Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Cooler King

I just read a short piece by Steve McQueen biographer Marshall Terrill called "Ten Things You Don't Know About Steve McQueen," but I did know seven of them. A couple of years ago I was commissioned by a successful producer to write a script about McQueen called The Cooler King, and I did extensive research about the "King of Cool," including Terrill's book, all of which was eye-opening and fascinating. I finished the script but the movie never got off the ground thanks to a competing project by McQueen's ex-wife.

McQueen is - I mean was, but somehow he still seems alive - famously charismatic and charming, but many people don't know what a repellant character he was: incessantly unfaithful, a substance abuser (of practically every substance), mean-spirited, and almost insanely insecure. I'm disappointed my script went nowhere, but I still fantasize about inserting McQueen, or at least my take on him, as a character into some other project. He's too unique and compelling to let go of.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A few links to worthy reads from around the web today:

Obama is on the Move - Great piece on Obama, Michael Vick, and blasphemy...

Meet the New Batman: An Algerian Muslim Who Saves France from Communists & Neo-Nazis - The PC comic world gets it wrong again about who the bad guys are...

Hyperbole Rules in Muslim Debate - The LA City Council, without public debate, passes a pointless resolution opposing the non-existent "Islamophobia"...

Why Does Dr. Rowan Williams Never Stand Up for Christianity? - The money quote: "If Muslims were being gunned down and bombed in western mosques by Christian fanatics, there would rightly be a tremendous outcry and Christians themselves would react with horror and fury at what was perpetrated by twisted zealots in the name of their faith. But the entire political establishment remains silent, continuing to pretend that Islamophobia is the real threat to harmony."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Make Islam Respectable

Regardless of whether one subscribes to the notion of a clash of civilizations, I think we can all agree that relations between “the Islamic world” and “the West,” however one defines those labels, are, well, strained. President Obama was elected at least partly because, with childhood roots in Muslim Indonesia and an Arabic middle name no one was allowed to mention until after the election, the Left believed him to be the perfect candidate to heal that rift – when he wasn’t healing the racial divide, America’s reputation abroad, and the planet.

So right out of the gate, Obama made his first order of business an appearance on al-Arabiya TV, in which he made seven references to “respecting” the Muslim world, his flashing neon semaphore to them that he was no imperialist exploiter like his predecessor (Daniel Pipes notes here how common a motif the word “respect” was for Obama, ironically so for a man who commands none either at home or abroad). Then it was on to a self-important speech from Cairo, in which Obama flattered the Islamic world so effusively that one wondered if he was angling to ask it to the prom. And of course, who can forget his show of contemptible dhimmitude – I mean deep respect – to the Saudi King?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Upcoming Intl Films Examine America’s Role in War On Terror

Five Minarets in New York

In a coincidental echo of the debate over the Ground Zero Mosque (or as Keith Olbermann might put it, the Nowhere Near Ground Zero Community Center), Turkey has just released New York Ta Bes Minare, or Five Minarets in New York, a big-budget (for Turkey – an estimated $12 million) terrorism drama which features a few familiar Hollywood faces: Showgirls’ Gina Gershon, Terminator’s Robert Patrick, and Hugo Chavez’s BFF Danny Glover.

I’m always curious about how international cinema tries to shape audience perception about the ill-named War on Terror, and how Hollywood undermines us in that conflict. I haven’t yet seen the movie, so my preliminary assessment here is based solely on my impression of the trailer, but based on that, it’s not difficult to see that this will be yet another morally inverted tale of bullying American bigotry and noble Muslim victimization (and if my assessment’s off the mark, I will certainly post a follow-up).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Goodbye Cruel World: Terrorism as a "Way Out of Here"

In an article on Big Peace today, Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels notes some stunning statistics about the degree of inbreeding in some Islamic societies (70% of all Pakistanis, 40% of all Turks, and "close to half of all Arabs"), and points out the link between inbreeding, physical/mental handicaps, and depression. He theorizes about the relationship between this and terrorism:
Research suggests that many suicide bombers are suffering from depression, and their actions are just a socially accepted (among Muslims) way of committing suicide in order to end their mental torment...
The unhealthy culture of inbreeding in Muslim societies increases the number of Muslim martyrs who are looking for an honourable and socially and religiously accepted way out of here.
Even if true, that would still only account for suicide bombers from such societies, not perfectly healthy, educated terrorists who move easily in Western societies and have no intention of blowing themselves up along with their infidel targets. Sennels acknowledges this in his summation, and puts it in the perspective of a greater motivation:
Surely the Quran’s numerous verses ordering Muslims to fight to the death in order to spread sharia and defend the honour of their religion and prophet is the most obvious and strongest motivator for Islamic terrorism. Being an outcast due to a physical handicap, living in a country that does not manage to take care of handicapped people, suffering from physical pain following disease, or being depressed or schizophrenic, has now proved to be an important factor as well.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Check out my new piece tomorrow at Big Hollywood ("With the Help of Hollywood Useful Idiots, Two New International Films") and - if I can get it finished in time! - another one at NewsReal Blog ("Top 10 Ways Islam Can Earn the West's Respect"). They'll also be reposted here...

