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  • DownSouth commented on the diary post Notebook, 19 June 2013: The Terror Con Indeed by papicek.

    2013-06-20 06:04:36View | Delete

    The same manipulations of reality used to commit the terror con are the same ones used to con the public into supporting the other half of the security state empire, domestic policing/criminal justice. They include 1) appeal to fear, 2) misleading vividness (Describing an occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is a rare occurrence, [...]

  • Well all this is true to form for Time Magazine.

    For a short vieo primer on the history of Time Magazine, there’s this:

  • DownSouth commented on the diary post Bradley Manning Is Guilty of “Aiding the Enemy” — If the Enemy Is Democracy by Norman Solomon.

    2013-06-06 07:11:43View | Delete

    When it comes to a dictatorial, brutal and authoritarian personality, we really haven’t seen anything quite like Obama in the White House for almost a century. Woodrow Wilson was the last president who, like Obama, believed he could use the United States Constituion as toilet paper to wipe his ass with. Obama, just like the [...]

  • DownSouth commented on the diary post Bradley Manning Is Guilty of “Aiding the Enemy” — If the Enemy Is Democracy by Norman Solomon.

    2013-06-06 07:05:32View | Delete

    Stein reminds me of Manning. And like Manning, he suffered devastating personal consequences for following his conscience and defying “elite” militarism. The LGBT anti-Manning brigade and its neocon cohort need to learn something that the Na zis never did. And that is that even with the extreme methods of indoctrination, coercion and violence available to [...]

  • DownSouth commented on the diary post Bradley Manning Is Guilty of “Aiding the Enemy” — If the Enemy Is Democracy by Norman Solomon.

    2013-06-06 07:00:43View | Delete

    Norman Solomon writes:

    In effect, for top managers of the warfare state, “the enemy” is democracy…. Blaming the humanist PFC messenger for “aiding the enemy” is an exercise in self-exculpation by an administration that cannot face up to its own vast war crimes.

    Exactly! The Obama and army propagandists have spent the last three years and [...]

  • Look at that photograph!

    Where do these nerdy-looking little boys like Hammond and Manning come up with the immense courage, conviction and idealism necessary to stand up against the most powerful empire ever known to humankind, equipped with the most elaborate propaganda machine ever known to humankind, and with the sole purpose to convert the people into a mob?

    Men have been found to resist the most powerful monarchs and to refuse to bow down before them, but few indeed have been found to resist the crowd, to stand up alone before misguided masses, to face their implacable frenzy without weapons and with folded arms to dare a no when a yes is demanded.

    Georges Benjamin Clemenceau

  • The combined documents released by Wikileaks, which it obtained not only from Hammond but from Bradley Manning, have proved invaluable in fleshing out how the United States pursues its imperial ambitions in Latin America. It looks like Obama has taken us back to the dirty wars, genocide and mass murders that haven’t been seen in Latin America for almost 30 years. Persons like myself, who live in Latin America, are most atune to this and therefore are most grateful to the Hammond-Manning duo.

    Tom Burghardt explains how the Wikileaks information helped document that the US is not fighting a war on drugs, but a war to control select drug lords. It picks fair-haired boys, in the case of Mexico Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel he heads, and then does everything it can to insure that cartel monopolizes the drug trade. This is “not surprising” notes Burghardt, “given the secret state’s documented history of close collaboration with major drug trafficking networks that serve as unofficial, though highly-effective instruments, for advancing U.S. imperial strategies.”

    “By launching a War on Drugs in Colombia and Mexico,” Peter Dale Scott wrote, “America has contributed to a parastate of organized terror in Colombia (the so-called AUC, United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) and an even bloodier reign of terror in Mexico (with 50,000 killed in the last six years).”

    “America’s Secret Deal with the Mexican Drug Cartels”

    This article (sorry, in spanish) explains how the US then exerts influence in Paraguay by leveraging its influence with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which also controls large parts of the drug trade in Paraguay:

    “La Estrategia”

    The following interview (in English) explains how in Honduras the Obama administration threw its unbridled support behind a 2009 military coup (which all indications are the US military and covert ops played an active role in orchestrating), despite the fact that the US ambassador there concluded that the coup was illegal. (We know this because of one of the documents Manning released to Wikileaks.)

    As the interviewees explain, a bloodbath insued in the aftermath of the coup, with LGBT activists being one of the principle targets. Eighty-nine LGBT activists have been documented as being murdered since the coup. In the 20 years before the coup, only 15 LGBT activists were murdered. Imagine, says one of the interviewees, if 89 LGBT activists had been murdered in the Chicago metropolitan area in the last 3-1/2 years, which has approximately the same population as Hondorus.

    Those of you who speak Spanish might also find this article informative:


    The actions of Hammond and Manning have proved to be of immense value in pulling back the curtain to expose the US’s nefarious activities in Latin America.

