Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

China considers ending one-child policy

February 29, 2008

China considers ending one-child policy

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Thursday February 28 2008. It was last updated at 14:46 on February 28 2008.
A child sits in a pram in Beijing, China

A child sits in a pram in Beijing, China. Photograph: Diego Azubel/EPA

China could scrap its one-child policy, a senior family planning official said today, acknowledging concerns about its effects in creating an ageing society and gender gap.

The controversial rules, which restrict most urban families to a single child and rural households to two, were introduced in the 1970s in a bid to bring the country’s vast population – the world’s largest – from soaring out of control and outstripping limited resources.

But today the vice-minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission said officials were carrying out detailed examination of the environmental, social and other implications of changing the law.

Asked if they were planning to axe the one-child policy, Zhao Baige told reporters in Beijing that there was a “very serious process” of study.

“I cannot answer at what time or how [we will decide], but this has really become a big issue among decision makers,” she said.

“We want to have a transition from control to a slowdown [relaxation], incrementally. The attitude is to do the studies, to consider it responsibly.”

Although the population has yet to peak – it is expected to rise from 1.3 billion now to 1.5 billion in 2033 – the birth rate has dropped below the replacement rate of 2.1.

Rising prosperity in recent years has also helped to change attitudes. Zhao said 60% of young women now say they want a maximum of two children.

While there is no prospect of controls being thrown out overnight, changes could be rolled out region-by-region, or introduced for particular kinds of households.

Concessions already exist allowing people in their second marriage to have another baby if their spouse has none, and permitting couples without any siblings to have two children.

But officials are nervous of announcing potential changes in the rules lest people pre-empt them. Discussions about relaxations of the law in 1983 are believed to have led to the birth of an extra 30 million babies that year.

Zhao also acknowledged the problems posed by the longstanding cultural preference for boys and warned that in future the use of ultrasound to predict the sex of a child – and terminate female fetuses – could become “a big issue” for China.

It already has 118 male births for every 100 female; way above the global “normal” ratio of between 103 and 107 boys for every 100 girls.

The government is rolling out a scheme to encourage families to value girls by introducing special social and economic benefits for them.

It is developing an increasingly sophisticated set of policies around population control, focusing not just on the total number of citizens but also issues such as age distribution. It is also attempting to address the underlying causes of excess births and the preference for males, and to promote its policies more effectively.

“In the 70s it was always the same language – ‘One child is best’. Now it is about giving information on contraception,” said Zhao.

The enforcement system is far less punitive than in the 80s and early 90s, but families that exceed the official limits face fines or “compensation fees”. These can be punitive for poorer families – which can face the confiscation of property if they fail to pay – but almost insignificant for the wealthy.

That has spawned resentment that a good income can even affect a household’s ability to have children.

The commission also said that, in a case that became an international cause célèbre, two officials had been detained for three to six months, and one official sacked, after women in Shandong province were forced to have abortions and sterilisations. According to some reports, up to 7,000 women were affected.

However, Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist who tried to launch legal actions on behalf of the victims, is still imprisoned.

Poverty Is Poison

February 18, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

Poverty Is Poison

“Poverty in early childhood poisons the brain.” That was the opening of an article in Saturday’s Financial Times, summarizing research presented last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As the article explained, neuroscientists have found that “many children growing up in very poor families with low social status experience unhealthy levels of stress hormones, which impair their neural development.” The effect is to impair language development and memory — and hence the ability to escape poverty — for the rest of the child’s life.

So now we have another, even more compelling reason to be ashamed about America’s record of failing to fight poverty.

L. B. J. declared his “War on Poverty” 44 years ago. Contrary to cynical legend, there actually was a large reduction in poverty over the next few years, especially among children, who saw their poverty rate fall from 23 percent in 1963 to 14 percent in 1969.

But progress stalled thereafter: American politics shifted to the right, attention shifted from the suffering of the poor to the alleged abuses of welfare queens driving Cadillacs, and the fight against poverty was largely abandoned.

In 2006, 17.4 percent of children in America lived below the poverty line, substantially more than in 1969. And even this measure probably understates the true depth of many children’s misery.

Living in or near poverty has always been a form of exile, of being cut off from the larger society. But the distance between the poor and the rest of us is much greater than it was 40 years ago, because most American incomes have risen in real terms while the official poverty line has not. To be poor in America today, even more than in the past, is to be an outcast in your own country. And that, the neuroscientists tell us, is what poisons a child’s brain.

America’s failure to make progress in reducing poverty, especially among children, should provoke a lot of soul-searching. Unfortunately, what it often seems to provoke instead is great creativity in making excuses.

Some of these excuses take the form of assertions that America’s poor really aren’t all that poor — a claim that always has me wondering whether those making it watched any TV during Hurricane Katrina, or for that matter have ever looked around them while visiting a major American city.

Mainly, however, excuses for poverty involve the assertion that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where people can start out poor, work hard and become rich.

But the fact of the matter is that Horatio Alger stories are rare, and stories of people trapped by their parents’ poverty are all too common. According to one recent estimate, American children born to parents in the bottom fourth of the income distribution have almost a 50 percent chance of staying there — and almost a two-thirds chance of remaining stuck if they’re black.

That’s not surprising. Growing up in poverty puts you at a disadvantage at every step.

I’d bracket those new studies on brain development in early childhood with a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, which tracked a group of students who were in eighth grade in 1988. The study found, roughly speaking, that in modern America parental status trumps ability: students who did very well on a standardized test but came from low-status families were slightly less likely to get through college than students who tested poorly but had well-off parents.

None of this is inevitable.

Poverty rates are much lower in most European countries than in the United States, mainly because of government programs that help the poor and unlucky.

And governments that set their minds to it can reduce poverty. In Britain, the Labor government that came into office in 1997 made reducing poverty a priority — and despite some setbacks, its program of income subsidies and other aid has achieved a great deal. Child poverty, in particular, has been cut in half by the measure that corresponds most closely to the U.S. definition.

At the moment it’s hard to imagine anything comparable happening in this country. To their credit — and to the credit of John Edwards, who goaded them into it — both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are proposing new initiatives against poverty. But their proposals are modest in scope and far from central to their campaigns.

I’m not blaming them for that; if a progressive wins this election, it will be by promising to ease the anxiety of the middle class rather than aiding the poor. And for a variety of reasons, health care, not poverty, should be the first priority of a Democratic administration.

But ultimately, let’s hope that the nation turns back to the task it abandoned — that of ending the poverty that still poisons so many American lives.

A South Korean company says it has taken its first order for the cloning of a pet dog.

February 16, 2008
First order for pet dog cloning

A South Korean company says it has taken its first order for the cloning of a pet dog. A woman from the United States wants her dead pitbull terrier – called Booger – re-created.

RNL Bio is charging the woman, from California, $150,000 (£76,000) to clone the pitbull using tissue extracted from its ear before it died.

The work will be carried out by a team from Seoul National University, where the first dog was cloned in 2005.

Commercial cloning

RNL Bio says this is the first time a dog will have been cloned commercially.

“There are many people who want to clone their pet dogs in Western countries even at this high price,” company chief executive, Ra Jeong-chan, told the Korea Times.

  The cost of cloning a dog may come down to less than $50,000
Cho Seong-Ryul, RNL Bio
The firm is expecting hundreds more orders for pets over the next few years and also plans to clone dogs trained to sniff out bombs or drugs.

