We Should Not Pay for Your First Amendment Rights

This past Sunday witnessed various protests during National Football League games with players refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem. This article does not address whether the protests have merit or do not. The players actions miss a basic point: people shouldn’t have to pay for your first amendment rights.

Americans have various rights under the first amendment, including to free speech. That right enables individuals who want to stand on a street corner and yell about how much they hate America the freedom to do so.

But the football stadium is not a public street.

People pay hundreds of dollars to enter the stadium to watch a football game, not to watch players express their political opinions. Fans at home also spend lots of money for cable and satellite TV to watch their favorite teams. More specifically – to watch their teams play football.

The only way that a player should have a right to express his feelings about politics is with the approval of the team’s owner and the NFL. Should those governing bodies deem it appropriate to sanction certain behavior, then it becomes part of the game like a black bandage on a jersey in memory of a player.


NFL players take a knee during the national anthem
(photo: Michael Dwyer/AP)

If the NFL and team owners approve the actions of the players expressing their political opinions during the game, then the audience can decide whether they want to spend their time and money watching such activity. But until the league and owners approve the players’ actions, it should be banned or fined.

Thomas Jefferson once said:

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is both sinful and tyrannical.”

Even if you agree with the sentiments of the protesters, it is “both sinful and tyrannical” to be forced to pay to propagate such expressions.


Related First.One.Through articles:

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Selective Speech

The Fault in Our Tent: The Limit of Acceptable Speech

Elie Wiesel on Words

Active and Reactive Provocations: Charlie Hebdo and the Temple Mount

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Eyes Wide Shut

Americans and other people around the world have seemingly decided that the best course of action is to loudly scream and vote with eyes wide shut.

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton decided to endorse her with the pounding, painful knowledge in the dark corners of their brains that she: was the Secretary of State under Obama who watched Americans butchered in Libya, and then casually observed as that country turned into a terrorist haven; watched Iran march toward a legitimate and complete nuclear weapons infrastructure;  saw ISIS emerge in Iraq as she pulled American troops from the country; did nothing as Syria collapsed into civil war killing 500,000 people and watched those refugees flood the world; deleted thousands of emails while under investigation for usage of an improper private server; took millions of dollars into her Clinton Foundation in possible exchange for favors from foreign governments; etc.  No matter. Clinton’s #ImWithHer supporters feared Donald Trump, and craved a female president.

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump voted for him, even though they knew he: was accused of sexually harassing women; threatened to ban all Muslims from the country; spoke unfavorably about parents of an American soldier killed in battle; called for a massive deportation of millions of illegal immigrants; had no political experience; etc.  No matter.  They despised Hillary Clinton and were not going to let the radical left of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders run the country for another four years.

Days after the election, Clinton supporters took the streets and – despite the obvious facts – declared that Trump was not their president.  They declared that Trump was a homophobe and would threaten the LGBT community, even though he clearly stated his support for them to loud applause at the Republican National Committee. Whether they somehow thought the electoral college should no longer matter, or that they did not want to be associated with such a leader, they closed their eyes to reality. Willingly.

Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Americans were not alone in willingly closing their eyes to reality as they cast their ballots.

On October 13, 2016, UNESCO approved a draft resolution which removed any mention of the Jewish names for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site. Dozens of countries voted in favor of the resolution despite the insult, as they moved to give the Jordanian Waqf full control of the Jewish Temple Mount, and to ultimately hand the Old City of Jerusalem to become a capital of a future state of Palestine. Jewish rights and history, and Israeli security be damned.

In September 2016, The European Union took further steps to remove Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations.  They did this, despite Hamas waging three wars against Israel over the previous eight years, and having the most anti-Semitic charter of any governmental party in the world, which firmly rejects peace negotiations and calls for the annihilation of Israel.

And in the summer of 2014, while Israel fought to stop the rocket fire into its country from Gaza and to dismantle the terrorist tunnel infrastructure of Hamas, Europeans took the streets in loud protests against Israel. Despite the calls of “Hitler was right,” and the many attacks on Jews and Jewish-owned businesses, the New York Times opted to ignore the condemnation of European leaders that the riots were anti-Semitic, and stated that there was just a “tinge” of Jew hatred. Repeatedly.

Why are people and governments willingly revising history? How do people feel comfortable voting against reality? Are they blind to the facts, or do they hope that a new reality would somehow emerge with their votes?

