Saturday, February 12, 2005

Stop Making Sense!

Academic Freedom - A Dying Concept
Prof. Churchill is definitely out on a limb - the guy seems to have some unresolved issues. I disagree with his conclusions, but he makes some good points that made me think. I mean, let's face it, anyone who believes that 9/11 happened because "they hate us because of our freedoms" just isn't thinking with an open mind.

Isn't this what college is all about, though? It presents ideas, forces one to evaluate those ideas, and then draw one's own conclusions about the ideas. Of course some professors are unable to separate their personal beliefs from their grading policy and score those who disagree with them lower; but I believe this is the exception to the rule. College professors seem to universally understand that the purpose of college is to expand one's horizons. The student has lived at home their entire life, and may be experiencing a new culture for the first time. This is the first chance to introduce the student to new concepts and new ideas that the student may never have had a chance to be exposed to previously. Some of these ideas the student will attach to, some they will reject. In short, college is where a great many Americans 'grow up' and learn who they are and start forming the foundation of what they believe.


Restricting what can be said or taught in the classroom to only vanilla non-controversial matter would retard college into high school. The entire concept of college is to be challenged.


I don't agree with Ward Churchill. After reading his paper, I concluded that I don't agree with Ward Churchill. Let the college students have that same freedom. Remember that college students have a choice over which classes they take, and which professors they sign up for. If a student is particularly averse to a professor, they can choose another professor. Academic freedom is vital - it is necessary - to the higher education system. To limit that, to stifle that challenge and growing experience, would be to emasculate the entire post-secondary education system.

Are the world's leaders having a blond moment?

John Maxwell seems to think so. Well that would explain why folks like Bush and Blair (and their various apologists) can giggle like a bunch of schoolgirls at the atrocities they've committed in Iraq and elsewhere.

Follow the torture trail

Following a Paper Trail to the Roots of Torture reviews the new book edited by Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel, The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib.
As soon as the repugnant photos of torture at Abu Ghraib prison - the pyramid of naked prisoners, the groveling man on a dog leash, the hooded man with outstretched arms - hit the airwaves and newspaper stands, they became iconic images: gruesome symbols of what went wrong with the war and postwar occupation of Iraq, and for many in the Muslim world, the very embodiment of their worst fears about American hegemony.

They have become a potent propaganda tool for terrorists, and at the same time, they remain so repellant and perverse that they have served to bolster the "few bad apples" argument - the suggestion not only that the photographed abuses were perpetrated by "a kind of 'Animal House' on the night shift," in one investigator's words, but also that the larger problem was confined, as the Bush administration has asserted, to a few soldiers acting on their own.

"The Torture Papers," the new compendium of government memos and reports chronicling the road to Abu Ghraib and its aftermath, definitively blows such arguments to pieces. In fact, the book provides a damning paper trail that reveals, in uninflected bureaucratic prose, the roots that those terrible images had in decisions made at the highest levels of the Bush administration - decisions that started the torture snowball rolling down the slippery slope of precedent by asserting that the United States need not abide by the Geneva Conventions in its war on terror.

Many of the documents here have been published before (most notably in Mark Danner's incisive 2004 volume "Torture and Truth"), but "The Torture Papers" contains some material not collected in earlier books. More important, the minutely detailed chronological narrative embodied in this volume, which has appeared piecemeal in other publications, possesses an awful and powerful cumulative weight. As one of its editors. Karen J. Greenberg, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law, observes, it leaves the reader with "a clear sense of the systematic decision to alter the use of methods of coercion and torture that lay outside of accepted and legal norms."

The book is necessary, if grueling, reading for anyone interested in understanding the back story to those terrible photos from Saddam Hussein's former prison, and abuses at other American detention facilities.

It's Official:

Howard Dean's the new DNC Chair. It's safe to say that he and I don't exactly share the same ideology, but what we do share is a desire to reform the Democrat Party and a general propensity to fight. In the meantime, if you've got some spare coin and happen to dig on what Dean's planning to do as chair, send a donation to the DNC. I've added a donation box over on the sidebar that looks something like this:

Contribution amount:

Academic Freedom Watch: Once More Around the Internets

Killing is Good by Margaret Kimberly:
Churchill’s goose was cooked when the right wing propaganda and phony outrage machine got wind of his remarks. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News was particularly upset. He exhorted his viewer minions to rant and rail against Hamilton College, where Churchill was scheduled to speak. Hamilton cancelled the event after some of the angry white men summoned by O’Reilly and his ilk threatened violence.

Bill O’Reilly is an odd person to express outrage over what he calls hate speech. Here’s what he said on his show of March 31, 2004:

“I don't care about the people of Fallujah. You're not going to win their hearts and minds. They're going to kill you to the very end. They've proven that. So let's knock this place down . . we know what the final solution should be.”

Churchill learned the hard way that using provocative words may get attention, but if those words criticize the powerful they are regarded in a worse light than the war crimes that kill thousands of human beings around the world. O’Reilly very nearly got his wish for a final solution in Fallujah. American troops killed an estimated 6,000 people before destroying that city and making it uninhabitable.

While unfortunate hyperbole brought about violent language and very nearly violent deeds at one college, students at a Christian university engaged in a sickening homage to bloodlust. The College Republicans at Jesuit-run Marquette University raised money for an organization called “Adopt a Sniper.” The aforementioned charity raises money to “Help real snipers get the real gear they need to help keep us safe.” In order to help get real gear for real snipers students sold bracelets bearing these lovely words: “1Shot, 1 Kill, No Remorse I Decide.” Fine words at a school run by the Society of Jesus.

Politicians of all stripes are outdoing themselves to get Churchill fired from his job and run out of town on a rail. Like the College Republicans at Marquette these same people argue in favor of violence as long as the U.S. military is the only group doing the killing. No remorse. I decide.

The corporate media who propagandize Americans with photos of Iraqis voting in a rigged election will whip us into a frenzy about a college professor whose name few of us knew. They refused to tell us about torture in Guantanamo and the phony case for occupying Iraq. Israel is on the verge of attacking Iran with the permission of the United States, and we hear nothing about the horror that act will bring to the world and to the American people. Murderers are in charge at the Justice Department and the State Department but college professors who are too eager to be provocative must get the heave ho.

column about and interview with Ward Churchill:
The Man in the Maelstrom
by Pamela White

Boulder Weekly: What were you doing on Sept. 11 when you first heard about the terrorist attacks?

