Although race, IQ and heredity are of crucial importance in studying the birth and death of civilizations, other factors, such as religion or political theology cannot be shrugged away. There is a tendency among White nationalists and some prominent scholars and activists to harp only on the issue of race and IQ, forgetting the role of ideology in their study of the culture of Western suicide.
Is there a “liberal gene,” a “communist gene,” or a “Christian gene”? Why do millions of intelligent Whites embrace strange non-European political theologies, even at the price of rejecting their own racial heritage?
What comes to mind is the image of many intelligent White Americans who declare themselves Christian Zionists, willing even to lay down their life for this Levantine faith — yet whose beliefs are interpreted as a sign of low-IQ fanaticism by cultivated White nationalists in Europe. For their part, over the last one hundred years, many intelligent Whites in Europe have been intellectual slaves of the democratic mystique and its different ideological variants — Marxism, feminism, liberalism and multiculturalism. As two world wars have shown, the worst enemies of the Western heritage are not just alien out-groups, but strange foreign-inspired beliefs that permeate the West.
East European Mating Seasons
The power of the political myth, however aberrant it may look, often eclipses racial consciousness. This epoch is largely passé in the case of post-communist Europe — an area which served not long ago as a laboratory for insane egalitarian experiments. On the one hand, many cultivated American Whites visiting post-communist Russia are surprised at its racial homogeneity and at the sight of attractive Nordic-looking Russian women. On the other hand, they are rightfully bedeviled by the poor sense of social order and absence of civic responsibility that is typical of Russian males. In terms of physical appearance, many White males in Russia and East Europe appear poorly groomed and uncouth — at times behaving like low-IQ savages. A striking sight is when one observes orderly Nordic-like cranial and facial features of White women in Russia and compares them to many Russian males — whose phenotype makes one wonder whether they belong to the same gene pool.
Naturally, many American White males, disillusioned with the ideologies of liberal democratism and feminism, not to mention the new codes of self-censorship, often find post-communist Europe an ideal mating turf. There are racial and psychological factors to it. These men’s political attitudes are viewed as toxic by many White women in the increasingly inquisitorial West. Typical White women in the USA, focused on their careers and moving up the social ladder, are hardly willing to forfeit their inborn desire for security for a would-be White partner with suicidal “right-wing” ideas.
By contrast, it is virtually impossible to see a White woman in Russia or East Europe regurgitating liberal palaver. Jokes about Jews, gypsies and gays that would be violations of the Criminal Code in the European Union are common currency in post-communist Europe.
Dating a Black man is very rare. Should it happen, the woman is subjected to public opprobrium, and it may result in the beating of an out-group non-European individual by local skinheads — of course, under cover of darkness or when a friendly policeman on the beat turns his head away. Here’s a political ad from 2003 put out by Rodina, a Russian nationalist party. The imagery of defending a Russian woman and her baby against foreign men is quite striking. Such overt defense of White women never surfaces in the above-ground media in the West.
White women in East Europe — however little they may know about the power of modern political myths, are less worried about being called a racist or anti-Semite than most Westerners for whom being called these things is absolutely paralyzing. In fact, very often, along with their White mates, they will themselves complain in abrasive language and in public about real or alleged “Jewish fraudsters Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky”, “Gypsy filth,” or “Muslim fanatics.”
This is one side of the coin. But the other side shows blindness caused by the newly imported liberal political theology. The power of false expectations from the concept of “rich America” is still strong. In particular the word ‘America’ rings a tantalizing bell among women, who project themselves into a non-stop leisure society and who cannot imagine that their would-be US partner may well be destitute if not dirt poor. Their sole fixation is simple: Get out of Russia and hitch up with an American in order to get some veneer of social prestige. Often their expectations and self-projections do not match with reality. The genetic match may be ideal, but the in-depth cultural bondage is often missing.
There has been a wake-up call recently, as shown by the new joke circulating widely all over East Europe and Russia: “Our communist hacks lied about communism, but they told us the truth about capitalism.”
End of A Liberal World
Another irony of history is that the residues of social disorder and regimented lawlessness that the former communist rulers had installed now enable the masses of East Europeans to better retain primeval and even savage instincts of survivalism. This manifest itself in “freedom by default,” as, for example, in the taken-for-granted license to utter words against non-Whites that would otherwise enter into the legal category of “hate speech” in America and the European Union.
Another historical irony is that former communist large-scale terror had led to the strengthening of family ties and had kept traditional values of racial and ethnic awareness better preserved than in the liberal West. No wonder that many Westerners, even foreign diplomats, love to live and work in East Europe. They can give free reign to their explicit Whiteness without looking over their shoulder. For their part, most contemporary East European citizens are fed up and exhausted with former communist diatribes about “humanity,” and “tolerance.” Even when mimicking liberal verbiage and even if socially well positioned, they do not hide their irritation with Western liberal pontificators and their Jewish sponsors, as is the case with the pervasive Soros Foundation. They had listened to the same fraudulent tune of “human rights” and “diversity,” albeit in a Communist package, for well over half a century.
A long time ago, Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz, the father of European sociobiology and the victim of academic boycott, noticed that less-developed humans, with lower IQ’s are better genetically equipped to weather political or meteorological storms than highly evolved yet fragile Whites. Highly refined and intelligent Whites seem to have a low threshold of tolerance for political mendacity, let alone for physical or economic pain that could result in a hypothetical state of emergency. The well-pampered White masses, predominantly of the Nordic subtype, in search of more affluent tomorrows, seem to have lost their ancient sense of defiance — still typical of modern Slavs:
The effects of luxury, produced by the vicious circle of supply-and-demand escalation, will sooner or later be the ruin of the Western world, particularly the United Sates. Eventually Western peoples will no longer be able to cope with the less pampered and healthier people of the East. (Konrad Lorenz: Civilized Man’s Eight Deadly Sins, 1973, p. 30)
The high-IQ Nordic subtype, contaminated by the liberal theology of “love thy neighbor,” is already less resistant to chaotic circumstances than low-IQ non-European immigrants. Alex Kurtagic describes these dark unibrow mud-like creatures in his dystopian novel Mister. The notion, cherished among some White nationalists, of invincible Viking warriors rising up and resuscitating some moribund Western Holy Grail, is a dangerous illusion. For ancient Vikings, the specter of violent death and communal sacrifice was quite normal — quite in contrast to modern Whites scared to death of even minor social ostracism.
Continental Europeans and Americans are often surprised with meekish self-denial posturing of modern Scandinavians and their fake abnegation mixed with hidden arrogance — known as “Jante law.” Today, this mindset means to not rock the boat of political correctness, however much every Scandinavian knows that the oncoming disaster, brought about by floods of non-European immigrants, is just around the corner. All over the West, White males have become so feminized that one should not be surprised why cunning, clandestine and criminal out-groups from Asia or Africa take them for a ride.
Hence the reason that less domesticated Russians and East Europeans, vaccinated for good against communist disease, along with their primitive and often violent behavior, may be of some service in salvaging the remnants of the Western civilization.
For Whites in Western Europe and the USA it may be worth rejecting pious preaching about the human rights political theology. In this sense the visionary early 20th century French-Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto, appears timelier than ever before:
There are some people who imagine they can disarm the enemy by complacent flattery. They are wrong. The world has always belonged to the stronger, and will belong to them for many years to come. Men only respect those who make themselves respected. Whoever becomes a lamb will find a wolf to eat him. (“Danger of Socialism,” in The Other Pareto, 1980, p. 127)
Germans, the most intelligent and the most civilized Western people, with exceptional sense of self-discipline, suffered terrible revenge from the Allies in the wake of WWII. The minute, however, they signed the surrender, on May 8, 1945, all German military engagement immediately stopped, even the hostilities by the well-organized paramilitary German youth, the Werewolf.
With their exceptional feeling for legality and respect for the letter of the law, and despite serial kangaroo courts that have been inflicted against hundreds of thousands of German heretics, both in the East and the West, over the last 65 years, the German people has never ever envisaged changing the legal status quo.
At the other extreme one can observe how a bunch of relatively low-IQ rag-tag Islamic fanatics in Iraq and Afghanistan, when fueled by powerful political theology, can tie down and render ineffective the most awesome army on earth. These two examples illustrate that high intelligence on the one hand and fine racial endowments on the other are not enough; rather it is a belief system, regardless of how “good” or “bad” it may be, that is crucial in firing up the masses. Why?
Over the last several decades White conservative scholars, or proverbial right-wingers, all over the West, have held thousands of meetings and conferences that are basically country-club-all-White-men discussions and which are really nothing more than preaching to the choir. No wonder that many modern Whites are often perceived as out of touch with reality by their leftist detractors. Seldom is the root cause of the true dissolving factor of the White in-group addressed: the theology of liberal capitalism.
In the liberal system, each collective project, every transcendental feeling, such as love, friendship or marriage, eventually turns into a perishable commodity. The all- pervasive liberal market must follow its own self-destructive logic. The belief in the pursuit of economic well-being becomes the only factor worth living for. How can one then expect from an intelligent White individual or a cohesive group of intelligent Whites to sacrifice their energy for something that transcends economic competition?
The lack of any transcendental purpose, other than the theology of the market, will eventually spell the death of liberalism. The German legal scholar Carl Schmitt, who has also been academically boycotted as a “Nazi scholar,” understood the self-destructive nature of the liberal political theology. The liberal system cannot force its citizens, under any possible circumstance, to sacrifice their lives for any projects that lie outside the realm of economics (Der Begriff des Politischen (The Concept of the Political) 1932, p. 36, trans. G. Schwab).
However, due to its reductionist essence, which evolves around permanent economic growth, while rejecting any spiritual endeavor, one must never overestimate the strength of liberal capitalism. Nor should one overestimate the importance of a high IQ for the long term spiritual and economic success of a country. The present liberal system is extremely fragile, precisely because its political theology solely operates around the “religion of the Big Buck.” When its sacred economy begins losing credibility, which is already the case, the system will break up — with consequences unseen so far in the history of the West.
Like my science-blogging colleagues, I get e-mail. I always appreciate it when readers (or listeners, in the case of the SGU) take the time to write. Sometimes the e-mails are questions from someone who disagrees with my position on a hot issue. I especially like these e-mails – they are good blog fodder, and I think the format of answering questions is more compelling and interesting than making a didactic argument.
Below is an example of the kind of question I most like to get – from someone who disagrees with me, but still manages to ask polite and cogent questions. This stands in stark contract to most hostile e-mail I get, which are just strings of ad hominems, straw men, and other logical fallacies. I get the impression (and some of my e-mailers have later even admitted this) that the e-mails were not meant as an opening to serious discussion, but as a venting rant into the ether of the internet.
Harold asks some very important questions about the alleged autism-vaccine link and research priorities, and I am happy for the opportunity to clarify my position. His e-mail begins below the fold:
Dear Dr. Novella
I am a parent of a 13 year old boy with Autistic Disorder. I also have a blog site on which I commented unfavorably on your response to the possibility that the IACC might recommend some vaccine autism research. I ask your response to a few questions if you have the time and are inclined to respond.