Historically, people have claimed that there are multiple truths, that “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”  Today, that sentiment is magnified by the “progressive” endorsement of “self-identity” in matters such as gender and race.

But seemingly, truth is no longer a debate between traditional views and those with fluid interpretations. Those were old distinctions between the Orthodox (static) and liberals (evolving).

Today, the world has declared that truth can be ignored, openly and honestly. Fixed facts fold before the fantasy of personal belief. People shout their gestating gospels as the thoughts enter their minds and are blessed in their echo chambers on social media and in the streets.

Opinions no longer need an anchor in fact. People need not see nor hear a matter to declare it untrue or irrelevant. The world has become unhinged as the mind emerges as the sole arbiter of the firmament. Society has quickly moved beyond goggles of virtual reality to worship in the chapel of blind delusions.

In a world where facts are extraneous, we are only left with a clash of emotions.

Will we pass judgment solely on which party seems the most sympathetic because they feel the most injured? Does that foretell a future of balms for the pain, rather than solutions for the problems?

We are carrying our emotions across the threshold to deflower our intelligence. That is a marriage that will end poorly for civilization.


Related First.One.Through articles:

American Hate: The Right Targets Foreigners, The Left Targets Americans

The Impossible Liberal Standard

A Deplorable Definition

Pride. Jewish and Gay

The New York Times Wrote About Computer Hackers Charged by the US and Israel. Differently.

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O’bama, Where Art Thou?

In 2000, the Coen brothers released a movie called “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey (it won the Oscar for Best Screenplay from Adapted Material).  The original tale of 2700 years ago, described Odysseus’ 10-year ordeal to return home from his decade-long Trojan War. A convoluted parallel is taking place in the Middle East today.

Iran and Iraq Wars

In 1979, Iran went through an Islamic revolution at which time it threw out its western-backed leader. In a year’s time, Iran was at war with its Muslim neighbor next door in Iraq. That eight year war claimed 1 million lives.  Within two years of that war’s end, in 1990 Iraq went to war with its neighbor Kuwait, which brought America back to the region in Operation Desert Storm.

America would return to the region to defend itself rather than an ally. After the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, the US launched a major offensive against Iraq in 2003, under the belief that Iraq was behind the 9-11 attacks and that it was developing weapons of mass destruction again (Israel destroyed Iraq’s initial plant in 1981).  While running for president of the USA, then-Senator Barack Obama stated that the Iraq war was a mistake and promised to pull US forces out if elected, which he did in 2011.

The vacuum created from the withdrawal of American troops was filled by Islamic radicals seeking to create a new Islamic State.  The group brutally slaughtered many thousands of people as it sought to impose a new country based on radical Islam throughout the Middle East, beginning with Iraq.

Obama Cast as Hero

Obama defined himself in his presidential campaign as being anti-war. The world cast the young politician as a hero (like Odysseus?) and awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 before he even did anything. His moniker “Hope” stuck to him like bumper stickers on a Subaru: here was a man who was going to leave the wars behind and bring Americans home. The decades of war in the Middle East were ending, and Odysseus – ‘er Obama – was the hero to make it happen.

obama car

Obama in the Middle East

Obama has fought (and sought to portray his fights) in the Middle East with a very light hand, compared to his aggressive war in Afghanistan:

  • In Yemen, he preferred discrete drone strikes against terrorists, over deploying thousands of US troops on the ground
  • In Syria, where a civil war has claimed over 200,000 lives (and counting), he has been reluctant to get involved. Indeed, even after Syria used chemical weapons which crossed Obama’s “red line”, he still opted to use diplomacy over a military strike
  • In Libya, Obama overthrew the government, but he claimed it was a “limited operation” and didn’t even seek Congressional approval
  • In Iraq, he removed all US troops, even though he was advised strongly against doing so by members of Congress.

And then there is Iran.

The US did not initially get involved in stemming Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In 2006 the UN Security Council passed its first resolution calling for Iran to stop its nuclear program, and US President George Bush convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a sanctions program against Iran. However, when Iran elected Hassan Rouhani president in 2013, the Obama administration opted to shift courses from crippling sanctions and a military threat, to engagement. Obama called Rouhani. US Secretary of State Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. The dream was that Iran had changed attitude to become more moderate, and therefore changed course on the direction of its nuclear program.

