Sunday, February 25, 2007

On Modesty

Modesty as a characteristic has assumed over the years a greater part of my reflections. I have come to put it very near the top of the characteristics I feel most desirable. More than that, essential. I have been troubled to find myself lacking in it, or a sufficient quantity of it, and have resolved to acquire more of it. I have urged it upon readers in their discourse with their fellows on Islam. I have urged that on others of course because I found it lacking in myself.

I have also seen it as part of the American character though. We have never been a society that has been much taken by the "isms" that roiled the twentieth century and nearly killed off the human species. Nazism, fascism, communism, these we have been plagued so little by as to seem almost inoculated against. Even the more benign socialism, which has entrenched itself in father England, in America sprouted only a few fragile seedlings which did not survive many seasons.

I believe that Americans have an innate scepticism for any idea that seems to all encompassing, that claims to explain all. We may not be able to intellectually dissect our difficulties with it but we have an innate distrust of it and trust our instincts enough to disregard it.

I have read a book called Pilgrim's Way, written in 1939. This post was occasioned by the following passage that the author John Buchan wrote in a chapter called "My America." He briefly discussed the American's characteristics:

"Lastly--and this may seem a paradox--I maintain that they are fundamentally modest."

He went on to give some particulars:

"Their interest in others is proof of it;...As a nation they are said to be sensitive to criticism; that surely is modesty, for the truly arrogant care nothing for the opinion of other people. Above all they can laugh at themselves, which is not possible for the immodest."

John Buchan, of whom more will be written here at some point, was one of the most remarkable men of his or any other time. To read these words of his on us was a wonderful start to the morning. I am Benjamin Harris.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

On Who Tortured & Murdered

Bian Zhongyun and the Start

of the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Bian Zhongyun was the first teacher murdered by students in the Cultural Revolution. She was a fifty-year old mother of four. She was beaten and kicked,
struck with nail-studded wooden clubs and had boiling water poured over her. She was then placed in a cart and wheeled to the outside of a hospital. When she was
discovered doctors determined that she had been dead for several hours.

This barbaric crime happened on August 5, 1966. Bian taught at the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University. During that summer big character
posters had been put up denouncing her and foreshadowing her murder.

The people who tortured and murdered Bian were all girls.

Only Red Guard members were "allowed" to do violence to their teachers. Song Binbin was a student at the Girls Middle School. She has been accused by some of participating, indeed leading, the torture and murder. This site has not found conclusive proof of that. If Song did NOT participate she has been defamed in the worst way. If she DID, she is a murderer, and a murderer living among us in America. The stakes here are very high.

Not so high, but still very high, is what Song's role was if she was not a murderer. Below is from Dr. Youqin Wang of the University of Chicago, the premier scholar on the specific issue of student violence toward teachers during the Cultural Revolution:
"During several hours of torture no one at this school of 1,600 students tried to dissuade the beaters from these inhuman actions. In the evening after the beating at the student dining hall some talked loudly about how they forced her [Bian] to eat dirt from the toilet or how they fetched hot water to scald her. There was no sense of guilt but rather an excited, giddy atmosphere."

Thirteen days later Song Binbin was given the honor of pinning a Red Guard armband onto Mao Zedong thus giving official imprimatur to the violence that had come before and that which was to follow, resulting in the murder of 3,000,000 Chinese. The photograph of that moment is world-famous.

Anyone who has evidence of who participated in the torture and murder of Bian Zhongyun please email, This is Public Occurrences.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Seeing the Future

Seeing the Future

It is astonishing to read how accurately Tocqueville captured the American character and made so many accurate predictions about the future. Such an eye and such judgment are rare.

Then there's Richard Washburn Child.

While surfing ebay recently I saw for auction My Autobiography by Benito Mussolini, published in 1928. I thought it would be a hoot so I bought it (I was the only bidder).

Richard Washburn Child had been U.S. ambassador to Italy before 1928. He knew Mussolini well. "You know Italy, you understand Fascism, you see me as clearly as anyone," Child quotes Mussolini as saying. Child was the one who suggested an autobiography to Mussolini. In fact Mussolini dictated the book to Child after Child had offered. Child also wrote the Foreword to the book.

The following is from Child's foreword. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. This is from the American ambassador to a major nation, a top level diplomat, a job that demands judgment and foresight:

"The only true measure of a man's greatness from a wholly unpartisan viewpoint may be found in the answer to this question:
'How deep and lasting has been the effect of a man upon the largest number of human beings--their hearts, their thoughts, their material welfare, their relation to the universe.'
In our time it may be shrewdly forecast that no man will exhibit dimensions of permanent greatness equal to those of Mussolini."

"It is one thing to administer a state. The one who does this well is called statesman. It is quite another thing to make a state. Mussolini has made a state. That is superstatesmanship (sic)."

"It is quite possible for those who oppose [fascism] to say that the reality of the new spirit of Italy and the extent of its full acceptance by the people may exist in the mind of Mussolini, but does not spring out of the people themselves but it is quite untrue as all who know really know."

"It is absurd to say that Italy groans under the discipline. Italy chortles with it! It is victory!"

"I remembered Lord Curzon's impatience with him long ago, when Mussolini had first come into power, and Curzon used to refer to him as 'that absurd man.'
Time has shown that he was neither violent nor absurd. Time has shown that he is both wise and humane."

"...the Duce is now the greatest figure of this sphere and time."

I am Benjamin Harris.