THE DAILY BLADE: Iraq Was Supposed To Become Like The USA - But The Reverse Has Happened: Part II

In the days before the mid-term election, The Stiletto observed that Americans were dividing themselves into political and ideological tribes, creating schisms that parallel those between the Sunni and Shia in Iraq – the inevitable outcome being utter destruction of national identity and purpose.

Now, The New York Times reports that the Iraq war and Saddam’s trial and execution are escalating sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia right here in the US – a country that has no state religion, and in which millions of (legal) immigrants of every creed and color have hitherto lived together in harmony because they assimilated, became citizens, adopted American mores and values and left ancient hatreds and rivalries behind in the Old Country:

Escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East are rippling through some American Muslim communities, and have been blamed for events including vandalism and student confrontations. Political splits between those for and against the American invasion of Iraq fuel some of the animosity, but it is also a fight among Muslims about who represents Islam. …

Before, most major cities had only one mosque and everyone was forced to get along. Now, some Muslim communities are so large that the majority Sunnis and minority Shiites maintain their own mosques, schools and social clubs.

Americans are watching – albeit at a distance - Muslims agitating to impose Sharia law in Europe because they refuse to adapt to the laws and customs of the countries in which they now live. It’s about to get up close and personal, as Muslims living in the US don’t all consider themselves Americans. Here’s what one Iraqi immigrant tells The New York Times (emphasis, The Stiletto’s):

"The Shiites were very happy that they killed Saddam, but the Sunnis were in tears," Aqeel Al-Tamimi, 34, an immigrant Iraqi truck driver and a Shiite, said. … "These people look at us like we sold our country to America."

The paper cites other examples of Sunni-Shia animosity: "Stabbings and other violence between Sunni and Shiite prisoners in New York state jails prompted a long-running lawsuit by Shiite inmates seeking separate prayer facilities" and concludes that, "Some Muslims worry that the friction might erupt in greater violence in the United States. Others, in both camps, think the tension could prove healthy, forcing American Muslims to start a dialogue about Muslim differences."

The only civil war this country fought was to settle fundamental human rights issues, and to make America a more perfect union in which states north and south of the Mason-Dixon line realized the vision of our Founding Fathers.

Americans are not about to let blood to run in the streets over whether fatwas based on Koranic interpretation can only be issued by descendants of Mohammad, or whether a consensus among religious "scholars" is as legit.

Frankly, we don’t give a damn.

Was Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink’s Assassination Government-Sanctioned?

Make no mistake about it: The photos and TV footage of Turks lamenting the January 19 assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul were nothing more than PR damage control, to show the European Union that Armenians and other Christian minorities in the 99.8 percent Muslim country do not have to fear persecution – or worse. But truth always trumps PR, and the Belfast Telegraph reports: "Less than a fortnight after huge crowds thronged the streets of Istanbul at the funeral of the murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, chanting, ‘We are all Armenian,’ Turkey … showed another, more sinister face."

When not participating in PR stunts, Turks most emphatically do not consider themselves Armenian. At a soccer game in Adana over the weekend, fans "unfurled banners reading ‘We are all Mustafa Kemal’ and ‘We are all Turkish!,’" reports columnist Oktay Eksi for the Turkish paper, Hürriyet. And to rally the fans, cheerleaders "took up the well-known chant of ‘Those who don't stand up are Fenerbahce fans!’ and turned it instead into ‘Those who don't stand up are Armenians!’"

But Nationalism is not confined to rowdy soccer fans. Turkish TV broadcast a video of Dink’s assassin, Ogün Samast, posing proudly behind a Turkish flag flanked by police officers. Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman describes the images (video link; English subtitles/voiceover unavailable):

Samast was seen in the video holding out a Turkish flag and posing with officers, some of them in uniform. Behind Samast was a poster with another Turkish flag carrying the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revered founder of modern Turkey: "The nation's land is sacred. It cannot be left to fate." A voice in the video can be heard asking if the quote on the poster can be arranged above the suspect's head. Someone also tells Samast to fix his hair.

Recall that Dink’s assailant shouted, "I killed the Armenian" after pumping several bullets into his victim’s body. The arresting police officers clearly treat him as though he is a national hero, not a despicable criminal.

Considering that Turkish courts had previously convicted Dink under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code of "denigrating Turkishness" – and the local prosecutor refused to investigate the scores of death threats he received as a result, or to place him under state protection – what are the odds that this Nationalist sympathizer will be convicted?

The Stiletto is betting, slim to none, as Nationalists have infiltrated law enforcement, the judiciary and the government at every level. Robert Fulford, a columnist writing for Canada’s National Post explains:

"[T]he Deep State" [is] a shadowy network of judges, police, army officers, bureaucrats and crime bosses, all of whom claim to defend Turkey 's honour. They argue, with the hysterical ferocity of people who no longer believe their own lies, that the genocide story was invented by Turkey 's enemies.

