Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Terra Incognita 49 history, culture and the Gaza boat

Terra Incognita
Issue 49
“Written to enlighten, guaranteed to offend”

A Publication of Seth J. Frantzman
Jerusalem, Israel

Website: http://journalterraincognita.blogspot.com/

August 20th, 2008

1) Perversion of history: The recent BBC series, The Story of India, includes numerous references to the wonders of Indian civilization. Special praise is meted out to those Indian empires who were ‘diverse’ and ‘multi-cultural’ and ‘tolerance’, especially the Buddhist empires. This view of history, where praiseworthy cultures of the past must evoke those values we love today is a perversion. Gone are the references to any cultures where the people were patriotic and nationalistic. But one wonders about these ‘tolerance’ empires such as the Kushans. They were so tolerant that they succumbed easily to outsiders who practiced lesser forms of tolerance.

2) The culture lie: It is more and more common for people to commit indecency in places and then claim that it is because of ‘culture’. The recent story of an American diplomat convicted of having sex with teenage girls and videotaping his ‘encounters’ in the Congo includes the diplomats claim that in Africa it is ‘cultural’ to enjoy 13 year old girls. But then why did he videotape it? Is that also African culture or is it a man enjoying his perversion?

3) Where was the 'Free Gaza Boat' for the Jews? With the arrival of 40 European and ‘international’ activists in Gaza and their ‘free Gaza boat’ one is reminded of the fact that these international activists were not there to help the Jews during the Holocaust. One is also reminded of the fact that Europeans do not look kindly on all the boats full of African immigrants arriving illegally on Europe’s shores. Why is it that European and American ‘activists’ feel they don’t have to obey the same laws that they expect others to? After all, one can’t simply sail up and dock in Europe unopposed under the guise of being part of a ‘Free the Basques’ movement.

Perversion of history
August 24th, 2008
Seth J. Frantzman

In 2007 the BBC put out a documentary mini-series entitled The Story of India narrated by Michael Wood. In many ways it is a very well presented documentary that follows the narrator throughout South Asia and Central Asia searching for themes in India's past. Its best attribute is the fact that it spends more time on the history of India and Indians and less time on the history of Islam in India. Most books on Indian history, including John Kaey's India: A History which spends from page 180 to page 348 on the Islamic history of the subcontinent, seem to telescope Indian history, ignoring its Hindu and Buddhist past, and turning the Mughal Islamic age of India into a 'golden age'. This perversion of history means that in most bookstores the books on history deal only with the Muslim aspect of that country's history, including such recent books as The Mughal Throne: the Saga of India's great emperors and The Last Mughal: the Fall of a dynasty, Delhi 1857. Michael Woods, surprisingly for a British narrator, has done some justice to India's past by focusing only one of the 6 series on the Islamic history of India. But in doing justice to the Buddhist and Hindu past he has, unfortunately, also created a perversion of history.

It seems that westerners, especially the educated lot, are able to connect with Indian history on only two levels. The first, and most common, is the level of the 'exotic' world of the Mughal court and its legions of concubines, slaves, spices and 'dancing girls'. This lush world of emperors and consorts appeals to the western imagination. It is no different than the love of the Arab world found in the westerner who romanticizes the Arab as a Bedouin chief and, although condemning the 'Orientalist discourse' is himself taken up by the love of the 'other'.

If the Westerner disabuses himself of a love for Mughal emperors and slavery he immediately finds himself caught up in the history of India as the 'diverse' utopia of Hinduism and Buddhism. Whether it is the Beatles embracing Hari Krishna or the Jewbus (Jewish Buddhists) the westerner embraces an India that appeals to his imagination as some sort of post-modern anything goes utopia of gender-bending and tolerance, sort of like San Francisco and South Miami Beach but on a greater scale. This is the famed 'India of tolerance'. This is the India of 'multi-culturalism'. This is the India of the Kama Sutra. This India, so we are told, has all the liberalistic western notions of the open society and love for the other and tolerance and 'religions that come in peace.' It is the west the way we wish it could be.

Michael Wood is seduced by this India. Every single monarch and empire he comes to love is supposedly one built on this peace-coexistence utopia of diversity. One of these empires is the Kushan empire of the 1-3rd centuries. Wikipedia even describes this empire as a 'multi-cultural empire'. This bogus description belies what should be obvious: all empires are 'multi-culture' by virtue of the fact that they conquer other peoples. But 'multi-cultural empire' is a misnomer. In the modern parlance of the west 'multi-cultural' equals 'good'. But mutli-culturalism is a scam. It was a scam in 100 A.D when the Kushans extended their empire, through force of arms mind you, into India from Central Asia, and it is a scam today. Just because something has lots of cultures in it doesn't necessarily make it positive. Rome was 'multi-cultural'. It also reserved citizenship, until the late Roman period, for Romans which is to say Italians. It spent much of its time destroying those who opposed it, massacring untold numbers of Jews, Carthaginians and Germans, not to mention the peoples completely destroyed and utterly forgotten because of their opposition to Rome. So Rome was 'multi-cultural'. So were the concentration camps of Nazism; they included Gypsies, Jews, gays, Hungarians, Slavs and all manner of riff raff from throughout Europe.

