Saturday, September 24, 2005
It is customary for followers of a cult not to know the real life story of their hero, the historical truth
It is customary for followers of a cult not to know the real life story of their hero, the historical truthwrites Alvaro Vargas Llosa in The Killing Machine: Che Guevara, from Communist Firebrand to Capitalist Brand (gracias siempre para Hervé).
(Many Rastafarians would renounce Haile Selassie if they had any notion of who he really was.) It is not surprising that Guevara’s contemporary followers, his new post-communist admirers, also delude themselves by clinging to a myth—except the young Argentines who have come up with an expression that rhymes perfectly in Spanish: “Tengo una remera del Che y no sé por qué,” or “I have a Che T-shirt and I don’t know why.”
Consider some of the people who have recently brandished or invoked Guevara’s likeness as a beacon of justice and rebellion against the abuse of power. … The manifestations of the new cult of Che are everywhere. Once again the myth is firing up people whose causes for the most part represent the exact opposite of what Guevara was.
No man is without some redeeming qualities. In the case of Che Guevara, those qualities may help us to measure the gulf that separates reality from myth. His honesty (well, partial honesty) meant that he left written testimony of his cruelties, including the really ugly, though not the ugliest, stuff. His courage—what Castro described as “his way, in every difficult and dangerous moment, of doing the most difficult and dangerous thing”—meant that he did not live to take full responsibility for Cuba’s hell. Myth can tell you as much about an era as truth. And so it is that thanks to Che’s own testimonials to his thoughts and his deeds, and thanks also to his premature departure, we may know exactly how deluded so many of our contemporaries are about so much.
Guevara might have been enamored of his own death, but he was much more enamored of other people’s deaths. In April 1967, speaking from experience, he summed up his homicidal idea of justice in his “Message to the Tricontinental”: “hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine.” His earlier writings are also peppered with this rhetorical and ideological violence. …
Guevara’s disposition when he traveled with Castro from Mexico to Cuba aboard the Granma is captured in a phrase in a letter to his wife that he penned on January 28, 1957, not long after disembarking, which was published in her book Ernesto: A Memoir of Che Guevara in Sierra Maestra: “Here in the Cuban jungle, alive and bloodthirsty.” This mentality had been reinforced by his conviction that Arbenz had lost power because he had failed to execute his potential enemies. An earlier letter to his former girlfriend Tita Infante had observed that “if there had been some executions, the government would have maintained the capacity to return the blows.” It is hardly a surprise that during the armed struggle against Batista, and then after the triumphant entry into Havana, Guevara murdered or oversaw the executions in summary trials of scores of people—proven enemies, suspected enemies, and those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In January 1957, as his diary from the Sierra Maestra indicates, Guevara shot Eutimio Guerra because he suspected him of passing on information: “I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain.... His belongings were now mine.” Later he shot Aristidio, a peasant who expressed the desire to leave whenever the rebels moved on. While he wondered whether this particular victim “was really guilty enough to deserve death,” he had no qualms about ordering the death of Echevarría, a brother of one of his comrades, because of unspecified crimes: “He had to pay the price.” At other times he would simulate executions without carrying them out, as a method of psychological torture.
… But the “cold-blooded killing machine” did not show the full extent of his rigor until, immediately after the collapse of the Batista regime, Castro put him in charge of La Cabaña prison. (Castro had a clinically good eye for picking the right person to guard the revolution against infection.) San Carlos de La Cabaña was a stone fortress used to defend Havana against English pirates in the eighteenth century; later it became a military barracks. In a manner chillingly reminiscent of Lavrenti Beria, Guevara presided during the first half of 1959 over one of the darkest periods of the revolution. José Vilasuso, a lawyer and a professor at Universidad Interamericana de Bayamón in Puerto Rico, who belonged to the body in charge of the summary judicial process at La Cabaña, told me recently thatChe was in charge of the Comisión Depuradora. The process followed the law of the Sierra: there was a military court and Che’s guidelines to us were that we should act with conviction, meaning that they were all murderers and the revolutionary way to proceed was to be implacable. My direct superior was Miguel Duque Estrada. My duty was to legalize the files before they were sent on to the Ministry. Executions took place from Monday to Friday, in the middle of the night, just after the sentence was given and automatically confirmed by the appellate body. On the most gruesome night I remember, seven men were executed.Javier Arzuaga, the Basque chaplain who gave comfort to those sentenced to die and personally witnessed dozens of executions, spoke to me recently from his home in Puerto Rico. A former Catholic priest, now seventy-five, who describes himself as “closer to Leonardo Boff and Liberation Theology than to the former Cardinal Ratzinger,” he recalls thatthere were about eight hundred prisoners in a space fit for no more than three hundred: former Batista military and police personnel, some journalists, a few businessmen and merchants. The revolutionary tribunal was made of militiamen. Che Guevara presided over the appellate court. He never overturned a sentence. I would visit those on death row at the galera de la muerte. A rumor went around that I hypnotized prisoners because many remained calm, so Che ordered that I be present at the executions. After I left in May, they executed many more, but I personally witnessed fifty-five executions. There was an American, Herman Marks, apparently a former convict. We called him “the butcher” because he enjoyed giving the order to shoot. I pleaded many times with Che on behalf of prisoners. I remember especially the case of Ariel Lima, a young boy. Che did not budge. Nor did Fidel, whom I visited. I became so traumatized that at the end of May 1959 I was ordered to leave the parish of Casa Blanca, where La Cabaña was located and where I had held Mass for three years. I went to Mexico for treatment. The day I left, Che told me we had both tried to bring one another to each other’s side and had failed. His last words were: “When we take our masks off, we will be enemies.”Che’s lust for power had other ways of expressing itself besides murder. The contradiction between his passion for travel—a protest of sorts against the constraints of the—and his impulse to become himself an enslaving state over others is poignant. In writing about Pedro Valdivia, the conquistador of Chile, Guevara reflected: “He belonged to that special class of men the species produces every so often, in whom a craving for limitless power is so extreme that any suffering to achieve it seems natural.” He might have been describing himself. At every stage of his adult life, his megalomania manifested itself in the predatory urge to take over other people’s lives and property, and to abolish their free will.
