Clash of Civilizations

As I continue to contemplate what is going on in the world today, I often wonder what future historians will have to say about what is transpiring, whether they will write only of the battles fought and won or lost, or whether they will say that the Western World was sleep-walking through a civilization shift.

I am reminded of two of T. S. Eliot's most notable lines: "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." I would modify that by inserting "Western" before "world."

I am reminded also of the points made in Tom Holland's "Persian Fire." He quotes another historian, who suggests that the "Greek victory in the Persian Wars is routinely described as a fundamental turning point in European history." Had it gone the other way, he suggests, "mosques and minarets would dominate Europe." Holland then points out the fact that mosques and minarets actually are now spread all over Europe -- and he could have added America -- "even in Athens, long the only EU capital without a Muslim place of worship."

I wonder whether the Western World is losing the fundamental belief in, and is unwilling to defend, the Judeo-Christian fundamentals that made the Western World what it is, whether Christianity is no longer seen as the central basis for this Western civilization to which we belong. And anyone who has studied the rise and fall of civilizations and cultures knows that religion is the solid base of, the absolutely crucial element, in the development of and survival of civilizations and cultures. I am appalled by the suggestion by some that "All religions are basically the same. We just need to understand and assimilate beliefs and practices that may differ from ours." The truth is that these beliefs and practices give rise to Bill of Rights, Constitution, laws, etc, and these practical extensions of beliefs, form the bases for the way we live our lives, govern ourselves, and see others.

An article some time ago in the Atlantic, I believe it was, that asserted that there are now more practicing Muslims in France that there are practicing Catholics.

Do we have a "Clash of Civilizations?"

Two recent books raise serious questions about trends of the past several years in Europe. One is While Europe Slept, by Bruce Bower, and the other Londonistan, by Melanie Phillips.

As I read such books, T.S. Eliot's words taunt me (but modified)" "This is the way the Western world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper."

Burt Newbry
Mesa, Ariz.

Editor's Note: Persian King Xerxes' defeat by the Greeks in 480 B.C. was a turning point, but the dominant religion in Persia at that time was Zoroastrianism. Islam was founded in the 7th century A.D. in Arabia and was spread to Persia by conquering Arabs.


Keeping the Oath

Many years ago I took an oath to the effect that I would "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic." The current president of the US took that same oath, at about that same time. But I kept mine.

He describes the Constitution as "a scrap of paper" and is blatant about violating it.

It must be embarrassing to the officers of today's Army, who are taught not to "lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do," to serve this administration. ...

Tyler James Lee
Nice, Calif.


Vote Theft

Randolph Holhut's perceptive and chilling piece, "World War III: GOP's Trump Card," [9/1/06 TPP] concludes: "The current administration has been masterful at manipulating fear for political gain. Backed into a corner without any other options, these men will do anything to stay in power. It is up to every one of us to keep them from doing it." But Mr. Holhut -- who is cynical enough to suspect the deliberate expansion of the Middle East conflict into WWIII as the "anything" that the Right will do to stay in power -- makes no mention of the GOP's other, even more sinister and efficient, trump card: election theft. The rigging-in-fact of a manifestly riggable election system continues to be electronic child's play.

Voters may not keep buying the overplayed terrorism card but you can bet that the voting machines will buy it. Election Night post-mortem: "... and it appears that, for all their seeming disenchantment with the President, security concerns were uppermost in the minds of voters across America, Bob, providing the margin that will ensure yet another two years of GOP control ..." All one big manifold lie. But all inventions like "The Big Thwart" and "Exploding Shampoo" now have to do is provide a shred of plausibility for continued right-wing electoral "victories," not bring about actual victories. These revolting gambits no longer have to actually "work."

There is an enormous blindspot shared by far too many, including most TPP contributors, who keep thinking we're playing by the old rules. Democrats keep "changing the frame" and continuing to lose elections counted secretly on machines designed, programmed, serviced, supervised, and shielded from all scrutiny by the wholly-owned subsidiaries of their political opponents. Lose an election, change the frame, lose another election, change the frame again: "the Democratic message just didn't resonate with the voters tonight, Bob."

And while we dither, try not to believe what we are seeing, and politely extend the benefit of the doubt to those who should have long since forfeited their last gram of credibility, memos pass between White House and DOJ concerning a "continuity presidency."

We don't have 20 years to fix this. We may not have two.

Jonathan Simon
Arlington, Mass.



These are times where I am beginning to question my perceptions by eye and ear. The leader of the free and western World is stooping to the level of a sandbox feud by using derogatory terms, which are well established and understood yet totally ill-placed within the context they are applied. Nazi, i.e. National Socialism, is a system defined as the confluence and collusion of government, military and business (corporations) in governing and controlling a country and its people.

To tag a bunch of terrorists, however despicable, Islamist Nazis is absurd.

Communism is a system which does not allow for private ownership and is even more oppressive than the Nazi version because of total central control and the ostracism of the individual in favor of collectivism.

To tag a bunch of terrorists, however despicable, Islamist Communists is even more absurd.

Compared to the rag-tag individual bombings, these systems are quite sophisticated.

If it is possible to sway public opinion in this manner makes one question the level of information afforded our citizens, who are expected to react affirmatively to such stupid comparisons.