  • caleb36 said:

    I am no “conservative storm trooper” but an individual, like most who comment at FDL, solidly within the democratic left spectrum.

    I hate to tell you this, but one being part of the Democratic Party faithfull hardly earns one points in my book. And it is not at all clear to me that there is a marked difference between the democratic faithful and neoconservative storm troopers.”

    But back to the issue at hand.

    This character assassination of Arendt by the Jewish elite and their bounteous corps of professional liars and bumsuckers, and the extreme measures they will go to distract attention away from their own role in the Final Solution, is really too much. Since Eichmann’s trial made it impossible for them to deny their complicity in the Holocaust, and made shooting the message impossible, they instead elected to do the next best thing, which is to shoot the messenger.

    As Arendt explains in her postscript, Eichmann in Jerusalem “contains a trial report.” The principal sources she used were:

    1) The transcript of the trial proceedings which was distributed to the press in Jerusalem.

    2) The transcript in German of Eichmann’s interrogation by the police, recorded on tape, then typed, and the typescript presented to Eichmann, who corrected it in his own hand.

    3) The documents submitted by the prosecution, and the “legal material” made available by the prosecution.

    4) The sixteen sworn affidavits by witnesses originally called by the defense, although part of their testimony was subsequently used by the prosecution.

    5) Finally, a manuscript of seventy typewritten pages written by Eichmann himself. It was submitted as evidence by the prosecution and accepted by the court.

    Arendt goes on to explain that: “Thus, the documents I have quoted were with very few exceptions presented in evidence at the trial (in which case they constituted primary sources).”

    That the judge in the Manning trial has gone to great lengths to insure that many of the above types of informaiton will be “top secret” and not made available to reporters or the public, is an indicaiton of her commitment that no inconvenient truths slip out as they did in the Eichmann trial.

    Arendt then goes on to point out that, and I quote her at length here, because what Arendt had to say is eminently germane to the Manning trial and its aftermath:

    Even before its publication, this book became both the center of a controversy and the object of an organized campaign. It is only natural that the campaign, conducted with all the well-known means of image-making and opinion-manipulation, got much more attention than the controversy, so that the latter was somehow swallowed up by and drowned in the artificial noise of the former. This became especially clear when a strange mixture of the two, in almost identical phraseology — as though the pieces written against the book (and more frequently against its author) came “out of a mimeographing machine” — was carried from America to England and then to Europe, where the book was not yet even available. And this was possible because the clamor centered on the “image” of a book which was never written, and touched upon subjects that often had not only not been mentioned by me but had never occurred to me before.

    The debate — if that is what it is — was by no means devoid of interest. Manipulations of opinion, insofar as they are inspired by well-defined interests, have limited goals; their effect, however, if they happen to touch upon an issue of authentic concern, is no longer subject to their control and may easily produce consequences they never foresaw or intended. It now appeared that the era of the Hitler regime, with its gigantic, unprecedented crimes, constituted an “unmastered past” not only for the German people or for the Jews all over the world, but for the rest of the world, which had not forgotten this great catastrophe in the heart of Europe either, and had also been unable to come to terms with it. Moreover — and this was perhaps even less expected — general moral questions, with all their intricacies and modern complexities, which I would never have suspected would haunt men’s minds today and weigh heavily on their souls, stood suddenly in the foreground of public concern.

    The controversy began by calling attention to the conduct of the Jewish people during the years of the Final Solution, thus following up the question, first raised by the Israeli prosecutor, of whether the Jews could or should have defended themselves. I had dismissed that question as silly and cruel, since it testified to a fatal ignorance of the conditions at the time. It has now been discussed to exhaustion, and the most amazing conclusions have been drawn. The well-known historico-sociological construct of a “ghetto mentality” (which in Israel has taken its place in history textbooks and in this country has been espoused chiefly by the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim — against the furious protest of official American Judaism) has been repeatedly dragged in to explain behavior which was not at all confined to the Jewish people and which therefore cannot be explained by specifically Jewish factors. The suggestions proliferated until someone who evidently found the whole discussion too dull had the brilliant idea of evoking Freudian theories and attributing to the whole Jewish people a “death wish” — unconscious, of course. This was the unexpected conclusion certain reviewers chose to draw from the “image” of a book, created by certain interest groups, in which I allegedly had claimed that the Jews had murdered themselves. And why had I told such a monstrously implausible lie? Out of “self-hatred,” of course.

