Monday, February 25, 2008

Pakistan Censors the World?

Upset with the trailors for a film on Islam by the Dutch politician and filmaker, Geert Wilders, Pakistan disrupts YouTube worldwide. From AP:

"On Friday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered 70 Internet service providers to block access to, because of anti-Islamic movies on the video-sharing site, which is owned by Google Inc.

The authority did not specify what the offensive material was, but a PTA official said the ban concerned a trailer for an upcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has said he plans to release a movie portraying Islam as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.

The block was intended to cover only Pakistan, but extended to about two-thirds of the global Internet population, starting at 1:47 p.m. EST Sunday, according to Renesys Corp., a Manchester, N.H., firm that keeps track of the pathways of the Internet for telecommunications companies and other clients."

One wonders what risks foreign governments pose to the Internet if this was by accident.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

War Then and Now

Diana West: (Hat Tip: Nicholas Provenzo )

"Writing in the Winter 2007-08 issue of the Objective Standard, John David Lewis offers an illuminating analysis of another U.S. occupation, this one thoroughly successful, in Japan (1945-1952). President Bush, of course, frequently refers to the democratization of Japan as a model for the democratization of Iraq (and the wider Islamic Middle East). But, as Mr. Lewis' must-read essay makes historically clear, the president has been comparing apples and oranges.

It isn't just that the total defeat and utter devastation of Japan nullifies the comparison with Iraq (which it does). There is something else. There is the completely different U.S. approach to Japan's animating, warlike state religion of Shintoism, which, not incidentally, bears striking similarities to the animating, warlike state religion of Islam.

In 1945, our government was of one mind regarding state Shintoism. Mr. Lewis quotes Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who wrote: 'Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with... [T]here will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion — National Shinto, that is — will go... Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto... The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed.'"


Friday, February 01, 2008

Hollywood Then and Now

Andrew Klavan reminds us of the days when Hollywood was patriotic and what it has become today. From Libertas:

Our Founding redefined nationhood along social-contract lines that Europeans can still only theorize about. Our love of nation at its best was ethical, not ethnic. Our patriotism was loyalty not to race, or even to tradition, but to ideals of individual liberty and republican self-governance.

The films of World War II often reflect just that sort of patriotism. Yes, there’s plenty of pure jingo, not to mention racial slurs so nonchalant that they’re now hilarious: the enemies are always krauts or dagos or—my personal favorite from Fighting Seabees—“Tojo and his bug-eyed monkeys.” But many World War II films emphasize what America stands for. The ceaseless Hollywood roll calls of Spinellis, O’Haras, Dombrowskis, and Steins highlight the e pluribus unum of it all: an ethnically diverse nation unified by democratic ideals. Those ideals were embodied by the characters themselves—by their rough, easygoing demeanor, their friendly interaction over ethnic and class lines, and their suspicion of fascist strongmen. Mussolini “kinda thinks he’s God, don’t he?” says a cynical Humphrey Bogart in Sahara. “Someday that guy’s gonna blow up and bust.”

Most people love their homeland, but these movies understood that, for Americans, the democratic ethos constituted the substance of that land. It was that substance that was worth fighting and dying for, even when the battle was lost. As a doomed soldier remarks in Bataan, “It don’t matter much where a man dies, as long as he dies for freedom.” Hold your breath and wait for a modern filmmaker to say that about Vietnam or Iraq.