“Written to enlighten, guaranteed to offend”
A Publication of Seth J. Frantzman
February 23rd, 2009
1) Islamism's accidental midwife: the British Empire and Communism: Islamism may have had no greater allies than the British Empire and Communism. Not only did the British Empire support Muslim empires such as the Turks but when it colonized states such as India and Sudan it betrayed the non-Muslims. Communism also brutally suppressed the church but ignored the growth of Islamism. When it had destroyed the faith of people Islam was alive and well to fill the empty souls.
2) And you thought it would end: Racism and black history month and Eric Holder: With the election of Barak Obama some people, including myself, hoped that the endless whining about ‘America is a racist society’ would end or be toned down. But Attorney General Eric Holder’s ‘nation of cowards’ remark during Black History month commemorations illustrates the opposite. American race mongers seek to transform the past into an un-nuanced ‘white versus black’ just as they wish to call ‘racist’ anyone who tries to discuss the race, and then they call us all ‘cowards’ or not discussing race.
3) The worst of both worlds: The financial crises and environmentalism: With the financial crises in full swing some might think that disposal government income might finally dry up and pet environmental projects, which are costly and have no clear benefit, would be set aside. One might have thought that foreign aid and other largesse would be stopped. But it is not stopping. Instead the environmental lobby has smelled blood and is pushing through more extreme environmental plans that are bankrupting us all.
Islamism's accidental midwife: the British Empire and Communism
(This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post on February 19th)
Seth J. Frantzman
February 17th, 2008
The rise of Islamism may have had no greater unintentional allies than the British Empire up until 1948 and Communism after 1948. This may come as a surprise because the British Empire is generally viewed as being founded on Christian Anglican values and there is nothing that seems more anathema to religion than Communism. However while the professed values and foundations of British imperialism and Communism seemed to militate against Islamism's rise, the actual practices of the two regimes led to conditions under which Islamism could flourish, grow and gain converts.
The British Empire contained many millions of Muslims. It tended to colonize states on the periphery of Islam, such as India and the Sudan, where Muslims had gained inroads or where Islamic colonial regimes, such as the Mughals, had long held sway. Unlike the French in North Africa, the British Empire had within it the power to roll back the imposition of Islamic law and protect non-Islamic minorities. While the British Empire performed admirably in ending the Islamic Arab slave trade in West Africa through colonizing Zanzibar, the slave traders capital, it was not as successful a protector of non-Muslims in the Sudan, Egypt, Iraq or Palestine.
In Sudan the British had the greatest opportunity to help the local pagan and Christian Africans in the south form their own autonomous government. In fact, given the history of the Sudanese Mahdi's Islamist extremism which led to the death of British General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885 and the battle of Omdurman in 1898, it would have seemed the British would have understood the threat that Islamism posed to minorities. But Britain did the opposite, forcing Sudan into a federation with Egypt until Sudan gained independence in 1956. The Southern Sudan, African and Christian, was forced at that time to give up its autonomy and become part of newly independent and Islamist Sudan. Civil war and genocide have been the bane of Sudan ever since.
In Iraq the minority Assyrian and Chaldean Christian community were originally armed by the British as auxiliaries in the 1920s. But when England handed the country over to King Faisal in the 1930s the Assyrians were slaughtered in massacres. In Palestine British promises to Jews were first threatened through the 1939 White Paper limiting Jewish immigration and the country was then partitioned into two states, one with a bare majority of Jews and the other that was entirely Arab and mostly Muslim.