Ward Churchill: I was on the word processor working on an extended essay on American Indians in films, which I had been working on for some time... The phone rang. It was Kathleen Cleaver. She said, "Is your TV on?" I said, "No." She said, "Well, turn it on, because a plane just hit the World Trade Center." So probably within five minutes from the time the first plane hit I watched it in real time.

I suppose like everybody else, I was stunned... I knew it was real, but still there was this disbelief thing. And to be fair about it, that was probably affecting everyone, including the people who had set up the cameras and were filming the thing as it occurred—probably more so for them because they were watching it for real.

But it struck me even before the first building came down that this was already being framed. It was proclaimed to be "senseless" before the first building came down, and senseless means "without purpose," and that seemed absolutely absurd to me on its face. How could they possibly know? There are planes being hijacked all over the country. Two of them have hit the World Trade Center. One of them has hit the Pentagon. There's another one loose. But whoever's doing this has no purpose.

And then there's the outrage: How can this happen? Well, there's various ways you could take it, like, "How did they penetrate the air defense?" But I don't think that's the nature of the question. That was not my sense. It was more like, "What could possibly provoke somebody to do this?" OK, that question and, "Why do they hate us?"

All of that [struck me]—both the framing of it as being senseless and the amazingly stupid questions as to what would provoke somebody to do this.

Reggie Rivers Column:
The essay is not a scholarly document. It's not subtle, reasonable or balanced. In fact, Churchill states in the addendum that it's more of a "stream-of-consciousness interpretive reaction to the Sept. 11 counterattack than a finished topic on the piece." I'd say that's a fair assessment.


But while it's easy to attack Churchill's inflammatory words, it's harder to deny the core argument of his essay. It is a critique of U.S. policies around the globe, particularly the 12 years of sanctions in Iraq that former U.N. Assistant Secretary General Denis Halladay denounced as "a systematic program ... of deliberate genocide."

I have long been a vocal opponent of sanctions in Iraq, because everything I read on the subject revealed that it was regular citizens, not the leadership, who suffered under sanctions. Saddam Hussein easily circumvented the restrictions, made billions of dollars and built more palaces. It was regular Iraqis who died for lack of clean water, sewage-treatment facilities and basic medical supplies.

In the Bizarro World of Coulter and O'Reilly

words like "truth", "character", and "facts" are so badly twisted as to have no meaning. They, and the people who parrot their talking points crow about how factual they are and are more than pleased with themselves whenever their right-wing heros engage in character assassinations (as long of course as the targets are real and imagined "enemies of the White House"). We've known for a while now that O'Reilly and Coulter both will exaggerate and outright lie in order to make a politically expedient point. There's a paper trail following both of those clowns for anyone who's willing to bother looking. Among their followers, they get a free pass. Why face facts when one can parrot their talking points, after all. Take the whole Ward Churchill flap. Coulter's most recent salvo, The little Injun that could has the alleged Churchill character defects down cold. But that's the old news. O'Reilly's been spinning that shit on his hate show for a while now. Hell I would have probably not even bothered to do more than glance at the title if it weren't for the racism that just jumps off the monitor. You'd think that with the GOP trying desperately to re-create itself as the party of civil rights that its apologists would choose their words more carefully - if nothing else hide their obvious disdain for brown-skinned peoples everywhere. Nah...that would be too sensible. So instead, we've got a patronizing diatribe of character assassination that's short on facts and long on fantasies of going down on Gen. Custer (now there's an image that'll give me nightmares). Nimmo has it pretty much on target:
Regardless of her dawdling on this topic -- an issue custom-tailored for the Queen of Hate, and thus you'd think she would have been all over it like white on rice days ago -- the problem here is not her chiming in far too late, probably to the disappointment of her insatiable readers, but rather her obvious racism.

It is the word she decided, obviously with premeditated viciousness, to include in the title of her op/ed piece: Injun.


On the other hand, the word "Injun" is apparently considered useable because ... well, because the American Natives -- who once numbered in the millions inside the borders of what eventually became known as the United States and were methodically decimated and reduced to less than 250,000 by the end of the 19th century, thanks to white people with about as much sensitivity and compassion as Ann Coulter -- are essentially invisible. The likelihood an "injun" will sue Coulter for racist defamation is probably fairly low.

Native Americans are fair game, indicated by the fact there are about 2,000 schools using Indian names for sports teams, to say nothing of more than a few professional teams, such as the Washington Red Skins. It wasn't so long ago Red Skins fans chanted, "Scalp 'em!" (Incidentally, scalping was introduced to the "New World" by the Dutch, who learned the grisly practice from the Earl of Wessex.)

Coulter picks her targets carefully. For instance, since September 11 is still relatively fresh in the minds of many Americans, especially the sort who read Ann, she can say whatever she likes about Arabs and Muslims. In fact, she can call for their mass murder and forced conversion to Christianity and hardly anybody gives a hoot. She can also get away with saying Asians, North Koreans in particular, should be "nuked for fun."

And yet Ward Churchill is roasted alive in the media for something he wrote three years ago -- an essay almost completely lost to obscurity until some right-wing zealot dredged it up from the murky depths of the internet and fed it to Bill "phone sex" O'Reilly -- an essay taken out of context and wielded like a club studded with nails to attack a nearly irrelevant academe, accused routinely of espousing Marxism and "anti-Americanism," or at least not demonstrating the requisite degree of enthusiasm for invasion, mass murder, and occupation of foreign lands.


Coulter, of course, thinks she is funny, since the title is a sarcastic take-off on Watty Piper's classic "The Little Engine That Could," a popular children's book. Instead, this is a double-whammy, since not only is Coulter expressing racism, something that apparently comes easy to her, but is also engaging in a condescending attitude toward American Indians, a habit with a long and injurious history. For Ann Coulter, racism and hatred are simply the best way to make a buck.

Don't try to claim to be stating facts if you're getting your talking points from Coulter, and especially refrain from playing the "character" card. One might do better instead to remember the old saying about living in glass houses. More than a few of us who actually give a damn about such concepts as freedom are carrying some rocks, waiting for just the right moment to turn those glass houses into piles of broken glass.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Academic Freedom Watch: The Left End of the Internets on Churchill

Right-wing Smear Campaign Aimed at Native Professor, Ward Churchill by Jim Baumer:
Churchill, who has written prolifically about so many issues, speaks with a voice that radiates with the language of indigenism—by that, I mean he makes the rights of indigenous peoples his highest priority in his political life, while drawing on the traditions that have evolved over thousands of years by native peoples the world over. This definition comes from Churchill’s essay, “I Am An Indigenist” (From A Native Son; Selected Essays On Indigenism, 1985-1995-South End Press).

