Saturday, May 24, 2008

European Hatred of America as ‘the Other’ is Still an Act of Forgetting

On the ignoring of poverty in Europe, the very being of the US plays an important role.

I want to understand the whole picture. Is Europe better than the US to the extent that we want to believe? I start to hunt for books and research findings, trawl library catalogues and the Internet, but come up with amazingly little. The pile on my desk does grow, admittedly, but relevant content is sparse. If I had looked for American research on poverty in the US, I would have been drowning in information.
Sweden’s Arena Magazine editor Per Wirtén discusses the means by which the Euvian identity has attempted to construct itself without being engineered by however many attempts to make institutes, venues, and eventes that few visit, and magazines, journals, and blogs that no-one really reads. Where the warm glow is felt knowing telling oneself just how wonder the example before you – i.e. Sicko, repeating the images from the wake of hurricane Katrina, and the like, the way of not knowing and not wanting to know hasn’t changed in a century.
In the autumn of 2005, New Orleans was submerged after hurricane Katrina breached the levees. It was the city's poorest quarters that suffered the greatest devastation. The authorities' arrogance and inability to react shocked the rest of the world. Europe offered the US emergency relief; in Paris, intellectuals wondered how the country could afford to wage war in Baghdad but not to protect its own people; and Swedish premier Göran Persson declared that a catastrophe of such a kind would be unthinkable in European welfare states. Exactly two years later, Greece was in flames. The Greek state was just as ineffectual as the American state had been after Katrina. Help from the EU was slow to arrive; people died and villages were left in ruins. Of course, questions were asked in the European media, but the criticism came nowhere near the wave of indignation that was directed at the US after the New Orleans disaster. Yet Greece's position in the EU as one its most corrupt, unequal and poorest member states is not unlike that of Louisiana in the US.

Perhaps the storm of criticism of the Greek government failed to materialise because it would risk shattering the self-image Europeans have been keen to create since the 1990s. In terms of the politics of identity, the magnet that binds together the EU more than any other is that of being an alternative to the US. Europe is more peaceable, more enlightened and civilised, more democratic, more egalitarian and without any real problems of poverty, more soft power than hard power, saying yes to market economy but no to market society. The identity construct of the Union rests not on culture and ethnicity, but on the idea of not being the US. Europe sees itself as an anti-America.

In this context, criticism of conditions in America assumes particular significance. It works like a television screen in the living room. Europe soaks up anything critical of the US: books, news items, documentaries and feature films. Our eyes are drawn to the moving pictures. But this seems to mean that we stop seeing our own living room.
Nonetheless, many of the poor are overlooked with a view to comparisons of their own society and a superior alternative to some sort of elsewhere that’s hard to reconcile.
The average income in Spain is sixty per cent of that in Germany. Roughly the same disparity, incidentally, as that between white and black Americans. If comparisons are drawn with low-wage countries like Romania and Portugal, the disparity becomes greater than any in America.
Otherwise the critics of America, presumably until they can find a reason to blame some externality for this problem, banish facing the problem in favor of some comfortable proof of something to themselves that can only be statistically supported by the very same banishment of interest in the problem. After all, if few notice, it musn’t really be happening.

All the Polls Agree: Sympathy in the U.S. for France Has Never Been As High As Now

No wonder a Frenchman like SuperFrenchie will not allow contrarian opinions to be expressed on his website and bans said people from his comments section: on his post on Americans' alleged anti-French racism, for instance, some of us might report France's prime minister stating (Embassy TV 02:10) that
nous sommes heureux de constater que la sympathie pour la France aux États-Unis n'a jamais été à un niveau aussi élévé qu'en ce moment. Tous les sondages que nous effectuons montrent que l'opinion que les Américains ont de la France depuis un an est à son meilleur niveau.
Oh, and SuperFrenchie would have to admit that Fox News does allow the French to speak their minds…

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Acidland and the Terror Cell

Amnesia about social pyromania and malicious intent, as anyone who has lived there knows the Germany’s public intellectuals to hold, is reported on by World Politics Review’s John Rosenthal. So resistant to believing that there is anything threatening about the world out there that can’t be satisfied with a public rant about the US Arms Lobby or a new regulation and tax, they appear to have been flummoxed by a series of attacks brewed up from within. Not long ago, the news that a Lebanese immigrant to Germany tried to plant a bomb on a public train. Then the notion that other world views don’t think like they do, and that there might be asymmetrical reprisal on the Bundeswehr, it seems had to be banished from the mind.

