Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TSA follies

The TSA has acknowledged that, in separate incidents, their agents strip-searched two elderly women without cause, and let a carry-on bag with a gun inside get on board a plane.

In the former incident, the traumatized women (both of whom are in their late 80s) complained to TSA authorities who initially defended the searches of the elderly women as appropriate, in spite of the fact that TSA agents had no reason to suspect the women of being a threat. One of the women fell and suffered physically injuries when she was deprived of her wheelchair in the process of the search.

In the latter incident, a passenger inadvertently left a handgun in her bag. TSA agents scanned it, then let the passenger board the plane, which was allowed to taxi away from the gate. A TSA agent happened to notice the gun when he looked at a scanner screen which was still displaying the image of the bag. Airport authorities then had the plane return to the gate where the gun was secured. The TSA refused to state (for purported security reasons) whether the gun was loaded.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New York Friends Seminary school hosts concert featuring Holocaust denier Gilad Atzmon

According to an editorial by Alan Dershowitz in the New York Daily News (read here: Gilad Atzmon, vile anti-Semite, makes new Friends), Holocaust denying sax player Gilad Atzmon gave a concert last night at New York's Friends Meeting House. Atzmon was reportedly invited to play there by the Friends Seminary, a K-12 private school affiliated with the Quakers. [I have thus far been unable to find any other news reports on this. If readers know of any, please forward them to me here at]

According to the school's mission statement posted on their website:

We want to foster a community that addresses the challenge of valuing difference and making every individual feel welcome, supported, and safe: a community in which each person is asked to make the rigorous commitment to recognize the Light within every other, to hear that piece of truth each person brings to the continuing dialogue which is the foundation of our community. We want our daily interactions to demonstrate that maintaining respect and pursuing the hard work of understanding difference creates strength as we work to define and move toward common goals.

The school should clarify how hosting a bigot like Gilad Atzmon could possibly "foster a community" which "value(s) difference" and "make(s) every indvidual feel welcome, supported and safe".

UPDATE: (Jan. 13, 2011 11:00 AM)

Atzmon has confirmed in a blog post that he did perform at the Friends Seminary concert last night. He writes that he was invited to perform at the concert a year ago. Based on the fact that the concert was held in comemeration of Martin Luther King Day, Atzmon counters Alan Dershowitz' editorial as follows:

(O)ne particular Zionist ethnic-cleansing advocate, seemed a little less than happy. Just hours before the event, the infamous Alan Dershowitz decided to destroy the party. In shame and desperation he attempted to pressure the organizers to cancel this concert. Perhaps the Hasbara mouthpiece truly believed that destroying a Martin Luther King Memorial was good for Israel and/or the Jews.
It might be argued that preventing a bigot from participating in an event in honor of Martin Luther King is the opposite of trying to destroy the event.

UPDATE: (Jan. 14, 2012 9:00 AM)

I have been able to find (via Facebook) a poster for the concert on which Atzmon's name does not appear. It's possible that he was invited to participate by the event's musical coordinator as a member of an ensemble, but did not play as a solo act. It also seems possible that the school's administration had no awareness of his history or even his participation.

I've put in a call to Friends Seminary to give them an opportunity to comment. If they choose to do so, I will add their comment to this post.

UPDATE: (Jan. 15, 2012 10:00 PM)

The principal of Friends Seminary has issued a statement indicating that the school's administrators were unaware of Gilad Atzmon's political beliefs in general or his bigotry in particular prior to Alan Dershowitz' column in the Daily News. He also writes that Atzmon a) was invited to perform by the musical director of the event on the basis of his musical ability and not his politics, and b) Atzmon did not distribute offensive political literature to students at the school.

He writes:

In his op-ed, Dershowitz refers to a visit by Atzmon to classrooms and the distribution of an essay from his website to students. We have confirmed that Atzmon visited one class, a jazz ensemble class, where, according to the instructor, he spoke about listening and ear training and not politics. I want to emphasize that at no point did Atzmon engage our students in the questions or scenarios detailed in the Dershowitz op-ed.