One is your apparent opposition to any further research exploring possible vaccine autism connections. I am not an “anti-vaxxer”. I have never attributed my son’s autism to vaccines. Until recently I accepted the official view that vaccines play no role in causing autism. More recently my views have moved toward an undecided position. This change began when reading Dr. Bernadine Healy’s observations about the limitations of the epidemiological studies which are usually used to allegedly “debunk” any vaccine autism connection. In her comments she indicated that such studies are not specific enough to address the possible impact of vaccines or their ingredients on potentially vulnerable population subsets.To this layperson Dr. Healy’s criticism seems reasonable as does her call, a call also made by Dr. Julie Gerberding, that an observational study comparing autism rates in existing vaccinated and non vaccinated populations could and should be done. Your opposition to further vaccine autism study does not, with respect, seem either reasonable OR science based. I ask if you could provide a clear rationale for opposing a study which has been called for by two prominent health authorities and which might provide useful information to what is a heated debate on all sides.
The second question I have for you concerns the increases in autism diagnoses which has really been quite startling by any measure. In my son’s lifetime the figure has changed from 1 in 500 to 1 in 150 with the two recent studies indicating it might now be 1 in 91. Many authorities dispute though that the increases are real pointing to the autism definition changes in the DSM and ICD diagnostic manuals in the 1993-4 period and increased social awareness as the reasons for the increases in diagnoses. Is it your view that the increase in autism diagnoses does not reflect a real increase in autism disorders? If so what are the implications of that position for the argument that epidemiological studies have disproved any thimerosal vaccine link because autism rates increased after removal of thimerosal from MOST vaccines?
Also if you have the time and inclination do you think Dr. Healy’s observations that thimerosal which continued to be found in flu vaccines, some of which historically were administered to pregnant mothers, was a matter worthy of investigation given that the thimerosal crosses the placenta is a legitimate concern worthy of further investigation? This is an important matter here in Canada where the squalene adjuvant was removed from the vaccines given to pregnant women but there has been no indication that thimerosal has been removed.
I would genuinely appreciate your responses to these questions which I am posting on my blog site. If you do me the courtesy of an informed reply I would be happy to post that reply as well.
Harold L Doherty
And here is my response:
Thanks for your thoughtful e-mail. I would be happy to address your questions.
Regarding further research – it is always possible, in the face of negative results, to call for still more research. And it is easy to make this seem like the default scientific position. ESP proponents, after a century of failed research, call for still more research, and accuse anyone who says further research is not worthwhile of being unscientific.
Also, to clarify my position, I am not categorically against further research into vaccines and autism. I think any such research is most likely to confirm the lack of a correlation. And if there is a susceptible sub-population, of course it would be good to know about it to make the vaccine program even safer. (But keep in mind – it is a common form of special pleading to argue that, when the effect you are looking for is absent, that it only exists is a subpopulation that existing data was not powerful enough to detect. This may be true, but it is just post-hoc speculation, and doesn’t change the fact that the data is negative.)
My position is that ideological groups should not be dictating how scarce research funds are allocated. When we put money, people, and resources into chasing down an unlikely hypothesis those resources are not available for what might be more promising research. My position is that objective scientists, justifying their position with a careful analysis of the research, should decide how best to allocate scarce research funds. The anti-vax movement, however, is trying desperately to put their thumb on the scale – and that is what I oppose. They are trying to subvert autism activism to serve an anti-vaccine agenda – and they are hurting the autism community as a result, in my opinion.
I respect Healy and Gerberding, but I disagree with their approach in that they think more research will satisfy vaccine critics, but this is a naive position. The anti-vaccine movement has already demonstrated that they are impervious to facts and evidence, and spending time and money trying to placate them is a fool’s errand. The CDC even went as far as to include them in designing a trial looking at vaccines and neurological disorders, and then only after the results came back negative, did they criticize the study.
You specifically mention an observational study comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated children – I do not oppose this. If it can be done with reasonable resources, there are scientists willing to carry out such a study and think it is worthwhile, and the results will be useful, then I fully support it and await the results. (And in fact I have never opposed such studies.) What I and others have written is that an experimental (not observation) comparison of vaccinated vs unvaccinated children is unethical, because it would randomize children to not get standard preventive care, and that directly violates human research ethical guidelines. Observational studies are fine, but they are never definitive, and they will not, in my opinion, change or end the debate. They will not move the anti-vaccinationists one bit.
The increase in autism diagnoses has been studied from multiple angles – not just the expansion of the diagnosis.
So far, every way it has been looked at the hypothesis that the increase in diagnosis of ASD is due to increased surveillance and expanded diagnosis has been confirmed. There is evidence of diagnostic substitution (as ASD numbers increase, the numbers of other similar diagnoses decrease). There is evidence that different age groups have the same prevalence of ASD (rather than increasing with younger age, as would result from a true increase in ASD). And if you apply the same diagnostic and surveillance methods to a cohort over time, you get the same ASD prevalence. The data is actually quite convincing that true autism rates are not significantly increasing (you cannot rule out a small real increase, or decrease for that matter, that the data is not powerful enough to detect) but that there has been expanded diagnosis with diagnostic substitution and increased surveillance.
The implications of this position to the alleged thimerosal link are complex, but support a lack of correlation. What the data shows is that in various countries ASD diagnoses began to rise around the same time (as diagnostic patterns changed), in the early 1990s, and have continued to rise through today. Meanwhile, vaccine policies have varied considerably with regard to total thimerosal dose, with several countries, at different times, removing most thimerosal from vaccines. Every study looking at the data shows no correlation between the steadily increasing ASD diagnostic rates with the rising and falling thimerosal doses at different times in different countries. This is powerful evidence for a lack of correlation. As you likely know, toxicity is always about dose, and seeing a proper dose-response is essential to proving toxicity causation. What we have with thimerosal is an absolute lack of any dose-response, in many studies and sets of data.
Also, please keep in mind that the anti-vaccine movement used the increase in ASD in the 1990s as their original justification for the claim that thimerosal causes autism. They predicted that autism rates would decline after thimerosal was removed from the childhood vaccine schedule, and we agreed that if that happened we would need to rethink the possibility of a connection. Well, rates continued to rise without a blip, effectively putting the final nail in the coffin of the thimerosal hypothesis.
Regarding thimerosal and pregnancy, to the extent that this has already been studied (again, you can find references in the vaccine-and-autism link above) there has been no correlation. I do not oppose further research, however, if the CDC or others think it is warranted and feasible.
Thanks again for the interesting questions, and I hope this adequately clarifies my position.
WASHINGTON, Nov 24 (IPS) – One in every four combat soldiers quit the Afghan National Army (ANA) during the year ending in September, published data by the U.S. Defence Department and the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan reveals.
That high rate of turnover in the ANA, driven by extremely high rates of desertion, spells trouble for the strategy that President Barack Obama has reportedly decided on, which is said to include the dispatch of thousands of additional U.S. military trainers in order to rapidly increase the size of the ANA.
The ANA has been touted by U.S. officials for years as a success story. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal called in his August 2009 strategy paper for increasing the ANA to 134,000 troops by October 2010 and eventually to 240,000.
But an administration source, who insisted on speaking without attribution because of the sensitivity of the subject, confirmed to IPS that 25 percent has been used as the turnover rate for the ANA in internal discussions, and that it is regarded by some officials as a serious problem.
The 35,000 troops recruited in the year ending Sep. 1 is the highest by the ANA in any year thus far, but the net increase of 19,000 troops for the year is 33 percent less than the 26,000 net increases during both of the previous two years.
Those figures indicate that the rate of turnover in the ANA is accelerating rather than slowing down. That acceleration could increase further, as the number of troops whose three-year enlistment contracts end rises rapidly in the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, the Defence Department sought to obscure the problem of the high ANA turnover rate in its reports to Congress on Afghanistan in January and June 2009, which avoided the issues of attrition and desertion entirely.
Instead they referred to what DOD calls the “AWOL” (Absent without Leave) rate in the ANA, which measures those unavailable for duty but still in the army. It claimed in June that the AWOL rate was nine percent through May 2009, compared with seven percent in 2008.
The reports also confused the question of turnover in the ANA by using questionable accounting methods in DOD’s reporting on monthly changes in personnel. It provided figures for total ANA personnel in 2009 showing an increase from 66,000 in September 2008 to 94,000 in September 2009.
Those figures have made it appear that ANA manpower increased by 28,000 during the year. But nearly half the increase turns out to be accounted for by a decision on the part of the U.S. command responsible for tracking ANA manpower to change what was being measured.
Previously the total had included only those who had been trained and assigned to a military unit. But in late September 2008, CSTC-A started counting 12,000 men who had not previously been considered as part of the ANA.
In response to a query from IPS, Sgt. Grady L. Epperly, chief of media relations for CSTC-A, acknowledged that the U.S. command had abruptly changed what it included in its overall strength figures for the Afghan Army in late September 2008.
“The way numbers were reported was switched from reporting only Operational Forces to including all Soldiers, Officers and civilians, regardless of training status and command,” Epperly wrote in an e-mail.
The graphs in the DOD reports of January and June 2009 are still identified as “Afghan National Army Trained and Assigned”. But the text of the report reveals that the personnel totals shown on the graph were no longer for the Afghan National Army but for the Ministry of Defence.
That meant that the totals included for the first time those still in training, including even high school cadets, and others not assigned to any unit.
That deceptive accounting change obscured the fact that the total number of personnel assigned to ANA units in September 2009 was actually 82,000 rather than the 94,000 shown, and that the increase in ANA personnel over the year was only 16,000 rather than 28,000.
Using the corrected totals for changes in personnel during the year, the 25 percent turnover rate for ANA combat troops can be calculated from the available data on recruitment and the breakdown between combat and non-combat troops (See Sidebar).
ANA turnover as a proportion of ANA combat troops is a more significant indicator of instability than turnover as a proportion of all personnel, because there is little or no desertion and far higher reenlistment rates in non-combat jobs. ANA non-combat personnel totals also include thousands of civilians.
The impact of the 25-percent combat troop turnover rate on the ANA is actually more acute than it would appear, because of the high absenteeism rate in the ANA. The GAO report revealed that, as of February 2008, out of 32,000 combat troops on the rolls, only 26,000 were available for duty – a 19 percent absenteeism rate.
Assuming that same rate of absenteeism remained during the past year, the number of ANA combat troops actually available for duty increased only by about 9,000 from 37,000 to 46,000.
As serious as the turnover rate was in 2009-2009, turnover in the first two or three years of the ANA was much worse. ANA recruitment and reenlistment figures show that 18,000 of the first 25,000 troops recruited from 2003 to 2005 deserted.
That desertion rate prompted analysts at the U.S. Army Center for Lessons Learned at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to conclude that the ANA would not be able to grow beyond 100,000, according to an article in the current issue of “Military Review”, published at the same Army base.
The authors, Chris Mason and Thomas Johnson, both of whom have had extensive experience in Afghanistan, write that that the analysts at the Army Center concluded that by the time the ANA got to 100,000 troops, its annual losses from desertions and attrition would roughly equal its gains from recruitment.
The Center for Lessons Learned refused to confirm or deny those assertions. When asked about the assertion in the Military Review article, an official of the Center for Lessons Learned, operations officer Randy Cole, refused to comment except to refer IPS to the authors of the article.
By Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.
The publication last week of excerpts from 3,000 e-mails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia comes as a blow to global-warming activists on the very eve of the Copenhagen climate summit. The e-mails concern a handful of US and UK scientists affiliated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPPC has used a graph nicknamed the “hockey stick”, which shows a spike in temperatures in the past century. It is a centrepiece of the assessment of global warming that will be the basis of talks in Copenhagen.