    Since the role of the Jewish leadership had come up at the trial, and since I had reported and commented on it, it was inevitable that it too should be discussed. This, in my opinion, is a serious question, but the debate has contributed little to its clarification. As can be seen from the recent trial in Israel at which a certain Hirsch Birnblat, a former chief of the Jewish police in a Polish town and now a conductor at the Israeli Opera, first was sentenced by a district court to five years’ imprisonment, and then was exonerated by the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, whose unanimous opinion indirectly exonerated the Jewish councils in general, the Jewish establishment bitterly divided on the issue. In the debate, however, the most vocal participants were those who either identified the Jewish people with its leadership – in striking contrast to the clear distinction made in almost all the reports of survivors, which may be summed up in the words of a former inmate of Theresienstadt: “The Jewish people as a whole behaved magnificently. Only the leadership failed” – or justified the Jewish functionaries by citing all the commendable services they had rendered before the war, and above all before the era of the Final Solution, as though there were no difference between helping Jews to emigrate and helping the Nazis to deport them.

    While these issues had indeed some connection with this book, although they were inflated out of all proportion, there were others which had no relation to it whatsoever. There was, for instance, a hot discussion of the German resistance movement from the beginning of the Hitler regime on, which I naturally did not discuss, since the question of Eichmann’s conscience, and that of the situation around him, relates only to the period of the war and the Final Solution. But there were more fantastic items. Quite a number of people began to debate the question of whether the victims of persecution may not always be “uglier” than their murderers; or whether anyone who was not present is entitled “to sit in judgment” over the past; or whether the defendant or the victim holds the center of the state in a trial. On the latter point, some went so far as to assert not only that I was wrong in being interested in what kind of person Eichmann was, but that he should not have been allowed to speak at all – that is, presumably, that the trial should have been conducted without any defense.

    As is frequently the case in discussions that are conducted with a great show of emotion, the down-to-earth interests of certain groups, whose excitement is entirely concerned with factual matters and who therefore try to distort the facts, become quickly and inextricably involved with the untrammeled inspirations of intellectuals who, on the contrary, are not in the least interested in facts but treat them merely as a springboard for “ideas.” But even in these sham battles, there could often be detected a certain seriousness, a degree of authentic concern, and this even in the contributions by people who boasted that they had not read the book and promised that they never would read it.

    Compared with these debates, which wandered so far afield, the book itself dealt with a sadly limited subject. The report of a trial can discuss only the matters which were treated in the course of the trial, or which in the interests of justice should have been treated. If the general situation of a country in which the trial takes place happens to be important to the conduct of the trial, it too must be taken into account… The focus of every trial is upon the person of the defendant, a man of flesh and blood with an individual history, with an always unique set of qualities, peculiarities, behavior patterns, and circumstances. All the things that go beyond that, such as the history of the Jewish people in the dispersion, and of anti-Semitism, or the conduct of the German people and other peoples, or the ideologies of the time and the governmental apparatus of the Third Reich, affect the trial only insofar as they form the background and the conditions under which the defendant committed his acts. All the things that the defendant did not come into contact with, or that did not influence him, must be omitted from the proceedings of the trial and consequently from the report on it.


    And the question of individual guilt or innocence, the act of meting out justice to both the defendant and the victim, are the only things at stake in a criminal court. The Eichmann trial was no exception, even though the court here was confronted with a crime it could not find in the lawbooks and with a criminal whose like was unknown in any court, at least prior to the Nuremberg Trials. The present report deals with nothing but the extent to which the court in Jerusalem succeeded in fulfilling the demands of justice.

  • caleb36 said:

    Where Arendt [is] infuriatingly wrong, however, is in asserting that MOST European Jews were collaborators in their destruction.

    The ad hominems didn’t work, so now you’re going to try straw manning?

    In order to set the record straight, here’s what Arendt actually said:

    Since the role of the Jewish leadership had come up at the trial, and since I had reported and commented on it, it was inevitable that it too should be discussed. This, in my opinion is a serious question, but the debate has contributed little to its clarification… In the debate…the most vocal participants were those who either identified the Jewish people with its leadership — in striking contrast to the clear distinction made in almost all the reports of survivoris, which may be summed up in the words of a former inmate of Theresienstadt: “The Jewish people as a whole behaved magnificently. Only the leadership failed” — or justified the Jewish funcitonaries by citing all the commendable services they had rendered before the war.

    –HANNAH ARENDT, Postscript to Eichman in Jerusalem, Penguin, 1994

    I also found this from an interview that Arendt did with Günther Gaus in the ‘60s, which rebuts your and her other Jewish critics’ talking point that she wasn’t “truly Jewish”:

    Being Jewish was a very significant part of what I came to think about. This was very obvious in 1933 or 1932 in Germany—there was no getting around being a Jew. If you’re spoken to as a Jew, you have to answer as a Jew. That’s part of what it meant to be a Jew in Germany in the 1930s.

    One of the most striking characteristics of the neoconservative storm troopers is their utter contempt and disregard for fact.

