Archive for the ‘Slavery’ Category

The Trump Statues: Nudity, Castration and the Punishment of Slaves

April 9, 2018

I sent this piece below off to the left-wing American website and magazine, Counterpunch. It’s a reply to a previous article they put up about the satirical statues of Trump, which appeared when he was campaigning for the presidency. These showed him naked, with a small penis and no testicles. One of their female writers compared this humiliating portrayal with the way nudity has been frequently historically used to punish women. She also cited the Fantasy series Game of Thrones and one of the punishments inflicted on a female character in that. But the statues’ genital deficiencies point to another way nudity was also used. Along with castration, it was also used in South American colonial society to punish captured runaway slaves. The Statues’ portrayal of Trump thus seems very fitting, given his aggressive masculinity and support for racists and White supremacists.

The magazine hasn’t used the article, and I don’t think they ever will. So here it is.

Nudity, Emasculation and the Humiliation of Slaves:
The Hidden Politics of the Anti-Trump Statues

Remember those statues of Trump which appeared in various cities across America about a year or so ago, when the Orange Generalissimo of reality TV was strutting about stadiums across America trying to get people to elect him? These were life-size statues of him, naked, with a tiny penis and no testicles. Today, Wednesday 28th March, the British papers reported that the last remaining one of a set that wasn’t destroyed, was put up for sale at Julien’s Auction in New Jersey. The statues were a subversive comment on a man, whose personal behaviour and style of government is one of aggressive masculinity and misogyny. One of the female contributors to Counterpunch published a piece a year or so ago when these statues first appeared. Written from a feminist perspective, it commented on this sculptural humiliation of the future president, and in particular its similarity to the methods used in the past to humiliate women. The statues’ nudity recalled the way errant women were also humiliated by being paraded naked.

It’s true that public nudity has been most used to humiliate women, but it wasn’t exclusively so. Men have also been humiliated on occasion by being exhibited naked by their enemies. In the culture of the Hebrew Bible, nudity was a badge of shame, and there’s a plaque from ancient Egypt showing a group of Asian prisoners being led, naked, by their Egyptian captors. And during the 18th century heyday of the transatlantic slave trade, public nudity and mutilation, including castration were used to humiliate enslaved Africans, who ran away or otherwise resisted their White masters. The slave societies of the New World was gripped by the fear of slave resistance, which itself took various forms. Enslaved Africans revolted in armed rebellions. They also ran away from their masters, or confined themselves to less dramatic forms of resistance, such as eating dirt, sabotage, or finding ways not to perform, or perform badly, their allotted work. To combat this, the slave masters punished their slaves with a variety of brutal measures, ranging from whipping to execution. These included various forms of mutilation, including castration.

This fear intensified during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, when the British and other European colonial nations feared that the slaves would follow Toussaint L’Ouverture and Black Jacobins of Haiti, and rise up against their masters to found free Black states. And so they resorted to increasingly brutal methods to discourage them. In one British Caribbean colony, one enslaved man was forced to sit on a cannon as it was fired, which understandably left him shaken and terrified. A female planter was also awarded five pounds by the local legislative assembly in another British colony, for having her male slaves castrated as a deterrent to further resistance.

It wasn’t just in the British colonies that emasculation was used to crush rebellious slaves. The Spanish slave code provided that runaway male slaves should be punished through the amputation of their member, and then exhibited naked to the public, a further punishment intended to humiliate them further after the horror of the mutilation itself, as well as dire warning to others also considering absconding. And it is this punishment, which the Trump statues, with their nudity and lack of genital endowment most closely resemble.

As a caricature of the President, it’s very appropriate indeed. Not only is Trump keen to project aggressive masculinity and sexuality, his regime is also notorious for its racism and connection to White supremacism. Trump tried and failed to pass legislation banning Muslim immigration from specific countries, largely those where he has no business dealings. He’s promised to build a wall to stop Mexicans and other Latino/as getting into the country illegally. And his supporters and staff have included members of the Alt Right, determined to preserve White dominance as America rapidly becomes racially diverse. One of the most notorious examples of this racist support base came when Richard Spencer, the founder and leader of the Alt Right, greeted Trump’s election at a meeting at the Ronald Reagan room with the cry of ‘Hail Trump! Hail our race!’ and a raised right arm in something that looked very much like the Fascist salute, despite his claims to the contrary later.

And some right-wing extremists in the Republicans have gone further. Not only do they defend slavery, but some of them have advocated it, or something close to it. A few years ago, one Republican politician recommended that illegal Mexican immigrants should be held captive by the state, and forced to work on public works. This is forced labour, which comes under the UN definition of slavery. Michelle Bachman, during her 2011 presidential campaign recommended a biography of General Robert E. Lee by J. Stephen Wilkins, which blamed the ‘radical abolitionists’ of the north for starting the Civil War, claimed that Southern slave masters treated their slaves with respect, and gave them enough food and personal possession to live a ‘comfortable but spare’ existence. The book even claimed that American slaves were fortunate in being brought out of their own, pagan homelands, and their godless brutality to Christian America. The Victorian English explorer, Sir Richard Burton, made the same argument nearly 250 years ago in his Wanderings in West Africa. It was also repeated by a number of Trump supporters during his presidential campaign back in 2016.

