Sunday, 30 June 2019
Mahmoud Abbas Angrily Rejects $50 Billion Dollar Aid Package
by Hugh Fitzgerald
The economic plan to help the “Palestinians” that was unveiled in Bahrain was staggering in its size. More than $50 billion dollars was to be given as aid to the “Palestinians” in the West Bank, Gaza, and in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. If this plan were adopted, it would be the largest aid package for a single recipient — the soi-disant ‘‘Palestinian people” — in history. By contrast, under the Marshall Plan, $120 billion was divided among 16 recipient nations.
What’s more, to receive this gigantic sum, the “Palestinians” were not required to make any political concessions, but of course the hope was that prosperity would be followed by a readiness to drop maximalist territorial demands. Receipt of the money was not dependent on specific undertakings by the “Palestinians”: they could continue to demand Jerusalem as their “eternal capital,” continue to insist that all Israelis leave the West Bank, continue to maintain that all those people whom the PA considers to be “Palestinians” abroad — five million of them — could return to live in Palestine, and so on.
But that was not enough for Mahmoud Abbas, sulking in his tent, outraged — along with his courtiers in the Palestinian Authority — that anyone would think he would gratefully receive $50 billion for his people without insisting that first there had to be political concessions by Israel. In other words, the “Palestinians” needed to be bribed to take the $50 billion. Not all “Palestinians” were quite so ready to write off the possible largesse. At first, some Palestinian businessmen were ready to attend the conference, but were scared off by threats from the Palestinian Authority. And while Israeli businessmen were eager to attend, once the “Palestinians” had pulled out, the Americans rescinded the invitations to the Israelis. So the conference in Bahrain on economic development for the “Palestinians” went on, with neither any “Palestinians” or any “Israelis” present, but with representatives of seven Arab states. Three of these were countries that stand to gain financially from the sums earmarked in this plan for their own resident “Palestinians” — Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. Three others — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar — were expected to be among the donor nations. One other — Bahrain — was the host. The “Palestinians” tried and failed to get all the Arabs to boycott the Bahrain event.
Now that the “Palestinians” have looked a giant gift horse in the mouth, how should the rest of the world regard them? The men in Ramallah no doubt think of themselves as demonstrating a fierce and noble pride — “we are people who can’t be bought” — but this is preposterous posturing, because much of the world knows that Mahmoud Abbas, with his $400 million dollar fortune, and with dozens of his West Bank henchman also having enriched themselves, through corruption and theft of aid money, and the world knows, too, that such Hamas leaders as Moussa Abu Marzouki and Khaled Meshal have each squirreled away $2.5 billion, again stolen from the aid money that was meant to support the “Palestinians.’” The “Palestinians,” whether in Gaza or the West Bank, have been led by some of the most corrupt people on earth. Abbas’ “principled stand” amounts to this: he first wants the Palestinians’ political demands to be met, and then they will deign to accept the aid package that the Americans and Arab donors have on offer. Abbas seems to think he will manage to get his way. I think he is wrong.
The “Palestinians’” expect the other Arabs to stand with them. They are overestimating their importance. They still think it is 1990, or 1970, when the “Palestinian” cause was the center of Arab politics. Many Arabs no longer see the “Palestinians” as central. Some Arab states — Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. Egypt — have been talking with the Israelis, sharing intelligence on Iran, attempting jointly to counter Iranian aggression. 33% of Saudis now say they want to establish relations with Israel; five years ago, only 1% of Saudis did. The Arab states, having endured all kinds of domestic threats, including armed conflict, naturally want to focus their attention on their national interests. The “Palestinians” are not part of that calculation. Egypt is trying to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood threat; Libya is still plagued with warring militias; Syria remains in a state of civil war; Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are both consumed with their war against Iran’s proxy, the Shi’a Houthis, in Yemen; Qatar suffers from an air, sea, and land boycott by its Gulf neighbors; Iraq has Sunnis and Shi’a vying for power, and the Kurds are seen as a threat by both in their quest for greater autonomy; Jordan has a large and restive “Palestinian” population that the government has viewed with suspicion ever since the “Palestinians” of Black September rose up against the Jordanian government. All these conflicts, in a region convulsed in violence ever since the “Arab Spring.”
The constant demands and whining from the “Palestinians” have caused quite a few Arab states to lose interest in the “Palestinian” problem; that palpable want of sympathy is likely to increase if the “Palestinians” turn down a hugely generous offer from the rich Arabs and even the West. If they were so dismissive as not even to show up in Manama — well, in Riyadh and Cairo and Dubai they may now be thinking, the hell with you.
The most important Arab states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt — are likely to decide that this is it, that Bahrain was the last chance for the ‘Palestinians,” and if they didn’t even bother to come and discuss this unprecedented aid offer, then there will be no further offers to this spoiled child of the international community. They’ll be on their own, just like dozens of other peoples. No one offers the Bolivians, or the Nepalese, or the Kurds, 50 billion dollars. Why should the “Palestinians” receive such an offer? The diplomatic power of the Arabs and Muslims has long helped the “’Palestinian’ cause” at the U.N. and other international forums. But now that support is sinking, as Arab nations are beset by their on problems. And the “Palestinians,” with their endless refusals to negotiate, or even to hear out those who want to give them 50 billion dollars in aid, have severely damaged themselves.
There will be no diplomatic push against Israel on their behalf against Israel by the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Egyptians. Israel already collaborates with Egypt against both the Muslim Brotherhood and remnants of the Islamic State in the Sinai. Israel shares intelligence on Iran with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. For Israel to be of greatest military value in any future confrontation with Iran, it needs to retain control of the invasion route from the east, that is, the West Bank. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates do not want Israel to be fatally weakened by losing military control of the territories. They cannot say this aloud, but their future indifference about the West Bank will be telling. And they can take this occasion of the Bahrain fiasco to simply turn their backs on Mahmoud Abbas, and on the terrorist groups Hamas (which is rightly seen in Egypt and Saudi Arabia as a branch of the hated Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is a part), and Hezbollah (which is hated by the Arabs for being a loyal ally and puppet of the Islamic Republic of Iran). After Bahrain, most of the Arabs will have had quite enough of those trouble-making, tiresome, ungrateful “Palestinians.”
In the rest of the world, too, there will be many states, and many peoples, who will be disgusted by the “Palestinian” refusal of such aid. Imagine you are one of the billions of poor people living in sub-Saharan Africa, in South America, in South Asia, or even in the richer countries of the West. What would be your natural reaction to hearing that the “Palestinians” had just turned down $50 billion, unless and until they get all their political demands met? Certainly you would not feel solidarity with these “Palestinians.” You would wonder why the “Palestinians” receive such special treatment, are thought deserving of such gigantic sums, while your own people, in Brazil or Bolivia, India or the Philippines, have nothing like such amounts being offered. The “Palestinians” will no longer be seen by many as people who are “oppressed”; rather, they will be seen as people who are now demanding far too much, have always been demanding too much. And if their fellow Arabs are no longer their enthusiastic supporters, why should we, in the impoverished Third World, continue to carry water at the U.N. for the likes of Mahmoud Abbas?
The day before the Bahrain Conference was to open, which the “Palestinians” both boycotted and denounced, Mahmoud Abbas told journalists that “We will not be slaves or servants for Greenbelt, Kushner and Friedman.” Has he lost his mind? Since when does the receipt of 50 billion dollars turn one into either a “slave or servant” of anyone? There were no political strings attached to this money; the hope was merely that with an increase in “Palestinian” prosperity, there would be a greater willingness to make political compromises. Abbas knows this, but pretends not to. As for the Arab donors, and other Arabs, too, the “Palestinians” have become the spoiled children of the Arab tribe, increasingly intolerable in their demands and behavior. And in what used to be called the Third World, those who loyally supported the “Palestinian” cause may now be ready to rethink that former loyalty, and wash their hands of the people who believe, and have led others to believe, that the world owes them a living, and a good deal more.
if that happens, the meeting in Bahrain, because of who came and even more, because of who didn’t, will have been well worth it.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 06/30/2019 4:36 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 29 June 2019
The Impossible Dream
David Wooten wonders how have we come to build a whole culture around a futile, self-defeating enterprise: the pursuit of happiness in Lapham's Quarterly:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
—The Declaration of Independence
These words, from Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, are so familiar that it is easy to assume their meaning is obvious. The puzzle lies in the assertion that we have a right to pursue happiness. John Locke, in his Two Treatises of 1690, said we are all created equal and have inalienable rights, including those to life and liberty. But for Locke the third crucial right was the right to property. In Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, also published in 1690, he wrote about the pursuit of happiness, but it follows from his account there that there can be no right to pursue happiness because we will pursue happiness come what may. The pursuit of happiness is a law of human nature (of what we now call psychology), just as gravity is a law of physics. A right to pursue happiness is no more necessary than a right for water to run downhill.
Jefferson meant, I think, that we have a right to certain preconditions that will allow us to pursue happiness: freedom of speech, so we can speak our minds and learn from others; a career open to talents, so our efforts may be rewarded; freedom of worship, so we may find our way to heaven; and a free market, so we can pursue prosperity. Read this way, Jefferson’s right to the pursuit of happiness is an elaboration of the right to liberty. Liberty means not only freedom from coercion, or freedom under the law—or even the right to participate in politics—it is also a right to live in a free community in which individuals themselves decide how they want to achieve happiness. The “public happiness” to which Jefferson aspired can therefore be attained, since public happiness requires liberty in this expanded sense, as Hannah Arendt would later note.
Jefferson was well aware that being free to pursue happiness does not mean that everyone will be happy. And yet, as Adam Sternbergh explains, we trick ourselves into thinking we know what is needed to be happy: a promotion, a new car, a vacation, a good-looking partner. We believe this even though we know there are plenty of people with good jobs, new cars, vacations, and attractive partners, and many of them are miserable. But they, too, imagine their misery can be fixed by a bottle of Pétrus or a yacht or public adulation. In practice, our strategies for finding happiness are usually self-defeating. There’s plenty of empirical evidence to suggest that much of what we do to gain happiness doesn’t pay off. It seems that aiming at happiness is always a misconceived project; happiness comes, as John Stuart Mill insisted, as the unintended outcome of aiming at something else. “The right to the pursuit of happiness,” wrote Aldous Huxley, “is nothing else than the right to disillusionment phrased in another way.”
This problem is particularly acute in our modern consumer economy, in which political institutions, the economic system, and popular culture are all now primarily dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. This has had the perverse effect of creating a world of frustration and disappointment in which so many discover that happiness is beyond their grasp. The economy fails to deliver for the majority but urges everyone to spend beyond their means. We engage in “retail therapy,” spending for the momentary gratification of acquisition. We encounter advertisements that wrap themselves around us like a blizzard of snow, each promising that if we spend, and go on spending, we will be rewarded with endless delights. This spending helps drive climate change, which threatens to make the planet uninhabitable. Moreover, our sense of who we are seems to be increasingly detached from reality; we live out fantasy versions of ourselves, playing our own private form of air guitar. To constantly pursue something you can never catch is a form of madness. We have built this madness into the very structure of our lives. Every society in the world aims at economic growth, and every society encourages the endless accumulation of wealth. When it comes to wealth, we have great difficulty in saying enough is enough, because it is hard to know when we can safely say we have enough to face down every possible catastrophe.
How then have we come to build a whole culture around an impossible, futile, self-defeating enterprise?
The word happy in English originally simply meant lucky. Are you lucky? It’s always too soon to tell, till death closes your account. For the Greeks and Romans, happiness was linked to success: the happy man (barbarians, slaves, and women hardly counted) was someone good at living up to the ideals of manhood. Virtue, happiness, and success were inextricably intertwined, so that in the end they amounted to the same thing, the ultimate objective. An impartial observer could best judge if someone was virtuous, happy, or successful, because the standards were objective, not subjective. And just as one should withhold judgment on someone’s luck until they are safely dead, so the Greeks held that you could really tell if someone had been happy only when they were securely buried.
This all changed during the seventeenth century, when a few thinkers, Thomas Hobbes foremost, redefined happiness as a subjective experience, an emotional state. “The felicity of this life,” Hobbes wrote in 1651, does not consist, as the Epicureans claimed, “in the repose of a mind satisfied”:
For there is no such finis ultimus (utmost aim) nor summum bonum (greatest good) as is spoken of in the books of the old moral philosophers. Nor can a man any more live whose desires are at an end than he whose senses and imaginations are at a stand. Felicity is a continual progress of the desire from one object to another, the attaining of the former being still but the way to the latter.
To be happy, in Hobbes’ view, was to succeed in acquiring pleasurable experiences. And each individual was the sole judge of what is pleasurable. In order to acquire the means to future pleasure, we seek what Hobbes called power—money, status, influence, and friendship are all forms of power. There is no limit to our quest for pleasure and power, just as there is no limit to the merchant’s quest for money; Hobbes took Niccolò Machiavelli’s account of politics and generalized it as an account of human life. Machiavelli said human beings have insatiable appetites, and Hobbes constructed his psychology, moral philosophy, and political theory around this perception. We all, he claimed, endlessly compete with one another over limited resources. This statement seems obvious to us, so we are surprised to discover that the word competition was a new one in Hobbes’ time, as was the idea of a society in which competition is pervasive. In the pre-Hobbesian world, ambition, the desire to get ahead and do better than others, was universally condemned as a vice; in the post-Hobbesian world, it became admirable, a spur to improvement and progress.
The appetite for pleasure, as understood by Hobbes, has two disturbing features. First, it never ends until death. There is no stable condition that counts as being happy; there are only fleeting experiences that must be renewed constantly. We are (though Hobbes doesn’t use the phrase) in an endless pursuit of happiness, and in order to attain happiness, we are in pursuit of the power and wealth that we believe will make it possible. Second, we take an imaginary pleasure now in our future pleasures. And since happiness is subjective, imaginary pleasures are just as authentic as real ones. Thus fantasy and reality become interchangeable.
Hobbes’ account of happiness was radically modified in the eighteenth century by the introduction of sympathy. Hobbes, following Lucretius, claimed that the sight of a ship on the rocks, with its passengers and crew drowning, would give us pleasure if we were on dry land, for we would take delight in our own safety. Eighteenth-century thinkers insisted that we take pleasure in our friends’ pleasures; their suffering causes us suffering. When we see a ship on the rocks, we imagine ourselves drowning, rather than celebrating our own security. Sympathy thus turns Hobbesian human beings, who are entirely egoistic, into sociable creatures. But self-gratification is still the only possible motive for our behavior; we just locate a new source of pleasure in the happiness of those close to us. Self-sacrifice becomes a paradoxical concept: everything we feel, everything we do, even to help one another, is imbued with selfishness. (The word selfish was also new in Hobbes’ time.)
The ancient philosophers sought to subordinate passion to reason; the modern ones maintained that reason is a slave to passion. This new account of subjective motivation and experience was part of the invention of subjectivity, of what Locke called “consciousness” (a word he carefully defined, since he was using it in a new way, as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind”). The modern self is the product of this subjective turn, when the real self becomes internal (the mind in the English language; the soul in French, which has no word equivalent to mind), not some external thing embodied in robes of office or tools of a trade. The self becomes what the philosopher Gilbert Ryle called “the ghost in the machine,” the machine being our anatomical existence. Locke invented the modern philosophical problem of personal identity by arguing that memories make us who we are. If I woke up tomorrow in a different body, I would still be me if my memories were intact; but if I woke up in this body but with no memories, then I would no longer be the same person. Once subjective experience becomes the real self, knowledge is grounded in a process that “passes in a man’s own mind.” As Locke recognized, if we are trapped in our own consciousness, experience is our only source of knowledge, and pleasure is our only motivation. Moreover, as knowledge and experience become subjective and personal, individuals must rely on their own resources. Aristotle expected citizens to reflect the culture of their political community and to adopt the standards of their peers. But Locke imposes on each individual an obligation to find their own path to happiness.
