Stories of the A-Team’s narrow escape spread quickly, permeating the airways. The enormous crowd that had gathered at the Orlando Convention Center had heard them. Adams found himself a hero once again.
Not everyone was celebrating, though. The news crews swarmed around the threesome like mosquitoes, shouting questions so vociferously the buzz was deafening. Thor was annoyed, Sarah angry, Mary frightened. The way the reporters attacked with their cameras and microphones was a whole lot scarier than being assailed by a terrorist. She was used to that.
"Ladies, gentlemen," the Admiral misspoke, "calm down, please." He sandwiched Mary between himself and Sarah. "If you’ll back up, I’ll give you a statement."
The piranhas paid no heed, pushing their microphones into his face. They shouted inane questions like, "What right did you have to shoot down a civilian airplane? Isn’t that a criminal act?" The Admiral finally lost his patience, brushed them aside, and walked into the auditorium.
The bands started playing and balloons were released skyward. The audience rose, bursting into thunderous applause. The media scurried to their positions. While Thor was running as an Independent, the festivities had been arranged courtesy of the Libertarian, Reform, and Republican Parties. All were without candidates of their own because they were endorsing the candidacy of one Thurston Merrick Adams. It had been the same everywhere they had gone.
"America, citizens of Orlando," he said, "we are pleased to be with you today." They all knew what he had just survived. "And in case you were wondering, yes, he was trying to kill us. Yes, he got within a mile of Disney World, and yes, he was a devout Muslim. Surprised?"
"No!" they shouted out in unison.
"From Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, to the Twin Tower Twenty, the murderers are always the same - they’re always Muslims. From the Syrian government being the largest exporter of heroin into America, to the Saudis being the largest exporter of terror, to Palestinian boy bombs on the streets of Israel, it’s always the same cast of characters, the same lack of character. From our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, to the USS Cole in Yemen, to the bloody streets of Mogadishu, the terrorists are always Islamic. From our barracks in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to the Olympic Games in Munich, Jews and Christians are the victims, and Muslim militants are the perpetrators. Why?"
"Islam!" they shouted. They had listened to the Admiral’s speeches.
"No!" he returned. "It’s our fault!" He smiled and raised his hands, letting the audience know he was kidding. "I mean, it must be. Most every week I read a newspaper story or hear a network account of how we are to blame. The enlightened say we have failed to understand the Arabs, failed to solve their problems, and because of this we deserve our fate. I will never forget the AP story that took the Israeli Prime Minister to task because he couldn’t stop Palestinian violence." The Admiral shook his head. "If you believe those with the microphones and printing presses, we’re guilty because we haven’t forced the Israelis to relinquish the spoils of war. But I say to you, those Arabs aren’t Palestinians, it isn’t their land, and more importantly, giving it to them isn’t in anyone’s interest."
"Back in 1948, if the Arabs had accepted the resolutions that gave a tiny sliver of land to the Jews - less than one percent of that which was given to Arabs - and lived in peace with their neighbors rather than killing them, they might have had a righteous claim. But they didn’t. They drew first blood. They voided the UN contract, voiding any legitimate claim. Then, when Arabs en masse surrounded the fledgling state of Israel militarily in 1967 with the intent of destroying it, they lost."
Adams reached into his jacket pocket and removed a paper. Opening it, he read, "The Covenant of the PLO says, ‘Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. It is the national duty of Arabs to repulse the Zionist, Imperialist invasion from the great Arab homeland and to purge the Zionist presence from ‘Palestine.’ By the way, you should know that they take ‘Palestine’ to mean all of what was once Judea. This would leave the Jews with nothing, treading water in the Mediterranean. The Covenant goes on to say, ‘The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of Israel is fundamentally null and void.’"
He put the paper back in his pocket but repeated its most caustic phrase. "‘Purge the Zionist presence from Palestine,’ it says. The first Holocaust was not enough for these folks. Based upon what I have just read and based upon their actions, do you think giving Arabs the ‘West Bank’ will solve this crisis? Will it satisfy them? If your answer is yes, then ask yourself, if all they want is the ’67 borders reestablished, why did they attack Israel in ’67? Have the peace-loving Palestinians forgotten that the PLO was booted out of Jordan, the nation that occupied the West Bank in 1967? No, not likely, but they hope you have. Achieving their goals requires you being deceived.
"If you believe their deliberate propaganda, then they can con you into believing that they’re helpless victims and that the suicide bombers are a natural consequence of being oppressed, of having their lands occupied. But if you know the truth, you’ll see them as they really are: lying murderers."
The Admiral pulled a newspaper clipping out of a folder he had carried to the stage. "Now that I’ve explained why they have no legitimate claim to the land, let’s establish why independence isn’t in their interests. I found this story from the Associated Press particularly enlightening. They were reporting on how the Palestinian Authority had made a mockery of their court system, saying that verdicts were rendered before evidence was heard. In this case, they claimed that the bloodthirsty Kameel clan, a.k.a. rank and file Muslim militants, were displeased with the leniency of the court, so they stormed the building as an enraged mob and dispensed Islamic justice, vigilante style.
"But did you know it wasn’t their fault? Oh, no." Holding the paper out before him, Thor read, "Since the fighting began three years ago, the legal system has become more chaotic." He stopped. "What the AP is suggesting here is that terrorist attacks are perpetrated by both sides. And while that’s erroneous and purposely deceptive, it’s what they didn’t say that gives me pause. The Associated Press knows that the violence is the direct result of the intifada. For those of you who don’t know, that’s a call to war, Islamic War. It’s Allah’s Cause, Jihad. Intifada was not called by the Jews. It was not mutual. The call to arms came from the late Palestinian Chairman, Yasman Alafat. The AP knows - heck, everyone knows - that if the Muslims stopped their terrorist attacks, there would be no more killing - none. Ever." The Admiral eyed the enormous crowd.
"But the AP’s omission wasn’t careless. They thought it was somehow in their readers’ interests to omit the real reason the Palestinian courts have failed. So I’ll tell you, because it’s crucial." Thor pounded the rostrum. "It is directly attributable to the autonomy the Arabs were granted by the Europeans at Oslo. Since that time, the PA leadership has had the responsibility to run their own courts, but they have failed to act responsibly. They have been more focused on promoting killing than they have been on prosecuting killers."
"Intifada has been more important than infrastructure to the leadership of the PA," Adams said. "But did you know that’s not their fault either? No? The AP article says, ‘The PA acknowledges the problem but claims restrictions imposed by Israel, combined with Israeli bombing raids, have made it impossible for them to be a proper government.’ Can you say, ‘Bull huey’?"
The audience obliged.
The Admiral’s ability to make sense of the absurd endeared him to every crowd. "Now just to make sure you’re sufficiently deceived, the AP thinks it’s in your interest to hear a quote from a PA propagandist: ‘The vigilante killings show that the Palestinian judicial system is weak and doesn’t have the people’s confidence,’ said Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst. ‘This demonstrates that the Israeli restrictions on Palestinians are causing a semi-collapse of our system.’
"Yep, it’s our fault." Thor stuffed the clipping back into the folder. "So much for the baloney. Now, how about some truth?" he said, flinging the folder to the floor. "Before Oslo, the Palestinians had a court system, and it worked. The Israelis managed it. After Oslo, the Jews pulled out of the Autonomous Regions, and the courts became the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority. They failed. They were given the responsibility and they bungled it. Face it, folks, they did this to themselves. Autonomy has led to more violence, not less.
"Oh, and just in case you haven’t connected the dots...what else happened when the PA was given autonomy over these areas? The Jews were asked to withdraw their police. The responsibility for keeping mischief down was now in the hands of the Palestinians. ‘They should be allowed to police themselves,’ we were told by the Europeans at Oslo. And get this: American taxpayers even supplied the guns and trained the PAPD, a.k.a. Fatah. But the Europeans didn’t act alone, so I’m not blaming them, well, not exclusively. Bill Clinton, the man who unwittingly helped Osama bin Laden unify Islamic rage, was in full accord." Adams was certain one of the Clintonites in the media would jump at the bait, come press conference time. He just let the insult dangle.
"Now, I ask you, what increased when Israeli police protection decreased?" The Admiral cupped his hand to his ear.
The crowd shouted out, "Terrorism."
"You’re right. So what do you think would happen if, rather than being an autonomous region inside the state of Israel, the Arabs were granted statehood, as our last three administrations have tried to do? It’s obvious, right? If Israelis lose the ability to suppress terrorist acts by making them painful for the perpetrators, they’ll increase." He scanned the room. "It’s as clear as the bombs on their bellies - less will beget more!"
Most rose, applauding him. Adams was adlibbing this and they knew it. Nothing he had said so far this morning had been part of his prepared text, but his dander was up. Between the terrorist’s attack and the media’s poor behavior, Thor wasn’t happy. He turned to look at Sarah and Mary, to see what they thought, hoping that by their expressions they would tell him whether he should stop or press on. Sarah winked, nodding affirmatively. Mary gave him a cute yet deliberate thumbs-up.
