Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pat Buchanan's racism

In a column published on the conservative websites Townhall, Human Events, and WorldNetDaily, Pat Buchanan has cited the white supremacist organization VDARE and two of its primary contributors, Steve Sailer and Robert Weissberg, to promote a theory concerning racial disparities in academic achievement. The column, entitled "Who Owns the Future?", purports to break down the test scores of American public school students by race and compare the differences with the difference between test scores of students in the countries associated with their ethnic groups. Buchanan and his VDARE sources argue that, on average, whites and Asians perform better on standardized tests than Hispanics and blacks do because they are, on average, more intelligent. They also argue that the racial intelligence gap they discern in the U.S. is mirrored in identical gaps between student performance in nations of the same races. So, Buchanan asserts,

America's public schools, then, are not abject failures.

They are educating immigrants and their descendants to outperform the kinfolk their parents or ancestors left behind when they came to America. America's schools are improving the academic performance of all Americans above what it would have been had they not come to America.

What American schools are failing at, despite the trillions poured into schools since the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is closing the racial divide.

We do not know how to close the gap in reading, science and math between Anglo and Asian students and black and Hispanic students.

And from the PISA tests, neither does any other country on earth.

The gap between the test scores of East Asian and European nations and those of Latin America and African nations mirrors the gap between Asian and white students in the U.S. and black and Hispanic students in the U.S.

Even Buchanan knows are some flagrant gaps in their data.  Midway through the column appears a throwaway comment by Buchanan to the effect that

African-American kids would have outscored the students of any sub-Saharan African country that took the test (none did)...

Considering that African-American academic performance is really at the heart of the matter (just as black-white relations are at the heart of U.S. race relations), the fact that Buchanan and his friends at VDARE have virtually no data to support their theory of intrinsic white superiority is of key importance.  Buchanan acknowledges that glaring flaw in his evidence even as he invents out of whole cloth facts that would be true under other circumstances.  Moreover, Buchanan, like Sailer and Weissberg, fails to factor that economic and other environmental disparities experienced by Latin American students are experienced by Hispanic students in the U.S., thus making it impossible to reach conclusions concerning genetic causation  The methodology behind their conclusions is fatally flawed.  That Buchanan's column is both designed to malign entire races and is unsupported by facts indicates a malicious and racist mind at work.  With that in mind, the fact that he should rely on even more overt racists as his sources is not at all surprising.  What is surprising is that mainstream news media such as MSNBC would still consider his views within the pale.

Just how bad is VDARE?  The blog Right Wing Watch writes that

The Southern Poverty Law Center labels VDARE as a “White Nationalist” organization and says that VDARE “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.”
The VDARE website has stated that

"America was defined — almost explicitly, sometimes very explicitly — as a white nation, for white people, and what that means is that there is virtually no figure, no law, no policy, no event in the history of the old, white America that can survive the transition to the new and non-white version. Whether we will want to call the new updated version ‘America’ at all is another question entirely."

That nation based on racism is not the United States with which most of us are familiar or comfortable, nor should we be.  That Pat Buchanan apparently shares VDARE's beliefs is deeply troubling.

(H/T Right Wing Watch)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Videla, Argentine Dirty War Dictator, Gets Life

read here: Jorge Videla, Argentina Ex-Dictator, Sentenced To Life In Prison

Former dictator Jorge Videla was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the torture and murder of 31 prisoners, most of whom who were "shot while trying to escape" in the months after his military coup.

The conviction was Videla's first in 25 years for crimes against humanity, thrilling relatives who packed the courtroom, holding up grainy black-and-white pictures of the victims and shouting "murderers" at the defendants. Most of the two-dozen former military and police officials who were tried with Videla also received life sentences.

Videla, who led the military coup that installed Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship, is considered the architect of a dirty war that eliminated [i.e. murdered] thousands of people in a crackdown on armed leftist guerrillas and their supporters.

The judges found Videla "criminally responsible" for the deaths of the prisoners, who were transferred from civilian jail cells to a clandestine prison where they were repeatedly tortured under interrogation before being killed.

Videla told the court that Argentine society demanded the crackdown to prevent a Marxist revolution and complained that "terrorists" now run the country.

Videla must serve his sentence in a civilian prison, the judges decided, ruling out the privileges he enjoyed after he was first convicted of crimes against humanity in 1985, as Argentina was struggling to return to democracy. Videla served just five years of a life sentence in a military prison before former President Carlos Menem granted him and other junta leaders amnesty.

According to the New York Times (in extremely brief coverage), Videla, in a statement to the court on the last day of his trial, said
“yesterday’s enemies are in power and from there, they are trying to establish a Marxist regime.”

Former Argentina dictator Jorge Videla attends the last day of his trial in Cordoba.

Videla at his trial's conclusion

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Greek Bishop's Paranoid Rant

from the NYTimes:

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece complained to church authorities about the anti-Semitic remarks made by the Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus during a recent interview on Greek television, according to a statement (in Greek) on the group’s Web site.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the bishop “said that there is a conspiracy to enslave Greece and Christian Orthodoxy. He also accused international Zionism of trying to destroy the family unit by promoting one-parent families and same-sex marriages.”
According to the news agency, when the bishop was then asked, “Why do you disagree with Hitler’s policies? If they are doing all this, wasn’t he right in burning them?” he replied: “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.” He added that Jewish bankers like “Rockefeller, Rothschild and Soros control the international banking system that controls globalization.”

Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meanwhile in Belarus...

Wikileaks' primary Russian-language correspondent Israel Shamir met with Uladzimri Makei, the chief aide to President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko. Lukashenko's regime has been described as Europe's last dictatorship. According to the Belarusian pro-democracy group Charter 97:

In his interview to Interfax-Zapad news agency, Shamir confirmed the website possesses files on Belarus. According to him, WikiLeaks has several thousands of secret documents concerning Belarus to a greater or less degree. He added that the files on Belarus were “what the Americans report from Belarus and on Belarus. There may be interesting things.”

read here: Makei afraid of Assange’s files

Shamir was photographed by an Interfax photographer on the steps of the Belarus Presidential Administation Building in Minsk earlier today.

In related news, Hal Roberts of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society reports that the Lukashenko regime has prepared for today's election by conducting a hijacking campaign against a long list of websites associated with opposition parties. People who try to view these websites are redirected to phony ones set up by the regime.


UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 20, 2010):

And of course...

The Lukashenko regime has reverted to form.  Yesterday, election day, at least 6 of 9 opposition candidates were illegally arrested, as were hundreds of their aides and supporters.  Voters, protesters, reporters and observers were beaten by police.  Now we await the results of the "vote count", by which I mean outright theft of the election.  All this in spite of a promise of almost $4 billion of aid from Germany and Poland if Lukachenko allowed fair elections.  Read the NY Times coverage here: Belarus Police Arrest Opposition Leaders.  Human rights organization VIASNA has coverage here.

A note about the Holocaust denier Israel Shamir's working for Julian Assange as Wikileaks Russian correspondent: 

When I originally posted about this on Facebook, I received outraged comments from a free-lance journalist who supports Assange.  She claimed (without citing any specifics) that all the evidence of Shamir's working for Wikileaks was falsified, and that there was no indication of such a connection.  She went on to absurdly claim that my asking if such a connection worried her was a calculated attempt on my part to label her as a Nazi.  How silly.

And the rape charges:

In the past several days, we've seen liberals such as Bianca Jagger, Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore, Naomi Wolf and Naomi Klein (henceforth "the Naomis"), as well as the blog firedoglake, slander Assange's alleged victims as liars working in cahoots with the CIA to silence Assange.  Now we have Andrew Krieg writing in the Huffington Post claiming without any evidence whatsoever that they're working not for the CIA but for Karl Rove.  His "reasoning"?  Rove works as a consultant to the Swedish PM Reinfelt, and

"This all has Karl's signature," a reliable political source told me a week and a half ago... He must be very happy. He's right back in the middle of it. He's making himself valuable to his new friends, seeing the U.S. government doing just what he'd like ─ and screwing his opponents big-time."

