Saturday, May 24, 2003
Excerpts from an article by V.D. Hanson
AMERICAN PROFESSORS have long lectured to our students about purported Western biases and cruel misconceptions toward the "Other." According to Edward Said and other postcolonial critics, much of our dim view of Arabs is a product of an "Orientalism" that was constructed by European intellectuals of the 19th century West — blinkered folk actively engaged as colonialists overseas, and conditioned by an earlier pedigree of prejudice toward the East dating from Herodotus and Aeschylus. According to such supposedly biased and unsophisticated views, Asians and Arabs were considered tribal, emotional, less-sophisticated peoples, prone to violence, fundamentalism, and irrational thinking, simply because they did not understand, or chose not to follow, Europe's rather brutal notions of capitalism, nationalism, rationalism, and Christianity.
Few any longer accept such a simplistic, black-and-white portrait — especially when a number of erudite Europeans made great efforts not only to live among and understand the Islamic world, but also to criticize their own culture's interactions with it. Indeed, "Orientalism" is a superficial charge that does no justice to a wide range of liberal 19th-century thinking and the present array of modern Middle East Studies programs throughout America and Europe.
What really is startling, however, is not how the West in an earlier age — without easy communications and cheap travel — misunderstood the Arab and Islamic worlds, but rather how today — Internet, jets, student visas, television, and all — the East continues to stereotype the West, with not a clue about its intrinsic nature.
We should call this bias "Westernism" — or, perhaps, "Occidentalism." In general we can describe it as the mentality of desperately wanting something that one either cannot understand or that one, in fact, blindly and in ignorance loathes. Millions of Arabs have now come in contact with the dividends of Western capitalism and industrial production, most clearly in their easy acceptance of everything from cell phones and televisions to antibiotics and chemotherapy — everything that makes life a little easier materially, and occasionally somewhat longer. Sheiks from Saudi Arabia go to London or New York for bypass surgery — not to Cairo or Amman; they buy their Viagra from the States, not from apothecaries in Yemen. The Arab street purchases appliances that are made in China or Japan on Western blueprints, rather than producing them en masse in Damascus or improving on their designs at Baghdad University.
The Israelis produce the best tank in the world, and export everything from drip-irrigation technology to computer software; their enemies whine that America does not give them more and better weapons. Not even Saddam Hussein could establish a modern aircraft factory, nor could the formidable Assad dynasty produce a single destroyer. All the arms in all the Arab countries are either imported from Europe, Japan, or America — or licensed and built from Western designs in China and Korea.
We see such a very thin facing of material prosperity in almost every picture that is broadcast from the Middle East — thousands of consumer goods, movies, videos, and processed food that would be impossible without the West. Bin Laden himself, after calling for a medieval caliphate, bought a cell phone, a video camera, and sophisticated weapons — products that his own anti-rationalist madrassas and mosques could not produce. The Taliban liked SUVs, but the government and school system they established ensured that not a single Afghan would ever acquire the knowledge to produce such pricey appurtenances. The killers in Palestine must bring in everything, from their rifles to their bombs — and the expertise to use them. Those few who do possess indigenous knowledge of sophisticated destruction either are foreign-educated or got the requisite information off the Internet.
The lust for the West is not only a matter of material addiction; there is a yearning for its freedom, modernity, and liberality as well. On American university campuses, Arab students often are the most vociferous questioners at lectures, and bask in the Western idea of completely unrestricted free speech. At rallies and on call-in radio stations, Islamic visitors on visas keenly exercise their rights of sharp critique — by openly condemning our own Mideast policy, our president, and indeed our country itself. Non-Westerners metamorphose into hyper-Westerners when they come here to study.
