By inviting Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins has polarized the Catholic community nationwide — and raised a question. What does it mean to be a Catholic university in post-Christian America?
Are there truths about faith and morality that are closed to debate at Notre Dame? Or is Notre Dame like London’s Hyde Park, where all ideas and all advocates get a hearing?
To Catholics, abortion is the killing of an unborn child, a premeditated breach of God’s Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” The case is closed for all time. Any who participate in an abortion are excommunicated. Catholic politicians from Nancy Pelosi to Joe Biden who support a “woman’s right to choose” have been denounced from pulpits and denied Communion.
Obama, however, is the most pro-abortion president ever. On his third day in office, by executive order, he repealed the Bush prohibition against using tax dollars to fund agencies abroad that perform abortions.
He supports partial-birth abortion, where a baby’s soft skull is sliced open with scissors in the birth canal and its brains sucked out to ease its passage, a procedure Sen. Pat Moynihan said “comes as close to infanticide as anything I have seen in our judiciary.”
In the Illinois legislature, Obama helped block the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, a bill to save the lives of infant survivors of abortion. He voted to allow doctors and nurses to let these tiny babies die of neglect and be tossed out with the medical waste.
Barack is committed to signing the Freedom of Choice Act, which would repeal every federal and state restriction on abortion. He has smoothed the path for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
Notre Dame, a university that teaches that all innocent human life is sacred, will thus honor a leader determined to ensure that a woman’s right to destroy her unborn child in the womb remains unrestricted.
There is thus a direct clash between what Notre Dame professes to stand for and what Notre Dame is doing.
Says Ralph McInerny, a philosophy professor since 1955: “By inviting Barack Obama to be the 2009 commencement speaker, Notre Dame has forfeited its right to call itself a Catholic University. … (T)his is a deliberate thumbing of the collective nose at the Roman Catholic Church to which Notre Dame purports to be faithful.
“Faithful? Tell it to Julian the Apostate.”
McInerny calls Father Jenkins’ invitation to Obama worse than the “usual effort of the university to get into warm contact with the power figures of the day. It is an unequivocal abandonment of any pretense at being a Catholic university.”
An honorary degree, writes Catholic author George Weigel, is a statement that here is a man we should admire and emulate. But how can a Catholic university say that about a man who means to appoint Supreme Court justices who will keep constitutional and legal the systematic slaughter of the unborn that has taken 50 million lives in 35 years?
Can Father Jenkins not see the contradiction here that renders Notre Dame a morally incoherent institution?
Diocesan Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend has told Father Jenkins he will not be attending commencement because of Obama’s support of embryonic stem cell research.
Said the bishop, “While claiming to separate policies from science, (Obama) has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.”
Pope Benedict has yet to be heard from. But on his visit to the United States, he declared that any appeal to academic freedom “to justify positions that contradict the faith and teaching of the church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.”
Does not honoring the most visible pro-abortion advocate in America “betray the identity and mission” of Notre Dame?
Father Jenkins says the invitation “should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life.”
But what Notre Dame is saying with this invitation is that Obama’s 100 percent support for policies and programs that bring death to more than a million unborn children every year is no disqualification to being honored by a university dedicated to Our Lady who carried to term the Son of God.
Chris Carrington, a political science major, regards the opposition to Obama’s appearance as un-Catholic: “To not allow someone here because of their beliefs would seem a little hypocritical and contradictory to what the mission of the university and church should be.”
The obtuse Carrington has stumbled on the relevant question: Is Notre Dame still a repository, teacher and exemplar of eternal truths about God and Man, right and wrong, whose mission is to convey and defend those truths in a hostile world?
Or has Notre Dame joined the secularists in their endless scavenger hunt to seek and find truth in the marketplace of ideas?
American special forces in Afghanistan have been used by a drug clan in a mission to execute a heroin underworld rival, it has been claimed.
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine claimed the Americans were promised they would find a “high ranking” al-Qaeda official in a raid that left five people dead.
“But the Americans were set up: the tip-off as to his location came from a drug clan who wanted to get rid of a rival,” said the magazine.
High ranking German commanders in Afghanistan are understood to have alerted the magazine to the botched mission, however there has been no confirmation from the American army.
According to Der Spiegel, the raid took place on March 21 in Kunduz province where German forces are helping with security and reconstruction.
A US liaison officer allegedly asked the German reconstruction team to keep the Kunduz airport clear but said nothing about the impending mission.
“Around half an hour later, a Hercules transport aircraft landed at the airfield, together with a whole fleet of combat and transport helicopters, which then took off for the nearby town of Imam Sahib,” the magazine claimed.
“There, the Americans stormed a guesthouse belonging to the local mayor, who had previously been friendly towards German forces, killing his driver, cook and bodyguard, as well as two of his guests.
“The US commandos also seized four people .. According to the US military, one of those captured was the target of the operation, a “high-ranking” member of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda.
“However, sources in the intelligence community have told Spiegel that the US forces were apparently used by a drug clan to take out one of its rivals, who was reportedly one of the men killed or detained. The tip-off regarding the location of the al-Qaeda terrorist had come from a source close to a member of the Afghan government in Kabul who is reputed to be deeply involved with the illegal drugs trade in Afghanistan.”
If there is anything that should make Americans’ blood run cold about immigration, it is the sight of Europe—and Britain, the home of Western civilization—being buried by millions of Muslim colonists. Europe is just hoping against hope that Islam isn’t going to explode into massive rioting (or worse), or impose total cultural Islamification.
Some Europeans already accept the coming Eurabia. One Dutchman, mourning the future loss of Europe was quoted by Paul Belien as saying, “I am not a warrior, but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.”
Well, that’s honest. But how about less self-pity and more directed anger? Many Americans I know in the patriotic immigration reform movement had a come-to-Jesus moment of awakening from passivity, turning to resolve to save the country.
Other causes of the continent’s tragic downfall are rooted in recent history. They include business’ desire for cheap labor (so familiar!), a trendy belief in secular multiculturalism as a replacement for Christianity and apparent ignorance of Islam’s long-standing enmity toward Europe.
Europe’s swirl down the toilet bowl is little reported in this country largely because the Main Stream Media is not interested in showing it. The top media elites are still stuck on multiculturalism. But the European experience shows what a bogus ideology that is.
“But nothing prepared France for what happened to a 17-year-old French Muslim girl named Sohane Benziane. Her case really woke up the country to the nightmare that has been festering so long in these projects.
“Sohane was burned alive in the basement of an apartment complex by a gang leader who had told her that he didn’t want to see her on his turf. After her murder, her sister, Kahina, dedicated a memorial at the site of her killing.”
Though emotionally searing, the Sixty Minutes piece contained no mention that France’s Muslim population is expanding rapidly. The number of Muslims residing in Western Europe in 1900 is estimated at around 50,000 . Now France alone is home to somewhere between four and eight million followers of Islam.
“Although there are no official statistics on how many Muslims live in Brussels, it is believed they make up about 25 percent of the city’s 1 million urban residents. [Filip] Dewinter, who opposes immigration and has called Islamophobia a “duty,” claims three of the 19 sections of Brussels, each with its own mayor, now have Muslim majorities.
“‘In those neighborhoods it’s not our government that’s in power,’ he said, ‘but the Muslim authorities — the mosques, the imams — who are in charge.’
“FOX News visited one of those neighborhoods, called Molenbeek, which looks more like North Africa than the heart of Europe…
“Yet Molenbeek remains disconcerting. Belgian police assigned three plainclothes officers to watch over a FOX News team shooting street scenes one morning in Molenbeek. When FOX News returned in the afternoon as more people were out and about, the police said it would be safer not to get out of the car. It wasn’t even dark yet.”
