Saturday, May 30, 2009

Right-wing claim that "La Raza = the Klan" insults not just Latinos, but the Klan's many victims

Read David Neiwert's column at Crooks and Liars

Friday, May 29, 2009

Republican racists calling Sotomayor racist, part 2

I mentioned the squad of "Republican civil rights activists" slandering Judge Sotomayor yesterday.  The subject of that post was the Ricci case and how it reflects the Republicans' fundamental support for judicial activism, in spite of their protestations against liberal judicial activism.  Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo today reported that Tom Tancredo accused Judge Sotomayor of being a member of a "Latino KKK" in an interview on CNN yesterday.  Tancredo reached this bizarre and totally baseless accusation through a byzantine string of racially motivated factual and logical errors.  Why is this not surprising?

As you probably already know, right wing, anti-immigration extremist Tom Tancredo went on CNN yesterday and accused Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor of being a member of a "Latino KKK" (known to people like John McCain as the perfectly uncontroversial National Council of La Raza).

What you might have missed was that Tancredo claimed NCLR's motto (he actually called it a "logo") says, "All for the race. Nothing for the rest."

As it turns out, NCLR doesn't even have a motto. According to Lisa Navarrete, the group's vice president, the group has a mission statement--in English--which reads "to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans."

The motto Tancredo's referring to seems to be a mistranslation of a slogan of sorts from the 1960s:"Por La Raza todo, fuera de La Raza nada," meaning, literally, "for the race [or community], everything; outside the race, nothing."

It's a line that appears in a 60's era manifesto called El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, which was influential to members of a separate group called MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán). Several decades ago, MEChA was a fairly radical student organization, whose mission was to return the lands of the southwest United States to Mexico--an idea called "reconquista." Since then it has become, basically, the equivalent of a Mexican Students Association at most colleges across the country. ]

MEChA, as it happens, does have a motto: "La Unión Hace La Fuerza", meaning, basically, "Unity Makes Strength."

NCLR's website is pretty clear about reconquista.

Another misconception about NCLR is the allegation that we support a "Reconquista," or the right of Mexico to reclaim land in the southwestern United States. NCLR has not made and does not make any such claim; indeed, such a claim is so far outside of the mainstream of the Latino community that we find it incredible that our critics raise it as an issue. NCLR has never supported and does not endorse the notion of a "Reconquista" or "Aztlán."

These are the sort of ambiguities that I suppose you miss, if you can't tell the difference between a motto and a logo, or MEChA and NCLR, or, dare we say, people of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Obit: Rev. Franklin H. Littell, scholar of the Holocaust

The Rev. Franklin H. Littell, 91, of Merion Station, a Methodist minister widely acknowledged as the father of modern Holocaust studies in America, died Saturday at home after a long illness.

Mr. Littell dedicated his life to Holocaust research after spending nearly 10 years in postwar Germany as chief Protestant religious adviser in the U.S. high command. He was the first American scholar to offer courses on Holocaust and genocide studies, and at Temple University he established the nation's first doctoral program on Holocaust studies in 1976.

His scholarship examined individual responsibility in a free society and sought to encourage interfaith dialogue, especially between Christians and Jews.

Mr. Littell was the author of more than two dozen books and more than 1,000 articles, and was working most recently on his memoirs. He also was an activist who had marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil-rights struggle, said Marcia Sachs Littell, his wife of 30 years.

"He believed you could not hide behind the ivory tower of academia or the sanctity of the church," said Marcia Littell, a professor of Holocaust studies at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. "You must be actively involved in all that you do."


In 1970, Mr. Littell founded the annual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, which for the last decade has been based at St. Joseph's University. His 1975 book, The Crucifixion of the Jews (Harper & Row), was the first work to explore Christianity in response to the Holocaust.

In 1976, in addition to beginning the doctoral program on Holocaust studies at Temple, he founded the National Institute on the Holocaust there.

President Jimmy Carter named Mr. Littell a founding member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. In 1979, he was the first Christian appointed to the International Governing Board of Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, in Jerusalem.

Mr. Littell was emeritus distinguished professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Richard Stockton College and a visiting professor in the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for 25 years.

Newly recieved titles:

The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, by David Neiwert (PoliPointPress)

From Baghdad to Brooklyn: Growing Up in Jewish-Arabic Family in Midcentury America, by Jack Marshall.  (Coffee House Press)

The Steel Veil, by Jack Marshall.  (Coffee House Press)

The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air, by Allan Appel ((Coffee House Press)

German for Travelers: A Novel in 95 Lessons, by Norah Labiner (Coffee House Press)

Ricci case proves Republicans support judicial activism

Hilzoy at The Washington Monthly has an excellent post regarding the 2nd Circuit's ruling in the Ricci case, which Republican leaders such as Newt Gingrich, Tom Tancredo, Senator Jon Kyl, Mike Huckabee, Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan have cited as indicative of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's alleged bias against white males.  (Huckabee's advocacy of race-neutrality was somewhat undercut by his inadvertently referring to Judge Sotomayor as "Maria".)  Hilzoy points out that the 2nd Circuit en banc affirmation of the District Court's decision in favor of the City of New Haven did nothing more than follow the pertinent statute and case law.  The Republican leadership appears to be demanding that judges legislate from the bench to overturn this well-established law.