This entire familiarity with Western goods and practices ultimately is superficial. The Arab world is suffering from a deep-seated schizophrenia as it slowly sorts out its ambiguous feelings toward the hated West. Do you despise a country that gives you oil-drilling equipment, Ford SUVs, and contact lenses, along with Spider-Man and McDonald's, as being crass, godless, and decadent? And if so, do you express such loathing between Big Macs, as you park your air-conditioned Wagoneer, board a 767, or put in eye drops for your glaucoma? Are America's unveiled, auto-driving, and sometimes belly-baring women sluts and worse? — or do they accomplish far more than exciting the baser passions, such as doubling the work force and bringing critical brain power to the very pinnacles of society? Should you even shake hands with a Western woman, pay her to join your harem, lecture her about chastity — or hire her to economize your bureaucracy, control your aircraft traffic, design your power grid, sort our your legal codes?
Occidentalism — this counterfeit affinity with, and superficial knowledge of, the West — is most apparent in politics, where America's support for Israel is wrongly attributed to Zionist conspiracies and Jewish influence, rather than a tolerance and liberal values shared with the Middle East's only true democracy. When we see Israeli women in uniform, we think of our own — not those veiled in Pakistan. When we see the fiery debates in the Knesset, we recall our own Congress — not Syria's faux parliament. When we witness in the last few years Rabin, Netanyahu, Barak, and Sharon, we think of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II — not of the uninterrupted tenure of an Arafat, Mubarak, or Hussein.
At day's end, the Arab world will have to sort out these paradoxes and contradictions — and decide how traditional, how fundamentalist, or how autocratic and closed its societies should be in rejecting some, all, or none of the West's material and ideological dynamism. But we here in America have our own choices to make — and it is high time that we confront Occidentalism squarely and without pretense.
Politically, our officials must at last realize that Israelis tell the truth more often than Palestinians do — not because of genes or superior morality, but because their system of a free press, informed citizenry, and vocal opposition requires them to. We must not take seriously too much Arab hatred that is predicated on real grievance, but realize that most antipathy is the result of this unhealthy stew of envy, anger, and desire for the West, a concoction that can so often be as humiliating to them as it is dangerous to us — as we saw with the Westernized murderers on September 11.
As a people and a government, we must realize that our West is not Westernism; that all the suits, jet planes, and televisions in the Gulf do not add up to gender equity, free speech, or religious tolerance — and that the latter are precisely what ensures the life that is good, and humane, and uniquely our own.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Friday, May 23, 2003
By Myles Kantor
"With all the things we criticize, he is undoubtedly a great man, and I believe has done much for the German people." So wrote the historic aviator Charles Lindbergh of Adolf Hitler in 1937.
Lindbergh wasn¹t the only American entranced by Der Fuehrer. The poet Ezra Pound said in 1945, "Adolf Hitler was a Jeanne d¹Arc, a saint. He was a martyr."
It¹s no longer chic to praise Hitler, but that doesn¹t mean all tyrants are out of style. Just look at the sadist who has enslaved Cuba since 1959.
At the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, filmmaker Oliver Stone said that Fidel Castro is "warm and bright" and "a very moral man." Stone described him as "one of the Earth¹s wisest people" at the Berlin Film Festival in February.
The occasions for these remarks were screenings of Stone¹s new documentary on Castro, Comandante. HBO was to air Comandante on May 5 but canceled it after the imprisonment last month of 80 human rights activists and summary execution of three Cubans who hijacked a ferry to get out of Cuba. Ironically, in the early 1980s Stone was detained in the Soviet Union while researching an unmade film about Russian dissidents called Defiance. He brought radios and other goods for dissidents.
Several of Stone¹s peers in the movie industry share his Castro-philia. Jack Nicholson, for instance, has called Castro "a genius."
These artists demand creative freedom in America yet praise a tyrant who subjugates all media to his totalitarian dogma. Director Sergio Giral, who had a film banned by Castro and fled in 1990, observes of Cuban film¹s relationship to the regime: "Completely dependent. ICAIC [Cuban Institute of Cinematic Arts and Industry] is a government institution like the rest of Cuban institutions. Follows orders from above."