Because Churchill isn’t bound by the Eurocentric paradigm that so many of us have been indoctrinated into from our years of public school education, it’s important to recognize that when his writings are filtered through a European model of understanding, it is easy to take what he writes out of context. And taking his writing and statements out of context is exactly what Bill O’Reilly and others seeking to pile on Churchill, have done. Churchill is a direct threat to their outmoded Eurocentric worldview. Rather than accept his critique, they prefer to slander him and muzzle him by discrediting his scholarship with lies and false innuendo.


...The first rule that any neophyte journalist learns, is not to take a source’s words out of context—that’s Journalism 101, basically—unless the object is to slant what your source says and make it align with an angle or opinion that you want to push. Then, you are practicing advocacy journalism, which is of course what Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity practice on Fox...


The quote that got Churchill in trouble and the one being used to tar and feather this unique and courageous Native spokesman and activist, is the phrase or characterization of “little Eichmanns”, as in the "…technocrats of empire" working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns." So, what did Churchill mean? Would he, a member of an oppressed and innocent class, take delight in the pain and suffering of other innocent people? Of course not! He was not characterizing the Twin Tower victims of 9-11 as “Nazis” at all, as has been attributed by others on the right. Just this afternoon, O’Reilly, on his nationally syndicated radio program on several occasions stated that Churchill was calling the victims of the WTC incident, “Nazis”.


As he stated in his January 31 press release, Churchill carefully noted that just as the Allied forces targeted German industrialists for attack during World War II, so did those attacking the WTC in New York. The “Eichman reference was in regards to Adolph Eichmann, who was never charged with direct killing, but whose job it was to ensure the smooth operation of the German infrastructure, which made genocide possible. There is no dispute that the Pentagon was a target or that there were CIA offices in the WTC. Just as our own military officials have targeted individuals and targets as “legitimate”, by the same logic, the location of similar command and control infrastructure in the WTC made it a “legitimate” target for attack by whoever flew those planes into the buildings. At no point in his essay did Churchill call those killed in the WTC “Nazis”. That is a fallacious statement that O’Reilly continues to recite in order to add credibility to his meme that the left “hates America”, as he is fond of repeating, ad nauseum.

Unfortunately—given the limited attention span of so many Americans—writers like Churchill don’t engage in sensationalism and sound bite journalism. If his attackers had taken the time to read his books, they would recognize that his research and scholarship is thorough and well documented. He is not a quick read and he meticulously footnotes every chapter of every book. For those members of the right-wing noise machine, taking the time to understand his thoughts and ideas would require time, which is time that keeps them from their hate-filled and venomous attacks on those they disagree with. It’s much easier to grab a sentence here and a phrase there and twist it, in order to assassinate the character and good name of a man that they’ll never come close to being like.

From Talk Left, Churchill Gets Standing Ovation from 1,000 At CU Speech:
Before he spoke Tuesday evening, Churchill was asked why he felt his message should be heard.

"That's the function of a professor. That’s the function of the institution. That seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle of whether people like what I said or not. I'm supposed to say what they don't like to hear in order to force them to confront it," Churchill said in an exclusive interview with 7NEWS.

Churchill attorney David Lane said CU was obligated to provide security for Churchill -- and that the real reason officials canceled the lecture was because they're embarrassed by him, and don't want to deal with the controversy.

From the "Just the facts ma'am" news service Reuters, Scholar Defiant Amid Furor Over 9/11 Remarks
"I am not backing off an inch," said Ward Churchill, drawing an ovation from a standing-room-only crowd of about 1,200 students and backers gathered in a ballroom. "I owe no one an apology."

Churchill, who filed a lawsuit earlier in the day after officials at the state-funded university had threatened to cancel his speech, said his central message was that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had been provoked by U.S. foreign policy.

"Naturally and inevitably, what you put out will blow back on you and that's what happened," Churchill said.


Scholars have rallied to the defense of what they see as the free-speech rights at stake in the case, saying the firing of a tenured professor over unpopular remarks would threaten academic freedoms.

From another mainstream media news outlet in Colorado, Churchill defiant in face of outcry:
Churchill said that other writers, including Chalmers Johnson and Michael Scheuer, also have published books in the past year advancing the idea that terrorist strikes against America should not be considered a complete surprise, given the way many of its policies are perceived across the global stage.


Churchill perceives the investigation into his academic record, which will lead to a recommendation to President Elizabeth Hoffman as to whether he should be retained as a CU professor, as a return to McCarthyism.

"Of course it is," he said. "Back then, the accusation was of being un-American. Now it's anti-American."

He laughed at learning that CU Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano spoke of having two of the school's deans assist in the probe of his record, which he puts at 24 books and 70 chapter contributions - and that's not counting recordings of his spoken words.

"I think they're going to need more than three investigators," Churchill said with a chuckle, as he relaxed in his sunny living room, enjoying an early-afternoon breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and English muffin, prepared by his wife of six months, Natsu Saito, also a CU ethnic studies professor.

Churchill's resume now runs to 38 pages - printing out a copy for a visitor takes long enough for him to smoke another Pall Mall unfiltered cigarette and have a chat on the phone with his longtime colleague in Native American activism, Glenn Morris.

As he goes through the cigarettes at a vigorous pace, he says his fuse is growing short over the relentless pursuit by the media. But he claims not to be worried that he might lose his post at CU.

"Nothing can happen, legally," he said. "They can do something stupid and illegal. And then they're going to be dealing with David."

That's a reference to his lawyer, noted Denver attorney David Lane. He also said lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Association of University Professors are champing at the bit to rally to his cause, if needed.

The real battle, he said, may be not only his own.

"It's been announced in pretty clear terms by both David Horowitz and Newt Gingrich that I am just the kickoff for a general purge they have in mind," he said. "Academia is to be a cheering section for red, white and blue, as they define it, and it has no other function."


On the danger some believe he poses to young minds as a college professor: "With the 120 credit hours that are required for a bachelor's degree, they think that I can have these kids for three to six hours and totally transform their consciousness? Man, I must be the pedagogical Superman!"