But it has its detractors. In a paper published in 2005, the Canadian economist Ross McKitrick attacked the IPCC’s work as statistically flawed and warned that “group efforts are always at risk of self-selection and groupthink.” Citing the importance of the IPCC to policymakers, he urged an independent panel be appointed to assure, first, that “the data are publicly available” and, second, that “the statistical methods were fully described”.
The e-mails appear to bear out Mr McKitrick’s worries. One, allegedly written by Phil Jones of East Anglia, asks that “Mike” (Michael Mann of the University of Pennsylvania) and another scientist (“Gene”) delete certain of their e-mails regarding a 2007 IPCC study. The author of the e-mail volunteers that another scientist (“Keith”) would delete his own, and that “Caspar” would do the same. At least two letters describe ways the scientists should use their influence to pressure and delegitimise a peer-reviewed journal that had published a hostile paper. At least two describe manoeuvres to avoid Freedom of Information requests. The e-mails do not in themselves undermine the IPCC’s science. But they are evidence of groupthink. The author of the incriminating “Phil” e-mail appears hopeful, at least, that five distinguished scientists would be willing to destroy their own correspondence to defend their work not against error but against scrutiny. Mr Jones said this week that the e-mails were written out of frustration and that none have been deleted.
Even before the e-mails became public, American public opinion on climate change had undergone a shift towards scepticism. A Washington Post poll published this week found that only 72 per cent of Americans believe global warming “has probably been happening”, as against 80 per cent last year. Since 2006, the percentage of Americans who think there is no such thing as global warming has doubled, to 26 per cent.
These findings are in line with a more detailed study done in October by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The percentage of Americans who see global warming as a “very serious problem” has fallen since last year, to 35 per cent from 44 per cent. This decline is occurring in all regions and all political parties. It is sharpest among independents, 79 per cent of whom were seriously worried about global warming in 2008 and barely half of whom (53 per cent) are now. Democrats are more likely to see global warming as a “serious problem”, but only a minority of them (49 per cent) do. And although Americans marginally favour President Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade plans for reducing carbon emissions, those who follow the issue closely oppose them by two-to-one. A Senate bill that would have strengthened the president’s negotiating hand in Copenhagen has stalled out and will not be revisited until the end of the year.
Democratic consultant Mark Mellman reacted to the waning faith in climate change by telling the Post: “It’s a sad state of affairs when science becomes subject to partisan politics.” But it is worth stressing that Copenhagen is a political, not a scientific, summit. World leaders are not going to Copenhagen to discuss whether and how climate change is happening – they are trying to hammer out solutions. So perhaps the poll data reflect the folk wisdom that if there is no solution, there is no problem. Even if solutions are not scientifically impossible, they may be politically impossible.
Taxpayers in the developed countries have reason to worry that they will be taken to the cleaners at Copenhagen. If rich countries get tight targets for carbon emissions and poor ones get technology transfers and subsidies (through sellable carbon-offset credits) to “green their industrialisation”, then it looks less like a cleanup and more like a redistribution of productive capacity. Many programmes that appear reasonable in academic or political conclaves will prove explosive when exposed to the oxygen of democracy.
Paying poor countries is easier said than done. If you give money directly to farmers or “rainforest communities”, it will be inefficiently spent. To purchase land, say, or to develop alternative industry, you need concentrations of capital. That means giving the money either to governments (which introduces the certitude of corruption) or big companies (which introduces the possibility money will simply be transferred from western wage-earners to western moguls of “green industry”, who already receive large US subsidies and are prone to confuse their own interests with the developing world’s).
Democratic publics are not science faculties. Most of those who urge teaching creationism, instead of evolution, in high-school biology classes, for instance, could not explain Darwin’s theory to you. But neither could most of those who consider creationism an embarrassing superstition. When the public debates scientific questions, it is not attitudes towards science that divide them but attitudes towards authority. The stolen e-mails will not necessarily settle any scientific arguments. But they may settle some political ones.
It has been suggested that Sarah Palin is a sort of Rorschach test for Americans. The attractive, religious and fertile White woman drove the ugly, secular and barren White self-hating and Jewish elite absolutely mad well before there were any questions about her qualifications. The loyalty she inspires in the White masses is similarly based on gut feelings rather than rational analysis.
The latest chapter in the Palin saga is her book Going Rogue. I usually don’t like to read these kinds of ghostwritten works by politicians who still have ambitions for higher office. You’re not hearing the candidate speak about what he believes or getting a sense of his own style, but reading what he thinks he should say to be politically acceptable to the masses filtered through the diction of a nobody.
Indeed, there is much in this book that would be hard to imagine coming out of the author’s mouth. Take the second sentence.
With the gray Talkeetna Mountains in the distance and the first light covering of snow about to descend on Pioneer Peak, I breathed in an autumn bouquet that combined everything small-town America with rugged splashes of the Last Frontier.
At other points the author quotes Plato and Aristotle. Near the end, she even discusses economics with Bristol, the kid who got knocked up. We’re informed that this daughter dreams of opening a coffee shop with her cousin. After Palin explains to the teenager that Obama is destroying capitalism, Bristol the economist replies:
“You’re always preaching that government ‘can’t make you happy, healthy, wealthy, or wise.’ Business owners are smarter than politicians give them credit for, and President Obama is wrong to think more government control is the answer. Pay attention to the tea parties, Mom. You’re not alone in this. That’s what they’re saying.”
Bristol’s barista wage: $7.25 an hour.
Her advice to the president (and her mom): priceless.
Despite the drawbacks inherent in a book like this, the Palin phenomenon says so much about modern day America that ignoring her autobiography would be to miss a major cultural event. And combing through Rogue may shed light on who has the ear of the lady who may very well be our president in a few years.
Not a Typical National Politician
The first three chapters tell the story of Sarah Palin’s life up until she was selected to be John McCain’s running mate. Chapter four is the 2008 campaign and five is what has happened since. Chapter six is a short fourteen pages that sum up the author’s political philosophy.
Sarah Heath was born in Idaho. Her father was a schoolteacher and the Alaskan gold rush had created a demand for professionals to serve the growing population of the 49th state. She arrived in Skagway, population at the time 650, as a three-month-old. From then on she had a typical American upbringing.
Sarah met Todd when she was a senior in high school. He had come to Wasilla for his last year of school to play on the basketball team. Sarah admired his work ethic and was impressed by how polite he was to her parents. But then she tells us that he chewed tobacco, didn’t go to church and cussed. When Todd informs Sarah that he’d been baptized at a sports camp a few years before meeting her, she knows that he’s the right man for her.
Sarah graduated from high school with the goal of being a sports journalist. She took five years to finish college not because she was dumb, as some have suggested, but because she had to pay her way and would occasionally take a semester off. At eighteen she supposedly read the platforms of both the major political parties and decided to become a Republican due to her love of America, beliefs in individual rights and capitalism, and her “respect for equality.”
According to Sarah, Todd was the first and only boy she ever kissed. When he tried to put the moves on her for the first time she jumped out of the car. The Palins got married at a courthouse and had their wedding dinner at Wendy’s. Unlike the Obamas, as young adults they had real jobs. Finding one that paid $14 an hour would be a cause for celebration. Years later when accused of having a conflict of interest because her husband was employed by the oil industry, Governor Palin would explain to her state that “Todd’s not in management. He actually works.”
As a politician, Palin claims to always have been looking out for the best interests of her constituents. She rose to become the mayor of her hometown and from there went on to the governorship of the state. The way she tells it, Palin was a completely disinterested public servant who fought corruption wherever she found it.
There seems to be some truth in her account. In 2006 the FBI served almost twenty search warrants on the offices of state legislators, most of whom were Republicans. Palin herself would be untouched during the corruption investigations and no impropriety was found after she came back to Alaska after the 2008 campaign. This is despite the fact that she and her family would go $500,000 in debt defending herself against ethics complaints, which could be filed at no cost to the accuser.
Less believable are Palin’s claims that when her family moved into the Governor’s Mansion they fired the private cook to save the state money. If this is true and it wasn’t a gimmick, the woman is a saint.
It’s quite charming to hear accounts of how Palin balanced her numerous pregnancies and the needs of her children with her political duties. When Frank Murkowski was elected governor of Alaska in 2002, he had to resign his Senate seat and pick a replacement. Mayor Palin was on the short list. Todd drove her out to Anchorage to interview for the position and rode around the parking lot to keep the Ford Bronco warm as his wife met with the governor. She didn’t get the job, but the parents got home in time to watch Bristol’s basketball game and Track’s hockey practice. Governor Palin had an approval rating in the 80s when she joined the McCain team.
The Disastrous McCain Campaign
Palin went to Arizona in the summer of 2008 to interview for the number two spot of the Republican ticket. She met with senior campaign strategist Steve Schmidt,[i] who had also worked for W. His favorite issue was the Iraq war and he would give Palin books and videos on the subject. There was an assumption that the conflict would be the center of the McCain campaign. The only thing more disturbing than the fact that the McCain team thought they could win on this issue is that they actually believed in the war.
Schmidt asked her about gay marriage. Palin said that her college roommate was a lesbian and that even though she thought that marriage was between a man and a woman, she loved her friend dearly. Then they asked about evolution. Palin replied that she believed that although there was evidence for microevolution, there was none for macroevolution.
I didn’t believe in the theory that human beings … originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea. Or that human beings began as single-celled organisms that developed into monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees; I believed we came about through a random process, but were created by God.
The last sentence makes absolutely no sense, but then again, it’s coming from a woman that doesn’t believe in evolution.
Palin’s reputation would take its biggest hit in her interview with Katie Couric. Someone on the campaign convinced the governor to do it by explaining that Couric had low self-esteem and simply wanted to be liked.
Palin throws cheap shots like this throughout the book at those that have crossed her. Here’s some more: The McCain people were completely cynical and scared to death of unscripted moments. An Alaskan Democratic state legislator was laughed at by soldiers for claiming to have had experience in the army after taking a few weeks’ military course. Schmidt wore sunglasses on the top of his bald head in the middle of the night.
As for the famous CBS interview, Couric and her team shot hours of footage and then unfairly decided what fraction went on TV. Palin would accuse them of picking the worst of the worst to broadcast. It sounds like a just criticism until you realize that twenty minutes out of a few hours is a pretty significant portion. If you picked out the worst sixth of my writing, it wouldn’t be representative but at the same time it wouldn’t be the disaster that was the Palin interview. Granted, if you took my worst sentence I may look like a fool, but CBS News didn’t do anything close to that.
Couric famously asked Palin which newspapers she read that formed her worldview. Here’s how Palin explains her humiliating answer.
It’s not that I didn’t want to — or as some have ludicrously suggested, couldn’t — answer her question; it was that her condescension irritated me. It was as though she had suddenly stumbled on a primitive newcomer from an undiscovered tribe.
You can watch the segment for yourself on YouTube and decide if Palin’s characterization of Couric’s tone is correct. The question isn’t unreasonable and the interviewee’s answer says more about her insecure and paranoid nature than anything else.
Palin is like a Black person who responds to normal human interactions with “It’s because I’m Black, right?” Except with her, it goes “It’s because I’m not from New York and don’t have an Ivy League degree, isn’t it?”
