Right now, most white people are afraid to talk publicly about race and racism, especially about anti-black racism. “Progressive” white people are either silent—or they monitor other white people’s speech about race. Everyone is very nervous. If a white person says the wrong thing, or says something true but it offends someone, they will be shouted down, shamed, shut up, shut out. Politically incorrect speech is a Thought Crime—and there will be consequences.
Although slavery reeks to highest heaven, and discussing it is painful, really torturous, I hate to be silenced and I hate to self-censor and so I’d been hoping to have The Conversation with an African-American woman whom I’ve known since we were both 18. I had wanted to say: “As a Jew, the Black Lives Matter anti-Israel rhetoric is offending, enraging, and scaring me to death. How are all the protests and proclamations, the riots and the rhetoric, making you feel? Safer? More powerful? More hopeful?”
I tried to meet my friend in person but for one reason or another, we could not do so. We email-talked about Juneteenth. She found it ridiculous that so many people were jubilant about celebrating a holiday based on telling black slaves in Texas that they should have been freed two years earlier.
“Why not celebrate the date the Emancipation Proclamation was signed?” she asked.
We emailed back and forth about the horrors of black slaves and white owners in America. I sighed and sighed and then I wrote: “The matter is even more complicated. We know that Black Africans enslaved other black Africans…” And she said: “Oh, but they were much kinder to them than white people ever were, they allowed them to marry, they gave them a day off every week…”
Her response was something like: “Well, there’s all sorts of misinformation floating around out there.”
Our brief exchange was done. The Conversation was over. It had never taken place.
I had wanted to ask my friend this: Why are some very accomplished African-American women and men, and some people of color in general, so angry with Israel? Of all the challenges directly confronting people of color right here in America— why scapegoat Israel, half of whose inhabitants are Jews of color?
I am thinking of the Squad in DC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. Just today, Representative Ilhan Omar said that she did “not regret her tweet earlier this month in which she lumped Israel, the U.S., Hamas, and the Taliban together.” Omar said that her fellow Democrats, “particularly Jews,” are not “equal partners in justice,” implying that they do not have her credentials as a Somali, Muslim, olive-skinned woman.
Her sister Squad members do not conduct themselves like victims or like male-controlled robots. They are in this for themselves and on their own. They are loud, they are proud, they are righteously angry, they are smart, they have power—and they obviously believe that defaming and destroying Israel via propaganda will get them re-elected to ever-higher office.
But, I am also thinking about the hostility, the bristling anger, that some African-American women have expressed towards white women—especially towards “guilty” white feminist women who have invited them to join a group, a panel, a meeting—events which have often devolved into punishment and abasement sessions for the white girls.
Here’s one example of the kind of up close and personal hostility that I’m talking about. Economist Julianne Malveaux, is the newly appointed head of a new College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State, LA. One wonders if she will break new ground by including Jew-hatred in her ethnic studies curriculum? Will she also include Islamic hatred towards Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists? Mainly, I’m wondering whether Malveaux has softened in the last quarter-century, or has her former, unbridled hostility towards white women, towards white people in general, been further unleashed?
Malveaux, is an economist, columnist, entrepreneur, college president, and talk show. In 1996, Malveaux engaged in a dialogue with Tammy Bruce, the then-President of Los Angeles NOW, and also a talk show host. Their exchange appeared on the cover of On The Issues magazine. At the time, I served as their Editor-at-Large. I just asked the publisher, my close friend Merle Hoffman, for a copy of this dialogue. I was astounded, ashamed, embarrassed by it. But this was Malveaux, long before BLM came to town.
In their dialogue, Malveaux disagreed with Bruce immediately. She refused to find common ground with a white woman.
When Bruce said that she tried to call on women first on her call-in show, Malveux said “It’s not enough to simply hear women’s voices….if the voices are not “black, you don’t change the conversation…what does Clarence Thomas bring to the Supreme Court?” As for Sandra Day O’Connor, Malveaux said: “That white woman (aka the first woman on the Supreme Court), doesn’t get race. She doesn’t get gender all the way either.”
When Bruce insisted on the importance of hearing all womens’s voices and praised Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Malveaux, somewhat sarcastically, riffing on Sojourner Truth, asked her: “But hey, ain’t I a woman”? Bruce, quick on the draw, responded, “And ain’t (O’Connor) a woman?” Malveux: “She is an upper class, Republican, white woman…”.
Is this, in and of itself, a cardinal crime?
Malveaux’s did not mention rape, sexual harassment, or male-on-female domestic violence nor did she mention trafficking or prostitution. In fact, she mocked Bruce when Bruce pointed out that both Republican and Democrat women politicians came together to protest the Tailhook harassment scandal. Malveaux said outright: “Sexual harassment is not my number one issue.”
Here’s what was. “Many times, if I’m faced with a white woman candidate and an African American man, I go with the African American man because I really do not see many white women being sensitive as they need to be about race issues, especially in politics.” Even if both candidates are “liberal,” she would vote for the African American man because “they are underrepresented in politics.”
Malveaux accused Bruce of interrupting her and said: “I’m frustrated (by) your inability to listen. This isn’t worth being angry about. You’re not that important.” When Bruce objected to being insulted, Malveaux responded: “If you feel demeaned, that seems to be your problem.”
Malveax attacked Bruce for “going after O.J. Simpson. He is not the only rich man who batters.” Because the 95% of other batterers whom Bruce exposed did not get the same enormous media coverage, Malveaux was using this to batter Bruce as a racist—and as an opportunist, who was using Simpson as her “ticket to ride.”
Let me stop here. I have resurrected this dialogue because Malveaux is the woman who has just been chosen to lead the new Ethnic Studies Program in Los Angeles at U Cal.
What’s going on?
California is going on. It’s something in the air, and on the streets, an indoctrination into “radical” ideas that has been brewing there for a long time. Who’s been influencing the generations in San Francisco and Los Angeles?
Hatem Bazian at Berkeley and his crackpot but well-funded ideas about the clear and present danger of alleged “Islamophobia” and his obsession with “Palestine” have finally had their way with politically correct educated folk on the West Coast.
Academics Daniel Boyarin and Judith Butler, also at Berkeley, and both Jewish post modern “stars,” have for years, provided the necessary Jews-for-Palestine cover for Bazian’s genocidal intentionality toward the Jewish state.
Racism in America is real. Health care housing, educational opportunities, and job disparities, as a function of race are real issues in our country—but so is black on black violence, black on Asian and black on Jewish violence. Guns, drugs, trafficking, and domestic violence in every community, including in racially marginalized communities, are real problems. Whether police really do target black men more than those of any of color and/or whether those targeted and glorified in the headlines are—or are not—criminals is now being hotly debated. Whether racism is or is not “structural” in America and whether all white folk are “racists” is also being contested.
But why bring the Jews into it—why bring Israel into all this? We are witnessing the diabolical linking of “black and brown bodies” (that’s the choice, academic phrase) to “Palestinians”—as if the Arabs in Gaza and in Yehudah and Shomron are really African-Americans; as if the IDF, the most ethical army in the world, is somehow equivalent to the most prejudiced and most violent of American police officers. Given the propaganda and the vast sums spent on indoctrination, George Floyd has become a Palestinian.
There is no end to this false equivalency, this scapegoating of Jewish Israel for the historical crime of slavery and for continued racism in the United States. Matti Friedman has penned an excellent piece about this. He writes:
“While following the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, which to me seemed just and necessary, I saw a sign that read FROM FERGUSON TO PALESTINE. This was puzzling…If activists were seeking foreign inspiration for a domestic movement, they had hundreds of ongoing ethnic conflicts to choose from… For these Americans, distant Jews have become an embodiment of the American evil, racial oppression. People have always projected fantasies onto other places and groups, but this particular type of projection, in which Jews are displayed as the prime symbol of whatever’s wrong, has a long history. When it surfaces, it usually heralds an impatience with logical analysis and normal politics, and a move toward magical thinking.”
It also leads to individual physical attacks on individual, visibly Jewish Jews; to attacks on kosher supermarkets, synagogues, and cemeteries; and to pogroms and genocide.
Just as the Intifada, Hamas-style, has invaded campuses in California and activist uprisings everywhere, so too: California is the template for what is surely coming our way.
Podcast: Anti-PC Professor Michael Rectenwald on the New Woke Totalitarianism
The Anti-PC Professor, Michael Rectenwald, comes to The P.A.S. Report Podcast to discuss the new woke totalitarianism engulfing our society. Dr. Rectenwald was one of the first to do battle with the woke mobs, and he is on the front lines. We discuss how wokism has infected nearly every government institution, corporations, as well as other aspects of life, and the unholy alliance that has formed. However, the woke mobs may have overplayed their hands, and it seems as Americans have had enough and the pushback is building.
A Tsunami of Crises About to Swamp Biden Administration
by Conrad Black
The Biden–Harris administration is now in an extended levitation of credibility. Except for Donald Trump, who entered office in the midst of a public relations terror campaign against him and had no trace of a political honeymoon, all incoming presidents arrive with a favoring wind of bipartisan goodwill behind them.
Especially as President Joe Biden came into office promising a quieter and more genteel atmosphere and has largely done that, it isn’t surprising that his general popularity has been sustained at somewhat above 50 percent these first five months. But for a long time, the Democrats haven’t had any war cry except “We’re not Trump” and “That is racism.”
In service to that credo, from Inauguration Day, they have taken the position that they would do the reverse of anything Trump did: outright reaction unsupported by any analysis. Nothing else is conceivable as an explanation for their southern border policy.
As Vice President Kamala Harris checked the box by going to El Paso, Texas, 800 miles away from the more agitated areas of illegal southern entry last week, she repeated the mantra that this administration inherited a mess. The polls are unanimous in indicating that the public realizes they didn’t inherit a mess; they inherited the almost complete end of illegal immigration and they squandered it instantly and jubilantly by effectively inviting the world to enter, while having the hapless Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas repeat like a Disney World self-propelled puppet “The border is closed.”
Television viewers can switch channels from that almost daily pronunciamento to see illegal immigrants swarming across by land and through water. Illegal immigration is now running at the rate of 2 million a year, which is an unsustainable level of entry of almost entirely unskilled people who will severely strain the social, educational, and public security services of the southern border states.
It’s a crisis closing in upon a disaster, and the public can already see it approaching. All that can be said for the vice president’s visit to El Paso, where she was welcomed by the gushy local Democratic congresswoman to the “21st Century Ellis Island,” (where people arrived legally and some were rejected), is that it was nothing like as great a fiasco as her visit to Mexico and Guatemala three weeks ago.
There, she conspicuously failed to excite the enthusiasm of the American public to deluge more billions of dollars into those improvident areas in order to tackle “the sources of the problem”—the ancient liberal death wish of turning America’s pockets inside out to fight poverty in poor foreign countries by enriching their avaricious politicians.
The tsunami of crises about to break over this administration doesn’t stop at the southern border. It’s no longer possible to disguise that inflation is stoking up. Awareness of this has been clouded and deferred because the composition of the index doesn’t necessarily reflect the needs of average families.
If the figures are broken out and averaged in traditional ways, the current rate of inflation appears to be something like 8 or 9 percent and it will continue to remain high while the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, which was solely responsible for the so-called Biden-Sanders Unity Program, is sticking to its guns.
It demands and may force trillions more dollars to be thrown out of the windows of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve in an instant and artificial expansion of the money supply. The president’s latest wheeze for trying to satisfy Sanders while making a gesture to advocates of sane fiscal policy was his professed agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which almost everyone agrees is needed and is a good thing, followed a couple of hours later by the assertion that it wouldn’t be approved if not accompanied by a much larger “virtual infrastructure” measure.
