Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

Tories Trying to Undermine Justice by Appealing against Colston Statue Decision

January 11, 2022

I’ve already written a long piece about the acquittal of the four people responsible for the attack on the statue of Edward Colston. They were accused of criminal damage, but successfully defended themselves on the grounds that the attack was justified as the statue constituted a hate crime. The 12 good men and women true agreed, or the majority did, and so they were found not guilty. The right has been outraged, fearing that this defence leaves other controversial monuments at risk of destruction by the woke. I don’t believe that this is necessarily the case, and think that the threat to Britain’s heritage is probably exaggerated. As for the case of the Colston statue itself, there were campaigns to have it taken down going back thirty years or so. The people of Bristol voted for it to stay when they were polled, but now that it’s been torn down I think probably most people in the city are sick and tired of hearing about it.

But not, it seems, the Conservatives. Suella Braverman, our wretched attorney-general has apparently appealed against the decision. Mike and Zelo Street have both put up excellent articles stating what this appeal actually means. It’s another attack on British justice. Braverman and the Tories have no evidence and don’t allege that there was a mistrial, and so there is no real justification for an appeal. It’s just the Tories trying to revoke a decision they don’t like. This is an attack on the independence of the judiciary, which is one of the fundamental constitutional checks against government power. And the Tories aren’t just doing it with the verdict for the Colston Four. They’re also trying to pass legislation that would allow them to set aside judicial decisions against the government and its policies. It’s another step towards the right-wing dictatorship Johnson and co seemingly want for this country. It’s not too far from the way judges in the 17th century would send juries back to reconsider their verdict, and even imprison them, if they gave one they disagreed with. That power was undermined and discredited in a historic trial in Bristol in the late 17th century when William Penn, a Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania and a group of his co-religionists were put on trial for seditious preaching. The jury repeatedly refused to convict them, and so the beak kept sending them back until he had them imprisoned until they came in line with his views. Which they didn’t. As a result, Brits not only have the freedom to be tried by their peers, but their peers have the freedom to deliver verdicts which accord with their consciences, not the authorities. Braverman’s appeal isn’t going to restore this unjust practice exactly, but it is doing something similar.

But it may also be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for. You might just get it’. Zelo Street’s article gives the learned opinion of lawyer Adam Wagner, who tweeted “there is a basic issue which will be becoming clear to ministers – a jury verdict sets no precedent, so the law is as it was, but a Court of Appeal decision would set an important precedent, which may not be the one the govt want”.

The Sage of Crewe also gives the opinion of those other internet legal gents, the Secret Barrister and and Jolyon Maugham. The Barrister said: “Not a single high profile criminal case can now pass without the Attorney General – a person with no experience of criminal law – exploiting it for political gain. It is difficult to think of an AG who has more enthusiastically abused their office”.

And the foxhunting lawyer gave his opinion on how much Braverman’s and the Tories’ determination to attack the verdict showed they really cared about British tradition and liberty: “By attacking the jury verdict in the Colston case Braverman tells a simple truth about how much Government really cares … about ‘British traditions’ … Theirs is a government without principles, without substance, of empty nationalistic signalling”.

But you wouldn’t know that by the way the right keeps banging on about our ancient constitutional liberties and the philosophers and lawyers who contributed to and guarded them. Like Sargon of Gasbag and the other Lotus Eaters raving about John Locke against the threat of the woke. Locke is one of the country’s great constitutional theorists. His Two Treatises of Government attacked autocratic theories of absolute monarchical power and instead provided powerful justification for the people exercising their sovereignty through elected representatives. He wasn’t a democrat. Indeed, the constitution he worked out for Virginia is based very much on the contemporary British social hierarchy and the power of the landlords. But it was a vital step towards modern, liberal theories of democratic government.