This isn’t to absolve the McCain campaign of anything. I have nothing but contempt for people who would work for that disgusting and horrible man. Nor do I have any love for the liberal elite.
But Palin doesn’t have the IQ to run an effective political campaign or be a passable representative for White America. In fact, part of the reason that the proles relate to her is that they’re also resentful of those smarter than themselves. Sure, they dislike the liberalism of the ruling class, but there’s still old fashioned jealousy.
Intelligence Is Overrated in a President
Picking a president isn’t like choosing a doctor or an engineer. A political leader decides what his agenda is going to be. You don’t have to be a genius to read and believe in the 10th amendment. Palin mentions it twice favorably in her book.
On the other hand, it does take some intelligence to not consistently embarrass and discredit the ideology you represent. After eight years of a Republican president who couldn’t put a grammatical sentence together, the last thing conservatism needs is a creationist with an IQ a standard deviation below those she disagrees with ideologically and must debate.
Sarah Palin writes that the media picked on her and her family. She asks us to
imagine if your family were the subject of relentless attention from a hostile press. Surely there is at least one person or incident the press could seize on to embarrass your loved ones…. If your extended family doesn’t fit that description, count your blessings. I’ve never met anyone like you.
The reason that she hasn’t is because everybody she knows is a prole. They didn’t need to go to the extended family to find disgraced relatives either. Bristol was pregnant at 17. Her sister’s husband tasered his 11-year-old stepson. Palin takes John Kerry to task for his joke about those who don’t study getting “stuck in Iraq,” but the story of her own son proves that he was right (or would’ve been, if insulting soldiers was actually his intention). Track joined the military after deciding that he didn’t want to bum around after high school like his friends. This implies that he wasn’t smart enough for college. He got two tattoos before he left: a Jesus fish and the state of Alaska. Maybe this sounds heartwarming at a town hall meeting in Wasilla, but to the educated public it’s trashy.
As far as Palin’s ideology goes, she does embrace the too-many-loans-to-poor-people explanation for the housing crash, without the racial aspect of course. And in the final chapter she names Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visionsas a work that influenced her.
But the most important thing of all is that there isn’t a word about either legal or illegal immigration in the book. And even if she managed to have her way on taxes and welfare, it would eventually be repealed by the soon-to-be majority of Mexicans and other NAMs.
She says we have a responsibility to “complete our missions” in foreign lands and ensure America remains the strongest military power in the world. And the always innocent and wonderful state of Israel is singled out twice as a foreign country that especially deserves American support. (Here’s a recent video of Palin saying that Israel should build even more settlements on Palestinian land because, after all, Israel has a rapidly growing population. If only we had politicians to consider the demographic future of the majority people of America!)
Although one would have a hard time telling from this review, I really like Sarah Palin. She is as good a person as can get on a presidential ticket in today’s America. But that isn’t enough. There will never be a rising up of “Middle American Radicals” who seize power. If the American elite is ever to be replaced, it will have to be done by people of comparable ability.
Palin takes the McCain campaign to task for not emphasizing Jeremiah Wright during the campaign. She was told to be quiet on the subject. The girl has guts and unlike McCain would’ve cared more about winning than not being called racist.
But the end result of a Palin victory in 2012 would simply be a globalist that the masses relate to instead of one whom they resist. That’s the problem with hoping for the “Joe the Plumbers” to save the White race. Being deficient in intelligence, they’re easily led in any direction. Whites voted for the Bush that promised a humble foreign policy in 2000 and they died for him in the sands of Iraq from 2003 on.
If there’s one lesson from the last Republican president, it’s that if someone has the loyalty of conservative Whites, it’s important that he actually carry out policies that are good for Whites. It’s too easy to fall under the spell of a pretty face and then wake up to find that your country is gone. Not for nothing did Sam Francis refer to the failure of conservatism under Reagan.
And when the country goes under thanks to these foreign wars and increasing number of low-IQ welfare dependents, “conservatism” and maybe even nativism will be blamed.
In the end though, I’ll be rooting for Palin just so I can watch liberals’ heads explode after the goddess of implicit Whiteness beats their messiah. Anyone who thought seeing Kerry lose to Bush was tough on the Left hasn’t seen anything yet.
If it’s going to be a long time until a White awakening, we may as well be entertained while we wait.
[i] Schmit would go on to say that a Palin candidacy would be disastrous for the Republican party in 2012. She likewise bashes him in Rogue as unprincipled and incompetent.
It is ironic that President Barack Obama would travel to China and speak against government control over the internet. If the American Department of Homeland Security has its way new cybersecurity laws will enable Obama’s administration to take control of the internet in the event of a national crisis. How that national crisis might be defined would be up to the White House but there have been some precedents that suggest that the response would hardly be respectful of the Bill of Rights.
Many countries already monitor and censor the internet on a regular basis, forbidding access to numerous sites that they consider to be subversive. During recent unrest, the governments of both Iran and China effectively shut down the internet by taking control of or blocking servers. Combined with switching off of cell phone transmitters, the steps proved effective in isolating dissidents. Could it happen here? Undoubtedly. Once the laws are in place a terrorist incident or something that could be plausibly described in those terms would be all that is needed to have government officials issue the order to bring the internet to a halt.
Government intrusion in the private lives of citizens is already a reality, particularly in the so-called Western Democracies that have the necessary technology and tech-savvy manpower to tap phones and invade computers. In Europe, draconian anti-terrorism laws enable security agencies to monitor phone calls and e-mails, in many cases without any judicial oversight. In Britain the monitoring includes access to detailed internet records that are available for inspection by no less than 653 government agencies, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with security or intelligence, all without any judicial review.
In the United States the Pentagon recently sought an internet and news "instant response capability" which it dubbed the Office of Strategic Influence and evidence is growing that it has seeded a number of retired military analysts into the major news networks to provide a pro-government slant on the war news. The State Department is also in the game, tasking young officers to engage presumed radicals in debate on their websites. There also is the warrantless wiretapping program, which continues under the Obama administration in spite of pre-electoral promises that it would be stopped, while the growing use of national security letters means that private communications carried out using the internet can be accessed by Federal law enforcement agencies. The national security letter, established by the PATRIOT Act, is an investigative tool that is particularly insidious as it does not require judicial oversight. More than 35,000 were issued by the FBI last year and the recipient of a letter commits a felony if he or she reveals the receipt of the document. In a recent case involving an internet provider in Philadelphia, a national security letter demanded all details of internet messages sent on a certain date, to include account information on clients with social security numbers and credit card references.
The free flow of information on the internet has also produced a reaction among those who are more concerned with getting out a specific message. If you have noticed the frequent appearance of bloggers and "talkbackers" on the various internet sites who write in less than perfect English and who always support attacking Iran and are defensive about Israel, sometimes overwhelming sites with garbage messages, you are not alone as it is clear that a sustained effort is underway to intimidate, influence opinion, and suppress opposing views. The United States and Israeli governments have taken the lead in putting out propaganda over the internet and there are also indications that several European countries, including Britain and Germany, are engaged in creating regulatory hurdles and countering information that they do not approve of. When the debate is open and the interlocutors are identifying themselves as government representatives one might well argue that the process is healthy as it permits a genuine exchange of views, but where the government hand is hidden the exchange should be regarded as little more than propaganda, what the old Soviet Union might well have referred to as "agitprop."
The focus on war by other means over the internet is important, if only because it means that governments are using their vast resources to spread propaganda in a deliberate effort to confuse the debate over important foreign and domestic policy issues. Israel is at the forefront, exploiting its cutting edge telecommunications industry and enabled by its large and powerful diaspora to get out its message. Not surprisingly, its lobbies including AIPAC are also leaders in the effort, sometimes acting openly and sometimes covertly.
Israel became heavily engaged on the internet during its devastating assault on Gaza last January, when world opinion came down strongly against it, recruiting teams of young soldiers and students to blog in support of Operation Cast Lead. It has recently focused on the UN’s Goldstone Report that claimed that Tel Aviv had committed numerous war crimes in Gaza, supporting a worldwide organized campaign to discredit anyone promoting the report. The latest victim of the smear has been the respected and nonpartisan group Human Rights Watch (HRW). In June Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister pledged that his government would "dedicate time and manpower to combating" human rights organizations. Shortly afterwards Ron Dermer of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office named Human Rights Watch as one of the offending organizations. Many attacks on HRW were subsequently carried out openly using various front organizations, including NGO Monitor which is based in Jerusalem and funded by wealthy Americans. Elie Wiesel, who cashes in on his humanitarian credentials while remaining notably silent over Israeli war crimes, is on the Monitor board and has written a letter attacking HRW. Critical pieces in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times soon followed the initial attacks, commentary that was distributed widely by AIPAC on Capitol Hill and also all over the internet.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry, headed by right-wing extremist Avigdor Lieberman, runs a semi-covert program which is openly funded by the government as the "internet fighting team" but which deliberately conceals the affiliation of the "talkbackers." Ilan Shturman coordinates the Ministry effort, which is run out of the Hasbara Department, "hasbara" being a Hebrew word that is normally translated as propaganda. Shturman’s young and enthusiastic employees work from a prepared script of official Israeli government positions. They are instructed not to identify themselves either as Israelis or as government employees. There have been numerous applicants to work for Shturman. An Israeli source reports that one applicant emphasized his own qualifications, writing "I’m fluent in several languages and I’m able to spew forth bullsh*t for hours on end."
But there is also concern that the program will further distort the news cycle which is already suffering from deliberately misleading government leaks, making it impossible to discern what information that is surfacing is being fabricated. One Israeli critic of the Foreign Ministry program has described it as part of a "thought police state." And the effort is increasingly international in nature. During the attack on Gaza, Shturman headed an effort to obtain the assistance of Jews abroad, recruiting a "few thousand" to work with his Israeli volunteers to bombard hostile websites with Israel-friendly commentary. Much of the chatter is in English, though the teams also work in the other principal European languages. Recent immigrants from the Israeli government’s Ministry of Absorption have been recruited and used to attack sites in their own more exotic native languages.
The Israeli government program is expected to increase. A private advocacy group called Give Israel Your United Support has a reported 50,000 activists who use a specially developed software called megaphone that sends an alert when anti-Israeli commentary appears, permitting supporters to bombard the hostile site with their own comments. In July, 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students were given the megaphone software. There are also reports that several American Christian evangelical groups have indicated that they are interested in helping the cause. The goal is to have hundreds of thousands of activists worldwide who are prepared to place messages supportive of Israel.
The danger is real. Most Americans who are critical of the actions of their own government rely on the internet for information that is uncensored and often provocative, including sites like Antiwar.com. As the United States generally follows Israeli initiatives for security it is likely only a matter of time before Obama’s internet warfare teams surface either at the Defense Department or at State. Deliberately overloading and attacking the internet to damage its credibility is all too possible; witness the numerous sites that have been "hacked" and have had to shut down or restrict their activities. American citizens who are concerned about maintaining their few remaining liberties should sound the alarm and tell the politicians that we don’t need more government advice on what we should think and do. Hands off the internet.
This weekend saw the national rollout of two crowd-pleaser movies about impoverished 350-pound black teens: Precious and The Blind Side. (What an amazing country we have, where a pair of poor children can tip the scales at 700 pounds!)
Together, the two films reflect an emerging, if seldom fully articulated, consensus among all right-thinking people in this Bush-Obama era about what to do with underclass black children.