As reason gave way to passion, interpersonal social realities were replaced by subjective experience. Religion, too, became a merely personal conviction, not an authoritative truth. The culture of happiness, itself a product of the culture of subjectivity, can flourish only in a relatively secular (or at least tolerant) society where there is a considerable freedom of choice. For Hobbes and Locke, the most obvious example of subjective preference is in the food we eat. I enjoy eating oysters; you like goat cheese. But of course in most societies you don’t get to choose what you eat; you make do with what you are given. Thus subjective preferences imply a world in which you can make individual choices, in which you inhabit some version of a consumer society. Monastic life is replaced by the culture of the coffeehouse or restaurant (the latter a French invention of the 1760s). We cannot separate subjective pleasure from subjective identity. Both depend on a social and economic order that allows individuals to pursue possibly eccentric preferences.
Implicit in the idea of subjective happiness is the idea that you ought to be able to perceive the difference between success and failure. If happiness is subjective, our claims to be happy or unhappy must be infallible. But if I look over my life, what I see is that sometimes I am happy, at other times not. A happy life must be one in which pleasure and satisfaction outweigh pain and dissatisfaction. It must be possible to measure pleasure and pain in order to establish whether one outweighs the other. The metaphor to which early modern thinkers revert is that of the account book: just as the bottom line of the ledger shows profit or loss, so we ought to be able to tell if we have experienced more pleasure or pain.
We associate the idea of a felicific or hedonic calculus with
Jeremy Bentham, but a hundred years earlier the French philosopher Pierre Bayle was arguing that in every life pain outweighs pleasure. (Think of the intense pain of a toothache in the days before painkillers, and compare it with the modest pleasure of a good meal or a sunny day.) If pain outweighs pleasure, then life is not worth living. Bayle thought that no one, given the choice, would live their life over again. He concluded that evil outweighs good in the world and so invented the modern problem that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz called “theodicy”: How can a good, omnipotent God maintain such a defective, painful world? Leibniz’s response was that since God is both omnipotent and benevolent, all the seeming evil in the world is there to serve a purpose. Although it might not look like it to us, this must be the best of all the possible worlds that God could have created. Leibniz thus sidestepped Bayle’s preferred solution: the only theology that makes sense, Bayle argued, is that of the Manichaeans, who said there were two gods at work, one good and one bad; for the most part, it is the evil god who shapes our lives.
So here we have Bayle’s (and our) fundamental difficulty. Our strategies for seeking happiness are usually self-defeating, and we cannot escape pain, suffering, and death. This is the ostensible subject of Voltaire’s novel Candide (1759), written as a defense of Bayle against Leibniz. Candide and Cunégonde are driven out into a world of violence, persecution, and catastrophe. It is the worst of all possible worlds. Any hope of reform is doomed to disappointment. And yet, finally, stranded on the shore of the Bosporus, they settle down to cultivate their garden, working hard but also savoring candied lemons and pistachios. They find happiness precisely when they stop looking for it. When you pursue happiness, it will flee from you, but if you are lucky, you can stumble upon it when you least expect.
Voltairean happiness always carried with it survivor guilt. Voltaire told Alexander Pope (who upheld Leibniz’s view that all is well in the best of all possible worlds) that he had been so badly sexually abused by the Jesuits at school that he would never get over it; there is every reason to believe him. When Voltaire wrote a little essay on happiness, his text was marred by references to pain and suffering, to dogs being vivisected. He couldn’t forget his own suffering or that of others—even, perhaps especially, when his subject was everything delightful. When we are happy we can’t help but remember all those (many of them dear to us) who are not. Candide and Cunégonde do not forget what they have seen. Voltaire—living in luxury at Les Délices in Geneva, rich, famous, and successful, planting cabbages and writing plays—took up the defense of those persecuted unjustly (the Calas family, the Chevalier de La Barre) not just because justice is a fine principle but also because he knew what cruelty felt like and could not forget it. In Candide, Voltaire never tries to tell you what it is like to be abused and ill-treated; he assumes that every reader will know. It’s happiness that needs to be evoked, not suffering.
Happiness, says Dubravka Ugreši?, began its advance on the masses in the nineteenth century, the age of industrial production; she deems it a peculiarly American product. Given its origins in Enlightenment psychology, America was, from the moment of its founding, dedicated to its pursuit. But is subjective happiness simply the by-product of a consumer society, one that follows urbanization and factory production? When Locke was writing, Chinese porcelain was an expensive rarity; a century later Wedgwood was mass-producing “china” for the new middle classes, Ho?garth was producing engravings for them to hang on their walls, and new luxuries (coffee, tea, sugar, newspapers) were becoming widely available. This economic explanation for the triumph of happiness is superficially plausible, and it may to some extent be true—but as we have seen, the timing is wrong. The intellectual revolution preceded the social and economic revolution. The consumer society did not generate a preoccupation with happiness. The relationship ran in the other direction: the pursuit of happiness gave birth to the consumer society.
If the consumer society helps explain how subjectivity became self-evident, its roots must lie elsewhere. The best place to look is the religious conflict that scarred European life from the beginning of the Reformation in 1517 until the English Revolution of 1688, and continued in much of Europe until the age of Napoleon. This conflict drove those who invented the new subjectivity—Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Bayle, even Voltaire—to spend a significant part of their lives in exile. In substituting happiness for honor, virtue, and piety, the new philosophy emphasized private choice and individual preference and sought to construct a bulwark against religious intolerance. This new subjectivity tackled the central problem exposed by the religious divisions of Europe: If theologians could not agree on salvation, what form of knowledge could be trusted? The Reformation led directly to skepticism, and to a new word from the ancient Greek: atheism. In this new world, unbelief was possible. Pleasure was the one thing whose importance nobody could deny.
If we want to trace the origins of the new attitude to happiness, we need to go back to Montaigne, who, caught up in the French Wars of Religion, wrote, “In my opinion, it is living happily, not, as Antisthenes said, dying happily, that constitutes human felicity.” He mocked the notion, so dear to those who believed in honor, virtue, or piety, that one could only determine if a man’s life had been (objectively) happy after he was dead—since once we are dead we cease to exist, it would follow that nobody could ever actually be happy. Of course, we have trouble grasping that death is the end. In one of his most transparently irreligious moments, Montaigne quotes Lucretius on how we persist in imagining that something of us will survive our own demise. But we can safely dismiss such fantasies. Living happily, feeling happy, was for Montaigne the true purpose of life. Montaigne loves to quote, but he quotes no one in support of this view because there was no one to quote; it was absolutely novel. And yet in the course of the next two centuries, it became self-evident. Montaigne’s idea of living happily, though, was surely different from ours. He may have imagined himself as a shopkeeper, inviting his reader into his arrière-boutique, but he lived in a world without advertising beyond the sign hanging outside an inn or a book dealer’s catalogue. In his world pleasure had not been commercialized as it has been in ours.
Thomas Jefferson lived in a world of slavery and pervasive inequality; he knew perfectly well that the world was not as it ought to be. But he believed, rightly, that a world in which people were free to pursue happiness would be one in which liberty would slowly spread, until all could benefit from it. What seemed evident to him would not have seemed remotely plausible to any educated person before the English Civil War. In 1690, Locke’s arguments were still peculiar and pioneering; by 1776 they had become, as they still are for us, self-evident. One day they will seem as strange as Aristotle’s do to us. But for now Jefferson is still our contemporary, as, for the philosophers of the medieval universities, Aristotle was still theirs. But there is an important difference between us and the founding fathers. They saw life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as the alternative to despotism and intolerance. We now can see that a society devoted to self-gratification may, in the end, destroy the conditions of its own existence.
Posted on 06/29/2019 7:29 AM by Geoffrey Clarfield
Saturday, 29 June 2019
Boris Johnson Impressed with Israel, Thinks Islam Leaves Much to be Desired
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Boris Johnson is the front-runner in the Conservative Party to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister. He has held a multitude of jobs in his hyperactive life. He was first a journalist, writing for The Times, the Daily Telegraph, and The Spectator. He wrote about politics, society, culture; a man of many interests, for a time he even wrote a column on cars. He was an MP from 2001 to 2008 and again from 2015; he served two terms as the Mayor of London, from 2008 to 2016, cleaning up the moral squalor left by Ken Livingstone, who had claimed that Hitler originally supported Zionism; Johnson was the Foreign Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet from 2016 to 2018, when he returned to Parliament as a backbencher.
He has a complicated and interesting ancestry. According to Wikipedia:
Johnson’s maternal grandfather was the lawyer Sir James Fawcett. Johnson’s paternal great grandfather was Circassian-Turkish journalist and political figure Ali Kemal, who served for three months as Minister of the Interior in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire. With unequalled passion, Kemal condemned the attacks on and massacres of the empire’s Armenians during the First World War and inveighed against the Ittihadist chieftains as the authors of that crime, relentlessly demanding their prosecution and punishment. Kemal was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence.
Kemal was the paternal grandfather of the British politician Stanley Johnson. On his maternal side Boris Johnson is of mixed English and French descent and is a descendant of King George II of Great Britain. Johnson’s mother was Charlotte Fawcett. An artist from a family of liberal intellectuals, she had married Stanley Johnson in 1963, prior to their move to the U.S. She is the granddaughter of Elias Avery Lowe, a palaeographer of Russian-Jewish descent, and Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter, a translator of Thomas Mann. In reference to his varied ancestry, Johnson has described himself as a “one-man melting pot” – with a combination of Muslims, Jews, and Christians as great-grandparents.
Not everyone finds Johnson appealing. Some people regard Johnson as having quite deliberately constructed a public persona as a rumpled, upper-class twit (educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford), which has allowed him to be consistently underrated by his political enemies, whom he then manages to run circles around; others think he is a tad too ambitious. And, of course, he also has his many admirers, whom he does not disappoint. Whatever the case, he has certainly climbed not one, but several greasy poles, rather nimbly.
Johnson has not had much to say about Islam, “but what there is is cherce.” He famously wrote in that he opposed banning veils, including burkas (he meant “niqabs”), in public. But he added that it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.” This enraged Muslims, and many others, who raked him over the coals for his insensitivity.
Baroness Warsi, a Muslim in the Conservative Party, said that “What offends me is that Muslim women [should not be] a convenient political football to be used by old Etonians.”
Johnson was then accused by others of “fanning the flames of Islamophobia” and described by Labour MPs as a “pound-shop Donald Trump.”
Stewart Wood, a Labour peer, said on Twitter: “The general view of Boris Johnson’s insulting remarks on Muslim women is that it betrays unthinking Islamophobia.”
Some of his Conservative colleagues, too, including Theresa May herself, asked him to apologize for the “letterbox” remark, which he refused to do. There was much huffing and puffing, but Johnson held his ground. It was not just a funny remark, but an apt description of the niqab (which Johnson had conflated with the burka) — and once you hear it, you cannot forget. “Letterboxes.” Of course, that’s exactly what they look like. In fact, the comedian Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean, Blackadder), said that it was a very funny and accurate remark, for which Johnson need not apologize. That did more for Johnson than any statements by his political friends. You don’t take issue with Mr. Bean.
Johnson has also been disturbed by what he has learned about Islamic texts. In 2005, he wrote an article in The Spectator about Muslims and their faith:
To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke.
It is too bad that he described “Islamophobia” as “fear of Islam” instead of, more accurately, as an “irrational fear or hatred of Islam.” He ought to have added that the word was deliberately put into circulation in the 1970s, apparently first in Iran, to call into question all critics of Islam by labeling their criticism a manifestation of “Islamophobia.” He need only have written: “Muslims and their apologists have taken to charging all critics of Islam with ‘Islamophobia,’ that is, ‘an irrational fear or hatred of Islam and of Muslims.’ But to any non-Muslim reader of the Qur’an, it is perfectly rational to feel both fear and hatred of what is written in that book about Infidels.”
Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers.
No other British politician from a major party has been as clear-headed about Islam as Johnson here shows himself to be. It is no wonder that Muslims in the Conservative Party, like Baroness Warsi, are threatening to leave it should Johnson become Prime Minister. He’s a threat — the Man Who Knows Too Much.
In the wake of the London bombings, Johnson also questioned the loyalty of British Muslims, and insisted that the country must accept that “Islam is the problem.”
It will take a huge effort of courage and skill to win round the many thousands of British Muslims who are in a similar state of alienation, and to make them see that their faith must be compatible with British values and with loyalty to Britain.
That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.
What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s medieval ass?
Note that Johnson says that Muslims will have to change, will have to make their faith “compatible with British values and with loyalty to Britain,” and not that the British must change in any way. Hovering in the background is the question of what might happen if it turns out that Islam simply cannot be made “compatible with British values.”
Then there is Johnson’s enthusiasm for Israel. On a trip to that country, he made such pro-Israel remarks that scheduled meetings with both a Palestinian youth group and an organization of Palestinian businesswomen were cancelled, as a sign of their displeasure at Johnson’s denunciation of the BDS movement; a brief meeting with the Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, did go ahead. What had Johnson done to earn such anger? During his three-day visit to Israel, he had repeatedly criticized the BDS movement’s calls for a boycott of Israeli goods, describing the campaign as “completely crazy” and promoted by a “few snaggle-toothed corduroy-wearing lefty academics.”
During his last trip to Israel, Johnson delivered the inaugural Winston Churchill speech in Jerusalem.
He said in that speech: “If we look at the history of modern Israel there is no doubt that the comparison [between Churchill and Israel] can be extended, and that there is something Churchillian about the country he helped to create. There is the audacity, the bravery, the willingness to take risks with feats of outrageous derring-do.”
As Foreign Secretary, Johnson has lashed out at the “preposterous” and “absurd” focus of the UN Human Rights Council on the Jewish state, labeling it “disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace.”
Johnson has on one or two occasions been critical of Israel’s use of force. After several months of violence at Israel’s security fence with Gaza by Palestinians engaged in the Great March of Return, Johnson issued this statement: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in Gaza, where peaceful protesters are being exploited by extremists. I urge Israel to show restraint in the use of live fire.” Johnson had been wrongly informed. Israel had already been exhibiting extraordinary restraint in the use of force. Those rioters were hardly “peaceful protesters”; they were throwing large rocks, Molotov cocktails, kites, even grenades, at soldiers, and letting loose incendiary kites that would come to earth in Israel, where thousands of acres have burned up as a result. Occasionally the Palestinians fired guns. These were never “peaceful protesters.’
Nor did Johnson realize just how much restraint the Israelis were displaying, using rubber bullets and tear gas to discourage the rioters, constantly broadcasting warnings to stay away from the fence, and using live fire only against those who arrived too close to the security fence. The Israelis aimed to hit rioters below the knees, but those who managed not only to get to the fence but were in the process of breaching it, ignoring all the warnings being broadcast in Arabic from the Israeli side, and all the while lobbing deadly explosives at Israeli soldiers, could expect at that point to be met with deadly force.
Boris Johnson is deeply disturbed about Islam; he apparently has done what so very few politicians in the West have done — that is, he has read the Qur’an. His conclusion that “judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers” is unassailable and bracing in its accuracy. If he continues in this vein as Prime Minister, he may yet undo the damage done by several of his predecessors, since the days of Tony Blair, in their solicitousness toward Muslims.
Johnson admires Israel — keep those words in mind — for its “audacity, its bravery, its willingness to take risks with feats of outrageous derring-do.” He repeatedly denounces the BDS movement, and mocks it as full of corduroy-jacketed academics” of a leftward bent.