The Tories’ attack on the verdict represent another attack on these vital traditions and liberties in favour of restoring the power of a ruling class threatened by any indication of dissenting popular opinion.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2022/01/suella-braverman-is-idiot.html

When British Sailors Refused to Buy Slaves from Africans

December 13, 2021

British involvement in the transatlantic slave trade roughly dates from 1619 or so, when Spanish traders turned up at one of the very first English colonies in Virginia offering Black slaves. Slavery in England had died out by the 12th century to be replaced by serfdom, which became the condition of the majority of the English peasantry. This was itself in decay during the 16th century and had ended by the middle of the 17th. As a result, some of the early British explorers were very definitely not interested in purchasing slaves when they were offered them by African merchants. One of these was Richard Jobson, who described how he refused to buy a consignment of slaves in his book The Golden Trade: Or, a Discovery of the River Gambia and the Golden Trade of the Aethiopians, published in 1623 in London.

Jobson was offered them by Buckor Sano, a Gambian merchant, and describes how he refused them, furthermore telling Sano that the English didn’t practice slavery. He wrote

Hee showed unto me, certaine young blacke women, who were standing by themselves, and had white strings crossed their bodies, which hee told me were slave, brought for me to buy. I made answer, We were a people, who did not deale in any such commodities, neither did we buy or sell one another, or any that had our own shapes. He seemed to marvel much.

I made a note of this passage when I was doing voluntary work in the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol. Unfortunately, It wasn’t long before England enthusiastically joined the transatlantic slave trade with its horrific consequences. But this passage does show how complicated the emergence of the vile trade actually was, and how responsibility for it cannot be solely placed with White Europeans.

Unfortunately, this does seem to be the attitude of many contemporary racial activists. It’s why we need very careful, objective teaching about the slave trade rather than oversimplified narratives intended to push a racial agenda.

Belfield Rants About Lack of Dentists – But That’s Also Caused by Thatcher!

October 11, 2021

A few days ago right-wing youtuber Alex Belfield put up another video in which he commented on people increasingly pulling their own rotten teeth out. They have been unable to get to a dentist, and so have had to resort to doing it themselves. One man supposedly pulled out 11 of his teeth. I think Belfield was trying to argue that this was all because of the Covid lockdown as he firmly believes it should be lifted. But it was going on long before the outbreak last year. And as with the state of the country generally, the blame ultimately lies with the woman Belfield venerates as a true-blue Tory: Maggie Thatcher.

Way back in the 1980s the Grantham Gargoyle effectively privatised the dentists. There was a dispute with them over salaries and funding. Thatcher refused to give them they amount they were demanding and so a large number left the NHS and went private. The result of this is that there is a shortage of NHS dentists, and the private dentists are frequently too expensive for many people to afford. So people are pulling their own teeth out in desperation.

Which is very like American healthcare. Bernie Sanders, America’s counterpart to Jeremy Corbyn, wanted to introduce Medicare For All, a system whereby the state would pay American citizen’s medical bills. In his book Our Revolution he describes how dreadful the private American healthcare system currently is. 40,000 people a year die because they can’t afford to pay their medical bills. In Virginia, people spend a whole night in their cars waiting for the one day in a month where they can get medical treatment for free. It’s a situation that’s rapidly emerging here in the UK.

Belfield rants in his videos about the current state of the NHS and how it should be privatised. But the crisis is also a product of Thatcherism. The Tories have been underfunding it for over a decade, and in any case costs have escalated and the actual number of hospitals and other medical services diminished as the health service has been privatised piecemeal. The Tory goal is a completely privatised health service, financed by private health insurance.

And this is what we will get if Belfield gets his way and the NHS is privatised.

And I don’t trust Blairite Keef Stalin to oppose it. Not when Tony Blair did so much to privatise the health service too.

Get the Tories out and get Starmer out of Labour!

Right-Wing Americans Campaign Against Lockdown

April 19, 2020

Last night the Beeb reported that there were demonstrations in America against the Coronavirus lockdown, encouraged by presidential clown, Donald Trump, against the advice and desires of his own administration and its medical advisers.