The case was brought by Frank Ricci, an applicant for a firefighter position with the New Haven, Ct. Fire Department.  Mr. Ricci, a dyslexic, put considerable effort into preparing for the written firefighter exam, and scored well enough to qualify to be hired.  When it was found that the test results yielded almost only white male candidates for the open firefighter positions (one Hispanic also passed the exam), the City of New Haven decided not to rely on the test results to determine who to hire.  New Haven has a large minority population, but its Fire Department has a history of being largely staffed by white males.  The city was attempting to redress this problem by hiring some nonwhite firefighters.

Hilzoy points out that, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, one of the criteria for overturning an apparently discriminatory action is that the action must have no legitimate basis.  The District Court found, and the Court of Appeals including Judge Sotomayor affirmed, that New Haven had a legitimate basis for not using the test results in determining who to hire.  For that reason, they said that the question of whether or not the action was discriminatory was not a sufficient basis on which to rule New Haven's actions to be in violation of the pertinent law.

Precedent case law provides consistent clear support for this plain language interpretation of the Civil Rights Act.   According to Hilzoy, the guidance memoranda issued by the EEOC support this interpretation as well.  

Remember that under the U.S. Civil Rights Act, government agencies can be held liable for disparate impacts of exams used in hiring.  Under this provision, minorities could have sued New Haven if they had used the firefighter exam results.   To find for Ricci, a court would either have to throw out the disparate impacts provisions of the Civil Rights Act and the EEOC guidance memoranda, or modify them so significantly as to effectively undo them.   Talk about advocating judicial activism!

The Republicans accuse only judges they think liberal of being "activist" and "legislating from the bench".   They seem not to see their own positions as activist or based on a need to reach a desired outcome regardless of law or precedent.  (If by judicial activism one means overturning precedent or ruling legislation unconstitutional,  who is more activist than Justice Scalia?)  

Lacking any real evidence to support their smears, the Republican leadership have resorted to accusing Judge Sotomayor of supporting judicial activism by taking out of context a comment she made in a law school workshop effectively reversing the clear meaning of her comment.  In smearing her as an activist, they deliberately ignore her 17 year record on the bench which clearly places her within the mainstream.  The absurdity of their desperate need to distort and politicize this question was brought into focus recently when the Republicans, as if on cue, argued in unison that empathy, which President Obama cited as an important quality in a judge, was a code word for bias.  

The Ricci case gives the Republicans an opportunity to show just how committed they are to their ideal of an unemotional, non-legislating judge who follows the letter of the law.  So far, they seem more than willing to throw away their self-avowed commitment to this ideal when its politically convenient.  Shockingly, the Republican leadership, as reflected in the statements of their "civil rights activists" Gingrich, Tancredo, KylHuckabee, Limbaugh and Buchanan, seem to be advocating for bias and against the rule of law in the Ricci case.  

The Republican "civil rights activists":

The jaw-dropping tastelessness of Gingrich's twitterring on this subject is explored here.  He took time out from filming a documentary at Auschwitz to baselessly slander Judge Sotomayor as a racist.  

Tancredo, who proposed building an anti-immigrant wall not on the Mexican border, but well north of it to exclude U.S. Hispanics, has also called the judge a racist. 

Think Progress reminds us (read here) that: 

Remember, Tancredo is the lawmaker who called Miami a “third world country” because of the number of Latinos there, criticized presidential candidates for “pandering” by participating in a Spanish-language debate, and accused immigrants of “pushing drugs, raping kids, and destroying lives.” He said the issue of immigration is “whether we will survive.”

He's also the dude who believes the answer to Islamist terrorism is threatening to nuke Mecca. (Read here and here.)   After making that threat (actually the second time he'd done so on the record) during his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in the last election, he then accused Muslims of unfairly targeting him.   So he has some experience with hypocrisy in general, and with making spurious charges of bigotry against the targets of his bigotry in particular.

Mike Huckabee, in running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, threatened to summarily order the between 12 and 20  million undocumented immigrants in the country to immediately register or be rounded up and deported.  Suffice it to say, he wasn't going for the Latino vote.  (Read here and here.)   Huckabee took this extreme anti-immigrant hard line in response to Tancredo accusing him of being soft on undocumented immigrants.

In his 2006 senatorial campaign, Senator Kyl ran a TV ad concerning anti-terrorist legislation which featured an image of him standing on the Mexican border, a move which some considered to equate immigration from Mexico with terrorism.  (Read here.)

I hear tell that Limbaugh and Buchanan have also been accused of being racists.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Neo-Nazi conspiracies from Israel boycotters: UK academic edition

Harry’s Place has the story of Sean Wallis, a British research fellow and academic union leader who's promoting neo-Nazi conspiracy theories concerning "Zionists" being responsible for the world financial crisis.  Sean Wallis wielded some pretty wacky far right disinformation as part of a bizarre argument in support of the British academic union boycotting Israel and blacklisting Israeli academics.  His gist, as I understand it, is that the move to blacklist Israelis operates at a disadvantage since, he claims, "Zionists" looted Lehman Brothers of $400 billion dollars.  He thinks that opposition to his bigoted activism is rooted in this vast imaginary pot of gold.  

As an academic, he should adhere to his professional responsibility to cite sources.  He may be embarrased to do so however, since his source appears to be Stormfront.

