Friday, March 20, 2015

March Madness at UC Irvine

March Madness at UC Irvine
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 20, 2015

For the first time in school history, UC Irvine went dancing. On Friday, March 20 the Anteaters took on the favored Louisville Cardinals in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. UC Irvine earned their dancing shoes on the heels of knocking off Hawaii to win the Big West Conference tournament – and raise the flag in the Bren Events Center.

Ironically, just two weeks earlier, there was a move spearheaded by some campus radicals to have, of all things, the American flag taken down and removed from the state school’s campus.

Matthew Guevara, a UC Irvine student penned a resolution stating, “The American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism,” and that flags themselves “construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards.”

This anti-American screed, dripping in a complete lack of knowledge of American history, actually passed the UC Irvine student legislative council by a vote of six to four, with two abstentions, according to the Los Angeles Times.

However, some semblance of common sense presented itself on campus as the university released a statement calling the vote by the student government “misguided.” “The views of a handful of students passing a resolution do not represent the opinions of nearly 30,000 students on this campus… The American flag is still proudly flying throughout our campus and will continue to do so,” according to the Times.

While the flag may still be flying on campus, the fact that there are students seeking to eliminate the symbol of this country, the country that gives them freedom of speech, is demonstrative of their ignorance and lack of knowledge of American history. That flag represents more than just the freedom of speech and expression. It represents freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and petition the government.

The American flag is the symbol that allows a malcontent like Mr. Guevara to denigrate the country where he lives and is garnering his so-called education. Perhaps he never learned that the symbol of this country flying high at Fort McHenry, Maryland illustrated that the United States had withstood the attack by the British in the War of 1812 – “…that our flag was still there…,” write Francis Scott Key in what would become the Star Spangled Banner a.k.a. the National Anthem of the United States.

The United States won that war and remained free from the yoke of Great Britain, from whom the US gained independence and fought for the aforementioned freedoms. Perhaps Mr. Guevara missed that class in history, if he has even taken an American history class. Or worse yet, he has taken American history classes and the far left university professors have taught on a slant – teaching the evils of the United States and not the reality of the United States.

Warts and all, the United States is still the greatest country in the world. Why are millions of people invading this country for a chance to live here – even illegally? When war, strife, famine, and acts of G-d occur globally, how happy are the people of those countries to see the American flag accompanied by supplies, doctors, and dollars to help through their struggles. Perhaps Mr. Guevara and his supporters seeking the lowering of the American flag on campus at UC Irvine would like to live elsewhere – Cuba, Russia, Angola, or China, to see what a lack of freedom is like. Such subversive behavior would probably get him locked up in one of those countries – or worse.

Mr. Guevara and his ilk need a refresher about how the raising of the American flag was a welcome relief in the American south during the War Between the States for slaves yearning to breathe free.

A symbol of colonialism, accuses Mr. Guevara? How about after the American victory in the Spanish-American War the United States gave the Philippines and Cuba their independence. Hawaii would ultimately become the 50th state of the Union – enjoying a better economic position than if left to its own devices. Puerto Rico became an American commonwealth, also with a better economic standard than if independent, a question presented to the people of that island in a plebiscite on several occasions, which netted in the people retaining commonwealth status. These are not cases of either colonialism or imperialism.

Was it colonialism or imperialism when American troops sacrificed thousands of lives to free France on and after D-Day in 1944? Or when Nazi concentration camps were liberated, did the few remaining European Jewish survivors reject American soldiers because the American flag adorned their uniforms?

How about when the American flag was raised at Iwo Jima, 70 years ago, this past February 23, 1945? That represented a pivotal battle for the United States during WWII enabling them to establish an important base of operations in the Pacific Theater. Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph, symbolizing patriotism, still reminds people of the fight for freedom against a cruel Japanese enemy which had started the war by bombing Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Not only was that not an act of colonialism or imperialism, the United States, under President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, returned Iwo Jima and several other Pacific islands to Japan upon the visit of Premier Eisaku Sato to the United States. Winning that battle enabled the United States to end the war in the Pacific sooner, rather than later.

Some had suggested feeling intimidated by the American flag. If that is true, seek educational opportunities elsewhere. This is the United States of America. If you don’t like it here, feel free to move to a locale making you feel less intimidated. Good luck finding better opportunities elsewhere than in the United States.