One out of every four surrogate mother dogs produces puppies, according to RNL Bio’s marketing director, Cho Seong-ryul.

“The cost of cloning a dog may come down to less than $50,000 as cloning is becoming an industry,” he said.

Dog attack

The pitbull’s owner, Bernann McKunney, gave the company ear tissue, which an American biotech firm preserved before the animal died 18 months ago.

She is said to have been particularly attached to the dog, after it saved her life when another dog attacked her and bit off her arm.

The university’s team is led by Professor Lee Byeong-chun, who was previously in a team headed by the disgraced stem cell scientist, Hwang Woo-suk.

Mr Hwang’s results on cloning human stem cells, initially hailed as a breakthrough, were found to have been falsified and he is now on trial charged with embezzlement and fake research.

But the team did succeed in creating the world’s first cloned dog two years ago – an Afghan hound named Snuppy.

They continued with the programme, cloning more dogs and also producing clones of Korean grey wolves.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/7246380.stm

Published: 2008/02/15 11:49:45 GMT

© BBC MMVIII

America in the Time of Empire

November 26, 2007

Truthdig

America in the Time of Empire

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20071126_america_in_the_time_of_empire/

Posted on Nov 26, 2007

By Chris Hedges

This column was originally published by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

All great empires and nations decay from within. By the time they hobble off the world stage, overrun by the hordes at the gates or vanishing quietly into the pages of history books, what made them successful and powerful no longer has relevance. This rot takes place over decades, as with the Soviet Union, or, even longer, as with the Roman, Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian empires. It is often imperceptible.

Dying empires cling until the very end to the outward trappings of power. They mask their weakness behind a costly and technologically advanced military. They pursue increasingly unrealistic imperial ambitions. They stifle dissent with efficient and often ruthless mechanisms of control. They lose the capacity for empathy, which allows them to see themselves through the eyes of others, to create a world of accommodation rather than strife. The creeds and noble ideals of the nation become empty cliches, used to justify acts of greater plunder, corruption and violence. By the end, there is only a raw lust for power and few willing to confront it.

The most damning indicators of national decline are upon us. We have watched an oligarchy rise to take economic and political power. The top 1 percent of the population has amassed more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, creating economic disparities unseen since the Depression. If Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes president, we will see the presidency controlled by two families for the last 24 years.

Massive debt, much of it in the hands of the Chinese, keeps piling up as we fund absurd imperial projects and useless foreign wars. Democratic freedoms are diminished in the name of national security. And the erosion of basic services, from education to health care to public housing, has left tens of millions of citizens in despair. The displacement of genuine debate and civil and political discourse with the noise and glitter of public spectacle and entertainment has left us ignorant of the outside world, and blind to how it perceives us. We are fed trivia and celebrity gossip in place of news.

An increasing number of voices, especially within the military, are speaking to this stark deterioration. They describe a political class that no longer knows how to separate personal gain from the common good, a class driving the nation into the ground.

“There has been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders,” retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former commander of forces in Iraq, recently told the New York Times, adding that civilian officials have been “derelict in their duties” and guilty of a “lust for power.”

The American working class, once the most prosperous on Earth, has been politically disempowered, impoverished and abandoned. Manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas. State and federal assistance programs have been slashed. The corporations, those that orchestrated the flight of jobs and the abolishment of workers’ rights, control every federal agency in Washington, including the Department of Labor. They have dismantled the regulations that had made the country’s managed capitalism a success for ordinary men and women. The Democratic and Republican Parties now take corporate money and do the bidding of corporate interests.

Philadelphia is a textbook example. The city has seen a precipitous decline in manufacturing jobs, jobs that allowed households to live comfortably on one salary. The city had 35 percent of its workforce employed in the manufacturing sector in 1950, perhaps the zenith of the American empire. Thirty years later, this had fallen to 20 percent. Today it is 8.8 percent. Commensurate jobs, jobs that offer benefits, health care and most important enough money to provide hope for the future, no longer exist. The former manufacturing centers from Flint, Mich., to Youngstown, Ohio, are open sores, testaments to a growing internal collapse.

The United States has gone from being the world’s largest creditor to its largest debtor. As of September 2006, the country was, for the first time in a century, paying out more than it received in investments. Trillions of dollars go into defense while the nation’s infrastructure, from levees in New Orleans to highway bridges in Minnesota, collapses. We spend almost as much on military power as the rest of the world combined, while Social Security and Medicare entitlements are jeopardized because of huge deficits. Money is available for war, but not for the simple necessities of daily life.

Nothing makes these diseased priorities more starkly clear than what the White House did last week. On the same day, Tuesday, President Bush vetoed a domestic spending bill for education, job training and health programs, yet signed another bill giving the Pentagon about $471 billion for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. All this in the shadow of a Joint Economic Committee report suggesting that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been twice as expensive than previously imagined, almost $1.5 trillion.

The decision to measure the strength of the state in military terms is fatal. It leads to a growing cynicism among a disenchanted citizenry and a Hobbesian ethic of individual gain at the expense of everyone else. Few want to fight and die for a Halliburton or an Exxon. This is why we do not have a draft. It is why taxes have not been raised and we borrow to fund the war. It is why the state has organized, and spends billions to maintain, a mercenary army in Iraq. We leave the fighting and dying mostly to our poor and hired killers. No nationwide sacrifices are required. We will worry about it later.

It all amounts to a tacit complicity on the part of a passive population. This permits the oligarchy to squander capital and lives. It creates a world where we speak exclusively in the language of violence. It has plunged us into an endless cycle of war and conflict that is draining away the vitality, resources and promise of the nation.

It signals the twilight of our empire.

The Great Forgetting

October 18, 2007

The Great Forgetting

http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/20071005_the_great_forgetting/

Posted on Oct 5, 2007

By Eunice Wong

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, located on the Mall in Washington, D.C., is a monument to historical amnesia.  The blond limestone building, surrounded by indigenous crops of corn, tobacco and squash, invites visitors on a guilt-free, theme park tour of Native American history, where acknowledgment of the American genocide is in extremely bad taste.

The beauty of the architecture and landscaping conceals the hollowness of the enterprise.  The first two floors of the four-story building are turned over to gift shops and the cafeteria.  The museum provides no information on the forced death marches, authorized by Congress, such as the Trail of Tears, the repeated treaty violations by the United States, reservations, infamous massacres such as Wounded Knee, or leaders such as Tatanka Iyotanka (Sitting Bull), Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht (Chief Joseph), Tashunka Witko (Crazy Horse), or Goyathlay (Geronimo). 

“If it does not talk about massive land theft—3 billion acres of stolen land in the continental United States; if it does not talk about broken treaties—over 400 treaties violated by the United States government and its European American citizenry; if it does not talk about genocide—16 million native peoples wiped out by the United States and its citizenry; if it does not talk about residential Christian boarding schools, about the suppression of our languages, our Indigenous spirituality and religious ceremonies, and on and on, it is literally a whitewashed history,” said Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa of the Dakota Nation, professor and head of the Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies Program at Southwest Minnesota State University.  “And then they get our colonized, Christianized Indian colleagues to tell the same story that has been told by the European Americans for generations.”