Sean Wallis, UCL UCU branch secretary

Sean Wallis, UCL UCU 

Much more from David Hirsch at Engage here.  It turns out that the story may have its origin in Willis Carto's Barnes Review.  Read the JC article on this here.  More on this later.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Texas Gov. Perry spending $11 mil of stimulus on home repairs

Perry is the guy who got a lot of press by rejecting federal stimulus funds to help his constituents who are suffering from the effects of the financial crisis.  He even threatened that Texas would seccede from the union if Washington didn't reign in its stimulus spending.  Now he's spending $11,000,000 of federal stimulus money to fix up the governor's mansion while thousands of Texas homes are foreclosed on?  What an ass!

So what do you do when you're an anti-spending, pro-secession conservative governor whose publicly-owned mansion needs $21 million in repairs to recover from fire damage?

Apparently, you do something like this (via diarist gsadamb [update: and also Velvet Revolution]):

AUSTIN, Texas – While Gov. Rick Perry is criticizing Washington bailouts, state lawmakers are planning to use $11 million in federal stimulus money to help rebuild the badly burned Texas Governor's Mansion.

Approximately $10 million in state tax money will also be spent on a renovation, which is expected to cost about $20 million, officials said Thursday.

This, of course, is the same Rick Perry who, along with a handful of other Republican extremists,rejected stimulus money for jobless Texans, and recently said that Texas would consider seceding if the federal government didn't dramatically cut spending.

Perry's office says he's working with the Republican lawmakers who are securing the federal funds, but don't be surprised if Perry changes his tune on the renovations once word starts to get out about the $11 million federal price tag.

Don't cry for him while this all gets worked out, however -- he's currently living in a publicly-funded $10,000 per month rental.

The governor has been living in a three-story, limestone home with a heated pool, an outdoor cabana and a guest house.

The state is paying some $9,900-a-month in rent while the Governor's Mansion undergoes renovations, records show.

Being the "frugal secessionist" is such hard work, isn't it?

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition...

That's no excuse, but may be an explanation for how a modern democratic nation can end up torturing prisoners.  As a nation, we haven't been well educated about human rights, or history, or international law, or law in general.  Let's just plead collective ignorance, mass delusion, and post-traumatic stress and throw ourselves on the collective mercy of the world court of public opinion.

By the way, as a New Yorker who lived through both World Trade Center attacks at close range, I can't believe that the American people are too scared to consider imprisoning the Gitmo terrorists in their home states.  Let some of these allegedly brave people who loved to boast about putting a boot up Osama's butt step up to the plate now.  Let the Gitmo prisoners be tried and imprisoned here in New York.  We are not scared of this pathetic bunch of broken down religious nuts.

I stopped by to see John McCain this afternoon in his Senate office. I haven't seen him for several months, and was glad to see that he seemed rested and ready, if not tan. He was in high spirits, and we talked for a while about the Obama Administration's embrace of realpolitik, Pakistan, Iran, the whole nine yards. But first I asked him about Dick Cheney and his defense of Bush Administration torture policies. He told me of his fundamental disagreement with Cheney: "When you have a majority of Americans, seventy-something percent, saying we shouldn't torture, then I'm not sure it helps for the Vice President to go out and continue to espouse that position," he said. "But look, he's free to talk. He's a former Vice President of the United States. I just don't see where it helps." 

And then he got acerbic: Cheney, he says, "believes that waterboarding doesn't fall under the Geneva Conventions and that it's not a form of torture. But you know, it goes back to the Spanish Inquisition."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What does this say about the Orlando Sentinel's readership?

Read the comments for this article in the Orlando Sentinel: 'Shylock' banned from Florida's statutes.

UPDATE: I figured out the proliferation of anti-Semitic comments.  These aren't the Orlando Sentinel's readers, they're David Irving's readers.  (He linked to the article here.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lutheran Bishop's Distorted View of Israel

Among other things, Rev. Margaret Payne falsely claims that Palestinian cancer patients are denied chemotherapy in Israeli hospitals.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

100 Days of Obama-Bashing on Fox (Must-See Video)

Considering that the average age of the Fox News viewer is somewhere in the mid-60s with O'Reilly viewers averaging over 70 , I worry what this constant fear-mongering does to their blood pressure.   Maybe they should hook their viewers up to monitors and feature their viewers average blood pressure instead of the Dow Jones Industrials Average in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

from Media Matters via the Nation: 100 Days of Obama-Bashing on Fox (Must-See Video)

Polish Kama Sutra published

It's author is a Polish priest who, in fairness, calls it a Catholic Kama Sutra.  But "Polish Kama Sutra" has a ring to it, don't you think?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sardinians unlock 'sardonic grin'


Cagliari, May 15 - Sardinian scientists believe they've traced the roots of the 'death-defying' sardonic grin to a plant commonly found on the Italian island.

Greek poet Homer first used the word, an adaptation of the ancient word for Sardininan, to describe a defiant smile or laugh in the face of death.

He was believed to have coined it because of the belief that the Punic people who settled Sardinia gave condemned men a potion that made them smile before dying.

The association with Sardinia has often been disputed, but Cagliari University botanists think they've settled the case - and the plant in question could have beneficial properties too.