The disgraced former anchor of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, also repeated it, claiming that the slaves, who worked on the White House were well treated and fed. The Texas school board also tried indoctrinating their children with a carefully sanitized view of it. Back in 2015 one Texas mom was horrified to find that her child’s geography textbook described the enslaved people ripped from their homes in Africa to toil in American plantations as ‘workers’. The protestors, who turned up to demonstrate against the removal of the statue to Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, also argued that slavery had been beneficial. And some Libertarians also resent anti-slavery legislation. One confused Libertarian caller to Sam Seder’s internet news show back in 2013 also tried arguing that the anti-slavery laws were a tyrannical infringement of his liberty. Why? Because they deprived him of his right to own slaves. It’s an argument which shows how dangerous and demented at least some Libertarians are.

This shows there’s considerable nostalgia for slavery amongst some Republican supporters, who were very encouraged by Trump’s election and his racist policies. It’s true that during the 18th century some paternalistic slave masters, like George Washington, were concerned to treat their slaves well. Archaeologists working on Benjamin Franklin’s estate found that many of his slaves had very good material possessions. Some had fine china, and played the violin, for example. But for others, the reality was grinding poverty and the tyranny of the whip. In the British Caribbean, the slave codes provided only that male slaves should be given a pair of drawers, and women shifts once a year. Even in the 19th century visitors to these colonies remarked on seeing slaves toiling naked in the fields. As for benefiting from being taken to America, many Africans instead naturally desperately yearned to return to their homes. Some threw themselves into the sea on their arrival in the Caribbean in attempts to swim back to Africa. And if they couldn’t return to Africa, some of them dreamed of recreating an African society in the New World. In one late sixteenth century rebellion in the British Caribbean, the slaves planned on creating a new social order based on the type of monarchies, with a king and queen mother, they had known in Africa.

The subversive statues of Trump not only comment on and invert his projected image of potent masculine leadership. They also attack and undermine the racism at the heart of his administration by subjecting him in image to the humiliation meted out to runaways in the Latin south. Since then, the statues have nearly all vanished, while unfortunately their real-life model remains at large in his occupancy of the White House.

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‘I’ Newspaper Reports Open Letter by Labour Against the Witch-hunt

April 3, 2018

Labour Against the Witch-Hunt is an organisation of Labour members, who have been suspended or expelled due to false accusations of anti-Semitism, and others also keen to bring this political witch-hunt to an end. They’ve written an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn protesting against the fake allegations of anti-Semitism how they are being used by the Israel lobby, the Conservatives and the Blairite right to stifle the Labour left. And the I newspaper has covered them in an article on page 6 of today’s edition, Tuesday 3rd April 2018.

The article’s by Jane Corbin, and entitled ‘Corbyn Comrades being thrown to the wolves’. It reads

A group called Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) has iss8ued an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that accusations of anti-Semitism are being used by the media, Israel backers and the right of the party to undermine him.

The group said more than 2,500 people have signed the online letter, which states: “What we are seeing is a cynical alliance between those who wish to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, and the right wing in the Labour Party and the news media, who oppose your wider politics.

“They are thereby undermining genuine anti-racism and opposition to anti-Semitism. Their real target is you, because they oppose both your record of internationalism, in particularly your lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians.”

Insisting that the signatories are “firm opponents of all forms of racism, fascism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other kinds of oppression”, the letter said that many “good Corbyn-supporting comrades” had been “thrown to the wolves of the Tory party and their supporters in the mainstream media” because of allegations of anti-Semitism.

The letter was signed by LAW chair and former vice-chair of the Corbyn-backing Momentum movement, Jackie Walker, as well as the chair of Free Speech on Israel, Mike Cushman.

Walker is, as I said many times before, Jewish. She is Jewish by religion, her father was a Russian Jew, her partner is Jewish, and her daughter attends a Jewish school. But the Blairites and the Israel lobby had her suspended for anti-Semitism. Why? She had the temerity to question the exclusive focus on the persecution of Jews at a workshop on the commemoration of the Holocaust for Holocaust Memorial Day, run by the Jewish Labour Movement, previously Paole Zion. They also dredged up a private conversation she had with two other scholars on Facebook about Jewish involvement in the slave trade. Walker was addressing a serious topic which has been discussed by respected academic historians, as opposed to genuine anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan believes that the Jews were responsible for the slave trade, which is pure nonsense. However, because Walker made a mistake in one sentence, the Blairites and the Israel lobby were able to misrepresent her as sharing the same view.

Another victim of the witch-hunt is Tony Greenstein, who is very definitely not any kind of racist, fascist or anti-Semite. But he is a supporter of the Palestinians, and a member of various Jewish groups, which also support them. This is too much for the Israel lobby, and so he has also been smeared as an anti-Semite.

And it goes on. Very many of those libelled by the Blairites and Israel lobby are self-respecting, secular and religious Jews, and genuinely anti-racist non-Jews. They are often people, who have either been subject to anti-Semitic abuse themselves, or been abused or assaulted by racists and anti-Semites because of their stance against it. Their real crime, however, is that they are genuine socialists, who support Jeremy Corbyn, and wish for a just settlement for the Palestinians and an end to their persecution and ethnic cleansing by Israel.

This is what the anti-Semitism smears are all about. It has absolutely nothing to do with combating genuine anti-Semitism, and everything to do with trying to undermine Corbyn and his supporters.

It is utterly disgraceful, and those responsible for this campaign – the Blairites, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and now the Board of Deputies of British Jews – are showing themselves through this to be utterly mendacious, cynical political manipulators with neither grace nor morals. And just as more people are turning away from mainstream news because of its Conservative bias, I feel sure that more people will turn away from these organisations as their lies and smears become even louder, shriller and more obvious.

