Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ethnic fundamentalism in the United States

From The Nazi Conscience by Claudia Koonz, pages 273-274.
Nazism offered all ethnic Germans, whether or not they joined the party, a comprehensive system of meaning that was transmitted through powerful symbols and renewed in communal celebrations. It told them how to differentiate between friend and enemy, true believer and heretic, non-Jew and Jew. In offering the faithful a vision of sanctified life in the Volk, it resembled a religion. Its condemnation of egoism and celebration of self-denial had much in common with ethical postulates elsewhere. But in contrast to the optimistic language of international covenants guaranteeing universal rights to all people, Nazi public culture was constructed on the mantra: "Not every being with a human face is human." 
Until late in the twentieth century, Nazism appeared to have been a retrograde political faith that lacked the potential to outlive its founder. While the idiosyncratic racial fantasies of Nazism seem as outdated as the goose-step, the ideology that drove it was the first example of a new and ominous kind of doctrine that based the civil right of citizens, including the right to live, on ethnic identity as determined by the state. Hitler founded a consensual dictatorship that was "neither right nor left" on the political spectrum but occupied an entirely different political terrain. Like other fundamentalisms, it began with a powerful leader and drew on populist rage against corrupt elites who had betrayed the "common man."
 On the basis of a shabby doctrine of racial struggle, Nazi functionaries and academics innovated a political strategy that did not perish with the F├╝hrer. In the second half of the twentieth century, the outbreak of ethnic strife and the emergence of populist regionalism during the breakup of colonial empires and the collapse of Soviet power made it clear that Nazism had not been a final atavistic outcropping of tribalism but a harbinger of ethnic fundamentalism, a creed that gathers force when modernizing societies are convulsed by dislocations which threaten conventional systems of meaning. The potential for racial hatred lurks whenever political leaders appeal to the exalted virtue of their own ethnic community. Against a growing commitment to universal human rights, ethnic fundamentalists broadcast alarms about ethnic danger. Evil presents itself as unalloyed ethnic good. Reforging bonds that may be religious, cultural, racial, or linguistic, ethnic fundamentalism merges politics and religion within a crusade to defend values and authentic traditions that appear to be endangered.
Donald Trump, it seems to me, is an example of the powerful leader appealing to populist rage, which he is exploiting to try to become president. His movement, if it can be called a movement, is a kind of ethnic fundamentalism, where the ethnos or Volk is identified by him as white people who don't belong to urban elites, people who are not black or Hispanic, Asian, or Jewish. There have certainly been white supremacist political movements in the past in the US, but I think that what we have today in the US is something new. It has definite fascist and antisemitic features: the accusation that Clinton is conspiring with international bankers against Trump, for example and attacks upon the lying media, which again can be an antisemitic trope. At the moment it appears that Trump is on his way to losing the election, but I don't think that the fascist tendencies he has introduced into American politics will go away, including the introduction of political antisemitism into the public discourse,

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trump - the "international bankers" are conspiring against him

Trump is getting closer and closer to openly blaming Jews for the implosion of his campaign. He just gave a speech to supporters in Florida, which Charles Johnson summarizes this way:
This is an amazingly bizarre speech even for Donald Trump, ranting about conspiracies by the media and international bankers, saying the sexual abuse allegations against him are a “coordinated effort” between the Clintons and the media to deflect attention from Wikileaks, mocking the women who came forward, and threatening lawsuits against everyone like Chuck C. Johnson.

Michelle Obama on Donald Trump

Michelle Obama just gave a very powerful speech expressing what many people feel about Donald Trump and his insulting and predatory remarks about women.
"The fact is that in this election, we have a candidate for president of the United States who, over the course of his lifetime and the course of this campaign has said things about women that are so shocking. So demeaning," she said. "I simply will not repeat anything here today. And last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. And I can't believe that I'm saying that." 
"It would be dishonest and disingenuous for me to move on to the next thing like this was just a bad dream," she said. "This is not something we can ignore. It's not something we can sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn't locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predator behavior." 
"I feel it so personally. And I'm sure that many of you do too. Particularly the women,” she said. "The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business. Some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares just a little too long, you feel uncomfortable in your own skin."
Amen, sister. 

Saturday, October 08, 2016

How long, O Lord, how long?

I cannot wait for this election to be over.

I'm sick of people who call themselves "progressives" but continually attack Hillary Clinton using right-wing Republican talking points, blaming her, of all people, for her husband's cheating on her, and pretending that if she became president she would be just as bad as Trump. What a load of BS. How is this "progressive"? They babble about "neoliberalism" and are angry at her for being pro-Israel.