I think the media are thinking far too little of the German public if they think that they have to be protected from the news. Far too little. This is a population that, not too long ago, had to accept the sort of personal hardships that come with reconstruction and the usual ways of a notion of the state as so eager to regulate people for fear of believing that they haven’t done their job properly.

The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), the Taliban-affiliated Jihadist group that took responsibility for the attack, claimed a more massive death toll: some 60 dead in both the explosion itself and a follow-on attack by Taliban forces. In a Turkish-language statement posted in the internet, the IJU also identified the bomber: "This operation was successfully carried out by the brave Cüneyt Ciftci from Germany, who has traded in his life of luxury for paradise" (source: Focus). The text was accompanied by photos of a smiling Ciftci brandishing a pistol and sitting behind the wheel of vehicle.

And what did the American public learn about all this from American
[N.B.: the German public as well] news organizations? A Factiva database search turns up a single sparse 280 word AP dispatch tentatively noting that German authorities were "checking" whether the German-born Ciftci might possibly be "linked" to the bombing. Instead, Americans were left to glean whatever more substantial information they could from the English-language website of the German weekly Der Spiegel. While Der Spiegel's March 15 article likewise studiously avoided treating Ciftci's responsibility for the attack as given, it nonetheless conceded that it was "likely": thus prompting the authors to pronounce Ciftci -- in all probability -- "the first suicide bomber from Germany." In light of the fact that Mohammad Atta and two of the three other pilots in the 9/11 attacks also lived in Germany, and indeed plotted the attacks there, the formula gives serious cause to pause. Der Spiegel dramatically described Ciftci's presumptive involvement as "Berlin's Worst Nightmare": as if the Hamburg Cell's leading role in the 9/11 attacks had not already been an even worse one or as if "Berlin" was suffering from collective amnesia and no longer remembered -- or wanted to remember -- the major German connection to 9/11.

C’mon, get happy.

But alas, hope springs eternal:
Following the emergence of the [“martyrdom”] video, Der Spiegel and the rest of the German media largely abandoned their hopeful expressions of doubt about Ciftci's responsibility. "The first perpetrator of a suicide attack from Germany," the weekly Stern now called Ciftci -- displaying the same startling obliviousness to the German role in the 9/11 attacks as Der Spiegel had previously. But when interviewed by ZDF television, Jörg Ziercke, chief of Germany's Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BKA), continued to insist that he could not confirm that Ciftci had been the bomber. "We don't have the corpse," Ziercke said, "We have to undertake an identification of the corpse." As anyone who watches the massive explosion documented in the video will be able to appreciate, there is not likely to be much of Ciftci left to facilitate this identification.

Bolton on the Left’s Delusion Craving to find Humanity in Jihadists

Negotiation is not a policy. It is a technique.
Says H.E. John Bolton of Obama’s notion that acquiescing to Ahmedinejad will make him nice. All it will do is happen too soom, and force America to negotiate from a position of weakness. The outcome will be good PR and bad for the future, merely postponing a conflict with the Iranians so hell bent on imposing themselves on others.

A pacifist, it was once said, is someone who believes that if you throw a hungry lion a steak, that he’ll become a vegetarian. Given that among out many drive-by commentators here, we know that their affection isn’t for peaceful discussions with Iran, Hamas, and Hizballah – it’s the erasure of American involvement on the world. A funny position to hold when the Arab world is divided but frequently in favor of America, and Europe is generally not divided, otherwise disinterested, and their public prefers to see a supine US at whatever cost it comes to them.

Bolton continues:
Like all human activity, negotiation has costs and benefits. If only benefits were involved, then it would be hard to quarrel with the “what can we lose?” mantra one hears so often. In fact, the costs and potential downsides are real, and not to be ignored.
When the U.S. negotiates with “terrorists and radicals,” it gives them legitimacy, a precious and tangible political asset. Thus, even Mr. Obama criticized former President Jimmy Carter for his recent meetings with Hamas leaders. Meeting with leaders of state sponsors of terrorism such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il is also a mistake. State sponsors use others as surrogates, but they are just as much terrorists as those who actually carry out the dastardly acts. Legitimacy and international acceptability are qualities terrorists crave, and should therefore not be conferred casually, if at all.
Moreover, negotiations – especially those “without precondition” as Mr. Obama has specifically advocated – consume time, another precious asset that terrorists and rogue leaders prize. Here, President Bush’s reference to Hitler was particularly apt: While the diplomats of European democracies played with their umbrellas, the Nazis were rearming and expanding their industrial power.
The industrial power, in this case is the building of the means to decimate populations in the west, and the non-conformists within. Not exactly the thing you want to see when you’re “giving peace a chance”.