Precious is the story of an illiterate 16-year-old girl who was made pregnant and HIV-positive by her rapist father, but her real problem is her abusive welfare mother with whom she shares a Section 8 apartment. Still, with the help of tireless teachers and social workers, she moves into a halfway house and begins to turn her life around.
The Blind Side is an adaptation of Michael Lewis’s 2006 nonfiction bestseller about Michael Oher. A homeless 16-year-old with a drug addict mother and a father who was thrown off a bridge, Oher was adopted by a rich white family. He’s now a rookie starting offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL, with a five-year $13,795,000 contract.
The Blind Side’s writer-director John Lee Hancock told Michael Granberry of the Dallas News:
“He loves what he calls its nature vs. nurture story line. “It’s like a test case for nurture, and nurture wins in a big way. You’ve got a kid who’s cast on the junk heap of life, socially and from an educational standpoint. And it’s amazing what a roof, a bed, meals and an emphasis on schools can do, when everybody had written him off.” [The Texan behind 'The Blind Side', November 15, 2009]
Therefore, poor black children are victims of their family environments, and thus should be, as much as possible, kept away from their families and raised by whites or middle-class blacks.
The New York Times Magazine has devoted countless articles in this decade to this general theme, such as The Inner-City Prep School Experience by Maggie Jones [September 25, 2009], about a public boarding school in Southeast Washington. The story is largely devoted to worrying that the school’s annual per student expenditure of $35,000 of the taxpayers’ money isn’t enough to keep the kids locked up in an enriching environment 24×7. When they go home on Fridays, they are re-exposed to black slum culture. Presumably, their test scores decline over the weekend.
Now, you know and I know what the real story of the Jena Six was: a half dozen black youths were allowed to run amok in football-mad Jena for years because they were stars of the local high school team, until they finally beat up one kid too many. But CBS News sure doesn’t know.
(At the Jena Sixer’s expensive new prep school in Connecticut, football coach Ken Parson exclaims that he “can’t wait to unleash“ the 215-pounder.)
Sports-crazy white people opening their homes to big black youths is more common than The Blind Side might lead you to expect. For example, former NBA star Dennis Rodman lived with a white family while he was playing college basketball. Were Rodman’s subsequent adventures a product of nurture or nature? (The Worm is one of the 27 children of his aptly named father, Philander Rodman Jr.).
That may be one of those questions that perhaps Man was not destined to answer.
This trope in the culture was parodied in 2007 on the HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David’s liberal wife Cheryl takes in a New Orleans hurricane refugee family of blacks, the Blacks—“That would be like if my name were Larry Jew,” Larry helpfully points out—which leads to his house burning down.
Will this trend to keep African-Americans away from their mothers just lead to eventual public apologies, too?
Michael Lewis’s first book, 1989’s Liar’s Poker, recounted his brief career on Wall Street. Its sales benefited from the interest in bond salesmen generated by Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. Perhaps Lewis hasn’t quite fulfilled my hope that he would be “the next Tom Wolfe”, but then Lewis is more the Southern gentleman. (Although Wolfe’s father edited The Southern Planter magazine, his ferocious ambition made him one of nature’s New Yorkers.)
Two decades later, Michael Lewis remains one of our finest glossy magazine journalists, a Malcolm Gladwell for smart people. Lewis’s 2003 book about the Bill James revolution in baseball, Moneyball, is one of the best popular explications of the uses of statistics.
In the 1970s, Lewis attended a New Orleans prep school, Isidore Newman, with basketball star Sean Tuohy, who went on to Ole Miss, back when the U. of Mississippi’s basketball team had an integrated starting line-up. Tuohy was an NCAA legend at point guard, making the Southeastern Conference All-Century team.
Decades later, Lewis caught up with Tuohy, and quickly recognized that the Tuohy family story was exactly what the American public wanted to hear.
Indeed, the film adaption of The Blind Side (rated PG-13) is an effective commercial movie. It took in almost $11 million on Friday, which projects out to a little under $100 million in total. The mostly Mexican audience with whom I saw it in Van Nuys enjoyed it heartily. Despite being a football movie, it probably appeals more to women than to men (59 percent of its Friday audience was female).
Tuohy (played by country singer Tim McGraw) married an Ole Miss cheerleader, Leigh Anne (played by Sandra Bullock of Speed), and had a daughter and a son. He wound up owning 85 fast food franchises and a jet, helped found a megachurch, and has a night job broadcasting the Memphis Grizzly NBA games. His beautiful and energetic wife is a homemaker and upscale interior decorator.
Now, you might expect that a couple that blessed with competence, good looks, energy, faith, health, and wealth might think about having a third baby. But in the movie, it just doesn’t seem to come up.
In his spare time, Tuohy helped out at his kids’ Briarcrest Christian School as the all-sports assistant coach for the school’s black athletes. A booster like Tuohy, who played with many blacks and can help disoriented black youths out with both advice and cash, is invaluable.
Briarcrest, like so many private schools, juggles the temptation to give scholarships to star ghetto athletes versus the worry that they’ll flunk out … or worse.
Thus I noted in April 2006 that, while the Main Stream Media’s obsession with finding what Wolfe calls the “Great White Defendant” made possible the Duke lacrosse hoax, no less than three (3) star minority football players—including Mark Sanchez, now quarterback for the New York Jets—had been arrested on rape or assault charges in the just the previous week. But those incidents didn’t get much press attention. They’re routine.
When Briarcrest’s football coach tried to have 6’4” 344 pound Michael Oher admitted as a sophomore, Lewis recounts:
“Steve Simpson, the principal of Briarcrest Christian School, was frankly incredulous. The boy, now 16, had a measured I.Q. of 80, which put him in mankind’s ninth percentile. … ‘Big Mike was a blank slate.’”
Actually, 80 isn’t all that bad for the Memphis slums, especially not for a kid with his catastrophic upbringing. One of 13 children of his drug addict mother, Oher had attended 11 schools, not to mention a year-and-a-half-spell during which he apparently wasn’t enrolled anywhere.
He grew up quiet, even docile. The Tuohys took the gentle giant into their home, and eventually gave him an equal share in their will with their biological children. They found a tutor (played by Kathy Bates) to work with him 20 hours per week. He slowly got his grades up from F to D, so the school let him play football his junior year. As a defensive tackle, though, he lacked the killer instinct. In his senior year, he was switched to left offensive tackle to guard the quarterback’s blind side, a role better suited for his stubborn and protective personality.
Oher eventually raised his grade point average to 2.05, and with the Tuohys paying for correspondence courses, he managed to inflate it to the 2.52 he needed to play for Ole Miss, his adoptive parents’ old school.
“Drowned in nurture, his I.Q. test score had risen between 20 and 30 points. And his new parents, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, were so pleased with the results of their experiment that they began to figure out how best to go back into the inner city and do it all over again.”
Actually, more like 16 points: at the NFL draft combine, Oher scored a decent 19 on the league’s Wonderlic IQ test, which equates to a 96. (By the way, a small French study of adoptions across class divides found the IQ benefit at age 14 of being raised from the bottom to the top of society to be 12 points, although most American adoption studies have found smaller effects.)
The Blind Side is written and directed by John Lee Hancock, who, I suspect, is one of Hollywood’s closet conservatives. He has an English Lit B.A. and a law degree from Baylor, the traditionalist Baptist university in Waco, TX, where his father and brother played football. He wrote screenplays for two Clint Eastwood movies in the 1990s (including the underrated A Perfect World).
Hancock broke through as director of the surprise 2002 hit, The Rookie, with Dennis Quaid in the true story of a West Texas high school baseball coach who gets his major league fastball back in his mid-30s. Then Hancock was parachuted in to rescue Disney’s troubled production of The Alamo. He couldn’t fully turn that around—although, as I pointed out in VDARE.com, it’s a decent movie if you know some American history, which few moviegoers do these days. (Strikingly, Hancock’s Alamo was less sympathetic to the Mexican side than John Wayne’s epic 1960Alamo.)
For her lead performance as the pushy mother, Bullock is being talked up for an Oscar. In her long, lucrative career, Bullock has never even been nominated. Perhaps Academy voters assume she doesn’t need to act because she’s naturally adorable—which she might be: her high school class voted her Most Likely to Brighten Your Day.
To attract Academy Award attention, Bullock plays Mrs. Tuohy without the actress’ traditional trademark charm, crushing all obstacles through sheer force of will. This characterization makes it easier to notice Bullock’s acting chops, but seems gimmicky, not to mention implausible for an old Ole Miss cheerleader. From Scarlett O’Hara on, Southern belles usually get their way, but normally they fool you into imagining it’s your way, too.
I suspect Bullock didn’t want to compete with Julia Roberts’ performance in 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War in a potentially similar role as a rich Southern conservative lady who uses her womanly wiles to beguile 1980s Washington into funding the anti-Soviet mujahedeen in Afghanistan.
Toward the end of The Blind Side, a cynical NCAA investigator injects some suspense into the self-congratulatory proceedings by asking: If we approve your scholarship to your adoptive parents’ alma mater, are we going to see a trend toward other rich white college sports boosters adopting poor black jocks?
The answer, I suspect, is: Yes.
Today, wealthy Red State conservatives indulge their tribalist passions by fighting expensive zero sum wars with each other over who can spend the most to lure black athletes to play for their state colleges.
That this is an inane way to waste money that could be better spent on more important issues is not something you’ll hear from The Blind Side.
The more serious question: will American taxpayers be forced to subsidize this doomed panacea society-wide?
Politically correct Scotland Yard chiefs have stopped using the term ‘gang rape’ because it is too ‘emotive’, the Mail can reveal.
Instead officers have been advised to use the long-winded phrase ‘multi-perpetrator rape’ when describing sex attacks involving three or more culprits.
Critics branded the move by the Metropolitan Police an ‘affront’ to the victims of appalling sex crimes and are preparing to launch a campaign on the issue.
Six years ago the Met was at the centre of a similar row over its choice of language to describe ‘gang rapes’ after a senior officer referred to them as ‘group rapes’ during an interview on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
Some community activists had previously suggested the phrase ‘gang rape’ had racist connotations.
Details of the latest police terminology are contained in an official Scotland Yard report which reveals a sharp increase in the number of gang rapes in the capital.
New figures revealed there were 93 gang sex attacks in the financial year 2008-9, compared with 71 in 2003-2004.
Meanwhile the age of victims has fallen with 64% aged 19 or younger in the last financial year compared with 48% in 1998-9.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Yexley admits in his report on ‘Multi-Perpetrator Rape and Youth Violence’ for the Metropolitan Police Authority that the ‘common parlance for this offence is ‘gang’ rape’.
But he adds: ‘This is an emotive term – but it is used widely in the public domain. There have been instances in the past where the term ‘gang’ has come to mean different things – either groups known to each other, criminal networks or peer groups.
‘Care has been taken with the definition of the term ‘gang’ in this paper. It is however accepted that there is a public perception/understanding of what this term means.
Recent academic studies have suggested that the term ‘Multiple Perpetrator Rape’ should be used as the overarching term for offences involving two or more perpetrators.
‘When examining rapes committed by multiple perpetrators, it should be noted that the number of offenders involved and the methods used by assailants, vary. Analysis on such offending is primarily based on victim testimony and any other supporting evidence, so links to ‘gangs’ cannot necessarily be established.