…Che’s obsession with collectivist control led him to collaborate on the formation of the security apparatus that was set up to subjugate six and a half million Cubans. In early 1959, a series of secret meetings took place in Tarará, near Havana, at the mansion to which Che temporarily withdrew to recover from an illness. That is where the top leaders, including Castro, designed the Cuban police state. Ramiro Valdés, Che’s subordinate during the guerrilla war, was put in charge of G-2, a body modeled on the Cheka. Angel Ciutah, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War sent by the Soviets who had been very close to Ramón Mercader, Trotsky’s assassin, and later befriended Che, played a key role in organizing the system, together with Luis Alberto Lavandeira, who had served the boss at La Cabaña. Guevara himself took charge of G-6, the body tasked with the ideological indoctrination of the armed forces. The U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 became the perfect occasion to consolidate the new police state, with the rounding up of tens of thousands of Cubans and a new series of executions. As Guevara himself told the Soviet ambassador Sergei Kudriavtsev, counterrevolutionaries were never “to raise their head again.”
“Counterrevolutionary” is the term that was applied to anyone who departed from dogma. It was the communist synonym for “heretic.” Concentration camps were one form in which dogmatic power was employed to suppress dissent. History attributes to the Spanish general Valeriano Weyler, the captain-general of Cuba at the end of the nineteenth century, the first use of the word “concentration” to describe the policy of surrounding masses of potential opponents—in his case, supporters of the Cuban independence movement—with barbed wire and fences. How fitting that Cuba’s revolutionaries more than half a century later were to take up this indigenous tradition. In the beginning, the revolution mobilized volunteers to build schools and to work in ports, plantations, and factories—all exquisite photo-ops for Che the stevedore, Che the cane-cutter, Che the clothmaker. It was not long before volunteer work became a little less voluntary: the first forced labor camp, Guanahacabibes, was set up in western Cuba at the end of 1960. This is how Che explained the function performed by this method of confinement: “[We] only send to Guanahacabibes those doubtful cases where we are not sure people should go to jail ... people who have committed crimes against revolutionary morals, to a lesser or greater degree.... It is hard labor, not brute labor, rather the working conditions there are hard.”
This camp was the precursor to the eventual systematic confinement, starting in 1965 in the province of Camagüey, of dissidents, homosexuals, AIDS victims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests, and other such scum, under the banner of Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción, or Military Units to Help Production. Herded into buses and trucks, the “unfit” would be transported at gunpoint into concentration camps organized on the Guanahacabibes mold. Some would never return; others would be raped, beaten, or mutilated; and most would be traumatized for life, as Néstor Almendros’s wrenching documentary Improper Conduct showed the world a couple of decades ago.
…This fanatical disposition made Che into a linchpin of the “Sovietization” of the revolution that had repeatedly boasted about its independent character. Very soon after the barbudos came to power, Guevara took part in negotiations with Anastas Mikoyan, the Soviet deputy prime minister, who visited Cuba. He was entrusted with the mission of furthering Soviet-Cuban negotiations during a visit to Moscow in late 1960. (It was part of a long trip in which Kim Il Sung’s North Korea was the country that impressed him “the most.”)
…Guevara distanced himself from the Soviet Union in the last years of his life. He did so for the wrong reasons, blaming Moscow for being too soft ideologically and diplomatically, for making too many concessions—unlike Maoist China, which he came to see as a haven of orthodoxy. In October 1964, a memo written by Oleg Daroussenkov, a Soviet official close to him, quotes Guevara as saying: “We asked the Czechoslovaks for arms; they turned us down. Then we asked the Chinese; they said yes in a few days, and did not even charge us, stating that one does not sell arms to a friend.” In fact, Guevara resented the fact that Moscow was asking other members of the communist bloc, including Cuba, for something in return for its colossal aid and political support. His final attack on Moscow came in Algiers, in February 1965, at an international conference, where he accused the Soviets of adopting the “law of value,” that is, capitalism. His break with the Soviets, in sum, was not a cry for independence. It was an Enver Hoxha–like howl for the total subordination of reality to blind ideological orthodoxy.
…His stint as head of the National Bank, during which he printed bills signed “Che,” has been summarized by his deputy, Ernesto Betancourt: “[He] was ignorant of the most elementary economic principles.” Guevara’s powers of perception regarding the world economy were famously expressed in 1961, at a hemispheric conference in Uruguay, where he predicted a 10 percent rate of growth for Cuba “without the slightest fear,” and, by 1980, a per capita income greater than that of “the U.S. today.” In fact, by 1997, the thirtieth anniversary of his death, Cubans were dieting on a ration of five pounds of rice and one pound of beans per month; four ounces of meat twice a year; four ounces of soybean paste per week; and four eggs per month.
Land reform took land away from the rich, but gave it to the bureaucrats, not to the peasants. (The decree was written in Che’s house.) In the name of diversification, the cultivated area was reduced and manpower distracted toward other activities. The result was that between 1961 and 1963, the harvest was down by half, to a mere 3.8 million metric tons. Was this sacrifice justified by progress in Cuban industrialization? Unfortunately, Cuba had no raw materials for heavy industry, and, as a consequence of the revolutionary redistribution, it had no hard currency with which to buy them—or even basic goods. By 1961, Guevara was having to give embarrassing explanations to the workers at the office: “Our technical comrades at the companies have made a toothpaste ... which is as good as the previous one; it cleans just the same, though after a while it turns to stone.”
…In the last few decades of the nineteenth century, Argentina had the second-highest growth rate in the world. By the 1890s, the real income of Argentine workers was greater than that of Swiss, German, and French workers. By 1928, that country had the twelfth-highest per capita GDP in the world. That achievement, which later generations would ruin, was in large measure due to Juan Bautista Alberdi.