The Kushans are certainly attractive because they do blend so many odd things into one large mess. They were first Zoroastrian and then Buddhist. They were close with the Chinese and used the Greek alphabet. Who couldn't love a 'Greco-Buddhist' empire with all the sodomy and nirvana rolled into one? They weren't the only strange cultural combination to inhabit the area of the Hindu Kush in what now comprises Pakistan and Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. Before them came the Indo-Greek Kingdoms. In general what Michael Wood mistakes for a hyper modern multi-cultural diverse kingdom practicing a religion of peace and tolerance is merely a fascinating period in Central Asia, one that contrasts starkly with today's central Asia which is a Hobbesian world of poverty, savagery and religious extremism.

But perhaps Mr. Wood has missed this central problem: the decline of his lovable Kushan kingdom is directly linked to its peaceful coexistence and tolerance. The Indo Greek Kingdoms had come about after the decline of Alexander's empire left islands of Greek speakers, and soldiers, in the area. The last Indo-Greek king was Strato II who ruled from 25 B.C to 10 A.D. His rule was replaced by the Indo-Scythian kingdom which in turn was replaced briefly by the Indo-Parthians and then by the Kushans around 100 A.D. It declined in 250 A.D. and was replaced by the Sassanid Persian empire (Indo-Sassanids) which itself was briefly replaced in the area by the Indo-Hephthalites in the 5th century A.D. But just so it is clear, all this was washed away by invasions of the 'White Huns' in the 6th century A.D. and, so we are completely clear, by Islamic invasions beginning in 664 A.D with the invasion of India by Al Muhalleb ibn Abi Suffrah. We are told that Al Muhalleb's invasion was not aimed at conquest, he "returned with wealth and prisoners of war." In Islamic terminology 'prisoners of war' means female and male slaves.

Michael Wood and his western audience have an inability to understand the past except through the projection of their own prejudices in the present onto that past. This has long been a recognized phenomenon. Take for instance John Wilkes Booth who shouted 'Sic Semper Tyrannis' when he shot Abraham Lincoln. This was the phrase reputed to have been said by Brutus when he assassinated Julius Caesar. Booth was an admirer of Brutus. The State Seal of Virginia carries the slogan on it and shows a Roman Senator standing over a dead tyrant, apparently Caesar. But our judgment of the role of Brutus has shifted from a negative to positive portrayal over time, adjusting with our own perception of Caesar and whether friendship should be overruled by loyalty to the republic. The view of the Spartans and Athenians in history has often changed. Today's good leftist views the Spartans as a 'proto-fascist' state, a precursor to Nazism. It is no surprise therefore that in many western schools the Athenians are portrayed as the 'good' side in the war between Athens and Sparta, all the more during the Cold War when the machine like Sparta seemed closer to the Soviet model than the free wheeling Athenian democracy. The English, a naval power, certainly could identify more with the Athenians than with the Spartan land based empire. So we find in history those things we aspire to ourselves. The fact, therefore, that Michael Wood finds 'diversity', 'Globalization', 'multi-culturalism' and 'imperialism' in Indian history is no surprise. He is merely places the burden of our modern taste onto the past, changing the past to fit our own model.

But Mr. Wood cannot see the true path of his multi-cultural utopia. He briefly touches upon the fact that the Bamiyan Buddhas and all the other references to Buddhism have been blasted, literally, from the hills of Afghanistan. He mentions those that did it: the Taliban. But this name, Taliban, obscures the real obliterator of Buddhism in Afghanistan: Islam. How did Islam defeat Buddhism? It defeated it because Buddhism was a pacifist multi-cultural religion that could not come to terms with a religion whose only objective was the destruction of all other religions. How does 'multi-culturalism' confront its opposite? It does not. It dies. There cannot be the famous lovely utopian multi-culturalism when it is faced with those which hate all things, except their own.