India presents a further example of the way in which British rule unintentionally furthered the goals of states and ideologies that would become centers of Islamism. Originally the British seemed to save Hindus and Sikhs in India from Mughal Muslim domination. England fought wars against Muslim potentates such as Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1799. But Britain also destroyed the non-Muslim independent states in wars against the Hindu Marathas and Sikhs. In the laws enacted by the British in the 19th and 20th centuries in India, Sharia family law was enshrined by the British in their colonial legal system. In general the British, out of a desire to be paternalistic, attempted to reform and ‘modernize’ laws affecting the Hindus but specifically exempted Muslims from such laws so as not engender mass protests by the Muslim community. In the Partition of India in 1947 the Muslim League’s demand for a state was met while Sikhs were denied a similar state. The result was the creation of Pakistan (which included Bangladesh at the time) and the mass movement some 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims across the partition border. 500,000 died in ethnic-cleansing on both sides. In Pakistan the few remaining minorities have faced increasing discrimination and the imposition of Sharia law.
Communism in Russia, Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and China followed a similar pattern. While there were examples of Muslim minorities, such as the Chechens, being brutalized by Communism, overall Islamism did well under such regimes. The Chinese have been forbidden to have more than one child since 1979. Chinese Muslim minorities such as Hui and Uighurs however are allowed to have more than one child under the idea that children are central to their religion, as if the same were not true of Chinese Buddhists and Christians. The Soviet Union pursued a similar policy in regards to religion. While the Orthodox Church and Jewish religion were suppressed, churches turned into museums and synagogues turned into government buildings, Islam was never subjected to such extreme degradation. Although the use of the veil was proscribed in Central Asia, Islam thrived in other ways, especially because it was seen as part of the 'national' characteristic of the Central Asian and Caucasian Soviet Republics.
In Yugoslavia a similar policy was embarked upon in Kosovo and Bosnia and the result was the ethnic-religious wars of the 1990s in which Islamist Mujahadeen, including members of Al Queida came to Bosnia to join the 'Jihad'. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the leader of the group that beheaded Daniel Pearl was among them. Ethiopian Communism suppressed the Ethiopian Orthodox church but ignored the rise of Islamism in parts of Ethiopia such as among the Oromo and their Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia. Thus Communism did not support a rise in Islamism but served unintentionally as its incubator in some cases. Communist atheist zeal usually assaulted the majority religions its leaders were familiar with, such as Orthodoxy and Buddhism, ignoring Islam and the growth of Islamist groups.
The British Empire’s decision to give in to Muslim nationalist and proto-Islamist demands and its unwillingness to meddle with Sharia law had catastrophic consequences for non-Muslim minorities such as Copts, Assyrians, Sikhs and African Christians who were abandoned in policies designed not to foment social unrest. British partition plans in Palestine and India led to ethnic-cleansing of Jews, Hindus and Sikhs while minorities in Sudan who had enjoyed autonomy were forced to live under regimes that suppressed them and became increasingly intolerant of their beliefs over time. Communism pursued similar policies, usually seeing the church as a greater threat than the mosque, it viciously destroyed national churches, ignoring the rise of Islamist and Wahhabi preaching in its midst. When Communism fell or declined Islamism was very much on the march from Chechnya, Central Asia, Eritrea and Bosnia to Western China. While the policies of the British Empire and Communism were in no way shaped to support the spread of Islamism, the fall of both had the unintentional affect of creating states that have provided safe havens and vocal points for the growth of Islamist ideology.
And you thought it would end: Racism and black history month and Eric Holder
Seth J. Frantzman
February 20th, 2009
Some people were under the mistaken impression that with a ‘black’ President the obsession with race, the whining, the endless calls of ‘racism’ would finally end. But Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the U.S came out during ‘Black History Month’ and declared on February 18th, 2009 that “we are a nation of cowards.” A nation of cowards? The full text of his comments dealt with his concern that despite priding ourselves on being a melting pot Americans “simply do not talk enough with each other about race… if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us… hasten the day when the dream of individual, character based, acceptance can actually be realized… the history of black America and the history of this nation are inextricably tied to each other. It is for this reason that the study of black history is important to everyone- black or white… Separate public facilities, separate entrances, poll taxes, legal discrimination, forced labor, in essence an American apartheid, all were part of an America that the movement [Civil Rights] destroyed... In law, culture, science, athletics, industry and other fields, knowledge of the roles played by blacks is critical to an understanding of the American experiment. For too long we have been too willing to segregate the study of black history… an unstudied, not discussed and ultimately misunderstood diversity can become a divisive force. An appreciation of the unique black past.”