In spite of the fact that a Wikileaks spokesman, in a Swedish radio interview, has confirmed and defended Wikileaks employing Israel Shamir, and in spite of the fact that Shamir himself has confirmed this and has negotiated on Wikileaks behalf with the Belarusian regime, Assange's enablers deny that such a thing could be true and slander as liars those who report it.  Meanwhile, Assange's enablers groundlessly slander the alleged victims of his sexual assaults as liars working for the CIA and/or Karl Rove.  The sheer brazenness of this double-standard concerning evidence is breathtaking.  More importantly, it is wrong to treat alleged rape victims in such a manner. These people feel that their actions support free speech and transparency in government, but support for any cause, no matter how just, would not mitigate their offenses.  Assange's narcissism and recklessness seem to be echoed by some of his supporters.  Good intentions is no defense.

The Guardian has coverage of Shamir and Wikileaks here.  The Guardian also published details of the Swedish prosecutors' evidence for their charges against Assange here, and an interview with the attorney for Assange's accusers, one which addresses the Assange enablers' conspiracy theories, here.    Have the enablers read this stuff?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wikileaks: Vatican shows 'remnants of anti-Semitism'

from the Jerusalem Post:

A diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks showed that US diplomats were concerned with anti-Semitism in the Vatican.

"Despite the real progress" under Pope John Paul II, some still "manifested remnants of anti-Semitic sentiments," according to the cable from 2002.

"An older desk officer of French origin" complained that America's "strong interest in modern European anti-Semitism stemmed from the 'excessive influence of Jews in your media and government.'" Another official said that lawsuits against the Holy See "were the result of 'Jewish judges having too much influence.'"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Welcome to the tea party

In New York's Nassau County, tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts have led to massively irresponsible borrowing and fiscal chaos.

Read here: Mangano Lowers Taxes but Leaves Nassau County in a Fiscal Crisis - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What motivates shark attacks

There have been a number of shark attacks on tourists visiting resorts in southern Sinai recently. Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha, the governor of South Sinai, thinks one unusual explanation is possible. He has stated that he believes it possible that Mossad agents are "throwing the deadly sharks" into the Red Sea to attack Egyptians. He did not say how Israeli intelligence managed to train the sharks to distinguish Egyptians from others. My guess is that it would be much easier to train a shark to bite Egyptians than it would be to train them not to bite others, but I'm not an expert on the subject.

Governor Shousha indicated that Mossad agents would want to carry out such a plot "to hit tourism in Egypt", but went on to say that the subject requires further investigation "to confirm" his theory.

South Sinai governor Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha (6 December)
South Sinai governor Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha

BBC News - Shark attacks not linked to Mossad says Israel

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Arab world faces worsening water crisis

The Arab world, one of the driest regions on the planet, will tip into severe water scarcity as early as 2015, a report issued on Thursday predicts.

By then, Arabs will have to survive on less than 500 cubic metres of water a year each, or below a tenth of the world average of more than 6,000 cubic metres per capita, said the report by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED).

"The Arab world is already living a water crisis that will only get worse with inaction," the report says, adding per capita supply has plunged to only a quarter of its 1960 level.

Rapid population growth will further stress water resources. According to U.N. projections, the Arabs, who now number almost 360 million, will multiply to nearly 600 million by 2050.

Climate change will aggravate matters. By the end of this century, Arab countries may experience a 25 percent drop in precipitation and a 25 percent increase in evaporation rates, according to climate change models cited in the report.

"As a result, rain-fed agriculture will be threatened, with average yields estimated to decline by 20 percent," it says.

Thirteen Arab countries are among the world's 19 most water-scarce nations. People in eight Arab countries already have to make do with less than 200 cubic metres a year each.

"Without fundamental changes in policies and practices, the situation will get worse, with drastic social, political and economic ramifications," the AFED report says.

Conditions vary across the region, but within five years only Iraq and Sudan will pass the water scarcity test, defined as over 1,000 cubic metres a year per capita, assuming supplies from Turkey and Ethiopia still flow at current levels.

Agriculture consumes 85 percent of Arab water use, compared with a world average of 70 percent. Irrigation efficiency is only 30 percent, against a world average of 45 percent.

Groundwater is over-exploited, leading to significant declines in water tables, pollution of aquifers and seawater intrusion in coastal areas, AFED says. More than 43 percent of wastewater is discharged raw, while only 20 percent is reused.

The Arab world has 5 percent of the world's population but only 1 percent of its renewable fresh water, so several Gulf Arab countries rely heavily on desalinated sea water -- accounting for more than half the world's desalination capacity.


Some of the expensive desalinated water is used to irrigate low-value crops or even golf courses, the AFED report says.

Discharge from the desalination plants, which use imported, polluting technologies, makes sea water warmer and more saline.

Despite its scarcity, water is often squandered in the Arab world thanks to low prices and subsidies that disguise its cost.

read the rest here: Arab world faces worsening water crisis | Reuters

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ken Buck wants to privatize CDC.

"I'm not suggesting that people shouldn't get health care or that we shouldn't have a function in our country like CDC. What I'm suggesting is that ... folks that are in control of that program, if they're in the federal government, are going to be a lot less efficient than if they're in the private sector.'"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

No accounting for taste: Glenn Greenwald supports conspiracy monger Alan Hart (...or does he? See comments.)

What does it mean to "like" someone on Facebook?  Salon Columnist Glenn Greenwald says that he is a fan of anti-Israel conspiracy theorist Alan Hart.  I wonder why.  (See screenshot from Hart's website above.  Hart's Facebook widget featuring Greenwald's image is located on the right side.)

Does Greenwald share Alan Hart's belief that, on 9/11, Israeli agents controlled the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center via remote control devices hidden in cell phones?  Does he agree with Hart that Israel has stolen nuclear weapons from a U.S. military base and intends to use them to destroy an American city? (Read my column documenting Hart's conspiracy theories here.)  In May, Hart not only made those bizarre assertions, he also claimed in radio/podcast interviews with conspiracy mongers Kevin Barrett and Alex Jones that he had proof that the World Trade towers were destroyed by controlled demolition, i.e. that explosives had been planted within the buildings and were detonated after the plane crashes to bring down the towers. (This implausible belief is an essential part of truther conspiracy theories.) Hart said in those interviews that his proof for this controlled demolition conspiracy, which he claimed came from a source within "one of the world's leading engineering firms", resided on a laptop to which he didn't then have access because he was away from home on a U.S. speaking tour. That was more than four months ago, and Hart has still not come forward with the computer file that, if it actually existed, would undoubtedly provide him with the biggest scoop of his career as a journalist.  Maybe Hart just hasn't gotten around to looking for it.

I don't believe that Greenwald shares Alan Hart's belief in these bizarre theories, but his "liking" Hart does raise the question: how crazy does an anti-Zionist have to be to be too crazy for Glenn to like?

(The Facebook widget featuring Greenwald's image was found here: Obama speaks at the UN… Goodbye to peace - Alan Hart)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Senate Candidate Sharron Angle Speaks at John Birch Society Event

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs writes:

There was a time when openly associating with the cranks, racists, and conspiracy freakazoids of the John Birch Society would have spelled instant disaster for a politician’s career.
But in today’s climate of right wing extremism, the John Birch Society has not only been re-legitimized, it’s been welcomed back into the Republican fold.
This weekend the JBS held an event in Utah, and the featured speaker was none other than Nevada’s GOP nominee for the US Senate, Sharron Angle. (The link is to Google’s cache of a JBS website.)

More here: Little Green Footballs - GOP Candidate Sharron Angle Speaks at John Birch Society Event

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Iranian regime marks 9/11 by promoting "9/11 truth" conspiracy theories

In honor of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, PressTV, Iran's primary English language propaganda outlet, has published articles stating that "9/11 truth" conspiracy theories have exonerated Islamist terrorists for the attacks. These conspiracy theories, which allege that the World Trade Center was destroyed not by plane crashes but by explosives planted in the buildings by conspirators, were presented in a New York City press conference timed to coincide with 9/11 commemorations being held there. (Read here: PressTV - 'Evidence proves 9/11 story is a lie', and here, in an article concerning President Obama's 9/11 commemorative speech. 1/3 of that article is devoted to spurious claims by a group called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.) Here's a portion of the former article, which PressTV claims to prove the official story of 9/11 to be a lie:

A day before the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth say evidence regarding the destruction of the World Trade Center towers has emerged that show pre-set explosives were used in the demolition of the buildings.

Gregg Roberts, who is a member of the non-profit organization disputing the results of official investigations into the September 11 attacks, says the “official story is a lie, it is a fraud.”