The Republicans who had agreed the bipartisan measure rose in revolt and the president, as is his custom, (and as is made plausible by his frequently turgid inarticulation), announced that he had been misunderstood. For the first time, he’s under some pressure to work himself out of one of the jams that he has blundered into, instead of just shrugging it off and relying on the docile media to ignore it.
If he retains any of his old Senate bargaining skills, he may be able to come through it with his credibility intact. But he is trying to govern from a high wire, a very hazardous procedure for so unsteady a leader.
Even more urgent than the surging immigration and imminent inflation crises is the entirely predictable and much-predicted crime wave. Violent crime is up everywhere and especially in Democratic-governed cities that cravenly bowed to the outrageous demands in the “peaceful protests” of last summer that injured 2000 police personnel, killed approximately 50 people, and caused more than $2 billion of property damage.
The rioters, almost none of whom would have been Republican voters, demanded that the police be defunded and “reimagined” and this was done in many cities, generating violent crime increases of from 25 to 150 percent.
All Biden’s nonsense about shooting to hit people in the leg and enlisting social workers and psychologists to go out on 911 calls is vanishing in the vast cauldron of skyrocketing violent crime. Many formerly feasible neighborhoods are terrorized by gangs and conditions are undoubtedly aggravated by sluggish work from police forces that are tired of being the scapegoats for racist urban terrorists. The ranks of American urban police are thinning rapidly as the people in blue can easily find less hazardous and more highly appreciated work.
The president’s address on crime on June 23 took refuge in the usual Democratic arguments about gun control. No doubt the gun laws can be better enforced, but the counter-argument is that in such lawless conditions, the existence of firearms in most American homes is a factor of deterrence of crime and not an incitement to it.
Chicago has tough gun laws but its worst areas are shooting galleries where the arrest rates are so low that it is obvious that the police are either compromised by their association with violent gangs or confining themselves to the perimeters of the most crime-ridden areas and have abandoned the core of those areas to the Darwinian masters of them (and these desperate conditions are certainly not confined to Chicago).
The president was correct in his plan to give greater assistance to criminals returning to civilian life and to prison reform in general, but that will work better with nonviolent people who are generally chronically over-sentenced, and who are much less likely to be repeat offenders than their violence-prone fellow inmates.
This is a problem that disconcerts and frightens scores of millions of Americans. When the administration comes to its collective senses, it can go back to the Trump methods of protecting the southern border while giving their policy a name that connotes reform.
Biden can also stop being intimidated by Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and be assured of a large number of the reasonable majority with any serious gesture of fiscal restraint, at least up until the midterm elections. It might not be too late to damp down the psychology of inflation.
But there is no quick fix to violent crime. It will soon be impossible to hide from the necessity to intervene directly to finance the recruitment and proper training of at least 100,000 more police personnel.
The methods for reducing violent urban crime in the United States are now well-known and were demonstrated by the mayoral regime of Rudolph Giuliani in New York (1993–2001), and there is no alternative but to return to them and the federal government can incentivize that.
The embarrassment to the Democrats in such a course will be as nothing to the embarrassment they will receive at the polls next year if they don’t take serious anti-crime measures.
The Funeral of Nizar Banat: ‘Out, Out, Out, Get the Dogs of the PA Out’
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Nizar Banat was one of the fiercest critics of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President-For-Life who is now in the sixteenth year of his four-year term. Banat had for several years railed against the corruption and nepotism in the PA; he was keenly aware that Abbas had managed to amass a $400 million fortune from the aid money that foreign donors intended to be spent on ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Banat knew, too, that Abbas kept himself in power by rewarding his cronies with well-paid government jobs for themselves and their relatives. He knew that Abbas had built himself a $13 million palace in Ramallah, where he kept a $50 million plane, for his private use, out back.
Nizar Banat was having an effect, with his biting criticism of Abbas and his cronies on social media that attracted an ever larger following among the Palestinian public. Banat became especially vitriolic after Abbas announced earlier this year that both Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections would be held later in the year. Banat promptly announced his own candidacy for Parliament, only to see his hopes dashed when Abbas, having come to the realization that whether his opponent was Mohammad Dahlan, or Marwan Barghouti, or Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas, he – Mahmoud Abbas – was certain to lose badly, announced that the elections would not be held after all. Abbas gave as his flimsy excuse the fact that Israel would not allow “Palestinians in east Jerusalem to vote.” This was false. The Israelis had no objection to Palestinians – i.e., non-citizens of Israel – living in east Jerusalem, from taking part in the PA elections, provided they voted physically just outside the city limits of Jerusalem. It didn’t matter; Abbas was not going to hold the elections under any circumstances; he’s 85 and intends to remain in office to provide more millions for his extended family. After all, by the time of his own death, his mentor Arafat had stolen about $2 billion in Palestinian aid money; two Hamas leaders, Khaled Meshaal and Mousa Abu Marzouk, have acquired at least $2.5 billion apiece in similar fashion; it would not be fair for Abbas to be forced into retirement until he can increase his own take by a few hundred million more.
Last year, Nizar Banat was kept for a few days in a Palestinian prison. This was a warning that he should stop his public criticism. He ignored the warning, and continued to post his anti-Abbas videos. Then an unidentified gunman shot into his house. Another warning, also ignored. Banat continued with his campaign against Abbas on social media. More threats arrived; Banat went into hiding. To no avail: 20 PA goons found him, arrived at his hiding place in the middle of the night, beat him repeatedly with metal rods, and dragged him away. He may by that time have already been dead, or he may have died soon after from the beating. In any case, Mahmoud Abbas had finally rid himself of his most prominent and articulate critic.
The funeral for Nizar Banat was held in Hebron, his home city. Thousands turned out, to mourn and to shout for the removal of Mahmoud Abbas. That story is here: “‘Get out Abbas’: Thousands protest at funeral of activist who died in PA custody,” by Aaron Boxerman, Times of Israel, June 25, 2021:
Thousands marched through the streets of Hebron on Friday [June 25] at the funeral of a Palestinian Authority critic who died in PA custody, with many calling for the end of President Mahmoud Abbas’s 16-year rule.
Nizar Banat, a prominent critic of the PA known for his biting videos on social media, died on Thursday after being arrested by officers in the Palestinian security services.
According to Banat’s family members, they witnessed him being viciously beaten for eight minutes straight before officers dragged him off.
“Get out, get out, Abbas. This is the vote of all the people,” protesters chanted. Green flags emblazoned with white Arabic calligraphy, often associated with the Hamas terror group, dotted the procession.
Public opinion polls taken months before had already shown how unpopular Abbas had become. The polls revealed that he would not get even 40% of the vote, no matter who ran against him. And since that poll was taken, he has sunk even lower in the public’s esteem. Hamas went up in popularity for “standing up” to the IDF in Gaza; Abbas neither said nor did anything during that 11-day conflict; this failure to in some way take part in the conflict, even if only to express solidarity with Hamas, did not go unnoticed.
Invoking one of the best-known slogans of the 2011 Arab revolutions, demonstrators called out: “The people want to topple the regime!”
“Out, out, out, get the dogs of the PA out,” others said.
In Hebron, in the middle of the PA-ruled part of the West Bank, emboldened by grief and fury, thousands of mourners protested against Banat’s killer, the deceptively avuncular, no-one-here-but-us-accountants Mahmoud Abbas who had sent his security service goons to rid him of Nizar Banat.
A crowd of Palestinians — appearing to number in the dozens — also gathered following Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to chant anti-Abbas and pro-Hamas slogans. The site is the third holiest in Islam and it lies on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.
“The Palestinian Authority are [Israeli] spies, from the lowest soldier to the president,” the crowd called.
Of course the PA must be “Israeli spies.” For Palestinians, one’s worst enemy must always be accused of being in the service of the Israelis. No evidence is needed for this; it’s a truth that is always and everywhere self-evident.
Another few dozen Palestinians gathered at al-Manara Square in downtown Ramallah to condemn the PA for Banat’s death.
Even in the middle of Ramallah, the center of Mahmoud Abbas’ fiefdom, with PA police and other security personnel much in evidence, hundreds of Palestinians dared to protest and hurl insults at Abbas. Fury had drained the fear from them. The PA police had to wield their batons and throw tear gas canisters, in order to hold them in check, lest the ranks of the protesters were to swell and break through the police lines, in order to march on Abbas’ official headquarters, the Muqata’a, or to surround his palatial home in order to yell curses at Abbas and his family inside..
Banat, 44, had a Facebook page in which he uploaded videos critical of the Palestinian Authority. He frequently assailed senior officials in Ramallah for alleged corruption and their commitment to security cooperation with Israel.
The corruption isn’t “alleged.” Abbas has his $400 million nest egg. Others, like Hanan Ashrawi and the late Saeb Erekat, have accumulated fortunes in the low millions. As for that security cooperation with Israel that the PA is obligated under the Oslo Accords to provide, without that contractual assurance Israel would not have pulled out of Area A entirely, nor – in domestic matters – from Area B. Besides, the PA needs Israeli help in keeping the terror group Hamas from challenging its power; the security cooperation benefits the PA at least as much as it does Israel.
…On Thursday morning, members of the PA security services raided the house where he was staying. According to his family, the officers stripped Banat, sprayed pepper gas in his eyes, before “viciously beating him” and dragging him away. Two hours later, his family learned that Banat was dead.
Whether Banat died then and there, at the house he had been hiding in, or an hour later, in a van or at the headquarters of the security services, hardly matters. What matters is that he was beaten to death with iron bars by men acting on the orders of Mahmoud Abbas. This is what all the Palestinians know. After this murder, Abbas’ support must now have decreased to – what? 20%? 10%? The loyalists whom he has rewarded with government jobs for both them and their extended families will stick by him; they have nowhere else to go. But why would anyone else want to continue to support Mahmoud Abbas, who has now provided the evidence that shows that he is not only a crook, but a murderer as well?
The PA has said it will conduct a full investigation with representatives from the family and human rights groups.
The PA “will conduct a full investigation” of the death of Nizam Banat? When pigs fly.
…While many Palestinian television channels and news sites live-streamed the funeral from the mosque in southern Hebron, the official PA-run Palestine TV instead showed clips from clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators near Beita in the northern West Bank.
As far as the PA-run channel went, there was no funeral; the only thing worth showing were the usual clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators in some tiny town in the West Bank. The funeral of Nizar Banat, ignored by the government-run Palestine TV, was livestreamed by almost every other channel. This has become another source of popular anger; Banat’s memory was being “disrespected” by the PA’s official media.
…“We have serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organizations,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
The European Union, the Palestinian Authority’s largest financial backer, said it was “shocked and saddened” by Banat’s death. On Tuesday, the EU backed a $425 million aid package to the Palestinian private sector, at least $200 million of which would be channeled through PA institutions.
Might the EU have been sufficiently “shocked and saddened” to change its mind about channeling money through the PA? Why can’t funds be given to the “private sector” without any middleman, especially a middleman with such notoriously sticky fingers as Mahmoud Abbas?
“Our thoughts go to his family and loved ones. [A] full, independent, and transparent investigation should be conducted immediately,” the EU said in a statement.
The West Bank has seen an uptick in the arrests of activists opposed to the Palestinian Authority since the recent 11-day battle between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The fighting saw the widely disliked PA leadership in Ramallah lose still more support, as its Hamas rivals rose in popularity.
Two things have happened that have made the Palestinians even more infuriated than usual with Abbas and his cronies. First, there was his cancellation of the elections, depriving so many of hope who had allowed themselves to believe that they would be able to rid themselves of the corrupt regime through peaceful means. Second, there was the 11-day Gaza war, in which Hamas fought alone against the IDF, while the PA was missing in action.
The Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, condemned Banat’s death as an “assassination.”
“This premeditated crime reflects the intentions and behavior of the Abbas Authority and his security services toward our people, opposition activists and his political opponents,” said Hamas, which has been at odds with Abbas’s Fatah movement since a 2007 civil war between the two sides for control of Gaza.
Exiled Abbas rival Mohammad Dahlan called for “a wide popular and legal response to hold the killers accountable.”
“There are no words to describe the killing of the prominent national activist, the martyr, Nizar Banat,” tweeted Dahlan, who leads a Fatah breakaway faction known as the Democratic Reform Current.
Is the murder of Nizar Banat the final outrage by Abbas? Will the protests dwindle, in Hebron, Jerusalem, and Ramallah, or will the Palestinian street keep up its protests in its homegrown version of the Arab spring, and finally bring down the ruler against whom this week they have been shouting “Out, out, out, get the dogs of the PA out.”
Batley by-election. Labour candidate's links to extremist charity. Labour remain under attack by Muslim groups.
The Batley by-election is less than 48 hours away. All sorts of things have been happening.
This is from the Guido Fawkes website, Order-Order. It follows on from the Kirklees branch of the National Education Union subsidising the Islamic charity Purpose of Life while three of their members at the Batley Grammar school were under an attack instigated by that group, under suspension and in the case of the leading teacher he remains in fear of his life. To recap for non UK readers the Labour party candidate is Kim Leadbeater. She is the sister of a previous MP, Jo Cox, who was murdered 5 years ago during the Brexit campign. The murderer was a white man, Thomas Mair who shouted Britain first as he stabbed. This has been taken to mean that Jo Cox should put her country and/or countrymen (and women) foremost (and not her favoured interests of the EU, plus Syria, Palestine and Pakistan) rather than Mair expressing allegiance to the party Britain First. While the constituency was rightly appalled at the murder (it isn't the way we do things) and no ill is now spoken of the dead, at the time Danny Lockwood had to hastily rearrange the letters page of the local newspaper as so many angry letters criticising Mrs Cox for her support of the EU etc seemed disrespectful to the deceased. The by-election after Mrs Cox's death returned another Labour candidate, who has since had to stand down as she has moved on to a bigger and better sinecure. The Labour party overturned the normal rules to put up Miss Leadbeater as candidate. She was not actually a member of the Labour party, but joined within days of being selected.
The NEU gave £3000 to the charity in March and the donation came to light in April.
According to Guido
Despite this scandal, the Jo Cox foundation (which Sister Kim runs) still found it appropriate to donate £1000 to Purpose of Life – a month later:
Here’s the kicker: Kim Leadbeater, who if elected MP on Thursday would represent the under-siege teacher, was an ambassador at the Jo Cox Foundation when the donation was made – and wouldn’t go on to step down from the role under her candidate selection on May 13th. Back in 2019, the Jo Cox Foundation got all the constituency’s candidates to sign a pledge for a “respectful election“. Guido’s surprised to see they haven’t asked their former ambassador – and the others – to make the same pledge this time around…
Meanwhile the Labour candidate has made the Muslim community all sorts of promises to continue support of the Palestinian matter, and Kashmir. But this does not impress George Galloway and his supporters of the Workers Party of Britain (his latest platform) who declare with much justification that they are mopping up the Muslim vote from Labour and hope to bring down the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer.
Labour activists campaigning ahead of the Batley and Spen by-election have been pelted with eggs and kicked in the head, the region's mayor has said. Tracy Brabin said she was leafleting for Labour in Batley on Sunday, when her group was "followed, verbally abused and physically assaulted". The West Yorkshire mayor and former Batley and Spen MP said campaigners included young people and the elderly. She said "We know why tensions are rising in our streets. Those who want to sow division are not welcome in our community. The actions of these people do not represent the Batley and Spen I know. We are kinder than this."
West Yorkshire Police has issued an image of a man wanted over the attacks. Originally no description was given of the young men with the eggs and fists. But once the police said they were looking for "three suspects, described as Asian men wearing hooded tops" and issued a photograph of one of them (left), the newspapers have started to include that information.
A few days previously Miss Leadbeater, who is a Lesbian, was challenged by a Muslim anti LGTB campaigned, believed to be from Birmingham. She claims that George Galloway stood laughting as he watched the man intimidate her. He claims he did not and that the man is a known trouble-maker who has been ejected from his own Worker's Party meetings. I wouldn't believe either of them on the question of the date, so I wouldn't like to say who was telling the truth.
I won't bore you with the accusations of torn down posters, fake leaflets (one purporting to be from the Labour Party, singing the praises of Black Lives Matter) and other black ops. The rally on Thursday for freedom of Speech went ahead despite the council forbidding it. The demo by Stand up to Racism on Saturday because they had heard that Tommy Robinson might, just might, be coming to town with Anne Marie Walters (he wasn't, and didn't) was never under threat from the council officials. That tels you something.
Canvassing should end tonight. I don't suppose activism will though.
And so, the Polish government no longer wishes to be held responsible for German Nazi crimes committed on occupied Polish soil. In 2018, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed legislation that threatened up to three years imprisonment for anyone who “publicly and untruthfully assigns responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish Nation or the Polish State for Nazi crimes.”
The Polish parliament has approved passage of a draft bill that is likely to severely limit the ability of Polish Jews and their descendants from reclaiming property lost during the Holocaust.
And yet, historical accounts of Polish-on-Jewish atrocities abound, both before and after the Holocaust. In addition, there are personal accounts, in books and on film, which recount details. These personal memoirs are detailed, chilling, haunting, and trustworthy.
Last month, Tonia Rotkopf Blair’s son sent me a letter together with the book written by his mother, a woman who survived the Lodz ghetto as well as the most notorious of death camps. When people later asked her where she went to High School or College she sometimes answered: “Auschwitz,”—which may have shut the conversation down.
Blair, (her married name), wrote her Memoir, Love at the End of the World: Stories of War, Romance, and Redemption, much later in life, and it has literally just been published. However, it is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust and of trauma in general. There are galleries of family photographs (how in God’s name did she find and keep them?). Her sons, Doniphan and Nicholas, both wrote Afterwords as did Tonia’s writing teacher. Tonia’s entire family accompanied her back to Poland where they made a movie of their visit: Our Holocaust Vacation.
Tonia weaves back and forth in time, as if in a dream, a nightmare perhaps, in a series of brief chapters, plainly but deftly written, each with a hidden sucker-punch to the reader’s gut. Tonia introduces us to her beloved Polish family, and shows us how Poles—not the German Nazis, the indigenous, Catholic, Poles—behaved with gratuitous cruelty towards their Jewish neighbors.
Some Poles? Not all Poles? Surely not most Poles? Well, even the righteous Christians were only able to rescue a precious handful of Jews. Many more hid their Jewish neighbors but only for money, then turned them in when their money ran out.
We need these stories. We need the details. Even then, we will never know it all.
1939, Lodz. The secular, socialist Rotkopf family is starving. Jews were forbidden to work or go to school, were not allowed to buy bread, walk on the sidewalk (just as in Muslim countries), and had to wear yellow stars (distinctive clothing, as in Muslim countries). Jews also even had to surrender their pets—whom they never saw again.
Their provisions were nearly gone. The Rotkopf family is starving. Tonia’s eleven-year-old brother, Salek, decided to rescue them all by selling cigarettes. Soon, he returns with “blood streaming down his face from gashes on his forehead…he had been beaten up by three Polish boys, probably not much older than him, calling him ‘You dirty Jew,’ smashing the box and stool and stealing the cigarettes and change.”
When Tonia, with her long blonde braids, wearing a large cross and dressed as a Polish girl, tries to “pass” in order to buy bread—a Polish boy, ordered to point out any Jews in the line, “stopped in front of (her). Then he pointed…the German soldier pulled me out of the line, cursing. With a kick, he shoved me down the street.”
In their thick, shiny, new leather boots, the Nazis loved to kick—and to kick hard.
Tonia’s very glamorous aunt Kreindel, who wore lipstick and high heels, perfume and fox furs, is “thrown out of a window” by the Nazis.
Chapter after chapter, Tonia introduces us to her father, her mother, two siblings, only to tell us that she last saw her entire family when they were being led away, and when she tried to join them, a “local German neighbor kicked her in the stomach.” To this day, she does not know whether he was trying to help or hurt her.
True, a Christian woman neighbor once lent the 14-year-old Tonia the cross to wear to buy the bread and Christian neighbors once helped “wash the blood out of her hair.” Important, very Christian behavior, but does it constitute a resistance movement?
As to whether Poles were kind to their Jews pre-Holocaust, consider this: Tonia’s son Nicholas, whose father, Vachel, is Christian, writes: “It was painful for Mom as Christian holidays in Lodz were a fearful time. Jews did not leave their houses because, as she often repeated, on those days it was “an especially good deed to stab a Jew.”
Tonia takes us with her on her journey to Hell, in the cattle car on its way to Auschwitz where, together with 24 year-old Stefan, she spends all night in utter darkness, reciting poetry and singing Chopin. They had worked together in the hospital in the Lodz ghetto. Once the Nazis separated the men from the women, she never saw Stefan again.
The Nazis kicked people hard, cursed them, constantly counted their Jewish captives at twice daily roll calls, had prisoners sleep naked in the mud, in freezing weather or eventually on bunks with splinters, then bedbugs, without blankets. No one was allowed to go to the outhouse alone, everyone was watched. Tonia writes: “I cannot flush a toilet to this day without thinking of it.”
She reminds us: “You could never rest. You were cold, you were hungry, you were starved.” And yet, she did not talk about any of this for a very long time because “I feel pained to tell people about the inhumanity of man to man.”
When Tonia returned to Lodz, a man said: “I thought they killed all the Jews.” And, when she returned to her family’s one room apartment in Lodz, she was cursed as a “whore” by the woman who was now living there. Tonia fled.
Although Tonia remained a socialist, she knew that the Russians were also anti-Semites. She decided to seek shelter in the American sector.
Even the luckiest, the hardiest, the most loving of survivors are marked for life by such trauma. Tonia is forever after anxious, insomniac, fearful; she waits to be told what to do; she asks men to protect her, she actually feels “safe” with her Nazi Master because he was not brutal towards her.
Although she travels to South America and to the United States, Tonia remains overly obedient to authority, as if she is “hypnotized” by it. But, she is always a bit physically reckless (on skates, on skis, on icy pavements), but she’s unstoppable. Like so many survivors, she is always a bit out of place, dressed “differently,” always in a pleading position.
I will let Tonia have the last word: “Now that freedom is here, the mind is enslaved by the past, by nightmares, by terrible agonies, miseries, pain, loneliness, ugliness. And above all, the excruciating memories and guilt that pop up when someone pays a compliment.”
Thank you Tonia for sharing some of these painful but important details with us.
Haiti is one of those countries that you can leave after a visit, but that never quite leaves you. Its history is so heroic and so tragic, its present condition often so appalling, its culture so fascinating and its people so attractive, that even if it does not become the main focus of your intellectual attention, you never quite lose your interest in it, or in its history.
That is why, recently in a Parisian bookshop, I bought a book about the Battle of Vertières, the last gasp of the expedition sent out by Napoleon to Haiti, or Saint-Domingue as it was still known (“The Pearl of the Antilles” by those who profited from it), to return it to the condition of a vast slave plantation. General Leclerc, Napoleon’s brother-in-law, commanded, and 50,000 French soldiers, including Leclerc, lost their lives in this ill-fated and, from our current moral standpoint, malign expedition. Six weeks after its final defeat at the hands of the former slaves, Haiti, or Hayti— under the first of its many dictators, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who made himself emperor and was assassinated two years later—declared its independence from France.
