I listen to Rush Limbaugh about 15 minutes a day, which is the time it takes by car to go to and from my house for lunch. Fifteen minutes is more than enough time to get the gist of what any "on air personality" will say, over and over repeating himself and ringing the changes on, "Oh yeah, Obama, so's your old man!" Every day since the Israelis counter-attacked in Gaza, Mr. Limbaugh has been railing against Hamas, the Palestinians generally, and anyone who criticizes anything done by Israel and describing them all as "anti-semitic."
Is he kidding? Or is he really so ignorant that he does not know that a) Semitic is a language classification that includes both Arabic and Hebrew, and that b) when it is used roughly in an ethnic sense it better applies to people in the Middle East directly descended from Semitic-speaking ancestors (Babylonians, Assyrians, Aramaeans, Jews) than it does to the highly mixed European Jewish population that colonized what is known as the state of Israel?
As the editor of a magazine that has been criticizing Islamic insurgency since the early 1980's—and taking a great deal of heat for that criticism—I have no interest in defending Muslims of any variety. The "religion of peace" is a religion of war directed primarily against the Christian and post-Christian West, and we really have to be clear about this, if we are to avoid disastrous mistakes like the "Arab Spring" engineered by the Obama administration. But pundits who play upon the ignorance and naiveté of their audiences are doing a great deal of harm.
Equally harmful stupid are the recent observations of Thomas Sowell, who apparently thinks he can justify the high death rate of civilians in Gaza (as compared with Israelis) on the grounds that the US and its allies killed more German civilians than vice versa. Can Sowell really be this irrational? In the first place, the deliberate killing of German civilians was a grave mistake that prolonged the war by stiffening resistance and support for the Third Reich. It was also as morally reprehensible as the undoubted war crimes of the Nazis.
In the second place, the Israeli government continues to show a reckless disregard for civilian life while at the same time hypocritically wrapping up its crimes in humanitarian language. Decent Christians, if their minds have not been distorted by hatred, cannot condone a war against women and children. Let us leave such nasty propaganda to the like of V.D. Hanson.
The disinformation put out by Sowell and Limbaugh are not simply mistakes. In repeating the party line of John McCain and Lindsey "Lala" Graham, Sowell and Limbaugh are content to serve as shills for the war-mongers and homicidal maniacs who currently control the GOP. What do they have to lose—other than their careers and access to the media—if they were to tell the truth for a change?
The rhetoric of the Israeli government is almost as disgusting as their war on civilians, and yet I am not prepared to censure them one-sidedly. The Palestinian Muslim leadership—particularly in Hamas—deliberately provokes Israeli violence as a cynical means of whipping up support for themselves. Yes, they had their land stolen from them in the 1940s—I hope no one swallows the propaganda about Zionists purchasing bogus land claims from the defunct Ottomans—and yes, they live under a regime in which full civil rights are only enjoyed by Jews, but in attacking civilians—and failing so miserably in their attacks—the Hamas terrorists combine the savagery of the Comanche with the competence of an English department on a wilderness camping trip.
If I were a Palestinian Muslim or Christian, I should probably hate Israel as much as anyone, but as a Christian I should not be taking part in terrorist actions against women and children. On the other hand, if I were an Israeli, I should hate the Muslim terrorists, but I should hope that any believing Jew in Israel (a secular country where the only religion practiced by many so-called "Jews" is Zionism and not Judaism), I should hope to be outspoken in criticizing Netanyahu's latest outrages.
Just because Hamas is asking for this does not mean that Israel has to give it to them. So long as Israeli voters continue to keep such a man (a worthy successor to Ariel Sharon) in office, they forfeit the respect to which their achievements have entitled them. A majority of Israelis, if they thought an other course was possible, probably would vote him out, but Hamas makes it impossible for a more humane political leader to come to power. Likud and Hamas feed each other's destructive energies.
Yes, the whole thing is a terrible mess. If forced to take sides, I should on balance support the Israelis as European colonists in a region that otherwise breeds only enemies of the United States. But, as an American, I wish we had even one political leader capable of standing up to Netanyahu who by his intelligence, resolve, and duplicity has proved to be one of only two or three competent leaders in the world. I am fully sympathetic when Netanyahu tells Obama to shove it and quite second-guessing his decisions. I only wish that when he tells off the American President, he would pay for the phone call—and the tanks, the bombs, and the lavish welfare state that Israelis enjoy, courtesy of the US taxpayer.
Nonetheless, it is hard not to admire the man. Netanyahu is a criminal precisely because he will commit any crime to advance the interests of his people. If he is a criminal, he is also a patriot. If only we had such a criminal instead of the set of thugs who regard normal tax-paying Americans as their worst enemy.
Decent conservatives, if there are any left, really have to turn off the radio and quit looking at the mad dog commentators they follow on the internet. We are in this mess up to our eyeballs and the lies—great and small—told by our political leaders and media gurus only make it impossible for us to extricate ourselves.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.