Castro established this ideological orthodoxy soon after seizing power. Orlando Leal¹s documentary on Havana nightlife, P.M., was banned in 1961; that year Castro declared policy on art as "Inside the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing." (Mussolini similarly said, "Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." The nexus isn¹t coincidental; in high school Castro practiced Mussolini¹s rhetorical style and later owned a dozen volumes of his writings.)
In Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens recounts an exchange in 1968 on Cuban film with Santiago Alvarez, "the grand old man of Cuban cinema":
Film was the special medium of the Cuban revolution and he assured us that it was unfettered. Completely unfettered? Well, he said with a slight laugh, there is only one thing that is not done. No satirical portrayal of the leader will be permitted. (The slight laugh was at the very idea that anyone would even dream of proposing such a thing.) I said, quite simply, that if the main subject of Castro was off-limits, then, in effect, there could be no real satire or criticism at all.
Satire of Castro remains a crime, depriving Cubans of a vital instrument of expression.
Like entertainment elites, intellectual elites continue to glamorize the Cuban despot. The MarchApril issue of the prestigious magazine Foreign Policy contained a book review by Castro, described as "the president of Cuba."
"President," as if Castro has maintained power for 44 years through electoral victories over opposition candidates. As if systematic repression and terror have no role in the longevity of his "suffocating dictatorship," to use left-wing Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes¹ recent description of the regime.
From Front Page
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Thursday, May 22, 2003
AN INTERESTING LETTER
I notice that you had something to say about the LaRouche organisation and its agenda. At one stage they tried to recruit me but I managed to repel them.
Having said that I strongly suspect that they may be correct in the belief that the United States has been financially "hollowed out", that this has resulted from a combination of internal greed and strategic external intervention, and that a new international currency with some credibility will be required to replace the $US.
In my awareness this possibility/probability was first effectively foreshadowed in the book "A Time For Truth" (McGraw Hill) by William E Simon former US Treasury Secretary to Presidents Nixon and Ford. More recently I have encountered something of a "follow up" to that in a book called "The Creature from Jekyll Island" by G Edward Griffin which recites the anatomy & history of the Federal Reserve system and much else besides. It is an extraordinarily competent and well researched work. Thinking purely of economics rather than any political partisanship it has convinced me that something of a new Bretton Woods is inevitable and that Australian leadership needs to recognise and plan for that. It may be wise to consider the introduction of some kind of "constitutional money" as advocated by American scholar Edwin Vieira in his work "Pieces of Eight".
Interestingly the Founding Fathers of the US Republic actually mandated that in their constitution, Thomas Jefferson in particular foresaw the outcome that has now emerged in the US over 200 years ago, unfortunately the constitution has been subverted rather than amended.
Much of the relevant history of these developments has been independently reviewed by Republican Congressman (Texas) Ron Paul in his book "The New Money Handbook". It too has been an eye opener although published as long ago as 1993.
How have I become involved in this area of interest? My late father obtained his BA from Cambridge in 1934 (majoring in Economics) and was one of the few professional economists employed on the London Stock Exchange until 1940. I think that he learned a thing or two. One of his sayings was "The trouble with the Yanks is that they always try to spend their way out of trouble - and in the end it never works." It has taken me years to discover the historical/factual background to this assertion but I think that I may finally have "got the message".
(In New South Wales, when a child is removed from the care of incompetent drug addicted parents, it is the official policy of the Department of Community Services (DoCS) that in choosing foster parents for the child, the child’s own grandparents should not be considered. Below is a letter from one of the loving grandparents affected)
I have had to make a stream of complaints recently over the DoCS handling of everything. If we can get this into the family court we have a much stronger case because of the family court’s recognition of the rights of grandparents.
DoCS will not let us see our grandchild more than once a month because she might become "too bonded" with us. I told them it was too late, she is already bonded! I had to fight with DoCS upper management to even see her on her first birthday, and DoCs have refused to allow us to have an ongoing communication with our granddaughter’s Doctor.
It goes on and on, including a DoCS caseworker sitting in a doctor’s crowded waiting room discussing all the confidential details of the case with the foster mother, this is totally inappropriate!