Don't any of them remember the 2000 election, and how a bunch of misguided progressives voted for Ralph Nader, thus aiding Bush in being elected president? (They weren't entirely to blame, but they certainly didn't help). They thought that Al Gore just wasn't pure enough for them. And they're doing the same thing to Hillary, but this time with a generous dollop of sexism.

Donald Trump is a misogynist (as we were reminded today), a man who grabs women "in the pussy," a vicious racist (just today he asserted again that the five young black men who were acquitted of raping a woman in Central Park in 1989 were guilty), an antisemite (despite the fact that his son-in-law is Jewish and his daughter converted to Judaism), a hater of Mexicans (remember his remark about Mexican "rapists" and his attacks on the judge who is handling one of the cases against him).

Why on earth would "progressives" tear down Hillary Clinton if it means making it easier for Trump to be elected?

Trump fan sends a seizure-inducing video to a journalist with epilepsy

The big news about Donald Trump tonight is the video from over ten years ago that reveals that he is a serial sexual predator and a vile hater of women (which we already knew). This is another article about Trump - not the man himself, but about his followers - How Donald Trump Supporters Attack Journalists.

Kurt Eichenwald is a writer for Newsweek who has been relentlessly filing stories about Trump's twisted business dealings. In response, Trump's neo-Nazi fans have been harassing him, sending him death threats, and calling him a "kike" a "fag" and a "pedo." Trump fans have even gone after one of his sons online.

 Eichenwald also has epilepsy, and one of Trump's fans posted a tweet addressed to him containing a video link that was designed to hurt Eichenwald.
Throughout my adulthood, I have never made a secret of the fact that I have epilepsy. It’s better controlled now than it has been during other parts of my life, but not completely—my neurologist tells me I have intractable epilepsy, meaning treatment will never bring the condition fully under control. I know how people—particularly children—with seizures suffer when uninformed idiots suggest they should impose limits of their lives or quell their aspirations. 
So when Fox News blowhard and college dropout Sean Hannity practically drooled in delight this election season as he falsely proclaimed that Hillary Clinton suffered from seizures based on her acting goofy in a short video clip, it infuriated me. I knew how his message would be heard—people with seizures look ridiculous, they should be afraid of others laughing at them, they should listen to the voices telling them they can’t do what they want (even be president). And so I raged at Hannity in the pages of Newsweek, on cable television news shows and on Twitter. 
A couple of weeks later, after my article about how Trump’s business interests would create a conflict of unprecedented proportions, I received a tweet from someone with the twitter handle “Mike's Deplorable AF.” Like many Trump supporters, he has chosen to identify himself as deplorable to mock the label once used by Clinton to describe the racists, neo-Nazis, homophobes and like who have crawled out of the sewer to cheer for the Republican nominee. Mike, however, is indeed deplorable. 
In his tweet, which has since been deleted, Mike made mention of my seizures and included a small video. It contained images of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has been identified by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol. I was carrying my iPad, looking at the still image on the video and, without thinking, touched the PLAY button. 
The video was some sort of strobe light, with flashing circles and images of Pepe flying toward the screen. It’s what’s called epileptogenic—something that triggers seizures. Fortunately, since I was standing, I simply dropped my iPad to the ground the second I realized what Mike had done. It landed face down on the bathroom floor.
This is very sinister. This goes beyond threats with words to an attempt to harm a person physically. I hope that Eichenwald has contacted the police about this.

And this action fits perfectly with Trump's verbal attacks on people with disabilities (think of how he mocked the New York Times reporter, Serge F. Kovalevskil, who has arthrogryposis, "which limits the functioning of his joints"), and his obsession with being and appearing to be strong and not weak. I keep thinking of the Nazis and how they attacked people with disabilities because they weakened the "racial stock" of Germany. Trump appears to have the same attitude. (To differentiate him from the Nazis, he has of course not suggested that people with disabilities be executed).

I'm also reminded of when I was a child in the 1960s, before the era of mainstreaming. In my elementary school there were a couple of classrooms for children who would now be called developmentally delayed, whom the school called retarded, and whom we, the other children, called retards. They were mercilessly mocked whenever they appeared in the hallways. There was no sense that they were just children, like us - no, they were despised. A girl in one of my classes who had a stutter was made fun of constantly and kept out of the circle of the "popular" girls. Even when I went to high school mockery of people with disabilities continued. In my "alternative" high school, one of the students wore very thick glasses and had a lot of trouble seeing. I remember him sitting at a table and being mocked by my classmates - even at the "cool" alternative school. It was disgusting. It seems that Trump wants to haul us back to the time when it was funny to call people "retards" and okay to bully and harass people with disabilities.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

"I hadn't been called a kike since fourth grade. Donald Trump changed all that" - Bradley Burston