The book, titledL’Armée indigène, The Native Army, was by a French historian, Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec, who now teaches at Sherbrooke University in Quebec. The book recounts not only the history of the battle itself, which took place on 18 November 1803, but how it has been remembered, or forgotten (especially in France), in the subsequent two centuries, and the purposes to which the memory has been put.
The author is a specialist in Haitian and American history. His fundamental historical outlook is very different from mine, but that did not reduce my pleasure in his book, for he writes well and marshals much interesting evidence, the fruit of diligent original research in primary sources. And it seems to me that no one can fail to be moved by the heroism and determination of the former slaves to defend their newfound freedom from the attempt to return them to servitude. The slave colony of Saint-Domingue had been among the cruellest ever known; the methods of Napoleon’s expeditionary army grew more and more vicious as it suffered repeated decimations. That history has its ironies—it is possible that, had the slave revolution failed, Haiti would now be more prosperous than it is, like Guadeloupe or Martinique—does not detract from the righteousness of the cause of the former slaves. They could not be expected to foresee the two centuries of failure, poverty, and oppression to come. Besides, the dignity conferred by the victory cannot be simply set against its deleterious long-term material consequences: Man does not live by GDP alone.
Still, my attention was drawn to a small but revelatory detail in Professor Le Glaunec’s book: his use of quotation marks around the expression “French civilisation.”
What were those quotation marks intended to convey? That there was no such thing as French civilisation? That French civilisation was not specifically French? That there was no such thing as civilisation? That only those nations that had no blot on their records could be described as having a civilisation? Would the author have put his quotation marks around an expression such as “Haitian” or “African culture”? Or was he merely signalling that he was not one of those crude and unthinking nationalists who thinks that everything about his own nation is best and that its record is spotless?
Interestingly, he has written a short book of reflections on the death of George Floyd, titled Une arme blanche: la mort de George Floyd et les usages de l’histoire dans le discours néoconservateur (A Dagger: the Death of George Floyd and the Uses of History in Neoconservative Discourse). It is directed mainly at a French-Canadian journalist named Christian Rioux, who wrote six articles on the subject of George Floyd in Le Devoir, one of Quebec’s most important newspapers. But obviously, M. Rioux is a figure who is intended to symbolise all those who do not toe the Black Lives Matter line on the whole affair. Professor Le Glaunec employs his quotation marks again on the term “conservative thinkers,” as if no person who thought could be conservative and no person who was a conservative could think.
At least he writes clearly, which is praise indeed of an academic nowadays, and no one could very well mistake his style of historiography, history being for him the story of exploitation and oppression, and of resistance to exploitation and oppression, and of nothing much else. It is true, however, that he catches out M. Rioux in some historical assertions so dubious that even I, who am no historian, would not have made them.
But he goes further than pointing them out, clearly implying that his sloppy and even dishonest use of historical material is typical, necessary, and intrinsic to a conservative outlook. Conservatives politicise history for their own ends, while people like the author come to their political opinions by means of the objective study of history. Unfortunately, those who accuse others of sloppiness or dishonesty make themselves hostages to fortune, for few accusations are more often returnable to sender.
Although the book mentions George Floyd in its title, in actual fact there are really only three references to him, other than the fact that he was killed by Derek Chauvin, the policeman now awaiting sentence. The first is in the dedication: To the memory of George Floyd. Then he is called a gentle giant, and finally innocent.
Now it is true that the character of a person wrongfully killed is not germane to the wrongfulness of his death. The law does not distinguish between saints and sinners as victims of murder. It is no defence to a charge of murder that the victim was a swine.
But there is a rule in English law according to which, if the defence attacks the character of witnesses for the prosecution, the prosecution may do the same for the witnesses for the defence. This rule is no doubt intended to keep ad hominem attacks in court to a minimum.
Be that as it may, it is surely extraordinary that a man who prides himself on the objectivity of his view of history by contrast with that of someone with whom he disagrees should describe George Floyd as, in effect, an innocent gentle giant. He didn’t have to be that to be wrongfully killed, and he wasn’t.
I doubt whether the pregnant woman into whose house he once broke and to whose abdomen he held a gun while demanding money would describe him as “a gentle giant”; and indeed to do so might risk running feminist rage, who could accuse the author of a typically male minimisation of the suffering of a victimised woman. I doubt also that she would be very strongly in favour of the abolition of the police, whatever their crimes or misdemeanours.
George Floyd had fentanyl in his blood when he died. This suggests that at the very least he must have associated with people of doubtful reputation, and that his commitment to the straight and narrow path was not rock solid. When a person with a long criminal record takes fentanyl, there is at least a prima facie doubt about his innocence, as Professor Le Glaunec calls it as if it were an incontrovertible fact. Of course, it is possible that George Floyd’s resort to fentanyl involved him in no other criminal activity, and that he paid for it honestly (though buying it from criminals) with his hard-earned money; but I doubt that many people would be willing to place a large bet on this point.
In other words, Professor Le Glaunec, who makes much of his dispassionate resort to historical evidence by contrast with his opponent, reveals himself to be at least as parti pris as that opponent. He displays a lack of curiosity about George Floyd that surely derives from his political standpoint. As for the dedication to the memory of George Floyd, it is morally obtuse: for a man does not become good by being wrongfully killed. A mother loves her son because he is her son, not because he is good, and therefore the grief of his family is understandable and easily sympathised with; but for others to turn him into what he was not, a martyr to a cause, is to display at once a moral and an intellectual defect.
The connection between historical explanation and individual morality is nowhere more complex than in Haiti. The victor of Vertières, the former slave Dessalines, was declared dictator for life, with the right to choose his successor, in the very document that announced the independence of Haiti and the freedom of its population. Dessalines then undertook a policy that today would be called genocide: he ordered that every white settler, man, woman, and child killed (about 6000 in all) who remained in the country after the last of the French troops should be killed, and his orders were carried out. The truly atrocious conduct of the French explained this genocide no doubt, but did it justify it? To answer in the affirmative is to claim that there are good, or justified, genocides; to answer no is to be accused of a lack of psychological insight into the righteous anger of Dessalines and others, or of a lack of sympathy for the state of mind of the victims of slavery.
The death of George Floyd was similarly wrong; but that does not mean that the reaction to it was right.
There can be little doubt the United States is now in a contest with China over which will be the most important country in the world. In important respects, we are replicating the German challenge to the United Kingdom prior to World War I and the renewed German challenge of the 1930s, or the Soviet challenge for 45 years after World War II. As China grows stronger and bolder, and especially as the United States fumbles its way through periods of great distraction and internal political strife, the Chinese—like Hitler—become more brazen and provoking.
Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936 when the French easily could have forced him back, but did not. He swallowed Austria whole in early 1938 and the French and British regarded it as nothing more than the expression of Austria’s national wishes. They recognized that they could not go to war to prevent German Czechs (Sudetenlanders) from becoming Germans, but their action at the Munich Conference destroyed the state of Czechoslovakia that their leaders, along with President Woodrow Wilson, had created not 20 years before. Only when Hitler seized what is now the Czech Republic as well, did the British begin to respond seriously. Even then, their prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, entered World War II only reluctantly after the invasion of Poland.
Of course, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is not remotely as psychotically belligerent as Hitler, who was a deranged genocidal romantic who actively sought war as long as it was in advantageous circumstances. Hitler had professed to have enjoyed his four years of trench warfare in World War I, in the course of which he was wounded, gassed, and twice decorated for bravery. He felt that he must unleash aggressive war on Europe according to a strict timetable because his obsessive hypochondria led him to believe that he would die prematurely. (He did, but only because he had provoked irresistible forces to destroy him.)
Nor could Xi be even slightly compared to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had a childish ego and impetuosity and gave the decrepit Habsburg empire in Vienna the infamous “blank check” to plunge all of Europe into war. The comparison with Stalin must also be used with great caution; barbarous though he was, and intent though he and his successors were in stirring up Communist revolutions in different countries from Greece to the Congo to Cuba to Indonesia, neither Stalin nor any of his successors ever dared a military confrontation with United States.
There is no reason to believe Xi would either, but the whole world has seen China steadily raising the ante and becoming more brazen and provoking in its behavior. For decades it has exploited the belief of the well-meaning leaders of the West that good treatment would be reciprocated. But China has ignored its trade and monetary commitments and made a mockery of Western concepts of human rights by its oppression of the Uighurs and of all forms of religious practice. And it has torn up the Hong Kong treaty with the United Kingdom, which remains one of the world’s most important and respected countries. To judge from the Chinese regime’s public announcements, it only wishes to cuff its would-be rivals around a little and make the point that it is actually the world’s leading power to whom all other nations owe great deference.
While this is undoubtedly less onerous than what Hitler or Stalin or possibly even the Kaiser had in mind for us, no one should imagine that the overlordship and general suzerainty of Communist China is anything the West would wear lightly.
The West has been guided by Greco-Roman and then Judeo-Christian values since about 600 B.C.. No one should underestimate how demeaning and demoralizing it would be if those values were effectively subordinated to an ethos dictated by the Chinese Communist Party. The humiliation implicit in such an epochal upheaval of the world would shatter the morale of our society and we might enter a period of eclipse as lengthy and profound and miserable as that from which China has just emerged.
The Kaiser and Hitler managed to convince themselves that the leaders of the rival powers were weaklings, and Xi seems to have come—at least in the last few months—to a similar conclusion. On the facts it is hard to fault them for that conclusion, but what the German emperor and Führer did not take into account was that H. H. Asquith and Paul Painlevé and Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier would shortly be replaced by Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle, and life would become much more complicated. Communications and diplomacy are now much more informative than they were then and the ubiquity of nuclear weapons imposes a sobriety upon all world leaders unlike anything that obtained in the pre-nuclear era.
All three regimes, Wilhelmine Germany, the Third Reich, and Stalin’s Soviet Union, foundered on the identical and immense strategic error of underestimating the United States. With World War I in stalemate on the western front between Germany and the French and British Empire armies, the Kaiser made the catastrophic mistake of agreeing to attack American merchant shipping on the high seas to try to strangle Britain and France. The United States had no choice but to go to war against Germany, which President Wilson portrayed as a “war to end all wars” and a way to “make the world safe for democracy.” Though he was the principal founder of the League of Nations, he failed to gain United States adherence to it, and though he was the first person to inspire the masses of the world with a vision of enduring peace, he produced the Treaty of Versailles, which was admirably described by the supreme commander of the Allied armies, France’s Marshal Foch, as “not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.”
Hitler had learned the lesson of not attacking American shipping, even after President Franklin D. Roosevelt extended American territorial waters from three to 1,800 miles and ordered the U.S. Navy to attack, on detection, any German ship (as, under Lend-Lease, he sold the British and Canadians anything they wanted on generous terms). Hitler did not take the bait, but he didn’t coordinate with the Japanese either. And when Roosevelt shut off oil supplies to Japan—which imported 85 percent of its oil, mainly from the United States—Hitler did not devise any plan for supplying them from the Middle East and coordinating his planned attack on Russia with the Japanese attack from the Far East. And when Japan, rather than accept the humiliation of suspending its barbarous invasion of China and Indochina, attacked Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the United States. In doing this on the heels of his invasion of the Soviet Union he found himself at war with the United States, the USSR, and the British Commonwealth and Empire, which between them possessed, as Churchill said at the time, “twice, or thrice the power of Germany.” And when Stalin declined Roosevelt’s offer of an immense economic recovery program and recognition as a coequal superpower in the world, and ignored his Tehran and Yalta commitments to free elections and evacuation of Eastern Europe, he entered into a Cold War that the USSR ultimately could not win.