The Beeb interviewed some of them. One was a man dressed in protective gear, holding up a sign saying ‘American worker’. He objected to the lockdown because he wanted to work. Other placards declared that ‘Liberty is God-Given’, and that ‘Health Is My Choice, Not the Governments’. The Beeb’s reported stated that the demonstrators felt that the lockdown was unconstitutional and was an attempt by the government to expand its powers. Meanwhile, Trump had been supporting the protesters by issuing a series of Tweets demanding that Virginia, Idaho and a number of other states should lift their lockdowns. This naturally did not go down too well with those states’ governors, such as Cuomo in New York, who was particularly scathing. It was leading to a constitutional crisis over just who had the right to lift the lockdown. And the states were insistent that it wasn’t Trump.

It’s easy to sympathise with them up to a certain extent. People in this country are worried about their businesses and jobs. We have a larger welfare state than America, which means we’re better cushioned against poverty. Even so, thanks to the Tory dismantlement of our welfare system and the gross inadequacies of their emergency legislation, millions of people are still wondering how they’ll feed and clothe themselves and their families, as well as pay the rent or mortgage. America has a much smaller welfare system, which does far less to stop people falling into destitution and poverty. There’s also a psychological dimension to this. Americans have more of the work ethic. If you’re on welfare, it’s through some fault of yours. You’re a moocher and a loser. And so the fear of unemployment, which is very much present in the UK, is much greater over the Pond.

But it also shows how the bonkers libertarian right have also created an extreme fear about the state. Any expansion of state power, even it is beneficial, is seen as a dangerous threat to American freedom, a threat that will eventually lead to the establishment of a Nazi-Communist-Atheist-Muslim dictatorship. A few years ago, when Alex Jones and Infowars were in full flood all over the internet and Obama was in the White House, Jones was screaming about emergency legislation that had been passed. Obama, he announced, would declare a state of emergency and force the American people into FEMA camps in order to deprive them of their freedom and establish the one-world Satanic state for the globalists. Or something like that. Others on the right said the same. The pastors on one right-wing church radio station blithely told their listeners that Obama was infused with a hatred of Whites, and was set on creating a dictatorship which would kill more people than Chairman Mao. Others considered that he was going to start a genocide of White Americans. Well, Obama has come and gone, and showed himself to be none of these things, and committed none of the predicted horrors. But that clearly has left a deep-seated terror of the state.

The emergency legislation would be a threat to liberty, if it wasn’t framed within the context of constitutional, democratic government. When governments enact, or activate such legislation, they do so with provisions that limit its duration and provide for its lifting. There were worries about legislation passed by Boris which gave him, the police and armed forces extraordinary powers for two years. But the legislation now in place, passed in the 1980s, which demands that the state of emergency be reviewed every so many weeks, strikes a far better balance in favour of personal freedom.

As for it being a personal choice what someone does about their health, in most cases that’s true. But not here. Because it’s not just the person that’s choosing whether or not to expose themselves to the virus who’s affected. Their choice affects the lives of others, and in too many cases it’s a matter of life and death. So for their sake the issue is taken out of the hands of the private citizen.

Human lives are more important than the economy, and a properly functioning welfare state enhances personal freedom, not detracts from it. The libertarians and organisations like the Freedom Association over here are flat wrong in their attacks on the welfare state and their demands for absolute privatisation and a minimal state.

Lives, and people’s businesses and jobs, are at threat from the lockdown, but this can be ameliorated by state aid and a properly functioning welfare state.

Unfortunately, this is what Trump, Murdoch and other right-wing media loudmouths, want to prevent. Because it’ll stop them getting richer.

 

PoliticalJOE Shocks Brits with the Cost of Healthcare in America

December 8, 2019

From their name, I should think that PoliticalJOE are a branch of JOE, those merry funsters responsible for the videos in which they poke fun at politicos and other celebs by editing their speeches and public appearances to make them look stupid. In this video an interviewer simply walks around a street asking ordinary Brits what they think is the cost of certain services and items we get free with the National Health Service. He then leaves them shocked and horrified when he tells them the real prices. They are:

Ambulance call out – $2,500

Inhaler – $250-350

2 Epi pens – $600

Cost of childbirth – $10,000-30,000

If you give birth by Caesarian section and want to hold your baby, it’s another $40

The contraceptive coil – $1,300.