Bradley Burston of Ha'aretz on the antisemitism that Donald Trump has permitted to enter into the public realm in the US, for the first time since the late 1940s. He writes, I hadn't been called a kike since fourth grade. Donald Trump changed all that.
“What Trump has brought to the surface is, in many ways, the first blatant anti-Semitic experience for the vast majority of American millennials,” Ohio State sophomore Zach Reizes, 19, told Politico Magazine.  
The quote is from an extraordinary report this week by Politico's Ben Wofford. In an allusion to the large numbers of Jewish organizations who have refrained from challenging Trump on the anti-Semitism issue, Wofford notes that among Jews the pro-Trump outrages of the alt-right have "heightened a divide between young and old, left and right: Progressive young Jews learning to form the words 'anti-Semitism,' often for the first time — even while they take umbrage at their right-leaning scolds who, now into October, have kept up a deafening silence on the topic of Trump." 
Through it all, Jew-hating Trump supporters have reserved some of the most toxic of their venom for staunch Republicans and conservatives who happen to be Jewish. They've even coined an obscenity just for them: Kikeservatives. As in this headline on the Infostormer website: "Kikeservative [Susan] Goldberg Defends Kikeservative [Jonah] Goldberg From Patriotic Jew Exposers.".... (I don't recommend clicking on the link).
Trump helped throw the holding tanks of anti-Semitism wide open in July, when he gave national exposure to, and then proceeded to defend, a white supremacist-designed meme in which Hillary Clinton appears flanked by a red six-pointed star on a background of a pile of hundred-dollar bills....
Donald Trump may be the grandfather to a Jewish baby. But if that baby grows up in a nation ruled by Trump, one day he may be the one Jew at that dinner table to ask why his grandfather helped make anti-Semitism American again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shimon Peres died today - last of the great founding leaders of Israel

Noga Tarnopolsky just posted this beautiful photograph on Twitter, with the title Jerusalem, 6:00 am.

President Obama's statement about Peres:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Holocaust Trial" - October 10, 7:30 pm, Ithaca College

Lawrence Douglas, of Amherst College, is speaking on October 10th at Ithaca College on the four trials of John (Ivan) Demjanjuk. He will be speaking in Textor Hall 101 at 7:30 pm.

John (Ivan) Demjanjuk was a Ukrainian national who was accused of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a notorious guard at the Treblinka death camp in Poland, during World War II. As an adult, after the war, he lived in suburban Cleveland. He was the subject of the lengthiest and most bizarre criminal case to arise out of the Holocaust. All told Demjanjuk was tried four times: twice in the United States on immigration charges; once in Israel, in one of the most notorious cases of mistaken identity in legal history; and finally in Germany, where a Munich court convicted him in 2011 of being a guard at a Nazi death camp.

Demjanjuk was tried in Israel and convicted on the charges of crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people, but the Israeli Supreme Court later threw out the verdict on the basis that newly-found documents from Russia, available after the collapse of the Soviet Union, did not provide sufficient proof that Demjanjuk had served as a guard at Treblinka. Demjanjuk was later tried on Germany for being a guard at another death camp, Sobibor. In May, 2011, he was convicted on the charge of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder, and sentenced to five years in prison, but he died in March, 2012, before his appeals had been exhausted, and so did not serve a prison term.

Lawrence Douglas, the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought at Amherst College, covered Demjanjuk’s Munich trial for Harper’s and his recently published book, The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial,  builds on that reportage to show the historic importance of the enormous effort to bring Demjanjuk to justice.