Like Guevara, Alberdi liked to travel: he walked through the pampas and deserts from north to south at the age of fourteen, all the way to Buenos Aires. Like Guevara, Alberdi opposed a tyrant, Juan Manuel Rosas. Like Guevara, Alberdi got a chance to influence a revolutionary leader in power—Justo José de Urquiza, who toppled Rosas in 1852. And like Guevara, Alberdi represented the new government on world tours, and died abroad. But unlike the old and new darling of the left, Alberdi never killed a fly. His book, Bases y puntos de partida para la organización de la República Argentina, was the foundation of the Constitution of 1853 that limited government, opened trade, encouraged immigration, and secured property rights, thereby inaugurating a seventy-year period of astonishing prosperity. He did not meddle in the affairs of other nations, opposing his country’s war against Paraguay. His likeness does not adorn Mike Tyson’s abdomen.
On n'avait pas vu ça depuis Monsieur Parmentier au XVIIIe, des gens d'armes garder un champ. Les temps ont changé. A l'époque, il fallait empêcher le vol de l'innovation agricole qu'a représentée la pomme de terre. A présent, on veut éviter la destruction d'une autre, l'organisme génétiquement modifié, l'OGM.While internet readers put questions to a politician, Hervé Kempf has an article on GMO fields in France, typical in its emotional intensity to say that in France, in the final analysis, all factions are basically the same and, somewhere, can probably come to some kind of overall agreement.
Surprise, les deux couples, le "pour" et le "contre", ne sont pas si différents l'un de l'autre. Leur histoire, leur bilan économique, leur modernité même les rapprochent.
The first of two episodes focused on Douglas McArthur's handling of "the ceremonies like a Hollywood superproduction", a phrase which contains a double suggestion: not only can't you believe what Americans tell you, but spectacle-minded Americans have no heart for the of the vanquished. I.e., Americans are treacherous and heartless.
Friday, September 23, 2005
France has long boasted of itself as the cradle of human rights and a bulwark against racismwrites John Tagliabue.
It regularly denounced racism in the United States, and the road from Harlem to Paris was wide, inviting talented American blacks like the dancer Josephine Baker, musicians like Sidney Bechet and writers like Richard Wright and James Baldwin.
The census in France does not list people by race. Hence, while blacks are thought to number about 1.5 million, of a total population of 59 million, no one really knows the exact number, which is estimated to be far higher.
There are virtually no black people in corporate France, and blacks have almost no political representation. No black person sits in the National Assembly or in a regional parliament, and only a smattering are found in city councils. The European Union finances programs for minorities but not in France, because of its refusal to recognize minorities.
So, today, blacks are not much on the French agenda. After the recent fires, the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, proposed a program of affirmative action and a requirement that résumés conceal a person's ethnic or racial identity. But the rest of the cabinet, including the minister for equal opportunity, rejected the ideas, saying they offended the fundamental principle of equality.
"The French like to say, 'Blacks are a social problem, not racial,' " said Gaston Kelman, 52, a native of Cameroon who has written widely on France's black population. "So our institutions have no means to overcome it."
Until recently, virtually all blacks were on the lowest rung of the social ladder. Gradually, however, a younger generation is, like Mr. Cheickh, gaining education, starting businesses and gradually giving birth to a black middle class. They feel the discrimination they say is rampant in French society and are beginning to resist.
After graduating with a degree in economics and data processing, Claude Vuaki tried his hand at several jobs before deciding to start his own business. Together with his wife, Kibé, he opened a beauty salon in central Paris. But Mr. Vuaki's search for start-up capital was typical of the black experience. "They said right off, no loan, no money," said Mr. Vuaki, 52. He and his wife managed to gather some family savings and self-financed their shop.
Now the business is so successful that they plan a second shop, in Nice or Cannes. Mrs. Vuaki travels regularly to the United States to study African-American hairstyles.
Still, Mr. Vuaki remains one of a relatively small minority. Most blacks are employed in menial jobs, in construction or transportation. What encourages people like Mr. Vuaki is that the glass ceiling often felt by young blacks who get an education is not discouraging them, but increasingly prompting them to strike out on their own.
"A lot of people I know want to create something of their own," he said, often in landscaping, construction and delivery services.
Still, Mr. Kelman said this slight opening is not inhibiting many young Africans with an education to strike off for Britain, Canada and the United States, where they think they will find greater opportunities.
Asked whether the French people are racist, Mr. Kelman replied: "It's a racism of nuance. Every Frenchman would immediately say, 'One of my closest friends is black.' "
Mr. Kelman said government housing and employment policies create an "institutionalized ghetto-building." He described with a laugh a typical job interview for a black candidate. When the boss realizes the candidate is black, he begins praising the sights and sounds of Africa he discovered on his last vacation there: the broad beaches, beautiful greenery, vast sky. Needless to say, the candidate doesn't get the job.
Some Truths Behind the Myths of Europe's Superior Wisdom and the Conflict in Iraq Being a Regional War
…the details of the raid and its origins remained murky, with British and Iraqi officials continuing to offer different accounts. British commanders have said the Iraqi police handed the men over to Shiite militia members, who largely control the Iraqi police and military in Basrawrites Robert F Worth.
Before his untimely death at the hands of Islamic thugs in that very city, Steven Vincent took issue with the common perception (even among America's closest allies) that Europeans are naturally more suave and diplomatic than the uncouth Americans are:
…in conversations I'd had with English soldiers in the city, they took pride in the fact that Basra was considerably less violent than Baghdad and the Sunni triangle. "Well, the Yanks really bollixed that up, now, didn't they?" one sergeant at the CPA compound sneered, a reflection, the Brits unsubtly implied, of their superior wisdom, tactics, and general expertise in administering "occupations." Perhaps that was true. Still, from my own encounters with "intelligence agents," to persistent stories of armed Shia militias operating under the Tommies' noses — and more specifically, of gunmen closing down liquor stores and often executing their owners — I wondered if our ally's pride was merited.Robert Tracinski adds that
the real war in Iraq [is] not the war against Sunni terrorists, but the Cold War against Iran for control of Southern Iraq. The bad news is that the US and Britain have been evading the necessity of this war for the past two years. The good news is that the issue is now too obvious to be evaded--and there is some hope that we might do something to stop the Iranian takeover.
…The basic strategic error of the Bush administration in Iraq is not that it has been too ambitious, but that it has thought too small, trying to deal with Iraq in isolation without realizing that this is a regional war where our targets must include Syria and, first and foremost, the largest state sponsor of terrorism: Iran.