Notice this level of danger exists in Brussels—the supposed capital of the Europe Union.
Had Murrow lived during our own time rather than WWII, he may well have tried to alert 21st century Americans to the present danger from totalitarian Islam on the march. But there is no modern Murrow to warn the people, because the MSM no longer does its job to inform about the pressing issues.
In the eye of the slow-moving storm, resistance to the invader is not particularly strong. Denmark has stiffened its entry requirements to keep out the unfriendlies, but it is the exception and not the rule. Italy’s education minister has suggested that a limit of 30 percent foreign students be the limit per classroom, so that the immigrants assimilate to the national culture rather than the other way around. Naturally, the economic downturn has made the majority of Europeans want the excess immigrants to go home, but many governments prefer not to upset Muslims, who are famously sensitive about the most minor slight.
Many Muslims are happy to remain on the dole anyway. One example is generous Sweden, where the primarily immigrant Rosengaard neighborhood of Malmo has an unemployment rate of 70 percent. (Plus, the area is so violent that fire trucks need police escorts, and the number of rapes has tripled in 20 years.)
Americans often have a low opinion of Europeans, particularly the French (once described on The Simpsons as cheese-eating surrender monkeys, a rip that has stuck). But we hate to see Britain turn into a quivering bowl of sharia jello out of respect for our shared Anglophone culture.
Who could have imagined that the countrymen of Winston Churchill would meekly acquiesce to recognizing and rewarding polygamy? Multi-wifed Muslim families even receive extra welfare benefits for the various harem members and kiddies—though bigamy is still illegal.
There was an uproar last year when Archbishop Rowan Williams suggested that Islamic sharia should be accepted as part of British law.
The Archbishop remains ensconced in Lambeth Palace, despite demands for his resignation during the sharia kerfuffle. In fact, weathering the crisis appears to have made him bolder.
“On the anniversary of the interview in which Dr Rowan Williams said it ‘seems inevitable’ that some parts of sharia would be enshrined in this country’s legal code, he claimed ‘a number of fairly senior people’ now take the same view.
“He added that there is a ‘drift of understanding’ towards what he was saying, and that the public sees the difference between letting Muslim courts decide divorces and wills, and allowing them to rule on criminal cases and impose harsh punishments.”
And whatever happened to the proud tradition of the Magna Carta? Is nothing worth defending? How shameful to surrender founding legal principles of centuries’ duration so thoughtlessly to the Islamic interlopers.
Britain is fascinating to observe because it is far advanced along the immigration road to hell, especially given its powerful multicultural nanny state.
Plus, the extra helping of Muslims makes British cultural survival all the more challenging. The UK shows exactly what not to do in public policy—a combination of poorly chosen immigrants, the false ideology of multiculturalism and disempowerment (both physically and psychologically) by disarming the populace.
Sadly there seems to be little organized opposition among the traditional folk against their new alien overlords. However, there are uprisings of appropriate anger on rare occasions. One such was the outrage of Luton residents toward Muslims insulting British soldiers returning from serving in Iraq. Local people of all ages simply wouldn’t allow Muslims to abuse the troops and proceeded to chase off the obnoxious hecklers. [Watch.] It was brief demonstration that normal patriotism (and therefore hope) has not been completely repressed by the liberal thought police in Britain.
But from this side of the pond, the UK looks like toast. In 30 years, London will likely be a sand-free version of Riyadh, with wall-to-wall burqas, and Saudi-style morality police in place of bobbies.
Yet even with Europe’s Technicolor demonstration that Muslim immigration equals cultural suicide, American elites and the press still cling to the dangerous fable that we are somehow immune from those troubles because America does assimilation better than Europeans.
But because of what Enoch Powell called“obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature” when grappling with slow-moving threats, we snooze on, despite the throbbing neon message of doom.
Muslim immigration to America is growing, but the overall number is still small as a proportion of population. But it’s never too early to quit the habit. Clever analysts have noticed that when the percentage of Muslims in a non-Muslim culture reaches around 10 per cent, bad things happen.
America—let’s not go there!
We are just as vulnerable to the actions of hostile Muslim immigrants as our fellow English-speakers across the Atlantic. But we still have the blessing of time. We could come to regret ignoring Europe’s experience by allowing numbers of Islamists here to reach critical mass. Even a handful of determined jihadists can kill thousands, as we learned on 9/11.
We must realize as a nation that there’s no right to immigrate—and we are foolish to welcome possible enemies.
A spy network believed to have been controlled from China has hacked into classified documents on government and private computers in 103 countries, according to internet researchers. The spy system, dubbed GhostNet, is alleged to have compromised 1,295 machines at Nato and foreign ministries, embassies, banks and news organisations across the world, as well as computers used by the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exiles.
The work of Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) investigators focused initially on allegations of Chinese cyber-espionage against the Tibetan exile community, but led to a much wider network of compromised machines. IWM said that, while China appeared to be the main source of the network, it had not been able conclusively to identify the hackers. The IWM is composed of researchers from an Ottawa-based think-tank, SecDev Group, and the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto.
They found that the foreign ministries of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan had been spied on remotely, and the embassies of India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan hacked.
The operation is thought to be the most extensive yet uncovered in the political world and is estimated to be invading more than a dozen new computers a week. Other infected computers were found at the accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche in New York.
The IWM report said: “GhostNet represents a network of compromised computers in high-value political, economic and media locations in numerous countries worldwide. These organisations are almost certainly oblivious to the compromised situation in which they find themselves. The computers of diplomats, military attachés, private assistants, secretaries to prime ministers, journalists and others are under the concealed control of unknown assailant(s).
“In Dharamsala [the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile] and elsewhere, we have witnessed machines being profiled and sensitive documents being removed. Almost certainly, documents are being removed without the targets’ knowledge, key-strokes logged, web cameras are being silently triggered and audio inputs surreptitiously activated.”
Chinese hackers are thought to have targeted Western networks repeatedly. Computers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Whitehall departments were attacked from China in 2007. In the same year, Jonathan Evans, the MI5 Director-General, alerted 300 British businesses that they were under Chinese cyber-attack.
British intelligence chiefs have warned recently that China may have gained the capability effectively to shut down Britain by crippling its telecoms and utilities. Equipment installed by Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, in BT’s new communications network could be used to halt critical services such as power, food and water supplies, they said.
The Chinese Embassy in London said that there was no evidence to back up the claim that the Chinese Government was behind GhostNet and alleged that the report had been “commissioned by the Tibetan government in exile”.
Liu Weimin, a spokesman, said: “I will not be surprised if this report is just another case of their recent media and propaganda campaign. In China, it is against the law to hack into the computers of others, and we are victims of such cyber-attack. It is a global challenge that requires global cooperation. China is an active participant in such cooperation in the world.”
Once the hackers had infiltrated the systems, they gained control using malware – software installed on the compromised computers – and sent and received data from them, the researchers said. “The GhostNet system directs infected computers to download a Trojan known as Ghost Rat that allows attackers to gain complete, real-time control,” IWM said. “These instances of Ghost Rat are consistently controlled from commercial internet access accounts located on the island of Hainan, in the People’s Republic of China.”
Hainan is home to the Lingshui signals intelligence facility and the Third Technical Department of the People’s Liberation Army, IWM said.
Greg Walton, editor of IWM, said: “Regardless of who or what is ultimately in control of GhostNet, it is the capabilities of exploitation, and the strategic intelligence that can be harvested from it, which matters most. Indeed, although the Achilles’ heel of the GhostNet system allowed us to monitor and document its far-reaching network of infiltration, we can safely hypothesise that it is neither the first nor the only one of its kind.”
