Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Anniversary of 9/11

Dear friends and readers of Letter of Liberty:

Today is the anniversary of 9/11, you know, when those evil terrorists attacked us because they hated us for "our freedoms" and plunged us into a War on Terror that must be fought forever and ever.

Except the whole thing is false!

My position is that of Ron Paul: that somehow we provoked the terrorists through our interventionist policies. For example, the US government's involvement in Afghanistan and the Middle East harbored amongst many people in the Middle East, which was then used by radicals to support terrorism against America. They were committed because the radicals believed that we were destroying Islamic culture by our intervention, as Michael Scheuer and many others have shown. This is not, of course, intended to whitewash the evils of Islam or to defend the terrorist actions. Far from it. Rather, we are here to revise the established understanding of the event and to reveal the truth about it, for as Murray Rothbard said, "revisionism, in the final analysis, is based on truth and rationality. Truth and rationality are always the first victims in any war frenzy; and they are, therefore, once again an extremely rare commodity on today’s 'market.' Revisionism brings to the artificial frenzy of daily events and day-to-day propaganda, the cool but in the last analysis glorious light of historical truth. Such truth is almost desperately needed in today’s world." But, asks a person, is there any concrete evidence of any provocation? One example might be, say, the participation in the 1953 Iranian coup, which the CIA admitted to. Another example would be the toppling of governments and installing of leaders the US permits, no matter how brutal they may be. For example, Saddam Hussein was once considered a friend and asset to the United States; in fact, there's even a picture of the warmonger Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with him. However, when the American government decided it didn't need Saddam Hussein anymore, they decided to get rid of him, in part by attempting to make up evidence about alleged WMDs. And not only that, the State used fear to build up a mass surveillance state which has never been before seen, which has only been expanded by our current administration.

I won't go any further into this issue, but I will link to those who have done and who do so. However, I will say this much. Subscribing to the theory of blowback and noninterventionist libertarianism is not a rejection of absolutes, a subscription to politically correct ideas, or a neglect of the evils of Islam. This is not the purpose of supporting noninterventionism. Rather, it is the purpose of noninterventionism to keep the State in check, live at peace, and avoid foreign entanglements and wars. While I recognize that what the terrorists did were evil, I also acknowledge that the US government's interventionist policy is evil. And please don't call me an anti-Semite, racist, America-hater or whatever because I hold to this view.

Anyways, here are some of the resources I have collected on 9/11 to be of any further help, as I cannot deal further on this.

"Misesians on 9/11, Then and Now" by Ryan McMaken: A compilation of what prominent Austro-libertarians had to say about 9/11 then and now.

"Weapons of Mass Distraction" by Laurence Vance: A classic 2006 article from Laurence Vance on the subject of WMDs.

"Ten Lessons, Plus One, We Should Learn from 9/11" by Sheldon Richman

Articles by Laurence Vance on the War on Terror

"Michael Moore Is Right" by Laurence Vance: Michael Moore may be a stupid leftist, but at least he got something right, according to Laurence Vance

"Ron Paul on Blowback" by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.: Ron Paul's longtime friend and libertarian colleague Lew Rockwell defends Ron Paul's view of blowback.

"Who Is To Blame on 9/11?" by William L. Anderson: Apparently after 9/11, families who suffered the attack were apparently allowed to sue United Airlines for allegedly not doing enough to stop the attack from happening. Bill Anderson reveals who is really responsible for what happened.

"The Little Terrorists vs. the Big Real Terrorist" by Sibel Edmonds: Sibel Edmonds puts the War on Terror in perspective

"For The Love of War" by Karen De Coster: Karen De Coster writes on how the "war on terror" is actually a contradiction of the libertarian foundation of the Republic

"Why They Hate Us" by Laurence M. Vance: Laurence Vance explores the real reason why those terrorists hate us; and it's not because of our freedoms, as we were never a truly free country at the time.

"Why They Hate Us" by Anthony Gregory

"The War on Terrorism Threatens Freedom" by Anthony Gregory: Anarcho-libertarian writer Anthony Gregory on why the "war on terrorism" is a war on freedom.

"Mises on the Vengeful State" by Joseph R. Stromberg: Libertarian independent historian Joseph Stromberg reflects on what Austrian economist and classical liberal Ludwig von Mises thought about the vengeful state in light of the 9/11 attacks.

"9/11 - The Funeral for Freedom" by Michael Lofti

"September 14, 2001: The Day The President Became A Dictator" by Doug Newman: This new article reflects on what happened three days after 9/11, when the infamous AUMF was passed. 

"The Lessons of 9/11" by Ron Paul: Before the famous Ron Paul Revolution of 2008/2012, Ron Paul gave this poignant speech on the lessons of 9/11 three years after the incident. See also "The 9/11 Commission Fraud" and "9/11 Was Preventable." Ron Paul reminds us in his most recent Facebook post: "We're supposed to believe that the perpetrators of 9/11 hated us for our freedom and goodness. In fact, that crime was blowback for decades of US intervention in the Middle East. And the last thing we needed was the government's response: more wars, a stepped-up police and surveillance state, and drones."