According to experts, the Twin Towers suffered total destruction within 10-14 seconds in near free fall accelerations which can only occur as a result of pre-set demolition explosives.

“There had to be explosives, there is no other way for the building to come symmetrically straight down... like a tree if you cut into the tree it falls to the side, that you cut,” said Steven Dusterwald, another member of the truth seeking organization.
The group also asserts that molten metal was found after the 9/11 inquiry.

“Jet fuel and office fires cannot melt iron or steel. They don't even get half as hot as that and so something else was there, very energetic material that had to be placed throughout the buildings,” Roberts said.

“Once we take the blinders off, we can see. There are very few people in America who have taken the blinders off. So we are assisting people by showing them the evidence,” said founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth Richard Gage.

“The 600 architects I represent are most concerned about the freefall collapse of [World Trade Center] Building 7, the third skyscraper [that was] not hit by an airplane to fall on the afternoon of 9/11...the whole building is destroyed in 6.5 seconds,” the American Free Press quoted Gage as saying.

World Trade Center 7 reportedly collapsed about eight hours after the main World Trade Center towers fell.

The new evidence makes void the official story line that 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The PressTV article fails to specify the "new evidence (that) makes void the official story" of 9/11, only citing the assertions made at this press conference concerning the impossibility for the towers to have collapsed in a downward direction unless they were helped along by planted explosives. I know from their organization's title that these people are architects and engineers, so I can't explain their confusion on this subject. In my experience, objects tend to fall in a downward direction, so the trajectory of the falling towers presents no mystery. Of course, in my experience, I have never seen a massive high-rise building "fall like a tree" as they have. While the truther architects and engineers have yet to cite examples of such tree-like high-rise building collapses, they continue to assert them to be typical. It seems that they know something that everyone else doesn't.

To be clear: as a rule, 9/11 truth conspiracy theories raise easily answered questions concerning how the towers were destroyed, claim that they are unanswered by "the official story", then offer easily refuted counter-theories as to what really happened. The assertions of this truther group and the credulous report by PressTV follow precisely this pattern.

Having thus exonerated al-Qaeda for 9/11, PressTV found an authority to quote on who actually was to blame. Mike Gravel, a quirky dark-horse presidential candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries proclaims the truth of "9/11 truth", although he is neither an architect nor an engineer. Here's how PressTV quotes him:

“If there is a responsible party,” former US Senator Mike Gravel told Press TV, “it ends with [former US President George W.] Bush and it comes down to [Former Vice President Dick] Cheney and then it comes down to the military and the various bureaucracies. No question that this kind of activity goes to the very top.”

In reaching the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job, PressTV, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and Mike Gravel follow the pattern they see in the collapsing buildings. They have reached that conclusion more quickly and in a straighter line than mere reliance on the evidence can explain. This logical collapse must have been helped along by bias and bad faith.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Truther Conference Backs John Birch Society Anti-U.N. Conspiracy Theories

I wrote recently about a conference of 9/11 truthers scheduled to take place in New York over the next several days. (Read here.) This conference will feature several days of rallies, meetings, speeches and TV broadcasts timed to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the attacks.  It will also feature a demonstration at the World Trade Center site which, according to the conference webpage, may be planned to disrupt the reading of names of the victims by reading additional names they claim should, but are not, being honored.  Conspiracy fabulists such as Wayne Madsen, Cynthia McKinney, Paul Craig Roberts and Jason Bermas are scheduled to speak at conference events, as are former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, George Galloway, Mark Crispin Miller, Cindy Sheehan and Ray McGovern.

I've looked at the webpage set up by the conference sponsors, a group called "We Are Change", and was shocked to see the degree to which they promote anti-U.N. conspiracy theories which originated with the John Birch Society and other far-right groups of the cold war era.  The birchers and others on the far-right promoted a belief that the Rockefeller family, in concert with a global communist conspiracy, pushed the creation of the U.N. as part of a plan to create a "one world government" which they would lead.  Based on the list of participants in the conference, I assumed that "We Are Change" is essentially of the left, but I guess that I was wrong.   Here's an example of what can be found on the conference webpage, from a video promoting the group's 2009 9/11 conference in New York:

The speaker in that video, standing in front of the U.N., starts oddly by saying "as you see behind me, that building is sitting on land donated by the international globalist David Rockefeller."  I'm not sure how I'm supposed to see that, but, moving on, he gets into the really bad craziness.  The video claims that, after the failure of the League of Nations, "the elite" deliberately started World War II as part of a conspiracy to create an organization which, he says, was intended "to centralize power into a few hands".  Pointing ominously at the U.N. building, he goes on to claim that the United Nations is a sort of den of Satanists:

"They are highly into the New Age Movement.  There's a room in the back called the Meditation Room which has a black stone altar in it.  Very occultish (sic).  The people in here highly revere people such as Benjamin Creme, Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey, who formerly founded (the) Lucifer Trust, which is now known as the Lucis Trust. We are here today to let the world know that we are not down with the New World Order.  We are not happy with One World Government, and we are here to say we don't want that at all." 

This strange speech is followed on the video by scenes of a crowd of angry demonstrators chanting outside the office of Larry Silverstein, the developer of the World Trade Center site, whom they implicate in the conspiracy.  There are shots of angry faces chanting "pull it, Larry, pull it," a reference to a truther belief that Silverstein not only ordered the destruction of his building via controlled demolition, but that he also revealed this inadvertently in a contemporaneous television interview.  This is followed by the chant "we are change, we are change..."

These demonstrators, whether they know it or not, are very much the children of the birchers, as are the tea partiers and Glenn Beck supporters.  These are all divergent streams of the paranoid style of American politics.

Looking down the conference webpage we have the following addition to the truther group's mission statement:

This event will also focus on many issues including corporate-controlled Media, the private banking cartel, the military industrial complex, Climate Change/Gate, Big Pharma and the unwelcomed (sic) influx of GMO foods.

Which of these things is not like the other?  Am I wrong to read in that otherwise standard-issue conspiracy theory litany that We Are Change are climate change deniers?  (They may be change, but they are apparently not climate change.)

There's a lot more at the webpage.  Check it out here: 2010 - Our Lives After 9/11.  I wonder whether all the participants in this conference understand what it is and who their associates in this movement really are.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Truthers to mark 9/11 with NYC rallies, conspiracy theory conferences

New York 9/11 Memorial "9/11 Truth" Conference to Highlight Conspiracy Theories

Both anti-mosque fanatics and 9/11 conspiracy theory fanatics are targeting NYC for major rallies around 9/11. Nine years after the attacks there's been a shift in thinking about them. The city that was the main target of the attacks is now fair game for those who stand to gain politically from exploiting them.

It's bad enough that Pamela Geller is planning an anti-Muslim rally to commemorate and/or desecrate 9/11 in New York City this year. (Geller is campaigning to make Lower Manhattan a First Amendment-free zone.)  Now New York will also be subjected to a series of 9/11 truth conspiracy theory meetings and rallies to mark and/or mar the tragic anniversary, featuring a number of speakers associated with extreme anti-American and anti-Israel views verging on the paranoid. (Read here.) Under the aegis of a 9/11 truth group called WE ARE CHANGE, the scheduled speakers include a number of potentially offensive participants. Here's a partial list, highlighting some problematic participants:

  • Jonathan Elinoff
  • Cynthia McKinney 
  • Wayne Madsen 
  • Mike Gravel 
  • George Galloway 
  • Paul Craig Roberts 

Jonathan Elinoff is a conspiracy theorist who blogs with the makers of the most most popular truther video, Loose Change.  In 2009, Elinoff made his own video called In the Shadows, the first of an intended series called Core of Corruption.  He has devoted his career to promoting the idea that a small army of Israeli intelligence officers pretending to be art students infiltrated the United States and carried out the 9/11 attacks.  An example of his writing on this can be read here:  Israeli Art Students Had WTC Construction Passes.  Here's the trailer for his video:

Cynthia McKinney has in recent years gone from being a U.S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, to devoting herself to campaigning against Israel and promoting absurd conspiracy theories, sometimes making common cause with the racist far-right to do so.  (Read here and here and here.)  She has, in recent years, argued that the United States government is completely under the control of "Zionist agents", and that it deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen.  She has also endorsed the conspiracy theories of Matthias Chang who claims that a conspiracy of Zionist "shadow money-lenders" is destabilizing the world both via false flags attacks and economic crashes in order to take it over.