On the lessons of 9/11: "The only way to resolve the problem symbolized in 9/11 is for the United States government and its citizens to acknowledge the fact that they actually have to obey the law like everybody else and not just treat it as guidelines for its own convenience."

See also The Fishbowl AAUP on Churchill & academic freedom, which reports the statement by the AAUP:
The American Association of University Professors, since its founding in 1915, has been committed to preserving and advancing principles of academic freedom in this nation's colleges and universities. Freedom of faculty members to express views, however unpopular or distasteful, is an essential condition of an institution of higher learning that is truly free. We deplore threats of violence heaped upon Professor Churchill, and we reject the notion that some viewpoints are so offensive or disturbing that the academic community should not allow them to be heard and debated. Also reprehensible are inflammatory statements by public officials that interfere in the decisions of the academic community.

Further, via The Fishbowl, we learn "that Gov. Bill Owens here in Colorado is now considering moving the tenure system out of the university and into the legislature.". The Fishbowl's Vaughn Thompson also has a few observations from having viewed a video of Churchill's speech.

James at Knowtown seems to think that this will all eventually blow over. I hope he's correct in his assessment, as the whole story should be a molehill to begin with.

We are the beacon on the hill

As Lynne Cheney would no doubt say, we are the best country in the world:
"We had the impression that at the beginning things were not carefully planned but a point came at which you could notice things changing. That appeared to be after General Miller around the end of 2002. That is when short-shackling started, loud music playing in interrogation, shaving beards and hair, putting people in cells naked, taking away people's "comfort" items, the introduction of levels, moving some people every two hours depriving them of sleep, the use of A/C air. Isolation was always there. "Intel" blocks came in with General Miller. Before when people were put into isolation they would seem to stay for not more than a month. After he came, people would be kept there for months and months and months. We didn't hear anybody talking about being sexually humiliated or subjected to sexual provocation before General Miller came. After that we did. Although sexual provocation, molestation did not happen to us, we are sure that it happened to others. It did not come about at first that people came back and told about it. They didn't. What happened was that one detainee came back from interrogation crying and confided in another what had happened. That detainee in turn thought that it was so shocking he told others and then other detainees revealed that it had happened to them but they had been too ashamed to admit to it. It therefore came to the knowledge of everyone in the camp that this was happening to some people. It was clear to us that this was happening to the people who'd been brought up most strictly as Muslims. It seemed to happen most to people in Camps 2 and 3, the "intel" people, ie the people of most interest to the interrogators. In addition, military police also told us about some of the things that were going on. They would tell us just rather like news or something to talk about. This was something that was happening in the camp. It seemed to us that a lot of the MPs couldn't themselves believe it was happening.

Source: Center for Constitutional Rights, July 2004

Living up to the highest ideals of human achievement:
Nadja Dizdarevic is a thirty-year-old mother of four who lives in Sarajevo. On October 21, 2001, her husband, Hadj Boudella, a Muslim of Algerian descent, and five other Algerians living in Bosnia were arrested after U.S. authorities tipped off the Bosnian government to an alleged plot by the group to blow up the American and British Embassies in Sarajevo. One of the suspects reportedly placed some seventy phone calls to the Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in the days after September 11th. Boudella and his wife, however, maintain that neither he nor several of the other defendants knew the man who had allegedly contacted Zubaydah. And an investigation by the Bosnian government turned up no confirmation that the calls to Zubaydah were made at all, according to the men’s American lawyers, Rob Kirsch and Stephen Oleskey.

At the request of the U.S., the Bosnian government held all six men for three months, but was unable to substantiate any criminal charges against them. On January 17, 2002, the Bosnian Supreme Court ruled that they should be released. Instead, as the men left prison, they were handcuffed, forced to put on surgical masks with nose clips, covered in hoods, and herded into waiting unmarked cars by masked figures, some of whom appeared to be members of the Bosnian special forces. Boudella’s wife had come to the prison to meet her husband, and she recalled that she recognized him, despite the hood, because he was wearing a new suit that she had brought him the day before. “I will never forget that night,” she said. “It was snowing. I was screaming for someone to help.” A crowd gathered, and tried to block the convoy, but it sped off. The suspects were taken to a military airbase and kept in a freezing hangar for hours; one member of the group later claimed that he saw one of the abductors remove his Bosnian uniform, revealing that he was in fact American. The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied its role in the operation.

Six days after the abduction, Boudella’s wife received word that her husband and the other men had been sent to Guantánamo. One man in the group has alleged that two of his fingers were broken by U.S. soldiers. Little is publicly known about the welfare of the others.

Boudella’s wife said that she was astounded that her husband could be seized without charge or trial, at home during peacetime and after his own government had exonerated him. The term “enemy combatant” perplexed her. “He is an enemy of whom?” she asked. “In combat where?” She said that her view of America had changed. “I have not changed my opinion about its people, but unfortunately I have changed my opinion about its respect for human rights,” she said. “It is no longer the leader in the world. It has become the leader in the violation of human rights.”

In October, Boudella attempted to plead his innocence before the Pentagon’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The C.S.R.T. is the Pentagon’s answer to the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, over the Bush Administration’s objections, that detainees in Guantánamo had a right to challenge their imprisonment. Boudella was not allowed to bring a lawyer to the proceeding. And the tribunal said that it was “unable to locate” a copy of the Bosnian Supreme Court’s verdict freeing him, which he had requested that it read. Transcripts show that Boudella stated, “I am against any terrorist acts,” and asked, “How could I be part of an organization that I strongly believe has harmed my people?” The tribunal rejected his plea, as it has rejected three hundred and eighty-seven of the three hundred and ninety-three pleas it has heard. Upon learning this, Boudella’s wife sent the following letter to her husband’s American lawyers:

Dear Friends, I am so shocked by this information that it seems as if my blood froze in my veins, I can’t breathe and I wish I was dead. I can’t believe these things can happen, that they can come and take your husband away, overnight and without reason, destroy your family, ruin your dreams after three years of fight. . . . Please, tell me, what can I still do for him? . . . Is this decision final, what are the legal remedies? Help me to understand because, as far as I know the law, this is insane, contrary to all possible laws and human rights. Please help me, I don’t want to lose him.