He then concludes the video by asking the people answering his questions what they think of the NHS. One woman describes it as ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ and that she doesn’t want it to change. A young Black man agrees with him when he asks him ‘how grateful are you for the NHS’. He says he didn’t know just how much free healthcare we have, that $30,000 for a baby is outrageous and thanks the NHS. A young woman states that she’s speechless, and had no idea how expensive healthcare was in the US. She says ‘If you don’t have money, you’re fudged’. When the interviewer asks her what she thinks of the people, who are profiting off the sale of these medicines, she replies , ‘Ya bastards!… I think they should be stopped. Fuck Trump!’

One of those spoken to is a young Black American, who’s aware we get everything free over here. Well, not quite – we still have to pay for prescriptions. But he says that he’s fortunate to have health coverage through his parents’ insurance. He has to use an epi pen, but even with insurance it’s a couple of hundred dollars. And his condition is severe, but not quite life threatening. When he’s asked why the pens are so expensive, he replies that he doesn’t know, but there are only a few companies making them, so they can charge what they like.

The video’s been discussed on the American left-wing news sites Secular Talk and the Ring of Fire, because it’s such an indictment of the current American healthcare system based on private insurance. Those sites back the awesome Bernie Sanders and his campaign to give America Medicare for All, so that all Americans have free healthcare. Bernie describes some of the horrors of the American healthcare system in his book, Our Revolution. 40,000 people in the US die annually because they can’t afford medicine. In Virginia, people sleep over in the cars for that weekend in the month when the dentists offer free treatment.

A few years ago, the American private healthcare system nearly collapsed entirely. But the American public is still told that their healthcare system is the best in the world.

This is the system that Johnson and Trump wish to introduce to the UK.

Don’t be deceived by the lies. They do. Trump actually said that he wanted it on the table when negotiations started under Tweezer. And even without Trump, the Tories and the Blairites in the Labour party have been privatising the NHS by ensuring that more and more services are given to private healthcare providers. Johnson even made a speech in 2003 denouncing the monopolistic NHS, because of the way it discouraged private health insurance and refused to admit private healthcare. And he is’t the only one. Margaret Thatcher wanted the complete privatisation of the NHS. Daniel Hannan, the Tory MEP for Dorset, would like it privatised. And the Tory right has several times tried to vote for increasing the number of NHS services for which charges would have to be paid.

And Nigel Farage has also said openly that Britain may have to move to an American healthcare system funded through private insurance.

The Tories are determined to privatise the NHS. This is why you cannot let them into power.

Before you vote Tory, think: can you afford the equivalent of $2,500 for an ambulance? And then vote Labour.

 

 

Before You Vote Tory, Think: Can You Afford £50 for Medicine? Or £50,000 for an Operation

December 4, 2019

Corbyn’s factual statement that the Tories are considering selling off the NHS to the Americans clearly has got both them and Trump rattled. The Sun’s headline today followed in that wretched rag’s long, ignoble tradition of deceit. It denied furiously that the NHS was for sale, and that Trumped had definitively refuted it. In fact it shouted that he had ‘thumped’ Corbyn ‘the chump’. In fact he hadn’t. Zelo Street has produced a devastating refutation of its own, which demolishes the Scum’s lies. It quotes Trump and his wretched UK ambassador, Woody Johnson, who both side that they wanted the NHS on the table. As well as a report from Sky, which also said they did.

The piece concludes

‘Tory cheerleaders can stamp their feet and cat-call all they want. Trump has already said that the NHS would be on the table in future trade talks. No amount of propagandist knocking copy can change that. Nor can it make Bozo The Clown a competent PM.

The Murdoch mafiosi is now beyond desperate. But you knew that anyway.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/12/bozo-and-trump-nhs-denial-busted.html

The Scum would lie about this, as recent biographies of Murdoch have shown that he, as well as the Tories and Trump, want the NHS privatised.