The 2013 Iranian election provided a pathway for Obama to dial back on sanctions and threats on the Iranian nuclear program.  While the Iran still shouted “Death to America, Death to Israel”, hanged gays from the center of the capital, and promoted terrorism around the world, Obama “Hoped” that Iran had moderated its ways with a single election, which would enable Obama to avoid returning American troops to the region.

The People on Iranian Nuclear Weapons

Times sq3
July 22, 2015 Protest in Times Square, NY
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

It is almost universal in the western world that people do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Whether in protests in New York or London, or reading blogs in Berlin or Tel Aviv, ordinary people understand that a state-sponsor of terrorism with a violent ideological bent should never be permitted to have weapons of mass destruction.

In the summer of 2015, the question before the US Congress is whether the proposed Iranian deal will ensure that Iran will not have the ability to obtain nuclear weapons.  For some reason, the view that the deal will be effective is held uniquely by Democrats, while Republicans view the deal as a guarantee for a nuclear-armed Iran.

At a rally in New York City on July 22, 2015 against the Iran deal, almost every speaker was a Republican, including George Pataki and Allen West. The Democrats that came out were not politicians, but ordinary citizens like Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz who said that Iran should not be a partisan issue (he needs to talk to more fellow Democrats). Speakers like Caroline Glick and others called out Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, for not being there. The crowd essentially called out “O Democrats, Where Art Thou?”

Timessq2timesq4timessq1
10,000 people protest against Iran deal in Times Square
(photos: FirstOneThrough)

Obama’s Homeward Journey; The World’s Souvenir

Like Odysseus, Obama is coming to the end of his journey. He has charted his way home from long wars, and he is doing everything he can to avoid returning back to the scene of the battles.

However, avoiding war is not always a good choice.  A commitment to end a war should only be kept if conditions warrant. A fear of returning to a region should not govern important matters of foreign policy.

Obama claims that the Iranian deal will prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons and is pitching the merits of the deal on that basis. His party loyalists are willing to believe him; liberals will always believe in this hero. But is this deal more about Obama finally arriving home to complete his epic poem?

The world is not a poem which ends with Obama’s last speech. The world will live with the ramifications of this deal for many years to come. There are many who feel strongly that Obama and the United Nations are pursuing a dangerous course that will guarantee a much more costly war in the future, rather than deal effectively with the issue today.

A nuclear-armed rogue state is not a souvenir the world can afford to end Obama’s journey.


Related FirstOneThrough articles:

Has the “Left-Wing” Joined the UN in Protecting Iran and the Palestinians from a “Right-Wing” Israel?

The New Endorsed Parameters of Peaceful Nuclear Power

The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran

Obama’s Iranian Red Line

My Terrorism

The streets in Paris were full of support for the victims of terror in January 2015. An estimated 1.6 million came out along with leaders of over 40 countries to memorialize the 17 victims, with signs that included “I am Charlie”, “I am the police” and “I am Jewish” to show solidarity with the murdered people.

jesuisjuif

The unity march was highly unusual compared to the reaction to terrorism that has plagued Europe for the past decade. There were no million person-marches or signs of support when:

The past victims included people killed for their use of free speech. They also included law enforcement officers and Jews. More people were killed at some of the attacks than were killed in the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks. So why was there the unique outpouring of support in Europe in 2015? Why didn’t anyone wear a pin “JeSuisMiriam” for the 8-year old girl that was shot in the head in France in 2012?

Looking at the recent protests in many European cities could lead one to conclude that the momentum of anti-immigrant groups and political parties have gained strength and popularity. The rise may stem from the number of terrorist attacks in Europe as well as the number of Islamic immigrants which has ballooned to 20 million in Europe due to the “Arab Spring” producing asylum seekers from throughout the Middle East/ North Africa region.

But why would world leaders show up now?

There was perhaps another factor at play which has to do with a more fundamental human characteristic: selfishness.

My Terrorism

People and nations react when they feel that their interests are being attacked. While they may sympathize with murdered victims everywhere, they take action when they feel that the terrorism strikes a selfish or personal nerve.

Witness the killings and abduction in Nigeria by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram. While there were murderous groups all over the world, including nearby in Sudan, there were barely any popular protests. However, when the US first lady Michelle Obama witnessed the abduction of over 200 black girls, she saw victims that looked like her own daughters and launched a “BringBack Our Girls” campaign which went viral. I do not doubt her sincerity or concern for other victims of terror including the 1400 girls who were raped by Muslim men for over 13 years in England. But it took a terrorist action that struck “close to home” against victims that resembled her own family for her to take action.