I don’t know whether the Beeb or the other newspapers also covered this letter. Given the glee with which the mainstream media has been reporting this set of latest smears and allegations, I very much doubt it. But it’s good that I has done so, at least.

Cover Art for Book on Western Imperialism

March 28, 2018

Yesterday I finally completed the cover art for the book I’ve been putting together against western imperialism, Crimes of Empire, which I hope to publish with Lulu. The book is about the way America and the West has overthrown left-wing regimes in the Developing World and installed Fascist dictators, when those regimes have threatened American corporate and political interests. For example, Jacobo Arbenz’s democratic socialist government in Guatemala was overthrown in the 1950s in a CIA backed coup, because Arbenz nationalised the banana plantations. As the majority of them were owned by the American United Fruit company, Washington and the CIA decided that they wanted him overthrown. The CIA then falsified evidence to claim that Arbenz was really a communist, and they’d saved Guatemala from the threat of Communist dictatorship. In fact, they’d replaced him with a vicious Fascist, who reduced the peasants Arbenz was elected to help to slavery, and ruled by terror, massacre and genocide for the next thirty or so years. The same occurred in Chile, where they overthrew the democratically elected Communist president, Salvador Allende, and replaced him with the Fascist regime of General Pinochet. And there are many others examples. William Blum’s list of countries in which the US has interfered in their elections or overthrown them in coups goes on for pages.

And the West is still doing it. Iraq was invaded and Saddam Hussein overthrown not to free the Iraqi people, as Bush and Blair claimed, but for the Americans to seize Iraqi state industries and for them and the Saudis to get their hands on the country’s oil fields. The Maidan Revolution in the Ukraine was also very definitely not a spontaneous democratic uprising. It was cleverly orchestrated by Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland in the US’ State Departmen and the National Endowment for Democracy. And the government they installed is militantly nationalist and includes real, uniformed Nazis. But you won’t find this mentioned in our captive and craven press.

And it’s still going on. I’m afraid that the latest political confrontation with Putin and the expulsion of Russian diplomats in Europe, America and Australia is just the preliminary stage in a concerted campaign to oust the Russian president, a campaign which may culminate in a war with Russia. Putin is a thug and an enemy of democracy. He bans any political party that’s a genuine threat, and has political rivals and opponents, including journos, beaten and murdered. But that’s not the reason our government are trying to destabilise his regime. After all, our leaders have no problem when their Fascists puppets do it. Thatcher just loved Pinochet, after all. No, the real reason for this is because the Americans thought they could dominate the Russian economy after the Fall of Communism. But Putin stopped them. Hence the bug-eyed anger against Russia in the White House, and Killary’s determination to increase hostility between the West and Russia. The book will tackle all of this.

And here’s the art.

It’s supposed to show a stealth bomber in front of a ruined, bombed building. But having completed it, I found that the plane isn’t easily distinguishable from the buildings. I’ve tried to correct this, but you might still have trouble seeing it. The blank space at the top is space for the title.

Will Killary and the Generals Get Their War with Russia?

March 27, 2018

The news yesterday that a number of EU countries had followed Britain’s lead and expelled Russian diplomats is alarming. This is ratcheting up the tension with Russia to Cold War levels. Despite the lack of definitive evidence that the Russians were behind the poisoning of the Skripals, May and nearly the rest of the countries in the EU have decided that Putin is responsible. And I’m afraid that the tensions they’re fomenting will ultimately lead to war.

Killary began all this nonsense about Russia interfering in western elections as a way of diverting blame from herself for his massive failure to convince Americans to vote her. She’s a horrible candidate – a massively privileged, neoliberal corporatist, who has absolutely no sympathy for the working class, and whose policies on drugs with her husband actively damaged the Black community. She took working class votes for granted and didn’t even bother to campaign in many traditional Democrat states. Instead, she did what Blair did over here and went chasing the upper and upper-middle classes. As a result, she alienated many voters, who would otherwise have voted Democrat. She did get a million or so votes more than Trump, but lost through the machinations of the Electoral College, a very undemocratic institution that was originally set up to allow slave-holding states to count their slaves as less than human so they would have voting equality with free states. She could have blamed the electoral and demanded its abolition. Many others have. But she didn’t. Obviously, she’s quite happy with that very undemocratic part of the American electoral system.

Unable to accept her responsibility for losing the election, and a strong supporter of the status quo, she turned to blaming Russia. In doing so, she joined a number of far right organisations, including eugenicist groups founded by former Nazis, who believed that the poor and Blacks are biologically unfit and so should be denied state welfare. And even before she lost the election, she showed a very strong hostility to Russia.

From reading articles in Counterpunch, it appears that the current policy in the White House and the Pentagon is for ‘full spectrum dominance’. That means that America should be the world’s only superpower, with an unchallenged military dominance of the rest of the world. What America, and its elite leader, including Hillary Clinton, fear is the rise of the multipolar world. They cannot tolerate the emergence of political and economic rivals, such as Russia, or China, or India, for that matter. Hence the massive increase in military spending. Under Obama’s administration, Hillary’s foreign policy towards Russia and China was militantly hostile and she seemed keen to ramp hostility to both these nations to dangerous levels.

