Are you familiar with David Horowitz's Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week? Of course you are: you're an informed global citizen and you keep up on this kind of thing. Oh, how I love you, hypothetical erudite and well-informed reader of my blog. You make it all worthwhile.
There was a speaker for said event at UCLA last Thursday, to which I went. My friend B planned to attend it in hopes it would be "a contentious scream fest": intrigued, I showed up. I don't honestly know who the speaker was, and I can't say as I care. He was from Florida, and apparently spends his life researching Islamic charities on the Internet and trying to find links to terrorist organizations. Most of his speech was about said charities, and was frankly kind of boring. I wouldn't be surprised if everything he said was factually accurate, although it was really kind of hard to tell how significant it was: they were interesting anecdotes, I guess, but hardly proof of any sort of systemic failure of law enforcement. And frequently (surprise, surprise) misleading.
He had an anecdote about a speaker hosted by UCLA's Muslim Student Association, for example, who wrote an opinion piece a while back that called Osama bin Laden a freedom fighter and philanthropist. Which is nasty, of course, but it turns out that the paper was written in 1999. Mind you, you would have to be naive to think that OBL was a good person even back then, but he hadn't reached nearly the level of universal social condemnation and blame that he's achieved now. A fair number of people (again, naively) felt that he wasn't involved in a lot of the activities he was accused of. So to blithely misrepresent a pre-9/11 opinion as current and use that as a brush with which to tar the entire Muslim Student Association strikes me as somewhat disingenuous.
In any event, I was expecting to disagree with this guy, but I was (foolishly, I suppose) expecting to at least listen to a rational speaker, just one that I disagreed with. And at first, despite his boring presentation and questionable associations, I got more or less what I expected. And then it turned out that he was bat-shit insane. He told us how he would have conducted the war on terror:
1) Don't try terrorists in civilian courts, because civilians have forgotten 9/11 and are unlikely to convict terrorists (apparently this is a failing of the civilians, rather than a sign of weakness in the case against accused terrorists). When questioned on this point, he went on to say that if he were president, he would mandate military trials by executive order and "ignore" congress.
2) Go to war in Iraq, but as soon as we kicked out Saddam, tell the world we'd found the WMDs and leave. One of the questioners thanked him for his ideas and said that it was heartening to hear that we had reporters who recommended "blowing up the imaginary WMDs to win the war."
Somebody asked him why he thought that civilian courts wouldn't work against Al'Qaida, since the UK had used civilian methods fairly effectively against the IRA, whose conflict involved similar religious arguments. You could almost hear the gears screaming in the man's head as he tried to avoid saying that it was because Islam makes people violent and irrational, but the sentiment came through in his response anyway. It was horrifying.
As horrifying, I suppose, was the number of people who agreed with him. I would guess that half the audience was there for the same reasons as me: attending for the gruesome spectacle. The other half, though, seemed to genuinely agree with him and clapped along merrily.
In other, less depressing news, I went out bowling Friday night. Bowling alleys are dinghy, dirty places where people wear trucker caps, listen to country music and drink Budweiser from novelty, bowling-pin shaped bottles. Unless you are in Hollywood, in which case there is a man out front with a clipboard and earpiece enforcing the dress code (no "MC colors", construction boots, or white shirts), 7-dollar mixed drinks, and a live DJ.