Update: Looks like the Big Hollywood piece won't be today after all. In the next day or two, though. And the NewsReal piece has been scheduled for next Sunday the 26th...

Shaping the Conscience of the Age

Giving the arts a push to the right
In yesterday's National Review piece “Can Conservatives Win Back the Arts?,” novelist/screenwriter Andrew Klavannotes that Hollywood conservatives have too often ceded to the Left "the power to rewrite history and reality in the American mind." But lately there has been hope for a conservative "turning of the tide":

For the last few years, movies promoting the Western ideals of self-reliance, morality, and faith have scored at the box office — see The Incredibles (“If everyone is special, that means no one is”), The Blind Side (“Who would have thought we’d have a black son before we knew a Democrat?”), and Toy Story 3 (a takedown of the nanny state). They have also been more innovative and creative — 300, Gran Torino, No Country for Old Men — than the products of the desiccated and outmoded Left.
I've been writing and speaking about this myself, as a proud member of a surge of conservatives uniting to overcome Hollywood's subversive messages. Klavan mentions some of the same films I often discuss, like the "slew of soporific and dishonest anti–War on Terror propaganda flicks such as In The Valley of Elah and Green Zone."

He ends with this reminder:

The fight for the culture may not always seem urgent, but it truly is. Arguments are won and lost in hearts and minds long before they’re ever decided at the polls. The arts not only reflect the conscience of the hour, they also shape the conscience of the age.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Enough, Enough, Enough

If the witnesses are to be believed, then this story (first brought to my attention by fellow NewsReal blogger Lisa Graas) of an heroic 3-year-old is unbearably tragic - all the more so because Western media barely covered the horrific massacre of Iraqi Catholics inside a Baghdad church last month.

Frances Cardinal George, in his his address to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, shared the reports of witnesses that

Among the victims of this senseless tragedy was a little boy named Adam. Three-year-old Adam witnessed the horror of dozens of deaths, including that of his own parents. He wandered among the corpses and the blood, following the terrorists around and admonishing them, ‘enough, enough, enough.’ According to witnesses, this continued for two hours until Adam was himself murdered.

Adam could have hidden among the corpses to save himself. He could have tried to run. Perhaps he could even have tried pleading for his life. Instead, he harassed the Muslim butchers for a full two hours to get them to stop the carnage – until they finally silenced him as they had permanently silenced his parents.

Three-year-old Adam had the self-awareness and courage to confront evil. By disgraceful contrast, our leaders refuse to use the words jihad, mujihadeen, Islam, etc. for fear of insulting the very ones who are waging war on civilization. Western world leaders, particularly our own president, have embraced dhimmitude as the very cornerstone of our relationship with the Muslim world. Political correctness has us all wringing our hands while religious fanatics tear at the fabric of our culture like wild dogs.

Cardinal George finished his speech by reminding us that “as Americans, we cannot turn from this scene or allow the world to overlook it.” Indeed not. Shame on us if we let Adam's memory fade and don’t take up his courageous cry for ourselves: "Enough."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Tip of the Swedish Iceberg

In the wake of the failed suicide bombing in Sweden comes this illuminating piece, translated from the Swedish, about a man who infiltrated Stockholm's Grand Mosque and discovered a ten-man team recruiting Muslim immigrants for violent jihad. (A tip of the hat to the essential Islam in Europe blog run by the tireless Esther).

Daniel Arrospide wasn't surprised by the recent terrorist attempt intended to kill as many Christmas shoppers as possible, and he is confident there will be more attacks in Sweden.

