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Anders Breivik May Be Sane, But the Ideas He Espouses Are Nuts

6:42 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Anders Breivik

Mass murderer, Anders Breivik, who had already admitted his guilt in the killing of 77 people in Norway last summer, has been convicted and sentenced:

There are many reasons to welcome the verdict in the trial of Anders Behring Breivik: that he is sane and legally responsible for the murder of 77 people – mostly members of the Norwegian Labour party – on 22 July last year.

The guilty verdict recognises the monstrosity of Breivik’s acts, carried out in pursuit of his political beliefs. It also delivers the outcome wanted by the majority of Norwegians, in particular because it means he will spend no fewer than 21 years – and most likely life – in jail. Justice has been done to the fullest extent possible under Norwegian law.

Breivik, who gave strange Nazi-like salutes and smiled a lot today, said in his closing statement that he only wished he had killed more:

In his final words, Breivik regretted not killing more people, apologizing to other “militant nationalists” for not achieving an even higher death toll. He said he wouldn’t appeal the ruling because that would “legitimize” a court he said got its mandate from a political system that supports multiculturalism.

Breivik is a hero to many Islamophobes and white supremacists.  His philosophy, clearly explained in the “sickening but coherent 1,500-page manifesto” he left behind after his arrest, takes its ideas freely, almost wantonly from everyone from right-wing uber Zionists Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes, to Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell.  His fervent desire to fully restore Western civilization to a mandatory patriarchy might have gotten him a prime time speaking spot at next week’s Republican Convention, were they uttered by a GOP Senator.  His belief that Israel is some sort of utopian ideal, rather than an increasingly mean, apartheid, racist society, is not only common on the far right, but almost as common among Democrats elected to our national Congress in the USA.  Some European Islamaphobes still have trouble distancing themselves from Breivik:

From Europe’s far right, the reaction was mixed. Some argued that Friday’s verdict played into their core beliefs, though they have spoken out against his violent rampage.

“It was obviously wrong what he did, but there was logic to all of it,” said Stephen Lennon, the 29-year-old leader of the English Defense League, an anti-Muslim group. “By saying that he was sane, it gives a certain credibility to what he had been saying. And that is, that Islam is a threat to Europe and to the world.”

To a certain degree, one of the reports issued by the Norwegian court looking into Breivik’s mental state found a bit of insanity in the ideas he adopted, not in Breivik himself:

The main form this depoliticisation took was the medicalisation of Breivik’s actions in terms of psychological or psychiatric pathology. Within days, everyone from forensic psychiatrists to the London mayor, Boris Johnson, felt the need to put Breivik in a diagnostic box. Occasionally, even reportage of his personal history and psychology went to ludicrous extremes to seek his motives in anything but what he actually said. This reached its pinnacle with the first court-ordered psychiatric report, which found him to be suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia” on the basis of clumsy and inappropriate interpretation of ideas and behaviours common in far-right and online gaming subcultures.

Outrage over the findings led the court to take the unusual step of commissioning a second report. This one paid more attention to his political milieu, as well as his behaviour in jail, and found him sane – at most exhibiting signs of a personality disorder. Friday’s verdict confirms this conclusion and denies to Islamophobic ideologues the comfort of a clear line of sanity separating their influence from Breivik’s actions.

There have been many examples of shooters running amok, inspired by their readings of far right fearmongers.  Whether a shooter has been inspired by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes or some other purveyor of racial hatred, the men or women who inspire such lunacy almost always get away with denying linkage, and get to keep on spreading their ferociously malignant ideas.

There was a bit of an exception to that rule today.  One prominent and up-and-coming Islamophobe, Josh Treviño, was fired today by the British news outlet, The Guardian.  Treviño had been hired recently to offset The Guardian‘s hire of columnist Glenn Greenwald.  Several activist writers quickly raised a number of issues about Treviño, most notably Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah.

Treviño is a twitter addict, and had left behind a long history of venom toward Palestinians, Americans who support Palestinian rights, and those who don’t show proper deference to the state of Israel.  Once again, here we have somebody who could easily swap brews with Anders Breivik, or take the podium at the GOP Convention.