The lobby of the museum is a soaring, glass-domed atrium filled with natural light.  The walls are smooth and white, and a large circle of honey-colored wood, resembling a dance floor, is set into the dark stone of the ground.  Three small boats, all built in recent years—a Peruvian reed boat, an Arctic kayak with a cedar frame and nylon covering, and a Hawaiian canoe—are displayed on the floor, dwarfed by the open space.

The Chesapeake gift shop, with its glass cases of aquamarine stones and glittering silver, all artfully lit, faces the lobby.  The shop displays silk scarves, pottery and handmade designer jewelry, such as a necklace of sterling silver and turquoise for $1,800, or a belt made entirely of tiny beads for $4,000. 

The Mitsitam Café is down the hall from the Chesapeake gift shop.  The cafeteria, in natural wood and large floor-to-ceiling windows, groups its native-themed food by geographical region.  The buffalo eye steak with two sides costs $14.50.

The Roanoke gift shop occupies the entire second floor.  Dream-catchers, medicine wheels, aromatic herb sachets, tote bags and books are for sale.  The designer jewelry in this shop runs about $100 to $180.

The exhibits begin on the third floor.  There is a hall for temporary exhibits.  When I visited, it was filled with spot-lit mannequins in native women’s dresses.  The permanent exhibition on this floor focuses on contemporary native life and identity.  There is a hulking Bombardier ice-fishing vehicle, an Alaskan-style mask made of dental mirrors and tea strainers, and a re-creation of a contemporary native living room, featuring traditional Indian blankets on the couch.  There is a pair of red Converse sneakers, entirely beaded, with Indian figures on the high-top ankles.  The tongues are blue with white stars.

It is on the fourth floor that the expunging of history begins.

A video installation, “The Storm: Guns, Bibles and Governments,” is featured prominently in the center of the fourth-floor gallery on native history.  Tall, curving fiberglass panels enclose the viewing space, backlit in shifting shades of blue and gray.  Television screens are set into the panels.

Rapidly scudding clouds appear on the screens, tidal waves, palm trees lashed by typhoons, the debris of cars and houses in floods.  Howling wind, shrill flutes and ominous music are heard as a voice intones:

The hurricane.  A turbulence.  A steady pressure.  Unpredictable.  Uncertain.  It brings death and life.  It creates and destroys.

The video tells us, in oblique, lyrical terms, why guns, Christianity and foreign governments are both bad and good things.  Of Christianity, the narrator says:

We all know Jesus.  He has been with us for a very long time.  Christianity, a weapon of forced conversion, slavery and oppression.  A weapon of liberation and social justice, salvation and eternal life.  Today, many of us are Christians and many are not.

The video closes:

The storm is powerful and unceasing.  It creates and destroys.  It offers life and death, hope and despair.  It is never simply one thing.  The storm is an opportunity.  The storm teaches.  We have learned much.

“The Storm” turns the American Indian genocide into a faceless, mindless natural disaster with a silver lining. 

The display on treaties is in a tall, upright case about the size of a large armoire. It features several pieces of parchment under glass.  Black letters stenciled on the glass read:

[T]reaties required tribes to cede territory in exchange for money and goods. … The spiral of dispossession continued until substantial portions of native homelands were lost.

It is not mentioned that these treaties were usually negotiated through extreme coercion and duplicity on the part of the U.S. government.  Nor is it mentioned that nearly all were broken. 

“The interminable history of diplomatic relations between Indians and white men had before 1832 recorded no single instance of a treaty which had not been presently broken by the white parties to it … however solemnly embellished with such terms as ‘permanent,’ ‘forever,’ ‘for all time,’ ‘so long as the sun shall rise,’ ” writes Dale Van Every in “The Disinherited: The Lost Birthright of the American Indian.”

A quote by President Andrew Jackson in 1829 is featured prominently in large black letters on the glass face of the treaties display:

Your Father [the term denoting the U.S. president] has provided a country large enough for all of you, and he advises you to remove to it.  There your white brothers will not trouble you; they will have no claim to the land, and you can live upon it, you and all your children, as long as the grass grows or the water runs, in peace and plenty.  It will be yours forever.

Jackson, although this remains unmentioned, was one of the most vigorous advocates for the extermination of the indigenous people.  One year after he promised that the land “will be yours forever,” he pushed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 through Congress.  This bill forcibly uprooted 70,000 people of more than 60 tribes, including Cherokees, Chickasaws, Seminoles, Choctaws, Creeks, Shawnees, Senecas and Delawares, from their homes east of the Mississippi, resulting in as many as 30,000 deaths.  Twenty-five million acres of land were stolen from Native Americans for white settlers and their black slaves.

A long, curving, freestanding wall in the center of the gallery displays close to a hundred guns mounted under glass, all pointing to the right.  A short paragraph, stenciled in black on the glass and tucked in the small space between two rifles, states:

In the 1840s, Americans came to believe that the United States had a divine right to acquire all lands between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. As newcomers pushed across the continent, Western tribes led by Rain in the Face, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Cochise and Chief Joseph, faced losing their lands.  Warriors used many of the guns seen here to defend their lives.

It is the only time Manifest Destiny is alluded to in the museum.  It is the only time these historic leaders are mentioned.  Nowhere in the exhibits will you find a portrait of any of these men. There is a single reference in the museum to the near-extermination of the buffalo, which was catastrophic to the tribes of the Great Plains that depended on the herds for their existence.  The U.S. government promoted the slaughter because it accelerated the extermination of the Native Americans.  A paragraph stenciled on the gun display reads:

By 1889, the buffalo population of North America had been reduced to 1,000 from more than 50 million in 1830.  Guns such as these Sharps rifles, known as buffalo guns, and the Remington single-shot, killed most of them.  The killing transformed the lives of Plains Indians who depended on the buffalo.

It was not the Sharps or the Remingtons that killed the buffalo.  Men wielded those guns.  Once again the museum throws up its “Great Storm” shroud over history, obliterating names, deliberate tactics, and especially culpability.

We are molded as much by the histories we stifle as by the myths we create to exalt ourselves.  Those who ignore the truth about their past are condemned to replicate, over and over, their crimes.  The devastation in Iraq is the legacy of lessons unlearned, from the genocide of Native Americans, to slavery, to the Mexican war, to the invasion of Cuba and the Philippines, to Vietnam.

America’s brutal cycle of imperial invasion and occupation is as enduring as the cultivated illusion of its goodness.  And the first step toward breaking this cycle and exposing this illusion is facing our history and ourselves.  The National Museum of the American Indian feeds the mass amnesia that makes our national psychosis possible. 

American Indian nmai.si.edu

Cluster B Personality Disorders

October 10, 2007

Cyrano’s Journal Online and its semi-autonomous subsections (Thomas Paine’s Corner, The Greanville Journal, CJO Avenger, and VoxPop) would be delighted to periodically email you links to the most recent material and timeless classics available on our diverse and comprehensive site. If you would like to subscribe, type “CJO subscription” in the subject line and send your email to JMiller@bestcyrano.org

bush

By Jason Miller

10/8/07

Cluster B Personality Disorders

1776.0 Americanistic Personality Disorder

The essential features of Americanistic Personality Disorder include pervasive patterns of extreme self-absorption, profound and long-term lapses in empathy, a deep disregard for the well-being of others, a powerful aversion to intellectual honesty and reality, and a grossly exaggerated sense of the importance of one’s self and one’s nation. These patterns emerge in infancy, manifest themselves in nearly all contexts, and often become pathological.