Xi Jinping does not seem to possess any of the childishly intemperate and reckless tendencies of Kaiser Wilhelm, nor any of the madness of Hitler, and possesses a much subtler and more patient concept of advancing the Chinese interests than Stalin and his successors had about Soviet interests. He must have some recognition of the American reserves of national purpose and manifest destiny to maintain its unique standing in the world.
But people generally—especially very powerful people unaccustomed to being contradicted—tend to believe what they want to believe. The longer the West placates China and pretends that it is not being aggressively challenged by China and is currently losing that challenge, the more the future of the West will be in doubt. The next president of the United States will have both a mandate and a duty to restart this contest and to contain China within tolerable parameters. The longer we wait the more difficult it will be.
Mahmoud Abbas is now in the sixteenth year of his four-year term as President-For-Life of the Palestinian Authority. Famously corrupt, he has managed while in office to amass, with his two sons Yasser and Tareq, a fortune of $400 million. Earlier this year he decided to call for Presidential and Parliamentary elections, under the misapprehension that he might actually win. Soon enough, public opinion polls revealed that any of Abbas’ opponents, whether Marwan Barghouti, or Mohammed Dahlan, or a candidate put up by Hamas, would win 60% of the vote in a contest with Abbas. Abbas then decided that elections were a bad idea, and he cancelled them, on the pretext that Israel would not allow Palestinian Arabs in East Jerusalem to take part in the vote. It was a specious charge: Israel had already said the Palestinian Arabs could take part in such an election, as long as they cast their ballots in one of the villages just outside East Jerusalem, and not in East Jerusalem itself.
Abbas’ excuse did not mollify his Palestinian critics; they realized that yet again he was going to refuse to put himself to the electoral test, in order to continue his long reign of mismanagement and corruption. More and more Palestinians in the West Bank have become critics of Abbas, spreading the word on social media about his corruption and despotic ways. The beating to death of Nizar Banat of Hebron, one of the most outspoken of those critics, now has the opposition up in arms. The story of Nizar Banat’s grisly end is told here: “Prominent Abbas critic dies in PA custody after ‘vicious beating’ by officers,” by Aaron Boxerman, Times of Israel, June 24, 2021:
A prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority died early on Thursday morning after what his family charged was a violent arrest by PA security forces.
Nizar Banat, 44, a resident of Dura, near Hebron, was well-known for his caustically sarcastic videos tearing into the PA leadership for alleged corruption and fraud. His Facebook page had over 100,000 followers.
Abbas’ goons in the PA security forces have frequently rounded up and detained on trumped-up charges critics of his regime. Some of them die while in custody, from various “mysterious ailments” that remain vague and un-investigated. But Banat’s death is the first that has taken place in the presence of family members, who witnessed the fatal beating administered to him in his own home, in the middle of the night.
In a statement confirming Banat’s death, Hebron Governor Jibrin al-Bakri said that a unit of PA security forces had entered a house where Banat was hiding in the morning with a warrant for his arrest.
“During [his arrest], his medical condition deteriorated, and he was immediately referred to the Hebron public hospital for treatment. Doctors at the scene who examined him found he was dead,” al-Bakri said.
He was beaten to death by 20 men, wielding iron bars, right at his own house, which is where “doctors at the scene” examined him.
According to al-Bakri, the PA public prosecutor’s office had already opened an investigation into Banat’s death.
Banat’s family, who say they were with him during the arrest, accused over 20 PA officers of violently beating him. According to his relatives, the arrest took place around 3:30 a.m. The officers first began hitting Nizar with iron bars when he was asleep before stripping him naked and continuing to beat him.
In the middle of the night 20 men entered his house, beat him with iron bars, stripped him naked and then continued to beat him ferociously until he was dead. What is there for the PA’s office of the public prosecutor going to investigate? Won’t its task be to distance Mahmoud Abbas from any conceivable link to the murderers?
“They beat him for about eight straight minutes. Are you coming to kill him or what?” his cousin Mohammad told Palestinian reporters outside the Banat home in Dura.
PA security services spokesperson Talal Dweikat said that Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh had ordered the formation of a committee to investigate Banat’s death.
Yes, as it has always done in the past, the PA promises to set up a “committee” to investigate Banat’s death. What needs to be investigated? Twenty members of the PA police were sent to administer a savage beating to Banat; they did as ordered, using metal bars, and as one might have predicted, Nizar Banat died. All this talk about appointing a “committee to investigate Banat’s death” is simply to mollify the public, to pretend that the beating was not ordered from the very top, but undertaken by “rogue” officers who were not authorized to behave as they did. There may still be some Palestinians who will accept this explanation, but their numbers decrease with every violent attack on, or imprisonment of ,prominent opposition figures.
According to Dweikat, the committee will be composed of PA Justice Minister Mohammad Shalaldeh, a representative from a prominent Palestinian rights group, a doctor to be named by Banat’s family and a member of the PA military intelligence force.
Two members of the four-man investigative committee – the PA Justice Minister and a member of the PA military intelligence force — will defend the innocence of the government, claiming such an attack was never ordered, and that the police had been told to arrest Banat, but “not to do him any harm.” In other words, a “rogue operation” for which neither the PA itself, nor Mahmoud Abbas, should be deemed guilty. Will the representative of a “prominent Palestinian rights group” or the “doctor named by Banat’s famlly” dare to stand up for the truth, when they will be under all sorts of pressure to find in favor of the regime’s innocence? The doctor, after all, could have his license lifted or practice shut down, on one bureaucratic pretext or another, if he dares to link Abbas to the crimes; the Palestinian NGO can also be shut down by Abbas’ men if the rights group proves insufficiently submissive to the regime’s demands. The full weight of the PA will be used to fashion an investigative committee’s report that will exculpate Abbas, pointing instead to (choose one): a pre-existing heart condition that caused Nizar Banat to die even from the mildest of blows; a rogue operation undertaken by a handful of Palestinian police who had been told not to use force., and failed to follow orders.
The European Union, the Palestinian Authority’s largest financial backer, said it was “shocked and saddened” by Banat’s death. On Tuesday, the EU backed a $425 million aid package to the Palestinian private sector, at least $200 million of which would be channeled through PA institutions.
“Our thoughts go to his family and loved ones. [A] full, independent, and transparent investigation should be conducted immediately,” the EU said in a statement.
Apparently it occurred to no one at the EU that after the beating death of Nizar Banat, the EU should express its disapproval with something more than the usual off-the-rack expressions of fellow-feeling — “we are shocked and saddened” and “our thoughts go to his family and loved ones.” Instead it should do the only thing it can to modify the PA’s murderous ruthlessness, which would be to call a halt to the $425 million aid package that had just been announced two days before the attack on Nizar Banat. That ending of promised aid would get the PA’s attention. It might even force Abbas to put his own security men on trial, have them sentenced to prison, and only after a suitable interval he could quietly release them a year or two later, when the EU’s attention was focussed on other things.
The social media activist had already been detained multiple times by Palestinian security forces under the PA’s controversial cybercrimes law, which allows individuals to be arrested for “slandering” government institutions online. Human rights groups allege that the PA has abused the practice to arbitrarily arrest opponents for political purposes.
The ”slander” in Nizar Banat’s case is that he dared to comment on the lavish lives of Abbas and his two sons, as well as other corrupt cronies in the government. Banat had acquired quite a following for his barbed comments and videos, and he was undermining faith in the state. And he had been repeatedly detained, but when released he went right back to his insubmissive ways. Last December, Banat had been arrested by PA security forces, who held him in defiance of a court order for more than a day before releasing him without explanation.
Banat was also a member of an independent parliamentary slate in the recently canceled Palestinian elections. In January, Abbas announced the first Palestinian elections in 15 years, prompting a flurry of long-awaited political organizing among Palestinians.
But in late April, Abbas canceled the elections just a month before they were scheduled to be held, saying that Israel was refusing to allow the vote to take place in East Jerusalem. Critics, including Banat, accused Abbas of fearing a loss to his rivals both in Fatah and in the Hamas terror group.
After the cancellation, Banat called for the immediate cessation of aid by the European Union to Abbas, sparking condemnations from Fatah officials, who accused him of collaborating with Israel. A few days later, unidentified gunmen fired at his house….
In calling for the EU to cease giving aid to the PA, Banat cut to the quick: Abbas and his crooked cronies would have a much smaller pot of aid from which to steal were the EU to follow his suggestion. From then on, Banat was a marked man. He had dared to discourage donors from contributing to the PA leaders’ enrichment.
The Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, condemned Banat’s death as an “assassination.”
“This premeditated crime reflects the intentions and behavior of the Abbas Authority and his security services toward our people, opposition activists and his political opponents,” said Hamas, which has been at odds with Abbas’s Fatah movement since a 2007 civil war between the two sides for control of Gaza.
Exiled Abbas rival Mohammad Dahlan called for “a wide popular and legal response to hold the killers accountable.”
“There are no words to describe the killing of the prominent national activist, the martyr, Nizar Banat,” tweeted Dahlan, who leads a Fatah breakaway faction known as the Democratic Reform Current.
The increase in arrests between May 2020 and May 2021 of nearly four dozen political activists opposed to the PA bespeaks a growing defiance of Mahmoud Abbas; the killing of Nizar Banat demonstrates the level of fear in the regime, that has caused it to engage in extreme violence in order to hold onto power. Nizar Banat now becomes, as Mohammad Dahlan says, a “martyr” who gave his life for Palestine, by daring to attack the corrupt PA regime that had long ago lost any interest in improving the lives of the ordinary Palestinians living in the West Bank. The death of Nizar Banat could become like the death by self-immolation of Jan Palach in Czechoslovakia in 1969, by setting of a firestorm of opposition that Abbas will be unable to quell. At long last he may be forced to announce his “retirement.” For the long-suffering “Palestinians” in the West Bank, the removal of Mahmoud Abbas from the political scene can’t come soon enough.
Travis Perry holds an MA in history and answers questions on the website Quora. I have just read his short answer comparing Roundheads and Cavaliers during the English Civil War (1642–1651), a war that pit Puritans against Royalists, supporters of Parliament versus supporters of the King, Bible thumpers versus aristocrats, the emerging gentry and middle classes against the hereditary landowners, those who espoused high culture and those who saw the world through the egalitarian eyes of the recently translated Old Testament. Simply put, the people against the ruling class.
For most readers, the English Civil War is irrelevant history, perhaps relevant in the long scheme of things but not in the short. The Cavaliers dressed in fancy clothes, they drank, and they only socialized with one another. They looked down on the lower classes and the masses. They were entitled. Have they disappeared? Not at all.
Their lifestyle and world view seems to have re-emerged among our elected and selected officials in today’s modern democracies. These are the “New Cavaliers.” But please note that these “New Cavaliers” get elected by saying they will help the poor, the middle classes, the struggling immigrant. Then they divert public resources to their private needs, their clients, and friends. We, the Roundheads, the people, have been duped and come up short-changed.
Perry reminds us that the Cavaliers represented English nobility—they dressed well and supported the Anglican church’s non-Puritanical traditions. They certainly knew how to spend! Are our leaders really like them? Let us see what the evidence suggests.
The Guardian newspaper of Britain had this to say about the G-7 leaders at their most recent summit:
“The security cost of hosting next weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall will exceed £70m if the final bill of policing the meeting of world leaders is in line with the two previous events held in the UK.