"Following the autonomy they gained at Oslo, the Palestinian judicial system failed, the economy collapsed, and Muslim violence soared. Stopping this violence, by the way, was the price the Palestinians were obliged to pay for autonomy. So I ask you: do you want more of this failure, more poverty, more violence, more killing...or less? Is anyone foolish enough to think that more autonomy will solve their economic woes, fix their judicial calamities, or bring an end to the butchering of innocents? Do you think these Muslim fundamentalists will be any different than the hoodlums who rule the Islamic states around them? Will the warlords swear off violence? Will the terrorists set down their plastic explosives? Will the Islamic clergy stop selling Paradise to impressionable boys and girls?
"What happened to Lebanon when the Christian-controlled government was overthrown by Syrian Muslims? Was not the paradise of the Mediterranean turned into a living hell? Why are we so blind to the truth? Why must we be taught the hard lessons of history over and over again?
"Has any thug ever been appeased? Has any dictator ever been satiated? Can you name a time in which doing more of a thing that led to chaos ended the chaos? What is to be gained by rewarding Islamic terror or negotiating with terrorists?"
The Admiral let that linger in the air. "And why does the media provide an audience for the people with this foolhardy agenda? Why have I never read or heard a single one of you say that it’s not in our interest, or theirs, to give the militants greater autonomy?"
Adams paced across the stage. "I understand that Israel has at times been as disjointed as a two-headed gooney bird. Building settlements in Gaza was stupid. Signing the Oslo agreements was foolish. Rolling tanks only to withdraw them is counter-productive. Trading land for the promise of peace is nuts. But good grief, folks, there’s no moral equivalence between the behavior of Jews and Arabs in this battle for the world’s ultimate ground zero. And make no mistake; everything that happens there has a ripple effect on the rest of the world. There is a direct link between the suicide bombers in Israel and those who annihilated the World Trade Center."
He took a deep breath. "Many of you in the front row have accused me of sounding ‘hateful and warlike.’ Why? Because I have told the uncomfortable truth - that the only way to end this nonsense is to expose Islam for what it is, to cut off the money, to curtail the indoctrination of the youth, and then to demilitarize the region by rounding up the warlords. Like it or not, that’s the most loving, rational, compassionate, and sane approach to this whole bloody affair. What’s more, the biggest beneficiaries will be the citizens of these very lands. We didn’t make this mess. And if it weren’t for the fact that they are killing us, I, frankly, wouldn’t give a rip what they believe, how they live, or even what heinous things they do to each other. Cleaning up their mess wouldn’t be worth risking the life of a single American soldier. But they are killing us. And that leaves us with a simple choice: drain the swamp or die from the disease it breeds."
The Admiral picked up the folder he had tossed on the stage. "Here’s another incriminating story. The ‘impartial journalists’ from the AP once again tried valiantly to prop up the PA’s sagging reputation, this time claiming that they had ‘incarcerated 195 militants, shut down 15 illegal munitions factories, blocked 56 suspect bank accounts, and derailed 79 unregistered charities.’ Oh, and I almost forgot. They boldly proclaimed that the PA ‘clamped down on militant mosque preachers.’"
Presidential candidate or not, Adams was in no mood for politically correct double talk. "The AP said they found these truths contained in a seventeen-page tear-smeared document that mysteriously made its way to their Jerusalem offices, although it had been ‘officially’ intended for our State Department. The report sounds so peaceful, doesn’t it? So what did the branch offices of the PA, excuse me - the AP - forget to tell us? Not much really, except that everybody in Israel above the level of a worm knows that the incarceration of ‘militants’ is a ruse, a joke. It’s all for show, like a weekend at the Holiday Inn.
"As for shutting down the ‘illegal munitions factories,’ that’s laughable when proclaimed by folks who’ve just had a shipment of Iranian missiles, C-4 plastic explosives, and anti-tank rockets confiscated in the Red Sea. Blocking bank accounts? Just because there is no banking system in the ‘Palestinian-controlled territories’ doesn’t necessarily make it a lie. But this does: even if they had been responsible enough to create a banking system, the only funds that could have been seized were held by PA warlords, ’cause they’re the only ones with money. The economy is kaput.
"This may come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who haven’t done your homework: the leadership of the PA were Marxist/Leninists. Like Saddam Hussein in Iraq, their heroes weren’t the stalwarts of Islam, but history’s other great peacemakers, Hitler and Stalin. How is it that we are now being told by the AP that the leadership has found religion, that they are attending mosque and ‘clamping down on militant mosque preachers?’ Even if this were true, which it isn’t, take a moment and chew on the AP’s words: ‘militant mosque preachers.’ They taste odd, don’t they? If Islam is a peace-loving religion, why are their preachers so ‘militant’?
"Then ask yourself, why didn’t the brain surgeons at the AP point these things out - why do they gleefully give these absurd lies a vast international audience? I assume that to write for the AP one has to be literate." Somebody was definitely cranky this morning.
"I dunno. Maybe not. The Associated Press follows its eloquent admiration for the Palestinian Authority by sharing this timely tidbit," Adams said as he waved the clipping in the air. "‘Meanwhile, a Palestinian teenager was shot and killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers.’ Witnesses inferred he was just playing ball with his friends. Mind you, the ball was a hand grenade, but who are we to pass moral judgments on what games they play?"
The Admiral shook his head in disgust. Through these otherwise meaningless stories, normally lost in the great ocean of irrelevant ink and destined for the bottoms of birdcages, Thor had connected the dots, painting a picture as clear as it was horrific.
"Buried deep in the article, the AP reported that those same murdering Israelis, in that same place, specifically targeted another boy. This one was also minding his own business, riding a bus to work, when he was arrested. Oh, incidentally, he happened to be wearing an explosive belt. A fashion statement, I suppose. He just wanted to fit in, be one of the boys, hit it off with the virgins. Although it seems hard to believe that in their earnest crackdown on Muslim militants, the PA somehow overlooked a Palestinian suicide bomber. But with so many of them, perhaps it’s understandable. For some unexplained reason, there seems to be one on every corner. But that’s a story that has eluded the progressives at the proudly independent, journalistically pure institution called the Associated Press.
"Oh, and lest I forget, on the same day, right under the noses of the peace-loving Palestinians, the Israelis managed to find what the PA had so diligently sought but had somehow missed - a truckload of rockets, rockets with the range to rain terror on Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. It was just bebopping down the peaceful streets of Ramallah. Oh, I know! They must have been transferring the inventory from illegal munitions factories to legal ones. Or maybe," the Admiral said as he hit his forehead, "just maybe, the rockets were being stockpiled to celebrate independence day."
The crowd laughed.
"Or maybe not. On the very day this story was filed, at none other than PA Headquarters, the late Chairman said, and I quote, ‘I pledge that we Palestinians will defend our holy sites in the land of Jihad.’ He led a chant, ‘It is ours. It is ours. It is ours,’ followed by the oh-so-peaceful second verse, ‘And to Jerusalem we go, her martyrs in the millions.’
"And speaking of martyrs, Alafat went on to praise an Arab girl who grabbed a Jewish baby from its mother’s arms and tossed it into a flaming bus, one a fellow Muslim had blown up with women and children aboard.
"Let’s face facts. By definition, a ‘terrorist’ is someone who targets civilians for the purpose of achieving a political agenda. With the exception of the demented doctrines of Islam and Communism, such tactics are considered uncivilized, evil. There is no excuse for such behavior.
"Suicide is a cowardly act. Unstable individuals use it to escape life’s realities. Terrorism is also cowardly. Civilians aren’t armed, and cannot fight back. Suicide bombers are not freedom fighters; they are not martyrs. They are cowardly cold-blooded murderers."
That off his chest, Admiral Adams returned to the AP account. "The shocking truth was buried deep within the article. But the headline of the story I just shared was designed to deceive. It read: ‘Palestinians Take Actions to Eliminate Terrorist Activities.’ Yet on the same day it was written, AP reporters were on hand when the Palestinian Chairman called for the martyrdom of millions. I think we have a failure to communicate. How about you?"
The Admiral paused, then drove his message home. "This manipulation of facts is too reckless, too grossly negligent, too opinionated to be accidental. And be assured, it’s not without cost. Let me give you an example. Back in January and again in March of 2002, Yasman Alafat arrogantly told the world in public statements that he wanted to die a martyr." The audience let out a collective gasp. They had no idea that he’d actually said such a thing. "Tragically, you in the media paid the admonition no heed. You brushed it off as hyperbole. I can only assume it didn’t fit into your preconceived worldview, the view that the rantings of Communist and Muslim dictators only count when they say what you want to hear. Then you believe them. You think Alafat’s signature on official PA documents paying terrorist families for sacrificing their sons is meaningless, but his signature on a peace accord would be meaningful." He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. Then with a pained expression, he continued, "So partly as a result of your irresponsibility, our nation was taken by surprise - our leaders and your media colleagues were butchered.
"America, I apologize for my diversion, but I’m tired of being told that their lunacy is our fault. I’m tired of hearing the peace activists wallow in pity over the plight of these people and their pathetic behavior. We’re reliving the prelude to World War II all over again.
"Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks that these misleading press accounts are part of the problem?" The Admiral shuffled through the folder. "Dateline Jerusalem. Quote: ‘The rhetoric between Israel and Iran has become increasingly hostile following Israel’s interception last month of another shipment of Iranian weapons to the Palestinians.’ It goes on to say, ‘Israel is especially concerned about Iran’s plan to develop nuclear weapons.’
"But rather than say, ‘And well they should be,’ the AP closes with a denial from the Muslims, giving them an unwarranted platform. Listen to this: ‘Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi denied that they supplied the Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon with ten thousand rockets’ all with sufficient range to strike at the heart of Israel. And then ‘Iran’s Defense minister warned of heavy retaliation for any Israeli preemptive strike.’ After all, they didn’t go to all the trouble of building these things for them not to be used. And used they were. The ‘denied’ rockets were shot into Israel in the spring of 2002." He tossed his folder full of articles back onto the stage.
With that, Thurston Adams dove into his stump speech. Stirring music played as the multimedia show was unfurled on giant screens behind him.
"I want our government to move out of the way, to unleash the full potential of our great nation and her citizens. It’s time to stop coddling failure and to start valuing success. Redistributing wealth is not akin to creating it." He looked out. "We must free everyone from the oppressiveness of government control; trust our citizens enough to let them choose their course. I believe in empowering everybody with the opportunity to care for their families and better their communities. Together, we will build a better and freer, brighter and more prosperous nation through service and incentives, justice, and education.
"Ultimately, it all boils down to one question: whom do you trust? Here at home, do to you trust yourself, your neighbors, and your friends, or would you rather trust government administrators, bureaucrats, and politicians? Internationally, do you trust the warlords in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya more than the men and women of our armed forces?
"War happens when good people don’t stand up. It’s most always the result of totalitarian thugs exporting the same violence they are all too willing to inflict on their own people. If we want to curtail the violence, we must remove these dictators from power. Take away their guns, dry up their funding, and cut off their means of indoctrinating children. Not only will we liberate their people from tyranny, giving them a reason to live rather than die, we’ll also be freeing the world from the scourge of terror."
Gazing out, Adams said, "Some have said that I’m not an Independent. They paint me as having but one wing. Truth be known, we almost lost both of ’em this morning." The audience laughed. "I’m a practical man, not a politician. I’m not beholden to any political machine. I just want our nation to move as far from the abyss of world war as possible.
"I believe to do that we must move right, toward conservatism, a substantially diminished reliance on government. And while most of you may already be there, Washington is not. It has moved left of Moscow. That’s a problem. Nations are born through toil and sacrifice, but they die from dependence and greed. For America to prevail against a doctrine with a billion adherents, we must be strong. We must save America before we save the world.
"Liberalism, the political manifestation of secular humanism, is a failed doctrine. As we take more from productive Americans to reward those who are not, the gap actually grows between the haves and have-nots. The more we penalize success, the less of it everyone has. As the incentive to be productive shrivels, so does productivity. As the incentives for failure increase, so does dependence. This is not rocket science. One wing or two, liberalism is a death spiral, and it’s killing our nation.
"More government leads to more chaos, not less. Ultimately, the most liberal use of government is a dictatorship. In the end, it becomes a government that can impose its will, its views, its ‘religion’ on everyone, a government capable of pulling everyone down into the same pit.
"Our liberal leaders have gained what they covet most: control over your lives. But such power corrupts. That’s why there are no benevolent dictators. Power is like a magnifying glass, turning minor character flaws into dangerous deficiencies with disastrous consequences.
"To the humanists listening to my words, those who think that we are nothing more than the byproduct of chance - an improbable life form that emerged over eons from the primordial slime - I say open your eyes. Judging by mankind’s propensity to inflict violence upon ourselves, we haven’t evolved very far from that slime. No matter how ‘enlightened’ man becomes, we move no closer to the utopian dream. The twentieth century was the most enlightened and liberal in history - and the most violent. And the century’s most liberal societies were the most lethal to both man and the environment. The record is clear: a liberal use of government, concentrated power, leads to violence, the deprivation of human rights, economic collapse, and ultimately, war. Yesterday, it was Fascism and Communism. Today, it is totalitarian Islamic regimes, enslaving their people, and spewing death and destruction around the globe.
"Central to the failure of liberalism is its inevitable propensity to legislate one of the two extremes of human error. Islamic, Communist, and Fascist dictators have chosen either to separate their societies from God, making him illegal, or to politicize their clergy, making all views of God other than theirs illegal. Today, the most brutal enemies of mankind, Communist and Islamic states, represent these polar extremes. Ironically, however, the resulting outward manifestations, their domestic and international behaviors, are identical. And history proves that the only thing worse than the inclusion of politicized religion into governance is the separation of faith from governance.
"The framers of America’s Constitution crafted a finely-tuned balance between endorsing a specific religion, empowering its clergy as Europe had done, and removing faith in God privately and publicly from our national existence. This is why we grew faster, stronger, richer, and more righteous than any nation on earth.
"Tragically, that balance was discarded by the Warren Court in the late nineteen fifties. They conjured up a non-existent clause in our Constitution separating church and state. Morality was removed from our nation’s classrooms and was replaced with humanistic ideals. These have failed us, and as a result, our nation is failing. The boys and girls who were educated in the resulting godless schools of the ’60s and ’70s are today managing our corporations, leading our government, and speaking on behalf of our media. We have reaped what we have sown. You can’t legislate morality, it’s true, but our Supreme Court found a way to make morality illegal."
Thor went on to present his five-point Plan to Save America. Sarah explained the true nature of America’s enemy, the delusion that is Islam. Mary brought it all home. She gave terror a human face. Adams tied it all together and opened the floor to questions.
Unfortunately, the reporters were still fixated on the moment. They were more interested in one unsuccessful terrorist than millions lurking in the shadows. After spending more time explaining the episode than it took to live it, Thor grew impatient.
"Folks, we’ve got less than thirty minutes before we have to leave for Miami. If you want to talk about the overall Muslim threat to our national security or our plan for national revival, I’d be pleased to spend it with you. If not, we’ll be going."
The first to rise was a young man claiming to represent CBS. He said, "Many are saying that your Plan to Save America is too conservative, too right wing. They say that had it not been for your self-admitted failure in Afghanistan, you wouldn’t have any support at all." Finished with his ‘question’, he held out his micro recorder.
"My mission is simple. I am not running for anything. I don’t want to be president. I’m here because I promised the American people answers."
"You didn’t answer my question, sir," the reporter protested.
"You didn’t ask one," the Admiral shot back, stating what should have been obvious.
"Isn’t your plan just a scheme to reward the rich and punish the poor?"
"No. I just want to get government off everyone’s back so we can all succeed. The failed agenda you in the media have so vociferously promoted is nothing more than a socialistic wealth re-distribution plan." Adams explained. "It not only makes the poor poorer, it makes them more dependent. Government needs to get its hands out of people’s pockets. It’s no accident that many states call their tax collection agency the Board of Equalization. Government paychecks are called Unemployment Benefits. Maybe it’s just semantics, but all this serves to stifle productivity; it impedes progress and breeds despair. When a working man, scrounging to buy soup, has to watch a welfare recipient buy steaks with food stamps, something is wrong.
"When the income tax was initiated by FDR, it was two or three percent. Today it’s fifteen to twenty times that amount. When Welfare and Medicare were proposed by LBJ, America was told that these programs would never cost taxpayers more than a few billion dollars. But today they cost a hundred times that. Social Security is a pyramid scheme, as inefficient as it is immoral. There are much more efficient ways to achieve superior results."
He continued. "Our Plan - Opportunity, Education, Justice, Service, and Freedom - benefits the poor more than it does the rich. But they will earn their rewards, as will every American. And I believe the disadvantaged, the poor among us, will treasure these achievements far more than they do your handouts."
He looked to his left and said, "By the way, I haven’t been totally forthright with you. This five-point plan isn’t mine." With that Sarah dug into her purse. Removing her small burgundy Bible, she opened it.
Thor reached back. "I’m not speaking for the author, you understand. He doesn’t need me. He spoke quite nicely for himself." Adams looked down and read, "‘Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised, and on the Sabbath he went into the synagogue. Handed a scroll from the prophet Isaiah, he unrolled it, finding the place where it was written: "The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, and brokenhearted,"’ that’s service. ‘"He has sent me to proclaim freedom for captives, and enlightenment for the blind,"’ that’s education...‘"to release the downtrodden and oppressed,"’ justice, ‘"to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,"’ directly translated that means jubilee or economic opportunity. That was the inspiration for our plan. But before you go off and write that Adams is a religious whacko, please note that I said nothing about religion in any of that, nor did he."
The lone reporter from the AP shook as he stood. With a crackling voice, he posed his question: "Arabs claim that our reporting is slanted in favor of the Israelis. You claim that it’s slanted in favor of the Arabs. It sounds to me like we’re being objective."
"The Arabs all claim that the reason you’re biased is because Jews control the American media. Do they?"
"Then, the Arabs are lying, are they not? Why would you use a lie to justify your behavior?"