‘These offences are complex in nature, ranging from allegations of consensual sex between the victims and a known party followed by non-consensual assaults committed by associates, to stranger attacks involving large groups.’
Chrissie Maher, founder of Plain English Campaign, told the Mail: ‘I am disgusted to my very bones and weep for the victims of gang rape. I don’t usually approve of ‘four-letter words’ but there is no better way of defining gang rape. Ask the public if they need an academic study to work that out.
‘Jargon has been used to hide and confuse all sorts of things, that’s why Plain English Campaign was started. But using jargon clean up crime is the last thing I ever expected to see.
‘Ask any victim – rape is an emotive crime – it deserves an emotive term not some sterile, politically correct nonsense. This doesn’t deserve a Golden Bull award – this deserves a new campaign to give victims the respect they deserve.’
There have been a series of high-profile convictions of teenagers for gang rapes in the capital over the past year.
Two men who assaulted a girl aged 16 and doused her in caustic soda, disfiguring her for life, had their sentences increased on appeal.
In another case a 14-year-old girl was repeatedly raped “as punishment” by nine members of a Hackney gang because she had “insulted” their leader.
A meeting of the MPA, the Met’s board of governors, heard levels of gang rape are linked to overall youth violence.
MPA member Jennette Arnold said some offenders are from cultural backgrounds where rape is more common. She said the crime is seen by some as a “weapon of war” and more work needs to be done to get into the minds of culprits.
Mrs Arnold said: ‘It has got to be regretted that the increase in black victims has doubled.’
Commander Simon Foy, who leads the Met’s homicide and serious crime command, said there is no doubt the “abhorrent” crime of ‘multi-perpetrator rape’ is under-reported.
He said: ‘This is a phenomenon we are all concerned about. There is a substantial amount of this type of offending going on which we do not necessarily know much about.
‘The numbers we do have are relatively small. That makes it difficult to understand the trends and behaviours that are going on.’
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the decision to use the term ‘multi-perpetrator rape’ was made by DCI Yaxley after he saw the findings of academic studies.
In the almost three years since President Felipe Calderón launched a war on drug cartels, border towns in Mexico have turned into halls of mirrors where no one knows who is on which side or what chance remark could get you murdered. Some 14,000 people have been killed in that time—the worst carnage since the Mexican Revolution—and part of the country is effectively under martial law. Is this evidence of a creeping coup by the military? A war between drug cartels? Between the president and his opposition? Or just collateral damage from the (U.S.-supported) war on drugs? Nobody knows: Mexico is where facts, like people, simply disappear. The stakes for the U.S. are high, especially as the prospect of a failed state on our southern border begins to seem all too real.
by Philip Caputo
Poor Mexico. So far from God and so close to the United States. —Porfirio Díaz, dictator of Mexico from 1876 to 1880 and 1884 to 1911
Those famous words came to mind when another man named Díaz offered me an equally concise observation about the realities of life in the country today: “In Mexico it is dangerous to speak the truth. It is even dangerous to know the truth.”
His full name is Fernando Díaz Santana. He hosts two AM-radio news-and-commentary shows in the small Chihuahuan city of Nuevo Casas Grandes. A stocky, broad-faced man in late middle age, he projects an air of warmth, openness, and intelligence. As he tells me that it’s dangerous to speak or know the truth, the half-rueful, half-apologetic expression in his eyes makes it plain that he’d rather not keep his mouth shut and his mind closed.
He’s received text messages from listeners cautioning him to be careful of what he says on the air. He takes these friendly warnings seriously; failure to heed them could bring a death sentence like the one meted out to Armando Rodríguez, a crime reporter murdered by an unidentified gunman in November 2008 in Juárez, the violent border city across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. The fear of suffering a similar fate is a powerful incentive for self-censorship, for training a naturally inquisitive mind to acquire ignorance.
“So now we give just the objective facts,” Díaz says as he sits facing me in a stuffy, windowless rear room of the radio station, in Nuevo Casas Grandes’s central business district. He and the co-host of his afternoon show, David Andrew (pronounced Da-veed An-dray-oo), explain that the “objective facts” are those reported by the police or city hall or some other official source. Though the accuracy of such facts is often questionable, no questions dare be asked. “We say nothing more,” Díaz adds. “As long as we don’t get too deeply into a story, we are safe.”
I am reminded of Winnie Verloc, the character in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent who “felt profoundly that things do not stand much looking into.”
More than 14,000 people have been killed in the almost three years since President Felipe Calderón mobilized the army to fight Mexico’s half-dozen major drug cartels. Virtually none of those homicides has been solved, partly because witnesses suffer short-term memory loss when questioned, and partly because the police, for various reasons, also feel profoundly that things do not stand much looking into.
Rodríguez’s death is illustrative. His colleagues believe he was killed for an article he wrote linking relatives of Patricia González, the Chihuahuan state attorney general, to narcotics trafficking.
That is not idle theorizing. Jorge Luis Aguirre, a writer for LaPolaka.com, an online Juárez news service, had written extensively about corruption in the Chihuahuan state government, and did not spare González either. On the night of November 13, 2008, as he was driving to Rodríguez’s wake, he got a call on his cell phone. The male caller said, “You’re next, son of a bitch!” and hung up.
Aguirre immediately packed up his wife and sons and fled to El Paso, where he sought asylum. In March, testifying at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, he stated that he’d identified the source of the threats:
“Victor Valencia, a representative of the governor of the state of Chihuahua, had sent people to warn me to ‘tone down’ my criticisms of the prosecutor, Patricia González, because if I didn’t, he was going to kill me, using the Juárez cartel’s preferred method of kidnapping followed by execution.”
The aftermath reveals a lot about today’s Mexico. Patricia González remains in her post. Victor Valencia has been promoted to chief of public security in Juárez. The federal deputy attorney general handling the Rodríguez murder case, Jesús Martín Huerta Yedra, was shot to death in his car, along with his secretary. The investigation has since gone nowhere, to no one’s surprise. As the newspaper El Diario editorialized,
Friends of the journalist, who preferred not to give their names for security reasons, mentioned that they do not feel frustrated by the lack of advances in the case since from the beginning, they felt that the authorities had no intention of doing anything to clarify the crime.
To clarify the crime. Of the many things Mexico lacks these days, clarity is near the top of the list. It is dangerous to know the truth. Finding it is frustrating. Statements by U.S. and Mexican government officials, repeated by a news media that prefers simple story lines, have fostered the impression in the United States that the conflict in Mexico is between Calderón’s white hats and the crime syndicates’ black hats. The reality is far more complicated, as suggested by this statistic: out of those 14,000 dead, fewer than 100 have been soldiers. Presumably, army casualties would be far higher if the war were as straightforward as it’s often made out to be.
What, then, accounts for the carnage, the worst Mexico has suffered since the revolution, a century ago? To be sure, many of the dead have been cartel criminals. Some were killed in firefights with the army, others in battles between the cartels for control of smuggling routes, and still others in power struggles within the cartels. The toll includes more than 1,000 police officers, some of whom, according to Mexican press reports, were executed by soldiers for suspected links to drug traffickers. Conversely, a number of the fallen soldiers may have been killed by policemen moonlighting as cartel hit men, though that cannot be proved. Meanwhile, human-rights groups have accused the military of unleashing a reign of terror—carrying out forced disappearances, illegal detentions, acts of torture, and assassinations—not only to fight organized crime but also to suppress dissidents and other political troublemakers. What began as a war on drug trafficking has evolved into a low-intensity civil war with more than two sides and no white hats, only shades of black. The ordinary Mexican citizen—never sure who is on what side, or who is fighting whom and for what reason—retreats into a private world where he becomes willfully blind, deaf, and above all, dumb.
Which brings us back to Fernando Díaz and his avoidance of truth.
I have come to see him at the suggestion of Emilio Gutiérrez, who fled to the U.S. because army officers threatened him with death. During an interview at his hiding place north of the border, Gutiérrez told me about a mysterious event that occurred on February 12, 2008. Teams of gunmen, riding in SUVs and pickup trucks and described by witnesses as “dressed like soldiers,” swept through Nuevo Casas Grandes and six neighboring communities between midnight and dawn, kidnapping and executing people.
The convoys covered 170 miles altogether, rolling through military checkpoints unimpeded. In Nuevo Casas Grandes, the “armed commandos,” as they were called by the Mexican media, set fire to the house of a police subcommander and shot him to death as he ran outside. Two other people, one of them the uncle of a midlevel narcotics trafficker, were also executed. The press reported that 14 more were abducted, but the actual number was believed to be much higher. All the victims, except two who were apparently snatched by mistake and later released, vanished without a trace.
Gutiérrez, a reporter in El Diario’s Ascensión bureau, covered the operation. From what he’d seen with his own eyes and from interviews with eyewitnesses, he concluded that the perpetrators were dressed like soldiers for the simple reason that they were soldiers. An operation on that scale, he reasoned, could not have been conducted by gangs of pistoleros hastily thrown together: it required thorough planning, accurate intelligence, discipline, and coordination. Nor could pistoleros have driven through army roadblocks without being stopped. If the raid wasn’t military, it must have been conducted with the army’s cooperation.
That wasn’t what Gutiérrez reported, however. He told me that his boss, José Martínez Valdéz, the editor of El Diario’s editions in northwest Chihuahua, instructed him to “not cause problems by writing that this was military.” Gutiérrez’s silence did not win him any points with the army. Five months later, he was warned that the military was going to kill him, and he was forced to leave the country.
But why, I asked, would soldiers maraud the countryside on a murder-and-kidnapping spree? He replied that the raid was not part of the Mexican government’s war on the drug cartels but a struggle between two powerful cartels: the Juárez organization, headed by Vicente Carillo, and the Sinaloa federation, whose boss, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is the most-wanted man in Mexico. Gutiérrez said that in this instance the gunmen, whoever they were, had been after people they thought were working for the Juárez cartel.
“It’s an open secret in Mexico,” he said, “that the army is fighting the [Juárez] cartel to weaken them and pave the way for Guzmán.”
Open secret or no, an allegation that soldiers may have acted on behalf of a drug lord needs to be substantiated. After all, Calderón’s counter-narcotics strategy relies, with U.S. support, almost exclusively on the military.
With a short list of contacts provided by Gutiérrez, my interpreter, Molly Molloy, and I enter Mexico through the Palomas border crossing and head south into the Chihuahuan Desert. I have just been in Juárez and am relieved to not be going back to that industrialized border city—utterly charmless in the best of times, and these are far from the best of times. Juárez’s main product now is the corpse. Last year, drug-related violence there claimed more than 1,600 lives, and the toll for the first nine months of this year soared beyond 1,800, and mounts daily. That makes Juárez, population 1.5 million, the most violent city in the world. Two lines of graffiti summed up a place where not only law and order but civilization itself has broken down: Mi ciudad pide clemencia en su dementia (“My city asks for mercy in its madness”), and Mi ciudad es un negro lamento un aullido infinito (“My city is a black lament, an eternal howl”).
Nuevo Casas Grandes lies on a plateau near a fertile valley—cowboy-and-farmer country where cattle graze on the high desert ranges and apple and pecan orchards form tidy ranks on the city’s outskirts. The city itself, with some 51,000 people, is known to archaeologically minded tourists for its proximity to Paquimé, the site of ancient pueblo ruins. It looks prosperous by the standards of interior Mexico, with wide streets, a few decent hotels and restaurants, an airport, and several auto dealerships selling Fords and Jeeps and other familiar makes. If it weren’t for all the Mexican license plates, I could believe we were in a town in the southwestern United States.