“Around 6,500 police will secure the event at Carbis Bay, near St Ives, on 11-13 June, with more than 5,000 coming from around the country to help the Devon and Cornwall force run what it said is the ‘largest security operation in its history’.”
Perry reminds us that:
“The Puritans accused the Cavaliers of being heavy drinking, party-going men who did not care very much about God—or for them, anything important. In turn, the Cavaliers believed they were socially superior to the mostly lower-class Roundheads and maintained an aloof attitude towards them. Both of these realities have fed into what we mean today when we describe a ‘Cavalier attitude.’”
The CBC reported that the G-7 summit held in Canada in 2018 cost a lot, too: “Depending on your perspective, a $396 million security investment is either a lot, or a little.”
Oh, may I point out that the average salary for a Canadian senator is more than CA$150,000 ($122,000) a year without perks or pensions or any other hidden costs? I guess it’s actually more than $200,000, for we will never really know about long-term, medium-term, and short-term perks and allowances (and perhaps untaxable allowances).
Now it seems that our modern New Cavaliers can’t do things for themselves, just like the old ones. They don’t get their hands dirty governing. They must say to themselves, “Ruling is for the hoi polloi—we don’t need to do that!” And so, they must have clients, proteges, what used to be called courtiers, and what better way of expanding their entourage than by paying them as consultants.
On April 12, the National Post reported that the Canadian government’s consulting fees are expected to have risen by CA$6 billion between 2015 and 2022:
“Costs for ‘professional and special services’ is expected to increase to $16.4 billion next year, up from $10.4 billion when the Liberal government took office—the highest level of spending since at least the 1990s, according to public data. At the same time, the cost of paying government worker salaries has also increased sharply, from $39.6 billion before 2015 to $47.5 billion in 2020.”
Perry then reminds us how, way back when, the other half lived.
“The Roundheads were English Puritans. They were called what they were because they took Biblical statements about men having short hair (I Corinthians 11:14) literally and many but not all of them cut their hair close at a time when long hair was the current fashion for men. They always found the term ‘Roundhead’ offensive and preferred to be called Puritans or by other names.”
I think this may well describe the average Canadian, give or take a few libertines here and there: hard-working, family-oriented men and women who live within their household budgets and don’t like going into debt, even if they have to. Even if the media-soaked average Canadian wanted to live like a Cavalier and dreams of it while watching the Kardashians on TV, he or she just simply can’t afford it.
“Canadian consumer insolvencies surged by nearly 23 per cent month-over-month in March, according to data released by the Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) Wednesday.
“That increase marked the largest one-month jump in new filing activity in more than a decade as some consumers simply hit a wall when it came to staving off a bankruptcy.”
Now, if you think that there’s evidence that the governing elites of the West are predatory and libertine, hear this! During the summer of 2017, U.S. News and World Report posted this wonderfully revealing piece:
“Le Point, a French news magazine, revealed Thursday that French President Emmanuel Macron has spent 26,000 euros on makeup services since taking office in May. That is more than $30,000 on cosmetics during his first three months as president, or about $330 spent on makeup each day.
“And taxpayers are fronting the cost.”
Look around you. Ask questions. Do research. Connect the dots. Look at budgets. Evaluate spending. You’ll see that governments in the West are spending more and more of our taxpayers dollars, and on what? A convinced left-winger would say, “If it benefits the people, then why not?” Well, the New Cavaliers don’t seem to care about the people. They spend the money on themselves and their hangers on. And most of it comes from Roundheads who pay the taxes—us.
As Perry reminds us, “The Cavaliers believed they were socially superior to the mostly lower-class Roundheads and maintained an aloof attitude towards them.”
I think this describes our New Cavaliers rather well. And it only took 370 years to get us back to 1651. Aren’t they something to be admired?
German Chancellor Willy Brandt kneeling at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, December 14, 1970
No, je ne regrette rien, rien de rien. I do not regret anything. It is paid, swept away, forgotten. Like Edith Piaf, most people, including political figures and public and cultural institutions, let bygones be bygones, and do not have the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” in their vocabulary. More familiar is the maxim, variously attributed to Winston Churchill or Benjamin Disraeli, “Never apologize, never explain.” It is rare for a sincere and honest apology to be offered for a mistake in policy or action.
In June 2021 the British Royal Academy did so in what is a remarkable example of admission of moral wrongdoing, expressing regret, acceptance of responsibility, genuine repentance, and attempt to make amends. The RA apologized for withdrawing the work of an artist who had expressed transphobic views in a 2019 blog, stating its original decision was a betrayal of its most important core value, the protection of free speech. The RA is to be complimented on the courage of its new decision, especially now that some of its students have been angered by the apology, arguing that it had given legitimacy to transphobia, and that “trans liberation is an endeavor of global importance that addresses classicism, racial justice, and healthcare reform.” The reality is that it is the RA, not the angered bigoted students, who uphold beliefs in the importance of plurality of voices and free thinking.
Throughout history apologies, though rare, have been meaningful. In 1077, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV apologized to Pope Gregory VII for conflicts over the precedence of ecclesiastical or secular power by standing in the snow for three days and nights at Canossa. King Henty II apologized for the assassination by his four knights in 1170 of Archbishop Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral. In 1697 a judge and jurors apologized for the witch trials in Salem in 1692. Henry Ford in 1927 apologized for his antisemitic campaign in The Dearborn Independent.
One of the most moving events was the gesture on December 14, 1970, of German Chancellor Willy Brandt laying a wreath and kneeling at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, and expressing guilt for the Holocaust. On October 2, 2019, Canada officially apologized to the First Nations and Inuit people for discrimination and harm, and asked for forgiveness.
In modern times we are familiar with prominent political individuals who avoid full apologies for their statements or actions, but limit themselves to express some form of regret, or deny they did anything wrong, or escape responsibility by using impersonal language or the passive voice saying, “mistakes were made.” Three responses of this kind came from then Democratic President Bill Clinton, former Republican Governor of South Carolina Mark Sanford, and Republican Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Bill Clinton at first stated “I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. He later admitted his relationship was not appropriate, and then later still in June 2004 admitted to a “terrible moral error,” but no apology.
Governor Sanford finally admitted an affair with an Argentinian businesswoman, and confessed, “I have been unfaithful to my wife, and all I can say is that I apologize.” Representative Greene in June 2021 had compared mandates on wearing masks in Capitol Hill to the Holocaust. After visiting the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., Greene altered her tone. Her remarks, she said, were offensive, and she wanted to apologize. “I made a mistake… there is no comparison to the Holocaust.”
Not all politicians are equally forthright. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was accused in 2021 of allegations by several women of sexual harassment, as well of misleading the public of COVID-19 deaths in nursery homes. He denied any wrongdoing and questioned the motives of his accusers, and claimed to be victim of a smear campaign. In defending himself, Cuomo explained his interactions may have been insensitive or too personal, and that some of his comments, given his position, made others feel in ways never intended: “I mean no offence.”
A generation earlier, equivocation over apology can be seen in the case in 1992 of Sen Bob Packwood accused of sexual harassment of at least ten women. He was obliged to resign from the Senate. What is one to make of his later non-apology and its verbal dexterity? “If any of my comments or actions have indeed been unwelcome or if I have conducted myself in any way that has caused any individual discomfort or embarrassment, for that I am sincerely sorry. My intents were never to pressure, to offend, nor to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and I truly regret if that has occurred with anyone either on or off my staff.”
It is refreshing to peruse some more direct statements of European politicians. In the UK. Heath Minister Matt Hancock, a married man who had a sexual affair, resigned from his office on June 26, 2021 after admitting he had broken social distance rules after photos were published of him kissing a female aide. Hancock declared he did not want his private life to distract attention from government policy in fighting the pandemic. He apologized to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and to his family. Johnson accepted his apology and thought the matter was closed, but Hancock decided to step dowm. He explained that “government owe it to the people, who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic, to be honest when we have let them down.”
It is pleasant if unexpected to encounter a direct personal statement, free of any ambiguity or uncertainty. German Chancellor Angela Merkel reversed her decision, because of public pressure, on her plan for an Easter lockdown in 2021. She apologized for this flawed idea.
“This mistake is my mistake, only my fault, because in the end I have the ultimate responsibility as Chancellor.”
Similarly forthright is Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who has apologized for mistakes. In August 2020 she stated that her government “did not get it right over the grading of Scottish exam results, a system based on teacher assessments. In December 2020 Sturgeon was photographed without a mask, breaking COVID rules. “I want to be clear,” she said, “that regardless of circumstances, I was in the wrong.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has been less forthright with his strategy of accepting responsibility for part but not all of an offence. In January 2021, though he recognized the crimes France had committed in Algeria, ruled out an official apology for the French occupation of Algeria or the bloody eight year war. In May 2021 Macron visited Kilgali, Rwanda, on the 27th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, and recognized the extent of French responsibility for the genocide. He asked for forgiveness for his country’s role, but stopped short of an apology. France, he declared, was not an accomplice.
In a long overdue action, the family of the well know writer Roald Dahl “deeply apologized” for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Dahl’s statements: “Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew.” Yet the Dahl family had waited more than thirty years to make an apology, and that apology should have been more open. Dahl’s virulent antisemitism has long been known. In an interview in 1983 he said he believed “there was a strain in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.” In 2018 the British Royal Mint decided not to issue a commemorative coin on Dahl’s 100th anniversary of his birth because of his antisemitic views.
Roald Dahl has returned indirectly. In 1983 he published a book The Witches in which the witches have thin curvy claws, like a cat, and with gloves to hide them. In June 2021, the Hollywood Warner Brothers big budget version of The Witches was released. The star of the film is Anne Hathaway, who plays the character of the Grand High Witch is made to look sinister by picturing her ectrodactyly, split hand with three elongated fingers on each hand and toe less feet. This equating of physical differences with villainy was criticized as insensitive to disabled people. Anne Hathaway apologized for her portrayal of disability, saying she had recently learned that many people, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch.
Another entertainment star Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, has had to face the truth about diversity. He made the film In the Heights, a musical set in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, NYC, a largely Dominican neighborhood. As soon after the opening of the film, Miranda, composer and lyricist, was criticized and apologized for the alleged lack of sufficient darker colored Afro-Latinos in the film. He added, in unrelated rhetoric, he could hear the hurt and pain over colonialism.
Miranda said he was trying to paint a mosaic of the Afro-Latino community, but fell short, and was truly sorry. Whether this was an honest apology or an evasive and vague response to criticism remains to be seen. However, Miranda’s case brings up the central issues how many dark skinned actors would be enough to be immune from criticism of colonialism, and who is to decide. How to define the dimensions of diversity in art and in society when some group may claim not to be included?
Israel’s High-Powered Laser System A ‘Breakthrough’
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Israel has once again reminded us that we should thank our lucky stars that the Jewish state is on our side. In the “What Have You Done For Us Lately” Department, Israel has just completed tests of its new high-power laser system that, installed on a civilian aircraft, can shoot down drones. It promises to be what is called a game-changer. The story of this remarkable advance is here: “Israel successfully downs targets using airborne laser system,” by Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2021:
The Defense Ministry has successfully carried out a series of interceptions to shoot down drones with a powerful airborne laser system installed on a civilian light aircraft….
During the trials that were carried out over the sea, the high-powered laser fired from a civilian Cessna plane destroyed the unmanned targets at differing ranges and altitudes.
According to the Defense Ministry, Israel is perhaps the first country in the world to have been able to use such laser technology on an aircraft to intercept targets in an operational simulation….
The fully automated energy system uses the laser to destroy a target while flying above the clouds, he said, adding that the “powerful and precise system” can intercept the target “regardless of weather conditions.