The TRUTH always prevails, so why not try to level with the American people and present the facts verbatim -- after all, they are the ones who are left to pay the bills now and for generations to come.

Let's not allow ourselves to be relegated to a childlike sandbox mentality. Aren't we sophisticated enough to formulate our own opinions?

As is so customary these days,when disagreeing with prevailing trends and policy: I do not promote or condone terrorism of any kind anywhere.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.


Correct the Problems

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote that the world judges how civilized a country is by how it treats its prisoners. The United States is viewed less favorably today then it was a few decades ago. Events at US prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; at Bagram in Afghanistan and at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq have shown that the Bush administration is willing to use torture, abuse and other cruel and inhuman practices. This is not the America that you and I believe in.

The America that you and I believe in does not torture people. Does not kidnap people off the street and ship them to nations known for their brutality. Does not hold people at Guantanamo Bay without charges, without trials, without hope, and without end. Does not condone prisoner abuse and excuse high-ranking government officials from responsibility for that abuse.

The America that you and I believe in challenges the actions of governments that engage in abuse, torture, and other cruel and inhuman practices. It doesn't provide them the cover for their brutality.

The problem in this country is not better. We have doubled the number of prisons in the last 15 years. We have a higher percentage of people in prisons than the worst years of Stalin's rule. Are we evil? No, but the prison or government can get $30,000-plus per year to house a prisoner. To keep a student in school and greatly avoid prison will cost a few thousand a year so the mathematics say keep him out of school and prison him.

The America that you and I believe in demands a change. Let's make America responsible again for this transgression of human rights. Let's be able to tell our grandchildren that we corrected some of the problems.

Jim Neuhaus
Springfield, Vt.


Congressional Mail Tips

I was recently advised by a congressional staffer not to send letters to the senator's Washington office, but to use a home state office address instead. Mail to the D.C. office may evidently be delayed for weeks due to terrorist screening.

My letters to out-of-state legislators are seldom answered, so I now ask a friend in the legislator's state who agrees with my position to send the message under his own name.

Dick Newick
Sebastopol, Calif.


Torture Squad

In his press conference, Mr. Bush has implied that "At no time in our history we have owed so much to so few for our survival." He was, of course, referring to the CIA interrogators and the thankless job that they are doing to protect us. They torture and "extract" information from prisoners with "alleged" ties to al Qaeda and host of other terrorist groups and with this information they are supposed to protect us? What ever happened to the billions of dollars invested in electronic and radar detection systems? What ever happened to our well trained and well equipped Navy, Air Force, Coast Guards, Marines and Army? Have we come to the stage that only brutal and inhuman torture of prisoners will save the day and nothing else will work?

Mr. Bush has called them our frontline professionals but what kind of profession is this? Have they been trained to inflict pain and suffering? (Supplied with pliers to extract nails maybe?) Have they been trained to be so professional that they are immune to tears and cries of mercy? Bush may be proud of them and may even want them to settle near his ranch in Crawford but the rest of America will forever shun them.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.


Return to Theocracy

The Religious Right, mostly Baptists, have become, with their support of Bush, the backbone of the Republican Party. Somehow they have overlooked that God gave up his attempt to create a theocratic government 2,000-plus years ago. Right now because of their actions our beloved "separation of State and Church" is in danger. Even our cherished Supreme Court has been defiled by religious extremists. Sadly we are approaching conditions prevalent in Islamic nations.

Everett L Williams
Ingram, Texas


Git In or Get Out!

Give President Bush two options on Iraq: 1.) Send 75,000 more troops to Iraq, enough to control the insurgents anywhere in Baghdad and Iraq, or …

2.) Pull out all the US troops and admit that we don't have now, nor have we ever had, enough men and women to finish the job in Iraq.

Which one would Bush choose? Stay the course and continue the failed effort to provide security for our troops and the Iraqis and condemn more of America's finest to a tragic and wasteful death? Or make a genuine military commitment to act in such a way as to demonstrate his goal to "win" this war?

Either way, he would have to face the American people and admit that he just doesn't have a clue as to what his next move is in this futile and foolish war-of-choice.

Percy Pascoe
Cuba, Mo.


When to Impeach

When to impeach Bush-Cheney? When they launch a "preemptive" strike against Iran after November 2006, based on the president's title alone, without a debate and declaration of war by Congress, in direct violation of the Constitution (Art. l, Sec. 8) and the rule of law.

When to impeach the Republican Congress? In November 2006, to make sure that the Constitution and the rule of law will be upheld at that time. Why? Because they have permitted Bush-Cheney to conduct a disastrous war in Iraq, "to bring democracy to the Middle East," that was never debated or declared by Congress; so the Republic Congress can no longer be trusted to do their sworn duty.

If presidents can now conduct wars on their own, what can't they do?

John Tomasin
West New York, N.J.


Stem Cell Possibilities

Reading Donald Kaul's article about opposition to stem cell research in the 9/1/06 issue brings to mind a solution. Except from wig makers and professional virgins, all other opposition to the research will cease if the researchers would emphasize the possibility of growing hair on bald heads and curing erectile dysfunction.

Ken Loveless
Austin, Texas

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2006

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