A national scandal emerged in Missouri, after their MIAC Fusion Center issued an eight page document which made many false claims. The documents attempted to politicize police and cast suspicion on millions of Americans. The ‘Missouri Documents’, as they came to be called, listed over 32 characteristics police should watch for as signs or links to domestic terrorists, which could threaten police officers, court officials, and infrastructure targets.
Police were instructed to look for Americans who were concerned about unemployment, taxes, illegal immigration, gangs, border security, abortion, high costs of living, gun restrictions, FEMA, the IRS, The Federal Reserve, and the North American Union/SPP/North American Community. The ‘Missouri Documents’ also said potential domestic terrorists might like gun shows, short wave radios, combat movies, movies with white male heroes, Tom Clancey Novels, and Presidential Candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin!
The Southern Poverty Law Center was cited as a research source for the ‘Missouri Documents’. Furthermore, the attempt of these documents to cast suspicion of violent and life threatening behavior on millions of Americans who are concerned about these issues is consistent with the regularly released political materials of both the SPLC and ADL.
Since the SPLC was listed as a source in the MIAC Missouri Documents, ALIPAC sent a letter of inquiry to the Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on March 20, 2009 asking for more specific sourcing information.
From the ADL on April 2nd, 2008:
Law enforcement officers from across Missouri gathered in the town of Arnold in March 2008 to hear from ADL experts on right-wing extremism.
The Missouri Police Chief’s Charitable Foundation and the Missouri School Resource Officers Association sponsored the training, which included presentations on hate groups, hate symbols, and cyber bullying.
. . .
The success of the training has encouraged organizers to plan more ADL trainings for next year. Approximately 60 officers attended, representing 25 different agencies
1 cup catsup
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
3 tbsp mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 – 1/4 cup RC Cola
1-10 tbsp liquid smoke to taste
(if you want more heat, you can add cayenne and chili powder)
Cut and clean ribs for service–most people want them individually cut.
Place in pot of boiling water for 12-20 minutes–you want them to be cooked in this process, but not so much to where they become rubbery–visual cues are enough to tell. Turn off pot and leave in water.
Light the coals on your grill. A hot fire is essential. Take a small wad of paper towels and apply 3-4 tbspns of olive oil, grasp the dry said of the wad with tongs, and use this to lube the grill. You can do this without tongs by hand, but if you’re not cursing a little, your fire isn’t hot enough.
Back in the kitchen, drain all the water from the pot, pour on the sauce. Back outside, grab each rib and make sure it’s well coated in sauce and lay them out. You’ll need to babysit the grill, but it doesn’t take long (you have a hot grill by now, right?). Work around any flame-ups, and grill each side to preference. Wife likes them re-entry style, whereas I like mine edible.
Author’s note: The following is the text of a talk given in Paris on March 21, at the “Prendre le Moyens de la paix au XXI siecle,” which I believe roughly translates into “Prospects for Peace in the 21st Century,” a conference sponsored by Bernardins College and the Sorbonne.
I am not cheered by the subject of my talk here today, which is the decline and fall of the American empire, first, because I am an American, and, second, because the description of America as an empire fits it all too well. When you remember that the American Revolution was fought against an imperial power, that the U.S. was born in a struggle against an occupying army, and that its victory against the British was an inspiration to anti-imperialist liberals everywhere, it is a shaming thing to have to come here to describe how it ended in tragedy, betrayal, and a short and ugly decline.
That decline was not written in the stars but made inevitable by the actions of individual men (and women!), the men and women who rule us, the elites in government and the corporate world, in the media and the white-collar classes. Their mindset was best summed up by an anonymous top White House official who spoke to journalist Ron Suskind, in answer to objections against the Iraq war and the Bush administration’s policy of preemptive warfare:
“The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ …
“‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”
While undoubtedly pandemic in Washington, this kind of thinking characterized not only the Bush administration, but was and is emblematic of the ruling elites in every Western country. The ancient Greeks had a word for it: hubris, which might be defined as a kind of overweening pride, one that impelled mere mortals to believe they could act like gods. It was considered the worst kind of sin. This mental attitude permeates modern culture, at least in the West, and while its roots are psychological, the first evidence of the crisis is manifest in the economy.
We have heard reference to “the bubble,” and to the alleged “danger” of deflation, as the root of the problem. A radical contraction of economic activity, millions unemployed, corporate giants felled – suddenly, we are told, trillions of dollars have disappeared, overnight, like the mist that rises from the river at dawn. Where did it go? Whose pocket is it in? Or was it never really there in the first place?
For years we have gone into debt and printed money to cover the interest, while the principal goes unpaid. Increasingly a nation that makes nothing but pronouncements and complicated financial instruments too complex to be understood, the costs of empire have been borne by the long-suffering taxpayers while the benefits have been gobbled up by our one and only industry with any prospects for growth, and that is the military-industrial complex.
The United States is essentially an empire that has gone bankrupt. We are like some once very grand family fallen on hard times, who have had their house foreclosed and sit quietly waiting in the parlor, pretending that nothing unusual is happening, while the sheriff is on the way to throw us out on the street. Human beings are creatures of habit: they still continue to act in the old ways long after circumstances have changed. The other day, President Barack Obama announced the next major phase in the “war on terrorism” he inherited from George W. Bush: we’re sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, doubling the number of American troops in that country, and have begun to launch cross-border attacks in Pakistani territory. The war on terrorism is expanding even as the American economy continues to shrink. How will we pay for it?
Anyone who seriously believes that the U.S. will pull back, that it will give up its claim to the job of world policeman – or even reduce its international presence to any significant degree – is dreaming. Indeed, the current financial crisis may very well prove to be an incentive for an increased presence, and specifically an escalation of the so-called “war on terror.”
To begin with, increased government spending is the essential core of our new president’s philosophy: a nation that spent itself into penury is going on a shopping spree in order to “stimulate” the economy. Now there are only so many domestic boondoggles that can be found to absorb all these dollars, short of handing out bags of freshly printed bills to his supporters or throwing it out of an airplane. If we go overseas, however, there are plenty of fresh opportunities to throw money around like there’s no tomorrow: look at that so-called embassy they’re building in Iraq, which is bigger than the Vatican and contains an entire self-contained city, complete with movie theaters, shopping malls, and everything necessary to the happiness of a human being except bordellos. And of course this city masquerading as an “embassy” must be defended, it must not fall victim to America’s enemies – and it will take many thousands of American soldiers to safeguard it. I have news for you: we aren’t leaving Iraq any time soon, in spite of what our president may say.
Take this extravagant approach to “nation-building,” as those social engineers in the Pentagon would put it, and apply it to every theater in our ever expanding “war on terrorism,” which extends throughout the Middle East and cuts a wide swathe through Central Asia. So many bases to build! So many battles to fight! So much cash to bribe the locals with!
In Iraq, that’s precisely what the U.S. military did: they went around with blocks of cash, hundred dollar bills stacked like bricks, and passed it out to their allies. That’s what the so-called “Anbar Awakening” was all about: the Americans simply paid their adversaries to switch sides. That famous “surge” we keep hearing about was due almost entirely to this campaign of systematic bribery.
The hero of the Iraqi “surge,” Gen. David Petraeus, was hailed by the Bush administration as a strategic genius and paraded before Congress as the final authority on all matters military. The Obama administration is following suit, openly adopting his vaunted “counterinsurgency” doctrine as the “smart” way to fight terrorism. They mean to apply his methods in Afghanistan. But this new military doctrine involves more than just good old fashioned bribery with cold cash. It also means that the Americans will embark on an ambitious plan of “nation-building,” which, in the words of one advocate ensconced at the well-connected Center for a New American Security, means building roads, schools, clinics – in short, it means building the physical and social infrastructure of a nation, or, more accurately, a colony.