"Twelve Years After 9-11: Let's End The Politics of Fear" by Robin Koerner: Robin Koerner reminds us not to fear anymore, in line with Scripture's command to "fear not."

"What Not To Do" by Lew Rockwell: Lew Rockwell, three days after 9/11, gave us some wise advice on what not to do after the tragic attack.

"Rethink 9/11: All the Cool Kids Are Doing It" by Joe Beck


The Ten Commandments (1956)


Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Producer: Cecil B. DeMille, Henry D. Wilcoxon (associate producer)
Story/Screenplay: Aenas MacKenzie, Jesse L. Lasky, Jr., Jack Garris, Fredric M. Frank
Based on: The Holy Scriptures, The Prince of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, On Eagles' Wings by A. E. Southon and Pillar of Fire by Joseph Holt Ingraham
Narrated by: Cecil B. DeMille
Starring: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne de Carlo, Vincent Price, Edward G. Robinson, Debra Paget, John Derek, Martha Scott
Music: Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography: Loyal Griggs
Editor: Anne Bauchens
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 220 min.

"So let it be written. So let it be done."

The Ten Commandments is a large, gigantic, and grandiose piece of spectacle that no one in Hollywood attempts today, with the exception of the Lord of the Rings movies and the resurgence of the epic genre with such movies as Braveheart, Gladiator, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, The Passion of the Christ, and the recent Bible miniseries.

It is, in my opinion, one of the best epics of all time, and while it is not as brilliant as Ben-Hur, it is definitely wonderful in its own way; that movie, while big, classic, and grand indeed, was more intimate and that laid the foundation for modern epics such as Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus. This movie, however, is a more classical epic film, not as intimate as the later epic and not as individualistic in its focus; however, it does not neglect character in the name of grandiose. We do see humans in the grand story of freedom, salvation, the law of God and hope, and we see their contribution to that story.

Whatever its flaws may be, The Ten Commandments is, in my humble opinion, undeniably worth watching at least once in a lifetime.

Let's start with the plot. The film begins with Cecil B. DeMille (after a grand overture), who is on stage starting to narrate the grand tale of freedom that is found in the Holy Scriptures.

He points out that God created man to be free under Him, but man decided to rule one another, and the film fast forwards to Hebrew slaves in hard bondage in Egypt, toiling as they are whipped by the taskmasters. However, the slaves are still hoping for a deliverer who will bring them out of slavery. And we see a glimpse of the baby Moses, as his mother Yoshebel (Martha Scott) puts him in a basket, ready to save him from the Egyptian state.

The film cuts to the Pharaoh, who ponders on what to do with the growing Hebrew population; with advice from his advisors, he decides to kill every newborn Hebrew male child, supposedly in order to prevent a revolt against the kingdom. Thus, the Egyptian soldiers launch a massacre against the babies, but Moses is safe in the basket, ready to float on the Nile River.

Eventually, he is found by the Egyptian princess Bithia (Nina Foch) and adopted by her, thus making him the Prince of Egypt.

The film then cuts to a grown Moses (played by Charlton Heston), who is just returning from having conquered Ethiopia, and everyone in Egypt is pleased. However, his brother Ramases (Yul Brynner) is not pleased, and he desires to keep Moses from getting the throne and the princess Nefretiri (Anne Baxter).

At first, Moses is highly respected by Egypt, and Nefretiri wants only Moses to be pharaoh, as she is madly in love with him, so much so that she kills the woman who holds the secret to Moses's origins.

However, that is not enough for Moses to start questioning who he really is, when he meets his natural mother, who is near death, his brother Aaron and sister Miriam. He soon finds out his real mother, and this motivates Moses to be part of the Hebrew slaves until he finds his true purpose.

After killing the taskmaster Baka (Vincent Price), he is driven out of Egypt and into the desert, where he is almost starved to death except for the power of God that sustains him, eventually leading him to the tent and home of Jethro, where he marries Sephora (Yvonne de Carlo), who teaches him shepherding.

Years later, however, Moses goes up to the mountain of Sinai, where he meets Jehovah God and is called to be the deliverer of the Hebrews into the land of milk and honey. However, Moses tries to avert his plan, but ultimately he submits to the will of God. The following events ensue, with the ten plagues being brought on Egypt until finally the Hebrews experience a new birth of freedom.

The Ten Commandments is widely admired among cinephiles, critics (it received a 91% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes) Christians, Jews, Catholics and many other people, and rightly so. It is memorable, resonant, and identifiable. It not only shows an orthodox Christian theology, but it also deals very well with the age-old conflict between freedom and slavery, between liberty and power. The introduction to the film sums this theme up well. As Steven D. Greydanus said in his review of the movie, "Moses’ ultimatum to Pharaoh to “Let my people go” is couched not so much in terms of God’s divine authority, or the elect status of the Hebrew people, as in rhetoric about freedom, rule of law, and the injustice of tyranny and slavery — language that has less to do with the exodus from Egypt than with the seminal events of American history, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Heston’s Moses isn’t just the Prophet, he’s the Great Emancipator and the Father of his Country, all but draped in red, white and blue. The Ten Commandments is nothing less than a ringing invocation of the full weight of divine authority on behalf of the American way of life from an era when Christian America stood opposed to atheistic Communism and the 1960s were just around the corner." 