Source: Outsourcing Torture by Jane Mayer, New Yorker, Feb 14 2005 issue

The world is watching us.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Gannon/Guckert Saga Continues

Some fresh summaries of what we know so far can be found at the following:

`Jeff Gannon' and L'Affaire Plame: Summary of CIA leak, provides a timeline.

Americablog has been all over the story as well, with some of the more recent posts covering the right-wing websites now eating one of their own (Sucks to be Gannon/Guckert); Gannon/Guckert kinda sorta admitting he built some of those gay escort sites that have been connected to him by the bloggers; Democrats .com demanding a special prosecutor be assigned to the Gannon/Guckert case; questions about the legal ramifications of the Gannon/Guckert scandal; along with other posts showing that Gannon/Guckert are the same guy. So just how did a possible male prostitute get press credentials for the WH press corps? Curiouser and curiouser...

Finally, apparently Keith Olbermann has been doing yeoman's work on covering the story, making me wish even more that I got MSNBC at our house. So it goes. This White House definitely makes Nixon and his cronies look like a bunch of Boy Scouts.

Digby on Churchill and the Right-Wing Smear Machine

Witnessing History does a good job of looking into the psychology underlying the success of the right-wing smear machine (hint: time to brush up on one's working knowledge of cognitive science), as well as the history of the right-wing smear tactics (hint: this crap has been going on since at least the 1980s). Read. Give it time to digest. Re-read. Easily one of the best blog posts of the week.

The Gannon Story is Far From Over

His apparent resignation from Talon News is just the tip of the iceberg:

Gannon Story is NOT over from one of the bloggers who's been digging into the story has some questions that remain unanswered and should be aggressively explored.

Plame & Propagannon: Joe Wilson Speaks Out is from another blogger covering the story, this time with an interview with Joe Wilson who has had a couple encounters with the pseudonymous Jeff Gannon (actually named Jim Guckert). The interview itself is informative, shedding more light on the right-wing propaganda machine operating out of our White House.

Gannon/Guckert is out makes the observation that a lot of "Gannon's" stories that were on Talon's website have gone down the memory hole. What are these people hiding? Things that make you go hmmm....

Steve Gilliard also weighs in on the story

And it appears that at least one Congressional member, Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has called for an investigation into how this character got credentials to become part of the White House Press corps, and is interested in how this ties into the broader context of the White House using taxpayer money to fund "journalists" to act as propagandist for various White House policies!

I thought Nixon and Reagan were pretty corrupt, but Bush II takes the cake!

Academic Freedom Watch Wednesday

Further thoughts on the Churchill controversy

One More Reason to Abandon the Liberals offers a take on ostensible liberals who have been jumping on the bandwagon to trash Ward Churchill.

Neo-McCarthyism is alive and well and living in Ohio (among other places) looks at a bill in the Ohio legislature aimed at curtailing free speech in college and university classrooms.

It's the Singer...Not the Song: What Ward Churchill Didn't Say culls together numerous statements that could be construed as hate speech that many Americans - conservatives and liberals alike - would likely endorse. Why? Because they like the messenger.

"Didn't We Get Rid of Those People Years Ago?": Reflections on Empire and Uppity Indians explores the racism behind the targeting of Churchill. We know the drill among the right-wing (and among more liberal types who really should know better): white skin good, brown skin bad.

Evolution Wednesday

Via Threading the Needle, Darwin's Great Conspiracy

Project Steve

A Century of Greatness, on the recent death of Ernst Mayr

Fun Science Etc.

Saw this from Kurt Nimmo's blog:

Letter to the Editors of the New York Times

Editors of the New York Times,

Every time I hear Rush Limbaugh or some other far right ideologue call the New York Times a “liberal” newspaper, I am inclined to laugh. Laughter is appropriate because the New York Times is not a liberal newspaper, in fact the opposite is the case: the New York Times is, Judith Miller notwithstanding, in essence a propaganda organ for the far right agenda of the Bush administration and the neocons.

Most recent case it point: the New York Times acting as an amplifier for the far right noise machine. I am referring to the fact your newspaper managed to turn a non-story trumpeted by the likes of Bill O’Reilly and the right-wing Moonie operated Washington Times into a major story. I am, of course, referencing the plight of Colorado University professor Ward Churchill.

Prior to the O’Reilly hit squad, so fond of targeting obscure and essentially non-influential academics, rendering this story into front page news across the nation, with the avid help of your newspaper, Churchill’s problematic essay, according to research conducted by Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly, warranted but one mention in the media (the Burlington Free Press in December, 2001). Currently, as of early this afternoon, February 8, a Google News Search returns 1,370 individual stories on Churchill. This would not have been possible without your assistance.

Ward Churchill is an isolated, obscure, and mostly non-influential professor at a medium-sized state university out here in fly-over country. But thanks to the New York Times, he is now receiving a massive amount of attention for an essay he admits was poorly composed and largely taken out of context. As well, Churchill, once again thanks to the “liberal” New York Times, is receiving death threats. Moreover, other academics, far less firebrand than Churchill but obviously too leftist for Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, and the neoconservatives, are in danger of losing their jobs and livelihoods, thanks to the editors of the New York Times.

Finally, considering your newspaper is essentially a shill for the right-wing agenda in this country, that is to say it does not even approach objectivity or practice sound journalism but slavishly defers to right-wingers, it will now be my personal task to make sure the people I know do not purchase the New York Times. Please note that I have only purchased the newspaper on rare occasions, but in the future, if I want news slanted toward the right, I will, instead, read the Washington Times or forego reading newspapers altogether and simply tune in to Bill O’Reilly, a querulous and mean-spirited person who obviously shares an affinity with the editors of the New York Times.

As I think about it, it is rather funny...the vast majority of those in the academic world, whether at the major research universities or at the smaller teaching-oriented colleges and universities, toil in relative obscurity. That would appear to characterize Ward Churchill aptly: a relatively well-published yet obscuroid professor nearing the latter part of his career. Out of nowhere, some right-wingers take one quote out of context, and voila! - instant celebrity status, albeit mainly unwanted. I'll say that he has so far handled the firestorm with aplomb, and it appears that he's not about to go quietly into that good night. Heck, in an odd sort of way, the firestorm has made me interested to check out his work a bit - for starters reading the essay that after languishing mostly unread for so long started the whole flap. He also has a pertinent book that I shall be adding to my own reading list, titled, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Thanks right-wing-controlled media for bringing this cat to my attention.

Things that make you go hmmm...