The plant, tubular water-dropwart (oenanthe fistulosa), is common in Sardinia, where it is popularly known as 'water celery'.

''Our discovery supports what many cultural anthropologists have said about death rituals among the ancient Sardinians,'' said Cagliari University Botany Department chief Mauro Ballero.

''The Punics were convinced that death was the start of new life, to be greeted with a smile,'' he said.

Ballero's team, whose work appears in the latest edition of the US Journal of Natural Products, have established that a toxic substance in the dropwart plant does, in fact, cause facial muscles to contract and produce a grimace or rictus.

The discovery could have a brighter side, he said, leading to drugs that might help certain conditions where parts of the face are paralysed.

''The good news is that the molecule in this plant may be retooled by pharmaceutical companies to have the opposite effect,'' he said.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Republican senatorial candidate calls Schumer 'that Jew'

Arkansas state Sen. Kim Hendren, who is currently the only announced Republican candidate for U.S. Senator against Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in 2010, has apologized for referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as "that Jew," at a county Republican meeting last week.

"I don't use a teleprompter and occasionally I put my foot in my month," Hendren told Arkansas blogger Jason Tolbert.

"At the meeting I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on 'The Andy Griffith Show,'" he explained. "I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as 'that Jew' and I should not have put it that way as this took away from what I was trying to say."

Late Update: Hendren gave a further apology to the Associated Press. "When I referred to him as Jewish, it wasn't because I don't like Jewish people," he said. He also added: "I shouldn't have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue."

Why is Pat Buchanan's website playing host to Holocaust deniers?

read the comments...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Re Demjanjuk: Interview with Sobibor Survivor Thomas Blatt

Suspected Nazi guard John Demjanjuk has been deported to Munich to face charges of being an accessory to the murder of 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp. Holocaust survivor Thomas Blatt talks to SPIEGEL about what happened at Sobibor and why Demjanjuk should tell what he knows.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Blatt, you traveled here from California to give testimony in Munich against John Demjanjuk. Demjanjuk is accused of having participated in the murder of at least 29,000 people in the Sobibor death camp. What will you tell the judge?

Thomas Blatt: What the Ukrainian guards in Sobibór did. We were more afraid of them than of the Germans, and I was there at the same time as Demjanjuk.

SPIEGEL: What do you accuse him of?

Blatt: He helped the death factory to function. Without the around 100 Ukrainians who were there, the Germans would never have managed to kill 250,000 Jews. The SS group was made up of only 30 Germans, and of those half were always on vacation or sick. We saw more Ukrainians than Germans at Sobibór, and we were terrified of them.

SPIEGEL: By "Ukrainians" you mean the foreign helpers who were trained by the SS at the Trawniki camp. Among them were many Ukrainians. Why were you especially afraid of them?

Blatt: They mistreated us, they shot old and sick new arrivals who couldn't walk anymore. And they were the ones who drove the naked people into the gas chambers with their bayonets. I often had to work just a few meters away. If someone didn't want to go on, they hit them and they fired shots. I can still hear today their shouts of "idi siuda," "come here."

SPIEGEL: But the part of the death camp with the gas chambers was blocked off and you weren't able to go there.

Blatt: I myself saw them driving the Jews to the entrance of the death zone, the so-called Himmelfahrtsstrasse ("Ascension Road").

SPIEGEL: Did you see Trawniki men murdering prisoners with your own eyes?

Blatt: Yes. I was there when the Ukrainians shot Polish Jews who had tried to escape. And I remember endless cruelties. One time we were in the woods to cut trees. The Ukrainians wanted us to sing. But they wanted to hear Russian songs, and only the Polish Jews could sing them, not the Dutch Jews. They tormented them so much that some of them hung themselves at night in the barracks.

SPIEGEL: Weren't the guards acting under the Germans' orders?

Blatt: Many of them were sadists, the abuses weren't something they were ordered to do. Or they wanted to show off in front of the Germans. They would only leave us alone for a while if they got money or gold from us.

SPIEGEL: And where did you get these things?

Blatt: Sometimes I had to burn the murdered people's belongings, which they'd discarded before going to the gas chambers. Sometimes there were gold coins hidden in them, and they were left in the ashes. Others I found while sorting the things. The Ukrainians wanted the money to pay prostitutes.

SPIEGEL: In the camp?

Blatt: No, in the villages around there. One of the women told me that later.

SPIEGEL: And none of the guards showed anything like compassion?

Blatt: There was one, named Klatt. He was the only one who didn't hit us.

SPIEGEL: Guards like Demjanjuk were recruited by the SS from captured Red Army soldiers, millions of whom died miserably in the German camps. Did these men have a choice, if they wanted to save their own lives?

Blatt: It's true that the SS demanded they commit murder in order to live. But many other prisoners didn't get involved with the Germans. And the guards at Sobibor could also have deserted. Some of them did in fact run away.

SPIEGEL: Do you remember your arrival in Sobibor?

Blatt: Yes, it was in April 1943. I was brought there by truck with my family from my hometown of Izbica. We lived just 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Sobibor and we knew what happened there. And yet we hoped that this wouldn't mean our deaths. I suppose it's human nature to keep hoping up to the last minute. Only my father said: We'll die in any case. And I remember a man next to me peering through a hole in the truck's side and saying in Yiddish, "It's black with Ukrainians." He meant the color of the uniforms. The Ukrainians escorted us
into the camp.

