This is exactly what should happen to a political candidate who boasts of his indifference to the educational welfare of tens of thousands of New York City children.

UD has watched with pleasure as Andrew Yang’s mayoral bid tanks. In a just political universe, you don’t brag that you’ll let cultists keep their children in ignorance, placing the burden of their support as lifetime unemployables on the New York taxpayer, without paying a heavy price. Good on you, NYC.

Couple this with events in Israel, and hey.

But hold onto your hat. Expect, in both cities, ultraorthodox riots. They’ll be really, really bad in Israel.

“Have you followed the news out of Czechia?” asked Mr UD this morning…

… as we ate breakfast while staring out the window at the hummingbirds who have found our crop of bee balm.

“Horrid terrorists. No.”

“Not Chechnya. Czechia.”

“Is that… the latest name for Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic, etc.?”


“Should I … ha-ha … czech it out?”

“Check out their Pirate Party. They might actually win the next election.”

“With a name like Pirate Party? Wow.”

So UD checked them out.


All members of the Pirate Party look like extras on the set of Easy Rider. (There is a tradition of this.) Except for their leader, who looks like Bo Derek. They are very cool, very anti-corruption, very personal liberty. When the current government refused to thank Taiwan for donating anti-covid medical supplies (wouldn’t want to offend China), the Pirate Party put up an enormous THANK YOU TAIWAN image during an anti-corruption rally.

‘[W]hile Trump is an extreme manifestation, his authoritarian impulses are not purely idiosyncratic. Skepticism of democracy as a value has deep roots in conservative thought. While conservative parties in other countries accommodate[d] themselves to democratic control over the economy generations ago, the American right has never relinquished its belief that allowing majorities to redistribute income at the ballot box is a fundamental violation of liberty… [W]hen Trump disappears from the scene, the authoritarian threat will not.’

A reminder, from Jonathan Chait, that those of us fond of liberty need to rev our eternal vigilance engines.

‘These outward manifestations of faith are varied and beautiful. They are not for those outside the religion to judge.’

A sweet little propaganda morsel in the Bennington Banner instructs us that women covered head to toe in black is beautiful. We are to find this beautiful.

Nowhere in her celebration of invisible women does the propagandist remember to add that we are also to find children – just little girls, of course – covered head to toe beautiful; or that we are to find compulsory female covering in Iran and other countries beautiful. Varied, beautiful, and you’re going to jail for a long time if you and your children don’t veil.

“Many modern nuns have abandoned” their black coverings, the author notes, and I wonder why. And I wonder why it doesn’t occur to her that there’s a difference between modern nuns free to abandon old ways and millions of Afghan and Saudi women (ordinary women, not people who have joined religious orders) who face imprisonment and even death if they throw off their robes. Who at the very least face physical attacks on the street from men who see them uncovered.

The author tsk-tsks all the weird unwoke anti-burqa legislation coming out of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but never inquires about whether that legislation means anything other than (as she believes) visceral hatred and fear.

“Within our own country and around the world, religious garments say, ‘I believe this.”

Sometimes they say that. Sometimes they say I revile what I’m wearing but I can’t do anything about it. Sometimes they say There are places in the world where men can legally fully cover women, or intimidate them into being fully covered, but this secular republic shouldn’t be one of them.

And it matters what this is, doesn’t it? Are we really not allowed to judge people who say “I believe apostates should be killed”? What about people who say “I believe we should bring back burning at the stake”?

One way to avoid writing propaganda is to read a little bit about your subject. The question of veiling is not solved by agreeing to judge something that a lot of people find appalling beautiful. The matter is complex. One might start here.

“A returnee will always present a risk, some of them low, some of them very high,” [a researcher] said, adding that returnees could potentially radicalize inmates in prison or attempt attacks. “Yet the consequences of non-repatriation are increasingly outweighing those risks.”

An update from the New York Times on deliberations about repatriating ISIS women and their children. Are they still ISIS adherents? Impossible to know. Are they – as their advocates insist – poor fools who got trafficked and deserve sympathy? Well, but then they’re poor fools who got trafficked and can get trafficked again. (Those who’ve talked for the record, like Shamima Begum, tend to deny the trafficking bit and admit the ideology turned them on.)

[Belgium’s justice minister] said that any of the women wanting to return to Belgium would have to prove that they mean no harm to the country. “If they have not distanced themselves from ISIS ideology, they will remain on site,” he said.

Sounds a little naive, doesn’t it? Will Belgium ask them to recite the Scout’s Pledge?

So my thing is that France already has plenty of ordinary anonymous hardworking people/ISIS fanatics preparing the next attack on Paris, and one assumes the French state spends large sums of money tracking them and their circle. At the very least, returning demonstrated, way-hardcore ISIS adherents to the country who are really sorry now means far more, and far more extensive, surveillance work.

Not that I want to alarm you, but…

For the first time since 1860, a major American political party doesn’t believe America is a democracy. No Republican will win a contested primary in 2022 or 2024 who will assert that Biden is a legal president.

Far out.