A portly woman in the front row stood. Her thoughts leaped out of her like a viper attacking a rat. Her tone was ugly, enraged, hostile. "The Palestinians have struggled for fifty years under the brutal hand of Israeli occupation. Their women and children, their babies, have been gunned down with American weapons. The entire civilized world has been telling us that the solution to the refugee proplem is a Palestinian State." She sat down so hard, it nearly knocked the snarl from her face.
"I didn’t hear a question in any of that, but nevertheless I’ll explain my position. Gosh, there were so many inaccuracies in there, I hardly know where to begin. So, I’ll just dive in. Uniformity of belief is no indicator of truth. A thousand years ago, most everyone thought the world was flat. For many thousands of years, slavery was considered appropriate. Until the rise of Christianity, women were considered inferior to men - well, at least they were by men."
The crowd chuckled.
"I’m certain that giving Arabs large portions of Israel will lead directly to more poverty, more violence, more death, and ultimately to world war. I have explained my rationale and clearly presented my thinking on this. I’ve done so in a historical context, analyzing the economic, political, social, and religious implications. But now I’m going to share my feelings.
"I am against rewarding terror. I’m convinced that if the civilized world continues to dignify those who butcher innocents, we will lose our civility altogether. Less than three years ago, the first girl bomb exploded in the streets of Jerusalem. There were no soldiers killed or injured, just average people, young and old, men and women. The dynamite-laced shrapnel didn’t discriminate. Nor did the young Palestinian woman who pulled the trigger. Over a hundred people were injured."
As he spoke these words, Mary reached up and touched the still painful scars on her face. A tear rolled down Sarah’s cheek.
"The act was as rash and as inhumane as the delusions that encouraged it. It was murder, worthy of nothing but condemnation. Yet the murderer was praised with reckless abandon. Her death was celebrated by the Muslims. Her picture was carried aloft in the streets, emblazoned on placards. Smiling throngs of little girls waved it in parades, encouraging even more terror. Her image was enlarged and made into towering billboards. The girl suicide bomber became a martyr, her picture plastered on the sides of Palestinian homes. She joined other Muslim murderers on ‘Martyr Trading Cards’, and ‘charm bracelets’. Her picture was nailed to classroom walls.
"Legitimizing this behavior by rewarding the Islamic clerics who preach killing, and empowering the warlords who trample human rights, is wrong. We do so at our peril - and theirs. Giving the Arab ‘refugees’ in Israel an independent state is a good idea only if you think the world needs another Libya, Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, Iran, or Iraq.
"Your accusation of Israelis killing Muslim babies with our weapons angers me, ma’am. It is the terrorists who target babies, killing them purposely. Then, because they are cowards, they run and hide among their children and under the dresses of their women. It is their behavior, and theirs alone, that is responsible for the collateral damage.
"Let me share a quote from a distinguished source. In 1949 the United Nations established UNRWA as a provisional body to provide relief for the Palestinian refugees. The agency’s director, Ralph Garroway, said, ‘The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the UN, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t care whether the refugees live or die.’"
The silence was deafening but not lasting. One of the reporters jumped up, raised his hand, and shouted, "Admiral Adams, you began by referring to Muslim militants and the Twin Tower Twenty. There were only nineteen. And there are many good and decent followers of Islam. Don’t you think it’s unfair to label them?"
"When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor," Adams replied, "we called them our enemy. Not to be unkind, but to defend our nation. They were acting heinously, raping and plundering their neighbors. The Japanese government was a totalitarian regime, a psuedo-religious mix of emperor and warlord worship. And like the Islamic warriors today, their people were convinced that they were racially superior. They had no regard for their victims, not even women and children. They lashed out without provocation, like terrorists, thinking the world belonged to them. We called them our enemy because they had killed our people. We called them evil, as we should call Islam evil, because their behavior was reprehensible.
"Now, I am sure there were some good and decent Japanese, as there must be good and decent people in the Islamic world. But that did not stop us from defending ourselves, from fighting and defeating this enemy, nor should it today."
The reporter fired back. "But the Japanese, like the Nazis, were a clear enemy. The terrorists come from many nations."
"Four years and thousands of lives have passed since 9/11/01 and you still don’t know why it happened. You don’t know this enemy; you refuse to recognize what they have in common. They know who they are. Why don’t you?" Adams said to a blank stare. "But you made a good point. The men who perpetrated the bombings share no national identity. In fact, they hate their governments. What they call dar al-Islam - the House, or Nation, of Islam - is the only thing that unifies them. Those who terrorize the world have not corrupted their religion, as many have claimed. The religion itself is a manifesto for war.
"By the way, thank you for holding me accountable. A moment ago, you called me on something. I said there were twenty suicide bombers, not nineteen - because there were. Zacarias Moussaoui, a French Moroccan, and a Muslim, had trained to be part of the team. But in late August the flight school he was attending called the FBI in Minneapolis, warning them that something was awry. You see, Zac was adamant about learning how to fly large commercial jets right at the outset of his training. Now, here’s the amazing part: the FBI shunned them, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to violate his rights, inferring that they were entering the politically tricky waters of racial profiling. So three thousand Americans died instead.
"French intelligence had said Moussaoui was known to have radical Islamic beliefs and ties to Muslim cells in Chechnya. They said he had fallen under the spell of Islam while attending business school in England. The French even warned the British about him, but they, like our FBI, ignored the warning. Zacarias came to the U.S. on a student visa. A fellow Muslim militant, Ramzi al-Shibh, wired Zac fourteen grand for flight school tuition.
"But Zac made a jerk of himself, was grounded, and moved on to Minnesota. A day late and a hundred billion dollars short, the Feds finally got around to searching his apartment. They found incriminating files on crop dusters and wind spreads of pesticides. He also had contact information for his fellow Muslim militant pals in Hamburg. So there were twenty. One was grounded. And there was a warning too. They planned to dust large cities with anthrax spores."
Adams rubbed his forehead. "Every one of the 9/11 pilots attended Al Kod mosque in Germany. Today the mosque still operates, still preaches hate, still inspires young boys to kill Americans and Jews. Every one of the suicide bombers was selected for their murderous deed by Islamic clerics preaching in Muslim mosques. You may want to ignore that reality, but that won’t make you enlightened or politically correct - only dead.
"Let’s review the facts. One of the pilots was born in Beirut, the home of the radical Islamic group, Hezbollah. The Lebanese pilot was said to be very religious. Another was an Egyptian. His father is an outspoken militant. He, too, was very religious. He, too, hated Jews and Americans. A third suicide bomber was born in the United Arab Emirates - an Islamic cleric’s son. He had surrendered to Islam as well.
"Fifteen of the hijacking mass murderers were ‘manufactured’ in Saudi Arabian madrases. Like their Arab compatriots from Lebanon, Egypt, and the Arab Emirates, they shared a common faith, a common motivation, a common doctrine, a common rage. They were all devout Muslims. They all believed that America and Israel had to be destroyed. So I ask you, what does that make the Nation of Islam?"
Without thinking, another reporter stood. "Admiral, are you disturbed that progressive leaders in Europe, responsible religious leaders worldwide, and moderates in America are saying your MacArthur plan is hateful? They call it insane, murderous, foolhardy, unjustified, imperialist..." he looked down at his notes to see if he had left anything out. "Mean spirited, racist, intolerant, belligerent, pejorative, unenlightened...."
"That’s a swell list of adjectives, son," he interrupted the young reporter. "And I’m convinced you can read, but can you think?" He paused. "What’s your name?"
"Walt Clanduse. I’m a reporter with NBC," he answered, hoping it would cause the Admiral to cower. The media was a king maker and Adams wanted to be king, didn’t he? It had worked on every other politician, no matter how vehemently they disagreed with the reporter’s agenda. Even conservatives had been more interested in being liked and presented favorably than they had been in delivering a cogent message.
"Walter, do you agree with these ‘responsible, progressive, and moderate’ leaders?"
"It’s not my opinion that counts here, sir; it’s yours." Touché, the assembled reporters thought as they nodded in uniform agreement.
"Every question you ask, every article you write, every report you utter condemns you, Walter. Even the adjectives you used in your question betray your bias. You’re just telling me that your opinions are more seductive when they’re couched in the perception of journalistic independence, in the nobility of a free press. You know my position on Muslim militants. You know my opinion on the hell Islamic dictators are inflicting on their people and on ours. By asking the question, all you did was state your opinion. Moreover, please tell me: how is keeping what I have learned about Islam a secret in anyone’s interest. How is covering up the motivation for their murderous behavior good? How is eradicating the scourge of terror at its source bad? Why is caring enough to conceive a plan to free people from tyranny, poverty, and brutal oppression hateful?"
Mr. Clanduse sat back down, humiliated. Another reporter rose. "Admiral, most are still touting the Saudi Arabian peace proposal. Even Bush favored it, recognizing Palestine as a state. Why not give it a chance?"