Apparently phony "journalist" operating under the pseudonym Jeff Gannon is throwing in the towel. That was fast. I have to wonder what else is going on behind the story. How does someone with a fake name get credentials to the WH press corps in the first place? Who wanted him there? How did someone with fake credentials get access a memo that put Valerie Plame's life in jeopardy? There's likely more than meets the eye. I'm staying tuned...

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Abu Gonzales Update

Alberto Gonzales Charged With War Crimes

...Alberto Gonzales' name has been added to CCR's criminal complaint against Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet and others. CCR is asking the world community to let the German Prosecutor know that this is a vital issue for human rights.

The charges that detainee abuse, torture, and ghosting was authorized at the top level of the Bush administration will not be investigated by the DoD, DoJ, the military or the Congress. As the US is not a member of the International Criminal Court, and Iraq cannot prosecute, the criminal complaint has been brought under the German Code of Crimes against International Law (CCIL) and seeks an investigation into war crimes allegedly carried out by high ranking United States civilian and military officials, including the incidents which occurred in Iraq.

You can read more at The Center for Constitutional Rights Website. And to the 60 US Senators who voted to confirm Gonzales' nomination, congratulations! You've confirmed a bona fide war criminal!

Note: as a commenter on DailyKos correctly observes, Gonzales hasn't actually been formally "charged" at this point but added to the CCR complaint, which we're hoping will lead to formal charges.

For what it's worth

Here's the text of Churchill's that started the whole brouhaha: "Some People Push Back": On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

It'll become very clear from even a cursory read that this man does not pull punches. It's also helpful to have the "little Eichmanns" quote put into its proper context. In looking precisely at that context, one gains an appreciation for what motivated the 9/11 attacks, along with an idea of just how much death and destruction has been caused by US "manifest destiny." As I think back to that tragic day three and a half years ago, I recall thinking that there were numerous lessons that we could take from it. Beyond my usual caveat that I do not think anyone working in the WTC at the time of the plane bombings deserved their terrible fate, the event put into sharp relief the knowledge that there are people who are very angry at the US government and its policies - and from what I've read over the years of our sorry human right record, justifiably so. One lesson that we should have learned was that we need to address, nonviolently, the root causes of terrorism - grinding poverty, injustice, etc. We collectively as a nation, in these intervening three plus years failed to learn that important lesson. Instead, collectively we've chosen to bomb civilians in two nations (one which could reasonably be said to have a connection to the group alleged to have perpetrated the 9/11 attacks) and one that had no plausible connection whatsoever. Instead, we've generated a brand new scapegoat: the "Islamofascist" which seems more like some twisted projection of much of America's own fascist tendencies coupled with blatant anti-Arab and central-Asian racism. Instead, we've threatened to escalate the cycle of violence further. We've also begun the process of dismantling centuries worth of legal precedent in trashing habeus corpus rights, and have blatantly thumbed our noses at our international brothers and sisters who have protested our actions along with the organizations who challenged the legality of our wars and our torturing. And our leaders have the nerve to call it "spreading democracy." And too many of our countrymen have the nerve to fall for that line so blindly.

Academic Freedom Watch: Counterpunch Weighs In

Several recent pieces worth perusing:

On the Injustice of Getting Smeared: A Campaign of Fabrications and Gross Distortions, by Ward Churchill himself

The Right has a License to Write Anything: Ward Churchill and the Mad Dogs by Alexander Cockburn

The Distortions of Acumen: Liberals Trash Ward Churchill by Joshua Frank (see also from the same author Marc Cooper's Hit List: First Mumia; Now Churchill: More Liberal Trashing of Ward Churchill

The New McCarthyism on Campus: Ward Churchill and the Attack on American Higher Education by Carolyn Baker

Remember Sami al-Arian?: A Ward Churchill Kind of Day by Kurt Nimmo

O'Reilly's Fatwah on "Un-American" Professors: FoxNews Puts Me In Its Crosshairs by M. Shahid Alam

Sun Ra

His Bio and his discography

I've been digging on Sun Ra's music since the late 1990s, when I first happened upon an album titled Angels and Demons at Play/The Nubians of Plutonia - two records compiled onto one cd. The music was recorded during the late 1950s to around 1960, and it sounds quite a bit different from what was available from his contemporaries. Jazz musicians of the period were only beginning to seriously explore African musical elements (Ahmed Abdul Malik and Randy Weston come most immediately to mind), and Sun Ra was increasingly pushing the rhythms and idioms of the continent to the forefront of his recordings. The first half of the disc sounds like somewhat left-field swings like mad, use mainly conventional instrumentation, etc. The second half (the tracks comprising the album Nubians of Plutonia) is where it all gets trippy. The numbers are rather percussive, seem to pulse much more than swing, and Sun Ra's love of electric keyboards takes center stage. Some of it would have fit in with the early fusion of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but this cat is in a class by himself. It's a cd I go back to again and again.

I really love the work he did during the 1960s and 1970s, and have enjoyed tracking down many of those recordings. The guy's back catalog is massive, and it seems like something newly discovered periodically makes its way to the surface. Most of his albums feature fairly sizeable ensembles (almost, but not quite, big band), featuring a plethora of vocals & chants, percussion, keyboards, and woodwinds & brass making plenty of joyful noise. Being something of a sci-fi fan, I dig the mythology that Sun Ra creates as part of the stage act along with its symbolism of the possibilities of a better future.

Aside from the album that I already mentioned, I'm not entirely certain what all I'd recommend beyond suggesting one dive in. Space is the Place, is of course, an early 1970s classic (make sure to get the one on the Impulse! label). Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra, Nothing Is, A Quiet Place in the Universe, Pathways to Unknown Worlds/Friendly Love, and Lanquidity are easily recommended albums. Sun Ra not only was willing to push the envelope, but he also had a keen appreciation for jazz's history, and frequently included jazz standards in his live gigs, especially so later in his career. Of course, the sound quality can be pretty lo-fi (especially with the live gigs that I've stumbled upon, but also numerous studio dates), which can be pretty jarring unless you're already something of a lo-fi fan - being an ex-punk that's not a problem for me.

The man was ahead of his time, and even over a decade after his death even his earliest tracks sound remarkably fresh (and much is still ahead of its time).