Instead, the administration is trying to confront Iran only through futile UN negotiations and an ineffective attempt to impose sanctions (for the latest on this, see [here]). Meanwhile, aside from backing Shiite militias in Southern Iraq, the Iranian regime seems to be preparing to provoke a larger regional war with the US--a strategy spelled out by Amir Taheri in today's New York Post.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
If European leftists and their angry protégés worldwide only understood that the world isn’t so black-and-white, they wouldn’t think Arabs were two dimensional cut-outs that they use to play out their anger with.
Were it today, they would have crushed a boy’s spirits. Or his body.
«The quake of 1956 is still a thing of legend in Lebanon. Six thousand buildings gone, 136 people dead, roads fractured, comfort scarce. But only a few days after the shaking stopped, says Kamal Shouhayib, the children had care packages in their hands.[ … ]
He remembers chocolates and chocolate chip cookies -- the first cookies he had ever seen -- and he remembers a note that came with them. "A gift to the people of Lebanon," it said, "from the people of America."
"I'd never seen so much snow in my life," he says, "but I was enchanted with everything."
In Troy, says Mayor Louise Schilling, "he is one of the first ones you go to. He always tries to help out." Among other things, he sponsors an annual middle school writing contest; the theme is, "Proud to Be an American."
[ … ]
He was back in Aley this month, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the three Rotary Clubs sent him home with gifts -- $1,000 apiece, targeted for hurricane relief. Last Friday, Aley pledged $1,500.
He couldn't be prouder if the checks were for millions. It's only $4,500, a true drop in the bucket. But it's also a ripple, spread outward over nearly 50 years from some simple boxes of sweets.»Alla ma’ak, ya Kamal.
While hurricane "Ione" roared over the North Atlantic [on Sept. 21, 1955], shattered towns in North Carolina and Mexico counted a toll of death and damage wrought by "Ione" and its sister storm, "Hilda." Mexico was left with at least 166 dead and 100 missing in the Gulf port of Tampico and the surrounding area where "Hilda" struck. Continuing floods threatened to raise this toll. With refugees crowded together and water supplies doubtful, authorities feared epidemics. In North Carolina, five persons were dead.(…Must have something to do with Ike's resentment of Southern gen'l'men an' dirty "spics"…)
And how 'bout that quake in Lebanon?
Piercing Pain in China: "Police use dictatorial measures on anyone who resists them. Ordinary people have no way to defend themselves"
For three days and three nights, the police wrenched Qin Yanhong's arms high above his back, jammed his knees into a sharp metal frame, and kicked his gut whenever he fell asleepreports Joseph Kahn from Anyang, China.
The pain was so intense that he watched sweat pour off his face and form puddles on the floor.As a citizen of the world, aren't you happy that the international community has condemned America for the abuse perpetrated at Abu Ghraib, and that it kept condemning America for weeks, for months, (and probably) for years thereafter?
On the fourth day, he broke down. "What color were her pants?" they demanded. "Black," he gasped, and felt a whack on the back of his head. "Red," he cried, and got another punch. "Blue," he ventured. The beating stopped.Aren't you satisfied that there exists a media that will not let America get away with the horrors that occur daily at Guantánamo, and that is determined to keep up relentless pressure on Washington?
This is how Mr. Qin, a 35-year-old steel mill worker in Henan Province in central China, recalled groping in the darkness of a interrogation room to deduce the "correct" details of a rape and murder, end his torture and give the police the confession they required to close a nettlesome case.Aren't you happy the world springs to the defense of falsely-accused people in America's legal system?
On the strength of his coerced confession alone, prosecutors indicted Mr. Qin. A panel of judges then convicted him and sentenced him to death. He is alive today only because of a rare twist of fate that proved his innocence and forced the authorities to let him go, though not before a final push to have him executed anyway.Aren't you happy that throughout the world — and in America itself — activists rave against America's unjust death penalty?
"Our public security system is the product of a dictatorship," Mr. Qin wrote his family when he was on death row. "Police use dictatorial measures on anyone who resists them. Ordinary people have no way to defend themselves."Aren't you happy that throughout the world, there are innumerable committees formed to support death-row prisoners in American prisons and to bring them everything from moral comfort to legal aid?
The teams interrogated Mr. Qin in consecutive six-hour shifts, day and night, for three days.One of the worst things in Jo Kahn's article (and in his media presentation) is how the injustices of a tyrannical one-party state are attributed almost to accident and to fate and to forces beyond their control, suggesting that good intentions were at hand ("struggling", "working hard", "arduous process", "Unfortunately", had only the officials been "sympathetic" all would have been well).
The questioning quickly turned to torture. Mr. Qin said he was made to sit for many hours on the open metal frame of a chair without a back. His feet and arms were strapped to the chair legs and his body slumped through the frame, forcing the backs of his knees and his lower back against the sharp edges. The technique is known as "tiger stool."
Alternately, Mr. Qin's hands were handcuffed behind his back and cinched up until they were above his head and his arms felt as though they would separate from his shoulders. This was referred to as "taking a jet plane."
He described the pain as piercing. But he said he suffered even greater agony from lack of sleep. The police poured frigid water on his head and pounded him awake when he nodded off. They referred to this as "circling the pig." By his third day in detention, he said, he felt delirious.
A slew of wrongful convictions in China's court system suggests that China is still struggling with some fundamental questions of jurisprudence … Over the past quarter century China has been working hard to create a credible legal system, but the process of creating a legal system has been pretty arduous, particularly in the area of criminal law … Unfortunately for Mr. Qin, the prosecutors and the judges were not any more sympathetic than the police …Notice also how the nation has been personalized ("China is still struggling", "China has been working hard"), which is not only simplistic, it is unfair and a product of double standards vis-à-vis… democracies (imagine letting Bush off the hook with sentences such as "America is still struggling" in Iraq, "the United States has been working hard" to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina). Moreover, it is evidence of laziness on the part of members of the MSM, as they are unwilling to look beyond the surface — in open democracies, they see controversies and hear opposing viewpoints, and report on that. In repressed societies, they see a placid surface and listen to government spokesmen. Then they tell us (and convince themselves) that they are doing the public a favor in their reporting…
What this all boils down to is that it does not seem to have occurred to a member of the MSM (or to his editors) that the reason for the abuse lies in the authoritarian system itself and that letting leaders of a dictatorship off the hook is the last thing you want to do. Indeed, this practice of double standards, in a nutshell, is what is the problem with the MSM.