To anyone considering voting Tory anyway, I strongly advise you to think. I’ve friends, who have trained in medicine. And they told me the real price of what some services we so far get free or at least cheap, would cost if we had to pay for them if the NHS was privatised. Some prescription cough medicines actually cost as much as £50, or so I’ve heard. And an operation can cost £30-50,000. These are the kinds of prices you would expect to pay if the Tories, Trump and Murdoch have their way and privatise the NHS, following long-term plans that started with Thatcher.

The leading cause of bankruptcy in America is medical debt. About 40,000 people die every year because they cannot afford proper treatment. In Virginia, people wait overnight in their cars for that one weekend every month when dental treatment is available free. And in some areas people are so poor that they are forced to hoard medicine or get animal medicines from the vets’.

This is what you would get here, if the Tories, Trump, and their backers in private medicine, private equity firms and hedge funds get their way.

We cannot let that happen.

Vote Corbyn to keep the NHS nationalised and free from charges.

 

Jewish Voice for Peace’s Commitment to Fighting Anti-Semitism

March 12, 2019

The Israel lobby smears also Jewish critics of Israel and pro-Palestinian activists as ‘anti-Semites’, often with a viciousness that exceeds the venom with which the lobby attacks its gentile opponents. Critics like Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni and many, many others, are decried as ‘self-hating’ and subjected to abuse that would certainly be considered anti-Semitic if it came from non-Jews. They will have their Jewishness denied in coarsely racist terms. Jackie Walker was told that she couldn’t really be Jewish because she was Black, thus denying the existence of Black Jews from Ethiopia. Some of the remarks are particularly vile. Tony Greenstein was told by one affronted Jewish Zionist that they wished his family had died in the Holocaust.

But the vast majority of Jewish critics of Israel are anything but anti-Semitic or self-hating. Tony Greenstein is a veteran opponent of all forms of racism and Fascism, which includes Zionism. Jackie Walker is the daughter of a Black civil rights activist with some Jewish blood, and a Russian Jew, who met on a civil rights march. She is Jewish by faith and heritage, has a Jewish partner, and sends her daughter to a Jewish school. She herself has been an anti-racist activist, and opposes Zionism because it is a form of racism. Martin Odoni again is another critic of racism.

Jewish Voice for Peace is a pro-Palestinian organisation which genuinely works for peace with Israel’s indigenous Arabs, rather than masking their continuing persecution and dispossession with liberal statements about peace and democracy like the Israeli state. In the fifth clause of their mission statement, ‘Jewish Communities Centred around Justice’, they make it very clear that their stance on justice for the Palestinians is grounded in their Jewish identity. The passage reads

We are inspired by Jewish traditions to work for justice and such work is part of our own liberation. We work to build Jewish communities that reflect the understanding that being Jewish and Judaism are not synonymous with Zionism or support for Israel. Our work is part of a broader struggle and commitment to end racism, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry, and all forms of oppression.

https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/mission/

They also make it very clear that they are also committed to fighting anti-Semitism in a piece from October last year, 2018. This came after a Jewish community centre in Virginia was defaced with swastikas and in the face of rising anti-Semitism and racism in Trump’s America. The passage ‘We Must Fight Anti-Semitism in All Its Forms’, runs

Two days ago, the Jewish community in Fairfax, Virginia woke up to find 19 swastikas defacing the local Jewish Community Center, the second time in 18 months that the center was defaced with antisemitic graffiti.

Incidents like this are deeply terrifying. They are less about the actual property damage, and more about the symbolic message – that Jewish people are not wanted, that we should fear for our safety, and that white supremacists in the United States are becoming more open, more empowered, and more visible.

What is also deeply concerning is that rather than believe that antisemitism is relegated to the fringes of our society, we see the highest echelons of the government trafficking in antisemitic conspiracy theories. Just this last week Donald Trump claimed that the impassioned protesters outside the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were hired by George Soros, repeating a popular right-wing conspiracy theory that sees Jewish money behind leftist movements – a claim that Nazis in upstate New York repeated just today.