"For starters, because the Saudi Crown Prince is easily the most despised man in the Muslim world. His government is one of the most repressive. He has squandered his people’s resources and only stays in power because his regime is ruthless, killing anyone who protests. Step an inch outside the strictest interpretation of ‘Islamic law’ and you’re flogged. He and his cadre of princes are terror’s biggest benefactors. They write the checks that encourage the murder of innocents. One of your own, a reporter for USA Today, broke a story which showed how a Saudi businessman linked closely with the royal family transferred billions, I said billions, of dollars to New York and London bank accounts controlled by fellow Saudi Osama bin Laden."
Thor retrieved his folder of news clippings and found one from The National Review. "The Saudi ruling family hosted a telethon for Palestinian martyrs. The imam they chose to promote this fund raiser, al-Buraik, said, ‘I am against America. My hatred of America, if part of it was contained in the universe, would cause it to collapse. She is the root of all evils and wickedness on earth. O, Muslims, don’t take the Jews and Christians as allies. Muslim brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy, neither compassion, on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. Allah made them yours. Why don’t you enslave their women? Why don’t you wage jihad? Why don’t you pillage them?’
"Every word of what he commanded Muslims to do comes directly out of the Qur’an. This imam is not an extremist, nor is he out of step with Islam. Al-Buraik finished by calling the Jews monkeys, as did Allah twice in his ‘holy book.’ I reject the Crown Prince’s demagoguery. What he is demanding is impossible, and what he’s offering is improbable."
Adams cleared his throat. "Promises of peace from people whose leader encouraged his followers to lie, and who himself said, ‘War is deceit,’ is a fool’s proposition. If the Saudi proposal is implemented, the only certainties are: Arabs will not be content, so the violence will continue; Arabs will continue to live in poverty and will blame it on us; Israel will be less secure and that will lead to war. Where’s the good in that?
"Now as for Bush’s about face on Israel, his condemnation of their war against terrorism, history has already spoken. The moment the Palestinians were within reach of their stated objective, they went berserk. Suicide bombings escalated exponentially because Arab leaders don’t want peace. Hate is the only thing that keeps them empowered. Following Oslo, Palestinian terrorism increased four hundred percent."
An attractively-attired young woman jumped to her feet. "Speaking of President Bush, how do you plan to subdue the Islamic States without the kind of international alliances previous administrations have built?"
"Good question. What’s your name?"
"Michelle Andre. I’m with The Washington Post."
"How? One at a time. Saudi first. They’re the principle source of money and militants. Iran would be next, then Iraq. Back at a time when they were much better equipped than they are today, we were able to bomb them into submission fairly easily. As a result, the ground war was what, a hundred hours? Then I’d cripple Egypt’s and Syria’s ability to wage war, being careful to obliterate their weapons of mass destruction. I’d follow that by neutering Libya. Sadly, based upon the number of Taliban and al-Qaeda from Kuwait, I’d deal with them too. "Then somewhere in that process, I’d cut the ruling thugs in the other twenty-some-odd-Islamic States a deal. I’d offer the Generals, Princes, Sheiks, Ayatollahs, and...what does that drug-smuggling warlord in Syria call himself? President Thug, I think, but it doesn’t matter. I’d tell them all that they’re free to leave, taking as much as a hundred million U.S. with them. Heck, let ’em steal a billion. They can wallow in their money in whatever country will have them. Or they can stay and die."
"But Admiral, none of these countries have attacked Americans. What right do we have to attack them?" Andre asked.
"Not a single Afghani had killed an American either. But freeing their people from the brutality of the Taliban was the best thing that ever happened to them. Albeit brief. The Iranians didn’t waste much time destabilizing the region or reestablishing the rule of Islamic warlords. And the displaced al-Qaeda wasted no time in terrorizing their new hosts, the Pakistanis - putting them within a breath of having a nuclear bomb.
"As you know, Michelle, the Iraqis have killed Americans and Israelis. So have the Iranians, Palestinians, and Syrians. Together, they are Hezbollah. They killed scores of Americans in Beirut and again in Saudi Arabia."
"But why Saudi Arabia? Their ruling family is pro-America. And how are you going to pay for all of this?" the Washington Post reporter inquired.
"The majority of the Twin Tower Twenty were Saudis - fifteen of them. I’d say they’ve killed plenty of Americans - too many for my taste. More to the point, the Saudi ruling family funds the madrases. They manufacturer the Islamic terrorists who kill us." The Admiral wanted the media to assimilate what he had just said. "Listen, the only thing I want less than fighting them there is fighting them here. If there were any other way to stop the flow of money, stop the indoctrination of youth, stop the spread of this warmongering doctrine, to stop them from killing us, I would be the first to endorse it. But there isn’t.
"Now, as for alliances, I believe they are counterproductive. Europe is useless. The French and Russians sold these thugs the nuclear reactors they use to make plutonium for their atomic bombs." For all his resolve, Admiral Adams was convinced that America would hesitate, that his nation would fail to muster the courage necessary to fight this foe while it was relatively weak. America, he felt, would cripple itself rather than cripple the enemy. He believed his nation would deny reality, giving the Islamic schools time to indoctrinate the preponderance of their people, and giving the governments time to acquire the final ingredients needed for more massive biological and nuclear weapons. While he did his best to awaken, enlighten, and warn his countrymen, deep down he knew he would fail. Millions would die.
Yet he pressed on. "Rather than going in, raising a ruckus, and then leaving these lands to a whole new gang of warlords, as we’ve done in the past, I’d stay for a while. I’d confiscate the oil - hold it in trust for the Arab people. It’s the ultimate win-win scenario. Oil money would no longer be used to fund the madrases or the terrorists they inspire. And rather than our taxpayers footing the bill for cleaning up their mess, the beneficiaries would be held accountable - they’d pay their fair share. You all should love that," he said as everyone but the reporters rose in support.
"In a recent report to Congress, the Director of the CIA confirmed that ‘Iran remains the most serious threat to the United States because of its across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile capabilities.’ The Director went on to report that Iraq and Iran were both close to developing nuclear weapons. He claimed that unsupervised, the Iraqis had increased his arsenal. Even more chilling, the CIA Director told the Senate that North Korea was selling nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. But then he dropped the bomb. He told the Committee, ‘Russia appears to be the first choice for nations seeking nuclear material, technology, and training. They are solidly behind the Iranian efforts.’ Another report has them guarding nuclear storage sites with garden tools. The results have been predictable.
"But the Director wasn’t finished. ‘China,’ he announced, ‘was the key supplier of nuclear technology and missiles to other Islamic states.’ He concluded the briefing by telling the Senate that ‘U.S. intelligence routinely tracks Russia’s, China’s, and North Korea’s efforts to sell missile and other weapons technology to countries that present a clear and present danger to the United States. Some of these,’ he told the Committee, ‘are overt weapons transfers, but some of the assistance comes in the form of a counterfeit - nuclear power plants for oil-rich nations or pesticides for those without the water to farm.’ It’s death by deception - plausible deniability until it’s too late. Did you know that the state-controlled media in Iran publicly debates whether it will take two nukes or three to obliterate Israel?"
"The choice is simple enough. Would you rather strike now, before they annihilate millions, or later, after they have?"
The Washington Post reporter sat back down. Her question had been answered. And she didn’t want to have to answer the Admiral’s.
Another reporter rose. "Admiral Adams, earlier in your speech you said that Bill Clinton was more responsible for terrorism than Osama bin Laden. That sounds a little mean spirited."
"What I said was, ‘Clinton unwittingly helped Osama bin Laden unify Islamic rage.’ Let me explain by asking you a question. Did you see the CNN/al-Jazeera interview of bin Laden - the one shot a month after the September 11th bombings?"
"Do you remember what bin Laden said? Remember how he learned that America was vulnerable - what inspired him to attack us?"
"Excuse the historian in me. I do. It was Somalia - the Black Hawk calamity in Mogadishu. He told the reporter that America’s retreat taught him that killing a few Americans would cause us to turn tail and run, because that’s what Clinton did. Bin Laden said it gave him reason to bloody our nose. He used it to recruit boys into what otherwise would have looked like a hopeless cause. Clinton restricted our presence in Somalia, restricted our weaponry, sent Rangers in without armament, and put our boys under the command of the United Nations - bad decisions all. Then, when his failed policies resulted in the deaths of American heroes, he ordered a retreat, a retreat that was responsible for increasing terror, inspiring and emboldening Muslim militants.
"Do you recall what Clinton did next; do you remember the consequences? I’ll bet none of you even knew who Osama bin Laden was before Clinton launched cruise missiles at him. Very few Muslims did, either. He was the head of an average terrorist organization - one of hundreds. But Clinton elevated him to the status of somebody important, somebody worthy of multimillion-dollar cruise missiles. His career as a terrorist took off courtesy of our President kicking a hornet’s nest and walking away." The Admiral looked out upon the crowd. "The lesson here is that doing something halfway is all too often worse than doing nothing at all. We should have learned that by now."
"Admiral, many claim that there is no basis for your attacks on Islam, and especially upon their Prophet. They say you are no better than the church in the Dark Ages with your hateful opinions and derogatory tone."