  • One of my favorite thinkers is Immanuel Wallerstein. As he explains in this interview, he believes capitalism is in structural crisis, and will not survive more than another 40 or 50 years:

    John Gray, another one of my favorite thinkers, is a conservative so hails from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum as Wallerstein. Nevertheless, in this interview he too believes capitalism, which he calls our “secular ruling mythology,” has “hit the buffers.” He also, like Wallerstein, believes the transition to something else will be very messy:

    Stephen Toulmin is another one of my favorite thinkers. He sees all the messiness of the 1880 to 1945 period as not just capitlaism in crisis, but Modernism in crisis. The defenders of the status quo managed to put the wheels back on Modernism again in the first half of the 20th century, but by the 1960s they began to fall off again.

    He wrote a book called Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernism which explains some of this.

    Another wonderful post-Modernist tome is María Elena Martínez’s Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion and Gender in Colonial Mexico. She takes what could be called Spanish exceptionalism (she does’t use this word, but instead limpieza de sangre, or pureness of blood) and shows how the meaning changed throughout the colonial period. Whereas in early colonial times true Spanishness was based on religion and meant free of Jewish or Muslim blood, during the Enlightenment true Spanishness became based more on science and meant free of Indian and Negro blood. Of course both constructs were mostly ficticious and had little connection to reality. Into this she introduces issues of class and gender, as well as cross-dressing, so gender-roles have a bit part.

    Colonial elites were obsessed with true Spanishness or limpieza de sangre, even though it was a highly ficticious construct with almost no connection to reality. And the more disconnected from reality the fiction became, the more colonial elites clinged to it: it conveyed exclusivity, prestige and privilege.

    Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to make money for the royal treasury, the Spanish crown in 1795 did something which indicates just how artificial and arbitrary the racial constructs were. It published a price list for cédulas de gracias al sacar, which allowed those born impure or not white to purchase edicts erasing the “defect” of their birth.

  • Doubling down on the ad hominems, hun? You and every other believer in Jewish exceptionalism.

    Tell me my lying eyes are wrong. All around me I see parvenu-[fill in the blank]. Parvenu-Negroes (i.e., Obama), parvenu-Queers (i.e., the board of Pride SF), parvenu-Hispanics (i.e., Ted Cruz), etc.

    But I’m to believe there are no parvenu-Jews? And anyone who has the audacity to suggest such a thing is attacked as a Nazi sympathizer and a victim-blamer? And a Jew who dares to suggest such a thing is to be excommunicated? “They’re not real Jews!” Arendt “was actually an example of a person whose identity was every bit as much German as Jewish (perhaps more so),” as you put it.

    Again, I very much prefer Arendt’s empirical approach over these orgies of realist ontology and syllogistic logic.

  • @ defogger

    And where did the intersection of class, homosexuality and homophobia become more manifest than in the person of Ernst Röhm?

    There are several theories advanced as to what motivated the June 1934 Night of the Long Knives — the purge of the Sturmabteilung (SA). Some assert it was because Röhm, head of the SA, had become a political liability because his homosexuality had become too scandalous. Others postulate it was because the SA represented a threat to Hitler’s relationship with the German Army. But there is another theory, and that is that the Night of the Long Knives was the amputation and extermination of the “Socialist Workers” part from the National Socialists Workers Party. The SA threatened to sour Hitler’s relations with the conservatives of the country; people whose support Hitler needed to solidify his position in the German government.

    Röhm’s roots and loyalties were solidly working-class, and he and his followers objected to Hitler’s cozying up with the German oligarchs, wanting the party instead to throw its support behind the working class, and to fulfill the promises it had made to the working class.

    The SA became the proletariat wing of the armed NSDAP while the SS represented the middle and upper class wing. Himmler and Hitler both courted wealthy industrialists for financial backing and many of them were given honorary commissions in the SS in return. This incensed Röhm and the Strassers, who believed Hitler was betraying the NSDAP’s working class roots (just look at the name of the party!). Röhm became bold and outspoken in his opposition to Hitler, even after his rise to the Chancellorship on January 30, 1933.

  • defogger said:

    Racism and all the other pernicious bigotries are vertical phenomena for horizontal class divides.

    This is the million dollar question, no? Is it possible to separate racism from classism?

    And make no mistake, Arendt’s unforgiving pen didn’t spare aristocratic homosexuals either:

    There is no better witness, indeed, of this period when society had emancipated itself completely from public conerns, and when politics itself was becoming part of social life. The victory of bourgeois values over the citizen’s sense of responsibility meant the decomposition of political issues into their dazzling, fascinating reflections in society. It must be added that Proust himself was a true exponent of this society, for he was involved in both of its most fashionable “vices,” which he, “the greatest witneess of dejuaized Juadaism” interconnected in the “darkest comparison which ever has been made on behalf of Western Judaism”: the “vice” of Jewishness and the “vice” of homosexuality, and which in their reflection and individual reconsideration became very much alike indeed.

    HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    I think many people have forgotten that pre-Nazi Germany, with its highly urbane and libertine culture, had become almost a Mecca for aristocratic gay men. Perhaps no one wrote of this more descriptively than Christopher Isherwood in his book, Christopher and His Kind, which was made into a movie a couple of years ago which captures the mood in pre-Nazi Germany. The movie is available free on Youtube here:

  • caleb36 said:

    Hannah Arendt, who was a student of the Christian German (and Nazi-supporting) philosopher Martin Heidegger, and had an affair with him, was actually an example of a person whose identity was every bit as much German as Jewish (perhaps more so).

    This is typical of the type of ad hominem attacks that are levelled against Arendt by conservative Jews and Israeli nationalists, bypassing the argument by launching an irrelevant attack on the person and not their claim.

    The thing I admire most about Arendt is, in the ancient debate that came down to us between the rationalists and the empiricists, she fell squarely in the empiricist camp. So her writings, such as Eichmann in Jerusalem, are filled with actual trial testimony — human experiences and obervations — and not the speculations, versisimiltudes and rationalizations of the rationalists.

    Martin Luther King came to a similar conclusion:

    I also came to see that liberalism’s superficial optimism concerning human nature caused it to overlook the fact that reason is darkened by sin. The more I thought about human nature the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin causes us to use our minds to rationalize our actions. Liberalism failed to see that reason by itself is little more than an instrument to jsutify man’s defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.

    –MARTIN LUTHER KING, “Pilgrimage to nonviolence,” Christian Century, 27 April 1960

    Empiricism, like all man’s ways of knowing, has its faults too. But an unqualified rationalism has, ever since the days of Plato and Aristotle, been deployed as an instrument of elite manipulation and control.

  • defogger:

    …[Obama] is a perfect set-up patsy for Aryan populism.

    Maybe so. There has, however, since WWII been an important difference between Nazi racially-based imperialism and the ideologically-based imperialism practiced by the US — a tribal nationalism that demands not racial purity but ideological purity.

    The fact that racism has been a weapon of imperialistic politics has been recognized for a long time, and the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation within the logic of hierarchy and domination has also long been acknowledged. Less known, however, is the equally long tradition of non-racist ideologies being employed to justify imperialistic policies.

    Nowhere was the difference made clearer than in the famous debate in 1551 and 1552 between Fray Bartolomé de las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda. Neither contestant to the debate was opposed to Spain’s imperialistic politics in the New World, but their justifications for the conquest were strikingly different, as well as the ways in which the Indians would be treated by their conquerors.

    Las Casas maintained that the authority of the Catholic kings over the Indians derived from the donation of Pope Alejandro VI. The obligation of the Spanish monarchs, therefore, was to preside over the conversion of the Indians to the Christian faith so that they could be civilized and become part of the community of man and of Spain.

    Las Casas, falling back on Judeo-Christian theology, argued that “all the people in the world are human beings.” The American Indians

    are not beasts, or slaves by their own nature, they are not like children, with a limited and static thought, they are human beings, they can be Christians, they have a right to enjoy their possessions, their political liberty and their human dignity, and in their belief they should be incorporated to Spanish and Christian civilization instead of being enslaved or destroyed.

    –Alfonso Maestre Sanchez, “All the people in the world are human beings: The great debate between Fray Bartolomé de las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda”

    Las Casas “saw the mind of the Indian as a tabula rasa on which it would not be hard to inscribe the principles and precepts of Christianity.” (J.H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World) The Indians should be allowed into the community of mankind and of Spain, Las Casas argued, because unlike the Muslims, Jews and protestant heretics, they had never known Christianity before, never caused grave damage to Christians, nor impeded the evangelization of the one true faith. As long as the Indians converted to Christianity, then they should be allowed into the community of mankind and of Spain.

    Sepúlveda, on the other hand, basing his position on the late-classical philosophy of Aristotle and Plato, maintained that the authority of the Spanish monarch’s over the Indians derived from Natural Law. He argued that the Indians should not be allowed into the community of mankind or of Spain, regardless of whether they accepted the one true faith or not, and should instead be enslaved or destroyed because they were, by nature, inferior. He stated that:

    It is with perfect right that the Spanish dominate these barbarians of the New World…who are so inferior to the Spanish in prudence, intelligence, virtue, and humanity, as children are to adults, or women to men, that I am tempted to say that there is between us both as much difference as between…monkeys and men. [N]othing more healthy could have occurred to these barbarians than to be subjected to the empire of those [Spanish] whose prudence, virtue, and religion shall convert the barbarians, who hardly deserve the name of human beings, into civilized men, as far as they can become so.
    –Carlos Fuentes, The Buried Mirror