Antisemitism operates through symbols and tropes, and seeing them repeated by those in power is dangerous and wrong. We send out love to those impacted by the vandalism, conspiracy theories, and hate and stand against antisemitism whenever it occurs. Only together can we fight for a better world for all of us.

https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/we-must-fight-antisemitism-in-all-its-forms/

The organisation is obviously Jewish-based and led, but it is also open to non-Jews. And although it is primarily an American organisation, it also accepts for foreign members. And it makes the point that anti-Zionism is most definitely not to be conflated with anti-Semitism.

For more information about the organisation, go to:

https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/mission/

Jewish Voice for Peace and organisations like it, as well as doing tremendous work in solidarity with the Palestinians, by their very existence refute the lie that Jewish opponents of Zionism must be self-hating anti-Semites. It is this truth that the Israel lobby fears, as increasing number of Jews, and particularly young people, are disgusted with Netanyahu’s viciously racist regime and are turning away from supporting Israel. It’s why one Israeli official said that they now had to turn to support from America’s Christian Zionists, rather than its Jews. It’s why the abuse and demonisation heaped on Jewish critics of Israel is so vicious. and the attempt to silence them so determined.

Tory Group Supported by Liam Fox Wants Private American Firms to Take Over NHS after Brexit

November 2, 2018

Yesterday, Mike put up a grim piece of news. The Institute of Free Trade has issued a report, edited by the Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, recommending that after Brexit private American healthcare companies should compete with the NHS to run hospitals. The IFT also has the backing of the International Trade Minister Liam Fox. The IFT has also said that Britain should accept American environmental standards as equivalent to British, and end the ban on certain American imports like chlorinated chicken. These moves, the report argues, would allow Britain to rewrite the rules of global trade and embrace new trading freedoms after Britain leaves the EU.

As well as having the support of Fox, who is also in favour of feeding us all chlorinated American chicken, it’s also backed by Boris Johnson. Which shows you exactly how both Fox and Johnson hate the NHS, the British environment and food hygiene and standards.

Mike in his article concludes

So there you have it. It seems Brexit is being supported by the Conservatives as the excuse they need to fully privatise the National Health Service – or at least, the profitable parts of it.

They have tricked us into voting away our international reputation, our rights, our economy, and now – it seems – our health service.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/11/01/american-firms-should-run-hospitals-for-profit-after-brexit-says-group-supported-by-trade-minister/

I am not surprised that Daniel Hannan was involved in the compilation of this despicable document. The French philosophical Feline over at Guy Debord’s Cat has been critiquing him for donkey’s years. Hannan’s a right-wing Tory MEP for Dorset and is, or was, something to do with the Torygraph. And he hates the NHS and has demanded its privatization on numerous occasions. And like his party, he’s a shameless liar. So great is his mendacity that the Cat refers to him as ‘the Lyin’ King’.

As for American healthcare firms wanting to get their piece of juicy NHS action, that was always what the piecemeal privatization of the NHS was about. Peter Lilley, who pranced up and down with his cretinous little list of people he hated in front of the Tory conference in the 1990s, admitted that he created the Private Finance Initiative to open the NHS up to private enterprise. And the Tories great, molten idol, Maggie Thatcher, wanted to privatise the NHS completely. She was only stopped by a massive cabinet rebellion. But she and they still carried on with a plan to encourage people to take out private healthcare insurance and privatise whatever they could of the Health Service itself.

And Blair, Thatcher’s ideological spawn, fully endorsed this idea. The murderous work capability assessments were adopted on the recommendation and very definitely unscientific research by the American private health insurance firm, Unum. A firm prosecuted by the Federal government for massive fraud on its policy holders. Blair went ahead with the Tory’s part-privatization plans, opening up the Health Service to private healthcare companies and creating the CCGs which commission healthcare services, on a model taken from the American private healthcare company Kaiser Permanente.