Once a target passes through the area of interest, the system can be directed at any part of it with very high accuracy. It locks on and remains locked on until the target is downed….
The ground system will also be able to destroy targets at a range of eight to 10 km. with a 100 kW laser, Rotem said. The ministry is aiming for an operational system by 2024 to be deployed at the Gaza border area for shooting down rockets, he said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz congratulated MAFAT, Elbit and the IAF on the technological breakthrough.
“Today, you have brought us closer to yet another important milestone in the development of the multitiered defense array of the State of Israel, and it is significant both in terms of cost effectiveness and defense capabilities,” he said.
“The laser system will add a new layer of protection at greater ranges and in facing a variety of threats: securing the State of Israel while saving costs of interception,” Gantz said. “I am confident that Israel’s defense industry will succeed in this important development program, and I will work personally together with the entire defense establishment to ensure its success.”
The Defense Ministry hopes that the airborne system will further increase the effectiveness of Israel’s air defenses against existing and future threats. It is expected to complement Israel’s multitiered air-defense array, which includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile interceptors….
The lasers can cover a much wider area and lock onto, and then destroy, unmanned vehicles passing through that area. The cost of firing a laser beam for an interception will cost around $2000. Meanwhile, the price of launching an Iron Dome interception missile is between $40,000 and $60,000. Consider how may tens of millions of dollars the IDF spent on Iron Dome missiles in the recent war against Hamas; Hamas aimed 4300 not-very-expensive rockets at Israel; about 600 fell short, leaving 3700 that entered Israeli airspace; Iron Dome missiles managed to intercept 90%. The cost of such a defense is becoming an increasingly urgent issue as large-scale attacks become more frequent and the expense of interception skyrockets.
The laser system will potentially save the IDF hundreds of millions of dollars; it is also more precise in its targeting, and can lock onto a target much closer to its launch, as compared to the Iron Dome.
Israel keeps providing evidence of how creatively it responds to every military challenge its enemies present. In three years, it will have ready an anti-missile and anti-drone system that will cost 1/20th of what such a defense does at present. And Israel will share this laser beam technology – as it always has done with its every military advance in the past – with the U.S.
Be afraid, Ismail Haniyeh and Yahyah Sinwar. Be afraid, Hassan Nasrallah, Ebrahim Raisi and Ayatollah Khamenei, be very afraid. Once those Israeli weapons scientists focus their attention on building new weapons systems, there seems to be no obstacle they cannot in time overcome. Now they’ve reached the “breakthrough” of laser-beam weapons, capable of being fired both from the ground and from civilian light planes flying above the clouds. What’s next to come, from the creative geniuses at Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems? We’re on the edge of our seats.
In 1829, Sir Robert Peel, then home secretary (and later to be prime minister), established the Metropolitan Police Force in London, often considered the world’s first modern police department. He did so according to nine famous principles, then without precedent and thought to have been written by the two joint commissioners of the force being established. The principles laid down the function and conduct of the new force:
To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.
To an extent rare in human history, these ideals were achieved for many decades—of course, always with that gap between aspiration and achievement consequent upon human imperfection. The admirable clarity and concision of the principles must have played a large part in their success.
Let us now move forward by nearly two centuries, to Sergeant Nathan Walker of Okehampton. Okehampton is a small and pleasant, if somewhat down-at-the-heels, town in Devon, in a rural setting; nevertheless, it recorded one violent crime per 50 people in the year from November 2019 through October 2020.
On October 19, 2020, the Okehampton Times noted concern in the town about vandalism in the local park, where the park staff felt intimidated by young people. The town council called for more policing, and the paper’s reporter asked Sergeant Walker of the Okehampton police, “How often are you able to patrol the park? Which times do you choose and why?” Walker replied:
At present we recognise that there is an increased interest in the use of the park and the behaviour of young people while they are there. As a result we have created a tasking plan which aims to prevent crime and reassure people using the Simmons Park throughout the day. We are specifically targeting times during the afternoon following increased reports during this period. This is a whole team effort for the West Devon policing team, all of the teams including my own neighbourhood team in Tavistock and Okehampton are briefed every day on the issues that are reported and we are all working together to address this challenge. You will see us in the park discussing the issue with park users and encouraging people to report their experiences, you will also see us talking to the young people. As part of our response to this challenge we are working closely with Okehampton College, the local Space youth service team, our own youth intervention officer and the youth offending team in an effort to provide lasting solutions that help young people recover from their poor decisions and prosper as adults.
Suffice it to say that we are at some distance from the intellectual and moral clarity of Peel’s principles. The reporter’s question was straightforward; the policeman’s answer consisted of evasive verbiage, whose meaning one could glimpse only as a shape is glimpsed as it approaches in a thick fog, and by the end of which the questioner had probably forgotten what she had asked. Not only did the policeman fail to answer the question; he also revealed his underlying belief that police were a therapeutic organization, with a task of helping people to “recover from their poor decisions,” as from a bout, say, of pneumonia—helping them other than by deterring or apprehending them, of course. An Okehampton Times reader left a comment to the effect that she had seen the police in the park—but in the morning, when nothing ever happened. By contrast, they were not present when the school bullies and drug dealers prowled the park, soon after dark. The implication was that the police deliberately avoided real work in favor of the appearance of work.
The more ineffectual the police become, it seems, the more menacing the manner they adopt toward the public and the more militarized they look. They are no longer the bobbies of old but more and more like the security detail of some vile authoritarian movement. They frighten everyone except the criminals, and the description of them by the journalist Peter Hitchens (brother of the late Christopher) seems ever more apposite: “paramilitary social workers, jingling with clubs, Tasers, pepper sprays and often guns, schooled in political dogmas and vigilant for political correctness.”
The journalist went on to ask Sergeant Walker whether, the town council having called for more police, he felt short-staffed, and whether more police would help. He answered—if what he said can be called an answer:
The staffing of our beautiful county is carefully considered by Devon and Cornwall Police and there are many factors that influence the decisions that are made. At present West Devon is proportionately staffed for the demand on our service and I am pleased to say that we have a very positive and proactive team but I am aware that numbers of police is a very emotive subject. I am really encouraged by the teams’ approach to all of the challenges we face as an organisation. It is important that we remember and focus on the pressures faced in specific areas of the community but as a policing team we also need to take a broader view of the difficulties faced across a broad range of issues. We work really hard to do this and when specific challenges are identified we take action and seek support from other teams to help. At the moment the Okehampton neighbourhood team are focusing on the park and the anti-social behaviour because the public report this to be a significant challenge.
To judge from these utterances, we should not expect Sergeant Walker to exhibit Sherlock Holmes–type clarity of mind in the pursuit of wrongdoers—if, indeed, he believed that such a person as a wrongdoer existed, rather than a victim of society in need of succor, consolation, or cure. The blockhead provincial policeman is a familiar figure from detective novels of the so-called golden age of British detective fiction, the 1920s and 1930s, but even he knew the purpose of policing and sometimes displayed a rough-and-ready common sense, which Walker has squeezed, or had squeezed, out of him.
Sergeant Walker’s muddiness of mind and inability to speak in a direct manner did not arise from any natural incapacity but is highly trained and even programmed—for no one, even the most inarticulate, would speak spontaneously in the way that he spoke. On the contrary, it takes a certain skill and much practice to produce an effortless flow of this socio-managerial gibberish, which constantly approaches, but never quite reaches, meaning. If you don’t believe me, try to speak it for yourself.
Far from impeding his career, Walker’s trained inability to speak in plain language and to answer straight questions with straight answers is a precondition of such advancement. The imposition, adoption, and mastery of this type of language is the means by which ambitious mediocrities gain control over bureaucratic organizations. It drives people of higher caliber, who might otherwise pose a challenge to them, elsewhere.
I predict, then, that Walker has a brilliant career before him—if by that, we mean rapid advancement up the hierarchy and early retirement on a generous pension. Unlike the park vandals and bullies, he will have no poor decisions to recover from.
This kind of intellectual rottenness in the police—the chief constable of Manchester has just had to stand down because his force last year failed even to record a quarter of the crimes reported to them, let alone try to solve them—is a profound cultural phenomenon in Britain. It exerts the effect on the public administration that termites exert on wooden-framed buildings.
Here is another example, from a different sphere: the arts. Maria Balshaw is currently director of the Tate Galleries, one of the most important positions in the visual arts in the country, responsible for the national collections of both British and modern art. This is a post whose appointee requires the prime minister’s approval—in this case, from Theresa May.
Before her appointment to the Tate, Balshaw was director of the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester University’s splendid art gallery, and then of the Manchester City Art Gallery. I take as my text the transcript of a video talk that she gave while still director of the Whitworth. This has the advantage both of brevity and of illustrating to perfection the type of person who now rises to the top in British administration.
Her manner is one of self-satisfaction so great that she makes Mr. Podsnap seem as self-questioning as Hamlet. She begins by telling us one of the important functions of a director of an artistic organization: “I think taking large artistic risks is part of the job of a good director of any artistic organisation.”
Artistic risks? The purchase of an unattributed painting, perhaps? Or of an artist previously unknown? And any artistic organization? What “artistic risks” are the directors of the Prado and Uffizi, for example, supposed to take—or do those galleries not really count as artistic organizations in the Balshavian sense?
Balshaw expands autobiographically: “But if I think back to moments where I experienced that as a really acute and intense feeling of fear and even of horror at the level of risk we were taking as an organisation, it boils down to an experience of watching a really marvellous artist, Kira O’Reilly, rolling very slowly down the stone stairs of the Whitworth Art Gallery.” The risk was obvious but the artistic nature of it less so. Balshaw tries to explain:
It was part of a big project that we did in 2009 with the performance artist, Marina Abramovic. Now it was an amazing project to work on, she’s an artist who I’ve admired throughout my working life, throughout her career she’s taken extraordinary risks with her own body and with the environment she operates in and with her artistic reputation. She made her name in the 70s by being on absolutely the far edge of the kind of risk an artist would be willing to take with their own body and their own art. So when I was offered the opportunity of working with her . . . I said straight away that the Whitworth, the whole organisation, would relish the opportunity. And what the project became was a performance experiment where fourteen live artists were given the whole of the Whitworth Gallery, we took away all the art collections and gave the spaces to them to make new work that would respond to the building, that would take them to a new level of creative and artistic experiment, and Kira devised a piece that was a nude descending a staircase, a kind of gorgeous relationship to the history of art and the way that women are represented.
Thus, the guardian of the national artistic heritage: clear out the artworks in a venerable gallery—presumably, quite an undertaking in time and labor, including the need to put them back—to make way for a naked woman slowly rolling down the stairs and other such “pieces.” Velazquez and Vermeer are not our artistic heroes, apparently, but Harry Houdini and Nadia Comaneci, the famous Romanian gymnast, are. And what does “new work that would respond to the building, that would take them to a new level of creative and artistic experiment” mean? What does “a kind of gorgeous relationship to the history of art and the way that women are represented” mean in this, or any other, context? One would hesitate to ask Balshaw, for fear of being subject to a torrent of frivolously earnest verbigeration.
Like a fly to a rotting corpse (in this case, the Western artistic tradition under its guardians in a corporatist state), Balshaw alighted at once on Kira O’Reilly’s proposal: “It was wonderful from the first moment that she uttered the idea; myself and Maria and Alex said that it just sounds fantastic, we’ve just got to make this happen.” The great day came for the creation of the “work”: “And all she did, really, was roll very, very slowly down the stairs in a series of tumbles, choreographed movements that replicated what would have happened if she’d fallen at speed to her death at the bottom of the staircase. But it unfolded over four hours, so bits of it were painfully slow to watch.”