Secretary of State Kerry: One State = One War

Haaretz reports on a private meeting that Secretary of State Kerry had with ministers representing the countries giving financial assistance to the PA:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took Israel to task at a private meeting in New York last Monday over its policy in the West Bank, Haaretz has learned. The comments came at a closed meeting of ministers representing the countries providing financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. 
Kerry repeatedly raised his voice, emphasizing that Israel and the Palestinians are moving in the direction of a binational state rather than a Palestinian state alongside Israel and are also headed toward war. He added that if the international community is interested in putting a halt to these developments, “Either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.” 
Western diplomats who were present at the meeting, but who asked not to be identified because the meeting was not public, noted that Kerry was extremely agitated. 
The U.S. secretary of state also expressed criticism of the Palestinians, the sources said, citing the increased number of Palestinian terror attacks and the incitement against Israel. However, the thrust of his remarks constituted criticism of the unprecedented rate of construction in the settlements in particular, and Israel’s policies in the West Bank in general. 
The Western diplomats noted that Kerry’s comments presented the despair on both sides, but also the understanding emerging not only on Kerry’s part but also among an increasing number of senior White House officials that they need to seriously consider the possibility of promoting a resolution at the United Nations Security Council or at another international forum. This would be immediately after the U.S. presidential election in November, and would deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue and preserving the option of a two-state solution in the future. 
In an interview with Channel 10 last Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, hinted at this, noting that the U.S. administration is considering a series of options, including a UN Security Council resolution. 
Shapiro added, however, that a decision has yet to be made on the matter. 
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters at the beginning of last week, U.S. President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said Obama does not rule out such a process, but no specific proposal has been presented to him yet. 
At the New York meeting last Wednesday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama, the subject did not come up for discussion. But in interviews the prime minister gave to Israeli television networks over the weekend, he said he hoped Obama would not force a unilateral political solution on Israel. 
On Friday, Netanyahu met one-on-one with Kerry to discuss the Palestinian issue. The meeting, which was hastily arranged, took place shortly after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the UN and the European Union). Also attending were the foreign ministers of France and Egypt. 
At the end of the meeting, the Quartet’s foreign ministers condemned accelerated construction in the settlements, demolitions of Palestinian homes and the retroactive approval of illegal West Bank outposts in recent months. 
“All those are steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution,” the Quartet statement said. “The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”
At last Monday’s conference of countries providing funding to the PA, Kerry told the several dozen foreign ministers in attendance that after close to four years of talks with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he had come to the conclusion that the actions the two have been taking — and, more than that, the actions they are not taking — are deepening the diplomatic stalemate. 
“Now, every single terrible act of violence, every new settlement announcement, takes us not closer to peace; they take us closer to a one-state solution,” he said. “That is no solution. It is an invitation to perpetual conflict. And as Shimon Peres himself said, it will bring one war, not one state. Make no mistake about it, I believe that is the risk if we continue on the current course.” 
Kerry noted that since the release last July of a Quartet report that included a major warning regarding the direction in which the Israelis and Palestinians were headed, there has only been an increase in violence and Palestinian incitement has continued. In addition, plans for 2,400 new housing units in the settlements were announced and there has been a dramatic increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes. 
The U.S. secretary of state presented figures indicating that since Obama took office in 2009, the number of Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has increased by 95,000, and that 15,000 of that increase has come in the past year alone. 
“How does increasing the number of settlers indicate an attempt to create a Palestinian state?” Kerry asked, raising his voice. “The status quo is not sustainable. So either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.” 
The U.S. secretary of state also spoke with anger, cynicism and frustration about the steps Israel was purportedly taking on the ground to ease the lives of the Palestinians. However, many of the measures have not been implemented at all and remain in the nature of declarations or remain simply on paper. 
“I know this because I was told the Allenby Bridge [between the West Bank and Jordan] would open 24/7. It never did. I was told that the 3G [West Bank cellular service] agreement signed nearly a year ago would take place within months. It still is not fully implemented,” Kerry said. 
“If we really want to get serious about a two-state solution, we need much more than just one-time agreements and improvements. We need to fundamentally change the dynamic by resuming the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority in Area C, which was called for in prior agreements.” 
Area C is the designation for the areas of the West Bank under full Israeli control. 
Kerry concluded by saying that Israelis and Palestinians are at a crossroads. “Either we reverse course and take serious steps on the path to a two-state solution, or the momentum of existing actions will carry us further toward an intractable one-state reality that nobody wants and nobody really thinks can work. 
“The consequences of the current trends reverberate far beyond the immediate damage the destruction and displacement may cause. What’s happening today destroys hope. It empowers extremists,” he added.

If the US opposes genocide, why aren't we intervening in Aleppo?

On February 17, 2016, Lee Smith of Tablet Magazine wrote on the shamefulness of our Syria policy.
Even die-hard supporters of President Barack Obama’s “realist” approach to foreign affairs are nauseated by the White House’s Syria policy. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, a vocal supporter of the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, is fed up with nearly five years of the “fecklessness and purposelessness” of a Syria policy that “has become hard to distinguish” from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. “Syria is now the Obama administration’s shame,” Cohen wrote last week, “a debacle of such dimensions that it may overshadow the president’s domestic achievements.” 
Ambassador Dennis Ross and New York Times military correspondent David Sanger also published articles excoriating Obama’s policies in Syria. There is a military solution, it’s “just not our military solution,” a senior U.S. security official admitted to Sanger. It’s Putin’s. 
Perhaps most damning of the stink-bouquets was a Washington Post op-ed from former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier and Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff. “It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful,” they wrote. “If the United States and its NATO allies allow [Putin and his allies] to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war.”
That is what we are doing right now.