And on this side of the Pond, various NATO generals also forecast war with Russia. One of them, a deputy-head of NATO, actually had a book published a couple of years ago entitled 2017: War with Russia, in which he predicted last year that Russia would invade Latvia, and this would spark a war between Russia and NATO. He predicted it would all happen last May. Fortunately, the month came and went and Russia didn’t. But NATO troops were massing on Russia’s borders, which would serve as a provocation to the Russians. Russia is encircled by NATO bases, and has sent military advisers to the Fascist regime in Ukraine.

As I’ve blogged many times before, much of this renewed American hostility to Russia has nothing to do with concerns about democracy and human rights. It’s purely economic. The American multinationals that poured millions into backing Yeltsin at the end of the Cold War did so in the expectation that the ensuing massive privatisation of Russian state assets would allow them to dominate the Russian economy. But Putin has stopped that. Thus the massive corporate anger against Putin’s Russia. Putin is a thug, who has his critics and opponents beaten and killed, but that’s not the reason the American political elite and their counterparts over here hate him.

I’m very much afraid that this latest round of expulsions will end by creating more tension, in a cycle that will end in a war with Russia, perhaps using a manufactured incident as a pretext for invading them. The pressure the government placed on Porton Down to state that the chemical used to poison the Skripals was definitely Russian is very, very similar to the pressure Blair and his cronies put on MI6 to ‘sex up’ the dodgy dossier and claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that he could launch within 45 minutes. He didn’t. The British and American publics were lied to, and despite massive opposition the west invaded Iraq. And the result has been nearly two decades of chaos and carnage.

And I’m afraid the same process is going on here to create another war for the benefit of the American military-industrial complex and big corporations desperate to get their hands on Russian resources and industries.

It needs to be stopped. Now. Before war really does break out, a war that could see millions die, and our beautiful planet turned into an irradiated cinder.

Radio Programme on Sylvia Pankhurst’s Support for Ethiopia against the Fascist Invasion

February 1, 2018

There are a number of programmes next week marking the centenary of the passage of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the right to vote. One of the most interesting of these looks like a programme on Radio 4 on Monday, 5th February 2018, at 8.00 pm, Sylvia Pankhurst: Honorary Ethiopian. The brief description of it in the Radio Times runs

Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst got involved in the Ethiopian cause following its invasion by Italy in 1935 , and would later be recognised as an honorary citizen and given a state funeral. Here, Helen Pankhurst explores her grandmother’s role in the fight for Ethiopian independence.

Bristol and Bath have a connection to Ethiopia’s struggle for independence, as those cities were the home of Haile Selassie’s children during the War. They used to go to Victoria Park, though I think this was the one in Bath rather than Bristol.

There were some western intellectuals, who sided with the Italians during their invasion. One of these was Lady Kathleen Simon, who wrote a book on slavery. The Ethiopian emperor, Menelik II, had formally ended slavery in the country, but slaving still went on. British officers like Major Darnley, the author of Slaves and Ivory, complained that Ethiopian slavers were crossing the border to abduct the indigenous peoples of Uganda, then very much part of the British empire. His book was an account of his undercover mission into Ethiopia and a description of the way various provinces had been devastated by slave raiding by the Ethiopian aristocracy. It was partly written as a piece of polemic. Darnley was incensed that the authorities were taking no action against the slavers, and that in fact an area in Uganda around the border with Ethiopia had been declared a ‘no-go zone’ to British personnel. At the end of his book he argued that we should invade and conquer Ethiopia in order to halt their raiding into British territory, as well as the horrors of slavery and the slave trade in Ethiopia itself.

I don’t think Darnley supported the Italians, but Simon certainly did. At the end of her book, entitled simply Slavery, she also discusses Ethiopian slavery and slave raiding, and praises the Italian invasion as she believed that it would put a halt to it. I don’t think Mussolini had much of an interest in slavery, if any. He was far more keen to build a mighty new Roman empire. And issues like personal freedom certainly were very much not the concern of the man, who invented totalitarianism. Still, Simon’s book shows how some members of the British aristocracy supported Italian Fascist imperialism for ostensibly liberal motives.

Corbyn Falsely Smeared Again as Anti-Semite by Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

January 31, 2018

Another week, another anti-Semitism smear. This time they’re attacking Jeremy Corbyn himself. Last Saturday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the Labour leader wrote his own, personal message in the Holocaust Book of Remembrance. He was then accused of anti-Semitism by the former BBC director of television, Danny Cohen, and his friends at the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who demanded that the Labour leader apologise. Corbyn was an anti-Semite, the claimed, because his message did not specifically mention Jews.

Oops! It turns out that Corbyn did mention Jews. And the messages of the leaders of the other parties didn’t mention them, or not explicitly. Theresa May’s messages didn’t, neither did Vince Cable’s, the leader of the Lib Dems. Nor did Rabbi Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi, explicitly mention Jews either in his message. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was duly caught out, and torn to shreds by people disgusted at their lies and hypocrisy on Twitter. Three days later, on Monday, they issued a grudging non-apology for their mistake, still maintaining that there was a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

As I’ve blogged about many times previously, the anti-Semitism smears against Corbyn, Momentum and a large number of ordinary members of the Labour party, including Mike himself, are politically motivated. The Blairites in the Labour party were very closely linked to the Israel Lobby. Both these groups hope to hold on to power by smearing Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites, even though the allegations are nothing but a pack of lies. Lobster issue 74 has a couple of pieces on the anti-Semitism smears, including one by the former Labour MP, Colin Challen. Challen states very clearly that there isn’t a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Or if there is, it’s no bigger than the amount of anti-Semitism found anywhere else. Various Jewish members of the Labour party have also written pieces making it clear that, in their experience, there is no anti-Semitism in the party, and that they have personally never encountered anti-Semitic abuse or attitudes from its members.