Balshaw unwittingly makes an admission that brings to mind James Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution of 1941, as applied to modern cultural institutions: “She was descending stairs that were not usually open to the public, but a beautiful Edwardian staircase.” What had the mere public to do with beautiful staircases? (It is also revealing that the staircase is the only context in which Balshaw mentions the quality of beauty—suggesting that, somewhere deep within her, some faint aesthetic feeling survives.) Now comes the terror that Balshaw experienced as a result of the risk she had taken, or seemed to have taken:
Nothing had been rehearsed. Everything had been worked through very carefully and risk-managed in the best way that we could, but Kira hadn’t rolled down the staircase until the first time that she did it in front of the public, and I was sitting at the bottom of the staircase as she undertook a particularly difficult bit of movement. She was on her shoulders and lowering her legs down and her hands were twisted sideways around the banister of the staircase and her legs were inching down to reach the next step down, and she didn’t look as if she was going to make it, and she was kind of tensed and then relaxed into the most difficult part of the movement, she locked eyes with me, and as I looked and held her gaze, I thought she’s going to break her neck. . . . I don’t know how she’s going to get out of that movement safely, and in that moment a kind of adrenaline rush and fear happened for me and I felt physically sick and I know I went white as a sheet, but I knew I had to hold her gaze. And I was sitting there thinking I really love Kira, she’s a fantastic artist, and had become a really close friend of mine by that stage, and she’s really going to injure herself and I am responsible for this, and I let this happen, and why on earth didn’t I think that it would be dangerous to do this, and how on earth am I going to explain to the University of Manchester and the International Festival and everyone that an artist died on my watch.
Luckily, Balshaw was made of sterner stuff, though she seems not quite able to make up her mind whether she saved the artist’s life, or whether there really had been a risk to it:
But I still held her gaze and after what felt like hours but was probably under two minutes, she just shifted her weight ever so slightly sideways so that one foot did connect with the lower step, and very gradually started to unravel. And when she got to a definitely safer and more comfortable position, I left and went to the ladies, and stood in the toilets shaking for a good ten minutes, thinking all of this, actually, is too much, what were we thinking of?—until I kind of recovered my sense of myself, and remembered that actually there were method statements in place for every single one of these pieces and that many people more than me had looked at the issues each of the live art pieces raised, and that Kira has some of the best yoga and core strength training of any person that I know and that actually she was scared at that very moment but that she knew that she wasn’t going to break her neck, and all she needed was to kind of hold my gaze to keep her confidence. And when she finished, and we talked about the piece, she walked right up to me and said the moment when you held my gaze just gave me the strength I needed.
The incoherence of all this, except for its consistent thread of egotism, hardly needs pointing out. There was a terrible risk, there was no real risk; the artist was in terrible danger, the artist was never in danger; I did nothing, I saved her life. But it was just as well for Balshaw that the artist didn’t die, for then the problem of having to explain her death to the University of Manchester would have arisen. Undoubtedly an awkward moment.
Balshaw is nothing if not a learner from experience:
What I learnt . . . was that . . . I hadn’t really let myself contemplate the level of risk that we were taking, because I knew that if I did in advance it would be too scary, and that it was good that I didn’t really let myself go to a bad place of fear because, actually, collectively we’d shared the management of the risk, and everybody had the right bit of attention, so that it was safe to do something that was extraordinary, and that it taught me a really important lesson about how you need to be scared sometimes, because out of that comes really magnificent art.
This makes Sergeant Walker seem like Descartes. Balshaw could not have reached her prominent position without an entire bureaucratic apparatus of like-minded—or, at any rate, like-opinioned and like-feelinged—persons behind her. The whole public administration, from police sergeant to prime minister, is intellectually corrupt. The former prime minister cannot escape blame because, in assenting to Balshaw’s appointment, she either nodded it through because she couldn’t have cared less, in which case she was a philistine; or because—perhaps worse—she actively approved of it. After all, the upper echelons of British politics and administration share similar taste in music: asked by the BBC to name their favorite music, former prime minister David Cameron chose, inter alia, The Killers, and Balshaw chose Stormzy (a British rap singer).
The degeneration of the public administration puzzles me because in all walks of life, from plumbers to electricians, locksmiths, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, surgeons, cardiologists, research scientists, and so forth, I meet capable, intelligent, honest, and talented people. The explanation of this strange divergence, I suspect, is ultimately in the way that the humanities, or inhumanities, are now taught in higher education.
A Somali immigrant with a record of mental illness who is accused of killing three women during a knife attack in Bavaria told police that he was carrying out a “personal jihad”.
Abdirahman J, 24, began his attack, targeting women, in Würzburg’s Woolworth store yesterday afternoon when he asked “where are the knives?” in the shop’s household department. As the saleswoman, 49, showed him knives he grabbed the one with the longest blade, of just over five inches long, and stabbed her repeatedly in the neck killing her.
He then turned on other female customers killing a pensioner, 82 and another woman, 24 who died protecting her daughter from the attacker. As she fought back, covered in blood, he followed her into the street killing her before going on to carry out further attacks.
There were six other wounded victims, all women including a 15-year old girl who is in critical condition in hospital. One victim, Ingrid L, 73, was stabbed 13 times and narrowly escaped death.
According to witnesses, the attacker shouted the jihadist battle cry “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and was stopped from further killings by a passersby who cornered him with a broomstick, broken-off branches and shopping bags.
When police arrived, at 5pm on Friday, following an attack that only lasted around seven minutes, the attacker waved the knife at officers before being shot in his thigh and arrested.
“Allahu akbar. I realised my personal jihad,” he said after his arrest, according to police sources.
When police searched his room in the homeless shelter they found Islamic State literature in his room; terrorist officers are now investigating any potential links with others.
Celebrate Canada, but not its political leaders or its propensity for self-flagellation
by Conrad Black
In my expression of gratitude to COVID vaccinators last week, I did not mention that the federal government took an unconscionable risk in gambling on the effect of a 10-week gap between vaccinations, nor the disgraceful record Canada has in getting the population fully vaccinated, nor the intolerable delay in reopening the country. It is disappointing to see how quiescently Canadians have endured all this official ineptitude. As I have written here before, I think we grafted onto ourselves the hysteria about the COVID-19 virus that was promoted by the American national political media, not because it responded to medical facts, but in order to produce a climate of fear and economic depression that could be utilized to defeat President Donald Trump. (It was the pandemic that won the election, not the completely inadequate candidates the Democrats nominated or their insane platform.) There is no justification for the West’s blunderbuss-dictatorial deep-freeze shutdown to slow a disease that has a low mortality rate among young, healthy people. As mortifyingly inept as the federal and most of the other governments have been, the official opposition has been even less effective. If former prime ministers Brian Mulroney, John Diefenbaker or Stephen Harper (the only people who have won full-term elections against the Liberals in 90 years), had led the opposition (as they all successfully did), this government would have been sent to the showers by irresistible public demand long ago.
Canada generally imitates the United States in its fads and attitudes and as my colleague Jonathan Kay wrote here last weekend, the political struggle in the United States between the bipartisan establishment and Trump’s populist-nationalist-capitalist movement has had powerful resonances in Canada. Our former chief distinguishing characteristic — a confected and supercilious hostility to the U.S. — has actually fallen away. As the most conspicuous element of American life is now an absurdly woke, self-inflicted anti-Americanism and the denunciation of almost everything as somehow racist, even though only a small minority of Americans believe any of it, the papier-mâché sword of anti-Americanism has fallen from the feeble hands of Canadian media and academic nationalists. But in our Dudley Do-Right scarlet-tunicked Canadian benignity, instead of a stentorian anti-American victory lap, we have reverted to the sincerest form of flattery and are trying to imitate and compete with this brief moment of American self-dislike. Canada Day is denounced by many and the founder of our country is reviled as something akin to a Nazi.
It is very disappointing. Even in the time of Abraham Lincoln, Lord Palmerston, William Ewart Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli and Otto von Bismarck, John A. Macdonald was seen as an outstanding statesman and was highly regarded by all those mentioned (except for Bismarck, who never knew him). Macdonald’s political genius more than anything else shepherded the Canadian provinces and territories toward the world’s only transcontinental, bicultural, parliamentary federation, which has endured practically unchanged for longer than the political institutions of any country in the world with a population as large as Canada’s, except the United Kingdom and the United States. Macdonald’s extraordinary diplomatic ability enabled him to out-negotiate both the British and the Americans at the Washington Conference of 1871 and establish that Canada was an independent country with its own national interest and foreign policy. And Macdonald was the real father of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, a much more complicated track to lay across the Canadian Shield than corresponding American railways, which was both an engineering and a financial marvel, as Canada had no real capital markets of its own. He used the half-built railway to transport forces to the West, which were necessary to suppress Louis Riel’s Métis rebellion in 1885, and then lauded the indispensability of the railway (which was insolvent), in preventing the secession of most of what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta, thus securing another public refinancing to complete it. He used two concurrent crises to solve each other in a tour de force of statesmanship. He gave Natives the right to vote and was trying to help them and had Native allies such as Crowfoot and Poundmaker. The denigration of him now is scandalous and most Canadians disagree with it.
Because Canadian courts and legislatures essentially outlawed the practice of slavery early in the 19th century, and then the U.K. banned it outright in Britain and its colonies in 1833, Canada never had the original sin of slavery that the U.S. has, so we have had to devise our own narratives for self-torment. This is the only explanation I have found for our greatly exaggerated self-pillory over our treatment of Indigenous people. Canada’s Indigenous policy has generally failed and Indigenous people have been treated poorly throughout Canadian history, but never faced the kind of “genocide” Canada is now being accused of attempting. Macdonald and others believed they were doing the Natives a favour by trying to assimilate them to the life of European-Canadians, just as the British and Anglo-Canadians thought they were doing a favour by uniting Upper and Lower Canada in 1840, with the avowed purpose of assimilating the French-Canadians and relieving them of the terrible burden of speaking French. These missions were misconceived, but they were not based on hostility, much less on any bunk about “systemic racism.”
The infamous residential schools had a more mixed record than it is now fashionable to state, but with our susceptibility to guilt, Canada has already committed itself to a preposterous regime of both material and jurisdictional reparations in response to the champions of Indigenous victimhood. Most Canadians know that our Indigenous policy must be radically reformed, but not by open-ended national self-flagellation and impoverishment. Very few Canadians are bigots. There is as little racial and sectarian antagonism here as anywhere in the world that has remotely as diverse a population as Canada; immigrants are welcomed with probably greater generosity of spirit than in any other country. We have a relatively good justice system and have never been a party to aggressive or imperialist impulses. We have engaged only in just wars, from which we sought and gained nothing except the advancement of freedom in the world, and fought with distinction and with almost entirely volunteer forces, though Canada itself was not threatened.
Apart from an uncompetitive economy and excessive political correctness, our brooding self-torment has left us with two dreadful stigmata: the present prime minister has falsely confessed that Canada’s over-zealous but mistaken attempt to help First Nations people was cultural genocide; and the enthusiasm of all of the federal parties to acquiesce to the Quebec government’s move to abolish the use of the English language in federal government operations and federally chartered corporations. A national government that applauds stamping out its majority language in a jurisdiction that contains a quarter of the whole population has lost its right to govern. This is closer to cultural genocide than anything inflicted on the Natives, and also verges on national suicide in increments. Former prime minister Pierre Trudeau would inflict an unimaginable tongue-lashing on his son; so should the voters.
This is a great country, but you could not at the moment divine that from the quality of its political leadership, and the frightening fact is that in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. A happy and proud Canada Day to all.