Smith continues:
From the very beginning when Assad opened fire on peaceful protesters, to the present, as Russia bombs hospitals, the United States has done nothing to stop Assad and his gory friends—and all the faux-outraged tweets and Putin-blaming in the world will not distract a single Syrian from the plain facts that the United States was not only indifferent to the destruction of their country, but has also diplomatically enabled their horrific suffering. 
Remember when Obama warned Assad not to use chemical weapons against his own people? That, said Obama, “might change his calculus”—i.e., the use of chemical weapons against civilians would be such an obvious and grotesque violation of the international laws and norms and a host of arms agreements that Assad might actually manage to shame commander-in-chief into stopping a genocide. Obama was told repeatedly that Assad was using chemical weapons, but when the butcher of Damascus dared Obama, the leader of the free world blinked and said he wasn’t really going to take military action after all. Even after continued attacks with chemical agents, Obama boasted about getting rid of Assad’s chemical weapons’ arsenal, as if unconventional weapons was the only way the Syrian tyrant could process human flesh through his meat grinder.... 
Lots of people did argue for a no-fly zone or buffer zone to protect Syrians fleeing from Assad’s killing machine. But the White House said no. Mighty Syrian air defenses were too much for the U.S. air force, said former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.
There was a time when virtually all of Obama’s national security staff advocated arming the rebels to take down Assad. The president was against it. He derided the opposition. As he told Thomas Friedman in August 2014, “This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.” But the reality is that those doctors, farmers, and pharmacists are still out in the field, and might already have stopped the genocide against them on their own, if the president of the United States had been moved to help them help themselves.

Doomsday in Aleppo

The record of the US government in Syria is shameful. We have supported the non-Islamist rebels only sporadically and ineffectively. We have failed to ensure that aid gets through to people besieged by either the Syrian government or rebels. We focus our energy on bombing ISIS (and thus also bomb and kill Syrian civilians), without doing anything to prevent the Syrian government from murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians. We should have intervened long ago - at the very least created a no-fly zone in part of Syria to provide a haven for refugees and to prevent the Syrian government from dropping barrel bombs and chlorine gas on their own people. We should have (and can still) supported the Syrian Kurds far more effectively than we have. On our own, we probably could not have ended the civil war, but we could at least have prevented some of the civilian deaths.

Why do I say this now?

Because of the siege of Aleppo. The bombardment of the rebel-held areas of the city by the Assad regime and the Russians has vastly increased. Yesterday, they "launched ferocious aerial assaults on opposition-held areas of Aleppo amid threats of a big ground offensive."

Two million people are now without access to water - caused both by the Syrian government, which bombed the water station in the eastern part of the city, which is held by the rebels - and by the rebels, who switched off another water station, located in the eastern part of the city, but which furnishes water to the western part, held by the government.

On February 11, 2016, the Syrian Center for Policy Research said that 470,000 Syrians had died as a result of the war. How many have died since then?

The Syrian government is responsible for the overwhelming percentage of deaths of civilians.  In October of 2015, the Syrian Center for Policy Research reported that 3/4 of the civilian deaths in the first half of 2015 were caused by the Syrian government.

An article from yesterday's New York Times tells the horrifying story of the increasingly bloody siege of Aleppo - "'Doomsday Today in Aleppo': Assad and Russian Forces Bombard City."
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Syria’s war escalated abruptly on Friday as government forces and their Russian allies launched ferocious aerial assaults on opposition-held areas of Aleppo amid threats of a big ground offensive, while efforts at the United Nations to revive a cease-fire appeared to collapse. 
Repeated airstrikes that obliterated buildings and engulfed neighborhoods in flames killed about 100 people in Aleppo, the divided northern Syrian city that has epitomized the horrors of the war, turning the brief cease-fire of last week and hopes for humanitarian relief into faint memories. The bombings knocked out running water to an estimated two million people, the United Nations said. 
“It is the worst day that we’ve had for a very long time,” said James Le Mesurier, the head of Mayday Rescue, which trains Syrian rescue workers. “They are calling it Dresden-esque.”