    If we fast-forward the clock 343 years to 1894, we see the Las Casas philosophy resurface in Teddy Roosevelt’s address called “True Americanism.” Other peoples will be allowed into the national tribe, but only if they “assimilate” and convert to America’s secular faith. As Roosevelt said:

    We freely extend the hand of welcome and of good-fellowship to every man, no matter what his creed or birthplace, who comes here honestly intent on becoming a good United States citizen like the rest of us. But we have a right, and it is our duty, to demand that he shall indeed become so and shall not confuse the issues with which we are struggling by introducing among us Old World quarrels and prejudices.
    –Stanley Kurtz, “Acculturation without assimilation”

    On the opposite end of the imperial spectrum, we see the Sepúlveda philosophy resurface in the ideologies of the Third Reich. Racism is a supranational ideology (i.e., a “Jew in general” is a “Jew everywhere and nowhere”), and in racist ideologies, the state does not let some races in, regardless of what ideology they profess. Being a Jew, according to German racial science, was immutable, and excluded one not only from inclusion in the national tribe but the community of mankind as well. “German Darwinists argued that innate racial inequalities gave each individual life a different value, and extermination of ‘inferior’ races was not only appropriate but unavoidable.” (Francois Haas, “German science and black racism – roots of the Nazi Holocaust” )

    If we then fast-forward the clock another 119 years, we see the Las Casas philosophy resurface in Barak Obama’s commencement speech to Moorehouse College, which he gave a few days ago. The Atlanta-based historically black private college is exclusively for men, and here’s what Obama had to say to them:

    As Morehouse Men, many of you know what it’s like to be an outsider; know what it’s like to be marginalized; know what it’s like to feel the sting of discrimination. And that’s an experience that a lot of Americans share. Hispanic Americans know that feeling when somebody asks them where they come from or tell them to go back.

    Gay and lesbian Americans feel it when a stranger passes judgment on their parenting skills or the love that they share. Muslim Americans feel it when they’re stared at with suspicion because of their faith. Any woman who knows the injustice of earning less pay for doing the same work — she knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.

    Obama makes his commitment to racial, gender, religious, and sexual-identity diversity explicit. But as has been demonstrated by other actions and statements of Obama (for example those pertaining to Bradley Manning), there is no equal commitment to ideological diversity. On the contrary, in the spirit of Las Casas, Obama has made it quite clear that anyone who doesn’t convert to the one true faith — American exceptionalism coupled with manifest destiny (US world hegemony and full spectrum dominance) and free-market fundamentalism — will stand thoroughly outside the national culture and the community of mankind.

  • elisemattu said:

    My [Jewish] friend told me how his grandmother attended the rallies, worshipping this leader who had knocked the inner circle of rich Jewish bankers from the destructive hold they had on the economy. If a middle class Jewish woman could worship Hitler, then how much more likely that his Aryan followers would worship him?

    The success of Nazi diplomacy and propaganda in claiming the poor in democratic civilization as their allies against the “plutocrats” in one moment, and in the next seeking to ally the privileged classes in their battle against “communism,” is an indication of just how close barbarism came to triumphing over civilization.

  • Hannah Arendt is an extraordinarily fascinating person, because even though she was a German Jewish refugee, she never shied away from interjecting class into the race construct. Even before Eichamnn in Jerusalem, in which she unflinchingly and courageously reported the trial testimony as to how wealthy and powerful Jews had collaborated with the Nazis, and how those same collaborators had then risen to prominence in Israel, she had written of Jews who had collaborated with racially structured social and political regimes in the 1870 to 1932 period. (Germany was hardly unique in this regard, even though when the Nazis came to power in 1932 they took racial politics to its extreme.)

    In The Origins of Totalitarianism, for instance, Arendt speaks of “exception Jews,” “court Jews,” and “parvenu Jews” of wealth who “felt like exceptions from the common desitny of the Jewish people and were recognized by the governments as exceptionally useful.” They were “eager not only to protect Jewish communities against the authorities, but also to rule over them with the help of the state, so that the phrase denoting the ‘double dependence’ of poor Jews on ‘both the government and their wealthy brethren’ only reflected reality.” The “most reactionary governments of the period were supported and financed by Jewish bankers,” she explains, and the denuciation by Jews “of Marx and Boerne cannot be properly understood except in the light of this conflict between rich Jews and Jewish intellectuals.”

    Arendt was always careful not to blame the parvenu phenomenon on the Jews themselves, but on structural factors. “As long as defamed peoples and classes exists,” she observed, parvenu-qualities “will be produced anew by each generation and with incomparable monotony, in Jewish society and everywhere else.” This of course did not save Arendt from a deluge of criticism from wealthy and nationalistic Israeli Jews, and to this day the mention of her name on discussion threads can trigger vicious, ad hominem attacks.