When three teenage boys were abducted in Israel a month after the Boko Haram abductions, Jews around the world and Israelis started their own hashtag campaign of #BringBackOurBoys and #EyalGiladNaftali. Israelis were obviously concerned about the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram too – indeed Israel was one of only four countries that actually sent support to find the missing girls. But world Jewry acted much more actively when it was three teenaged Jewish boys that were abducted.

In Iraq, the Islamic State/ ISIS was busy wiping out entire cities, killing thousands of Christians, Yazidis and fellow Muslims. However, it took a video of the beheading of American journalists to get America to take action against the Jihadist group. Stated differently, while Americans may have been appalled at knowing that thousands of innocents were being slaughtered in Iraq, the atrocities were viewed as distant. It took the attack on a single man to bring the conflict close-to-home, and therefore worthy of a response.


And so it was with the various attacks in Europe. While the French were likely sad about the killings of Jews over the past decade, they viewed it as a Jewish problem. The majority of French could consider those attacks as targeted against a small community that was not their problem or a threat to themselves. Jews make up 0.2% of the world’s population and 0.8% of France’s population. The French may have felt pity for 8-year old Jewish girl Miriam, but they were not Miriam; no “JeSuisMiriam” placards.

Similarly, the Europeans were likely incensed over the decade-long attacks on policemen and servicemen too. But most Europeans were not in the military. They were angry, but they were not the military. Their military was fighting wars far away.

The large scale attacks in London and Madrid were similar to the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Each nation was harmed as an entity, not just the immediate victims.

Yet the French did not march in Spain; the Germans did not march in England; and the Dutch did not march in the USA.

Lastly, free speech had been attacked before. The murder of Theo van Gogh, bombings in Stockholm (which didn’t murder anyone) and protests against the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in 2005 all stemmed from Muslims protesting the press’s postings of images of their prophet Mohammed. But the limited scale of those attacks compared to the Charlie Hebdo strike awakened a different sensibility in millions of Parisians and leaders of the western world that prize freedom of the press and speech. (Other countries that do not have freedom of speech and press attended the march as well, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to place a fig leaf over their extremist Muslim ideology, lack of freedoms and desire to ingratiate themselves with the western world). The attack on free speech spoke to the people and leaders, as a personal attack on their way of life.

When terrorism became personal, people and countries responded with actions. When terrorism seemed remote and someone else’s problem, there was inaction.

Thanks for the Inclusion

So nations, people, papers and celebrities wore the “JeSuisCharlie” to stand by the victims, and to protest the assault on their own basic freedoms. Some people extended a courtesy to the other victims of the attacks, even though they did not represent a personal attack, wearing “JeSuisPolice” and “JeSuisJuif” alongside their primary banner.

The Jews of France were happy to be included in the memorial of the anti-Semitic attack and appreciated the condemnation of the French government against the attack on their community. But the Jews of France also recall the lack of outrage at the various murders in the recent past of Jews being killed for being Jews.

In France and most of the world, Jews do not get starring roles in the rage on behalf of victims. However, the world will consider Jewish loss once they have expressed outrage for an attack on themselves. Like the five people in the background who stand behind the principal star who receives a trophy at an awards show, Jews were happy to be recognized, even if no one really saw them.

The recognition is a step forward and better than the long history of being ignored.  But everyone knows that such acknowledgement is similar to non-Jews wishing Jews “Happy Chanuka” because it comes at the same time as Christmas. Chanuka is a minor holiday compared to Shavuot and Sukkot which are unknown to non-Jews. When was the last time any non-Jew wished someone a “Happy Purim”? It doesn’t happen because it is not connected to something that they care about personally, like Christmas.

Today’s war on terrorism will continue to be waged when nations see their interests being threatened.  The outpouring of emotion will also be rooted in selfish preservation.

While it may have been called a “unity march”, the Jews of Europe have already been educated about their place in society.


