Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quoting HST

From September 12, 2001:
The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides.
My emphasis added, in large part as a means of framing the sort of extremism we've seen in recent weeks and months as anti-Muslim extremism has come to a boil, and as some of these same goons are going out and bombing not only mosques but Planned Parenthood offices as well. No doubt some arcane reference to Biblical scripture will justify such acts of terrorism in the eyes of its perps.

Nasty earthquake in New Zealand

The epicenter of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake was just outside the city of Christchurch - a city perhaps known to some alternative rock buffs as the center for some great pop records on the old Flying Nun label. So far it appears no lives were lost - a good thing - but there has been tons of structural damage. And since it is still late winter there, it will be a cold night for the survivors while electricity remains out through much of the area. As someone who remembers the Whittier-Narrows and Northridge quakes from my stint in Southern California many moons ago, I can empathize a bit with the residents in Christchurch. May everyone stay safe there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

While you're at it

Read White America's Inconvenience Tantrum, Part V: We Start the Pogrom at Ground Zero (h/t Crooks and Liars). The essay also links to a site called Openbook. Go to Openbook and type "mosk" and you will find a treasure trove of the very speech that I have been talking about. Mr. Destructo goes so far as to document a bunch of it for our own entertainment/edification.

"History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot." -- Mark Twain

Ben Kiernan on some parallels in the Nazi, Khmer Rouge, and Hutu led genocides:
Common features of genocidal thinking can be identified even in cases that lacked the destructive power of the Holocaust. Indeed their perpetrators’ ideological preoccupations can often be discerned from early stages of their careers, before they come to power or amass the military or organizational apparatus required to carry out genocide. Description of these features common to many cases may help in the prediction and prevention of future genocides.

I will juxtapose Nazi ideology with that of two other genocide perpetrators: the Khmer Rouge rulers of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, and Rwanda’s Hutu Power regime of 1994. Leaders of all three regimes held visions of the future partly inspired by ancient pasts – mythical and pristine – in which they imagined members of their original, pure, agrarian race, farming once larger territories that contained no Jews, no Vietnamese, and no Tutsis. The perpetrators of genocide against those victim groups shared preoccupations not only with ethnic purity but also with antiquity, agriculture, and expansionism. Genocidal thinking is usually racialist, reactionary, rural, and irredentist.
By all means please read the rest of the paper. It's a nice capsule summary of a topic which could occupy a lifetime's research. One reason for sharing this paper with you is that I would offer that we see some similar red flags as we watch the evolution of our own right-wing political/religious faction in the US. And before someone gets their draws in a bunch: no, I am not saying that the Tea Party is the next Nazi Party or that Glenn Beck is Pol Pot. But what I am saying is that if you look at the rhetoric of our current right-wing organizations and figureheads, you can see some parallels between their eliminationist rhetoric and that of previous political organizations that did indeed become genocidal. At bare minimum, we are at a point in our own history where it is hardly a leap to imagine pogroms against the scapegoated ethnic minorities of the day (e.g., those of African or South/Central Asian descent who practice Islam, and those who are Hispanic). As I'm fond of saying, our words have consequences.

As an aside, I've noticed in some commentary I've run into on Facebook that a some of the most virulent anti-Muslim individuals are also Holocaust deniers (i.e., consider the mass slaughter of Jews, Slavs, Roma, GLB, and disabled during the Nazi regime to be a hoax). I don't know if this is a common pattern. Still, the extent that I am even seeing it surface is a bit startling.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Take the skinheads bowling

Charles of LGF:

Pamela “Shrieking Harpy” Geller thinks Newsweek is out to get her, of course, and she doubles down on her support for the far right thugs of the English Defense League — and announces that she’s bringing them to the US to participate in her anti-Muslim protest on September 11.
Thought you might like to see this piece Mark Hosenball did on the EDL. Clearly the left is attempting to split the counter jihad movement. They want me to distance myself from brave souls fighting Islamic supremacism. N-O-T   G-O-I-N-G   T-O  H-A-P-P-E-N.
If I lived in England, I would surely be active in the EDL Jewish division. Members of the EDL will be attending our rally to stop the Ground Zero Islamic supremacist mosque on September 11th (be there).
People I know in Britain have told me that over there, there’s absolutely no doubt that the EDL is a violent, hardcore group of extremists and racists, with neo-Nazi and BNP roots. Geller is relying on Americans’ lack of knowledge about British politics to try to portray the EDL as peace-loving patriots, when the truth is exactly the opposite.