    Arendt’s theory about how a class of parvenus will be produced as long as defamed peoples and classes exists certainly seems to hold true for the sub-group I hail from, the LGBT population. Here, for instance, is Susie Day:

    Bradley Manning has done something horrible to LGBT-town — far worse than revealing war crimes. He raises the question: Do LGBT people, in some way, owe our improving legal status to those very war crimes Manning revealed?


    Let that be a lesson to every LGBT-town queer who seeks acceptance in President Obama’s US of A. When it comes to government-sponsored mass killings and human rights abuses, maybe “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” isn’t such a bad idea, after all.

    And Steven Thrasher:

    To the Professional Homosexual, there is no moral quandary in selling out one’s own queer soul, liberated by a once-radical movement, by accepting endless militarism and corporate greed in return for personal fortune. And since Professional Homosexuals control so many LGBT organizations and spaces, they threaten to drag the entire community down with them.


    In accepting this vile hypocrisy—in which an individual like Private Manning is shamed by the LGBT community while corporate raiders like Wells Fargo are praised—the average homosexual becomes as culpable as the Professional Homosexual in selling out the movement…

    [T]hat same homosexual becomes as beholden to the military-industrial complex as the Professional Homosexual when he fails to call out SF Pride as a bully. The powerful group found perhaps the most marginalized, powerless homosexual in the nation, pulled him into the spotlight for a few hours, took a giant shit on him, roughed him up a little, called him names, and then kicked him back into the gutter.

    The entire LGBT community— not just the Professional Homosexual class—is to blame for the militarization of the movement.

    And Andy Thayer:

    So why is it that all of the big gay non-profits, from the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – “Gay Inc.” – have failed to utter a word of support for Private Bradley Manning, let alone really campaign for him? He’s gay, has moderately high name recognition, and unlike any number of air-head celebrities, he’s actually done something to support social justice, rather than mined charitable causes for personal fame and fortune.


    If a homophobe had so much as broken Chaz Bono’s finger nail, rest assured that assured GLAAD, NGLTF and HRC would have been on the case. But why the silence about Manning?

    It’s political cowardice. A failure to take on “difficult” political subjects, particularly when doing so might bite the (Democratic Party) hands that feed them.


    Bradley Manning’s great sin, in the view of the gay NGOs, was in exposing not just the depravity of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, but Barack Obama’s as well.


    At the end of the day, Gay Inc. sees its source of jobs in Democratic administrations, its executive directorships with six-figure salaries, its charity balls and other celebrity-driven hoopla as more important than gay rights. And when individual LGBTs like Bradley Manning through their own courage expose the human rights fakery of Democratic politicians, they can twist in the wind.


    The Obama administration is leading the attack on the most important whistle-blower of our era, a gay man whose persecution was tinged with homophobia. The Honduran coup, which it supported and Manning helped expose, is murdering LGBTs and others at a horrific rate. While Gay Inc. keeps quiet, while lapping up favors from its political allies, we must not.

  • KG said:

    In fact, the question should be asked, what is the threat? Much of what government thinks is a threat is the result of hype or hysteria whipped up to serve the military industrial-complex.

    Here’s the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson on the subject:

    [T]here is ample psychological evidence that we are hardwired to distinguish between “us” and “them” and to behave inhumanely toward “them” at the slightest provocation, as science journalist David Berreby recounts in his book Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind… If we want to avoid this kind of facultative sociopathy, we need to avoid pushing the wrong psychological buttons, just as the president of the United States avoids pushing the fabled red button that is supposed to initiate a nuclear strike.


    [T]he evil alien argument is to portray one’s adversaries on earth as evil, such as the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” or Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”… This kind of language is designed to bring out the facultative sociopath in all of us by dehumanizing our adversaries. Our political leaders are cautious about pushing the fabled red button that is supposed to initiate a nuclear strike, but they bang away at our psychological buttons all the time.


    The emotions of fear, anger, and hatred have such powerful effects on our bodies and minds that they are literally toxic over the long term, eating away at our immune systems and even our brains, as my evolutionist colleague Robert Sapolsky recounts in his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. A national policy or any other belief system that attempts to sustain strong emotions such as fear and hatred over the long term is almost certain to fail and to produce severe negative side effects over the long term. Human potential can be developed only when we are not scared, angry, or hungry. Our evolution as a species required periods of safety and satiety, which we recognize and communicate through laughter… If we aren’t laughing and enjoying each other’s company, we aren’t developing our potential.

    –DAVID SLOAN WILSON, Evolution For Everyone

    BARAK OBAMA: “So this is a just war, a war waged proportionately in last resort, and in self defense.”