A little while ago I received a comment from a reader, who took issue with one of my pieces about the antics of the Zionists and the Israel lobby. He complained that by talking about ‘Zionists’, rather than specifically attacking Benjamin Netanyahu and the other, racial nationalist members of his coalition, I was handing the people making these smears a loaded gun. He pointed out that Corbyn was a supporter of Israel, and had appeared and spoken to a number of pro-Israel groups.

I’ve no doubt that he’s correct. I used the term ‘Zionists’ to describe the Israel lobby, because the very founders of Israel planned on the ethnic cleansing and deportation of the Palestinians. The brutality and atrocities committed by Netanyahu, Likud and their allies are merely the latest phase of a long campaign of oppression and persecution that goes right back to the nation’s very foundation. But the commenter is right that the critics of Israel and its barbarity don’t support its destruction. There’s an interview with Norman Finkelstein, a very prominent Jewish American historian, and critic of Israel, who makes that very clear.

There is instead a debate within the critics of Israel how to combat Israel’s ethnic cleansing and give freedom and dignity to the indigenous Arabs. The most popular, at least until a few years ago, was the ‘two state’ solution, in which the Palestinians were to be given their own state. Many of Israel’s critics believe that this should be achieved by Israel withdrawing to its pre-1967 boundaries. This is a move that the Israelis themselves reject, claiming that it would strategically weaken Israel and leave the country open to attack.

The other suggested solution is that the nature of the Israeli state has to change, so that the Arabs are also granted full Israeli citizenship. This would be unacceptable to most Zionists, as Israel was set up to be the Jewish state. Only Jews are allowed to immigrate to Israel and settle as citizens under the Law of Return. Altering the law so that the indigenous Arabs are also Israeli citizens, with all the rights and privileges currently enjoyed by Israelis, would change the formal ethnic basis of the Israeli state and society.

Corbyn is a threat to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and its mouthpieces, like Danny Cohen, not because he’s an opponent of Israel, but because he’s a supporter of the Palestinians. And so they’ve decided to smear him, and anyone who dares support him or criticise Israel.

As for Danny Cohen, I see absolutely no reason why any decent, reasonable person should take anything he says in this respect remotely seriously. Cohen was the director of television at the Beeb until a few years ago, when he went off to Israel. He claimed that Europe was no longer safe for Jews, and that there was a resurgence of anti-Semitism comparable to that of the 1930s in Germany, and advised other Jews to follow his example and move there. It’s the standard line retailed by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the other groups in the Israel lobby, and it’s pure twaddle. The stats actually show that 70 per cent + of all Brits have a positive or neutral attitude towards Jews. Only five per cent of the British public have negative views of Jewish people.

The same is true of France. The Financial Times way back in the first years of this century published an article stating that only five per cent of French people considered that Jews weren’t really French. The numbers, who consider that Muslims aren’t really French is much higher at something like 15 per cent.

And Tony Greenstein, a Jewish critic of Zionism, as well as a firm opponent of all forms of racism and Fascism, has pointed out that in Britain, there is much more racism against Blacks, Asians and Muslims. But the racism experienced by these groups isn’t treated as quite so serious and outrageous as anti-Semitism. This is so, even though some Black and African historians have argued that Africa also experienced its own Holocaust through the depredations of the slave trade. During the roughly three centuries the trade was in existence, about 12 million or so people were carried off from the Continent into bondage in the New World. It’s been estimated that a similar number of Africans were also killed by the slavers during their raids. The 19th century abolitionists themselves gave very graphic accounts of whole regions, that had been depopulated thanks to slave raiding.

I also wondered if these latest smears against Corbyn were also a diversion, to take attention away from another incident that’s embarrassed the Israelis. This is the case of Ahed Tamami, a 16 year-old Palestinian girl, who was arrested for slapping a Jewish soldier. Well, he and a few other goons had burst into the girl’s house. I think they also shot another member of her family, though I can’t remember whether it was a father, brother or other relative. But for that act of terrible disrespect, the girl has been arrested and tried for his crimes against the Israeli military. There’s been a public outcry about it, and the other child prisoners the Israelis drag through their military courts. Israel’s one of the very few nations to do this, and try children as adults. But only if they’re Palestinians. Faced with this awkward and shameful incident, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone in the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism decided that the best form of defence was attack, and so decided to smear Corbyn once again. And especially now that Tweezer is very weak politically, with various challenges to her leadership coming from within her party.

I’m not complacent about the threat of anti-Semitism. It is present in Britain, and has come to the fore once again in the various Nazi sects, like National Action, now banned. Eastern Europe has seen the emergence of a number of ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic parties. The Alt-Right is gaining power in the US through its connection to Trump, while in Germany the last elections saw the Nazi Alternative Fuer Deutschland enter the Bundestag for the first time. This is a party that includes real Nazis among its members. Various leading members have made speeches denouncing Germany’s Holocaust Memorial as a badge of shame, and vowed to build an underground railway to Auschwitz.

These are real threats to European Jews, along with other ethnic minorities, and ordinary, decent people, who don’t want their countries transformed into Fascist dictatorships. But its seems that these threats don’t concern Cohen and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism quite so much as smearing decent people simply for the crime of sticking up for the Palestinians and exposing Israeli atrocities against them.

