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Ramblings

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Ramblings

Allan C. Brownfeld

Allan C. Brownfeld is the author of five books, the latest of which is The Revolution Lobby (Council for Inter-American Security). He has been a staff aide to a U.S. Vice President, members of Congress, and the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. He is associate editor of The Lincoln Review and a contributing editor to Human Events, The St. Croix Review, and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.


Christmas Comes Just When We Need It

In a society increasingly divided by political differences, racial disparities, and economic dislocation — not to mention the COVID pandemic — Christmas arrives at just the right moment. It should help us to look beyond this very troubled moment and focus upon things which are not transitory, but eternal.

The 20th century witnessed a profusion of religion without God — materialism, self-actualization, Marxism, and fascism. Now, in the 21st century, many Americans, both on the right and the left, have made a false God of politics, viewing those with whom they disagree as “enemies.” Democracy requires that we are open to differences of opinion and are prepared to work with those who share views contrary to our own.

Christmas should focus our attention upon permanent, rather than transitory, things. In this regard, it is interesting to reflect upon the thinking of two unique men, G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis. They did battle for the Gospel with that most powerful of weapons, the pen.

Chesterton, the journalist, and Lewis, the scholar, differed in manner and style. But their religious vision was much the same, and their writings brought this vision to millions — and still do, even to those who would never knowingly open a “religious” book.

In the summer of 1987, a seminar was held in Seattle to celebrate the achievements of these two men. In a 1989 book, G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis: The Riddle of Joy, seventeen notable scholars offer a comprehensive analysis of these two influential writers, each of whom “felt the riddle of the earth and came to think, impossibly, that its name is joy.”

From Chesterton’s Father Brown detective stories to Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, these two Englishmen have had an unprecedented impact — not only in the English-speaking world, but far beyond. In 1954, an administrator in the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States surveyed all of the career missionaries at home and abroad. One of the questions asked was, “What person most influenced your decision to become a missionary?” Fifty percent wrote, “C. S. Lewis.”

The connection between the two men is clear. Christopher Derrick, who knew them both, notes that:

“There was influence between them, but all of it ran in the one direction. It started to run during World War I, when Lewis — being sick in hospital — chanced to read a volume of Chesterton’s essays. ‘I had never heard of him and had no idea of what he stood for,’ he wrote later, ‘nor can I quite understand why he made such an immediate conquest of me.’ It wasn’t so strange or inexplicable, since Chesterton already had a habit of making immediate conquests of highly diverse people. Even today . . . years after his death, he frequently displays a power and privilege which he once attributed to Samuel Johnson, ‘He can walk into the heart without knocking.’”

Chesterton’s Everlasting Man played a crucial part in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity. The two men, however, were quite different. Lewis, the scholar, wrote meticulously. Chesterton wrote chaotically. Lewis, the Oxford don, devoted much time to his medieval studies. Chesterton, the journalist, was very much a man of the world, deeply involved in the political battles of the day.

Christopher Derrick notes that:

“It is only as writers, of course — and more precisely, as writers on religious subjects — that these two men can really be regarded as having a shared vocation and achievement. . . . I’d even go so far as to define their joint achievement as that of two very great translators.”

Derrick writes:

“There is always a strong case for restating the gospel and the faith in the language of one’s own time — provided that one does exactly that. The trouble is that some people claim and appear to be doing that necessary task, when in fact they’re doing something radically different. It’s one thing to restate the old faith so as to make it more easily understood; it’s quite another thing to modify the faith so as to make it more easily acceptable. . . . The pattern of much present-day theology . . . is shaped most crucially by what present-day people want to hear. As in business, the product gets modified to meet consumer demand . . . now the great merit of both Chesterton and Lewis . . . is that neither of them fall into that trap . . . Each was in fact restating the ancient faith in the language of his day, in the rhetorical language of a flamboyant journalist or with the cool lucidity of a scholar, with a thousand new angles and insights but otherwise without modification.”