Sources:

Paris march: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765824

Madrid bombings: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/04/world/europe/spain-train-bombings-fast-facts/

London bombing: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/world/europe/july-7-2005-london-bombings-fast-facts/

Stockholm bombing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Stockholm_bombings

Copenhagen plot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_2010_Copenhagen_terror_plot

Brussels shooting: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/01/suspect-arrest-brussels-jewish-museum-shooting

Toulouse shooting: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9154350/Toulouse-shooting-little-girl-cornered-in-school-and-shot-in-head.html

Torture of French Jew: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/international/europe/05france.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Killing of Theo van Gogh: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2004/11/gogh-n10.html

Muslims in Europe: http://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-immigration-and-islam-europes-crisis-of-faith-1421450060

Lee Rigby: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-26357007

Michelle Obama protest: http://hollywoodlife.com/2014/05/08/michelle-obama-kidnapped-nigerian-schoolgirls-bring-back-our-girls/

Eyal Gilad Naftali: http://proisraelbaybloggers.blogspot.de/2014/06/eyal-gilad-and-naftaliin-our-hearts.html

Je Suis Juif: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/13/world/french-jews/


Related FirstOneThrough articles:

Je Suis Redux

Obama’s limit on abducted teenagers

Israel assists Nigerian search

Free speech review music video

Targeted terrorism for blasphemy

I’m Offended, You’re Dead

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Protesting the Victor, not the Victims

Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial on August 5, 2014 about the seeming hypocrisy of parts of the world protesting against Israel in the current Israel-Hamas war but barely making a peep about wars in Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, etc. He doubted the sincerity of people’s stated concern about Arab victims, and considered the protestors motivation of racism, since they only show up when the counter-party is Israel.

As posted in FirstOneThrough on July 21, wars involving Israel account for a very small portion of all Muslim deaths in wars. Muslim-Muslim wars account for 90% of fatalities.

That should not come as a surprise. Most wars are between neighboring countries or are civil wars. (The United States is the exception which seems to only go to war with countries that are not neighbors). As most Muslim countries neighbor other Muslim countries, it would stand to reason that most Muslim wars and fatalities would be at the hands of other Muslim countries.

However, the expected number of fatalities in wars involving Israel is out-of-proportion. Israel’s neighbors account for 7% of the world’s Muslim population (117 million people), but the fatalities account for only 1% of the deaths in wars.

The reason that so few deaths happen in wars with Israel has a lot to do with the length of the wars.

Israel’s wars tend to be much shorter than wars between Muslim countries. The Iran-Iraq war went on for 8 years. The civil war in Angola- 27 years; Somalia- 15 years; and the wars of Sudan (which included Christians) went on for 17 and 22 years. Those Muslim wars killed millions of people. Compare that to the 6-Day War of 1967, and the Israeli wars in 2006, 2008 and 2012 which were 34, 22 and 7 days long, respectively. Those four wars plus the current 2014 war killed 20,000 people combined.

The Israeli wars were short – when they were winning/won. The longest Israeli wars had heavy casualties. The 1948 Israeli War of Independence against five invading armies lasted 300 days, when Israel fought for its very existence. The First Lebanon War lasted three years and did not have a clear victor. Each of those wars had as many fatalities as the five short wars combined. Those battles where Israel was the decisive victor were typically under one month and consequently, the death tolls much smaller.

These facts lead to some interesting questions about the protests:

  • Were the wars short because Israel achieved its near-term security objectives and did not factor in global protests?
  • Did the protests help shorten the war?

More specifically to the question raised by Brett Stephens about the motivation of the protestors during these short battles with Israel:

  • Were the protestors actually concerned that Israel would wipe the opponents off the map, as their Muslim adversaries would certainly have done if they were the winner?
  • Would they protest a quick end to the wars if Israel were losing?

The answers to those questions would demonstrate that the motivation has little to do with victims, and everything to do with the victor. As the Arabs lost the wars, the protests masked their hatred for Israel as a call for the victims. If the Arabs had been winning, the protests would have been chants of support for the Muslim armies, and the “victims” would have been hailed as “martyrs” for the cause.

These anti-Israel protests occur in places with significant Muslim immigrants. If they protest a Muslim-Muslim war in their new host countries, it could lead to local street battles between Sunnis and Shiites, essentially importing their religious war to Europe. However, protesting against a common adversary in Israel is not only easier, but serves as a way of uniting Muslims that are in the middle of a large global war with themselves.


Sources:

Brett Stephens, Palestine and Double Standards: http://online.wsj.com/articles/bret-stephens-palestine-and-double-standards-1407194971?mod=trending_now_8

FirstOneThrough, Israel and Wars: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/israel-and-wars/