These patterns have also been characterized as sociopathic, or colloquially as the “Ugly American Syndrome.” Note that the latter terminology carries too benign a connotation to accurately describe an individual afflicted with such a dangerous perversion of character.

For this diagnosis to be given, the individual must be deeply immersed in the flag-waving, nationalistic, and militaristic fervor derived primarily from the nearly perpetual barrage of reality warping emanations of the “mainstream media,” most commonly through the medium of television. Typically indoctrinated from birth to believe that they are morally superior, exceptional human beings, these individuals suffer from severe egocentrism, a condition further engendered by the prevalence of the acutely toxic dominant paradigm known as capitalism.

Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder are generally covertly racist, xenophobic, and openly speciesistic. They readily participate in the execution of heinous crimes against human and non-human animals, even if their complicity is banal and limited. As long as they are comfortable, safe, and enjoying the relative affluence and convenience afforded by their nation’s economic extortion, cultural genocide, rape of other species and the environment, and imperial conquests, such individuals display an apathetic disregard for the well-being of other human beings, sentient creatures, and the environment.

Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder tend to exhibit unabated greed and an insatiable desire for material goods. Fueled by a compulsion to shop and acquire excessive amounts of material goods, a condition sometimes referred to as consumerism, they have no regard for the misery and destruction caused by their pathological need for “more stuff”. When confronted with the finitude and fragility of the Earth, they frequently react with level one ego defenses by denying that their behavior is a part of the problem or by distorting reality by asserting that concerns about Climate Change, resource depletion, and irreversible damage to the environment are over-blown. Their deeply entrenched sense of entitlement renders excessive consumption a nearly immutable aspect of their behavior.

Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder are virtually devoid of empathy or compassion. They view life as a game played by “law of the jungle” rules and co-exist with others in a chronic state of hyper-competitiveness, seeking only to advance their careers and “keep up with the Joneses.” Their desire to win, get ahead and “protect what is theirs” has been so deeply etched into their psyches that their capacity to empathize and experience true concern for the well-being of others is severely stunted or extinguished. The pursuit of property, profit, and power rules their malformed psyches, nearly eliminating their capacity for humane behavior.

Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder almost always rely on extortion or violence to get their needs met and to resolve conflict. Believing in their inherent superiority, they eschew laws or rules except when they can utilize them for personal gain or when they fear punishment. Given a choice between a just resolution to a situation and the opportunity to humiliate, subdue, or subjugate the other party, they will choose the latter with a high degree of frequency. They have an amazing capacity to justify their unethical or criminal behavior using false pretexts such as self defense, good intentions, ignorance of the consequences of their actions, or asserting that they were merely carrying out orders.

Individuals with Americanistic Personality Disorder tend to manifest traits indicative of two of Erich Fromm’s personality orientations. They thrive on adding to their possessions, and appreciate their acquisitions more when they attain them through coercion, theft, or manipulation, thus showing strains of Fromm’s exploitative type. They also exist at a very superficial level, offering the world the “friendly face” of the marketing personality that Bernays and Madison Avenue have taught them is the most effective way of advancing their selfish agenda. Opportunism, careerism, and narcissism poison nearly all of their interactions and relationships.

Specific Culture Features

Americanistic Personality Disorder appears to prevail in a very high percentage of those in the upper strata of the socioeconomic order in the United States (and to persist tenaciously because these individuals have little motivation to alter their pathological behavior as they are largely immune from the consequences of their actions). While it is epidemic amongst the opulent, this characterological deficiency does not recognize socioeconomic boundaries. Various segments of the middle, working and impoverished classes comprise a notable percentage of those exhibiting this condition, including those practicing deeply conservative Christianity, many residents of reactionary states such as those in the south, Kansas, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, and many members of the Republican Party.

Prevalence

The overall prevalence of Americanistic Personality Disorder was recently measured at approximately 35% of the overall population in the United States.

—————————————————————————————–

Diagnostic Criteria for 1776.0 Americanistic Personality Disorder:

A pervasive pattern of greed, selfishness, and lack of empathy, beginning the moment he or she begins to intellectualize and presented in nearly all contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. lacks empathy due to an excessive degree of self-absorption
2. believes that he or she is exceptional and morally superior
3. frequently engages in exploitative behaviors
4. requires frequent acquisition of goods he or she doesn’t need
5. usually resorts to some form of overt or covert violence, coercion, or extortion to resolve conflicts
6. perceives others as obstacles to his or her “success”
7. disregards laws and rules except as a means to achieve his or her agenda
8. demonstrates deep hypocrisy by projecting a righteous, benevolent image while committing reprehensible acts
9. refuses to accept the consequences of his or her actions

Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor (http://www.bestcyrano.org/) and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner within Cyrano’s at http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/. You can reach him at JMiller@bestcyrano.com

Columbus Day – As Rape Rules Africa and American Churches Embrace Violent “Christian” Video Games

October 10, 2007

Columbus Day – As Rape Rules Africa and American Churches Embrace Violent “Christian” Video Games

Created Oct 8 2007 – 8:12pm

“Gold is most excellent; gold constitutes treasure; and he who has it does all he wants in the world, and can even lift souls up to Paradise.”
– Christopher Columbus, 1503 letter to the king and queen of Spain.

“Christopher Columbus not only opened the door to a New World, but also set an example for us all by showing what monumental feats can be accomplished through perseverance and faith.”
–George H.W. Bush, 1989 speech

If you fly over the country of Haiti on the island of Hispaniola, the island on which Columbus landed, it looks like somebody took a blowtorch and burned away anything green. Even the ocean around the port capital of Port au Prince is choked for miles with the brown of human sewage and eroded topsoil. From the air, it looks like a lava flow spilling out into the sea.

The history of this small island is, in many ways, a microcosm for what’s happening in the whole world.

When Columbus first landed on Hispaniola in 1492, virtually the entire island was covered by lush forest. The Taino “Indians” who loved there had an apparently idyllic life prior to Columbus, from the reports left to us by literate members of Columbus’s crew such as Miguel Cuneo.

When Columbus and his crew arrived on their second visit to Hispaniola, however, they took captive about two thousand local villagers who had come out to greet them. Cuneo wrote: “When our caravels… where to leave for Spain, we gathered…one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians, and these we embarked in our caravels on February 17, 1495…For those who remained, we let it be known (to the Spaniards who manned the island’s fort) in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done.”

Cuneo further notes that he himself took a beautiful teenage Carib girl as his personal slave, a gift from Columbus himself, but that when he attempted to have sex with her, she “resisted with all her strength.” So, in his own words, he “thrashed her mercilessly and raped her.”

While Columbus once referred to the Taino Indians as cannibals, a story made up by Columbus – which is to this day still taught in some US schools – to help justify his slaughter and enslavement of these people. He wrote to the Spanish monarchs in 1493: “It is possible, with the name of the Holy Trinity, to sell all the slaves which it is possible to sell…Here there are so many of these slaves, and also brazilwood, that although they are living things they are as good as gold…”

Columbus and his men also used the Taino as sex slaves: it was a common reward for Columbus’ men for him to present them with local women to rape. As he began exporting Taino as slaves to other parts of the world, the sex-slave trade became an important part of the business, as Columbus wrote to a friend in 1500: “A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.”