The bombings shook the ground, left residents cowering in their homes and made streets impassable, according to anti-government activists in Aleppo. “You don’t know if you might stay alive or not,” said Modar Shekho, a nurse at al-Dakkak hospital in an opposition-held part of the city. 
“There are no more roads to walk on,” said Zaher Azzaher, an Aleppo activist reached through WhatsApp. “Even between our neighborhoods, the roads are full of rubble and destruction.” .... 
Rescue workers shared numerous videos of men digging children out of piles of debris and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble
Hanaa Singer, the representative for Unicef in Syria, said in a statementthat attacks had damaged the pumping station that provides water to eastern Aleppo, where 250,000 residents are surrounded by government troops. In retaliation, she said, a pumping station in the city’s eastern side was shut off, stopping water from flowing to 1.5 million residents in the city’s western side. 
The population would have to rely on well water, which is often contaminated and would raise the risk of outbreaks of disease, she said. 
Ammar al-Salmo, head of the Aleppo branch of Syria Civil Defense, a volunteer rescue organization, said that three of his group’s centers had been bombed and that some of their rescue vehicles had been knocked out. 
“It is as if Russia and the regime used the truce only to maintain their weapons and plan on next targets,” Mr. Salmo said from Aleppo. “It is like doomsday today in Aleppo.”
See also an article published by Bloomberg today - Syrian Troops Advance in Aleppo Amid War's Heaviest Bombing.
Beirut (AP) -- Syrian troops captured a rebel-held area on the edge of Aleppo on Saturday, tightening their siege on opposition-held neighborhoods in the northern city after what residents described as the heaviest air bombardment of the 5 ½-year civil war. 
The U.N. meanwhile said that nearly 2 million people in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and onetime commercial center, are without running water following the escalation in fighting over the past few days....
The Observatory said the death toll in Aleppo is expected to rise since many people are in critical condition and rescue workers are still digging through the rubble. 
Residents say the latest bombardment is the worst they've seen since rebels captured parts of the city in 2012. Activists reported dozens of airstrikes on Friday alone. 
"Since the beginning of the crisis, Aleppo has not been subjected to such a vicious campaign," said Mohammed Abu Jaafar, a forensics expert based in the city. "Aleppo is being wiped out." 
For days, videos and photographs from eastern Aleppo have shown flattened buildings and paramedics pulling bodies from the rubble. Wounded people have flooded into clinics, where many are being treated on the floor because of a lack of stretchers.

"People in Aleppo already suffocating under the effects of the siege, have yet again come under horrific attack," said Carlos Francisco of Doctors Without Borders, which supports a number of area clinics. "No aid, including urgent medical supplies, is allowed to enter."

"We are deeply worried by the high numbers of wounded reported by the hospitals we support, and also know that in many areas the wounded and sick have nowhere to go at all — they are simply left to die." 
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the "chilling" escalation in Aleppo, which he said marked the "most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict." The statement issued by his spokesman said the reported use of "indiscriminate" weapons in densely populated areas "may amount to war crimes." 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at Tufts University in Boston, said what was happening in Aleppo was "beyond the pale." 
"If people are serious about wanting a peaceful outcome to this war, then they should cease and desist bombing innocent women and children, cease cutting off water and laying siege in medieval terms to an entire community," he said.
Kerry is speaking to the wind. The Russians just broke the last agreement to cease fighting, and they and the Syrian government have increased their attacks upon Aleppo.
The Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition, one of Syria's main opposition groups, condemned the attacks on Aleppo, calling it "a crazy crime led by the Assad regime and Russian occupation." It said "the criminal campaign aims to settle international accounts at the expense of Syrians' blood." 
The escalation comes as diplomats in New York have failed to salvage a U.S. and Russian-brokered cease-fire that lasted nearly a week. Moscow is a key ally of Assad's government, while Washington supports the opposition. 
Aleppo has been an epicenter of fighting in recent months. It is the last major urban area held by the opposition, and the rebels' defeat there would mark a major turning point in the conflict, which has killed more than 300,000 people and driven half of Syria's population from their homes. [I've seen figures that at least 450,000 people have been killed in Syria, 90% of them by the Syrian government]. 
Living conditions in the already-battered eastern districts have meanwhile grown even worse. 
Recent attacks have damaged the Bab al-Nairab station, which supplies water to some 250,000 people in the rebel-held east, according to Hanaa Singer of the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF. 
Singer said that in retaliation, the Suleiman al-Halabi pumping station, also located in the rebel-held east, was switched off — cutting water to 1.5 million people in government-held western parts of the city. 
"Depriving children of water puts them at risk of catastrophic outbreaks of water-borne diseases," Singer warned in her statement, released late Friday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ta-Nehisi Coates' list of 13 recommended books on race, slavery, segregation

I just saw this article about Ta-Nehisi Coates' list of recommended books (the link also brings you to an hour-long interview with him), and I'm putting it here to remind myself to start reading some of them, plus his own book, Between the World and Me.

1. “The Fire Next Time” in Collected Essays by James Baldwin. Many years ago I read as much of Baldwin's work as I could get my hands on, including this essay, and his fiction. I need to reread it.

2. The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life, His Own by David Carr

3. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist

4. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War by James McPherson

5. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 by Arnold R. Hirsch
6. Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America by Beryl Satter. I started reading this - it is about, among other things, the role that the author's father played in fighting against anti-black housing discrimination in Chicago. A quote from the New York Times review: "She persuasively and devastatingly argues (turning conventional wisdom on its head) that the true cause of black ghettoes in Chicago was financial exploitation — not the “culture of poverty” or white flight. She goes further, linking this kind of financial exploitation to today’s subprime mortgage crisis, an earlier example of greedy lenders pushing people “to take on more debt than they could handle” and charging inflated interest rates."
7. Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union from Avalon Project, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School

8. Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court nomination That Changed America by Wil Haygood

9. American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia by Edmund S. Morgan

10. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields

11. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings

12. Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching by Paula J. Giddings

13. Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why not to trust Wikileaks

For those who still have the illusion that Wikileaks is a courageous truth-teller that only publishes in order to challenge the power of oppressive states, see these recent tweets, highlighted by Anshel Pfeffer (Haaretz writer). They show (as previous evidence has also shown) that Assange trafficks in antisemitism.