Academic Freedom Watch

Attack of the Killer Hipublicans

...conservatives have proclaimed themselves the new campus minority and are deliberately using the language of liberalism—words like diversity, pluralism and inclusion—to further their agenda. “Those behind the trend call it an antidote to the overwhelming liberal dominance of university faculties,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times. “But many educators, while agreeing that students should never feel bullied, worry that they just want to avoid exposure to ideas that challenge their core beliefs—an essential part of education.”

To many in higher education, young Hipublican activism is something more disturbing than just a new turn in the campus debate. Unlike other student groups, campus conservatives are often trained and financed by deep-pocketed seasoned strategists with the ultimate goal of hard-right reformation. Their presence on campus “puts a chill in the air,” said Joe Losco, a professor of political science at Indiana’s Ball State University, to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Faculty retrench. They are less willing to discuss contemporary problems, and I think everyone loses out.” Professor Losco supported two colleagues who had been targeted for alleged bias through their ordeal.

At California State University, Long Beach, Dr. Clifton Snider, poet, novelist, literary critic and Professor of English suffered his own ordeal at the hands of the more rabid campus conservative movement. Last semester, a student in his English 100 class took offense to perceived liberal bias in his syllabus and to politically liberal opinions he expressed in class. Instead of utilizing the methods Cal State has in place for students to formally lodge complaints against professors, Snider’s student registered her grievance online with Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), a particularly bloodthirsty conservative group with close ties to infamous right-wing agitator David Horowitz. With chapters on 135 college campuses, Students for Academic Freedom regularly advertises in campus publications calling on students to report professors who try to “impose their political opinions” in the classroom.

After posting on the SAF site, Dr. Snider’s student’s complaint against him spread like wildfire through the internet’s virtual right-wing. The accusing student was tapped to publish a piece railing against Dr. Snider on Horowitz’s which was then picked up by the “conservative news and information site” before making it all the way to the mothership of right-wing media, Fox News. And that is when the continuous hate mail that Dr. Snider had been enduring since the original SAF post turned to death threats.

“One of the threatening voice mails that came to my office was from a man who claimed his daughter was in my class and if I didn’t stop my ‘anti-Bush agenda’ he’d hit me with a “cement brick’,” recalled Dr. Snider. “Another voice mail threatened a petition to have me removed from my position. An e-mail threatened demonstrations outside my classroom. For two class meetings I had police protection… people wrote to the president of the university, the provost, vice presidents, deans, the chair with similar hate mail, some of it demanding that I be fired. I consider myself fortunate that the university stood by me.”

Externally funded and managed conservative organizations like the Students for Academic Freedom have spearheaded similar defamation campaigns across the country, resulting in a mood on campus that is decidedly taut. The American Association of University Professors has come out publicly against SAF, triggering those on the right to once more cry discrimination.

But beyond mere public expressions of disapproval, the real left needs to put some time, attention and most importantly, dollars, into this battle for campus domination. After all, as the man said, great leaders aren’t born… and today’s young Hipublican is tomorrow’s Karl Rove.

More from Snider's own words here (scroll down a ways):

During three decades of college teaching I have always encouraged students to speak their minds, particularly in freshman composition classes in which analysis of controversial issues is part of the course requirements. No student has been penalized for doing so or for disagreeing with me, as many former and current students can verify. Those students who accused me of bias in the classroom this semester did so prematurely and are simply not credible. On the contrary, such vicious attacks are motivated by the most egregious bias toward me and the concept of academic freedom, which in fact they wish to stifle.

And that I think is truly the crux: the right-wingers are not interested in fairness, being better represented, or whatever lofty and Orwellian-sounding language they may wish to use: rather their goal is to stifle the conditions that facilitate critical thinking which is at the very core of academic freedom. If it doesn't fit their narrow perspective of politically correct discourse, they throw a tantrum - and a well-funded tantrum at that. And yes, I use the term "politically correct" deliberately as I see these efforts to actually stifle academic freedom to constitute the very sort of "political correctness" that right-wingers falsely accused us lefties of harboring a decade and a half ago.

Monday, February 7, 2005

Then...and Now



It was built early in 1864 after Confederate officials decided to move the large number of Federal prisoners kept in and around Richmond, Virginia, to a place of greater security and a more abundant food supply . During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Of these, almost 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements.

Stalag Luft 4

Station to Stalag Luft IV:

Captain Wynsen stated that on 17, 18, 19 July and 5 and 6 August 1944, he and Cpt. Wilber McKee treated injured American and British soldiers, who had been bayoneted, clubbed, and bitten by dogs, while on route from the railroad station to Stalag Luft IV, a distance of approximately three (3) kilometers. Most of the injuries were bayonet wounds, which varied from a break in the skin to punctured wounds three inches deep. The usual site was the buttock; hit sites included the back, flanks, and even the neck. The number of wounds varied from one to as many as sixty. One American soldier suffered severe dog bites on the calves of both legs, necessitating months of treatment in bed. The first bayonet patient seen by Dr. WYNSEN was in a hysterical condition with a punctured bayonet wound in his buttock. A medical tag was fastened to his shirt with a diagnosis of " sun stroke". For his "sun stroke" the man had been given tetanus anti-toxin. This diagnosis was made by a German Captain named Summers.

None of the American prisoners died of bayonet wounds. It was estimated that there were over one hundred American and British bayoneted during the course of these runs to the Stalag.

...And Now:

'They Tied Me Up Like A Beast And Began Kicking Me'

Tarek Dergoul, a British citizen born and brought up in east London and released without charge after almost two years at Guantanamo Bay,...

The effects on Dergoul of his ordeal in Afghanistan and Guantanamo are very visible. A slight, slim man, he has difficulty walking: for weeks his American captors failed to treat his frostbitten feet, until a big toe turned gangrenous and had to be amputated. He has also lost most of his left arm, the result of a shrapnel wound. ...

'I was in extreme pain from the frostbite and other injuries and I was so weak I could barely stand. It was freezing cold and I was shaking and shivering like a washing machine. The interrogators - who questioned me at gunpoint - said if I confessed I'd be going home. ...

his feet, left untreated, went septic and, as the infection spread, he underwent a further amputation.

... "during interrogations at Guantanamo, air conditioning would really be blowing - it was freezing, which was incredibly painful on my amputation stumps"

Triage at Abu Ghraib

Physician's assistants and general practitioners amputated limbs, a dentist did heart surgery [I thought the guy who posted that below was joking!], and Major Auch begged and bartered with other medical units for drugs and intravenous fluids. When they ran out of blood sugar test strips for Abu Ghraib's many diabetics, according to a medic assigned to the unit, they gave insulin by guessing the dose and watching for bad reactions.