It is hard to understand Holder’s comments until one realizes that his comments are part of the problem and that his contradictions are the essential portion of what makes race such an inseparable and unsolvable problem.
Let us begin from the beginning. Holder calls us, Americans at least, cowards for not speaking frankly about race. But let’s really think about this. Anyone who speaks frankly about race is condemned as a racist. In the shallow, skin deep, ignorant society that pervades one finds that condemnations of ‘racist’ are thrown on those who have not even discussed race, let alone those who do. Someone using the word ‘niggardly’ in a public broadcast as asked to apologize for being ‘racist’ and fired. But niggardly does not come from Nigger, no matter how much ignorant uneducated people want it to. If niggardly (the act of being cheap, miserly or stingy or covetous or parsimonious) came from nigger than it would be hard to explain why people are called ‘nigger-rich’ (spendthrift or profligate). Niggardly, which is to say covetous, is a quality often applied derisively, to Jews whose financial habits are not usually associated with those of blacks. But that would be racist to mention, for both groups. So let’s be honest. We can’t talk ‘frankly’ about race because to do so is actually to be racist.
It’s obvious the degree to which this is true when one considers the recent cartoon controversy over a cartoon in the New York Post. The cartoon showed a dead chimp shot by two policeman. One is saying to the other “I guess we will have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” Immediately the racial mafia of wealthy white leftists, whining sniveling leftist students and ‘black activists’ such as the ever-present and honest Al Sharpton were calling for blood at the Post. Why? Because of the past sensitivity of people comparing blacks to monkeys. The cartoon supposedly insinuated that Obama was a monkey, or something of that nature. It couldn’t be that the cartoon implied that the Stimulus Bill was written by monkeys. In a climate of racial fascism where a few off-hand comments, like Don Imus’ “nappy headed hoes”, lead to his being publically lynched how can we be expected to speak ‘frankly’ about race. Things that aren’t frank or aren’t even about race are interpreted to be so. God forbid someone might actually talk about it. If we can’t use the word niggardly, don’t ask us to talk about the word ‘nigger’. And don’t call us cowards when the very people who call us cowards for not being ‘frank’ are the same one wagging the ‘racist’ finger.
But Holder went further than whining about a ‘nation of cowards’. He spoke of a nation that should judge people on their “character” and not their race. But M. Holder spins his quadroon race as much as possible. He is the ‘first black attorney general’. But if we count the blacks in Holder’s family tree we certainly will not find as many as we find whites. We would need another three or four Mr. Holders in order to get one fully black attorney general. It’s a lot like the joke about Cherokee Indians told by other Indians. “What do you call forty Cherokees in one room? A full blooded Indian.” That is because of the propensity of white people to ‘discover’ their Cherokee heritage and because of the Cherokee tendency in the 19th century to marry Scottish immigrants who lived among them in Georgia. But if Holder exploits his race he must be kidding about judging people on their ‘character’. The fellow travelers of Holder, the oped writers at the Times, all told us Americans we had to vote for Obama because he was black in order to cancel the sin of slavery and ‘make history.’ So which is it? Are we supposed to judge based on character or on skin color? Too often it seems those who use skin color as currency are those who then pretend that money is colorless.
Holder tells us about the mythical segregated entrances and toilets and buses and eating facilities and even speaks of an American Apartheid. But let’s be honest. All this talk of slavery and segregation attempts to link to American history in totality. But a majority of American states never had slavery and never had segregation. That point is often forgotten among Americans and among non-Americans who have been led to believe, by people like Holder, that segregation and slavery was the ‘American way’. But it was not. It was not the way of most Americans, ever. To compare it to Apartheid shows the ignorance of Holder more than it insults America. If Apartheid had existed in Northern South Africa, say in the Free State and Transvaal but not in the Cape Town area, would we have thought about it the same way? People need to believe that states like Maine and Massachusetts were the same as Virginia in order to perpetuate the idea that we need to all be knee deep in the racial guilt about slavery and segregation. Guilt for not ending it sooner at the point of a rifle, but certainly no guilt over it actually for most Americans have no connection to it.