All the best
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
SHALOM: A LETTER TO FRANCE FROM A ‘JUIF’
By David Tsai
As a Jew, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would like to thank your President Jacques Chirac for saying that Israel needs to be convinced that peace is better than war. Never mind that peace (shalom in Hebrew) is the most common word in Jewish prayers. That it is endlessly repeated in synagogues, when greeting or taking leave, when getting up or going to bed.
Never mind that shalom (peace) is mentioned 77 times in the Torah, and 275 times in the Jewish Bible (The Old Testament of Christians.) Never mind that of all the world's literature the United Nations chose to inscribe the words of Israeli Prophet Isaiah on the wall across from its building in New York. Here are these words, "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Never mind that these words are said in every synagogue at nearly every assembly, and that peace is called "God's greatest gift". Therefore, the President of the Nation that still venerates general Napoleon would do better teaching cows how to make milk, or teaching grass how to grow quietly than teaching Jews (Israelis) that peace is better than war.
Thank you, Jacques Chirac, for informing me about the encyclopedic extent of your ignorance.
I would like also to thank the unnamed cinema near the Paris Opera for canceling a screening of the "Harry Potter" film for Jewish kids. But I am even more grateful to the police of Paris, which has failed to provide protection for these kids. Apparently Jews of any age are no longer guaranteed complete equality with the rest of the population. France was the first country in Europe to offer Jews this guarantee, and now it is apparently also the first to revoke it.
I congratulate your great Nation for keeping up at the foreskin of progress, no matter in which direction progress turns. And how can I not mention the doctorate degree in history, which was offered to Mustafa Talas (who just happens to be Syria's Foreign Minister) by the Sorbonne. The Honorable Doctor Talas has written a book on the Damascus Blood Libel of 1840, in which he claims that Jews kill Christians to obtain their blood for Passover. A true genius of historical science is Mustafa Talas, and certainly worthy of Sorbonne.
I am infinitely glad that good old blood libels (perhaps the most imaginative product of European civilization), nearly forgotten in the last 50 years, are being revived in French academic circles.
You French are just wonderful: not only do you keep at the foreskin of progress, but also revive ancient traditions. (The Damascus Blood Libel started with disappearance of Father Thomas, a Franciscan superior. The French consul accused a group of rabbis and other Jews of ritual murder and extracted a "confession" by torture in which one of the victims died. Pogroms followed throughout the Middle East. The consul then requested permission from Mahemet Ali to kill the rest of his suspects. Others, including sixty children, were arrested and starved to convince their parents to confess. The charges were dropped when Sir Moses Montefiore, Adolphe Cremieux and Salomon Munk intervened on behalf of the Jews.)
I also cannot forget the events of October, 2000, with synagogues firebombed and burned, Jewish worshipers attacked and stoned. I know that President Chiraq spoke out against all this, saying that this is not what he meant when he criticized Israel. Well, as English playwright Shakespeare said, "Methinks the Lady doth protest too much."
The President's criticisms of Israel had been (and remain) so extensive, so common and so unforgiving, that I cannot possibly believe him. The events of October, 2000 is exactly what he meant.
I would like to inform you that I have decided to join the campaign against France. I will not visit or fly through France and its colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Pierre. I will also boycott all products made in France, including perfume and cosmetics industry, designer fashion labels, French wines, chocolates, etc. I will use my money to buy Israeli products, and travel to Israel and other countries who still think that Jews are human and should not live at the mercy of Palestinian terrorists.
I will also contact all people I know and try to get them to do the same. Let it be a humble manifestation of my gratitude.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
SHOCK INTERPOL APPOINTMENT
From Cathy Buckle in Zimbabwe
It was with deep shock and disgust that Zimbabwe learned this week that our police commissioner Augustine Chihuri has been appointed the Honorary Vice President of Interpol. The double standards shown by European countries to the horrific state of our daily lives in Zimbabwe leaves me just spitting with rage. One minute they describe us as being in the grip of a "brutal regime" and back this up with graphic reports of police attaching electrodes to mens' testicles, and the next minute they confer awards on the Police Commissioner. A police spokesman in Harare said the award proves to the world that Zimbabwean police are both professional and non partisan.