Wayne Madsen is an internet journalist and conspiracy fabulist who runs a website called the Wayne Madsen Report, where he promotes conspiracy theories blaming Israel, "neo-cons" and "Zionists" for 9/11.  Read here for examples.  He somehow connects his Mossad 9/11 conspiracy to everything from Israelis working at shopping mall kiosks (read here) to alleged Pakistani intelligence involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto (read here) to the influence of "Jewish mobsters"  (read here).  Madsen routinely writes columns without any indication of sources, making outlandish and unsupportable claims without any provenance, such as that he made in a 2009 column alleging that Israel is secretly colonizing Iraq (read here and here).  The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan reported that Madsen's anti-Israel columns were translated into Arabic and published in Iraq and other Arab countries, where they actually had their desired effect (read here.)  Those who fail to take the lunatic fringe seriously should take note of this dangerous real world impact of throwing rumors into an already smoldering conflict.  On a more comical note, one of Madsen's most recent conspiracy theories claims that Obama is literally a "CIA creation".  Madsen writes that, not only was Obama groomed for the presidency by the CIA, but that this grooming started with his actual conception, which Madsen comically claims was a CIA covert op.  (Read here and view video below.)  (Warning: if you're not used to reading this sort of stuff, prepare yourself to laugh hysterically.)

Madsen, like Lyndon LaRouche, also implicates financier George Soros in a sort of unified field theory of conspiracies, writing that (read here):

Soros’ agents of disinformation and influence have moved in to “manage” the stories about jailed Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman, the 2004 vote fraud in Ohio, the Turkish and Israeli intelligence penetration of the highest echelons of the U.S. government, the presence of Israeli spies among the accused 9/11 hijackers in the months prior to the terrorist attacks in 2001, and Russian-Israeli “Kosher Nostra” criminal activity from London to Kyiv and New York to Moscow.

Mike Gravel, a former U.S. Senator from Alaska and a quirky pro-peace candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries, only made my list for one reason.  In 2003, he participated in a Holocaust denial conference featuring neo-Nazi participants.  (Read here.)  He subsequently claimed that he didn't notice the goose-stepping going on all around him.  He said that he thought that it was just a quirky pro-peace group.  That seems consistent with his attendance at the truthers' conference.

George Galloway, as readers here undoubtedly already know, is a former Member of Parliament who had extensive ties to Sadaam Hussein's Ba'athist regime, with whom he is said to have had a profitable business relationship, and to Hamas, to whom he has provided material support via his Viva Palestina group.  He currently works for PressTV, an English-language propaganda television station owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and under the control of the mullahs.  In a relatively brief period of time, Galloway seems to have gone from a 9/11 conspiracy theory doubter who warned the left not to discredit itself by associating with nuts (watch here) to a truther who is willing to throw at Israel and the U.S. any accusation his constituency will buy (listen here).

Paul Craig Roberts has had the most dramatic transformation of anyone on this list, having gone from being an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration and an editor at the Wall Street Journal to a being a far-right, conspiracy-bedeviled internet columnist with a penchant for prophecies which fail to come true.  His columns are widely posted on the websites of that fringe beyond the mainstream left and right, including the white supremacist website VDARE, Willis Carto's American Free Press, Pat Buchanan's American Conservative, Antiwar.com, Lew Rockwell, Information Clearing House and Counterpunch, -- places where resume gravitas is sometimes in short supply.  Roberts not only believes that 9/11 was an inside job, carried out with planted explosives, not planes (read here and here), in 2006, he also stated that George W. Bush was planning another such attack, a warning which was obviously not worth the bandwidth it was written on.  (Read here.)  That the extremely paleo-conservative Roberts' anti-Israel extremism is central to his world view can be gauged by his habit of referring to the U.S. government as a puppet of Israel (read here), and decrying Jewish influence on the news media (read here).  Roberts blames precisely that influence for concealing what he sees as the true story of 9/11.


In choosing New York City on 9/11 for their anti-freedom rallies, Pamela Geller and other anti-mosque activists desecrate the sacred ground they purport to defend.  Similarly, the 9/11 truthers, in choosing New York City on 9/11 to promote their paranoid world view, desecrate not only the site of that terrible crime against humanity, they desecrate the truth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

JVP's specious McCarthyism charge

The blog MuzzleWatch, which is associated with the organization Jewish Voice for Peace, has published what must be the least substantial charge of McCarthyism in history. JVP' is a small group whose stock in trade is promotion of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. A handful of JVP members are frequently trotted out to testify against Israel at hearings concerning divestment measures proposed by universities and religious groups. The organization essentially serves as a fig leaf for anti-Israel activists working within academia and the mainstream Protestant denominations. BDS activists within these institutions can push to single out Israel among all nations for punishment, then point to JVP support as evidence that this is not based on personal bias.

MuzzleWatch has found that Josef Olmert, the brother of Israel's former Prime Minister, has written a column in which he advocates a campaign to promote arguments to counter the BDS movement within universities. In his column, Olmert referred specifically to academics who have signed pro-BDS petitions, proposing that abti-BDS arguments should be addressed to them directly.  Two sentences in the column put Olmert on JVP's fighting side. He wrote:

I possess a list of thousands of American academics calling for a boycott of Israel. The number of Jews among them is overwhelming.

The mere fact that Olmert, an adjunct professor at American University, said that he "possess(es) a list" was enough to send the extremely hypersensitive MuzzleWatch over the brink. In response, they write

What’s next, Un-Jewish-American Activities hearings at every Hillel? In a threefer, Olmert manages to reproduce the paranoia of the Old “I have here in my hand [a list of communists]” McCarthyism as well as its obsession with the number of Jews and State Department employees amongst its enemies.
I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the BDS Movement and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .
Just kidding, that was actually Joe McCarthy, and I switched out the words “Communist Party.”

Great comparison. On the one hand, an adjunct professor whose brother is a virtually disgraced former PM has a real list of people whose views he believes should be addressed with respectful counter-arguments. On the other hand, a powerful U.S. Senator lies to the entire nation that he has a list of traitors, destroying countless lives and careers and distorting the nation's political discourse for the better part of a decade. Pretty much the same thing, right?

Apparently JVP wants us to believe that Josef Olmert is not advocating arguing against BDS, but is secretly preparing to institute a Zionist loyalty oath and blacklist anti-Israel professors. Why do I think that JVP may have the story wrong?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Max Blumenthal's Facebook minstrel show

Max Blumenthal has posted the following as his profile photo on Facebook. It shows him with kipah and siddur pretending to pray to a portrait of Benjamin Netanyahu. Who exactly is Blumenthal targeting with this Jew-face minstrel show? The image would be right at home on Stormfront, wouldn't it?

This isn't Blumenthal's first flirtation with hate-speech. As I wrote here, Blumenthal gave several interviews earlier this year in which he called U.S. politicians who support Israel "quislings", thus equating them with the puppet leaders installed by the Nazis in the countries they occupied.

Blumenthal may imagine himself to be making trenchant, deliberate provocations. I suppose Ann Coulter imagines the same thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

David Horowitz' inadvertent conservative case for Cordoba House

David Horowitz' News Real Blog has published what have to be the two worst arguments I've heard in favor of the government intervening to prevent the construction of what is alternately called Cordoba House or "the ground zero mosque". The blogger, who for understandable reasons conceals his identity, calling himself "Joe Blough", argues that the First Amendment applies only to Congress, not to municipal or state governments or to the other branches of the federal government. Addressing the president, "Joe Blough" writes:

(C)ongress isn’t making any laws about the matter so that settles that. Thank you Mr. Assistant Professor in Chief. Unfortunately there is nothing in there preventing the president from insulting the intelligence of the public.

He's right about one thing, and lucky for him. If there were a law against insulting the intelligence of the public, "Joe Blough" and David Horowitz would be fugitives from justice. The question of whether the Bill of Rights applies to state and municipal governments is settled law, as the vast majority of constitutional thinkers including the entire Supreme Court would undoubtedly agree. The editors of News Real Blog seem to think otherwise, choosing to advocate in this instance an extremist States Rights position advocated by opponents of federal civil rights laws against discrimination on the basis of race or religion.  By this line of thinking, the states and municipalities would be free once again to mandate segregation and prevent oppressed groups from voting.  Can David Horowitz really be supporting this extremist argument?