In short, when it comes to Islam and to Israel, Boris Johnson, who behind his smokescreen of japes has shown himself to be a much more serious student of Islam than, for example, Tony Blair, who claimed he carried a Qur’an around with him. It was not Blair, but Johnson who has actually read the Qur’an, for god’s sake. Boris Johnson, that “one-man melting pot,” is ready for his closeup. Let’s hope he gets the chance.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 06/29/2019 5:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 28 June 2019
London Bridge terror attack inquest: Coroner rules that victims were unlawfully killed
From the London Evening Standard, The BBC, and The Telegraph
I don't think a verdict of unlawful killing was ever in doubt. What is relevant is who the Coroner criticises or not, and the, in my opinion, very valid questions from the relatives of the victims.
The victims of the London Bridge terror attack were unlawfully killed, chief coroner Mark Lucraft QC has concluded. The coroner criticised the lack of barriers on the bridge in his conclusions, while the police investigation was "rigorous".
He said there was an "arguable" case there had been a breach of an operational duty in relation to the police and MI5 investigation before the attack and a general breach of systems for protective security on the bridge.
The inquest heard how former London Underground worker Khuram Butt, 27, hired the Hertz van which ploughed into pedestrians on the bridge . . . The van crashed into railings and Butt, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, ran amok around Borough Market. They had knives strapped to their wrists and fake suicide belts.
The rampage which left eight dead and 48 seriously injured was over in just under 10 minutes. after the terrorists were shot dead by police marksmen.
The coroner ... said he was "not convinced" MI5 and police missed any opportunities that would have prevented the attack. . . he would not be criticising MI5 and the police in his conclusions. (He) did criticise the lack of barriers on the bridge - a "particularly vulnerable" location. The attack, in June 2017, happened only two and half months after the Westminster Bridge attack.
But some victims' friends and families remain critical of the police. Christine Delcros, who was severely injured and lost her boyfriend, Xavier Thomas, in the attack highlighted a "catalogue of failings". Ms Delros said it was "staggering" that Butt, a "well known extremist", was allowed to work within the London Transport network, and that "opportunities to identify all the attackers and disrupt their activities did not occur". I can't disagree with her.
Summing up evidence earlier, the coroner had said the family of attacker Khuram Butt were not "convincing witnesses" in court. He said each of Butt's family members "accepted that they should now have done more at the time" and that they all "knew something of his extreme views". Four of Butt's family gave evidence during the inquest at the Old Bailey: his widow Zahrah Rehman, brother-in-law Usman Darr, brother Saad Butt, and sister Haleema Butt. I could make a case for trying them as accessories, or part of a conspiracy to commit terrorism. But that won't happen.
Police have still not seen hundreds of WhatsApp messages between the London Bridge ringleader and an alleged extremist after he refused to hand over his phone, The Telegraph can reveal.
Sajeel Shahid, who owned the east London gym where the three attackers met, shared 329 texts with Khuram Butt in 2017 prior to the atrocity. As well as running the Ummah Fitness Centre, where Butt and accomplice Rachid Redouane worked, Mr Shahid also founded the Ad-Deen school, at which Butt and Youssef Zaghba, the third attacker, were allowed to teach children as young as three. The 43-year-old was accused of helping to train the 7/7 bombers in a 2006 trial, while MI5 told the London Bridge inquests he held a "strong historical extremist pedigree", which he denies.
Police found records of 39 calls and 329 WhatsApp messages between his phone and Butt from January to May 2017, including several in the middle of the night. He agreed to allow officers access to his messages during evidence at the Old Bailey this week, saying he has "no issues" with that having not previously provided a statement in relation to the June 2017 attack. However, several sources confirmed to The Telegraph that Mr Shahid had almost immediately rowed back on the offer he had made in front of victims’ families.
Helen Boniface, whose firm Hogan Lovells represented six of the bereaved families, told this newspaper: "The families are grateful to the Chief Coroner for issuing a witness summons to require Mr Shahid to attend court and answer their questions, but disappointed he refused to provide his phone to the police, despite stating to the court that he would do so, particularly considering that this phone was in regular contact with Butt in the months leading up to the attack."
Mr Shahid’s refusal to cooperate lays bare a problem the security services have struggled to overcome in the aftermath of recent terror outrages - encrypted messaging. Butt and Redouane are thought to have been exchanging messages on the app from as early as December 2016, but they have not been recovered. It means that, more than two years after the van and knife rampage at London Bridge and Borough Market, MI5 are still struggling to understand how the attack was planned.
The authorities can drag Tommy Robinson through the courts as many times as it will take to get the result they want, but they can't seize evidence in an investigation of an attack that took the lives of 8 innocent people and blighted the lives of 50 more. Shame on you.
The victims of the attack clockwise from top left - Chrissy Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, Ignacio Echeverria, Xavier Thomas, Sara Zelenak, Kirsty Boden. Another 48 people were injured.
..one of the officers who led the post-attack investigation was grilled during the inquests about why Mr Shahid was not arrested. Gareth Patterson QC, representing six of the bereaved families, asked acting detective chief inspector Wayne Jolley: "Why has this individual not been, if necessary arrested and interviewed under caution to see what, if any, knowledge or involvement he might have had in the attack?"
Mr Jolley replied the operation was "intelligence-led" and no information they received pointed to Mr Shahid, but they had made efforts to speak to him.
"I suggest you made wholly inadequate attempts and he should have been interviewed under caution," Mr Patterson replied.
It gets worse.
Police are facing questions over their failure to arrest Anjem Choudary in connection with the London Bridge attack after he allegedly incited the ringleader to commit carnage. The radical hate preacher was said to have been "idolised" by Khuram Butt, who parroted his extremist teachings in the years before the atrocity.
The families of several victims on Friday expressed their concern that Choudary’s radicalising influence had not prompted police action during the post-attack investigation. The inquests heard evidence that Butt would tell friends "Anjem Choudary is right" in saying money should be milked from the Government and used "to attack the British".
Helen Boniface, whose legal firm Hogan Lovells represented six of the bereaved families, told The Telegraph: "The families we represent see this as encouragement to commit a terror attack on the West and are disappointed that it was not adequately investigated by the police as part of their investigation."
Choudary’s alleged efforts to radicalise Butt seem to have taken place under the noses of authorities, when the cleric was on police bail for illegally drumming up support for Isil. It is believed Butt first came into the orbit of al-Muhajiroun (ALM), the banned Islamist group he helped lead, in around 2013. Both men lived close to each other in the Barking and Ilford areas of London, with Choudary's home just 350 yards from the gym where the attackers trained.
Butt went to dinner at the cleric’s house on at least two occasions - hosting him once in return - and was said to be "like a lion out of a cage" in his company. Friends described how Butt soon appeared "brainwashed" and espoused views about the West which were "completely off the scale". He began referring to non-believers as "kuffars" and used to claim: "They should be scared of us." . . . he would say, 'Anjem Choudary told me - he does his research, he knows, bruv'... he’s our preacher."
A spate of grim terror plots were linked to ALM supporters during the time Butt was associating with the group, including the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013.By September 2015, the focus of investigators finally alighted on Choudary, whom they arrested for inviting support for Isil. He was released on bail until the following August, when he was charged and remanded in custody until his conviction in 2016. In the period between arrest and charge, however, Butt was able to visit the home of Choudary on several occasions.
Defending the decision, Mr Jolley told the inquests the account of Butt’s friend was "hearsay" and not enough to secure a conviction.
But Ms Boniface said on Friday: "It is difficult to understand how Butt, the subject of an active MI5 investigation, associating with Choudary and other identifiable members of ALM, a proscribed terrorist organisation, could be of seemingly of little interest to the authorities, either before or after the attack, or even now."
Choudary could not respond to claims as he is not allowed to speak to journalists under the terms of his licence.
Posted on 06/28/2019 1:24 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 28 June 2019
Inventing European Identity
by Theodore Dalrymple
I doubt whether there is anyone who has never resorted to the ancient rhetorical tricks of suppressio veri and suggestio falsi. Some do it knowingly, others unknowingly. The omission of relevant facts and the insinuation of falsehoods are dual and often inseparable techniques that are the stock-in-trade of most practising politicians. Arguments have often to be schematic and if in theory it is possible to tell no falsehoods, it is virtually impossible not to suppress, or at least omit, some truths if a discussion of complex matters is not to be interminable.
Nevertheless, universal resort to error, whether honest or not, is no defence for those who utilise it. This is particularly so of intellectuals, whose metier above all is, or ought to be, honest argumentation. I was therefore intrigued to read an open letter published in the Guardian newspaper by what were described as “30 top intellectuals.”
The letter began with a ringing suggestio falsi: “The idea of Europe is in peril.” What the authors meant was that the idea of the European Union is in danger. They implied, in effect, that Europe and the European Union were synonyms, which is clearly false. If a country ceases to be a member of the European Union, or has never been a part of it, it does not cease to be European, neither geographically nor culturally.
The opening salvo sets the tone for the rest. Any opposition to the ever-closer union that is the aim of the European Union is characterized as purely irrational, nostalgic and even fascistic. It cannot by definition be founded on any rational considerations whatever. It success would be, as the authors put it, the triumph of “a politics of disdain for intelligence and culture”—which is in effect to say that anybody who opposes the proposed ever-closer union is either a demagogue or uncouth and stupid. Thus the top intellectuals, including five winners of the Nobel Prize and many world-famous writers, appear to have learned nothing from the single most disastrous phrase used in any recent election, Mrs. Clinton’s infamous “basket of deplorables.” Who is more stupid than whom?
The top intellectuals say of opponents of the drive towards a large federal state something like, “Let’s reconnect with our ‘national soul!’ Let’s rediscover out ‘lost identity’!” They go on to say, “Never mind that abstractions such as ‘soul’ and ‘identity’ often exist only in the imagination of demagogues.”
I overlook the fact that any British politician, however fervent a supporter of Brexit would never use a term such as “the British soul” for justified fear of being laughed out of court, but notice only that a few lines further on the top intellectuals say “We count ourselves among the European patriots.”
One can, of course, be a patriot only of a country that has an identity. But identities, we have just been told, are often abstractions that exist only in the imagination of demagogues. Common sense surely tells us that a person in Portugal or in Estonia feels more Portuguese or Estonian than he feels European, if for no other reason than that a feeling of identity usually requires an ability to communicate. It is true that identities can change and even sometimes be built: in Massimo d’Azeglio put it, “We have made Italy, now we must make Italians.” The deliberate forging of identities, however, is difficult, far from always successful and often necessitates policies that are far from liberal or democratic, two qualities on which the top intellectuals pride themselves. As I write this, Greece has just demanded reparations of 377 billion Euros from Germany and Poland 700 billion. Not much sign there, then, of pan-European identity and solidarity taking precedence over national identity, at least not yet. Be it remembered, furthermore, that Greece has a government of the left, Poland of the right.
A European identity, moreover, can exist only if there are non-European identities. This means one of two things. Either—to be consistent—the European identity, once achieved, will have to dissolve itself in a pan-United Nations identity or be accused of a nationalist nostalgia of its own; or it must admit that the forging of a European identity is actually not in the service of peace, democracy or human rights, but in that of the search for power in a world in which there are states many times larger than any individual European state. Pan-Europeanism is at heart no more liberal or democratic than was pan-Germanism or pan-Slavism.
The top intellectuals are themselves by no means free of the demagoguery of which they accuse those with whom the disagree. “Urgently,” they write, “we need to sound the alarm against these arsonists of soul and spirit . . . want to make a bonfire of our freedoms.” This is scarcely temperate language to describe all opposition to the ever-closer union, even if it is true that there are some very nasty people about. In mentioning a reviving antisemitism, however, the top intellectuals might have mentioned that, in Britain at least, the main source or threat of antisemitism (in what was traditionally the least antisemitic large country of western Europe) comes first from Moslems and second from socialists who believe that economic success in a capitalist society must derive from exploitation and that, because the Jews are the most successful economic group as broken down by religion, they must be exploiters. No Jew in England lives in mortal fear of being attacked by Nigel Farage. Talk about suppressio veri!
The top intellectuals end with a rhetorical flourish. They say that those who oppose Europe (in le tout Paris sense of the word) promise “to tear down everything that made our societies great, honourable and prosperous . . . a challenge to liberal democracy and its values.” Gosh, without the European Union, no greatness, honour, or prosperity! This is remarkable historiography, to put it mildly. It rather overlooks the fact that the founders of Europe (in the top intellectuals’ sense of the word) wanted to by-pass all politics—let alone democracy—altogether, as being beyond the ken of the hoi-polloi. And indeed, this is what we now have, more or less: administration. The nearest we come to politics as formerly understood is bureaucratic in-fighting.
Of course, there is demagoguery on the other side of the question too. Living in the European Union is not some kind of living hell in which every freedom is extinguished. It is not true that all or most of the problems of a country like Britain derive from its membership of the European Union, or that its own bureaucracy is not as much to be feared as—or is less to be feared—than that of Brussels. Inscribed over the portals of every national parliament or assembly should be inscribed the words One must not exaggerate.
However, having read the open letter in the Guardian, with all its resort to suppressio veri and suggestio falsi, my main thought was that if these were top intellectuals, what must the rest be like?
First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.
Posted on 06/28/2019 8:45 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Friday, 28 June 2019
Old Wisdom, Modern Folly
Bruce Thornton discusses the wages of modernity’s technocratic hubris in Frontpage.
The central fallacy of modernity is the belief that science and technological progress have made traditional wisdom and the insights of earlier thinkers irrelevant or malign. This presentist hubris of what G.K. Chesterton called the “small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about” is particularly misplaced when it comes to understanding human nature and behavior, especially political action. Since “enlightened” moderns believe they know more about human nature and possess the technical means of altering it, they dismiss or ignore earlier wisdom and common sense based on centuries of experience and observation of how humans consistently behave over time.
When it comes to America’s political order, no commentator today has yet come close to the brilliance of Alexis de Tocqueville, who was astonishingly prescient in pointing out the dangers inherent in the democracy he so admired. The political dysfunctions and crises roiling our nation today were predicted by Tocqueville in Democracy in America, published in 1835 when the United States was not yet fifty years old.
Take the age-old complaint that democracy indiscriminately empowers the many, who may not have the knowledge and judgement of character necessary in choosing a leader. Hence Tocqueville’s observation that in America, “the ablest men . . . are rarely placed at the head of affairs.” With the citizens’ attention focused on their private affairs and necessity to make a living, “it is difficult for [them] to discern the best means of attaining the end,” which is “the welfare of the country.” Hence the voters’ “conclusions are hastily formed from a superficial inspection of the more prominent features of a question.” As a result, “mountebanks of all sorts are able to please the people, while their truest friends frequently fail to gain their confidence.”
This description obviously rings true today, in our age of the “low-information voter” and the multiple information platforms that promote the “superficial inspection” of sound-bite reporting that highlights only the politicized and emotionally charged “prominent features” of any issue. Our current political romance with socialism on the part of significant numbers of voters and politicians is the perfect example of this phenomenon: Ignorance of socialism’s gruesome failures for over a century, which are whitewashed by “mountebanks” like Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are coupled with unworkable, simplistic polices that “please the people” with seductive promises of getting something for nothing.
Tocqueville links this self-interested ignorance to the “difficulty that a democracy finds in conquering the passions and subduing the desires of the moment with a view to the future.” This failure of virtue and prudence fosters the short-term, self-interested policies we find in both our domestic and foreign affairs: the reluctance to do something about the looming entitlement, debt, and deficit disasters at home; and the decades-long coddling of homicidal aggressors like North Korea and Iran abroad. We simply prefer to ignore those long-term dangers rather than incur the sacrifice of our own pleasures and comfort by spending the resources and lives necessary for preempting the greater suffering that will follow our inaction.