However, the Taino turned out not to be particularly good workers in the plantations that the Spaniards and later the French established on

Hispaniola: they resented their lands and children being taken, and attempted to fight back against the invaders. Since the Taino where obviously standing in the way of Spain’s progress, Columbus sought to impose discipline on them. For even a minor offense, an Indian’s nose or ear was cut off, se he could go back to his village to impress the people with the brutality the Spanish were capable of. Columbus attacked them with dogs, skewered them with pikes, and shot them.

Eventually, life for the Taino became so unbearable that, as Pedro de Cordoba wrote to King Ferdinand in a 1517 letter, “As a result of the sufferings and hard labor they endured, the Indians choose and have chosen suicide. Occasionally a hundred have committed mass suicide. The women, exhausted by labor, have shunned conception and childbirth… Many, when pregnant, have taken something to abort and have aborted. Others after delivery have killed their children with their own hands, so as not to leave them in such oppressive slavery.”

Eventually, Columbus and later his brother Bartholomew Columbus who he left in charge of the island, simply resorted to wiping out the Taino altogether. Prior to Columbus’ arrival, some scholars place the population of Haiti/Hispaniola (now at 16 million) at around 1.5 to 3 million people. By 1496, it was down to 1.1 million, according to a census done by Bartholomew Columbus. By 1516, the indigenous population was 12,000, and according to Las Casas (who were there) by 1542 fewer than 200 natives were alive. By 1555, every single one was dead.

This wasn’t just the story of Hispaniola; the same has been done to indigenous peoples worldwide. Slavery, apartheid, and the entire concept of conservative Darwinian Economics, have been used to justify continued suffering by masses of human beings.

Dr. Jack Forbes, Professor of Native American Studies at the University of California at Davis and author of the brilliant book “Columbus and Other Cannibals,” uses the Native American word wétiko (pronounced WET-ee-ko) to describe the collection of beliefs that would produce behavior like that of Columbus. Wétiko literally means “cannibal,” and Forbes uses it quite intentionally to describe these standards of culture: we “eat” (consume) other humans by destroying them, destroying their lands, taking their natural resources, and consuming their life-force by enslaving them either physically or economically. The story of Columbus and the Taino is just one example.

We live in a culture that includes the principle that if somebody else has something we need, and they won’t give it to us, and we have the means to kill them to get it, it’s not unreasonable to go get it, using whatever force we need to.

In the United States, the first “Indian war” in New England was the “Pequot War of 1636,” in which colonists surrounded the largest of the Pequot villages, set it afire as the sun began to rise, and then performed their duty: they shot everybody-men, women, children, and the elderly-who tried to escape. As Puritan colonist William Bradford described the scene: “It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they [the colonists] gave praise therof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully…”

The Narragansetts, up to that point “friends” of the colonists, were so shocked by this example of European-style warfare that they refused further alliances with the whites. Captain John Underhill ridiculed the Narragansetts for their unwillingness to engage in genocide, saying Narragansett wars with other tribes were “more for pastime, than to conquer and subdue enemies.”

In that, Underhill was correct: the Narragansett form of war, like that of most indigenous Older Culture peoples, and almost all Native American tribes, does not have extermination of the opponent as a goal. After all, neighbors are necessary to trade with, to maintain a strong gene pool through intermarriage, and to insure cultural diversity. Most tribes wouldn’t even want the lands of others, because they would have concerns about violating or entering the sacred or spirit-filled areas of the other tribes. Even the killing of “enemies” is not most often the goal of tribal “wars”: It’s most often to fight to some pre-determined measure of “victory” such as seizing a staff, crossing a particular line, or the first wounding or surrender of the opponent.

This wétiko type of theft and warfare is practiced daily by farmers and ranchers worldwide against wolves, coyotes, insects, animals and trees of the rainforest; and against indigenous tribes living in the jungles and rainforests. It is our way of life. It comes out of our foundational cultural notions.

So it should not surprise us that with the doubling of the world’s population over the past 37 years has come an explosion of violence and brutality, and as the United States runs low on oil, we are now fighting wars in oil-rich parts of the world. It shouldn’t surprise us that our churches are using violent “kill the infidels” video games [1] to lure in children, while in parts of Africa contaminated by our culture and rich in oil (Congo) rape has become so widespread as to make the front page of yesterday’s New York Times [2].

These are all dimensions, after all, our history, which we celebrate on Columbus Day. But if we wake up, and we help the world wake up, it need not be our future.

Excerpted and slightly edited from “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It’s Too Late [3],” a book by Thom Hartmann which helped inspire Leonardo DiCaprio’s new movie The 11th Hour [4]. Hartmann’s most recent book is Cracking The Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America’s Original Vision [5]. www.thomhartmann.com [6]
_______

About author Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show carried on the Air America Radio [7] network and Sirius [8]. http://www.thomhartmann.com [9] His most recent book, just released, is “Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It [10].” Other books include: “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight [11],” “Unequal Protection [12],” “We The People [13],” and “What Would Jefferson Do? [14]”

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Secessionists meeting in Tennessee

October 4, 2007

Secessionists meeting in Tennessee

By BILL POOVEY, Associated Press Writer Wed Oct 3, 3:15 AM ET

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – In an unlikely marriage of desire to secede from the United States, two advocacy groups from opposite political traditions — New England and the South — are sitting down to talk.

Tired of foreign wars and what they consider right-wing courts, the Middlebury Institute wants liberal states like Vermont to be able to secede peacefully.

That sounds just fine to the League of the South, a conservative group that refuses to give up on Southern independence.

“We believe that an independent South, or Hawaii, Alaska, or Vermont would be better able to serve the interest of everybody, regardless of race or ethnicity,” said Michael Hill of Killen, Ala., president of the League of the South.

Separated by hundreds of miles and divergent political philosophies, the Middlebury Institute and the League of the South are hosting a two-day Secessionist Convention starting Wednesday in Chattanooga.

They expect to attract supporters from California, Alaska and Hawaii, inviting anyone who wants to dissolve the Union so states can save themselves from an overbearing federal government.

If allowed to go their own way, New Englanders “probably would allow abortion and have gun control,” Hill said, while Southerners “would probably crack down on illegal immigration harder than it is being now.”

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly prohibit secession, but few people think it is politically viable.

Vermont, one of the nation’s most liberal states, has become a hotbed for liberal secessionists, a fringe movement that gained new traction because of the Iraq war, rising oil prices and the formation of several pro-secession groups.

Thomas Naylor, the founder of one of those groups, the Second Vermont Republic, said the friendly relationship with the League of the South doesn’t mean everyone shares all the same beliefs.

But Naylor, a retired Duke University professor, said the League of the South shares his group’s opposition to the federal government and the need to pursue secession.

“It doesn’t matter if our next president is Condoleeza (Rice) or Hillary (Clinton), it is going to be grim,” said Naylor, adding that there are secessionist movements in more than 25 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Texas.

The Middlebury Institute, based in Cold Spring, N.Y., was started in 2005. Its followers, disillusioned by the Iraq war and federal imperialism, share the idea of states becoming independent republics. They contend their movement is growing.

The first North American Separatist Convention was held last fall in Vermont, which, unlike most Southern states, supports civil unions. Voters there elected a socialist to the U.S. Senate.

Middlebury director Kirpatrick Sale said Hill offered to sponsor the second secessionist convention, but the co-sponsor arrangement was intended to show that “the folks up north regard you as legitimate colleagues.”

“It bothers me that people have wrongly declared them to be racists,” Sale said.