Having summarily wiped the First and Fourteenth Amendments and a massive corpus of Supreme Court decisions from the books, Horowitz' blog goes on to take an extremely odd stand for a purportedly conservative blog. It argues that property rights should not apply because the municipal government already regulates some uses of private property. For some reason, the argument rests on the fact that the city regulates traffic and prohibits smoking in public accommodations such as offices, restaurants, train stations, etc .

Consider the non-smoking rules so dear to (New York City Mayor) Bloomberg’s heart. There are people, loud persistent people, in NYC that don’t like cigarette smoke. And based on that dislike — a mere dislike — property owners, leasors and leasees of all sorts around NYC must prevent their customers from smoking on their property or face the wrath of the city. Property rights in NYC are such that hanging a sign over your door that says “Smokers Only” will not defend you. You have no say in the matter, your rights are not recognized. And that is only one, blatantly obvious example.

NYC is very well practiced at limiting one person’s rights to accomodate the comforts of another.

Public property in NYC is handled with the same high handed flippancy, as if it belonged personally to New Yorkers’ alleged representatives. For example, traffic down Broadway is now slowed to a trickle, because some genius in the administration thought it would be nice to have little parks in the middle of Broadway rather than all those nasty smelly cars. The rights of the public that jointly own that avenue? Not even a consideration.

And here again, why make little parks in the middle of one of NYC’s busiest streets? Because little parks appeal to somebody’s feelings, whereas cars do not.

To be fair, some might argue, perhaps even with some justice, that that is just what local ordinances are for. To legislate matters that in an ideal sense, impinge on individual rights, for the sake of accomodating local sensibilities. But, were that correct, the Bloomberg administration would only stand more deeply damned.

Bloomberg and his functionaries could have found a dozen, perfectly plausible and normal ways to dictate that the mosque could not be built less than than some arbitrary distance from ground zero. They have all the tools they need.

The government of NYC and Mr. Bloomberg, can, will and do legislate and regulate on the basis of feeling. The only question is whose feelings. What we learn is that the feelings of most of the voting public, indeed the feelings of the families of the dead and survivors of the 9/11 attack, do not count. What matters are the feelings of Mr. Bloomberg and his leftist friends.

And believe me when I tell you, those are not feelings of love. Not for America. And not, gentle reader, for you.

The internal contradictions of purported conservatives arguing in favor of more government limitations on both the free exercise of religion and private property rights are so apparent as to scarcely merit counter-argument. The right ties itself in knots with such lines of thinking. Horowitz' blog inadvertently makes this clear by supporting what it itself comically refers to as "arbitrary" restrictions, an argument which should be laughed out of the court of public opinion, regardless of either the conservatism or anti-Islam bias of that opinion.

By publishing this post, David Horowitz has done a tremendous service to conservatives looking for reasons to support the Cordoba House project. Regardless of conservatives' emotional reaction to the project, Horowitz has made clear by the weakness of these arguments in favor of arbitrary government limitations on personal liberties that supporting Cordoba House is a great way for conservatives to stand up for their ideological principles.

read here: 9/11 Victory Mosque: Another Reason the “Rights” Talk is Bunk | NewsReal Blog

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Repealing Birthright Citizenship Wasn't a Good Idea Back in the Forties Either

read here.

Eye-rolling headline of the day

Mel Gibson had a fender bender on a Malibu highway the other day. Here's the headline for that story, according to a traditionalist Catholic website:

"Traditional Catholic Producer-Director Mel Gibson Miraculously Uninjured in Car Crash On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary"

read here: TRADITIO Traditional Roman Catholic Network, including the Official Catholic Directory of Traditional Latin Masses

Friday, August 13, 2010

Holocaust denial in pro-Palestinian paper

read here: Harry's Place | Fredrick Toben in the Palestine Telegraph and here: Toben: Materialism of western democracies is exhausting itself

UPDATE: The interview was scrubbed from the Palestine Telegraph website on Aug. 15.   Cached version here.  Confused non-apology apology by Palestine Telegraph editor here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rand Paul opposes federal mine regulations

He's already come out against federal civil rights laws, federal environmental laws, federal gun control laws, the 14th Amendment, foreign aid, and participation in international organizations such as the U.N., World Bank and IMF. Now he's taking a stand against what he perceives as another threat to liberty.  He's saying that his fellow Kentuckians who either work as miners or live near coal mines should not be protected by federal mine safety laws. His reason? He doesn't know anything about mine safety, and he hopes to be a senator. Therefor, senators should have no say in the matter. Read:

"The bottom line is: I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules."

If that logic sounds a bit twisted, try this on for size. His solution for making mines safer is to "try" to regulate it locally. And if that doesn't work ... well, that's where he gets a little fuzzy.

"You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You'd try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don't, I'm thinking that no one will apply for those jobs."

He first says that, if you live in the mining areas, you have to work in the mines. Then he says that, if his idea of regulatiing them locally fails, just don't work in the mines.

Yeah. He's really thought this through.

About last April's disaster in Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine, the one where the gross negligence of the management led to the deaths of 29 miners, Paul had this to say:

"I know that doesn't sound … I want to be compassionate, and I'm sorry for what happened, but I wonder: Was it just an accident?"

He's right to be concerned about not sounding compassionate. Paul is taking the exactly the same line that Massey Energy has been taking. Contradicting unbiased experts on the subject who have determined that Massey's recklessness caused this tragedy, Massey has been summoning the families of the dead miners into private meetings where they have tried to bully them into accepting this "just an accident" line. (Read here.) Paul chooses to take the word of these completely biased mine owners over the objective science presented by the experts. Of course, the experts are agents of the federal government, which to Paul may mean that they are secretly trying to promote socialism. If Rand Paul fails to be elected to the Senate, he might consider going to work for Massey.

Friday, July 30, 2010

McMahon fires aide who published list of adversary's Jewish donors

Congressman Mike McMahon, a Democrat who represents Staten Island and Bay Ridge, has fired an aide who published a list of his adversary's Jewish donors. The aide, Jennifer Nelson, sent the list, headlined "Grimm Jewish Money Q2", to the New York Observer. She said that the list of Jewish donors to Republican Mike Grimm was intended to show that he was getting donations from outside the district.

"Where is Grimm's money coming from," Jennifer Nelson, McMahon's campaign communications director told the paper. "There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees."

The campaign provided "a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home" on the "Grimm Jewish Money Q2" list provided to the Observer. Nelson "stressed" to the paper "that the point of compiling the list was not to show that Grimm had a lot of Jewish support, but that he had little support in the district."

McMahon has issued an apology, but so far has refused comment on who knew of the list before it was published. He has so far not fired a senior staffer who put together the list.


I also asked Team McMahon if anyone other than Nelson and Solomon knew about this research project/story pitch, but have gotten no reply.

Nelson was the communications director, but she was not the brain trust of the campaign, and something tells me the calls for heads to roll may not end here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

McMahon campaign hits adversary for his Jewish donors, publishes a list of them

Mike Grimm, a G.O.P challenger for Mike McMahon's Congressional seat, took in over $200,000 in his last filing.
But in an effort to show that Grimm lacks support among voters in the district, which covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, the McMahon campaign compiled a list of Jewish donors to Grimm and provided it to The Politicker.
The file, labeled "Grimm Jewish Money Q2," for the second quarter fundraising period, shows a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home.
"Where is Grimm's money coming from," said Jennifer Nelson, McMahon's campaign spokeman. "There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida and Manhattan, retirees."
As a point of comparison, the campaign also provided in-district and out-of-district fundraising totals from McMahon and Grimm's G.O.P primary opponent, Michael Allegretti. However, they did not provide an out-of-district campaign filing from Grimm, but only a file of Jewish donors to him.

Shades of Richard Nixon's and Fred Malek's list of Jews. (Read here.)

McMahon meanwhile has been trying to make his own in-roads into the Jewish community. A source said that he is scheduled to meet next week with several major Jewish donors.
Reached by phone, Grimm, who is part-Italian, part-German, said he was proud of his Jewish support and said he was disturbed to hear that the McMahon campaign compiled a seperate list of his Jewish donors.
"The fact that a U.S. Congressman would seperate out any group by religion or even by ethnicity is nothing short of outrageous," he said. "This goes beyond politics."

Jabotinsky planned Hitler assassination in 1939

In December 1939, four months after the beginning of World War II, Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky paid a visit to a retired 61-year-old British colonel.