SPIEGEL: How did you survive the "selection," the notorious process whereby new arrivals were chosen for execution?

Blatt: There was no selection at Sobibor, the Jews were supposed to die without any exceptions.

SPIEGEL: Then how did you escape death?

Blatt: I pushed to the front as an SS man inspected our group to look for craftsmen. I hadn't learned any craft. I was 15 years old, small and thin. Maybe the SS man, the commandant Karl Frenzel, noticed my strong will. He said, "Come out, you, little one." So I was saved for the time being. Later I found out that they'd shot Dutch Jews among the work prisoners a few days before. I was supposed to fill the gap.

SPIEGEL: What happened to your family?

Blatt: An SS man beat my father with a club, and then I lost sight of him. I'd said to my mother, "And yesterday I wasn't allowed to drink the rest of the milk, because you absolutely wanted to save some for today." That strange remark of mine still haunts me today -- it was the last thing I said to her. My 10-year-old brother stayed at my mother's side. They were all murdered in the gas chambers.

SPIEGEL: What was your survival strategy?

Blatt: I knew that the Germans liked it when you were clean and healthy. I tried to look strong when I walked, and to keep a smile on my face. I watched out that my pants didn't get wrinkled when I slept and that they kept their creases. And I was curious, I always went around and looked for possibilities to escape.

SPIEGEL: What were your tasks in the camp?

Blatt: I had to sort the victims' belongings, shirts with shirts and shoes with shoes. A few times I also had to cut the women's hair before they went into the gas chamber. They were already naked. Sobibor was a factory -- the time from arrival to the corpses being burnt was usually just a few hours.

SPIEGEL: Did people know what would happen to them?

Blatt: The Dutch especially were completely unsuspecting. When a transport arrived, usually an SS man would hold a speech. He apologized for the arduous journey and said that for hygienic reasons, everyone needed to shower first. Then later they would work somewhere. Some of the Jews applauded. They couldn't imagine what was in store for them.

SPIEGEL: You were among the organizers of the uprising in Sobibor on October 14, 1943. How did that happen?

Blatt: It was in particular the Jewish Red Army soldiers from Minsk, who had been brought to Sobibor as work prisoners, who helped. They needed only two weeks to plan the uprising.

SPIEGEL: What was the plan for the uprising?

Blatt: We wanted to draw the SS people into an ambush individually and then kill them. To do it, we relied on the men's greed and their punctuality. And it worked. We told an officer named Josef Wolf that someone was keeping a nice leather coat for him. We told him to come at a certain time, and he did so, and the prisoners killed him. We killed a dozen SS men and an unknown number of guards. The Germans and the guards were slow in realizing what was

SPIEGEL: And how did you escape afterward?

Blatt: I wanted to climb through a hole someone had made with an ax in the barbed wire fence. But when the guard in the tower started shooting at us, some of the others started to climb the fence. The fence toppled over and my coat got caught in the barbed wire. That saved my life. The ones who ran ahead of me were blown to pieces in the minefield on the other side of the fence. I slipped out of my coat and ran away. More than 300 prisoners escaped, of whom around 50 survived the war.

SPIEGEL: And how did you get through the remaining year and a half until the end of the war?

Blatt: Freedom was difficult. If I had been a Christian boy, I'd have had a better chance. People would have taken care of me. But where could I go? There was no Jewish community anymore in my hometown of Izbica, and the Polish farmers saw us mainly as Christ's murderers. A farmer hid me and some others at first, in exchange for money we'd taken with us from Sobibor. Later he tried to shoot us. I still have the bullet in my jaw. After that I hid in the woods or in abandoned buildings.

SPIEGEL: According to documents, Demjanjuk was no longer at Sobibor when the uprising took place -- he had already been sent back to the Trawniki training camp and then was assigned to the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Bavaria. His family and his lawyers argue that, at 89 years old, he's too old and sick to stand trial.

Blatt: Now people only see the old man. They don't see the man who forced people into the gas chambers.

SPIEGEL: Do you have concrete memories of Demjanjuk?

Blatt: No, after 66 years I can't even remember my father's face. But I'm certain that Demjanjuk was just like the other Ukrainian guards.

SPIEGEL: What would you consider a fair punishment?

Blatt: I don't care if he goes to prison or not -- the trial is what matters to me. I want the truth. The world should find out how it was at Sobibor. He should confess, because he knows so much. He's the last living perpetrator from Sobibor.

Interview conducted by Jan Friedmann, Klaus Wiegrefe

More about Sobibor from via Jewish Virtual Library:

Sobibor was established March 1942. First commandant: Franz Stangl. About 700 Jewish workers engaged temporarily to service the camp. Actually consisted of two camps divided into three parts: administration section, barracks and storage for plundered goods, extermination, burial and cremation section. Initially, three gas chambers housed in a brick building using carbon monoxide, three gas chambers added later. Operations Began April 1942. Operations ended following inmate revolt October 14, 1943. Estimated number of deaths, 250,000, the majority being Jews.