I will never forget the day a young man pulled a gun on me at our Marondera farm in 2000 and bragged that he could "drop me at forty paces". Nor will I forget the police who came, took a statement, went down onto the field where the man was and did absolutely nothing. They said they were powerless to act because "it was political." I will never forget sitting in the Harare High Court last year and hearing sworn testimony of how a dozen policemen stood aside in the Murehwa Police Station and allowed five farmers to be abducted from the safety of their offices. For three years the Zimbabwe Republic Police have used a string of phrases which has excused them from acting against rape, murder, torture, arson and looting. These phrases are: "It is political," "It is my first time of hearing this", "I am not the one" or "We have received no instructions." For three years the Police in Zimbabwe have ignored scores of High Court Rulings and now, in 2003 it is a punishable offence to criticise them or say anything which causes people to ridicule them. When I had the privilege of meeting a visiting Foreign Minister in 2001 he begged me to write more about the role of the police in Zimbabwe's madness. I hope he understands now why I cannot.
Just as I cannot forget what has happened to me and people I know personally, Zimbabweans cannot forget that over 200 people have been murdered in the country in the last 3 years and to this day not one person is in prison. Nor can we forget the hundreds of rapes, disgusting testimony of police brutality or the death in custody late last year of an MP in prison. There are none so blind as those who will not see, including Interpol whose address is email@example.com
WE’VE GOT MAIL
Get me off your email list now you Fascist fat bastard. I vote independent. I always have and always will while stupid assholes like you are ruining the big parties.
Lisa De Luca
(Lisa De Luca is daughter of Rosalind De Luca OAM, and is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Readers who wish to engage her professional services may contact Lisa De Luca at Suite 4, 646 Pittwater Road Brookvale, phone 9907 3297, fax 9907 4295.)
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Monday, May 19, 2003
*TEACH “TRUE” ISLAM, NOT CHRISTIANITY(??)
Excerpts from an article by Ann Coulter
(N.B.: Anne Coulter uses the term “liberal” in its USA context, meaning “socialist”).
MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS from CNN to the New York Times have all recently admitted to years of lying about conditions in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. They explain that they faced either losing "access" or subjecting their Iraqi employees – and, of more relevancy, themselves – to Saddam's torture chambers.
Stipulating for purposes of argument that the media were performing a service to anyone other than Saddam Hussein by being his pimp, rather than just pulling out, it still leaves another devilish question. Why, then, were these same news organizations – CNN and the Times in particular – so insistent that the United States take no action to remove Hussein from power, knowing what they now admit they knew?
Liberals learned to live with Iraqi citizens being fed into plastic shredders, summary executions, maimings and unanesthetized ear-loppings. Only now have they found something truly fiendish going on in Iraq: Christian missionaries are proselytizing! On the basis of the raw terror on display at the New York Times, I gather the operating theory is that Iraqis who withstood Saddam Hussein's sadistic tyranny for 30 years will be unable to withstand a Christian missionary.
I don't know. Liberals have resisted Christianity pretty well. Christians are already a majority in America, and we can't even stop public school teachers from passing out condoms to fourth-graders or prevent Hollywood from producing movies that portray Christians as marauding skinheads.
But in the left's doomsday scenario, Arabs who have been stewing in Islamic theology their entire lives could watch a 20-minute video on the life of Christ and convert en masse. God only knows what trouble that could lead to.
Interestingly, absolutely everyone concedes that a lot of Muslims are going to have to convert to some new religion. That's the point of the much-ballyhooed claim that the terrorists and their sympathizers are not practicing "true Islam." Well, they think they are. Muslims who share Mohammed Atta's religious belief as it pertains to infidels are bossily informed that they are incorrect and ordered to practice "true Islam." Only if a Christian mentions Jesus Christ, evidently, does it constitute imperialism.