Labour MP’s Epic Putdown of Holocaust Denier

January 30, 2018

Mike posted this tale on his blog yesterday, and it’s too awesome not to share.
The Labour MP Jonathon Reynolds Tweeted yesterday that he had written in the Holocaust book of remembrance. Last Saturday was, after all, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the world remembers not just the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis, but also all other victims of genocide.

Reynolds then got this deeply unpleasant comment from a Holocaust Denier by the name of Steve Steglitz:

“You politicians are not doing your duty to the public. The Holocaust is one big lie. Time you put pressure on the media to do their job and start asking a few questions. But politicians and journalists are either owned or brainwashed themselves.”

Reynolds replied back

“As much as I would like to converse with you Steve, I’m literally going to prioritise picking up shit with my hands from my local canal this morning.”

He meant it too. The Labour MP Tweeted a picture of himself, with another man and a woman, and various bags and a wheelbarrow, who were there with him helping to clean out his local canal. So he really had been putting picking up ordure with his bare hands over responding to a nasty little Tweet denying that the Holocaust ever occurred.

See Mike’s post at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/01/29/holocaust-denier-dealt-brutal-put-down-by-labour-mp-warning-strong-language/

In fact, a California judge ruled in the 1970s that the evidence for the Holocaust was so abundant and plentiful, that its existence could not reasonably be doubted. This came after one of the American Nazi magazines ran a competition, offering a prize to anyone who could prove that the Holocaust had actually occurred. A Jewish fellow, who was indeed a Holocaust survivor, took them up on it, and sent in a piece showing that the Holocaust was historical fact. The ruling came because the magazine didn’t pay out, and so the survivor was forced to take them to court. And at the end of that trial, the judge issued his ruling.

The Holocaust is a very sticky issue for Nazis. Obviously, they have to deny it, because nobody is going to join a movement notorious for having the organised murdered of six million people, simply because of their ethnicity/ religion as a major plank of its policy when it was in power. This is not to mention the other 5 1/2 million people, comprising gypsies, the disabled, P.O.W.s, Slav slave workers, trade unionists, Socialists, Communists, and other political and religious opponents of the regime, that the Nazis also butchered in the concentration camps. And so the Nazis lie, and claim that it never happened, inventing some very bizarre and convoluted conspiracy theories to try to explain away all the evidence of the horrors of the Shoah.

It also presented something of a psychological problem for some of the British Nazis, when they found out about the Holocaust. Arnold Leese, who was one of the most vehemently anti-Semitic of the various British Fascists, who emerged between the wars, had a nervous breakdown because of it. This was despite the fact that in his speeches he had also frequently called for violence against the Jews, and their extermination. When someone pointed this out to him, he said ‘Not like that.’ And then went on to make the bizarre statement that he had wanted it to be done ‘humanely’.

There is no way you can murder an entire people humanely, no matter how the perpetrators and their supporters lie about it.

Reynolds’ reply to Steglitz was truly awesome, and shows just how low Holocaust Denial and arguing with those, who promote it, comes in decent peoples’ list of priorities. Way below picking up pieces of ordinary, honest muck, in an effort to clean up their local environment.

Wishing Everyone a Solemn and Reflective Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27, 2018

Today is, I believe, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the world, or at least the Western world, reflects on the Shoah and the calculated extermination of six million Jews. But it is also important to remember the other victims of the Nazi camps as well. The Jews were the largest single group, but in total 11 1/2 million people were murdered by the Nazis in the death and concentration camps. This included the congenitally disabled, who were murdered by Nazi doctors under the Aktion T4 programme with the assistance and supervision of the SS. Historians such as Martin Broszat in The Hitler State and Karl Dietrich Bracher in The German Dictatorship, have pointed out that this prefigured and prepared for the murder of the Jews, particularly in the use of poison gas. In the end, Aktion T4 was stopped by the courageous action of the Roman Catholic aristocrat, Count Galen. This shows that Christian opinion in Germany and opposition to the Holocaust from the churches could also have stopped the Shoah. But with a few, very honorable exceptions, like Bonhoffer, the churches didn’t.

The Nazis also attempted to exterminate the Romanies – the Gypsies – as they too were considered, like the Jews, to be subhuman and a threat to German society and racial industry.

Other victims of the camps included the mentally ill, neurotics, prostitutes, recidivist criminals, Prisoners of War, and political prisoners, such as trade unionists, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, gay men, and slave workers from the Slav nations. The last were worked to death in horrific conditions, including building the Nazi fortifications and tunnels in the Channel Islands.

Holocaust Remembrance Day isn’t just about commemorating the Holocaust and its victims, but other genocides and their victims that have occurred throughout history. Hitler partly made his decision to go ahead with the extermination of the Jews because of the complete lack of western reaction to the Young Turks’ massacre of the Armenians. He commented, ‘Who remembers the Armenians?’ And before then, the German colonial authorities in what is now Tanganyika had attempted to exterminate the Herrero after they revolted, using similar eugenicist logic.

Unfortunately, as Mike has pointed out, genocides have continued to be perpetrated, such as the various crimes against humanity committed by Fascist regimes across Latin America, Asia and Africa, supported by American foreign policy. The persecution of the Rohingya is just the latest of these. And Jews have been involved in protesting and commemorating them and their victims as well. In Canada, the leader of the mainstream Jewish organisation, Bernie Farber, organised a ‘Shabbat for Darfur’ after that city was attacked by the Islamist Janjaweed Militia in the early part of this century. Farber’s generous action has been bitterly criticised by members of the transatlantic conservative Right, who feel that Jews should concentrate solely on their own sufferings in the Holocaust, and not expand their experience of suffering, persecution and attempted genocide to form solidarity with the other persecuted ethnic and religious groups.