And it’s also no real surprise that the Americans should want to come over here and steal our NHS. Thanks to those firms, the private healthcare system in America is damn well near collapse. A very large chunk of the American public can’t afford their insurance. Every year, tens if not hundreds of thousands die because they can’t afford treatment. The Young Turks have reported that down in Texas, people are hoarding medicines or taking drugs from vets because they can’t afford decent medical care. Other Americans are heading south into Mexico because medical treatment there is cheaper. Bernie Sanders, the very left-wing Democrat politician, has demanded Medicare For All – state payment for all Americans’ healthcare. The idea is gaining popularity, which is why the corporatist establishment, both Democrat and Republican, is trying to marginalize him and suppress the voting rights of the section of the American voting public, who support him. If you want to see what a trainwreck the American healthcare system is, and how badly Medicare For All is needed, go and read his book Our Revolution. In one chilling passage, he describes the tens of thousands of people, who sleep out in their cars once a month in Virginia, on the weekend that the dentists offer their work free. And a few years ago, the American healthcare system almost collapsed completely in certain areas.

This is what will happen over here, unless we kick the Tories out.

As for American environmental and food hygiene standards, they’re deplorable. The water in Flint, Michigan, is so polluted it should be undrinkable. And there are 25 other towns where it’s even worse. There are regular spills from the oil pipelines that cross the country, contaminating the water table. And thanks to Big Oil there are parts of the Louisiana swamps that are just one oily mess. But the Koch brothers spend big money to convince the American public that there’s no environmental threat here, and climate change isn’t happening.

This is also going to happen over here if Fox, Hannan and Johnson get their way. Don’t let them. Vote them out at the earliest opportunity.

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.

Jimmy Dore: Americans Going to Mexico for Dentistry

October 8, 2017

Yesterday I put up a story from the I, which reported that over half of British dentists were planning to leave the NHS in the next few years. If that happens, courtesy of Jeremy Hunt and the Tories’ plan to privatize the NHS, British dentistry might end up looking very much like this.

In this video from the Jimmy Dore Show, the American comedian and his co-hosts, Ron Placone and Steffi Zamorano comment on a story broadcast on NBC. The news team there visited the town of Los Almagadones in Mexico, which now styles itself the ‘dentistry capital of the world’. The town has a population of 5,000, but has more than its fair whack of dentists. It has 600 practicing dentists, working in more than 300 clinics. 114 million Americans lack dental insurance, and so can’t afford dental treatment. And so some make the journey south of the border to get their teeth fixed.

Dore states that this will explode the myth of American exceptionalism – the idea that America is innately superior to every other nation. Clearly it isn’t. Not if many of its citizens are reduced to going abroad for healthcare. Dore points out that the stories of Canadians coming to south to America for their medical treatment is largely a myth. But the story that Americans are going to Mexico are very real.

He and Placone and Zamora also use the story as an opportunity to lambast the continuing racism against Mexican and Hispanic migrants in the US. Americans are going south of the border for what is known as ‘dental tourism’, but the Mexicans aren’t organizing mass protests or trying to shame them.

The three joke about the idea of combining tourism with dentistry, including building a combined nightclub and dental surgery, before Dore rounds of the video with a well-aimed attack on Hillary and the corporate Democrats. These are the politicos, who rigged the Democratic nominations so they could steal it from Bernie Sanders and give it to Killary. And she and they care only for the immensely rich, and are entirely happy to deny ordinary, middle class working Americans with single-payer healthcare. Because free, universal healthcare is ‘utopian’, despite the fact that the Germans have had it ever since Bismarck in the 19th century.

Bernie Sanders in his book describes vividly the deplorable lack of affordable healthcare in America. Many counties lack doctors, let alone hospitals, because the area is too poor to support one according to the law of free market economics. He tells how one Sunday every month, one of the dental surgeries in Virginia provides free dental treatment. People are so desperate for it they actually sleep in their cars overnight.

This is what British healthcare is going to be like, if Theresa May and the Tories get back in.

Don’t let her. Get her and them out. Now.