In fact, the "true Islam" ruse is straight out of the imperialist's handbook. When the British colonized India, they encountered such charming Hindu practices as "suttee," which involved throwing the widow on her husband's burning funeral pyre. Instead of convincing the Hindus that this hideous practice was a priori wrong, the British went to great lengths to produce ancient Sanskrit texts proving that the natives were not practicing "true Hinduism."
As Anthony Pagden describes it in the book Peoples and Empires: "The British ransacked Sanskrit texts and questioned local religious leaders in an effort to discover a 'purer' form of Hinduism" that would match – as Pagden puts it – "their own notions of 'morality.'" (Pagden, who has taught at Harvard and has written for the New York Times, would be finished as a respected academic if he ever expressed a personal view as to the morality of burning women alive.)
As luck would have it, the governor general of India, Lord Bentinck, made the exciting discovery that suttee was just such a distortion of the original Sanskrit! He outlawed it in 1829, proclaiming that he had restored the Indians to "true Hinduism."
Christians who are willing to leave the safety and comfort of America to go to barbarous lands, risking disease, pestilence and murder, simply because they so love their fellow man – these are the miscreants who inflame and enrage liberals more than Saddam Hussein and his rape rooms ever did.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Sunday, May 18, 2003
This weekend, the city of St. Louis is playing unwilling host to this year's "BioDevastation" protest, held in tandem with the World Agricultural Forum's 2003 World Congress. As with previous "BioDev" events (as the hip technophobes call them), the usual suspects have opened their wallets this year to showcase some of the world's most laughable pseudo-scientists:
* Percy Schmeiser -- a Canadian farmer whose conviction for pirating Monsanto's patented canola seeds has turned him into one of the world's best-known crybabies;
* Vandana Shiva -- an Indian agrarian prophet of doom-and-gloom who opposes the development of potentially life-saving "golden rice," and lectures hungry and malnourished people to eat a prohibitively expensive diet of "liver, egg yolk, chicken, meat, milk and butter" instead;
* Brian Tokar -- a self-described unrepentant socialist whose "direct action" group, known as "Northeast RAGE," has participated in the destruction of GM plantings and large-scale vandalism of grocery stores;
* Michael Hansen -- an activist in a lab coat, whose advisory position with the virulently anti-biotech (and woefully misnamed) Center for Food Safety has, surprisingly, not disqualified him from his work developing positions on GM foods for Consumer Reports magazine;
* Mae-Wan Ho -- Great Britain's most outspoken biotechnology conspiracy theorist, who insists that the SARS virus is a by-product of genetic engineering, and admits in her speeches that she has "never tried to be a 'good responsible scientist'"; and
* Ignacio Chapela -- the disgraced Berkeley professor whose 2001 anti-biotech research on "genetic drift" in Mexico's maize fields was embarrassingly disavowed by the prestigious journal Nature, which concluded that "the evidence available" was "not sufficient to justify [its] publication."
The 2003 event is being organized by the Gateway Green Alliance (GGA), the St. Louis affiliate of the recently Ralph-Nader-ized Green Party USA. GGA's two biggest sources of financial support are the Fund for Wild Nature and "RESIST," a pacifist charity co-founded in 1967 by the dean of the Hate-America-Loonies, Noam Chomsky.
Other internal documents obtained by the Center for Consumer Freedom reveal that this year's "BioDev" event will be underwritten by RESIST, the Green Party USA, the JMG Fund (which has committed $12,000), and several national organic food marketers, including Wild Oats Markets, who seek to diminish competition from less expensive and more abundant biotech crops. Organizers also expect financial support from the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the C.S. Fund, the Solidago Foundation, and the Jenifer Altman Foundation.
These big-money benefactors share a disdain for technology, an unparalleled hubris, and practically limitless financial resources -- all of which make them perfect partners for this year's most visible anti-biotech tantrum.
Comments? Email Michael Darby