Sobibor was the second extermination camp to come into operation in the Aktion Reinhard program. It was located in a low populated area, but was strategically placed in relation to the concentrations of Jewish population in the Chelm and Lublin districts. Local Polish workers and Jewish slave laborers began construction work on the site in March 1942. The planners were able to incorporate the experience already gained at Belzec.

The site measured roughly 1,300 by 2,000 feet, surrounded by a triple line of barbed wire fencing and guarded by watchtowers. It was sub- divided into a reception area and three camps. The reception area included the spur line and platform which could accommodate up to 20 railroad wagons. Here were also located the administration buildings, armory, and living quarters for the SS and the Ukrainians.

The first camp held the Jewish prisoners required to service the SS men and Ukrainians. Enroute to the second camp from the platform where buildings were the deportees left their luggage and clothing.

Within the second camp was an enclosed area, entirely shielded by tree branches intertwined with the barbed wire, where deportees undressed in the open before proceeding up a fenced in passageway called `the tube1 towards the shaving hut for women and the gas chambers. Also in camp two were storage huts for clothing and valuables.

The third camp was the most remote area and was screened by trees. Inside was the brick building housing three gas chambers, about 12 feet by 12 feet, each of which could hold about 160-180 people. Carbon monoxide generated by a diesel engine mounted outside was piped into the gas chambers. The corpses were removed from a second door and buried in huge, specially excavated pits. Carts, and later trolleys on a small rail track, were used to carry deportees who were too infirm to walk to the burial pits where they were shot so as not to delay the killing process.

In April 1942, Franz Stangl, an SS officer with a background in Operation T4, arrived to take command. Stangl commanded a mere 20-30 SS men, mainly from the T4 program. There was also a guard company of Ukrainians. About 200 to 300 Jews worked in teams at the gas chambers and burial pits. They cleaned out the killing rooms, removed gold teeth from the corpses and pushed trolleys heaped with bodies towards the pits. About 1,000 Jews worked at the platform cleaning up the rail trucks and removing debris, and in teams at the shaving hut, the undressing barracks and in the sorting sheds.

From May 1942 to July 1942, approximately 100,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor. They came from Lublin, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria (mostly via ghettos in Poland or Theresienstadt). They were told on arrival that they had arrived at a `transit camp1. The platform and adjacent building was designed to reassure them. They were then separated according to gender and age: children went with the women. They were divested of their luggage and valuables, forced to undress and driven up `the tube1, men first, to the gas chambers. Women were shaved at a hut situated along `the tube1. The actual killing process took about 20-30 minutes. The `processing1 of a convoy of 20 wagons took about 2-3 hours.

Between August and September 1942, the murdering stopped while repairs were made to the main rail track feeding Sobibor, and the number of gas chambers was increased to six, three on either side of a central corridor. This enabled the SS to kill about 1,200 people at the same time. The bodies were burned in the former burial pits. The camp, now under the command of Franz Reichsleiter, continued operations in October 1942 and worked through to spring 1943.

Over this period, about 70-80,000 Galician Jews, 145-150,000 Jews from the General-Government and 25,000 Slovak Jews were murdered. In March 1943 the first transport of French Jews arrived. Between March and July 1943, 19 Dutch transports brought 35,000 Jews from Holland. In the last months of its operation, Sobibor was used to murder the Jews of the Vilna, Minsk, and Lida ghettos. It is estimated that 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor.

In July 1943, Himmler, who had visited the camp in February, ordered that it be converted into a concentration camp. This edict effectively served a death notice on the Jewish workers who then organized a resistance movement and worked out an escape plan. It was led by Leon Feldhendler.

He was subsequently assisted by Alexander Pechersky, a Jewish officer in a transport of Red Army POWs which arrived in the camp in September 1943. The uprising was launched on October 14, 1943. In the fighting, 11 SS men and a number of Ukrainian guards were killed. Three hundred Jews escaped, but dozens were killed in the mine field around the camp and dozens more were hunted down over subsequent days. Of the Jews who broke out, 50 survived to the end of the war. The camp was liquidated in October 1943 and the site disguised as a farm.

On 19 July 1942, on the eve of the Great Action concerning the Jews of Warsaw, Himmler visited Sobibor, one of the “Aktion Reinhard” death camps in the Lublin area. On the same tour he also visited the SS Training Camp at Trawniki, where a number of photographs were taken.

He ended his tour with a visit to the “Aktion Reinhard” headquarters in Lublin, and following discussions with Globocnik, concluded that with the completion of the death camps, the Jews of the Generalgouvernement could be exterminated.

While still in Lublin on 19 July 1942, Himmler issued an order to “HSSPF Ost”, Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, to complete the deportation of all of the Jews of the Generalgouvernement by 31 December 1942.

In early March 1943, Himmler once again visited the “Aktion Reinhard” Headquarters and the death camps of Sobibor and Treblinka. In anticipation of Himmler’s visit the camps were thoroughly cleansed. Karl Frenzel (Sobibor), testified at his trial regarding this visit:

"The visit was announced a few days ahead. The leadership of the camp took steps to make order in the camp… I was ordered, together with some Unterführer’s and Ukrainian guards, to take over the outside security of the camp and guarantee Himmler’s personal security. When Himmler visited the gassing installation in Camp III, I guarded the surrounding area.