But Holder becomes even more contradictory when he tries to tell us that we need to recognize the unique roles of blacks and at the same time integrate ‘black history’ into that of America. But it is Mr. Holder, speaking on the occasion of Black History Month, who contradicts this. If he wants to integrate the important contribution of blacks then he should stop recalling them all as black and start treating them like people. This cannot be stressed enough. It is the liberal good intentions that took all the blacks out of American history and placed them all in the context of their ‘blackness’. So Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis and Tiger Woods and Barak Obama and others are all recognized first as blacks and as being ‘the first’. Its problematic. Is Jesse Owens only famous for being black? Or Mohammed Ali? Apparently not. We want it both ways. We want Black History Month and we want photos of the first black man in space and first black at the North Pole and first black to go down in a Submarine injected into our history books alongside stories about the North Pole and the Moon and we then want the same pictures in the section that is specially devoted to ‘Black History.’ The truth is hard to speak. If people like Mr. Holder were not segregated as ‘the first black attorney general’ then they would probably disappear into the morass of attorney generals who are mostly forgettable. How many do we really recall? Bobby Kennedy. That’s about all. Who was the guy that Bush hired that was supposedly a neo-fascist and restricted our Civil Liberties and was so controversial? Mullgren? Ashcroft? Some white guy. Oh well. But Mr. Eric Holder? He’s pretty famous. He’s very important. He accomplished a lot in life? He’s controversial? No. No. No. He’s just black. That’s why we should remember him. But he wants us to integrate him. Well then he will be pretty unmemorable probably. He’s no Bobby Kennedy. And we only remember him because of his last name.
Eric Holder embodies all the problems of the very racism he claims to understand. He yearns for equality and frank discussions and yet at the same time he wants to celebrate the uniqueness of black history. He wants blacks who succeed to be recognize for their success and their character, not their race, but yet he glories in the blackness of his heroes, not just heroes such as Martin Luther King, but Jackie Robinson. The same problem confronts so many people such as Colin Powell, Tiger Woods and Barak Obama. The desire to succeed irrespective of race and to live in a color blind society and yet the secret knowledge that in modern society being ‘black’ is an asset in certain situations. It is enough to remind people of Nadine Gordimer’s book Beethoven was One Sixteenth Black. Her short story isn’t actually about Beethoven, but if it did turn out that the composer was 1/16th black we should wonder, would he be called the “greatest black composer” or the “first black composer to play at such and such a place”? Would his name be enshrined during Black History Month. Maybe it should. Him an Shakespeare and George Washington and Jesus. I mean, maybe they were black. Maybe we all are. And if we all are then maybe can get to the post-racial society that people all preach about.
The truth is that we can’t escape our racialized history, not because we are unable to, but because we glory in the simplified and wrongheaded simplicity of a ‘black and white’ society. Simon Schama’s recent television documentary on America entitled The American Future creates new myths about race out of the modern need to separate everything based on race. In speaking about the history of Texas he speaks of ‘white illegal immigrants’ coming to Texas and looking down on the ‘indigenous Mexicans’. What is he talking about? He imagines that the Mexicans of 1830s Texas were like the Mexican immigrants of 2009. But he projects a false racial consciousness back into the past. The ‘Mexicans’ of 1930s Texas were Spaniards who had colonized and settled Texas. They were Vecinos. Their society was heavily segregated into Castas, Mestizos, Coyotes, mulatos, criados, nixoras and Sonorenses and nortenos. We can’t expect Schama, a white man from England, to tell the difference between all these shades apparently. But in those days people knew and the ‘Mexicans’ were not only a stratified society but most of the ones encountered by the Americans moving to Texas were as white as the Americans. Santa Ana wasn’t some half Indian brown ‘Mexican’ as Schama imagines him. But Schama needs ‘white racism’ to pervade Texas history. So he needs ‘black’ Mexicans to fight the ‘white’ racist Americans. He couldn’t imagine anything different.