The League of the South says it is not racist, but proudly displays a Confederate Battle Flag on its banner.

Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which monitors hate groups, said the League of the South “has been on our list close to a decade.”

“What is remarkable and really astounding about this situation is we see people and institutions who are supposedly on the progressive left rubbing shoulders with bona fide white supremacists,” Potok said.

Sale said the League of the South “has not done or said anything racist in its 14 years of existence,” and that the Southern Poverty Law Center is not credible.

“They call everybody racists,” Sale said. “There are, no doubt, racists in the League of the South, and there are, no doubt, racists everywhere.”

Harry Watson, director of the Center For the Study of the American South and a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said it was a surprise to see The Middlebury Institute conferring with the League of the South, “an organization that’s associated with a cause that many of us associate with the preservation of slavery.”

He said the unlikely partnering “represents the far left and far right of American politics coming together.”

___

The jailing of black America

October 3, 2007

International Herald Tribune

The jailing of black America

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts:

The miscarriage of justice in Jena, Louisiana, where five black high school students arrested for beating a white student were charged with attempted murder, and the resulting protest march tempts us to the view, expressed by several of the marchers, that not much has changed in traditional American racial relations.

However, a remarkable series of high-profile incidents occurring elsewhere in the nation at about the same time, as well as the underlying reason for the demonstrations themselves, make it clear that the Jena case is hardly a throwback to the 1960s, but instead speaks to issues that are very much of our times.

What exactly attracted thousands of demonstrators to the small Louisiana town?

While for some it was a simple case of righting a grievous local injustice, and for others an opportunity to relive the civil rights era, for most the real motive was a long overdue cry of outrage at the use of the prison system as a means of controlling young black men.

America has more than 2 million citizens behind bars, the highest absolute and per capita rate of incarceration in the world. Black Americans, a mere 13 percent of the population, constitute half of this country’s prisoners. A tenth of all black men between ages 20 and 35 are in jail or prison; blacks are incarcerated at over eight times the white rate.

The effect on black communities is catastrophic: One in three male African-Americans in their 30s now has a prison record, as do nearly two-thirds of all black male high school dropouts.

These numbers and rates are incomparably greater than anything achieved at the height of the Jim Crow era. What’s odd is how long it has taken the African-American community to address in a forceful and thoughtful way this racially biased and utterly counterproductive situation.

How, after decades of undeniable racial progress, did we end up with this virtual gulag of racial incarceration?

Part of the answer is a law enforcement system that unfairly focuses on drug offenses and other crimes more likely to be committed by blacks, combined with draconian mandatory sentencing and an absurdly counterproductive retreat from rehabilitation as an integral method of dealing with offenders.

An unrealistic fear of crime that is fed in part by politicians and the press, a tendency to emphasize punitive measures and old-fashioned racism are all at play here.

But there is another equally important cause: the simple fact that young black men commit a disproportionate number of crimes, especially violent crimes, which cannot be attributed to judicial bias, racism or economic hardships. The rate at which blacks commit homicides is seven times that of whites.

Why is this? Several incidents serendipitously occurring at around the same time as the march on Jena hint loudly at a possible answer.

In New York City, the tabloids published sensational details of the bias suit brought by a black former executive for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, Anucha Browne Sanders, who claims that she was frequently called a “bitch” and a “ho” by the Knicks coach and president, Isiah Thomas. In a video deposition, Thomas said that while it is always wrong for a white man to verbally abuse a black woman in such terms, it was “not as much, I’m sorry to say,” for a black man to do so.

Across the nation, religious African-Americans were shocked that the evangelical minister Juanita Bynum, an enormously popular source of inspiration for churchgoing black women, said she was brutally beaten in a parking lot by her estranged husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks.

O. J. Simpson, the malevolent central player in an iconic moment in the nation’s recent black-white (as well as male-female) relations, reappeared on the scene, charged with attempted burglary, kidnapping and felonious assault in Las Vegas, in what he claimed was merely an attempt to recover stolen memorabilia.

These events all point to something that has been swept under the rug for too long in black America: the crisis in relations between men and women of all classes and, as a result, the catastrophic state of black family life, especially among the poor.

Isiah Thomas’ outrageous double standard shocked many blacks in New York only because he had the nerve to say out loud what is a fact of life for too many black women who must daily confront indignity and abuse in hip-hop misogyny and everyday conversation.

What is done with words is merely the verbal end of a continuum of abuse that too often ends with beatings and spousal homicide. Black relationships and families fail at high rates because women increasingly refuse to put up with this abuse. The resulting absence of fathers – some 70 percent of black babies are born to single mothers – is undoubtedly a major cause of youth delinquency.

The circumstances that far too many African-Americans face – the lack of paternal support and discipline; the requirement that single mothers work regardless of the effect on their children’s care; the hypocritical refusal of conservative politicians to put their money where their mouths are on family values; the recourse by male youths to gangs as parental substitutes; the ghetto-fabulous culture of the streets; the lack of skills among black men for the jobs and pay they want; the hypersegregation of blacks into impoverished inner-city neighborhoods – all interact perversely with the prison system that simply makes hardened criminals of nonviolent drug offenders and spits out angry men who are unemployable, unreformable and unmarriageable, closing the vicious circle.

Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other leaders of the Jena demonstration who view events there, and the racial horror of our prisons, as solely the result of white racism are living not just in the past but in a state of denial.

Even after removing racial bias in our judicial and prison system – as we should and must do – disproportionate numbers of young black men will continue to be incarcerated.

Until we view this social calamity in its entirety – by also acknowledging the central role of unstable relations among the sexes and within poor families, by placing a far higher priority on moral and social reform within troubled black communities, and by greatly expanding social services for infants and children – it will persist.

Orlando Patterson is a professor of sociology at Harvard and the author of “The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in America’s ‘Racial’ Crisis.”

Anti-Empire Report: Fascism-Anti-Semitism-Burma-Ahmadinejad by William Blum

October 3, 2007

Anti-Empire Report: Fascism-Anti-Semitism-Burma-Ahmadinejad by William Blum

Dandelion Salad

by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
October 1, 2007

If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, who?

I used to give thought to what historical time and place I would like to have lived in. Europe in the 1930s was usually my first choice. As the war clouds darkened, I’d be surrounded by intrigue, spies omnipresent, matters of life and death pressing down, the opportunity to be courageous and principled. I pictured myself helping desperate people escape to America. It was real Hollywood stuff; think “Casablanca”. And when the Spanish Republic fell to Franco and his fascist forces, aided by the German and Italian fascists (while the United States and Britain stood aside, when not actually aiding the fascists), everything in my imaginary scenario would have heightened — the fate of Europe hung in the balance. Then the Nazis marched into Austria, then Czechoslovakia, then Poland … one could have devoted one’s life to working against all this, trying to hold back the fascist tide; what could be more thrilling, more noble?

Miracle of miracles, miracle of time machines, I’m actually living in this imagined period, watching as the Bush fascists march into Afghanistan, bombing it into a “failed state”; then Iraq: death, destruction, and utterly ruined lives for 24 million human beings; threatening more of the same endless night of hell for the people of Iran; overthrowing Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti; bombing helpless refugees in Somalia; relentless attempts to destabilize and punish Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Gaza, and other non-believers in the empire’s god-given mission. Sadly, my most common reaction to this real-life scenario, daily in fact, is less heroic and more feeling scared or depressed; not for myself personally but for our one and only world. The news every day, which I consume in large portions, slashes away at my joie de vivre; it’s not just the horror stories of American military power run amok abroad and the injustices of the ever-expanding police state at home, but all the lies and stupidity which drive me up the wall. I’m constantly changing stations, turning the TV or radio off, turning the newspaper page, to escape the words of the King of Lies and the King of Stupidity — those two twisted creatures who happen to occupy the same humanoid body — and a hundred minions.