The three brackets around Twitter handles came originally from alt-right antisemites who used it to identify Jews. Once this was exposed, Jews and other anti-racists started using it to defy the neo-Nazis and make fun of them. That's what Julian Assange is referring to here (assuming he's in control of the Wikileaks Twitter account).

Pfeffer's reply to Assange's tweet, with two tweets from Assange's Neo-Nazi fanboys.

Jews are often accused of being "clannish" and I take "tribalist" to be a synonym for Jews. 

This pissed Assange off and he replied:

I guess this means that anyone who criticizes Assange and Wikileaks, especially with the charge that they now appear to be in the pockets of the Russian government, can't really be anti-racists, especially if they are Jews with black-rim glasses (LOL!).

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Comparing Trump to Hitler

Over the past few months I've seen an excerpt from the article below about Hitler, the first one published about him in the New York Times in 1922. People have posted the last three paragraphs, which seriously underestimate Hitler and especially his anti-Semitism, and have suggested that they contain a message for us today not to underestimate the fascist potential of Donald Trump. I don't think, at this point, that the exact, specific comparison between Hitler and Trump is helpful, but it is interesting to think about some common features between them, as well as marked differences. 

In this article, Hitler's oratorical and organizational abilities are stressed - abilities which are markedly not possessed by Trump. He also has his own private army (the stormtroopers), which Trump certainly does not have. Trump, like Hitler (and other demagogues in American history) appeals to many people because of troubled economic times (we've had a recovery since the 2008 crash, but it doesn't go very deep and many people lost a great deal that they have not regained) and also appeals to people's bigotry and hatred of those whom they think should stay in their place (Jews, for Hitler and the Nazis; in the US, Trump singles out Muslims and immigrants, especially Mexicans, for special hatred). 

Read the whole article, not just the last three paragraphs, and draw your own conclusions about whether it's useful to compare Trump to Hitler.


Hitler Credited With Extraordinary Powers of Swaying Crowds to His Will.


Armed With Blackjacks and Revolvers and Well Disciplined, They Obey Orders Implicitly.


Is Anti-Red and Anti-Semitic, and Demands Strong Government for a United Germany.


Copyright, 1922, by The New York Times Company
By Wireless to The New York Times.

Munich, Nov. 20. – Next to the high cost of living and the dollar, “Der Hitler” and his “Hakenkreuzlers” are the popular topic of talk in Munich and other Bavarian towns. This reactionary Nationalistic anti-Semitic movement has now reached a point where it is considered potentially dangerous, though not for the immediate future.

Hitler today is taken seriously among all classes of Bavarians. He is feared by some, enthusiastically hailed as a prophet and political economic savior by others, and watched with increasing sympathetic interest by the bulk who, apparently, are merely biding the psychological moment to mount Hitler’s bandwagon. Undoubtedly the spectacular success of Mussolini and the Fascisti brought Hitler’s movement to the fore and gained popular interest and sympathy for it. Another condition favorable to the outburst of the movement is the widespread discontent with the existing state of affairs among all classes in the towns and cities under the increasing economic pressure.

Hitler’s “Hakenkreuz” [swastika] movement is essentially urban in character. It has not yet caught a foothold among the hardly Bavarian peasantry and highlanders, which would make it really dangerous. As a highly placed personage put it:
“Hitler organized a small insignificant group of National Socialists two years ago, since when the movement has been smoldering beneath the surface. Now it has eaten its way through, and a conflagration of course is not only possible but certain if this now free flame of fanatical patriotism finds sufficient popular combustible material to feed on.”
Hitler has been called the Bavarian Mussolini, and his followers the Bavarian Fascisti. There is nothing socialistic about the National Socialism he preaches. He has 30,000 organized followers in Munich alone. His total following throughout Bavaria is uncertain, since the movement is in a state of rapid flux. He is wasting no time working out political programs, but devotes his whole energy to recruiting fresh forces and perfecting his organization.

Blackjacks Silence Opposition

“Herr Hitler regrets he is unable to meet you as he is leaving town on important business for several days,” was the answer received by The New York Times correspondent. His important business was going to Regensburg with three special trainloads of Munich admirers for the purpose of holding a series of reactionary inflammatory meetings and incidentally to beat up protesting Socialists and Communists with blackjacks if any dare protest, which is becoming increasingly rarer.