Here’s Henry Norr, writing about Treviño for Mondoweiss:

Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada responded with a post reproducing tweets from last summer in which Treviño declared that it would be “cool” with him if the Israelis shot the participants in the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, then went on to observe that the flotilla was “not morally different from a Nazi convoy”

Not surprisingly, several participants in that flotilla, including me – and, no doubt, scores of other Guardian readers – immediately protested to Janine Gibson, editor in chief of the Guardian US, who was quoted in the press release about her pleasure at bringing Treviño’s “important perspective” to readers. We acknowledged the Guardian’s desire to present diverse points of view, but questioned the choice of someone whose approach to political debate is to call for gunning down those he disagrees with.

More tweets were found, all the way up to Wednesday of this week.  One in particular, offended me, as I’ve covered the story of Rachel Corrie in many ways, and am a close friend of her family.  In the tweet, he gleefully referred to Corrie as a “pancake,” after being killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer.

Josh Treviño is like Anders Breivik, in reveling in violence against innocents who seek justice for people being oppressed.  And, like Breivik, Treviño has seen a bit of justice today.

The Guardian, ostensibly has fired Josh Treviño for violating their code of ethics.  Here is the “joint statement” announcing the columnist’s demise Friday:

Joshua Treviño wrote a piece for the Guardian on February 28, 2011 titled “Peter King has hearings, but is he listening?” The Guardian recently learned that shortly before writing this article the author was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian’s editorial code this should have been disclosed.

“Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief, Guardian US.

“I vigorously affirm that nothing unethical was done and I have been open with the Guardian in this matter. Nevertheless, the Guardian’s guidelines are necessarily broad, and I agree that they must be respected as such,” said Joshua Treviño.

We have therefore mutually agreed to go our separate ways and wish each other the best of luck.

It is too bad that he was given this kind of cover, but it is more balls than many of us had thought The Guardian would be able to muster.

There are a lot of gigs out there for people like Josh, most of them very well-paid.  No doubt, he will be offered a new job soon, perhaps writing speeches behind the scenes for Mitt Romney.  Let us hope, though, that somewhere down the line, the hatred in some future essay by  Treviño doesn’t inspire another Anders Breivik.

Romney Not Done Insulting the British – Next Up: King David Hotel Fundraiser – Updated

12:03 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

King David Hotel (photo: Israel-a-la-carte / flickr)

[Update - Sunday 10:39 am PDT:  Romney has again changed his mind.  The press will be allowed into the King David Hotel fundraiser:

Mitt Romney's campaign has reversed a decision to not allow the media into a fundraiser here Monday morning, bowing to reporters' demand that they be allowed to record the Republican's address to some of his top donors.]

Speculation over why GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has excluded reporters from his Jerusalem King David Hotel fundraiser is perhaps beside the point.  Nobody in the American press is going to center a story around the event upon the fact that this hotel was the scene of an awful act of terrorism, perpetrated upon the British in July, 1946:

On the morning of the 22nd of July 1946 a party of between 15 and 20 Jews, dressed as an Arabs entered the King David Hotel. The hotel housed the Secretariat of the Government of Palestine and Headquarters of the British Forces in Palestine and Transjordan. The terrorists were able to enter the building without arousing too much attention because part of the building was still being used as a hotel and other people frequented it. The Jews pretended to be an Arab working party. Having unloading from their lorry several milk churns filled with 225 kilogram’s of explosive, they placed them in the basement of the wing of the hotel occupied by the Secretariat.

A British officer standing nearby, one Major Mackintosh, became suspicious of this group of Arabs and began to ask questions, but was suddenly gunned down by a member of the Jewish gang and subsequently died. A policeman stationed at the tradesman’s entrance suffered a similar fate when he challenged the Jewish terrorists. Both victims were unarmed. A gun battle soon began between the terrorist and guards during which time the Jews ignited the fuse and bolted from the building as the alarm was given. As they ran several were shot and wounded by guards, but most managed to make good their escape. There was no time to evacuate the building and the charge exploded with devastating effect. Many were killed instantly as the whole wing of the building collapsed about them, others were trapped and many more injured.