At a time when, for intellectuals, it took far more courage to defend traditional religion than to mock it, Chesterton declared that:

“The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice. Moral truisms have become so much disputed that they have begun to sparkle like so many brilliant paradoxes.”

And Chesterton was a master of paradox. To those who insisted on materialism, he wrote,

“. . . the materialist theory of history, that all politics and ethics are the expression of economics, is a very simple fallacy indeed. It consists simply of confusing the necessary conditions of life with the normal preoccupations of life, that are quite a different thing. It is like saying that because a man can only walk about on two legs, therefore he never walks about except to buy shoes and stockings.”

Ian Boyd, editor of The Chesterton Review, points out that:

“The religious critique of life which Chesterton presents in all his writings is ultimately based on a belief that God is present in creation through sign and symbol in the center of the most profane realities, and it is possible to find God. He seldom wrote about directly religious subjects, but in the events of everyday life or in a piece of chalk or in a city street he found the central religious mystery.”

According to T. S. Eliot in his 1936 obituary of Chesterton in The London Times, Chesterton “did more than any man in his time to maintain the existence of the Christian minority in the modern world.”

Even many who proclaim themselves to be Christian fail to understand that the view of man and the world set forth by Jesus — and the Old Testament prophets who preceded him — and the one which dominates in the modern world, and in many political circles today, are contradictory.

The British author and editor Malcolm Muggeridge, long an atheist, had a religious conversion while preparing a BBC documentary about the life of Jesus. In his book Jesus Rediscovered, he pointed out that the desire for power and riches in the world — a desire to which so many are committed — is the opposite of what Jesus commanded. Indeed, Jesus was tempted by the Devil with the very worldly powers so many seek.

Muggeridge writes:

“Finally, the Devil showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world and said: ‘All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it.’ All Christ had to do in return was to worship the donor instead of God — which, of course he could not do. How interesting, though, that power should be at the Devil’s disposal, and only attainable through an understanding with him! Many have thought otherwise, and sought power in the belief that by its exercise they could lead men toward brotherhood and happiness and peace, invariably with disastrous consequences. Always in the end the bargain with the Devil has to be fulfilled — as any Stalin, Napoleon or Cromwell must testify. I am the light of the world, Christ said, power belongs to darkness.”

At the time of his death in 1990, Muggeridge lamented:

“I firmly believe our civilizations began with the Christian religion, and have been sustained and fortified by the values of the Christian religion, by which admittedly most men have not lived, but to which they have assented, and by which the greatest of them have tried to live. The Christian religion and these values no longer prevail; they no longer mean anything to ordinary people. Some suppose you can have a Christian civilization without Christian values. I disbelieve this. I think that the basis of order is a moral order. If there is no moral order there will be no political or social order and we see this happening. This is how civilizations end.”

And yet, despite all of this and the societal divisions we have seen, there is a spiritual yearning in the American society, a feeling that things are not what they should be, a desire to set ourselves and our country on a better path. Jesus told us to love our enemies. Many Americans today are unable to love those with whom they disagree on one public issue or another.

Christmas speaks to the spiritual vacuum in our lives — but only if we will listen to its message. This holiday season we would do well to reevaluate the real gods in our lives and in the life of our country. Our health and that of America may depend upon such a genuine celebration of Christmas.

Remembering Walter Williams: A Crusader for Individual Freedom and a Color-blind American Society

Walter Williams, who spent his life as a crusader for individual freedom and for a color-blind American society, died on Dec. 2 after teaching his final class at George Mason University. He was 84.

I knew Walter Williams for nearly 50 years. He was a frequent contributor to The Lincoln Review, of which I was an editor, and was actively involved with the Lincoln Institute, headed by one of America’s original black conservatives, my good friend J. A. Parker. It was his belief that genuine free enterprise represented the best path for Americans of all races to advance.