Adams smiled. "Interesting. I have pointed out hundreds of condemning Islamic scriptures, any one of which is sufficient to explain why Islam breeds terrorists, why Muslims kill, and why we have been misled. If you think what I’ve reported is untrue, then by all means, use facts to refute me. If I have stated my opinion rather than revealed evidence, demonstrate where I’ve erred. If you can do so, maybe the problem is Thor Adams, not Islam. But if you can’t, deal with reality. Now as for my tone, I dare say that the only rational response to their behavior is anger."
Although Adams had thrown down the gauntlet, there would be no takers. The purveyors of perverse propaganda assailed him, not his message. Rather than face facts, they distorted them. Rather than deal with history, they rewrote it. Rather than attack the real enemy, the made an enemy of Adams. It was easier.
"Admiral. You seem to be more intent on taking the battle to the Muslims than protecting us at home. Why?"
"One is possible; the other is impossible. One choice punishes the villains; the other punishes the victims. One cripples us, the other cripples them. As the world’s freest society, there is little we can do to make ourselves safe at home. Our knee-jerk reaction to homeland security has done nothing but inconvenience our people, burden our taxpayers, stall our economy, and encourage our enemies - showing the world that they are winning. Most everything we have done in the name of protecting ourselves has been more harmful than beneficial. We interrogate little girls and confiscate nail files. How safe does that make you feel?"
Another reporter stood, this time a rather bookish-looking young man. "Haven’t you unfairly singled out verses in the Qur’an to paint Islam in a bad light, as if they’re promoting war? Couldn’t someone do the same with the Bible? Don’t the surahs you selected say more about you than they do Muslims?"
"Sir, what’s your name?"
"I’m Samuel Woodman from the New York Times."
"Hello, Sam. Would you do me a favor and come up here please?"
"What? No." He turned off his recorder and crossed his arms.
"All right. I understand. You lack the courage to discuss things openly. Anybody have enough self-confidence to discuss Sam’s allegation?"
An attractive blonde woman stood and raised her hand.
"What’s your name?" the Admiral asked.
"Paula Banks. I’m with CNN."
"Come on up, Ms. Banks."
As she made her way through the crowd, the murmuring rose, filling the room with a deafening buzz. This had never been done before. Back in their plush suites, even the studio executives leaned forward in their chairs.
Adams eyed a couple of stools off to the left, along one wall. He brought both center stage, setting them a couple of feet apart, facing each other, cheating out toward the large crowd. "Ma’am, you may set your notes down. You won’t need them. I’ll ask the questions."
Banks was suddenly riveted with fear. Panicked, she began to glow in front of the glaring lights. She never answered questions, never even offered an opinion that wasn’t scripted.
"Relax. I’m not going to embarrass you, Ms Banks."
Some of the tension seemed to leave her face. "Please, call me Paula."
"Paula, do you agree with Mr. Woodman’s position?"
She just stared.
"Let me help you. He asked, ‘Have I unfairly singled out verses in the Qur’an to make Islam look bad, accusing it of promoting war?’"
"Yes. I’m told that Islam is a peace-loving religion and that the Qur’an doesn’t encourage terrorism. The problem isn’t Islam; it’s just a small group of extremists - kind of like the radical right in our country."
"Ever read the Qur’an?"
"No," she admitted.
"What do you think? The Qur’an and the Bible - are they similar?"
"Yes." That was an easy one. She smiled, appreciating the softball.
"No, they’re not. They don’t present a similar god, or even a similar path to God. The Qur’an has a single speaker and a single author, while the Bible has forty authors and probably a thousand speakers. One is grounded in a historical context; the other isn’t even chronological, much less historical. One was written over twenty years, the other over twenty centuries. Do you know who the speaker is in the Qur’an?"
"Muhammad," she said, knowing the answer.
"No. Actually, the Qur’an purports to be Allah speaking, never Muhammad. That’s a problem. There’s a quantum leap between the standard that must be upheld for someone speaking about God and someone speaking for God."
"Since it’s Allah who is allegedly speaking in the Qur’an, do you think it’s possible for God to forget?"
"No, but that’s assuming there is a God, and he’s it."
"Right on both accounts. Do you believe there is a god, Paula?"
"I don’t see why my beliefs are at issue here."
"You don’t? Don’t your beliefs shape your opinions? Don’t your opinions shape what you report?"
"I suppose so."
"Your program on CNN - it can be seen in how many homes?"
"Ninety-five million in America - several times that around the world."
"Then how can your beliefs not be at issue when they influence what you say to so many people?"
"I’m still not going to tell you what I believe."
"All right, let me ask you this. After the cameras are turned off, do you ever talk about issues like these with your colleagues?"
"Sure. We all gather at the same watering holes."
Adams knew they didn’t gather at the same churches and synagogues. Independent polls taken of major media personnel revealed that over ninety percent considered themselves "atheists or agnostics." A similar percentage labeled themselves "liberal."
"You’re immersed in politics all day long, aren’t you, Paula?"
"You pretty much have to be a political junkie to do this."
"Are you affected by it, or do you just go through the motions? In other words, do you care? Do you form opinions of your own?"
"Of course. We all do."
"When you talk with your colleagues, do you ever find yourself on the defensive, trying to justify a position that’s out of step with coworkers?
"Paula, have you ever called a liberal politician radical?" he asked to a blank stare. How about far left? Left wing? Liberal? Secular?"
Banks sat expressionless. She had never used such words.
"Have you ever used the term ‘radical’ in referring to conservatives? Religious right? Right wing? Far right?" he asked.
"Yes." There was no point denying the obvious.
"Do you recall using the term ‘massive buildup’ in describing Bush II’s increase in military spending?
"Yes. It was."
"How about ‘slashing’ when it came to the decrease in the increases in social programs?"
She, like the audience, laughed at the absurdity of it. "Yes, I suppose."
"When Bill Clinton slashed military programs, did you refer to the cuts as ‘slashing?’"
"Did you know, percentage and dollar-wise, the ‘slashes" were larger than the ‘massives’?"
Showing she was a good sport in addition to being biased, she smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
"Was that balanced reporting? Or did we see your opinions filtering into your words?"
"You’ve made your point, Admiral."
"And it’s important." He smiled and softened his voice. "The media’s bias is one of the reasons America is in the dark. It’s the reason we don’t know why Muslims killed our men in Somalia, or even why we had to go there. Or why Muslims killed our boys in Lebanon, or in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Or why they killed us in New York. Shall I go on, or would you like to tell your colleagues why we were in Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Would you like to explain what those who murdered us had in common?"
Ms. Banks tightened up and looked defiant. It was easier to be an expert when reading a prepared script on a teleprompter.
"History is my bag, Paula, so let me help you out here." He smiled.
"We were in Lebanon because Arab Muslims, under the banner of Hezbollah and aided by the Syrians and Iranians, started a civil war on religious grounds. Their very name tell us who they are: Hezbollah means Allah’s Party. The war they began destroyed a once-prosperous nation. They murdered tens of thousands. Our Marines tried to stop the killing but were killed instead - not by soldiers, but by truck-bomb terrorists.
"In Somalia, Muslim warlords killed three hundred thousand people, starving many to death. We felt compassion and delivered enormous amounts of food, only to have it stolen at gunpoint by these same Muslim warlords. The stolen food became their weapon of mass destruction; death became their ally. It was conform or starve. We went in militarily to help get the food to the innocents. The Muslim gunmen thanked us for feeding starving Islamic families by shooting our boys."
Banks nodded somberly.
"What nation kidnapped our embassy officials, Ms. Banks?"
"What faith did they profess?"
"And was that faith central to their actions?"
"What is the state religion of Iraq?"
"Did the dictatorial thug in control there use poisonous gas on tens of thousands of his own people? Did he invade a neighboring nation and then torch the place when he left?"
"We’ve had three embassies bombed and we’ve thwarted another three attempts. Was there any connection between these six attacks?"
"Yes. Islam again."
"Why were we in Afghanistan?"
"To disrupt al-Qaeda."
"Are they Roman Catholics?"
"The suicide bombers in Israel, are they Baptists?"
"Did the twin-tower twenty have anything in common - faith perhaps?"
"They were all Muslims, mostly from Saudi Arabia."
"Were those things just coincidental, or do you think they were real important to them? Did they say five ‘Hail-Muhammad-Allah-is-With-Thees’ before slitting the throats of the stewardesses?"
"Their instructions were all about saying their prayers to Allah."
"The truth, Paula, is that Islam is at the root of all of this madness. So why are you and your colleagues so intent upon ignoring the obvious?"
"It’s unfair to generalize that way, Admiral. I’ve had many Muslim clerics on my show who have clearly stated that Islam does not encourage war, that Jihad means spiritual struggle, not Holy War."
"In a moment I’m going to prove that the Muslim clerics are lying."
"Why bother, Admiral? It’s a free world. They’re entitled to believe whatever they want."
"First, their world isn’t the least bit free. Second, when what they believe causes them to kill us, it becomes our business."
"That sounds like an opinion, Admiral," Paula charged.
"Does it? What do you call an opinion, no matter how harsh or unpopular, that’s based upon irrefutable evidence?"