As a defender of burqa bans, UD definitely squirmed when she read that the French Senate just passed a law (it won’t be enacted; it won’t move past the Senate) prohibiting girls under eighteen from wearing hijabs.

Burqa bans, like marijuana, can be gateway drugs; they can lead to more dangerous bans. And while UD agrees that little girls are obviously unable to give consent to the hijab, the more important principle here is one of restraint and religious liberty. For UD, the burqa/hijab difference has to do with a fundamentally uncivil refusal to be visible in the public realm, vs. a visible face, a willingness to be identified as part of a free and equal society. Female-identity-crushing burqas are eccentric to any authentically egalitarian setting, whereas hijabs allow wearers to remain within the democratic orbit.

“Why she chose to leave [Australia for the ISIS caliphate]… is unclear.”

Yet again we get the infantilized woman, the woman incapable of ideological clarity and conviction. We can never know why Suhayra Aden left Australia for the ISIS caliphate! A moral idiot, like all women, Aden must have been victimized by some clever man who talked her into boiling away in the stinking desert so as to be treated as sexual chattel by one ISIS fighter after another.

Now the men… ah, the men grasp the content of fanatic Islamism, and they like it, see? So we can hold them accountable. “It’s unclear what role, if any, Aden may have had in ISIS.” Not only was she just really confused as to where she was and why, she probably didn’t … do anything. But what can this mean? Lived in the caliphate for years doing… nothing. Nothing to promote a terrorist state. Nothing besides hanging around being an idiot.

If you want to know why no state – even places like New Zealand, which pride themselves on being humane and progressive – wants this woman, you have to understand that while some observers seem to believe she’s harmless solely because she’s a woman, actual politicians tasked with protecting actual people have eyes in their head. The same group of fanatics she hung out with in Australia are still there in the home country, ready to take her back into the fold. You think she’s an idiot, but Australian security services will need to spend years, money, and plenty of personnel tracking her once she returns.

Put her on trial in Australia, you say? She could have murdered ten people; the chaos that was ISIS and the burqa as fashion choice makes it almost impossible to find documentation and witnesses.

No, UD does not think this woman and her children should stay in the desert. Authorities should first try to convince Aden that the children’s best interests are served by sending them to family in Australia, if family willing to take them exists.


Australia and New Zealand are locked in a nasty battle over which country has to take this woman in; both have dug in their heels. As Jacinda Arden notes, Australia has the greater claim:

“It is wrong that New Zealand should shoulder the responsibility for a situation involving a woman who has not lived in New Zealand since she was 6, has resided in Australia since that time, has her family in Australia and left for Syria from Australia on her Australian passport.”

But Australia has revoked her citizenship.

Constant readers know UD‘s suggestion. With money from sympathizers, Aden can try buying citizenship in any number of countries. Some will reject her; but if they agree with those who believe that because she’s a woman she’s harmless, others will take her. Her children can visit her there. Not the worst outcome for her.

Terse, matter of fact, rational.

And for that reason devastating.

Israel is one of the few countries whose fundamental character is imperiled… Modern Israel cannot survive [Haredi cultural regression]—there will be no one to fund it—unless the Haredim fundamentally change their behavior and worldview, of which there are no signs. It is more reasonable to foresee that, if anything, the process will be accelerated by secular flight…. [Even small changes will draw from the Haredim] charges of “anti-Semitism” and probably rioting in the streets.

Dan Perry lays it out in eighteen stark paragraphs: Israel is a democracy rapidly transitioning to a rather violent theocracy. One of its most powerful political parties simply rejects the authority of the state; suicidally and homicidally ignores covid laws; and bars women from running for office because public life of any form “isn’t their natural place.” If women must go outside, gender segregation and heavy physical covering is a must.

Established as a secular democracy, Israel is well on its way to making Saudi Arabia look enlightened. Yet because its current cultural grotesquerie has been a gradual process, people don’t really see it. They don’t see the secular brain drain, the out-of-it authoritarian rabbis, the masses of illiterate children. Maybe they take in the endless court judgments against appalling haredi behavior; but then they miss the fact that the haredim ignore all such judgments.

The Jew with literary history’s most fantastical, malignant imagination – Kafka – could never have imagined contemporary Israel. It exceeds even his mental grasp.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Scathes Through a Statement from Shamima Begum’s Lawyer.

She’s stuck in a rancid ISIS prisoner camp, and England won’t take her back. Intelligence services believe that this fanatic (she says that’s all over) continues to represent a threat to the country.

Here’s her attorney on the subject:

What happened to Christian forgiveness? Does it not apply to a woman — and a dark-skinned one at that? It seems that different rules apply… Is it perhaps that some of us are more British than others of us? Shamima is of Bangladeshi descent, does that change her right to British nationality? I am tempted to think it does…

SOS says: Manifold are the ways one can speak up on behalf of one’s client. Admittedly, this attorney has a superjumbo problem on her hands, since her client not only renounced her British citizenship when she embraced Islamic State citizenship, she also committed vile acts (suicide vest sewing; slave-ownership; public support of mass murder in Europe and beheadings in the caliphate, etc.) and has expressed little remorse for her extensive blood-thirstiness. But SOS wonders whether lazily pushing certain buttons is the best one might do for Begum.