Obama and the Left keep trotting out the notion that terrorism stems from poverty, lack of opportunity and hopelessness, a notion that has long been discredited. However, it's true that terrorists know how to exploit the impoverished in places like Somalia, the Palestinian territories, and even among European immigrants, as Arrospide learned:

If the person is single, they pay him a little money. If he has a family, they promise him a lot of money to the family in case he chooses to die in the name of Allah.
Arrospide's most interesting revelation referred to a statement denouncing terrorism issued by Swedish Muslim leaders (another h/t to Esther):
The statement from the Imam and the Swedish Islamic Association is just a game for the gallery. They have completely lost control over the 'communities' in Sweden. The fact is that people from the al-Qaeda terrorist network are recruiting Swedish Muslims of all ages on an on-going basis for the holy war of Jihad.

The imam knows precisely who they are and could have easily contacted SÄPO
[the Swedish security service], but chose not to do this. I could never understand why, despite my attempt to find out. I'm not claiming that he indirectly supported this, but sometimes I wondered...
His suggested solution?
SÄPO must learn from it's American counterpart, the FBI, and recruit more people who can speak Arabic and can infiltrate more Islamic communities around the country. Take the imams from the various 'communities' to interrogation because they know more than what they're saying.
Infiltration and interrogation - tactics the American Left and Muslim-American spokesmen like CAIR prefer to label as entrapment and torture.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Onward Christian Pacifists?

In "Religiously Battling for Pacifism" in The American Spectator, Mark Tooley writes about "a rising tide of absolutist pacifism at least among U.S. Protestant and Evangelical elites," urging Christians to refuse to serve in the military and even law enforcement. He quotes evangelical Bible scholar Ben Witherington:
In short, for the Christian, there are plenty of things worth dying for and giving your life for, but nothing worth killing for, for life is of sacred worth, and we are called to save it, even from itself.
So much for "Onward Christian Soldiers," a hymn that I hear anecdotally has all but vanished from church services.

I was reminded of a report from Egypt a few years back, about Muslims provocatively stickering their cars with shark symbols in aggressive answer to the Christian "fish" sticker pasted on cars by some members of the Coptic minority. When asked about it, a young Muslim laughed unapologetically:

The Christians had the fish so we responded with the shark. If they want to portray themselves as weak fishes, OK. We are the strongest.
The West is embroiled, like it or not, in a clash of civilizations against a fundamentalist opponent that believes there is plenty worth killing for. I'll be writing an upcoming piece about the Christian Left 's retreat from this hard truth and its contribution to our cultural suicide.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mumbai Victimized Again - by Bollywood

by Mark Tapson
Two years ago this past Thanksgiving weekend, a team of well-trained, drug-fueled jihadists launched a horrifying attack in Mumbai that has been called “India’s 9/11.” As the terrorists blazed a trial of carnage that stretched on for three days, Aamir Khan, a major Bollywood star, sermonized on his blog that "Terrorists are not Hindu or Muslim or Christian. They are not people of religion or God."

Too many of us keep clinging to that same lofty, non-judgmental cliche, and yet the fundamentalists waging violent jihad, and justifying it with chapter and verse, don’t seem to be getting our politically correct, religiously tolerant memos. And we don't seem to be taking to heart their shouts of “Allahu akhbar!”

On the other side of the world, Brad Pitt seemed even more in the dark than his Bollywood counterpart. After watching TV footage of smoke billowing out of the very room in which he’d once been a guest at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, he said of the terrorist attacks "I can't begin to make any sense of it, but I'm sure they are doing their best to uncover what was at the base of it."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Zuckerberg the anti-Gutenberg

Here's the read of the day, an insightful piece by Neal Gabler who, like Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death) and Marshall McLuhan (The Gutenberg Galaxy) before him, has written about the ways in which technology alters our consciousness. Gabler is responding to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg's announcement of a new form of messaging.

Two excerpts:
Gutenberg's Revolution transformed the world by broadening it, by proliferating ideas. Zuckerberg's Revolution also may change consciousness, only this time by razing what Gutenberg had helped erect. The more we text and Twitter and "friend," abiding by the haiku-like demands of social networking, the less likely we are to have the habit of mind or the means of expressing ourselves in interesting and complex ways. That makes Zuckerberg the anti-Gutenberg. He has facilitated a typography in which complexity is all but impossible and meaninglessness reigns supreme. To the extent that ideas matter, we are no longer amusing ourselves to death. We are texting ourselves to death.
Postman... believed that a reading society was also a thinking society. No real reading, no real thought. Still, he couldn't have foreseen that a reading society in which print that was overwhelmingly seamless, informal, personal, short et al would be a society in which that kind of reading would force thought out — a society in which tens of millions of people feel compelled to tell tens of millions of other people that they are eating a sandwich or going to a movie or watching a TV show. So Zuckerberg's Revolution has a corollary that one might call Zuckerberg's Law: Empty communications drive out significant ones. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Multiculturalism is Dead

Check out this excellent essay from The American Spectator, "Multiculturalism, R.I.P," by Roger Scruton, philosopher and author of Culture Counts among others. In the wake of some European leaders like Germany's Angela Merkel openly acknowledging the damage done by decades of multiculturalism, Scruton pronounces it "a recipe for disaster" and worries that "this change of heart comes too late."