The colonel, Richard Henry Meinertzhagen, served as an advisor at the War Office in London and knew Jabotinsky from his service in the British army in the Land of Israel after the Ottoman era in 1918.

The colonel documented his conversation with the Zionist leader in his private diary, which was published in London in 1959 as a book titled, "Middle East Diary, 1917-1956." Here is a short segment from the conversation:

Jabotinsky: I have brought a plan to bomb Hitler and the entire Nazi leadership.

Meinertzhagen: An ambitious plot.

Jabotinsky: An attainable one.

Meinertzhagen: Do elaborate.

Jabotinsky: A number of high-ranking Nazis in Munich must be assassinated. Their funeral will require the arrival of their senior comrades, including Hitler. Bombs containing 100 kilograms of explosives will be concealed in one of the coffins. As all the Nazis gather around the grave, 100 kilograms of bombs will explode and they'll all move on to the next world.

Meinertzhagen: Who will activatethe bomb system?

Jabotinsky: The Jewish gravedigger in Munich. He's a friend of mine.

The colonel, who was impressed by the plan, presented it to the Foreign Office in London. He concluded this chapter in one short line in his diary: The Foreign Office frowned and the Nazis were saved.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Enough responsibility to go around

from the Theo Caldwell Media Archive: Where to from Here?:

"As columnist Khaled Abu Toameh recently observed, “Not only are Palestinians living in Lebanon denied the right to own property, but they also do not qualify for health care, and are banned by law from working in a large number of jobs,” adding, “Ironically, it is much easier for a Palestinian to acquire American and Canadian citizenship than a passport of an Arab country.”

So if we want to help the Palestinian people – and as a matter of human decency, all good folks share that goal – perhaps the best approach is to spread the pressure. That is, rather than focus solely on, say, Israeli checkpoints and Jerusalem building projects, we might also find the dialing codes for Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, ring them up and ask, “Could you find a path to citizenship for the Palestinians in your midst?”

We might add, “We’d love your help in achieving a peaceful Palestinian state and, in the meantime, would you please drop any restrictions on them working as journalists, pharmacists, physicians, what-have-you, so they can earn a living?”

It’s not perfect or complete, but it’s a way forward."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ron Paul Chief Aide: Rothschilds killed JFK

Lew Rockwell, longtime chief aide and advisor to Ron Paul, has published a column claiming that the Rothschilds were responsible for assassinating President Kennedy. According to Rockwell's website, a secret conspiracy of "Illuminati" with the Rothschilds at its top started the grand conspiracy when it "planned" the creation of "our consumer society" in 1832.  The article cites as indication of this the founding of Yale's "Skull and Bones" fraternity, an organization which has somehow become the focus of many such conspiracy theories. According to Rockwell, Kennedy was shot by the "Illuminati" because of a speech Kennedy gave in 1961 which purportedly obliquely referred to this conspiracy.

Here's the Rockwell website's take on American history:

Our consumer society didn’t just happen; it was planned. Not in 1910, or 1954, but in the year 1832, the year William Huntington Russell and fellow classmate Alphonso Taft founded the Skull and Bones society at Yale University, a branch of the Bavarian Illuminati.

Members, known as “Bonesmen,” include Rockefeller, Kuhn, Loeb and Morgan all connected to the House of Rothschild’s global financial empire. They are founders of the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, France, and Germany or, for that matter, any central bank anywhere in the world. In theory, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, one of the most important domestic acts in the nation’s history, took the power to create money from the people and gave it to the Bonesmen for profit.

Yes, that's a pretty weird take on the origins of the central banking system, but it's just the start. According to LewRockwell.com, Kennedy was alluding to this whacked out theory when he made the following statement in a speech.

(W)e are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system that has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, and no secret is revealed."
That's pretty clearly a standard Cold War era denunciation of Communism. But not in Lew Rockwell world. Here's how his website would have it:

It was hard to miss the veiled reference to The Illuminati (House of Rothschild), Bilderbergers, CFR and the other secret societies that rule the world from behind the scenes.

The proof of this connection? The following unsourced alleged quote from Kennedy:

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen” JFK

Yeah. That seals it. An alleged statement by Kennedy that history doesn't just happen without the will of powerful people behind it -- that pretty much cries out "The Rothschilds, Illuminatti and Bilderbergs are secretly controlling the world!" You just have to read between the lines.

By this logic, it makes perfect sense that the Rothschilds had to have JFK killed. They clearly feared that, 50 years later, LewRockwell.com would decode JFK's secret message.

Read the column here at Lew Rockwell's website: The 1961 Speech That Got JFK Killed? by Katherine Smith

That column is not an original, it's a repost from a really wacky blog called thepeoplesvoice.org.   The column's author, Katherine Smith, who describes herself as a retired research professor of history, has an unhealthy fascination with the Rothschilds.  Smith considers the Rothschilds to have been the leaders of a number of international conspiracies.  She even goes so far as to argue that they, working with the Nazis, who were responsible for the Holocaust.  But her take on the Holocaust is bit unusual.  Here's how she describes it:

Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed and otherwise perished during the Second World War as a direct and indirect result of the harsh anti-Jewish policies of Germany in concentration camps.

The gist of that Holocaust denying column is that Hitler was a secret agent of the Rothschilds -- in fact, that he was secretly brainwashed by them to lose the war on their behalf.  According to Smith, this was all part of a conspiracy which was designed to pave the way for the creation of Israel.  That, Smith says, was Hitler's secret goal.  Smith claims that Hitler was secretly motivated by Zionism.

(To get a sense of the sheer insanity of this conspiracy theory, this column simply must be read.  Read Smith's column here: Adolph Hitler: War Hero, Street Cleaner, Prostitute or Secret Agent: A Psychohistory Analysis.)

So it seems that Katherine Smith, the Holocaust denier and promoter of insane, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, is the retired research professor of history that Lew Rockwell turns to when he wants to know who really killed JFK.  Thanks for that, Lew Rockwell.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

So wrong on so many levels

Embedded below is an advertisement made by the National Republican Trust PAC in opposition to Cordoba House, the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque", which is planned to be built two blocks north of the World Trade Center site. The management of CBS and NBC have refused to broadcast it, with an NBC spokesman saying that the ad blurs responsibility for 9/11 in order to imply that Cordoba House's sponsors were culpable for the attacks. (Read here.) While that is true, it puts too fine a point on the reason the ad is wrong. The ad appears to hold all Muslims responsible for 9/11, say that all Muslims celebrated the attacks, and characterize Cordoba House as part of that celebration. That is not just wrong, it is intended to inspire hate and create a hostile atmosphere. Watch it and judge for yourself:

Scott Wheeler, who runs the National Republican Trust, claims that CBS and NBC rejected this advertisement due to liberal bias. Wheeler cites the fact that both networks have broadcast ads by the liberal group MoveOn.org as evidence of a double-standard, which it would be if the ad had been rejected because it represents a conservative viewpoint. But that is not why the ad was rejected, as Wheeler knows. As to whether the ad actually promotes conservatism is also debatable, although it does indicate that some conservatives will resort to hate speech to gain the support of the angry and fearful.

With respect to the ad's claim that "they" are mocking the 9/11 dead with this mosque, Wheeler claims that the word "they" referred only to those who are funding the Cordoba House project. The fact that this charge follows a statement that "(o)n 9/11 they declared war of us" renders Wheeler's defense hollow and meaningless. It is a deliberate deception designed to conceal two things: first, that the opposition to this project is based on bias against all Muslims, and, second, that Wheeler, like all of the Cordoba House opponents, have a dearth of evidence for, and an excess of accusations of, the bad intentions of the Cordoba House backers.

An earlier post on this blog cited a report that the Cordoba House project's leader, Imam Feisal Rauf, was on the board of the Perdana Global Peace Initiative (read here) to temper my earlier unqualified support for the project (read here).  Perdana, which is one of several anti-Israel groups set up by Malaysia's corrupt, authoritarian and anti-Semitic former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, lists Rauf as a board member on their website. While it claims to be a pacifist group, Perdana absurdly singles out Israel for the vast majority of its
opprobrium, giving most of the world's governments, including those who should be targeted by a truly pacifist group, a free pass.  Speaking on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show this morning, Imam Rauf's wife, Daisy Khan (who heads the Organization for Muslim American Advancement) stated that Rauf is not on the board of the Perdana group, that he merely gave a presentation at a Perdana conference three years ago, and that the Perdana website is in error. She went on to say that both she and her husband denounce terrorism of any kind including terrorism by Hamas. While I am not thrilled to hear of any association between Imam Rauf and Tun Mahathir or Perdana, the link does not raise the sort of red flags being hysterically waved by Cordoba House opponents such as the New York Post and blogger Pamela Geller, who unreasonably impute terrorist connections. That being said, Rauf and Khan would do well to open a conversation with those who both support their group's right to worship freely and who oppose Mahathir Tun's cynical manipulation of anti-Israel sentiment.

