February 17, 2011

Gun-hating NYT Writer Visits City's Gun Stores

By David Paulin

New York City may be a hotbed of liberals and gun haters, but a few gun stores actually do exist there. However, buying a handgun can be a frustrating experience -- thanks to burdensome regulations and lousy customer service, according an amusing article by Ariel Kaminer in the New York Times: “No Permit? No Touching the Pistols.”

“To run a gun shop in this of all cities is to weather a great deal of regulatory — even hostile — scrutiny,” writes Kaminer, a New Yorker who (surprise, surprise) all but admits she hates guns and wouldn't shoot an intruder or even a bird: She's a “pacifist or a coward,” she proudly states.

New York City is “one of the hardest places in the world to buy a gun,” Kaminer reports. What's more, Michael R. Bloomberg is proud of having tightened up gun laws and would like to export those laws to the rest of America, she says.

Visiting two dreary gun shops, Kaminer observes that unless you're a cop, they're not very interested in selling handguns to law-abiding people like her: Sales people are gruff or apathetic.

The most hilarious moments of Kaminer's gun-store visits occur when she enters a third store -- an elegant up-market place on Madison Avenue specializing in what Kaminer calls “hunting rifles.” (Hey, Ms. Kaminer, what about shotguns? Well, maybe she doesn't know the difference between a rifle and shotgun.) At Beretta Gallery, she is mesmerized by hundreds of weapons on display and costing between $1,000 and $170,000 each. Besides the firearms, other oddities at the shop captivate her -- such as “large-game trophies that peer down superciliously from their mountings.” Yikes! Kaminer also notes that Beretta has the “look of a private club and the feel of another century.”

Then for the first time in her life, she holds a gun: “a 20-gauge semiautomatic (at the lower end of the price range).” Putting it to her shoulder, she takes aim. She writes:

Holding a top-of-the-line gun is supposed to make a person feel powerful, confident, in control. Instead, I felt ridiculous. My stance was all wrong, and in any case I would never pull the trigger — not to kill an intruder, not to kill a bird. That moment of truth reaffirmed what was already beyond doubt: I am a pacifist, or a coward, depending on your perspective. But just as important, I am a New Yorker. In a city where we all live right on top of one another, playing with guns feels as out of place as wearing prairie dresses and engaging in plural marriage.

Let's hope that Kaminer's piece wasn't read by any of New York City's sexual predators, burglars, or homicidal maniacs. They might have gotten the strange idea she would be an easy target and want to look her up. Something tells me that any criminal who takes a fancy to her wouldn't be deterred by her moral superiority or her fellow sophisticates at the New York Times.

--Originally published at The American Thinker.

Tibet's 'Charms' in a Westerner's Eyes

By David Paulin

Liberals hold out Tibet and the Dalai Lama as paragons of virtue and spirituality. But how accurate are those characterizations? They're obviously accurate when Tibet and the Dalai Lama are compared to China and Mao, whose horrific human rights abuses rival those of the world's most brutal regimes. But when Tibet is compared to Western nations, it's charms leave much to be desired, according to accounts provided by noted anthropologist Frank Bessac, whose obituary ran in Sunday's New York Times.

Recounting Bessac's adventure-packed life, the Times notes that as a 28-year-old Fulbright scholar in anthropology, Bessac fled China's communist revolution in 1949 and made "a perilous year-long trek south through Tibet to India."

Bessack, according to The Times, "shared the trip’s most perilous segment...with a small party that included Douglas S. MacKiernan, an American diplomat" and CIA spy who'd been stationed in Tihwa. Some White Russians also travelled with the group.

In April 1950, tragedy struck. As The Times explains:

(A)s the party was setting up camp, a Tibetan military patrol approached and, mistaking the travelers for bandits or Communists, opened fire. Mr. MacKiernan was killed along with two other men, becoming the first C.I.A. officer to die in the line of duty. Mr. Bessac, at the time a couple of hundred yards away, heard the shots, raced toward the gunmen and confronted them waving a white flag.