Israeli scholars have also noted that the Holocaust, while horrific, was not a unique event. See Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review, edited by Israel W. Charny, the executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust, Jerusalem, and Director of Postgraduate Interdisplinary and Graduate Social Work Programs in Family, Therapy, Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University. Dr. Charny’s book also includes a chapter on the ethnic cleansing of Israel’s indigenous Arab population, which is definitely unwelcome to the Likudniks. But it bears out Ilan Pappe’s assertion that Israelis are still decent people, who need to have the situation and issues properly explained to them. But odiously, Netanyahu, Likud and other ethno-nationalists in his ruling coalition are doing all they can to prevent that occurring. As are his little helpers over here in the shape of the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.

So as we commemorate the sufferings of the Jews during the Nazi regime, we also need to take on board that it isn’t just about anti-Semitism, but about similar horrors that have disfigured human history down the centuries, and murderous, criminal regimes that are perpetrating them today.

Counterpunch on America’s Long Racist Hatred of Haiti

January 17, 2018

I blogged earlier this week about how Haiti was the first Black republic, where its enslaved people threw off their chains under the Black revolutionary, Toussaint Louverture, and threw out their French colonial overlords at the time of the French Revolution. The country became an inspiration to slaves struggling for their freedom in America and the Caribbean, and created panic among the European masters. They feared that their slaves were in contact with the Haitian revolutionaries, and that the next Black revolt would succeed where the others had been suppressed. And from the late 18th through the early 19th century, there were a series of revolts in the Caribbean by slaves, impatient for their freedom.

Mark Schuller, the Associate Professor of Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development at Northern Illinois University, and affiliate at the Faculte d’Anthroplogie, l’Universitat d’Etat d’Haiti, wrote a piece discussing Haiti and America’s obsessive hatred of the country. Put simply, it’s because the American plantation masters were terrified of the example the Black republic gave to their slaves, and so they did everything they could to limit discussion of it and ultimately to conquer and dominate it. And not just America, but also France, and the exploitation and class rule imposed by the Americans under neoliberalism after the overthrow of the last Haitian president. He writes

What is behind Trump – and white America’s – obsession with Haiti?

Haiti has been targeted for its decisive role in challenging what Southern planters – including eight U.S. Presidents – called a “peculiar institution.” The Haitian Revolution was the first time slaves were able to permanently end slavery and forge an independent nation. It also was a tipping point in U.S. history, leading to the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, paving the way for U.S. “Manifest Destiny” stretching from sea to shining sea and eventual dominance. Chicago, the country’s third largest city, was founded by a Haitian, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who Haitian historian Marc Rosier called an “agent” of the Haitian government to pursue a pro-freedom international policy.

Haiti’s contribution to U.S. “greatness” has long been unacknowledged. The pivotal Haitian Revolution was literally “unthinkable,” as Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot argued. The demonization of Haiti was so strong, its inspiration to slaves so dangerous, that Congress imposed a gag order in 1824, preventing the word Haiti from being uttered in Congress, a year after the imperialist Monroe Doctrine.

White supremacy was not defeated in the Appatomox Court House in 1865, nor the 13th Amendment that allowed for a back-door legalization of slavery, nor in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, nor in the 1965 Voting Rights Act following “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, nor in the 2008 election of the first African American President.

Through it all, as Haitian anthropologist Gina Athena Ulysse analyzed, Haiti has served as the “bête noir” in a deliberate smear campaign against the descendants of the people who said no to white supremacy.

These narratives of Haiti continued throughout the initial response to the 2010 earthquake, from the likes of televangelist Pat Robertson and the New York Times’ David Brooks. As New Yorker contributing writer Doreen St. Felix pointed out, this obsession with Haiti has to do with white society’s rejection of black self-determination.

These discourses have definite and powerful material consequences.

France, which in 2001 declared slavery a “crime against humanity,” extorted 150 million francs from Haiti as a condition of recognition of Haitian independence, plunging Haiti into a 120-year debt that consumed up to 80% of Haiti’s tax base. Socialist president Jacques Chirac scoffed at Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s demand for reparations before being the first to call for his resignation in 2004.

Calling Haiti “ungovernable” provided justification for U.S. intervention: The United States invaded Haiti twenty-six times from 1849 to 1915, when U.S. Marines landed and occupied the country for nineteen years. During the U.S. Occupation, the Marines set up the modern army, opened up land for foreign ownership, solidified class and racial inequality, laying the groundwork for the 1957-1971 Duvalier dictatorship.

Incorrectly blaming Haiti for its role in the AIDS epidemic killed the tourist industry, which, along with the deliberate destruction of Haiti’s pig population, sent the economy in a nosedive. Neoliberal capitalist interests seized the opportunity to take advantage of the massive rural exodus to build sweatshops, exploiting people’s misery by offering the lowest wages in the world. With poverty wages, and a crippling foreign debt that according to the IMF’s own recordkeeping went to the paramilitary tonton makout, Port-au-Prince’s shantytowns had no services and no government oversight. These foreign interventions were the main killer in the 2010 earthquake.