Walter Williams grew up in the black neighborhoods of inner-city Philadelphia, living in the Richard Allen housing project with a single mother. At one point, he drove a cab for the Yellow Cab Company. In 1959, he was drafted into the military and served as a private in the U.S. Army. While stationed in the South, he engaged in a one-man battle against segregation. He was eventually court-martialed and argued his own case. He was found not guilty. He was then transferred to Korea. He marked “Caucasian” for race on his personnel form. When he was challenged on this, because he was clearly not white, he responded, “If I marked ‘Negro’ I would end up with the worst jobs.”

When he returned from Korea, he resumed his education and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA. In college, he recalled, “I was, more than anything, a radical. I was more sympathetic to Malcolm X than Martin Luther King. . . . But I really just wanted to be left alone.” While Williams was at UCLA, the free market black economist Thomas Sowell arrived on campus as a visiting professor. They began a friendship that lasted the rest of their lives.

Williams’ pioneering 1992 book, The State Against Blacks, argues against such government intervention in the economy as occupational licensing, taxicab regulations, labor union privileges, and other measures that inflict disproportionate harm on blacks by restricting their employment options and driving up the costs of goods and services.

At his death, Williams was the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University. From 1995-2001 he chaired the Economics Department. He was the author of over 150 publications in scholarly journals and was the author of ten books. One of them, The State Against Blacks, was made into the PBS documentary, “Good Intentions.”

In his book All It Takes Are Guts (1988), Williams responds to those who charge America is a “racist” society:

“The fact of race and sex discrimination in the United States does not make us unique. There is no other place on the globe free of race and sex discrimination in one form or another. The truly unique feature of the United States is our effort to eliminate discrimination. Our greatest achievement is that the typical American of today finds race and sex discrimination repulsive.”

Addressing apartheid in South Africa in the book South Africa’s War Against Capitalism, Williams, who traveled to South Africa a number of times during the years of apartheid and lectured to students of all races, argued that apartheid is simply another form of government regulation. “It is,” he noted:

“. . . the antithesis of the free market and was designed specifically to protect some people — white workers in particular — from the competitive rigors of capitalism while denying others — non-whites — the chance to compete and earn capitalism’s rewards. . . . Indeed, it is the free play of market forces — with no intervention by political forces — that has always been seen as the enemy of white privilege and that apartheid ideology has always sought its defeat.”

“The Mines and Work Act of 1911,” Williams points out,

“. . . can aptly be called the first in a series of laws known as ‘the color bar.’ Militant white labor unions opposed the use of black workers who, like the Chinese, would work in mines at lower wages than the whites. The government, under pressure from the white labor unions, adopted legislation which gave the right to issue ‘certificates of competency’ for such employment. By law, the certificates could not be issued to non-Europeans.”

Historically, organized labor has played a similar role in the U.S. Writing in The Lincoln Review (Spring 1979), Williams writes:

“Organized labor, with but few exceptions, has sought to exclude Negroes and other minorities from many job markets. Exclusionary devices have ranged from union charter provisions that restrict membership to ‘whites only’ to outright violence. . . . It would be unfair and incorrect to attribute all black labor market problems to labor unions per se. In a democratic society people should have the right to form groups to pursue what they perceive to be in their best economic interests. The basic issue involved is whether we should have a political system where such a group can, through Congress, get laws written which advance their own narrow interests at the expense of other Americans. . . . Black people . . . do not need federal handouts and gifts. Black people need a chance to compete.”

In the area of education, Williams argues that the monopoly position of the public schools is particularly harmful to minorities. Black students, he writes:

“. . . have been receiving what amounts to a fraudulent education, the fraud being that the education establishment warrants, by issuing a diploma, that black high school students can read, write, and compute at a twelfth-grade level; the fact of the matter is that the greater percentage cannot even perform at the eighth-grade level. This is nothing less than a cruel lie and an unconscionable fraud. In the government schools teachers get paid whether or not students can read or write.”

To improve black education and the education of all children, Williams calls for an educational voucher system, designed along the lines of the G.I. Bill.

“Such a system would give the poor and minority parents the freedom of choice to select the best possible school for their children, the kind of freedom which only the most affluent have today.”