Thus the fall of India to Islam was quick. The multi-cultural diversity loving utopia of India fell quickly, its women sold into slavery and its temples burned and looted. Such was the fate of the multi-cultural civilization. There were pockets of Indian resistance. The Arab Muslim invaders of India were rudely surprised at the Battle of Rajasthan in 738 B.C when they were defeated by a Hindu army of Rajputs, an alliance of traditional Hindu warrior clans. This tradition of resistance to Islamic conquest continued down to the time of Pratap Singh the Maharana of Mewar. We are told by one Indian chronicler that "during a dark chapter of Hindu history, Pratap alone stood firmly for his honour and dignity; he never compromised. He died a free man." But he was no multi-culturalist. His was a life of hardship, or resistance, and of watching his nation enslaved and destroyed by the likes of Akbar, that Mughal king so loved by multi-culturalists and westerners. His was a life of watching other Hindus give their daughters over as concubines and slaves to the Mughals so as to appease Islam and serving in the Mughal army, fighting the wars of Islam so that Muslims wouldn't have to, similar in many ways to the Ottoman use of Christian soldiers in Eastern Europe and the Ottoman custom of abducting young Christian women from Greece and Georgia for the imperial harem. But our modern day sentiments are with the Ottoman 'multi-cultural' empire, Islamic Spain's 'multi-cultural' empire, and Mughal India's 'multi-cultural' empire. Our predilection towards multi-culturalism under an Islamic ruler shows the degree to which our intellectuals in the west have already accepted the Islamic interpretation of world history and have already subjugated themselves to it.

Those who might show more historical interest in such national leaders as Pratap Singh or Karageorge Petrovitch of Serbia or John Garang or even Vlad Dracula (whose opposition to the Ottoman Turkish invasion of Romania gained him a reputation for such brutality that he has come down to us as Dracula) are condemned as racist nationalist, interested only in the homogenous intolerant state. But is it better to adhere to tolerance when one knows that this tolerant multi-cultural dream is doomed to failure, much the way the multi-cultural tolerant Weimer republic fell to Nazism? If one had a chance to go back and steel the hearts of the Wiemer rulers with honor and give them the tools to preserve their nation without succumbing to Nazism would one not suggest that the multi-cultural immoral festivities of Weimer Germany be toned down or in the pursuit of the here and now in our present world is it more important to enjoy as much as possible, to suck the blood of society as much as possible, leaving it flaccid and empty, so that it is unable to oppose tyranny? Barry Goldwater reminds us of this very problem when he noted that "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" But a less known enjoinder of his; "Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism."

The culture lie
Seth J. Frantzman
August 24th, 2008

Gons Nachman was a U.S diplomat in the Congo and Brazil. On August 23rd, 2008 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His crime? While he was working for the U.S state department he had caroused with teenage girls, had sex with them and videotaped the 'encounters'. When he was finally brought to justice he argued that "cultural differences in those countries made sex with teenage girls more acceptable." This is the essence of the cultural differences theory. When Roman Polanski, the famous Polish director, was caught having sex with a thirteen year old girl in the United States in 1978 he fled to France and argued that having sex with young, in some cases pre-pubescent girls, was part of his 'Polish' culture. When Saudi and Gulf Arab Muslim men come to the West and visit strip clubs and frequent prostitutes they make the argument that they are merely taking advantage of 'western culture', one that allows for promiscuity and immorality.

Its always the culture excuse. But here is the rub. The culture excuse seems to always come up when it benefits someone. In this sense it always seems to come up primarily when someone, usually a male, is getting something out of it, usually sex with little girls or promiscuous sex with prostitutes. Of course it doesn't go both ways. When western women go to Africa or Egypt or the Gulf and sleep with Muslim men they don't suddenly shout 'wait a sec, you are violating your culture'. The view of culture and the lie of culture always seems to be there to be bended so that the person getting what they want is involved in 'culture' whether its using another culture to their advantage or exporting their 'culture' to another country, for their advantage. Oddly enough it doesn't always work out for the best. When culture negatively affects someone we all have to shed tears over it. Thus the book 'Not without my daughter' chronicles the typical story of the hapless white woman forced to submit to the chauvinist Islamic Iranian regime and how she 'heroically' fights to get her daughters out of the clutches of her 'exotic' Muslim husband turned wife-beater. But he was only living his culture. Why didn't she submit? When an American was ordered to be whipped (or caned) in Singapore for vandalizing cars he complained that the punishment was overly harsh. But why didn't he respect the Singaporean culture where they don't appreciate American brats and thugs destroying their private property? Culture always goes one way. Its always the excuse.

Mr. Gons Nachman wanted to enjoy the 'culture' of the Congo. He wanted the teenage girls that he couldn't have in the U.S. But there is a problem here. If he was only experiencing 'Congolese culture' then why did he videotape the 'encounters'. Is that also part of African Congolese culture? Making pornographic movies with two or more teenage girls? Is this part of their culture Mr. Nachman? When Roman Polanski was raping a thirteen year old girl where was his cultural respect for American law? When the Saudi man is having sex with half a dozen Russian prostitutes in Paris where is his decision to respect his own culture?