Nonetheless, I must tell you, comrades, that at the same time, our contemporary period also brings out in me a measure of what I imagined for my 1930s life. Our present world is in just as great peril, even more so when one considers the impending environmental catastrophe (which the King of Capitalism refuses to confront lest it harm the profits of those who lavish him with royal bribes). The Bush fascist tide must be stopped.

Usually when I’m asked “But what can we do?”, my reply is something along the lines of: Inasmuch as I can not see violent revolution succeeding in the United States (something deep inside tells me that we couldn’t quite match the government’s firepower, not to mention their viciousness), I can offer no solution to stopping the imperial beast other than: Educate yourself and as many others as you can, increasing the number of those in the opposition until it reaches a critical mass, at which point … I can’t predict the form the explosion will take.

I’m afraid that this advice, whatever historical correctness it may embody, is not terribly inspiring. However, I’ve assembled four wise men to add their thoughts, hopefully raising the inspiration level. Let’s call them the “patron saints of lost causes”.

I.F. Stone: “The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing — for the sheer fun and joy of it — to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.”

Howard Zinn: “People think there must be some magical tactic, beyond the traditional ones — protests, demonstrations, vigils, civil disobedience — but there is no magical panacea, only persistence.”

Noam Chomsky: “There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change — and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.”

Sam Smith: “Those who think history has left us helpless should recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870, the labor organizer of 1890, and the gay or lesbian writer of 1910. They, like us, did not get to choose their time in history but they, like us, did get to choose what they did with it. Knowing what we know now about how these things turned out, but also knowing how long it took, would we have been abolitionists in 1830, or feminists in 1870, and so on?”

Anti-Semitism. Don’t settle for imitations.

“The cleanliness of this people, moral and otherwise, I must say, is a point in itself. By their very exterior you could tell that these were no lovers of water, and, to your distress, you often knew it with your eyes closed. … Added to this, there was their unclean dress and their generally unheroic appearance. … Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it? … nine tenths of all literary filth, artistic trash, and theatrical idiocy can be set to the account of a people … a people under whose parasitism the whole of honest humanity is suffering, today more than ever: the Jews.”

Now who can be the author of such abominable anti-semitism? a)Hasan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon;
b)John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”; c)Osama bin Laden; d)Jimmy Carter; e)Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran; f)Norman Finkelstein, author of “The Holocaust Industry”.

Each one has been condemned as anti-Semitic. Are you having a problem deciding?
Oh, excuse me, I forgot one — g)Adolf Hitler.[1] Does that make it easier? I’ll bet some of you were thinking it must have been Ahmadinejad.

The Webster’s Dictionary defines “anti-Semite” as “One who discriminates against or is hostile to or prejudiced against Jews.” Notice that Israel is not mentioned.

The next time a critic of Israeli policies is labeled “anti-semitic” think of this definition, think of Adolf’s charming way of putting it, then closely examine what the accused has actually said or written.

It may, however, be past the time for such a rational, intellectual pursuit; ultra-heated polarization reigns supreme with anything concerning the Middle East, particularly Israel.

In March, at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, one of the speakers, an American “Christian Zionist”, asserted: “It is 1938, Iran is Germany and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler.” The audience responded with a standing ovation, one of seven for his talk.[2]

Then, in May, former Israeli Prime-Minister and current Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs. … [While Ahmadinejad] denies the Holocaust he is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.”[3]

Not to be outdone in semi-hysterical propaganda, Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, has compared an Iranian nuclear bomb to a “flying concentration camp”.[4]

So why hasn’t Iran at least started its holocaust by killing or throwing into concentration camps its own Jews, an estimated 30,000 in number? These are Iranian Jews who have representation in Parliament and who have been free for many years to emigrate to Israel but have chosen not to do so.

For your further apocalyptic enjoyment here are a couple more of Zionism’s finest envoys speaking about Iran. Former Speaker of the House in the US Congress, Newt Gingrich: “Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. We have enemies who are quite explicit in their desire to destroy us. They say it publicly, on television, on Web sites. [They are] fully as determined as Nazi Germany, more determined than the Soviet Union, and these enemies will kill us the first chance they get.”[5]

And Norman Podhoretz, leading neo-conservative editor of Commentary magazine, in an article entitled “The Case for Bombing Iran”: “Like Hitler, [Ahmadinejad] is a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism. … The plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force — any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938.”[6]

Though so often condemned, Hitler actually arrived at a number of very perceptive insights into how the world worked. One of them was this:
“The great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil … therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big.”[7]

Ahmadinejad arrived in New York September 24 to address the United Nations. At Columbia University he was introduced by the school’s president as a man who appeared to lack “intellectual courage”, had a “fanatical mindset”, and may be “astonishingly undereducated”.[8] How many people in the audience, I wonder, looked around to see where George W. was sitting.

“If I were the president of a university, I would not have invited him. He’s a holocaust denier,” said Hillary Clinton, once again fearlessly challenging the Bush administration’s propaganda.[9]

The above is but a small sample of the hatred and anger spewed forth against Ahmadinejad for several years now. A number of people on the American left, who should know better, have joined this chorus. I therefore would like to repeat, and update, part of something I wrote in this report last December, which was entitled “Designer Monsters”.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a man seemingly custom-made for the White House in its endless quest for enemies with whom to scare Congress, the American people, and the world, in order to justify the unseemly behavior of the empire. The Iranian president, we are told, has declared that he wants to “wipe Israel off the map”. He has said that “the Holocaust is a myth”. He held a conference in Iran for “Holocaust deniers”. And his government passed a new law requiring Jews to wear a yellow insignia, à la the Nazis. On top of all that, he’s aiming to build nuclear bombs, one of which would surely be aimed at Israel. What right-thinking person would not be scared by such a man?

However, like with all such designer monsters made bigger than life during the Cold War and since by Washington, the truth about Ahmadinejad is a bit more complicated. According to people who know Farsi, the Iranian leader has never said anything about “wiping Israel off the map”. In his October 29, 2005 speech, when he reportedly first made the remark, the word “map” does not even appear. According to the translation of Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, Ahmadinejad said that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” His remark, said Cole, “does not imply military action or killing anyone at all”[10], which of course is what would make the remark sound threatening.

At the December 2006 conference in Teheran (”Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision”), the Iranian president said: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.”[11] Obviously, the man is not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place peacefully.

Moreover, in June 2006, subsequent to Ahmadinejad’s controversial speech, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated: “We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state.”[12]

As for the Holocaust myth, I have yet to read or hear words from Ahmadinejad saying simply, clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally that he thinks that what we know as the Holocaust never happened. He has instead commented about the peculiarity and injustice of a Holocaust which took place in Europe resulting in a state for the Jews in the Middle East instead of in Europe. Why are the Palestinians paying a price for a German crime? he asks. He argues that Israel and the United States have exploited the memory of the Holocaust for their own purposes. And he wonders about the accuracy of the number of Jews — six million — allegedly killed in the Holocaust, as have many other people of all political stripes, including Holocaust survivors like Italian author Primo Levi. (The much publicized World War One atrocities which turned out to be false made the public very skeptical of the Holocaust claims for a long time after World War Two.) Ahmadinejad further asks why European researchers have been imprisoned for questioning certain details about the Holocaust.
Which of this deserves to be labeled “Holocaust denial”?