"Right. For example, the misguided nature of Nazi racial superiority, their willingness to trample their people’s rights, to kill their neighbors, and slaughter Jews is considered historical fact, not opinion. So it stands to reason that if the evidence for the misguided nature of Muslim racism, their willingness to oppress their people, attack their neighbors, and exterminate Jews is just as apparent, it too would be truth, not opinion."
"I’ll grant you that."
"In that case, Paula, the only reason you see one conclusion as truth and the other as opinion is that you know more about Nazism than you do about Islam. So since Muslim militants kill today based upon what their Prophet said and did, don’t you think we should learn about him, find out what he was like, and most importantly, determine what he had to say?"
"Okay. Where would you go to find this kind of information?"
"I-I don’t know." That was an embarrassing admission.
"Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone." Adams turned to the sea of reporters. "Does anyone know where to find these answers?"
No one stirred. It was like class, when the teacher asks a tough question and vainly searches the room for a volunteer.
"The answer can be found in three places. It’s a real short reading list. You can read the Qur’an. It’s allegedly Allah speaking, but I’m convinced it’s just Muhammad ranting. You can read the ‘official’ Muslim biographers. The earliest is Ibn Ishaq. Or you can read the Hadith, which contains Muhammad’s speeches. The most authentic, according to Muslim scholars, is al-Bukhari." He held up a copy and handed it to her.
"But before I have you read from it, I’d like to share some scripture from the Qur’an. I want you to come to terms with what I’ve learned: both the message and the messenger call Muslims to war. From the eighth surah: ‘And Allah said to the angels: ‘I am with you; go and strengthen the faithful for I shall fill the hearts of the infidels....’ Infidels, by the way, are defined in Qur’an 5:72 as Christians. ‘I shall fill the hearts of the infidels with terror.’" Adams wanted the audience to assimilate the direct link between Islam’s god and terror. "Allah continued to rant, ‘So smite them on their necks and every joint, and incapacitate them. For they opposed Allah and His Apostle; whoever opposes Allah and His Apostle should know that Allah is severe in his retribution. The punishment for the infidels is to taste the torment of Hell.’"
Adams read another verse from the same surah. "‘Allah wished to confirm the truth by wiping the unbelievers,’ that’s us, ‘out to the last.’ The most prevalent theme in the Qur’an is Allah’s caustic prescription of pain and suffering for Christians and Jews. The god of Islam and his Messenger want us dead."
Thor set the Qur’an down and looked at Paula, who was still holding the Hadith. She had it upside down. "I made the same mistake. Here," he said, helping her with it. "It reads from back to front. Now, remember how we got into this discussion - why I asked you to come up front?"
"Yes," she said. "You were asked, told really, that you unfairly singled out verses to paint Islam in a bad light, as if it was promoting war."
"Right. So before we begin, please read the editor’s notes confirming that al-Bukhari is the most legitimate and respected source.
She did, and said, "Their own scholars say this is the best they’ve got."
"Right. Now please turn to any page and read something to us."
"Sure. Anywhere at all."
She opened the book and began, "Number 891. It says here, ‘During the conquest of Mecca, Muhammad said, "There will be no more emigration allowed from Mecca, but only Jihad. Whenever you are called for Jihad, you must go immediately."’ Wow. This links the Prophet to the conquest of Mecca. Then it says he ordered Jihad as opposed to allowing emigration. That’s quite an indictment."
"Maybe it was just a lucky fluke," Thor smiled. "Try again."
She opened to another page. "Verse 34. ‘The Prophet said, Allah gives a person who participates in holy battles in Allah’s Cause either a reward, or booty, if he survives; or he will be admitted to Paradise if he is killed in the battle as a martyr.’ That’s ugly. Worse, it confirms what you just told us."
"How does the verse end, Paula?"
"It says Muhammad wanted to fight in the army and become a martyr."
She continued to read one section after another, each condemning Islam, each explaining why Muslims terrorize. With each successive selection, she merely slumped lower in her chair. "We’ve been purposely duped," Banks said, just loud enough to be heard. "I had no idea. This is horrible. How could anybody buy into this...."
"Mean-spirited, racist, intolerant, belligerent, pejorative, unenlightened, delusional, perverse, hate-mongering religion?" Adams offered, borrowing his list of adjectives from the reporter from NBC. Thor winked at Mr. Clanduse. He did not wink back.
"Yes, it’s obvious. Islam promotes war."
"Let’s get one thing straight. The God of the Bible and Muhammad’s Allah are not the same. In fact, they have very little in common. One wants us to forgive; the other seeks revenge. One says you shall not commit murder; the other says paradise awaits those who murder. One commands us not to covet; the other encourages plunder. One’s heaven is all about love; the other’s is about lust."
The Admiral asked Paula for the book, flipping through the pages. "Listen to this. ‘Allah’s Messenger said, "I have been made victorious with terror - casting it into the hearts of the enemy."’ Sounds exactly like what Allah said in the eighth surah. Same speech writer, perhaps."
"Yes, and more importantly, it explains why Muslims are terrorists."
"It’s little wonder they butcher women and children," he remarked. "‘This headline from the Book of Jihad asks: ‘Is it Permissible to Attack Enemies at Night with the Probability of Killing Babies?’"
Paula gasped. Her eyes widened. "He said no, right?"
"Sorry. ‘Muhammad was asked whether it was permissible for Muslim warriors to attack infidels and disbelievers for Allah and his Messenger Muhammad at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They, the women and children, are from them, from the infidels."’"
The Admiral reached his hand back, as Sarah drew a copy of the Qur’an from her purse. Opening it to the fifth surah, Thor read verse 72. "‘They are surely infidels who say, "God is the Christ, son of Mary."’ ‘Disbelievers are those who say, "God is the third of the trinity."’ I share that with you, Paula, just in case you didn’t know that the infidels and disbelievers are Christians. That’s why Muslims think they have authorization to kill American women and children."
"Then Osama bin-Laden was right when he said it was permissible."
"Yes, but the Islamic television network, al-Jazeera, had a conniption fit, insisting it wasn’t, because they knew such evidence would condemn Islam. Your network was no better. CNN said bin Laden was an extremist, a radical, someone who had perverted Islam. But according to Muhammad, terror, the killing of non-combatants, is perfectly okay, so long as they’re Christians or Jews."
Thor looked at Paula. "Having met personally with Islamic terrorists, I am deeply troubled by both the bias of CNN’s reporting and by its relationship with al-Jazeera. You realize you used to share everything. You were aiding and abetting our enemy."
"But that’s all behind us now. We stopped working with them a few months after the 9/11 attacks," Banks interjected. "Al-Jazeera got the only interview with bin-Laden and didn’t share it with us."
"There’s a reason for that. Al-Jazeera didn’t want it to run, even claimed it wasn’t ‘newsworthy’, because it proved Islam itself provides the motivation and the justification for terrorist attacks."
"That’s clear to me now. It even explains why the reporter from al-Jazeera was so chummy with Osama. He gave him questions in advance, even interrupted him when he needed help with his answers."
"Paula, can you explain why CNN entangled itself in such a wicked web in the first place? You had to know al-Jazeera had done more to promote fanatical Islam than any organization on the planet. Without al-Jazeera, al-Qaeda wouldn’t have been able to drum up enough support to sink a rubber ducky in a bathtub," Adams quipped.
Paula frowned. "They used us. It’s embarrassing."
"Al-Jazeera's all about promoting the demented doctrine of Islam. That makes them terrorists. Thousands have died as a result."
"Thor returned to the Hadith. ‘No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, if somebody discards his religion, kill him.’ Can you imagine a ‘religion’ so perverse you have to kill to maintain adherents?"
He looked back down and flipped a page. "‘Allah’s Apostle has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah alone or give us tribute,’ that is, convert at sword point or pay a tax. It goes on to say, ‘And our Prophet has informed us that Allah says: "Whoever among us is martyred shall go to Paradise to lead a luxurious life beyond imagination, and whoever among us survives the battle shall become your master."’ How are the it’s-a-peaceful-religion folks gonna explain that one?"
Thor pointed to the headline above Chapter 73: War Is Deceit. That’s how," he said, holding it so Paula could see. "These words, as much as any, encapsulate Muhammad’s world view. His ‘religion’ is a lie."
Thor sighed heavily. "‘The Prophet said, ‘Caesar will be ruined and you will spend his treasures in Allah’s Cause.’ And, ‘The Prophet appointed the commander of the infantrymen and archers, saying, ‘see that we defeat the infidels.’" Shaking his head, he read the next pearl from Muhammad’s lips. "‘The booty! O people, the booty! Your companions have become victorious in the battle. What are you waiting for?’ Allah’s Messenger said, ‘By Allah! We will go to the enemy and collect our share from the war booty.’ The peace-loving Prophet goes on to say, ‘Some of your casualties were mutilated. I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for what they did.’"
"May I?" Paula asked for the book.
The Admiral was more than willing to give it up. The words of Muhammad were as disgusting as Allah’s. It was obvious they deserved each other. It was obvious they were one and the same.
Paula read, "‘Allah will endow a person with an understanding of the Qur’an, so that he understands the ransom of blood-money for captives, and the judgment that no Muslim should be killed for killing an infidel.’ That’s a license to kidnap and kill."
