” about it. Allow me to help you out here. I’ve listed some of the common, and remarkably similar, definitions of torture for you below:

Merriam-Webster dictionary: Something that causes agony or pain the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.

Oxford pocket dictionary: The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.

Does that clear up the “linguistic” difficulties for you? Do you get the connection between “slamming someone’s head against a wall 20 or 30 times a day” and “torture” now?

According to Ms. Althouse,

Critics of “harsh interrogation techniques” — they, of course, call it torture — bolster their moral arguments with the pragmatic argument that it doesn’t even work. How unusual it is for the media to disillusion us about that and force the moralists to get by on moral ideals alone!

I advise anyone who suspects I’m a purveyor of “moral ideals” to see my series of posts on the “Question of Should.” As for the issue of “pragmatism,” those who think I oppose torture because I doubt its effectiveness are also barking up the wrong tree.

My objection to torture can be summed up in a simple phrase: “What goes around, comes around.” Those who really believe that torture will make us more “secure,” that it will only be applied to “others,” and never to themselves or their children or their fellow citizens, and that those “others” will always certainly be “terrorists” lack the capacity to think beyond the end of their noses.

Still not Torture? CIA Instructions for Breaking an Opponents Will

According to the CIA’s own step-by-step guidelines for “persuasion” of detainees, its interrogation techniques included slamming a prisoner’s head against a wall “20 or 30 times,” sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, deprivation of toilet facilities, shackling in painful positions for long periods of time, locking in a wooden box for up to 18 hours, and waterboarding, not just once in a carefully monitored training situation, but scores of times in succession by “practitioners” who did not have to fear legal accountability for “overdoing” it. It is ludicrous to suggest that such techniques cannot be accurately described as torture. However, we can confidently expect the apologists for torture on the right to continue their denial of the obvious. They will be as cocksure as ever that all the prisoners we have seized and casually tortured had it coming, regardless of any legal protections or proof of their guilt. They will be as adamant as ever that international laws prohibiting torture can be ignored at will if they feel it necessary to protect our “security.” They will continue to shout “Liberty” at the top of their lungs, even as they dismiss the principles our founding fathers fought to vindicate with a wave of the hand. In fact, such people are a greater threat to our security than the enemies they claim to be fighting. In particular, they are a direct threat to our troops in the field, who our enemies will now feel perfectly justified in subjecting to such “enhanced interrogation techniques.” They blindly assume that the condoning of torture will never come back to haunt them, or to haunt their children. I have news for them. What goes around comes around.

Torture: Let the Prosecutions Begin

The recent release of the CIA Inspector General’s report has, once again, moved the issue of torture into the national spotlight. I have commented elsewhere regarding the reasons for my rejection of torture. Apparently, Attorney General Eric Holder is considering the matter of prosecutions. In a recent column in the Washington Post, attorney Jeffrey H. Smith cited six reasons not to proceed with them. I beg to differ with him. Smith’s reasons and my arguments for rejecting them are as follows:

1. “These techniques were authorized by the president and approved by the Justice Department… That alone will make prosecutions very difficult.”

If prosecutions are undertaken, their importance and significance will lie in the extent to which they are successful in establishing the rejection of torture, both legally and as an accepted national moral standard. For that reason, in this exceptional case, the question of whether the prosecutions will be difficult or not is insignificant. The question is not whether the Adolf Eichmann defense – “I was only obeying orders” – will stand up in a U.S. Court. The question is whether the United States, as a nation, will reject torture, or embrace it and accept Eichmann’s creed: “Now that I look back, I realize that a life predicated on being obedient and taking orders is a very comfortable life indeed. Living in such a way reduces to a minimum one’s need to think.”

2. “Prosecutions would set the dangerous precedent that criminal law can be used to settle policy differences at the expense of career officers.”

Failure to prosecute will set the far more dangerous precedent that career officers can, literally, get away with murder, not to mention torture, and never have to worry about the possibility they may eventually have to bear legal and moral responsibility for their acts. It would behoove career officers who are really capable of believing that the question of condoning torture or not is really just an insignificant “policy difference” to seek a less challenging occupation.

3. “After Justice declined to prosecute (under Bush), the CIA took administrative action, including disciplinary action against those officers whose conduct it deemed warranted such responses… If (Justice) declines to prosecute, the matter is sent back to the CIA for appropriate administrative action.”

Here Smith is attempting to apply the legalese argument that prosecution now would not be in accord with established precedent. In a case of such overriding importance, this is a matter of utter insignificance. Other than that, the Inspector General’s report, not to mention the overwhelming weight of credible evidence of brutality that preceded it, make it abundantly clear that the “established precedent” that it is unwise to put the fox in charge of the henhouse is still as valid as ever.

4. “Prosecuting CIA officers risks chilling current intelligence operations. This country faces an array of serious threats. A prosecution or extensive investigation will be an unmanageable expense for most CIA officers. More significant, their colleagues will become reluctant to take risks… And such reactions will be magnified if prosecutions focus only on the lower-ranking officers, not those in the chain of command.