Williams laments that:

“. . . if the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan wanted to deny blacks upward mobility, reinforce racial stereotypes of black mental incompetence, and foster racial conflict, he couldn’t find a better tool than our public education system.”

It is Williams’ view that with an end to segregation and with laws against discrimination, the major civil rights battles have been won and that what black Americans need most at the present time is a willingness to walk through the doors which have been opened. This, he points out, requires hard work, discipline, respect for education, and commitment to family. He understood, of course, that problems still remain, such as those manifested by the police killing of George Floyd.



Walter Williams believed that limited government and a genuinely free enterprise system was most consistent with other freedoms, such as free speech and freedom of religion. He opposed the “crony capitalism,” embraced more and more by both Republicans and Democrats, in which government interferes in the economy, picking winners and losers, and bailing out businesses and industries which have failed in the marketplace. He believed in a genuinely color-blind society in which men and women would be judged on their individual merits, not the color of their skin. He opposed political correctness and identity politics and how they were infringing upon free speech and the integrity of the university.

Walter Williams made a major contribution to making America a better society. It was my pleasure to have reviewed many of his books and to have published many of his articles. We did not always agree, but I knew his opinions were carefully considered and thought out, and his only objective was to improve our country. His body of work will long be studied by those concerned with making sure our society remains free.

The Strange Case of Jonathan Pollard: Parole Ends for a Spy for Israel Who Was Surprisingly Supported by Many Americans

Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s, had his parole ended on November 20. Pollard, who served 30 years in prison before being released in 2015, became a hero in Israel. The Israeli government, ironically the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid in history, granted him citizenship in 1995. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu regularly asked Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama to release Pollard and allow him to move to Israel. Until now, no administration was willing to do so.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 and accused of passing secret documents to the Israeli intelligence service, including satellite photos of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s headquarters in Tunis, which Israel later used to guide airstrikes on the Tunisian capital. He pleaded guilty in 1987 and was sentenced to life in prison.

The scope of his espionage was so extensive that in the 1990s, then-CIA Director George Tenet threatened to resign if President Clinton released him. It is instructive to review the scope of Pollard’s espionage, the funds he received from the Israeli government to spy upon its major benefactor, and the support Pollard has received from many American friends of Israel.

Pollard was working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy when he was recruited by the Israeli Defense Ministry in the mid-1980s. He delivered suitcases full of military intelligence to Israel, including satellite photos and information on Arab military systems.

Pollard claimed that the information was vital for Israel’s defense and was being withheld by Washington. Prosecutors, however, maintained that much of the information had nothing to do with vital Israeli security interests and might have fallen into the hands of hostile nations. They also said that Pollard was not motivated entirely by pro-Israel sentiments, since he admitted accepting $50,000 in cash from Israel at one point. Justice Department officials also contend that Pollard did not cooperate with the investigation, as many of his supporters claim.

So damaging to U.S. security was Pollard’s role that then-defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger told Israeli Ambassador Meir Rosenne in 1987 that Pollard should have been executed. Joseph DiGenova, the prosecutor who handled the Pollard case, said that the damage he did to U.S. security was “beyond calculation.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Leeper declared, “The defendant has admitted that he sold Israel a volume of classified documents 10 feet by 6 feet by 6 feet.” He said that Pollard provided Israel with thousands of pages, including secret information on the location of American ships and training exercises.

The U.S. government, at the time of Pollard’s trial, said that the damage resulting from Pollard’s spying exceeded that caused by Ronald T. Pelton, a former National Security Agency employee, who was convicted in 1986 of selling classified electronics surveillance secrets to the Soviet Union.

“Pollard compromised specific intelligence gathering methods in a specific area, and damaged the U.S. position relative to the Soviet Union,” the prosecutors said. But they added, “Pollard compromised a breadth and volume of classified information as great as in any reported espionage case and adversely affected U.S. interests vis-a-vis numerous countries, including, potentially, the Soviet Union.”