Rescue work started straight way as soldiers and police began to pull away the rubble in the hope of finding survivors. Members of the Royal Engineers were hurried to the scene with heavy lifting equipment, but they had difficulty reaching the King David Hotel because of Jewish road blocks. The Royal Engineers were stoned and booed as they tried to make their way to the scene of the bombing.

Nobody in Jerusalem is going to be stoning and booing Romney on his way to or from the King David. While he’s there, he will probably shake hands or even hug a billionaire under investigation for allegedly bribing Chinese officials in Macau by both the State of Nevada and the U.S. Justice Department, and a smarmy thug who was part of an espionage ring that stole nuclear devices and other nuclear bomb materials from the United States late in the last century.

Although Romney relented, reporters were pissed about Romney’s campaign breaking a supposed promise to not exclude them from this event.  But they won’t be allowed by their editors to write about how corrupt Sheldon Adelson and Benjamin Netanyahu are, or how dangerous Romney’s conduct in this case actually is.  Case in point:

Romney’s campaign announced Saturday that it would block the news media from covering the event, which will be held at the King David Hotel. The campaign’s decision to close the fundraiser to the press violates the ground rules it negotiated with news organizations in April, when Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination and began opening some of his finance events to the news media.

Under the agreement, a pool of wire, print and television reporters can cover every Romney fundraiser held in public venues, including hotels and country clubs. The campaign does not allow media coverage of fundraisers held in private residences.

Campaign spokesman Rick Gorka declined to explain the campaign’s decision to violate protocol with the Jerusalem event. Pressed repeatedly by reporters to offer an explanation, Gorka said only that the fundraiser was “closed press.”

“That’s all I’ve got for you — it’s closed press,” Gorka said.

Obama’s campaign will not counter Romney’s secret King David fundraiser with a press release or campaign ad that messages “Romney Follows London Gaffs with Fundraiser at Hotel Zionists Bombed to Kill Brits and Meets with Macau Crime Boss and Former Spy Against the USA.”  None of that will be brought up.

It is not allowed.

Juan Cole lists ten reasons why Romney’s Israel visit is “distasteful.”  He brings up the inappropriate venue of the King David, especially after Romney’s London visit.

I find it even more distasteful that our media refuses to give this campaign visit context.

More – Much More – On Newt’s Lies on Palestine

11:41 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In the last few days before the ABC News GOP candidate debate this weekend, Newt Gingrich managed to get the most prominent headlines from among the set of them, with his statement Friday to the Jewish Channel Cable TV Network:

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state,” he said. “I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places.”

In a diary here Saturday about this, I speculated:

The goal of these candidates, in bringing up Israel, is not so much designed to court Jewish Republican voters, but to court Christian Zionists.  78% of American Jews voted for Obama in 2008, and most will vote for him again. Fundamentalist Christians who believe in the necessity of repopulating the “Holy Land” with Jews to facilitate the coming of the end times represent a high percentage of the GOP voters who will determine their party’s candidate in the caucuses and primaries.

In a post-debate panel discussion Saturday on Current TV, Cenk Uygur pressed his panel on this same point:

Uygur seemed more animated in bringing this up than any of his panelists.  But he was able to do that.  I doubt he would have been cleared to go down this line if he was still at MSNBC.

After the Palestine issue came up during the debate, while it was still happening, Max Blumenthal tweeted:

Sawyer & Stephanapoulos smile & avoid pointed follow-up questions to racist and ahistorical invective against Palestinians

“Racist and ahistorical invective” it was.  Though Sawyer and Stephanapoulos (and Al Gore on Cenk’s panel) were far beyond merely glib, other news sources did follow-up.

The Washington Post fact-checked Gingrich’s debate claim about Palestinian textbooks:

“These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, ‘If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?’ We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. ”

–Gingrich

During the debate, Gingrich reiterated his controversial claim the Palestinians are an “invented people,” which has been criticized in some Republican quarters. But he also raised a new charge about Palestinian textbooks, which he said the United States pays for “through our aid money.”