It seems to me rather insulting to suggest that “most CIA officers” are irresponsible government stooges, incapable of appreciating the significance of the matter at issue, and possessed of such delicate sensitivities and fragile morale that they will all become mere time servers and ignore their duty to defend the country if anyone dares to question their actions in a matter of such overriding national and, indeed, international importance. As for the “serious threats” we face, there can be no greater threat to our security than the notion that, in order to “protect” our security, it is entirely acceptable for us to ignore established national and international moral codes and standards of conduct and jettison our national heritage and everything that can give any rational meaning to the term “Liberty.” Those who have read my previous posts may take note here of my rejection of the notion that, because morality is subjective, it must, therefore, be relative and pliable to suit the situation. That is, in fact, the version of morality that our current “conservatives” on the right are promoting, in defiance of their usual breast-beating pronouncements about moral absolutes. Regarding the matter of focusing on the lower-ranking officers, any prosecution that does so will be doomed in advance. The level of focus of any prosecutions should bear a direct relationship to the level of those involved in torture in the chain of command, starting with Bush and Cheney.

5. “Prosecution could deter cooperation with other nations. It is critical that we have the close cooperation of intelligence services around the world.”

One can only conclude from this “reason” that Smith is utterly oblivious to what has been going on in the world since 911. Our embrace of torture based on the irrational hope that it will enhance our national security has shattered our moral authority in the world, and provided our many enemies with a weapon against us that they have used to devastating effect. It is beyond me how anyone who lives outside a hermetically sealed box can have failed to notice this. The idea that anyone could really believe that these deep, self-inflicted wounds were somehow justified by the need to maintain amiable relationships with foreign intelligence services boggles the mind.

6. “President Obama has decisively changed the policies that caused so much damage. He recognizes that it is vital to our security to have an effective intelligence community that is not distracted by looking backward and coping with congressional investigations and grand jury subpoenas.”

Presidential terms are limited to eight years in the United States. It is, therefore, absurd to suggest that President Obama is capable of “decisively” changing policies by administrative decree. The next President may just as “decisively” change them back again. It is precisely because we must look forward, and not backward, that the prosecution of the foul acts of torture that have stained not only our reputation but our spirit as a nation is necessary and justified. We must decide whether we will continue along the path established by our forefathers in defense of Liberty, or abandon that heritage, embracing torture in pursuit of an illusory national security. May reason prevail.

German anti-Americanism Watch: All About Bush?

Hat tip Medienkritik
Hat tip Medienkritik
Apologists for German America bashing were fond of informing us during the last administration that the routine hate mongering in their media was “all about Bush,” and would go away if Obama were elected. Well, soo-prise, soo-prise, Bush is long gone, but America bashing is alive and well in Germany. I will occasionally chronicle some of the more amusing, appalling, and/or egregious examples. Today, Der Spiegel is wringing its hands about prison conditions. Where, you ask? Were they concerned about the routine torture and killing that goes on in China’s jails? Were they upset by the routine police brutality in prospective EU member Turkey? Were they disgusted by the notorious prevalence of torture in Iran’s jails? None of the above! No, as usual, they were striking pious poses about Guantanamo. The headline reads, “Matreatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo Continues.” It seems one of the prisoners’ lawyers was upset by his client’s unpleasant cell conditions.

There’s been little change in the incidence of anti-Americanism in the German media since Obama took office. In fact, it was a great deal more subdued at the end of the Bush Administration than it was back in 1999 under Clinton. As in this case, it often took the form of the classic double standard, so it could be fobbed off as “objective criticism,” that had merely been “reprinted from the New York Times.”

Under Clinton, Spiegel went off the deep end with foaming-at-the-mouth attacks over such cause célèbres as the US Echelon System. There was big dough in promoting anti-American hate in Germany, and the rest of the media soon followed the money trail. Quasi-racist Amerika bashing could be found everywhere, from the sensational tabloid headlines of Stern to the stuffy feuilleton columns of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. International leaders like Tony Blair, who seemed to support us, were berated as “poodles” and “vassals.” Eventually, decent German citizens began pushing back. I will always be grateful to these people. I wish more Americans knew about them. If nothing else, it would show them there’s a lot more to Germany than the Third Reich. Some of them were very articulate, and they condemned the pervasive hate peddling where they could, in blogs and Internet forums. Their only reward was a torrent of abuse from the anti-American zealots.

Finally, a few Americans started to notice the anti-American tirades as well. They were hard to miss. One occasionally had a difficult time finding any news about Germany on Spiegel’s website among the anti-American rants. Eventually, the editors realized that, lucrative as it was, they couldn’t keep up such blatant hate peddling if they wanted to win any more international prizes for “objective journalism.” The allergic reaction in Germany and the US to the “wretched excess” of the last years of Clinton and the first of Bush was growing. The tone of the propaganda became more subdued. Eventually, it took the form we see today. It’s now just a shade of what it was in days gone by.

Still, as today’s zinger shows, the narrative still lives. Spiegel and the rest will occasionally throw out bits of red meat to the America hating crowd. Money talks, anti-American propaganda still pays in Germany, and they don’t want their circulation figures to drop too low. They try to cover their tracks, but, like the racists in the United States, their stench is unmistakable. One can still smell them. I will continue to draw attention to their antics as I see them.

Torture Update: Political Expediency Trumps Principle

Obama joins the rabbit people.

The very last thing we EVER want to do is risk our precious “security” if it’s merely a matter of ignoring a few obsolete human rights. Things have changed since the days of Patrick Henry. Life has become too dear and peace too sweet to quibble about the occasional need for chains and slavery. Of course, the chains and slavery are only for other people – you know, the “terrorists,” and we’re sure we know who they are.