I remember that afterwards all the Unterführer were assembled in the canteen, and Himmler delivered an address to them…”

In honour of Himmler’s visit a special gassing of several hundred young Jewish girls took place. This is confirmed by the testimony of SS-Oberscharführer Hubert Gomerski who served at Sobibor: "I remember the visit of Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler in Sobibor, I saw Himmler with the whole group going in the direction of Camp III."

Sobibor henchmen Alexander Kaiser, Franz Hoedl, and Hubert Gomerski

Read eyewitness accounts of Sobibor here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Suspected Wesleyan killer:"It's okay to kill Jews"

from FOX News:

The man police say shot a Wesleyan University coed to death wrote "Kill Johanna. She must Die" and "I think it's ok to kill Jews and go on a killing spree" in his journal and left it at the crime scene, according to an arrest warrant.

Stephen Morgan, 29, was charged with one count of murder and made his first court appearance Friday in the killing of 21-year-old Johanna Justin-Jinich — whom he allegedly shot dead on Wednesday while she was working at a bookstore cafe near campus.

A lawyer for Morgan said his client will plead not guilty. Morgan denies targeting "the Wesleyan campus or anyone else," his attorney said.

The warrant says Middletown, Conn., police found Morgan's journal at the scene, along with a wig he allegedly wore during the shooting and a gun.

His father described him as a loner who kept a diary and was known to make anti-Semitic comments, according to the warrant.


Justin-Jinich, of Timnath, Colorado, came from a Jewish family, and her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. 

from the New York Times

She was a disciplined, fearless young woman of great promise, a Wesleyan University junior with a passion for women’s health issues. He was apparently disturbed, a man with shaky relationships and a malevolence toward Jews, threatening them and others on the campus in Middletown, Conn., in a journal he kept.

The lives of Johanna Justin-Jinich, 21, and Stephen P. Morgan, 29, had intersected briefly — and ominously — two years ago, when both attended a summer course at New York University. He called repeatedly and sent 38 harassing e-mail messages. The university and the police were notified, but he had left town and she declined to press charges.


As family, friends and the Wesleyan community mourned the slain woman and investigators sought to unveil the motivations and recent movements of the fugitive, the authorities in Middletown warned of a dangerous and possibly armed man on the loose, and urged university officials and Jewish residents of Middletown to take precautions.

Wesleyan, a private liberal arts school with about 3,000 students, went into lockdown. All classes had been finished for the year by Tuesday and students were studying for finals. The campus was all but deserted.

At the behest of Mayor Sebastian Giuliano and Police Chief Lynn M. Baldoni, Congregation Adath Israel, a Conservative Jewish congregation and Middletown’s only synagogue, located a block from the bookstore, was closed on Thursday. Its president, Eliot Meadow, said congregants were considering holding Sabbath services at another location or just hiring extra security. 


She attended a Quaker boarding-preparatory school, the Westtown School. John Baird, headmaster of the school, which was founded by the Quakers in 1799 in rural southeastern Pennsylvania, said Ms. Justin-Jinich enrolled in 2002 and graduated in 2006. She lived in Mexico as part of an exchange program in her junior year. Her mother, Ingrid, also graduated from Westtown, in 1971, as did her uncle Eric, the headmaster said.

“Johanna was respected for her original thinking and willingness to delve deeply into a variety of subjects,” Mr. Baird said.

At Wesleyan, where she enrolled in 2006, Ms. Justin-Jinich was described by friends as intellectual and passionate about her studies, pursuing a double major, one in Iberian studies and an interdisciplinary major in history, philosophy and literature. She quoted Nietzsche, Epicurus and Rousseau, and was a fan of the Chilean writer-politician Pablo Neruda and the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti Merello, they said. One friend said her summer plans included an internship in Washington with an organization focusing on women’s issues.

“She had planned to pursue a life of helping people, which was true to her personality and character,” said Leah Lucid, a close friend who was to have roomed with her next semester.


Morgan walked into the bookstore about 1 p.m. Wednesday, then toward the Red and Black Cafe, where Ms. Justin-Jinich worked.  He was a menacing figure, described as 6-feet-tall and wearing glasses by Susan Gerdhart, 22, who was paying for a salad when she heard four loud pops.When Ms. Gerdhart turned, she said she saw smoke in the air and bullet casings on the ground.  The victim was on the ground, according to Ms. Gerdhart’s statement to the police.  She then looked at the suspect, who was looking down, and he fired three more shots, according to the warrant. 

photos of Johanna Justin-Jinich:

from the Wesleying website:

Johanna Justin-Jinich '10



from the New York Daily News:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More McKinney Mishugas: Cynthia McKinney Headlines Extremist Hate Website

Former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney's image and a link to an extensive interview with her now headline the extremist hate propaganda website (aka "The French Connection"). Along with McKinney, the website's homepage includes tributes to William Dudley Pelley, Henry Ford, Father Charles Coughlin, Nesta Webster, and Elizabeth Dilling. It also contains an extensive archive of their writings and speeches.

In a brief walk down this veritable memory lane of hate agitprop, I found the following gem:

"We Jews continue to be amazed with the ease by which Christian Americans have fallen into our hands. While the naive Americans wait for Khrushchev to bury them, we have taught them to submit to our every demand."
With respect to current heroes, the website includes tributes to the Holocaust denying SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson, Andrew Carrington Hitchcock (author of Synagogue of Satan), and McKinney associate David Pidcock (read here). (It also features images of Naturei Karta burning Israeli flags, a number of pages devoted to what it calls the "ZioSwineLab Flu", a number of pages devoted to red-baiting Jews and the usual "9/11 truth" stuff.)