The culture excuse is bunk. Those who love culture so much should keep it to themselves. If you come from a fascist religious culture and expect your women to cover their 'offensive' faces and hair and won't allow them to drive or travel then you, as a Muslim Saudi male, should not come to our countries to have sex with our women. You love your culture so much? Then live in it. Live in your cesspool. We live in our cesspool of prostitution and immorality, you can have your cesspool of chauvinist fascism. Mr. Polanski wants to be a good Catholic Polish man and have sex with thirteen year olds because "in Poland women mature at a younger age." Then he should have sex with Catholic Polish thirteen year old girls. Don't subject our women, who apparently do not mature at the age of six, to your immorality. Keep the immorality at home, in Poland. And Mr. Nachman. You are an American. You worked for the American government and you used that power to rape and videotape little African girls having sex with you. That’s not culture: that’s 20 years in an American federal penitentiary. And that’s called American culture.

Where was the 'Free Gaza Boat' for the Jews?
Seth J. Frantzman
August 21st, 2008

As dozens of left-wing anti-Israel activists prepare to sail two boats to 'break the Israeli blockade' of Gaza one is struck by the fact that an 84 year old Holocaust survivor is among those taking part. Undoubtedly he has joined the activists under the banner of 'as a Jew one must have a heightened degree of empathy for those who suffer discrimination'. The spokesperson for the activists is aptly named Greta Berlin. Between the Holocaust survivor and the name Berlin one cannot help but be reminded of the fact that in the dark days of 1942 there was no 'free Gaza boat' for the Jews. When 800 Jews had attempted to flee Europe in the summer of 1939 aboard the SS St. Louis they were denied entry at Cuba and the U.S and forced to return to Europe where most died at the hands of the Nazis. In February of 1942 the Struma, a ship chartered by Jews in Romania, set sail for British mandatory Palestine with 769 Jews on board, some of whome had expired visas for entry to Palestine. When the British made it clear they would refuse the ship entry it was towed, by Turkish authorities, into the Black Sea where it sunk. Only one man survived. Lord Wedgwood noted in Britain's House of Lords in June of 1942 that "I hope yet to live to see those who sent the Struma cargo back to the Nazis hung as high as Haman cheek by jowl with their prototype and Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler."

During the Holocaust when the European run Red Cross was given access to the concentration camps it did its best to white wash the activities of the Nazi regime. In June of 1944 the Red Cross toured the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The Red Cross gave its stamp of approval to the Nazi camp and was so close with the Nazi regime that in May of 1945 when the Nazis abandoned the camp they turned it over to the Red Cross who proceeded to run the camp, not allowing Jews to leave, for an additional 18 days before it was liberated by the Red Army. The irony cannot be escaped: the Soviet Red Army had to liberate the Jews from the clutches of the Red Cross.

There were no 'free Gaza boats' for the Jews between 1938 and 1945. After 1945 when Jews attempted to flee Europe, their graveyard, for Palestine, they were repeatedly prevented from doing so. The British army in Germany after the war originally classified German and Italian Jews as 'enemy nationals' and they were put in camps, with barbed wire, along with those Germans and Italians who had persecuted them. Such was the tragedy of the post-war world that while civilian Germans were allowed home the Jewish refugees were kept in Displaced Persons camps for an additional three to seven years, only being freed in some cases because of the establishment of Israel in 1948. There was, needless to say, no 'free Gaza boat' for them.

Those who are taking part in the 'Free Gaza boat' initiative no doubt tell themselves that they are fighting in the spirit of 'never again'. They have 'learned the lessons' of the Holocaust. It is an irony that the main message of the Holocaust seems to be that European activists feel the need to only help those groups of people and those governments who oppose the existence of Israel. There is no 'Free Gaza boat' for the Sudan. Perhaps more poignant is the fact that there is no 'free Gaza boat' arranged to help bring African refugees to Europe. Every week thousands of these refugees set sail from West and North Africa with the hopes of reaching Europe. Some die en route. Those that survive are herded into camps for illegal immigrants. It seems European activists are more adept at breaking international laws when it comes to Israel than when it comes to the EU and their own country. Moreover in Europe today there are hundreds of thousands of victims of human trafficking, women from all over the world imprisoned in brothels and used as sex slaves. There is, needless to say, no 'Free Gaza boat' for them. There was no help for the Jews during the Holocaust. There were no activists and there was no International Solidarity Movement. The ease with which people focus their attention as 'human rights activists' on Israel is most concerning given the history of hypocrisy, contradiction and abandonment of the rights of others.

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