More on the international community's brave fight against China's death penalty here…
(…Must have something to do with FDR's resentment of New Yorkers, Yankee patricians, and other New Englanders…)
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
It’s almost impossible to imagine a leftist being called babe-a-licious – or even hopeful for that matter without qualifying it with the cloud of helplessness and hatred that they bring with them.
They get so bunched up in a knot that they simply can’t smile or put anything in perspective. Many simply forgot how to be for anything.
The world to them is always ending. If the world wasn’t bleak to them, and impossible to improve, they might think no-one needed them. No one needs that nonsense anyway.
Dewi Van De Vyver definitely knows better.
There is also no point in discussing anything else if an economy doesn’t function properly. Liberals (in the European sense) know this all to well.
A French Bush Supporter: "I Learned What It Is Like to Get Insulted in the Street, Threats on the Telephone, I Felt Very Alone"
In Europe, there exists a group of knee-jerk critics for whom, said Pascal Bruckner,
the worst crime of [a dictator like] Milosevic … can never equal the fundamental crime of America — simply existing.That says it all in a nutshell, and therefore the quote features prominently in La bannière étalée, my upcoming book. It was without surprise that during the Iraq crisis, I learned that the author sided with the "hawks" wanting to remove Saddam Hussein by force.
That was in from 2002, with the support continuing through the spring and summer of 2003.
Then, slowly, Bruckner started to change. He started to be more critical of the administration. More and more. He would intervene, saying that Bush had made terrible errors in Iraq, and demanding from his interlocutors that surely they could at least admit that. (As I have pointed out numerous times, the reason this is not the innocent banter it seems to be offhand is that it is based on double standards: admitting to mistakes and engaging in self-criticism is never demanded of those opposed to America, nor is the same amount of invective directed at the leaders of and policymakers in, say, Russia, China, Iran, Zimbabwe, and Ivory Coast — not to speak of Saddam Hussein himself.) Truth be told, Bruckner seemed to have become a Bush-basher.
Faced with the constant barrage of news proving Americans' backwardness in all things worthwhile, along with constant pressure from their French friends, co-workers, and acquaintances (snorts, snickers, guffaws, tch-tchs, nose curls, head shakes, and dirty looks accompanied by "mais certainement vous pouvez admettre que Bush a commis des erreurs/a raconté des mensonges", "pourquoi vous êtes en France si vous pensez ainsi?"), foreigners and other American friends (whether consciously or otherwise) cave in, not wanting to face the heat and not wanting to rock the boat…A stunning example was the one concerning the editor of Paris Match.
And a February issue of Le Monde 2 features a piece in which Pascal Bruckner confirms this, telling of the travails he went through for supporting the Iraq War in France, making sure he ends his confession with the statement that… he hates Bush!
I learned what it is to get insulted in the street, threats on the telephone. My North African friends told me, "You have brain damage", those of the Esprit review dropped me. … I felt very alone. I asked myself: "Have I made a huge blunder?"Truly it is nice to hear how open and tolerant the generous, avant-garde humanists are towards the free debate and understanding discussion they are always championing, n'est-ce pas? Unfortunately, Bruckner (who has an American, "strongly anti-Bush" wife) apparently couldn't stand the heat, he did not answer Non to the question he asked himself, and it is truly disappointing to hear how he has back-pedalled, in order to conform to the usual hems and haws of the bien-pensants, and issuing the usual batch of hedges and disclaimers:
I am not ready to engage myself for such causes again.
Historical action is something that [only] occurs in America. Unfortunately.
I gave the impression that I was championing a guy like Bush, whom in the final analysis I hate.
Dancing with Katrina:
«As an aside to the story of the Senators described below, while in front of the library, one of them, I believe it was Senator Reid, finds this DVD of "the Perfect Storm" buried in the mud. So he picks it up, starts brushing off the mud and showing it to his buddies. He was obviously very proud of his "meaningful" find. So I walk up behind him, tug his sleeve and say, "Hey dude, you might want to go wash your hands off. There's funky stuff in this mud." And he gives me a look that is halfway between confusion and anger.»
Paris sous les bombes. Les autorités s'y préparent. Risible.
"Puis nous irons visiter Paris en combinaison NBC, qui n'aura jamais mieux mérité son surnom de Ville-Lumière.
C'est beau, à ce qu'il paraît, une ville qui brille le jour." --Maurice G. Dantec
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
"No Respect" and "Total Inhumanity" Displayed by American Troops During "the Days of Terror" in Louisiana
We are reaching the limits of surrealism [with] this "gem" of smugness and anti-Americanismwrites Julien Regnard as he points to the editorial in the September 8 issue of Paris Match.
What may be the most disgusting about this is that during the Iraq war, Paris Match was one of the few to support the war against a dictator like Saddam Hussein, and the editor minced no words about it.Un hélicoptère de l’armée américaine se pose au milieu de la cour de récréation [de la Louisiane]. Le vacarme est assourdissant. La caméra montre les visages effrayés, les femmes serrant leurs enfants dans les bras. Des soldats jaillissent de l’hélicoptère, fusil d’assaut à l’épaule. Prennent position. Comme en Irak. … Une scène d’une inhumanité totale. … Même [si les Noirs] souffrent, s’ils meurent, comme ces jours d’épouvante en Louisiane, la première réponse n’est pas humanitaire. Mais militaire. L’Amérique de Bush reproduit, par réflexe, sur son propre sol, ce qu’elle entend faire partout dans le monde, en Irak, ailleurs : sécuriser de force un territoire sans respect pour les peuples. Y compris le sien, quand il est de couleur. Elle ne sait pas aimer, aider les plus pauvres, leur tendre la main. Elle parle sans cesse de la Bible et du Bien mais « évangélise » avec ses soldats qui patrouillent pour rassurer les « bons citoyens », contre les autres.If we continue down that road [comments Julien], the countries of Eastern Europe will have no choice but to create a Radio Free Europe to send information to the West to fight against the official propaganda. With the difference being that the peoples of Western Europe are willing to believe in that propaganda blindly.