The killings, which the Tibetans recognized almost immediately as tragic errors, were not reported in the West until months later.

So what happened to the Tibetans who did the shooting? Leftists who despise Western culture – and hold out Tibet as a shining example of spiritual enlightenment -- might be surprised. Bessac later published accounts of his sojourn in Life magazine and a book, and as The Times explains:

When Mr. Bessac and the other surviving member of the party, Vasili Zvansov, a Russian who had been shot in the leg, arrived in Lhasa a few weeks later, Tibetan officials suggested to them a range of appropriate punishments for the patrolmen. These included gouging out their eyes and having their ears, noses or limbs cut off. Mr. Bessac wrote that he assented to the lighter penalty of flogging.

“I watched and enjoyed the whole proceeding,” he wrote in the Life article, though in his book his reaction was somewhat revised.

“It was deeply terrifying and degrading, also for me,” he wrote. “When the flogging of the four horsemen was over, to my surprise the men came over to me and thanked me for saving their lives.”

The young Bessac, incidentally, met with then 15-year-old Dalai Lama who honored him as a dignitary. They remained on friendly terms until Bessac's death at 88 earlier this month.

--Originally published at The American Thinker.

Jimmy Carter not concerned about Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

By David Paulin

Former President Jimmy Carter, whose foreign policy naivety and weakness facilitated the rise of Islamofacism in Iran, is confident Egypt has a promising future: The Muslim Brotherhood will be overwhelmed by Jeffersonian Democrats -- and the formerly pro-Mubarak military will bow to the will of the people and welcome free elections, he says.

Carter, during his first public comments about Egypt's so-called "revolution," told an audience
at the University of Texas on Tuesday that he's not concerned by the Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt's most well-organized and virulently anti-Western political group.

"I think the Muslim Brotherhood is not anything to be afraid of in the upcoming (Egyptian) political situation and the evolution I see as most likely. They will be subsumed in the overwhelming demonstration of desire for freedom and true democracy,” Carter told 1,000 people packed into the LBJ Library in Austin.

Carter's audience was reportedly receptive and friendly. Nobody apparently asked a simple question: Do most Egyptians define "freedom" and "true democracy" as most Americans and Westerners do?

Carter's optimism aside, things in Egypt may not be quite as simple as he suggests -- at least not if a survey in Egypt by the Pew Research Center
is anything to go by. It indicates that concepts like “freedom” and “democracy” may not be quite the same to most Egyptians as to Americans and Westerners. Among other things: 85 percent of Egyptians consider Islamic influence over political life to be a positive thing for their country. And 20 percent have a positive view of al Qaeda. The Pew survey on what Egyptians really think underscores why Israel has been so concerned about what the mainstream media has portrayed as Egypt's “democratic revolution.”

Carter also was upbeat, if not somewhat ambiguous, about the role Egypt's military would play in an election expected this September. "My guess is the military leaders don't want to give up their political influence or power,” he said. “But the military has seen what the demonstrators have done and will most likely submit to their demands."

What might those demands be? Carter apparently didn't provide any answers, according to the Austin American-Statesman's account of his lecture. But pehaps the Pew survey can provide some hints along these lines.

To ensure a free-and-fair election, Carter said he and members of the Carter Center will be as "involved as possible" in voting. "The demonstrators will not accept anything less than honest, fair and open elections."

Let's hope Carter and his team does a better job of certifying the winner in Egypt's presidential election (if one takes place) than he did during a Venezuela election in 2004. There, Carter turned a blind eye
to voting irregularities, belittled anti-Chavez Venezuelans, and gave his blessing to strongman Chavez's election victory. "Carter has a long history of coddling dictators and blessing their elections, and among his complex motivations is his determination to override American foreign policy when it suits him," writes Steven F. Hayward, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

All of which underscores that Carter has invariably been on the wrong side of history. Given his optimism on Egypt, people who care about Egypt's future may have much to worry about.
--Originally published at The American Thinker.