In her interview, Daisy Khan also emphatically stated that the choice of the Cordoba House site on Park Place between Church Street and West Broadway had nothing to do with proximity to the World Trade Center site, a statement I find convincing. First, the neighborhood is a normal New York City neighborhood, not the shrine depicted by the project's opponents. Second, the congregation associated with the project have been in the neighborhood for over 25 years. Third, the site in question has been underutilized for decades, in spite of a real estate boom that has driven up property values and increased occupancy rates. Third, based on that real estate boom, the congregation was essentially faced with choosing between leaving the neighborhood where they were established (making access by the congregation more difficult or impossible), locating the center in a smaller or otherwise inappropriate building, or choosing this site. For the foregoing reasons, it seems much more likely that they chose this site because it was the best one available, not, as the Republican National Trust would have it, to dance on the graves of 9/11 victims.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio has made opposition to Cordoba House the keynote issue of his campaign, alleging that it raises unspecified "security issues" and groundlessly calling for criminal investigation of the project backers for ties to terrorists. (Read here.)  (Earlier this week, Lazio testified at a public hearing implausibly claiming that he opposed the project on historical preservation grounds, because it would alter a historical building.) The Republican National Trust, Rick Lazio and several other Republican and Tea Party candidates currently campaigning against Cordoba House need to stop making unreasonable, hateful accusations against the project, and begin answering a few questions with respect to their intentions, their methodology and their good faith. If they don't, we will be left believing that they are motivated by political opportunism, that they are willing to discriminate and spread hate against innocent people, and that they don't care sufficiently about the results of their actions. They need to temper their questions about the project with the knowledge that speech that encourages hate hurts everyone. By definition, political campaigns which take advantage of racial or religious fear corrode the public discourse and create additional divisions within the community. Those effects can't be measured. We depend on the good faith and responsibility of our leaders to temper their speech on this and similar subjects. They should be working to counter fear and hate, not encouraging more of it.

The bottom line: as far as I know, those behind Cordoba House just want a place for Muslims to worship and build a community center of the kind familiar to Jews and Christians. What's wrong with that?

A note on terminology: As someone who worked for one year in a building next door to the Cordoba House site, and for 12 years directly across the street from the site, and as someone who was present at both World Trade Center attacks (1993 and 2001), I have a lot of personal feelings and opinions relating to the neighborhood. Some of these find expression in the words I choose to use. I will not call the World Trade Center site "Ground Zero". The use of that term (originally coined to refer to the site of the direct impact of the Hiroshima atomic bomb) to refer to the World Trade Center site was an understandable product of journalists looking for words to describe the massive, smoking ruins of the towers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. Destruction like that had never before been seen in an American city, and conventional terminology failed to express either its dimensions or its emotional impact. Almost nine years later, the site is finally being redeveloped -- as it should have been years ago. It is no longer "Ground Zero" except for those who would freeze time and maintain the level of fear, anger and hurt that existed in the aftermath of the attack. That is not a place I choose to stay. It's no longer "Ground Zero", it's the World Trade Center site; and when the buildings are completed, it will be the World Trade Center. And it goes without saying that everyone should be welcome there regardless of their religion.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mel Gibson's priest opposes "Holocaust myth", alleges Jews undermine Catholic Church

Over the years, the question of whether Mel Gibson is a bigot has been raised in several contexts. First, when he made his film version of the Passion Play, he and his defenders portrayed this as merely the act of a devout Catholic, not an act of anti-Semitism.  Next, when he spewed anti-Semitic statements ("the Jews are responsible for starting every war") at a Jewish police officer who was arresting him for drunk driving, his defenders claimed that he was so drunk that he didn't know what he was saying. Now, with the publication of extensive audio apparently of Gibson using abusive, misogynist and racist language, threatening his girlfriend with death and defending his having punched her in the face as being justified, those prior defenses are wearing pretty thin. (Of all these offenses, his alleged punching of his girlfriend is by far the worst, so I am reluctant to list it in the same category as the others. A violent attack on a woman holding a child is a crime of a much high order than hate speech.)

With respect to his views concerning Jews, I have doubted Gibson's good intentions from the time of his Passion of the Christ, first because of the Jewish-Christian conflict its release and publicity campaign deliberately set up, second, because of the contents of the film, and third, because I know a bit about the traditionalist Catholic movement.  That movement, in spite of its name, does not advocate a return to a familiar Catholicism (at least to those old enough) of Latin masses and fish dinner on Friday.  In fact, it is a cult-like reactionary group which opposes the Vatican, promotes bizarre conspiracy theories and has ties to extremist, sometimes violent, political movements.

One important clue as to Mel Gibson's world view in general and his feelings about Jews in particular is provided by who he chose to serve as the priest of the traditionalist church he had built in Agoura Hills, near his home in Malibu.  (That church, which is private and not associated in any way with the Roman Catholic archdiocese or any other recognized Catholic denomination, has been funded extravagantly by Gibson , reportedly to the tune of $64 million dollars [read here and here.]  Gibson is solely in charge of what takes place within it.).  Gibson chose a priest named Louis Campbell (read here), an activist within the far-right traditionalist movement who had previously served as priest at Hutton Gibson's church in Stafford, Texas.  Father Campbell advocates extreme anti-Jewish and anti-modernist views, as evidenced by his "Sunday Sermons", which are published on a traditionalist website called DailyCatholic.org.  These sermons are presumably of the same sort as the ones he gave at Mel Gibson's church.

In one outrageous sermon (read here), Campbell goes so far as to state his opinion that the Holocaust is a myth promoted by Zionists and an absurd list of "prominent Jews", designed to undermine the church, negate the message of Christ and absolve the Jewish people for deicide.  ("Zionist interests have flooded the world with the concept that the real holocaust took place in the 1940's.")  Campbell contends that the antidote for this myth was provided by Mel Gibson:

   "The Holocaust myth is now being challenged mightily by the movie 'The Passion of the Christ.' The Jews (and we do not speak of all Jews, but of many influential Jews such as Abe Foxman and the ADL, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach and Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Museum, and those who have control of the media) had almost succeeded in blotting out the name of Jesus from the consciousness of the people. The public had been carefully programmed through a relentless round of movies, documentaries and books, so as to have the guilt of the Holocaust constantly in mind. 'Schindler's List' and the abominable book "Hitler's Pope" in so demeaning and desecrating Pius XII's good name, are perfect examples of this. They had turned the tables on us. Rather than the Jews being reputedly responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, we now had Christians, especially the Roman Catholic Church, bearing the guilt for the Holocaust.
    "But with one fell swoop, this marvelous movie struck a nearly fatal blow to their carefully executed plan of convincing the world that the Holocaust is the pivotal event, the defining moment in human history, thus displacing the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ from that exalted position. This is the real explanation for their rage against Christ, and against this movie. They are afraid that Christians will begin to realize once again that the true Holocaust, the one perfect and acceptable sacrifice to God our Father, took place two thousand years ago on Calvary's hill, when Jesus Christ shed His Precious Blood for the sins of the world. All human beings, whether Jews or Gentiles, of every place and of every time, must go to the foot of the Cross of Jesus and acknowledge Him as the Messiah, if they are to be saved.
    "The Holocaust myth and the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary are unalterably opposed to one another. If the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is the one perfect Sacrifice acceptable to God, the true Holocaust, and the one defining moment in human history, the Jewish Holocaust cannot be the unique event they claim it to be. It was a terrible atrocity, a great human tragedy, but not a perfect sacrifice offered to God; it was not redemptive; it cannot save anyone; it was not a holocaust, certainly not The Holocaust.
    "But even the Vatican II church cooperates, resulting in its own demolition. John Paul II has apologized to the Jews for the sins of Christians against them, and has absolved them from the necessity of believing in Jesus Christ. Much was made of his "historic" trip to Jerusalem where his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum was celebrated by the media. 'The awful truth is this--that John Paul II and the New Vatican accept the myth of the Holocaust, thus denying the uniqueness and efficacy of the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, and of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.'"