But, as I have said before, the pressure to conform in this, the land of debate and dialog and openness and tolerance and rationality, is so relentless that in order to survive, you must not only prove yourself "plus royaliste que le roi", you must become "plus royaliste que le roi".
(Another sad example is a French writer, who admitted (as I will show tomorrow) that he finally turned against the war he had defended publicly throughout 2003 because of unceasing pressure from friends (sic) and family…)
Ice creams that look similar to the world Allah written in Arabic script are being withdrawn from Burger King — because a design on the lid looks like the word Allah.
The fast food chain has had dozens of complaints about the coloured symbol - meant to be a spinning whirl - on its range of BK Cones.
This notion that race was a factor in the relief effort is not only dishonest, it is reprehensible. The reason why most of those stranded in the Superdome were black is because two-thirds of the city’s residents are black. In fact, much of the city’s local representatives are black. New Orleans has a black city Council. They have black elected representatives. They have black judges. All of whom failed to send any buses to evacuate New Orleans’ residents before the hurricane hit. Are the black Democrat elected representatives in New Orleans also racist because they utterly failed to coordinate a timely rescue effort? Of course not.Star Williams agrees:
It is true that the majority of people trapped in New Orleans during the storm were black. But so were the majority of people who escaped. The key factor distinguishing the two groups was that the majority of those left behind were poor. They lacked transportation. Both the local and federal government failed to develop evacuation procedures for people without cars. The people who couldn’t afford transportation were left behind.
The sad fact is that 30 percent of New Orleans residents live below the poverty line. One of the effects of Hurricane Katrina was to bring their plight into focus. The response to their plight, however, is even more telling. The need to crouch this tragedy in racial rhetoric reveals an assumption, now so ingrained in our culture, that the problems of black people—whether its high crime rates, or being victimized by a natural disaster—are primarily the result of white racism.
Implying that rescue workers only saved white families or that President Bush gave the order to let black people drown not only obscures complex issues like race relations, but it also buries the root cause of this tragedy—poverty in our urban centers. This is a very real problem. It has a perverse effect on people of color. And it gets completely obscured when people like Jesse Jackson or Kanye West complicate this tragedy by using race to further divide this Country.
When these people employ racially divisive rhetoric to describe the New Orleans disaster, they shift the dialogue away from the real problems that plague our urban centers. Notice, none of our so called black leaders are discussing economic solutions that are needed to empower urban communities. No one is even placing the problem in its proper political context. Instead, they are simply using this tragedy as an excuse to play the race card. Plainly, their goal is to stir racial tensions. This is how they make a living.
Politicians who truly care about the black condition in America today need to start reaching for the intestinal fortitude and being honest.
How can racial discrimination be the operative holding blacks down in a city in which at least seven out of 10 residents are black?
New Orleans' convention center, where black residents sat for days in squalor waiting for help (after being directed there by Mayor Ray Nagin), is called the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Ernest Morial was the first black mayor of New Orleans. His son, Marc Morial, also a black former mayor of New Orleans, is now president of the National Urban League.
The chief of police in New Orleans is black, as is the head of the city council. The mayor is black, as is the man who has represented New Orleans in the U.S. House for the last 16 years.
Black presence and power in New Orleans are wide and deep.
The truth about black poverty today, as Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute has aptly put it, is that it is "intricately intertwined with the collapse of the nuclear family in the inner city."
Consider that black households that are headed by married couples have median incomes almost 90 percent that of white households headed by married couples.
The problem in the black community is that far too few black households are headed by married couples. …
The collapse of the black family took off when big government programs, particularly welfare, were launched, compliments of black and white liberals, after the civil-rights movement.
A number of years ago, then-Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, in a debate with one of the drafters of President Bill Clinton's big government health-care plan, challenged Clinton's man that government could ever care about his grandchildren the way he himself does. The gentleman assured Gramm that he did indeed care about the senator's grandchildren. Gramm retorted: "OK, then tell me their names."
It is not simply a moral claim, but a well-documented empirical one, that family and education are the keys to success in our free country. Black children don't need politicians of any color who claim to hold the keys to their future. They need parents who know their names. Two of them.
That’s the current death toll in Louisiana from the hurricane and catastrophic flooding. Terrible for the victims, their family, their friends.
But also much less than the 10,000 widely predicted.
And, BTW, much less than the more than 35,000 killed by a heat wave in Europe two summers ago.
You recall the debate that set off about European heartlessness, racism and discrimination? No, neither do I.
Monday, September 19, 2005
A letter from ¡No Pasaràn’s! special correspondent in Romania, a hard-working university student, reports to all of us on an Argentinian rah-rahing for EUtopia, and other activist lunacy in her midst:
«I write to send a message to all EU taxpayers who read ¡No Pasaràn! My message also goes to those 76% Euroenthusiasts in my country. Alas, we do not have a choice. But I think your Western European readers deserve to know how some of their tax money is being spent.[Ed. As if Herr Professor could grasp a concept like Theodicy] First, he took a rather ineffectual stab at Samuel Huntington, then launched into a full-fledged interjection on AmeriKKKan Puritanism, complete with mouth-foaming and all.
My University is hosting a EC-funded, Spanish-speaking conference on Identity and Institutional Change in the European Cultural Space (my loose translation from Spanish). Against my better judgment, I was hoping that this would not turn into another Academia Moonbat Reunion, but I just got back from spending a day with the dreadlocked, flip-flop wearing peacenik students and their professors and I feel like I need a hot shower and some industrial solvents to wash away the filth.
First off, they all seem pretty disappointed with the fiasco of the European Constitution. But, as one of their professors put it: "Asking for a referendum on this issue was a big mistake." And: "It's the fault of some of Chirac's rivals" (No names were named but I think I know what he means).