The role of “mountebanks,” demagogues, in the self-interested short-sighted political calculation touched on earlier is further expanded by Tocqueville: “The people, surrounded by flatterers, find great difficulty in surmounting their inclinations; whenever they are required to undergo privation or any inconvenience, even to attain an end sanctioned by their own rational calculation, they almost always refuse at first to comply.” Our unfunded liabilities and metastasizing debt are again perfect examples. Most voters understand that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, given the relentless expansion of benefits and those qualified to receive them, and the demographic time-bomb caused by more retirees––10,000 Boomers a day are entering those two programs––and by fewer workers contributing the payroll taxes necessary to fund them: In 1950 there were 16 workers for every retiree; in 2013 there were fewer than three, and that number is projected to keep declining.
But even though the “privation and inconvenience” required for saving these programs from insolvency is never proposed for existing retirees, any talk of reform is vigorously resisted by senior voters, who comprise one-quarter of eligible voters, about 65% of whom turned out to vote in 2018. And they are egged on by special interest groups like AARP that lobby politicians (“flatterers”), especially Democrats, who always champion expanding redistributionist programs rather than reforming them. Here, too, Tocqueville was prophetic: “The power of the majority is so absolute and irresistible that one must give up one’s rights as a citizen and almost abjure one’s qualities as a man if one intends to stray from the track which it prescribes.” That description fits Congress no matter which party is in control, and explains why nothing is being done to address this threat to our economic well-being.
Perhaps the most prophetic of Tocqueville’s warnings concern radical egalitarianism and the redistributionist policies created to achieve that aim––what the Founders called the “levelling spirit.” He calls radical egalitarianism “a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom.” This spirit has long haunted American democracy, but the last decade has seen it expand exponentially. The simplistic and duplicitous slogan “income inequality” has become the progressives’ battle cry, while identity politics generates mythic narratives of the oppression and privilege that allegedly cause income disparities. This melodrama of inequality gives the left leverage for gaining the political power to create “social justice,” a euphemism for radical egalitarianism.
Tocqueville locates the seed of radical egalitarianism in the permanent flaws of human nature, especially the “feeling of envy.” Democratic institutions, which make people equally free, “awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never satisfy,” in contrast to the “manly and lawful passion for equality” that spurs people to improve their lot. The “depraved passion for equality” cannot be achieved because the simple empirical truth is that people do not equally possess the virtues, talents, industry, and drive necessary for success. But since, as James Madison noted, inequality results from the easily observed “different and unequally faculties of acquiring property,” the solution to inequality will be found in the redistribution of property to achieve what the early progressives called “fiscal justice,” now morphed into the current “social justice.”
Once again Tocqueville is prescient on the nexus of radical egalitarianism and redistribution of wealth that can be achieved by policies devised by politicians accountable to the masses:
As the great majority of those who create laws have no taxable property, all the money that is spent for the community appears to be spent for their advantage, at no cost of their own; and those who have some little property readily find means of so regulating the taxes that they weigh upon the wealthy and profit the poor, although the rich cannot take the same advantage when they are in possession of the government . . . In other words, the government of the democracy is the only one under which the power that votes the taxes escapes the payment of them.
Even taking into account the differences between our tax regime today and the observations of Tocqueville, his analysis is borne out by our highly progressive and redistributionist tax system: According to the Tax Foundation, in 2016 the top 1% paid 37.32% of income tax revenue; the top 5% paid 58.23%; the top 10% paid 69.47%; the top 50% paid 96.96%; and the bottom 50% paid 3.04%, while 45% of taxpayers paid nothing. Moreover, two-thirds of this annual revenue is redistributed through entitlement transfers. As for the payroll taxes paid by all workers that make them think they pay for these benefits, the average recipient of Social Security and Medicare will take more from those programs than he paid into them.
Despite this extensive redistribution of others’ wealth, the current crop of socialist Democrats wants to raise tax rates significantly or impose a “wealth tax” to generate even more funds for redistribution to their political clients. But the solutions to the manufactured income inequality “crisis” all come at the cost of prosperity and economic growth, and if implemented would lead to the same fate that has followed every other experiment in forcing equality: “equality in slavery” rather than “inequality with freedom.” The thug regimes of Cuba and Venezuela today are graphic examples of this truth.
It is confirmation of the dangers of modernity’s technocratic hubris that despite the record of history and the warnings of prophets like Tocqueville, the Democrats today are calling for an economic and political system like socialism that will worsen the dangers that our indulgence of modernist delusions have created over the past century. These are the wages of ignoring the past and earlier thinkers, and substituting the fads of modern scientism for traditional wisdom and common sense.
Posted on 06/28/2019 7:20 AM by Geoffrey Clarfield
Friday, 28 June 2019
Tory Candidates All Agree That “Islamophobia” In Their Party Must Be Investigated
by Hugh Fitzgerald
On June 17, the five Tory candidates then in the running for prime minister — Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Savid Javid, Rory Stewart, and Michael Gove — appeared for a debate on the BBC. (The field has now been narrowed to two: Johnson and Hunt.) The format included questions from pre-vetted callers. Abdullah Patel, an imam in Bristol, called to say that he had seen firsthand the malign effects of “Islamophobia,” and asked if the candidates agreed that “words have consequences.” The host, Emily Maitlis, referred the question first to Boris Johnson, reminding him of comments he had made comparing Muslim women wearing the veil with “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.”
“In so far as my words have given offense over the last 20 or 30 years, when I have been a journalist and people have taken those words out of my articles and escalated them, of course I am sorry for the offense they have caused.”
An apology of sorts, in which Johnson did not directly discuss his “letterbox” remark, but referred to all his words in his articles over the past 20-30 years, and did not say he was sorry for the words themselves, which he implied were taken out of context and exaggerated (“escalated”) for effect, but was “sorry for the offense” they may have caused others. That is a different thing.
“When my Muslim great-grandfather came to this country in fear of his life in 1912, he did so because he knew it was a place that was a beacon of hope and of generosity and openness, and a willingness to welcome people from around the world.”
Some of Johnson’s critics felt that his reference to his “Muslim great-grandfather” was akin to the antisemite who defends himself with the claim that “some of my best friends are Jewish.” But Johnson was making a valid point, not about his own scarcely-discernible link to Islam, but about his great-grandfather, who in 1912 fled a barbaric Islamic land — Ottoman Turkey — and found sanctuary in the “hope and generosity and openness” of Great Britain. His Muslim great-grandfather was a real person, not some fictional “best friend” made up to prove a point, and Johnson was right to cite that Turkish ancestor’s welcome in 1912 as a telling example, from his own family’s history, of British generosity and openness.
Johnson’s limited contrition over his “letterboxes” remark was disappointing; he might have stuck to his guns, explaining that he deplored the niqab (which he confessed with the similar “burka”) — though he would not ban it — both as a security threat, for it put him in mind not only of “letterboxes,” but of “bank robbers,” and as an article of clothing too often forced on Muslim women. He then might have asked his rivals to join him in condemning all such extreme cover — burka, niqab, chador — where it was not a matter of the woman’s free choice: “I am sure you agree that there is nothing anti-Islam about defending the rights of Muslim women to choose their clothing.” How many of them would have dared to disagree?
Sajid Javid, the home secretary, who had previously called for an independent investigation into “Islamophobia” in the Conservative Party, did so again in his reply to Mr. Patel, and asked his rivals to back his demand; they all nodded in seeming agreement. “It’s great that we all agree on that,” Javid said, noting that there was a “concern [about] growing anti-Muslim hatred in our country, certainly over the last few years, in all parts of society. And, wherever that is, including in political parties, it must be absolutely rooted out.”
He added: “We are, today, one of the most successful multiracial democracies in the world – whatever your race, whatever your religious background. And that is what we have got to remain.”
Just how “successful” has the U.K. been in creating a multi-religious democracy? The thousands of English girls who have been the victims of Muslim grooming gangs in a dozen cities would not agree. Nor would the police, if they were allowed to speak their mind about “No-Go” areas created by Muslims in major cities — London, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham — where non-Muslims are made to feel unwelcome by the inhabitants, and even the police must watch their backs. Antisemitic hate crimes, almost all by Muslims, hit a record high in 2018. Sikh and Hindu girls have been the targets of attention from Muslim men, hoping to marry and convert these girls, thereby increasing Muslim numbers in what has been called a “Love Jihad.” All this suggests that things are not quite as rosy in the U.K.’s ‘multi-religious democracy” as Sajid Javid claims.
It is too bad that not one of the other candidates took issue with Javid, but of course to mention the grooming gangs, the No-Go areas, the “Love Jihad” would not have been politic. Instead, his claim about “anti-Muslim hatred” — part of the victimhood narrative that Muslims all over the West have constructed — went unchallenged. Why didn’t anyone ask him to compare the numbers of hate crimes against Muslims in the U.K. with the far greater number of hate crimes by Muslims? No Muslims are fleeing the country, but some Jews, reeling from Muslim attacks, have left for Israel. There are No-Go areas where non-Muslims fear to tread, but despite this supposed increase of “anti-Muslim hatred,” there appear to be no No-Go areas for Muslims. They are free to roam unconcernedly, while non-Muslims, especially Jews and women, must watch their backs in many Muslim areas.
An opportunity was missed by the five Tory candidates during their June 17 debate to respond intelligently to the charge of “Islamophobia.” They might have taken issue with, instead of blandly accepting, the use of this word. They might have informed viewers that, after all, it is not unreasonable, certainty not “Islamophobic” (that is, exhibiting an “irrational fear and hatred of Islam and of Muslims”), for people to be alarmed about Muslim attitudes and observable behavior. That debate audience might have been informed that there are 109 Qur’anic verses commanding Muslims to “to fight” and “to kill” and to “smite at the necks of” and to “strike terror in the hearts” of the Unbelievers. But no one was prepared to mention those verses about violent Jihad. And what a salutary effect it might have had on millions of BBC viewers had any of the Tory candidates quoted Muhammad, for Muslims the Perfect Man and Model of Conduct, who had boasted in a hadith that “I have been made victorious through terror.” No Muslim could deny the existence of this remark, and their silence, or their transparent attempts to somehow twist its meaning, would be telling. And how would the television audience have reacted had they been told that one Qur’anic verse (3:11) describes Muslims as “the best of peoples” and another describes Unbelievers as “the most vile of created beings”?
After the debate, to the BBC’s great embarrassment, and consternation among Muslim apologists, it was discovered that Abdullah Patel, the imam in Bristol who had originally started the whole discussion about “Islamophobia” by claiming he had “seen firsthand the main effects” of this hatred, had tweeted antisemitic comments and mocking remarks about rape. This were not discovered until after the debate, because he had deliberately suspended his twitter account before he was vetted by the BBC so that those tweets could not have been seen, and then, after the show, Patel promptly reactivated his twitter account.
Here is what he twitted about Jews — as all-powerful paymasters of those who dutifully do their bidding on behalf of Zionism:
“Every Political figure on the Zionist’s payroll is scaring the world about Corbyn. They don’t like him. He seems best suited to tackle them!” In another tweet he suggested that the solution to the Arab-Israeli problem would be to remove Israel entirely from the Middle East and set it down in the middle in of the U.S. Patel asked in another tweet “how long are they going to hide behind the Holocaust cry”? And he had this to say about Gaza: “Auschwitz was a monstrosity. But the concentration camp in Gaza is the modern day Auschwitz. The Jews got justice, th (sic) Muslims deserve theirs.’ That was enough to convince people of his antisemitism.
Another tweet by Patel on the subject of rape blamed the victims: “Let’s make something clear: ‘Generally, men are the predators, but women need to realize this and be smarter. It takes 2 to tango, and if you put yourself in that position, don’t expect every man to pass up the opportunity to take advantage of you. Don’t be alone with a man!”
In Patel’s view, men are not to blame for rape. They are naturally predators; they can’t help it; it’s the fault of women if they are raped. He chastises them: “Don’t expect every man to pass up the opportunity to take advantage of you. Don’t be alone with a man!” British women were horrified; few realized that this view of rape is hardly unique to Abdullah Patel, but is shared by a great many Muslim men.
Both the antisemitic tweets and the rape comment set off a firestorm of criticism of Abdullah Patel. The Islamic girls’ school where he taught, and the mosque, Masjid e Umar, where he served as imam, have “suspended” Patel pending further investigation. And what at first looked like it would be a solid win for the forces of Islam, with the five candidates agreeing that “Islamophobia” in the Tory Party should be investigated, instead ended in an embarrassed shambles at Abdullah Patel and his views, now unearthed, on “Zionists” and on rape.
This debate could have been used, in part, as a teaching moment, a way to introduce a wide audience to the most disturbing Qur’anic passages. But none of the candidates saw fit to do so. Instead they all nodded in agreement at Savid Javid’s proposal that “Islamophobia” in the Conservative Party should be investigated. Baroness Warsi, the Muslim Conservative who sits in the House of Lords, who has made “Islamophobia” her signature issue, must have been well pleased. Fortunately, Abdullah Patel’s tweets then became the story, deflecting attention from the promise to look into “Islamophobia” in the Tory Party.
But whoever turns out to be the candidate — as of this writing, on June 23, Johnson and Hunt are still in the running — and once the Tory prime minister is chosen by the 160,000 Tory faithful, there will be interviews, articles, speeches by him to shore up support in the broader public. In any general election, the Muslim vote can be written off by the Tories; that vote will go to the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn. The Tory candidate has to rally to his side those voters whose main worry is the Muslim presence in the U.K. and who until now have found themselves without adequate representation in the major parties. Then he will be able, if he is unafraid to adduce textual support from the Qur’an, to skeptically dissect the supposed scourge of “Islamophobia” and to bring forcefully to the British public’s attention the many Jihad verses in that text. It’s long past time for some palpable hits to be scored against the “religion of peace.” In the debate the Tories held on June 18, all we witnessed was a very big miss.
First published in Jihad Watch here and here.
Posted on 06/28/2019 6:27 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 27 June 2019
Max Hastings vs Boris Johnson: I know who I’d trust more
Max’s campaign against Boris is cowardly
by Conrad Black
Sir Max Hastings, whom I engaged as editor of the Daily Telegraph in 1986 and who stayed in that role for about nine years, seems to have installed himself at the head of the rabid mob of journalistic haters of Boris Johnson.
In recent pieces in The Spectator and the Guardian he has described Boris as ‘a tasteless joke’ interested only in ‘fame and gratification… a scoundrel or a mere rogue’ (a subtle distinction), and in any case a man afflicted by ‘moral bankruptcy’.
Max concedes that Boris is likely to be the next prime minister and preemptively accuses him of conducting a ‘celebrity government as in Ukraine and the US’. His government will ‘reveal contempt for rules, precedent, order and stability’, yet ‘his graver vice is cowardice… and a weak character’.
There is certainly room for debate about Boris Johnson as prime minister. But he possesses a number of remarkable qualities considerably beyond the talents Hastings accords him as an entertainer and a clown. He was such an effective correspondent for us in Brussels that he greatly influenced British opinion on this country’s relations with Europe. He was an undoubtedly effective editor of The Spectator even though he was simultaneously a member of parliament. He liberated London from the onerous leftist government of Ken Livingstone, contributed importantly to the success of the Olympic Games, and his administration must stand as the most successful London has had in a very long time. All sane Londoners would take him back tomorrow in place of the unrelievedly obnoxious Sadiq Khan.
