Democracy dies in arresting genocidal would-be militants
The most amusing part of the Washington Post‘s profile of Representative Ilhan Omar this past weekend was unquestionably the part where they caught her blatantly ripping off classical literature and passing it off as part of her life story. As Omar tells the story, she was once in a courtroom and saw a “sweet, old . . . African American lady” arrested for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her “starving 5-year-old granddaughter.”
The old woman spent two days in jail awaiting trial, and the when the woman was given a fine of $80 that she couldn’t pay, Omar stood up and yelled “Bulls—!” The entire room began to clap. Omar then addressed the judge and said, “And so, Your Honor, you see it’s true, that woman bears no more guilt than you!” Ripping open her jacket, Omar revealed a tattoo on her chest and bellowed “2-4-6-0-1!”
That last part I made up of course, but Omar seriously tried to pretend everything up to and including the loud profanity was true. One wonders how she beat the contempt of court charge. Yet as the Post notes, Omar’s story “echoed the plot of ‘Les Miserables.'” If not entirely fictional, it’s highly embellished; Minneapolis police are not allowed to lock people up simply for shoplifting and the typical sentence is just attending a three-hour class. The Post reports that Omar later acknowledged that “she may have flubbed some facts.”
That was certainly worth a chuckle, but what really threw me for a loop came later on in the piece, when the Post profiled another typical Minnesota Somali-American family. Filsan Ibrahim and her family run a day care, they celebrate Ramadan together, they share jokes around the dinner table, they worked their way through college and graduate school, they got a welcome letter from George W. Bush when they immigrated to the States, they rally behind convicted ISIS terrorists, they lived through the “uncertainty, hope and joy that accompanied her family’s first days in America,” and “have complicated views of their adopted country that mix gratitude, frustration, alienation and pride.”
Wait, what was that one part? About the ISIS terrorists?
A few days later Filsan, her mother and her sisters attended a fundraiser and rally for nine Somalis who had been convicted in 2016 of trying to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State.
Omar had written a letter on behalf of the men on the day she was elected in 2016, urging rehabilitation instead of prison time. “The desire to commit violence is not inherent in people — it is the consequence of systemic alienation,” she wrote the judge. She had known other young men from school who died fighting for al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.
Since her letter she has kept her distance from the case, which she knew was politically toxic, an easy opportunity for her enemies to paint her as un-American.
Can you imagine? If Omar’s enemies used her public defense of a convicted ISIS terrorist? To “paint her” as un-American?
For Filsan, the trial remained a source of anger and frustration. Her generation of Somali refugees saw America as home, but they lived under a shadow of suspicion. Armed American drones regularly fired missiles into their homeland. In Minneapolis, the FBI was surveilling their mosques and paying off informants.
Filsan had protested the FBI’s “countering violent extremism” program in Minneapolis, which sought to dissuade Somalis from joining terrorism groups, but which she believed stigmatized the Somali community.
Just your average Somali-American family that opposes Obama-created federal programs to peacefully persuade American Muslims to reject radical terrorism and feels “anger and frustration” when radical terrorists are arrested. You’d think the apprehension of nine radical Islamic terrorists in Minneapolis– a hotbed for terror recruitment— would be seen vindication of the FBI’s surveillance and persuasion efforts, but I guess not.
To Filsan, it didn’t make sense. The men on trial had never touched a weapon or left the United States. “I don’t think they knew what they were getting into and I don’t think they need to give up their lives for something that never happened,” she said. “That’s madness.” The heavy sentences, she said, were the product of racism, Islamophobia and the never-ending war on terror.
The men never touched a weapon or left the United States because they were arrested before they went through with their concrete and detailed plan to leave the United States and take up weapons. They knew exactly what they were getting into. Ibrahim surely knows this.
As for the heavy sentences, racism has nothing to do with it. It’s true that the specific terrorist Ibrahim was rallying for, Guled Ali Omar, received 35 years. That was a combination of the fact that he was the ringleader and that he refused to take a plea deal and elected to take his chances at trial. The two other members who refused plea deals got 30 years. Those who took deals got only ten years and those who turned state’s witness got even less prison time. That seems more than fair for plotting to join a genocidal enemy of the state.
About a dozen of Guled’s friends lingered in the parking lot, posing for pictures they planned to post on Instagram. “Fingers up,” someone called out.