Flipping to chapter 79, she read, "‘The Prophet on his deathbed gave orders saying, "Expel infidels in the name of Allah and His Messenger Muhammad from the Arabian Peninsula."’"
"Here," he said, reaching for the book, "let’s try some other Islamic verses on for size. You tell me if Muhammad sounds like a Prophet. Heck, tell me if he even sounds sane." Adams flipped a couple of pages. "He testifies that ‘the Qur’an is from Allah like the Torah.’ How is that possible? Every account is different, including the god they describe. If the Torah is Allah-inspired, how can it contradict Allah’s Qur’an?"
He flipped backwards. "This little pearl says that Allah’s religion is so dimwitted, the only way to promote it is at the point of a sword. ‘So Allah had brought about the battle for the good of His Messenger in order that they might embrace Islam.’ Along those lines, here’s one that says, ‘Allah’s Messenger took revenge for Allah’s sake.’"
Thor continued. "Muhammad claims, ‘Jesus is Allah’s slave, His Messenger, and His Word.’ Then the Prophet says, ‘He was born of the virgin Maryam and was created by Allah’s Spirit.’ He even claims that the Gospels are Allah’s word. But doesn’t that make Islam a lie, since Muhammad contradicts everything Jesus says?
He turned a few more pages. "Muhammad has the roughest time understanding stuff. And unfortunately, his ‘revelations’ from Allah don’t help much. For example, ‘The Prophet asked me at sunset, "Do you know where the sun goes?" He said, "It prostrates itself beneath Allah’s throne, and asks permission to rise again. It is permitted; the sun prostrates itself but it is not acceptable. Again it will ask permission to go on its course, but Allah will order the sun to return whence it has come, so it will rise in the west."’ Let me ask you, Paula, would you be inclined to believe the promise of paradise from a guy who proclaims such drivel? In this one quote, he says the sun prostrates itself, it asks permission, Allah changes his mind, the sun - not the earth - has a course, and it rises in the west. Would you be willing to commit murder to attain this man’s paradise?"
The reporter was visibly shaken. "No" was all she said.
"While we’re on the subject of scientific accuracy, Muhammad reports that the Jews got lost and ‘they were cursed and transformed into rats.’ While I can’t quite follow the connection, in the same speech the Prophet informs us, ‘If a man has sexual intercourse with his wife and discharges first, the child will resemble the father, and if the woman gets discharge first, the child will resemble her.’ I bet you didn’t know that."
The reporters had finally relaxed enough to have a good laugh.
"Oh, and did you know that according to Muhammad, in Verse 71, ‘Women will increase in number and men will decrease, so that fifty women will be looked after by one man.’ Okay, settle down, folks, the Prophet is an expert when it comes to this sort of thing. ‘Allah’s Messenger, the truly inspired one said, "In the matter of the creation, a human being is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days. And then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period."’"
They all chuckled.
"Who here, by a show of hands, wants to trust this guy with their soul?" They all stopped laughing.
"I wouldn’t either. The Prophet revealed this little treasure from Judgment Day. ‘Adam will ask: "How many people are suffering in the Hell Fire?" Allah will say: "Nine hundred and ninety-nine of every one thousand."’ Sounds like terrible odds to me."
"Here’s another pearl. ‘The Prophet said, "Yawning is from Satan, and if anyone of you yawns, he should stop yawning as soon as possible; for if anyone of you, while yawning, exclaims, ‘Ha,’ Satan will laugh at him."’ And we wouldn’t want that, would we? ‘Allah says a bad or evil dream is from Satan; so if you have one and become afraid you should spit on your left side.’ Now you know which side of the bed to sleep on. ‘Muhammad added, "If one of you awakes from sleep and performs the ablution, he should wash his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out three times, because Satan has stayed in the upper part of his nose all night."’ I hate it when he does that."
Now nearly doubled over, the crowd of jaundiced journalists were hysterical, rolling in the aisles.
"This one explains a lot. Aisha, the fifty-three-year-old Prophet’s nine-year-old wife, said, ‘Magic was worked on the Prophet so that he began to fancy himself doing things which did not actually happen. He has been bewitched.’ Pretty much tells you all you need to know about Islam. And in case you doubt Aisha’s credentials, Muhammad said, ‘"The superiority of Aisha to other women is like the superiority of the Tharid," that’s a meat and bread dish, "to all other meals."’ I mean, how can you top Tharid? Aisha went on to say, ‘"Anyone who claims Muhammad saw Allah is telling a great lie, for he only saw Gabriel in his genuine form, covering the whole horizon."’ That’s a problem, since her husband said he met with Allah.
"In the same chapter, she claimed that the Prophet said, ‘"Aisha, this is Gabriel and he sends his greetings and salutations to you." Aisha said, "Offer my salutations and greetings to him and may Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon him." Then, addressing the Prophet, she said, "You see what I don’t see."’"
The audience, especially the media, were beside themselves, hollering irreverently, laughing, some even clapping.
"Oh, you’ll like this quote: ‘"O Allah’s Apostle, this ordinary fire would have been sufficient to torture the disbelievers." But Allah’s Messenger said, "The Hell Fire is sixty-nine times hotter than the ordinary worldly fire. It is so hot that the intestines will come out, and those thrown into Hell Fire will go around like a donkey goes around a millstone dragging them."’
"Now don’t be laughing, ladies; this Hell’s for you. In chapter seventeen, The prophet said, ‘"I was shown the Hell Fire and the majority of its inhabitants were women who were ungrateful to their husbands."’ But for you guys, I’ve got good news! Talking about Paradise, Allah’s Messenger said, ‘"There will be no spitting, nose blowing, or relieving nature. Sweat will smell like musk and everyone will have two wives; the marrow of their bones will be seen through their flesh out of excessive beauty."’ That’s a good thing, I guess.
"But you’d better hurry. Wonder why there’s such a rush to get into Paradise, why there are so many suicide bombers? I’m going to read this exactly as it’s written: ‘The Prophet, peace be unto him, said, "Verily! 70,000 or 700,000 of my followers will enter Paradise altogether."’ Think about that. Whichever number you use, the odds aren’t good. There have been well over two billion Muslims. That means fewer than one in every three thousand Muslims are going to get their two translucent wives in paradise. It’s a weenie roast for the rest of ’em, I suppose. Better stock up on the sunscreen, brothers - SPF 5,000 might do."
He turned the page and turned serious again. "I could read Mo-isms all day long, but I’m going to end with these. Verse 1294: ‘The Prophet said, "If a Muslim discards his religion, kill him."’ Chapter 18, the Book of Prayer, ‘Allah’s Messenger said, "I burned the houses of the men who did not present themselves for the compulsory prayer."’"
The Admiral was quiet for a long moment. "Folks, when I started on this quest, this is not what I was looking for. All I expected to find - all I wanted to find - was something that caused a small percentage of Muslims to become extremists, something that caused them to pervert their religion. What I found instead was a perverted religion."
He closed the book. "It’s an unholy alliance of money, mullahs, madrases, and madmen. Working in cahoots with the Muslim media, they have force-fed this crap to millions. But the good news is, once the alliance is separated from the masses, peace will ultimately prevail. These people and their perverted doctrine are the enemy - not the billion people they hold in virtual slavery - at least not yet."
He turned again toward Paula Banks. "What do you suppose you’d do and say if you lived in Nazi Germany?"
"You’d go along and at least feign support for the Nazi agenda, or you’d be sent off as a slave laborer to a concentration camp."
"That’s right, Paula. And if you lived in the Soviet Union, would it be smarter to toe the Communist line, or openly condemn it?"
"I suppose that if Stalin or any of his cronies thought you were critical of their, their...."
"Atheistic, totalitarian, murderous dictatorship?" Thor interrupted.
"Yes. If you disagreed with them, you’d be eliminated."
"Dissent was costly - you’d pay with your life. Everyone knows that Hitler was good at killing Russians. But Stalin was even better, murdering in excess of ten million of his own people, many of them for no other reason than he perceived them to be a threat. Atheistic governments are as tolerant and peace loving as Islamic ones. So what do you think happens if you criticize Islam in any of their dictatorial states?"
"Same thing. Imprisonment or death."
"That’s right, Paula. Population control is the only thing dictators are good at. Now, what happened to support for Nazism when Hitler, Goebbels, and others were put out of business?"
The historian in Adams surfaced. "The expressed support for Nazism fell from ninety-eight percent to two percent. And what happened to the glitter of the Communist Party when Reagan exposed them for what they really were, evil, and when he forced them to compete with our revitalized economy?"
"It vanished too, a little more slowly, but it clearly waned."
"Correct again. Now, Ms. Banks, two final questions. What do you think would happen to the support that Muslims feign for this demented doctrine if we stopped the indoctrination of youth in the madrases, cut the flow of money, took away the guns, and freed them from their repressive regimes?"
"Support would vanish, just as it has in the past."
"Very good. And then, what would happen to terrorism?"
"There would be no more terrorism."
Thor smiled. "Class dismissed."