This monumental effort will unleash a veritable cornucopia of U.S. tax dollars and provide plentiful outlets for American exporters – the real purpose of all foreign aid. It will also absorb lots of idle manpower that would otherwise be committing crimes and causing all sorts of problems on the home front: the ranks of the unemployed will be significantly trimmed if, in the present circumstances, only we can entice our underclass into the military. Let them commit their crimes abroad – then, instead of putting them in jail, we can give them a medal.
The new leaders of the American government are convinced that government spending is the key to economic recovery, and that includes military spending. A longtime complaint we hear in America is that Americans don’t seem to build real products, anymore: heavy machinery, cars, the big stuff. Yet the military sector is doing just fine, even as the rest of the economy wilts. The military-industrial complex is making record profits, and this indicates a growing trend in the international division of labor. If China is the global factory, South and Central America the agricultural hinterlands, and Europe the historical repository of the Western tradition, then America seems fated to become the world’s military arsenal, a natural development of its role as the self-appointed global cop. Like the Romans, the Americans will keep the peace and provide a ready market for consumer goods produced by its colonies, protectorates, and allies, in exchange for pledges of loyalty to the imperial center and tribute passed under the table. The American writer Chalmers Johnson, in his trilogy on the nature and origins of imperialism or interventionism, paints a more detailed and updated picture of how the American version of this system works. Huddling under the American military umbrella, and an arrangement that allows protected colonial industries full access to American markets, our overseas provinces are nominally “independent,” as in Roman times, yet allow the presence of American military bases on their territory. An American empire of bases spans the globe and gives the U.S. military the ability to strike anywhere with a fair amount of speed. The Bush doctrine of preemption wasn’t just empty talk: America, as crippled by spasms of economic pain as she is, retains its status as the hyperpower, in purely military terms. The empire may have reached – and passed – its apogee, but there is no telling how long it will take for the whole massive edifice to come down.
The ruling elite is naturally consumed by a desire to avoid the complete economic collapse of their system, which is founded on fraud and coercion. Their reaction, so far, has been to pursue precisely those policies which led to the crisis in the first place: they have embarked on a spending spree, with the big banks getting the largest share of the loot, and the rest going to bread and circuses for the commoners. This, however, will lead inevitably to hyperinflation such as we saw in Weimar Germany, or as we see today in Zimbabwe. These are extreme examples, but is it necessary to remind you that we are living in extreme times?
In America, we are already seeing the rhetoric of war applied to the economic realm: we are fighting a “war on recession,” our elected leaders tell us, and their media echo chamber repeats the phraseology, as anyone who opposes the “war on recession” and the economic policies of the current administration is deemed unpatriotic. Republican supporters of the Iraq war were constantly invoking a similar mantra during the heyday of the Bush years, when they accused the Democrats of wanting Bush to fail – with the more fanatic neocons labeling all antiwar voices as treasonous. Today a right-wing radio talk-show host is vilified as a traitor for wanting President Obama to fail as he moves to extend the power and reach of government in the economic realm. I can guarantee that this sort of intimidation will shortly make inroads in the international sphere. It will be suddenly discovered, if it hasn’t already, that the real problem is global in scope and can only be solved by international economic regulators with the power of force behind them. The current crisis is bound to produce a crop of cranks and would-be visionaries with endless schemes for a global fix. We’ll hear all kinds of non-threatening phrases like “global governance,” “multilateral integration,” and doubtless other harmless and even benevolent-sounding euphemisms for what amounts to a world government.
This is one way to solve the problem of a tottering U.S. hegemon, and that is to take the multilateral approach. Let the old imperialist powers of Europe team up with their avid American pupils and take on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and so on into the wilds of Central Asia. But how to finance this gigantic projection of imperial restoration and renewal? The answer is a world central bank, as advocated by John Maynard Keynes, the New Deal-era economist who is the inspiration behind the Obama administration’s economic program. This would give the evolving world government a means to finance itself and its operations, including military operations: a world central bank with a single hand on the lever, to inflate at will. Countries with too much of a trade surplus, or a deficit, would be “disciplined” by the central authority.
The neoconservatives also have their own version of “global governance,” but theirs is a markedly more ideological – and militaristic – version, although both American liberals and conservatives have signed on to the proposal made by presidential candidate John McCain that America and its allies should form a “League of Democracies.” Admission to this League would be open to Georgia, a country where it is dangerous to criticize the president, but not Belarus, where it is also dangerous to criticize the president. It would amount to an American version of the Warsaw Pact.
Barring that somewhat grandiose flight of fancy, however, we are left with NATO, Obama’s chosen instrument of multilateral military action. While most of the action is likely to take place, initially, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the entire ring of former Soviet states bordering the battlefield will take on new strategic significance as the central arena in America’s endless war on terrorism shifts eastward.
This means an all-out confrontation with Russia, and the groundwork has already been laid for that. You’ll note that the Obama administration, while critical of their Republican predecessors on the Iraq question, are following in the path of Bush when it comes to the Russian question. It was Vice President Dick Cheney, you’ll recall, who first took out after Vladimir Putin, after the neoconservative guru and “dark prince” Richard Perle demanded that Russia be thrown out of the G-8 for the “crime” of opposing the neocon agenda in the Middle East. Under Bush, a provocative missile shield was begun with American aid in Poland and the Czech Republic. With NATO troops stationed practically at the gates of Moscow, and NATO’s massed armies protected by a missile shield, Putin is staring down a gun barrel. Vice President Joe Biden came to Munich a couple of months ago to let the Russians know that we aren’t dropping our gun, but we may be willing to deal. Yet Putin is unlikely to cooperate in isolating Iran, abandoning Syria, and allowing Georgia to invade its neighbors and kill UN-sanctioned Russian peacekeepers at will. The price of dropping that gun to his head is that he must forget about forging an independent foreign policy in a multi-polar world, because that is what represents a real threat to the imperial restoration project undertaken by the present American administration.
NATO is their chosen instrument, and the history of this alliance underscores a libertarian insight, which is that no government program ever ends, once it’s started – it merely develops a new rationale and a new title. Or sometimes the old title suffices, as in the case of NATO. Here is an institution that was founded in the fear of a Communist invasion, led by the Soviet Union, with Stalin at its head. Yet Stalin, as any student of Marxist history knows, was an advocate of “socialism in one country.” The advocates of a world revolution, led by the Red Army, were followers of the founder of that army, Leon Trotsky. Trotsky, as we know, lost out to Stalin and was exiled and then assassinated by Stalinist agents.
By the way, many of Trotsky’s most influential and prominent followers, in the United States, wound up as the most vehement anti-Communists, even more so than the conservatives, whom they soon joined with to fight the Cold War. They supported the creation of NATO, advocated a policy of what they called “rollback,” and went on to become known as the neoconservatives, the architects of our present troubles, in many respects.
In any case, Stalin’s Russia was no real threat to Europe, simply because the Soviet system was not economically viable. As early as 1920, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises had predicted the inevitable collapse of Soviet socialism, and the intervening 70 years or so, in terms of the history of ideas, is but the blink of an eye. What power our enemies wielded was yielded to them by the West. The Warsaw Pact countries overrun by the Red Army in the wake of World War II were virtually handed over to Stalin by Roosevelt at Yalta, yet the Russians had neither the capacity nor the desire to occupy the rest. They let Yugoslavia out of their grasp, and it wasn’t long before the rest followed. The early uprisings in Poland, Hungary, and elsewhere were premonitions of what was to come.