This has its benefits and drawbacks; on one side, it highlights the themes of liberty and freedom from slavery that are within Scripture, but it can also be seen only in that light, neglecting the richer parallels in Scripture. However, it is ultimately more beneficial than deficient. As Greydanus says, "For good and for ill, it’s as much a testament and a fixture of traditional American ideals and affections as a courthouse display of the stone tablets, and as weighty and solid." It takes on a civil libertarian character and it is a living testament to the eternal conflict of liberty and slavery, as many political philosophers, economists and historians have recognized.

Charlton Heston's performance as Moses is one of his greatest, and while I haven't seen many of his movies except for the brilliant Ben-Hur, I did enjoy this as much as his performance three years later as the Jewish prince turned Christian. Yul Brynner plays the wicked Ramases with passion and extravagance, though not with as much humanity as Ralph Fiennes' depiction in The Prince of Egypt (which is, BTW, one of my childhood favorites that I haven't seen in a long time). However, he does show some humanity through his own pride, and we see him humbled near the end of the movie, so much so that he cannot bring himself to kill Nefretiri even though he attempts to do so. His performance also shows the weight of what Scripture said that Moses decided to give up his life in Egypt to follow God's calling (Hebrews 11:24-29). The beginning of the film shows the pleasure and prestige Moses receives, even as Ramases tries to find fault with him, and this makes an impact as to when Moses faces his father Seti after killing Baka (who was about to execute Joshua (John Derek) for striking an Egyptian in an attempt to rescue his love interest Lilia (Debra Paget)). The film thus succeeds in telling the story of Moses, showing how he was successful and how he was thrown out of his success, only to find true success in the power of God.

The other performances are great as well, particularly from Yvonne de Carlo as Moses' wife Sephora, Anne Baxter as Nefretiri, who is delightfully campy and sexy), John Derek as Joshua, Debra Paget as Lilia, Joshua's love interest (which shows Cecil B. DeMille's affinity for romantic themes in film). Vincent Price's Baka and Edward G. Robinson's Dathan both contribute to the darkness of the atmosphere of the Hebrew slaves, and they show the cruelty that was very much a part of ancient Egypt. And the scene where the tenth plague afflicts Egypt is a dark and moody scene.

Cecil B. DeMille does a great job at directing this motion picture, with Elmer Bernstein's epic score and a good script to back it up.

The special effects, while they do show their age, do still hold up, particularly the parting of the Red Sea; however, the burning bush was a little bit cartoonish, which is not so much the movie's fault as it is the times that the movie was made.

Now, as to whether it is better than Ben-Hur, there is room for debate (I hold that Ben-Hur is superior). However, this film is undeniably one of the greatest epics of all time, and it rightly received a place among the American Film Institute's top ten epic movies.

Overall, highly recommended. Five out of five stars, despite the occasional campiness of the movie.

Is Obama Destroying the Military?

It is often said by conservatives and Tea Party groups that Barack Obama is anti-military and, according to neoconservative scholar Dinesh D'Souza, an anti-colonialist. This critique of Obama (though false) is sometimes used to attack the non-interventionist mindset.

Laurence Vance writes on this in his new article:

"I am not a fan of Barack Obama. But since there are a lot of things that could be said about the president—all of them bad—it was perplexing to me why some far-right conservative Christians would lie about him when expressing their displeasure. It was perplexing until I realized that their real agenda was honoring their true god—the U.S. military.
"I think the only good thing that could be said for Obama is that he apparently loves his family. I have written on several occasions about his radical associations, his life spent in the service of racial preference, his aberrant Christianity, his warmongering, his welfare statism, his abominable heath care act, his economic ignorance, his disregard of the Constitution, his drug warring, his dangerous views on gun control, his destructive foreign policy, and his overall extreme left-wing views. I believe Obama to be one of the worst presidents in American history. He is almost as bad as George W. Bush.
"I have seen it written by conservative Christians that Obama is gutting the military. Well, since the Bible says to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), I think we need to take a look at some facts and figures to see if this is the case or if these conservative Christians are just polluting the air with lies about a man that an abundance of negative things could already be said about."

I concur with Vance on everything he says. I agree that Obama is one of the worst presidents in American history, next to FDR, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover (who was actually a statist, despite the claims made to the contrary) and Lincoln (who really didn't care about slavery and fought a fundamentally preventive war; Tom DiLorenzo, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, and Charles Adams have shown the truth about the Civil War and Lincoln). And don't forget George W. Bush, who laid the foundation for Obama, just like Herbert Hoover laid the foundation for FDR.
Send this article to your friends and relatives. And don't forget to visit Laurence Vance's website and see his numerous articles and books.

Help Kickstart WWIII!

The Second City Network has produced a satirical video called "Help Kickstart WWIII," where some Obama-bots (or "Obammunists" as Tom DiLorenzo phrases it) ask for funding to kickstart WWIII, starting with Syria.

I especially liked the fact that they made fun of the "libertarian" Koch brothers at the end.

Here's the video. Enjoy.