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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

FRIDAY, December 31, 2004

It happened a few years ago.  That was the time when, having attended a live docu-drama at the Garde Theatre in New London which reviewed important events of the last 75 years, I decided that living through it once was enough.  Events of recent years have reinforced that judgment: 9/11 and its consequences; the death of our first child, Maura, last year; the never-ending Presidential campaign....  And so, I have no interest in reading summaries of 2004.

Onward and upward.  To put it another way: the most important day of our life is...TODAY.  Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow is a hope.  Today is real and all opportunity.

But just in case tomorrow comes, HAPPY NEW YEAR, and 'til we meet again' within the four corners of Rapid Response.     Thank you for your continuing interest.


THURSDAY, December 30, 2004


WEDNESDAY, December 29, 2004


MONDAY and TUESDAY, December 27 and 28, 2004

This Christmas Season "has me in its spell".  Earlier this week we wrote about Peace; then we decided there could be no peace without Justice.  Now, how can there be justice for people whose God has given them the ultimate will...without the Freedom to exercise that free will?  And what is the only structure for societal organization that has been shown to be most capable of promoting freedom? Democracy.Thus, America's desire to export democracy, strengthened to a mission of self-defense after 9/11, is the only logical game plan if we seek peace, for ourselves and for the world.  Against us are alligned minor players, like the Uzbek leader who prohibited any opposition parties from participating in the recent "election" because "there is no real opposition".  There are serious opponents like the Osama bin Laden and the Sunnis in Iraq, and the mullas throughout the Islamic world who distort Islam for their own ends.  And there are dangerous opponents like the Old Guard of the USSR who still control, autocratically, enough nuclear power to destroy the world.  But what choice do we Americans have, except to pursue this game plan of promoting democracy, sometimes at the expense of demoting its opposite number in other areas of the world?  Fortress America has long since been bridged.  And this is not "empire building".  It is simply self-defense.  So, let's stay the course.  However difficult, the alternative is much worse...and irresponsible.


SUNDAY, December 26, 2004

More on the subject of Christmas before we go on to other matters. "Peace on Earth, Good Will to All" is the goal we all strive for.  But Peace has never come, and will not come, without Justice.  So long as "survival of the fittest", or its modern iteration - pure free enterprise and total reliance on market forces - continues to be the rule of the "haves", the desperate have-nots will allow not a moment's peace.  The latest of so many examples of this historical fact is described in an article in today's NYTimes ("Europe's Muslims May Be Headed Where the Marxists Went Before", by Craig S. Smith, Wk 7).  Thus, the choice for the world, if it wishes to survive, is not between Capitalism and Communism...but between injustice and justice.  There is enough to go around.  So, where are the statesmen when we need them?  Or are they all merely "persons held upright by equally opposing forces"?


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, December 24 and 25, 2004


This is another time when personal observations seem unnecessary in view of excellent sentiments expressed in other sources.   See "The Promise of Christmas", The Day editorial, Friday, Sept. 24, 2004, Opinion, pA6.  See also the encouraging article in the same edition, pA7, entitled "Muslims Respect Jesus As A Prophet", by Ibrahim Hooper.   In fact, this latter article has caused me to make a New Year's resolution that I am not likely to break: after reading "In Search Of Paul", by Crossan and Reed (Harper San Francisco, 2004), I will buy and read the Koran.  The hope for us all in these dangerous times lies in getting back to basics...and to basic truths.


FRIDAY through THURSDAY, December 17 through 23, 2004

Another interruption.  I went to visit my grandsons in Ohio.  But the work of an "Involved Citizen" goes on.


THURSDAY , December 16, 2004

There are many times when a source says it all, at least for the time being.  Two stories are so addressed in today's WSJ, Opinion, pA16.


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, December 13 through 15, 2004


SATURDAY and SUNDAY, December 11 and 12, 2004


FRIDAY, December 10, 2004


THURSDAY, December 9, 2004


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, December 6 through 8, 2004

The news regarding Muslims [see article immediately following this Rapid Response offering] doesn't seem to get better.  It looks like this will be the 21st century counterpart to the "cold war" of the later 20th century: to break the back of Islamic Fundamentalism just as one would destroy by fire a house racked by smallpox.  The hope is that most Muslims are moderates and susceptible to democracy.  In my mind, all this gives even greater legitimacy to our efforts in Afganistan and in Iraq.  And there may have to be more to come.


London Times - Dec 04, 2004

Stoned to death...why Europe is starting to lose faith in Islam
By Charles Bremner

Islamic fundamentalism is causing a 'clash of civilizations' between liberal democracies and Muslims

DAYS before she was due to be married, Ghofrane Haddaoui, 23, refused the advances of a teenage boy and paid with her life. Lured to waste ground near her home in Marseilles, the Tunisian-born Frenchwoman was stoned to death, her skull smashed by rocks hurled by at least two young men, according to police. Although the circumstances of the murder are not clear, the horrific “lapidation” of the young Muslim stoked a French belief that the country can no longer tolerate the excesses of an alien culture in its midst.

A few days ago, pop celebrities joined 2,000 people in a march through Marseilles denouncing violence against women, particularly in the immigrant-dominated housing estates. The protest against Islamic “obscurantism” and the “fundamentalism that imprisons women” was led by a group of Muslim women who call themselves Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive).

The movement, which emerged three years ago to defend Muslim women, is spawning similar groups across Europe, supported by a mainstream opinion that has recently abandoned political correctness and wants to halt the inroads of Islam.