After that, here comes Chief Moonbat, a German student whose chin looks like some balding animal crawled there to die, gushing over an Ian McEwen novel which deals with Iraq.
Where does this lead to? Apparently, the opposition to the war crystallized a "common European conscience" and unified Europe for the first time. "I mean, the initial members of the EU," he added hastily, by which he must have meant the members that matter.
Because apparently, The UK, Denmark and Italy are of no consequence to Moonbaty McBat. Sadly enough, nobody called him on his bullshit.
A couple of days ago, Dr. Facundo Tomas of Valencia deigned to enlighten us on religion and identity by analyzing Max Weber's classic theories.
Get this: as we all know, AmeriKKKa is run by evil Puritans and Jews. Your crime? Working so damn hard and, what's even more "worrying", making the rest of us work harder by proxy.
He also claims that in Spain perjury as a strategy of defence is absolutely acceptable, whereas in the US it adds to your time spent in the slammer.
Because... Work? Evil and Puritanistic. Lying? Absolutely freakin' OK. (Also, blowjobs are illegal, though he did say "in some states" and I have a nagging suspicion that this might be true of Alabama, so I won't go there). Therefore, peaceful, sophisticated Europe ought to do the sensible thing: show some understanding towards our age-old Islamic neighbors and form an Alliance with them. This time, there was somebody to call him on his bullshit, but since I was the only student in the room who had read both Huntington and Weber I was simply dismissed with a nod and a frown.
Today I was in for round 2 of Merde in Romania (via Germany and Spain). I chaperoned our merry socialists to the medieval town of Sibiu and, in light of all the crap I've had to listen to over the past week or so, I decided to go all contrarevolutionary on their asses and spend my hard-earned money on an anti-Ché Commies Aren't Cool t-shirt. The effect was immediate. Oh, the bewilderment and heartache it caused! First, an Argentine asked Why, Why, Why??? would I wear such an abnormality! Haven't I read his works? Nope. Don't plan on it either. But why?
Because life is too short.
I have read Marx though. And? It's bullshit and it's the kind of bullshit that butchered more than 100 million people and poisoned my country for generations. But el Ché was not a Commie! He was a Socialist, dammit! And he was completely RIGHT!!! As was Marx and The Communist Manifesto. But again, he was not a Commie. Communism was perverted by Stalin and hey, we got the short end of the straw, whereas they got the glorious, idealized, 100% pure, Ché-approved variant. The mystery of my self-confessed liberalism (of the European variety) was immediately elucidated upon spotting my copy of Francis Fukuyama's "Nation Building".
Well, if you're influenced by the Americans, then... Don't you know what the Americans did to my country? I don't really care, actually. So, if I don't know jack about socialism, care to point me to a true-blue socialist government? Well, there's none left because Europe is becoming liberalized and globalized.
All Right! Score one for the good guys! He swiftly dismissed me as a brainwashed brainchild of Karl Rove and spent the rest of the day glowering at me and chit-chatting with his goateed-German buddies. One of them asked me where I'd got my tee and exclaimed: "Who puts these things on the Internet???" "The CIA," I said with a straight face.
Another Argentine, one of the professors, didn't want to get into an argument but she did say that I'd never find something like that in Germany, and that "your t-shirt breaks my heart".
BUT, the best reaction came from Ché-groupie ("I love him." "I don't"), AmeriKKKa critic, Facundo Tomas. I thought I could have a redeemable, thought-provoking conversation with him, so I tried to tell him that most educated Romanians with more than a couple of active neurons are right-wing liberals, as are the vast majority of elites (including singer/actor types).
Know what he had to say to that? "When you get into the EU, you'll get over it!!! I guarantee that your children will rebel against your generation and will wear Ceausescu t-shirts."
My friends and I were stunned. We tried to explain a little about who The Butcher of The Carpathians really was and how traumatic his socialist/commie reign was for the whole country, still clinging to the hope that maybe it was his thick ignorance that was getting the better of his common sense.
HA! He laughed in our faces. ”Ceausescu was not evil!” He rather likes "uneducated delinquents" (my mild description of old Nicu). He did stray a little from the path in the 80s, but overall, he was an OK guy. And with that, seeing as we would not relent, he said: "Let's wrap this up." We were still in a state of shock and tried to get a word in but he cut us off with a nice:
"THIS CONVERSATION IS OVER!"
So there, you have it, my future fellow-EU citizens. I only have this to say:
1. If I catch my children sporting a Ceusescu t-shirt, I will commit infanticide.
2. By the time Romania joins the EU, I hope I can apply for political asylum in the US or Australia.
3. The next time you go to Spain, don't forget to wear a t-shirt that says: "Franco was actually a good guy with bad press", but make sure it's in Spanish, because Facundo does not speak the imperialists' language.
This was a public service message brought to you by a Eastern European friend.»She continues:
«I just got back from another round of whiny, self-congratulatory luddite bullshit and I've decided to make Getting The Hell Out Of Europe my life's mission.- Emilia
Thank God some people still have their heads screwed on straight.»
«The French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine reported in its September 14th issue that during the visit of French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to the new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem on September 8, he asked - while perusing maps of European sites where Jewish communities had been destroyed - whether British Jews were not also murdered. Needless to say, Douste-Blazy's question was met by his hosts with amazement. "But Monsieur le minister," Le Canard quoted the ensuing conversation, "England was never conquered by the Nazis during World War II."
The minister apparently was not content with this answer, which, according to the magazine, was given by the museum curator, and persisted, asking: "Yes, but were there no Jews who were deported from England?"»What an idiot.
Even before the floodwaters had begun to recede, it was clear who would be the scapegoat: President Bush. His domestic policy, his foreign policy, his environmental policy, his homeland security policy, his racial policy, his lack of racial policy, his failure to empathize with the victims, his efforts to empathize with the victims, his folksiness, his aloofness, his bureaucratic inertia, his irrepressible can-do optimism.Thus speaks Daniel Johnson — thanks to Robert Tracinski, who adds that "it is important to recognize that the real target of the Katrina hysteria is nothing so small as the Bush administration. The real target is America itself, its whole system of government, and its distinctive values. The leftists are trying to blame free markets for allegedly causing people to be poor. They are trying to smear America as a racist country that is indifferent to the lives of blacks. They are trying to blame America for being an economic powerhouse that refuses to shut down its industries because of the latest environmentalist hysteria. They are promoting a vision of America as a weak and corrupt nation. The best evidence of this is the reaction of the overseas press. Some TIA Daily readers have sent me truly awful examples--see [here], if you can stomach it--and today's New York Sun offers a good, concise analysis from a correspondent in London, who captures the European left's orgy of envy and "schadenfreude,"s a perverse German word that means "joy in suffering"--their joy in our suffering."