It will not do to dismiss so flippantly the accomplishments of someone who has moved so surefootedly from Brussels correspondent of the Daily Telegraph in less than 20 years to potential prime minister.
As the former employer of both of them, and although their positions were of un-equal importance and challenges, on balance I must declare Boris to be more reliable and trustworthy than Max. Hastings went to South Africa for a few days and returned in favour of effectively throwing the white population out of that country. He spent a few days in Northern Ireland and returned as champion of a ‘troops out’ approach and, despite the wishes of its majority, has said the British would shed few tears when Northern Ireland ‘inevitably’ leaves the UK.
He was an unconditional euro-integrationist but eventually, after he left us, he recanted and said it had all been a horrible mistake. He has now returned to his earlier version of the British national interest, and proposes headfirst immersion in Europe. He is a well-oiled weathervane. Boris has been consistent and even courageous on this most important issue.
There is a greater problem. I stood by Mr Hastings, despite differences, despite problems he needlessly created (such as antagonising the family of the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher), and through great misfortune. I raised his income for compassionate as well as meritorious reasons, took him into my confidence and even asked him to help organise my small wedding to Barbara Amiel in 1992.
When Mr Murdoch launched the cover price war in 1993, Max, the liberator of Port Stanley, made a few purposeful noises and then scurried out the back door into the tall grass, self-demoting to the Evening Standard, a dwarfish title compared to the one from which he defected. (We won the price war without him.)
When my legal difficulties arose, he publicly threw in his lot with my chief defamer and, I am told, predicted that Barbara would quickly decamp for greener pastures. The spurious case against me failed and has been withdrawn and expunged, and no one has ever had a more loyal and indomitably supportive wife than Barbara.
Boris’s peccadilloes were more absurd, complicated and over-publicised than the shambles of the personal lives of other journalists. But his editorial opinions were sensible and consistent. His schtick grew tiresome, like an over-familiar vaudeville act, but he was at all times a person of goodwill and his foibles were deployed to the benefit of the enterprise.
He had his lapses, but he was capable, successful and reliable when it counted, and he is, as he appears, a pleasant man. Max is an ill-tempered snob with a short attention span. He has his talents, but it pains me to report that when seriously tested, he was a coward and a flake. I think Boris will be fine.
Conrad Black was proprietor of the Daily Telegraph and The Spectator from 1985 to 2004. Max Hastings edited the Daily Telegraph from 1986 to 1995. Boris Johnson joined the Daily Telegraph in 1988 and edited The Spectator from 1999 to 2005.
First published in The Spectator
Posted on 06/27/2019 10:39 AM by Conrad Black
Thursday, 27 June 2019
Tunisia explosion: Capital rocked after two suicide attacks - 1 police officer dead
From the Express and Reuters
TUNISIA has been rocked after two suicide bombers blew themselves up in separate attacks in the Tunisian capital, killing one police officer and wounding several others, the Tunisian Interior Ministry has confirmed.
The first targeted a police patrol in Charles de Gaulle Street in central Tunis at around 11am. One police officer was killed and at least one other officer and three civilians were wounded, the Interior Ministry said. Shortly afterwards, a second suicide bomber blew himself up near a police station in al-Qarjani district.
Shocking images show a white vehicle destroyed by the blast with debris scattered along the street and into the road on the main avenue Habib Bourguiba.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sofian Zaak said the attackers had not yet been identified, and he called on the public to show strength and not panic. People appeared to heed that message: Within minutes of the attacks, they could be seen sitting as usual in cafes up and down Habib Bourghiba.
In a show of more open defiance, some 300 people gathered on the same street and held up pamphlets saying: “We do not fear terror, Tunisia is no place for terrorism.” They chanted the national anthem and slogans praising the security forces.
It was not immediately known who was behind the attacks, which come months before an election and at the peak of a tourist season in which Tunisia is hoping for a record number of visitors.
Posted on 06/27/2019 10:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
"A Bias Steam-Ironed into Women's Lives": A Conversation with Author Phyllis Chesler about Women and Madness, 47 Years After Publication
Jody Raphael writes at Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence:
When author Phyllis Chesler’s famed book, Women and Madness, was reissued almost 50 years after its first publication last year, Dignity Editor Donna Hughes thought it would be important for the journal to mark the occasion and to interview Dr. Chesler. I first read the work when I was the same age of its author, at the height of the second wave of feminism in the U.S. Reading it today demonstrated to me what I had missed then-its thorough and maddening description of patriarchy and our culture’s efforts to maintain it. And it seemed to me that not much had changed since then. I welcomed the opportunity to find out if Phyllis Chesler agreed with me.
It all started at the American Psychological Association (APA) convention in 1970. Phyllis Chesler, who had co-founded the Association for Women in Psychology, made a demand of APA members for one million dollars in reparations on behalf of women who had not been helped by the mental health professions, but who in fact had been further abused. Chesler writes that women were:
Punitively labeled, overly tranquilized, sexually seduced while in treatment, hospitalized against their wills, given shock therapy, lobotomized, and above all, unnecessarily described as too aggressive, promiscuous, depressed, ugly, old, angry, fat, or incurable (Chesler, 2018, p. 3).
The mostly 2,000 men in the audience, laughed, some loudly, some nervously. Afterwards colleagues told Chesler of the jokes made privately about her “penis envy.”
From Chesler’s experience came a book called Women and Madness, written when she was 31 years of age, and which appeared one year later in 1972. Since then it has been continuously in print, first at Doubleday, then at Avon, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, and Four Walls Eight Windows, followed by Palgrave Macmillan, which commissioned a new introduction with its 2005 publication. Chesler’s 2005 publisher wanted the book updated, but only small, select parts were altered, as Chesler explains she was ambivalent about revising what was now an historical text. In September 2018, Lawrence Hill Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press, brought out the 2005 edition again, in paperback, and, for the first time, as an audio and an e-book.
Chesler has been told that three million copies have been sold in the almost 50 years of the book’s existence, and it has been translated into numerous foreign languages. Neither the 2005 nor the 2018 edition has received new book reviews or author interviews. This lack of attention is a bit different from the book’s initial reception. Then it received a favorable, front-page review by feminist poet Adrienne Rich in the New York Times Book Review in 1972 which probably “made” the book. It was also positively mentioned in other publications. However, the book was “savaged,” in Chesler’s words, by reviewers both male and female, who described the author as “strident” and “man-hating.” In The Village Voice (1973), for example, a review by a professor at New York University’s postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, and the husband of the book’s negative reviewer in The Partisan Review, wrote that Chesler “favors[s] lesbianism as a definitive solution to the problem of gender differences;” “equates psychosis and social heroism;” and views Madness as a form of positive, militant feminism.” Both husband and wife, Chesler thinks, saw Chesler as promoting a homosexual Amazon community.
In a nutshell, the book’s thesis is that women who are labeled “mad” and medically treated, or even institutionalized, are either “acting out the devalued female role or the total or partial rejection of one’s own sex-role stereotype” (p. 116). “Women who reject or are ambivalent about the female role frighten both themselves and society so much so that their ostracism and self-destructiveness probably begin very early. Such women are also assured of a psychiatric label…” (p. 116). Using her thesis Chesler describes the lives of writers Zelda Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf, the latter two who committed suicide, an analysis worth the price of the book alone.
For Chesler, “madness” stems from the continual sacrifices women make, many of which involve childbearing. Her summary is worth quoting in full:
Women are impaled on the cross of self-sacrifice. Unlike men, they are categorically denied the experience of cultural supremacy and individuality. In different ways, some women are driven mad by this fact. Their madness is treated in such a way as to turn it into another form of self-sacrifice. Such madness is, in a sense, an intense experience of female sexual and cultural castration and a doomed search for potency (p. 91).
Newly published letters of Sylvia Plath (Plath, 2018) validate Chesler’s thesis, made so many years ago, about this particular author. Clearly, the letters sent at the end of her life dramatically demonstrate that Plath was stuck between her desire to fulfill her societal-designated roles of wife, mother, and uber homemaker, (which her husband thwarted by his repeated philandering and leaving her for another woman), and her burning need to create poetry and prose-one of the issues that contributed to her eventual suicide.
Using extensive and damning quotes from influential psychoanalysts from Freud to Reich, Laing, and Szasz, Chesler demonstrates how the psychiatric and psychological profession, still mostly men, medicalizes women suffering from the ravages of patriarchy, and inappropriately “treats” them. But the work is not just an indictment of the medical and psychological profession. Very quickly it rolls out a powerful description of patriarchy and its effects, where mental health is used as a weapon by men to preserve their domination over women. It makes for a harsh picture. It is also an absolutely amazing achievement for a 31-year-old, which paved the way for numerous other feminists like Susan Brownmiller and Mary Daly (Spender, 1985). And shockingly, her depiction of that patriarchal culture, as written in 1972, remains as valid today as it was then.
Noteworthy are the instances in which Chesler shows incredible prescience. So many years ago, she had understood the institution of prostitution to be an important part of patriarchy. She notes that the majority of women in prostitution have fled incestuous and abusive families and turn to alcohol and drugs in order to endure lives “in which they are repeatedly the victims of profound psychological, physical, and sexual violence” (p. 136). Now, she explains, the male demand for sex with children has grown into a large industry, which involves kidnapping or luring children under false pretenses into the sex trade industry. And, after all this, the girls and women are degraded and punished by society: “It is their humiliation through their bodies- as much as their bodies-which is being purchased” (p. 159). Although in advanced capitalist society, people sell most things-time, skills, physical labor-she believes that prostitution may exist in a separate category from these other sales of self because of the humiliation imposed on them. Prostitution always signifies the relatively powerless position of women and their widespread sexual repression. It usually also signifies their exclusion from or subordination within the economic, political, religious, and military systems (p. 193).
Chesler is also not afraid to take on the gay rights lobby, which, she says, contributes to our phallic-centric culture. One example of the harm to women are gay male rights organizations advocating for state legalization of surrogacy so that gay men may purchase and raise genetic children- laws that would allow purchase or rental of women’s bodies, only to discard them.
Although her focus is on patriarchy, Chesler does not write to shame men. The book is a call to women to make men reform (Spender, 1985). She feels that women bear some complicity in their disempowerment by accepting the phallic-centric world and embracing the many required self-sacrifices within it. She retains the original insights of second wave feminism that women must be their own salvation. Recently in the U.S. we have seen frustrating examples of this-women not using the power they have by refusing to vote for women for high office, and many of the women in the U.S. Senate supporting Presidential nominees accused of rape, sexual harassment, and making misogynistic comments. Women’s primary ego- identity, Chesler writes, is rooted in concern for limited and specific others and for what pleases a few men: “Woman’s ego-identity must somehow shift and be moored upon what is necessary for her own survival as a strong individual” (p. 347). She continues:
Those women involved in such an ego-transformation would, by necessity, withdraw from all human interactions which are not extremely supportive of their survival and achievement of individual power. Other ways of saying this might be: the growth in women of a greater psychological investment in female rather than in male survival, power and pleasure; women must withdraw from patriarchal hatred of women’s bodies and from our addiction to a relationship at any price (p. 348).
To be clear, Chesler explains, this might mean withdrawal from toxic woman- hating women as well as from men. Chesler did not rule out relationships with supportive men.
Now a word about Chesler’s “take no prisoners” style. Even favorable reviewer Adrienne Rich (1972) found Chesler’s uncompromising pronouncements slightly off-putting. Although appreciating Chesler’s personal force and power, she writes that the book needs editing because her thoughts appear to be random and disorganized: “Parts of an argument get scattered through the book, or too many insights flood too quickly.” However, the unending avalanche of observations creates the emotional response in the reader Chesler is seeking. Although one commentator writes that Chesler is angry, and undoubtedly intends to make women readers angry too (Spender, 1985), Chesler objects to the term “angry,” because strong feminist analyses are routinely dismissed as “too angry.” Feminist writer Dale Spender, though, perfectly captures Chesler’s approach:
Women and Madness is too much! It is too bold, too bald, too bare. It strips patriarchy down to its essence and leaves little room for rationalisation. It paints a picture which is not at all pleasant: that is why I think many members of society prefer to look the other way (Spender, 1985, p. 154).
In all, Chesler has published 18 books and thousands of articles. She says that, with one or two exceptions, none of her 21st century books has been reviewed in the mainstream media-an indication. Perhaps Chesler’s uncompromising positions and her hard-hitting style make people uncomfortable. There are, however, other reasons for the neglect, beyond the scope of this article. Later works deal with issues in a way not considered politically correct. She is criticized for being “Islamophobic” for her work on the honor killing (femicide) of Muslim women, and she raises concerns about certain feminists in her book Woman’s Inhumanity to Women.
In her new introduction to the 2005 reprint, Chesler answered the question, “What has changed since I wrote this book?” Her response: “Too little-and quite a lot” (p. 10). In the intervening years, she writes, we have learned a good bit about the genetic and chemical basis of mental illness and how drugs can alleviate symptoms, and how trauma and violence produce a host of symptoms, often leading to self-medication. But she claims that continuing clinical bias affects women: women are still wrongfully diagnosed and medicated; women who allege rape, incest, battery, sex discrimination, or sexual harassment are inappropriately ordered into therapy or diagnostically pathologized at trial; and psychotherapist-patient sexual abuse still exists.
I was curious to learn, from Chesler herself, whether she thought anything had improved since 2005, the date of her previous summation. We undertook a brief e-mail interview in late spring 2019.
Noting a current anti-feminist backlash, Chesler, you will find, is not currently optimistic. Our conversation, lightly edited, follows, but it is no substitute for the book itself, which very much merits a first reading or a re-read.
Q. In the book you give statistics about the gendered nature of the psychiatric/psychological profession. Have there been improvements?
Chesler: I believe that there are more feminist-oriented therapists than existed in the 1960s and even in the 1970s. But today, certainly from the 1990s on, “mood disorders” are treated with drugs, not with talking therapy, which is far too expensive for most people, especially poor women, who have no access to quality, feminist therapy.
Q. How would you gauge the changes in the profession between 1972 and now in terms of recognizing the sources and causes of women’s problems?
Chesler: I cannot answer this question based on research, surveys, or even clinical data. There may be valid information out there on these questions, but I am not in command of it. My impressions, from afar, are as follows:
Wrongful diagnoses and medication continue and may be strictly class and race based-there is no medical or good insurance coverage for quality mental health care for most people;
The police still mistreat rape victims and do not follow through, but there has been enough research, advocacy, and information about the nature of rape, incest, and sexual harassment to somewhat, hopefully lessen patriarchal views on this subject. However, I fear that what we see on Law and Order: Special Victims does not mirror reality;
There is now a body of writing by feminist women of color, but only feminist therapists and feminist therapists of color are probably familiar with it. I doubt that such work is routinely part of the medial or graduate school curriculum. I doubt that Women and Madness has been routinely taught at these levels. Thus, most white male professionals, despite exceptions, may think and act just as their non-mental health male counterparts do, as may non-feminist female mental health professionals; and
Abuse of power by therapists still exists and is still denied. There are many studies out there that address this. I can only guesstimate, and from afar, as to how much less of such abuse there might be. However, women rendered vulnerable by childhood sexual and physical abuse would still remain vulnerable to the continuation of such abuse when seeking help from a presumed protector. And in terms of the #MeToo movement, we cannot doubt that predators in all fields are continuing whatever abuse they can get away with. We are also living at a moment in history when rape has become a weapon-not merely a spoil of war- and when sexual slavery and human trafficking have both become more visible even as they have increased.