Fortunately for the rest of the student body at UC Irvine this incredulous idea failed. Had it succeeded, perhaps the school, a state school, receiving millions in government funding should have lost all federal money. If the students supporting this idea had called for the removal of the flag of the State of California, the doors to UC Irvine could have been shuttered and all students dispersed to private educational institutions where they could pay double or even triple the costs they pay at a subsidized establishment.

The American flag should fly high on all campuses, private and public in these United States as a symbol of patriotism, freedom, and the greatness that is not just America, but the concept of America that so many other countries attempt to emulate. Students from the time they enter school should be taught the history of the United States in order to both understand its foibles as well as appreciate its greatness so that they see the flag as a source of pride, not a symbol of something sinister.

By the way, UC Irvine lost their first ever NCAA tournament game to Louisville 57-55 in a most valiant effort.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bibi Brings Down the House - and the Senate

Bibi Brings Down the House – and the Senate
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 3, 2015

In a powerful and passionate speech before a joint meeting of Congress Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday clearly outlined why the Islamic Nation of Iran must never possess nuclear capabilities or weaponry at the risk of not just the future of Israel, but that of the United States and possibly civilization as a whole.

Netanyahu’s appearance before the joint meeting of Congress marked his third, tying him with the great British Prime  Minister Sir Winston Churchill, for the most by a foreign leader. Netanyahu was also presented with a bust of Churchill  by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Iran “plays a pretty good game of hide and cheat,” said Netanyahu, referring to the operation of secret nuclear facilities while keeping teams of international inspectors at arm’s length from discovering anything suspect.

Netanyahu bluntly and appropriately stated that the deal currently under consideration between the United States and Iran to scale down the degree to which the Islamic nation could create nuclear energy is a bad deal. Any deal allowing Iran nuclear capabilities at any time is dangerous and must be rejected. However, in spite of this notion of common sense, Barack Obama is so desperate for a legacy-saving deal on which to hang his hat, he does not have Israel’s best interests at heart; and quite frankly is not doing what is best for his own country either.

“This is a bad deal – a very bad deal. We’re better off without it. Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal,” Netanyahu said, noting that no deal is better than a bad deal.

Iran’s desires are very well known. Their quest for nuclear capability is for the purpose of destroying the Jewish people and their homeland. “Israel must be annihilated. Israel must be destroyed,” are being tweeted in English by Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei, said Netanyahu. This current crop of educated and upwardly mobile terrorist belies the notion put forth by Obama that if they had more noble pursuits there would be less terror activity.

Netanyahu noted that Iran was once a great civilization that was hijacked in 1979 by “religious zealots” lead by Ayatollah Khomeini pushing to “export the revolution throughout the world,” whose founding document calls for “death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad,” while America’s founding document calls for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“If all the Jews gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world,” said Netanyahu, crediting that quote to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Iran, of course, supports Hezbollah and is part of the continuing battle of Iran or ISIS “competing for the crown of militant Islam,” said the Prime Minister.

“Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend. In this deadly game of thrones, there is no place for America or for Israel; no peace for Christians, Jews, or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone. So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy,” stated Netanyahu so eloquently.

Radical Islamists are patient people – see also the first assault on the World Trade Center, February 26, 1993, followed eight years later by the horrific attacks that ultimately brought those buildings down on September 11, 2001. There is no reason to believe that Iran won’t temporarily change its behavior, let the clock run out on the ban in 10 years before attacking Israel and eventually the United States. During this time Iran could follow Hitler’s lead in illegally stockpiling munitions and rebuilding the army Germany was prohibited from having as per the punishment following WWI.

Such a deal “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” said Netanyahu. Iran with sanctions already controls four capitals – Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sanna. Without sanctions, they will only continue to “devour” more countries. Iran will not become a better nation; Iran will be a more aggressive sponsor of terror. “This deal will not be a farewell to arms, but a farewell to arms control,” continued Netanyahu.