Amid murderous shortages, there were paradoxes of plenty. Major Auch's men received sophisticated equipment like digital X-ray machines, several said, but they weren't taught how to use it. And in fact, a psychiatrist was assigned to Abu Ghraib for a few months. But he treated no patients; that wasn't his job. He was supposed to help military intelligence make interrogation plans.

Through their nerve and initiative under fire, Abu Ghraib's clinicians saved lives. To try to do so, they broke rules: dentists aren't supposed to operate on hearts, and physician's assistants don't take off arms or legs.


The catastrophic failings of medical care at Abu Ghraib put American lives at risk and violated the United States' obligations to care decently for detainees. The soldiers who snapped and posed for the photos of abuse are being called to account. But the focus on their culpability diverts attention from the causal relationship between the Pentagon's priorities and the hellish conditions that both prisoners and their captors endured. This larger story, of conditions that ensured neglect and invited cruelty, is being ignored.

The Abu Ghraib Scandal You Don't Know

To the world outside Abu Ghraib prison, he became an iconic figure, a naked, prostrate Iraqi prisoner crawling on the end of a leash held by Private Lynndie England, ... Now, it emerges, there may be another dimension to Gus' story and certainly to the horrors of Abu Ghraib. In what amounted to a perversion of the traditional doctor's creed of "first, do no harm," the medical system at the prison became an instrument of abuse, by design and by neglect. As uncovered by legal scholars M. Gregg Bloche and Jonathan Marks, who conducted an inquiry published by the New England Journal of Medicine, not only were some military doctors at Abu Ghraib enlisted to help inflict distress on the prisoners, but also the scarcity of basic medical care was at times so severe that it created another kind of torture. ...

[National Guard Captain Kelly Parrson, a physician's assistant at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 and 2004] cited a dearth of catheters, correctly sized breathing tubes and orthopedic supplies, including casts used to treat bone fractures caused by shrapnel from high explosives. Items had to be reused with minimal sterilization or done without, he said. Glucose strips ... were chronically in short supply, leading to haphazard insulin dosing for diabetics. On occasion, said Parrson, internists and he and other nonphysicians carried out amputations and other procedures usually performed by surgeons. "I took off an ankle and a lower leg," he recalls. "There was no one else, and if it was death or amputation, you just had to do it."

Tons more info here

Weekend Reading

Well, I've been sick this weekend (I hopefully go to the doc sometime Monday to find out if it's a sinus infection). So, with little energy to do much beyond the minimum necessary to keep kids and pets fed and so forth, I opted to do a bit of reading. I finished up Ratner & Ray's Guantanamo: What the World Should Know (I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Margo Baldwin for sending a copy merely for posting an anti-Gonzales blog). Here's my initial observations from a first reading:

  1. The rule of law is indeed a fragile thing. That the President of arguably the most powerful nation on the planet can essentially trash approximately 800 years of legal reasoning dating back to the signing of the Magna Carta is deeply disturbing. I've heard of other facets of Bu$hCo's regime as essentially Medieval in mindset (the privileging of faith-based rather than reality-based policy making), but did not fully appreciate how much of a throwback Bu$hCo is to those dark days. The next administration will have a great deal of damage to undo.
  2. Alberto Gonzales' role in Bu$hCo's zeal to use torture - against currently accepted international law - should have been sufficiently damning to prevent his promotion to AG. The sheer evil that has occurred in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib has that man's seal of approval - and of course Bu$hCo's seal of approval. We're only now getting some idea of what has been going on in the "lawless zone" that Bu$hCo has tried to create at Guantanamo Bay, and it appears that indeed that torture has been perpetrated against people who in the vast majority of cases had no business being imprisoned in the first place. Those Senators from both parties who voted to confirm Gonzales' nomination truly deserve to be referred to as "little Eichmanns."

  3. I was unaware of the full scope of Military Order No. 1 (Nov. 13, 2001). The parts that I did know about it were disturbing enough (e.g., the controversial nature of the military tribunals that were to be set up under that order). I did not know just how far it went in terms of trashing basic rights (e.g., habeus corpus) that this order accomplishes, and the book goes into all sorts of gory detail about what the designation "enemy combatant" means, its implications internationally, as well as domestically. Essentially, 9/11 should have not "changed everything," in that existing law already handled both attacks perpetrated by other nations as well as terrorist attacks perpetrated by individuals or organizations unaffiliated with a particular nation or nations. The protocol in each case (whether via military law in the former case or criminal law in the latter case) is already laid out, along with the rights of POWs or terrorist suspects are to be afforded.
The book has plenty to say about the plight of the individuals who are being held there "indefinitely" as Bu$hCo continues its vague "war on terror" that is worth reading. There is absolutely no reason for these individuals to be languishing in a concentration camp for years on end.

The other book that I'm now just about finished reading - all I have left is a biographical chapter to read) is Robert V. Guthrie's Even the Rat Was White: A Historical View of Psychology (Second Edition). Basically I'm in the process of previewing texts for next fall's History & Systems of Psychology course and am looking for primary and supplementary textbooks. This one has some definite potential for making it on the list of readings. Some info and ideas from the book will likely make their way onto this blog over the next few weeks as time permits. One of the really beneficial facets of Guthrie's book is that it puts into sharp relief the racism inherent in the first nearly century of the discipline of psychology - showing its historical antecedents in colonialism and early religious and philosophical systems along with the eugenics movement that grew out of the social Darwinism of 19th-century Anglo-American discourse. It definitely puts a different light on the development and misuse of various statistical techniques, the misuse of intelligence testing, and the excessive focus on traits. One also sees how early IQ testing was used as a rationale for all sorts of draconian laws regarding sterilization and outlawing of inter-racial marriage. It also highlights the difficulties that African-Americans have had in terms of getting training in psychology and employment in academic and non-academic environments alike, and in the process highlights the importance of affirmative action laws in at least partially alleviating those difficulties.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Excuses, excuses

Contra Jonah Goldberg: Being 35, having kids, etc. do not excuse you from the front line - especially when you are so vocal in your support of the Iraq war. As Atrios and Rising Hegemon note, real 30-something men with real parental responsibilities end up dying for this senseless war.