The implosion of the Communist empire in 1989 ended whatever rationale NATO may once have had, and yet still, like the immortal vampire, the beast lives on! Always alert for fresh rationales for military action, the War Party made an example out of Serbia, asserting its right to bring “order” to the post-Soviet “chaos.” On some pretext or other, which invariably turns out to be either completely made up or greatly exaggerated, the War Party intervenes on an “emergency” basis, as in the case of the alleged genocide in the former Yugoslavia. A crusade is launched, in the name of “humanitarianism,” and off the fighter planes go to bomb some of the oldest cities in Europe, including such targets as television stations and other civilian targets.
This was the first phase of the confrontation with Russia, undertaken by Bill Clinton and bound to be pursued by President Obama. The same crowd that launched a war against a European nation that had never attacked the U.S. or posed a credible threat to our security, is now back in power in Washington, and they have a visceral hatred of Russia that Obama did not bother to hide during the presidential campaign. During the presidential debates, he competed with Hillary Clinton to see who could be more anti-Russian. Now with Hillary at his side as his secretary of state, and an even more pious and self-righteous tone than Bill Clinton could ever muster, the drive to take NATO into the very heart of the former Soviet empire is continuing apace.
Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan are actively seeking NATO membership, and it is only the reluctance of some of the Europeans that prevents each country in Europe, in addition to the U.S., from being embroiled in the endless ethnic disputes roiling a very troubled part of the world. President Obama has expressed support for extending NATO’s tentacles into the Caucasus, and our present policy doesn’t look all that much different than the expansionism of the Bush years.
There can be no doubt that the U.S. has been engaged in a long-term project to encircle the former Soviet Union and make inroads where opportunity presents itself – or can be created. That’s what the so-called color revolutions were all about. Funded and supported politically by U.S. government agencies, and given plenty of cover in the international media, these supposedly “spontaneous” rebellions that installed pro-U.S. governments from in Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere, were and are a direct threat aimed at Moscow, with the ultimate color revolution meant to take place in Russia itself. “Soft power” is a phrase we should expect to hear a lot more of in the age of Obama: it’s much more comforting and pacific-sounding than “regime change” or just plain old “war,” yet it is a war executed sometimes with violence but most often by other means. The U.S. has an entire government agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, which employs “soft power” as an ancillary to our ongoing military efforts throughout the world. Expect this aspect of our interventionist foreign policy to pick up speed in the coming years.
This soft power, however, has its hard counterpart in the growing size and scope of the U.S. military machine. America’s so-called defense budget is currently larger than all the military budgets of all the other nations on earth combined – and still President Obama has said he means to increase it! It is never enough, not if you’re the hyperpower. There is no security at the top of the world. Our uneasiness and fear arises from the very fact of our supremacy – and our certain knowledge that it cannot last forever.
The fear that the end is upon us, that the entire economic structure of the West could come tumbling down, has our ruling elites in a panic. And yet even as the banks fail, people are thrown out of work, and the economic gears stop turning, still the machinery of empire will continue, albeit somewhat less efficiently than before. That’s because our rulers are held captive by their own mindset – they are still living in the heyday of their power and cannot reconcile themselves to the fact that an era is coming to an end. They are determined to hold on to the insignia of power, even if their ramshackle empire is a bit frayed around the edges. They are still living inside the bubble of fake prosperity and breathing air permeated by their own hubris. Like drug addicts who cannot and will not kick their habit, the leaders of the American government, my government, are too far gone to ever change. Their very idea of themselves is imbued with a sense of entitlement and aristocratic noblesse oblige. They feel that they are doing us all a very great favor by consenting to rule over us and determine the fate of entire peoples, indeed of the entire globe.
There are those of us, in America and elsewhere, who would rather they didn’t do us this favor, and would prefer that, instead of favoring us with their schemes to save the world, they would retire to private life and tend to their own gardens, rather than meddling in everybody else’s.
That, however, is not likely to happen, unless these people are forcibly retired, and a movement is growing, in my country and yours, to make this a real possibility. A huge antiwar movement greeted the Bush administration’s war on Iraq, and eventually – give it time – a similar movement will develop and come out into the streets around Obama’s continuation of that same war in Afghanistan and beyond.
I am hopeful about this, and, although no one can predict when and how it will take shape, I have confidence – faith, if you will – in the essential goodness of humanity, which will always come forward, in some form, to oppose cruelty and injustice. However, today I want to concentrate on the counter-movement to this positive trend, in part because its form can easily be foreseen, and also because it poses an immediate threat on account of the crisis of empire, that is, the economic crisis.
Times of economic turmoil always produce demagogues, of the Right and the Left, and some who defy all political categories. Europe has already seen what hyperinflation can do to a nation’s politics: the history of Weimar Germany tells us all we need to know about the horrific possibilities. An impoverished people who have once known prosperity is prey to all sorts of demonic explanations for its plight: there are plenty of scapegoats, hate-objects whose existence is pointed to as the source of our plight. When people feel buffeted about like feathers in the wind, helpless to control their fate, that’s when they turn to leaders, to mass movements, to anything to which they can surrender their individual will and find glory – however phony – in something greater than themselves. This is invariably the state, the race, or some other collective construction, such as the proletariat, or the common people – choose your poison. In any case, these movements are authoritarian, by their very nature, and very often outwardly aggressive. War is the essence of their foreign policy, very often, because it is necessary for the governing party to direct the anger and frustration of the people outward, rather than inward, at themselves.
Extreme nationalism is historically the given a great impetus by economic hard times, and the greater the crisis the more unreasoning and violent the movement becomes. Economic protectionism is always a feature of these eras, and there is another fuse waiting to be lit, because if goods don’t cross borders, then armies soon will. Trading partners don’t make war on each other: the moment trade barriers go up, the prospects for armed conflict rise.
In times of economic stress, the authority and power of the central state tends to expand, and this provides the War Party with the perfect war-making instrument. As Randolph Bourne, the great American liberal opponent of World War I put it: “War is the health of the state.” War provides the framework and mindset that cedes all authority to the state and gives it free reign over the destiny of individuals. A command economy is organized along military lines, and anyone who disobeys orders – or, worse, questions the mission – is a traitor, to be cast out. As governments accrue more power to themselves, they seek out ways to expand and complete their control – and war is the perfect pretext, the ideal atmosphere in which to enforce this type of mindless conformity.
Now I have been saying two things: (1) that the American empire has reached the end of its tether, and (2) that its rulers continue to act as if nothing untoward is happening. We are barreling forward, on the power of sheer momentum, along the same path set for us since the end of the Second World War. Having reached the pinnacle of power, we are still the hyperpower, albeit a bankrupt one – that is, America is a power that can yet do a lot of damage in the world. We may be going down, but we’re sure to take more than a few of you along with us. And that likelihood I regret very much.
George Soros, the financier and would-be philosopher, has written a book entitled The Bubble of American Supremacy, which I must confess to not having read, but certainly the title describes what is going on these days. The “bubble” of American prosperity, and, indeed, of the West, has been founded on debt, and a lot of assumptions that turned out to be flat-out wrong. The economic consequences of the bubble’s sudden deflation are all around us, and yet that is only the most visible and obvious damage. The real damage has been done by the mindset – and the culture – that flourished in the heyday of the bubble, when the boast of that U.S. government official who claimed to be creating a new reality seem almost credible, at least to the more deluded among our ruling elite. In America, we succumbed to the myth of history as a straight-line progression upward, out of the darkness and into the light – led, of course, by our very own government. Everyone was getting richer – as long as the Federal Reserve kept priming the pump – and soon the whole world would be in their grasp
The end of the American empire has been proclaimed many times, yet it has always defied the prophets of doom. The Marxists divined our doom in the mysteries of the dialectic, the Malthusians saw our demise in the calculations of the demographers, the born-again Christians who take the Bible literally have insisted and continue to claim that the end of the world itself is foreordained by the Holy Word of God, that the final battle of good against evil is nigh on a plain called Armageddon.