Most of the men raised their index fingers, a gesture that symbolizes the oneness of God and has become widely associated with the Islamic State. They flashed the same sign during the trial in 2016, drawing the ire of the prosecutor.
The young Somalis in the parking lot — a mix of men and women — said they didn’t subscribe to the Islamic State’s fanatical interpretation of the Koran. And they certainly didn’t support any terrorist groups. But, on this night, they were trying to send a message — one of Muslim solidarity, alienation and defiance.
You must be kidding.
Imagine this sequence of events: a group of young white, right-wing people attend a rally for, let’s say, the man convicted of threatening to kill Ilhan Omar. In the course of this rally, they tell reporters that they feel anger and frustration at the government’s surveillance of nativist groups and hostility to white nationalism. They downplay the crime– because hey, it’s not like he ever went through with it!– suggest the harsh sentence was politically motivated. Then afterwards, they all head outside and flash the alt-right “okay sign” or grab some tiki torches, but then explain that they don’t subscribe to alt-right beliefs or support alt-right terrorists.
Do you believe, in a million years, that Washington Post reporters would A) credulously parrot the claim they aren’t actually extremists, and B) finish by characterizing it all as a show of “solidarity, alienation and defiance”? Or might they conclude that this rally is at best a hotbed of white nationalist apologists, and more realistically is full of plain old white nationalists?
Alas, the actual extremists and terror sympathizers in questions are part of a liberal constituency, supported by a popular young liberal politician, and are members of a faith group often targeted by the Trump administration. The reporters allowed their biases to blind themselves to reality and the result is absurd: an honest-to-god puff piece of a rally on behalf of convicted terrorists. Take a bow, WaPo.
By Newt Gingrich • Fox News
The collusion lie will go down in history as one of the strangest distortions of reality to dominate the American political scene. For more than two years, the national establishment and news media were fixated on a “truth” that turned out to be false.
In some ways, this national psychosis is reminiscent of the popular madness that would run through medieval societies from time to time. Think of the flagellants going from city to city beating themselves to exorcise their sins. Think of the madness that surrounded Friar Girolamo Savonarola when he ruled Florence from 1494 to 1498.
In our own country, think of the hysteria of the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692 and 1693, when more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft. Fourteen women and five men were found guilty and hanged. A sixth man was pressed to death with stones.
On Oct. 30, 1938, Orson Welles terrified millions of Americans with Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
For the past two years, a large swath of the media engaged in a mass act of self-deception and partisan groupthink. Perhaps it was Watergate envy, or bitterness over Donald Trump’s victory, or antagonism towards Republicans in general—or, most likely, a little bit of all the above. But now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report on Russian collusion, it’s clear that political journalists did the bidding of those who wanted to delegitimize and overturn Trump’s election.
While bad behavior from partisan sources should be expected, the lack of skepticism from self-appointed unbiased journalists has been unprecedented. Any critical observer could see early on that Trump-era partisan newsroom culture had made journalists susceptible to the deception of those peddling expedient stories. Our weekly bouts of Russia hysteria all sprung from one predetermined outcome: the president was in bed with Vlad Putin.
The natural disposition of journalists—even opinion journalists—should be skepticism. Like him or not, the notion that the president of the United States, a wealthy showman who’s been in the limelight for decades, and ran one of the most chaotic major political organizations in history, had been secretly conspiring with Russia to steal a 50-state election should immediately have been deemed too good to be true by any decent journalist.
Yet once-respectable, if biased, mainstream outlets churned out Continue reading
By Jeffrey Cimmino • Washington Free Beacon
The Washington Post issued an editor’s note Thursday admitting inaccuracies in its initial reporting on a January incident involving Native American protesters, high school students from Covington, Ky., and a group known as Black Hebrew Israelites.
The note sweeps away the provocative details that turned the story into a phenomenon, including the accusation that Covington students prevented Native American activist Nathan Phillips from moving away.
“A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial,” the statement begins. “Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict.”
The editor’s note acknowledges that the high school student facing Phillips contradicted the latter’s account of the incident, and that “an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos.” The statement adds that the Post reported on these subsequent developments.
The student at the center of this imbroglio, high school junior Nick Sandmann, filed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against the Post, and his attorneys claim the newspaper led a “mob of bullies which attacked, vilified & threatened” him.
In January, film emerged of Sandmann and a group of Covington Catholic high school students, many of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, appearing to taunt Phillips, a Native American and veteran, near the Lincoln Memorial. Initial reactions on social media condemned the mostly white students for seeming to mock Phillips.