From Norway to Sicily, governments, politicians and the media are laying aside their doctrines of diversity and insisting that “Islamism”, as the French call the fundamentalist form that pervades the housing estates, is incompatible with Europe’s liberal values.

The shift is not just a reaction to exceptional violence such as the Madrid train bombings, or the murder of Theo van Gogh, the anti-Islamic Dutch film-maker, by a Dutch-Moroccan. It stems from a belief that more muscular methods are needed to integrate Europe’s 13-million strong Muslim community and to combat creeds that breed extremists and ultimately, terrorism. With mixed results, governments are trying to quell the scourge by co-opting Muslim leaders to promote a moderate European Islam.

In Germany, with its three million — mainly Turkish — Muslims, and France, with its five million of mainly North African descent, television viewers were shocked when local young Muslims approved of Van Gogh’s murder. “If you insult Islam, you have to pay,” was a typical response.

“The notion of multiculturalism has fallen apart,” said Angela Merkel, leader of Germany’s Christian Democrat opposition. “Anyone coming here must respect our constitution and tolerate our Western and Christian roots.” Italy’s traditional tolerance towards immigrants has been eroded by fear of Islamism. An Ipsos poll in September showed that 48 per cent of Italians believed that a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West was under way and that Islam was “a religion more fanatical than any other”.

Similar views can be heard across traditionally tolerant Scandinavia — and no longer just from the populist rightwing party’s such as Pia Kjaersgaard’s People’s Party in Denmark. The centre-right Government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has equipped Denmark with Europe’s toughest curbs on immigration, largely aimed at people from Muslim countries. In Sweden, where anti-Muslim feeling is running high and mosques have been burnt, schools have been authorized to ban pupils who wear full Islamic head-cover, although the measure comes nowhere near France’s new ban on the hijab in all state schools.

In Spain, with a rapidly rising population of nearly a million Muslims, the backlash has been less visible despite the bombings, but thousands demonstrated in Seville this week against plans to build a mosque in the city centre. The Government has also won approval by sending 500 extra police to monitor preachers and Muslim associations.

Police across the EU are closely watching prayer meetings in makeshift mosques in cities and housing estates, and media accounts of the jihadist, anti-Western and anti-semitic doctrines of the imams are fuelling public anger. In Germany, pressure is growing for sermons to be preached in German rather than Turkish or Arabic. Hidden TV cameras recently broadcast an imam in a Berlin mosque telling worshippers that “Germans can only expect to rot in the fires of hell because they are nonbelievers”.

The debate over the limits to free speech is loudest in France, which now acknowledges the failure of its “republican” approach to integration whereby immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and not exist in separate communities.

Dominique de Villepin, the Interior Minister, is deporting foreign imams who support wife-beating and other uncivilised practices. This week the Government moved to ban a Lebanon-based television channel for anti-semitic broadcasting. The left wing, which long shunned criticism of Islam as the stock-in-trade of Jean-Marie le Pen, the far-Right leader, now denounces the “totalitarian”, anti-feminist, antisemitic doctrines of the fundamentalists. Jacques Julliard, a leading left-wing commentator, said the Left’s longstanding tolerance had been used as “an agent for the penetration of Islamic intolerance”.

Some on the Left have also taken strong exception to the concept of “Islamophobia”, a supposed sin defined by EU anti-racism watchdogs as akin to anti-Semitism.

The French consensus was symbolized by the 80 per cent public support for the head-scarf ban, which started with little trouble in September. While many Muslims felt stigmatized, the Government took comfort from the approval of the ban by a substantial minority of the 10 per cent of the population that is of immigrant origin.

Among them is Fadela Amara, a Muslim town councillor from Clermond Ferrand, who heads the Ni Putes, Ni Soumises movement. “The veil is an instrument of oppression that is imposed by the green fascists,” she says. Mme Amara, who led the Marseilles march, advocates an “open Islam, an Islam of French culture a bit Gallic around the edges”. This is also the aim of the state, which two years ago created a national Muslim Council to promote moderate mainstream Islam. The council was set up by Nicolas Sarkozy, the then Interior Minister, who now heads the UMP, President Chirac’s centre-right party.

M Sarkozy has just caused a stir by going a stage further, proposing that France’s rigorously secular state fund the building of mosques. “Whether I like it or not, Islam is the second biggest religion in France. So you have to integrate it by making it more French,” he said. To general dismay, however, the national council is coming increasingly under the effective control of radicals.

Reluctantly, some intellectuals have lately concluded that the model for Europe should be the US. On Tuesday a writer for Libération, the French left-wing daily, noted that immigrants in the US threw themselves into “the American dream” and prospered. “There is no French, Dutch or other European dream,” she noted. “You emigrate here to escape poverty and nothing more."

SUNDAY, December 5, 2004


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, December 3 and 4, 2004


THURSDAY, December 2, 2004

"More Americans Waiting To Marry" (by Genaro C. Armas, The Day today, pA1).  Certainly true, from the experiences of our own families and friends.  And not a bad idea, considering the broader educational and career opportunities available, and also considering that the parents of these young Americans had a divorce rate of about 50%.  But wait: there is a worrisome message to be found in the internal facts supporting that finding.

All of this is of a piece with the disintegration of basic societal mores and the abrogation of individual responsibility among large swaths of our citizens.  And that's why the red states were seeing red in the last two elections and longer.  It is time for an agonizing reappraisal of citizens' freedom vs their basic responsibilies.  That reappraisal is under way.


WEDNESDSAY, December 1, 2004


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