Historically, rape was a spoil of war. It would be a spoil, something soldiers did, got away with doing, it was expected, not planned. The difference is that genocidal/gender cleansing gang rape is planned, systematic, and is yet another weapon of war. Academic studies have begun to appear about the gang rape of Christian Armenian girls and women by Ottoman-era Turkish Muslims; the repeated, systematic and very public gang-rape of Jewish women in the Ukraine (1918-1921) by successive waves of warring soldiers, neighbors, and pogramciks;2 the repeated and systematic gang rape of Bangladeshi women by Pakistani soldiers in 1971; the repeated and systematic gang rape and kidnapping into sexual and domestic slavery of North African Muslim women in the Maghreb; and Christian and Muslim women in Bosnia and Serbia, aka the former Yugoslavia; and the repeated and pubic gang rape of girls and women in Rwanda, Sudan, and Nigeria. I describe this phenomenon as “gender cleansing” because the women are usually driven out of their minds, become suicidally depressed, and risk being honor killed by their families who are shamed.
Q. In the book you write that women are labeled as mentally ill, while men are called criminals. Has this changed, what with more women imprisoned than ever before?
Chesler: [When I last researched this] women received heavier sentences for lighter crimes than men. There were fewer recreational and educational opportunities for women than for men in prison; battered women who killed in self-defense often got life sentences. Fewer if any family members remained in contact with women in prison than with men in prison. I doubt this has changed but I have not done any recent research on this. What is also clear now is that women are more often imprisoned for low level drug offenses and less often for violent crimes than their male counterparts. Also clear: women who have been their child’s primary caretaker lose their children to foster care. Male prisoners who have never been primary caretakers, bear no shame if they are now absent due to a jail sentence- and unlike women, someone in their family, a mother, a girlfriend, etc. will raise their child and bring him (her) to visit. Not so for women. Given all this, what’s changed is that more women are in jail and prison than in the 1980s. No one in prison has access to quality mental health care although male batterers have mandated education about battering. Battered women have groups in prison as well. Imprisoned women are seen as drug addicts, prostitutes, and criminals. I doubt they are seen as incest victims whose violent physical and sexual abuse has led to life-long trauma and an inability to make good choices.
Historically, many of the alleged “hysterics” whom Breuer and Freud treated and learned from were very poor women, often prostituted women. The fact that they had been sexually and physically traumatized in childhood and thereafter, battered and demeaned by countless others, was never recognized or given proper weight. The fact that they were preyed upon by men, were the victims of great violence, and were scorned by non-prostituted women, was not recognized either. Now, in a feminist and “post-feminist” era we better understand that incest and rape lead to symptoms, not of mental illness, but akin to those of torture victims. Thus, eating disorders, drug addiction, flashbacks, insomnia, nightmares, hyper- vigilance, and so on are probably evidence of torture, not necessarily of an intrinsic neurochemical imbalance. Add to this the sorrows of racism and poverty and one can begin to see that most (not all, most) jailed women need psychological help, not punishment.
Q. Would you say that recently strides have been made in sexual assault and sexual harassment, due to the #MeToo movement? As for prostitution wouldn’t you agree we have taken steps backwards, with some feminist groups seeking to normalize the sex trade industry by pushing for decriminalization of the entire industry?
Chesler: I do not think that the #MeToo movement has as yet translated into the abolition of sexual harassment, incest, and rape. In fact, there may be something of a continued backlash afoot. Women have been increasingly disappeared. The face of patriarchy is staring us down in terms of the movements to legalize/decriminalize prostitution; legalize surrogacy; outlaw or restrict abortion; the obsession with transgender male-to-female victimization; the disappearance of “women” from women’s studies which has morphed into gender studies and then into LGBTQIA [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual] studies; and in the massive increase and normalization of pornography which we may see very clearly in how celebrities dress as half-naked “hookers.” And this style is seen as fashionable and copied by teenage girls. In short, radical abolitionist feminism is losing on every front.
Q. I was struck by your statement in the book that homosexuality in a patriarchal society is an expression of phallic worship. Do you think the gay rights movement is having a negative impact on issues such as rape and prostitution?
Chesler: Homosocial culture is, by definition, anti-woman. Both gay and straight men, like women, value men above women. This might be true even though they remain dependent on women who “know their place” and whose support they rely upon. Homosexuality simply bumps the preference up a bit and has, in our time led to gay male couples funding a movement to legalize surrogacy. This means that a five-minute donation of sperm is considered equal to a painful, and medically risky donation of an egg and to nine months of pregnancy and labor on the part of the rapidly disappeared birthmother and to the evisceration of motherhood. This is also, of course, big business at work. Selling children is highly profitable for doctors and lawyers, especially to infertile women and to wealthy and celebrity women who do not wish to be pregnant Many lesbians were involved in AIDS-related projects. How many gay men marched for abortion? Or for uterine or ovarian cancer? Just wondering.
Q. Do women have more power than they use?
Chesler: Women still do not vote for women-although more do so. Women still do not trust women as much as they trust men. Women are no kinder to other women than men are-only betrayal at female hands seems to hurt more. Women still expect other women to be their fairy godmothers and when we fail at one task, we become evil stepmothers who are then demonized and ostracized by small cliques of women.
Q. In 50 years, how much, if any, has patriarchy been dismantled?
Chesler: More women have entered formerly all-male professions. Lesbian mothers do not lose custody for that reason alone. To some small extent, some men are sharing more of the burdens of child raising. But glass or rather steel ceilings remain in place. Sexual harassment, rape, and coerced sex remain a fact of life for the women at work and whistleblowers are punished, whether they are marines or saleswomen in jewelry stores or women who work in the mines. Both pornography and prostitution have increased and have had greater influence over the coming generations. Radical abolitionist feminists did not triumph in the academy. Recently I received a telephone call from this book’s audio reader, who congratulated me for having written such a timely, relevant, and mind-blowing work. Although I appreciated the comment, her words depressed me. I had hoped that womankind might have evolved a bit more-after all, I was writing this book almost 50 years ago.
Q: How do you feel about your public reception?
Chesler: Patriarchal habits of mind, in both men and women, as well as the realities of competition, have meant that I have never once been asked to address a college graduation ceremony. I have never once received an honorary degree. Like so many worthy others, I have not been included in the Women’s Hall of Fame. I was never allowed to teach graduate students at City University of New York (CUNY), except once, for one semester, at John Jay where I had a master degree class of mainly police officers and domestic violence shelter workers to whom I taught forensic psychology. I have never once received another offer of a tenured professorship at another university. It took me 22 years to be promoted to full professor at CUNY and only after major fights and appeals. And, with one or two exceptions, none of my 21st century books has been reviewed in the mainstream media. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions about what this means.
Although these are sobering points, I have been exceptionally lucky as a writer. I would not have been this fortunate had there not been an active and radical feminist movement alive in the world. Women embraced my ideas and bought my work. Publishers have kept me in print for nearly 50 years. This is great good luck. My work has been translated into many European languages and into Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Hebrew. The fact that I always had to work many other paid jobs to support the vice of writing and of activism is both important but beside the point. Great writers have often had to self-publish and their work was rarely or only negatively reviewed. Still, I have had a significant reach, and my work has been influential in changing how women and “madness” are viewed and treated.
Jody Raphael is Senior Research Fellow, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Law Center, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois. She has been researching in the areas of prostitution and human trafficking since 2001, and is the author of four books on violence against women with particular emphasis on denial. Her latest book is Rape Is Rape: How Denial, Distortions, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis (Chicago Review Press paperback).
Raphael, Jody. (2019). “A bias steam-ironed into women’s lives”: A conversation with
author Phyllis Chesler about Women and Madness 47 years after publication. Dignity: A Journal of Sexual Exploitation and Violence. Vol. 4, Issue 3, Article 1.
Chesler, P. (2018). Women and madness. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books.
Plath, S. (2018). The letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. 2: 1956-1963. New York: Harper.
Spender, D. (1985). For the record: The making and meaning of feminist knowledge.
London: The Women’s Press Limited.
Posted on 06/26/2019 11:15 AM by Phyllis Chesler
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Read the Tea Leaves of China
by Michael Curtis
In the action movie Bullitt,1968, the complicated story centers on a San Francisco cop, played by the cool Steve McQueen, asked by the slimy ambitious Senate politician to guard an individual, the supposedly Chicago Mafia leader who had agreed to testify at the hearing in San Francisco of the Senate subcommittee on organized crime. The supposed criminal is killed, and the detective finds that he was an innocent party, and that the wrong man was killed. Fact follows fiction. On June 24, 2019, the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), though not a slimy politician, demanded to know about official records relating to President Donald Trump’s meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Cummings does not resemble the King of Cool, admired for his anti-hero persona, sex appeal, sense of style, rugged good looks, but like McQueen in the film he is scrutinizing the wrong party.
Chinese President Xi Pinging, authoritarian and ambitious leader, is the ascending star not Russian President Putin. The search and inquiry of Congressional Committees should focus on China, not Russia. In today’s world, China, whether viewed as the main country stealing U.S. intellectual property, rapidly challenging the U.S. economy and trade, and seeking to command not only the leadership role in Asia but also global dominance, is now the main rival of the U.S. The rapidity of its development is seen, by many analysts, as the greatest threat to the U.S.
The great American philosopher Casey Stengel, exasperated by the hapless New York Mets, the new team he was managing in 1962, asked, “Can’t anyone here play this game?” The game of politics has its hapless moments. On the very day of Cumming’s letter to White House Chief Mick Mulvaney about the desired records, a new report was issued that China had infiltrated cell networks of a number of global carriers. Among other matters, China targeted military officials, dissidents, and security bodies. This offensive is said to be the work of a Chinese group, APT 10, known for hacking Western businesses and official agencies. For more than a decade Chinese groups have engaged in multiple hacking campaigns into computer systems around the world, attacking the telecom industry, searching for trade secrets and technologies.
In all spheres, political, economic, diplomatic, China has in recent years increased its role. Even in a quite new economic activity, online food delivery, China has increased quickly, accounting now for 45% of global trade. China is issuing licenses for commercial use of new technology, a key step in cyber power. In Europe, China has interests and part ownership in a considerable number of enterprises, Heathrow, Frankfurt, and Toulouse airports, car firms, Peugot, Citroen, Pirelli, Daimler, and TV stations.
China has become prominent in Africa which has 30% of the world’s reserves of hydrocarbons and minerals, and 10% of the world’s population. China has moved in where it has seen the West has neglected Africa. One estimate is that there are now 10,000 Chinese owned firms in Africa. China has been building schools, hospitals, anti-malaria centers, agricultural and technology demonstration centers. It has been lending money to African countries and training its workers. It has the Husab Uranian mine, a $4.6 billion investment, the second largest uranium mine in the world, in Namibia, where it is also building an artificial peninsula in Walvis Bay. In the African continent China has built shopping malls, granite factories, cotton plants, telecommunications, and fuel depots. It has built a $8 billion high speed rail road in Nigeria, and working on a canal there. In 2000, only five countries had China as their largest trading partner; now more than a 100 do.
Politically, the events in Hong Kong in June 2019, large protests against extradition of suspects to mainland China leading the police to fire gas canisters and rubber bullets against the protestors, indicated that citizens were conscious of the legal powers of China and the blow to freedom and their semi-autonomy obtained when Britain in 1997 agreed to the Hong Kong territory being part of China.
China’s diplomatic aggressiveness was shown in two recent events. One was the visit in June of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Korean leader Kim Jong-un, to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and long-range missiles and U.S. sanctions. The second was the visit, June 5-7, 2019 to Russia. The question arises whether this visit, on the 70thanniversary of the agreement of diplomatic ties between the two countries, foretells a new strategic partnership in upgrading their hitherto uneven relationship? Trade between the two countries has grown, now $108 billion, and there is a wide range of cooperation on economics, trade, energy, science, aerospace, agriculture, and education.
China has also been trying to persuade other countries not to have official relations with Taiwan. When is a state not a state? International law provides no satisfactory answer, so the existence of Taiwan remains a fuzzy undefined entity. After World War II in 1945 the Republic of China, ROC, still the official title of Taiwan, was given a seat on the newly formed UN Security Council. In 1971 the Communist regime, the Popular Republic of China, founded in 1949 and led by Mao Zedong, replaced the ROC at the UNSC. If Taiwan is not officially recognized as a state, it claims to be a regime in exile and has commercial, cultural, and diplomatic relations with many countries, including the U.S. In an international context Taiwan,13,800 square miles and a population of 23 million, is also the last irredentist area of those claimed by Communist China, a symbol of the lack of full national unification of an empire comparable to that of the Qing dynasty, 1644-1912.
It is no secret that China is creating a facsimile of the old empire, as well as being the second or the first most important political and economic power in the world. Territorially, it incorporated Tibet in 1951, Hong Kong in 1997, and Macao in 1999. Politically and militarily, China supported North Korea in the hostilities 1950-53, helped end the Indochina war in 1954, helped form the non-aligned movement in 1955, engaged in war with India in 1962, and established its first military base outside its own territory in Dijbouti in 1999. China opened relations with the U.S. in 1979, and normalized relations with the Soviet Union in 1989. Economically, it became a member of OECD, member and observer of the Arctic council, member of Economic Cooperation of countries of Asia-Pacific.
Culturally, it set up the Cultural Revolution in 1966, and held the Olympic games in Peking in 2008. The big change came with the arrival of Xi as President, and his determination to Make China Great Again by creating a new counterpart of the legendary Road of Silk.
This road, originally termed “one belt, one road” now is called Belt and Road initiative.
There appear to be two roads. One is the land route from China to Europe, the old silk road interrupted in 15thcentury; the other the sea route, the strait of Malacca, the Indian ocean, Red Sea, and horn of Africa, once controlled by Portugal.
The land ambitious programs include routes, rail, and energy lines. Already there are important connections, China to Pakistan, another is a route crossing Burma to Singapore.
Sea route investments in and commercial privileges exist in Asian ports, such is the case in Pireus, Greece, and Gwadar, a strategic port in Pakistan.
Added to this are links or hubs, special zones, in many parts of the world.
Benefits obtained from this enterprise are culture and circulation of scholars, educational programs, and tourist programs.
All this is in the context of official backing by the Asiatic Bank of Investment, BAII, located in Peking, a bank of 69 members that finances infrastructure, and its activities are controlled by China. It is the equivalent of the Asiatic Bank of Development controlled by Japan.
The Silk road has a symbolic dimension. Its dimensions are only economic, prosperity for Central Asia, challenging the West, but also cultural and scientific, and political in that China has increased weight in international affairs. It also presents an idealistic image, a return to renaissance of the glorious past of China past.
China is a power, not a friend of the U.S. but a rival, not an automatic enemy, and even a possible partner in resolving problems, such as North Korea or Syria or the South China Sea. The U.S. faces not only a problem with tariffs, but also the reality of a deficit with China of $379 billion in goods and services. While recognizing that Russia is also not a friend, the U.S. Congressional Committees should forgo or reduce their prolonged and seemingly interminable investigations of Putin’s every word and turn attention to the giant of China in the present world. So must the White House. In 2017 Trump congratulated Xi on his “great political victory” when he was reelected as Chinese president. It is time to recognize that there is a strong correlation between monetary help and in return support for China’s foreign policy objectives.
Posted on 06/26/2019 4:09 AM by Michael Curtis
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Muslims in France Complain of Widespread “Islamophobia”
by Hugh Fitzgerald
A recent incident at a lingerie-shop in Montpellier, where a hijabbed woman was at first denied employment as long as she insisted on wearing the hijab, highlights a frequent debate in French politics and society: Can French Muslims ever be just French?