Here's the money paragraph:

FOR WHAT IS BEING brought home to us, through painful experiences that we might have avoided had it been permitted before now to say the truth, is that we, like everyone else, depend upon a shared culture for our security, our prosperity and our freedom to be. We don't require everyone to have the same faith, to lead the same kind of family life, or to participate in the same festivals. But we have a shared moral and legal inheritance, a shared language, and a shared public sphere. Our societies are built upon the Judeo-Christian ideal of neighbor-love, according to which strangers and intimates deserve equal concern. They require each of us to respect the freedom and sovereignty of every other, and to acknowledge the threshold of privacy beyond which it is a trespass to go unless invited. Our societies depend upon a culture of law-abidingness and open contracts, and they reinforce these things through the educational traditions that have shaped our common curriculum. It is not an arbitrary cultural imperialism that leads us to value Greek philosophy and literature, the Hebrew Bible, Roman law, and the medieval epics and romances, and to teach these things in our schools. They are ours, in just the way that the legal order and the political institutions are ours: they form part of what made us, and convey the message that it is right to be what we are.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Child is Not Dead: Philippe Karsenty and the al Dura Hoax

by Mark Tapson
On September 30, 2000, Charles Enderlin, the Israel bureau chief of the France 2 television network, received an urgent call from his cameraman. It was the beginning of the Second Palestinian Intifada, and Talal Abu Rahma claimed to be filming a firefight between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza strip. He sent Enderlin footage of a panicked young boy caught and killed in the crossfire as his father tried in vain to protect him from Israeli troops, whom Rahma accused of purposely targeting the defenseless pair. Enderlin added a voiceover grimly narrating the boy’s death and hurried the footage to France 2.

The disturbing video circled the world faster than you can say “blood libel” and aroused international condemnation of Israel. Images of the atrocity immediately achieved iconic status as confirmation of Israeli brutality and Palestinian victimhood. It inflamed the Intifada, which left thousands dead. Bin Laden even referred to the boy’s death in a taped warning to America, and the now-familiar image of the al Duras under fire appeared in the background of the videotaped beheading of Jewish-American journalist Daniel Pearl. Streets, parks, youth camps and public buildings have been named in Mohammed al Dura's honor. His image adorns stamps and monuments.

Yet suspicions arose that the boy’s martyrdom was not only untrue, but actually staged for the cameras, for a gullible media all-too-eager to paint Israel in a damning light. As Pajamas Media’s Paris editor Nidra Poller put it put it, “the husk, the raw footage that would reveal the fakery, had been removed, leaving the kernel rich in anti-Israel nutrients.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The World Turned Upside Down: An Interview with Author Melanie Phillips

by Mark Tapson

There are few more trenchant, fearless, and necessary cultural critics than Melanie Phillips. A columnist for London’s Daily Mail and winner of the 1996 Orwell Prize for journalism, she is the author of a number of books, most notably the brilliant Londonistan (2006), which chronicled the cultural decay that paved the way for England to become the epicenter of “Eurabia.”

Now her wide-ranging new book, The World Turned Upside Down, provocatively subtitled “The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power,” chronicles how the West has moved from the Enlightenment to the Age of Unreason, when rationality and truth have given way to ideology and propaganda. “Power,” she writes, “has now hijacked truth and made it subservient to its own ends. The result is a world turned upside down.”

I was honored to meet Melanie Phillips at her speaking engagement Monday at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, and she graciously agreed to an interview.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Four Lions" Review: Jihad Comedy Self-Destructs

by Mark Tapson
Can a comedy about jihad make us laugh? Certainly there’s not an iota of humor to be found in the ruins of the World Trade Center, or the massacres in Mumbai or London or Madrid or Ft. Hood or Beslan or Tel Aviv or anyplace else where murderous Muslim fundamentalists have struck.

But writers through the ages have successfully employed satire and farce to empower their audiences to confront ugly realities of power, politics, and war. With drama, the entertainment industry has had mixed success at best coming to grips with the threat of Islamic terrorism; but perhaps comedy, handled correctly, could open up an accessible perspective on this grimmest of contemporary topics.