Knowing the desires of Iran and ISIS, as have been on display for the entire world to see, it is not hyperbole coming from Netanyahu. He is speaking of the utter survival of the lone Jewish state on the planet and doing so with urgency – an urgency that does not appear to engulf the Obama administration. Obama, behaving like a petulant three year old, announced weeks ago he would not attend Netanyahu's address before the Congress. He did so because of a perceived slight as the invitation to Netanyahu came from Speaker of House Boehner and was not cleared through the White House. Seems that if Netanyahu was invited to speak before Congress, the invitation should have come from Boehner and Obama should not have been offended. Yet, the thin skinned Obama takes offense at most everything when it does not put him on the pedestal he thinks upon which he belongs.

Then Obama attempted to turn Netanyahu’s visit into a politically motivated trip as Israel is holding elections for which Netanyahu is up for reelection in two weeks. Obama and the Democratic critics of Netanyahu’s visit needed only consult a calendar of events. The fact of the matter is, Netanyahu’s visit coincided with his speech before AIPAC just the day before, also in Washington, DC. AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is the largest pro-Israel lobby organization in the United States, is dedicated to the security of both nations, and is non-partisan.

There was no slight, to which Netanyahu attested during both his AIPAC and Capitol Hill speeches. In fact, Netanyahu praised Obama for his support of Israel on several occasions during both presentations. Yet not only did Obama shun the Congressional speech, as did Vice President Joe Biden, Obama sent nary a single representative from his administration to The Hill, and that includes the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro. Such an embarrassment.

Further, it was the Senate Democrats who offered to meet privately with Netanyahu after his speech that turned his visit into a political venture. Netanyahu did the smart thing and rejected the invitation. If the Democrats wanted to hear from him, they could walk over to the House Chamber. Additionally, those Democratic lawmakers who boycotted Netanyahu’s appearance on Capitol Hill then took to microphones following the speech to deride it and disrespect Netanyahu. Their collective attitude was visceral.

At least eight Democrats chided Netanyahu for his timing, suggesting he would be more than welcome to speak after Israel’s election. Again, for those without a calendar of events, the Capitol Hill speech coincided with speech presented to AIPAC the day before. No more should be made of the timing.

Rep. David Price (D-NC) said this was a “one party invitation.” John Boehner is Speaker of the whole House, not just the GOP side.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) accused Netanyahu of being “arrogant, hostile, disrespectful,” and of fear mongering, adding, “He can go home!” If anyone was disrespectful, it was Yarmuth comparing Netanyahu’s desire to extract a better deal to a child wanting nothing more than to go to Disney, eat junk food, and drink soda every day. If anyone was disrespectful, it was Yarmuth and his Democrat cohorts who opted to boycott the leader of a foreign nation, and an ally at that, in an effort to curry favor with Obama.

As for arrogant and hostile, from one who listened to the entire speech – twice – Netanyahu was neither. He did not make demands, he was complimentary to Obama – even when it was less than necessary, he was personable, and presented his speech in an even-keeled tenor.

“Indeed it was political theater worthy of an Oscar®,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). “The president has Israel’s best interests at heart… negotiations are the only way to go – sanctions will not work,” Cohen added.

Cohen couldn’t be more wrong and needs to be reminded of how Obama demanded Israel’s borders revert to their pre-1967 War state, which would have endangered them with an eight mile width at its most narrow. Obama’s sense of history is clouded at best. As for negotiations, how does one negotiate with an entity calling for the destruction, the eradication, the elimination, the evisceration of their enemies? There is no gray area there.

Sanctions must be employed to the most stringent extreme possible – economic, materials, freezing accounts, denying student visas, whatever it takes to send the message. If necessary, Israel must do to Iran what it did to Iraq in the 1980s.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did himself and the people of Israel proud on this day speaking before a packed House chamber. He reminded the global audience that before any restrictions against Iran are removed, “the world should demand that Iran do three things.”

“First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East.” Notice the plural of neighbor; Netanyahu is looking out for all of the Middle East.

“Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.” Again, the concern for the global community.

“And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”

“…I can guarantee you this – the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies… are over,” said Netanyahu to one of more than 40 rounds of applause.

“For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.”

“…as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel. You stand with Israel because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors,” said Netanyahu, to a roar of approval. Those in attendance were witness to a dynamic speech and fervent display of true leadership – a lesson Obama could learn.

Never again is the perpetual battle cry that there never again is another Holocaust – that includes Iran – no matter what.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.