But no one can imagine something different because in 2009 we are more racially conscious than in 1839. In Susan Faludi’s new book The Terror Dream she speaks of how America has a history of imagining “traumatizing assaults by non-white ‘barbarians’.” Really? This is because Faludi, whose last name seems to reek of low-class Italian ancestry but is apparently Hungarian-Jewish, imagines a past of whiteness and blackness. She wants to link King Philip’s Wompanog natives to the 9/11 terrorist hijackers in one large ‘non-white’ morass. She wants them all to be lumped in with the Japanese of 1941 and apparently the Germans and Russians too. They are all ‘non-white’, a catch all phrase for everything in the world apparently. People like Faludi need ‘non-white’ myths of blackness in order to juxtapose them with her hated ‘white America’. The same ‘white America’ that took in her Holocaust survivor ancestors. It’s odd that old Europe, that wonderful ivory tower of actual white people, killed off her ancestors but she so hates America that she imagines an evil America always lashing out at fake enemies because of a supposed traumatic past of Indian attacks on a few isolated Anglo settlements in the 17th century.
The truth is that the Faludis and Schamas and Holders and others need racism. It doesn’t matter how colorful America is, the entire country is always cleansed in history and bleached to make it into a ‘white’ man fighting and suppressing some mythical blacks. Those ‘blacks’ can be lily white Mexicans or white Japanese who were fighting their own race war in Asia, or anyone else. Define them as ‘non-white’, so that America can continue to be ‘white’ because white is evil and America must be seen as ‘racist’ and evil. So define the Russians as ‘non-white’. Define the Arab terrorists as ‘non-white’. Define some white blond woman from England who converts to Islam as ‘non-white’. Whatever it takes. In the case of 1/16th black people, define them as black. Create a myth of whiteness to go alongside a myth of blackness. Make Mexican colonists who had just finished exterminating the Indians of Texas into ‘blacks’ so that Americans can be ‘white’. Then turn those Mexicans into ‘whites’ so that the blacks in Arizona can still be the ‘largest minority’ group. Whatever it takes. Play the race game. Change the race, lie about race, talk about race, then call people racist, mistake the word niggard for nigger and whine and cry and complain. That’s America.
Holder’s ‘nation of cowards’ was a disgusting and disgraceful comment. One wonders if he would have had the chagrin to say it to the half a million Union soldiers who died in the Civil War fighting to end slavery. It would be interesting to know if he would have called them cowards. Maybe he should have given the speech at Arlington or Gettysburg. He could have given it at Appomattox. Or maybe at the theatre where Lincoln was murdered. Or Harpers Ferry where John Brown led his raiders. Mr. Holder is the coward for he so easily dismisses so many who fought and wrote and died to end the evil institution of slavery. If we are cowards it is because of people like Holder and his friends, gangs of half black men and women whose white ancestry is as deep as their black one and who have chosen to emphasize their ‘blackness’ and use it to their advantage to make themselves appear more interesting and more ‘colourful’ in a society that they have told to value ‘color’. It is they who have endlessly shamed and complained and spit on people calling other racists wherever they go, spreading racial discord and calling cowardly those who care not about race and do not wish to join their extremist worldview where everything is ‘black and white’ and one suffocates under the self righteous racial idiocy of endless whining and complaining and shrill comments.