The Marxists, while exulting in the economic tsunami now engulfing Wall Street, have so far failed to explain how and why their own system, when it was tried, preceded the American capitalist model in death. Their mono-causal schema – which points to the supposed inner contradictions of the market economy as the cause of its ultimate undoing – also fails to explain why the socialist economies of the European Union are suffering even more dramatically. As an accurate guide to the future of the U.S., and its position as the so-called hyperpower, Marx is about as useful as Malthus, i.e., not at all.
As for the Christians, I’ll leave it to the theologians to argue over that. I’ll just note that they, like the Marxists, the Malthusians, and the neo-Malthusian global warming alarmists, see our doom written in the stars. For these sorts of people, the clock is always ticking: the countdown to death is always ringing in their ears. One feels sorry for such people, to a certain extent: they are clearly projecting the knowledge of their own impending death on the universe at large. They walk around in a state of perpetual fear mixed with glee, as the darker the outlook the more their forebodings of doom are confirmed. Surely they must be cheered by the sight of the world economy imploding, even as they, like the rest of us, suffer the consequences.
These prophets of doom, most of them cranks and ideological axe-grinders, have been writing America’s obituary for years. This time, however, there is a difference – because this time the crisis is real. It is not yet too late to draw back from the abyss and chart a more moderate course, something less dramatic than a crash landing. I don’t want to go on much more, however, and perhaps we can leave the question of alternative policies to the discussion.
The Seychelles, the idyllic archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa, is best known as an island paradise playground for celebrities, royalty and the ultra-wealthy. These days, it’s better known for something else: bankruptcy.
The tiny country’s debt burden may be tiny compared to Iceland, which needed a $2.1 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund last fall, but the Seychelles’ problems illustrate the degree to which the global economic crisis has leveled some economies altogether.
And because of its small size, with just 87,000 people, the Seychelles now has the unenviable stature of being perhaps the most indebted country in the world. Public and private debt totals $800 million – roughly the size of the country’s entire economy.
Last year, as tourism and fishing revenue began slowing, the Seychelles defaulted on a $230 million, euro-denominated bond that had been arranged by Lehman Brothers before its own bankruptcy. The IMF came in in November with a two-year, $26 million rescue package, and the country has since taken a series of emergency steps: It laid off 12.5% of government workers (1,800 people), floated its currency (the Seychelles rupee, which has fallen from eight to the U.S. dollar to 16, effectively doubling the prices of imports), lifted foreign exchange controls and agreed to sell state assets.
The IMF has given a thumbs-up to the initial progress, but it warned that the economy would contract 9.5% this year. The government of Australia is sending tax experts to help overhaul the revenue collection system and audit local companies.
Now the Seychelles is negotiating with the governments of Britain, France and other Western countries including the U.S. – the so-called Paris Club – to reschedule $250 million in debt it owes them. It is asking for 50% of it to be forgiven – a rate it hopes its commercial creditors will then apply to its remaining $550 million outstanding.
“We borrowed more than we can repay,” complains Ralph Volcere, the editor of Le Nouveau Seychelles Weekly and a vocal government critic. “This was wholly irresponsible.”
Heavily reliant on tourism, the Seychelles is desperately searching for ways to raise capital – at a time when tourism is forecast to drop precipitously this year. In early March, Seychelles Vice President Joseph Belmont told a meeting of local tourism industry business owners that the country has already seen a drop of 15% in visitor arrivals from the start of 2009; tourism revenue for the year, he said, could drop by some 25% more as a result of the global recession.
Seychelles officials have another idea though: to promote the country’s longstanding virtue of being an off-shore business haven, with no corporate tax, no minimum capital requirements, only one shareholder or director required, and an annual licensing fee of just $100.
It also hopes to grow revenue from fishing licenses in its territorial waters, and on March 26 it will present a proposal to the United Nations to expand its exclusive rights to the surrounding seabed, potentially increasing prospects of revenue from underwater minerals, oil and gas.
And hopes for expanding tourism remain high. In addition to the usual roster of luxury-seeking royals and high-spending celebs, the middle-tier traveler is now being heartily courted, too. The government in early March announced an “Affordable Seychelles” campaign – what would have until recently been an oxymoron – with the motto: “Once-in-a-lifetime vacation at a once-in-a-lifetime price,” based on lower prices caused by the halving in value of the currency.
Most hotels and meals in restaurants frequented by foreigners, however, remain priced in euros – like the new Four Seasons Seychelles, which opened its five-star resort, more than two years in the works, in February. Rates start at 1,000 euros ($1,345) per night, although current packages include stay-an-extra-day offers. Free-standing, multi-room houses with private swimming pools, billed as “Presidential” and “Royal” suites, are also available (from 4,500 euros, or $6,055).
The company claims it’s seeing interest from travelers: “We have extremely strong demand; a lot of people are calling and asking for information,” says General Manager Markus Iseli, surveying the property of 67 private, luxury villas perched on a hillside overlooking a stunning powdery-sand beach. But while normal luxury hotel occupancy averages 70-to-75%, he says he expects perhaps 30-to-35% occupancy this year.
“That’s still good in a recession,” Iseli says. “When you look around the world, everybody is suffering.”
How some military rabbis are trying to radicalize Israeli soldiers.
By Christopher Hitchens
Recent reports of atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers in the course of the intervention in Gaza have described the incitement of conscripts and reservists by military rabbis who characterized the battle as a holy war for the expulsion of non-Jews from Jewish land. The secular Israeli academic Dany Zamir, who first brought the testimony of shocked Israeli soldiers to light, has been quoted as if the influence of such extremist clerical teachings was something new. This is not the case.
I remember being in Israel in 1986 when the chief army “chaplain” in the occupied territories, Rabbi Shmuel Derlich, issued his troops a 1,000-word pastoral letter enjoining them to apply the biblical commandment to exterminate the Amalekites as “the enemies of Israel.” Nobody has recently encountered any Amalekites, so the chief educational officer of the Israeli Defense Forces asked Rabbi Derlich whether he would care to define his terms and say whom he meant. Rather evasively—if rather alarmingly—the man of God replied, “Germans.” There are no Germans in Judaea and Samaria or, indeed, in the Old Testament, so the rabbi’s exhortation to slay all Germans as well as quite probably all Palestinians was referred to the Judge Advocate General’s Office. Forty military rabbis publicly came to Derlich’s support, and the rather spineless conclusion of the JAG was that he had committed no legal offense but should perhaps refrain in the future from making political statements on the army’s behalf.
The problem here is precisely that the rabbi was not making a “political” statement. Rather, he was doing his religious duty in reminding his readers what the Torah actually says. It’s not at all uncommon in Israel to read discussions, featuring military rabbis, of quite how to interpret the following holy order from Moses, in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 31, Verses 13-18, as quoted from my 1985 translation by the Jewish Publication Society. The Israelites have just done a fairly pitiless job on the Midianites, slaughtering all of the adult males. But, says their stern commander-in-chief, they have still failed him:
Moses, Eleazer the priest, and all the chieftains of the community came out to meet them outside the camp. Moses became angry with the commanders of the army, the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds, who had come back from the military campaign. Moses said to them, “You have spared every female! Yet they are the very ones who, at the bidding of Balaam, induced the Israelites to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so that the Lord’s community was struck by the plague. Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and slay also every young woman who has known a man carnally; but spare every young woman who has not had carnal relations with a man.”