He also makes the point that the accusation that indigenous Haitians were ‘looters’, along with other racist claims, meant that the efforts of the Haitian people themselves in combating the disasters that beset their country were ignored. The Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission was chaired by Bill Clinton, and the humanitarian aid coordinated by the UN. Native Haitians were excluded from these meetings either by foreign soldiers, or by the simple fact that they were in English, while Haiti itself is a bilingual country, speaking French and a French-based creole. The NGOs themselves had a top down, hierarchical structure, excluding people in the refugee camps from their decisions. The result was the break-up of Haitian families, and increasing violence against women.

His article ends:

Calling the world’s beacon of freedom a “shithole” sullies not only Haiti’s ten million residents on the island and three million in the U.S., but is an affront to human freedom and equality.

As award-winning Haitian author Edwidge Danticat argued, “today we mourn. Tomorrow we fight.”

See: https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/16/what-is-a-shithole-country-and-why-is-trump-so-obsessed-with-haiti/

Proud Haitians Defend Country as Free Black Republic after Trump’s ‘Sh*thole Countries’ Comments

January 14, 2018

Yesterday there were mass demonstrations in America, and expressions of outrage around the rest of the world at Trump’s grotesque comments about immigrants to America from ‘sh*thole countries’. As Mike put up on his blog, one of the countries that was most definitely not impressed was Botswana in Africa. This tiny African state, with a population of 2 million, has, as Mike pointed out, the highest growth rate in Africa, and a tradition of stable democratic government. It’s a developing nation, but definitely not a ‘sh*thole’. And the country’s authorities seemed determined to make that point when they called the American ambassador in to explain if their nation was one of the countries Trump was sneering at.

I was particularly impressed by a young Haitian woman, who appeared on the BBC news yesterday when the Corporation covered a demonstration against Trump and his racist comments in Florida. She stated that Haitians were a proud people, and that their country became the first Black republic, where the slaves overthrew their masters. She’s absolutely right. Modern Haiti was created by the ‘Black Jacobins’ under Toussaint Louverture, who organised a slave revolt inspired by the Revolution in France. Haiti had been a French colony, but they toppled colonial rule, and threw the French out. Louverture then renamed the country ‘Haiti’, rather than continue using the old French/ European colonial name, justifying the change by claiming that this was the indigenous name for it.

Lourverture’s revolution sent a shock wave throughout the Caribbean and America. It was an inspiration to Blacks struggling for their freedom, and alarmed the colonial authorities. The late 18th and early 19th centuries saw a series of slave revolts break out in the Caribbean, by enslaved people impatient for their freedom. These were ruthlessly and brutally suppressed, as the colonial authorities feared the influence of Haiti upon their enslaved subjects, and that the slaves would be in contact with the Haitian revolutionaries. And some free Black Americans moved to Haiti after they obtained their freedom. Major Moody, a British army officer, who was sent to the Caribbean in the 1820s to produce a report on whether the enslaved people of the British colonies were ready for emancipation, includes in his report correspondence between a Black American, who had done this, and his former mistress in America, who had freed him.

Haiti is a desperately poor country, as has been shown by the suffering and destruction it has sustained in recent years through a series of disasters. But much of this poverty and deprivation comes from American imperial intervention. The Americans invaded in the 1920s as part of their campaign to assert their dominance over the Caribbean, and defend their economic interests. And they’ve done the same thing at various intervals throughout the 20th and now the 21st century. A little while ago I found a piece on YouTube – I think it might have been by Abby Martin of TeleSur English’s The Empire Files, or it could have been the Real News people, which made the point that when the Americans invaded again a few years ago to overthrow the latest dictator, it wasn’t because of his human rights record. Rather, it was because he was redistributing wealth, which threatened American corporate interests once again. And the dictator’s left-wing opponent was kept from standing and taking over office through armed soldiers posted outside his house. It was the same pattern of invasion and coup that has been repeated over and over again, around the world, whenever a smaller, weaker country elects anyone remotely left-wing, or otherwise threatens the dominance of the big American corporations in their country’s economy. Just like Hillary Clinton five years ago in 2012 gave her backing to the Fascist coup which overthrew the liberal regime in Honduras.

One peculiar consequence of the American invasion of Haiti has been the rise of the zombie movie. The first of these appeared shortly after the 1920s American invasion, and left-wing, anti-colonial critics have argued that the movies represent an attempt by the country’s new colonial masters to present a picture of it as a terrifying land, steeped in superstition and black magic. Since then the zombie movie has moved away from Haiti to America itself, and under George A. Romero also developed satirical overtones criticising contemporary American society and capitalism. Like in one of his movies, the survivors seeks refuge in a mall.

Trump’s comments were offensive, and they clearly stung the pride of migrants to America, who nevertheless still felt strong bonds with their countries of origin, as well as the other peoples in the Developing World. But the young Haitian woman speaking up for her mother country made a very good point about how important it was for Black history. And if many of these countries are poor, ruled over by brutal, corrupt governments responsible for human rights abuses, one of the reasons is because the Americans have assisted these thugs into power to stop any redistribution of wealth or growth of democracy. All under the guise of protecting the world from the threat of Communism, and upholding American corporate interests. People around the world have been demanding that Trump apologise for his comments. They’re right, but it’s not just his comments that need to be critically analysed and opposed. It’s American imperialism itself, and the underlying cynical contempt for the nations of the Developing World and their people, who are there to be abused and sneered at in the interests of American corporate capitalism.