His simple method is, first, propaganda, and secondly, efficient organization. He personally conducts patriotic revival meetings for this purpose, often descending from his stronghold, Munich, on other Bavarian towns with special trainloads of followers. He has the rare oratorical gift, at present unique in Germany, of spellbinding whole audiences regardless of politics or creed. The new converts made at these rallies, those who absolutely and unconditionally pledge themselves to Hitler and his cause, are carefully sifted through and the pick of them who pass the standard military muster are organized into “storm troops” with gray shirts, brassards in the old imperial colors, black and an anti-Semitic Swastika cross in a white circular filed on red; armed with blackjacks and, it is popularly whispered, revolvers.

According to a reliable specialist informant, there are probably 400,000 military rifles and 150 cannon still concealed in Bavaria. So that some fine day Hitler’s legionaries might well make their debut with rifles.

Hitler’s strength is in the combination of his undeniable great gifts as an orator and organizer. He exerts an uncanny control over audiences, possessing the remarkable ability to not only rouse his hearers to a fighting pitch of fury, but at will to turn right around and reduce the same audience to docile calmness and good order. A typical instance is related by the informant mentioned:
“At the height of the recent Bavarian Government crisis Hitler was holding a mass meeting in Munich and had worked up the big audience when a rumor spread through the hall that he had planned a coup and that he would overthrow and seize the Government that night and was about to give the signal at this rally. His followers burst into an enthusiastic uproar, drew and brandished blackjacks and revolvers, and with shouts of ‘Heil, Heil, Heil,’ prepared to follow Hitler and storm anything. 
“With a few electric words he worked a magic change in the audience. Their duty, on which the success of the cause depended, he said, was iron discipline and implicit obedience to orders when orders were given. The time for action had not come yet. And the riot was nipped in the bud.”
A Different Show of Power

A different exhibition of Hitler power: during a mass meeting in Nuremberg, a stronghold of Bavarian socialism, the radical elements undertook a counter-demonstration, massed outside the meeting hall and sang the “Internationale.” The strains of the hated tune heard in the hall enraged Hitler’s followers. At his word of command shock troops of gray shirts with fine discipline marched from the hall, pulled their blackjacks, charged and dispersed the crowd with many a broken head.

Hitler is credited with having a rapidly increasing following among the workers disgruntled by the high cost of living. It is also said many ultra-radicals, including Communists, have flocked to his reactionary banner. He is beginning to draw support from the politically sluggish middle classes, which in Bavaria, however, are not so sluggish as in Berlin. Even more significant there is some active, more passive support and to a still greater extent sympathetic interest for the Hitler movement among the Bavarian loyalists, among monarchists and militarists and in government and political circles, apparently coupled with the idea that the movement would prove a useful tool if it could be controlled by their special interests. But there is also the latent fear that the movement might wax beyond control.

Hitler, in addition to his oratorical and organizing abilities, has another positive asset – he is a man of the “common people” and hence has the makings of a “popular hero,” appealing to all classes. It is reported that he was a worker before becoming leader of the Bavarian Social Nationalists. He served during the war as a common soldier and won the Iron Cross of the First and Second Classes, which for a common soldier is distinctive evidence of exceptional bravery and daring. To Bavarian mentality he talks rough, shaggy, sound horse sense, and according to present Bavarian public opinion a strong, active leader equipped with horse sense is the need of the hour.

Chief Points of His Program

Hitler’s program is of less interest than his person and movement. His program consists chiefly of a half a dozen negative ideas clothed in generalities. He is “against the Jews, Communists, Bolshevism, Marxian socialism, Separatists, the high cost of living, existing conditions, the weak Berlin government, and the Versailles Treaty.” Positive he stands only for “a strong united Germany under a strong Government.”

He is credibly credited with being actuated by lofty, unselfish patriotism. He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish. The keynote of his propaganda in speaking and writing is violent anti-Semitism. His followers are popularly nicknamed “the Hakenkreuzler.” So violent are Hitler’s fulminations against the Jews that a number of prominent Jewish citizens are reported to have sough safe asylums in the Bavarian highlands, easily reached by fast motor cars, whence they could hurry their women and children when forewarned of an anti-Semitic St. Bartholomew’s nigh.

But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.

A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”

The Hitler movement is not of mere local or picturesque interest. It is bound to bring Bavaria into a renewed clash with the Berlin Government as long as the German Republic goes even through the motions of trying to live up to the Versailles Treaty. For it is certain the Allies will take umbrage at the Hitler organization as a violation of the military clauses of the treaty and demand disbandment, even as in the case of its predecessor, the Orgesch.