Moses and Eleazar the priest go on to issue some complex instructions about the ritual cleansings that must be practiced after this exhausting massacre has been completed.
Now, it’s common to hear people say, when this infamous passage and others like it come up, that it’s not intended to be “taken literally.” One also often hears the excuse that some wicked things are done “in the name of” religion, as if the wicked things were somehow the result of a misinterpretation. But the nationalist rabbis who prepare Israeli soldiers for their mission seem to think that this book might be the word of God, in which case the only misinterpretation would be the failure to take it literally. (I hate to break it to you, but the people who think that God’s will is revealed in scripture are known as “religious.” Those who do not think so must try to find another name for themselves.)
Possibly you remember Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the man who in February 1994 unslung his weapon and killed more than two dozen worshippers at the mosque in Hebron. He had been a physician in the Israeli army and had first attracted attention by saying that he would refuse to treat non-Jews on the Sabbath. Now read Ethan Bronner’s report in the March 22 New York Times about the preachments of the Israeli army’s latest chief rabbi, a West Bank settler named Avichai Rontzski who also holds the rank of brigadier general. He has “said that the main reason for a Jewish doctor to treat a non-Jew on the Sabbath … is to avoid exposing Diaspora Jews to hatred.” Those of us who follow these things recognize that statement as one of the leading indicators of a truly determined racist and fundamentalist. Yet it comes not this time in the garb of a homicidal lone-wolf nut bag but in the full uniform and accoutrement of a general and a high priest: Moses and Eleazar combined. The latest news, according to Bronner, is that the Israeli Defense Ministry has felt compelled to reprimand Rontzski for “a rabbinal edict against showing the enemy mercy” that was distributed in booklet form to men and women in uniform (see Numbers 31:13-18, above).
Peering over the horrible pile of Palestinian civilian casualties that has immediately resulted, it’s fairly easy to see where this is going in the medium-to-longer term. The zealot settlers and their clerical accomplices are establishing an army within the army so that one day, if it is ever decided to disband or evacuate the colonial settlements, there will be enough officers and soldiers, stiffened by enough rabbis and enough extremist sermons, to refuse to obey the order. Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs. The dress rehearsals for this have already taken place, with the religious excuses given for Baruch Goldstein’s rampage and the Talmudic evasions concerning the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Once considered highly extreme, such biblical exegeses are moving ever closer to the mainstream. It’s high time the United States cut off any financial support for Israel that can be used even indirectly for settler activity, not just because such colonization constitutes a theft of another people’s land but also because our Constitution absolutely forbids us to spend public money on the establishment of any religion.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the Roger S. Mertz media fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif.
The headline of Sunday’s LA Times screamed “Oakland mourns 3 slain officers” (online version). Immediately I constructed a mental model that the murderer was a low-life black man between the ages of 18 and 30.
And of course, I was right. His name was Lovelle Mixon, age 27. Mixon, who was killed in the gun battle, was wanted on a no-bail warrant for violating his parole on a conviction for assault with deadly weapon. A fourth officer is near death.
My mental model was based partly on the reputation of Oakland as famous for black crime. This is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Oakland:
Despite comprising only 30–35% of the population, African-Americans are over-represented in crime statistics, with the majority of crimes occurring in heavily African-American neighborhoods. Earl Ofari Hutchinson mentions crime in Oakland as an example of a rising problem of “black-on-black” crime, which Oakland shares with other major cities in the US. Bill Cosby mentions Oakland as one of the many American cities where crime is “endemic” and young African-American men are being murdered and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers. Cosby alleges that the parents of such youths and young men, and the Black community in general, have failed to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior.
In a November, 2008 Congressional Quarterly Press publication, the city of Oakland has the dubious distinction of ranking fifth worst in a nationwide ranking of violent crime. The ranking takes into account six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.
In other words, Oakland has a reputation— a reputation that I was well aware of and that fed into the way I processed a headline like “Oakland mourns 3 slain officers.” In my brain there was an automatic connection between this headline and the thought that the perpetrator was black. Of course, the hardcopy LA Times article did not mention that he was black, and there were no photos. But with the link to Oakland, there was little doubt in my mind, and finding out that his first name was Lovelle clinched it. Online newspaper articles did not mention his race, but did include photos. Here is a photo of Mr. Mixon:
The photos also showed that the victims were white:
Sgt. Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Sgt. Daniel Sakai, and Sgt. Ervin Romans
The race of the victims was not an automatic thought. There certainly are large numbers of non-white policemen. But I was quite curious to find out the race of the victims, and I rather doubt that I was alone in that. Whereas the vast majority of black-on-white crime is kept out of the newspapers, crimes against police are an exception. And because I am concerned about the ongoing disaster of white displacement, I was particularly saddened when I saw the faces of these victims who had been murdered by a black man.
The publicity given to this crime will doubtless sharpen the attitudes of whites that they are often the victims of black criminality — at least in California where the story has been given a great deal of play. Even though black on white crime is not typically publicized, exceptions such as this feed into negative stereotypes that whites have of blacks. And there is no question that in fact blacks are far more likely to commit violent crimes against whites than the reverse.
Because they are typically part of the academic culture of the left, many psychologists have agonized about the fact that whites have unconscious negative stereotypes of blacks lurking down deep in their brains. These stereotypes are “implicit” in the sense that they are automatic, “knee-jerk” responses to images associated with blacks. For example, in most studies, about 80% of whites are quick to associate blacks with negative traits like criminality and low intelligence — traits that indeed are more common among blacks.
These implicit associations are difficult to change, but they may be influenced by media images. A recent study showed a dramatic drop in implicit negative attitudes of whites toward blacks since the presidential campaign of Barack Obama — from the usual 80% down to 51%. The 49% of whites without implicit negative associations with blacks is higher than the percentage of whites who voted for Obama, presumably because the subjects were college students — the only group of whites to vote for Obama.
The researchers claim that the long-term effects will depend on whether Obama is viewed as a success: “If his presidency is highly successful, he would activate positive traits, thoughts and feelings for most people. However, the result may be less positive should his presidency prove to be less successful.”
This may be so, but images like the Oakland police murders will also feed into the implicit attitudes of whites. It would be interesting to do a study of implicit attitudes of whites toward blacks in the San Francisco Bay Area in the aftermath of the murders of the policemen. I suspect that whites’ unconscious associations with blacks may have returned to the baseline rate of 80% negative or even higher.
It’s one thing to routinely make fun of former President Bush. (Jay Leno has led the way on this for the last eight years. Recently, his monologues feature a segment titled “What’s George Bush doing today?” in which an actor playing Bush does something completely mindless. For example, in one episode Bush lies face down on a swivel chair and propels himself in circles with a leaf blower.) Imagine the hysteria if Leno did the same with an Obama look-alike.
Such images may be considered anti-white, and Leno often does his best to portray whites negatively. But the liberal media have a very long way to go to make people think that whites in general are unintelligent.
But in the case of blacks, the association of blacks with low intelligence continues to be part of whites’ implicit associations with blacks. And this association is solidly grounded in reality: Dozens of research studies show that whether in Africa or America or Brazil, on average blacks are indeed substantially less intelligent than whites. Moreover, there is good evidence that intelligence and racial differences in intelligence are strongly genetically influenced.