This funding claim is correct only in an indirect sense: The United States is the largest single-state donor for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), providing nearly $250 million in 2011. As a recent Congressional Research Service report made clear, this funding is closely scrutinized by Congress. But UNRWA underwrites the schooling of Palestinian refugees and thus provides money for textbooks

The issue of Palestinian textbooks is controversial, one the Palestinian Authority says it is addressing. We cannot immediately find evidence of the statement claimed by Gingrich, and it is not clear if he is referring to a statement in one of the newer textbooks.

There have been a number of reports by pro-Israel groups that say the textbooks in Palestinian schools reinforce hatred of Jews. But one Palestinian expert has argued that studies in English that claim to show such bias in Palestinian textbooks are “based on innuendo, exaggeration, and downright lies.”

Here is what the State Department’s human rights report said about the new Palestinian text books:

The PA Ministry of Education and Higher Education completed the revision of its primary and secondary textbooks in 2006. International academics concluded the textbooks did not incite violence against Jews, but showed imbalance, bias, and inaccuracy. Some maps in Palestinian textbooks did not depict the current political reality, showing neither Israel nor the settlements. Palestinian textbooks, used in Palestinian schools, as well as in Jerusalem municipality-administered schools in East Jerusalem, inconsistently defined the 1967 borders and failed to label areas and cities with both Arabic and Hebrew names.

But the Israeli media has reported that Israeli educational system “is hardly better than the Palestinian one when it comes to inserting political messages in textbooks.”

The WaPo story didn’t address the issues of Palestinian authenticity, the “rocket every day” canard, or unwillingness of Palestinians to cut a fair deal with the Israelis, because, Newt alleges, they instead want that ” not a single Jew will remain.”

Let’s examine the authenticity issue.  On Friday, in the JCCTV interview, Gingrich said:

“Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman empire.” He added that Palestinians were “an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs”.

Give that historian an “F-minus.”

The most authentic early mention of Palestine that has come down to us from an author outside of the Levant, is that of Herodotus, in his 420BCE book, the Histories.  He described “Syria Palaistine” several times.  But no Israel.  The earliest local authentic description of a word used elsewhere to identify the geographic area known more recently as Palestine, was about 700 years earlier, with the use by the XX Dynasty of Egypt (c. 1150 BCE) of the term “Peleset.” But no Israel.  That term did not exist to define a physical place until later.

1150 to 420 BCE were important times in the history of Judaism, and fundamentalist Christianity.  But a lot of what has and has not been found archeologically, that might show evidence of a strong state in the area of Palestine, that was predominantly or solely Jewish in a sense we might recognize, leaves immense holes in any assertion that accepts much of what early-date Biblical material fundamentalists believe as fact.  Many of these supposed historical events that fundamentalists accept as fact are not.  They are myths.

Since Herodotus called the area Syria Palaistine, the area now comprising Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank, has been called something like that by post-Alexandrian Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Caliphs, Crusaders, Ottomans and British.  They have called the place “Palestine.”

So many tribes have moved into and out of the place over the thousands of years, that the political constructs of Arab and Jew, or Palestinian and Israeli are just that – political.  In countries that call themselves Muslim states or Jewish states, politics IS religion all too often.

The argument Gingrich is attempting to bring to the fore here isn’t just calculated to gain a few fundamentalist votes in Iowa and elsewhere.  It is a conscious effort by an experienced candidate to dig down into the lower reaches of the ideologies of GOP primary likely voters, to begin bringing out the same enthusiasm Palin could pull off in 2008.

Gingrich’s main inroads right now may be among Christian Zionists who were supporting Cain, and from a peeling away of evangelicals who were trying to digest Romney.  Maybe somebody reliable is polling that.

We’ll see if he can pull it off.  Maybe having Franklin Graham re-convert him to fundamentalism after Newt carries Pennsylvania (April 24th) would help cinch the deal.  After all, this is the most cynical and desperate set of major candidates many of us have ever witnessed.