- from the WSJ via James Tiberius Crittenden

It’s also worth noting at this point that Sarkozy may be playing using talks as a gambit on a much smaller scale with Hamas:

U.S.-brokered peace talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have made little tangible progress, and few observers expect them to reach a deal by the end of the year as planned.

Kouchner played down the talks between France and Hamas.

"They are not relations. They are contacts," he said.
But they will be, and it may well be part of something larger that stands a chance. Again, it’s WHAT you’re talking about, not just bringing home to your eternally baleful voting block some atmospheric notion that talking itself is a goal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

That’s Sure to Wow the Chads off of ‘em in Florida

Young Gazan proto-rocketeers say “GObama!”

It is important to know what kinds of people you want to call. Ibrahim and his friends, were calling random numbers in the US. Calling Democratic party members would have been more effective, though of course they did not have access to this information. Still, if you know the person that you want to call - the office of a political leader, for example - then international online phone-banking is a great (and so far under-used) tactic.

- Vielen Dank für die Blumen, Strummin’ Joe

For the Love of Anagrams and Batteries

European Union becomes Inane Euro No Up

Vibrators are the reason 35-year-old Heinrich Brueggemann is standing on the stage in the conference room of a Hamburg hotel, holding a pink specimen in his right hand. His tone is that of an engineer: to the point and businesslike. "Today's woman," he says, "wants to know what she's inserting into her body."
Which is a relief, because I always used to wonder about them before.
in the end, many feel that sex is totally exciting for everyone else, just not for them. Dildo-maker Brueggemann believes that this impression has nothing to do with reality in German bedrooms. "Our real needs are much more banal."

His top-selling vibrator is called "Paulchen" ("Little Paul"). It looks a little like a toy caterpillar, with a bulbous nose and funny little eyes. It seems that even vibrator buyers -- likely the more liberal-minded women -- prefer all things cute.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Symbolic Fighting

It is unclear why the Germans were sent after the Baghlan Bomber but there are more and more Taliban insurgents pouring into the nine provinces the Germans command.
Although it is quite clear why the Taliban are pouring into the German AO:
A top Taliban commander in Afghanistan with links to the killers of several British Army soldiers has escaped from German special forces because they were not authorised to kill him.

The fiasco highlights the absurd role played by the German military in the country which is known to other combat nations as "the bridge builders" because Berlin will not let them fire shots in any situation other than in self-defence.

German special forces had an important Taliban commander in their sights in Afghanistan but he escaped as the Germans were not authorised to use lethal force.
Which is a curious thing to have to do – risk your neck by being forced to live-trap key Taliban people when they know that Berlin’s orders are completely misplaced. If they want the Afghans on their side, they need to eliminate the Taliban leadership such as the one thy had in their sights who killed 79 people at the opening of a sugar plant, and 12 at a school.
"The Krauts are allowing the most dangerous people to get away and are in the process increasing the danger for the Afghans and for all foreign forces here," one an incredulous British officer at ISAF headquarters told Spiegel.

As if he’s Never Thought his Neighbors were “Frednecks”...

In the mean time, Superfrenchie, a resident of suburban Washington DC, can’t, in his zealous pursuit of pity, figure out the difference between a nationality and a race. He seems to find greater enlightenment in a nation where, unless propagandized and suppressed, sports fans ‘monkey chant’.

The French and racism - This brings us to another observation. The French people of European descent, with the exception of those descended from recent intra-European immigration (mainly from Italy, Spain, Poland), have no practical experience of racism from the receiving end. Here, I must mention the recent formulation of “anti-white racism”, but just to say that it’s both an epiphenomenon and irrelevant to the issue at hand. This absence of personal experience regarding racism explains why stereotypes against black people are so handy for the French who discuss racism. More clearly: French experience as emitters of racism toward black people is used as a reference to understand the feelings elicited by French bashing. This might offend some people, but it’s not rocket science. We always use the known to figure out the unknown.
Which is puzzling when you’re atmospherically accusing people largely of European origin of ‘racism’, when in fact, they were pelted all of their lives with reasons to think that European arts, culture, style, etc., were to be admired. In fact, those non-Europeans who don’t see the incessant imposition of the message about “see, we’re übermenschen because of our [opinions of our own lifestyles/inanimate products we’re selling you/opinions of you.]”