Our first call is at the offices of El Diario, housed in a whitewashed villa on the main drag. Molloy and I are hoping to meet with José Martínez Valdéz, who is Gutiérrez’s former editor, and the news director, Victor Valdovinos. They can answer some of our questions and provide introductions to city officials. But repeated attempts to see Martínez are unsuccessful—he manages to dodge us all afternoon. We do get a very brief audience with Valdovinos. When we tell him what we are there for, he flinches and says, “You don’t want to talk to me,” then vanishes.
That leaves Fernando Díaz, whom we find at the radio station as he and David Andrew wrap up their afternoon show. They are willing to talk to us, and we go into the back room. Andrew, a heavyset, 30-ish man with dense carbon-black hair, shuts the door, either to muffle the noise from outside or to make sure no one overhears our conversation.
In the Mexico Mexicans have to live in, Díaz begins, life is “very hard, very bad,” a statement he underscores with a statistic: last year, 115 homicides were committed in Nuevo Casas Grandes and its surrounding communities. That works out to a murder rate more than 20 times as high as New York City’s.
It’s at this juncture that he makes his comment about the dangers of speaking or knowing the truth. I begin inquiring about the February 2008 incident, but Díaz and his younger colleague aren’t eager to discuss it.
I don’t get anywhere, though Díaz casts doubt on Gutiérrez’s assertion that the raid was a military operation. All of this talk about human-rights abuses by the army is “a myth,” Díaz insists. He is in fact cheered that an army battalion has been making rounds to bolster security in Nuevo Casas Grandes: “We are abandoned and unprotected here in northwest Chihuahua. It is a very big wish that the soldiers will bring peace. The army is the only group we can trust.” He adds by way of illustration that several sicarios, as professional assassins are called in Mexico, were arrested and confessed to killing 19 people in town.
Two of the sicarios, Andrew interjects, were his neighbors: “One guy worked in a car wash, the other guy was an army deserter.” Two others turned out to be auto salesmen—“nice guys in the day, killers by night,” Díaz says, as if he’s voicing over a trailer for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “You are talking to me, a radio announcer, but you can’t be sure that I’m not a sicario,” Díaz adds. “You say you’re an American reporter, but I don’t know that you’re not a sicario. You cannot trust anybody.” He doesn’t seem to notice that he’s contradicted his earlier remark that only the army can be trusted.
The question is, can the army be trusted, and if so, can it win this latest—and biggest—battle in the seemingly endless “war on drugs”? Calderón has deployed more than 45,000 troops (out of a total force of 230,000) throughout the country. Of that number, about 7,000, reinforced by 2,300 federal policemen, occupy Juárez as part of Operación Conjunta Chihuahua—the Joint Chihuahuan Operation. The army has taken over all the policing functions. The city is under undeclared martial law.
Although many ordinary Mexicans welcome the army’s intervention, certain that things would be far worse without it, approval has been far from universal. Claims of grievous abuses by the armed forces—unlawful detentions, disappearances, thefts, rapes, and murders—have increased sixfold in the past three years, according to Human Rights Watch. One hundred and seventy complaints have been filed in Chihuahua alone, says Gustavo de la Rosa, the former Chihuahua state ombudsman for Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission.
Leaving aside the question of whether militarizing the anti-narcotics campaign is the best way to go about things (a similar strategy in Colombia has been only partially successful), the fact is that, by destroying public trust in the armed forces, military misconduct undermines the entire effort, as I learned from a 50-year-old cleaning woman who now lives in Arizona and who asked to remain anonymous. She was visiting her aunt in Juárez last December when soldiers broke into a neighbor’s house, claiming that they were looking for a suspect.
“They didn’t say who,” the woman told me. “They tore her house apart, took her jewelry and her money, and said that if she complained about what they did they were going to come back and kill her. People are more afraid of the police and soldiers than they are of the narcos, because they’re very mean guys—not all, but many.”
The fear goes beyond undisciplined soldiers running amok. In an interview, de la Rosa told me that the president, elected in 2006 by a margin as thin as an ATM card, called out the army not merely to fight the cartels and eliminate a threat to national sovereignty but to consolidate his power and confer legitimacy on his presidency. “Calderón wants to show the Congress that the military is with him,” de la Rosa said. “And the military promised to support Calderón in exchange for being allowed out of the barracks, because the army wants to govern. Chihuahua is an experiment. What is happening here is in essence a military coup, a regional coup.” To support this contention, he cited a change he has had to make in his own work. Under normal circumstances, he would file complaints of abuse with the state governor, but now, he said, “the governor is ineffective, so I have to go to General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, the comandante of the 5th Military District.”
I was somewhat incredulous that the military was staging a creeping coup. To what end? I asked.
De la Rosa shrugged. “Actually, nobody really knows or understands what the military is up to,” he answered, hedging a bit. Then he asserted that the army intends not to stamp out drug trafficking but to “control” it. “So now if a drug cartel wants to move drugs into the U.S., who would they go to? To the governor? No, to the general.” (El Universal, Mexico’s largest newspaper, reported in September that de la Rosa had received death threats from the army, apparently because of his sharp criticisms; sources have told me he has taken temporary refuge in the U.S.)
As de la Rosa suggested, there is a dismal history of collusion between the armed forces and organized crime. In the late 1980s, the Mexican defense secretary was caught peddling protection to three drug organizations, which paid him a total of $10 million. In 1997, Mexico’s chief anti-narcotics officer was indicted for providing the Juárez cartel with classified drug-enforcement information in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes. In a 2001 essay in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, a University of Texas criminologist, Patrick O’Day, cited several instances of Mexican soldiers’ guarding narcotics shipments and transporting them into the United States in military vehicles or by other means. These operations were so extensive and went on for so long that O’Day concluded that the army was a cartel unto itself.
But let us make the risky assumption that today’s army is no longer involved in drug trafficking. The belief that it is exploiting a weak government to advance agendas beyond its declared mission is widespread, and not without reason. While many of the crimes alleged to have been committed by the armed forces appear to be the random acts of rogue troops, others may be part of a directed campaign with three possible objectives.
One objective is laudable—to get information about drug trafficking. The problem is that, in de la Rosa’s words, “the army’s investigative techniques are kidnapping and torture.” But according to Cipriana Jurado, a veteran labor organizer and women’s-rights activist, the military has another purpose: trying to stifle dissent, she said, citing numerous arrests of political troublemakers. And, as Gutiérrez’s case indicates, the generals also may be seeking to clamp down on Mexico’s freewheeling press.
In seeking, much less speaking, the truth about what the army is up to, one often runs into the paradox of the Mexican reality: something dreadful happens and is then treated as if it hadn’t happened. Facts, like people, simply disappear.
I experience this myself as I tour the ruins of a Juárez drug-rehabilitation center with my friend Julián Cardona, a photographer and Reuters correspondent. The rehab clinic is in a shabby two-story building on an unpaved street lined with cinder-block hovels, old cars, and derelict buses. A wind-whipped urban grit that feels dirtier than desert dust pelts our faces as we enter the rectangular patio strewn with rubble, its walls gouged by bullet holes. Small rooms lead off the patio, each with a hand-painted phrase above its door—Cocina for kitchen, Sala de Juntas for meeting room, D-Tox, which needs no translation.
We enter the meeting room. Votive candles gutter in glass jars arranged around an image of Jesus Christ propped up in one corner. The walls are peppered with bullet holes and spattered with dried blood. Cardona tells me what happened here on a Wednesday evening, August 13, 2008, as an Assembly of God pastor named Socorro García and her deacon, Joel Valle, conducted a service for the patients. After they and about 20 addicts gathered in the meeting room to sing hymns and hold a prayer service, García took the podium for altar call. “Is there anyone here who was a Christian in the past,” she asked, “but who fell away into drugs and who would like to reconcile with God?” Several patients raised their hands. García summoned them.
Outside, a Ford pickup carrying a detachment of Mexican paratroopers was parked at an intersection no more than 50 yards away. Two other trucks pulled up in front of the rehab center. Eight men armed with assault rifles and 9-millimeter pistols and wearing bulletproof vests and ski masks piled out of the vehicles and rushed inside.
The shooting started in the patio, just as the patients were walking up to the podium in answer to García’s call. Some flung themselves to the floor, others ran for their lives or huddled against a wall. García stood at the podium, crying out, “Muchachos! Ask God for another chance to live!” At that moment, four gunmen burst inside and, in her words, started “shooting in all directions.”
García raised her hands and hollered above the gunshots, “Lord, send your angels to protect us!” A gunman looked at her through the eyeholes of his ski mask and she looked back. He stopped shooting. “I was right there in front of him,” García told Cardona. “He had already shot a lot of people, and one more life would have meant nothing to him, but he didn’t shoot. Why? Maybe God did not allow it.”
Neighbors called the Emergency Response Center, the equivalent of 911, but got no response. Accounts of the actions taken by the soldiers parked at the street corner differ. According to one, the soldiers stood by passively as the assassins jumped in their trucks and fled. According to another, they drove past the rehab center at high speed while the massacre was going on. People shouted to them to put a stop to it, but the soldiers kept going. This led one of the neighbors to conclude that they “were guarding the killers or came with them so that the police would not intervene.”
In all, nine people were killed and five wounded. Among the dead was Joel Valle, the deacon. It was the worst mass murder in Juárez in years, Cardona says as I gaze at the flickering votives, the bloodstains and bullet holes framing the picture of Christ.
Of course, I have questions: Were any of the killers identified or captured? No. Was their motive determined? No, although there were rumors that they were after members of a street gang, the Aztecas, said to be hiding in the facility. Were the soldiers involved in the massacre? That’s what eyewitnesses claimed, Cardona replies. I keep grasping for facts, but realize it’s futile. Cardona says, “This is the black hole of Mexico. You cannot see inside of it, and nothing gets out.”
Despite the heavy military and police presence, six rehabilitation clinics have been attacked in Juárez over the past two years. The deadliest incident occurred on September 2, when 18 people were executed. Government authorities claimed the massacres were part of a war of extermination between the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels.
The conduct of the Mexican military goes to the heart of U.S. counter-narcotics policy. In the past year, experts like General Barry McCaffrey (the drug czar in the Clinton administration) and political figures have warned that if the cartels are not contained, Mexico could become a failed state and the U.S. could find itself with an Afghanistan or a Pakistan on its southern border. Such forecasts are hyperbole, but the fact is that drug trafficking and its attendant corruption are a malignancy that has spread into Mexico’s lymph system. To extend the metaphor, Calderón is attempting to perform radical surgery with the only instrument at his disposal—the army. It may be a tainted instrument, so the reasoning goes, but it is less tainted than the law-enforcement agencies.
Washington supports, indeed encourages, this approach through the Mérida Initiative, a security-cooperation agreement between the two countries that Congress passed and George W. Bush signed into law. Its aim is to provide $1.4 billion in funding, spread over several years, for military and law-enforcement training, equipment such as helicopters and surveillance aircraft, and judicial reforms. The aid package also includes conditions for improvements to Mexico’s less-than-enviable record on human-rights issues. Fifteen percent of the funds can be withheld if Mexico fails to show progress on matters such as prosecuting human-rights violators and prohibiting the use of torture to obtain evidence and testimony.