In this sermon, Campbell cites a column on the Lew Rockwell website written by Christopher Manion (read here) as the source of his thinking on this subject.  (Manion is a paleo-conservative blogger associated with a group called Catholics for Ron Paul.  Read here.)  After reading both, I see why he cites Manion.  Campbell was essentially restating Manion's idea of comparing the Holocaust to Christ's death in terms more suited to a fire and brimstone sermon than an opinion column, and taking Manion's idea of Jews denying "Christ's Holocaust" to a higher level of hate.  Here's Manion, purportedly warning Jews not to do what Campbell, after reading this, accuses them of doing:

"(E)very Jew who does not proclaim Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior is denying the Christian view of the Holocaust – in other words, Jews might fear that Christians view them with the same virulent scorn that many Jews heap on "Holocaust Deniers" like Gibson’s father.  
"Hence, when Gibson, the son of a modern Holocaust denier, makes a film about the perfect Holocaust of Christ’s Passion and death, contemporary observers – and not only Jews – might be tempted to consider "The Passion of the Christ" a blasphemous affront to the modern Holocaust and an insult to the suffering and death of six million Jews under Hitler.
"If Jews think we Christians hate them for not loving Jesus, no wonder they’re upset! That would mean that we want to punish them as the perpetrators of the perfect Holocaust – Christ’s Passion and death on the cross."

So Campbell, after reading that, actually does call Jews Holocaust deniers for their disbelief in Christ's "Holocaust", then complains that Jews are using the "myth" of the Nazi Holocaust to negate their collective guilt for killing Christ.  Campbell uses this rationale as a way to praise Gibson's Passion as an effective counter to this Jewish conspiracy.  He then goes on to somehow connect this bizarre conspiracy theory to the promotion of both Communism and abortion:

Why is the death of the Jews a uniquely horrible event, an unspeakable atrocity beyond all others throughout human history? Why will they not allow the term "holocaust" to be applied to the deaths of millions of innocent children who die in their mothers' wombs as victims of abortion? Why do we not see museums dedicated to the Ukrainians, or to the tens of millions of Christians and others who died in the Soviet Union?

Even when attempting to strike a moderate, compassionate tone with respect to Holocaust victims, Campbell can't help but add a disquieting note of uncertainty as to the actual historicity of their fate:

If six million Jews died in the death camps under the Nazis we must have compassion for them.

If Campbell doesn't know that the Holocaust occurred, I must conclude that he doesn't want to know.

Reading some of his other "Sunday sermons" on the Daily Catholic website, one finds Campbell promoting bizarre conspiracy theories alleging Jewish interference in the Catholic Church. In one, he actually claims that Cardinal Augustin Bea, who was one of the church leaders responsible for liberalizing church teachings at Vatican II, was secretly a Jew himself. (Read here.)  Campbell absurdly cites (via another source) an obscure Egyptian newspaper called Al Gomhuria which made this claim and alleged that Bea's true family name was "Behar".

Another of Campbell's sermons lashes out against the very idea of religious freedom, one of the fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution, implying that the nefarious unseen hand of the Masons is behind its promotion, and that it intrinsically opposed to Christianity (read here):

"Religious freedom as a fundamental human right - it sounds like something from the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the French Revolution, something you would expect from the U.N., and not from the Vatican. Actually it is a Masonic doctrine, which has overtaken the true Catholic doctrine on religious freedom. But it is one of the most important pillars of the pontificate of our putative pope, John Paul II, without which his ambitious ecumenical and inter-faith program would collapse."

In his sermons, Campbell repeatedly promotes an ardent anti-Zionism rooted in an opposition to the existence of Israel in particular, and to Jewish power in general.  He considers both to be part of an anti-Christian holy war.  Even while using sometimes violent imagery, he connects his anti-Zionism to his purported desire for peace, which he differentiates from  John Paul II's peace activism:
(A)lthough he never fails to promote his famous "civilization of peace and love," John Paul II supports the false claims of Jewish Zionism, thus contributing to the cause of war in the Middle East. For if, as the Church has always taught, the Scriptures say that the promises were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His Church, how can it be said at the same time that God promised Jerusalem to the Jews? To affirm one interpretation is to deny the other. To support the false claims of the Jewish Zionists is to deny the Church its inheritance and to scandalize the little ones-faithful Catholics.

He follows this odd plea for peace with a prayer to bring on Armegeddon and punish Zionists and their supporters, who he depicts as defying God's will:

Yes, God has something to say to presidents, prime ministers and potentates who ignore His laws and have an exaggerated sense of their own power and importance:

"And now, O kings, give heed; take warning, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before Him; with trembling pay homage to Him, lest He be angry and you perish from the way, when His anger blazes suddenly. Happy are all who take refuge in Him!" (Ps.2:10-12).

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle!

Campbell's peace activism seems to have its limits. In a sermon he gave on Passion Sunday, 2004, Campbell predicted a holy war in which Jews would be violently punished for rejecting Christianity:

"Israel's ultimate act of defiance against God was its rejection of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, which broke their Covenant with God and merited for them the seven-fold covenant curses. Jesus Himself foretold this when He thundered woes against the Scribes and the Pharisees, declaring that upon them would come "all the just blood that has been shed on the earth" and that "all these things will come upon this generation" (Mt.23:33-36).

"The Apocalypse of St. John, the last book of the Bible, gives us an account of the struggle between those who hold to the Old Covenant, symbolized by the harlot dressed in purple and scarlet, riding upon the scarlet beast, and the holy and immaculate Bride of Christ, the Church of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant fails as the covenant curses described in Leviticus fall upon unfaithful Israel, initiated by the opening of seven seals by the Lamb, the sounding of seven trumpets by the angels, the roar of seven thunders (although St. John is commanded not to write what they spoke), and the pouring out of seven bowls of wrath upon the earth by the angels. Jerusalem, called Babylon in the Apocalypse, is utterly destroyed. St. John echoes the words of Jesus: "And in her was found blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain upon the earth:" (Apoc.18:24)."

Campbell connects this prophecy to the post-Vatican II Catholic church, alleging that it is largely illegitimate because of its acceptance of the legitimacy of Judaism:

"(B)ecause of widespread infidelity and apostasy within the Church, the bowls of God's wrath are already being poured out anew upon the earth, in particular because the Modernists who have taken over the Vatican have nullified God's judgments by recognizing the apostate Jews as "the people of the covenant," and "our elder brothers in the faith." They tell them that there are two valid Covenants, theirs and the Christian Covenant. Thus they deny Jesus Christ and make Him out to be a liar..."

While couched in the language of biblical texts and traditional Catholic teachings, Campbell's views, and those of the Gibsons and many other traditionalists, are actually a thing apart from what most would think of as traditional Catholicism. The traditionalist movement, which is entirely a reaction to external threats which they believe to have infiltrated the church to destroy it from within, devotes itself to a very great extent to promoting conspiracy theories about this perceived attack. Thus, in the name of promoting traditional Catholicism, traditionalist Catholics instead promote a sort of cult designed to counter Jewish and Masonic conspiracies, crypto-Jewish cardinals and secretly Communist popes. To call that "traditional" is a stretch. The stuff that the Gibsons believe is not a return to an earlier form of Catholicism, but a descent into pseudo-religious paranoia.

In a sermon called "The New Judaizers", Campbell writes (read here):
"The Modernists at the Vatican have denied their heritage as the true heirs of Abraham by pretending that Catholics have some kind of spiritual relationship with the Jews and the Muslims because we are all 'children of Abraham.' This is deceitful and scandalous, confusing Catholics, and leading the conciliar church deeper into the darkness 'where there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth' (Mt.8:12). "

The Gibsons and their brand of traditionalism pray for the destruction of the modern Catholic Church with its acceptance of Jews and rejection of Jewish collective guilt. They not only pray for the "perfidious Jews" to be converted, they also pray for those who refuse conversion to be destroyed among other agents of the Antichrist.  They glorify the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition, and await something comparable, only much much larger, to finish the job.

That these horrible, hateful views have the seal of approval of his father, his priest and his faith must play a role in Mel Gibson's belief that his expressions of hate are acceptable.


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