In spite of this fascist and racist content, the website claims to disavow political extremism, although it does so with the following paranoid language:

The French Connection disavows any contact with Nazis, Fascists or Racists in any form. More than likely, all of these new groups are Government Psy-Ops.

McKinney has not yet explained her recent connection to the far-right. It appears to have its roots in her dealings with far-right conspiracy theorist Matthias Chang. McKinney has participated in several conferences organized by Chang, and has devoted articles to promoting Chang's books and conspiracy theories. His books are published by Willis Carto's fascist publishing house Barnes Review/American Free Press. (Read here.)


from the iamthewitness website:

Shimon Peres on Zionism, the "one-state solution", and hope

Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with Shimon Peres is well worth reading for a number of reasons. Here are three excerpts:

from Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic: Shimon Peres on Iran: Overreaction Is Better Than Underreaction

Zionism started, in fact, at the Dreyfus trial, 100 years ago. And in the Dreyfus trial you had Herzl as a journalist. You had two different reactions to Dreyfus. Jewish journalists asked questions: "Why is that? Why are they hating the Jewish people? What are the reasons?" And there were two different answers: One is, the world is wrong, the other is the Jews are wrong. The ones that say the world was wrong became Communists or revolutionaries. They said, we have to change the world to one without nations, without classes, without religion. They say if there won't be those differences, the Jews won't be different. The others said: "There's not a chance to change to the world. The right thing we have to do is change ourselves." They became Zionists. Let's go back to our land, let's return to our history. Let's go to normalcy. And this is the real lessons of Jewish history in the last 100 years.

In connection with this blog, I spend far too much time reading the sort of anti-Israel propaganda that conflates Zionism (frequently a code-word for Jews) with a variety of real or imagined ideologies or interests which share a common feature: a desire for a one-world government. (Is Zionism the only national movement condemned for being excessively nationalist and anti-nationalist?) As Peres so clearly articulates, Zionism at its core is really an ideological opposite to radical anti-nationalism.

With respect to the so-called "one-state solution" being pushed on the left by Tony Judt, Rashid Khalidi and others, Peres points out that the name is misleading:

There is not a one-state solution; there is only one-state conflict instead of two-people conflict. Look, you have a conflict in Iraq; it's one state. You have a conflict in Lebanon; it's one state. You have a conflict in Sudan; it's one state. Who says that one state puts an end to the conflict? On the contrary, it makes it more dangerous. You have one state in Pakistan. You have one state in Afghanistan.

On his hopes for the future, Peres says:

You know, there is an Arab poet that I admire very much, Nizar Qabbani. He said, "The time has come for the Arabs to get rid of the yoke of imperialism. Thousands of years we live under the imperialism of words. We are victims of our words." So I wouldn't understand the Arab position by words alone. So I think, to be fair, I wouldn't judge everything said as though it is everything they think. I think many of them are sick and tired of war, of backwardness, of stagnation. I think there is a young generation, that watches television -- even their television -- and they see there is a different world.

You know, today, we have in Israel close to 1.1 million Arab citizens. Sixty thousand of them are university graduates. Where are they? Many of them are doctors. There is no hospital today in Israel that doesn't have Arab doctors and Arab nurses. Now look, an Israeli who would be reluctant to employ an Arab is not reluctant to enter the hospital, to lay on the bed and an Arab doctor will come with his knife and open his stomach. And he'll say, "Thank you." My hope is that what happens in a hospital with sick people will happen in the land with healthy people.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

US Soldiers in Afghanistan Told to "Hunt People for Jesus... So We Get Them into the Kingdom"

Military officials at Bagram are caught on tape urging US soldiers to evangelize in the Muslim country.

New video evidence has surfaced showing that US military forces in Afghanistan have been instructed by the military's top chaplain in the country to "hunt people for Jesus" as they spread Christianity to the overwhelmingly Muslim population. Soldiers also have imported bibles translated into Pashto and Dari, the two dominant languages of Afghanistan. What's more, the center of this evangelical operation is at the huge US base at Bagram, one of the main sites used by the US military to torture and indefinitely detain prisoners.

In a 
video obtained by Al Jazeera and broadcast Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him."

"The special forces guys - they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down," he says.

"Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business."

The translated Bibles appear to be the New Testament. According to Al Jazeera, US soldiers "had them specially printed and shipped to Afghanistan." On the tape, one soldier describes how his church in the US helped raise money for the bibles. Al Jazeera reports that "What these soldiers have been doing may well be in direct violation of the US Constitution, their professional codes and the regulations in place for all forces in Afghanistan." The US military officially forbids "proselytising of any religion, faith or practice." But, as Al Jazeera 

[T]he chaplains appear to have found a way around the regulation known as General Order Number One.

"Do we know what it means to proselytise?" Captain Emmit Furner, a military chaplain, says to the gathering.

"It is General Order Number One," an unidentified soldier replies.

But Watt says "you can't proselytise but you can give gifts."

Below is the al Jazeera video.  (That's the first time those words have appeared in this blog.)


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