Of course, these average differences don’t mean that Obama has a low IQ. What it does mean is that the image of a stumbling Obama as an automaton who can only speak coherently when he is reading others’ words very easily feeds into the negative images that most whites already have of blacks: Blacks are less intelligent, and blacks in America are achieving far more than is justified by their ability — Barack Obama as the affirmative action president.
And it means that the long-term effects of the Obama presidency on how whites think of blacks may depend not only on how successful Obama is. It will also depend on whether whites believe that Obama is anything more than an image created by the mainstream media desperately in search of a black man who could act the part of president.
In recent years, it became fashionable to talk about how Karl Rove was George W. Bush’s brain. Suggestions that David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel are Obama’s brain have a whole different connotation. And a very significant effect on how whites view blacks.
COLUMBIA, Mo. | A new document meant to help Missouri law enforcement agencies identify militia members or domestic terrorists has drawn criticism for some of the warning signs mentioned.
The Feb. 20 report called “The Modern Militia Movement” mentions such red flags as political bumper stickers for third-party candidates, such as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president last year; talk of conspiracy theories, such as the plan for a superhighway linking Canada to Mexico; and possession of subversive literature.
“It seems like they want to stifle political thought,” said Roger Webb, president of the University of Missouri campus Libertarians. “There are a lot of third parties out there, and none of them express any violence. In fact, if you join the Libertarian Party, one of the things you sign in your membership application is that you don’t support violence as a means to any ends.”
But state law enforcement officials said the report is being misinterpreted.
Lt. John Hotz of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the report comes from publicly available, trend data on militias. It was compiled by the Missouri Information Analysis Center, a “fusion center” in Jefferson City that combines resources from the federal Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. The center, which opened in 2005, was set up to collect local intelligence to better combat terrorism and other criminal activity, he said.
“All this is an educational thing,” Hotz said of the report. “Troopers have been shot by members of groups, so it’s our job to let law enforcement officers know what the trends are in the modern militia movement.”
But Tim Neal, a military veteran and delegate to last year’s state GOP convention, was shocked by the report’s contents.
“I was going down the list and thinking, ‘Check, that’s me,’” he said. “I’m a Ron Paul supporter, check. I talk about the North American union, check. I’ve got the ‘America: Freedom to Fascism’ video loaned out to somebody right now. So that means I’m a domestic terrorist? Because I’ve got a video about the Federal Reserve?”
Neal, who has a Ron Paul bumper sticker on his car, said the next time he is pulled over by a police officer, he won’t know whether it’s because he was speeding or because of his political views.
“If a police officer is pulling me over with my family in the car and he sees a bumper sticker on my vehicle that has been specifically identified as one that an extremist would have in their vehicle, the guy is probably going to be pretty apprehensive and not thinking in a rational manner,” Neal said. “And this guy’s walking up to my vehicle with a gun.”
But Hotz said using factors in the report to determine whether someone could be a terrorist is not profiling. He said people who display signs or bumper stickers from third-party groups are not in danger of harassment from police.
“It’s giving the makeup of militia members and their political beliefs,” Hotz said of the report. “It’s not saying that everybody who supports these candidates is involved in a militia. It’s not even saying that all militias are bad.”
By now, readers should be familiar with the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report dated 02/20/09 and titled, “MIAC Strategic Report: The Modern Militia Movement.” In this dreadfully malicious and slanderous “law enforcement sensitive” secret police report, Governor Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon; John Britt, Director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety; James Keathley, Colonel, Missouri State Highway Patrol; and Van Godsey, Director of MIAC categorize certain citizens as being potential violence-prone “militia members.” I would venture to guess that more than 75% of the entire population of the United States would fit the MIAC’s broad definition of someone who would fall into the aforementioned category.
According to the MIAC report, if you oppose any of the following, you could qualify for being profiled as a potential dangerous “militia member”:
The United Nations
The New World Order
The violation of Posse Comitatus
The Federal Reserve
The Income Tax
The Ammunition and Accountability Act
A possible Constitutional Convention
The North American Union
Universal Service Program
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Again, I would bet that at least 75% of the American people would oppose at least one or more items on the above list. Well, according to the MIAC report, that is sufficient to make them potential dangerous “militia members.”
However, it is the following statement contained in the MIAC report that is particularly disturbing to yours truly. Under the heading “Political Paraphernalia,” the report states, “Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitutional [sic] Party, Campaign for Liberty, or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate [sic]: Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr.”
The obvious inference of the above statement links Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and myself to potential dangerous “militia members.” The broader implication is that the millions of people who supported Ron Paul, Bob Barr, or myself are likewise categorized as potential dangerous “militia members.” This is a classic case of broad-brushed police profiling. Can you imagine the fallout of this preposterous report had the names Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters been used instead of the names Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr?
Accordingly, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and I wrote a formal letter to the above-named Missouri officials demanding “that the following-described document be immediately removed from any and all websites associated with or maintained by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof, including the MIAC; that the said document no longer be circulated by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof or associated therewith; and that the state of Missouri repudiate its references to the three of us contained therein.”
To view the full text of our letter to Governor Nixon of Missouri, go here. [PDF]
Ladies and gentlemen, we simply cannot allow this kind of police profiling to continue. I assure you, this phenomenon is not limited to the State of Missouri. Every state that has a “Fusion Center” is being fed this kind of nonsense on a regular basis. You and I are commonly referred to as “extremists” in these secret police reports. This has been happening in earnest for the past couple of months and is operating under the auspices of the federal Department of Homeland Security. And people with a public platform (such as myself, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and a host of others) are now being singled out by name. How long will it be before police agencies begin “picking up and hauling away” those people whose names are mentioned in these reports? It may be sooner than we think.
To see if your state has a “Fusion Center,” go here.
The only thing that will stymie this nonsense is a huge public outcry opposing it. Yes, the people of this country (that means YOU) still have the power to put a stop to this kind of totalitarian thinking. If we do nothing, however, it will soon be too late to stop it. We either stop it now, or it will quickly mushroom into a leviathan that will both monitor and control the personal opinions and speech of every man, woman, and child in this country. No, I am not exaggerating.
The Feds already monitor virtually every phone call, email, and public speech in the country. How long before these secret police reports will be used as justification to arrest and incarcerate people because of their ideas and opinions, labeling them as a “threat” or as “dangerous” to society?
Here is the contact information for the appropriate officials in Missouri:
And while you are at it, you should also contact the state police agency as well as the governor’s office in your state, especially if your state has a “Fusion Center” (see web site above). Mark it down: if you have ever publicly opposed any of the above-mentioned issues or organizations, or have ever publicly supported an independent Presidential candidate, YOU ARE BEING PROFILED RIGHT NOW!
We await the State of Missouri’s response. In the meantime, what are you going to do?
P.S. Even as this column is being distributed, we have just received a reply from the Director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, John Britt. I will analyze and respond to this statement in my next column.
Dr. Chuck Baldwin is the pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He hosts a weekly radio show. His website is here.
Edgar J. Steele returns this week with a provocative Nickel Rant entitled “We’re All Terrorists Now,” in which he examines the most recent assault upon personal rights and liberties, this time by the federal government and the State of Missouri, who now claim that:
You are a terrorist if you defend the US Constitution.
You are a terrorist if you oppose gun confiscation.
You are a terrorist if you oppose illegal immigration.
Flying an American flag can make you a terrorist.
Oppose abortion? You’re a terrorist.
Support Ron Paul? You’re a terrorist.
Vote for Constitution or Libertarian Party candidates? Yep, you’re a terrorist.
Listen in and find out how America’s War on Terror has morphed into a War on Americans.