The lawyer’s weakest button is the Christian thing. Not sure she’s looked around at England lately, but it’s the land of empty churches. It rivals France for empty churches. If you’re going to go the Christian route, try getting her American citizenship. We’re the land of full churches…

But, you know, 135,000 slaughtered Assyrians later, I’m not sure you’re going to have much success in that direction either. Better drop the whole Christian thing.

That leaves sexism and racism. UD readers already know my take on the there there little woman you can come back cuz you’re a stupid harmless li’l thing approach to this problem. The sexism in the Begum story locates itself firmly in defenders who believe – claim to believe – that women are just too nice to be mean, and too dense to form serious, protracted, ideological commitments.

There are of course many light-skinned people among those that various countries have refused to repatriate. ISIS enjoyed a broad appeal.

Finally, yes: Begum is of Bangladeshi descent. And it is to Bangladesh that her lawyer should direct citizenship claims.

Number 12 of Timothy Snyder’s “Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century” in his book about How to Avoid Tyranny:

MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SMALL TALK. [This is part of] being a citizen and a responsible member of society.

Burqa enthusiasts simply don’t care about this; for them, the total blacking out of women on the streets of their cities represents a higher value than responsible citizenship, than the open mutuality of open faces. An outfit designed to repel interaction – an outfit which, most shockingly and insultingly, features mesh over the mouth of a woman (small talk? no talk), fits perfectly, as Snyder’s argument suggests, in a tyrannical setting like Saudi Arabia. It has no place in a democracy, and, as Kunwar Khuldune Shahid’s very long list of democratic – and would-be democratic – countries where burqas are outlawed suggests, more countries and municipalities realize that every day. Switzerland is only the latest; it will not be the last.

It’s Official: Switzerland Now Joins Much of the Rest of Europe in Having a…

…national ban on the wearing of burqas/niqabs.

‘A projection for national public broadcaster SRG nearly two hours after polls closed put support for the proposal at 52%, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Lukas Golder of polling agency gfs.bern told SRG’s SRF television channel that a defeat was “practically almost ruled out.”’

We should know the results of the Swiss national referendum on banning face coverings at some point today. Critics are of course right that, although the language of the proposal says nothing about burqas and niqabs, it is primarily aimed at those garments.

Constant readers know that UD supports burqa bans; she has gone into excruciating detail, over many years, about why she does. Although Switzerland doesn’t need a big majority for the referendum to pass, UD hopes that the result is strong enough to continue making the point to men who won’t let their wives and daughters leave the house unswaddled, and to women who for whatever reason believe they cannot “face” the world (all men are rapists so I must be invisible to protect myself; and it pleases God, are the two most popular motives, as attested to by burqa-wearers), that democratic societies firmly reject their world view.


I personally find that when there’s a confrontation between everything I love – scientific inquiry, reason, cosmopolitanism, secularism, the emancipation of women … and everything I hate – stone-age fascism – it’s a no-brainer.

I felt exhilaration on the eleventh of September. I feel slightly ashamed to say that, in the view of the fact that so many people lost their lives that day, but when the day was over and I’d been through the gamut of rage and disgust and nausea … when I went into it with myself, I was pleased to find I was exuberant: Okay. Right. I’ll never get bored fighting against these people, and their defeat will be absolute. It will be complete.

It’s one thing for a country like America to deal with citizen-terrorists.

Turns out we have quite a few, so we have to up the physical protection of the Capitol, authorize commissions, etc., etc. Latest thing is that a bunch of them want to blow up the Capitol during Biden’s State of the Union address.

So okay, Trump-radicalized home-grown terror cells pose a terrible threat to the nation and we need to act on this.

Non-citizen terrorists are a whole nother thing. Most people I think would agree that a country doesn’t troll for foreign terrorists held in Syrian camps just to add more spice to the stew. Yet this is one way of thinking about what England has been faced with in the long court case of Shamima Begum, who, having left England to join ISIS, lost her citizenship.

ISIS futures don’t look very robust at the moment, and Begum wants back in; and plenty of well-intentioned people argue that she was young and stupid and groomed when she did what she did, and that she should at least be allowed back in to argue her case for renewal of British citizenship.

Yet there’s a pretty solid bottom line here: British intelligence services have determined that Begum remains a really dangerous person who should not under any circumstances be allowed back to England. They’d rather not go into detail, since that would compromise all sorts of people and things, but intelligence assures us that Begum remains a significant threat to national security.

An appeals court did rule that she should indeed be allowed back in Britain to plead her case; but now the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected that appeal, noting that the court of appeal “mistakenly believed that, when an individual’s right to have a fair hearing… came into conflict with the requirements of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail.”

UD, who has followed Begum’s case closely [scroll down], has long shared with her readers her confidence that Begum will never be allowed back into the country she betrayed and attacked. The decision of the court does not surprise UD, and neither does its unanimity. The way forward for Begum is to attempt Bangladeshi citizenship (her parents are from Bangladesh); and, if that fails, she should try to gather funds from supporters to buy citizenship in a country that offers that possibility.

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