Oh yes, and his vacation, which was confidently said to be the longest any president had ever taken. Since most past presidents spent as little time as possible in the White House, this must have been difficult to calculate. As far as I have been able to ascertain several European heads of state, the Queen of England included, are still away from their desks.
Read it in Johnson's words:
The real target was not Mr. Bush, however. The indictment is not only of a president, but of a people. It is the American way of life that is, in the eyes of many Europeans, the cause of all the troubles of the world. And it is because Mr. Bush is so irredeemably American that every anti-American stereotype is held against him. America, for the armchair moralizers across the Atlantic, means lawlessness, injustice, ignorance, selfishness, and megalomania, all personified by the president.
And because, like so many of his countrymen, Mr. Bush is a Christian, the secularized sophisticates of the Old World are relishing the irony of the fact that the most powerful man on earth has been humbled by this act of a God whose name they never normally deign to mention.
This gloating over what is, after all, one of the worst natural disasters of recent years has a rather different tone from the warm glow of philanthropic self-congratulation that accompanied the East Asian tsunami just eight months ago. The West was careful not to offend the sensibilities of the local regimes, even where (as in Indonesia or Sri Lanka) there had been evidence of persecution on ethnic or religious lines in the regions most affected. And the Americans were, for once, the heroes of the hour. The American Navy and Air Force provided swift and effective assistance when and where it was most needed. However grudgingly, it had to be admitted, even in Europe, that there was something to be said for the global capacity and ubiquitous presence of the "hyperpower."
In the case of New Orleans, the omnipotence of the hyperpower turned out to have been overhyped. America revealed a vulnerability in its own backyard that took its European critics quite by surprise. The Leviathan was after all mortal. A few were awestruck by the sublime revelation of the power of nature, and expressed their solidarity with the suffering millions of the Deep South. But for intellectuals in the grip of Europe's collective inferiority complex, this was an opportunity too good to be missed. They did not reflect that the lives of Americans are as precarious as anybody else's: They added insult to injury, and in a way that was not just in the worst possible taste, but also despicable.
How would Europe have coped with such a deluge? To judge from the past: certainly no better, and perhaps very much worse. Not much has changed since Pliny the Younger observed the destruction of Pompeii and realized that the Roman Empire was powerless compared to Mount Vesuvius. Most of Europe's catastrophes, though, have not been natural, but man-made: war and genocide, terror, and famine. In every crisis of the last century, the American cavalry have come to Europe's rescue: in two world wars, in the Cold War and the Balkans, now again in the confrontation with Islam. Marshall Aid saved millions of Europeans from starving or freezing to death in the ruins of their continent.
Europeans are not so oblivious of their debt that they do not resent American generosity. As the great Viennese journalist Karl Kraus remarked, "Ingratitude is often disproportionate to the benefaction received." It is only through this prism that Europe's smug reaction to the plight of New Orleans has a hideously perverted logic. This latest manifestation of anti-Americanism is a symptom of a deep malaise which, if it is not treated soon, will do greater damage to Europe itself than to America.
- that we will again focus our attention and our energies (as well as the world's) on condemning the most unspeakable horrors and the most intense suffering seen in the world today, such as the death penalty in the United States and the acts of torture commited by America at Abu Ghraib; and
- that we will do our best to prevent the Yankee cowboys from their sword-rattling, inviting them instead to display modesty, tolerance, and patience towards the ayatollahs of Iran, and nudging the former instead to engage same in dialog and discussion, all within a climate of tolerance and mutual respect.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Pamela was digging it. Judith was digging it, and the moonbats couldn’t stop repeating that George Bush was controlling the hijacked aircraft on 9-11 by remote control. Why dont they just stick to this week's fresh, hot buttered delusion? They'll need it to distract them now that Usama been forgotten, mostly by them, and with all new repetitive sayings and contrived, illogical arguments. Sheesh! When will their brains implode? Everyone knows George Gobal did it! I digress. More on the debate:
«The left wing moonbats in attendance were so unstable and disturbed that when Mr. Hitchens's opening request for a moment of silence to remember the 160 Iraqis who'd been brutally murdered in Baghdad earlier that day, one man immediately shouted "No!" as comrades began jeering and booing the journalist. »Also sprach Pamela…
As chance would have it, it didn’t make for much of a ‘debate’ since Galloway isn’t much of a conversationalist anyway, but Mr. Red anachronism did have some red meat to toss at his adoring “meta-mob”.
«Mr. Galloway's response was typical. He began by railing that "neo-con rot" had seeped into people's souls. He lamented that he had to put up with this "hypocrite Hitchens." He ranted that Mr. Hitchens was friends with people who owned "Tomahawk" missiles, thus allowing him to segue into a tirade about America's treatment of its Indians (I'm not making this up). And as if to show that there were no depths to which he would not proudly sink, Mr. Galloway finished his "answer" to Mr. Hitchens's question by announcing that the planes that brought down the World Trade Center were the direct result of "hatred created by the U.S." and by appealing to anti-Semites with a few risible remarks about Israel.It's too bad Galloway doesn’t come in a can. It would simply be a hoot at parties. Pickled piffle!
It says something about those in attendance that these Sept. 11 remarks--uttered in New York, just a scream away from Ground Zero--earned Mr. Galloway wild applause. Another crowd highlight was the response to Mr. Hitchens's opening request for a moment of silence to remember the 160 Iraqis who'd been brutally murdered in Baghdad earlier that day. One man immediately shouted "No!" as comrades began jeering and booing the journalist. America, meet your "antiwar" activists.»