French Muslims can be “just French” if they are willing to adopt to, rather than resist, the laws, customs, and understandings of French society, beginning with the principle of “laicite” (the laic state), enshrined in French law since 1905. Every effort has been made by the French state to support Muslim migrants, who have had many benefits lavished upon them: free or highly subsidized housing, free education, free medical care, family allowances. Yet we see that French Muslims have segregated themselves, creating neighborhoods that in some cases have become distinctly unwelcome to the French. These are the “No Go” areas where non-Muslims fear to tread. Then there are the hundreds of French Muslims who have enthusiastically gone off to join ISIS; the tens of thousands of Muslims who without official permission aggressively take over French city streets for mass prayers; there are Muslim students who refuse to study the history of the Crusades, or the history of the French kings, seeing these subjects as irrelevant or offensive to them; some have objected to studying the Holocaust, also on the national history syllabus, because it creates “too much sympathy” for Jews.
It is not the French who are keeping the Muslims out of the larger society, but the Muslims who are refusing to be “just French.” The Qur’an tells Muslims not to take Christians and Jews as friends, for “they are friends only with each other.” (5:51) It further says that while the Muslims “are the best of peoples,” (3:110) non-Muslims are “the most vile of created beings.” (98:6) Muslims who read those verses are not likely to want to integrate into French society; for the true Believers, it would make no sense for the “best of peoples” to want to become part of the society created by “the most vile of created beings.”
Yet a recent Al Jazeera report on “Islamophobia” states:
Following the 2015 attacks in Paris, in which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant armed group (ISIL or ISIS) killed 130 people in three incidents, Islamophobic sentiment has increased, said Nadiya Lazzouni, a journalist and Muslim activist.
“The belief that Islam cannot be a part of France’s Republic or that the French Muslim is a disguised enemy from within the country has definitely spread across the country,” she told Al Jazeera.
“It’s important to remember that after the 2015 attacks, the government and other institutions publicly asked Muslims to disengage themselves from what happened, which clearly means they didn’t trust Muslims to be supportive of France,” Lazzouni said. “It was a way to affirm whether we were loyal to the nation or not.”
Nadiya Lazzouni claims that after the 2015 attacks in Paris by Muslim terrorists, “Islamophobic sentiment has increased.” There was no increase in “an irrational fear and hatred” of Islam. These 2015 attacks — which began with the murders in January of 12 cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, and of a half-dozen shoppers killed at a kosher supermarket, led to an increase in “a rational fear” of Islam and of Muslims. This rational fear was heightened in November, when there were attacks at the Bataclan nightclub, and outside the Stade de France, and at several cafes and restaurants, leaving 130 dead, and 413 wounded, including 100 critically. What should the French public have made of these attacks, by Muslims, claiming to act for Islam? Should they not have been alarmed? Should they not have read the Qur’an to find a possible explanation for such behavior? And when those who read the Qur’an then find those 109 verses commanding Muslims to wage violent Jihad against Unbelievers, to fight and to kill them, to smite at their necks, to strike terror in their hearts, should they simply have ignored those verses? Why? Those who grasp the significance of these verses cannot be accused of harboring a baseless “Islamophobia,” but, rather, they possess a perfectly rational fear of Islam and of Muslims.
Nadiya Lazzouri, a journalist and “Muslim activist,” apparently finds it unacceptable that after the 2015 attacks the French government and other institutions publicly asked Muslims to disengage themselves from what happened, which clearly means they didn’t trust Muslims to be supportive of France,” Lazuli said. “It was a way to affirm whether we were loyal to the nation or not.”
“The activist said Islamophobia has been increasing at a “frightening rate” in France for years.
I can find no confirmation of Lazzouni’s claim that the French government “publicly asked Muslims to disengage themselves from what happened.” There were Muslims who, as usual, claimed that these attacks in 2015 “had nothing to do with real Islam,” but those remarks were not demanded by the government. What does Lazzouni have in mind? There was not, after the November attacks, the same public call for solidarity with Muslims that had been made after the Charlie-Hebdo attacks, perhaps indicating that there was now less interest in soothing Muslim sensibilities by reassuring them, and a growing realization that those many Muslims who dutifully took in the Qur’anic commands to wage Jihad were not to be trusted — a commonsensical conclusion which Lazzouni finds so terribly unfair.
According to the Collectif Contre L’Islamophobia en France (Organisation against Islamophobia in France, also known as CCIF) Islamophobic attacks increased by 52 percent in 2018 compared with 2017.
In the first four months of 2019, there have been a reported 300 attacks.
Without more information, we do not know what, according to the CCIF, constitute “Islamophobic” attacks. One would like to be able to judge the severity of these attacks. Swearing and other forms of verbal disrespect? A line of graffiti near a mosque? How many of these “attacks” involved any physical contact whatsoever? Some Muslims have reported as “islamophobic” attacks even such minor “aggressions” as disapproving looks cast in their direction, or the failure to serve them properly, or promptly, in stores, subjectively interpreted as deliberate expressions of “Islamophobia.” Should such micro-aggressions — if in fact they took place at all, and were not made up to swell the statistics on “islamophobia” — really be counted as “attacks”?
Lazzouni pointed to former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who created a ministerial position tasked to[sic] deal with reconciling immigration with national identity.
“He created a link between the two,” Lazzouni said, adding that this paved the way for his successor, Francois Hollande, to propose stripping dual-nationality citizens of their French nationality if they were suspected of “terrorist” activity.
The proposal did not get far following public outcry, but the damage was already done, said Lazzouni.
It had implanted in people’s minds the creation of “two versions of France facing each other”, she said.
The “version of France” that its Muslims adhere to is based on the Qur’an. Muslims are duty-bound to wage jihad against non-Muslims, though not necessarily through violence, when other more effective means present themselves (as, in France today, demographic jihad). While the French have made every effort to welcome Muslim migrants, and to integrate them into the wider French society, it is Muslims themselves — not all but a great many — who choose instead to remain aloof. They are told in the Quran not to take Jews and Christians as friends, for “they are friends only with each other.” (5:51) After all, as Muslims, they are the “best of peoples” (3:110) and the French, like all non-Muslims, are “the most vile of created beings.” (98:6). There is no place in France that Muslims cannot go, but there are many places in France that non-Muslims do not dare to go; these are the “No-Go Areas” where young and aggressive Muslims dominate, and even the French police enter these neighborhoods only in groups.
For Jawad Bachara, CCIF president, the state leads anti-Muslim discrimination.
“Islamophobia is institutionalised within France,” Bachara told Al Jazeera. “There are two laws, one in 2004 that bans the hijab from public schools, and one in 2011 that bans the full face veil, that directly target the individual liberties of Muslim women.”
Jawad Bachara mischaracterizes the 2004 law. It did not just “ban the hijab,” but banned the wearing of all religious symbols, including the Jewish skull-cap, and large crucifixes, from public schools. It was based on the felt need to reinforce the 1905 laic law on the strict separation of church and state..
As for the 2011 law banning the full face veil, but only in public (which Bachara fails to note), that law was enacted, in the first place, for obvious reasons of national security. There have been cases where female terrorists managed not to be identified because they were wearing the niqab, and even more cases where male terrorists escaped detection by wearing the niqab. In the second place, that banning of the veil also was important to foil common criminals who have been wearing niqabs, in the commission of their crimes — the niqab has proven particularly useful for criminals who have, properly niqabbbed, gained entry to jewelry stores in order to successfully rob them.
“Most Islamophobic acts see mosques attacked or Muslim women who wear the hijab assaulted,” Bachara said.
How many mosques in France have been seriously “attacked”? What is the nature of those “attacks”? I can find online only one example of a working mosque that suffered anything more than the most modest of damages: that was the Al-Salam mosque in Toulouse, which did burn down. Another mosque, under construction, was party burned. In other cases, one or a handful of shots were fired, always when the mosque was empty: a single shot was fired at a mosque in Le Mans; several shots were fired at a mosque in Port-la-Nouvelle. Some empty bullet casings were found outside another mosque. At a Muslim prayer hall in Corsica, a boar’s head and entrails were left outside with a note (“Next time you will be next”), swastikas and “sieg heils” were also painted on the outside walls of the Grand Mosque in southeastern France. The same swastikas and sieg-heils were painted on a mosque in Castres. Possibly another handful of mosques have had some minor damage: one or a few shots fired (always when the mosque was empty). These attacks are all deplorable, of course, but over the past 18 years, that’s not exactly a record of nonstop violent expressions of “Islamophobia.”
As for “assaults” on hijabbed women in France, I found listed online only one attack, on a niqabbed Emirati woman, by another woman who had lived for several years in Arab countries and had had her fill of what she saw as symbol of female oppression and tried to pull off her face veil. I can find not even a single example listed of “Muslim women who wear the hijab being assaulted. This does not mean there were no such incidents, but it does strongly suggest that there could not have been many such incidents. Possibly a dozen, or even two or three, that went unrecorded? In other words, in the 18 years since 2001, there may have been between 1 and 2 cases annually of hijab-snatching. Wouldn’t that be a reasonable estimate? The numbers of attacks on mosques and assaults on hijab-wearing women are absurdly small, compared to what Bachara and Lazzouni and other defenders of the faith want people to believe. There has been no tsunami of “islamophobia.”
But there is also discrimination at work, such as the recent incident at the French [Etam] lingerie shop.
There is no mention, in this recital of islamophobic woe about the Etam incident, of what both the law (the El Khomri law requires employees to show “total neutrality” in their appearance) and sensible business practices call for under the circumstances; a hijabbed saleswoman would likely not be a good fit as a saleswoman in a lingerie shop.
CCIF offers legal and psychological assistance to victims.
“[But] some people do not report Islamophobic acts due to fear of reprisals,” said Bachara.
Following the announcement of the state of emergency in 2015 after the attacks, there was a suspicious climate in France coupled with police raids on homes, which contributed to silencing people in a way.
It is perfectly understandable that after the attacks in France during 2015 — on Charlie Hebdo, on the kosher market, on the Bataclan night club, on the Stade de France, on several cafes and restaurants, that there would have been a heightened state of alert, including “police raids on homes” thought to be connected to terrorists. This “suspicious climate” is deplored by Bachara, who thinks that there may have been a great many acts of “Islamophobia,” but that innocent and frightened Muslims did not, in that supposed climate of fear, dare to report them.
Bachara said the government’s own data on Islamophobia is unreliable because it only counts attacks where charges were pressed.
“Here at CCIF, we count situations and procedures that do not necessarily end up going to court,” he said.
Why might such cases end up not going to court? One possibility is that the complaint was made up, or exaggerated, and the Muslim who made the complaint was getting nervous about being found out, and chose not to continue. Another possibility: the public prosecutor might have judged a particular charge too flimsy to proceed with. Bachara doesn’t mention these as conceivable reasons why certain “situations” (where Muslims complain of “Islamophobic” attacks) do not “end up going to court.”
According to Abdellali Hajjat, professor of political science at Nanterre University, there was a conscious movement of thought that in 2003 drove France’s historical secularism into what he called “neo-secularism.”
Secularism in France was enshrined in law in 1905 and stipulates the separation of church and state, focused on three principles: the neutrality of the state, the freedom of religious practice, and public powers related to the church.
“The way Muslims are stigmatised in France today is perpetrated by the neo-secularism rhetoric, which consists of spreading the principle of religious neutrality beyond state officials, and then applying it to citizens,” Hajjat said, adding it was “hostile” to freedom of expression.
Centre-right and centre-left movements or parties, represented by Manuel Valls (prime minister under Hollande) or by Nicolas Sarkozy, were more focused on an extending logic of this neo-secularism principle.
This rhetoric, which reached its peak in the 2004 ban on the hijab, had to do with the September 11 attacks in the United States and, before that, the attacks on French soil in 1995 and 1996 that were linked to the Algerian civil war, which Hajjal said changed the public perception of Muslims in France.
The French are being accused of allowing themselves — how dare they? — to be affected by reality. Attacks by Muslims in France in 1995 and 1996, and the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., “changed the public perception of Muslims” in France. How could they not have? Of course the French have been affected in their views of Muslims by those attacks, and also by the nearly 35,000 attacks by Muslim terrorists worldwide since 9/11. Hajjat finds this so unfair; sensible people will beg to differ.
There were also intellectuals who had, since 1989, argued for a ban on the hijab and who are still part of the public scene, he added.
“People like [author] Elisabeth Badinter and [philosopher] Alain Finkielkraut, as well as the late [industrialist] Pierre Berge, took it upon themselves to convince the political elite that there was a Muslim issue in France, and that the only solution was to completely ban the hijab in public schools,” he said. “They completely reduced the headscarf-wearing woman to the piece of fabric on her head.”
Hajjal continues to misstate the 2004 law, which did not “ban the hijab” alone, but applied to all “ostentatious” religious symbols, including the Jewish kippah and large crucifixes (small ones, on chains and hidden from view, were allowed). It was not Badinter and Finkielkraut and Berge who convinced the French elite there was a “Muslim issue in France,” but the behavior of Muslims themselves, whose display of disaffection from the French state, and contempt for the French Unbelievers, remain so disturbing. Nor did Badinter and Finkielkraut and Berge claim that banning the hijab in public places was a “solution”; it addressed only one small part of the Muslim challenge to the secular French state.
However, Hajjal added, Emmanuel Macron, the current president, “adheres to the original version of secularism because he is surrounded by a heterogeneous cabinet from diverse political backgrounds that have truly different ideological visions.”
Lazzouni, the activist, said Islamophobia is still not yet recognised as a crime on the same level that anti-Semitism is.
“Anti-Semitism is fought against with determination by the government, and that’s great,” she said. “We are just demanding that all forms of racism are fought with the same vigour.”
Antisemitism is a real and ancient phenomenon, a pathological condition with deadly consequences; it resulted in the murder of six million innocents not so long ago. “Islamophobia” is a term made up in the last few decades to inhibit, and ideally to shut up, islamocritics, by labelling them as “Islamophobes,” possessing an irrational fear and hatred of Islam and of Muslims. Islamophobia, in turn, is described as a form of “racism,” though no one has been able to explain why a religious faith — an ideology — should be considered a race. And the word itself, which should mean “an irrational fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims,” is routinely applied to all islamocritics, whose fears are not irrational, whose criticisms of Islam are sober, measured, and evidence-based — the evidence being both the observable behavior of Muslims during the past 1,400 years, and the contents of the Qur’an.
Hajjat agrees and says that Islamophobia, as a form of racism, is also considered legitimate rhetoric.
Hajjat can say that, and so can Nadiya Lazzouni, and in Great Britain, Naz Shah, and Baroness Warsi, and in the U.S., the entire membership of CAIR, but it still won’t make it true. For the nth time, let it be repeated: Muslims are not a race, and “Islamophobia” is not “a form of racism.” Write it 100 times on your mental blackboard.
“There’s no social backlash to anyone that holds Islamophobic views,” he said. “This happens because the public squares in which they have a platform to spread their ideas is [sic]run by people who share the same rhetoric.”
Everywhere the word “islamophobic” appears, simply substitute the word “Islamocritical”; for “islamophobe,” substitute “islamocritic,” and for “islamophobia,” substitute “islamocriticism.” Do not be inveigled into accepting, and starting yourself to use, the twisted language of Muslim apologists.
For example, Laurence Rossignol, the former minister for families, children and women, infamously compared women who chose to wear the veil to “negroes who were in favour of slavery.”
Rossignol was describing the phenomenon of Muslim women who accept the symbols of their own subjection, and even defend them, as akin to “negroes who were in favor of slavery.” Was his remark “infamous” because it was false, or because, much more worrisome for Muslims, it was true?
“[With] clear Islamophobic voices rising within the government, [there is an] idea that Islamophobia is an opinion rather than a crime,” Lazzouni argued.
“We need to focus on other fields than the legislative one to fight efficiently anti-Muslim racism,” she said.