And that is where U.S. policy becomes contradictory. It calls for a military solution to the trafficking problem. But there are very few, if any, civil safeguards on the actions of the Mexican military. Its soldiers are subject only to military law, even when deployed in their current crime-fighting capacity, and the country’s military-justice system is, to understate things, opaque.
A good example is the case of Javier Rosales, a medical technician who died after he and a friend were captured and tortured by soldiers. Members of his family went to the state justice office and the federal attorney general’s office to file a complaint against the soldiers and demand an investigation. They were turned away because, the officials said, charges of army misconduct fall under military jurisdiction. However, Enrique Torres, a spokesman for the Joint Chihuahuan Operation, told me that the army looks into such allegations only through internal investigations or when formal charges have been filed by state or federal prosecutors. It’s pure catch-22: state or federal authorities will not receive complaints against soldiers, and the army will not investigate unless charges have been filed by state or federal authorities.
That is among the reasons why, out of the more than 2,000 complaints brought before Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, not one has resulted in the prosecution of a single soldier.
The provisions of the Mérida Initiative would appear to give the U.S. considerable leverage in compelling the Mexican army to act with more restraint and greater respect for the civil rights of the country’s citizens. Financial leverage, that is. The moral authority of the U.S. has been eroded by accusations that it has employed torture and illegal detentions in the “war on terror,” as well as by its status as the drug cartels’ biggest market and its singularly unsuccessful efforts to dry up demand.
Every year, under the Foreign Assistance Act, the State Department is required to certify that its southern neighbor is fully cooperating in efforts to stem the export of illegal narcotics into the United States. Without certification, Mexico would be ineligible to receive the vast majority of American aid. But the U.S. government often soft-pedals criticisms of Mexico on matters such as corruption and human-rights offenses, for two reasons. One is U.S. sensitivity to the Mexican elite, which can be thin-skinned about what it regards as infringements from the north on its national sovereignty. The second is money. In the highly unlikely event that Mexico were decertified, the cutoff in U.S. aid would strain bilateral relations, trade agreements would be imperiled, and American businessmen would find it harder to operate south of the border. Also, of all the countries that export oil to the United States, Mexico, at 985,000 barrels a day, ranks third, behind Canada and Saudi Arabia.
That makes speaking the truth about Mexico politically and economically dangerous in official U.S. circles.
But a larger question arises. Even if tomorrow the Mexican military began waging its anti-narcotics campaign with the probity of, say, the Swiss Guard, could it overcome the power of cartels? The drug bosses and their organizations have become integrated into Mexican society, corrupting every aspect of the nation’s life.
The U.S. government estimates that the cultivation and trafficking of illegal drugs directly employs 450,000 people in Mexico. Unknown numbers of people, possibly in the millions, are indirectly linked to the drug industry, which has revenues estimated to be as high as $25 billion a year, exceeded only by Mexico’s annual income from manufacturing and oil exports. Dr. Edgardo Buscaglia, a law professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute in Mexico City and a senior legal and economic adviser to the UN and the World Bank, concluded in a recent report that 17 of Mexico’s 31 states have become virtual narco-republics, where organized crime has infiltrated government, the courts, and the police so extensively that there is almost no way they can be cleaned up. The drug gangs have acquired a “military capacity” that enables them to confront the army on an almost equal footing.
“This in itself does not prove that we are in a situation of a failed state today,” Buscaglia wrote. He seemed to be suggesting that the situation could change tomorrow—and not for the better.
Stung by an embarrassing electronic leak last month revealing ethics investigations into dozens of lawmakers, Congress moved Tuesday to prohibit federal employees from using the same type of Internet file-sharing software blamed for the disclosure.
The Secure Federal File Sharing Act, introduced in the House, would bar government employees and contractors from downloading, installing or using so-called peer-to-peer file sharing software such as Limewire without official approval. The bill also would require the White House to develop rules for employees and contractors working on home or personal computers.
The software is popular among computer users trading music, movies and other files over the Internet, often in violation of copyright owners. The underpinning technology also makes other information on a person’s computer vulnerable to being downloaded, especially if the software isn’t configured properly.
A House ethics committee report outlining inquiries involving dozens of members of Congress leaked onto the Internet after a junior committee staff member saved it on the hard drive of a home computer. The staff member, who had peer-to-peer software, didn’t realize the file was unprotected but was subsequently fired anyway.
The secret report detailed investigations that included financial dealings, travel and campaign donations.
The White House Office of Management and Budget advised federal agencies in 2004 not to use peer-to-peer software. Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., the new bill’s sponsor, said putting the prohibition in federal law gives it much greater weight.
“We can no longer ignore the threat to sensitive government information that insecure peer-to-peer networks pose,” said Towns, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Voluntary self-regulations have failed so now is the time for Congress to act.”
Critics of the software, including the entertainment industry, have complained that personal data, including Social Security numbers, medical records and tax returns, are being unwittingly shared because users are unaware of how the programs work. But national security information, such as details about the electronics in the president’s Marine One helicopter, has also been breached.
The entertainment industry long has sought controls on peer-to-peer programs to block the improper or illegal exchange of music. In October, the Recording Industry Association of America predicted the leak of the ethics panel report would be “a powerful catalyst to enact real reforms to protect consumers.”
On the Net:
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: http://oversight.house.gov/
Recession-crippled Republic offers cash to non-EU nationals who agree to leave country
Ireland is offering money to immigrants to leave the recession-crippled Republic. The Irish Department of Justice has confirmed that it is opening an EU-funded project to persuade foreign workers and asylum seekers to return to their country of origin.
A spokeswoman told the Observer this weekend that the scheme will only apply to non-EU nationals living in the Republic and would involve the department spending almost €600,000 this year to pay for immigrants and their families to return to nations outside the European Union.
“The grants will not be given to individuals but rather the scheme will operate through projects and organisations,” she added.
“They [immigrants] can apply for the fund only through organisations and community groups. It is the first time we have introduced the scheme.”
The department has made it clear it had no projected figure in mind as to the number of immigrants the government hopes will take up the repatriation grants.
Advertisements promoting the scheme were published in Irish national newspapers on Friday. Application forms will also be available for non-EU nationals in the main immigration centre on Burgh Quay, Dublin.
The voluntary repatriation programme comes at a time of rising fears about the cost of immigration into Ireland.
Last week the mayor of Limerick caused a political storm when he called for the deportation of EU nationals who were out of work for more than three months and were claiming social welfare benefits.
Kevin Kiely said: “We are borrowing €400 million per week to maintain our own residents and we can’t afford it.
“During the good times it was grand, but we can’t afford the current situation unless the EU is willing to step in and pay for non-nationals.”
However the mayor was forced to withdraw his remarks after a storm of protests. His own party, Fine Gael, distanced itself from his comments.
In a subsequent statement, Kiely said: “I still am of the opinion and so are others, who have approached me in recent days, that there is abuse of the Irish social welfare system.
“But in seeking to highlight this I inadvertently caused offence to others, which I very much regret.”
During the latter years of the Celtic Tiger boom Ireland underwent a demographic revolution in terms of its ethnic make-up. Up until the early 1990s Ireland was 95% white and Catholic.
However, according to the Republic’s central statistics office, about 18% of Ireland’s inhabitants are now non-nationals.
Most of them are from eastern Europe, China, Brazil and west Africa or are British citizens who have settled on the island.
Some academics, such as Dr Bryan Fanning of University College Dublin, estimate that the real figure is more than 20%, meaning Ireland’s “foreign” citizens make up over one fifth of the Republic’s entire population.
The majority of the immigrants who arrived during the boom years were enticed to Ireland to fill vacancies in the construction, retail and tourist sectors – the main parts of the Irish economy to be severely hit by the current recession.
Ten months after Democrats took over the Capitol and the first African-American president moved into the White House, black lawmakers are in control of some of the most powerful positions in Congress _ and face new challenges to using their long-sought influence.
There have been some victories _ guaranteeing that stimulus money reaches some of the poorest parts of the country, expanding hate crimes legislation and moving to close health care disparities.
But “in some ways, our strategies haven’t caught up with our own power,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, chief executive of the NAACP.
“The civil rights community is used to passing big omnibus legislative acts,” he said. “We’re not so accustomed to having the power to slice and dice that into 20 pieces and attach that to various other appropriations bills.”
For generations, civil rights were inseparable from black politicians. That era ended with President Barack Obama, who has declined to engage in traditional black advocacy.
So any new efforts to help blacks who remain disproportionately unemployed, incarcerated, unhealthy and undereducated will most likely come from the 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“The goal is closing all of these gaps,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the caucus and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees budgetary spending. “When you look at all these huge systemic gaps, there’s still not equality and justice for all.”
But due to recent advances among blacks _ Obama’s election chief among them _ there is a new resistance toward efforts aimed at helping black people specifically, said University of Pennsylvania history professor Mary Frances Berry.
“We’re used to being supplicants at the table,” Berry said. “Now they have to be smart. If they want to do something about unemployment, they can target those who have the highest rates. If you target education, target the lowest achievement rates. Don’t say, ‘We’re doing this for black folks’; you say, ‘We want to target where the problems are.’”
That strategy has been taking shape for some time, said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who as majority whip is the third-ranking member of the House.
Clyburn cited an amendment in the economic recovery package that he worked on with Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, to ensure that 10 percent of federal stimulus dollars are spent in areas where at least 20 percent of residents have lived in poverty for the last 30 years.
“If I were designing a quote-unquote affirmative action program today, that’s what I would be using, the 10-20-30 formula,” Clyburn said. “We are finding more and more sophisticated ways of doing this on a nonracial basis.”
But some still say the fractious black caucus _ which famously split over endorsing Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 presidential primaries _ should be doing much more to bring together leaders from the private sector, education and local government to tackle problems facing black America.
“The black power establishment altogether should be given a B-minus or a C-plus,” Berry said. “They need to pull together, join together and be smart about how they articulate what the goals and opportunities are.”
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said recently enacted legislation expanding hate crimes protection and changes he is pushing to mandatory minimum sentencing laws are evidence of “a whole new power syndrome on the national scene.”
He also said he planned to bring a bill through his committee calling for the government to study the issue of reparations to descendants of slaves. “This is not just a feel-good measure,” Conyers said. “This is very serious business.”
Obama opposes reparations and has said “the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.”
The caucus also played a major role in pushing the House to formally rebuke Rep. Jim Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who shouted “You lie!” during Obama’s health care address to Congress.
“We weren’t just going to let that go and not say something about it,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.
She said Clyburn’s position as majority whip was crucial to this and other caucus priorities: “We’re able to sort of project and amplify our voices because he’s in the leadership.”
Clarke said that in bills such as the stimulus package, health care reform and auto industry bailouts, caucus members affect “the chemistry of the legislation” by ensuring that provisions to help minorities are included.
For example, the House health care bill provides billions of dollars to address the substandard health care many minorities receive. It’s unclear whether the provisions will remain after negotiations to reconcile the Senate health care bills.
Berry, the Penn professor, said the caucus’ effectiveness should ultimately be judged by results on problems in poverty, education, unemployment and other areas.
“We’re going to find out how smart they are, how committed they are and whether they have a fix on what the people need,” she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press.