The conference gave a platform to various points of view, including six members of Jews United Against Zionism, at least two of whom were rabbis. One was Ahron Cohen, from London, who declared: “There is no doubt whatsoever, that during World War 2 there developed a terrible and catastrophic policy and action of genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany against the Jewish People.” He also said that “the Zionists make a great issue of the Holocaust in order to further their illegitimate philosophy and aims,” indicating as well that the figure of six million Jewish victims is debatable. The other rabbi was Moshe David Weiss, who told the delegates: “We don’t want to deny the killing of Jews in World War II, but Zionists have given much higher figures for how many people were killed. They have used the Holocaust as a device to justify their oppression.” His group rejects the creation of Israel on the grounds that it violates Jewish religious law in that a Jewish state can’t exist until the return of the Messiah .[13]

Another speaker was Shiraz Dossa, professor of political science at St. Francis Xavier University in Canada. In an interview after the conference, he described himself as an anti-imperialist and an admirer of Noam Chomsky, and said that he “was invited because of my expertise as a scholar in the German-Jewish area, as well as my studies in the Holocaust. … I have nothing to do with Holocaust denial, not at all.” His talk, he said, was “about the war on terrorism, and how the Holocaust plays into it. … There was no pressure at all to say anything, and people there had different views.”[14]

Clearly, the conference — which the White House called “an affront to the entire civilized world”[15] — was not set up to be a forum for people to deny that the Holocaust literally never took place at all.

As to the yellow star story of May 2006 — that was a complete fabrication by a prominent Iranian-American neo-conservative author, Amir Taheri.

Ahmadinejad, however, is partly to blame for his predicament. When asked directly about the Holocaust and other controversial matters he usually declines to give explicit answers of “yes” or “no”. I interpret this as his prideful refusal to accede to the wishes of what he regards as a hostile Western interviewer asking hostile questions. The Iranian president is also in the habit of prefacing certain remarks with “Even if the Holocaust happened … “, a rhetorical device we all use in argument and discussion, but one which can not help but reinforce the doubts people have about his views. However, when Ahmadinejad himself asks, as he often has, “Why should the Palestinians have to pay for something that happened in Europe?” he does not get a clear answer.

In any event, in the question and answer session following his talk at Columbia, the Iranian president said: “I’m not saying that it [the Holocaust] didn’t happen at all. This is not the judgment that I’m passing here.”

That should put the matter to rest. But of course it won’t. Two days later, September 26, a bill (H. R. 3675) was introduced in Congress “To prohibit Federal grants to or contracts with Columbia University”, to punish the school for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak. The bill’s first “finding” states that “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the State of Israel, a critical ally of the United States.”

That same day, comedian Jay Leno had great fun ridiculing Ahmadinejad for denying that the Holocaust ever happened “despite all the eye-witness accounts”.

How long before the first linking of Iran with 9-11? Or has that already happened? How long before democracy and freedom bombs begin to fall upon the heads of the Iranian people? All the charges of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, along with other disinformation, are of course designed to culminate in this new crime against humanity.

I wonder, in discussing these matters, if I’m running the risk of once again being called “anti-Semitic” by some Internet readers. No one is safe from such charges these days. It should be noted that Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, was accused last year of anti-semitic behavior by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of New York and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, important members of the Israel lobby. The accusation was based on a highly egregious out-of-context reading of some remarks by Chavez.[16] One doesn’t have to be particularly conspiracy minded to think that this was done in collusion with Bush administration officials. As the Reagan administration in 1983 flung charges of anti-Semitism against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, led by Daniel Ortega, who heads it again today.[17] Stay tuned. Daniel, watch out.

One final thought. On the Democratic Party’s failure to stand up to the Bush fascist tide. Here, from the first-person account of a German living under Hitler in the 1930s, his observation about the leading German political party, the Social Democrats, the Democratic Party of its time: The Social Democrats, he wrote, “had fought the election campaign of 1933 in a dreadfully humiliating way, chasing after the Nazi slogans and emphasizing that they were ‘also nationalist’. … In May, a month before they were finally dissolved, the Social Democratic faction in the Reichstag had unanimously expressed their confidence in Hitler and joined in the singing of the ‘Horst Wessel Song,’ the Nazi anthem. (The official parliamentary report noted: ‘Unending applause and cheers, in the house and the galleries. The Reichschancellor [Hitler] turns to the Social Democratic faction and applauds.’)”[18]

Burma

It’s not that I can’t give United States foreign policy any credit when credit is due (please send me examples of the good deeds I’ve overlooked), but the raison d’être of this report is to try to help readers understand how US foreign policy works, waking people up and making them smell the garbage. American officials are now saying all the right things in support of the protesting Burmese monks. They condemn the Burmese leaders. They have announced new sanctions against the military regime and have called upon the Security Council to consider further steps. “Americans are outraged by the situation,” said Bush at the UN last week. But we must remember that all this costs the United States nothing. There’s no oil involved. Israel has not yet accused the monks of anti-semitism. There’s no issue of terrorism involved, though the government has tried to raise the issue of “terrorism” to win Washington’s support. The monks have not made any socialist or anti-imperialist demands. There are no American bases whose removal they’ve called for. No Burmese troops have been helping the US in Iraq or Afghanistan. Neither Halliburton nor Blackwater has a presence in Burma. In short, nothing that would oblige Washington to compromise, once again, on its alleged principles.

NOTES
[1] Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1971, original version 1925), Vol. 1, chapter 2, pp 57-8; chapter 4, p.150

[2] The Forward (Jewish newspaper in New York), March 16, 2007 http://www.forward.com/articles/pastor-hailed-bibi-dissed-pollard-rejected-whil/

[3] Haaretz.com (Israeli newspaper), http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/787766.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Jerusalem Post, January 23, 2007

[6] Commentary Magazine (New York), June 2007

[7] “Mein Kampf”, op. cit., Vol. 1, chapter 10, p.231

[8] Washington Post, September 25, 2007, p.1

[9] Washington Post, September 25, 2007, p.6

[10] Informed Comment, Cole’s blog, May 3, 2006
http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens-hacker-and-hitchens.html
For a word-by-word breakdown of Ahmadinejad’s remark, in Farsi and English, see: Global Research, January 20, 2007,
Iran’s President Did Not Say “Israel must be wiped off the map” By Arash Norouzi

[11] Associated Press, December 12, 2006

[12] Letter to Washington Post from M.A. Mohammadi, Press Officer, Iranian Mission to the United Nations, June 12, 2006

[13] nkusa.org/activities/Speeches/2006Iran-ACohen.cfm; Telegraph.co.uk, article by Alex Spillius, December 13, 2006; Associated Press, December 12, 2006

[14] Globe and Mail (Toronto), December 13, 2006

[15] Associated Press, December 12, 2006

[16] Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2805

[17] Holly Sklar, “Washington’s War On Nicaragua” (1988), p.243

[18] Sebastian Haffner, “Defying Hitler” (English edition, New York, 2000), pp.130-1

William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.

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