Phillips initially claimed he saw the students taunting indigenous peoples near the memorial and tried to walk towards the monument before being blocked, but later said he stepped into the crowd to defuse tensions between the students and a nearby group of extremists known as Black Hebrew Israelites. Video showed Phillips banging his drum inches from Sandmann’s face, and Phillips claimed to feel threatened and blocked by the student.
Sandmann countered Phillips’ account, saying he was confused when Phillips approached him and was trying to calm down a tense situation. Sandmann added the students were engaging in school cheers before Phillips approached, in response to expletive-laden taunts being hurled at them by the Black Hebrew Israelites. Video released later shows this to have been the case.
Additional video revealed the students did not chant “Build the wall” or “Trump 2020” as Phillips claimed, and showed the students did not surround Phillips—he walked into their midst.
The Diocese of Covington announced earlier this month that an independent investigation exonerated the students and showed they “did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.”
“In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening,” Bishop Roger Foys said. “Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.”
By Steve Cortes • Real Clear Politics
The treatment of recent news reveals an important chasm in 2018 America: the concerns of Mainstream Media vs. those of Main Street USA. In many ways, this divide represents a sort of tale of two cities. The first “city” of Washington-New York media elites explodes over every headline, including endless rumors regarding Russia and White House staff intrigue. In contrast, the second “city” of non-politically obsessed everyday Americans focuses on bread-and-butter issues that actually matter to their everyday lives.
For example, during the second week of August, according to a study from left-leaning Media Matters, MSNBC spent almost 16 hours of total airtime discussing disgruntled and discredited former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. For comparison, the channel spent a total of 45 minutes discussing immigration issues and 39 minutes on the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Moreover, contrast that concentration on innuendo and scandal with the actual issues of concern to most Americans. In a recent Gallup survey about the 2018 midterm elections, the number one “problem facing the country today” is immigration/illegal aliens. The second most important issue is, unsurprisingly, the economy. Matters pertaining to Russia, incidentally, earned a literal asterisk in Continue reading
By Dennis Prager • Real Clear Politics
You and I are living through the greatest mass hysteria in American history. For many Americans, the McCarthy era held that dubious distinction, but what is happening now is incomparably worse.
For one thing, any hysteria that existed then was directed against the greatest evil in the world at the time: communism. Then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee notwithstanding, there really were Americans in important positions who supported communist regimes enslaving their populations and committing mass murder. McCarthy was on to something.
In contrast, the country is choking on hysteria over the extremely unlikely possibility — for which there is still no evidence — that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, and the absurdity that President Trump works for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For another, Continue reading
By Bill Zeiser • Real Clear Politics
We at RealClearPolitics’ Fact Check Review are making an earnest effort to better understand how fact checkers work — and to share our findings with the public. We are doing so because much is unknown about the fact-checking process. What is clear, however, is that fact checkers are becoming increasingly influential — even to the point of being able to censor what you read.
The core of our project is hosting a site where you can view and search the data we are collecting about fact checks and the organizations that publish them. But to provide context beyond the numbers, we have also been regularly writing about observations we make while assessing the fact checks.
Since our only agenda is to better understand, we do this with no partisan or institutional bias. That means we offer praise and criticism as appropriate. For the fact-checking site Snopes, one of the longest running in the business, we have done both.
By John Lott Jr • The Hill
President Trump’s half hour, impromptu interview on “Fox & Friends” last Friday sent the media’s fact checkers into overdrive this weekend. Everyone from PolitiFact to The New York Times to virtually all the Sunday morning national talk shows piled on, calling Trump a liar.
But the media can’t stop lying about what the president says. Sometimes it can’t distinguish a legitimate point of disagreement from a lie. It is no wonder that people have tuned out much of the constant attacks on Trump.
Just take the hyperbole on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Before playing a compilation of clips from Trump’s interview, moderator Chuck Todd exclaimed: “Let me put together this list of just outright misstatements, lies.” After showing the clips Continue reading
Anyone expecting President Trump supporters to soften up on their allegiance to the president heading into the November midterm elections is sadly mistaken.
This past week, Democrats, the FBI and the liberal elite media gave Team Trump strong reasons to remain solidly behind the Republican commander in chief and his “drain the swamp” cause.