Any nominally skilled speaker of the English language would allege bigotry, not racism, but even at that, it can hardly be called bigotry when most of them have come to this conclusion through interpersonal experience, often going back decades of pedantic repetition.

SF’s insane assertion comes from an even longer history of prejudice that he should not be under any illusions about. The Republic’s policy on the handing of race is sound and highly principled. Many in the public, even the ‘educated’ babbling away in the ‘society of debate’ leave a great deal to be desired. Not just in the fundamentally monolithic nature of taking up outlying opinions, but within a bracket, for the sake of attention-seeking, but the underlying cultural habit of seeing nations as predictable entities comprising something-like-race and the treatment of their opinions of it with all the seriousness of a international sports league table.

Quite simply, that practice is a primitive thing for adults to engage in, yet those who do believe that they are illuminating us with their opinions based largely on an assumed image of a people-cum-race they like to opine about as a undifferentiated whole called “America”, or in the public’s gentle, infallible wisdom as ”les Ricains” or “les Amerloqs”, among other things as if their nation-state fixation wasn’t itself a form of bigotry with which they would like to write on your forehead.

Monday, May 19, 2008

And to Think That They Bought all of Chávez’ Crap about Wanting “Peace”

From the Feuilletons (of Freaks)

Cited by big-media blog Sight and Sign from the Frankfurter Rundschau

For Austrian writer Franzobel, Josef Frizl is not an un-typical Austrian ("even the threats about gassing his victims if they tried to escape don't come from just anywhere")
Um. Kind of a blatant generalization there, but keep going.
and warns about demonising him.
Woah. Hold it right there Chief.
"The more perverse and bestial Fritzl is made out to be, the more normal he appears. He did the shopping, took the rubbish out, bought clothes, paid the electricity bills. He kept his second family like pets, cared for them and even loved them in his way. The more inhuman he is made to look (he has a bit of Saddam Hussein about him) the more ordinary, quotidian his obsessions about control and security seem – which only makes the whole thing more terrifying."
Oh, forshame! Hide him, and the resort of those frightful things about human nature and hide them sofort! So, never mind what he did. His crime was to remind us just how capable these open-minded, “flexible” thinkers are to doing the same thing.

Why doesn’t THAT surprise me as not being that blatant a generalization.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Building Peace and Harmony through Multi- Inter- Mono- Omni-Intercultural Dialogue

Developing understanding and respect for other cultures in the Netherlands, the parents appear to have had their bubble of idealism burst.

A primary school in Amsterdam wished to provide its pupils with an understanding for other cultures. But during a visit to a mosque, the children were told they were dogs.

With a view to developing understanding and respect for other cultures among children, primary school De Horizon regularly organises outings to various religious organisations. The chairman of the El Mouchidine mosque told the children from group 7 (aged 10) and their chaperones however that non-Muslims are dogs.
Hey, give peace a chance, will ya, folks?
In a letter to the children's parents, the school expresses its regret at the incident: "We are shocked that during the guided tour, the mosque's chairman told the children and chaperoning parents that non believers were dogs. We consider this statement as unacceptable since we allow our children to partake in this project to develop respect for freedom of religious choice"

Theatrics Forgotten

TRANS-ATLANTIC TENSIONS: Europe Divided Over US Missile Defense Plan

Washington’s plans to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic have cast a shadow over US relations with Europe. Will German Chancellor Angela Merkel feel compelled to distance herself from US President George Bush?


Instead Stoiber argued that the sensitive issue of "Europe’s security architecture” should be discussed in the three-party committee of Berlin’s ruling coalition, which consists of the conservative CDU and CSU along with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). Stoiber felt it was important that the SPD were finally included in discussions about "Germany's strategic positioning in foreign and security policy." Merkel agreed, meaning that top members of the government and the leadership of the various factions of the coalition will soon meet for strategy discussions.
Only took 14 months to mutate into
In the essay, Schockenhoff argues for Germany to take steps to better protect itself from the threat of a nuclear attack from rogue states, saying it must support "a missile defense shield over Europe."

Meanwhile, he added, Germany needs to be prepared for "further deployments of the German armed forces that last longer -- from stabilizing peace to forcing peace," he wrote.