The worst of both worlds: The financial crises and environmentalism
Seth J. Frantzman
February 16th, 2009
A year ago we were living large. The banks were secure. Al Gore's prophecies about "extreme weather" seemed to be coming true. Flush with cash our time could be spent buying 'green'. Everything was going green. From the organic food craze to Harper-Collins books, there was not an item that wasn't fashionably environmental. Cars too were going electric, even if they had to be charged every few hours and could only go 30 mph. Carbon offsets were the rage and guilt conscious air travelers were 'doing their part' by offsetting their travel. There were few things in life that one couldn't check a special box and have that thing be 'environmentally friendly.'
Then the economic crises came. People are tightening their belts. The government is spending like a drunken sailor in order to shore up everything from banks to bankrupt state governments. People are giving tomatoes to their girlfriends on Valentines Day instead of roses to save money. People aren’t taking vacations. The beaches lie empty in the Bahamas.
But one news item hasn't disappeared. Environmentalism is at an all time high. One part of the Stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama stipulated that tens of millions must go to making the federal office buildings 'energy efficient', which is to say environementally friendly. With England in the throes of a terrible economic crises the government is going forward with a plan, set to begin in February of 2009, to tax airlines based on their carbon emissions. According to reports "the tax increase will save the equivalent of three quarters of a million tonnes of carbon every year by 2011." A British treasury spokesman claimed that "the Treasury took all relevant factors into account before deciding to increase Air Passenger Duty to better reflect the environmental costs of air travel." In addition "the revenues raised from the increase will secure extra resources in the coming spending round for our priorities such as public transport and the environment." In total each passenger will pay an extra $7 for economy class and an extra $30 for first class to offset their carbon output through the tax.
Advocates such as Ryan Nabil, note that "in the context of world's financial situation, it'd be very unwise to impose the tax on airline companies… Airline passengers should pay for the harm they are causing to the environment and the proper way to do that is to pay a carbon emissions tax… If airline passengers can buy airport novels for $10, it would not hurt them to pay $3.75 to recompense for what they are doing to the environment. " They claim that the money will be spent on "subsidizing biofuel or other green-tech energy sources if found." This is quite brilliant. Cash strapped passengers will be charged more money as a tax that will be placed in the hands of the government and supposedly spent to help offset carbon emissions. But like the money raised by governments from cigarette taxes or lawsuits against cigarette companies there is no guarantee that any money will be spent to 'offset' the carbon even if there was a way to offset it, which there isn't.
But the dream world of the environmentalists, whose jobs and livelihoods and ability to fund their never ending extreme activism has not been damaged by the economic crises, is unchanged. Just at the time when states and people have little money environmentalists are putting the last nails in the coffin. In California a new plan for a Powerlink (apparently meaning lots of electric lines) from San Diego to Imperial Valley is a case study in environmental extremism. It was only approved so long as it twists "around a state park, an Indian reservation and much of a forest. Its builders would be banned from harming burrowing owls or rattlesnakes." But that wasn't enough for other environmentalists who have sued the state anyway not to build it. As The Economist notes " Barack Obama wants to create green jobs, but he needs to create jobs above all, and quickly. Environmentalists, who know how to hold up big projects better than anybody, will not be bounced so easily." But this state of affairs should only remind us of the insanity that has confronted anyone who wants to build windmills to create 'green' electricity. For years environmentalists campaigned to close coal power stations and then their alternative, nuclear ones. Left with little choice they proposed wind power as an alternative. But when people actually wanted to build wind power generators every attempt was prevented by the same environmentalists who now argued the "wind turbines' would harm birds.
There is a silver lining. The destruction of the economy may yet dent the pocketbooks of the environmentalists and those who fund them. Whole Foods and Trader Joes may yet be cut low, even though they themselves merely profited off of the environmental extremism, their products were not truly 'organic'. But it seems for now we are living in the worst of both worlds. Environmental extremism forcing us to pay more in taxes and for 'green' products while we have less and less money and the government is 'stimulating' the economy by hiring more and more hippie-environmental consultants on how to spend taxpayers money on creating 'green' jobs, which means more jobs for the environmental elite and less jobs for people who are actually out of work.