Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis’

David Pakman on Anti-Semitic and Racist Republican Candidate Escorted Offstage at Kentucky University

February 23, 2017

In my last post, I discussed the rise in racism in this country and America, as reported in Mike’s recent post about the fall in immigration and rise in hate crime following Brexit, and the anti-Semitic desecration of a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis. This incident has had a more positive sequel, in that a Muslim organisation has so far raised $71,000 to be spent on repairing the cemetery and other Jewish communities, that have suffered similar attacks.

Discussing the American attacks, Ben Mankiewicz and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks made the point that they were part of the wave of hate that has been unleashed by Trump’s bigoted rhetoric and campaigning. While Trump has a Jewish son-in-law, whom his daughter converted to Judaism to marry, and denies that he is anti-Semitic, his supporters include Steve Bannon of Breitbart, an anti-Semite and White supremacist, and Richard Spencer, the leader of the Alt-Right, which comprises anti-Semites, White Supremacists and other far-right bigots.

Unfortunately, there has been a racist strain in the Republican party for a very long time. Ever since, in fact, Richard Nixon devised the ‘Southern Strategy’ to keep hold of the South by playing on the racist fears of White voters after desegregation. One of the leading Republican politicos is David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. And I can remember how Joe Queenan on the BBC Radio 4 programme, Postcard from Gotham, greeted the electoral victory of Pat Buchanan in New Hampshire with the statement that the only thing you could now in that state were cries of ‘Duce! Duce!’ after Mussolini.

In this piece from 2014, David Pakman reports on a speech at Kentucky University’s ‘Constitution Day’, which resulted in the speaker being escorted off stage by university staff. This was Robert Edward Rensdell, a rising Republican candidate for the senate with appalling anti-Semitic and White separatist views. Rensdell had previously put placards up with his slogan ‘With Jews we lose’ all over Cincinnati. He has also called Blacks ‘savages’ and looked back to the racist past as a time when ‘Blacks knew better’ than to pick on White people, particularly women and children.

Instead of the speech on the American Constitution they were no doubt expecting, the university’s students got a racist rant.

Pakman himself also warns about treating Rensdell and his antics too lightly, as if he represented no more of a threat than a few tasteless comments. He talks about how he had on his programme Frasier Glen Miller another racist Republican senator ten years before. Miller was openly anti-Semitic on his show, insulting Pakman personally with remarks about his Jewish heritage. Miller has since been convicted of the murder of two Jewish people at different Jewish community centres. Pakman points out that the racism expressed and promoted by people like Rensdell and Miller has terrible real world consequences, and can very quickly turn to violence.

Sir John Fortescue on Parliament, Taxing the Aristos and the Wealth of England

November 1, 2015

Part of this post is going to be in Late Middle English, which isn’t easy to read. Nevertheless, please bear with it. I’ll include a rough translation into modern English as well.

In my last piece, I blogged about how the Tories had started lying about the British constitution and the role of the House of Lords after their plans to cut tax credit for the poorest in Britain were thrown out by the Upper House. After listening to their rants, which essentially come down to ‘How dare they defy us! This ain’t democratic’, I thought I’d look up what Sir John Fortescue wrote about such matters way back in the 15th century.

Sir John Fortescue was one of the founders of English and British political theory. He was at one time Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, and one of the country’s leading intellectuals. Douglas Gray, in his introduction to the chapter on philosophy and political theory in prose, writes

In his various works he shows a concern for the continuity of traditional political values and for the need to define them and the institutions in which they took form. The Governance of England discusses with clarity and elegance English constitutional principles and suggests some administrative reforms. Fortescue has great faith in the English tradition of “limited” government by the king (dominium politicum et regale) as against the despotic rule of the French king. His view that the test of ‘limited monarchy’ is in its fruits leads him into an unfavourable discussion of the French system which makes us think of Chartier’s Lament of the Third Estate. Unlike many other contemporary works, The Governance of England shows an awareness of actual political conditions and of the way in which differing economic and social structures are reflected in a country’s political institutions.

Here’s the words of the man himself:

Sir John Fortescue: The Governance of England

The Fruit of Jus Regale and of Jus Politicum et Regale

‘And howsobeit that the Frenche kyng reignith upon is peple dominio regalie, yet St. Lowes sometime kynge there, nor eny of his progenitors sette never tayles or other imposicion upon the people of that lande withowt the assent of the .iii estate, wich whan thai bith assembled bith like to the courte of the parlemont in Ingelonde. And this ordre kepte many of his successours into late dayes, that Ingelonde men made suche warre in Fraunce, that the .iiii estates durst not come togedre. And than for the cause and for gret necessite wich the French kynge hade of good for the defence of the lande, he toke upon hym to sett tayles and other imposicions upon the comouns withowt the assent of the .999 estates; but yet he wolde not sett any such charges, or hath sette, uppone the nobles of his lande for fere of rebellion. And bicvause the comouns ther, though thai have grucched, have not rebellid or beth hardy to rebelle, the French kynges have yere withyn sette such charges upon them, and so augmented the same charges, ,as the same comouns be so impoverysshid and destroyed, that thai mowe unneth leve….

But, blessyd be God, this lande is ruled undir a betir law; and therefore the people thereof be not in such peynurie, nor therby hurt in their persons, but thai bith in welthe, and have all thinges nescessarie to their sustenance of nature. Wherfore thai ben mighty, and able to resiste the adversaries of this reaume, and to beete other reaumes that do, or wolde do them wronge. Lo, this is the fruyt of jus polliticum et regale, under wich we live.’

Roughly translated, this means that

‘although the French king reigns over his people due to royal dominion, St. Louis the Pious, the former king there, and his ancestors, never placed taxes or other charges on the people without the assent of the three estates, which when assembled are like parliament in England. And this order was maintained by many of his successors into later days, that Englishmen made such war in France, that the three estates did not dare to come together. And then because of that and from the great necessity the French king had for the good and for the defence of that land, he took it upon himself to place taxes and impose other charges on the common people without the assent of the three estates; but he would not set any such taxes, nor has he set them, on the nobles of his land, out of fear of rebellion. And because the common people there, although they have complained, have not rebelled or are not hardy enough to rebel, the French kings have every year since set such charges on them, and so raised the same charges, so that the common people are so impoverished and destroyed, that they may scarcely live…

But, blessed be God, this land is ruled by a better law,; and therefore its people are not in such penury, nor their persons hurt, but they are wealthy, and have all things necessary to their sustenance of nature. For that reason they are powerful, and able to resist the adversaries of this realm, and to beat other realms that do, or would do them wrong. Look, this is the fruit of the just politics and rule, under which we live.’

I’ve left out for reasons of length Fortescue’s description of the poverty of the French common people, as shown in their food, dress and so on.

The essence of his argument is that the French people are poor, because the common people have to pay all the taxes, while the aristocracy are exempt. But because in England everyone, including the aristos, pay tax, we’re wealthier, healthier, and better able to give Johnny Foreigner a good hiding if he tries anything.

Now Fortescue was a member of the aristocracy, writing when the monarchy had much greater powers than today. But there are clearly parallels to today’s situation, in which the government is trying to increase the tax burden on ordinary people in order to reduce it for the upper and middle classes. And as Fortescue could have told him, this has had an effect in making the common people poorer and their lives more miserable.

Clearly, Fortescue is another pillar of the British/ English constitution Cameron hasn’t read, along with Magna Carta. It seems Jeremy Corbyn’s right about the Tories being ‘overeducated and under-informed’.

Source

Douglas Gray, ed., The Oxford Book of Late Medieval Verse & Prose (Oxford: OUP 1988).