Friends Seminary does not endorse anti-Semitism nor Gilad Atzmon's political beliefs . . . Please be assured that the School will not tolerate expressions of anti-Semitism, bigotry, or hateful speech of any type. 

While the facts about Atzmon's being invited to perform and lecture at the school are still not entirely clear, I do find the school's disavowal of Atzmon's hate-speech to be a positive development and very much in the spirit of the man whose spirit the concert was intended to remember.

NOTE: I apologize for the editorial problems with this post. Editing it on the fly, I made two cut and paste errors which inadvertently put the deliberately offensive words of Gilad Atzmon outside quotes, making them seem to be mine. I apologize to anyone who was offended and thank the readers who informed me of the problem.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ron Paul campaign website advertises Protocols of Elders of Zion

In recent weeks, questions have been raised about how Ron Paul came to publish newsletters containing deeply offensive racist, anti-Semitic and conspiricist material.  Ron Paul has repeatedly stated that they were something from his distant past. However, it has come to light that the Campaign for Liberty, an internet forum associated with the Ron Paul campaign, has for the past four years advertised an edition of the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  (Read here: Campaign For Liberty — Free American interviews An Avowed Zionist)

The Campaign for Liberty website originated during Ron Paul's run in the 2008 presidential election and was maintained by his supporters as an organizing tool after he dropped out of that race. The administrative staff of the Campaign for Liberty forum includes six people who are currently working in key positions for the Ron Paul campaign, among them his campaign manger Jesse Benton. (Read here.)

The advertisement was posted by a Campaign for Liberty blogger named Clayton Douglas. Douglas has a long history of publishing literature and podcasts advocating on behalf of the white supremacist, militia and sovereign citizen movements. (Read here.)   Bloggers are required to apply for blogging privileges at the Campaign for Liberty website and post there at the discretion of the forum's administrators.

The advertisement for Douglas' edition of the Protocols (which he sells for $25) has been posted at the Campaign for Liberty since 2008.

Hamas leader greeted in Tunisia by crowd chanting "Kill the Jews!"

Ismail Haniyeh was greeted at Tunis-Carthage Airport yesterday by several hundred supporters chanting, among other things, "Kill the Jews!"

(Hat-tip: Point of no return.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A note to readers

This blog has been largely inactive for several weeks. Readers might reasonably wonder if this will remain the case indefinitely. Frankly, I've been wondering the same thing myself.

Oddly, as I've been blogging less, one of the stories which initially motivated my blogging has been getting more public attention than ever before: Ron Paul's promotion of racism and conspiracy theories. In fact, while this blog has largely remained dormant, it has had an increase in traffic from readers interested in this subject. Some were referred here by a piece in the Atlantic about an incident in Ron Paul's 1996 run for Congress against a Democratic candidate named Lefty Morris. (The Atlantic linked to my 2007 post on the subject.) In 1996, Morris announced a press conference at which he intended to reveal the racist contents of Ron Paul's newsletters -- the racist contents Ron Paul now claims he didn't know about back in the 1990s. The Paul campaign sent a staffer named Eric Dondero to disrupt that press conference and he did so quite successfully. How'd he do it? He went to the press conference wearing a yarmulke (which he refers to as "that beanie thing") and stood up to declare that he was a Jew and worked for Ron Paul, and that he knew Ron Paul not to be a bigot. Somehow, that was enough to distract the attention of the local press from further inquiry into Ron Paul's newsletters.

Much more remains unrevealed about the promotion of bigotry and conspiracy theories by those surrounding Ron Paul. I hope to write about that in upcoming days. You can look forward shortly to reading about how a Ron Paul campaign website maintained by his top campaign staff has for several years advertised for sale an edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Also in the works is a piece about the participation of U.N. Special Rapporteur for Gaza Richard Falk in a sham "tribunal" concerning U.S. and U.K. war crimes. The tribunal was judged by a former attorney whose belief that humans live on Mars (yes -- you read that correctly) calls into question not only his sanity, but the sanity of the entire proceeding.

I will also ask how the long-time editor of a mainstream religious magazine called Christian Century came to write for and defend two websites which publish Holocaust denial and pro-Nazi propaganda.

In other words, it will be pretty much business as usual here.


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