    During the war, the lie most effective with the whole of the German people was the slogan of “the battle of destiny for the German people,” [der Schicksalskampf des deutschen Volkes], coined either by Hitler or Goebbels… [I]t suggested…that it was a matter of life and death for the Germans, who must annihilate their enemies or be annihilated.

    –Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

  • Michael Rattner parsed the spin the Obama administration is putting on this, that it is not going after the press.

    MICHAEL RATTNER: There’s an attack on free press in this country that is unprecedented.

    PAUL JAY: Well, I’ll give you the most generous, I think, explanation or definition of what he’s saying you could have is that they will continue, for example, to seize records of journalists, but they won’t charge the journalist; they’ll charge the whistleblower. So the effect is maybe not to have such a massive chill against journalists, but they certainly want a massive chill against whistleblowers.

    RATNER: Well, against whistleblowing it’s crazy how massive [incompr.] you and I have repeated, and others have as well, it’s double the number of prosecutions of whistleblowers than all other administrations put together, the stuff with WikiLeaks, the stuff with Rosen, as I said. There’s a massive assault on whistleblowers.
    And Bradley Manning’s case is specifically terrible because he’s being charged with aiding the enemy, which is a death penalty charge that only soldiers can be charged with. And it’s as if he intentionally was trying to aid al-Qaeda, who read some WikiLeaks documents, which is completely absurd.

    But if you’re a soldier, you think you’re ever going to take a chance of giving anything to the WikiLeaks or The New York Times or The Real News if you think you can get the death penalty when some guy who’s an enemy of the United States reads it? Forget it.
    So that, what they’re doing with Manning, is really what should terrify journalists, because it should terrify them that any source they might have, particularly in the military, is just going to be dried up.

  • DownSouth commented on the blog post When the Justice Department Pursues Reporters as Spies

    2013-05-22 11:30:21View | Delete

    There was an insightful article published a few months ago in THE JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW & CRIMINOLOGY:


    If one scrolls down to page 568, this section contains some information that might prove helpful in articulating arguments against the sort of abuses of criminal law the Obama administration is engaging in:


    To be sure, more recent cases cast doubt on Morissette and Freed in this respect. Among these cases are Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States,132 Ratzlaf v. United States,133 and Staples v. United States.134 In each case, the Supreme Court adopted heightened mens rea requirements, and two of these cases (Arthur Andersen and Ratzlaf) went so far as to make ignorance of the law a defense.135 Each time, the Court ratcheted up mens rea requirements for the stated purpose of preventing conviction for morally blameless conduct.

    These cases, I believe, are best read as making a culpable mental state a prerequisite for punishment for all crimes, even regulatory offenses. As I have noted elsewhere:

    [T]he Supreme Court has dramatically revitalized the mens rea requirement for federal crimes. The “guilty mind” requirement now aspires to exempt all “innocent” (or morally blameless) conduct from punishment and restrict criminal statutes to conduct that is “inevitably nefarious.” When a literal interpretation of a federal criminal statute could encompass “innocent” behavior, courts stand ready to impose heightened mens rea requirements designed to exempt all such behavior from punishment. The goal of current federal mens rea doctrine, in other words, is nothing short of protecting moral innocence against the stigma and penalties of criminal punishment.136

    The fact remains, however, that Freed and cases like it have never been overturned. Unless that happens, confusion will persist—and, with it, the possibility that moral blameworthiness may be not be required for some crimes, especially regulatory offenses involving health and safety concerns.137

    One thing, however, is certain: as long as courts fail to make proof of a culpable mental state an unyielding prerequisite to punishment, federal prosecutors will continue to water down mens rea requirements in ways that allow conviction without blameworthiness. That is exactly what prosecutors did, for example, in Arthur Andersen during the wave of post-Enron hysteria over corporate fraud. In seeking to convict Enron’s accounting firm of the “corrupt persuasion” form of obstruction of justice, prosecutors—flatly disregarding the lesson of cases like Staples and Ratzlaf—argued for incredibly weak mens rea requirements that, as the Court noted, would have subjected entirely innocuous conduct to punishment.138

    Although the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Justice Department’s efforts and overturned Arthur Andersen’s conviction,139 the firm had less cause to celebrate than one might think. After being convicted on a prosecution theory so aggressive that it could not win even a single vote from the Justices, the company—once a “Big Five” accounting firm—went out of the consulting business.140 Even now that it no longer stands convicted of a crime, its reputation has in all likelihood been damaged beyond repair. Its own conduct in the Enron matter had a lot to do with that, of course, but so did the overzealousness of federal prosecutors in exploiting the serious imperfections in federal mens rea doctrine. The Arthur Andersen episode simultaneously shows the need for substantial mens rea reform and the high cost of not having strong mens rea requirements in federal criminal law.

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