In the advanced states of the West, an opinion by itself is never a crime. We do not punish mere opinions. Lazzouni wants to criminalize islamocriticism — which she persists in calling “islamophobia.” She refers to “Islamophobic voices rising within the government,” but does not offer a single name of such a “voice,” or a single example, of what she considers to be their “Islamophobia.”
In the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand, in which at least 50 Muslim worshippers were gunned down by a far-right white supremacist, “columnists, so-called intellectuals and journalists were given a platform to try to explain and therefore legitimise this terrorist act by saying it was an act of revenge [for acts committed by ISIL],” said Lazzouni, explaining that combatting Islamophobia requires more than documenting and giving legal advice.”
I have been unable to find online statements by French intellectuals, columnists, and journalists in which they try in any way to legitimize the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. Perhaps Nadiya Lazzouni would like to offer an example. And when she says, cryptically, that “islamophobia requires more than documenting and giving legal advice,” surely she means this: that French society, working alongside the French state, should silence at its source all “islamophobic” — that is, islamocritical — voices. Not through legislation alone, or even mainly, but through social and economic pressure, Muslims will find the most effective way to silence islamocritics. For example, Muslims and their supporters could engage in protests outside newspaper offices and television studios, in order to demand that “islamophobic” writers and talk-show guests be prevented from having their views disseminated in print or from appearing on television to discuss Islam. No laws are needed for this effective censorship. We already have seen, in this country, that the major social media platforms, without needing any prompting from governments, have made it difficult to access islamocritical sites.
In France, Lazzouni and Hajjat paint a picture of Muslim woe, of a government indifferent or hostile to the needs of its Muslim community. “Islamophobia” is supposedly on the march, and the French don’t care. These Muslim apologists have got it all backwards. In reality, a succession of French governments — from Sarkozy to Hollande to Macron — have not been indifferent at all, but have struggled with the problem of Muslim immigrants failing to integrate into French society, indifferent or hostile to their non-Muslim French hosts, and posing a physical threat to the larger society that has, to its own secret sorrow, taken them in and given them refuge.
Though they claim it is they, the Muslims, who feel threatened today in France, the facts tell us otherwise. It’s not mosques, but churches, that are being vandalized, often with their crucifixes and statues broken, and church floors have been urinated and even defecated on, by Muslims asserting themselves and demonstrating their contempt for Infidels. In 2018, when there was not a single attack on a mosque in France, there were 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols (crucifixes, icons, statues) registered in France. It’s not Muslims who are assaulted on French streets, but non-Muslims, especially Jews, by Muslims. It’s not Muslims who dare not enter certain areas, but non-Muslims who are afraid to enter the No-Go areas that many Muslim neighborhoods across France have become. It is not the so-called threat of “Islamophobia,” but rather, the spread and use of this insidious word — describing a fake condition, a phony worry — in order to shut down “islamocriticism,” that should concern people in France. Well-informed and relentless criticism of Islam is now indispensable for the survival of the West. Islam’s ever-increasing presence in France, as elsewhere in Europe, the result of large-scale migration, conversions to Islam, (especially among prisoners), and sky-high fertility rates, has become a tremendous problem.
There is no simple solution to this problem. Is there a hard one?
Posted on 06/26/2019 3:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 25 June 2019
Hezbollah Raises $173 and “Delivers a Painful Blow for the Zionist Entity”
by Hugh Fitzgerald
In Yemen, for the second year, the radio station SAM FM (a Houthi-owned station) conducted a fundraising campaign for the Houthi rebels during Ramadan. MEMRI.org has a lengthy account of that fundraising here.
During the campaign, the station devotes a daily program to fundraising, which according to the pro-Houthi Yemeni press, is very popular and has even scored top ratings. The campaign is also widely advertised by the station, on its two Telegram channels, each of which has over 2,000 members (the station’s Facebook page has been shut down). It is also advertised on billboards in the Houthi-held areas, and the station has circulated a telephone and Whatsapp number (770991991) for the campaign.
Donations can be made to a Postal Bank account no. 555555, and can apparently also be handed to activists who collect them on the streets. In addition to cash, gold, and even vehicles have been donated for the benefit of the Houthi fighters as well. According to the Houthi rebels’ news agency, last year’s campaign and this year’s together have yielded a total of over 200 million Yemeni rials (about $800,000), about 30,300,000 ($120,000) of which was collected during the first 10 days of this year’s campaign, which focused on supporting the Houthi military industry, missile units, drones, air defense forces, naval forces, and coast guard. To demonstrate that the donations have indeed been deposited in the campaign account, the station director, Hamoud Muhammad Sharaf, posted a photo of the deposit receipt on his Facebook page.
On the 19th day of Ramadan SAM FM launched another fundraising campaign, dedicated to Hezbollah. Station director Sharaf said that devoting part of the fundraising to Hezbullah would be “a surprise and a painful blow for the Zionist entity, enemy of the Arab and Muslim nation… [and would] have an immense impact in terms of strengthening the resistance axis.” He assessed that the response would be extensive, saying: “We have great faith in the Yemeni people’s sense of responsibility towards the issues of the [Islamic] nation... and in its belief in the principle of being loyal towards those who showed it loyalty amid the oppressive aggression and the criminal siege we have been facing for the past four years… The Yemeni people will never disappoint the leader of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah. This is in accordance with the statements of the commander of the [Houthi] revolution, [‘Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi], who declared [on July 7, 2017] that ‘we are loyal’ and expressed the willingness of the Yemeni people to dispatch troops to [participate in] any future military confrontation [waged by] Hizbullah in Lebanon or in Palestine with the Israeli enemy.” Sharaf confirmed the reports about the economic crisis Hezbollah is suffering due to the U.S. sanctions on it and on its sponsor Iran, saying that the organization is in financial “distress” because it is being punished for supporting the Palestinian cause and the Yemeni people.
According to the anti-Houthi Yemeni website Yemen60.com, the station presenters exhort the audience to support “the leaders of jihad in the world [and] the world’s purest people, Hizbullah,” by asking: “Are you a Yemeni? Are you among the loyal? If you are, be part of attaining the victory. In the spirit of the jihad fighter Hassan Nasrallah and based on the principle that loyalty deserves loyalty, we call upon all the Yemeni people to take a large and active part in the popular donation campaign [for Hezbollah].” The station also took advantage of International Qods Day, which is marked by the supporters of Iran’s Islamic Revolution on the last Friday of Ramadan, to promote the campaign.
It seems that, contrary to the organizer’s expectations, the response to it was sparse. A week after the start of the campaign for Hezbollah, the station posted on its Telegram channel a receipt for 43,300 rials (about $173) that had been deposited in the postal bank account. The small yield apparently motivated the station to extend the campaign, which was supposed to end on the last day of Ramadan, until June 30, “in response to popular demand.”
173 dollars! How many weapons will that ludicrous sum buy the Hezbollah fighters? One rifle? One pistol? How much fear will that amount of fundraising instill in the “Zionist entity”? The campaign has been extended, to run beyond the 19th day of Ramadan to the end of June, because of “popular demand.” So the fundraising campaign for Hezbollah began on May 24, and now runs until June 30 — a total of five weeks. Let’s suppose $173 is raised in each of those five weeks, which would bring the total raised among the Houthis for Hezbollah to $865, not enough to pay for even one rifle. The IDF is unlikely to lose much sleep over that.
Hezbollah must now be frantic. Such a comical result of the fundraising on its behalf in Yemen makes clear that the terrorist organization is now very much on its own. Its main financial backer, Iran, is itself reeling financially from the re-imposition of American sanctions, and has since the beginning of 2019 drastically cut back on funds for Hezbollah. Its fighters have seen their salaries cut, first by a third, and now in half, with more cuts undoubtedly to come. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has been reduced to having its members manning donation buckets on street corners. In Europe, as Hezbollah’s military wing has now been banned everywhere, it is unable to conduct a fundraising campaign to support Hezbollah fighters and pay for weapons. And in Yemen, as we have just seen, where the Houthis are always preaching Shi’a solidarity, the fundraising for Hezbollah on the Houthi radio station, and on billboards, amounted in its first week to a flabbergasting $173.
Hezbollah’s remaining sources of income are drug trafficking and money laundering. Hezbollah has long been involved in the heroin trade in Asia’s Golden Triangle, but now it is even more extensively involved in the cocaine trade, receiving drugs from South American suppliers, chiefly in Colombia (the Colombian-Lebanese drug lord, Ayman Jourmaa, has been linked both to Hezbollah and to the Mexican drug gang Los Zetas), and delivering them to American and European distributors. Hezbollah has also been involved in smuggling Lebanese, not necessarily Hezbollah members or even Shia, for money, into the United States. It has been able to smuggle its own operatives into the U.S., by obtaining from the Maduro government false papers showing them to be Venezuelan citizens. Once in the U.S., among their other tasks, these operatives raise money among wealthy Shi’a that is then transferred back to Hezbollah in Lebanon,.
A key figure in the false-papers effort, as well as in Hezbollah’s cocaine trafficking and money laundering, is one of Maduro’s closest confidants, Venezuelan Industry Minister Tareck El Aissami. He has been investigated for his alleged ties to the country’s criminal underworld and to Hezbollah, which years ago expanded its presence beyond the Triple Frontier area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to include operations within Venezuela.
Leaked documents from the American government say that El Aissami and his family helped move Hezbollah operatives into Venezuela, worked with a drug lord, and shielded 140 tons of chemicals believed to be used for cocaine production from authorities.
Testimony of informants in files provided to the New York Times by one of Venezuela’s most senior intelligence officials claimed that El Aissami and his father recruited Hezbollah members to expand spy and drug trafficking networks in the region. If Maduro is overthrown, El Aissami will have to face trial for aiding drug traffickers and internationally-recognized terrorists. Most likely he will flee the country, and return to Lebanon, with whatever loot he can manage to seize from Venezuelan government coffers.
Hezbollah does not smuggle only hard drugs, heroin and cocaine; it has also been the main producer of hashish in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, which is exported to Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. As a profitable sideline, it runs one of the largest cigarette smuggling operations in the Western Hemisphere.
If the Maduro government is finally overturned, and is replaced by a constitutional democracy headed by Juan Guaido — who has expressed support for Israel and a desire to shut down Hezbollah’s Venezuelan connection — he will promptly end the false-papers program, and also be able to identify for American authorities those Hezbollah members, now in the U.S., who had been provided by Maduro’s people with Venezuelan passports, birth certificates, and other false papers. The roundup of such operatives will shut off one more source of Hezbollah funds, the money raised by the “Venezuelans” from wealthy Shi’a in the U.S. Hezbollah has bet the farm on Maduro (given their longstanding ties, they could hardly abandon him now), coming out — like so many of the Arabs — in full support of his ruthless dictatorship. If he falls, and Guaido shuts down Hezbollah’s drug smuggling, money laundering, and false-papers production in Venezuela, it will be a great loss to the group.
But let’s look on the bright side. In Yemen, the loyal Houthis answered the call to support their Hezbollah brothers, and provided them — in only their first week of fundraising! — with a grand total of $173. I am sure that Hassan Nasrallah was deeply impressed. I know I was.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 06/25/2019 4:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 24 June 2019
Brexit Party chiefs announce they will legally challenge Peterborough by-election result
From the Express
BREXIT Party bosses are to legally challenge the Peterborough by-election result, it has been announced. In a press coference this morning, party chairman Richard Tice said he had evidence a "convicted fraudster" was working as an agent for the Labour Party. Labour's Lisa Forbes beat Brexit Party's Mike Greene by 683 votes. Police have been investigating three fraud claims.
Cambridgeshire Police have responded to one allegation saying no offence took place but two other allegations remain under investgation. They started off saying they were investigating five out of the many complaints reported to police as potential frauds. Within 24 hours (barely long enough to take a statement, let alone have the evidence assessed and referred to the CPS) they had declared that there was nothing amiss with the three complaints that alleged postal vote fraud.
Cambridgeshire Police continue to investigate two allegations - one of a breach of the privacy of the vote and one of the burning of ballots. But the force has announced that no offences were found over allegations of bribery relating to postal votes.
The Brexit Party will lodge a petition under the Representation of the People Act 1983 this week.
This morning Nigel Farage urged for an end to the postal votes system in its current form, as party chairman Mr Tice said there had been numerous "rumours" including of "vote-rigging".
Mr Farage said that the postal voting system introduced in 2001 was “wide open to corruption, to intimidation, to bribery, to abuse on a whole number of levels”. He continued: “If you say it’s sour grapes, you can say it, but actually it is time for change and my ambition would be that by the next general election to get rid of the current postal vote system.”
Wheelchair users and overseas service personnel are among those Mr Farage suggested should keep the postal vote.
In a presentation to a London press conference on Monday, Mr Tice said there was evidence that Tariq Mahmood had acted as an agent for the Labour Party. Mr Tice asked: "How much did Lisa Forbes, the elected MP, know that she had a convicted electoral fraudster in her team who would count as an agent?" Tariq Mahmood was jailed for fraud in 2008 and was pictured with Ms Forbes and Jeremy Corbyn.
Bookies' had the party as clear favourites to win before the vote, with the odds slashed in Labour's favour just minutes before the votes were declared. The Bookies are not often wrong; however recently they were wrong about the Peterborough result and Tommy Robinson's chances as MEP in the North West .
From the Peterborough Telegraph
Concerns have been raised by the high levels of attempted ‘family voting’ which were observed at the recent Peterborough by-election.
A new report released by election observation group Democracy Volunteers said it had witnessed two voters heading into the same polling booth together at 11 of the 23 poling stations it had observed on June 6. However, today’s full report praises polling staff and police for intervening, while the city council is commended for the “excellently conducted election by the officials”. I have never doubted the honesty of the junior officials who man the polling stations. It is frequently a casual job done by retired Civil Servants (although I never fancied it myself) who are old-school and over whom the authorities don't have the leverage of promotion or job security. But the modern salaried diverse careerist - that's a different beast.
Although the council was largely praised for its running of the voting process, concerns were raised, notably due to three occasions where voters were seen photographing their ballot papers. Moreover, Democracy Volunteers said on two occasions observers “identified literature within the polling station which was biased towards one candidate”, while on other occasions party officials and tellers were seen given assistance to voters.
Posted on 06/24/2019 4:16 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 24 June 2019
MBR Review of Hamlet Made Simple
James A. Cox writes in the Midwest Book Review's Literary Studies Shelf:
Synopsis: "Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays" by David P. Gontar (Adjunct Professor of English and Philosophy at Inner Mongolia University in China) presents the most compelling and original reading of Hamlet since A.C. Bradley. Professor Gontar dispenses once and for all with the psychoanalytic interpretation of the play; explains the actual meaning of the Oedipus myth; provides the "smoking gun" which establishes Shakespeare's true identity; explodes the fable of Shakespeare's appearance; and in the process of correcting misreadings of Shakespeare's poetry and drama offers vital insights and indispensable guidance on how this challenging writer can be fairly and productively approached today.
Critique: Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays is a welcome work of scholarship offering a fresh perspective of Shakespeare's classic plays for the twenty-first century. The essays scrutinize not only "Hamlet", but also "King Lear", "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar", and Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies as a whole. Individual writings include "Crown of Horns: Male Self- Betrayal in Shakespeare", "An Islamic Reading of King Henry IV", "Speeches of Love in Shakespeare", and much more. Inspiring, thoughtful, and daring to break new ground, Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays is a choice pick for public and college library Literary Studies collections, along with author David Gontar's "Unreading Shakespeare" (9781943003006, $34.95). It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).
Posted on 06/24/2019 6:06 AM by New English Review Press