The Deep State 's opinions may eventually be drowned by more convincing arguments; but for now it's too powerful to be ignored. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan … apparently decided that unfairly prosecuting a few writers wasn't too high a price for appeasing his county's irascible nationalists. …

The Deep State stands behind Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, created to maintain public ignorance by making criticism of Turkey a crime. Article 301 was the basis of charges … of insulting Turkishness brought in 2005 against Hrant Dink, a journalist who belonged to Turkey 's small Armenian minority. He was convicted but given a six-months suspended sentence. In nationalist eyes, that certified him as an enemy. …

Once the centre of great power, Turkey may never have entirely recovered from the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s. History has left Turks with incoherent national memories of pride and shame. Their long, painful rise toward modernity demonstrates why a peaceful and prosperous future requires a reasonably honest understanding of the past.

Alas, Turks are not an introspective people. As schoolchildren are taught that Turks are a superior race, Nationalism is the inevitable result. Nationalists prefer to kill the messenger – in this case, Hrant Dink – than to accept the message that the civilized world demands Turks to acknowledge the irrefutable historical fact that their ancestors are genocidal murderers. They owe it to history. And to the Armenians.

Why Hillary Ain’t Hilarious

Of Hillary Clinton’s "evil men" (video link) and "psychoanalysis" comments (The Stiletto doesn’t think either was funny enough to be called a "joke," in the commonly understood meaning of the word) Los Angeles Times editorial writer Meghan Daum observes, "the only psychoanalysis this incident warrants is an examination of just why Mrs. Clinton's search for a sense of humor has been tougher than locating a lost contact lens in the Dead Sea."

But after this very promising start, Daum vacillates between whether the fault lies with the woman herself or with gender politics:

Just about every profile ever written about her has quoted friends and colleagues who point out her sense of humor, frequently prefaced with the word "wicked." …

It's possible, I suppose, that Clinton's friends' taste in humor is such that coy jabs at her husband (or could it be Newt? Or Kenneth Starr? Or President Bush himself?) passes for biting wit. But it's more likely that her flat footedness is a symptom of a double standard … If there's anything that can hinder a woman's credibility faster than becoming visibly pregnant or getting caught watching Lifetime, it's revealing the ability to be genuinely funny. …

Clinton, hyper-focused wonk that she is, has a personality that has long appeared to be the product of focus groups and advisors from the Professor Henry Higgins Finishing School for Formerly Radical Broads. …

Part of this is Clinton's own fault — the very act of saying "you keep telling me to be funny" is depressing evidence of her burdensome self-consciousness. But then again, female humor is easily bent into the worst cliches about women. Funny men, after all, are considered smart, confident and sexy. But wisecracking chicks risk accusations of bitterness, hormonal instability and the assumption (no matter what they look like) that they're using wit to compensate for physical unattractiveness.

The Stiletto thinks that Mrs. Clinton got shortchanged twice – being neither funny, nor physically attractive.

Nancy Pelosi’s Sasquatch-Sized Carbon Footprint

A United Nations panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released what The New York Times lede characterized as "a grim and powerful assessment of the future of the planet" that concludes global warming is "unequivocal" and that humans "very likely" causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950. The 2004 photo accompanying this article shows polar bears on chunks of ice in the Bering Sea, the caption artfully written to suggest they are stranded on melting glaciers; polar bears happen to be powerful swimmers, by the way. [Editorial Note: This is a "news" article, not an op-ed piece.]

The Christian Science Monitor notes that Dems will seize upon the report to further their environmental agenda:

[I]n Washington, the report is likely to add considerable momentum to various bills in Congress aimed at reducing US CO2 emissions using a mandatory cap-and-trade approach – something that has been anathema to the Bush White House. Although the issue earned a brief mention in his State of the Union address as a serious problem, the president made no mention of the IPCC report or of global warming in general in a radio address Saturday.

On Thursday … the House Committee on Science and Technology is set to hold Capitol Hill's first formal hearings on the report

Against this backdrop, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided that instead of following in the carbon-footprints of Prince Charles and taking commercial flights between Washington, D.C. and her San Francisco district, she wants a military jet at her beck-and-call.

Citing "knowledgeable" anonymous sources, The Washington Times reports that as second-in-line in presidential succession, Pelosi wants "carte blanche for an aircraft any time" - but that her request "goes beyond" what her predecessor, Dennis Hastert, received since she wants the flights "not only for herself and her staff, but also for relatives and for other members of the California delegation."

Hastert began using military planes for nearly all his trips to and from his district after the September 11 terrorist attacks.


PETA workers cleared of animal cruelty, convicted of littering

A Winton, NC, jury acquitted Adria Hinkle and Andrew Cook, two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of eight misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty for euthanizing cats and dogs they took from shelters, and Hinkle was also found not guilty on three felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. Both were convicted of littering for dumping the carcasses in a trash bin, and Superior Court Judge Cy Grant gave each a 10-day suspended jail sentence and supervised probation for a year; they both were also ordered to pay $4,000 in fines and court costs.


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