One can also argue that women voters and independents are getting tired of the incessant Trump bashing — especially when the president and his supposedly short-staffed administration (excluding the “traitorous” leakers) are piling up significant Continue reading
With all due respect to contrary opinions apparently held at the New York Times, ABC News, Reuters, CNN, and some of our other media colleagues, this editorial page feels comfortable declaring that North Korea, inasmuch as it is a murderous dictatorship threatening nuclear war, is the bad guy in today’s geopolitical struggle.
“North Korea judged winner of diplomatic gold at Olympics,” Reuters reported. “Without a word, only flashing smiles, Kim Jong-un’s sister outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomacy,” the New York Times declared, in a news story that never mentioned that the sister, Kim Yo Jong, is literally the head of North Korea’s propaganda department. A supposed news story from CNN chastised Vice President Mike Pence for “a ‘missed opportunity’ for North Korea diplomacy.”
The argument: Pence “‘degraded the image of the United States as a superpower’ by meeting with North Korean defectors along with Otto Warmbier’s father, and by speaking strongly against North Korea on multiple occasions.”
Otto Warmbier is the American murdered Continue reading
by Mark Hemingway • Weekly Standard
Covering the Trump presidency has not always been the media’s finest hour, but even grading on that curve, the month of December has brought astonishing screwups. Professor and venerable political observer Walter Russell Mead tweeted on December 8, “I remember Watergate pretty well, and I don’t remember anything like this level of journalistic carelessness back then. The constant stream of ‘bombshells’ that turn into duds is doing much more to damage the media than anything Trump could manage.”
On December 1, ABC News correspondent Brian Ross went on air and made a remarkable claim. For months, the media have been furiously trying to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Ross reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had just pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, was prepared to testify that President Trump had instructed him to contact Russian officials before the 2016 election, while Trump was still a candidate. If true, it would have been a gamechanger. But Ross’s claim was inaccurate. Flynn’s documented attempts to contact the Russians came after Trump was president-elect, allegedly trying to lay diplomatic groundwork for the new administration. Ross was suspended by ABC for four weeks without pay for the error.
Later that same weekend, the New York Times ran a story about Trump transition official K. T. McFarland, charging that she had lied to congressional investigators about knowledge of the Trump transition team’s contacts with Russia. The article went through four headline changes and extensive edits after it was first published, substantially softening and backing away from claims made in the original version. The first headline made a definitive claim: Continue reading
by Elizabeth Harrington • Washington Free Beacon
The question Democrats are now using to accuse Attorney General Jeff Sessions of lying under oath was based on a discredited news report published by CNN.
Democratic leaders in Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), are calling on Sessions to resign for saying he did not meet with Russian officials to discuss the 2016 presidential election during his confirmation hearing.
Democrats say Sessions lied under oath, even though Sessions has been consistent in saying he did not discuss the presidential election with the Russian ambassador but met with numerous ambassadors in his capacity as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. Continue reading
By Conrad Black • The New York Sun
What is utterly astonishing about the fierce contest between the national press and President Trump is that the press does not realize how despised it is by most Americans, and how richly, as a group (which contains many individual exceptions), it deserves to be despised.
For 18 months Donald Trump campaigned with great energy all over the country, swept most of the primaries, many by astounding margins against a large field of candidates, and made a point of denouncing the national media as biased, self-serving, and malicious myth-makers. He referred to them hundreds of times as “liars,” and directed the very large crowds that he drew to the press section, and his supporters shook their fists in unfeigned rage at the press gallery. Did the complacent, bemused national press think they were paid plants or that it was all a spoof? Continue reading
by David French • National Review
The rapture was supposed to happen on September 13, 1988. A few fringe pastors were screaming that the end was nigh, that the righteous would soon disappear into the air while the rest of humanity was doomed to suffer a quite literal hell on earth. Forget the biblical admonition that no man knows the day nor hour of Christ’s return, these men had figured it out. It was time to prepare yourself.
I was a sophomore at a Christian college in Nashville, and it was the talk of the campus. No one likes to make fun of crazy Christian preachers more than irreverent Christian college students, and we couldn’t stop dividing the student body between the saved and the damned.
When the alarm clock rang the morning after the scheduled rapture, I hit snooze, and said, triumphantly, to my roommate, “We’re still here!” There was no response. “Hello?” Still no response. I looked down at his bed, and no one was there. For about nine seconds I was gripped by sheer panic. I’d been left behind. The lake of fire awaits! Then my roommate walked in from the shower, and the crisis passed. Continue reading