Several U.S. intelligence analysts believe that documents stolen by Pollard were handed over to Moscow by Soviet moles within the Israeli intelligence services.

Despite all of this, the pro-Pollard movement became increasingly vocal. In 1993, a campaign to persuade President Clinton to commute Pollard’s sentence was launched. In a full-page advertisement a wide range of Jewish leaders urged President Clinton “to demonstrate your commitment to justice by commuting Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to the time he has already served.” Among those signing this statement were Rabbi Norman Lamm, president of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Arthur Green, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Rabbi Gerald Zeller, president of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Many rabbinical organizations joined in urging a commutation of the Pollard sentence, including the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York and Chicago Boards of Rabbis. Seymour Reich, past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations, said, “I urge the President to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard.” The American Jewish Committee asked the President to review the case and the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council voted to approve a letter asking for clemency.

Some of Pollard’s most vocal supporters even charge that his incarceration is somehow based on religious prejudice. Thus, Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, New York wrote in The Los Angeles Times that Pollard “remains incarcerated because of the improprieties, prejudice, downright anti-Israelism and elements of anti-Semitism . . . now he has become a political prisoner.”

While major Jewish groups in the U.S. urged Pollard’s early release, many prominent Jewish Americans sharply disagreed. One of these was Michael Ledeen, who was a consultant to the national security adviser to the President, to the undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, and to the Secretary of Defense from 1982 to 1986. He stated that:

“American Jews who are mounting an impassioned campaign on behalf of Jonathan Pollard are making a mistake — a big mistake. The man deserves everything he got, and more, both for the despicable acts he committed and for the damage he did to the American Jewish community.”

Ledeen argues that:

“His oath didn’t give him the right to decide when or to whom he could divulge our secrets. Moreover, while there is no doubt that Israel ‘ran’ Pollard, he could not have been certain that his controllers were actually who they claimed to be. If the KGB had set out to recruit an agent like Pollard, they would most likely have pretended to be officials of the Mossad.”

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who is Jewish, declared that:

“There is no excuse for Pollard to accept $150,000 from Israel for spying on America and no excuse for Pollard to give Israel American codes. . . . I think he deserved the punishment he got.”

Despite the rhetoric of Pollard’s defenders, he was never a “political prisoner.” He was a convicted spy, and there was never any evidence available, or offered by his supporters, that he was innocent. David Geneson, a federal prosecutor and one of the team who handled the Pollard case as an assistant U.S. attorney, states that:

“Not only did Pollard solicit his monthly pay and enjoy two luxurious European trips (unrelated to his espionage activities) at the expense of his Israeli controllers, he demanded a raise from his most senior control officer while the man lay in a hospital recuperating from surgery.”

Jonathan Pollard was clearly in it for the money. But his motivation seems to have been more complicated. He grew up in a religious Jewish family deeply committed to Zionism, to the idea, as Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel frequently proclaims, that Israel is the “homeland” of all Jews. Jonathan Pollard clearly was confused about where his loyalties properly belonged. The vast majority of American Jews believe that Judaism is a religion of universal values and that religion and nationality are separate and distinct. They understand very clearly that their “homeland” is the United States and Judaism is their religion, just as other Americans are Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim.

Sadly, Jonathan Pollard may be viewed as a victim of this Zionist worldview and of Israel’s claim to speak for millions of men and women who are citizens of other countries. He has paid a high price for his crime and is now in poor health. He can certainly be viewed as a tragic figure. If he decides to move to Israel, that country should not view him as a hero, which many Israelis may do. If Israel views itself as a friend of our country, which it repeatedly proclaims, it should ask itself whether employing a spy such as Jonathan Pollard is the way friends should treat one another.     *





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Allan C. Brownfeld

Allan C. Brownfeld is the author of five books, the latest of which is The Revolution Lobby(Council for Inter-American Security). He has been a staff aide to a U.S. vice president, members of Congress, and the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. He is associate editor of The Lincoln Review, and a contributing editor to Human Events, The St. Croix Review, and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

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