Here’s a documentary produced by the Guardian showing the actual people who belong to the EDL, doing what they actually do. The video, shot last May, includes undercover footage of the EDL goons planning to “hit” Bradford — which they just did.
The documentary in question:

Like it or not, we're judged at least in part by the company we keep. You roll with known hate groups, and let's just say that raises some red flags. I mentioned pogroms the other day for a reason: it is precisely hatemongers like Geller and these organizations such as the EDL who foster an environment in which pogroms become a distinct risk. Watching the videos should make all too clear to anyone with the capacity to critically think that these EDL goons are spoiling for just such an opportunity. If you've followed me for a while, you'll know that although I have some very strong beliefs, strongest of those is a general disrespect for extremism and extremists of all stripes. You're also aware that I'll gladly put aside my ideological differences to stand with those who oppose extremist hate. Simply stated, history is littered with the consequences of allowing extremism to go relatively unopposed. Hence, the time has come for those of us with clear heads and clear consciences to say, enough is enough - as loudly and as forcefully as necessary.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Close to the eruption of pogroms against Muslims?

I hope not, but then again, there is little doubt that there has been a major ramp-up in not only violent rhetoric but also violent behavior targeting people who either are Muslim or who are mistaken for Muslim. The term pogrom is worth visiting here, due to the fact that our current climate of violence, fear, and loathing is either condoned by or in some cases actually encouraged by leading authority figures among our political right-wing. The climate is now sufficiently volatile that such concerns of potential pogroms is regrettably warranted. It would be akin to throwing a lit cigarette on spilled gasoline.

What is a pogrom? Let's take a brief definition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Pogrom is a Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently.” Historically, the term refers to violent attacks by local non-Jewish populations on Jews in the Russian Empire and in other countries. The first such incident to be labeled a pogrom is believed to be anti-Jewish rioting in Odessa in 1821. As a descriptive term, “pogrom” came into common usage with extensive anti-Jewish riots that swept Ukraine and southern Russia in 1881-1884, following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. In Germany and eastern Europe during the era of the Holocaust, as in Tsarist Russia, economic, social, and political resentment of Jews reinforced traditional religious antisemitism. This served as a pretext for pogroms.

The perpetrators of pogroms organized locally, sometimes with government and police encouragement.
Basically, pogroms were a real problem for a scapegoated ethnic minority in much of Europe through most of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century (although the phenomenon predates the origination of the term all the way back to ancient times). I seriously doubt that they sort of emerged in a vacuum, but rather after ages of hateful rhetoric amidst plenty of economic and political turmoil. Fast-forward to the early years of our own sorry century, and we see a pattern emerging here in the US. that seems eerily familiar. History doesn't repeat exactly, but there are consistent patterns worth examining and exposing in order to prevent future atrocities.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bears repeating

The Tea Party "movement" is little more than astroturf for billionaires such as the Koch brothers, and its members are merely pawns. This is something I've brought up from time to time utilizing various sources. It bears repeating though, as a counterweight to what passes for coverage in our corporate-controlled mass media.

One consequence of Mosque Madness

The effects of the diatribes against the Park51 project are being felt far away from Manhattan, including a recent arsonist attack on an Islamic center in the process of being built in Tennessee.

New Orleans Five Years Later

There's an interesting piece in Salon worth reading. It's sometimes hard to believe that it's already been five years since Hurricane Katrina exposed years of neglect for the levee system and wetlands that was supposed to protect the New Orleans metro area, and exposed the federal government's ability at the time to respond to real human emergencies as a sham. The disaster indeed briefly exposed us to the type of society into which our nation had devolved (hint: not much has changed in that sense in the last half-decade). The coverage of the human suffering over those waning days of August and early days of September 2005 was horrifying. The aftermath was no more comforting, as we were treated to stories of mass human displacement (to this day, many former New Orleans residents have the means to return home from the diaspora), substandard temporary housing for those still there, and the efforts of neoliberal scam artists to try to redesign the city in Milton Friedman's image (e.g., kill public schools and replace them with for-profit charter schools, etc.). There were also the occasional inspiring stories of locals taking matters in their own hands once it became obvious that our "leaders" were entirely worthless. At one point I did a bit of writing on the underlying racism found in the response to the survivors the disaster, and for a while another blogger kept a a sort of running time-line of the events unfolding during the immediate aftermath. Those remain worth reading. In the meantime, remember that five years on, there remains much to be done.

Reject the nightmare

h/t David Neiwert of Crooks and Liars. As I've said before, MLK was the real deal. Accept no substitutes (especially those who are entirely hostile to MLK's message).